☕ Book Break ☕ |~How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry~

~How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry~

I have a soft spot for books set in bookshops, and books set in the Cotswolds! I like being able to see glimpses into the everyday lives of people and the culture. There’s just something about it.
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Emilia has promised her father to keep the Nightingale Bookshop open. After he passes away, she realizes the shop is in financial trouble. They need infusions of more than cash, they need fresh ideas, updates, and all manner of complications arise. Of course there is a pushy property developer waiting in the wings, salivating in anticipation of Emillia’s failure.
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It was enjoyable. The pace was relaxed, but not in a bad way. There was plenty going on, and a delightful cast of characters. The setting has charm galore. A little romance and a few heartbreaks. .
Veronica Henry skillfully knit the novel together, even though the characters each had their own separate stories to tell. A feel good read.

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☕ Book Break ☕ |~The Secret to Hummingbird Cake by Celeste Fletcher McHale~

~The Secret to Hummingbird Cake by Celeste Fletcher McHale~

“It wasn’t a person’s age that made death sad. It was the size of the absence it caused in the ones left behind.”

This book has all the feels. The story is set in the same part of the country as Steel Magnolias, which I feel should be required viewing for anyone who is breathing, and it has a little bit of the same flavor, with sassy southern women. The characters face adversity with a dash of humor and grace.

I loved the the authentic setting and characters. I was surprised it was categorized as Christian fiction. While there is mention of church and God and the main character, Carrigan, has many questions about God’s will, it doesn’t read like inspirational fiction. I would identify it more along the lines as southern fiction or women’s contemporary.

Friendship is an important theme in this novel, and Celeste Fletcher McHale paints a lovely picture of true and lasting friendship between three women. It makes one long for the faithfulness and resilience of lifelong friends. I found myself chuckling and crying as I read about these three women. .
We are given an epilogue at the end of the story, however I would love to see additional novels about these characters.

Beautifully written and completely enjoyable. I look forward to reading more by this author.

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☕ Book Break ☕ |~The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas~

~The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas~

“Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.” “What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”

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Sixteen year old Starr is a witness to a police shooting. It is the second time she has watched a friend die from being shot. Starr must choose between silence or speaking out, putting herself, her family, and her community in danger.

This is a must read book. Emotionally charged, this book draws a clear picture of the experiences and point of view of too many of our citizens. I think it can help readers understand what is going on in our society today. Deeply thought-provoking, this novel is one I highly recommend. .
The first time I picked this book up I only read a couple of pages before putting it back down without ever reading the book description. This was before it became popular. I’m glad I revisited it. This one makes me think I should probably not be so quick in my book selections.

Finely crafted, important work. Recommended.

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Interview with YA Author Diana L. Sharples

Running Strong

Flannery Moore rides a dirt bike and can’t remember the last time she wore a dress. She’s also in love with her best friend, Tyler Dorset. While nothing else could make her do so, Flannery decides to change herself into the kind of girl she thinks Tyler would fall for. When her mother is diagnosed with breast cancer, Flannery knows she has to make sacrifices. But will that include giving up on Tyler? Can “less than” ever really be enough?

Available June 29, 2018, through all major outlets.

 

 

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I fist encountered Diana Sharple’s work when I read her young adult novel, Running Lean. The book stuck in my mind. I would hand Running Lean to any young person to read and feel it is a good book to spark conversation about a serious issue many of our teens face. Running Lean is a Christian young adult novel told from the point of view of the boyfriend. Running Strong is the long awaited sequel.

Diana hit a few bumps in the road, but has been working triple time the last year. She has already had one book come out earlier this year, and four more are on the way.

She is an amazing woman. I appreciate her taking time out to come and talk with us.

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You tackled a tough issue in Running Lean. What was your inspiration?

Running Lean and Running Strong were both “born” at the same time. Years ago, I envisioned a series of books following a group of teenagers at a small, rural high school, and for one book I experimented with an ensemble cast, each member of which either modeling or strived toward the attributes described in the Beatitudes from Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. I modeled Stacey’s character and problem around “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Except that Stacey’s hunger and thirst was for an unrealistic standard of beauty which causes her to reject food and water. As I wrote, though, it became apparent that Stacey’s story could not be adequately handled in an ensemble situation. Her story needed to be in the spotlight. (Writing an ensemble piece turned out not to be my best idea, anyway!) Thus I took her, and her devoted boyfriend, Calvin (Blessed are the pure in heart…) and dove headfirst into the research necessary to write a realistic story about a girl suffering with anorexia. I needed to know all the hows and whys, and so that research was extensive, consuming, and often heartbreaking. After that, however, the other stories remained to be told! And out of that first ensemble cast came Tyler (Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness…), and his awkward relationship with one of his best friends. Running Strong has changed considerably since then, but I always envisioned Tyler as a musician hoping to break away from his small, small world, while that world refused to let him go.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about the next titles in the series?

Actually, most of the books I’ve been writing over the years were birthed in that initial series, although I’ve had to make some choices that divided them into different series. Running Strong is a stand-alone sequel to Running Lean, in which the two best friends sort out their awkward relationship and discover more about themselves in the process. (This was a subplot thread intentionally left dangling in Running Lean.) But I needed more than just the fluffy teen drama of a girl falling in love with her best friend. My personal battle with breast cancer gave me the deeper life aspects I needed to explore for the story. And so, the teen drama is interrupted by a parent’s diagnosis, which causes Flannery to realize the sacrifices that sometimes have to be made for love, and Tyler to realize that his small, small world is bigger than his own dreams.

Running Strong is scheduled for publication on June 29, 2018.

Because…Anonymous is the first book in a series of YA mysteries, which takes the bad-boy Romeo from Running Lean, Noah Dickerson, and gives him his own spotlight for growth. While Noah and his mother are in hiding from his alcoholic, abusive father, and Noah is trying to sort out how that negative influence has impacted his own life and personality, he finds himself caught up in a series of mysteries at school. And, of course, there’s always a female crush involved.

Because…Anonymous is available now, and the other two books are coming in the next few months.

And finally, Finding Hero is yet another story that came out of that ensemble cast, but I’ve had to make major changes the characters and the setting, so it is now the first book in its own series. Daniella is a diva forced to move from her artsy environment to a small Appalachian town after her mother inherits a large tract of land there. Devon is a Cherokee boy living in near poverty, whose mother used to work for Daniella’s grandfather. These two have almost nothing in common, but they’re forced together after human remains are found on the Cooper family property, and solving the mystery could send loved ones to jail.

Finding Hero will be available on September 11, 2018, from Clean Reads Publications.

You have several books coming out this year. Do you have a favorite character?

Oh dear, I really do love them all! But I’d have to say that the one character I connect with the most on a personal level—the one that I think is nearest to my own personality—is Flannery from Running Strong. She’s a tomboy, a biker chick, and a romantic dreamer rolled into one. Add red hair and green eyes… yep. You’ve got me in a nutshell. Except I don’t obsessively read cowboy romance novels.

What has been your most challenging project?

The research for Running Lean, as I mentioned above, was heartbreaking and terribly important. I think that book stands above all of my others for the significance of the issue. I believe that body image and self-esteem issues are at the heart of so many problems teenage girls face today. I feel that I barely scratched the surface of the problem of eating disorders, but when I receive an email or message from a young woman who says my book helped her in some way… that is my reward.

However, just from a writing standpoint, the Because… mysteries have proven to be a major challenge! I’ve had to adjust my ways of structuring a plot to accommodate all the subtle clues and miscues and red herrings. It’s a much more complicated method of plotting than I’ve done before!

On a personal level, having been through a battle with breast cancer and having that innate understanding of what Flannery’s mother and her family are going through, Running Strong is the novel that pushed me to dig deepest into myself.

But I think, in order to write compelling stories in any genre, the author has to get personal and find the character’s within herself. Revealing that bit of one’s heart is what connects the story with the reader’s heart.

 

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Thank you Diana!

 

Diana Sharples lives in north Georgia with her husband and daughter, and a house full of rescued pets. She wrote her first teen novel at the age of thirteen. Although she holds a degree in communication design/illustration from the Atlanta College of Art and has won awards for her science fiction and fantasy illustrations, she never lost her love for storytelling. Her debut novel, Running Lean, won several pre-publication awards and was released from Zondervan Books (a division of Harper Collins) in 2013. After a battle against breast cancer, she is resurrecting her career in 2018 with five new books being published. Diana is a motorcycle enthusiast and can be found riding her Harley around the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Visit her website for more news and samples of her artwork, www.dianasharples.com.

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☕ Book Break ☕ |~Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman~

~Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman~

Eleanor is socially awkward. She lives alone, spending her time working, drinking vodka on the weekends, and taking phone calls from Mummy. Raymond is the typical IT guy from the office, sloppy and unorganized. After work one day, they witness an old man, Sammy, as he collapses on the sidewalk and they work together to help him. The three become friends.
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What a beautiful novel. Eleanor is wonderfully quirky, and the author so clearly draws this character that my sympathies were completely in Eleanor’s corner even when her behavior raised the ire of her coworkers. I adored Raymond, who is as clueless as Eleanor in his own way.

This book is entertaining, amusing at times, tragic, and completely worthy of any reader’s time. Eleanor has left little cracks in my heart, and at the same time restored hope. A must read.

Gail Honeyman had me from paragraph one all the way until the last word.❤
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And did I hear this was going to be made into a movie? No way will it be as good as the book, but I’ll be watching, just in case.

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☕ Book Break ☕ | ~When Never Comes by Barbara Davis~

~When Never Comes by Barbara Davis~
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“Integrity isn’t something you have in some parts of your life and not in others. You either have it, or you don’t.” 

Christy Lynn has no troubles. She has survived a troubled youth to become the wife of a best selling crime novelist. She believes her marriage to be an ideal one, until her husband has a car accident, his car ending up in Echo Bay. In the car with him is a half naked blonde.

This book grabbed me from the beginning. A complicated story about a complicated young woman. Her plight tugged at my heart strings, and by the end of the story I wanted her to find her happiness. Christy Lynn learns about her husband’s secret life, and discovers much about herself in the process.

I don’t want to give any spoilers away, but the book ends exactly as a book should.
There is some language in it and some uncomfortable subject matter. The scenes are not explicit, but the main character has had a rough life in the past.

Lovely ending. I was cheering her on. A very satisfying read.

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☕ Book Break ☕ | Open Circle by Stacy Monson

~Open Circle by Stacy Monson~
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I have an ecopy of this book to give away, and Stacy is giving away a signed copy. Link to giveaway details in bio.
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I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. .
Open Circle is an adult daycare center where Minnie Carlson works, and she is tasked with the job of revitalizing it or it will shut down. Jackson Young is a famous photographer who has just learned his Granda Em, who he thought was dead, is alive. He has fond memories of his Grandma Em, but he hasn’t seen since her since was child. Now she is ill, and he drops everything to comes to town. Minnie, not only the director of Open Circle, is an adopted granddaughter of sorts to Em and ha been so for the last twenty years. She is suspicious of Jackson’s sudden appearance into Em’s life.
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This book came at the perfect time. I needed to take a break and this inspirational contemporary was just the thing. I liked it well enough to ask Stacy Monson for an interview! You can read about it on my blog.
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It took me until chapter three to really get into the book, but once I got that far I became involved with the characters. I thoroughly enjoyed the descriptions and the interplay between the different characters in the novel. I was intrigued by the setting.
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If you enjoy Contemporary Christian Romance, you will probably like this book. It is exactly what you would expect for inspirational Christian fiction, hitting all the right notes with no surprises. .
I am glad this novel found its way to me. A good weekend read.
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Giveaway!! I have an ecopy to give away, and Stacy is giving away a signed paper copy. Click —–>>> here for details. Giveaway ends May 31, 2018.

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Giveaway | ☕ Book Break ☕ | ~Open Circle by Stacy Monson~

~Open Circle by Stacy Monson~
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I have an ecopy of this book to give away, and Stacy is giving away a signed copy. A link to giveaway details is at the end of this post.
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I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. .
Open Circle is an adult daycare center where Minnie Carlson works, and she is tasked with the job of revitalizing it or it will shut down. Jackson Young is a famous photographer who has just learned his Granda Em, who he thought was dead, is alive. He has fond memories of his Grandma Em, but he hasn’t seen since her since was child. Now she is ill, and he drops everything to comes to town. Minnie, not only the director of Open Circle, is an adopted granddaughter of sorts to Em and ha been so for the last twenty years. She is suspicious of Jackson’s sudden appearance into Em’s life.
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This book came at the perfect time. I needed to take a break and this inspirational contemporary was just the thing. I liked it well enough to ask Stacy Monson for an interview! You can read about it on my blog.
.
It took me until chapter three to really get into the book, but once I got that far I became involved with the characters. I thoroughly enjoyed the descriptions and the interplay between the different characters in the novel. I was intrigued by the setting.
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If you enjoy Contemporary Christian Romance, you will probably like this book. It is exactly what you would expect for inspirational Christian fiction, hitting all the right notes with no surprises. .
I am glad this novel found its way to me. A good weekend read.
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Giveaway!! I have an ecopy to give away, and Stacy is giving away a signed paper copy. For a link to details click —->>here. Giveaway ends May 31, 2018.

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☕ Book Break ☕ | How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

~How to Stop Time by Matt Haig~
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“A wave can kill you. Or you can ride it. It’s sometimes more dangerous to shy away. You can’t live your life in fear…”
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Tom Hazard has just taken a job as a history teacher, moving back to London. By all appearances he is a mild mannered 41 year old bachelor. He’s actually much older. Much older. How To Stop Time is a science fiction book about…people who age slower than the typical. They live for hundreds of years. Tom has become aware that there are people who wish to harm those like him, and as protection, he has joined a secret society that keeps them safe. But to belong he has to do his part. He gets occasional assignments, and he must never fall in love.

Intriguing beginning. The story switches back and forth in time but I never found it confusing.
It hit just the right balance of mystery, suspense, and action for this reader. I was completely hooked and read it straight through. .
In this book, the characters travel on a personal journey of introspection and enlightenment. Like all good scifi, the novel gets a bit philosophical. Ends on a note of lessons learned and hope for happy possibilities. Well done. Satisfying ending after I had almost given up hope of Tom having one. Scifi is not my usual genre, but this one had me from page one. Excellent storytelling. Some language.
. “In those moments of that burst alive the present lasts forever.”
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“The way you stop time is by stopping being ruled by it. I am no longer drowning in my past, or fearful of my future.”

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Interview With Inspy Author Stacy Monson and Giveaway

This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to CFloyd!

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Mindy Lee “Minnie” Carlson’s dream job has dropped into her hands, but there’s a catch. She has four months to revive Open Circle, the town’s only Senior Adult Day Center, or the doors will close, leaving her beloved seniors stranded, and eliminating the only job she’s ever wanted.

Globe-trotting photographer Jackson Young documents the forgotten people of the world, focusing on the poor and elderly. After decades on the road, he’s stunned to learn his beloved Grandma Em is still alive in the small town he’d had to leave decades earlier.

Overjoyed, Jackson races back into town to reconnect with her and discovers she’s been Minnie’s adopted grandma for the past twenty years. When Grandma Em has a stroke, his ideas about her care pit him against Minnie’s determination and expertise. For Grandma Em’s sake, and the future of Open Circle, they’ll need to do the impossible—find a way to work together.

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As you guys may know, it’s not my policy to agree to review books in exchange for a free copy, but something about this one caught my eye. I can’t say why that is, exactly. This book came to me a perfect time. I needed an inspy and this one fit the bill. As a bonus, I found a new writer friend!

After I read Open Circle, I asked Stacy if she would be willing to do an interview for us, and she said she’d be happy to!

I loved the idea of setting a story in an elder care environment. Can you tell us a little bit about your inspiration for choosing this particular setting?
I started writing Open Circle while my mom was in the midst of her Alzheimer’s journey. It’s such a terrible disease, and yet we experienced moments of joy, even humor through those years. I got to know caregivers, administrators, and other families on a similar journey. I also learned about the wide variety of programs available for families, research, and organizations committed to providing support, encouragement, and education for clients and family members/caregivers. As difficult as the journey was, watching my fiercely independent mother decline over nearly a decade, I was inspired by the people who cared for her, as well as the others like her. She’s been gone nearly 7 years now, which is hard to believe.

What are the main things you want readers to take away from Open Circle?
That everyone deserves respect no matter their age, mental capacity, illness, and that our elders have earned the right to age with dignity, and be loved unconditionally. All of my books have the underlying theme of who we are in Christ; our identity in Him doesn’t change just because we lose our memory, or our bodies get old.
I love the title. Can you tell us what the title means to you and why you chose to name the adult daycare center in your novel Open Circle?

It’s actually the name of an adult day program where my in-laws were involved. I co-facilitated a caregiver support group with Carol, the social worker of that program. I got to know the staff and was immensely impressed with all of them and their programming.

What can we look forward to reading about in your future work?

I have several ideas percolating! What I’m working on right now is a series called My Father’s House, about sisters who discover (as young adults) that they’re adopted. Two of them have been raised as twins. The stories (each book follows one of the sisters on her journey to discover who she “really” is) look at adoption, identity, family, consequences. After that, I’m focusing on a more lighthearted book, perhaps a novella, about online dating.  🙂

My question for all of YOU:  I’d love to know which genres are your favorites. Comment below and you’ll be entered for a chance to win an autographed copy of Open Circle.
My favorite is contemporary (obviously!) but I’ve also grown to love historicals as I know a number of historical authors and appreciate all the work they put into making their stories accurate as well as interesting!

About Stacy

Stacy Monson is the award-winning author of The Chain of Lakes series, including Shattered Image, Dance of Grace, and The Color of Truth. Her stories reveal an extraordinary God at work in ordinary life. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the MN Christian Writers Guild (MCWG), Stacy is the area coordinator for ACFW in Minnesota, past president of ACFW MN-NICE, and is the Events Director for MN Christian Writers Guild. Residing in the Twin Cities, she is the wife of a juggling, unicycling physical education teacher, mom to two amazing kids and two wonderful in-law kids, and a very proud grandma of 3 grands.

For news about upcoming books, contests, giveaways, and other fun stuff – stop by Stacy’s Author Website here. 

To learn about bringing Stacy’s speaking ministry, WINGS, to your event, visit her blog here.

She also on Facebook  Twitter  Instragram and  Pinterest.

Thank you, Stacy!

I struggle to pick a favorite type of fiction. It’s like asking me to go to the buffet and pick one favorite food. I love a good story that makes me laugh or cry. The best ones do both.

OK, ya’ll, we have TWO  Giveaways!

Giveaway ONE

Leave a comment below to enter Stacy’s giveaway for an autographed copy.

Giveaway TWO

As an EXTRA, sign up for my newsletter for a chance to win an ecopy of Open Circle. If you’re on my mailing list and provide a valid email, you are in. One chance for  an ecopy per email valid address, but you can enter BOTH giveaways one and two.

Both giveaways close on May 31.2018.

Linked up at Literacy Musing Mondays #LMMLINKUP.

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