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Saturday, April 21, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: The Mexican-American War by in60learning (Nonfiction)

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Greetings Friends!

Today, I have something a little different! A few months ago, I was contacted by the in60Learning team to review a title from their collection. But then, spring sprung in Texas, and it's just a miserable time for everyone, especially when you have three young children!


It ended up taking me a lot longer to get the chance to write a review, and then it occurred to me to put it together with San Jacinto Day, which is today, April 21!  This is a day that Texans proudly celebrate and commemorate the Battle of San Jacinto, the final battle of the Texas Revolution in which Texas won its independence from Mexico. This is a state holiday, and at the monument, there is a festival that also includes a battle reenactment! Check out the Facebook page for some great photos and you can find more information about this year's events HERE.

While the Battle of San Jacinto and the Mexican-American War are not on the same timeline, the Mexican-American War would not have happened without the Battle of San Jacinto. And interestingly enough, the San Jacinto Museum of History is presenting a virtual gallery of the watercolors of Samuel Chamberlain, a soldier and artist in the Mexican-American War, which you can view HERE.  

It's a great day to be a Texan, but it's also important to remember and reflect on our history.


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SYNOPSIS


The conflict lasted less than two years, but the repercussions shook both nations for much longer. Having already lost Texas, the still newly independent Mexico was unprepared to defend their northern territories. The U.S. plowed forward through to California with a sense of manifest destiny. While the U.S. fought to gain more land, however, the war splintered the North and South; many Americans saw the war as an unjust theft of Mexican land and knew that the South’s reliance on slave labor would further establish this divisive injustice in America. While the U.S. won this war, this short history reveals how the division it sowed among its people led to the Civil War, the bloodiest conflict in American history. 

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE ON AMAZON! 


RATING



Genre:  Non-fiction
Publication Date:  January 2018


REVIEW


I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review.

As a Native Texan with an above average understanding of my state's history as well as a having a husband with a history degree, I figured I could adequately give justice to this title. At 36 pages, this selection is easily readable in one sitting. While not the definitive source, it definitely provides clear and concise information on the subject matter that both scholars and casual readers will appreciate. The writing is informative without being overwhelming, dry, or monotonous in its presentation, allowing readers to stay engaged throughout the learning experience. As audiobook editions are not currently available, I would love the opportunity to listen to one of those titles to determine whether the narrator can effectively captivate listeners with the material just as well.

I thoroughly enjoyed this overview of a period important to Texas history. From a refresher to an introduction on the topic, I can see these titles having multiple and important uses for any type of reader, including younger audiences. These would also be great supplemental resources for use while reading historical fiction or any other moment in history that you find interesting and simply don't have  the time to spend looking for books much less reading a tome. Additionally, for the level of information provided, the price point is unbeatable!

My only complaint, and a small one at that, is the lack of a timeline or map to provide visual reference as well as a useful guide to the text.

Overall, this was a well-written title within a series that I can definitely see myself turning to for future historical perspectives and I hope that I've convinced you enough to read one yourself!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Get smarter in just 60 minutes with in60Learning. Concise and elegantly written non-fiction books and audiobooks help you learn the core subject matter in 20% of the time that it takes to read a typical book. Life is short, so explore a multitude of fascinating historical, biographical, scientific, political, and financial topics in only an hour each.

Join the LearningList and receive the first two chapters of Alexander the Great: Student of Aristotle, Descendant of Heroes.


With the LearningList, receive free e-books and audiobooks and get updates on exciting new releases from in60Learning!



Many thanks to Tyler and the in60Learning team! It was an absolute pleasure reading and reviewing a title in their collection!

Friday, April 20, 2018

BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: Chicken Culprit by Vikki Walton (Cozy Mystery)


Greetings Friends!

Today, I am hosting a REVIEW for CHICKEN CULPRIT, the first book in the Backyard Farming series by Vikki Walton.

Chicken Culprit: (Backyard Farming Mystery Series) (Cozy Mystery) (A Backyard Farming Mystery Book 1) by [Walton, Vikki]

SYNOPSIS


Finally healing after her heart-breaking divorce, Anne Freemont is ready to put the painful past behind her. 
Discovering an old Victorian for sale in the small mountain town of Carolan Springs may be just what she needs. The beauty of Colorado beckons, so Anne heads west to start her new life. 
Yet, before Anne's completely settled in, her neighbor is found dead in his compost pile. What’s worse is that Anne’s quirky young neighbor, Kandi Jenkins, could be the killer. When Kandi begs for her help, Anne feels she has no choice but to help the young woman. 
However, she finds herself quickly at odds with the local sheriff. And while she uncovers more of the community's secrets, she's also exploring her awakening feelings for Sam Powers, the town's deputy coroner. 
Once Anne starts looking at who could be the real killer, the suspect list keeps getting longer and longer. It seems that Carolan Springs is a place of many secrets. But who would want to murder Ralph and who’s willing to kill again to keep their secret?

CLICK HERE TO ORDER YOUR COPY ON AMAZON!



BOOK EXCERPT


Anne yawned and stretched her hands over her head. She unlocked the kitchen window, taking in a deep breath of crisp Colorado air and sighed loudly. No longer would she have to deal with divorce lawyers or Duke. She could finally live her life as she saw fit.  
Anne surveyed her domain. Even though boxes cluttered every available space, it didn’t matter to her. What she cared about was that it was all hers. While the work ahead might seem daunting, the prospect of transforming the old Victorian house didn’t deter Anne.  
She poured herself a cup of coffee, both hands cradling the mug, before deciding to drink it out on the back porch. Rays of sunshine had risen about the copse at the back of her property, and its golden warmth welcomed the day. Raising the mug to her mouth, Anne took a much-needed sip of the hot morning brew.  
“Stop! Stop!” A woman’s voice carried over from the other yard.  
Anne sloshed coffee onto her chambray shirt. “Shoot!” She set her cup down on the railing. The liquid turning cold began seeping onto her skin. 
“Stop!” The piercing scream came again.


RATING 



Genre:  Cozy Mystery 
Publication Date:  February 2018


REVIEW


I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review.

This was definitely a book that took me by surprise! I typically only read cozies that fall within my interests, which explains why you'll see me review a lot of them featuring books, libraries, food, and sometimes crafts. I was largely intrigued by the author's giveaway for this tour, which included the winner's ability to help create a character in the next book. That is an absolutely fantastic idea and I just knew I needed to give this one a shot and read it in anticipation of the next book! And I can honestly say that I'm so glad I did!

Walton's smooth and casual writing style really makes you feel a part of this community. Readers get to know Anne's neighbors right alongside her and follow her along as she makes the decision to help Kandie. And there are plenty of shady individuals lurking around in this neck of the woods! I thoroughly enjoyed that Anne wasn't the typical amateur sleuth that you see in many cozies who is overconfident in her abilities and eager to a fault. Anne initially doesn't want to get involved and for good reasons, but gradually, she determines she does has something to offer and proceeds accordingly. While Kandie's use of the word "like" was extremely annoying as the story began, the resulting friendship Kandie and Anne shared quickly overshadowed any frustration to the point that it almost became background noise by the end. Despite their many differences, these two women bonded together to create a truly heartwarming and unforgettable relationship that I am looking forward to seeing more of.

There are many humorous and witty moments along this twisting and turning roller coaster of a mystery with an ending that I didn't see coming! This was a great start to what sounds like a promising series and is an absolute steal on Kindle. I would highly recommend this one for anyone simply looking for a place to start with cozies, but if you're like me and you have read quite a few of them, this one was certainly enjoyable and well worth the time. And please be sure to enter the giveaway because I can't wait to read what character a fellow reader might create!



ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Vikki Walton is a suburban homesteader aka the Havensteader. She has chickens, gardens, and bees and is a certified permaculture designer. She’s also the author of nonfiction books. She loves to travel, is a global house and pet sitter and when not out in the garden or hiking in beautiful Colorado, is plotting her next mystery.
You can connect with her on:

GIVEAWAY INFO!

One winner will receive a signed copy of the book, a simple book bag, a $25 Amazon gift certificate, and some other goodies (tbd). The author will also allow the winner to provide a character for her next book (first and last name, description, etc.) They won’t get to pick if that character is the killer, victim, or innocent bystander. And they will receive a mention in the next book’s acknowledgement page.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Best of luck!
Many thanks to Great Escapes book blog tours and Vikki Walton! It was an absolute pleasure reading, reviewing, and hosting! And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions and extras!

April 16 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW
April 16 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT
April 16 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT WITH RECIPE
April 17 – Teresa Trent Author Blog – REVIEW
April 17 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW
April 17 – The Self-Rescue Princess – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
April 18 – The Power of Words – REVIEW
April 18 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW
April 18 – Books Direct – GUEST POST
April 19 – I Wish I Lived in a Library – REVIEW
April 19 – MJB Reviewers – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
April 19 – Jane Reads – REVIEW
April 19 – T’s Stuff – SPOTLIGHT
April 20 – That’s What She’s Reading – REVIEW (You Are Here)
April 20 – FUONLYKNEW – REVIEW
April 20 – Varietats – REVIEW
April 21 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW
April 21 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
April 21 – fundinmental – REVIEW
April 22 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW
April 22 – A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW
April 22 – Island Confidential – CHARACTER GUEST POST


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: A Borrowed Dream by Amanda Cabot (Historical Romance)


Greetings Friends!

Today, I am hosting a BOOK REVIEW for A BORROWED DREAM, the second book in the Cimarron Creek Trilogy by Amanda Cabot.




Catherine Whitfield is sure that she will never again be able to trust anyone in the medical profession after the town doctor’s excessive bleeding treatments killed her mother. Despite her loneliness and her broken heart, she carries bravely on as Cimarron Creek’s dutiful schoolteacher, resigned to a life without love or family, a life where dreams rarely come true.

Austin Goddard is a newcomer to Cimarron Creek. Posing as a rancher, he fled to Texas to protect his daughter from a dangerous criminal. He’s managed to keep his past as a surgeon a secret. But when Catherine Whitfield captures his heart, he wonders how long he will be able to keep up the charade.

With a deft hand, Amanda Cabot teases out the strands of love, deception, and redemption in this charming tale of dreams deferred and hopes becoming reality.

CLICK FOR BOOK TRAILER ON ANIMOTO!


Scroll down for the giveaway!

CLICK TO ORDER ON:
Baker Book House  ┃  Amazon  ┃  Barnes & Noble 
┃  Christianbook.com  ┃  Books-A-Million  ┃  Kobo  ┃



RATING




PRAISE FOR A BORROWED DREAM:


“Cabot’s sweet love story will appeal to readers of gentle romances. . .Although this title stands on its own, readers of A Stolen Heart (2017), the first in Cabot’s place-based trilogy, will be happy to revisit the folks of Cimarron Creek.” -- Booklist

“The second book in Cabot’s Cimarron Creek trilogy is even better than the first, with a dash of suspense, an intriguing bit of medical history and a host of enjoyable characters.” -- RT Book Reviews


PRAISE FOR A STOLEN HEARTBOOK ONE IN THE CIMARRON CREEK TRILOGY: 


“Readers will enjoy the surprising ending as well as the romance always found in Cabot’s books.”Publishers Weekly

“Moments of humor provide a nice balance to the heartwarming scenes and the mild suspense thread.”RT Book Reviews

“Cabot’s nonpreachy inspirational romance features characters who genuinely try to live honorable lives, and their story has broad appeal for readers of gentle fiction and historical romance as well as for readers of Christian fiction.”Booklist 




I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review.

I slightly stepped out of my comfort zone when I decided to read this one, and while not the best way to go about choosing books to read and review, I was instantly charmed by this cover as well as the synopsis and had to know more! Now, having completed it, I can honestly say that I absolutely enjoyed every minute of my time in Cimarron Creek and I can't wait to start reading the author's other series as well!

Although this is the second installment in the trilogy, each book stands on its own and was so well written with intriguing and fully developed characters that I never felt as though anything was lacking. While there are quite a few characters to keep track of to include their individual paths throughout the course of the novel, in Cabot's deft hand, none of that becomes overwhelming or confusing. She is able to effortlessly weave the plot and subplots together so that everything becomes integral to the story. Smooth transitions and steady pacing helped build these many interwoven relationships into a rich and multilayered story that kept me turning the pages! Don't let the romance genre fool you! Cabot has crafted a believable love story that is filled with elements of suspense, mystery, and history with a gentle sprinkling of Christian messages to guide us along the way. It is always so refreshing to read about characters living beyond themselves and trying to make a difference in the community and world around them. Catherine and Austin truly embodied that spirit, and through them, Cabot took this light romance to an inspiring level.

Additionally, two children, Seth and Hannah, are prominently featured, and I was greatly impressed by Cabot's ability to give each of them a voice within this story. They too face hardships and struggles that need addressing, and their characterization is just as well done as any of the adults if not better.

Overall, this was an incredibly heartwarming story that I do hope you will read! I'm looking forward to returning to Cimarron Creek in the next book, but for now, you can find me behind the pages of the first book, A Stolen Heart.





Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of A Stolen Heart, the first book of the Cimarron Creek trilogy, as well as the Texas Crossroads series, the Texas Dreams series, the Westward Winds series, and Christmas Roses. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards and the Booksellers' Best. She lives in Wyoming.

You can connect with her on:


FACEBOOK  |  TWITTER  |  WEBSITE  |  BOOK BUB  |  GOODREADS  |  BLOG


GIVEAWAY INFO!


THREE WINNERS 1ST: Copy of A Borrowed Dream, Novel Teas (25 count), Paddywax Library Collection Ralph Waldo Emerson Scented Soy Wax Candle, Cedar & Wild Fern (6.5oz) 


2ND: Copy of A Borrowed Dream + $10 Barnes & Noble Gift Card

3RD: Copy of A Borrowed Dream + $10 Starbucks Gift Card

APRIL 12-21, 2018
(US ONLY)


a Rafflecopter giveaway
BEST OF LUCK!


Many thanks to Lone Star Book blog tours, Revell, and Amanda Cabot! It was an absolute pleasure reading, reviewing, and hosting! And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions and author extras!

VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:


4/12/18
Excerpt 1
4/12/18
Excerpt 2
4/13/18
Review
4/13/18
Author Interview
4/14/18
Excerpt 3
4/14/18
Excerpt 4
4/15/18
Review
4/16/18
Notable Quotable
4/16/18
Notable Quotable
4/17/18
Review
4/18/18
Guest Post
4/19/18
Review
4/20/18
Scrapbook Page
4/21/18
Review
4/21/18
Review


   blog tour services provided by
  

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: Welcome to Moonlight Harbor by Sheila Roberts (Contemporary Romance)


Greetings Friends!

Today, I am hosting a BOOK REVIEW for WELCOME TO MOONLIGHT HARBOR, the first book in a new series by Sheila Roberts!


SYNOPSIS


Once happily married, Jenna Jones is about to turn forty, and this year for her birthday—lucky her—she’s getting a divorce. She’s barely able to support herself and her teenage daughter, but now her deadbeat artist ex is hitting her up for spousal support…and then spending it on his “other” woman. 
Still, as her mother always says, every storm brings a rainbow. And when she gets a very unexpected gift from her great-aunt Edie, things seem to be taking a turn for the better. Aging Aunt Edie is finding it difficult to keep up her business running The Driftwood Inn, so she invites Jenna to come live with her and run the place. It looks like Jenna’s financial problems are solved! 
Or not. The town is a little more run-down than Jenna remembers, but that’s nothing compared to the ramshackle state of The Driftwood Inn. Aunt Edie is confident they can return it to its former glory, though Jenna feels like she’s jumped from the proverbial frying pan into the beach fire 
But who knows? With the help of her new friends and a couple of handsome citizens, perhaps that rainbow is on the horizon after all. Because, no matter what, life is always good at the beach. 
Featuring all the warmth, romance and trademark humor of Sheila Roberts’s writing, this new series will delight longtime fans and welcome a generation of new readers.



BOOK EXCERPT



1

To Do:

Clean office
Dentist at noon
Drop Sabrina off at Mom’s
Meet everyone at Casa Roja at 6
Or just tell them I’ve got bubonic plague and cancel

The four women seated at a corner booth in the Mexican restaurant were getting increasingly noisier with each new round of drinks. Cinco de Mayo had come and gone, but these ladies still had something to celebrate, as they were all dressed in slinky tops over skinny jeans and body-con dresses, killer shoes, and wearing boas. There were four of them, all pretty, all still in their thirties. Except the guest of honor, who was wearing a black dress, a sombrero and a frown. She was turning forty.
It was going to take a while for her to get as jovial as the others (like about a million years) considering what she’d just gotten for her birthday. A divorce.
“Here’s to being free of rotten scum-sucking, cheating husbands,” toasted Celeste, sister of the guest of honor. She was thirty-five, single, and always in a party mood.
The birthday girl, Jenna Jones, formerly Jenna Petit, took another sip of her mojito. She could get completely sloshed if she wanted. She wasn’t driving and she didn’t have to worry about setting a good example for her daughter, Sabrina, who was spending the night with Grandma. Later, if they could still work their cell phones, the gang would be calling Uber and getting driven home and poured into their houses or, in the case of sister Celeste, apartments, so there was no need to worry about driving drunk. But Jenna wasn’t a big drinker, even when she was in a party mood, and tonight she was as far from that as a woman could get.
What was there to party about when you were getting divorced and turning (ick!) forty? Still, that mojito was going down pretty easily. And she was inhaling the chips and salsa. At the rate she was going she’d be getting five extra pounds for her birthday as well as a divorce.
“Just think, you can make a whole new start,” said her best friend Brittany. Brittany was happily married with three kids. What did she know about new starts? Still, she was trying to put a positive spin on things.
“And who knows? Maybe the second time around you’ll meet a business tycoon” said Jenna’s other bestie, Vanita.
“Or someone who works at Amazon and owns lots of stock,” put in Celeste.
“I’d take the stock in a heartbeat,” Jenna said, “but I’m so over men.” She’d given up on love. Maybe, judging from the chewed fingernails and grown-out highlights in her hair, she’d given up on herself, too. She felt shipwrecked. What was the point of building a rescue fire? The next ship to come along would probably also flounder.
“No, you’re over man,” Brittany corrected. “You can’t give up on the whole species because of one loser. You don’t want to go through the rest of your life celibate.” She shuddered as if celibacy was akin to leprosy.
“Anyway, there’s some good ones out there somewhere,” said Vanita, who, at thirty-six, was still single and looking. “They’re just hiding,” she added with a guffaw, and took another drink of her Margarita.
“That’s for sure,” Celeste agreed, who was also looking now that This-is-it Relationship Number Three had died. With her green eyes, platinum hair, pouty lips and perfect body, it probably wouldn’t take her long to find a replacement. “Men. Can’t live with ‘em, can’t ...” Her brows furrowed. “Live with ‘em.”
Jenna hadn’t been able to live with hers, that was for sure, not once she learned Mr. Sensitive Artist had another muse on the side - a redhead who painted murals and was equally sensitive. And had big boobs. That had nothing to do with why they were together, Damien had insisted. They were soul mates.
Funny, he’d said the same thing to Jenna once. It looked like some souls could have as many mates as they wanted.
Damien Petit, handsome, charming... rat. When they first got together Jenna had thought he was brilliant. They’d met at a club in the U District. He’d been the darling of the University of Washington Art Department. He’d looked like a work of art, himself, with brooding eyes and the perfectly chiseled features of a marble statue. She’d been going to school to become a massage therapist. She, who had never gotten beyond painting tiles and decorating cakes, had been in awe. A real artist. His medium was un-recyclable detritus. Junk.
Too bad she hadn’t seen the symbolism in that back when they first got together. All she’d seen was his creativity.
She was seeing that in full bloom now. Damien had certainly found a creative way to support himself and his new woman - on spousal support from Jenna.
Seriously? She’d barely be able to support herself and Sabrina once the dust settled.
Nonetheless, the court had deemed that she had been the main support of the family and poor, struggling artist Damien needed transitional help while he readied himself to get out there in the big, bad world and earn money on his own. Her reward for being the responsible one in the marriage was to support the irresponsible one. So now, he was living in the basement of his parent’s house, cozy as a cockroach with the new woman, and Jenna was footing the bill for their art supplies. Was this fair? Was this right? Was this any way to start off her fortieth year?
Her sister nudged her. “Hey, smile. We’re having fun here.”
Jenna forced a smile. “Fun.”
“You can’t keep brooding about the junk jerk.”
“I’m not,” Jenna lied.
“Yeah, you are. I can see it in your eyes.”
“I know it’s not fair you have to pay him money,” put in Brittany, “but that’s how things work today. You know, women’s rights and all. If men can pay us spousal support we can pay them, too.”
“Since when does women’s rights give your ex the right to skip off like a fifteen-year old with his new bimbo and you pay for the fun?” Jenna demanded.
It was sick and wrong. She’d carried him for years, working as a massage therapist while he dabbled away, selling a piece of art here and there. They’d lived on her salary supplemented by an annual check at Christmas from his folks, who wanted to encourage him to pursue his dream of artistic success, and grocery care packages from her mom, who worked as a checker at the local Safeway. And the grandparents, God bless them, had always given her a nice, fat check for her birthday. Shocking how quickly those fat checks always shrank. Damien drank up money like a thirsty plant, investing it in his art ... and certain substances to help him with his creative process.
Maybe everyone shouldn’t have helped them so much. Maybe they should have let Damien become a starving artist, literally. Then he might have grown up and manned up and gotten a job.
They’d had more than one discussion about that. “And when,” he’d demanded, “am I supposed to do my art?”  
“Evenings? Weekends?”
He’d looked heavenward and shaken his head. “As if you can just turn on creativity like a faucet.”
One of Jenna’s clients was an aspiring writer with a family, who worked thirty hours a week. She managed to turn on the faucet every Saturday morning.
There was obviously something wrong with Damien’s pipes. “I need time to think, time for things to come together.”
Something had come together all right. With Aurora Ansel, whose mother had obviously watched one too many Disney movies.
Jenna probably should have packed it in long before Aurora came slinking along, admitted what she’d known after only a couple of years into the marriage that it had been a mistake. But after she’d gotten pregnant she’d wanted desperately to make things work, so she’d kept her head down and kept ploughing forward through rough waters.
Now she and Damien were through and it still didn’t look like clear sailing ahead. Sigh.
“Game time,” Celeste announced. We are going to see who can wish the worst fate on the scum-sucking cheater. I have a prize for the winner.” She dug in her capacious Michael Kors purse and pulled out a Seattle Chocolates chocolate bar and everyone, including the birthday girl let out an “ooh.”
“Okay, I’ll go first,” Brittany said. “May he fall in a dumpster looking for junk and not be able to climb out.”
“I’ll drink to that,” Jenna said, and did.
“Oh, that’s lame,” scoffed Vanita.
“So, you think you can do better?” Brittany challenged.
“Absolutely,” she said, flipping her long, black hair. “May he wind up in the Museum of Bad Art.”
“There is such a thing?” Jenna asked.
“Oh, yeah.” Vanita grinned.
“Ha!” Celeste crowed. “That would serve him right.”
Jenna shook her head. “That will never be happen. To be fair, he is good.”
“Good at being a cheating scum sucker,” Celeste said and took a drink.
Vanita tried again. “Okay, then, how about this one? May a thousand camels spit on his work.”
“Or a thousand first-graders,” added Celeste, who taught first grade.
“How about this one? May the ghost of Van Gogh haunt him and cut off his ear,” Brittany offered.
Vanita made a face and set down the chip she was about to bite into. “Eeew.”
“Eew is right,” Jenna agreed. “But I’m feeling bloodthirsty tonight so I’ll drink to that. I think that one’s your winner,” she said to her sister.
Celeste shook her head. “Oh, no. I can do better than that.”
“Go for it,” urged Brittany.
Celeste’s smile turned wicked. “May his ‘paint brush’ shrivel and fall off.”
“And to think you teach children,” Jenna said, rolling her eyes.
Nonetheless, the double entendre had them all laughing uproariously.
“Okay, I win the chocolate,” Celeste said.
“You haven’t given Jenna a chance,” pointed out Brittany.
“Go ahead, try and beat that,” Celeste said, waving the chocolate bar in front of Jenna.
“I can’t. It’s yours.”
Their waiter, a cute twenty-something Latino, came over. “Are you ladies ready for another drink?”
“We’d better eat,” Jenna said. Her mojito was going to her head.
Celeste overrode her. “We’ve got plenty of night left. Bring us more drinks,” she told the waiter. “And more chips.” She held up the empty bowl.
“Anything you ladies want,” he said, and smiled at Jenna.
Celeste nudged her as he walked away. “Did you hear that? Anything you want.”
“Not in the market,” Jenna said firmly, shaking her head and making the sombrero wobble. Tonight she hated men.
But, she decided, she did like mojitos, and her second one went down just fine.
So did the third. Olé.

Saturday morning, she woke up with gremlins sandblasting her brain and her mouth tasting like she’d feasted on cat litter instead of enchiladas. She rolled out of bed and staggered to the bathroom where she tried to silence the gremlins with aspirin and a huge glass of water. Then she made the mistake of looking in the mirror.
Ugh. Who was that woman with the ratty, long, blond-gone hair? Her bloodshot eyes were more red than blue and the circles under them made her look a decade older than what she’d just turned. Well, she felt a decade older than what she’d just turned.
A shower would help. Maybe.
Or maybe not. She still didn’t look so hot, even after she’d blown out her hair and put on some make-up. But oh, well. At least the gremlins had taken a lunch break.
She got in her ten-year-old Toyota (thank God they made those cars to run forever - this one would have to) and drove to her mother’s house to pick up her daughter.  
She found her mother stretched out on the couch with a romance novel. Unlike her daughter, she looked rested, refreshed, and ready for a new day. In her early sixties, she was still an attractive woman, slender with a youthful face and the gray hairs well hidden under a sandy brown that was only slightly lighter than her original color.
“Hello, birthday girl,” Mom greeted her. “Did you have fun last night?”
As the night wore on she’d been distracted from her misery. That probably counted as fun, so she said, “Yes.”
“Looks like you could use some coffee,” Mom said, and led her into the kitchen.
“How’s my baby?” Jenna asked.
“She’s good. She just got in the shower. We stayed up late last night.”
Jenna settled at the kitchen table. “What did she think of your taste in movies?”
“She was impressed, naturally. Every girl should have to watch Pretty in Pink and Jane Eyre.”
“And?” Jenna prompted.
“Okay, so I showed her Grease. It’s a classic.”
“About hoods and ho’s.”
“I don’t know how you can say that about an iconic movie,” Mom said. “Anyway, I explained a few things to her, so it came with a moral.”
“What? You, too, can look like Olivia Newton John?”
Mom shrugged. “Something like that. Now, tell me. What all did you girls do?”
“Not much. We just went out for dinner.”
“Dinner is nice,” Mom said, and set a cup of coffee in front of Jenna. She pulled a bottle of Jenna’s favorite caramel flavored creamer from the fridge and set it on the table and watched while Jenna poured in a generous slosh. “I know this is going to be the beginning of a wonderful new year for you.”
“I have no way to go but up.”
“That’s right. And you know...”
“Every storm brings a rainbow,” Jenna finished with her.
“I firmly believe that.”
And Mom should know. She’d had her share of storms. “I don’t know how you did it,” Jenna said. “Surviving losing dad when we were so young, raising us single-handedly.”
“Hardly single-handedly. I had Gram and Gramps and Grandma and Grandpa Jones, as well. Yes, we each have to fight our own fight, but God always puts someone in our corner to help us.”
“I’m glad you’re in my corner,” Jenna said. “You’re my hero.”
Jenna had been almost five and Celeste a baby when their father had been killed in a car accident. Sudden, no chance for her mom to say good-bye. There was little that Jenna remembered about her father beyond sitting on his shoulders when they milled with the crowd at the Puyallup Fair or stood watching the Seafair parade in downtown Seattle, that and the scrape of his five o’clock shadow when he kissed her goodnight.
What stuck in her mind most was her mom, holding her on her lap, sitting at this very kitchen table and saying to Gram, “He was my everything.”
That read well in books, but maybe in real life it wasn’t good to make a man your everything. Even the good ones left you.
At least her dad hadn’t left voluntarily. Her mom had chosen a good man. So had Gram, whose husband was also gone now. Both women had picked wisely and knew what good looked like.
Too bad Jenna hadn’t listened to them when they tried to warn her about Damien. “Honey, there’s no hurry,” Mom had said.
Yes, there was. She’d wanted to be with him NOW.
“Are you sure he’s what you really want?” Gram had asked. “He seems a little...”
“What?” Jenna had prompted.
“Egotistical,” Gram had ventured.
“He’s confident,” Jenna had replied. “There’s a difference.”
“Yes, there is,” Gram had said. “Are you sure you know what it is?” she’d added, making Jenna scowl.
“I’m just not sure he’s the right man for you,” Mom had worried.
“Of course, he is,” Jenna had insisted, because at twenty-three she knew it all. And Damien had been so glamorous, so exciting. Look how well their names went together - Damien and Jenna, Jenna and Damien. Oh, yes, perfect.
And so it was for a time... until she began to see the flaws. Gram had been right, he was egotistical. Narcissistic. Irresponsible. Those flaws she could live with. Those she did live with. But then came the one flaw she couldn’t accept. Unfaithful.
Not that he’d asked her to accept it. Not that he’d asked her to keep him. Or even to forgive him. “I can’t help how I feel,” he’d said.
That was it. Harsh reality came in like a strong wind and blew away the last of the fantasy.
But, here was Mom, living proof that a woman could survive the loss of her love, could climb out of the rubble after all her dreams collapsed and rebuild. She’d worked hard at a job that kept her on her feet all day and had still managed to make PTA meetings. She’d hosted tea parties when her girls were little and sleepovers when they became teenagers. And, in between all that, she’d managed to make time for herself, starting a book club with some of the neighbors. That book club still met every month. And Mom still found time for sleepovers, now with her granddaughter.
Surely, if her mom could overcome the loss of her man, Jenna could overcome the loss of what she’d thought her man was.
Mom smiled at her and slid a card-sized envelope across the table. “Happy birthday.”
“You already gave me my birthday present,” Jenna said. Mom had given her a motivational book about new beginnings by Muriel Sterling with a fifty-dollar bill tucked inside. Jenna would read the book (once she was ready to face the fact that she did, indeed, have to make a new beginning) and she planned to hoard the fifty like a miser. You could buy a lot of lentils and beans with fifty bucks.
“This isn’t from me. It’s from your Aunt Edie.”
“Aunt Edie?”
She hadn’t seen her great aunt in years, but she had fond memories of those childhood summer visits with her at Moonlight Harbor – beach combing for agates, baking cookies with Aunt Edie while her parrot Jolly Roger squawked all the silly things Uncle Ralph had taught him, listening to the waves crash as she lay in the old antique bed in the guest room at night with her sister. She remembered digging clams with Uncle Ralph, sitting next to her mother in front of a roaring beach fire, using her arm to shield her face from the heat of the flame as she roasted a hot dog. Those visits had been as golden as the sunsets.
But after getting together with Damien, life had filled with drama and responsibilities, and, after one quick visit, the beach town on the Washington Coast had faded into a memory. Maybe she’d spend that birthday money Mom had given her and go see Aunt Edie.
She pulled the card out of the envelope. All pastel flowers and birds, the outside read For a Lovely Niece. The inside had a sappy poem telling her she was special and wishing her joy in everything she did, and was signed, Love, Aunt Edie. No Uncle Ralph. He’d been gone for several years.
Aunt Edie had stuffed a letter inside the card. The writing was small, like her aunt. But firm, in spite of her age.
Dear Jenna,
I know you’ve gone through some very hard times, but I also know that like all the women in our family, you are strong and you’ll come through just fine.
Your grandmother told me you could use a new start and I would like to give it to you. I want you to come to Moonlight Harbor and help me revamp and run The Driftwood Inn. Like me, it’s getting old and it needs some help. I plan to bequeath it to you on my death. The will is already drawn up, signed and witnessed, so I hope you won’t refuse my offer.
Of course, I know your cousin Winston would love to get his grubby mitts on it, but he won’t. The boy is useless. And besides, you know I’ve always had a soft spot for you in my heart. You’re a good girl who’s always been kind enough to send Christmas cards and homemade fudge for my birthday. Uncle Ralph loved you like a daughter. So do I, and since we never had children of our own you’re the closest thing I have to one. I know your mother and grandmother won’t mind sharing.
Please say you’ll come.
Love, Aunt Edie
Jenna hardly knew what to say. “She wants to leave me the motel.” She had to be misreading.
She checked again. No, there it was, in Aunt Edie’s tight little scrawl.
Mom smiled. “I think this could be your rainbow.”
Not just the rainbow, the pot of gold as well!

RATING



Genre:  Cozy Romance
Publication Date:  April 2018


REVIEW


I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review.

This was such a wonderful beginning to a new series! As with her previous series, I was immediately drawn into the story. I absolutely love Roberts' ability to create such relatable and likeable characters, and just as they do with Jenna, they all welcome you home with loving and open arms! Her writing style and conversational tone are so effortless and lighthearted that everything from the colorful cast of characters to the picturesque setting seems to come alive right off the page. This sweet story about second chances is delightfully engaging, and despite all the stressful and heartbreaking topics, you will be humorously and wholeheartedly entertained throughout!

I really enjoyed that the story primarily followed Jenna as she embarked on this journey to rebuild her life in the town of Moonlight Harbor along the Washington coast. Previous books in the Icicle Falls series showcased the stories of multiple characters in one book, so I thoroughly enjoyed that the focus remained simply on Jenna for this opening installment. I could definitely see the potential for some secondary characters to shine in later books rather than the series continuing with Jenna as the lead. While she has a lot to deal with in order to rebuild her aunt's motel, Jenna's drive and determination are inspiring as are the friendships she builds with the other business owners within the community. Tourism is their lifeblood, so it was such a pleasure to read about everyone helping out where they could and supporting and encouraging each other when problems arose. It was almost just as important to everyone else that The Driftwood Inn returned to its former glory!

I always appreciate the subtle romance aspects, which gives this a much more cozy vibe. Jenna opens her heart to a new beginning and finds a few possible paths to pursue along the way because we're never too old nor is it ever too late to start over.

As much as I enjoyed Icicle Falls, I have to say that I think I'm going to really like coming back to Moonlight Harbor even more! But while I wait, the provided recipes may help to bring a little taste of the shore into my own home.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Sheila Roberts lives on the water in the Pacific Northwest. Her books have been printed in several different languages and have been chosen for book clubs such as Doubleday as well as for Readers Digest Condensed books. Her best-selling novel ON STRIKE FOR CHRISTMAS was made into a movie and appeared on the Lifetime Movie Network, and her novel THE NINE LIVES OF CHRISTMAS was made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel.

When she's not making public appearances or playing with her friends, she can be found writing about those things near and dear to women's hearts: family, friends, and chocolate.

You can connect with her on:

FACEBOOK  |  TWITTER  |  WEBSITE 





Many thanks to Pump Up Your Book blog tours and Sheila Roberts! It was an absolute pleasure reading, reviewing, and hosting! Be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions and extras!

Monday, March 12

Book Featured at PUYB Virtual Book Club

Book Teaser Feature at PUYB Book Teasers

Interview at tfaulc Book Reviews

Interview at Sheila’s Guests and Reviews

Tuesday, March 13

Book Review at The World As I See It

Wednesday, March 14

Book Review at Books for Books

Thursday, March 15

Book Review at Sefina Hawke’s Books

Friday, March 16

Book Featured at Lisa Book Blog@LEL

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Monday, March 19

Book Review at Book by Book

Tuesday, March 20

Book Review at Jersey Girl Book Reviews

Wednesday, March 21

Book Featured at Confessions of an Eccentric Bookaholic

Thursday, March 22

Book Featured at The Writer’s Life

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Monday, March 26

Book Review at Moonlight Rendezvous

Wednesday, March 28

Interview at Dawn’s Reading Nook

Friday, March 30

Book Review at Reviews by Crystal

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Monday, April 2

Interview at Shannon Muir’s Mystery of Character

Tuesday, April 3

Book Review at Lynchburg Mama

Wednesday, April 4

Interview at T’s Stuff

Thursday, April 5

Book Review at Stacking My Bookshelves

Friday, April 6

Interview at Lori’s Reading Corner

Book Review at Simply Kelina

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Monday, April 9

Book Review at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Tuesday, April 10

Book Review at Melina’s Book

Book Review at The Book Connection

Book Review at That’s What She’s Reading

Wednesday, April 11

Book Review at Ashley’s Bookshelf

Thursday, April 12

Book Review at Literarily Speaking

Book Review at Stormy Nights Reviewing & Bloggin’


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