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Wednesday, July 1, 2020

LSBBT BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: What Momma Left Behind by Cindy Sproles (Christian Historical Fiction)

Cindy K. Sproles

Genre:  Christian Historical Fiction
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: June 2, 2020
Number of Pages: 256

Scroll down for the giveaway!

Worie Dressar is seventeen years old when influenza and typhoid ravage her Appalachian Mountain community in 1877, leaving behind a growing number of orphaned children with no way to care for themselves. Worie's mother has been secretly feeding a number of these little ones on Sourwood Mountain. But when she dies suddenly, Worie is left to figure out why and how she was caring for them.

Plagued with two good-for-nothing brothers—one greedy and the other a drunkard—Worie fights to save her home and the orphaned children now in her begrudging care. Along the way, she will discover the beauty of unconditional love and the power of forgiveness as she cares for all of Momma's children.

Storyteller and popular speaker Cindy K. Sproles pens a tender novel full of sacrifice, heartache, and courage in the face of overwhelming obstacles.

PRAISE for What Momma Left Behind: 

"Worie Dressar isn't your typical heroine—she's tough, she's opinionated, and she's loud. But at her core she wants to love and be loved—just like the rest of us. Cindy's special talent is in telling about life the way it is—hard parts and all—while preserving the beauty and wonder of love shining through even the darkest night." Sarah Loudin Thomas, Christy Award-nominated author of Miracle in a Dry Season

"Seldom does a story move me to tears and encourage me to examine my life. A powerful story. Highly recommended." DiAnn Mills, author of Fatal Strike

"Cindy Sproles has a way of placing readers inside the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her ability to transport readers into her Appalachian adventures is nothing short of genius. Leaving us hanging on every word, Cindy writes with feeling and incredible historical knowledge. This book is a must-read!" LaTan Murphy, writer, speaker, author of Courageous Women of the Bible


While attending library school, I took a storytelling class that focused on the narrative tradition of the Appalachian Mountain community. It was incredibly fascinating, so when I saw this book took place within that area, I was immediately intrigued. It took me back to memories of the course and I couldn't wait to start reading! Add in the idea that the characters are also in the midst of serious diseases wrecking havoc on the people and it couldn't get any more relevant for readers today. 

Worie Dressar is an exceptionally mature young woman, having faced more tragedies in her short years than much older people experience in a lifetime. Her strength is palpable on every page, and despite her youth, we can all draw encouragement from her character. She does still obviously have a lot to learn, but the first person perspective allows such a fascinating exploration into the range of emotions she feels as she goes through deep personal and emotional journeys. Being privy to her private inner thoughts added so much intensity and sentiment to what she has overcome and the duty she feels to keep going each day for the children. Her individual introspection showcases just how passionate Worie is about making a positive difference in the lives of those around her. This point of view also adds remarkable authenticity to her voice by the language and dialect she uses and is so carefully crafted that it becomes easy to hear and natural enough that you might find yourself speakin the same way long after the book has been put away!  

Christian messages are woven across the story providing an inspirational and insightful guide all along the way. Readers will easily feel how strongly rooted her faith is in her efforts to bring forth a living example to the words of scripture and stay true to her upbringing. Worie challenges us all to be better people and spiritual stewards. Family dynamics as well as its dysfunction as seen through her relationships and interactions with her siblings were such a crucial message that is beautifully examined within this story. Families are created in so many different ways and I truly appreciated the author's exploration of this throughout the story.

This was a new to me author that I look forward to checking out more of from soon. This rich and multilayered story kept me turning pages and is definitely highly recommended historical fiction!

Many thanks to the author and publisher for providing me with a free copy of the book. This is my honest and thoughtful review.

Cindy K. Sproles is the cofounder of Christian Devotions Ministries. An author, storyteller, and popular speaker, Cindy teaches at writers’ conferences across the country and directs the Asheville Christian Writers Conference in North Carolina. Editor of ChristianDevotions.us and managing editor for Straight Street Books and SonRise Devotionals, Cindy has a BA in business and journalism and lives in the mountains of East Tennessee with her family.

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First Winner: Copy of What Momma Left Behind + $20 B&N Gift Card
Second Winner: Copy of What Momma Left Behind  + $5 Starbucks Gift Card  Third Winner: Copy of What Momma Left Behind  June 23-July 3, 2020
(US only)

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Many thanks to Lone Star Book Blog Tours, the publisher, and the author! 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!

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Saturday, June 20, 2020

LSBBT BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: All Things Left Wild by James Wade (Rural Fiction)

James Wade

Genre: Adventure / Rural Fiction / Coming of Age
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Publication Date: June 16, 2020
Number of Pages: 304 pages

Scroll down for the giveaway!

After an attempted horse theft goes tragically wrong, sixteen-year-old Caleb Bentley is on the run with his mean-spirited older brother across the American Southwest at the turn of the twentieth century. Caleb's moral compass and inner courage will be tested as they travel the harsh terrain and encounter those who have carved out a life there, for good or ill.

Wealthy and bookish Randall Dawson, out of place in this rugged and violent country, is begrudgingly chasing after the Bentley brothers. With little sense of how to survive, much less how to take his revenge, Randall meets Charlotte, a woman experienced in the deadly ways of life in the West. Together they navigate the murky values of vigilante justice. 

Powerful and atmospheric, lyrical and fast-paced, All Things Left Wild is a coming-of-age for one man, a midlife odyssey for the other, and an illustration of the violence and corruption prevalent in our fast-expanding country. It artfully sketches the magnificence of the American West as mirrored in the human soul.

PRAISE for All Things Left Wild!

"A debut full of atmosphere and awe. Wade gives emotional depth to his dust-covered characters and creates an image of the American West that is harsh and unforgiving, but -- like All Things Left Wild -- not without hope." — Texas Literary Hall of Fame member Sarah Bird, Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen

"James Wade has delivered a McCarthy-esque odyssey with an Elmore Leonard ear for dialogue. All Things Left Wild moves like a coyote across this cracked-earth landscape—relentlessly paced and ambitiously hungry." — Edgar Award finalist David Joy, When These Mountains Burn

Amazon ┃ BookPeople ┃ Bookshop.orgIndieBound     

Alternating between the perspectives of a teenage boy and older man, this sweeping saga spans the historic southwest into Texas, documenting the deeply-rooted pain that follows these two tragically linked individuals. From the first lines, the match is lit on this slow-burning story that draws you to what can only be the ultimate flaming conclusion. Yet, from out of the smoldering ash, redemption may be considered though there is a hint that the cycle of vengeance may not be completely broken.

For a debut, this is an absolutely impressive and stunning masterpiece that I don't even believe I can do justice to in writing about! The author's deft storytelling created an unsettling and suspenseful exploration of good and evil as well as an intense character study on the effects of trauma. From the title alone, the question of what it means to be "left wild" is posed throughout the narrative whether in regards to individuals and/or society. Life is immensely tough for everyone involved in this story, and the author paints a heartrending picture of that raw reality against the breathtaking backdrop of the landscape. His picturesque descriptions place readers right with the characters and provide a unique opportunity to walk together in this brutally oppressive and corrupt setting. In a previous post for this blog tour, the author provided a scrapbook page showcasing a few pictures of the real locations that were used as inspiration for the settings within the story, and I can honestly say that those images are overwhelmingly brought to life with his writing. There is magic between these pages that at once evokes the swagger needed to survive and the sensitivity required to not lose all sense of humanity.

Despite their age difference, Caleb and Randall face the pressures of the unrelenting world around them. All along this ride are thought-provoking questions that lend themselves toward insightful discussions about perceptions on masculinity that continue to shape and define our own modern understanding of what it means to be a man. In their own way, each is pursuing a path towards death; however, it is the love of a uniquely fierce and capable woman that steers them to salvation if but only for a moment. These women are no blushing belles or damsels in distress and each pairing is the very ideal of divined by God. Yet life is fleeting, and the fates of these men are still very much interwoven into one another because it's not always so easy to just let things go.

"A man owns only his decisions."

This is a raw and relevant look at the course of a choice and perhaps the legacy we choose to leave behind. Laced between the bravado of its directness lies poetic beauty. The story is filled with a multitude of captivating lines that speak so much truth and metaphors that will have you pondering long after the final page is turned. Like a parable, this story is one that I will definitely return to time and again. Compelling and unapologetic, this is highly recommended and should not be missed! 

James Wade lives and writes in Austin, Texas, with his wife and daughter. He has had twenty short stories published in various literary magazines and journals. He is the winner of the Writers' League of Texas Manuscript Contest and a finalist of the Tethered by Letters Short Fiction Contest. All Things Left Wild is his debut novel.

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TWO WINNERS: A signed copy of All Things Left Wild
JUNE 18-28, 2020

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Many thanks to Lone Star Book Blog Tours and especially the author for providing me with a digital copy of the book. It was a pleasure reading, reviewing, and hosting. This is my honest and thoughtful review.
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Friday, June 19, 2020

BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: Booked for Death by Victoria Gilbert (Cozy Mystery)

A Book Lover's B&B Mystery #1
Victoria Gilbert

Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Crooked Lane Books
Date of Publication: August 11, 2020
Number of Pages: 320


From the critically acclaimed author of SIBA Okra Pick A Murder for the Books, Victoria Gilbert embarks with a new series for perfect for fans of Kate Carlisle and Juliet Blackwell.

A book lover’s B&B in an idyllic waterfront village becomes the scene of a grisly murder–and a ruthless battle between treachery and the truth.

Nestled in the historic waterfront town of Beaufort, North Carolina, Chapters Bed-and-Breakfast is a reader’s paradise. Built in 1770, the newly renovated inn hosts a roster of special events celebrating books, genres, and authors. It’s the perfect literary retreat–until a rare book dealer turns up dead in the carriage house during a celebration of Golden Age mystery author Josephine Tey.

The victim’s daughter points the finger at forty-two-year-old widow and former schoolteacher Charlotte Reed, who inherited the B&B from her great-aunt Isabella. Charlotte is shocked to discover that the book dealer suspected Isabella of being a thief who founded Chapters on her ill-gotten gains. Charlotte has successfully learned the B&B business in a year, but nothing has prepared her to handle a death on the premises.

Armed with intelligence and courage and assisted by her vibrant older neighbor, a visiting author, and members of a local book club, Charlotte is determined to prove her innocence and to clear her great-aunt’s name. But the murderer is still at large, and equally determined to silence anyone who might discover the truth behind the book dealer’s death. Now, Charlotte must outwit an unknown killer–or end up writing her own final chapter.

Having read and reviewed all of the author's previous books in the Blue Ridge Library Mystery series, I was excited for the opportunity to have an early look at this first book in a brand new series. I am always a complete sucker for bookish cozies and with a B&B setting, there was so much to enjoy.

Located along the North Carolina waterfront within historic Beaufort, North Carolina, Chapters Bed & Breakfast is the perfect literary retreat for readers. This newly renovated inn hosts all manner of special events celebrating books, and owner Charlotte is certainly excited to welcome guests for a salute to the Golden Age of mystery. However when a rare book dealer turns up dead after accusing Charlotte's aunt of theft, Charlotte begins a quest to discover the truth behind not only the murder, but her own family's history as well! 

The pacing is nicely done, allowing both the suspense to build gradually to an unpredictable conclusion while also developing the characters in such a way that readers get to know them and their potential motives. The special events planned for the week continue despite the murder, giving Charlotte and her neighbor, Ellen, a chance to team up and really showcase their amateur sleuthing skills. The well plotted red herrings keep the twists coming and readers guessing until the very end.

Once again, the author has created a fascinating community that I look forward to returning to with future installments. This is definitely a solid introduction to a new series that will appeal to cozy fans and book lovers alike!

Victoria Gilbert, raised in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, turned her early obsession with reading into a dual career as an author and librarian. Victoria has worked as a reference librarian, research librarian, and library director. When not writing or reading, she likes to spend her time watching films, gardening, or traveling. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers and lives in North Carolina.

a Rafflecopter giveaway    BEST OF LUCK!

Many thanks to Great Escapes Book Blog Tours and the author for providing me with a copy of the book! 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!

June 8 – The Bookwyrm’s Hoard – REVIEW
June 9 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW
June 9 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT
June 10 – MJB Reviewers – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
June 10 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT
June 10 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW
June 11 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW
June 11 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW
June 12 – Book Club Librarian – REVIEW
June 13 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW
June 13 – The Book Diva’s Reads – GUEST POST
June 14 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW
June 14 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW
June 15 – eBook Addicts – REVIEW
June 15 – My Reading Journeys – SPOTLIGHT
June 15 – Brianne’s Book Reviews – REVIEW
June 16 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
June 16 – Moonlight Rendezvous– REVIEW
June 16 – Jane Reads – GUEST POST
June 17 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – REVIEW
June 17 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW
June 18 – View from the Birdhouse – REVIEW
June 18 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
June 19 – That’s What She’s Reading – REVIEW
June 19 – Sapphyria’s Books – REVIEW
June 20 – Socrates Book Reviews – REVIEW
June 20 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW
June 21 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW
June 21 – Literary Gold – CHARACTER GUEST POST

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