Thursday, September 29, 2022

Book Blast & Giveaway: An Amish Christmas Star by Shelley Shepard Gray, Charlotte Hubbard, and Rosalind Lauer


The crisp fragrance of pine trees and the warm spice of fresh cookies aren’t the only blessings that Christmas brings, and no one knows more about happy homecomings than three couples who are celebrating the greatest gift of all . . . 

STAR OF WONDER by Charlotte Hubbard 

When Raymond Overholt comes to Promise Lodge, hoping to sell the barnboard signs he’s painted with stars and Christmas messages, spirited young Mennonite Lizzie Zehr is intrigued. But any courtship between them will face fierce opposition from the bishop of Raymond’s Old Order community—unless someone can convince him that at the heart of faith lies love . . .

Read an excerpt from "Star of Wonder"

After a deadly dull Monday morning of filling small plastic containers with colored sugars and Christmas jimmies, Lizzie Zehr loaded them onto her wheeled cart and headed into the main room of Promise Lodge’s new bulk store. It was boring work, all that scooping and labeling—repetitive and downright lonely, being stuck back in the warehouse by herself.

But compared to slaving in her older sister Maria’s bakery or, for years before that, running the household for their eldest, crippled sister, Malinda, it was a piece of cake.

And because Dale Kraybill was paying her, it was freedom. This job was her ticket to independence, an escape from the two bossy sisters who’d been running her ragged for most of her eighteen years. Their parents had passed when she was very young, so Lizzie’s sisters had raised her as best they could—and they expected her to be grateful. She was, of course. But she was also really tired of being at their beck and call.

Lizzie’s thoughts shifted into a higher gear the moment she spotted the guy who was talking to Dale. The two fellows were hanging wooden signboards, which caught her eye because of their sparkly gold stars—but the shimmer of their glittery paint paled the moment the younger fellow turned around. In his green paisley shirt, red jeans, and backswept black hair, he looked anything but Plain, and when he met her gaze through his red-framed glasses, Lizzie immediately knew they were soul mates. Like her, this free spirit was gnashing at the bit and refusing to conform to the religious limitations he’d been raised with.

Like her, he wanted out.

“Hey there,” he said. His voice, barely audible from across the cavernous room, spoke volumes to Lizzie’s restless heart. 

Afraid to say something stupid, she merely nodded and held his gaze. She heard the secretive whisper of soft, small objects hitting a hard surface—or maybe it was the feathery swishing of angels’ wings—

“Lizzie, watch what—you’re spilling jimmies all over the floor!” Dale cried out.

She blinked. She had no memory of picking up a container, just as she didn’t realize she’d been squeezing it so tightly that the lid had popped off. The sight of red and green jimmies bouncing off her bare feet—she wore flip-flops year-round to show off her painted toenails—was suddenly the funniest thing she’d ever seen. As Lizzie sprinted into the warehouse for a broom, her laughter filled the store.

Her life was finally taking a turn for the better. She just knew it.

Purchase from


Barnes & Noble  

Kensington Publishing   


Apple Books 

 As you know, I've been reading this book. While all three stories have different characters placed into different circumstances, these seasonal stories all capture faith, love, and the spirit of the season. Look for my full review coming soon.  

In 1983, Charlotte Hubbard sold her first story to True Story. She wrote around 70 of those confession stories, and she’s sold more than 60 books to traditional or online publishers. A longtime resident of Missouri, she’s currently writing Amish romances set in imaginary Missouri towns for Kensington. She now lives in Omaha, NE with her husband of 40+ years and their Border collie, Vera.

Facebook --

Charlotte Hubbard will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Book Review: Flock by Tom Roy


If you are interesting in learning to lead like the Chief Shepherd, then Flock is for you. 

In Tom Roy's latest book, he details wisdom and insight learned from over 45 years of ministry and coaching. In what he has termed "Shepherd Leadership," Roy shows you how to use Kingdom principals to help you lead your flock like a shepherd. Filled with inspirational quotes, Scripture passages, and an abundance of helpful guidance and direction, Flock might change how you view your role as a leader. 

Transformational leadership is not a new term, but Roy takes it to a different level as he talks about "Shepherd Leadership." It becomes more than inspiring your team to strive beyond expectations to work toward a shared vision. It becomes about leading, feeding, caring for, and protecting your flock, building that trusting relationship that transcends mere manager and employee relationships. Because leaders are more than just managers. 

As a fellow Christian, I was interested in what Roy had to say on this topic and how it might help me become a better leader. While I understand this is a short book, I have to admit his authentic, conversational style and how he approached leadership development captured me right away, and I continued flipping page after page until the very end. I can't say that usually happens for me with leadership books. 

I've never really thought about personal mission statements, but I am going to work on mine. I feel it will help me discover what I need to work on and focus on what I really am about as a leader. I love how Roy talked about being responsive, engaged, authentic, and loyal. I thought his surprise mid-book was a great idea as well. 

Flock is a book you need to keep handy so that it can continue to inspire and motivate you on your leadership journey. Highly recommended!

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B089M61PDJ
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Independently published (June 6, 2020)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 120 pages
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8645083878

I received a free copy of this book from the author through Pump Up Your Book. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

You can visit Tom Roy's website at or connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

2022 Release from Linda Weaver Clarke: A Mississippi Sunset (Women of Courage)


Laura is a liberated and courageous young lady who is convinced that she can make a difference in the small town of Willow Valley. Standing in Town Square, she encourages all women to fight for their rights and stand up for their beliefs. Equality is her message.

When Deputy Davies meets Laura, he is intrigued with her independent nature. He admires her spunk and wonders if such a woman would be interested in a small town deputy like himself.

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09SRDBHNX
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ February 16, 2022
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 4038 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 175 pages

Published on Smashwords!

Reading is Serenity’s favorite pastime, where she can go on one adventure after another. She wonders if anyone can measure up to the heroes in her books. But the adventures soon become real after arriving in America.

When Jonathan meets Serenity, an educated and courageous woman from Wales, he becomes intrigued with her and wonders how he can win her heart. Her brother gives him some advice, but Jonathan begins to question his wisdom. Should he trust his friend or is he leading him astray?

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09PHZK76M
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ December 30, 2021
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 3804 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 174 pages

Published on Smashwords!

Also available on Smashwords!

Hannah is a young single mother who has had some hardships since arriving in America. But the trials in her life only make her stronger. Hannah realizes she can make something of her life by opening a hot chocolate shop. She soon finds that starting her own business isn’t as easy as she thought. But she will not give up.

When Thomas finds out that Hannah's shop is struggling, he comes to the rescue with a clever plan. Will she agree to such an unconventional idea? Can he convince her to find room in her heart for one more person?

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09JHRQYF1
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ October 13, 2021
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 3856 KB
  • Simultaneous device usage ‏ : ‎ Unlimited
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 169 pages

You can also find these books and more by Linda Weaver Clarke on Amazon!

Monday, September 26, 2022

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? and Mailbox Monday - Sept 26

Welcome to It's Monday! What Are You Reading? and Mailbox Monday.   


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It's a great post to organize yourself. It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date

Welcome back! We have arrived at the last Monday of September. The weather has turned cooler. We had some rain last week--which we needed. Fall is in the air. The Lil' Princess is missing the change, so I will need to send her some photos of the color changes as they happen. At the end of this week, hubby and I will travel to Wilmington to pay her a visit.

With a bit of extra time in my schedule last week, I talked about the progress made--or not made--on the bookish promises I created in January. Also on the blog last week was my review of Big Red.  

I reviewed this upcoming children's picture book at my children's book blog. You can review the review here

I finished this business/leadership book for my September 28 review. 

I also read four of the oldest books on my free Kindle book list. Reviews appear at Amazon and Goodreads.

A First Chapter Review of this middle grade fantasy novel will appear tomorrow at The Children's and Teens' Book Connection

Still enjoying this seasonal short story collection.

I started this Christian mentorship guidebook to prepare for my review on October 28. 

I will be reviewing this young adult novel on October 19 at The Children's and Teens' Book Connection. 

I will review this historical novel on October 20. 

I have these tours coming up in November, because you already knew I couldn't resist.

Still hoping to read these soon.  

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

Nothing in my mailbox, but I am waiting on this one that I pre-ordered.

Her deepest Christmas wish will bring more than she imagined…in this novel by USA TODAY bestselling author Vannetta Chapman.

The only way she’ll find home is by leaving it… 

The one thing Becca Yoder loves more than Christmas is her dream of leaving her Amish community and traveling the world. Becca has her father’s reluctant permission to leave—if she trains Gideon Fisher to run the family’s enormous outdoor market. But Gideon is homesick for Texas. Can Becca make him fall in love with her hometown…without falling for the handsome bachelor herself?

That is it for me. I have an early morning meeting, but I will visit blogs once I return. 

Friday, September 23, 2022

Book Review & Giveaway: Big Red by Jerome Charyn


Travel back to Hollywood's Golden Age for a story about Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles as told by a feisty gossip columnist. 

Big Red finds Rusty Redburn, a kid from Kalamazoo, invited into the private office of Columbia movie mogul Harry "The Janitor" Cohen. He tells her that his redhead needs a secretary, and he will pay Rusty's salary in exchange for her spying on Hayworth and Welles. With this arrangement, Rusty enters into the world of Big Red and the Boy Wonder, eventually becoming Hayworth's protector and Welles' ally. 

One of the reasons I read author's notes is to get a glimpse into the story an author has written. In the case of Big Red by Jerome Charyn, my approach to the novel and my review may have changed if I hadn't understood the author's point of view. 

Rusty is a starry-eyed lesbian who grew up on a farm. She doesn't have the talent for Hollywood, but she loves reading and films and has a knack for language, so she heads to Hollywood and ends up working in the basement of the Writer's Building at Columbia where she comes to the attention of "The Janitor." 

Cohen, who is in love with Hayworth, hires Rusty to spy on Welles and her. Rusty's life now revolves around a woman whose shyness belied the sexual prowess she displayed with her dancing, and a man with a genius eye for the camera whose tumultuous life was marked with tragedy and missed opportunities.

As the reader follows Rusty's story, they are treated to a glimpse into the Golden Age of Hollywood. They are granted a backstage pass to a woman's life plagued by the memories of a young girl violated by her father and whose shyness made her more comfortable in the company of hairstylists and makeup girls than the political players Welles stumped for on a regular basis. 

Surprisingly, though,  Charyn's intention was to write a story about Welles, who he has long admired. It was as he explored the life of Welles' second wife that he learned Hayworth would play a pivotal role in this story. 

The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson, which explores the life of another well-known shy woman, remains my favorite novel by Charyn, but Big Red is a strong second. Charyn's writing captivates the reader, drawing them into his characters' world and never letting go even after that last page is turned. Big Red is a fabulous novel. I highly recommend it if you like historical fiction, Hollywood stories, or a creative story with unique characters. 

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Liveright (August 23, 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 304 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1324091339
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1324091332
I received a copy of this book from the author's publicist. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

BUYING LINKS: Amazon,, Barnes & Noble


Enter using the Rafflecopter form for your chance to win a package of goodies including an autographed copy of BIG RED, a tote bag with the great cover (which was designed by Ed Sorel), Rita Hayworth sunglasses, popcorn, light-up smartphone charger (with either the book jacket or an image of Rita) and a Shalimar sample, Rita’s favorite perfume.

  • Open to residents of the US and Canada only.
  • Participants must be 18 or older to win.
  • The Book Connection is not responsible for lost or undelievered shipments. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, September 22, 2022

2022 Bookish Promises Check-in


I am officially declaring myself an underachiever. LOL! This was the first year I didn't set goals or put together a business plan. So unlike me. Instead, I made 10 Bookish Promises. Since we are heading into the last quarter of 2022, I decided it was high time to see how I was doing. In one word: dismally. That's okay, though, because I tried something different and it didn't work. 

Here is what my list looked like in January and my thoughts on any progress. 

To read more from my TBR Pile than I did in 2021: Not going to happen. I just love my book tours way too much. 

To catch up on one favorite series: Not likely. I have books scheduled for review through early November. I am guessing some seasonal books might be on tour soon as well, so probably too far into the year for this to happen. I have eight books in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series to catch up on. 

To read one of the oldest books from my TBR Pile: This is possible, but I would need to be intentional about it. I would need to pull back on book tours for the rest of the year as well. 

To be okay with not finishing books I don't enjoy: This really is a struggle for me, because I know how hard authors work to create a book. I can't say I have come up against this yet in 2022, so I am getting better about my book selection. 

To write one First Chapter Review a quarter: Success! I've already written 12. I have one coming up on September 27 at my children's book blog. After that, I'm not sure. I'm thinking I will whack away at my TBR Pile by reading the first chapter and deciding if a book is for me or not, which helps with the promise above.

To not sign up for a single reading challenge except the Goodreads Challenge: Success! I love reading challenges, but staying on top of them when they are at a variety of blogs makes my eyes cross. The Goodreads Challenge will have to be enough for me. 

To read one leadership book this year: Not sure why I am having such a hard time with this one. Maybe part of it is because the last thing I want to do with my down time is think of how to be a better leader. I just want to put that part of my life aside and let my brain wind down. I've attended conferences this year and listened to some good podcasts. I should have a review of a leadership book coming this month, but I was hoping for one that I chose to read for the sake of reading it.

To get off some VBT mailing lists: Nope. No excuse. I just like hearing about books on tour. Yes, I am my own worst enemy. 

To re-organize my works in progress: I started this earlier in the year, but I really think this will be a December project. 

To re-think my publishing goals: Lots of thoughts tumbling around in my brain. I so admire the authors who were with my other publisher who closed during the pandemic that took the bull by the horns and steered it into finding new publishers or self-publishing and keeping their writing careers thriving. I should have a new book coming out next year. What I need to do is start getting back into school visits, authors fairs, and then decide if I will finish my middle grade novel. 

By the end of this month, I need to start thinking about my 2023 Business Plan for real estate. I also want to make more time for blogging, because I enjoy it. 

How are you doing with your 2022 goals? Is there something you are particularly focused on achieving before year end?

Happy Fall!

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books from My TBR Pile That Make Me Think of Fall

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.    

Welcome back to Tuesday. This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic is supposed to be the Top Ten Books on My Fall 2022 To-Read List, but as many of you know, I am not up to date on new releases often and my reading is on the slow side these days. That's why I opted to change how I approached this week's meme. Here are...

Top Ten Books from My TBR Pile That Make Me Think of Fall

I don't know much about this Harry Potter installment, but the colors of this cover alone make me think of the golden colors of fall. I pre-ordered this book and have yet to read it. 

The vibrant red-orange and golden browns of this cover make me think about fall. I've had this one since it first came out. I hope to get to it next year. 

Love the colors on this cover as well. Makes me think of the waning days of summer and early fall. I was so excited to read this book when it came out, but it is still in my pile. 

Harvest is definitely a fall event. When I was on Vannetta Chapman's street team, I received a copy of this book. I want to read it soon. 

This one shouldn't make me think of fall, except that White's stories--especially since this one spun off her Tradd Street series--has ghosts, which make me think of Halloween and fall. This was also a book I pre-ordered. Need to read it soon. 

I have to admit that the prairie usually makes me think of fall. Though summer prairies are pretty, I love the tall grasses turned brown that blow in the wind, the changing leaves, and how the animal world prepares for winter. 

In this installment of Marilyn Meredith's Deputy Tempe Crabtree series, Tempe uses Native American ways to call back the dead to solve a mystery. Even the colors on this cover make me think of fall. I've read many of these novels, but need to go back and read the earlier ones.

This is a suspense novel that I grabbed for free back in 2014 (just a few years ago). The new cover would eliminate it from my list, but this original cover makes me think of an early fall walk, maybe in October when the temperature has cooled down enough that you need a jacket, and you suddenly find yourself pursued by something unknown. The missing leaves increase the fall feeling. 

This book gives off more of a creepy vibe than a fall one, but it works because Halloween is coming. This is a collection of six supernatural stories. "Scarecrow Boy" and "The Three Dollar Corpse" are said to be among them. I grabbed this collection in 2011. 

Fall reminds me of school starting, so this one fit right in...well, except this novel starts in January with a new political administration starting. I downloaded this one to my device in 2013. There are now four books in the series. Maybe I should catch up.

These are not in my TBR pile, but they are great fall choices. 

Hope you enjoyed my list. Have you read any of these? Are there any recommendations you could make for a great fall read?