Friday, November 21, 2014

Christmas, Actually Review/Giveaway

A themed tour through Prism Book Tours.

Christmas, Actually
Christmas, Actually
by Anna Adams, Anna J. Stewart, & Melinda Curtis
Clean Contemporary Romance
Paperback & Ebook, 202 pages
November 1st 2014 by Harlequin Heartwarming

Discover the magic of Christmas Town, Maine!

Three lonely strangers come to Christmas Town, Maine, and find love with three Banning siblings in the town that celebrates the holidays by decorating its square with lights and ribbons and a holiday pageant on Christmas Eve. Tradition has it that a kiss beneath the mistletoe that night means marriage for the couple in the new year.

The Christmas Gift by Anna Adams:
Jack Banning promised to support the mother of his unborn child. But she doesn't need money, she only needs him.

The Christmas Wish by Anna J. Stewart:
Callie Banning's student has declared war on Christmas, so it's up to her to help the little girl and her widowed father believe again.

The Christmas Date by Melinda Curtis:
Gina Vernay is about to meet her online mystery date and she's in for the surprise of a lifetime!

Amazon - Barnes & Noble - Harlequin - iTunes

My Review: What a fun story! The reader is taken on a journey through Christmas Town, Maine and we get to see snippets of what makes this town special through the eyes of three different characters. 

In The Christmas Gift, Dr. Jack Banning is struggling with some issues, but being a very good Dr and surgeon isn't among them. When he found out he was going to be a father, he ran and wants nothing to do with his unborn baby. Jack is such a strong character and it's hard to imagine him not taking a challenge head on, but, as we find out, he has his reasons. I love Sophie, the mother-to-be. Her patience is amazing, as is her genuine care for those around her. I would have liked to see Jack ease into his feelings, instead of being so hot and cold.

The Christmas Wish is about Jack's sister, Callie, a school teacher. She has a troubled student who is up to mischief at every turn, since this young girl hates Christmas and anything associated with it. Eliza doesn't know how to express herself and Callie is determined to understand why. Meeting with Eliza's father, Dean, proves to be a battle, since there's an attraction. Callie is very creative in her dealings with Eliza and such a sweet woman. Dean does the best he can as a father and is willing to make changes to make things even better. I loved the way the story came together.

Nick Banning is the resident handyman and the brother of Jack and Callie in The Christmas Date. He's working hard to help Gina, a shop owner, make repairs to her store, as well as to her self esteem. Gina has met a man online and just can't quite let her heart follow Nick without giving Football20 a chance. Gina had some pretty big insecurities to deal with. I could understand why she felt that way, yet I wanted her to let it go. I enjoyed watching her blossom. Nick is a man who can do everything, yet he's very humble. I love the way he would build up those around him.

These were fun, clean holiday stories. I only wish the  main characters from the other books would have shown up more in other stories. 

Content: no language; no violence; clean kissing. Clean!


About the Authors

Photo 34
Anna Adams wrote her first romance in wet sand. The Atlantic Ocean washed it away, but Anna kept going. Her stories are of love, like the proverbial stone in a lake, making ripples that spread and contract and involve. From Iceland to Hawaii, and points in between, Anna and her own hero share with children and family and friends who?ve become family. All this living and loving gives Anna plenty of fodder for stories of love set in real life. Come along and live them with her!


Anna J. Stewart can't remember a time she didn't have a book in her hand or a story in her head and credits her mother never saying no to a book for turning her into a writer. Anna lives in Northern California with an overly attentive cat named Snickers and is happiest when setting her heroes and heroines on their road to happily ever after amidst family, fun and laughter.


Melinda Curtis
Melinda Curtis grew up on an isolated sheep ranch, where mountain lions had been seen and yet she roamed unaccompanied. Being a rather optimistic, clueless of danger, sort she took to playing "what if" games that led her to become an author. She spends days trying to figure out new ways to say "He made her heart pound." That might sound boring, but the challenge keeps her mentally ahead of her 3 kids and college sweetheart husband.




Tour-Wide Giveaway

- Gift Card Prize Pack: $20 Amazon gift card and ebook of Christmas, Actually (open internationally)
- US Prize Pack: Paperback of Christmas, Actually and three Christmas ornaments (US only)
- 3 ebooks of Christmas, Actually (open internationally)
Ends November 30th

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Review: Painting Kisses by Melanie Jacobson


Painting Kisses 

Painting Kisses by Melanie Jacobson
Kindle Edition, 240 pages
Published October 2nd 2014 by Covenant Communications

Description: Lia Carswell is good at what she does, even if it isn't as glamorous as her old artist life in Manhattan. The popular waitress works hard in a small Salt Lake City diner, with the goal of easing her sister's financial strain. And with her witty personality and good looks, she's something of an enigma to the male customers who vie for her attention. Ever the professional, Lia keeps her distance, with one exception. Aidan is a breakfast regular, and his gentle, clever teasing draws Lia's attention and builds an easy rapport between them, though Lia would never let their relationship get serious, especially since he's not the only one trying to catch her eye. Her handsome neighbor Griff has been hinting that he wants more than a neighborly relationship.

Then her old New York artist life comes knocking, and an offer is made for a series of commissioned paintings. Lia knows it would ensure financial security for her family, but she doesn't know if she wants that life anymore. When she undertakes one final project, she reawakens her heart and soul. And as she finds herself falling in love and needing an outlet more and more, she realizes her paintings might be her saving grace.


My Review: Lia is a snarky waitress at a roadside diner in Utah. She has walls built up around herself and it's for a good reason. She is very gruff, yet consistent, with the customers in the diner and they come to rely on her for that stability.Her sister and niece live with her and they work hard to make ends meet. Lia likes her job and is good at it--she's also good at avoiding the teasing and advances of the men who frequent the diner. She doesn't want to give out any personal information about herself, yet as time goes by, she starts to build a friendship with Aidan, who comes in often. But then there's Griff...her handsome and quiet neighbor. I loved the way Aidan was able to chip away at the walls and the banter that ensued between them. I also enjoyed the relationship that Lia had with her sister. 


I was completely captivated by Lia's art. The imagery used to describe her work and how she worked was amazing. In fact, I found myself going around trying to figure out what pumpkins sound like, what the sky tastes like, and what a feather sounds like. 

Ms. Jacobson's books are often light-hearted and hilarious, but this one was different. Yes, the humor was there at moments, but the storyline was a little more serious. Lia's secret past came out, little by little, which really pulled the reader into the story. As I mentioned earlier, there was a mini-love triangle going on, and I honestly felt torn between who I wanted her to choose.



Even though this one is different, I found it to still be very good and well-written. I did not see the ending coming!

Content: no language or violence; mild kissing. Clean!
 
Amazon  *  B&N

About the Author:
Melanie JacobsonMelanie Bennett Jacobson is an avid reader, amateur cook, and champion shopper. She consumes astonishing amounts of chocolate, chick flicks, and romance novels. After meeting her husband online, she is now living happily married in Southern California with her growing family and a series of doomed houseplants. Melanie is a former English teacher and a popular speaker who loves to laugh and make others laugh. In her down time (ha!), she writes romantic comedies for Covenant and maintains her humorous slice-of-life blog. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Review: Loving Lucianna by Joyce DiPastena w/Giveaway

Loving Lucianna 
Loving Lucianna: A Hearts in Autumn Romance by Joyce DiPastena
Paperback, 220 pages
Published October 11th 2014 by Sable Tyger Books 
My Source: I received a copy from the tour host in exchange for an honest review
Description: Sir Balduin de Soler gave up long ago on love. He never had the means to support a wife until an unexpected advancement in his fifties allows him to reassess his future just as the lovely Lucianna enters his life.

Lucianna Fabio harbors a secret, painful memory from her past that has kept her unwed, as well. Now in her forties, she thought herself too old to marry until she meets Sir Balduin. Now suddenly their lonely autumn lives feel very much like spring again . . . until Lucianna’s brother appears without warning and threatens to revive the secret that will destroy Lucianna’s second chance at love.


 
My Review: I really enjoyed the setting, as well as the story of two people, who assume they are past the age for marrying, finding one another and falling in love. The story was slow for me and it took me while to get into it, but once I did, I really enjoyed it.
The story has some humor, as well as a mystery. The reader will learn that Sir Baluin isn't a poet, by any means. When everything came out, Lucianna's reluctance made sense. She has a secret that she doesn't want shared, but when her brother shows up, she knows that nothing good can come of it.

Sir Balduin was very persistent and knew exactly what he wanted, while Lucianna was more hesitant. She was a little frustrating at times, because she seemed content with what was going on and they would suddenly look for little reasons to doubt her choice. She didn't seem to handle things in a very mature way, despite her physical age.  Of course, I thought the villain was perfect for the part.
A major theme that came through for me was the importance of family and relationships. I loved the emphasis placed on honoring ones word, too.

Content: Clean.

 
(3.5)
Buy Links:

About the Author:
Joyce DiPastena 
Joyce DiPastena dreamed of green medieval forests while growing up in the dusty copper mining town of Kearny, Arizona. She filled her medieval hunger by reading the books of Thomas B. Costain (where she fell in love with King Henry II of England), and later by attending the University of Arizona where she graduated with a degree in history, specializing in the Middle Ages. The university was also where she completed her first full-length novel…set, of course, in medieval England. Later, her fascination with Henry II led her to expand her research horizons to the far reaches of his “Angevin Empire” in France, which became the setting of her first published novel, Loyalty’s Web (a 2007 Whitney Award Finalist).

Joyce is a multi-published, multi-award winning author who specializes in sweet medieval romances heavily spiced with mystery and adventure. She lives with her two cats, Clio and Glinka Rimsky-Korsokov, in Mesa, Arizona.

Connect with Joyce:  Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter

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Review: Amazing Hairstyles by Becky Porter

blog-tour-Amazing-Hairstyles-Rebecca-Porter

Amazing Hairstyles: From Easy to Elegant 

Amazing Hairstyles from Easy to Elegant by Becky Porter
My Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Description: Tired of bad hair days? Popular hairstyle blogger Rebecca Porter teaches you the basics of braids, buns, and twists, and helps you combine them to create amazing hairstyles for any occasion. Go from drab to fab at any age with the easy, step-by-step tutorials in this essential guide.

My Review: I have two daughters and neither one of them has that perfect hair. One of them is a teen now and does her own hair and it's always so cute, but the other one...it's a battle. The biggest problem is that I have no clue what I'm doing!

I was excited to get this book and to look through it to see all the different styles. There are casual styles and fancy styles; easy styles and styles that are a little more work.The book starts out with a list of basic hair items. Hello? Where have I been? I never knew that a topsy tail took existed and think of how easy some of these styles will be with this tool--I need one! There are also some basic terms described, which was helpful to someone as clueless as I am.

Now for the fun stuff--each style had multiple pictures and step-by-step instructions, which made every style seem doable. I haven't tried all of them out yet, but the ones I have are fun. I honestly had no clue that do do a twist, you have to twist each piece of hair one way and then twist them together the opposite way. I think my twists will stay put now--what a relief!

This is a great book for beginners or really for anyway looking for fairly easy ways to jazz up their hair.

About the author:
Becky Porter is the hands behind the hairstyles. Since starting her blog, BabesInHairland.com in 2008, she has been making the world a prettier place, one head of hair at a time. Besides having a passion for doing hair and teaching hair classes, she loves music, baking, and spending time with her family. She lives in Utah with her three amazing daughter’s and one patient husband.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Review: Tess in Boots by Courtney Rice Gager {Blog Tour/Giveaway}


Blog Tour Media Kit
November 18, 2014

Tess in Boots by Courtney Rice Gager
Anaiah Romance

Description:
Tess Dougherty plans every aspect of her life right down to the last detail. But she doesn’t plan on running her boyfriend off by bringing up the topic of marriage before he’s ready. And she doesn’t plan to lose her job on the day she’s set to receive a huge promotion. So when her perfect world unravels, Tess makes a new plan: disappear.


Tess packs her bags and leaves her city apartment for a remote vineyard in North Carolina. At first, she’s put off by the slow pace of small-town life in the South. She’s especially irritated by Thatcher, the vineyard’s smart-mouth, dimple-faced farmhand. But she soon begins to appreciate the area’s charm, and Thatcher’s charm, too. She even swaps her trademark heels for a pair of cowboy boots. As Tess spends more time getting to know Thatcher, she finds herself loosening her grip on her old life little by little. Unfortunately, things on the vineyard aren’t as simple as they seem. There’s a secret here, and when the truth comes to light, Tess is forced to reconsider every plan she’s ever made.

My Review: 
Tess is a very organized person--one who very well in the business world. When her boyfriend of seven years takes her out for a very special dinner, she expects to end the night with an engagement, but comes away with a cake for her new promotion, which ends up with her losing her promotion before it begins. Deciding to get away for awhile to figure things out, Tess goes to North Carolina to help her brother and sister-in-law with a new business venture. Tess immediately encounters some interesting situations and rumors, as well as some interesting people...namely, Thatcher, which results in a mild love triangle. There seems to be a lot of secrets and mysteries going on in this small town, especially with the people close to her, but it's nothing she can't handle.

I loved the relationship between Tess and her twin brother, Jake. They are so different, yet they are able to relate to one another and help each other out. Tess is a very take-charge person and I loved seeing her let her hair down. When her perfectly planned life goes awry, she comes up with alternative plans. She's not a person to sit back and let life happen. I loved the side characters, especially some of the small town old-timers. They were funny and stereotypical. I had my favorite man--the one I was rooting for, yet even with all that happened, I was still taken by complete surprise by the ending. Don't get me wrong--I love a good surprise, so it was fun and I had no idea how it was all going to work out, but it did. 

This is an author to keep an eye on! The story had a great flow, with really fun characters.

Content: completely clean!
*I received a copy in exchange for an honest review*

Release Date:
December 2, 2014

Book Links:

Buy Links:

Excerpt:

I heard the sound of tires on the wet road, and looked up in time to see another truck slowing down to avoid crashing into the cow. The truck pulled around the cow and stopped alongside where I stood on the side of the road. The driver rolled the window down, and when I saw his face, I wanted to cry.
Thatcher.
It was not my day.
“You all right?”
I crossed my arms. “I’m fine!”
“Guess your GPS didn’t tell you to go around the cow, did it, Heels?”
I turned away from him and pulled my phone out of my pocket.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“I’m calling for roadside assistance.”
“Good luck. Cell phones don’t work on this stretch of road.”
I turned around and glared at him. “What?”
“I said cell phones don’t work on this stretch of road.”
“I heard you. That’s insane.”
“Go ahead and try. Maybe you have some fancy magical cell phone.”
I rolled my eyes and turned away again, attempting to place a call. He was right. Nothing.
“Get in the truck, Heels.”
I didn’t budge.
“Come on, now. Get in.”
I turned around to see him hop out of the truck, walk around to the passenger side, and open the door.
There was no way I was getting in his truck.
“You gonna make me stay out in the rain all night?” he asked.
I put my hands on my hips.
“You know,” he said, “it ain’t right for a cow to stand in the road like that. You ever heard of Mad Cow Disease?”
I looked at the cow, then back at Thatcher, then back at the cow.
Was he kidding? I couldn’t tell. What choice did I have anyway? I was soaking wet, freezing, and miles from the vineyard.
I balled my hands into fists and took several strides toward the truck. “Fine. But I’m only coming with you because you look like an idiot standing out here in the pouring rain.” I got in the truck, and he shut the door behind me.
“Well, so do you, Heels.”


Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/QNneLcbh0tM



Author Bio:
Courtney Rice Gager graduated from Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in communication and a minor in creative writing. Courtney is also the author of The Buggy List. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and daughter.



Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CourtneyRiceGager

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Book Tour November 18-December 16
Release Day Blitz on December 2

Book reviews, interviews, guest posts and giveaway!

Follow the Tess in Boots Book Tour:

11/18 Katie's Clean Book Collection http://www.katiescleanbookcollection.blogspot.com
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