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Thursday, December 13, 2018

BOOK REVIEW + EXCERPT: Winter at the Beach by Sheila Roberts (Cozy Romance)

Moonlight Harbor #2
Sheila Roberts

Genre:  Women's Fiction
Publisher: Harlequin/Mira
Publication Date:  October 23, 2018
Number of Pages: 384

Take a wintry trip to the harbor in this holiday novel. The town of Moonlight Harbor needs to convince tourists that the beach is still the place to be—even when the sunshine goes south for the winter. Jenna Jones, new proprietor of The Driftwood Inn, has the perfect idea: a holiday festival called Seaside with Santa. Jenna is happy to throw herself into planning the event. With all the decorating, preparation and extra reservations at the inn because of the festival—and with two wonderful but very different men hoping to claim more of her time and her heart—Jenna is busy. Busy, but happy. Even with her troublesome ex in the picture, life feels as close to perfect as she’s ever known. Until the weather turns her festival into a farce. Suddenly Mother Nature is not only raining on Jenna’s parade, the old bat’s trying to blow the floats and their princesses out to sea. Soon everyone is without power and the road out of town is blocked. And Jenna has a full motel. After the generator conks out, she’s not so sure she and her guests will make it through to the New Year in one piece. But with a little pulling together and a lot of holiday spirit, everyone might find that life—and Christmas—is always good at the beach.


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

Once again, this is another fabulous book by Sheila Roberts and a solid sequel to the series!

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the story still focused primarily on Jenna rather than make her an outlier while a previous secondary character took the spotlight, as was the case with the author's Icicle Falls series. But this decision feels fitting as Jenna's drive and enthusiasm continue to inspire, showcasing just how important this community has become to her as well as the hotel's welfare. In hindsight, it seems silly that the town wouldn't have already had a holiday festival available to drive tourism during the winter, but whether she thinks so or not, Jenna has truly cemented herself as a leader that will definitely put Moonlight Harbor on the map! They need her just as much as she needs them, and I can't wait to read more!

There are plenty of tear-jerking moments, but I love how the author is able to find the humor in it all without losing the sense of compassion we all need to feel in order to face such tragic circumstances. The story never loses its ability to convey a sense of hope that powerfully comes from the understanding of those who have also experienced similar situations if not worse. And in the author's deft hands, these fictional characters become masterfully relatable and delightfully engaging. 

Happy endings come together in a heartwarming tapestry that makes this a perfect selection to curl up with this season! Plus, the included recipes will set your mouth-watering and have firing up the oven to bake up all those cookies just in time for Santa! 

Jenna Jones, who manages a vintage motel, the Driftwood Inn, is sure her idea for a holiday festival will bring business to her Washington coast beach town of Moonlight Harbor. Let’s see how her proposal goes over with the Moonlight Harbor Chamber of Commerce…

 “Okay, that takes care of old business,” Brody said. “Now, I think Jenna has some new business.”
Oh, boy. She could hardly wait to see what Susan would have to say about this.
She cleared her throat. “Actually, I have a suggestion for a way to bring down more visitors during our slow time.”
“We’re all for that,” said Patricia Whiteside.
Susan clamped her thin lips together and gave Jenna a look that dared her, the newbie, to come up with something.
Jenna’s nervous twitch put in an appearance. Don’t blink. She blinked one last time and cleared her throat again. “Well, I was just thinking about other towns I’ve visited in the past and one that came to mind was Icicle Falls.”
Susan rolled her eyes. “The cheesy German town.”
“A lot of people find it charming,” Jenna said. “It’s awfully pretty, and they’ve done a great job of making themselves as authentic as possible. They always have something going to get people up there. In fact, I did some research online. They have festivals all year long, including a chocolate festival. Their tree-lighting ceremonies on the weekends in December bring in thou- sands of people.”
“So, are you proposing we have a tree-lighting ceremony?” Susan mocked.
“No, but I am proposing we have a holiday festival.”
“We just had a festival in August in case you forgot,” Susan said snidely.
What was with this woman anyway? The town had done a good deed by putting on a festival to help Jenna raise money to restore the Driftwood after she experienced a financial setback. It had been such a success that the chamber had decided to make the Blue Moon Festival a tradition, with proceeds going to help other businesses in town in need of assistance. Jenna had benefited and other local businesses would as well, and Susan resented it? She was a crab in the pot. If she couldn’t succeed, she didn’t want anyone else to, either. And everyone knew her shop wasn’t doing that well, especially now that Courtney was selling her own designs over at the Oyster Inn.
Well, pooh on her. Jenna handed papers to both Tyrella and Brody to start passing around the table.
 “People love festivals. Remember how many came down for the Blue Moon one?”
“That was in the summer,” Susan reminded her.
“I know. But people also love holiday festivals. We’re looking for ways to get visitors down here in the winter. Why not put together a giant holiday party in Moonlight Harbor?”
Patricia Whiteside was reading Jenna’s handout. “Seaside with Santa, that’s cute. And I like all the suggestions you’ve made for activities. I really like the idea of making use of the pier.”
“The weekend before Christmas?” Susan objected, frowning at her handout. “Who’s going to want to come to something then? People will be getting ready to go see family, and they’ll be finishing up their shopping.”
“Why shouldn’t they finish it here?” Jenna argued. “We have all kinds of cute shops. We have great places for them to stay while they shop and plenty of restau- rants where they can eat. They may even want to stay here for the holidays. All we need is an event to lure them down. A festival could do it. And who doesn’t like a parade? Look how many people turn out for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.”
“Look at the floats they have in that parade,” Susan countered. “What sort of floats would we be able to put together down here?”
“Okay, maybe not the most impressive parade ever,” Jenna admitted, “but I bet we could come up with some- thing.”
“I could get some of my employees to dress up as mermaids,” said Kiki, “and stick ’em on a flatbed truck strung with fake seaweed.” She grinned, clearly taken with her idea.
“We need more for our Moonlight Harbor Queen and her princesses to do,” put in Nora. “They love riding in those old convertibles. You’ll let us use your vintage Caddy, right, Ellis?”
“Well...” Ellis hesitated. “If it rains...”
“Which it probably will,” said Susan. “Come on, people, be practical. You know what it’s like down here in the winter, all wind and rain.”
Patricia pooh-poohed that objection. “We’ve survived plenty of storms.”
“Well, I think it’s a bad idea,” Susan said, scowling across the table at Jenna.
Maybe it was. Jenna’s left eye began to twitch.
“I think it sounds great,” said Elizabeth MacDowell. She and her twin sister, K.J., were new members of the chamber. They’d opened their arts and crafts store, Crafty Just Cuz, in September, and it was already one of Jenna’s favorite places to hang out.
“We do need more business in the winter,” said Cindy Redmond. “There’s no getting around it. And doing something for the holidays could be fun. I say we give it a try,” she added, and Jenna’s eye stopped twitching.
“We’d have to get moving right away,” Nora said, pulling another sheet of paper from her yellow tablet. “Who can help?”
“I can,” said Ellis.
“Me, too,” Brody said, smiling at Jenna. “Jenna, it’s your idea. You’ll have to chair the committee.”
“Me?” she squeaked. Not that she couldn’t take charge. She was a firstborn, and Responsibility was her middle name. (Although her sister, Celeste, would probably argue that her middle name was Bossy.) She didn’t have a problem with rolling up her sleeves and getting to work, but she also didn’t want to offend old- timers like Susan Frank. “I’m sure someone else...” she began.
“Your idea, you have to do it,” Susan goaded.
Jenna raised her chin. “I can do it.” She’d survived rehabbing the Driftwood Inn. How much harder could it be to organize a festival?
In three months. Blink. Blink, blink, blink.
“Do I have a motion that we sponsor a Seaside with Santa Festival for the weekend before Christmas?” Brody asked.
“So moved,” said Ellis. “I’m with you, kid,” he told Jenna.
“I’ll second,” Nora said and reached across the back of Tyrella’s chair to give Jenna’s shoulder an encouraging pat.
“All in favor?” Brody asked.
“Aye,” chorused almost everyone.
“Nay,” Susan Frank said. “I’m telling you all, this is a bad idea. Make sure you put that in the minutes,” she told Cindy.
“Motion carries,” said Brody. He smiled down at Jenna. “Looks like we’re going to be putting on a holiday bash.”
“Holiday disaster,” Susan grumbled from her side of the table.
What did Susan know? Blink, blink, blink.

USA Today best-selling author Sheila Roberts has seen over fifty books, both fiction and non-fiction in print. Her novels have appeared in many different languages and been made into movies for both the Lifetime and Hallmark Channels. She writes about things near and dear to women’s hearts – love, friendship, family and chocolate.


Many thanks to Pump Up Your Book Virtual Blog Tours and Sheila Roberts! It is always a pleasure reading, reviewing, and hosting! And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions and author extras!

Monday, October 22

Book Feature & Tour Kickoff at PUYB Virtual Book Club

Interview at Pump Up Your Book

Tuesday, October 23

Book Feature at I’m Shelf-ish

Wednesday, October 24

Interview at The Writer’s Life

Monday, October 29

Interview at Literarily Speaking

Wednesday, October 31

Book Teaser Feature at PUYB Book Teasers

Monday, November 5

Interview at Blogger News Net

Tuesday, November 6

Book Feature at What the Cat Read

Wednesday, November 7

Book Review at Sefina Hawke’s Books

Thursday, November 8

Interview at Straight From the Author’s Mouth

Friday, November 9

Book Feature at What Is That Book About

Monday, November 12

Book Review at Sheila’s Guests and Reviews

Tuesday, November 13

Character Interview at Pimp That Character

Wednesday, November 14

Book Feature at Syllables of Swathi

Thursday, November 15

Interview at The Literary Nook

Friday, November 16

Guest Blogging at Lori’s Reading Corner

Monday, November 19

Book Feature at The Bookworm Lodge

Tuesday, November 20

Book Feature at Dawn’s Reading Nook

Wednesday, November 21

Book Feature at The Avid Reader

Monday, November 26

Book Review at Moonlight Rendezvous

Wednesday, November 28

Book Feature at T’s Stuff

Book Feature at I’m All About Books

Friday, November 30

Book Review at Book by Book

Monday, December 3

Book Review at Books for Books

Tuesday, December 4

Character Interview at Blogging Authors

Wednesday, December 5

Book Feature at Handcrafted Reviews

Thursday, December 6

Book Feature at Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews

Friday, December 7

Book Feature at Nicole’s Book Musings

Monday, December 10

Book Feature at Reviews by Crystal

Wednesday, December 12

Book Review at Bri’s Book Nook

Thursday, December 13

Book Review at That’s What She’s Reading

Monday, December 17

Book Review at Simply Selina

Tuesday, December 18

Book Review at A Room Without Books is Empty

Wednesday, December 19

Book Review at The Book Connection

Thursday, December 20

Book Review at Literarily Speaking

Friday, December 21

Book Review at Laura’s Interests

Book Review at Stacking My Bookshelf

Interview at Book Marketing Buzz

Monday, December 10, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: Where Wishes Grow by Chris Sarracini (Children's)

Chris Sarracini 

Genre:  Children's Picture Book
Publisher:  Brownridge Publishing
Publication Date:
Number of Pages:  56

A young girl learns that dreams do come true, especially when wishes grow into prayers of the heart. This is the story of eight-year-old Maggie, a pensive and courageous dreamer, whose big heart starts to break when her grandmother becomes bedridden and sick with no recovery in sight. Fortunately Maggie has some wishes in mind to breathe life into Nana and is about to learn the secret for making them come true. Watching Nana’s health fail has been difficult for Maggie and so now much of her time is spent dreaming up wishes for ways she can help her. Maggie conjures up three wishes for Nana she desperately wants to come true: for Nana to see again to enjoy her favorite beautiful things, for her to walk again to visit her favorite places, and for her to speak again so that she and Maggie can sing their favorite songs. The problem is, with wishes this important, Maggie wants to be sure she can realize them; wishing upon stars that may be long dead or relying on birthday candle hoopla just won’t cut it. Thankfully, Maggie’s mother knows the secret for turning wishes into reality…you’ve got to write each wish down and then go plant each one in just the right place. And, as Maggie discovers, retelling the story of how each wish was planted turns out to be the most magical part.



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

I really enjoyed this poignant story that handles the very difficult themes of depression and aging in a gentle manner that will resonate quite well with young readers. Children's books that touch on topics facing the elderly are few and far between, so the fact that this book beautifully captures those ideas in a thought-provoking and engaging way from a child's perspective makes this a definite standout. 

While this book is not religious, it will strongly appeal to faith-based readers with its strong messages on resilience, hope, and love. This book helps to convey those valuable ideas as a means of finding comfort, which are definitely qualities that any reader can benefit from.

The illustrations are soft, almost dreamlike, which work to enhance the gentleness of the tone. As Maggie begins the journey to plant her wishes, the illustrations express the sense of wonder and awe that a child would experience in not just embarking on such an endeavor, but also communicating those emotions to her mother and grandmother. The larger than life moments will draw children in and keep them listening, while also providing inviting perspectives that work to pull readers into both Maggie's pain yet eventual joy.

Overall, this is a remarkable selection to connect multi-generational families, inspiring and projecting consideration and kindness that will not be lost on children.

Chris Sarracini has been working in the comic book and film industries for over 15 years. In addition to writing for a number of successful comic book favorites including TRANSFORMERS, STREET FIGHTER,  and DARK MINDS, his own creations include FATE OF THE BLADE and CASA NOSTRA. As a screenwriter, he has worked with Universal Pictures, Disney,  and Nasser Entertainment. His most recent publication is the children’s picture book WHERE WISHES GROW.

Chris lives with his family in Toronto where he continues to create and write.


Many thanks to Pump Up Your Book Virtual Blog Tours and Chris Sarracini! It was a pleasure reading, reviewing, and hosting! And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions and extras!

Monday, November 5

Book Feature & Tour Kickoff at PUYB Virtual Book Club

Friday, November 9

Book Feature at Nuttin’ But Books

Monday, November 12

Interview at Over the Rainbow Book Reviews

Friday, November 16

Interview at The Writer’s Life

Monday, November 19

Guest Blogging at Blogging Authors

Monday, November 26

Interview at I’m Shelf-ish

Friday, November 30

Book Review at T’s Stuff

Monday, December 3

Book Review at Books for Books

Tuesday, December 4

Book Review at The Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection

Monday, December 10

Book Review at That’s What She’s Reading

Wednesday, December 12

Interview at The Literary Nook

Monday, December 17

Book Review at The Blended Blog

Book Review at Bound 4 Escape

Wednesday, December 19

Book Review at Sefina Hawke’s Books

Book Review at Laura’s Interests

Monday, December 28

Book Review at Over the Rainbow Book Reviews

Thursday, December 6, 2018

LSBBT AUTHOR INTERVIEW + GIVEAWAY: The Janus Witch by Michael Scott Clifton (Urban Fantasy)


Genre: Paranormal Urban Fantasy / Romance
Publisher: Book Liftoff
Publication Date: September 1, 2018
Number of Pages: 372 pages


Malice vs Love. A beautiful witch, a member of a murderous coven, is torn from her medieval world and transported to East Texas. The passage leaves her with no memory of her previous life. She falls in love with a young pediatrician, but her dark past threatens to reassert itself…and make her a threat.




How has Texas influenced your writing?
As a young man, I moved to Texas from Albuquerque, New Mexico to attend college. I met my wife at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, and she is from Pittsburg, a small town in East Texas. We settled near Mt. Pleasant, and have enjoyed the rural and small-town atmosphere, particularly the slower, less frenetic pace of life. This is reflected in both of my novels, with East Texas the setting in each. Some of the kindest, friendliest, and most loving people I have ever met, are Texans. That said, I try to portray the East Texans in my novels as true to form, warts and all, not some romanticized caricature. Unsurprisingly, Texas is a microcosm of our nation as a whole, full of people of all shapes, sizes, and nationalities.

What do you think most characterizes your writing?
I can tell a good story. More importantly, I know how to tell a good story. I’ve found that writing is as much about the delivery as the prose. A writer can be perfect, absolutely perfect, in every aspect of writing whether grammar, diction, or sentence structure. But, if they don’t have an interesting story, no one will want to read it. Conversely, a book can contain every writing mistake known to man, yet still be successful…if the story is interesting. This is what draws readers, and if you have a good yarn to tell, then you have the best bait of all on your hook. I still make writing mistakes (thank goodness for critique partners!), but I’ve never been worried about creating unique and interesting stories.

Where did your love of reading come from?
I have been reading since I was a small boy. I was quite introverted growing up, and books were my escape to worlds of wonder and adventure. I think I was about 11 years old when one day, my mother brought home a box of books she bought at a garage sale. They were full of used Hardy Boy, Nancy Drew, and Tom Swift books. To me it was a chest of gold. I started reading, and when I finished one book, I ran to get another. I’ve never stopped reading since. I’m pretty sure I’m safe in saying behind every good writer, there was an avid reader first.

What are some day jobs that you have held?  Have any of them impacted your writing?
I was involved in public education for 38 years as a teacher, coach, and an administrator. You get to see a wide range of people, personalities, and situations as an educator. I can honestly say I have seen it all—not just once, but several times! My career has provided me with a rich source to draw from when creating a story, setting, or characters. However, I never create a character with ONE particular person in mind. It’s too limiting, not to mention a little risky in small town America. Don’t want to step on any toes here…you might have to go to church or attend a ballgame with your “character”.

Where is one place you want to visit that you haven't been before?
Scotland. We have been to Ireland and loved it. So beautiful and green! We’ve wanted to visit Scotland ever since.


This book is filled with magic, intrigue, excitement, and fantasy. Michael Scott Clifton is a truly gifted author.  -- Teresa Syms, Readers’ Favorite

This novel was an absolute page turner with action and great character development. I enjoyed every minute of it. I'm excited for the next work by Mike Clifton. -- Bronwyn Pegues, Librarian, Longview Public Library

“Michael Scott Clifton weaves and casts a magical spell in his fantasy romance The Janus Witch. A must read for any Fantasy Romance, Urban Romance, or Paranormal Romance enthusiast!" -- Ranay James, Author of The McKinnon Legends: A Time Travel Series

A continuous flow of witchery and energy that kept this reader captivated until the end. -- The Electric Review, 5-Star Review

Michael Scott Clifton, public educator for over 38 years as a teacher, coach, and administrator, currently lives in Mount Pleasant, Texas with his wife, Melanie, and family cat, Sadie. An avid gardener, he enjoys all kinds of book and movie genres. His books contain aspects of all the genres he enjoys...adventure, magic, fantasy, romance, and relationships. He has been a finalist in a number of short story contests. Clifton’s fantasy novel, The Conquest of the Veil, won a First Chapter Finalist award. Professional credits include articles published in the Texas Study of Secondary Education Magazine. Clifton’s latest book, The Janus Witch, the July Book Cover of the Month, is a featured book on the We Love Indie Books website. Currently, Clifton is completing Book I of The Conquest of the Veil, which will be released in March 2019. He can be reached at mike@michaelscottclifton.com.

║ Website ║ Facebook ║ Twitter ║ Instagram  
 ║ Goodreads  Amazon Author Page  


THREE WINNERS! One Winner: One Signed Copy + $10 Amazon Gift Card + Bookmark
Two Winners: eBook Copies DECEMBER 4-13, 2018
(U.S. Only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway Best of luck!

Many thanks to Lone Star Book Blog Tours and Michael Scott Clifton! It was a pleasure hosting! And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions and extras!


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