Snuffed Out Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: Snuffed Out

Author: Barbara Cornthwaite

Genre: Christian cozy mystery

Release Date: July 24, 2020

Picnics can be murder… scenes.

What was supposed to be a romantic picnic at “their spot” turns criminal when Katrina and Todd stumble—almost literally—over a body.

What’s the college chef doing under a bush up in the mountains? Other than being dead, that is.

Who killed him? Why?

All clues point to people who Katrina is certain didn’t do it. Especially the one who ends up dead himself.

Uh, oh.

Thanks to a slow-burning romantic relationship that can’t seem to get past chapter one, and a determination to save her friend from false arrest, Katrina joins Todd again as they riddle out bizarre clues, weed through unlikely suspects, and learn to communicate on a more personal level.

What do you get when you combine literary humor, sweet romance, and a practical helping of faith? A cozy mystery that’ll keep you guessing. Barbara Cornthwaite’s second Wilkester Mystery has everything you want for a cozy read.

Snag Snuffed Out today.

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Barbara Cornthwaite lives in the middle of Ireland with her husband and children. She taught college English before “retiring” to do something she loves far more; her days are now filled with homeschooling her six children, trying to keep the house tidy (a losing battle), and trying to stay warm in the damp Irish climate (also a losing battle). She is surrounded by medieval castles, picturesque flocks of sheep, and ancient stone monuments. These things are unappreciated by her children, who are more impressed by traffic jams, skyscrapers, and hot weather.

Teaser for Snuffed Out

Todd closed the folder with the Franklin case paperwork in it and laid it on top of the stack of folders waiting to be filed. He almost reached for the Delaney case notes again but resisted the impulse. There was no new information in there, and he’d gone over everything a dozen times in the last few days. He had promised Katrina he wouldn’t give up, but without any new leads to pursue, there wasn’t much he could do.

He shook his head, impatient with himself. He’d been doing so well at putting her out of his mind—hadn’t thought of her all day until this moment. Now he’d probably be struggling for the rest of the day.

John Ortega poked his head into Todd’s office.

“Hey, we just got a call from the librarian at Wilkester College about the theft of a manuscript. The chief said either one of us could go, but I thought you might like to take it.”

“Why?”

“Oh, come on,” said John. “You think I’m blind and deaf?”

“It’s no use. Nothing’s going to happen between Dr. Peters and me.”

John leaned up against the door frame and grinned at him. “’Dr. Peters,’ huh? She was ‘Katrina’ for weeks.”

“Well, that was before. Now that I know a relationship isn’t possible, I need to keep my distance.”

“She turned you down?”

“I didn’t ask, but trust me, I know what I’m talking about.”

“Hmm,” John said. “You don’t usually give up on things so easily. Well, do you mind handling this anyway? I’ve got that other robbery case to deal with, and I’m supposed to be interviewing that guy from Tacoma in a couple hours.” Todd hesitated and John added, “She’s an adjunct professor, right? She’s probably not even on campus now, and she certainly won’t be in the library.”

“Oh, okay.” Todd sighed. He pushed back his chair and stood up.

“’Attaboy. Thanks for taking the call.” John turned to go and then looked back. “It will get easier, you know.”

“I know.” As long as I don’t see her again.

My Review

The Wilkester Mysteries is a series that I hope will continue and result in many volumes. As far as cozy mysteries go, I am rather picky and often find them too fluffy or dull, which is why I lean more toward the suspense genre. However, Barbara Cornthwaite has managed to create a cozy series that has light danger and thrills without inducing nightmares or putting readers to sleep. There is a near-perfect blend of mystery, romance, literature, and faith that both entertains and educates, along with some wry humor for good measure.

For those who have bemoaned the seeming dearth of witty literary fiction focused on historical literature (or at least the knowledge thereof), this series needs to go to the top of your to-read list! Snuffed Out is book two, and in my opinion it is necessary to read book one, Brought to Book, first (read my review HERE). The characters remain consistent and although the crimes differ, the storyline itself continues, and in this case there is not enough backstory in the sequel to sufficiently understand who each person is and what is happening. Katrina narrates both stories in the first person, drawing readers directly into the mysteries and her personal life. My favorite character in the first book, I have to admit that I found Katrina annoying at times in this one, particularly when she begins comparing herself to Todd’s ex-wife. This does demonstrate her humanity, though, and her selflessness is evidenced by how she always takes care of those in need. She still quotes famous classic literature, with a fondness for the work of Jane Austen, applying it to life in unique ways.

Spiritual truths gently permeate the narrative, explaining the Gospel to characters—and readers—in brilliantly simple terms. Todd’s analysis of sin particularly stood out to me and is more relevant than ever during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic: “Sin is dark. All sin is dark. Not just the violent and heart-breaking crimes. That stuff is what evil looks like with the mask off. Sins that don’t seem so bad—losing your temper, telling a white lie, gossiping—is the same dark evil, just with a mask on. But all of it is bad enough to separate us from God. All of it is why Jesus had to die on the cross.” Often enough, we are faced with overwhelming situations that make us feel as if we, like Katrina, are “a turtle walking through tar”, but thankfully, if we walk with the Lord, He gives us the strength and the courage to continue on as Paul exhorts us in Philippians 3:13. In Snuffed Out, fostering is again a significant theme, which is so important in and of itself as well as for the lessons it can teach. Consoling a new foster mom, Katrina tells her: “But just because something turns out to be difficult—or more difficult—than you thought it would be doesn’t mean you don’t deserve help or sympathy.” The same applies to our trials, too, and we have a Savior ready and waiting for us to call on Him!

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 28

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 28

Texas Book-aholic, November 29

Nancy E Wood, November 29

The Avid Reader, November 30

Genesis 5020, November 30

For the Love of Literature, November 30

Sodbusterliving, December 1

Artistic Nobody, December 1 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, December 2

deb’s Book Review, December 2

Remembrancy, December 3

Ashley’s Bookshelf, December 3

Splashes of Joy, December 3

Inklings and notions, December 4

21st Century Keeper at Home, December 4

For Him and My Family, December 5

Blogging With Carol, December 5

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 6

Emily Yager, December 6

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, December 7

Lis Loves Reading, December 7

Labor Not in Vain, December 7

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 8

Mary Hake, December 8

She Lives to Read, December 9

Sara Jane Jacobs, December 9

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 10

Godly Book Reviews, December 10

SusanLovesBooks, December 10

Daysong Reflections, December 11

Bizwings Blog, December 11

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Barbara is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a paperback of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/103f2/snuffed-out-celebration-tour-giveaway

The Gene Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: The Gene

Author: Timothy Browne

Genre: Medical Thriller

Release Date: July 12, 2020

We are the dwelling place of God—it is woven into our very DNA. Do we change the core of who we are by manipulating our genes? Is gene-therapy a miraculous cure or a slippery slope into eugenics?

Following their marriage, Dr. Nicklaus Hart and Maggie Russell enjoy the splendor and passion of a honeymoon in Hawaii. They learn that their union has brought new life, but the overflowing joy of Maggie’s pregnancy and their romantic getaway is interrupted by the shocking news of a genetic disorder discovered in Maggie’s family lineage. The devastating possibility that both Maggie and the baby carry the mutated gene for the horrific Huntington’s disease, shakes their faith.

Faced with this dreadful diagnosis, Nick and Maggie seek peace as they wrestle with the heartbreaking discovery of a genetic disease versus the knowledge that God is good—He has made their baby in His image and knit him together in Maggie’s womb. Like the millions of people around the world affected with genetic disorders, Nick and Maggie look for answers. With the belief that people are the dwelling place of God, and He is woven into the DNA, what should they do when that DNA has been corrupted?

Nick and Maggie travel to Poland, where the top geneticist, Emmanuelle Christianson, has founded and operates BioGenics whose mission statement is: Advancing the Human Genome. They understand that medical advances always cost something, but they face impossible decisions. They are unaware that the sinister side of genetic research has slithered in from the horrors of Nazi death camps into this modern-day technology. Their journey reveals more than the fight for knowledge, it uncovers a simmering evil left over from World War II. One that puts their lives in danger.

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Timothy Browne, MD draws from life and work experience when writing. For many years, he has worked as an orthopaedic surgeon and medical missionary for Operation Blessing, Mercy Ships, and Hope Force International. His work has taken him to Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Brazil, Ukraine, Borneo, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, North Korea, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Haiti and Sierra Leone. He now resides in Western Montana with his wife, Julie, who along with their three sons, served with him.

More from Timothy

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Christian Fiction that will get your heart pounding!

After finishing, The Gene, the fourth book in the Dr. Nicklaus Hart Series, I have been able to look back at this body of work. The heart of my prose remains the same: to entertain and educate—fueled with imagination, inspired by history, and grounded in truth. I explored the mystery of North Korea and the threat of bioterrorism in Maya Hope, the complexities of the middle East and the history of Mesopotamia in The Tree of Life, the controversies of Big Pharma and our health in The Rusted Scalpel, and now examine the history of eugenics and the pitfalls of gene-therapy in The Gene.

Writing The Gene has taken significant research: exploration of Poland, investigation of the Nazi doctors and their horrendous medical experiments, the history of eugenics around the world, and of course, the science of genetics. The work has been satisfying, edifying, and many times, heartbreaking.

My Review

Absorbing, tragic, terrifying, and prescient, Timothy Browne’s The Gene may appear intimidating in size and depth, but once embarked upon, this journey moves at lightning speed. It is book 4 in the author’s Dr. Nicklaus Hart series, but I read it as a standalone and did not have any trouble following along; there is enough backstory provided to understand who the characters are. The opening chapters switch between the two main storylines, which converge as the plot progresses, and the prologue hints at what is to come with a disturbing scene from Auschwitz near the end of WWII.

Readers first meet Dr. Emmanuelle Christianson, CEO of the Poland BioGenics facility that researches cutting-edge genetic techniques and trials. A staunch atheist, Emmanuelle has been personally impacted by genetic mutations, and her work is directed, at least in part, by the institution’s wealthy benefactor. In America, Dr. Nicklaus Hart and his wife, Maggie, return early from their honeymoon after the devastating news that Maggie’s mother and brother have a fatal genetic disorder—and so does she. As they seek to trust God, they go to the only place in the world that might be able to provide medical intervention: BioGenics. However, their faith is tested as they learn more about the origin of the research being done and face unbearable decisions. How far is too far?

The Gene exposes so many medical and moral issues that we are currently facing and which will, I suspect, only increase with time. With the completion of the Human Genome Project in the last decade and the major advancements in both testing and treatments that continue to emerge, morality often becomes a gray area. Having studied the Holocaust fairly extensively during college, I am familiar with the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele and the medical atrocities he committed in the name of research. Whether medical knowledge gleaned from the Nazis’ efforts should be used is a major question and source of controversy. There is also a very fine line between eugenics, manipulating the human genome, and overstepping into God’s territory. Is it biblically ok to cut out defective genes? Where do we draw the line? As someone with multiple chronic health conditions, I can empathize with wanting everything to be cured and corrected, but if we manipulate our DNA, we are not relying on our Creator to care for us, nor are we becoming the men and women He created us to be.

In addition to being a thought-provoking thriller, this novel is unique in its execution. The fact that the author is himself a surgeon and can write medical thrillers that are mostly easy to read is a rare find in and of itself. Someone with little or no medical knowledge may feel a bit overwhelmed with the terminology, but it is clearly a medical thriller, after all, and the author takes time to explain within the text by disguising the information as dialogue. I enjoyed the chapter titles, which is something I almost never see any more in adult fiction. However, there are a couple of issues that I have. I was dismayed to find cursing in the narrative; granted, it is attributable to the secular characters, but in my opinion there are other ways to convey this without having to put down actual profanities. Likewise, the scenes of intimacy bothered me; I purposely choose Christian literature to avoid those kinds of things. I would add a trigger warning for content about rape, abortion, infidelity, euthanasia, and manipulating DNA. These do play crucial roles in the plot and are hot-button issues, so I understand why they have been included.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 4 stars ♥♥♥♥

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 14

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 15

Texas Book-aholic, November 16

Genesis 5020, November 16

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, November 17

Betti Mace, November 18

deb’s Book Review, November 18

Inklings and notions, November 19

For Him and My Family, November 20

Sara Jane Jacobs, November 20

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, November 21

Rebecca Tews, November 22

Ashley’s Bookshelf, November 22

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 23

For the Love of Literature, November 24

amandainpa, November 25

Artistic Nobody, November 25 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Emily Yager, November 26

Blogging With Carol, November 26

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 27

Pause for Tales, November 27

Giveaway

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To celebrate his tour, Timothy is giving away the grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/1039f/the-gene-celebration-tour-giveaway

God Will Make You Whole: A Book Review of Jan Drexler’s “Softly Blows the Bugle”

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Amish fiction is a somewhat newer subgenre of Christian fiction for me, one that I’ve been reading for only a few years. Growing up about an hour and a half from Ohio Amish Country and visiting there often, I had some familiarity with the culture, and reading well-researched novels has offered additional insight. I do, however, find Amish historical fiction to be just as fascinating. This series is the first that I’ve ever read about the Amish during the Civil War era, and this third book especially sheds light on the unique impacts on their communities.

In Jan Drexler’s Softly Blows the Bugle, book three of The Amish of Weaver’s Creek, the Civil War has recently ended, and Jonas Weaver returns home. With him is Aaron Zook, a former Confederate soldier who lost his leg in battle and his faith when his mother died years earlier. Two generations removed from his Amish heritage, he is determined to head west to escape all that he’s lost; likewise, Jonas’s sister, Elizabeth Kaufman, struggles under the burden of her own tainted past. When a stranger arrives in town, he may hold the key to helping them both move on.

While this book can be read as a standalone, I would encourage readers to go through the series in order for the most fulfilling experience and to meet all of the main characters in depth. Each story makes more of an emotional impact if readers understand the background. The Weaver’s Creek community, by and large, serves as an example of what the body of Christ is meant to be: welcoming and loving, without compromising its convictions. The kinship is so heartwarming; despite his previous sympathies and being an Englischer, Aaron finds loving care and acceptance, which in turn allows for healing of more than just his physical body. In a similar manner, the Amish response to slavery and segregation plays out through interactions with the former slave named Dulcey. Another interesting aspect of this story is the disagreement between the Weaver’s Creek traditionalists and the more liberal Amish from other districts. In so many ways, these kinds of situations and issues reflect what we are dealing with today, reminding us that everyone has hardships and struggles, and that we are not as different from each other as we may seem.

Redemption and second chances are themes heavily interwoven into Softly Blows the Bugle. Drexler takes her characters through the emotions and doubts of the journey to forgiveness and to surrendering to God, and one of the beautiful facets of it is how God can use other people to draw the hurting to Himself. As Aaron begins to realize, “Grandpop had always told him that the Amish were high and mighty, bragging about their special place in God’s eyes, but Elizabeth didn’t seem to be like that at all. Her whisper…maybe he wasn’t meant to hear it…but her whisper betrayed a brokenness as deep as his own.” With brokenness comes pain and messy situations; sensitive readers may want to be forewarned that there are a few brief scenes of violence and brief discussions about past trauma. In my opinion, they are not graphic and do fit in with the time period and plot. There is one scene that stretched credulity for me, but it didn’t detract from the story overall. I think that Casper Zook says it best: “No man is whole when he is by himself. All of us are broken on the inside until we find our place with God—broken, sore, and weary. Your brokenness is visible, but the solution is the same as it is for any other man. God will make you whole.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and was under no obligation to post a positive review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥

Buy your copy HERE

How Do I Love Thee: A Book Review of Joanna Davidson Politano’s “The Love Note”

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I’ll be honest. I almost didn’t request this title. The vintage cover drew me in, though, and a fleeting glimpse at the synopsis made it sound promising, so even though I’m not much of a romance reader, I decided to give it a chance. Oh my word. I am fairly certain that this is going to be my favorite new release of 2020, and most likely the best fictional romance (historical or otherwise) that I’ve read to date. Very rarely, if ever, do I use the word “swoon-worthy,” but I have to say, this book fits that description perfectly, while also being tempestuous and haunting.

The Love Note is the first of Joanna Politano’s novels that I’ve read, despite her previous works being on my to-read list, and I now find myself wondering why I waited so long! From the first chapter, I was engaged in the story, and unlike so many others, this is one that does not lag at any point. Politano seamlessly blends an assortment of genres that keeps readers on their toes: romance, mystery, history, spirituality. As the final third of the story unfolds, the twists are so beautifully executed for maximum impact, right through the final chapter. Willa Duvall herself proclaims early on: “I had been right all along—the letter I’d found in that desk was a piece of something much larger, a story more epic than mere romance.” Nothing is clear-cut until the ending, and I love that! What’s more, Politano meaningfully brings all of the storylines together into one glorious whole.

With echoes of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, The Love Note reads like a classic. Politano’s writing style reflects that of the nineteenth century but is free of antiquated words or phrases, thereby making this an easy-to-read book. That is not to say, however, that no hard issues arise within the story. On the contrary, for all of the romance, there is also a fair share of tragedy, as Willa notes immediately: “but I couldn’t shake the tenor of underlying romance lurking in the shadows of this house. It was there, pulsing and sweeping through like a ghost, even if everyone attempted to stifle and deny it.” Through characters such as Celeste, Willa, and Aunt Maisie (a personal favorite), the importance of using one’s voice for encouraging others and the significance of women’s rights is subtly explored. Pithy epigraphs called “A scientist’s observations on love” open each chapter, and a shifting narrative voice allows for the exploration of multiple points of view. The majority of the narrative is comprised of Willa’s story as told by the character herself in the first person, and occasionally another character with whom her story intersects provides a third-person account of something happening to them. Even as readers privileged with this omniscience, though, the surprises are astounding.

As with any Christian-based novel, the best attribute is transformation, and The Love Note achieves this remarkably well. Remarkably because the characters change their hearts and attitudes in spite of their fear and in spite of the leap of faith needed to do so. Willa realizes this in her own quest, remarking, “What makes the past so intriguing, anyway? Perhaps because understanding those stories that so enchant us, those ghostly echoes of long-ago mistakes and passions, means untangling the present and changing the future.” May we glean wisdom from the past as we all strive toward the bright future that awaits us as believers in Christ.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and was under no obligation to post a positive review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥

Buy your copy HERE

Saving Mount Rushmore Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: Saving Mount Rushmore

Author: Andrea Jo Rodgers

Genre: Middle grade fiction

Release Date: April 15, 2018

When John Jenkins’ parents ship him off to stay with his aunt, he’s certain it will be the worst summer ever—until he learns he’s been accepted into a top-secret school. St. Michael’s Academy is home to gifted students with extraordinary talents. Although John has no idea why he’s there, he’s assigned to Team Liberty, who assist authorities with solving low-level crimes. Their first mission: stop a trio of mischief-making teens from vandalizing Mount Rushmore. John battles feelings of inferiority as he and Team Liberty compete against Devlin Black and his cronies to track down clues and solve puzzles at Mount Rushmore. Along the way, John makes several key contributions, and his self-confidence grows. When he discovers he was admitted to the school due to a clerical error, he’s mortified. Now, he’s strictly an “observer” until the mission’s end. But when his teammates run into trouble, John must summon up the courage to save Mount Rushmore, and he learns an invaluable lesson: every person has special God-given gifts—including him.

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Andrea Jo Rodgers is the author of award-winning Christian middle grade fiction as well as inspirational adult nonfiction novels. She holds a clinical doctorate in physical therapy and specializes in women’s health, orthopedics, and lymphedema. She has served her community as a volunteer emergency medical technician for over thirty years, responding to more than 8,200 first aid and fire calls. She lives on the east coast with her husband, two children, and their two rescue dogs, a Shih Tzu and a Dachshund.

More from Andrea

Can John embrace his God-given gifts in time to save Mount Rushmore?

Have you ever admired the extraordinary talent of another person? Perhaps you enjoyed listening to someone belt out a spellbinding rendition of your favorite song at church or a concert. Or, maybe you have dreamed that you’d gain the same athletic prowess of a professional sports player.

The amazing gifts of others can take many forms. These gifts may be linked with intelligence, such as an aptitude for math and engineering. They may reflect the beauty of the arts through singing, dancing, or painting. Certain individuals may dazzle the people around them with incredible athletic talents, from gold-medal Olympians to professional baseball, football, and basketball players.

Most people consider extraordinary talents to be God-given gifts. They allow people to stand out and shine among others. However, do each of us need a breathtaking talent to be considered special?

In Saving Mount Rushmore, John Jenkins, an awkward thirteen-year-old teenager, is unexpectedly chosen to attend Saint Michael the Archangel Academy. The top-secret school’s mission is to protect our nation by assisting authorities in solving crimes. Since the academy is for students with extraordinary abilities, John is puzzled as to why he’s been accepted. After all, he’s an average teen without any notable gifts.

While working with Team Liberty to save Mount Rushmore from Devlin Black and Team Mischief, John struggles to discover his special gifts. He’s mortified when he discovers that he’s been accepted to the academy due to a clerical error. He becomes strictly an “observer” until the mission’s end. But when his teammates run into trouble, John must summon up the courage to try to save Mount Rushmore. He learns that every person has special God-given gifts—including him.

I came up with the idea for Saving Mount Rushmore while in the airport, just before our plane departed for the famous landmark. I wrote feverishly the entire flight, and the first chapters were born. Saving Mount Rushmore is a middle grade novel which combines information about Mount Rushmore, adventure, and Christian values. My goal was to write an exciting, fun, educational book for middle grade readers that incorporates Christian values into the fabric of the story. John and his friends have an opportunity to save another national monument in the sequel, Saving the Statue of Liberty. I hope you celebrate our country’s heritage by joining John and Team Liberty in their adventures.

My Review

For God and Country.

Going into Saving Mount Rushmore, I had no idea what it was about aside from the obvious location and the fact that it was a middle-grade novel. While reading, I kept asking myself if I would have enjoyed it had I been the target age group, and I think that I would have due to the historical connection. The idea of going on secret spy missions provided plenty of fodder for the imagination when I was growing up, and reading this book made me feel, in some ways, like a kid again. Author Andrea Jo Rodgers does a nice job with the main cast of characters, starting with 13-year-old John Jenkins, who will be spending the summer at his great-aunt Martha’s Winding River Ranch. I felt the most kinship with Annabelle the bookworm, and also with the shyness of John himself.

This is a good book for illustrating how we can work together to achieve a common goal. St. Michael’s Archangel Academy is “a top-secret school that helps authorities fight crime” in the words of Aunt Martha, and each of the students has a special gift. Except for John, who does not know if he has a gift or what it might be. How the other kids in his assigned group, Team Liberty, respond with complete acceptance and support is heartwarming and encouraging in a society that far too often teems with bullies. Similarly, Shaniqua and her stressful home life evoke her fellow members’ empathy. So refreshing! To keep things from becoming too idealistic, there are villains, too, in the form of other kids who do their best to foil Team Liberty’s mission. As a bit of an aside, I would like to comment on the seemingly negligent adults, with the exception of Aunt Martha, because it does irk me. John’s parents are too busy to take time for him on a normal day, and they do not seem to prioritize their kids, while Mr. Jorgenson seems rather indifferent and callous.

One of the things that drew me to this book in the first place is that it is written from a Christian worldview, as evidenced in the series title. God is mentioned a few times throughout the book, and on one occasion John offers a prayer for a meal he shares with his aunt and the ranch foreman, but faith does not seem to be as integral a topic as I thought that it would. I had been hoping for more, but this is book one of the series, so maybe the second book contains more specifically Christian content.

If you’re looking for a realistic, true-to-life middle-grade story, this book isn’t it. But if you can suspend your disbelief and enjoy a tale that mixes an authentic American landmark with a dash of fantasy and the adventure of being a kid, then Saving Mount Rushmore is worth checking out.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 4 stars ♥♥♥♥

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 18

For the Love of Literature, November 18

The Avid Reader, November 19

Texas Book-aholic, November 20

21st Century Keeper at Home, November 20

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 21

For Him and My Family, November 22

Mary Hake, November 22

Older & Smarter?, November 23

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, November 23

Inklings and notions, November 24

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 25

Sara Jane Jacobs, November 25

Vicky Sluiter, November 26

deb’s Book Review, November 27

Simple Harvest Reads, November 27 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Ashley’s Bookshelf, November 28

Artistic Nobody, November 29 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Captive Dreams Window, November 29

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, November 30

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 1

Blossoms and Blessings, December 1

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Andrea is giving away the grand prize package of a signed copy of Saving Mount Rushmore: Saint Michael the Archangel Academy, Mission 1 as well as a $25 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/103a5/saving-mount-rushmore-celebration-tour-giveaway

A Home Where the Buffalo Roam: A Book Review of Regina Scott’s “Nothing Short of Wondrous”

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She laid her head against his chest, as if listening to the sound of his heart. And his heart, the heart he’d buried eight years ago in Oregon, beat harder. For her.

Wyoming is one state that I’ve always wanted to visit. In my mind I always picture it as a place of forested wilderness because my grandpap worked in the Civilian Conservation Corps there in the 1930s. Reading about Yellowstone National Park and the incredible terrain of the surrounding area somewhat surprised me. It isn’t a place that I would feel comfortable living in, at least not as it is in the novel, but I do think that it would make for an unforgettable visit, and I certainly enjoyed the time I spent there with the characters in this story.

Aptly named Nothing Short of Wondrous, this second book in Regina Scott’s American Wonders Collection, which can be read as a standalone, plunges readers into life at Yellowstone about 14 years after it has been recognized as a national park. Featuring a young, widowed proprietor named Kate Tremaine, Scott brings to light the challenges of maintaining the integrity and purity of the land and wildlife, particularly the bison, a task given to the U.S. Cavalry. Determined to protect her home and her son through her livelihood, Kate agrees to serve as a guide to the soldiers, including Lieutenant William Prescott, whose past haunts him. As they work together through several harrowing situations, they both begin to heal from the guilt that has caused each to shutter their heart.

As much as I admire and love the main characters, the story would not be as fun or as complete without the secondary cast. There is seven-year-old Danny, of course, and the selectively mute but courageous Caleb. My personal favorites are Mrs. Pettijohn and Miss Pringle, spirited sisters who encourage and add light humor to just about every situation. There are a few characters whose motives I questioned, and I will leave it to fellow readers to tease out their own theories about these.

Within the pages of this novel lies a message that resounds clearly in these chaotic days: that God alone is in control. No matter how much we plan and prepare, the unexpected is an inevitability. That is why we need to mature in our faith, spend time with God in His Word, and truly come to know Him, because when we do, we can rest assured that He knows the end from the beginning and that nothing will ever happen outside of His will. As Kate remarks, “I’m learning that God wants to hear from us. He wants to hear from you too.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and was under no obligation to post a positive review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥

Buy your copy HERE

Mountain of Peril Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: Mountain of Peril

Author: J. Carol Nemeth

Genre: Christian Romantic Suspense

Release Date: January 25, 2018

When Molly Walker graduated from college, she was thrilled to be hired on as a ranger at Deep Creek Campground in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. She arrived ready to begin her career and to enjoy all the aspects of her new job, but the one thing she hadn’t counted on was the local poachers and their illegal shenanigans. Molly and fellow ranger Jake Stuart try to put a stop to the escalating poaching problem while protecting the animals. In the meantime, Molly finds the handsome ranger, who is also a local, is a great partner to have on her side. She also finds she’s losing her heart to him when she’d planned to stay focused on her career. Can she give her heart and have a career? She and Jake find themselves in a battle against a group of men with a hidden agenda far more sinister than poaching. Can they be stopped before Molly’s life is snuffed out?

Molly and Jake are in a battle against a group of men with a hidden agenda far more sinister than poaching. Can they be stopped before Molly’s life is snuffed out?

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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A native North Carolinian, J. Carol Nemeth has always loved reading and enjoyed making up stories since junior high school, most based in the places she has lived or traveled to. She worked in the National Park Service as a Park Aid and served in the US Army where she was stationed in Italy, traveling to over thirteen countries while there. She met the love of her life, Mark Nemeth, also an Army veteran, while stationed in Italy. After they married, they lived in various locations, including North Yorkshire, England. They now live in West Virginia, where, in their spare time, Carol and Mark enjoy RVing, sightseeing and are active in their church. They have a son, Matt, who serves active duty Army, a daughter, Jennifer, her husband Flint, who serves active duty Air Force, and three grandchildren, Martin, Ava and Gage. Their four-footed kid, Holly, a black Lab, loves traveling in their RV, and when they pack up to go, she’s waiting inside for them to head out.

More from J. Carol

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I worked for the National Park Service at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park many moons ago before I met my husband. The setting for Mountain of Peril, Faith in the Parks Book 1 is in that park. I met a lot of interesting people and there was never dull moment. Something was always happening. I was either helping trap wild boar, riding horse back for back country patrol, or doing search and rescue for missing persons. I used several of my own experiences in the story, tweaking them a bit here or there to fit with the flow of the narrative. This book is near and dear to my heart just as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is. Working there was the best job I ever had, other than writing of course, and I loved it. I hope my love of the park flows through my characters and spills out for readers to experience and enjoy.

My Review

One of my favorite vacation memories from growing up is staying at Lake Lure, North Carolina and visiting Chimney Rock State Park. I think that it is the only state park I’ve been to, but I would love to see the others, and revisit Chimney Rock, too, for that matter! I love the outdoors and rural areas, and although many people dream about the beach, my heart will always belong to the mountains and woods. As soon as I saw the title of this series, I didn’t hesitate to sign up to review it. That it was categorized as suspense was an added bonus.

Mountain of Peril is the first book in J. Carol Nemeth’s Faith in the Parks series. Taking readers alongside new ranger Molly Walker as she begins working at Deep Creek Campground in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, Nemeth generates interest in America’s national parks system. I do feel that the beginning of the book is a bit slow after a startling, intriguing first chapter. The narrative settles into a quotidian rhythm, describing some of a park ranger’s duties, and I was surprised to learn their extent. Their job is anything but boring, for anyone who has an interest in trapping, law enforcement, search and rescue, horseback riding, public relations, and a plethora of other tasks. Add to that the challenges of inclement weather and sometimes working in solitude, and I felt an even deeper respect for these public servants.

Regarding the characters, I enjoyed them and their interactions, but I still don’t feel as though I connected with them very much. They seem almost superficial in some ways. As a romantic suspense novel, there is naturally a romantic love interest, and along with this a heroine who is determined to remain dedicated to her career. Nemeth demonstrates that God has a plan for our lives, and that He is working things out for our good and His glory, whether we can see it or not.

The editor in me did pick up on various errors within this book, most of which concern proper apostrophe usage. There are also a couple of discrepancies, including the number of children that Cal and Pam have, and a time disparity. None of this detracts from the reading experience, and I would recommend this book to those who enjoy stories about the great outdoors, sweet and clean romance, and/or romantic suspense.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 4 stars ♥♥♥♥

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 4

Bizwings Blog, November 4

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 5

For Him and My Family, November 6

Blogging With Carol, November 6

Texas Book-aholic, November 7

For the Love of Literature, November 8

Artistic Nobody, November 8 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

deb’s Book Review, November 9

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, November 10

Betti Mace, November 11

Labor Not in Vain, November 11

Inklings and notions, November 12

Ashley’s Bookshelf, November 13

Mary Hake, November 13

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, November 14

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 15

Pause for Tales, November 15

Sara Jane Jacobs, November 16

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 17

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, J. Carol is giving away the grand prize a $25 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/10330/mountain-of-peril-celebration-tour-giveaway

Divide and Conquer: A Book Review of Bryan Litfin’s “The Conqueror”

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From the moment I saw this book, I knew I wanted to read it, and not only because the cover is beautiful and very well done. Despite being an avid historical fiction devotee, I have read precious few books about the early Roman Empire. In all honesty, it was not a time period that drew my interest until I took Latin in college; my immediate love of the language planted a seed of interest in the ancient culture that dominated the landscape of the early Christian church. Not often do I have the opportunity to review a book based on this era, after the Diocletian persecutions. As Bryan Litfin remarks in his Historical Note section at the beginning of the book, The Conqueror is not a biblical novel, but rather a historical one, which sets the scene for the entire story.

Perhaps because it is intended to be primarily historical, The Conqueror leaves me feeling conflicted and struggling to tease out my thoughts. Amazon does not list it among Christian fiction, but because it is published by Revell, that is what I would expect, and the book summary lends credence to this. My issue is that it reads like a secular novel, with too much focus on “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16). Flavia is a devoted Christian, yet she seems unable to truly defend her faith and answer Rex’s questions; granted, she is a teenager, but given her privileged upbringing and the amount of time she spends engaged in helping the church, this seems implausible. Similarly, I would have liked to see more dynamic characters. Here, evil is evil and it seems like a missed opportunity at times to test the characters’ ability to change in more deliberate ways. I do, however, appreciate how Flavia and Rex’s stories converge, leading to more integrations as the story progresses.

Covering somewhat less than four years, from October 309 A.D to May 313, The Conqueror is an epic novel of the fight between the authorities of the day and between polytheism and Christianity. I think that it is safe to say that politics haven’t changed much over the years. Power grabbing, scandals, affairs, assassinations. Let’s just hope that we never see a return of the amphitheaters! As for the Roman army, I find the thorough training of the speculators such as Rex and his best friend Geta both interesting and disturbing, because they are taught to kill without compunction if necessary. I understand this concept in a war environment, but it can be taken to excess in less dire situations. I will say, though, that Litfin excels at keeping the plot moving with plenty of action, adventure, and drama. I enjoyed learning about the catholic (universal) church at this time in history, and about the Empire’s journey toward Christianity. In the opening indices, Litfin includes a list of the major characters in his story who were actual historical figures, a Gazetteer of Ancient and Modern Place Names, and a glossary of terms, all of which enrich and inform the reading experience.

My overall impressions are that if you enjoy historical fiction set in the ancient world and are not disturbed by violence or sensuality, you may enjoy this book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and was under no obligation to post a positive review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 3 stars ♥♥♥

Buy your copy HERE

Breaking Point: A Book Review of Irene Hannon’s “Point of Danger”

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Very apropos for today’s security challenges and tumultuous culture, Irene Hannon’s Point of Danger goes beyond classic romantic suspense with a multifaceted plot and a complex array of characters. This is the first of Hannon’s books that I’ve read, and I love starting fresh with the first novel of a new series. I will admit that I was unprepared for what unfolded within these pages, but that is part of the experience and why I almost always prefer going in blind, so to speak. At first, I did have difficulty with the panoply of characters, most of whom entered into the narrative without introduction for reasons that become clear as the story progresses. As someone who has a terrible memory when it comes to names, trying to keep everyone straight did slow down my reading and cause confusion for me during the first half, but I trust that this will not be everyone’s experience. Some of their identities are not divulged until the ending, and I think that Hannon made the correct choice in her portrayals because I certainly did not guess who the perpetrators were ahead of time!

Hannon excels at recognizing and incorporating contentious issues into Point of Danger without over-politicizing them. Given that I read this in the days before the 2020 presidential election, that’s saying something. Heroine Eve Reilly, host of her own radio talk show, does seem to me to be a bit over-idealized; although I admire her character, she is written without any true flaws, and that makes her less realistic to me as a reader. The police detective, Brent Lange, on the other hand, not only has demonstrable flaws but also is willing to acknowledge them. The secondary characters are well-drawn, and their motivations authentic. As the plot wrapped up, I found myself completely taken aback by where things went, and I consider that a success on the author’s part. I appreciate Hannon’s positive representation of the police in this story, as well as Eve’s conservative viewpoints, which are clear but still respectfully presented.

At its heart, Point of Danger offers readers a glimpse into love found at the intersection of hope and fear. Whether it can or will prevail depends on learning to trust and to not give in to fear. As one of the characters advises, “In the end, though, you have to let people do what they’re called to do and put the rest in God’s hands. Once you manage that, life is much less stressful.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and was under no obligation to post a positive review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 4 stars ♥♥♥♥

Buy your copy HERE

The Red Ribbon Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: The Red Ribbon

Author: Pepper Basham

Genre: Christian historical/suspense

Release Date: October, 2020

An Appalachian Feud Blows Up in 1912

Book 8 in the True Colors series—Fiction Based on Strange-But True History

In Carroll County, a corn shucking is the social event of the season, until a mischievous kiss leads to one of the biggest tragedies in Virginia history. Ava Burcham isn’t your typical Blue Ridge Mountain girl. She has a bad habit of courtin’ trouble, and her curiosity has opened a rift in the middle of a feud between politicians and would-be outlaws, the Allen family. Ava’s tenacious desire to find a story worth reporting may land her and her best friend, Jeremiah Sutphin, into more trouble than either of them planned. The end result? The Hillsville Courthouse Massacre of 1912.

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She’s a native of the Blue Ridge Mountains where her family have lived for generations. She’s the mom of five kids, speech-pathologist to about fifty more, lover of chocolate, jazz, and Jesus, and proud AlleyCat over at the award winning Writer’s Alley blog. Her debut historical romance novel, The Thorn Bearer, released in April 2015, and the second in February 2016. Her first contemporary romance debuted in April 2016.

More from Pepper

Feuds, Moonshine, and Family Loyalties by Pepper Basham

My upcoming release for Barbour’s True Colors series is really close to my heart…and pretty close to my house.

The Red Ribbon, my first foray into a historical suspense novel, takes place in the county where I grew up. Carroll County, Virginia, is a county on the border of Virginia and North Carolina, not too far from Mt. Airy (Mayberry). Nestled in the foothills and mountains of the Blue Ridge, it is a part of the Appalachian Mountains, and with that comes similar histories as other backwoods Appalachian communities: feuds, moonshine, and family loyalties.

One thing I love most about my Appalachian upbringing is the intense closeness of family – and when I say ‘family’ I mean, of course, my mom, dad, and brother, but also my aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents…the whole “gang”, as my granny used to say.

The closeness of family, and the protection of the family name, is a big deal in Appalachia. There’s a lot of pride in the way your ‘name’ is thought of throughout the community, so when someone insults your name, there’s a good chance the repercussions aren’t going to be pleasant. Especially back in the early 1900s, when The Red Ribbon takes place. In fact, insulting someone by “stealing a kiss” is one of the events that leads to The Hillsville Courthouse Massacre/Tragedy.

A long-time feud between the Allen family and the “Courthouse Clan” came to a head inside the Hillsville Courthouse in March 1912 and this event resulted in the largest shootout within a courthouse in Virginia history. The story followed with a nationwide manhunt and made national news until the sinking of the Titanic the following month.

Growing up in Carroll County, I knew a few things about this story. Rumors and whispers, really. Most folks didn’t talk about it because it still caused a stir among those who were descendants (because another thing about Appalachia is that families tend to stay on or around family land for generations). People still took “sides”. So, when I decided to write this book, I knew I was stepping into precarious territory. Not that anyone would start up a shootout nowadays because of a book, but because people still have some deep feelings about how their ancestors are portrayed in history, and since many of my family members still live in Carroll County, I wanted to tread carefully into the events of “The Allen Tragedy”.

What I discovered was a story that still held a whole lot of mystery even one hundred years later. Bullet holes still mark the courthouse steps from that fateful day, rumors still circulate about who was to blame, and no one knows who fired the first gunshot that began the tragic shooting.

I’m not a “scary” book writer or reader, but I love a good adventure, so this book takes the reader on an adventure into Appalachia to my neck of the woods, and follows the journey of Ava Burcham and Jeremiah Sutphin as they live among the illegal moonshiners, dirty cops, and mountain gunslingers of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

(To learn more about the true events of the Courthouse Tragedy, you can read about it here: https://roanoke.com/news/virginia/the-courthouse-tragedy-gunfight-in-hillsville-in-1912/article_45d0d7f3-6e1f-57c4-83be-fceb3d98dafd.html)

Have you ever read a book set in Appalachia? If so, what was the title and what did you learn about the Appalachian culture? Have you ever visited the Blue Ridge Mountains?

Let’s chat mountain people, mountain ways, and mountain books 😊

My Review

Of the eight True Colors books published by Barbour thus far, this latest one by Pepper Basham is my favorite. The Red Ribbon is based on the 1912 Hillsville Courthouse Massacre in Carroll County, Virginia, an event unknown to me before reading this book. Nothing says historic Appalachia like a feud, and this story illustrates how deeply grudges run through generations and how it takes only one small spark to set them ablaze: “A terrible foreboding rife with long-held anger and blind rage breathed out from the crowd, with fingers from the past twisting half truths and hard hearts.” As a resident of northern Appalachia myself, I have always loved the rural and the rustic, preferring the backwoods over the city any day. Therefore, I was fairly certain that I was going to enjoy this book, and having no foreknowledge of the crime was an added bonus in the suspense department!

With skilled authenticity, Basham interlaces the historical record with fictional characters to create a tragic and inspirational tale complete with wholesome romance. As much as I love language, usually thick dialect distracts and even outright bothers me because it slows my pace and causes me to have to translate, but in this case it didn’t. None of the dialogue is at all difficult to figure out, and much of it reflects what I’ve grown up hearing, which lends it a comfortable familiarity. In this way and so many others, I feel a special connection with this book. I can easily connect with Ava Burcham and her fondness for writing, and with Jeremiah Sutphin’s bond with his dog, Wolf. The strength of family ties, whether biological or chosen, continues to be a mainstay for many in the Appalachian and other rural regions today.

Because the main characters are fictional, The Red Ribbon has an intriguing sense of unpredictability. Up until the final chapter or two, how the ending will play out is largely a mystery, which makes me appreciate it all the more. Basham explores the dynamics of mountain life, including tragedy and trauma and how they shape the characters in both the past and the present. The subject of faith comes up mostly with regard to Ava, for whom “God had always seemed so far away, so distant, from the shadows waving a sinister hand over the works of the world. She’d asked Him into her heart as a little girl, but with so much brokenness in her past, could she really trust Him with her future?” A struggle with which we all contend sometimes, trusting God comes more naturally when we go through difficult circumstances and, with each one, see how He provides for us and cares for us.

Epigraphs for each chapter consist of Appalachian aphorisms from either Granny Burcham or Granddaddy Sutphin; they set the scene for the chapter and impart mountain wisdom. A cast of characters appears at the front of the book, which can be very helpful but which does have some spoilers for the story’s outcome (particularly for those with no prior knowledge of this historical event), so read it with caution! Given how reactive some of the characters are, it is easy to draw parallels between the early twentieth century and the present. As Ava realizes, though, we all have a choice: “She could focus on the losses and pain, allowing those dark thoughts to color the filter of every other scene in her life, or she could choose thankfulness, gratitude, and the belief that God touched it all with hope—held it all—and never took His attention away from her.” Which will you choose?

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 29

Fiction Aficionado, October 29

deb’s Book Review, October 29

Blossoms and Blessings, October 29

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, October 30

Texas Book-aholic, October 30

Blogging With Carol, October 30

Inklings and notions, October 31

Emily Yager, October 31

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, October 31

Hallie Reads, October 31

For Him and My Family, November 1

reviewingbooksplusmore, November 1

Christian Bookaholic, November 1

Betti Mace, November 2

Genesis 5020, November 2

For the Love of Literature, November 2

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess , November 2

Rebecca Tews, November 3

Robin’s Nest, November 3

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 3

Connect in Fiction, November 4

Older & Smarter?, November 4

To Everything There Is A Season, November 4

Artistic Nobody, November 4 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

21st Century Keeper at Home, November 5

By The Book, November 5

Remembrancy, November 5

Ashley’s Bookshelf, November 6

Britt Reads Fiction, November 6

Life of Literature, November 6

Connie’s History Classroom, November 7

Splashes of Joy, November 7

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, November 7

A Reader’s Brain, November 8

Sara Jane Jacobs, November 8

Through the Fire Blogs, November 8

Godly Book Reviews, November 8

Melissa Wardwell’s Back Porch Reads, November 9

Bigreadersite, November 9

Where Faith and books Meet, November 9

Books I’ve Read, November 10

Just the Write Escape, November 10

Adventures of a Travelers Life, November 10

Amanda Tero, blog, November 11

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, November 11

Pause for Tales, November 11

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Pepper is giving away the grand prize package 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.

https://promosimple.com/ps/1032d/the-red-ribbon-celebration-tour-giveaway