Monday, July 21, 2014

The Husband Maker Blog Tour + Review


Husband Maker Tour


The Husband Maker by Karey WhiteHere's a description of the book:

Charlotte’s a girl with nicknames. She may not love being called Charles or Chuck, but the hardest nickname to take is the one she was given in college, the one that’s followed her now for too many years. They call her “the husband maker” and sadly, it fits. Every guy she’s dated since high school has become his next girlfriend’s husband. Not hers. Not three girlfriends down the road. The next.

Is she doing something wrong or is she just cursed?

When Kyle Aldsworth enters the picture and sweeps her off her feet, Charlotte begins to hope that maybe she's not destined to be single forever. A senator’s son with political aspirations of his own, Kyle's wealthy, handsome, and in need of a wife. Will Charlotte be disappointed yet again, or will she finally be able to make a husband for herself?

My Rating

Spring

My Review

You've gotta love a contemporary romance that's a happy blend of fluffy and substance. The Husband Maker is fun, with some sweet date scenes as well as some angst/drama. Yet it also addresses the more serious side of relationships - both friendships and romances. And I really enjoyed it!

The writing is very engaging, and the main characters are great. The inclusion of family made the story both more realistic and more endearing. As for the story itself...I liked following Charlotte's dating journey, learning how she navigates romances and how she deals with difficult circumstances. While this is very much a story about love, it's also a story about identity, and I respect the characters and author for that emphasis.

This is the first book in a series, so the ending exists but certainly leaves room for a whole new story (or two) to take place. Perhaps the conclusion isn't as satisfying as some romances, but because of the theme, it fits, and it leaves the reader with some thoughts to ponder/inspire.

For a sweet contemporary romance that has a bit of a ordinary-girl-becomes-princess sort of vibe (no princesses, though...sorry!), as well as some depth amid the darling, The Husband Maker is a great start to a new series.

*With thanks to I Am A Reader Blog Tours and the author for providing me with an e-copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

Get your copy of The Husband Maker for just $3.99!

add to goodreads new 

About the Author (Karey White)

Karey WhiteKarey White grew up in Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and Missouri. She attended Ricks College and Brigham Young University. Her first novel, Gifted, was a Whitney Award Finalist. She loves to travel, read, bake treats, and spend time with family and friends. She and her husband are the parents of four great children. She teaches summer creative writing courses to young people and is currently working on her next book.

 
Coming Fall 2014 - Charlotte's Story continues in The Match Maker

The Matchmaker final ebook cover

add to goodreads new
 
Blog Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash ~ Ends 8/15/14

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the publisher. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Sweet Serenity of Books


The love of learning, the sequestered nooks, and all the sweet serenity of books...
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


I'm discovering that living on your own involves a lot of trial and error.

Broke a knick-knack? Oh yeah, I've got super glue in my junk drawer! Hmmm, doesn't it harden right away? Since some is leaking out of the tube, I can just pick it off and throw it in the trash.

*one second later*

Nope, that stuff is definitely still wet and sticky.

*two seconds later*

Man, my fingers and thumbs are coated in glue...

*a minute or so later*

Google, here I come!

(Apparently warm water, soap, patience, and time work fine. I'm glue-free again!)

Made some popcorn on the stove (go me!). It's sort of burnt, but a little bit of melted butter should help. Hmmm, I don't really have super small bowls, but I could use this metal measuring cup, right? 

*about six or seven seconds later*

Stop the microwave! If that electrical spark is any indication, that probably wasn't one of my brighter moments.

(I quickly removed the metal measuring cup and transferred the butter to a small, microwave-safe cup.)

Yeah, some of these things I should have remembered or known from my previous twenty-three years of life. Honestly, I'm kind of scared to find out what other sort of silly (but important) things I've forgotten or never really thought about, LOL.

In all the stress of settling into a new place, working in a more-structured schedule, and figuring out how to do all the big and little things I need to do to get by, I've found a "sweet serenity" and cheer in my books.

The Art of Creative Living

My living/dining room is my "Thomas Kinkade Room." Thomas Kinkade painting, Thomas Kinkade tapestry, my grandparents' Thomas Kinkade clock, a Thomas Kinkade lighted church, and a couple of Thomas Kinkade books. On a whim, I decided to pick up one of them while I was eating breakfast. (Breakfast is awfully quiet when you're on your own, getting ready for work at seven in the morning.)

The Art of Creative Living...seems fitting for a writing/marketing job, right? I've only re-read a few chapters, and I'm not sure I completely agree with how everything is worded/presented, but still, I'm enjoying revisiting this one. The first section talks about solitude and finding a quiet place within yourself where you can both retreat when the stresses of life close in and also begin the creative process. I definitely agree that taking time to be still before God and even yourself is so crucial to having a good attitude and embracing creativity. I'm looking forward to diving a little more into this one - plus, I love seeing Thomas Kinkade paintings. I guess this book is my new breakfast companion. ;)

One of Us

One of my very favorite series when I was in elementary school was the "Disney Girls" series. I confess that I was only-so-slightly (or maybe a lot) obsessed. I loved the thought of being a Disney princess, and I loved the way the author brought a touch of that magic to the lives of everyday girls. From martial arts classes, to making a gingerbread "castle" for school, to going on a trip to Disney World, I adored following the group's adventures.

 Some of the books I've edited, written, or publicized, along with the Disney Girls series (on their sides) and my Bibles on my bookcase in my apartment. :)

Anyway, when I was packing for the big move, I decided to take this series off our "children's" shelf downstairs and bring them with me. And since I've moved in I re-read the first book, One of Us. There's something incredibly comforting about re-immersing yourself in childhood favorites and dreams. Funny enough, I'm back in a place where I could relate to being the "new girl" and making new friends. ;) The theme of belonging, of longing to be a part of something special, resonates with me even now. (The guest pastor at the church I visited today even gave a sermon on community - how important it is, and how we're built with a desire to be connected with God and with other people.)

I'm thinking that I'd like to re-read the rest of the series sometime...maybe sooner rather than later! So cute, and I just love all the adventures they have and how the stories of the princesses they love reflect in their lives.

A Snicker of Magic

Huge S/O to Kara from Flowers of Quiet Happiness for introducing me to my new lunch companion, A Snicker of Magic! She convinced me that this is a book well worth reading, and from what I can tell so far, she is so right.

I started this on my birthday back in June, but I'm only now getting farther into it. I decided to pull it up on my Kindle one lunch at work. Let me tell you, I'm in love. The simple but profound ideas shared in such creative ways... The cutest characters and display of magical realism... And the way words are woven together to present such warm and cozy and beautiful word pictures... It's really quite the fun read!

Here's a quote from the book (button from the author's Pinterest page):


Revisiting old book friends and making new ones brings this quote home for me. Yes, there is still magic in the air! I'm so grateful for the precious gifts of imagination, creativity, and words.

What books - old or new - have reminded you lately that "there is still magic in the air" or provided you with some much-needed serenity?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

My Review of Chateau of Secrets

Here's a description of the book from Howard Books:

"A courageous young noblewoman risks her life to hide French resistance fighters; seventy years later, her granddaughter visits the family’s abandoned chateau and uncovers shocking secrets from the past.

Gisèle Duchant guards a secret that could cost her life. Tunnels snake through the hill under her family’s medieval chateau in Normandy. Now, with Hitler’s army bearing down, her brother and several friends are hiding in the tunnels, resisting the German occupation of France.

 But when German soldiers take over the family’s château, Gisèle is forced to host them as well—while harboring the resistance fighters right below their feet. Taking in a Jewish friend’s baby, she convinces the Nazis that it is her child, ultimately risking everything for the future of the child. When the German officers begin to suspect her deception, an unlikely hero rescues both her and the child.

A present day story weaves through the past one as Chloe Sauver, Gisèle’s granddaughter, arrives in Normandy. After calling off her engagement with a political candidate, Chloe pays a visit to the chateau to escape publicity and work with a documentary filmmaker, Riley, who has uncovered a fascinating story about Jews serving in Hitler’s army. Riley wants to research Chloe’s family history and the lives that were saved in the tunnels under their house in Normandy. Chloe is floored—her family isn’t Jewish, for one thing, and she doesn’t know anything about tunnels or the history of the house. But as she begins to explore the dark and winding passageways beneath the chateau, nothing can prepare her for the shock of what she and Riley discover…

With emotion and intrigue, Melanie Dobson brings World War II France to life in this beautiful novel about war, family, sacrifice, and the secrets of the past."

My Rating

Spring/Summer

My Review

With my preference for a good dose of sweet romance in a book, it's a sign of wonderful writing when a story can engage me despite the fact that the romance doesn't really kick in for a while. Not to worry - it's certainly there in Melanie Dobson's latest, fellow romance fans! In fact, it comes in a double dose, but perhaps isn't as prevalent due to all the intriguing and devastating history and situations that rightly consume the characters' (and reader's) attention.

The first chapters introduce us to relatable heroines while setting them up for difficult times, and I was caught up in all of the uncertainty and dilemmas and danger. In the end, it's hard to say which story line interested me more: the historical (WWII) or the contemporary. Both had me curious for their own reasons.

While I'm a big fan of historical fiction, I really liked reading the contemporary plot. I think the first-person POV, as well as Chloe's internal battles regarding her future and the fact that it's in my own time, made me feel more invested in her story. I just wished for more...not necessarily in terms of word count, but just more depth to the latter portion of her scenes and relationships. I wouldn't have minded a bit more emphasis on the developing romance in this section. But the focal point seemed to be the past and how it reached into the present, and overall, I really was pleased with how things turned out.

As for the historical line, the third-person POV - in contrast to the first-person for the contemporary - created a bit more of a disconnect. That's not necessarily such a bad thing, though, as the different tenses help in making the voices of the alternating settings and scenes clear. I really appreciated the honesty in the characters' struggles as they tried to live out their faith in a time where its application seemed hazy and they didn't always know the best thing to do.

Chateau of Secrets harbors mystery, a tangle of secrets both past and present, and characters seeking light in painful and all-too-real situations. Dobson writes with skill, understanding, and heart, and I'm quite impressed by this bold offering.

*With thanks to the author and Howard Books for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Seasons of a Story Publishing Site is Live!

It is with great joy that I present to you the brand-new site for Seasons of a Story Publishing!

http://seasonsofastory.blogspot.com/

The Story Behind the Story

Since the site is all about stories (the word is even included in the title), here's a little of the story behind this new spot:

A few months back I saw that Debz of Debz Bookshelf was offering free blog designs. At the time I was considering expanding my freelance business, focusing more on publicity campaigns. I thought I'd take advantage of Debz's super generous offer and work on a blog specifically for my blog tours and cover reveals, called (quite cleverly, of course) Editing Through the Seasons Book Tours.

But God had other plans.

I am indeed focusing more on publicity/marketing - just now in a different role at Harvest House. :)

I knew I'd have to put the blog plans on hold while going through the interview process for the job, and Debz was kind enough to set the project aside and put up with all my life updates. It wasn't until the last couple of weeks that we were both able to finally pursue the project again. I had already decided that if the book-tours blog didn't work, I'd want to focus the site on my indie publishing ventures - to have a home base for all my books (including projects in new genres).

Debz was a delightful collaboration partner. She captured my vision for the site, combining our styles and creating a blog that's absolutely lovely. It's fresh and unique, yet the design ties in beautifully with my existing brand. She was extremely patient with me as I asked lots of questions and requested various design tweaks. I couldn't have been more pleased with her skill, her hard work, and her dedication to the project. Plus, her sweet personality shines in her communications. Basically, I'm thrilled with her design services and excited to share the results!

She isn't currently offering designs, but if you're a fan of YA books and fairy tales, you should definitely follow her blog - and keep an eye out in case she becomes available for hire at some point! :) 

Become a Part of the Story

Back to the site... I'd love for you to browse all the pages and check out what's going on with Seasons of a Story! You can read up on what it's all about, check out my available books, see what's coming up next, join my street team (Amber's Gems FTW! ;)), and sign up for my next cover reveal. There's also a poll in the sidebar, if you want to weigh in regarding cover reveals!

To celebrate this grand unveiling, I'm hosting a fun little giveaway of sorts over at my author blog. Hope to see you there!

(Just to clarify, beyond my social media sites, here are the blogs I run: Seasons of a Story Publishing, Seasons of Humility, and The Heart's Spring. The Heart's Spring blog also links to different sites filled with info and extras for each of my debut series' installments. You can look at it this way: Seasons of a Story Publishing is my main, mostly static, author/publisher site. The Heart's Spring is my author blog, where new content gets posted off and on regarding my books and the writing process. And this blog is my personal blog with book reviews and stuff about my life. Confused yet...? I'm hoping the new "main" site will keep things organized and in perspective!)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

"Let's Get Down to Business..."

Well, it's finally time! With the generous and unfailing support of my parents, I have settled into my lovely new apartment, and my first day of work is tomorrow...

It's both exhilarating and a tad bit frightening to think of starting out at a new place. Despite the fact that I already love the company and their location (so gorgeous!), it's nerve-racking to realize I'll be "the newbie" in my department. But I've found comfort in the common knowledge that everyone has to start at the beginning.


I discovered an example while watching Disney's Mulan the other night back at home. Mulan desperately wanted to know where she could be true to herself, where she could be who she was meant to be. And she ended up making a big difference and excelling in the army. Yet, we all know and love this song and the scene that goes with it:



Mulan didn't join up one day and then immediately save China. She made some mistakes. It took her time to build friendships. She went through a lot of pain and grief in order to develop the strength she needed to do her job well.

Now, I believe my experiences have truly helped to prepared me for this career. And I've already had the opportunity to meet some of my coworkers, and they all seem so nice and fun! Even still, I know it's going to take time and hard work to learn all the ins and outs of my new position, and to reach beyond my introversion to connect with others and find a community.


So I'll get up and go to work tomorrow with the reminder that, even when you're planted where you belong, you still have to grow. You still have to lift your face to the sun, take care of yourself, work well with the garden around you, and give yourself time to bloom.

I'll also go with the reminder that the One who does the planting, the growing, and the harvesting - the Son who gives me what I need to blossom - is with me. And only through Him can I take my employer's motto to heart: "Grow True."


(Mulan images from the Mulan Facebook page.)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Be Cinderella of the Ball! (Five Glass Slippers Blog Tour Conclusion)



Midnight has passed. You're almost to your carriage when one of those pesky glass slippers slips right off your foot. You trip, and then wince at the clink of something delicate shattering as you tumble down the last step leading away from the castle.

"Are you all right?" It's a gentleman's voice. You roll over - as gracefully as possible - and glance up at your dancing partner. Once again, he holds a hand out to you; it's an invitation. You place your hand in his, but before he can help you onto your feet, you glance at the shards of broken glass. It seems to be all that you can see, the lights from the windows reflecting off those little pieces.

He follows your look. "I'm sorry about your shoe." To your surprise, there's a hint of laughter in his tone.

"You know, I really don't care." You smile up at him. "When else would I have the chance to wear such things?"

As he raises you effortlessly, he declares, "Why, at another ball, of course."

Your eyebrow lifts slightly. "I don't get invited to many balls."

"Me, neither."

You realize there must surely be a tale there. You're about to ask him more about it, when he kisses your cheek and whispers near your ear, "I'll get you five more glass slippers, and we'll invite ourselves to as many balls as we can find."

* * * 

Before you all hop into your carriages, we never did get a chance to share about our own dresses and favorite dance songs, did we?

Here's a dress (discovered via Pinterest) that I think is simply beautiful!

 Sweetheart Empire Waist Elegant & Luxurious Wedding Dress
Source: gotodressau

Of course, it's a wedding dress, so perhaps not appropriate for a ball. ;) But I would also be happy to wear any of the dresses on these gorgeous book covers:


As for a song, I thought I'd share a semi-dance scene from a Hallmark movie I adore (Remember Sunday), with a perfect dancing song ("Dancing Queen" by Abba):



Tell me, what have you been wearing to the ball this week? Which song are you hoping to hear before the orchestra leaves?

* * *

Ah, yes - we haven't forgotten! It's time to announce the winner of the "Cinderella of the Ball" giveaway! The winner receives all of the following prizes: a paperback copy of Five Glass Slippers, several Cinderella-themed items (including a bookmark crafted by Belle on a Budget, a journal, and a DVD copy of the Disney movie), as well as special gifts handpicked by a few of the collection’s authors (a glass slipper cookie cutter with recipe, freeze-dried astronaut ice cream, and an Apple Tree Inn cup and saucer).

And our Cinderella is...


Tammy S.!

Super congrats, Tammy! We hope these prizes will make you feel like Cinderella of the ball. :)

Huge thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway and spread the word about it! Even if you didn't win the giveaway, everyone's a winner with the fabulous $.99 Kindle sale for Five Glass Slippers:

http://www.amazon.com/Five-Glass-Slippers-Collection-Cinderella-ebook/dp/B00KWMZ9WA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1402990401&sr=8-1&keywords=Five+Glass+Slippers

But hurry! The sale ends at midnight (or thereabouts). Fitting, no? You can also buy the book in paperback. And as you can see by all the positive reviews rolling in, this is a book you'll definitely want to have on your real or virtual bookshelf!

* * *

As you enjoy a last glass of punch and a final song, let me take a moment to say "thank you" to all of the amazing bloggers who participated in the tour this week! Seriously, I sent them a lot of information, and there were a lot of tidbits and dates to keep track of - yet things came together quite smoothly! Everyone's enthusiasm and attention to detail made this a tour to remember, and I'm so grateful for the effort and time the bloggers put in to make this happen.


I also have to thank Anne Elisabeth Stengl and Rooglewood Press for giving me the opportunity to work on this awesome tour, as well as the five fabulous authors (Betsy, Emma, Rachel, Stephanie, and Clara) for writing touching, entertaining, and astoundingly creative stories. Plus, they also put a lot of time and energy into making this tour fun for all of you with their great interview responses, picture/song hunting, write-ups, and comment responses. *round of applause*

This concludes the Five Glass Slippers blog event, but let's continue to celebrate life's Cinderella moments and dance the night away!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Cinderella of the Day: Clara Diane Thompson (Five Glass Slippers Blog Tour)



You're happy to oblige your kind and attentive dance partner by singing a haunting farewell song, accompanied by the orchestra. As you hold out the last note, you catch the young man's eye and blush at the look there. Before the last strain fades - and before you can quite decipher the way he's watching you - you hear a grand clock chime the hour. Midnight! You've stayed much too long. It's past dark, and you have appointments and obligations awaiting you on the morrow. You simply must go. With a glance full of regret, you spin on your heel and rush toward the entrance hall...

* * *

And the Five Glass Slippers blog tour continues! (The home page/entrance hall can be found HERE.) We're celebrating the release of this special Cinderella-themed anthology (published by Rooglewood Press) by featuring each of the collection's five authors as "Cinderella of the Day." You'll find out which dress they're wearing to the ball, what dance song they've requested, and you'll hear about their very own Cinderella moment - in addition to discovering some fabulous fun facts via the interviews on participating blogs.

Today's "Cinderella of the Day" is Clara Diane Thompson, author of "The Moon Master's Ball"! 


Clara Diane Thompson lives in the swamps of Louisiana with her loving family, dashing dog, and a very confused frog that resides in the birdhouse outside her window. Aside from writing she enjoys playing guitar, singing, Broadway plays (particularly The Phantom of the Opera), ballet, tea with friends, and long BBC movies. An enchanted circus may or may not appear occasionally in her back yard.

You can find out more about Clara and her writing on her blog: www.claradianethompson.blogspot.com.


"The Moon Master's Ball" by Clara Diane Thompson

After her terrifying experience there several years ago, the one place young housemaid Tilly longs to avoid is Bromley’s Circus. But when kindly Lord Hollingberry begs her to deliver a message to the mysterious Moon Master hidden away among the circus dwellers, Tilly can’t refuse . . . and finds herself ensnared in a web of enchantment cast by the loathsome Mrs. Carlisle and her beautiful goddaughter.

* * *

Amber: Our final guest has arrived, and doesn't she look gorgeous? Tell us about that lovely dress you're wearing, Clara.
 
Clara: The dress is a Christian Dior design called "Venus".


Amber: Beautiful! And what sort of song would you want to dance to while wearing such a dress?

Clara: "Butterfly Waltz" by Brian Crain. I would definitely dance to it if I were at a ball! :)



Amber: Ooooh, me too! A perfect song for the end of the evening. They almost always end our local square dances with a waltz. It's just...appropriate. And sweet. :)

Tell us, what was your Cinderella moment?

Clara: Few things in my life can be counted as a “Cinderella” experience. I’ve never been to a ball, I don’t have a pair of glass slippers, and I have yet to meet my Prince Charming.

But, thankfully, there are more comparisons to draw between my life and Cinderella. The heroine of the classic fairy tale went through trials and dark times, but her life turned out to be all the brighter for them! She had two evil stepsisters who made her life miserable. Her father died…everything about her life seemed simply undeserved! This reminds me of that cheerless time in my own life when the doctors discovered that my big brother had cancer. I was nine when he was diagnosed, and didn’t quite understand what was happening. All I knew was that my brother was in the hospital, and my Mom was staying with him…oh, did I miss them terribly! It was certainly a dark time in my life. It felt wrong…unjust even, that leukemia had snared my brother.

Through his hard journey with leukemia, he was able to share his faith with so many doctors and nurses. Plus, it inspired him to become a nurse himself once he was declared cancer free! He’s still free of that horrible disease after these ten years, and is still a wonderful big brother whom I love very much! So, like Cinderella, there was one massive, black time I had to overcome, and like Cinderella, I am now living happily ever after.

Amber: You know, I think what really makes a "Cinderella moment" is the attitude. Cinderella lived a hard life before (and even after, for a time) the ball, but she was a kind person with a beautiful heart full of hope. That sounds just like you and your family, Clara, and I'm so thrilled to hear you're living in a real-life happily ever after!

Want to learn more about Clara? She's starring on several blogs today, and you won't want to miss all the fun features: 

Do you want a chance to be Cinderella of the ball, as well? Today is the LAST day to enter the tour-wide giveaway! One lucky winner will receive a paperback copy of Five Glass Slippers, several Cinderella-themed items (including a bookmark crafted by Belle on a Budget, a journal, and a DVD copy of the Disney movie), as well as special gifts handpicked by a few of the collection’s authors (a glass slipper cookie cutter with recipe, freeze-dried astronaut ice cream, and an Apple Tree Inn cup and saucer). This giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only.

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