Sunday, September 29, 2019

Mr. Penguin and the Fortress of Secrets (Bk 2) by Alex T. Smith


Mr. Penguin and the Fortress of Secrets 
Book 2
By Alex T. Smith
Peachtree Publishing Co.
Oct. 1, 2019
288 pages


Plot: Follow Mr. Penguin and Colin as they crash-land on a snowy mountain. Will they be able to solve the mystery of the missing pets? What are the strange noises coming from the abandoned fortress? And will Mr. Penguin conquer his fear of flying?
Find out in the second Mr. Penguin book with plenty of slapstick humor, mystery and adventure. (2019, Goodreads.com)
Review:  Another fun and humor-filled adventure for Mr. Penguin and Colin in book 2 of this adorable series.  In this Indiana Jones inspired character, children of all ages will enjoy the cute illustrations and quirky adventures of Mr. Penguin and his companion. It has just enough illustrations throughout the book for those children still transitioning from picture books to chapter books.  A perfect addition to your home or school library, and a must-read series for your reluctant readers! You'll want to keep a few copies of each title in your school library. Recommended for ages 7 and up!  

*A DRC was given for an honest review.

Rating: 5 Hearts!
               💖💖💖💖💖

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Carols and Chaos by Cindy Anstey


Carols and Chaos
by Cindy Anstey
Published by Swoon Reads
October 9, 2018
328 pages

Plot: A lady's maid and a valet become entangled in a yuletide counterfeiting scheme in this romantic Christmas YA adventure.


1817. The happy chaos of the Yuletide season has descended upon the country estate of Shackleford Park in full force, but lady's maid Kate Darby barely has the time to notice. Between her household duties, caring for her ailing mother, and saving up money to someday own a dress shop, her hands are quite full. Matt Harlow is also rather busy. He's performing double-duty, acting as valet for both of the Steeple brothers, two of the estate's holiday guests.  Falling in love would be a disaster for either of them. But staving off their feelings for each other becomes the least of their problems when a devious counterfeiting scheme reaches the gates of Shackleford Park, and Kate and Matt are unwittingly swept up in the intrigue.  A companion book to Suitors and Sabotage. (2019, Goodreads.com)


Review: Carols and Chaos is a sweet romance between two side characters from Suitors and Sabotage.  Although a standalone novel, it is best to read Suitors and Sabotage first to understand the dynamics of the relationships between all the characters.


Kate is a lady's maid and Matt is a Valet, both servants to two different upper-class characters from Suitors and Sabotage.   The romance between Kate and Matt is slow as both are concerned about what a romance between them would mean for their current employment.  But, when another servant goes missing, Kate and Matt spend more and more time together to solve the mystery of his disappearance. But, as they investigate this missing servant, the more entangled they get into a dangerous counterfeiting scheme, unbeknownst to them. 


It's rare to see a story centered on the romance between servants in a historical fiction novel. Usually, the love interests are nobles or royalty, so I did enjoy the different perspective.  And, although slow to start, the story does pick-up midway through the book and really doesn't stop!  It gets exciting from that point on, so don't give up if you feel not much is happening in the first half of the story.  I was hoping for more of a Christmas feel throughout the book, but the story focuses more on the romance between Kate and Matt and the missing servant. 

Another cute romance from Anstey with some adventure, danger, and intrigue!  If you like a clean romance with Austen-styled writing, then you will enjoy Carols and Chaos.

*An DRC was given for an honest review.

Rating: 💖💖💖💔
                3.5 hearts!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Lone Star Book Blogger Tour: ANGEL THIEVES by Kathi Appelt ***GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY***


ANGEL THIEVES
by
KATHI APPELT

Young Adult / Magical Realism / Historical / Contemporary
Publisher: Atheneum / Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
Date of Publication: March 12, 2019
Number of Pages: 336


  ***Scroll down for the giveaway!***



An ocelot. A slave. An angel thief. Multiple perspectives spanning across time are united through themes of freedom, hope, and faith in a most unusual and epic novel from Newbery Honor–winning author and National Book Award finalist Kathi Appelt.  

Sixteen-year-old Cade Curtis is an angel thief. After his mother’s family rejected him for being born out of wedlock, he and his dad moved to the apartment above a local antique shop. The only payment the owner Mrs. Walker requests: marble angels, stolen from graveyards, for her to sell for thousands of dollars to collectors. But there’s one angel that would be the last they’d ever need to steal; an angel, carved by a slave, with one hand open and one hand closed. If only Cade could find it… Zorra, a young ocelot, watches the bayou rush past her yearningly. The poacher who captured and caged her has long since lost her, and Zorra is getting hungrier and thirstier by the day. Trapped, she only has the sounds of the bayou for comfort—but it tells her help will come soon. Before Zorra, Achsah, a slave, watched the very same bayou with her two young daughters. After the death of her master, Achsah is free, but she’ll be damned if her daughters aren’t freed with her. All they need to do is find the church with an angel with one hand open and one hand closed… In a masterful feat, National Book Award Honoree Kathi Appelt weaves together stories across time, connected by the bayou, an angel, and the universal desire to be free.

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Angel Thieves, Part One
Guest Post by Kathi Appelt

This book took me a full three years to get it to its final incarnation, and honestly, if I had another week, I’d probably tweak it again. My editor, the wondrous Caitlyn Dlouhy, basically had to rip it out of my grubby little hands. “Kathi, seriously, we have to send it to the printer NOW!” Alas!
Some history: The first draft came fast. I got it all down in about six weeks, which is something of a record for me. I’m normally a fairly slow writer. You could say that it was the proverbial shitty first draft. There was nothing lovely or magical or enchanting about it whatsoever. What it had going for it was “possibility.” And you’re probably thinking, really? Six weeks? Okay, true confessions: there were a couple of intertwined ideas that I had been mulling over for years, and in that initial burst of writing, those two ideas just kept eating at me.
The first came to me as a question—what does it look like to have the kind of faith that you would risk everything, including your life, and the life of others, for the cause of faith? Here in my part of the world, I’ve met people whose faith is so deep, their belief is so solid, that they are convinced that any harm that comes their way is part of a bigger plan, and also that Jesus or God or Allah or however you want to describe a Higher Power, will take care of you. I call these folks “sweet believers,” because that’s how I see them: sweet in their beliefs. And I mean it in a very complimentary way.
I will be the first to say that I’m not a religious person. However, I do believe that one can be a person of faith, without being tied to any particular religion. But that wasn’t what I was pondering here. Instead, I wanted to write about a girl who lived her life based upon her sweet belief in all-things-good. Moreover, what if it was her experience of her church that guided her?
The second idea came from a moment I had several years earlier. One cold, rainy day, I accompanied my 90-year old grandmother to the graveside service of her younger brother. It was a tiny gathering at the old Washington Cemetery in Houston, TX. I come from a very long line—seven generations in fact—of Houstonians, the earliest of whom arrived back when Texas a republic.
The service ended, hugs were delivered, and we got back in the car to head to her house. But as we drove through the cemetery, I noticed that something was “off.” It was so unsettling that I felt compelled to make another loop through the graveyard. What I noticed was that, without any exceptions, every angel had been decapitated. All their heads were missing.
I was haunted by it, so much in fact that I asked my husband, Ken, to drive to Houston with me to take a photo.
I even wrote a poem about it.
Now, the Washington Cemetery is old. It’s been there for a very long time. It’s likely that some of those heads were lost to lightning, or a tree fall, or a high wind. But it’s more likely that someone, maybe someone like the boy in my poem, stole them. And that led me to investigate the very lucrative black market in stolen cemetery statuary. Yes, it really is a thing.
All of this led me to ask this question: what would it be like for a boy who has a dark secret to fall for a girl who is fundamentally good? How could that possibly play out? Would there ultimately be any hope for a relationship like that? What would it look like?
From those initial questions, I created Soleil Broussard (Sweet Believer) and Cade Curtis (Angel Thief).

They form the contemporary timeline of the novel. There is another timeline that is set in pre-Civil War Houston. I want to tell you about that too, but right now, I have to feed the cats. Stay tuned.

PRAISE FOR ANGEL THIEVES:
Spiritual, succinct, and emotionally gripping. 

-- School Library Journal A heartfelt love letter to Houston that acknowledges the bad parts of its history while uplifting the good. -- BCBB Shows the best and worst sides of humanity and underscores the powerful force of the bayou, which both holds and erases secrets.  

-- Publishers Weekly Narrative strands are like tributaries that begin as separate entities but eventually merge into a single thematic connection: that love, whether lost or found, is always powerful. -- Horn Book Richly drawn and important. -- Booklist, starred review





Kathi Appelt is the author of the Newbery Honoree, National Book Award finalist, PEN USA Literary Award–winning, and bestselling The Underneath as well as the National Book Award finalist The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, Maybe a Fox (with Alison McGhee), Keeper, and many picture books including Counting Crows and Max ... Attacks
She has two grown children and lives in College Station, Texas, with her husband and their six cats. She serves as a faculty member at Vermont College of Fine Arts in their MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program.


-------------------------------------
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THREE SIGNED COPIES OF ANGEL THIEVES

SEPTEMBER 24-OCTOBER 4, 2019
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VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR
9/24/19
Book Trailer
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9/25/19
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9/26/19
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9/27/19
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Monday, September 2, 2019

Lone Star Book Blogger Tour: FATAL STRIKE by DiAnn Mills ***AUTHOR VIDEO & GIVEAWAY!***

FATAL STRIKE
by
DiANN MILLS
Genre: Romantic Suspense / Clean Romance / Christian
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Date of Publication: September 3, 2019
Number of Pages: 400

Scroll down for giveaway!


There’s a killer on the loose in Galveston, targeting law enforcement officials and using a fatal injection of snake venom to take them down. Authorities have reasons to believe the Veneno gang is behind the hits, and FBI Agents Leah Riesel and Jon Colbert team up to track down those responsible. Their best lead is an eyewitness who identifies a young man dumping the third body on a church doorstep. But their suspect has gone into hiding, and those closest to him are reluctant to reveal anything that might help investigators find him.
As Leah and Jon check connections among the victims and dig deeper into motives, they discover appearances may be deceiving. Someone is desperate to keep their secrets hidden, and Leah and Jon must face their greatest fears in order to stop the next fatal strike.




PURCHASE LINKS
AmazonBarnes & Noble  ◆  Books-A-MillionIndieboundChristianbook.com  
◆ Google Play  ◆  Apple iBooks  ◆   Kobo  ◆ Murder by the Book ◆  Tyndale  ◆










DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She weaves memorable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. DiAnn believes every breath of life is someone’s story, so why not capture those moments and create a thrilling adventure? 

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol Award contests. 

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is the director of the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, Mountainside Marketing Retreat, and the Mountainside Novelist Retreat with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. 

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. She’s very active online and loves to connect with readers.


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FOUR WINNERS:
 Personalized Hard Copies of Fatal Strike
+ $25 Starbucks Gift Cards

September 3-13, 2019
CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
9/3/19
Author Video
9/3/19
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9/4/19
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9/5/19
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9/6/19
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9/8/19
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9/10/19
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9/10/19
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9/12/19
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