Friday, July 16, 2021

A Companion For The Count: Sally Britton

A Companion for the Count
by Sally Britton
Publisher: Pink Citrus Books
Series: Clairvoir Castle Romances
ISBN: 978-1947005297

Finally! I've had Sally Britton on my tbr list for probably about 6 months now. Since I'm new to reading clean fiction, Sally is a new-to-me author. I was sent her book for review! Woo Hoo!

Summary:

Miss Emma Arlen’s position as a companion never included distracting her mistress’s suitors, but when a handsome Italian ambassador arrives determined to find an English bride, Emma happily takes up the cause.


Emma Arlen has spent a decade as a member of the duke’s family, in the position of companion to his daughter and ward to the duke himself. She would do anything to show her support to the ducal family for their love and kindness. When Lady Josephine begs Emma to distract a most determined Sicilian suitor, she agrees at once. How hard can it be to keep one man entertained for a few weeks?

Luca, the Conte di Atella, left his home in the newly formed Kingdom of the Two Sicilies under the direct orders of King Ferdinand I. Luca’s duty as ambassador to England includes everything from negotiating better trade agreements to strengthening the bonds between the two nations. If possible, by marrying a lady of high birth. When he optimistically sets his sights on Lady Josephine, Miss Arlen consistently disrupts his plans. The more time that passes, the more he realizes he does not mind at all.

Continually in the conte’s company, Emma recognizes in him a spirit of adventure and nobility like she has never witnessed before. When the time comes for him to go, will she be able to part with him and keep her heart intact?

My Review:

What an utterly delightful book! This is my first book by the author and I will be back for more! I'll have to go back and read book one and I definitely need to read book three when it comes out this fall.

Can I just say how much I love a book where the parents who are noblemen as well as all of the other connected characters are incredibly nice and caring? It was utterly refreshing! I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop and the really mean characters to show up. I mean it did happen slightly, but not on the scale of most stories I read.

Emma was a wonderfully written character. You couldn't help but like her. She completely had her best friend, Lady Josephine, at the heart of all she did. I liked that she was just herself and never put on airs.
ears
Then there's the Italian, Luca, who is the ambassador to England. He's such an introverted, quiet guy it's hard to believe he's an Ambassador. When you learn about his growing up years you begin to understand why he's suited to the job.

It's so great getting to know both of the characters as well as all of the supporting ones. They're the kind of people we all want to hang around. It was delightful getting to know how they lived and how they entertained. There were a couple of really amusing moments through the story.

While Lady Josephine is Luca's goal, she and Sir Andrew spend their time verbally sparring with each other. They cracked me up with how they would goad each other and annoy the life out of each other. The opposite was Emma and Luca. They are pleasant to each other and very sweet without realizing how tender they were being to each other. It was an absolutely fulfilling story!

About the Author:

Sally Britton is a wife, mother, and author who loves the world of romance, received her BA in English from Brigham Young University, and reads voraciously. She started her writing journey at the tender age of fourteen on an electric typewriter, and she's never looked back.

Sally primarily lives in Oklahoma with her husband, four children, and Izzie the Aussie Shepherd. She loves researching, hiking, and eating too much chocolate.

Follow Sally's adventures on Instagram and Facebook, and check out her website!
www.authorsallybritton.com

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Galilee Artza Premium Box

A couple of years ago I finally got the itch to go to Israel. I've been a Christian for 30 years and it's only been recently that I've had a desire to go and see the places Jesus walked and to see holy places. With the world being what it is right now, I don't foresee me or my family going there any time soon. When Artza reached out to me again to see if I'd like to experience their Galilee Artza Box, I felt very blessed!


I had the opportunity to learn more about Artza back in November of last year with their Nazareth box. The wall hanging still graces the wall by my front door, the soap sits on my side table next to my bed because it smells heavenly, and I ate through the Apple, Pomegranate, & Honey Spread like it was going out of style. I'm pretty sure no one even had a chance to sample it after I opened it. Oops.


So, let's chat about the Galilee Artza Premium box! The Premium box gives you an extra an extra hand-crafted gift. For instance, with the Galilee Premium box I also received a hand crafted Mosaic making kit. The "basic" box doesn't come with this feature. If you sign up for Artza, they send a box out quarterly. For the Premium box, you can either pay $94.99 seasonally or pay an annual amount and save 10%!

Here are the items that I received in my box. The first item that stood out to me was Itamar Even's custom designed and handmade ceramic bowl. The turquoise caught my attention as soon as I opened the box. I love that there a fish and bread loaf etched inside the bowl as a reminder of the fishes and loaves story. This will definitely hold trinkets. Ok, maybe not "definitely". It'll probably find a coveted spot on my bookshelves and you'll see it in my future bookstagram photos.


I'm also going to fess up right now. I used the olive oil immediately. Did not pass "Go" and did not collect $200. I just pulled it out and made a quinoa and kale lunch for myself. It's one of my favorite recipes and this olive oil added a delicious flavor. Sindyanna of Galilee is the only certified Fair-Trade olive oil producer in Israel! They've even won  multiple international awards! I can see why! My husband LOVES cooking with olive oil and now he's going to want to use this olive oil in all of his recipes.


To stick with the food theme, I've recently gone on a kick again about hummus. I'm trying to find ways to be a healthier eater. Seriously I am. In fact, this is how dorky I am. On the way to Minnesota on the 3rd I was sitting, waiting for my plane, when the people across from me pulled out veggies galore and hummus. I decided to ask them about flavor suggestions. HA! Now that I have the Spice Road Farm hummus seasoning, I can venture out and use the recipe that was sent as well. This seasoning blend is actually custom made for Artza!


Next up is the chocolate spread from Tzuf. The Galilee Artza Premium box came right before I left for 8 days in Minnesota so I had enough time to grab photos and look through the box, but haven't had time to sample anything. Doesn't "Nectar Spread" sound amazing? I mean, I'm a gardener and my nectar garden for my bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds brings me great delight. I have a feeling this Nectar Spread will as well! Oh, and it's vegan!


Moving on from food, take a look at these gorgeous hand-dipped candles by Safed Candles. I have a feeling if I were to visit Galilee I'd end up spending a LOT of time in their shop. I always find candles to be so fascinating, especially if they're hand-dipped. They're never exactly the same. Now, I get that the point of having candles is to burn them, but these are serious too beautiful to burn. Shhhh don't tell them I'm not using them as intended. These, too, will probably grace my bookshelves and you'll see them in future photos!

When we travel places, and I don't know how this happens, I'm always drawn to soaps and scrubs. If you were to ask my husband, he'd confirm this for you! The only problem is, I get them and love them so much, I don't want to use them. I know, much like the candles. I DO end up using soaps and scrubs though. Michal Soaps lemon-lime body scrub will definitely be used!


In Israel there's a local game maker called Family Nature Games. This card game for the whole family will help reinforce and teach about Christ's journey in the Holy Land. What I liked about the cards, and I think this is such a brilliant feature, is the map on each of the cards. You'll have to order the box to see the cards to understand why I'm digging them.


And as an added piece to Premium box, subscribers will get Holy Land Mosaics. It's a DIY kit to make a design of your own creation or follow one of their patterns. These are natural stones and once you create your design, you can either glue them to a frame following the pattern or come up with other ideas on how to display your creation. You could also just play around with them coming up with creative new designs over and over.



Do you have a favorite item from this box? If you went to Galilee, what artisanal or handmade item would you pick to bring home? Something altogether different?

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Far Above Rubies by Jolyn Canty & GIVEAWAY

Far Above Rubies JustRead Blog Tour 

Welcome to the Blog Tour for Far Above Rubies by Jolyn Canty, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours! I received the ebook for review and the following is my personal opinion.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Far Above Rubies: The Story of Louisa MacDonald

Title: Far Above Rubies: The Life of Louisa MacDonald
Author: Jolyn Canty
Publisher: Azure Star LLC
Release Date: April 14, 2021
Genre: Biography

Her husband—a friend to Mark Twain, mentor to Lewis Carroll, and the man C.S. Lewis called his “master”—was one of the greatest Christian writers of the Victorian era. She was his hidden gem, the bulwark and bastion on which he could lean. Though she was an accomplished musician and singer, an advocate for the poor and neglected, and a published author, she didn’t need the spotlight, but was content to be her husband’s biggest fan and companion. She bore eleven children and adopted and cared for several others. Enduring hardships few of us will ever experience, this petite woman faced them with courage and strength. Her name was Louisa MacDonald.

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound



My Review:

Ok, this is one of those instances where we can't judge a book by its cover. I know that sounds terrible about the cover, but not knowing anything about George MacDonald, it initially did grab me. So, if I didn't know anything about George, I definitely didn't know anything about Louisa. This book certainly changed that for me and now I want to know them more.

I think when we read so many fictional stories about life in the 1800s we see it through a tainted view. Yes, there were hardships for the characters, but after reading about the lives of the MacDonalds' I see that I had a very skewed idea of that time period. Far Above Rubies opened my eyes up in so many ways.

Getting to know Louisa certainly humbled me and had me taking more than a double look at my life with my husband and children. Her devotion to her husband and family were remarkable, but even more so, her desire to lift the name of God was even greater. The author really brought Louisa to life as well as George.

First, I was shocked at how long she waited to marry him. Wow! But, they were so focused on making sure George was about the business of God, how could they do any less? And then their kids. Eleven kids is mind blowing enough, but when you read about their health issues it's a wonder she was able to have so many. On top of that, taking in 4 other children to raise was just incredible to me. The amount of times George was sick - starting before they even got married - shocked me. Makes me very thankful for all the medical advances we are privileged to have in this day and age.

Second, I couldn't believe how often they moved around! Whether it was from the utterly lack of finances or their poor health, they weren't in one place very long. Reading about all of the countries George visited for speaking engagements or work was surprising. And if we think about it, they didn't get to just hop on a plane and come back after a long weekend. Weeks and months would go by without them being together. Speaking of which, how often they'd leave a child or a few with family members while being gone for months at a time made my jaw drop! I couldn't even imagine!

The hardships they had to endure just tore at my heart, but God was so incredibly faithful to them through it all. The story was written beautifully in showing God's bountiful love for them, but the way they always sought to put God first, for His name to be lifted high, I can't imagine a married couple in this day and age who are/were so singularly minded with this goal at the forefront of everything they did. Oh to live with hearts like theirs.

While George seemed like a very tunnel vision kind of man, I found certain things funny about him. Like the fact that he grew a beard and it caused issues with his father-in-law! hahaha I mean, think of the times. Also how unbecoming it was back then to have a family performing plays. It just wasn't done back then, but Louisa really didn't have much of a choice when it came to finding ways to bring in an income. Although, time and again God provided for them in incredible ways.

I also had no idea that George was such a prolific writing. While I've heard his name before, I've never read anything by him. And while the author shares snippets of his writing, it's such old language it's hard for me to grasp it and I'm terrible when it comes to imagining what an author is trying to say without really saying it. It's clear back in the 1800s that his writing was well received (mostly) and people were able to grasp the meaning of what he wrote, but I found it difficult. I do want to give a couple of his books a read. Just to see if I can grasp them.

I could go on and on about everything they endured, the people they built connections and friendships with, and how God used them in so many ways. If I did that, I'd basically be writing another book. I'm glad I gave the book a go because it was a wonderful story about an amazing couple.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jolyn Canty

Jolyn Canty is the wife to her beloved Earle, the mother of six, and the adoring Nana of three grandchildren. She is a talented artist, a passionate quilter, and a long-time devotee of George MacDonald.

CONNECT WITH JOLYN: Facebook

TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) winner will receive a signed copy of Far Above Rubies by Jolyn Canty and a $25 Amazon gift card!

Far Above Rubies JustRead Giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight July 6, 2021 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on July 13, 2021. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. Print copy US only. Ebook and gift card available for international where available. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE


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

JustRead Publicity Tours 

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Then Came You By Susan May Warren & Rachel D. Russell

Then Came You
by Susan May Warren & Rachel D. Russell
Publisher: Sunrise Publishing
Series: Deep Haven Collection
ISBN: 978-1953783080

I have found the Deep Haven Collection to be a super refreshing series that I just can't get enough of! I was able read Then Came You as an ebook.

Summary:

He doesn't need any trouble. She can't seem to escape it. 

Detective Daniel "Boone" Buckam is more than burned out. After fourteen stellar years on the job, one bad judgment call-and, fine, a whole lot of cynicism-has forced him into a mandatory vacation in Deep Haven. If he can get his head on straight, there's a job as Police Chief waiting for him back in his Minneapolis suburb. And then, he meets Vivien. 

Actress Vivien Calhoun isn't really a drama queen. Sure, she gets swept up in the emotions of life-but please, she's an actress. Or, um, was until a stalker made her flee the bright lights of Broadway. Now, she's passionate about directing her local theater production. But when she accidentally ropes an uptight police detective on vacation into her cast, she can't help but wonder if he might be the leading man she's always longed for. 

Boone can't help but like Vivien. He might even have a type-vivacious and bubbly, with a penchant for attracting danger. He can smell trouble even if she can't, and is pretty sure her stalker has hunted her all the way to Deep Haven. He'll have to stay by her side-even if it means being in her silly play-to keep her safe. But Vivien is more than he expected as she helps him discover a part of him he's locked away...the part that said he could never love again. 

It's summertime in Deep Haven, and the fun is heating up in this laugh-out-loud, charming story.


My Review:

Wow! This was SUCH a great story! I absolutely adored getting to know Boone! I hadn't read any of the books Boone had been in with PJ, but I didn't feel like I had missed too much getting to know him now in this book. I DO want to go read the PJ Sugar stories now, though!

So, I love Vivien! I can understand why everyone falls under her spell. She's has such a magnetic personality. And the book starts off with her magnetism benefiting her greatly in a very awkward situation.

The way she and Boone meet is one of the best meet-cutes I've read! From there, things go from fast to faster. lol Boone is away from the Cities for a forced vacation. It's easy to tell how he's struggling with the way his life has been going. The way Vivien looks at him, you can also tell he's in fine form!

I felt so terrible for Vivien. There's mystery and suspense to this story because it seems someone is trying to ruin her life. It seems like any time Viv gets a grasp on things going good, everything comes crashing down.

There are definitely some amusing moments in the story. Viv tries to play matchmaker at one point. That was highly amusing as a reader. To balance that out, there were some peeling back of the layers of what Vivien and Boone had each struggled with in their lives.

Needless to say, this was a VERY satisfying story! Boone and Vivien are two wonderful characters and you can't beat visiting Deep Haven whenever given the chance!

About the Authors:

Rachel D. Russell is a member of Oregon Christian Writers, My Book Therapy's Novel Academy, and is a regular contributor to the Learn How to Write a Novel blog. When Rachel's not cheering on one of her two teens at sporting events, she's often interrogating her husband on his own military and law enforcement experience to craft believable heroes in uniform. The rest of her time is spent cantering her horse down the Oregon trails and redirecting her three keyboard-hogging cats.

Visit Rachel's website at www.racheldrussell.com.

With over 1 million books sold, critically acclaimed novelist Susan May Warren is the Christy, RITA and Carol award-winning author of over seventy-five novels with Revell, Tyndale, Barbour, Steeple Hill and Summerside Press. Known for her compelling plots and unforgettable characters, Susan has written contemporary and historical romances, romantic-suspense, thrillers, rom-com and Christmas novellas. 

With books translated into eight languages, many of her novels have been ECPA and CBA bestsellers, were chosen as Top Picks by Romantic Times, and have won the RWA's Inspirational Reader's Choice contest and the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award.

Of her books, Publisher's Weekly has written, "Warren lays bare her characters' human frailties, including fear, grief, and resentment, as openly as she details their virtues of love, devotion, and resiliency. She has crafted an engaging tale of romance, rivalry, and the power of forgiveness."  

And Library Journal adds, "Warren's characters are well-developed and she knows how to create a first rate contemporary romance..." 

Susan is also a nationally acclaimed writing coach, teaching at conferences around the nation and winner of the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Mentor of the Year award. She loves to help people launch their writing careers and is the founder of Novel.Academy and www.LearnHowtoWriteaNovel.com, a writing website that helps authors get published and stay published. She's also the author of the popular writing method, The Story Equation.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Bookish Items From Once Upon A Page Designs

This past year I've gotten to know some really neat people and small business owners on Instagram. One of the people/small business owners I've connected with is Alissa who owns Once Upon a Page Designs. I was SO surprised when she asked me to be a rep for her business! I never felt like my bookstagram was one worthy of repping for anyone, so with that offer, how could I refuse?!


Well, the fact that the items she creates are AMAZING, I wouldn't have said, "No," even if I were a huge instagrammer. HA! Alissa is incredibly talented and creative. Both come through not only in her bookstagram photos, but also in her bookish crafts. She takes old books and makes them into amazing creations such as:

  • candles
  • necklaces
  • book planters
  • ornaments
  • and wreaths
Wondering what kind of characters or books she uses for her creations? Well, just about everything you can imagine! Just to whet your whistle, she uses books like: Anne of Green Gables, Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Naria, and Pride & Prejudice just to name a few.


Here's a Q & A with Alissa:

1. When did you start crafting bookish items?

I started crafting bookish items in 2017! I had a good full-time position but wanted to make some extra money to travel. Working as a cashier on the weekends on top of my regular 40+ hours a week was not great. My mom and I talked about different ideas for businesses, and it was her idea to try to make book page wreaths. I loved the idea because it two of my favorite things: combined books and art! I set up my shop in 2017 and have come a long way since then. I started with wreaths and now have so many different bookish items in my shop, and I am always coming up with new ideas! 

2. What made you think of taking pages to books that are falling apart and making something beautiful out of them?

Like I said, this business started as a way to work with books and art to make a bit of extra money. I think the original idea came from my Mom seeing something on Pinterest. When I first started, I was thinking of just using random recycled books to make wreaths. After a while, I thought to myself: “What if I used stories people love and cherish? Then they would connect with my art so much more!” I took the idea and started using widely beloved books and featuring favorite names, quotes, titles, and illustrations. I moved beyond just wreaths and started making candles, ornaments, necklaces, flowers, and more!


3. What's your favorite thing to make?

I still love making wreaths the most! I love trying different styles with different books. I have used everything from old copies of Pride and Prejudice to Disney picture books. I really love coming up with a new wreath idea because it is when I can be most creative. However, I do love making the candles too because I get to flip through my favorite books and find the best scenes and illustrations to feature. 


4. How long does it take you to make a large wreath?

My most popular wreath style takes at least 3 hours to make, but some styles take even more time. People often do not realize the time I put into wreaths to make them special and long-lasting. I take pride in them, especially since they are my favorite thing to make!

5. Do you have a favorite classic book that you turn into one of your creations?

I love making things from The Chronicles of Narnia! My love of Narnia started early with my parents reading them aloud to me really young. Then of course the new movies came out as I was growing up. I still love the old BBC miniseries too, and I can remember watching the giant VHS sets from the library with my parents. I still regularly listen to the radio dramas from Focus on the Family, which are wonderful. I love the representation of Aslan, and his lines can still make me cry.  It is my favorite series, so I absolutely love featuring it in my art!



6. Do you ever make specialized orders for people?

Of course! I love creating custom orders! If there is a book you love, I can find it and turn it into art for you. Just reach out to me and we can set it up! I can also use other paper like maps, letters, wrapping paper, etc.  One of my favorite custom orders was a wreath made from some letters from a Mother to her daughter. That was a precious project, and I loved it.

Take time to look through all of the goodies she makes! You will absolutely LOVE whatever you order!

 
Creative Commons License
Woven by Words by Mimi B is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.