Thursday, December 12, 2019

"All is Bright" by Kari Trumbo, Toni Shiloh, Cathe Swanson, & Chautona Havig -- Book Review, Blog Tour, and Giveaway

About the Book

Book:  All Is Bright (Christmas Lights Collection 2019)
Author: Kari Trumbo, Toni Shiloh, Cathe Swanson, & Chautona Havig
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: October  17, 2019



Four of your favorite contemporary romance authors join festive forces to bring you the fourth-annual Christmas Lights Collection.
Kari Trumbo-  Merry and Dashing: Merry hates Christmas corporate greed. Jacob loves finding the perfect gift for everyone. When Scrooge and Santa volunteer at a local thrift store together, will the mix be Holly Jolly?
Toni Shiloh-  I’ll Be Home: What could be worse than being laid off right before the holidays? For Starr Lewis that would include returning home jobless, single, and, oh yeah, just in time to attend her sister’s wedding on Christmas Eve… to Starr’s ex-boyfriend. In the midst of it all, her brother’s best friend soon has her wondering if she can take another chance on love.
Cathe Swanson- Season of Change:  Charlea’s ready to sell Serenity Hill, but Drew is back in town, 15 years after their dream date ended in disaster, helping her mother and daughter turn the old commune into a commercial Christmas wonderland. Between poinsettias and sleigh rides, angst and romance collide in this Christmas second-chance romance!
Chautona Havig- The 12 Dates of Christmas : When Reagan runs into Alex, her high school nemesis, he is stunned to discover that’s how she saw him. It’ll take twelve dates and a lot of forgiveness on both sides to even hope for a Christmassy-ever-after.
Brighten your day with these four heart-warming novellas today!

My Thoughts
"Merry and Dashing" by Kari Trumbo- This story didn't flow very well for me, so it took me a little bit to get into it. Once I was partway through, I wanted to keep reading to find out what was going to happen. Being a novella, the story wasn't as fleshed out and the romance moved really quickly. I was a little put off by them lying about not knowing each other. I thought a "I got this awesome resume in response to my inquiry. It turns out it is off a woman I met 3 days ago at the store I volunteer at." Would have been honest and not been seen as a relationship or friendship. This is my first book/story by Kari Trumbo and I would be interested in trying some of her other books.

"I'll be Home" by Toni Shiloh-- I have read many of Toni Shiloh's books, so reading this story was a little like visiting with a friend. I like how her books flow. Even though this is a novella, it didn't feel like it. It gave you a whole bang for your buck. I liked Starr and empathized with her situation in her family and I liked Waylon and his charming ways. I liked the faith thread and clear gospel message given. I look forward to reading more of Toni Shiloh's books.

"Season of Change" by Cathe Swanson-- I was drawn into the story and wanted to keep reading to see what was going to happen. There was a bit of mystery as to what was going on at Charlea's work that added a little bit of a different layer that was fun. I also liked getting to know some of the secondary characters and that I would get to learn more about them in the upcoming books in the series.

"The 12 Dates of Christmas" by Chautona Havig-- I enjoyed reading this story. I liked seeing the characters grow and change. I felt the story had a nice flow and didn't seem rushed. There were nice biblical principles woven through the story as well. I thought it was fun how she tied the story with "The Ghosts of New Cheltenham".

About the Author

karitrumbo
Kari Trumbo:  Kari Trumbo writes swoony heroes and places that become characters with detail and heart. Kari loves reading, listening to music, singing when no one’s listening, and curling up with a fuzzy blanket, a book, and a hot cup of tea by the wood stove. She loves her make-believe people almost as much as the real thing. You can find out more about her and her worlds at karitrumbo.com

ToniShiloh
Toni Shiloh:  Toni Shiloh writes ethnically diverse characters that could be your best friend. She writes to understand the Lord more and shares her lessons with her readers. Visit her at www.tonishiloh.com.


cathe swanson
Cathe Swanson:  Cathe Swanson, the author of the Great Lakes and Glory Quilts series, enjoys gardening, sewing, papercrafting, and kayaking on the beautiful Wisconsin rivers. As a child of the 60’s, she’s having fun writing about hippies and the Jesus People movement in her new Serenity Hill series.


chautona havig
Chautona Havig: Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her at chautona.com


More From Chautona

Christmas in “The Christmas City”

I wrote most of 12 Dates of Christmas in Noel, Missouri, otherwise known as “The Christmas City.”  That’s kind of funny, because Noel isn’t pronounced No-ell.  It’s “Nole”—rhymes with pole.  As in North. 😉
By the time I’d finished, it was almost time to leave the little town and head home after nearly six weeks with old and new friends.  I had to say goodbye to memories I might never visit in person again, and it was difficult to imagine.
So, I did the only thing I knew to do.  I wrote a super-short story.  It’s just over seven thousand words (including a bit of history behind different people, places, and things in the story), but it captured things near and dear to my heart—my mother’s house, the church I’ve loved for so many years, town traditions, and now characters I’m not sure I can let go of.
In fact, I am considering writing a full-length novella next year for the fifth-annual Christmas Lights Collection next year!  I think Rob and Lissa deserve to have their full story told.
As my thanks to readers who purchase or read the collection on Kindle Unlimited, I’m offering this short story, “A Noel Christmas,” FREE.  Just send me your receipt or a screenshot showing you’ve completed the collection and it’s yours.  Visit https://chautona.com/bonus for more information or just zip an email to any of the authors in the collection. We’re all happy to send it on.
We all hope you have a very meaningful Christmas this year—one that offers bright spots in your days. May God richly bless you now and in the new year.
Kari Trumbo, Toni Shiloh, Cathe Swanson, and Chautona Havig
P.S.  If you read the short story, do let me know if you think I should turn it into a full-length novella/novel. I’d love to know your opinion.

Blog Stops

Among the Reads, December 6
Texas Book-aholic, December 7
janicesbookreviews, December 8
Mary Hake, December 9
Genesis 5020, December 10
Inklings and notions, December 11
CarpeDiem, December 13
Batya’s Bits, December 16
She Lives To Read, December 17
Lots of Helpers, December 18
Simple Harvest Reads, December 19

Giveaway

To celebrate their tour, The Christmas Lights Authors are giving away the grand prize of a six-month Kindle Unlimited Subscription!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

"All is Bright" is available in paperback:
  • Series: Christmas Lights Collection (Book 4)
  • Paperback: 575 pages
  • Publisher: Independently published (October 18, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1700904043
  • ISBN-13: 978-1700904041
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.3 x 8.5 inches

and in Kindle edition:
  • File Size: 3878 KB
  • Print Length: 499 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Havilah Press Publications (October 22, 2019)
  • Publication Date: October 22, 2019
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B07YN979SP




Monday, December 9, 2019

"Project Scrooge" by AM Heath --Book Review, Blog Tour, Giveaway, and NEW BOOK REVEAL part 1

Blog Tour

About the Book

Can Scrooge find love from a friendship gone cold?
Sanford Stone cut ties with his best friend, Natalie, in favor of the love of his life … a woman who ended up walking out on him just before Christmas. Six years later, Sanford can’t bring himself to celebrate Christ’s birth with any joy. Little does he know, his grandmother and her companions have dubbed him the Scrooge and intend to help him overcome his bitterness and find happiness again.
The only thing that has hurt Natalie Dunivan more than Sanford cutting her out of his life has been watching his long-held grudges slowly destroy the man she has always loved. When Ms. Carol devises a plan to reach out to Sanford, Natalie eagerly agrees.
Sanford accepts his grandmother’s challenge to celebrate Christmas for 31 straight days, but he didn’t count on her plan involving Natalie. Can his family and friends help their Scrooge see the error of his ways, or will Natalie’s presence only make things worse?


My Thoughts


I liked the idea of a modern day Scrooge story without the ghosts. The cover of "Project Scrooge" really drew me in. I love the look on Sanford's face and how it fits the book really well. The book was well written and had a nice flow to it. I especially liked Natalie and her sacrificial love for Sanford and her desire for him to find joy again. The different tasks that Ms. Carol comes up with for Sanford to celebrate Christmas were fun. I felt like I was participating with them. I enjoyed how A.M. Heath worked in the "ghosts" of Christmas past, present, and future without actual ghosts. The quotes from A Christmas Carol and the use of staves like it used added a nice tie in with the original Charles Dickens tale. I look forward to reading more books by A.M. Heath.




About the Author

Besides being an Indie Author, I’m a wife, mother of four, children’s Sunday School teacher, sweet tea drinker, history fanatic, romantic, bubbly, lover of broccoli, and a retired cake decorator who has a soft spot for Christmas trees, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. 
What I’m not is a laundress (or at least not one who keeps up very well), a duster, tall, or patient in a doctor’s office.

Author Links: 
I’d love to hear from you. You can visit me online on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Bookbub, Pinterest, and my blog. *Note: I’m most active on Facebook and my blog.
Whether you’re on social media or not, you can ensure that you never miss one of my sales, giveaways, or new releases by signing up for my newsletter. I’ll send you a direct link to your email anytime something big happens. http://eepurl.com/dDbVNz



Garland Collection surprise






Tour Stops: 
Mon. 12/9:
Jana @ Reviews from the Stacks
Becky @ Blossoms and Blessings
Tues. 12/10: 
Karen @ KarenSueHadley
Kaylee @ Kaylee’s Kind of Writes
Wed. 12/11: 
Alicia @ A Brighter Destiny
Virginia @ Bigreadersite
Thur. 12/12: 
Deana @ Texas Book-aholic
Debbie @ Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations 
Fri. 12/13:
Loretta @ Just Writing 
Amanda @ With a Joyful Noise
Wrap up: Mon. 12/16
A.M. Heath
Visit me on my blog for the full novella
reveal and the winner of the giveaway.

Click picture to buy


Giveaway



Click HERE to enter giveaway



"Project Scrooge" is available in paperback:
  • Series: Christmas in Garland Collection (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 130 pages
  • Publisher: Independently published (November 25, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1706146701
  • ISBN-13: 978-1706146704
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches


and in Kindle edition: 

  • File Size: 6950 KB
  • Print Length: 127 pages
  • Publication Date: December 9, 2019
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B081YHWHCC

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


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.

Giveaway

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
  • ASIN: B07XCRJHQS

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

Giveaway

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.