Book Review and Giveaway – Christmas Stalkings & New Year’s Revolutions

Book Review and Giveaway – Christmas Stalkings & New Year’s Revolutions Author: Chautona Havig On Tour with Celebrate Lit

About the Book

Book: Christmas Stalkings & New Year’s Revolutions

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre: Fiction / Christian / Romance / Holiday

Release Date: January 29, 2017 and December 31, 2016


Christmas Stalkings

If her life had to transform into a TV movie, couldn’t it have been a sweet romance instead of a creepy suspense?

Wendy Nabity has redefined “crazy cat lady,” and she’s just fine with that. She’s got a tree and a stocking for reach of them, too.

All that festivity turns ominous when things begin turning up in odd places—places her fur babies couldn’t move them. The local police? They think she’s as crazy as the fleas jumping from cat to cat—or something like that.

Her neighbors aren’t much help. The nice one won’t come near her, despite his obvious interest, and the other hates her enough to torment her every chance he can. Seriously, if Neal Kirkpatrick makes one more rude demand of her, she might just start dumping the litter box on his front porch!

However, when a threatening note appears in one of the stockings, even Fairbury’s police officers have to admit no cat could have written it, and one officer takes it upon himself to do something.

Who knew Christmastime could feel so sinister?

____________________________________

New Year’s Revolutions

His life is spinning out of control, and his heart isn’t far behind!

Neal Kirkpatrick: project manager, staunch atheist, and town grump. Aside from an apparent soft spot for a neighborhood boy, the man has nothing to recommend him.

So when he overhears criticism from a neighbor he secretly respects, Neal decides maybe it’s time for professional help. With the same straightforward tenacity he uses in his job, Neal goes on a hunt for a therapist to help him unravel the mystery of himself.

His therapist says he’s in love, but Neal Kirkpatrick does not do relationships.

Does he?

Is any woman worth changing his entire life for?

Is He worth it?

You met him in Christmas Stalkings. Now it’s time to get to know him.

Discover what happens when the town curmudgeon steps out of his comfort zone and into a psychologist’s office to learn what’s up with his heart.

Click here to get your copy of Christmas Stalkings!

Click here to get your copy of New Year's Revolutions!

About the Author

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 and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

More from Chautona

SOMETIMES, YOU JUST CAN’T LET A CHARACTER GO

I met him in my book, A Bird Died. Neal Kirkpatrick. Grumpy, snappish, the man just seemed to look for something to grouse about. Except when it comes to a little boy in the town, and then a soft side came out that no one expected.

A few years later, I got the idea for a Christmas comedic suspense “noella” (Christmas novella), and the minute I knew what I wanted to write, I knew I’d be writing about him, too. He’d be the main character’s neighbor and always on her case about something. Instant conflict and subplot. Oh, yeah!

Something unexpected happened as I wrote the story, though. I fell in love with the cranky guy and didn’t want to let him go. Did I have time to write a book for New Year’s, too? I mean, how cool would that be? After much deliberation, I decided to go for it.

I’m kind of glad I didn’t know what kind of Christmas our family would have that year or I would never have decided to do it, and I doubt Neal’s story would still be languishing in the slush-pile of my mind (for the story of our family’s Christmas that year, you might want to check out Sand & Mistletoe).

That story turned into something unexpected.

First, there was more to his story than I’d ever imagined. A dysfunctional family, a past that he didn’t even choose himself, and a rather immoral life I wouldn’t usually care to consider. But reality made me admit that a man with no concern for what the Lord says about things wouldn’t necessarily live the kind of life I think people should! Don’t worry, I didn’t do deep into those kinds of details! My prudish streak got pushed, but not pushed aside.

More than just “his side of the story,” New Year’s Revolutions tells the story of a man who sees himself through the lens of someone he respects and goes on a journey to see why he is as he is and if there is something inherently wrong with it or if the trouble lies with others (as he suspects).

Both a personal and a spiritual journey ensued that made me dig deep into Scripture to discover what it had to say about Jesus, relationships, and honesty. Neal’s discovery of what the Word says about things drove me to study and restudy things that I believed. We didn’t always come to the same conclusions, but it was interesting and I learned more than I would have expected to.

I hope you love Neal as much as I do. I know one thing for sure… this isn’t the last we’ll see of him.

My Review

I first encountered Chautona as an author when I read Sand and Mistletoe. I enjoyed her then and I love these followups.

Christmas Stalkings 

I love a good Christmas mystery and this one doesn’t disappoint. It is quirky and fun. Wendy is a hoot as a “crazy cat lady.” Neal is interesting too. He has a rough exterior, but you kind of know something else is there (spoiler second book!) Overall this is a fun and enjoyable mystery to read.

Thank you to Celebrate Lit for my e-book copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 4

New Year’s Revolutions

This book follows Neal’s story as he searches for a way to become happy. I realizes he’s in love with Wendy, and must reconcile their differences (he is n atheist and she is a Christian). It’s interesting to see the growth Neal goes through and the ending is satisfying.

Chautona weaves a faith theme through this book in an easy and natural way. It never seems forced.

Thank you to Celebrate Lit for the e-book review copy of this. All thoughts are my own. 

Rating: 4

Blog Stops

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

For Him and My Family, December 15

Get Cozy Book Nook, December 15

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 16

Captive Dreams Window, December 16

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 17

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, December 18

Holly Jo Morris, December 18

Inklings and notions, December 19

Ashley’s Bookshelf, December 20

Mary Hake, December 20

Sara Jane Jacobs, December 21

deb’s Book Review, December 22

Blogging With Carol, December 22

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 23

CarpeDiem, December 24

Godly Book Reviews, December 25

Artistic Nobody, December 26 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Simple Harvest Reads, December 26 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Texas Book-aholic, December 27

Batya’s Bits, December 27

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a paperback copy of each book, Christmas Stalkings & New Year’s Revolutions!!

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/104a9/christmas-stalkings-new-year-s-revolutions-celebration-tour-giveaway

Book Review and Giveaway: Something Borrowed

Book Review and Giveaway – Something Borrowed Authors: Weaver, Dawn, Boyd, Tysinger, Shiloh On Tour with Celebrate Lit 

About the Book

Book: Something Borrowed

Author: Weaver, Dawn, Boyd, Tysinger, Shiloh

Genre: Christian/Contemporary/ Romance / Holiday

Release Date: October 20

Old friends, new loves, and a borrowed tiara.

Always Been Yours — Hanady’s planning her dream wedding, but her injured best friend Keenan isn’t the groom. If she can’t see she’s marrying the wrong guy soon, his leg won’t be the only thing broken.

All the Moore — Leilah Anderson has been living behind the screen to hide her disability, then she meets Reggie Moore face-to-face. Can their relationship survive the truth and distance between them?

A Holly, Bolly Christmas — A dream wedding venue at Christmas? Sign Chahna Kapoor up. Even if her fiancé doesn’t know it…

Somehow, This Christmas — When not-so-merry mishaps threaten wedding planner Cate Forsyth’s holiday wedding and reputation, will her own happily ever after with sweetheart Noah Bennett melt away?

A Promise So Sweet — Lydia Osborn hasn’t heard from her ex in ten years, so imagine her surprise when he shows up proposing marriage. Tis the season for love?

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Jaycee Weaver Author
Lover of Jesus, family, books, coffee, music, and crafting (in that order), Jaycee Weaver is perpetually pursuing at least one of her passions. She writes contemporary Christian romance with realistic characters in everyday situations where they always find a happy ending. Visit her at www.jayceeweaver.com.

Toni Shiloh Author
Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness. Visit her at www.tonishiloh.com.

Mikal Dawn Author
Mikal Dawn is an inspirational romance author, wedding enthusiast, and military (retired) wife. When she isn’t writing about faith, fun, and forever, she is obsessively scouring Pinterest (with coffee in hand!) for wedding ideas for her characters.

Mikal lives in Oklahoma with her husband and two of their three children. Visit her at www.mikaldawn.com.

Teresa Tysinger Author
Teresa Tysinger is a wife, mother, and communications director for a national non-profit. She writes charming Christian romance, inspired by grace. Teresa now resides in Texas, though part of her heart remains in North Carolina. She loves Jesus, coffee, and happy endings. Visit Teresa at www.teresatysinger.com.

Andrea Boyd Author
Each of Andrea Boyd’s series represents a different genre but all fall into the category of romance. All offer an element of her own brand of humor. And all are a tribute to God. Besides writing, she loves spending time with her family, quilting, going to car shows, and driving around in her 1968 Barracuda convertible. Andrea lives with her husband, Tommy, and at least a couple of cats in York County, SC. Visit her at www.andreaboyd11.com.

More from the Something Borrowed Authors

Dear Readers,

Thank you for stopping by the Celebrate Lit blog tour of Something Borrowed. Before we share our excitement for the collection, we’d like to give a brief history of how it came to be.

Last year, the five of us crafted the Once Upon a Christmas collection, but Teresa needed to step down and we were blessed to have Angela Ruth Strong join us in her stead. Early this year, we rejoiced as Teresa was able to resume her place, and then our hearts broke as we learned of Angela’s breast cancer battle. Through all life has thrown our way, we’ve formed a beautiful friendship and have plans to write more collections together!

In January, we decided on a Christmas weddings theme, but we wanted it to be different and unique. Ideas sprang to life and six college roommates emerged, each from a different walk of life but bound by friendship. And then, we found ourselves missing our sixth. With prayers and a blessing over Angela’s health and a writing endeavor that’s been a dream for years (read her story on Facebook!), we found a way to include her in the form of a sixth roommate who no longer needed a love story.

Enter Ruth Ann. Married right out of college, she’s been busy cranking out babies like nobody’s business. And when the next bride, Jaycee’s character Hanady, brings them together for a girls’ reunion weekend, it’s Ruth Ann who produces the perfect something borrowed for this circle of friends.

Hanady’s planning a wedding to the wrong groom—just ask Keenan, the injured best friend who’s loved her for years. Wheelchair-bound Leilah doubts she’ll wear the tiara, but her online gaming friend might be too wonderful to resist. Chahna “Ana” Kapoor just knows she’s going to wear the tiara, so she books her dream venue—she just needs her boyfriend to propose and her parents to tone down the drama. After being engaged to Noah for years, Cate is more than ready for the tiara to be hers, but not-so-merry mishaps the week of the wedding threaten a happily ever after. And finally, having watched all of her friends marry and start their families, when Lydia’s ex shows up on her doorstep with an outrageous proposal, she finds it hard to believe her turn might finally have come.

We are so happy to present to you this collection of five interconnected stories where friendship and faith take center stage. For some, it’s new love. For others, it’s finally sealing an old one. Each tale is unique and yet together they weave one overarching message of love, joy, hope, and peace through the Christmas season.

As you read these stories, we pray they touch your heart. We pray they entertain you and maybe even make you laugh a time or two. And lastly, we pray the Christmas truths bless you this holiday season.

Blessings,

Jaycee, Toni, Mikal, Teresa, and Andrea

My Review

I love story collections–and weddings–and Christmas. What a joy to find all three in one place. Each author brought her own style to the collection, but the interconnectedness of the stories (five brides all sharing a borrowed tiara) shows through in a cohesive way. I’ve never read these authors before, but I’m sure I’ll pick up their collection next year.

I really can’t pick a favorite among any of the novellas. Each main character had her own spark. I suppose if I had to, my favorite character is Ana Kapoor. I liked her hopefulness and vibrancy.

I’ll be looking for works by each of these authors. I enjoyed the style and voice in each of the offerings and want to explore more from these authors.

Thank you to Celebrate Lit for the review e-book copy of this. All impressions are my own.

Rating: 4+ stars

Blog Stops

Among the Reads, December 7

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 7

Sara Jane Jacobs, December 8

Labor Not in Vain, December 8

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, December 9

Get Cozy Book Nook, December 9

Remembrancy, December 10

Connect in Fiction, December 10

Texas Book-aholic, December 11

Ashley’s Bookshelf, December 12

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, December 12

For Him and My Family, December 13

EmpowerMoms, December 13

She Lives To Read, December 14

Through the Fire Blogs, December 14

Melissa Wardwell’s Back Porch Reads, December 15

deb’s Book Review, December 15

Inklings and notions, December 16

Captive Dreams Window, December 16

Artistic Nobody, December 17 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Livin’ Lit, December 17

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 18

Simple Harvest Reads, December 18 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 19

CarpeDiem, December 19

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 20

Cultivating Us, December 20

Giveaway

To celebrate their tour, the Something Borrowed Authors are giving away the grand prize package of an Amazon gift card, pens, and chocolate!!

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/10462/something-borrowed-celebration-tour-giveaway

Happy reading!

–Amy

Reading Roundup 12.07.2020 October/November

It’s been so long since I’ve written a Reading Roundup, that I’m dividing this one into two installments. Today’s covers books I read in October and November, which includes a nod back to summer and a look forward (at the time) to the Christmas season. I’m not a fast reader, so there aren’t too many books on the list, but most of them were hits.

October

Sand and Mistletoe by Chautona Havig

I absolutely loved this book! I found Portia endearing, without being sappy or unrealistic. Despite the somewhat unrealistic way Portia meets Reese and Duncan, it somehow works. It was nice to see interaction between Portia and young Duncan, who is a member of the Deaf community. It’s something that’s rarely featured in novels, especially contemporary Christian romance.

I like how faith is weaved naturally into the story. It never feels forced. I think Portia’s family is a hoot and I love their Shakespearean names.

The story’s complications are realistic and the ending is satisfying. A great, feel-good holiday tale.
Thank you to Celebrate Lit for the review e-book copy of this book. Opinions are my own.

Rating: 4 stars

Tea and Treachery by Vicki Delany

This was a compelling cozy. I loved the Maine setting and the tea shop that Lily owns. The author must really have a love for tea.

Lily owns a tea shop and cooks breakfast for her grandmother’s B and B next door. When a neighbor want to redone and sell their house to a developer to build a golf resort, Rose (grandma) threatens the developer. Then the developer ends up dead and Rose is a prime suspect. Lily and her friends work with Rose to clear her name. This is a twisty mystery with lots of good suspects. I only figured it out just ahead of the reveal and that’s unusual for a cozy reader like me. 

The characters are realistic and fun. Rose is feisty but not stereotypical. I loved this. It’s the first in a series but I’m looking forward to the next. I only gave it for stars because it’s just the first in the series and who knows how awesome the next one will be. 

Thank you to NetGalley for the review ebook. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 4 stars

A Christmas Tale for Little Women: A Miss Adelaide Christmas Novella by Linda Brooks Davis

This Christmas story is written as a prequel for Little Women, a book I loved as a young girl. The characters are richly drawn and reflect those created in the classic. The atmosphere of the 1912 setting is brought out clearly and adds to the joy of the book. The theme is uplifting and shows the joy of faith.

I felt a little let down by this novella. I (probably unfairly) compared it to the original and just didn’t get the same feeling. It was a nice story, and I enjoyed it, but it didn’t make my heart sing.

Thank you to Celebrate Lit for the review e-book. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 3 stars

Gourd to Death (Pie Town Mystery #5) by Kirsten Weiss

This was a fun mystery. It is not the first book in the Pie Town mysteries series, but I enjoyed coming in at this point. There’s a hint of humor in this fall pumpkin festival-focused book, starting with the body being found squashed (had to go there) by a giant pumpkin. The main character owns a pie shop and is part of a mystery-solving club that includes her sidekick, the shop’s pie crust dough maker. The two investigate the murder of one of the town’s optometrists and wind up in wacky situations. Add to it that another town has a competing pumpkin festival, and the hijinks get really next level.

The ending was satisfying and the characters are likeable (or wonderfully unlikeable) and interesting. There’s depth to them. The plot moves swiftly for a cozy and it is a great fall read, especially just before Halloween.

Rating: 4 stars 

November

If I’m Found by Terri Blackstock

Wow! The second book in the If I Run series, it really gets your heart beating. At first it seems it will follow the same pattern as the first book, but events don’t follow exactly the same way. Casey is still on the run and Dylan is starting to believe her story of a conspiracy led by Detective Gordon Keegan. The cat and mouse game continues and leads to a thrilling peak at the end that leads into the third book. 

I listened to this as an audiobook, and really liked the narrator. Her voices for the men aren’t always as easily distinguishable as I’d like, but she does an excellent job. I highly recommend this on audio because it seems to add to the thrilling nature of the story. Have the final book ready. Just like with the previous book, you’ll want to get to the end of the series without delay.

Rating: Five stars

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren

I thought this story would be a retread of the movie Groundhog Day, but it really had its own unique flavor. The main character finds herself reliving the same Christmas vacation with her family and friends at a Utah cabin. The first few times are bumpy, but then she decides to be herself. 

She has always had a crush on Andrew, whose family is like family to hers. Their parents and friend Benny all met in college and gather together each year at the cabin and go through a series of traditions. As our main character relives these traditions (over and over) she gets a different perspective.

This has a little bit of suspense to it. You never know when the next jump happens or which one will be the last. The character complications are believable and the characters are a lovable, quirky bunch but still realistic.

I loved this book. It’s a bit “open door” so be prepared, but mostly its a sweet story about the value of family, being yourself, and having a unique perspective on tradition.

Thank you to NetGalley for the review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Rating: Five stars

How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind” Dealing with Your House’s Dirty Little Secrets by Dana K. White

I’m usually not much for house cleaning or books on the subject, but this one caught my eye after I watched a virtual presentation of hers on organizing. The book reflects what many of us feel, that house cleaning is a chore, and not very much fun, as opposed to the latest craze in organizing and blessing your home.

White’s book is based on her blog A Slob Comes Clean and is very down to earth about taking the job of cleaning your house a little at a time. She starts with doing the dishes as a main focus to get into a routine and builds from there. She focuses more on decluttering than organizing, with the motto of “do the easy stuff first.”

I found this book to be very relatable (I struggle with keeping an ideally-spotless, perfectly decluttered home). White shows the reader that you don’t have to be perfect, just persistent.

Rating: 4 Stars

I’m reading a load of holiday books right now, so look for a half-month review session coming soon. Also upcoming is the Holiday Gift Guide for Book Lovers, as well as a free resource for followers. Lots going on this month.

Happy reading!

–Amy

Recent Reads 12.1.2020 – August/September

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a reading round up so this is Part One – August/September. So hearken back with me to late summer/early fall, when the the sun was still blazing before the breeze picked up too much. When we made the switch from flip flops and sandals to sneakers and (some days up here in the mountains) boots. When everything moves from soft and breezy to cozy and crisp. Now that you’re there with me, here are some books I read during that time:

Nacho Average Murder by Maddie Day

What a fun book set in a great location (Santa Barbara)) for a summer read. Robbie is on vacation For her ten year high school reunion and comes across information that her mother, who died of a brain aneurysm, might have been murdered instead. Before she knows it, she’s trying to sort out a feud with a high school nemesis, a toxic chemical, and an old friend trying to get her life together. This has a few twist and turns with no shortage of clues. I liked the ending but kept expecting one more twist that left me feeling a little unsettled. Would definitely recommend.

Thank you to NetGalley for the Review copy of the book. All opinions are my own. Rating: Four stars

Paris Never Leaves You by Ellen Feldman

I love this book! I’m not usually a big fan of World War II books, but this one really grabbed me from the very first line. The characters of Charlotte, Horace, And Julian have strong depth. I felt like I was right there for every raid, every kiss. The tension was palpable and the choices Charlotte has to make are wrenching. Charlotte’s daughter Vivi was a bright light and I liked the journey of her character. Very compelling! Not an easy read, but it pulls you in and won’t let you go. I highly recommend it! Rating: Five stars 

Thank you to St. Martin’s Griffin Press and NetGalley for the review copy of this book.

Leaning Out: An Alternative Perspective for the Modern Corporate Woman by Monica E. Pierce (Audiobook)

This was an interesting perspective on the corporate work world for women. It explores the question: what about women who want to foster a balance in their lives and don’t want to go for the corner office. Leaning out is not giving up on any ambition, but is a balance of ambition and family/personal life. 

I’m one who has always leaned out so I could relate. It agues strongly for choice in the work world. A good read, but dragged in some spots. (listen- I listened on audio).

Thank you to NetGalley for the review audiobook. All opinions are my own. Rating: Three stars

Christmas Carol Society by Rebekah Jones

I LOVE Christmas stories. This one was an especially fun one. A riff on the Dickens story, the author did a good job of taking the twist and creating an inspiring story full of faith. Charlie’s story was compelling and kept me reading. This would be a great addition to anyone’s Christmas reading list. Start the season early when this one comes out.

Thank you to Celebrate Lit and NetGalley for the review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Rating: Four stars

September

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain (Audiobook)

Bourdain provided a deep dive behind the scenes of some of New York City’s famous (Rainbow Room) and not so famous restaurant kitchens. A gritty (and foul-mouthed) look at what it’s like in the militaristic hierarchy on the kitchen line, Bourdain shows the interesting, and sometimes ugly, side of where upscale food is made. He minces no words about his own experiences starting as a dishwasher and working his way up to chef in various restaurants. The book was written while he was chef at Les Halles, before he went on to host his own travel-food show on CNN. He outlines his successes, his many failures, and the inner workings of restaurants. The book is filled with colorful characters (many pseudonyms are used) unique insights into human character, especially his own.

Some parts of the book unappealingly gritty or revealing, but anyone who’s ever thought that they wanted to be a chef (not me, especially not now) needs to read this book. It also a good book for restaurant patrons who want to be “in the know” about the origins and etiquette surrounding their food.

I listened to the audiobook version of this, which is narrated by Bourdain whose own voice adds more life to his words. I recommend it. Rating: Four stars

The Fifth Avenue Story Society by Rachel Hauck

I chose this book for my church book group (Faith Fiction Fans-woo!) because it had a bookish theme and a thread of a faith story that wound through it. The book follows five people who get mysterious invitations to a story society at a book shop on Fifth Avenue: a professor who is trying to finish his dissertation on a famous writer, his ex-wife who is struggling to get the recognition she deserves at her job, a cosmetics company owner who almost became a princess, an Uber driver trying to reconnect with his kids, and an older gentleman who wants to write the story of his ideal marriage.

As the group continues to meet weekly, secrets are shared and each person grows in unexpected ways. The faith storyline is deftly thread into the story without being overbearing. The characters are likable and unlikeable in turn and every time you think you know what’s going to happen, a twist gets thrown in.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, especially the characters of the professor and the cosmetics company owner. The bond the group forms is realistic and close and reflects the same connection I have with my book group.

Rating: Four stars

Girl Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals by Rachel Hollis (Audiobook)

I listened to this on audio, which I recommend as the way to consume this book. It was a great motivational book that helps you to let go of excuses and to train your behaviors for success. It’s about dreaming big and setting big goals. I felt like some of it applied to my life, while some of it was focused on creating a business that is scaled way up (which is not my goal). Still, she shares her experiences and has some good advice for anyone who has some ambition to build a business or just expand your experiences in life.

This book is aimed at women, so many men may not be able to relate to some of the advice. Not the end-all, be-all of self help books, but some great motivational tips and ways to set yourself up for success.

Rating: Four stars

Spies and Sweethearts by Linda Shenton Matchett

I love a good spy story, and this was a fun one. Throw in romance and the World War Two era, and you’ve got a great suspense novel. The author did a great job making the setting come to life and really breathed life into the characters. They were interesting and I really cared about their story. The suspense was just right, put you on the edge of your seat without going overboard. It’s the tried and true hate-to-love trope without being tired and worn. This is book one of a trilogy, and I intend to come back for the next two installments.

Thank you to Celebrate Lit and NetGalley for the review ebook copy. All opinions are my own.

Rating: Four stars

Cost Minimalist Home: More Style, Less Stuff by Myquillyn Smith

I loved the style in this book. I’ve been looking for a way to describe my aesthetic and this is it. It was also nice to learn some decorating techniques that I can use with what I have. Definitely getting her next book.

Rating: Five stars

If I Run (If I Run #1) by Terri Blackstock

What a thriller! Terri Blackstock really knows how to move the plot along in this Christian thriller. This is the first of the three book series where we follow Casey, who is on the run because she is a suspect in her best friend Brent’s murder, and Dylan, the victim’s childhood friend who is hired to find Casey and bring her back to the police. 

As Casey starts on a journey to discover who is responsible for Brent’s murder and for framing her, she also begins a journey toward faith. Childhood pain, the loneliness of being on the run, and Casey’s good heart will help the reader start putting the pieces together. Dylan’s is also suspicious of the evidence that sets Casey up as a suspect and starts to discover the real truth behind the murder. As he works to manage his PTSD and to find Casey, he relies on his faith to get him to the truth.

Be sure you have the second two books queued up so you can read (or listen to- I took it in as an audiobook) them right after you finish this one. You won’t want to wait.

Rating: Five stars

Stay tuned tomorrow for my October-November reads, followed Friday by a special Holiday Gift Guide edition of Weekend Reading on Friday.

Happy reading!

— Amy

Book Pages, E-Books, and Audiobooks Oh My!

Photo by Gabby K on Pexels.com

I can’t decide my favorite way to read. There’s the appeal (and wonderful smell) of paper books (and with a book light, you can read in the dark). E-books offer a compact way to carry hundreds of books (and you can read in the dark!). Audiobooks offer a personal way to experience a story through the voice of the narrator (and you can listen in the dark! — can you tell that’s a biggie for me?). But which way is best? Not a question I can answer.

When e-books were new, I started out as a die-hard paper book person. I didn’t see how anything could beat having books on shelves and stacked on my nightstand. Who wanted to be stuck to a screen that may run out of juice before you’re done reading? One of my brothers passed down an early Kindle to me, but we lived in a rural area and downloading books was difficult. It was intriguing, but I never thought I’d convert. Then I discovered an all important fact a few years later…

You can use an e-reader in the dark.

Sure, there are booklights, but they’re awkward and can still keep your partner up if you have one. I got a Nook e-reader for Christmas when they were a new thing and was fascinated. It had a cool Tiffany blue cover, it was (kind of) a tablet that could be used for Kindle books too. And I could carry tons of books in a compact device. I also love magazines, and could get cheap magazine subscriptions and read them on my color screen. And I could read it in the dark without disturbing anyone or getting a crick in my neck. I was hooked.

Maybe a little too hooked. The downloading capabilities had improved, and all it took was a card on file and a click and I had a new book or magazine to read instantly. My collection grew quickly and so did my reading costs. I quickly got ahold of that (hello, book budget), but it was a whole new world for someone who lived hours from the nearest Barnes and Noble. I’m a book collector by nature, so being able to amass a collection that I didn’t have to find shelves for was awesome.

Then we moved from rural Kansas to a suburb of Detroit. Paper book purchases were easier and I had a (large) built in bookshelf in my basement. I bought a balance of e-books and paper books during this time and my collections of both grew (a lot!).

Five years later, we moved to a rural area of the Colorado mountains. No more Barnes and Noble, though we do have a small bookstore that will order books. I continue to read paper books during the day and usually have a regular book and an e-book going at once. Online ordering makes it easy to get paper books and e-books. I also discovered NetGalley, where bloggers and others who write about books can get e-book early copies, and Celebrate Lit, where I can get early copies of electronic copies of Christian books (I always disclose in my reviews when a book was received through NetGalley or Celebrate Lit). The Libby app makes it easy to access library e-books. So e-books are a major part of my reading life.

I didn’t get into audiobooks until recently. I’ve worked nights from home for the last four years and it’s kind of quiet. I used to listen to music or watch TV, but discovered audiobooks are a great way to up my book total (audiobooks count as reading). I listen as I work and can knock out most books in two to three nights. I access my audiobooks through the Libby app and I’m not afraid to wait for books I really want. I just received audiobook copies of Mexican Gothic and Majesty, and have 28 Summers and Last Train To Key West on hold that should come in the next few weeks. I’ve recently been listening to a Christian mystery series by Terri Blackstock and found the first two at my library, but had to buy my first audiobook to get ahold of the third in the series when my library didn’t have the audio version.

I don’t think I’ll ever settle on a favorite style of reading (I can do all three in the dark!), and I think that’s ok. Each type fills a different need for me. Now if I could just get through my TBR lists for each, I’d really get somewhere.

Do you have a favorite way to consume books? Comment below on your approach to reading and whether you’ve got a stance on the book/e-book/audiobook debate.

Happy reading/listening!

— Amy

Weekend Reading 10.30.2020

Fall is well underway now (had over a foot of snow in Colorado earlier this week!) and it’s time for sweaters and blankets and tea and a cozy nook to read a book (see what I did there?). I love pumpkin and made a two ingredient pumpkin cake (see link to recipe below) last week, but I’ve traded my PSL for salted caramel creamer in my coffee (pretty good!). I’ve always enjoyed the changing colors and crisp air that fall brings. And this year, with so many publication delays, fall is bringing a wealth of new books! This weekend I’m finishing up some fall yard work and then snuggling into my glide rocker (in a sweater and under a fluffy blanket with some tea) with a cozy mystery (Gourd to Death by Kristen Weiss). What’s on your weekend agenda? Comment below and check out these links for some fun thoughts and ideas.

Thoughts and book recommendations from comedian and author Steve Martin.

Time magazine’s list of the best new books coming out in November.

Some awesome throw blankets for cuddling by the fire on a chilly day.

A homemade PSL, a great list of fall teas, and an easy recipe for pumpkin cake (two ingredients!).

This sweater is going on my fall wish list (four colors — my fav is coffee bean).

Shopping for the holidays early? Here are some unique bookish gifts for your favorite reader.

Just gonna leave this right here (It’s never too early! Hallmark holiday fans unite!)

Just discovered this site that has a whole bunch of bookish candles and other cool stuff too! (Fall ones too!)

Some fun, bookish stickers for your laptop.

It’s Halloween weekend, and I hope you have something fun (and COVID-safe) planned. So in honor of my favorite superhero, here’s some cool Wonder Woman stuff here, here, and here.

Have a fun weekend, and happy reading!

–Amy

Blog Tour and Giveaway: A Christmas Tale For Little Women

“A Christmas Tale for Little Women” by Linda Brooks Davis Book Tour and GiveAway

A Christmas Tale for Little Woman

About the Book

Book: A Christmas Tale for Little Women

Author: Linda Brooks Davis

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

Release Date: September 15, 2020

A Christmas Tale for Little Women

Broadview is attired for Christmas. Oklahoma heiress, Adelaide Fitzgerald, is hosting two young girls who have chosen to celebrate Christmas with Auntie Addie rather than their family in Colorado.

Adelaide must give these girls a Christmas like no other. Has she thought of everything? What would top off this holiday in an extraordinary way?

The answer lies just the other side of Rock Creek. But what will it take for her to realize it is the Christmas topper she’s been seeking?

It’s 1912, and Adelaide Fitzgerald’s view of Christmas is about to emerge as a tale for a lifetime.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

This Christmas story is written as a prequel for Little Women, a book I loved as a young girl. The characters are richly drawn and reflect those created in the classic. The atmosphere of the 1912 setting is brought out clearly and adds to the joy of the book. The theme is uplifting and shows the joy of faith.

Thank you to Celebrate Lit for the review e-book. All opinions are my own.

About the Author

Davis_LindaBrooks_300dpi_2x2.5 copy

Linda Brooks Davis is a lifelong Texan who devoted 40 years to special education as a therapist, teacher, and administrator. She retired in 2008 and now writes full time.

Linda’s debut novel, Amazon best-selling The Calling of Ella McFarland,Book One in the Women of Rock Creekseries, is set in 1905Indian Territory prior to Oklahoma statehood. It won Jerry Jenkins Operation First Novel in 2014 and subsequently, ACFW’s Carol award for debut novel 2016. The sequel novella, A Christmas to Remember, is set in 1908Oklahoma. A second novella, A Christmas Measure of Love, is set in 1910 and is the prequel to Linda’s second full-length novel, which is set in 1914, Amazon best-selling The Mending of Lillian CathleenBook Two. The third novella, A Christmas Tale for Little Women, releases in 2020 and is set in 1912. It is a prequel to Book 3in The Women of Rock Creek series, The Awakening of Miss Adelaide, which is set in 1918.

Linda and her beloved husband Al worship and minister at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio and dote on six grandchildren. Readers may contact Linda through her website, www.lindabrooksdavis.com.

More from Linda

Everyone worked at my home on a South Texas farm near the U.S. border with Mexico.

My playmates were children of Hispanic laborers. Language never hindered playing la casa, making mud pies, or rocking los bebésFrijolesand tamalesserved from stewpots over open fires tasted deliciosoin either language. I learned outside their homes a broom works great on hardened soil.

Daddy paid workers on Saturdays, some by the hour, others by production. Lining up, they extended their hands, and he laid cash across their open palms. They checked the figures they had scribbled on paper scraps, trusting el patrónto correct discrepancies. Humble, grateful people, they showed respect.

My father verified immigration paperwork for those whom he housed. Others lived in the shadows, arriving around sunup and disappearing before sundown. Each evening a car or truck would rattle alongside the field, and the shadowworker would slip inside. Then the vehicle would clatter toward the horizon. And returned another day.

Occasionally, however, an alarm shouted in Spanish would sound across the field. Dropping his cotton sack, a worker would dash toward the cotton trailer in the turn row. Like hounds burrowing under a house, he and a compadrewould leap over the trailer’s sides and dig a hole in the freshly picked cotton. The first crawled in, and the other covered him.

The immigration officer making his rounds would walk into the field and occasionally stomp around inside the trailer, searching for man-sized lumps. I never witnessed the discovery of a shadow worker, but I heard about them on other farms. Worst of all, I heard about tragedies. With very little oxygen between tightly packed fluffs of cotton, a man could suffocate and occasionally would. I wondered what would lead a man to take such chances and how my law-abiding, God-loving father justified his complicity. So, I asked, and he answered, “Desperation, sugar. All they want is work. A man wants to provide for his family wherever or however he can. I can’t turn them away.”

Sounded like work was a gift. Huh? my ten-year-old brain asked itself.

Years later, I understood this principle. The second chapter of Genesis shows us that God created man not to laze around all day, but to work.

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.Genesis 2:15

Therefore, not only in “the beginning,” but on our farm in 1956, a man’s strength to work was God’s gift. The opportunity to work was Daddy’s gift to the men. The fruit of each man’s labor was the gift he sent home each week and the fulfillment of his need to provide for his family.

At Christmas we enjoyed preparing bushel baskets of meats, fruits and vegetables, candy and nuts, and toys for each family. I wondered about those who stayed around for a single day. Would their children find fruits, nuts, or even a piece of candy on Christmas morning?

Answers evaded me then—-as they do now—-but as a writer in my eighth decade of life, one truth I hold onto is that the strength for each day of writing and less pain in my arthritic hands and back are gifts from God. Each opportunity to write is an opportunity not only to entertain but to inspire readers to seek God in their everyday lives. Each word, unique turn of a phrase, or plot idea . . . is my gift to Him.

Protecting our safety is a far more complicated endeavor in 2020 than it was in 1956. Threats arise like none presented five decades ago, but work is still a gift. God wired it into our DNA. Come to think of it, the ideas for A Christmas Tale for Little Women and the subsequent novel—one set in the southern tip of Texas, a story about a loving, destitute man who wants only to provide for his family—are gifts.

Those diligent workers of 1956 and other years deserve a story that honors them. My gift to them and to Him is A Christmas Tale for Little Women.

Thank you, Lord.

Note: Photos from Pixabay

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 20

Blogging With Carol, October 20

Through the Lens of Scripture, October 21

Connect in Fiction, October 21

Get Cozy Book Nook, October 21

She Lives To Read, October 22

Artistic Nobody, October 22 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

For Him and My Family, October 23

deb’s Book Review, October 23

Splashes of Joy, October 23

Connie’s History Classroom, October 24

Jeanette’s Thoughts, October 24

Locks, Hooks and Books, October 25

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, October 25

Mary Hake, October 25

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, October 26

Ashley’s Bookshelf, October 26

KarenSueHadley, October 27

lakesidelivingsite, October 27

Pause for Tales, October 27

Older & Smarter?, October 28

Inklings and notions, October 28

Betti Mace, October 29

Captive Dreams Window, October 29

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, October 29

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 30

CarpeDiem, October 30

Texas Book-aholic, October 31

Batya’s Bits, October 31

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, November 1

Moments, November 1

Lighthouse Academy Blog, November 1 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)

Sara Jane Jacobs, November 2

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, November 2

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Linda is giving away the grand prize package of all 6 eBooks in the The Women of Rock Creek Series!! (The Calling of Ella McFarland, A Christmas to Remember, A Christmas Measure of Love, The Mending of Lillian Cathleen, A Christmas Tale for Little Women, and The Awakening of Miss Adelaide)

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/10264/a-christmas-tale-for-little-women-celebration-tour-giveaway

Happy reading!

–Amy

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Sand and Mistletoe by Chautona Havig

About the Book

Book:  Sand & Mistletoe

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre:  Contemporary Christian Romance (Holiday)

Release Date: November 24, 2018

Sand & Mistletoe

What’s Christmas without family drama, an accident, and mistletoe?

If you ask Portia Spears, it’s a horror movie—especially since she’s never the one caught under that mistletoe. And who thought it was a good idea to spend the last Christmas as a family unit away from their family home?

Her bossy older sisters, that’s who.

Christmas at his parents’ house with his son—just the way Reese Whitaker likes it. But a chance encounter on the beach might just change everything. How often do you meet someone who loves kids and knows American Sign Language?

Not often. Trust him.

However, with just two weeks to get to know each other and two families that couldn’t be more different vying for their time, will they even have a chance to test out that mistletoe they found?

Find out today in Sand & Mistletoe.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

I absolutely loved this book! I found Portia endearing, without being sappy or unrealistic. Despite the somewhat unrealistic way Portia meets Reese and Duncan, it somehow works. It was nice to see interaction between Portia and young Duncan, who is a member of the Deaf community. It’s something that’s rarely featured in novels, especially contemporary Christian romance.

I like how faith is weaved naturally into the story. It never feels forced. I think Portia’s family is a hoot and I love their Shakespearean names.

The story’s complications are realistic and the ending is satisfying. A great, feel-good holiday tale.
Thank you to Celebrate Lit for the review e-book copy of this book. Opinions are my own.

Rating: Four stars

About the Author

Chautona

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 and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

More from Chautona

What Happens When an Author Rewrites History

To be fair, almost none of us wanted to be there.

And really, that wasn’t fair. Two of our daughters planned as a “destination Christmas” bash for the whole family—just a nice getaway in San Diego for the “last” Christmas we’d probably all be in the same place on the same days.  The kids were getting older, getting married, and even moving out of state. It was a beautiful thing for them to try to do for us.

But Havigs are homebodies who like their traditions, and most of us left in Ridgecrest weren’t too thrilled being “dragged” four hours south to celebrate Christmas in a beautiful house on a cliff overlooking the San Diego countryside.  It had everything, game room, lots of space, yards, hiking trails, an infinity pool, a hot tub…

Yeah. That hot tub kicked off the weekend with a splash all right.  With no lighting around it, and no railing either, my husband stepped out of it and right off the ledge—down a hill (at least fifteen feet), bouncing off boulders and thankfully, stopped by a fence. Otherwise, he’d have rolled for a LONG way.

Get this.  He broke nothing.  Don’t even ask me how (because we all know Who took care of that, right?

Still, I spent my Christmas Eve sitting in an ER waiting for someone to tell us the damage (superficial scrapes and deep bruising). The whole time I thought, “This has got to be a book.”

Two years later, it was.

I say this at the end of the book, but I need to say it again.

People who know our family will recognize some of my kids (I left four of them out of the story).  They will also say, “Wait, she’s not like that!”

And that’s the point.  I put just enough of real people in it to really capture the feel of the personalities, meshed some quirks (including the ones that got left out), and then set them in a stressful situation and really way over-exaggerated actual responses.  I want to say this here again.  None of us acted just like I portrayed us in Sand & Mistletoe (although, frankly, I wouldn’t have blamed a couple of them if they’d wanted to). Unlike A Bird Died, I didn’t even try to stick to facts.

Instead of San Diego hill country, I put us at my favorite beach—Ventura. I stuck our rented beach house where the Pierpont Inn is/used to be (don’t even know if it exists anymore). Reese’s parents live in the house I lived in when I was nine—right there on Pierpont just a block from the beach.  And where they went to get mistletoe… one of my favorite places in the world.

So, here’s my version of the tale—the one I wrote instead of told.  Just like Francie Nolan learned from her teacher in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.  When I tell the story, I tell it exactly how it happened.  However… I wrote what should (not) have happened!  (this is much more interesting than the real story).

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, October 12

Emily Yager, October 12

The Book Chic Blog, October 12

Inklings and notions, October 13

Get Cozy Book Nook, October 13

For Him and My Family, October 14

Blogging With Carol, October 14

deb’s Book Review, October 15

lakesidelivingsite, October 15

Ashley’s Bookshelf, October 16

Splashes of Joy, October 16

Labor Not in Vain, October 16

She Lives To Read, October 17

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, October 17

Locks, Hooks and Books, October 18

Mary Hake, October 18

Livin’ Lit, October 19

Artistic Nobody, October 19 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Sara Jane Jacobs, October 20

Spoken from the Heart, October 20

Lots of Helpers, October 21

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

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 22

Batya’s Bits, October 22

As He Leads is joy, October 23

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 23

Simple Harvest Reads, October 24 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

SusanLovesBooks, October 24

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, October 25

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, October 25

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, October 25

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away the prize package including a signed paperback & a handmade ornament!!

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/101f6/sand-mistletoe-celebration-tour-giveaway

Happy reading!

–Amy

Blog Tour: Spies and Sweethearts

Spies & Sweethearts

About the Book Spies & Sweethearts

Spies & Sweethearts

Book: Spies & Sweethearts

Author: Linda Shenton Matchett

Genre: Historical Romance

Release Date: April 15, 2020

A secret mission. A fake bride. A run for their lives.

According to the OSS training manual, the life expectancy of a radio operator in Nazi-occupied France is six weeks. Partnered with one of the agency’s top spies, Gerard Lucas, newly-minted agent Emily Strealer plans to beat those odds. Then their cover is blown and all bets are off.

The border to neutral Switzerland is three hundred miles away—a long way to run with SS soldiers on their heels.

Will Emily and Gerard survive the journey?

And what about their hearts? Nothing in the manual prepared them for falling in love.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review:

I love a good spy story, and this was a fun one. Throw in romance and the World War Two era, and you’ve got a great suspense novel. The author did a great job making the setting come to life and really breathed life into the characters. They were interesting and I really cared about their story. The suspense was just right, put you on the edge of your seat without going overboard. It’s the tried and true hate-to-love trope without being tired and worn. This is book one of a trilogy, and I intend to come back for the next two installments.

Thank you to Celebrate Lit and NetGalley for the review ebook. All opinions are my own.

About the Author of Spies & Sweethearts

Spies & Sweethearts

Linda Shenton Matchett writes about ordinary people who did extraordinary things in days gone by. A volunteer docent and archivist for the Wright Museum of WWII, Linda is also a trustee for her local public library. She is a native of Baltimore, Maryland, and was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry. Linda has lived in historic places all her life and is now located in central New Hampshire where her favorite activities include exploring historic sites and immersing herself in the imaginary worlds created by other authors.

More from Linda

Dear Reader,

Take a moment to travel back to an era when ordinary women did extraordinary things. After the attack at Pearl Harbor, stalwart American gals stepped out of their comfort zone to take jobs never before held by women…sometimes dangerous jobs. Jobs in which they could lose their lives.

As a docent at the Wright Museum of WWII, I meet people from all walks of life who lived and served during the second “war to end all wars.” Many of these people haven’t shared their stories with loved ones for myriad reasons, but when they arrive at the museum, the floodgates of memories open, and words begin to pour out.

I’ve listened as ladies shared the stress of working outside the home, and juggling finances and childcare issues while their husbands were away in the armed forces. I’ve heard some speak about the excitement of learning new skills and gaining confidence. However, others were not as forthcoming because what they did was not only perilous but secret. Fortunately, in the last few years, documents have been declassified to shed light on the undercover work and projects performed during the war.

It is my hope that Spies & Sweethearts, book one in my Sisters in Service trilogy, will honor these brave women in some small way.

Blessings,

Linda Shenton Matchett

Blog Stops for Spies & Sweethearts

Hebrews 12 Endurance, September 15

lakesidelivingsite, September 15

Worthy2Read, September 16

deb’s Book Review, September 16

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 17

Genesis 5020, September 17

Betti Mace, September 18

Emily Yager, September 18

Texas Book-aholic, September 19

The Book Chic Blog, September 19

Inklings and notions, September 20

Get Cozy Book Nook, September 20

For Him and My Family, September 21

Where Faith and Books Meet, September 21

She Lives To Read, September 22

As He Leads is Joy, September 22

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 23

CarpeDiem, September 23

Artistic Nobody, September 24 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 24

Ashley’s Bookshelf, September 25

Connect in Fiction, September 25

Connie’s History Classroom, September 26

Mary Hake, September 26

Blossoms and Blessings, September 27

Melissa Wardwell’s Back Porch Reads, September 27

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, September 28

Life, Love, Writing, September 28

Giveaway for Spies & Sweethearts

Spies & Sweethearts

To celebrate her tour, Linda is giving away the grand prize package of an autographed copy of Spies & Sweethearts, an autographed copy of WWII Word Find, hand-cut wood fleur de Lis earrings, pewter Eiffel tower ring holder, and a fleur de Lis Coaster!!

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/100e4/spies-sweethearts-celebration-tour-giveaway

Happy reading!

–Amy

Weekend Reading 9.11.2020

Today is a unique day in American history as we remember the victims of (and heroes who responded to) the 2001 attacks in New York City and Washington, DC, as well as the passengers in the failed hijacking of Flight 93 that crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Our son was three and our daughter was not quite one when the attacks happened. Still, we felt the implications even in the small Kansas town where we lived at the time. As the daughter and sister of military veterans (including my father who once worked in the Pentagon and an older brother who deployed to Afghanistan and later Kuwait), I especially think of the soldiers who have fought against terrorism and have seen the way this became a turning point for our country.

Learn more here about opportunities available for today’s National Day of Service and Remembrance. No matter where you live, use the database on the site to find a way to serve in your community. Our family has a tradition of taking cookies to our local fire department or law enforcement office wherever we have lived each September 11th (send them with someone the department knows, or they might not be able to eat them). A small gesture of thanks, but it has always been appreciated and it is our way to give back to some of those who risk their lives for ours.

And now, for something completely different… (thank you Monty Python)

This library scented candle is a great way to ring in the fall season

Why we like reading about plagues and disasters (even as they are happening around us)

Check out this interview with Louise Penny about her latest Inspector Gamache installment.

Hallmark Movies and Mysteries channel has released its schedule of cozy mystery movies for September.

Read about the debate over the world’s first novel.

Check out this book about women’s fight for the right to vote. Look here for a feature of a book that focuses on women of color’s struggle for the vote.

Looking for some book rec’s? This list features 25 of the best books for fall.

Find some audio books with great narration.

This interview with Morgan Jenkins about her new memoir dealing with Black identity and culture as she traces her ancestry is an interesting read.

I’m starting in on some new cozy mysteries and holiday romances (yup, they’re already starting to come out for the year) this weekend. What are you up to? Share in the comments below.

Happy reading!

–Amy