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Sunday, October 25, 2020

LSBBT BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: The Kissing Tree (Four Novellas) by Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, Amanda Dykes, and Nicole Deese (Romance Anthology)


THE KISSING TREE
Four Novellas Rooted in Timeless Love
by
Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, 
Amanda Dykes, and Nicole Deese

Genre: Christian / Romance / Anthology
Publisher: Bethany House
Date of Publication: October 13, 2020
Number of Pages: 400


Scroll down for the giveaway!






In this Texas-sized romance novella collection, courting couples, decades apart, leave a permanent mark of their love by carving their initials into the same oak's bark.
Regina Jennings, "Broken Limbs, Mended Hearts"
When a young man from her past returns and upends their small town with a new invention, schoolteacher Bella Eden is reminded of the heartbreak she suffered years ago under the old oak tree. When her job is on the line, can she trust the man who disrupted her life to help her fight for a brighter future?
Karen Witemeyer "Inn for a Surprise"
Determined to keep love alive for others, Phoebe Woodward builds an inn that caters to couples. When her father sends a property manager to help make it a success, she finds her whimsical vision thwarted by his stodgy practicality. Finding the right blend of romance and reality is a challenge, and her spinster heart may be in for a surprise.
Amanda Dykes "From Roots to Sky"
WWII airman Luke Hampstead found comfort in letters from the sister of a lost compatriot. When he visits Texas to thank her, he discovers her constructing a project with surprising ties to his letters . . . and that she herself is even more surprising. While a promising opportunity awaits him elsewhere, will what they've shared be enough to give their future flight?
Nicole Deese "Heartwood"
Abby Brookshire's world is turned upside down when the historic tree she's strived to preserve as the head groundskeeper at the Kissing Tree Inn is put in danger of removal. Making matters worse, the only way to protect its legacy is to partner with the man she's been ignoring since he left town years ago. Will she have the courage to move on from the past and start a new beginning?







Short story collections are generally not my go to reads, but there was something about the synopsis of these stories that drew me to open this book. From the anthologies that I have read, I'm used to them tending towards an overarching theme, like in this case, love, but I was so not prepared for how amazingly interconnected each of these stories truly was! Though written independently of one another, these stories perfectly flow together. As each story progresses, the decades pass to showcase new generations, but the thematic cohesiveness and continuity across the pages is absolutely breathtaking! It is incredibly difficult to pick out any one story to hold out as my favorite, as each was so well done and satisfying as a strong standalone, but connecting them across the entire book makes this a stand out collection that is highly recommended! 

"[T]he sprawling old oak...had taken on such a life, so much lore and legend to it. It seemed to lay its branches upon the ground like unfolding fingers, inviting one to climb up inside and stay awhile."

With each story, the beauty of the tree continues to mature and symbolize the motivation for each character's desires. Life surrounding the tree may change, but its steadfastness guides them towards their heart's content, which is so remarkable to bear witness to as a reader along for the journey.

There is a little bit of everything for any romance reader to enjoy within these stories. I especially adored the inclusion of the hate to love troupes that were featured. And as a war veteran myself, "From Roots to Sky," painted such a poignant reflection of sacrifice and service that certainly speaks to what it takes to survive in the darkest of moments. The seasons of life are filled with departures, new beginnings, heartbreak, reunions, and everything in between, and these stories were able to capture those moments so remarkably well and with such stunning grace and tenderness. You'll easily become invested in the outcomes of the couples as well as the future of the tree itself! 

Fans of both historical and contemporary romance will swoon over these sweet and masterfully written tales. I hope there are plans for another set of stories from these authors, but until then, I'll be checking out their individual novels! Such a delightful collection that will warm the heart and celebrates the power of love!



Voted #1 Reader's Favorite Christian Romance Author of 2019 by Family Fiction Magazine, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer offers warmhearted historical romance with a flair for humor, feisty heroines, and swoon-worthy Texas heroes. She makes her home in Abilene, Texas, with her husband and three children.




Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University, with a degree in English and a minor in history. She's the winner of the National Readers' Choice Award, a two-time Golden Quill finalist, and a finalist for the Oklahoma Book of the Year Award. Regina has worked at the Mustang News and at First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She lives outside of Oklahoma City with her husband and four children.




Amanda Dykes is a drinker of tea, dweller of redemption, and spinner of hope-filled tales who spends most days chasing wonder and words with her family. She's a former English teacher and the author of Whose Waves These Are, a Booklist 2019 Top Ten Romance debut, as well as three novellas.




Nicole Deese's eight humorous, heartfelt, and hope-filled novels include the 2017 Carol Award-winning A Season to Love. Her 2018 release, A New Shade of Summer, was a finalist in the RITA Awards, Carol Awards, and INSPY Awards. Both of these books are from her bestselling Love in Lenox series. When she's not working on her next contemporary romance, she can usually be found reading one by a window overlooking the inspiring beauty of the Pacific Northwest. She lives in small-town Idaho with her happily-ever-after hubby, two rambunctious sons, and princess daughter with the heart of a warrior.




Six Winners!
Grand Prize: Print copy of The Kissing Tree plus a custom 18" x 3.5" wooden sign
Five Winners: Print Copy of The Kissing Tree
October 20-30, 2020
(U.S. Only)


a Rafflecopter giveaway  BEST OF LUCK!

Many thanks again to the authors and Lone Star Book Blog Tours! 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!

FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY. 
Or, visit the blogs directly:

10/22/20

BONUS Promo

Hall Ways Blog

10/22/20

Review

Chapter Break Book Blog

10/22/20

Review

Missus Gonzo

10/23/20

Review

Carpe Diem Chronicles

10/23/20

Review

Book Fidelity

10/24/20

Review

Story Schmoozing Book Reviews

10/24/20

Review

Librariel Book Adventures

10/25/20

Review

StoreyBook Reviews

10/25/20

Review

That's What She's Reading

10/26/20

BONUS Promo

All the Ups and Downs

10/26/20

Review

The Adventures of a Travelers Wife

10/26/20

Review

Reading by Moonlight


   
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Friday, October 9, 2020

LSBBT BOOK BLITZ + GIVEAWAY: Saving Irene by Judy Alter (Cozy Mystery)


SAVING IRENE
A Culinary Mystery
by
JUDY ALTER

Genre:  Cozy Mystery / Women Sleuths 
Publisher: Alter Ego Press
Date of Publication: September 10, 2020
Number of Pages: 208


Scroll down for the giveaway!






Irene Foxglove wishes she were a French chef.
Henrietta James, her assistant, knows she is nothing more than a small-time TV chef on a local Chicago channel. And yet when Irene is threatened, Henny tries desperately to save her, wishing always that “Madame” would tell her the truth—about her marriage, her spoiled daughter, her days in France, the man who threatens her. Henny’s best friend, the gay guy who lives next door, teases her, encourages her—and maybe loves her from afar.
Murder, kidnapping, and some French gossip complicate this mystery, set in Chicago and redolent with the aroma of fine food.
Recipes included!

PRAISE FOR SAVING IRENE!

“A nicely convoluted murder mystery and a glorification of America's diverse cuisines, played out against the attractions of a lovingly drawn Chicago.”—Fred Erisman, In Their Own Words: Forgotten Women Pilots of Early Aviation 

“You'll find yourself cheering for Henny James as she works beyond her job description as prep assistant to save her boss, Irene Foxglove, glamorous local French-ish TV chef.”—Kaye George, Deadly Sweet Tooth (Vintage Sweets Mysteries Book 2)

“Get lost in the beauty of Chicago and the intrigue of a Texas girl making her way in the world . . . You won’t see the end coming.”—Mary Dulle, avid cozy fan

CLICK TO PURCHASE







After an award-winning career writing historical fiction about women of the nineteenth-century American West, Judy Alter turned her attention to contemporary cozy mysteries: the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries and Blue Plate CafĂ© Mysteries. Her avocation is cooking, and she is the author of Cooking My Way Through Life with Kids and Books, Gourmet on a Hot Plate, and Texas is Chili Country

Born in Chicago, she has made her home in Fort Worth for over fifty years. Judy is also a proud Scot, a member of Clan MacBean. One trip to the Highlands convinced her that is where her heart is, and she longs to write a novel set in Scotland.

Judy is an active member of Sisters in Crime, Guppies, Story Circle Network, Women Writing the West, and the Texas Institute of Letters. When she is not writing, she is busy with seven grandchildren and a lively poodle/border collie cross.



THREE WINNERS!
Autographed paperback copies of Saving Irene. 
October 9-16, 2020 
(US ONLY)


 a Rafflecopter giveaway  BEST OF LUCK!


CLICK TO VISIT THE LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR.

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Sunday, October 4, 2020

LSBBT BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: 6 Feet Under Texas by Tui Snider (Texana/Nonfiction)


SIX FEET UNDER TEXAS:
 Unique, Famous, & Historic Graves in the Lone Star State
(Cemetery Tales Book 1)
by
TUI SNIDER
  
Genre: Nonfiction / Texana / History / Texas Travel
Publisher: Castle Azle Press
Date of Publication: August 15, 2020
Number of Pages: 250 pages


SCROLL DOWN FOR THE GIVEAWAY!






Explore the cemeteries of Texas with Tui Snider as she reveals overlooked history in these fascinating open-air museums.
You’ll meet fascinating characters, including a whistleblower who died in suspicious circumstances, an oilman who added a phone line to his mausoleum, and the events that caused two “frenemies” to be chained together in death.
Come along on a playful-but-informative tour of Texas burial grounds. Along the way, you will see photos of and learn stories about forgotten history, tragic tales, unusual characters, unsolved mysteries, and unique monuments. 
Explore unique, famous, and historic burials in the Lone Star State. It is the first in a series of books revealing the stories behind the stones that just may inspire you to take a road trip or two! 






Last year, I had the fantastic opportunity to read and review Tui Snider's Paranormal Texas, so I was super excited to get on this tour for her latest release!

Rather than focusing on the paranormal aspect of cemeteries, this book respectfully examines these burial sites as an homage to not only each individual's own history, but to the historical period as well. Largely concentrated in North and East Texas, there is an eclectic array of stories to be told from all walks of life! As a huge fan of hard rock music, I loved seeing Dimebag Darrell being featured and learning more about a famous guitar he is buried with! And as a resident of Central Texas, it was so wonderful to see the Alamo mentioned, including the cats that have called it their home!

Each entry is arranged alphabetically by city, making it a quick reference if you find yourself in or headed to one of those locations. Additionally, you will find location information and websites for more details. The author has also provided a black and white photograph of each marker she references, which makes this an incredibly valuable piece of work given the lack of travel going on right now! You'll feel like you're walking right beside her as you make your way from cemetery to cemetery, learning so much history and paying your respects along the way.

As always the author is a masterful and entertaining storyteller! Her depth of research will fascinate and inspire! Just as the synopsis states that you may find yourself motivated to take your own adventure into hidden history, I had to check out a famous grave site for the most infamous individual in my city's history, the outlaw Sam Bass, buried in the Round Rock Cemetery


Sam Bass was a 19th-century American Old West train robber, who notoriously with his gang, robbed a train of $60,000. Arriving in Round Rock with the intention of robbing a bank, he ultimately died as a result of wounds sustained in a gun battle with Texas Rangers. You can find out more from the city's website by clicking HERE. The original headstone is currently housed in the Round Rock Public Library, as it was chipped away by time and memorabilia seekers.

The cemetery itself is located along the road that bears his name. Additionally, each year, the city hosts a Frontier Days during the July Fourth celebration, which includes a shootout reenactment. On the other side of the cemetery is the grave site of Williamson County Deputy Sheriff A.W. Grimes, who was killed as he attempted to disarm the gang members. A street in Round Rock also bears his name as well.


Next to Sam Bass's grave is a half-acre area, enclosed by cedar posts and barbed wire that was set aside for slave burials. Sites are marked at the head and foot with large limestone rocks that are hand-grooved with names and dates. The first marked grave of a freed slave is dated 1880. Although there are 40 to 50 known burial sites of freedmen and the burial ground is still in use, no interments of former slaves occurred after the turn of the century. 


Overall, this is a book that will captivate, as I could not pull myself away, completing it in a sitting! If you couldn't tell, I can't wait for the next installment! For now, I'm looking for some time to visit the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, which provides a final resting place for notable Texans such as Chris Kyle, Stephen F. Austin, and former Governors among many others. You don't have to be a history buff to appreciate how interesting and engaging this book truly is. A unique and apropos for the season read that is highly recommended!

Many thanks to the author and Lone Star Book Blog Tours for providing me with a free copy of the book. This is my honest and thoughtful opinion.







Tui Snider is an author, speaker, photographer, YouTuber, podcast host, and musician who researches historic cemeteries and symbolism, offbeat Texas travel, overlooked history, and haunted lore. As she puts it, “I used to write fiction–but then I moved to Texas!” 

Snider’s best-selling books include Understanding Cemetery Symbols, 100 Things to Do in Dallas-Fort Worth Before You Die, Paranormal Texas, and many more. Snider has several books in progress and enjoys connecting with readers all over the globe through social media, her weekly newsletter, and website: TuiSnider.com.

WEBSITE  ◆  FACEBOOK  ◆  TWITTER  ◆  AMAZON  ◆  GOODREADS  ◆  INSTAGRAM  ◆   YOUTUBE



 THREE WINNERS!
GRAND PRIZE (US only):
Paperback + $10 Amazon Gift Card Thank You Postcard
2ND PRIZE (US only)Paperback & Thank You Postcard
3RD PRIZE  (worldwide): e-book
  September 29-October 9, 2020


a Rafflecopter giveaway  BEST OF LUCK!

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

FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY, 
or visit the blogs directly:

9/29/20

Review

StoreyBook Reviews

9/29/20

Review

Rainy Days with Amanda

9/30/20

Review

Momma on the Rocks

10/1/20

Review

Missus Gonzo

10/1/20

Review

The Clueless Gent

10/2/20

Review

Reading by Moonlight

10/2/20

Review

The Adventures of a Travelers Wife

10/3/20

Review

Forgotten Winds

10/4/20

Review

That's What She's Reading

10/5/20

Review

Chapter Break Book Blog

10/6/20

Review

Hall Ways Blog

10/7/20

Review

Max Knight

10/7/20

Review

All the Ups and Downs

10/8/20

Review

It's Not All Gravy

10/8/20

Review

Book Fidelity

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