Saturday, September 18, 2021

Twelve Weeks to Midnight Blue by Steve Searfoss

 

About the Book

Book: Twelve Weeks to Midnight Blue

Author: Steve Searfoss

Genre: Fiction

Release date: January 26, 2020

Chance Sterling launches a pool cleaning business over the summer. Join Chance as he looks for new customers, discovers how much to charge them, recruits an employee, deals with difficult clients, and figures out how to make a profit. Oh, and his sister Addie wants in on the action too. Will they learn how to be business partners?  He has twelve weeks to reach his goal. Will he make it? Only if he takes some chances.

KidVenture stories are business adventures where kids figure out how to market their company, understand risk, and negotiate. Each chapter ends with a challenge, including business decisions, ethical dilemmas and interpersonal conflict for young readers to wrestle with. As the story progresses, the characters track revenue, costs, profit margin, and other key metrics which are explained in simple, fun ways that tie into the story.

I am a Christian and a parent. My wife and I pay close attention to the books and media our four children consume, and try to make sure the content is edifying, just as Paul exhorts us in Philippians 4:8. I wanted to write a book that met that standard, and was also fun and engaging. KidVenture teaches kids the importance of hard work, of keeping your word and being trustworthy, and telling the truth, even when it means delivering bad news. As the story progresses, the protagonist understands that business is about more than making money as he appreciates  the responsibility he has to his customers, his employee and his partner. How you treat people matters in tangible ways.

At the center of the story is a strong family. The two main characters are a brother and sister, who engage in their share of sibling rivalry, but also learn how to work together and forgive each other. At key junctures when they face big dilemmas, they turn to their parents for advice. The kids learn a healthy mix of independence, risk taking and learning through trial and error — balanced with knowing when to ask for help. All of this is presented in a way that is not preachy or hokey, but wrapped inside a story full of unexpected plot twists, witty banter and memorable characters.

 My Thoughts:

I really liked this book for several reasons.   It’s a kids book that has a good story, but it can also easily be used as a teaching tool.  The story is about Chance and his business venture.  

I like that it shows the different aspects of a business and that if you want something expensive, you earn the money yourself.  You have to work with business partners, employees, customers, and try to keep everyone happy while making a profit.   Overall, it was a good book and teaching tool. 

4/5

Thank you to the author/publisher for the review copy of this book via Celebrate Lit.  I received this book in exchange for an honest review and the opinions stated above are 100% mine.

Click here to get your copy!

 

About the Author

I wrote my first KidVenture book after years of making up stories to teach my kids about business and economics. Whenever they’d ask how something works or why things were a certain way, I would say, “Let’s pretend you have a business that sells…” and off we’d go. What would start as a simple hypothetical to explain a concept would become an adventure spanning several days as my kids would come back with new questions which would spawn more plot twists. Rather than give them quick answers, I tried to create cliffhangers to get them to really think through an idea and make the experience as interactive as possible.

I try to bring that same spirit of fun, curiosity and challenge to each KidVenture book. That’s why every chapter ends with a dilemma and a set of questions. KidVenture books are fun for kids to read alone, and even more fun to read together and discuss. There are plenty of books where kids learn about being doctors and astronauts and firefighters. There are hardly any where they learn what it’s like to run small business. KidVenture is different. The companies the kids start are modest and simple, but the themes are serious and important.

I’m an entrepreneur who has started a half dozen or so businesses and have had my share of failures. My dad was an entrepreneur and as a kid I used to love asking him about his business and learning the ins and outs of what to do and not do. Mistakes make the best stories — and the best lessons. I wanted to write a business book that was realistic, where you get to see the characters stumble and wander and reset, the way entrepreneurs do in real life. Unlike most books and movies where business is portrayed as easy, where all you need is one good idea and the desire to be successful, the characters in KidVenture find that every day brings new problems to solve.

 

More from Steve

I am a Christian and a parent. My wife and I pay close attention to the books and
media our four children consume, and try to make sure the content is edifying,
just as Paul exhorts us in Philippians 4:8. I wanted to write a book that met that
standard, and was also fun and engaging. KidVenture teaches kids the importance
of hard work, of keeping your word and being trustworthy, and telling the truth,
even when it means delivering bad news. As the story progresses, the protagonist
understands that business is about more than making money as he appreciates
the responsibility he has to his customers, his employee and his partner. How you
treat people matters in tangible ways.

At the center of the story is a strong family. The two main characters are a
brother and sister, who engage in their share of sibling rivalry, but also learn how
to work together and forgive each other. At key junctures when they face big
dilemmas, they turn to their parents for advice. The kids learn a healthy mix of
independence, risk taking and learning through trial and error — balanced with
knowing when to ask for help. All of this is presented in a way that is not preachy
or hokey, but wrapped inside a story full of unexpected plot twists, witty banter
and memorable characters.

Blog Stops

Lots of Helpers, September 8

Cats in the Cradle Blog, September 8

Texas Book-aholic, September 9

For Him and My Family, September 10

Boondock Ramblings, September 10

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, September 11

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 12

Mary Hake, September 12

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 13

Inklings and notions, September 14

Blogging With Carol, September 14

deb’s Book Review, September 15

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, September 16

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 16

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, September 17

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 18

Splashes of Joy, September 18

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 19

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, September 20

Lights in a Dark World, September 20

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, September 21

Giveaway

To celebrate his tour, Steve is giving away the grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/11817/twelve-weeks-to-midnight-blue-celebration-tour-giveaway

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Long Shadows by Cathe Swanson

 

long shadows

About the Book

Book: Long Shadows

Author: Cathe Swanson

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Release date: April 6, 2021

Long Shadows Digital Cover reducedOld sins cast long shadows.

Mona Vickers is forging a new life, building a safe and loving home for her girls far away from the ghosts of the past. She’ll do whatever it takes to make it work, including sending her girls to the Christian-based after school program despite her own lack of faith.

Roy Strough, Director of the Unity Plenkiss Community Center, wants to help the hardworking mother who’s captured his heart, but he’s already offended her pride once. Asking Mona to teach a class at the community center in exchange for tuition seems like the perfect solution.

Mona’s growing faith is put to the test by the shadows of her past. One of her students is caught up in an all-too-familiar human trafficking scheme, and a vengeance-bent stalker pushes Mona into hiding. She’s forced to decide if she can trust the powerful God she’s only beginning to know—as well as the charming man she’s beginning to love.

 

Dive into this gripping romantic suspense with compelling characters, intriguing twists, and an inspiring happily ever after.

 My Thoughts:

I adore a good romantic suspense story.  The romance in this one is a slow burn and not the center of everything.  I love how devoted of a mom Mona is.  She has her hands full with her girls.

The book does a great job showing how we can be careful and think we are taking precautions to keep our kids safe and still miss something.   Bad people have perfected being bad and luring especially young girls in.   I think the author did a great job with this book and will be recommending it to a lot of my mama friends.

4/5

Thank you to the author/publisher for the review copy of this book via Celebrate Lit.  I received this book in exchange for an honest review and the opinions stated above are 100% mine.

Click here to get your copy!

 

About the Author

6-20-2016-1000After 40 years of wandering (but always in lovely places and not in a desert), Cathe Swanson has recently returned to her childhood home and family in Minnesota.  In the summer, she and her husband enjoy spending time with their grandchildren and being outdoors, gardening, hiking, birdwatching, and kayaking. The long winters are perfect for writing books, playing games, reading, and indoor hobbies. Cathe’s been a quilter and teacher of quiltmaking for over 25 years and enjoys just about any kind of creative work, especially those involving fiber or paper.

Everything inspires new books! A lifelong love of quilting, Cathe’s Swedish heritage and an interest in genealogy led to The Glory Quilts series, and The Hope Again series is inspired by her life in the Midwest and experiences with the elderly, the military, and inner-city ministry. As a child of the sixties, she’s having fun writing about hippies and the Jesus People movement in the Serenity Hill series.

 

Cathe writes books with creative plots and engaging characters of all ages, to glorify God and entertain and bless readers. Her heartwarming stories will make you laugh and make you cry – and then make you laugh again.

More from Cathe

One of the best parts of being an author is that I’m able to create happy endings! I can right wrongs and fix a few of the world’s problems. I can rescue people (of course, I’m the one who puts them into danger in the first place, but…) and I can talk about hard topics in a third-person kind of way, with a fictional resolution. Happy endings don’t always happen in this world, but I try to make them work out in my stories.

We all need hope – especially those who find themselves in ongoing difficult situations – and that’s what I want to write into my Hope Again series.  Long Shadows is Book 3 in the series. (It’s a standalone book, so you’ll enjoy it even if you’ve never read the others.)   Except for the first one, Baggage Claim, all the Hope Again books are about the people – staff and guests – of the Unity Plenkiss Community Center.

The UPCC is a fictional Christian ministry – a composite of several real ones, all working hard to meet overwhelming needs with limited resources. It serves an older (fictional) Chicago neighborhood. Writing these books has let me bring awareness to that population – families in crisis, homeless and aging veterans, lonely elderly people, troubled youth…  so many needs!

Roy Strough, the dashing hero of Long Shadows, is the director of food services, but he has big dreams – he’d like to expand the ministry of the UPCC to meet every need, heal every wound, fill every stomach, and tell everyone the Gospel. He wants it to be a real daytime homeless shelter, with laundry facilities, beds for nightshift workers, lockers, and more. (Me, too!)

Mona, the lovely heroine, is a more complex character. I put that poor woman through the wringer! She never got a break. The people she trusted – the only people she had – turned out to be evil betrayers, leaving her alone to raise four little girls without any support at all. She’s the hardest-working woman I’ve ever met! She’s strong, but being strong in our own strength isn’t enough. Mona needs Jesus. She needs hope.

Human trafficking isn’t the kind of problem I can solve and tack a happy ending onto, but I wanted to bring awareness to the way criminals use the Internet to recruit and groom their victims. Young, smart girls who’ve been using computers since they were toddlers often fail to see the dangers in their ordinary online world.

Book 4, Home Run, releases on September 21, and the last Unity Plenkiss book will be included in the 2021 Christmas Lights collection in October.  You won’t want to miss them! Despite all the serious themes in the Hope Again books, they are also funny, heart-warming, and encouraging stories. They’ll make you laugh and make you cry… and then make you laugh again. I hope you enjoy Long Shadows and the rest of the Hope Again series.

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 10

Texas Book-aholic, September 11

Blossoms and Blessings, September 11

Inklings and notions, September 12

For Him and My Family, September 13

deb’s Book Review, September 14

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 15

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 16

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 17

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, September 18

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, September 19

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, September 20

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 21

Through the fire blogs, September 22

CarpeDiem, September 23

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 23

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Cathe is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon Gift Card and an autographed copy of Long Shadows!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/1181a/long-shadows-celebration-tour

Catch Me If You Can by Carole Brown

 

About the Book

Book: Catch Me If You Can

Author: Carole Brown

Genre: Romantic Suspense with a touch of quirkiness

Release date: August 5, 2021

The big cat sat on the oversized rock, ears pointed toward the sky, every muscle taut, every sense at the ready.

“S-s-shut up and f-f-forget it. You’ve s-seen nothing and know nothing. I won’t warn you again. G-g-got it?”

The cat’s head swiveled, his ears twitching as if catching the hint of threat in the whisper. A soft hiss slid from his open mouth and reinforced the overtone of evil pressing in upon the scene. Within hours, lies and dark secrets are slithering all over the campground.

Coaxed into finding the animal killer at Jamieson’s Outfitters, Tara Layne, with her sidekick, Boet, is welcomed by a threatening whisper and the unfriendly eyes of a rugged and devastatingly handsome manager. Wesley Clarke, both interesting and frustrating, holds an attraction for Tara that is primitive and exasperating.

Intermingled with her search, Tara deals with her own heartbreaking buried secrets. When a strange old Native American probes into the recesses of her heart, he encourages her to face her bitter feelings.

As Tara closes in on her search, she finds herself—and Boet—the target of someone who’s determined to outrun and outsmart her. Someone determined not to get caught.

His theme:

Fun as fast as you can, you can’t catch me.

The question:

Can Tara run fast enough to catch this real live Gingerbread boy 

before he decides to get rid of her and Boet? 

 My Thoughts:

This was a good one.  It’s a fairly quick read but a really good mystery.  I liked Tara and Boet, the mystery solving duo.  The setting of outdoors and animals was a great thing for me.   I liked the way everything was described. 

The mystery wasn’t a simple one and I was excited about that.  Everyone seemed suspicious and there was no real clear cut bad guy from the start.  Tara has to use her brain and dodge attacks coming her way.  I am absolutely going to read more from this author.


4/5

Thank you to the author/publisher for the review copy of this book.  I received this book in exchange for an honest review and the opinions stated above are 100% mine.

Click here to get your copy!

 

About the Author

Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. An author of thirteen full-length, best selling and award winning books (with a novella in an anthology), she loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. She has found that the traveling and ministering has served her well in writing her novels. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

 

More from Carol

Who doesn’t like a good book while nibbling on cookies and sipping your favorite drink?

 

Writing Catch Me If You Can, Book One of the Nursery Rhyme Series, was a fun endeavor. I can’t remember how I came up with the idea, but I do know it’s been interesting and a long-time coming. Both Tara Layne and Wesley Clarke have personal and spiritual issues to resolve which are more serious topics to address. So I knew definitely that I not only wanted to include those, plus suspense and romance, but also a bit of quirky-ness to the story.

 

What were the two quirky things that help make it special?

Tara Layne comes from a very special family. Her older brother, Tory, four years older than the twins: Tara and Tomas, and her grandfather, Poppy, an archeologist, who cared for them when their parents died. He raised them while on dig sites, teaching them and giving them a unique view of the world.

 

When Tory was murdered, while studying to follow in their grandfather’s footsteps, Tara, an elementary teacher, resigned and took the schooling she needed to be a detective because the authorities seemed unable to discover why Tory was murdered.

 

Her brothers were always pranksters, and after Tory died, Tomas bought her an expensive gift: A Savannah cat, sort of as a joke. But instead of being irritated at her nerdy computer brother, she fell in love with her cat and proceeded to name him Boet (An African name that means brotherly love).  Boet not only hisses at those he’s not crazy about, but shows tolerance for those who he favors.

 

Here are some fun facts about a Savannah cat: 

  1. Crossbred between a African Serval cat and a domestic cat.
  2. Many Savannah cats enjoy water.
  3. They are inquisitive and extremely intelligent.

 

The antagonist leaves Gingerbread cookie men at each site of the animal killings.

  1. Now that seems weird enough, but when you discover why and how the cookies play a part of his/her past, you’ll understand the title better and why the antagonist is so obsessed with these specific cookies.
  2. I’ve included a recipe below for your enjoyment! If you love gingerbread, these are sure to become a favorite!

Gingerbread Cookies

Ingredients

COOKIES

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 large egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • additional flour for rolling out dough

ICING

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp milk
  • 2 tsp light corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp extract of choice – lemon almond or vanilla

Instructions

COOKIES

  • In a small bowl mix together baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger and cinnamon until well blended. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter, brown sugar, and eggs on medium speed until well blended.
  • Add molasses and vanilla and mix until well combined.
  • Gradually add in dry ingredients and mix until combined, but do not over-mix.
  • Wrap dough in plastic wrap and place into an airtight container or freezer style zipper bag, and place in refrigerator for at least two hours and up to 24 hours.
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 deg. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats ore parchment paper.
  • Let dough sit at room temperature for 5-15 minutes or however long is needed to make it pliable enough to divide in half. The time it takes will depend on how long it’s been chilling.
  • Place 1 portion of the dough on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle additional flour over dough and gently roll dough out to approximately 1/4 – 1/3″ thick. The thicker the dough the softer the cookie will be. If dough sticks to rolling pin, sprinkle additional flour onto dough.
  • Cut out cookies with cookie cutter. Whatever scraps are left over after cutting out cookies can be rolled out and rolled out to cut out more cookies.
  • Place cookies on baking sheet approximately 1 1/2-inches apart.
  • Bake each sheet of cookies for 7-10 minutes until tops and edges are starting to firm up.
  • Remove baking sheet from oven transfer to a wire cooling rack. Allow to cool on baking sheet for ten minutes, then use a spatula to transfer cookies to another wire cooling rack to cool completely.
  • If desired, once cookies are completely cooled decorate.

ICING

  • In a medium size bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well to combine. For thicker icing, add more powdered sugar, one tablespoon at a time. For thinner icing, add more corn syrup, one teaspoon at a time. Place into a piping bag and pipe onto gingerbread cookies as desired.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, September 6

Pause for Tales, September 6

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 7

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 8

Inklings and notions, September 9

deb’s Book Review, September 10

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 11

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, September 12

Texas Book-aholic, September 13

For Him and My Family, September 14

Mary Hake, September 14

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, September 15

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 16

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, September 17

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 18

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 19

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Carole is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and signed copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/116c4/catch-me-if-you-can-celebration-tour-giveaway


Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Reflecting Gold by Cynthia L. Simmons

 

Reflecting Gold

About the Book

Book:  Reflecting Gold

Author: Cynthia L. Simmons

Genre: Mystery

Release date: June 2021

RGB300ReflectingGold3Peter and Mary Beth Chandler kept their Confederate bank on the gold standard. However, a Confederate officer asked for a loan. He insisted he should be able to repay in Confederate bank notes not backed by gold. If they refuse, he will label them traitors. Should the Chandlers change their loan requirements and risk losing the bank? The entire town questioned their loyalty, especially when the officer turned up dead. Will the Chandlers be court martialed or lose the bank? While facing an impossible situation, they seek God’s guidance and learn to reflect his love.

 My Thoughts:

This book is part of a series, but it can be read just fine as a stand alone story.  I liked the sound of the story when I read the blurb.  It sounded original. I’m pretty sure I’ve never read a book where there were quite so many elements that I hadn’t read together before and it was a good read.

The beginning of it was somewhat slow, but it picked up fairly well.  The author did a good job with the characters and the mystery.  It is definitely a book that historical mystery lovers will enjoy.

3/5

Thank you to the author/publisher for the review copy of this book via Celebrate Lit.  I received this book in exchange for an honest review and the opinions stated above are 100% mine.

Click here to get your copy!

 

About the Author

Cynthia 3Cynthia L Simmonsis the mother of five grown children, imperfect and down-to-earth, she uses her experience to model grace for all and speaks from the heart of a spiritual mom. Fond of times past, she writes both fiction and nonfiction while combining history and scripture to minister to moms of all ages. However, she has a special place in her heart for young moms and homeschool moms. While she loves writing—books, articles, devotions, and notes—Cynthia also enjoys traveling around the nation speaking to homeschool events, bookstores, libraries, and churches. Plus, conducts writing workshops, and leads retreats. She’s a huge fan of sugar, tea, orchids, purple, re-enactments, friends, and ballroom dancing with her husband. https://clsimmons.com

 

More from Cynthia

The same year my first book came out, my husband came down with encephalitis. In simple terms, his brain was infected. He’d been sick for several days with a mild headache and temperature, and our doctor thought he had the flu. One morning I watched him slide into the floor as a grand mal seizure ravaged his body. I remember thinking this couldn’t be happening. I’m a nurse, and I was reviewing his medical history in my mind. Seizures didn’t fit with anything on either side of his family, and I wanted to deny what I saw. Needless to say, our life changed dramatically for several years as we walked through dark times. My husband spent 11 days in intermediate intensive care and came home on IV medications. For several weeks he had partial seizures the doctors couldn’t control. However, I learned so much during that time, and I’ve shared lessons from that time. In Reflecting Gold, I demonstrate how we can reflect the beauty of God even in the middle of heartbreak.

Blog Stops

Through the Fire Blogs, September 9 (Author Interview)

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 9

Texas Book-aholic, September 10

Inklings and notions, September 11

For Him and My Family, September 12

deb’s Book Review, September 13

For the Love of Literature, September 14 (Author Interview)

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 15

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 16

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, September 17

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 18

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, September 19

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, September 20

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, September 21 (Author Interview)

Vicarious Living, September 21

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 22

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Cynthia is giving away the grand prize package of a $30 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/11818/reflecting-gold-celebration-tour-giveaway