Sunday, January 26, 2020


-- πŸŽ„πŸŽ„ 'THE ANGEL TREE' πŸŽ„πŸŽ„ --

ABOUT THE BOOK {from Goodreads}:

A heartwarming Christmas mystery and friendship story! 

Every Christmas in the small town of Pine River, a tree appears in the town square--the Angel Tree. Some people tie wishes to the tree, while others make those wishes come true. Nobody's ever known where the tree comes from, but the mystery has always been part of the tradition's charm.

This year, however, four kids who have been helped--Lucy, Joe, Max, and Cami--are determined to solve the mystery and find out the true identity of the town's guardian angel, so that Pine River can finally thank the person who brought the Angel Tree to their town.
This is a heartwarming Christmas mystery, full of friendship, discovery, and loads of holiday cheer!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR {from Goodreads}:
Daphne Benedis-Grab is the author of four middle-grade books and two books for teens. She lives and writes in New York City.

"Full of the type of warmth and good cheer found in favorite holiday movies, author and PW reviewer Benedis-Grab’s lively tale spotlights the time-honored tradition—and can-do citizens—that make a small town great, even in the face of financial struggle. Nobody is certain who is behind the stately Angel Tree that appears in the Pine River town square each year, but everyone knows that when people tie notes containing their Christmas wishes to the tree, the wishes are granted. This year, middle-schoolers Cami, Max, Lucy, and Joe (all of whom have benefitted from the Angel Tree’s bounty) try to uncover the tree’s benefactor and thank him or her. As the kids puzzle through clues, they discover things that bring them closer to their families, neighbors, and each other—all in time for a satisfying, celebratory reveal. Ages 8–12."

I saw this book on the fiction shelf in the children's section of the local public library a couple of weeks after Christmas. Since I love to read holiday fiction and non-fiction year round, I grabbed it, checked it out, and took it home.

This is a heartwarming story about four diverse middle-schoolers who make it a common goal to discover who the beneficent organizer and underwriter of the town's Angel Tree and annual charitable holiday acts is. The person's identity has been a mystery for over three decades, and these children want to do something wonderful to celebrate this person's generosity.

The group of four--five if you count Lucy's guide dog, Valentine, who is helpful in discovering some important clues--is made up of Cami, an talented African-American musician who is being raised by her grandmother because she is an orphan; Lucy, a blind Chinese girl adopted by her American parents when she was a baby; Valentine, Lucy's guide dog that is facing a serious health challenge of her own; Joe, the new kid in town who has a bad attitude and a secret; and Max, the class clown who has some serious family problems on his plate. Of note, Joe and Max are living in poverty due to familial circumstances; their relationship did not get off to a good start when Joe came to town.

Despite their differences, under the leadership of Cami the four of them work through their issues with each other and pull together to solve the mystery of the Angel Tree.

The story includes several instances where each character is facing an individual challenge. This was one of the things I liked the most about this book -- it wasn't a fairy tale with a happily ever after ending. The main characters dealt with realistic problems and obstacles on the pathway of life in order to improve their lives and the lives of their family members and the community. The group's dynamics were also believable and enjoyable.

Oh, did I mention the cover? The magical Christmas tree with the silhouetted main characters on the cover perfectly portrays the inner beauty revealed throughout this story.

I look forward to reading more of this author's work in the future.

Highly-recommended as a family, classroom, and youth group/church group read-aloud book.


Find the links to read more great Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts from middle-grade authors and bloggers at Greg Pattridge's 'Always in the Middle' Blog.

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Sunday, January 19, 2020



ABOUT THE BOOK {from Goodreads}:
Declan O’Brien always had a gentle word to share, odd phrases he liked to repeat, and songs to sing while he played basketball. His favorite song was "Dona Nobis Pacem"--"Grant Us Peace." His family loved him deeply and always knew they were loved in return.

But a terrible accident one day changes their lives forever, and Fiona and Finn O’Brien are left without a father. Their mother is at a loss. What words are there to guide them through such overwhelming grief?

At the suggestion of their friend Luke, Fiona and Finn volunteer at an animal rescue shelter where they meet two sweet dogs who are in need of comfort, too. Perhaps with time, patience, and their father’s gentle words in their hearts, hope will spark once more. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR {from Goodreads}:
Patricia MacLachlan was born on the prairie, and to this day carries a small bag of prairie dirt with her wherever she goes to remind her of what she knew first. She is the author of many well-loved novels and picture books, including Sarah, Plain and Tall, winner of the Newbery Medal; its sequels, Skylark and Caleb's Story; and Three Names, illustrated by Mike Wimmer. She lives in western Massachusetts.


I usually don't reveal my thoughts about a book I'm sharing until the end of the review, but this book is an exception. In fact, this book is exceptional in every way, in my opinion.

I almost did not check this book out of the library when I read that Fiona and Finn's father is killed in an accident and that the story was about grief. I have read so many books about grief in the middle-grade and adult genres during the past few years I wondered if I needed to--or even wanted to--read another.

I'm glad I did not let my negativity stop me from checking out this book and enjoying it as much as I did.

I fell in love with this author's work when I was a student teacher reading Sarah, Plain and Tall to the fourth grade class with whom I was working. I have always loved historical fiction, and this was the first piece of children's historical literature I had read for many years. I'm not sure if I loved it more than the students or if they loved it more, but we all loved the book!

My Father's Words may be the most touching middle-grade story I have ever read. I laughed, I cried, and I cried some more . . .

The author's clean, focused style of writing lends itself to the communication of important life lessons throughout the story. Grief, forgiveness, understanding, personal growth, tolerance and acceptance, friendship, kindness, compassion, caring concern, and love are the threads that weave together this beautiful story.

The scenes of the main characters interacting with a variety of dogs at the animal rescue shelter are delightful! The wisdom the children garner from their interactions with these lovable animals is valuable and essential to the healing process for the people and the canines involved.

The ending to the story is inspiring and realistic. I believe children will love how things are resolved for some of the dogs and all of the humans.

I believe this book would make an excellent read-aloud for classroom teachers, librarians, and families. The story opens up lots of opportunities for discussion and sharing.

Highly-recommended for fans of animal fiction, contemporary fiction, family-oriented fiction, and realistic fiction.

I borrowed this book from the 'New Book' fiction shelf in the children's collection of the local public library.


Find the links to read more great Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts from middle-grade authors and bloggers at Greg Pattridge's 'Always in the Middle' Blog.

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Monday, January 13, 2020


~Post Includes:  Book Spotlight, Author
Bio, Excerpt & Giveaway~ 
The Trouble in Willow Falls JustRead Blog Tour 

Welcome to the Blog Tour & Giveaway for The Trouble in Willow Falls by Pat Nichols, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!


The Trouble in Willow Falls by Pat Nichols Title: The Trouble in Willow Falls
Series: Willow Falls #2
Author: Pat Nichols
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: November 8, 2019

After a scathing blogger review and a negative Atlanta television newscast tarnish Willow Falls’ reputation as a secluded North Georgia tourist destination, the town council votes to use the remainder of its annual budget to hire a PR firm to restore the town's image. At a town-hall meeting, angry residents brainstorm ideas to boost Willow Falls’ appeal. When a second Atlanta television station announces plans to film a segment for its Around Georgia series, residents invest their time and limited resources to spruce up Main Street’s appearance. Willow Post editor Emily Hayes can't help but shake her head at her town's desperate efforts.

For months, Emily has submitted her novel to numerous publishers but received only rejections. When famous artist Naomi Jasper offers Emily much-needed cash to finish writing, then cast and direct a play about Willow Falls’ colorful history, Emily faces a difficult decision—postpone the rewrite of her novel or accept the project. After convincing her sister, Rachel Streetman, to partner with her, Emily puts her dreams on hold and agrees to take on the play. Failure to deliver is not an option.

All her life Rachel has dreamed of becoming a stage actress, so when she receives an invitation to audition for a respected Broadway director, Rachel abandons her sister and the Willow Falls play. But an incident with the director sends her reeling back into the arms of Charlie Bricker, her one true love. Out of options, Rachel reluctantly accepts her part in the town play with the slim hope that her performance might kick-start her career.

If anyone understands broken hearts, it's Willow Inn’s beloved innkeeper, Sadie Liles. Sadie has learned to live with the fact that love is the last thing she'll ever find. Then he walks through the front door.

As the town prepares for Redding Arms’ grand opening, five newcomers and one British tourist test the town’s quirky, lovable, argumentative residents’ souls. Digging deep to deal with the strife, bickering, and personal backstabbing will test Willow Falls in ways the small town never imagined. Could it be that the trouble in Willow Falls is the very thing that reminds its residents that honesty, love, and loyalty to one another is what binds them together?

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

Rachel Streetman stood on the sidewalk in downtown Atlanta and imagined living on the street. Sleeping in a doorway or on a bench in Centennial Park. Penniless. Alone. Men and women stepping around her as if she was nothing more than an obstacle blocking their paths. Children staring at her.

She tilted her head back and gazed at the top of the seventy-three-story circular Peachtree Plaza Hotel. Until a dizzy sensation threw her off balance and forced her focus back to ground level. She pressed her hand against a light pole. A week away from the most important audition in her life, she couldn’t risk passing out and breaking her arm or a tooth.

When the spinning stopped, she glanced at her watch. Fifteen minutes before lunch with her former assistant. She walked across the street and spotted a young man crouched on the sidewalk. His dog sprawled beside him. Brown hair brushed against his shirt collar. A scruffy beard covered the lower portion of his face. Was he the guy she’d befriended last year, before she resigned as vice president for her father’s company?

She moved closer and pushed her sunglasses to the top of her head. “Dennis Locke?”

His eyes widened. “Ms. Streetman?” He stood and wiped his hands on his jeans.

“It is you.”

He nodded.

“I’m sorry I haven’t been around in a while.”

“No need to apologize. I didn’t expect a fine lady like you to keep coming back.”

She swiped a layer of sweat from her lip. Should she give him money and walk away? Or do some audition pre-work for the role—Penelope, a homeless woman who finds a winning lottery ticket. She stepped beside Dennis, relieved he smelled of soap and shampoo. “Are you still staying at the homeless shelter?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

She leaned back against the wall. A man wearing expensive shoes and a three-piece suit tossed a handful of change toward the ball cap serving as Dennis’s collection plate. A quarter and three pennies missed the target and landed on the pavement. He moved past without making eye contact or uttering a word.

Heat crept up Rachel’s neck. “I guess he didn’t want those pesky coins rattling around in his pocket.”

“Don’t give him a hard time.”

“He could have said hello or at least nodded.”

Dennis shrugged. “Why would he?”

Rachel turned her attention to men and women rushing past without acknowledging their existence. “It’s like we’re invisible.”

“Easier for them.” He slid back to the pavement.
She sat beside him and imagined this was her spot, her cap poised for contributions. How would it feel to be hopeless and invisible, then suddenly have enough money to turn your life around? Frightening? Challenging? What if she had no place to go? No one to love?

She swallowed the lump in her throat as images of Charlie, Mama Sadie, Emily, and Willow Falls played in her mind. Her refuge. She glanced sideways at Dennis. Maybe he needed something … or someone to motivate him off the street.


Pat Nichols

Retired from a twenty-seven-year corporate career, Pat Nichols draws on her experience in seven different management positions working with hundreds of amazing women from all walks of life to create stories about women facing tension-laced challenges and heart-warming triumphs in the pursuit of their dreams. Her debut novel, The Secret of Willow Inn, Willow Falls series book one, released January 2019. Book two, The Trouble in Willow Falls, released November 2019 and book three is slated for 2020.  She received the 2017 CRW Woman of the Year Award and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Word Weavers International.

CONNECT WITH PAT: Website | Facebook Twitter | Instagram


(1) winner will receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card!

The Trouble in Willow Falls JustRead Giveaway

Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule shown below. Giveaway will begin at midnight January 10, 2020 and last through 11:59 PM EST on January 17, 2020. US only. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!
*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

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Thursday, January 9, 2020


~Post Includes:  Book Spotlight, Author Bio,
Unique Guest Post by the Author,
Excerpt & Giveaway~

On Wings of Devotion JustRead Tour 

Welcome to the Blog Tour & Giveaway for On Wings of Devotion by Roseanna M. White, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

On Wings of Devotion by Roseanna M White  Title: On Wings of Devotion
Series: The Codebreakers #2
Author: Roseanna M. White
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Bethany House
Release Date: January 7, 2020

Against Every Warning, She's Drawn Ever Closer to the Man Known as "Black Heart" 

All of England thinks Major Phillip Camden a monster--a man who deliberately caused the deaths of his squadron. But he would have preferred to die that day with his men rather than be recruited to the Admiralty's codebreaking division. The threats he receives daily are no great surprise and, in his opinion, well deserved.

As nurse Arabelle Denler observes the so-dubbed "Black Heart," she sees something far different: a hurting man desperate for mercy. And when their families and paths twist together unexpectedly, she realizes she has a role to play in his healing--and some of her own to do as well. 

With Camden's court-martial looming, an old acquaintance shows up, intent on using him in a plot that sends the codebreakers of Room 40 into a frenzy. With their fragile hopes for the future in the cross hairs, Arabelle and Camden must hold on to hope--and to each other--if they want to survive.

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Christianbook 


Making sure his usual smirk was in place, Camden moved to his host with a hand outstretched. “Thank you for having me, Your Grace. It wasn’t an entirely wretched evening.”

Stafford laughed and clasped his hand. “The highest of compliments from the likes of you. But why are you off so early?”

“Things to do.” He had to find someone with an auto to lend him tomorrow. And petrol enough to drive it out of London, where he could intercept Arabelle Denler on her way to visiting her friend. And determine a way to get said borrowed vehicle back to whomever he ended up borrowing it from.

He could just show up at the Denler residence and lay his case before her. But if he was going to disrupt someone’s entire life, he might as well give her a story to tell about it. And who else could claim to have been kidnapped by the infamous Black Heart? With her father’s permission, but no one needed to know that part.

“Stay out of trouble, Camden.” Perhaps with some, it would have been a teasing farewell. But the duke was serious.

Cam grinned. “What fun would that be?” He backed up a step, two, and raised a hand in farewell to the collection at large. “Good evening, gentlemen. Give the ladies my regards.”

A few minutes later, he had coat and hat and was back out in the frigid night, whistling his way to the nearest tube station.

It was going to work. It was. He had some details to sort out yet, true, but they’d fall into place. Or be wrestled there. His mind flipped through the puzzle of it during the ride home. There were a few chaps at the office with automobiles. He hated to owe any of them a favor, but . . . well, desperate times and all that.

He hurried to his flat, let himself inside—it was much tidier after Mother’s visit—and stopped dead in his tracks. Someone was here. The lights were on, the scent of tea drifted over him, and a hum came from the sofa that he’d recognize anywhere. He let a curse slip out, largely because he knew it would put an end to the humming. “What the devil are you doing here?”

The intruder rose from the couch with a smile. “Trying to chase the devil out of you, Phillip.”

He snorted and moved to give his kid brother a crushing hug. “Good luck with that one.” He grinned as he pulled away. “Actually . . . your timing couldn’t be better. You’re going to help me kidnap a girl tomorrow, Jer.”

His brother didn’t wince. Didn’t flinch. Didn’t moan. He just sighed and rubbed a hand over his face. “Heaven help me. What have you got us into this time?”


Roseanna M. White

Roseanna M. White is a bestselling, Christy Award-nominated author who has long claimed that words are the air she breathes. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two kids, editing, designing book covers, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels that span several continents and thousands of years. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to find their way into her books…to offset her real life, which is blessedly ordinary. You can learn more about her and her stories at

CONNECT WITH ROSEANNA: Website | Facebook Twitter | Instagram


Writing each book is always an adventure…one that always comes with fun and behind-the-scenes that never make it into the finished product or that readers might not know. I always love to share some of them though! Here are a few things you might not otherwise know about On Wings of Devotion.

When I first developed the character of Arabelle, she was a pampered daughter of a plantation owner in Jamaica, gorgeous and a bit shallow. In a second story I’d tried her in, she lost the stunning beauty but became an heiress with a distant father and a mother who always thought she should spend her inheritance (from an aunt) on the rest of the family. In this version, her father’s the only relative she has left in the world, but she herself is very much like Version 2.

Arabelle’s adventurer father was partly inspired by a book I was reading to my kids, Twenty-One Balloons. It’s all about a retired teacher who intends to take a leisurely hot-air balloon trip around the world and ends up on Krakatoa when it erupts—an adventure he ends up reporting to an Explorer’s Club. I loved the idea of an explorer character!

When I first developed the character of Camden, he was a pirate instead of a pilot.

The life expectancy of a Royal Flying Corp pilot in World War 1 was only a few months! By surviving the whole war, Cam was definitely an anomaly.

In each of the previous stories I created for Ara and Cam, Arabelle begins it engaged to a man named Brax…with whom Cam has a bone to pick so decides to kidnap his fiancΓ©e. In the previous ideas, this was the bulk of the story—is this final version, it becomes merely a means of introduction.

For my birthday last year, my best friend sent me a recreation of a historical map of London, perfect for my settings! And for Christmas, my husband framed and hung it for me.

On Wings of Devotion is the only book in The Codebreakers series that has two fully English main characters—no foreign languages required! (Book 1 has a Belgian heroine and a half-English/half-Spanish hero…book 3 has a Russian hero.)

One of the reasons I chose a Cocker Spaniel as the puppy that would make an appearance in the book is because I have a super-cute knitting pattern for a spaniel and knew I’d enjoy making another one as a giveaway! Her name, however—Cadbury, Caddie for short—was chosen by my fans on Facebook.

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(1) winner will receive a On Wings of Devotion inspired prize pack including a Recreation RFC Pilot Wings pin, a mini globe, Cadbury Chocolate, Caddie the Cocker Spaniel (handmade by Roseanna), and One Seat and Tea Package for an Online Tea Party Book Club with Roseanna (Winner's choice of scheduled dates. Includes treats, loose-leaf tea, and book club goodies. A $25 value! For more information, visit!

Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule shown below. Giveaway will begin at midnight January 7, 2020 and last through 11:59 PM EST on January 14, 2020. US only. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize.
Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

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