Archive for November, 2014

Prism Tour: Christmas, Actually

Misc. | Posted by Shannon
Nov 25 2014

A themed tour through Prism Book Tours.

It’s the MISTLETOE KISSES TOUR Grand Finale for
Christmas, Actually
By Anna Adams, Anna J. Stewart, and Melinda Curtis
Three Harlequin Heartwarming novellas, where a sweet kiss takes place under the mistletoe.

Did you miss any of the excerpts, guest post, or reviews on the tour?
Feel free to go back and check out all the stops now!

Launch – Intro to the Collection

Christmas, Actually – three holiday stories about three siblings living in Christmas Town, Maine, where tradition has it that a kiss on Christmas Eve in the town square gazebo will lead to wedding bells in the new year!

Christy’s Cozy Corners – An Interview with Anna Adams

How was it decided that the story would take place in Christmas Town, Maine?

We were looking for a setting that spoke of the holidays, and I’d lived in Maine in a town that decorated the green for Christmas. I described it, and someone suggested Christmas Town as a name for our fictional village.

Coffee Books & Art – Excerpt

Snowflakes hit the windshield and splayed into star shapes while Bing Crosby crooned his dreams of a white Christmas. Sophie Palmer tried to sing along, but her mind was already racing up the icy interstate to Christmas Town, Maine, where the father of her unborn child now lived.

The Book Lovers’ Lounge – Christmas Town by Anna Adams

And I imagined my own broken hero, Jack Banning, watching from the sidewalk, there in the town, but watching from the boundaries because he doesn’t belong any more.

Getting Your Read On – Review

“Yeah, I really loved my time in Christmas Town with the Banning family. Each story was unique and romantic. I loved all the characters. They were real and identifiable. It is the perfect book to curl up with as the days get colder and we get closer to Christmas.”

Colorimetry – The Power of a First Kiss by Anna Adams

He’s at her house, killing time because he can’t go home and face his brother’s happiness when another friend calls to offer him an investment opportunity. Mary is leaning against George, also listening on the phone, when finally, he admits to his feelings. He takes her in his arms for a kiss he clearly doesn’t want even as he desires nothing in the whole wide world more than the hometown love of his life.

Southern Chelle – Review

“I don’t think I’ve read anything by any of these authors before, but these novellas have me falling hard for their work! I used to receive the Harlequin Heartwarming books monthly, but I didn’t have room for anymore paperback books in my house and had to give it up. I’m so glad they’ve continued these offerings!”

Kelly P’s Blog – An Interview with Anna J. Stewart

5. What do you hope readers will take with them after reading your story?

There’s nothing better than a happily ever after–that’s why I write (and read) romance, but that’s kind of the easy answer. I think at its core, the story is about learning how to be open with others, to tell them how you’re really feeling about situations that are emotionally damaging them. Dean, Callie and Eliza all have to do this at some point during the story and once they do, the happily ever after is possible.

My Love for Reading Keeps Growing – Excerpt

“Is this a bad time?” The combination of sympathy and amusement shining in green eyes, along with the tamed Irish lilt, called to mind fields of clover dotting rolling hills. She’d spent many a night and more than a few days dreaming of traveling to the Emerald Isle. Now it seemed as if Ireland had come to her.

Shoulder-length, golden-streaked hair brushed the worn leather of the bomber jacket he wore over snug jeans, the hint of a plain white T-shirt peeking from under the collar.

The Wonderings Of One Person – Dream Cast for The Christmas Wish

There are some actors who just “hit” from the second I lay eyes on them. When looking for images of my Dean, I did not have to look much further than Chris Hemsworth.


Casting my heroines has always been problematic for me. Typically, I use another medium for inspiration (I’m a doll collector), but when I saw this picture of Nina Dobrev (Vampire Diaries), I knew that was Callie.

Christian Chick’s Thoughts – Review

“The Christmas Date: The instant I started reading this story, I knew I was going to love it. There’s just something about those You’ve Got Mail-esque stories that I love. Nick and Gina are both so likeable, and their chemistry lept off the page. This was easily my favorite of the three stories!”

Bookworm Lisa – Review

“Each of the author’s did a great job in telling their story. I liked the descriptions and the characters.

This book is a fun way to get into the holiday season and find a little clean Christmas romance.”

fundinmental – My Top Ten Christmas Traditions by Anna J. Stewart

I LOVE Christmas time. Truly, from about Halloween on, I’m all about the tinsel, the trees and the music (why do they have to stop the Xmas carols on the 26th?!). For years now it’s just been my mom and me during the holiday season, but we’ve got our traditions…and they start early…even before we carve the Thanksgiving turkey.

Beck Valley Books – An Interview with Malinda Curtis

What’s your favorite aspect of the story?

One of my favorite aspects is Gina’s parents. They’ve tried for years to do what they thought was right and it strained their character and their relationship. This year, they rejoin the pageant and the town’s festivities in a very public way. It’s a small part of the story, but a set of vignettes that I love.

Mel’s Shelves – Review

“I loved seeing the siblings in each other’s stories and enjoyed getting to know them. These stories are quick, easy reads which are perfect to get you in the mood for Christmas. I love that they’re all clean so I can recommend it to everyone! Christmas Town was a fun place to visit!”

Painted Words – Review

“But what I truly loved about this book was that it didn’t feel at all repetitive which can be a big hindrance to books like this especially if written by multiple authors. It was an absolutely beautiful story, one that I look forward to reading again next year at this time and it was the perfect way to start off the season.”

I Am A Reader – Melinda Curtis’s Favorite Treat at Christmas Time (with recipe)

My mom is a fan of Jell-o salad. At Christmas, she’d serve us a slice of Jello salad on a leaf of lettuce with a dollop of mayonnaise on top. The first time Mr. Curtis had this dish, he happily took a big bite, expecting it to be whipped cream on top. Kudos to him for keeping his disappointment to himself.

Deal Sharing Aunt – Excerpt

In the wee hours of Christmas Eve morning, Gina stood at the edge of the town square and traced the deep, jagged scar that ran from her left temple to her jawline with the tip of a gloved finger, as if her touch could erase the past. The small ball of worry, the one that hadn’t let her sleep last night, expanded like bread dough in her chest, pressing against her lungs.

I should have told him.

Wishful Endings – Excerpt (4-star review here)

“Are you kidding? You’re beautiful. Why would he do that?

“You have to say that. You’re standing in my kitchen.” With me practically in your arms. Nevertheless, she hugged his words to her heart. No one had ever called her beautiful before.

JoJo’s Corner – 10 Gifts Ideas for Your Teen/Young Adult & Review

I’m a little bit anal about the holidays. I have a basic list I work from that my kids will enjoy or find useful. They’re all in college now, but that doesn’t mean they want a package of socks for Christmas. Here’s a list of 10 suggested gift giving categories for your teen/young adult…

Review: “Christmas, Actually is the perfect collection of stories to cuddle up and enjoy on a cold wintry night!”

Undercover Book Reviews – Review

“Three stories in one book, a great way to start the Christmas season off! Anna Adams takes you on three separate journeys in the life of Jack, Callie, and Gina as each tells their own story. The plot is good in each one.”

Katie’s Clean Book Collection – 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.

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!

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About the Authors

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!

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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.

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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.

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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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Review: Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World of Middle Earth

Book Reviews | Posted by Shannon
Nov 19 2014

If you are curious to know how Bard is like the Apostle Paul, or how Pippin is like the Apostle Peter, or Galadriel like Solomon – then I have the book for you.

Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World of Middle-Earth is a devotional for teens written by Jill Richardson. Each chapter begins with a brief profile of one of Tolkien’s characters, including quotations from The Lord of the Rings, and then turns to a biblical personage (or, a handful of times, a biblical principle). Richardson draws parallels and lessons, and then leaves her young audience with discussion questions and words of practical application.

This devotional is written in down-to-earth language and often leavened with humor; I always enjoyed the ‘Vital Stats’ section of each chapter. The parallels between the Bible and The Lord of the Rings were interesting, and I found Beorn’s and Smaug’s particularly illuminating.

To her credit, Richardson goes beyond the standard biblical stories to the story of King Manasseh and to Ecclesiastes, one book of the Bible not often quoted to adolescents. I appreciated that there were several paragraphs of Scripture in each chapter, and not merely a handful of verses. Occasionally there were “author’s paraphrases” of Scripture, and I would have preferred if those had been actual quotations. It’s always better to let the Bible stand without abridgment, even when it is complex or difficult.

Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World of Middle-Earth is a devotional, and naturally it doesn’t have the ‘meat’ of a theology book. But it is an insightful and easy read, successfully combining a fun look at Lord of the Rings with a profitable look at Scripture. Recommended for anyone, but especially any teen, who enjoys fantasy and is interested in the Bible.


I received a review copy of this book from the author.

CrossReads Book Blast with Sophie Dawson

Culture | Posted by Shannon
Nov 18 2014

Seeing The Life

Seeing The Life
By Sophie Dawson

About the Book

Seeing The Life is a look at the life of Yeshua the Christ in a way never used before. Dassa, the daughter of the innkeeper, is sent to fetch the midwife to help the young woman in the stable give birth. She and Mary become close friends as do Micah, her fiance then husband, and Joseph. Separated when the young family flees Bethlehem in the night, their friendship resumes several years later in Jerusalem.

Dassa and Micah know Yeshua is special, but he is still a boy with a boy’s interests and love of life. Through the years the families, though separated most of the year, spend time together in Jerusalem during the Jewish Festivals. Then Yeshua begins speaking and teaching.

Micah, Joseph of Arimethea, their sons and others who follow and believe Yeshua’s message. Yet do they really understand it? Is he the long awaited messiah who will free the Jews from the grip of Rome? What do the stories he tells really mean?

Seeing The Life sees the life of Yeshua within the social and political culture of the time. Not only do we see his ministry but also his family and friendships as he grew. Yeshua was a normal baby who cried, spit up, wet and messed. He was a child who fell and skinned his knees. He lost his baby teeth. He had siblings. He had friends. My goal was to show the humanness of Yeshua’s life. We see him as fully God but often miss that he was fully man, boy and baby also.

LINK to KINDLE | LINK to PAPERBACK

Sophie DawsonSophie Dawson is Midwestern born and bred and is the author of several novels, including the Cottonwood Series and Stone Creek Series. Her novel Healing Love has won three awards: AuthorStand 2012 Gold Medal, Indiebook 2012 Silver Medal, and Readers’ Favorite 2013 Silver Medal. Giving Love was a finalist in Readers’ Favorite 2013. Her books have also been #1 Best Sellers in their genre on Amazon. Seeing The Life is a finalist in Readers’ Favorite Awards 2014. She is a member of Christian Independent Authors and Association of Independent Authors. An award-winning quilter with eclectic interests, Dawson posts to several blogs, including Little Bits Blog on her website, and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Iowa Wesleyan College.

Follow Sophie Dawson
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This book blast is hosted by Crossreads.

We would like to send out a special THANK YOU to all of the CrossReads book blast bloggers!

Two Announcements

Culture | Posted by Shannon
Nov 13 2014

Golden Daughter, the newest novel in Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s Tales of Goldstone Wood, has been released to Kindle. In celebration, she has put her novella Goddess Tithe on sale for 99 cents until the end of this week. (Which is, sheesh, coming up.) Purchase Goddess Tithe here, and Golden Daughter here.

Golden Daughter

Sairu vowed to protect her mistress from all harm. But when assassins and deadly phantoms set out to hunt down Lady Hariawan, can one young bodyguard protect against enemies she can neither see nor touch? With only a Faerie cat and a handsome slave to help her, Sairu’s skills and loyalty will be tested to the limit.


Goddess Tithe

When a stowaway is discovered aboard the merchant ship Kulap Kanya, Munny, a cabin boy on his first voyage, knows what must be done. All stowaways are sacrificed to Risafeth, the evil goddess of the sea. But Captain Sunan vows instead to protect the stowaway . . . and a curse falls upon the ship.



In addition, I am running a giveaway of The Valley of Decision on LibraryThing until November 22. Check that out here.


The Valley of Decision

Far away, beyond the Northwood and the Black Mountains, Belenus rules the kingdom of the north.

How many centuries, how many thousands of years, he has held the north, no one knows. But when our distant fathers came over the mountains, he was there.

The Dochraitay are his servants – mortal Men, who live and die in the grasp of their undying master. They till and harvest Belenus’ fields, fight his wars, and bear children for his use.

When Belenus sends them over the mountains to destroy us, they will fear him, and we will fear them. But when the moment of choice comes in the valley of decision, hearts will be exposed.

Lives will shatter.

The world will change.

What no one ever guessed will happen.

– a wisewoman of Alamir

Review: Outpost

Book Reviews, History | Posted by Shannon
Nov 06 2014

Christopher Hill spent a lot of time in the world’s hotspots – Kosovo, Bosnia, North Korea, post-surge Iraq. If you have never heard of him, I’m not surprised. Diplomats are rarely household names.

Outpost: Life on the Frontlines of American Diplomacy is Christopher Hill’s memoir. He had many consequential jobs: working on the negotiations that ended the Balkan wars, leading diplomat in the Bush administration’s talks with North Korea, ambassador to Iraq. And yet he remained outside the nexus of power that fascinates the media and public alike: the president, the vice president, secretary of state, secretary of defense, even national security advisor.

This is a different sort of memoir, America’s foreign policy from a viewpoint I had never fully seen before. I found it very informative. I learned a great deal about the North Korean negotiations and America’s involvement in the Balkans, though I wish Ambassador Hill had dealt with Kosovo and Bosnia in even greater depth. He never explained why, exactly, America was invested in those conflicts to the point of bombing campaigns. If it was a matter of violence, or human rights violations – well, there’s a lot of that in the world, and the Serbs were hardly the leading villains. Saddam Hussein, to take one not-so-random example, certainly had them beat. And if it was a matter of American interests – I can’t think of any American interests, nor does the book provide any, except that our involvement was good for our “transatlantic relationships”.

In fact, reading Hill’s account, one is left with the impression that our military-level involvement just sort of happened. America was trying to negotiate an end to the war, and the Europeans had peacekeepers in blue helmets and white tanks there, and it was all very difficult, and since America would have to intervene militarily to help extract the Europeans, it might as well intervene militarily to enforce peace, and so we bombed the Serbs. And maybe it really was no more deliberate than that.

The Iraq section was informative, too, providing a closer and somewhat dreary look at Iraq. Hill portrays attitudes in Washington toward Iraq that ultimately contributed to the present debacle: disinterest, neglect, a hurry to get out with little attention paid to the consequences.

I learned lighter things from this book, things from the world of diplomacy. I learned, for example, that ambassadors may judge you on how many lunch options you need for a visit to their country. I learned that calling Macedonia “Macedonia” can be a minor act of rebellion. I learned that diplomats will not only lie in the course of duty, they will openly admit it in their memoirs.

Unfortunately, Ambassador Hill cheaply caricatures the “neocons” as warlike, aggressive, and imperialistic. The book’s only justifications for these insults are that neoconservatives opposed Hill’s negotiations with North Korea (oh, the aggression!) and urged the Iraq war. Hill also mentions “liberal war hawks”, though how he distinguishes them from the warlike neocons is entirely unexplained.

Along with its accounts of vital negotiations and ambassadorships in nations such as Poland and Macedonia, Outpost paints some very human portraits and some poignant moments. Recommended to anyone who is interested in diplomacy, history, or the controversies and conflicts of the past twenty years.