First Line Friday - The Story Peddler

Friday, April 20, 2018

It's Friday! Also known as Fridaylicious, my new favorite Friday word. We're having nice spring weather and I am hoping that it will be warm enough for me to sit outside and read.

What do you have planned for the weekend? I hope you have something fun planned.

I received an early review copy of The Story Peddler by Lindsay A. Franklin, so when I was looking for a book for FLF, I thought this was a perfect choice.

About the book:

Tanwen doesn’t just tell stories—she weaves them into crystallized sculptures that sell for more than a few bits. But the only way to escape the control of her cruel mentor and claw her way from poverty is to set her sights on something grander: becoming Royal Storyteller to the king.
During her final story peddling tour, a tale of treason spills from her hands, threatening the king himself. Tanwen goes from peddler to prey as the king’s guard hunts her down . . . and they’re not known for their mercy. As Tanwen flees for her life, she unearths long-buried secrets and discovers she’s not the only outlaw in the empire. There’s a rebel group of weavers . . . and they’re after her too.

Amazon || Barnes and Noble || Audible

First Line:

Colored ribbons of light poured from my fingers. One strand broke free and soared above the crowd's head, glowing golden in the afternoon sun. 

Is that not the best line? And it fits perfectly with the cover. I'm only on chapter 2, but the book is really good. Pre-order if you haven't already.

What is your first line this week? Leave it in the comments and then go to Hoarding Books to see their first line and all of the other First Line Friday participants.

Have a wonderful weekend!

High Cotton by Debby Mayne - Reviewed

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

 About the book:

Title: High Cotton
Author: Debby Mayne
Genre: Contemporary Christian Fiction
Publisher: Gilead Publishing

Some families are filled with so much love they can’t help but drive each other crazy.

Shay Henke has mixed feelings about going to her family’s next reunion. On the one hand, she’ll get to see everyone in her mama's family—folks she loves unconditionally. On the other hand, she knows there’ll be more drama than you can shake a stick at.
The days leading up to the event bring one surprise after another. First Shay must deal with her sister-in-law’s deep, dark secret. Then she has to contend with the childish ways of her business-mogul twin cousins. And when her high school crush wants to be her date to the reunion . . . well, it may have been a dream come true for Shay’s teen self, but the woman she’s become doesn’t know what to make of this.
Shay’s contentment is challenged, and she’s determined to shake things up a bit. But will she find the excitement she’s looking for, or will Shay realize she prefers her quiet and predictable life? One thing is certain: Life in the Bucklin family is never boring.

About Debby Mayne:
Debby Mayne has published more than 30 books and novellas, 400 print short stories and articles, more than 1,000 web articles, and a slew of devotions for women. She has also worked as managing editor of a national health magazine, product information writer for HSN, a creative writing instructor for Long Ridge Writers Group, and a copy editor and proofreader for several book publishers. For the past eight years, she has judged the Writers Digest Annual Competition, Short-Short Contest, and Self-Published Book Competition. Three of Debby’s books have been top ten favorites by the Heartsong Presents book club. Love Finds You in Treasure Island, Florida received 4-1/2 stars from Romantic Times Magazine, and was named a Top Pick for the month of July 2009.

My Thoughts:

It's been five long years since I've read a novel by Debby Mayne, and it was long overdue. 

When it comes to Southern Women's fiction you can expect sweet tea, sass, neighbors down the street ready to feed you at a given moment, sweet motherly figures, loads of Southern charm and drama.

Ms. Mayne's new book, High Cotton, has that and lots more. The book is told in alternating POV's of Shay, Puddin', Missy, and Sally. Within the alternating chapters we get to know these women, their back stories, and how they all fit together as a family. 

With their individual craziness of life, each of these women are real and relatable. Making it easy for readers to become invested in their lives. 

We watch as they prepare for the big event of another, notorious Bucklin family reunion, which none of them are desiring to attend, yet know that they are expected to go, and will hear about it if they don't attend.  

My Bottom Line:

High Cotton is a Southern Women's fiction drama like no other. Family has a way of driving you insane even when you love each other, and Ms. Mayne shows that up close and personal. Each of these women, and their stories tugged at my heart and kept me glued to the page. Through their individual stories, filled with conflict and tons of personality we watch these women grow and change.
I really enjoyed this novel and am looking forward to installment #2.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Top Ten Tuesday - Favorite Romantic Couples . . .

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Happy day after Tax Day, and aren't you glad we're done with taxes for another year?

I promise you have gone back in time. It's not a Valentine Day Top Ten Tuesday Repeat. Today's topic is a freebie, so, I looked at some of the topics from Broke and the Bookish and saw this one titled favorite romantic couple's who's romance would survive in the real world. I actually thought this would be easy, but it was harder than I thought.

Ty and Celia from Meant to Be Mine by Becky Wade - When your romance starts out with "I'm in love with someone else.", you can survive anything the real world has to throw at you.

Jimmy and Collete from The Wedding Chapel

Bo and Meg from Undeniable Yours 

Karim and Hannah from The Esther Paradigm

Jonas and Tenley from The Writing Desk

Horst and Anna from The Melody of the Soul - When you fight off Nazi soldiers, nothing in the modern world will scare you!

Mac and Savannah from Not a Word - Real life is a piece of cake compared to small towns with nosy neighbors.

Ian and Sierra from Troubled Waters - A broken chopper, and a rogue wave that strands you makes modern day life look easy!

James and Isabella from Across the Blue

Wyatt and Dorothy from The Sea Before Us - Day to day life today may stink, but I think D-Day had to be worse!

Alex and Rachel from The Saturday Night Supper Club

I believe these couples, even with their difficulties could survive in our modern world. Their author's have created them so believable, and brought them through so much between the pages of their stories that day to day life shouldn't be as hard.

What favorite romantic couples of yours do you think could survive in modern day? Let me know in the comments.

Positive Ways to Write a Negative Review 101

Friday, April 13, 2018

I do not claim to be an expert of writing reviews, especially negative ones with a positive slant.
However, I have been reviewing for eleven years and in those eleven years I have seen doozies of very harsh reviews. What bothers me the most about harsh review is that the author becomes the object of the attack instead of the words on the page.

If the reviewer finished the book, what kept them reading? There had to be something positive, yet most reviews just go on and on about what was wrong.

Think about the book you are currently or just finished reading, are you or did you enjoy it, if so why? If not, why not? If you aren't enjoying it would you be able to write a review with some positives that gives the potential reader the ability to choose whether they would like to read it?

This might seem a little weird but what was your expectation about the book.
Let's say you've had a really, really bad week. Sick kids, broken down car, husband just lost his you look at your shelf and see a book by one of your favorite authors, and think "hmm...this is just what I need." A Calgon take me away moment. You start the book and it grabs your attention, you continue reading because parts of it pull you in, you get about halfway through aren't totally enthused but you're committed and it's keeping your mind off of your reality so, you finish it. You close the book and think what did I just read, and why, because it just didn't give you the warm fuzzies you were expecting. Is that the book's fault or did you, the reader expect more from the book than it was intended to give?

We all read for different reasons. I read because I love it, and it gives me a place to go when I have to stay home. I also read because promoting inspirational authors is a divine calling, and I truly enjoy every minute of it. Yet, it doesn't matter how much I enjoy reading I'm going to come across a book or two that just doesn't cut the mustard for me, which bears the question how do I write a fair review without trashing the author. My answer, very, very carefully.

First things first, if you've had a rough week, similar to one I described above, let the book sit for a few days. You don't want the "troubles" of the week to influence your review. It's not fair to the book or the author.
In a paperback copy of a book I have a post it note with lines and make notes, on a kindle copy I highlight and leave notes throughout the book. Write down notes that are on your mind immediately after finishing that you can come back to after a few days.

Second, no matter how hard it may seem pull out one positive thing from the book. Maybe you liked the setting the author placed the book in, the way the MC interacted with everyone even if you didn't like certain things, it could even be that the book was real. Whatever you decide is the best positive start the review off with that.

Third, as you give the meat of your review, which should be about what you didn't care for, be kind. Think about what would be encouraging to read if you were the author.

For example, saying the book was believable, and I was surprised by the suspense thread, but I found the faith thread to be a little preachy, or nonexistent is kinder than saying . . . this book isn't even moral, or I felt like I was being smacked over the head with a Bible while reading.

In ending your review attempt to find something else positive about the book. You always want to end a negative review with something positive.

For me, if the genre is out of my normal comfort zone and I didn't care for it, I'll say "This is not a normal genre read for me, if it is something you read, give it a shot don't take my review alone."

As a reviewer it is our job to write a truthful review as kindly as we can. I don't ever want to hurt an author with my words. I want to encourage their writing and hope that my review provides some constructive criticism.

Two of my reviewer buddies have agreed to allow me to post reviews they wrote about a book they didn't care for or one that took some time getting into.

Carrie from Reading is My SuperPower wrote a review about a book neither of us cared for, If He Only Knew.

Molly from Cafinated Reads wrote a review about The Man He Never Was. It is my favorite book of James Rubart, but Molly states very kindly how difficult it was to get into.

Here is my review of Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not? by Travis Thrasher. This was the first book I reviewed that I didn't care for.

Writing honest reviews isn't easy, whether it is a book you loved or one you didn't care for. It takes thought and care. I've been told that author's have pretty tough skin, and while that might be true, I don't want to be responsible for putting a dent in that skin by my words.

I am honestly not writing a post saying "you must do this!" when it comes to writing a review. That is not my intention.
I recently read a review on Goodreads that I felt was rather harsh. So, I thought to myself why not use my blogging skill to give some hints on how to write a review for a book that a reader may not really like, yet to fulfill a blog tour requirement they need to write a review of said book. I know for me it took me a few days to write the review of Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not?, mainly because I hadn't written a negative review until then.

Happy Friday!!

Top Ten Tuesday - Favorite Books I Wish I Could Read Again For the 1ST Time

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

I'm going rogue again for this week's Top Ten Tuesday. The topic is Books I loved but will never re-read. Once again I don't have a book or books that fit that topic so, I decided to do favorite books that I wish I could read again for the first time. 

I chose the books that I did because they not only introduced me to wonderful characters, took me amazing places, but the authors have become dear friends and without reading these wonderful books, I wouldn't have known either. 

There you have it! 20 books I'd love to have the opportunity to read again for the very first time. What books would you like to read again for the first time? Let me know in the comments.

First Line Friday - Spring Edition

Friday, April 6, 2018

It's Friday, one of the best days of the week! For me, Saturday is the best day of the weekend because my husband is home all day and night.

Trying to find a book with a spring or flowers in the title, or cover, wasn't easy. Thanks for the help, Meez Carrie!

About the book:

After the loss of her husband and the birth of her baby, Charlotte has had a long, hard year. But when a notorious robber believes she knows the location of a long-lost treasure, she flees to Cheyenne and opens a dressmaker's shop to lie low and make a living. When wealthy cattle baron and political hopeful Barrett Landry enters the shop to visit her best customer, Charlotte feels drawn to him.
If Barrett is to be a senator of the soon-to-be state of Wyoming, he must make a sensible match, and Miriam has all the right connections. Yet he can't shake the feeling that Charlotte holds the key to his heart and his future.

Soon the past comes to call, and Barrett's plans crumble around him. Will Charlotte and Barrett find the courage to look love in the face? Or will their fears blot out any chance for happiness?

First Line:
Cheyenne, Wyoming Territory, October 1886
It was only the wind. Charlotte Harding wrapped her arms around her waist, trying to convince herself there was no reason to tremble like a cottonwood leaf in a storm.
You can read my review here.

Are you looking for springtime where you are? So far it seems as though spring has made it's way to Idaho. It's still snowing in the mountains, but down here in the valley we're just getting rain off and on.

Leave me your first line in the comments and then go to Hoarding Books to read their springtime first line and see all of the other bloggers participating in FLF.

Have a wonderful weekend!

March Wrap UP

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

I'm a few days late on my month wrap up. With Easter being on April 1st and all the festivities I was finally able find time to sit down and get this post written.

Surprising myself, I read and reviewed seven books this month. Probably the most I've read in a month.

The Lacemaker by Laura Frantz

A Passionate Hope: Hannah's Story by Jill Eileen Smith

The Man He Never Was by James L. Rubart

Not a Word by Chautona Havig

No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert

The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel

The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin

The favorite post on my blog this month was First Line Friday featuring Magnolia Storms by Janet Ferguson. 

We saw I Can Only Imagine and the movie is both moving and powerful. I didn't care for the actors that played Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith. I wish they would've been able to have the actual people in the movie.

I seriously can't choose a favored book from this month's reads. I loved every single one of them.

Coming up for review this month

High Cotton by Debby Mayne

Storm Front by Susan May Warren

The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y'Barbo

The Mayflower Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse

Keturah by Lisa T. Bergren

We're in spring now. Hoping for continued warm weather here and wherever you are! I trust you had a favorable March, and that you have some fun stuff to look forward to in April.
For me, I have a granddaughter turning 10, which I absolutely refuse to accept, and my baby brother is turning 50, both this month.

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