Sunday, December 8, 2019

"Breath of Joy: Winter Whispers' by Kathy Joy -- Book Review, Blog Tour, and Giveaway.

About the Book

Book: Breath of Joy! Winter Whispers
Author: Kathy Joy
Genre: Non-fiction, Gift Book, Picture Book
Release Date: October 1, 2019
Winter whispersThe final book in the series, Breath of Joy, Winter Whispers speaks of the deep quiet earth movements that echo human proving grounds and transitions during rest. Photo Art and Prose. Three everyday celebrations on every page spread are not commercially Christmas but rather interrelational and spiritually poised. This is simply, because in Winter when the earth’s axis is the farthest away from the sun, people warm themselves and grow in the wonder of darkness, where God still sees us, breathing life.

My Thoughts

This book is not exactly what I expected. The words seemed disjointed and unrelated and I found it hard to follow. I thought I would do better just reading one page at a time rather than all together as they might be more like poems and be standalones rather than one cohesive book, but it still didn't make any sense to me. It could be because I don't read much poetry. The pictures were nice, but hard to see in the Kindle edition as I couldn't make them any bigger. I think it would be better in a full sized paperback book where you can see the detail better.

About the Author

Kathy Joy's Publicity Photo E (Winter)Kathy Joy enjoyed being a popular Christian radio D.J. in Colorado for many years. When her husband wanted to move to Pennsylvania to take over the family farm, Kathy Joy accompanied him with their two young daughters. Four years later, Kathy Joy found herself a widow raising two teenagers. To stave off despair, she began writing three every day celebrations in a journal. Friends on Facebook began prompting her to write a book, and so the beginning of the Breath of Joy series began. Kathy Joy now works in human services, speaking wonder on the weekends to grief therapy groups, motivational corporate meetings, and women’s retreats. Some of her topics include Vision Board workshops, Being a Harbor Pilot, Mirroring the Savior, The Fifth Season, and A Christmas Tea.

More from Kathy

I’m so excited to join Celebrate Lit for this first real blog tour of my Breath of Joy series!
As a collector of celebrations, curating pithy delights and sharing them with my readers, I do hope you enjoy the visual experience and personal comfort offered in my Winter Whispers book.
Wintertime, especially Christmas and Valentine’s day, can be some of the toughest times of the year for people who have experienced trauma, or significant loss and grief. I’m one of those people.  Collecting three everyday celebrations for me was a means of refocusing on common joys in my life. They were a means of turning my despair into faith. Now, by publishing four books in less than two years, I have encountered another ladder of faith and I continue to face fear in order to live the adventure that God has for me.
Don’t you know, the Lord gives us many different kinds of gifts, and some of those gifts we would rather return to Him?  However, my seasonal “Breath of Joy!” books helped me not only to be thankful for the phase of life in which I found myself, but writing these books also built depth into my relationship with my real self, not my public persona, and specifically with the real God of the Bible.
It brings joy to my heart to collect snapshots of life and give my readers an opportunity to experience simple blessings in fresh, new ways. My books were borne out of sudden loss and grief when my husband of 23 years died of a massive heart attack. Gathering up my will to go forward, I remembered he always encouraged me to collect “beautiful moments” and write them down.
Now, when people connect with me, they say things like, “I couldn’t sleep, and so I picked up your book, and it gave me a new perspective that has helped me go on. If you can do it, so can I.” / “I went to one of Kathy Joy’s vision board making workshops. When I posted my board on the refrigerator, I had no idea how much I would rely on it to get me through the next year.  I am writing this to thank you for helping me stay out of the hospital for a full year.” /
“Just downloaded your file/book. Absolutely beautiful. I thought you wrote prose/poetry. Forgive me for putting you off. I loved perusing the pages. I went through it too fast. I need to sip it. I will peruse it again tomorrow. Totally different from what I thought it’d be. Hmmm. It’s more than a coffee table book. Gift book. Calming book. Nice, very nice.  Let me sit with it and ponder it. Lovely creation.
These kinds of receptions make my day. They let me know that God still has adventures for me to take and purposes for me to speak wonder into other people’s lives.


To celebrate her tour, Kathy is giving away the grand prize of a copy of the book in reader’s choice of format!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

"Breath of Joy: Winter Whispers" is available in paperback:
  • Series: Breath of Joy (Book 4)
  • Paperback: 54 pages
  • Publisher: Capture Books (August 22, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 195108411X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1951084110
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 0.1 x 8.5 inches

and in Kindle edition:
  • File Size: 25750 KB
  • Print Length: 54 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Capture Books; 1 edition (September 18, 2019)
  • Publication Date: September 18, 2019
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English

I got a free copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own and given voluntarily.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

"Having Tried Everything" & "The String Theory Beginning With Me" by Tonia Colleen Martin -- Author Interview, Blog Tour, and Giveaway

About the Books

Book: Having Tried Everything & The String Theory Beginning With Me
Author: Tonia Colleen Martin
Genre: Coffee Table Gift, Adult Fairytale Illustrated
Release Date: July, 2019
Having Tried Everything
Having tried everything coverSleep often eludes. We try this and we try that. Still, the night gives a wake up call we’d rather not answer. “Having Tried Everything” is the story of a terminally lonely insomniac who does answer. Stepping from the rut of routines and rituals, moving from the known to the unknown, she discovers not only mercy and abundance but who she is and the travesty and redemption of what it means to be human. “Having Tried Everything” is at once actual, metaphorical, providential and inexplicably true. The “YOU” in the story is both the reader and the writer. The very act of embracing this narrative provides the first step toward the wonderland of connection, acceptance and gratitude. Where words abbreviate the astonishment of God’s signature on creature and creatures, the illustrations enhance and annotate. Suitable for all dreamers and courageous pragmatists.

The String Theory Beginning with Me
Sting Theory coverThe String Theory Beginning With Me is an illustrated prose poem tracing the journey to freedom from an internal landscape of chaos and fear. Using specific images from the natural world, this story condenses and simplifies a very slow, methodical transformation indicative of those who consistently seek the larger experience of living both in and beyond the here and now. Because of its metaphorical language and its delicate presentation, The String Theory Beginning with Me, has a universal appeal and is an ideal gift for both contemplatives and the spirited.

Click here to to get your copy of Having Tried Everything and here to get your copy of The String Theory Beginning with Me.

Interview with Tonia Colleen Martin

  1. Who would you say inspired you the most in your life?I have a dear friend who mentored me through deep sorrows. I know many Christian women who have influenced me and supported me but my one friend in particular knows the ickiest parts of me and walked through them with me to the other side. I’ve borrowed her faith over and over. Because I was emotionally and spiritually supported in so many raw and devasting seasons, I was able to grasp the life-giving creativity that God poured into me. Certainly with the gift of painting and writing God partnered with me in the very processes he uses to clarify and deepen my faith. But having a flesh and blood Jesus in my friend as a first responder equipped me to move forward when I would have easily crumbled.
  2. If you could spend the day with anyone (living or dead) who would it be? Of course the answer is Jesus, not Jesus in the flesh and blood, but Jesus showing up in the words of individuals like the friend described above. Jesus in the encouraging words of my husband. But I have to admit, the luxury of being alone with no time commitment and being able to paint at leisure is sheer joy and grounds for rejuvenation. Why? Painting and watching what happens to an idea I begin to watercolor and watching it develop and then seeing it completed, as strange as it seems, feels like being loved by an inanimate being. It’s very strange, I know & certainly not true, but it is a visceral sensation. When I complete a painting I can honestly point at it and say, “Look what God did,” without any sense of pride of ownership, just wonder. It is the same with writing, especially poetry. Novels also but the two I have completed are not yet perfected and I am still working on final edits. 
  3. Do you have a special writing area? Yes, I do. A spare bedroom transformed into a studio. I love it. I am surrounded by my paintings and books and can see through the tree branches outside the window. I can shut the door!
  4. How do you balance writing time with the demands of life/family? With fear and trembling! I can’t do it, not even for one day without prayer and faith. Currently, my 85 yr. old mother and 90 yr. old father, still living on their own, but just barely, need lots of help. It’s difficult to know what is mine to do and what is beyond me. I also have grand children and you know how quickly they grow and change. They are nearby. I don’t want to miss a thing, so it can get dicey in terms of picking and choosing. I could improve on choice making.
  5. What kind of research do you do? I’m curious about everything. I’m interested in trauma and grace, in narrative healing practices, in learning to listen well and understanding the impact of my history on my creative practices. Although I have been encouraged, and rightfully so to “know my audience,” the first order of business is to know me because my initial drafts of whatever are always spanned by a deep need to communicate something to myself.
  6. How long do you spend researching before beginning a book? I don’t. I write from a “lyrical impulse” and work backwards. I know, it sounds strange. I didn’t come up with that analysis on my own, a quite famous editor assessed my work that way. It amused me but at the same time it did hit the nail on the head.
  7. Was there anything you found interesting while researching the topic? Oh yes, EVERYTHING interests me, which is a problem and it can take me down a tipsey turvey trail that seems off course as the information may or may not be needed. 
  8. Do you have any writing quirks? Yes I tend to write with a passive voice and it drives me crazy since it is so instinctive. It’s a protective mechanism ingrained in me by growing up in an environment where questions were thwarted and even punished.
  9. Do you read much? I read all the time. I have stacks of books everywhere. I love the quirky books and can get sucked in by language even when the narrative is somewhat inferior. I love everything by C.S. Lewis – fiction and non-fiction. I can still remember the thrill of having Little Pilgrim’s Progress read to me at the age of 5 or so, maybe 7.
  10. What is different about writing non-fiction vs fiction? Fiction is like stepping into a cave with a dim light, listening for the ping of water, hoping not to be buried, grasping for language to embody the sensations and scenery. Non-fiction is like walking into a defined venue and reporting on what is there and then asking why. It is much less subjective and wobbly. Would you say one is easier than the other? Non-fiction, absolutely.
  11. Anything else you'd like to share? Flesh Made Word: Writing as an act of incarnation is the title of the thesis lecture I gave for my graduation at Vermont College of the Arts. Just in case anyone wants to dig in deeper, here’s the link:

About the Author

Tonia Colleen MartinWhile I was still feeble in my selfness and narrow in my horizons, I became a collector of words. Words often come and go all on their own. I do my best to arrange them in beautiful order. This particular arrangement is called Having Tried Everything: An exploration of redemption, hope and possibility through the eyes of a terminally lonely insomniac. It is at once actual, metaphorical, providential and inexplicable. The “YOU” in the story is both the reader and myself as the writer/artist. Thank You for stepping into this with me. The weight of this truth is surprisingly heavy and less accessible than I would like it to be. Divine Love and His intervention is the hope I often forget to cling. The Lie: You are alone and will end alone, has subtly confused me without my knowledge or consent for a very long time. My ability to escape its debilitating effects is in direct proportion to name it as a lie. The miracle of being designed for relationship with the living God despite my frailties continues to astound me. My value as a human being is not predicated on my good behaviors or bright countenance, but rather by God’s compassion and mercy. The unshakeable truth of my wealth given freely to me by nature of my design and God’s generosity is not mine alone. Thus, the You in the story is ours together. God bless you as you consider with me the miracle of God’s unmerited favor towards us based on nothing we’ve worked for or earned.

More from Tonia

On Labor Day morning, I woke up to an email reminding me I missed a deadline.
This is not the kind of message that incites creativity.
And now sitting here in my front garden, trying to imagine the sound of the neighbor’s leaf blower as that of a vigorous wind warming up to deliver an epic end-of- summer storm, I am face to face with a wordless me wondering how to communicate the enormity of what I want to be say…after all, what happens in these two little, tiny, shrunken, abbreviated, synthetic replications of what actually occurred in the chronological space of history crosses into speculative territory. And I haven’t even met you.
If you dream of traveling but time, money or fear has held you back, The String Theory Beginning with Me is a story boat meant to sail you safely into the intergalactic waters of your own lonely soul. If you worry about failure, Having Tried Everything  is an illustrated syllabus developed from a rubbing pressed against the gravestone of a dream, carefully framed by God’s healing light.  Both books are designed to give you a holiday from clock watching and move you into a space of heart throb time.

Blog Stops

Simple Harvest Reads, December 1 (Author Interview)
Texas Book-aholic, December 3
All 4 and About Books, December 4 (Author Interview)
janicesbookreviews, December 5
Mary Hake, December 5
Blossoms and Blessings, December 7 (Author Interview)
A Reader’s Brain, December 8
Andrea Christenson, December 10 (Author Interview)
Artistic Nobody, December 11


To celebrate her tour, Tonia is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of each of the books!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

"Heart of a Royal" by Hannah Currie -- Book Review, Blog Tour, and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Heart Of A Royal
Author: Hannah Currie
Genre:  Young Adult/Royalty
Heart of a Royal coverBrought to the palace as a newborn, the royal life bestowed upon Mackenna Sparrow was never meant to last forever. With Princess Alina engaged to be married, Mackenna’s presence as companion is no longer required and, like it or not, she must return to the birthright which should have been hers – that of a commoner. But not everyone at the palace wants her gone. When the truths she’s based her life on start crumbling as fast as her future, will she find the courage to trust, both herself and the prince she’s fallen in love with?

My Thoughts

I am so glad that I read this book. "Heart of a Royal" is the first book in the Daughters of Peverell series, and Hannah Currie's debut novel. I loved this book. I found it well written and once I picked it up, I didn't want to put it down. I had to force myself to put it aside to do things like sleep and clean the house. I liked Kenna and found her insecurities and fears to be realistic and believable. I also totally loved Thoraben. He was strong and yet gentle, confident and caring. The secondary characters also gained my love. The spiritual thread is not immediately obvious, but after finishing the book, I could see how the whole story was a parallel to God's love for us as undeserving sinners. I look forward to reading more books by Hannah Currie.

About the Author

Hannah currieAussie author, Hannah Currie, loves God, family, people (in small numbers, let’s not go crazy here!) and writing. She and her husband live with their three adorable kids in sunny Queensland, where it really is beautiful one day and perfect the next. Except, maybe, during heatwaves. They’re not so fun. She loves to connect with readers at

More from Hannah

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by royalty. Real ones like Queen Elizabeth II, who is such an incredible woman and a total hero of mine (not to mention, as a proud Australian and member of the Commonwealth, my monarch) but also the not-so-real ones. Those found in fairytales. Romances. Narnia.
I’m one of those people who blocks out an entire day to watch a royal wedding, sighs like a hopeless romantic through cheesy princess movies, reads just about any novel I find with a crown on the front and loves a full-spread photo souvenir magazine. I may have even written a short story starring a princess for an English assignment at school. More than once. [Side note, if you’re going to write a story about a princess who is totally adorable but can’t spell, don’t use a misspelled word as the title. It takes a lot of explaining to make sure the teacher knows you did it on purpose and doesn’t mark you down for it… sorry Ninth Grade English teacher!].
The glamor draws me in, the beautiful clothes, the history and romance of it all, but it’s the expectations they have on them which hold me there. Every title comes with a million expectations, whether or not they’re realistic. We expect royals, both real and fictional, to behave in a certain way. To be honourable (assuming they’re the good guys). To care for their people and put them first. To always be there. Yes, even to be beautiful.
But what happens when they’re not? When they’re shy? Fight anxiety? Hate the spotlight? Are blemished in some way? What happens when what’s best for the people isn’t what’s best for them? Or when they make a mistake? Something which, for anyone else, would be easily fixed or glossed over but for a royal, gets written into the history books forever. Purely because of their title.
Kenna, the main character in Heart of a Royal, never meant to be a princess. She wasn’t born into royalty, neither did she choose it. And yet, due to circumstances far beyond her control, there she is. Living in a palace. Part of that life.
Very few of us are royalty but I think we all know how heavy expectations can be and the pain of being thrust into situations beyond our control. And yet, even in those moments and seasons, just like Kenna, we have choices. They might seem small, maybe even insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but they’re there. Who we put our trust in. What we do with the circumstances we’ve been given. Where we go from there.
Heart of a Royal is as much my story as it is Kenna’s. No, I’m not a princess (thankfully!) but I have struggled through finding hope and purpose when life flies out of control and the expectations prove too much. And here’s what I’ve found – God is good. There is hope and God is good. I hope, through Kenna’s story, you are reminded of that too.

Blog Stops

CarpeDiem, November 28
Hebrews 12 Endurance, November 28
Hallie Reads, November 28
Emily Yager, November 29
Back Porch Reads, November 30
Mia Reads Blog, December 1
Bigreadersite , December 1
Kathleen Denly, December 2
Genesis 5020, December 2
She Lives To Read, December 2
Texas Book-aholic, December 2
Livin’ Lit, December 3
The Becca Files, December 4
Becka Jiménez , December 4
HookMeInABook, December 4
janicesbookreviews, December 4
Avid Reader Nurse, December 6
A Reader’s Brain, December 6
Moments, December 7
Remembrancy, December 8
Pause for Tales , December 8
All-of-a-kind Mom, December 10
Batya’s Bits, December 11


To celebrate her tour Hannah is giving away the grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

"Heart of a Royal" is available in paperback:
  • Series: Daughters of Peverell (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 308 pages
  • Publisher: WhiteSpark Publishing (October 15, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1946531537
  • ISBN-13: 978-1946531537
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches

and in Kindle edition:
  • File Size: 497 KB
  • Print Length: 386 pages
  • Publisher: WhiteSpark Publishing (October 15, 2019)
  • Publication Date: October 15, 2019
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English

I got a free copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own and given voluntarily. No compensation was received for this review.