Book Spotlight & Giveaway: Porter & Midge: Paws and Playtime by Jennie Chen and Giselle Nevada

BNR Paws & Playtime

 

I’m so excited to be part of this book blitz spotlighting the newest Porter & Midge book, Paws and Playtime. My own dogs, Teddy and Piper give it two tails wagging!

Cover Paws and PlaytimeAbout the book: Porter & Midge: Paws and Playtime

  • Genre: Children’s Picture Book / Pet Care / Dog Training
  • Series: Porter and Midge series
  • Publisher: Raise the Woof Press LLC
  • Page Count: 32 pages
  • Publication date: December 12, 2023
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

Discover the enchanting world of Porter and Midge: Paws and Playtime – a rhyming children’s book that follows the heartwarming bond between two furry friends, Mastiff Porter and Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Midge, and their devoted companions, CJ and Lora.

On a sunny day, CJ’s thoughtful idea sets the stage for a joyful exploration of new ways to make Porter and Midge’s days even brighter.

Through rhythmic verses, follow their journey as they uncover imaginative games, canine enrichment activities, and thrilling dog sports, all while strengthening their unbreakable connection.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Purchase Link | Goodreads


Watch the trailer for Porter & Midge: Paws and Playtime


About the authors, Jennie Chen and Giselle Nevada

Author Photo Giselle NevadaGiselle Nevada has owned several mastiffs, acquired both from reputable breeders and via rescue. Fostering rescued mastiffs and helping them work through their issues led to a keen interest in socialization as a means of preventing future issues. She loves working with her dogs and has dabbled in carting, conformation, agility, rally, trick dog, nose work, and many other canine sports. Her puppy Porter is a testament to early socialization – he has achieved many performance dog titles and has done commercial work. He also has a role in a movie called Match Me If You Can directed by Marian Yeager.

Author Photo Jennie ChenJennie Chen is a homesick Austinite who founded Keep Austin Dog Friendly. Over the last 20 years, Jennie has owned Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs and Lowchen. She has earned numerous titles in conformation, competitive obedience, rally, herding, animal assisted therapy, and more. She is passionate about the relationship people build with their beloved canines, and she has been an advocate for people living with disabilities who need a service dog to live independently. She is active in various dog clubs and can be seen on AKC.TV from time to time.

Connect with Giselle and Jennie:

Website | Facebook | Instagram

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Pawtographed hardcover copy of Porter and Midge: Paws for Safety

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In Their Words: CG Fewston, author of Conquergood & the Center of the Intelligible Mystery of Being – with Giveaway

BNR Conquergood

 

I’m so excited to be sharing an interview (scroll down to read it) with the author of this book. It seems like a fantastic read, and his writing process really made me want to dig out MY old moleskines and get back to writing more in longhand.

About the book: Conquergood & the Center of the Intelligible Mystery of Being Cover Conquerwood

  • Genre: Science Fiction / Dystopian / Steampunk
  • Publication Date: October 17, 2023
  • Pages: 381
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

One of resilience and transformation, Conquergood’s life-changing discovery explores the depths of family, memory, love, and the mysteries that lie at the heart of the universe.

In 2183, Jerome Conquergood is an outcast roaming the abandoned and crumbling skyscrapers of Old York City outside the Korporation’s seductive and dizzying headquarters, a post-apocalyptic security-city for the mega-rich. Despite his hatred for the techno-optimism and the Korporation, Conquergood is compelled to save his mysterious twin brother Vincent by joining the Korporation, a mega-corporate and governmental entity in a world oppressed to peace.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Purchase Link | Goodreads


About the author, CG Fewston Author Photo Fewston credit Thor

The American novelist CG FEWSTON has been a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome (Italy), a Visiting Fellow at Hong Kong’s CityU, & he’s been a member of the Hemingway Society, Americans for the Arts, PEN America, Club Med, & the Royal Society of Literature. He’s also been a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) based in London. He has a B.A. in English, an M.Ed. in Higher Education Leadership (honors), an M.A. in Literature (honors), and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing & Fiction. He was born in Texas in 1979.

Fewston is the author of several short stories and novels. His works include A Father’s Son, The New America: Collection, The Mystic’s Smile ~ A Play in 3 Acts, Vanity of Vanities, A Time to Love in Tehran, Little Hometown, America, A Time to Forget in East Berlin, and Conquergood & the Center of the Intelligible Mystery of Being.

Connect with CG:

Website | Instagram | Facebook | BookBub | Goodreads | Amazon | LinkedIn

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Author Interview: CG Fewston on the Writing Life

How do you write? Any backstory to your choice?1215 MELISSA Author Interview 2 of 5

I prefer to write longhand using a black uni-ball pen with a Moleskine notebook the size of my palm. In the front of the small notebook, I write the story. In the back, I write down notes and tidbits of research that I want to include later on in the story.

Writing longhand allows me more room to create and rework (fixing, editing, and smoothing out) the language and the flow of the dialogue and events of the narrative dream. I always read aloud what I write by longhand and if there’s something flawed or the wrong word choice, I’ll correct or change it and read again and again and again until the flow is sufficient for my level of perfection — until I am satisfied that the fictive dream flows without stumbling or breaking.

After many of these small notebooks have been filled, I will go to typing them and then printing the typed pages out (having the pages bound like a book) so I can then read and edit many times over, reading aloud as I go through the entire manuscript. I will have read the book aloud hundreds of times over before I am ready to let the book go out into the world.

 

Are you a full-time or part-time writer? 1215 MELISSA Author Interview 3 of 5

I’m a full-time writer who spends his days working on novels. First and foremost, however, I am a proud stay-at-home father who focuses on his son. I wake at 4:30 in the morning to do some writing before my son wakes up. Then as he showers, I make his breakfast and spend time with him. Then I take him to school and return home by about 8:30 am to focus on my writing; this includes writing new fiction for my novels. Usually this is either one or two novels because if I get stuck or slowed on one, then I switch to another and continue writing — in this way I can keep writing and remain productive.

I also work on author interviews or writing up blog posts about the books I’ve read and publish these on my author website. I enjoy sharing with the world the books I’ve read and it also helps me to reflect and have a deeper understanding of the books I’ve read. In the afternoon, I get my son from school and spend the rest of the evening and night focusing on him and family. I strive for balance between writing and family, and enjoy a more family-centered routine.

 

What did you find most useful in learning to write for publication? What was least useful or most destructive? 1215 MELISSA Author Interview 4 of 5

The most useful piece of knowledge I learned in writing for publication came from my mentor (if I’m allowed to call him that) the American novelist John Gardner. Through his amazing books discussing the craft and art of writing — On Moral Fiction (1978), The Art of Fiction (1983), On Becoming a Novelist (1983), and On Writers and Writing (1994) — John Gardner taught me the importance of the “fictive dream” and how writers should do everything to maintain that fictive dream throughout the story.

The most destructive aspect to writing would be for a writer to care too much about what’s going on in the world (at the time they are creating the story and writing it down) and what critics actually say or think about your work. Fiction should stand alone from critics and the events of the world. If the fiction does parallel, then let the fiction do that on its own. Writers should give little time and attention and energy to good or bad comments or reviews of their fiction. Strive to do your absolute best, don’t compare, and then let the fiction speak for itself.

 

Do you have any strange writing habits or writing rituals you’d like to share with your readers?

I have the ability to lose myself inside my work. Five hours can quickly become five minutes. When I’m writing, I’m connected to something greater than myself and Time becomes somewhat different. That’s when I know I’m doing what I was meant to do.

 

What does your perfect writing spot look like? Is that what your ACTUAL writing spot looks like? 1215 MELISSA Author Interview 5 of 5

The perfect writing spot, for me, is the spot that is most conducive to my writing, creating a productive writing session with the most ease. Now, it’s the kitchen table at 4:30 in the morning or my leather writing chair when no one is home.

So, yes, my perfect writing spot is my actual writing spot — it cannot be any other way. I’m not trying to make a million dollars. I’m trying to write a beautiful work of art. So, I take my writing seriously and with a fierce intensity that goes completely unnoticed because I write in solitude and in silence. And I love it that way.

 

 


Giveaway

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SIX WINNERS:

1st: $100 Amazon card + eBook or paperback of Conquergood

2nd: $50 Amazon card + eBook or paperback

3rd: $25 Amazon card + eBook or paperback

4th: Book Lover’s gift bundle + eBook or paperback

5th: Book Lover’s blanket + eBook or paperback

6th: Book Lover’s tote bag + eBook or paperback

(US Only; ends 12/21/23)

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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:

12/11/23 Sybrina’s Book Blog Excerpt
12/11/23 The Real World According to Sam Review
12/11/23 Hall Ways Blog BONUS Stop
12/12/23 The Page Unbound Notable Quotables
12/12/23 LSBBT Blog BONUS Stop
12/13/23 Boys’ Mom Reads Review
12/14/23 It’s Not All Gravy Review
12/14/23 Book Fidelity Review
12/15/23 Bibliotica Author Interview
12/15/23 Librariel Book Adventures Review
12/16/23 Forgotten Winds Scrapbook Page
12/17/23 StoreyBook Reviews Author Interview
12/18/23 Rox Burkey Blog Review
12/18/23 Rebecca R. Cahill, Author Scrapbook Page
12/19/23 Chapter Break Book Blog Review
12/19/23 Reading by Moonlight Review
12/20/23 Jennie Reads Review
12/20/23 The Plain-Spoken Pen Review

 

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Book Review: Murder by Christmas by Lesley Cookman

Murder By Christmas

 

About the book, Murder by Christmas Murder-by-Christmas

  • Series: A Libby Sarjeant Murder Mystery (Book #25)
  • Publisher: ‎ Headline Accent (December 7, 2023)
  • Publication date: ‎ December 7, 2023
  • Language: ‎ English

Murder by Christmas

The twisting twenty-fifth instalment of Lesley Cookman’s much-loved Libby Sarjeant series

Libby Sarjeant is deep into rehearsals for the annual pantomime when a body is found in a doorway two weeks before Christmas – and Libby and her friend Fran are called into action once again, when their investigation leads them to a local brewery and the sale of many of its pubs.

With the help of a team of local publicans, can Libby and Fran unravel the case before it’s too late?

Buy read and discuss this book:

Purchase Link | Goodreads


About the Author, Lesley Cookman Murder Tish's profile pic

Lesley started writing almost as soon as she could read, and filled many Woolworth’s exercise books with pony stories until she was old enough to go out with boys. Since she’s been grown up, following a varied career as a model, air stewardess and disc jockey, she’s written short fiction and features for a variety of magazines, achieved an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Wales, taught writing for both Kent Adult Education and the WEA and edited the first Sexy Shorts collection of short stories, in aid of the Breast Cancer Campaign. Lesley is a member of the Society of Authors and the Crime Writers’ Association.

Lesley has also written pantomimes performed all over Britain, and published a book on how to do it!

Connect with Lesley:

Blog | Facebook | Instagram | X (Twitter)


My Thoughts MissMeliss - 2023

I love a good mystery, and I especially love one set at Christmas time. The lights and trees always make such a great backdrop for committing crime. Murder by Christmas, the twenty-fifth book in Lesley Cookman’s Libby Sarjeant Murder Mystery series, is a good mystery with a holiday background. What’s not to love?

As someone new to this series, I immediately fell in love with Libby and Fran, the two women who must juggle Christmas festivities with the little thing of solving a murder. Having the crimefighters have to flit off and become pantomime fairies really made the pacing interesting in this novel, but it also added some touches of humor. I liked their relationship, and I liked the way they teased and snarked at each other, and with their friend Ian the policeman, the way good friends can, and do, even in the midst of serious work. I also liked the story involving local pub owners. Pubs are one of those quintessentially British institutions that really enhance the scene in a novel like this, and I was ready to pull up a chair and have a pint.

There are a ton of background characters, cameo characters, townspeople, and pub-goers in this novel, all grounding it with a real sense of place. It felt like some of this cast were familiar to the main characters, and likely recur throughout the series, but even without knowing their extended stories, I had no trouble following who was who.

If your idea of a perfect Christmas read involves horses doing tricks, performing in an annual production, and solving a murder, this book is perfect for your next fireside read. It has snappy dialogue, great pacing, and a plot that kept me guessing until the end.

I listened to the audio book as well as reading the text, and thoroughly enjoyed the narration by Patience Tomlinson. She really made this already-multidimensional story come alive.

Goes well with: mince pie and a piping hot cup of coffee laced with whisky.

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Review: The Edge of Too Late, by Jan Sikes with Giveaway

BNR The Edge of Too Late

 

About the book, The Edge of Too Late harbor pointe blue cover JS

  • Series: Harbor Pointe (Book 5)
  • Genre: Ghost Suspense / Contemporary Short Stories / Action & Adventure Romance
  • Publisher: RiJan Publishing
  • Date of Publication: November 28, 2023
  • Number of Pages: 126
  • Scroll down for giveaway! 

Brandon Miller has his dream job, financial security, and he’s madly in love. Only one thing is missing—a commitment.

Angela Cooper’s ex-husband left her with deep scars, souring her on the concept of marriage. She’s not interested in a do-over. Not with Brandon or anyone. Her heart is locked securely away behind a thick wall.

With a ring in his pocket and hope in his heart, Brandon arranges a romantic getaway to the historic Harbor Pointe Inn, where he plans to pop the question.

Before they reach the inn, Angela’s got her camera in hand and ghosts on her mind. But they arrive to find a much more tangible horror.

Accident or foul play?

Someone is up to no good, and Angela is the next target. When suspects can be worldly or otherworldly, danger and secrets lurk everywhere.

Poised at the perilous edge of too late, Angela and Brandon face the fight of their lives.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Purchase Link | Goodreads


Watch the Trailer for The Edge of Too Late


About the author, Jan Sikes Author Photo Sikes

Jan Sikes writes compelling and creative stories from the heart.

She openly admits that she never set out in life to be an author. But she had a story to tell. Not just any story, but a true story that rivals any fiction creation. She brought the entertaining true story to life through fictitious characters in an intricately woven tale encompassing four books, accompanying music CDs, and a book of poetry and art.

And now, this author can’t find a way to put down the pen. She continues to write fiction and has published numerous award-winning short stories and novels.

Jan is an active blogger, an avid fan of Texas music, and a grandmother of five. She resides in North Texas.

Connect with Jan:

WEBSITE | BLOG | FACEBOOK | X (TWITTER) | NEWSLETTER | BOOKBUB | AMAZON | GOODREADS

 

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My Thoughts MissMeliss - 2023

As someone whose first memory is the sound of fog horns, I’m a sucker for any kind of coastal ghost story. There’s just something about cliffs, crags, and crashing waves that’s just meant for the supernatural. Picking up the Jan Sikes’s  entry in the shared universe Harbor Pointe series, a The Edge of Too Late, was a no-brainer for me, though now I have to find the time to read books one through four.

This novel works perfectly well as a standalone story, and it’s got a lot going on in only 126 pages: ghosts, accidental (or is it) death, and romance. The relationship between Brandon and Angela was the center of the story, of course, but it isn’t a fluffy one. Angela has been burned by previous relationships, and fears being able to fully commit to Brandon, and her worries work really well to heighten the overall sense of unease that author Sikes has crafted so well. From the opening scene, Angela is experiencing shivers and goosebumps, and both characters are trepidatious when the police who zip past them on their way to their inn, and more so when the realize the police are handling an accidental death (or is it) that occurred just before their arrival.

Angela’s photography and Brandon’s sense of romance and adventure really work well to balance each other. When the former is looking through her camera lens, she’s certain and secure. And Brandon encourages her. It’s a lovely relationship, but the choice to have Brandon refer to Angela as ‘Angi Baby’ felt a little creepy to me (and even more so in the audiobook version which I listened to after finishing the text. (Kudos to the narrator, Jessine Van Lopik, whose performance was both compelling and, at times, chilling).

The Harbor Pointe setting was essentially in the character in this story, the way fictional villages often are. I spent my teen years in northern California, and Harbor Pointe reminded me a lot of Moss Beach and Half Moon Bay in San Mateo County (which has a haunted restaurant). It had that breezy California vibe without ever feeling like a caricature, and I could taste the salt in the air as I read.

This novel, as mentioned above, is only 126 pages long, so it’s easy to read it in one sitting, and honestly, the story is so gripping, I can’t envision any other way to experience it. Jan Sikes has given us a story jam-packed with characters, settings, and ideas that beg to be revisited. Check me in to the Harbor Pointe Inn any time, I’m eager to visit again.

Goes well with: Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl and a glass of Fort Point Animal IPA.


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FIVE WINNERS:

1st: $20 Amazon gift card

2nd & 3rd: audiobooks of The Edge of Too Late

4th & 5th: eBooks of Flowers and Stone

(US Only; ends midnight, CST 12/15/23)

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Visit the Other Great Blogs on this Tour

Click to visit the Lone Star Literary Life Tour Page for this book for direct links to each blog, updated daily, or visit each blog directly.

12/05/23 Jennifer Silverwood Review
12/05/23 Hall Ways Blog Excerpt
12/06/23 Boys’ Mom Reads Review
12/06/23 LSBBT Blog BONUS Stop
12/07/23 JennCaffeinated Review
12/08/23 Librariel Book Adventures Review
12/08/23 Chapter Break Book Blog Character Interview
12/09/23 StoreyBook Reviews Review
12/10/23 The Clueless Gent Review
12/11/23 Bibliotica Review
12/12/23 Rox Burkey Blog Review
12/12/23 Forgotten Winds Author Interview
12/13/23 It’s Not All Gravy Review
12/14/23 The Plain-Spoken Pen Review

 

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Cover Reveal: Odd Mom Out by Sandy Day

Odd Mom Out - Cver Reveal

I’m so excited to be part of the cover reveal for Sandy Day’s novel Odd Mom Out, available for pre-order now, and being released on January 1st!  This looks like an engaging and entertaining read, and I can’t wait.

About the book, Odd Mom Out

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Beach House Books (January 1, 2024)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ January 1, 2024

Life just got life-y…

On the night that Trudy Asp discovers her ex is engaged to the same dental hygienist who’s been picking at her teeth for ten years, her daughter, Madison, suddenly announces that she too is getting married, in Europe.

Frumpy, floundering, and forced to live with her martini-swilling mother, Trudy is swamped by these revelations. And on top of it all, she’ll be wearing the second most scrutinized gown at the wedding.

Having packed on the pounds during the demise of her marriage, the idea of being eyeballed by her ex and his scrawny fiancée Zelda, is truly horrifying. To make matters worse, there’s the paralyzing fear of a transatlantic flight — something Trudy has avoided for decades.

When Zelda offers to stand in for her, Trudy is forced to confront the forces that stole her marriage and threaten to steal her daughter’s wedding too. With three months until the ceremony, Trudy must get to Europe, squeeze herself into a gown, and claim the role she wants more than anything: Mother-of-the-Bride.

Will this Odd Mom Out sink or swim? Or will she drown in a sea of humiliation?

Pre-order this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK)


About the author, Sandy Day

Sandy Day is a recovering chatterbox and writer of riveting slice-of-life poetry, memoir, and fiction. She has authored five books to date, with two in the works. A graduate of Glendon College, she studied creative writing under Michael Ondaatje and bp nichol. A lover of cheese, coffee shops, and illustrations, she lives on the shore of Lake Simcoe in Georgina, Ontario, Canada. You can find and follow her on Substack and sandyday.ca – it rhymes!

Connect with Sandy:

Amazon | Substack | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram


And now, the cover of Odd Mom Out

Odd Mom Out ebook cover Final

Review: Arsenic at Ascot, by Kelly Oliver

Arsenic at Ascot

 

About the book, Arsenic at Ascot Arsenic at Ascot copy

  • Series: Fiona Figg and Kittty Lane (Book 4)
  • Publisher: ‎ Boldwood Books (November 28, 2023)
  • Language: ‎ English
  • Paperback: 280 pages

Arsenic at Ascot (A Fiona Figg & Kitty Lane Mystery Book 4)

Saddle up for this first class historical mystery, perfect for fans of Helena Dixon and Verity Bright.

London, 1918

Fiona Figg finds herself back in Old Blighty saddled with shuffling papers for the war office. Then a mysterious card arrives, inviting her to a fancy house party at Mentmore Castle. This year’s Ascot-themed do will play host to a stable of animal defense advocates, and Fiona is tasked with infiltrating the activists and uncovering possible anti-war activity.

Disguised as the Lady Tabitha Kenworthy, Fiona is more than ready for the “mane” event, but the odds are against her when both her arch nemesis, dark-horse Fredrick Fredricks, and would-be fiancé Lieutenant Archie Somersby arrive unexpectedly and “stirrup” her plans. And when a horse doctor thuds to the floor in the next guest room, Fiona finds herself investigating a mysterious poisoning with some very hairy clues.

Can Fiona overcome the hurdles and solve both cases, or will she be pipped to the post and put out to pasture by the killer?

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Apple Books | Goodreads


About the author, Kelly Oliver Author Photo

Kelly Oliver is the award-winning, bestselling author of three mysteries series: The Jessica James Mysteries, The Pet Detective Mysteries, and the historical cozies The Fiona Figg Mysteries, set in WW1. She is also the Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University and lives in Nashville, Tennessee. She is bringing new titles in the Fiona Figg series to Boldwood, the first of which, Chaos in Carnegie Hall, will be published in November 2022.

Connect with Kelly:

Newsletter Sign-up | Bookbub | Facebook | X (Twitter)


My Thoughts MissMeliss - 2023

It’s a farce! It’s a period piece! It’s a mystery! It’s a romance! Actually, it’s all of the above, and you can find it in Kelly Oliver’s fourth installment in her Fiona Figg & Kitty Lane Mysteries, Arsenic at Ascot. This novel finds Fiona undercover as several different people from Lady Tabitha Kenworthy to a rear admiral, and she’s solving crime, thwarting international spies, and flirting with men – and danger – in a delightful romp through the English animal rights scene of 1918.

Kelly Oliver’s prowess is in her ability to make a period piece feel completely contemporary, while never compromising the setting. Fiona Figg’s costume and personality shifts as she moves between undercover guises are both fantastic and a little bit funny, and the author makes you want to jump into the pages and join the adventure. Her deft hand at pacing and plot only make the read even better, and I confess, she kept me guessing until the end of the story.

I also appreciated that this book, while fourth in a series, is perfectly readable as a standalone (though I’ll go back and read books 1-3 as time allows). While it would have been interesting to know more of the relationships at play, especially the history of Fiona, fellow agent Archie, and nemesis Fredrick Fredricks, not having their backstories in no way detracts from being able to follow the plot, through it’s many twists and turns.

I especially enjoyed seeing a feisty, independent woman leading the story in a period that isn’t given a lot of “air play” in literature, and it was interesting to observe both the similarities and the differences in the cultures of the past in the novel, and our own present.

I listened to the audiobook of this story as well as reading the text, and I can say that while the quick pacing makes it something that, I feel, works better in print, the narration by Willow Nash was spot on, and I’d happily listen to more of her work

Overall, this is a fabulous story with something for everyone: romance, intrigue, humor, danger… and horses. What’s not to love?

Goes well with: late-night whiskey in the library.


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Review: Christmas at the Cabin by Rebecca Boxall

Christmas at the Cabin

About the book, Christmas at the Cabin Christmas at the Cabin Cover LARGE EBOOK

  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ November 24, 2023
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English

A festive, coming-of-age tale about an Oxbridge candidate and a young homeless man who find themselves in the bittersweet predicament of falling in love with exactly the right person at exactly the wrong time.

Well-to-do Jed never imagined he’d end up homeless, but family circumstances have made it his only option. Local vicar, Ben, tries to help him but there’s an element of self-punishment to the homelessness that makes Jed continue to put up with his situation – until disaster leads him to re-consider the vicar’s offer of a place to stay.

Hattie is on the cusp of adulthood, frantically trying to persuade her mum that she doesn’t want to attend an elite university, preferring the idea of pursuing her love of art and textiles. When she meets Jed, she badly wants to understand his circumstances and why, when she has everything at her fingertips, he doesn’t.

Hattie’s mum, Christine, has had a hard life and is desperate for more for her only child. When she meets Ben, the vicar who’s trying to help Jed, she finds an unlikely ally, and the two heartbroken souls find themselves drawn to each other. Until they find their relationship suddenly tested to the limit.

One thing’s for certain: none of these characters is looking forward to Christmas. It’s the worst time of year for each of them, for different reasons. But perhaps this year, the festive season could defy all expectations.

Rebecca Boxall is the award-nominated author of five bestselling novels – Christmas at the Vicarage, Home for Winter, Christmas on the Coast, The Christmas Forest and Christmas by the Lighthouse. She is also the author of Christmas at the Farmhouse and her popular short story, A Winter’s Day.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK)


About the author, Rebecca Boxall

Rebecca BoxallRebecca Boxall was born in East Sussex in 1977 and grew up in a bustling vicarage always filled with family, friends and parishioners. She now lives by the sea in Jersey with her family and Rodney the cat. She read English at the University of Warwick before she trained as a lawyer and more recently worked at a psychiatric unit.

She is the No. 1 bestselling author of Christmas at the Vicarage and Christmas on the Coast as well as the bestselling writer of Home for Winter, The Christmas Forest,  and Christmas by the Lighthouse, in respect of which she was nominated for the Romantic Novel Awards in 2020. She is also the author of Christmas at the Farmhouse and her popular short story, A Winter’s Day.

Connect with Rebecca:

Website | Facebook | Instagram


My Thoughts MissMeliss - 2023

Rebecca Boxall’s latest novel,  The Christmas Cabin is the kind of novel that balances an uplifting story with the gritty reality of contemporary life. Told in alternating first-person chapters from each of the four main characters, Hattie, Jed, Christine, and Ben, it a book that gives us four journeys of self-realization that intertwine to form a satisfying whole with just enough holiday warmth to leave the readers smiling.

Each of the main character is one melody in a literary medley that includes a coming-of-age story, a mother-daughter story, a second-chance story, and a second-chance romance, but none of those through-lines exists in a vacuum. Hattie’s relationship with her mother, Christine, influences her choices when she meets the homeless guitarist, Jed and his dog Lola. Ben the Vicar’s past relationships informs his behavior with Christine, whom he first encounters in a sidewalk accident, and later identifies as Hattie’s mother. Jed’s personal history affects his ability to accept help from Ben. And yet, in the near-perfect confluence of events in the days that lead up to Christmas these four people merge their disparate stories into a perfect holiday chorus.

What I loved about this novel was the fact that even though it’s very much a holiday tale, everything is grounded in emotional truth. Santa isn’t granting wishes; each character has to identify and achieve their own goal without magical help, but with the help of community and family, both biological and chosen.

Author Boxall has given us a perfectly paced plot, with vibrant characters. Especially deft is her use of dialogue. Hattie and Christine speak differently than Ben and Jed, even when those differences are subtle. Similarly, her descriptions are enough to let us imagine the scenes – the comfortable bedroom of teenaged Hattie, the crackling fire and cozy couches at the vicarage, and the bitter-cold streets of the Jersey streets. At the same time, though, because this is a Christmas story, the edges are softened a little, as if we’re seeing everything through a filtered lens..

Overall, this was a compelling read – I devoured it in one day – with vibrant characters who feel as dimensional as real people.

Goes well with chunky vegetable soup, crusty bread, and red wine.

Author Q & A: Snowdown at the Old Schoolhouse by Margaret Amatt

Snowdown at the Old Schoolhouse

 

About the book, Snowdown at the Old Schoolhouse

  • Publisher: Leannan Press (November 12, 2023)
  • Language: English
  • Paperback: 371 pages
  • Series: Glenbriar
  • Scroll down for Q & A

snowdown at the old schoolhouse CoverThey didn’t forecast this!

When charismatic and handsome weather presenter Marcus Bowman walks back into Willow Roxburgh’s life three weeks before Christmas, her quiet job as an admin worker at the Old Schoolhouse residential care centre in Glenbriar is shattered. He’s not only the man she used to crush on, he’s also the one who thwarted her TV forecasting dreams.

But she’s no longer the anonymous studio assistant; she’s secretly Scotland’s new favourite weather forecaster, Rocky Rainman.

With the Schoolhouse facing closure, Marcus is on an assignment to drum up festive support. However, he’s discovered the internet sensation Rocky Rainman lives somewhere nearby and is determined to expose him after Rocky’s recent damaging comments on social media. Seeing Willow, the girl he used to obsess over, shakes his priorities.

When a blizzard hits, Willow and Marcus are snowed in, and she discovers her perception of him wasn’t as accurate as her forecasts. Marcus isn’t convinced it’ll be a white Christmas, but he’s determined to win Willow’s heart. Can their new love weather storm if he discovers her secret? Because how can there be a future for Marcus Bowman and Rocky Rainman?

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Margaret Amatt Snowdown Margaret

Margaret is a Scottish author and chocolate lover who has been writing stories for over twenty years (possibly more if you count her primary school efforts). Her early works will never see the light of day and are locked in dusty vaults on some old floppy disks. But after all those years of practise, Margaret released her first novel A Winter Haven in 2021. This is the first of a ten-book series set on the gorgeous Scottish Isle of Mull. Margaret has also written six books in The Glenbriar Series with more planned for 2024. The stories are unashamedly romantic but with lots of drama and an eclectic mix of characters. Each book can be read as a standalone but followers of the series will enjoy catching up with the characters.

Connect with Margaret:

Newsletter | Facebook | Instagram | X (Twitter)


Eight Questions with Margaret Amatt

Snowdown Q & A

Snowdown at the Old Schoolhouse is the sixth book in your Glenbriar series. I know it can be read as a stand-alone novel, but what key information would enhance the story for readers who haven’t read the preceding books in this series?

There are some recurring characters throughout the series. In this one, we meet Cha from “Two’s Company at the Forest Light Show” again and we are also properly introduced to Hayley the Glenbriar hairdresser. Hayley and her family will feature a lot more in future books. We also catch up with Malcolm and Brenda, who are some not-so-friendly locals and are up to more troublemaking in this story! Other than that, there’s no need to have read any of the previous books to enjoy this one. It’s just a case of feeling more familiar with the setting if you’ve read the previous ones.

The Old Schoolhouse in the title is a residential care facility. What inspired you to choose that as a setting?

I have a relative who works in a place like this. I was interested in some of the stories he told me about it and moreover the struggle to keep it going with all the budget cuts. The romantic in me wished I could come up with a happy ending for the place. I can’t do that in real life, but in a book, there are ways!

Rivalry-turns-romance is an interesting theme for a novel. What made you decide to give Willow and Marcus that history?

I think there’s an interesting dynamic in a relationship when the couple are rivals. In this case, Marcus doesn’t know who he’s up against, so it makes it even more intriguing as the story unravels.

For many readers, Glenbriar is as much a character as location. What do you love about small towns? What annoys you?

I love the familiarity of it and how I can drop in places and side characters, then revisit them fully in future books. It adds a sense of community and belonging. Both the Old Schoolhouse and Marcus Bowman have been ‘name dropped’ in previous books. One sharp-eyed reader messaged me and asked if Marcus was getting his own book! I honestly don’t know how she guessed that as it was literally a tiny scene where he’s on TV forecasting, but I think that’s part of the feel of the books. Even the most minor side characters feel important in the town.

The downside is that certain storylines just don’t work in small places and there’s also the danger of it becoming too claustrophobic and everyone knowing everyone’s business which doesn’t leave as much room for mystery.

The Glenbriar series involves intertwining characters. What’s your method for maintaining continuity? Have there been side characters who demanded their own stories?

Oh definitely! Like I said above, side characters often demand their own stories. The second book in the series ‘Just Friends at Thistle Lodge’ featured a side character from my other series, but her story didn’t fit into that series, so I saved it for Glenbriar!

I don’t usually have continuity issues as the stories are always standalones. Sometimes I have cross over events or books that start before the previous ones, then springboard into the present. I keep a timeline on a spreadsheet so I remember who did what when, but I try to make the books as individual as possible so there’s never any need to read previous ones unless readers want to (which of course I hope they do!).

Where do you write? Do you prefer the comfort of home or do you like to work in cafés? Do you need silence, or do you have music playing as you work?

I love working at home and I really need silence when I’m doing a first draft. This means I can only really do it when my son is at school and I’m not doing my day job. It definitely makes me focus and keep those writing hours sacred.

All writers started as readers. What books or authors are your greatest influences? What are you reading right now?

I enjoy a wide variety of books but in my genre, I think the biggest influencers were Pernille Hughes and Trisha Ashley. Currently I’m reading ‘Witch You Weren’t Here’ by Emma Jackson.

What’s next for you? Another Glenbriar novel, or an addition to another series, or something completely different?

I have at least three more novels planned for Glenbriar. These three are about the McBride family, a brother, sister and a cousin all with their own stories. As always, they will be interconnected but standalones.

I also have another project on the go but am not giving away the details just yet!

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Christmas Memories at Waterside Cottage, by K.T. Dady – Review

Christmas Memories Header

About the book, Christmas Memories at Waterside Cottage Waterside

  • Series: Pepper Bay (Book 10)
  • Publication date: November 1, 2023
  • Language: English
  • File size: 910 KB

Welcome to Pepper Bay, where you’ll find love, drama, and a happily ever after.

Snuggle down with this cosy, feel-good, comfort read that whisks you away to a beautiful bay on the Isle of Wight – Perfect for fans of Christie Barlow, Alison Sherlock, Rachael Lucas, and Holly Martin.

The Pepper Bay books are standalone stories that intertwine with recurring characters. Best enjoyed when read in order.

Christmas Memories at Waterside Cottage: Charlie and Grace have been together for four years, but when Grace wakes up in hospital after an accident, she doesn’t remember her husband at all. With Christmas just around the corner, and it being their favourite time of year, Charlie pulls out all the festive stops, hoping his wife will remember their relationship or at least fall in love with him all over again, because there is no way he can lose her.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


About the author, K.T. Dady KT Dady

Hello, I’m K.T. Dady. I’m the bestselling author of the Pepper Bay series. I’m also a chocolate lover, mum to a grown-up daughter, and a huge fan of a HEA. I was born and raised in the East End of London, and I’ve been happily writing stories since I was a little girl. When I’m not writing, I’m reading, baking cakes, or pottering around in my little garden in Essex, trying not to kill the flowers.

Connect with K.T.:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


My Thoughts MissMeliss - 2023

Christmas Memories at Waterside Cottage is my first visit to Pepper Bay, but it definitely won’t be my last! While the title suggested a sweet, almost Hallmark-esque holiday tale, the book is actually a deep reflection of love and memory, and how each informs the other.

I really liked the character of Grace who wakes up from a three-week coma missing four years of memories. Author KT Dady did an amazing job of depicting her initial befuddlement, her ongoing confusing, and her journey back toward strength and confidence, giving her an excellent supporting cast in her Hot Doc husband Charlie, and her younger sister Molly, and the rest of their family and friends.

I really liked the way Dady kept this story grounded in emotional truth, and let the characters find their way organically, and I especially appreciated how graceful (no pun intended) and well-crafted the plot was – turning this novel into a sort of second-chance romance with a refreshingly original twist.

I don’t know how much the setting of Pepper Bay figures into the other books in this series, or if it’s merely a connecting point for all of Dady’s work, but the town felt real. As for the titular cottage – I’ll happily spend Christmas there any time I’m invited.

Overall, this is a holiday romance that manages to be warm and hopeful without any commercial schmaltz. Highly recommend.

Goes well with: Mulled wine and mince pie.


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Good Talk… Good Talk, by Ginny Andrews – Book Review and Giveaway

BNR Good Talk

 

About the book, Good Talk… Good Talk Cover Hi Res Good Talk

  • Genre: Nonfiction / Humor / Comedy / Essays
  • Publisher: Ginny Andrews Comedy, LLC
  • Date of Publication: October 5, 2023
  • Number of Pages: 171 pages
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

Raise your hand if you have ever run into a mannequin in a store and apologized. Continue to keep your hand raised if you want to pre-write thank you notes to those whom you anticipate attending your funeral because you suffer from chronic “way too nice” syndrome. Keep it up high if you have ever farted in church or yoga class. Man, my arm is getting tired!

Most people are awkward during the middle school years, grow out of it, and blossom into mature, well-functioning human beings…I’m still waiting for this to happen. Awkwardness is my hidden talent, although most who know me would tell you it isn’t hidden—it’s written on my forehead. My daily life is filled with epic failures. Sometimes I feel like I’m one big malfunction! As I have gotten older, I just try to embrace it.

After you read this collection of essays, hopefully you will be able to accept your imperfections too! Nope, probably not because I’m still not there! However, maybe my comedy will stick with you like that hemorrhoid you can’t seem to get rid of, like ever—Good Talk. . .Good Talk.

Praise for Good Talk. . .Good Talk:

“Reading Ginny Andrews’s Good Talk. . .Good Talk is a lot like hanging out with that girlfriend that invariably makes you laugh until you cry.” —Lauren Cassel Brownell, author of Zen and the Art of Housekeeping and Dying to Donate

Good Talk. . .Good Talk is a laugh out loud winner, filled with quirky stories reminiscent of Patrick McManus.” —J. Andersen, author of The Breeding Tree, The Gene Rift, and Legacy’s Impact

“Anyone with anxiety will totally relate to Ginny Andrews’ humorous tales of the struggle of day-to-day life in today’s world.” —John A.B., Amazon Reviewer

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Click to Purchase | Goodreads


Watch the trailer for Good Talk… Good Talk


About the author, Ginny Andrews Author Photo Andrews

Ginny Andrews is a former high school teacher and coach, who is now an aspiring comedian, speaker, and writer. She would greatly appreciate it if you purchased her book! Door Dash, dog-sitting, used car sales, lawn mowing, and selling random items found in her house aren’t high paying gigs!

Connect with Ginny:

Website | Instagram | Facebook | Amazon | X/Twitter

TikTok | YouTube | Goodreads | BookBub

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My Thoughts MissMeliss - 2023

Ginny Andrews’s new book, Good Talk… Good Talk, is the perfect antidote to the rather dour early November. It’s breezy, it’s candid, it’s relatable, and it’s laugh-out-loud funny.

Presented as a series of essays – monologues, really – about everything from attempting meditation to fitness classes to an epic BenGay overload and beyond, and she does it all with self-deprecating humor that makes you empathize with her plight, murmur, “Same, girl, same,” and dissolve into hysterical laughter, often at once.

And yet, beneath the humor there’s a very real, very flawed (as are we all) human being trying her best to navigate a world that changes daily, seems to mock us as we age, and didn’t come with any kind of a manual. From her childhood experiences with religion to her confession that “Andrews is awkward,” there is a poignance that grounds her stories in the emotional truth of being a single woman in her forties. As she writes, “It’s cute to compare your ten-year-old self to your twenty-year-old self, but anyone thirty and above… it doesn’t fare well for us.”

If you like your humor with a side of insight, you will appreciate Good Talk… Good Talk. If you can look at yourself in the mirror and realize that, yes, you have bumped into store mannequins and apologized, that horror movies kept you awake at night as a child, and that you do take longer than others to catch on to the latest fads (or just basic household skills) you will not merely love this book, you will identify with the author.

Run, carefully lest you trip, to the nearest bookstore (or, let’s be honest, the nearest computer or tablet) and buy a copy of Good Talk… Good Talk. You will begin the month of November with a smile on your face, secure in the knowledge that you are not alone – Ginny Andrews is there to make sure.

Goes well with: Pizza, possibly a whole one, and Dr. Pepper.


Giveaway

ONE WINNER:

Signed paperback of GOOD TALK. . .GOOD TALK

+ $25 Amazon gift card

(US only; ends midnight, CST, 11/10/23)

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Visit the Other Great Blogs on This Tour

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.

10/31/23 Chapter Break Book Blog Notable Quotables
10/31/23 Hall Ways Blog BONUS Stop
11/01/23 Bibliotica Review
11/01/23 LSBBT Blog BONUS Stop
11/02/23 Reading by Moonlight Guest Post
11/03/23 The Plain-Spoken Pen Review
11/04/23 Carpe Diem Chronicles Author Interview
11/05/23 The Real World According to Sam Excerpt
11/06/23 A Page Before Bedtime Review
11/07/23 The Page Unbound Scrapbook
11/07/23 Forgotten Winds BONUS Review
11/08/23 StoreyBook Reviews Review
11/09/23 Reading by Moonlight Review

 

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