Top Ten Tuesday - Books that Lived Up to the Hype

Monday, July 30, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week we are sharing books that lived up to the hype. There is nothing more disappointing than looking forward to reading a book that everyone has been raving about...only for it to be a huge letdown. I'm happy to say that at least with these books...they really are least I though so....

What books do you think are worthy of the hype?

Fiction for Empowerment & Giveaway - Guest Post by Rachel McMillan

If you haven't read Murder at the Flamingo yet, you don't know what you are missing! Hamish is one of my very favorites, but not for the reasons you may think. Hamish is unique. I can relate to him. For me, he IS real. His challenges with anxiety make him stand out among heroes. And I love him for it! Today we have Rachel Mcmillan giving us a peek behind the scenes of this story and Hamish himself. Don't forget to enter the GIVEAWAY at the end of this post!

Having suffered from a panic and anxiety disorder my entire life, I have been privileged to have a kind and compassionate support group of family and friends, as well as access to medication and a great psychiatrist. This is not always the case. Some sufferers do not have access to a medical health plan nor an understanding community. I created Hamish DeLuca so readers would know that they were a part of a community. That whatever face their anxiety and panic took needn’t define them. To encourage them to find a way to perceive their limitations as something unique. To let them know that they are not alone. 

We look up to characters in fiction, don’t we? Especially male romantic leads. We want them to get the girl, solve the crime, save the day. It was empowering for me to create a hero who is handsome and rips up the dance floor, with a dimple and big blue eyes and a penchant for slipping into romantic Italian yet use him to normalize mental illness in a time when it was heavily stigmatized. 

Think of all of the dashing figures cut by 1930s film stars, the era in which my series is set. Clark Gable smiling while Atlanta burns around him and Vivien Leigh, swooping her into his arms and kissing her senseless. Errol Flynn with his sly smile and innate charm swashbuckling his way through a popular matinee adventure, Charles Boyer wooing Hedy Lamarr with his lush French accent. 1930s heroes didn’t usually look like lawyers who have a very visible panic attack during their first big trial. But, alas, that’s who Hamish DeLuca is… a different (though still worthy) type of hero.

Hamish DeLuca showed up in my head with all of my physical and mental symptoms. There is not one symptom I ascribe to him I have not personally suffered from. Whereas Hamish lived in the 1930s, where hiding his mental illness was not just a matter of avoiding embarrassment but avoiding being locked in a sanatorium, prescribed horrible mercury pills or exposed to shock treatment, we live in an age where the stigma has lessened. We are more openly talking about anxiety and we are recognizing it as a severe and legitimate medical illness. We are taking strides to normalize sufferers as well as accept their limitations much as we do those who suffer from pneumonia or diabetes. We are ensuring patients find a way to live full and meaningful lives. 

We have a wide communal space through social media to find other people with our challenges and we have the medium of fiction. Studies show readers of fiction are more likely to develop empathy. Empathy, we learn in Murder at the Flamingo, is the greatest gift. It transcends race or religion or gender. With my new series, I am committed to helping sufferers recognize that they are bound to a chain of people who know exactly how they feel. Just knowing that there is someone out there in the vast universe can be a comfort! I am also committed to shining a light on anxiety so that those who do not suffer can better understand those in their family and friend and work circles who do. Already, readers have taken the time to write me letting me know that Hamish DeLuca better helped them relate, help or take a step toward understanding someone in their life with mental illness. That might sound like a humble brag, but I don’t mean it to be taken that way. I tell you to encourage you to champion fiction that leads to empathy, to understanding, to overcoming adversity.

Throughout literary history, it was far easier to give mental illness and its limitations to female characters. In the Victorian era, everything from anxiety to postpartum depression to PMS symptoms were housed under the blanket term “hysteria” and saw women locked away by the dozens just for having a few stumbling blocks. In my series, I gave the weakest parts of myself to my hero: the one who is supposed to solve the murder and dash into adventure and get the girl and make us all swoon. It was important to me to gender swap and ensure that the face of mental illness in historical fiction is not just that of a woman’s. 

Hamish, my adorable Hamish, just has a few more mountains to climb. He still becomes the hero of his own story and he still finds a way to woo the beautiful Regina Van Buren. My dearest hope, reader, is that his education in learning that what he always thought was his greatest weakness was actually something that set him apart is something you take with you. Think of all of the perceived limitations in your life--- what unique perspective, empathy or skill does that give you that no one else in your world has? Fiction is empowering. Fiction is a starting point for empathy. Let’s all champion the ways it can shake our world in a way no other medium can. Fiction can be the best medicine there is. 

About the Author

Rachel McMillan is a keen history enthusiast and a lifelong bibliophile. When not writing or reading, she can most often be found drinking tea and watching British miniseries. Rachel lives in bustling Toronto, where she works in educational publishing and pursues her passion for art, literature, music and theater. 

For more information about Rachel's books, check out my post for Murder at the Flamingo HERE!

The publishers have graciously provided ONE (1) of my readers with a PRINT copy of Murder at the Flamingo. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter form below.
Giveaway open 7/30/18 12:00am PDT - 8/5/18 11:59pm PDT
Open to US addresses only. Void where prohibited.

First Line Friday - Unbreakable

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Happy Friday!

I get so impatient when I have to wait for a series finale...and then once I get my hands on it, I can't bring myself to dive in, because I know that I will demolish it. By the time this post goes live, I am hoping that I will have at least STARTED this book...I guess we shall see how long I can savor it hehe!

(Good news! I finished it! You can read my review HERE!)

Today’s first line is from...

Sara Ella

What is that wretched odor? Am I dead? Because I smell dead or death or something close to it. I can't open my eyes. Not yet. 

Do you read Young Adult Fiction?

Head over to Hoarding Books to link up with your own FLF post! (Please keep it family 
friendly...Or note otherwise in the link up)

Unbreakable - The Unblemished Trilogy Book III - Sara Ella

My Rating
★★★★★ - You have bewitched me, body and soul. (More Info)

About the Book
Eliyana Ember is stranded in a foreign country in the Third Reflection with no passport, the inability to mirrorwalk, and zero clue where the nearest Thresholds back into the Fourth or Second might lie. Her mind is a haze, her memories vague. She knows a wormhole from the Fourth sent her here. She remembers her mom and baby brother Evan. Makai and Stormy and Joshua . . .
Deep down El realizes she must end the Void once and for all. Is there a way to trap the darkness within its current vessel, kill it off completely? To do so would mean sacrificing another soul—the soul of a man Joshua claims is a traitor. But he’s lied to her before, and even El senses Joshua can’t be fully trusted, but one thing is certain . . .
The Void must be annihilated. And only the Verity—the light which birthed the darkness—can put an end to that which seeks to kill and destroy. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts

***Please be aware this is the third book of the Unblemished Trilogy. I have done my best to keep this review spoiler free. Not an easy feat, let me tell you.***

Oh, be still my heart! What a rollercoaster this series is. I wonder if the author knew what the outcome was going to be when she started this series...Or did the characters surprise her just as much as they did me? Haha! 

Eliyana Ember has grown so much. And in Unbreakable she has to face even bigger obstacles. Get ready for a whirlwind of events as you hold your breath with every turn of the page! As you travel from Reflection to Reflection with Ky, Joshua, El (or Em), and Ebony, you will lose yourself in the world that Sara Ella has created.

Even though my heart aches that this series has come to a close...I look forward to visiting these stories again soon. And...Sara's NEW book, Coral, will be releasing next year!  

A fabulous creation of words, Unbreakable, is a must-read! 

I received a complimentary copy of Unbreakable from the publishers as part of the publicity tour with JustRead. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

About the Author

Once upon a time, Sara dreamed she would marry a prince and live in a castle, and she did work for Disney! Now she spends her days throwing living room dance parties for her two princesses and conquering realms of her own imaginings. She believes “Happily Ever After is Never Far Away.”

More Books by Sara Ella on Bookworm Mama

Coming Soon!

June 2019

Many thanks to Canva for providing an AMAZING program for me to design all these beautiful graphics. Book covers, publisher/tour logos, and author pictures not owned by me. All other graphics created by Bookworm Mama with public domain photos on Canva unless stated otherwise. 

The Accidental Guardian - High Sierra Sweethearts Book One - Mary Connealy

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

My Rating
 - You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you. (More Info)

About the Book
She's the only witness to a wagon train attack. Keeping her safe, though, means his world is about to be turned upside down.

When Trace Riley finds the smoldering ruins of a small wagon train, he recognizes an attack by the same group who left him as sole survivor years ago. Living off the wilderness since then, he's finally carved out a home and started a herd--while serving as a self-appointed guardian of the trail. He'd hoped the days of driving off dangerous men were over, but the latest attack shows otherwise.

Deborah Harkness saved her younger sister and two toddlers during the attack, and now finds herself at the mercy of her rescuer. Trace becomes an accidental guardian when he offers the only shelter for miles around and agrees to take them in until they can safely continue their journey. His simple bachelor existence never anticipated kids and women in the picture and their arrival is unsettling--yet enticing.
Trace and Deborah find themselves drawing ever closer as they work together to bring justice to the trail and help the group survive the winter--but every day closer to spring means a day closer to leaving the mountains forever. (Goodreads)

My Thoughts
I read this story while driving through the mountains on our way to a family vacation in Montana...I know...A little farther north than this book is set...but, oh boy! Did it help to set the stage! 

Mary Connealy has such a fun and refreshing genre/style of Romantic Comedy with Cowboys...add a whole lot of tension, an adorable cast of characters, dangers that will make you bite your nails, and of course the really bad, BAD guys!!! 

Trace is a swoon-worthy, rugged, hero who will sweep your heart out of danger and hold it close. Deb, a strong, independent, fiery, woman...Mama Bear at it's finest...Although unsure of herself when it comes to matters of the heart. Will she allow Trace the time to woo her? 

With the 2 youngsters in the mix, THIS Mama Bear's heart was a flutter with worry the whole time. And even still...after I finished heart is scared to find out what happens next...Yup...Cliffhanger...of sorts. 

If you are looking for an adventure...Love mountains...Love cowboys...and Love to see good triumph over evil...Give this book a read and you won't be sorry!

I received a complimentary copy of The Accidental Guardian from the publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

About the Author
Mary Connealy writes romantic comedies about cowboys. She's the author of The Kincaid Brides, Trouble in Texas, and Wild at Heart series, as well as several other acclaimed series. Mary has been nominated for a Christy Award, was a finalist for a RITA Award, and is a two-time winner of the Carol Award. She lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her very own romantic cowboy hero. They have four grown daughters--Joslyn, married to Matt; Wendy; Shelly, married to Aaron; and Katy, married to Max--and four precious grandchildren. 

More books by Mary Connealy on Bookworm Mama

Book Two in the High Sierra Sweethearts series releases October 2018

Many thanks to Canva for providing an AMAZING program for me to design all these beautiful graphics. Book covers, publisher/tour logos, and author pictures not owned by me. All other graphics created by Bookworm Mama with public domain photos on Canva unless stated otherwise. 

Top Ten Tuesday - Books That Hold Significant Memories

Monday, July 23, 2018

We all have those moments, when a smell, a song, a conversation, bring back a rush of memories. Well, books do that for me as well. There are certain books that I have read that hold significant memories for me...Where I was...Who I was with...etc. So as brief as possible here are my top ten.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Twilight - I know, I know...But I first read this book when I lived in South Africa. SO.MANY.MEMORIES! 

After a Fashion - My first Jen Turano book. We lived in our first HOUSE (rented) and I remember walking down the stairs after putting the boys down for a nap to go read, thinking "How have I never read books by this author before???" Now, Jen Turano is one of my very dearest author friends!

In Good Company - Yes, another Jen Turano book...You will see why...Ezra (my now 4-year-old son) had a lot of health issues when he was younger...During what was supposed to be a routine checkup...Ezra was admitted into the hospital...Now, this checkup was on the other side of the state. Long story short...There was a lot of driving involved, tears, worries, frustrations, medication...And I binge read In Good Company while sitting in the hospital yet again with Ezra.

Close to You - 2016 was the very first CFRR and I was so excited that I got Kara Isaac's book in my swag bag. I started reading it on the way home and it makes me think of airports and travel...and being overly tired!

Moonbow Night - My first ever Laura Frantz book. I read this book on the way to CFRR 2017 last year. Ahhhh!!!! SO.MUCH.LOVE for this story!!!

God's Daughter - I read this book (well, most of it) while on a cruise last winter. Thoughts of sunscreen, humidity, sun, and salt water...*sigh*...I need to go on a cruise again...

Always Watching - I listened to this book...and made the mistake of listening to it at my the forest...Ya...bad idea lol! But I will always remember that. 

Little House Books - Whenever I think about the Little House Series, I think of cozy evenings in front of a fire listening to my mom read the story to us. 

War & Peace - Yes, I read this...took me 8 months. And I was pregnant with Ezra and spent several late...uncomfortable...nights trudging through lol! But I'm glad I read it!

Harry Potter - Ok, so...I don't have specific memories for each book...But I do remember reading these by the pool, in the car (Zach read to me as I drove), and catching up on them all in time to see the last movie in theatres! It was fabulous!

First Line Friday - The Orphan's Wish

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Happy Friday!

Melanie Dickerson is the QUEEN of fairy tale retellings! If you love fairy tales, you need to check out Melanie's books! She is fabulous! So.Many.Stories!!!!

Today’s first line is from...

The Orphan's Wish
Melanie Dickerson

Summer 1404
The Holy Land
Ala ad'din's mother's eyes were closed as she lay on her funeral bier.

What is your favorite Fair Tale Retelling?

Head over to Hoarding Books to link up with your own FLF post! (Please keep it family 
friendly...Or note otherwise in the link up)

A Defense of Honor - Haven Manor Book One - Kristi Ann Hunter

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

My Rating
★★★★★ - You have bewitched me, body and soul. (More Info)

About the Book
When Katherine "Kit" FitzGilbert turned her back on London society more than a decade ago, she determined never to set foot in a ballroom again. But when business takes her to London and she's forced to run for her life, she stumbles upon not only a glamorous ballroom but also Graham, Lord Wharton. What should have been a chance encounter becomes much more as Graham embarks on a search for his friend's missing sister and is convinced Kit knows more about the girl than she's telling.

After meeting Graham, Kit finds herself wishing things could have been different for the first time in her life, but what she wants can't matter. Long ago, she dedicated herself to helping women escape the same scorn that drove her from London and raising the innocent children caught in the crossfire. And as much as she desperately wishes to tell Graham everything, revealing the truth may come at too high a price for those she loves. (Author's Website)

My Thoughts
The first thing I said to my hubby after I started reading this book was, "It has been WAY too long since I have read a Kristi Ann Hunter book." I absolutely LOVE her style and voice. The humor infused with the stark realities of life. The faith combined with growth. And the adventures...OH, the adventures these characters have is of epic proportions. 

The first thing that stood out to me in this story is the completely new-to-me setting and theme. Although set in Regency England, we spend most of our time outside of London in a forgotten manor. Our leading lady is one who has been scorned by society and lives to protect those who would also be outcasts. I love Kit's passion and heart. She learns so much along her journey and in the end, becomes even more beautiful because of the trust she puts in God. Lord Wharton is swoony on all accounts. His love for the children and for Kit produce such tingling sensations as to set my heart ablaze with admiration. 

If you are a fan of Regency books and haven't read a Kristi Ann Hinter book...WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? If you HAVE read her books...You NEED to get this one in your yesterday. A Defense of Honor is my favorite KAH story to date and I can't wait to see what she has in store for us next!

I received a complimentary copy of A Defense of Honor through NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

About the Author
Kristi is the RITA® award winning author of Regency romance novels from a Christian worldview. Her books include the award winning Hawthorne House series as well as the newly published first stories of the Haven Manor series. Beyond writing, she is also speaker, teaching classes in writing as well as Biblical and spiritual topics. She has spoken to writers' groups, schools, and young women's groups at churches. 

When she is not writing or interacting with her readers, Kristi spends time with her family and her church. A graduate of Georgia Tech with a computer science degree, she can also be found fiddling with her computer in her free time. A born lover of stories she is also an avid reader. From very young she dreamed of sharing her own stories with others and praises God daily that she gets to live that dream today. 

More Books by Kristi Ann Hunter on Bookworm Mama

The Hawthorne House Series

Many thanks to Canva for providing an AMAZING program for me to design all these beautiful graphics. Book covers, publisher/tour logos, and author pictures not owned by me. All other graphics created by Bookworm Mama with public domain photos on Canva unless stated otherwise. 

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