Firestorm by Laura V. Hilton Review and Giveaway

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About the Book

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Title: Firestorm

Author: Laura Hilton

Genre: Christian Amish

Release Date: July, 2018

Bridget Behr and her family migrate from the bustling Amish community where she grew up in Ohio to the mostly unpopulated Upper Peninsula of Michigan after a stalker breaks into their home. While her father and brother try to find work in the area, the family is forced to reside in a borrowed RV until the house and barn are rebuilt. While Bridget is hoping for a fresh start, she’s afraid to trust anyone—even Gabriel, the overly-friendly Amish man who lives nearby. Bridget thinks he’s a flirt who serial dates and doesn’t even remember the girls’ names.

Due to not enough construction work in his Florida community to keep him out of trouble, Gabriel Lapp has been sent to Michigan to work. His father is desperate for his son to settle down. When the family walks into Gabe’s home in the middle of a thunderstorm and he discovers their circumstances, he offers to help with construction. For Gabe, the beautiful girl he teasingly calls “the recluse” once he discovers she doesn’t attend youth events, confuses him like none other.

As Gabriel and Bridget grow closer, they realize there is more to a person than meets the eye. Just as Bridget is finally settling into her new life, and perhaps finding love, tragedy strikes. Now Bridget and her family must decide if they should move to another Amish community, or dare to fight for the future they’d hoped for in Mackinac County.

 

Click here to purchase your copy!

 

My Thoughts

One thing I’ve noticed after reading Amish fiction is that often the characters are very pure and good and seem very different from non-Amish people. This book was very different in that the characters had many flaws and weren’t “perfect”…there was a character with anger issues and the main character thought one of the boys was “really hot”. This was a more realistic depiction of the Amish community in my opinion. The Amish, when stripped of their rules and ways of living, are also imperfect people, just trying to live their lives in a way that is pleasing to the Lord, with issues and stumbling blocks.

I appreciated the realness and “edginess” of the story. I found it to be a nice change from the other Amish fiction I’ve read. I found the challenges that the family went through to be very interesting and original.

There were some surprises along the way, the story was not predictable, which was nice. I also enjoyed reading about a smaller Amish community as most of the Amish stories I’ve read are set in larger communities.

At times I felt the pacing was a bit slow and the story dragged a bit, but overall it was a solid story.

*I received this book from the author/publisher to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

About the Author

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Laura V. Hilton is an award-winning, sought-after author with over twenty Amish, contemporary, and historical romances. When she’s not writing, she reviews books for her blogs, and writes devotionals for blog posts for Seriously Write.

Laura and her pastor-husband have five children and a hyper dog named Skye. They currently live in Arkansas. One son is in the U.S. Coast Guard. She is a pastor’s wife, and homeschools her two youngest children.

When she’s not writing, Laura enjoys reading, and visiting lighthouses and waterfalls. Her favorite season is winter, her favorite holiday is Christmas.

 

Guest Post from Laura Hilton

I read a series of books a year or so ago by another Amish author who had set her books in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. As a Michigan native, I was curious, and I researched, but found nothing about Upper Peninsula Amish except a notation that one had tried and failed. So I contacted the author. She told me that she’d never been there, and her research had all been hearsay, so with that lack of firsthand knowledge and no trip to the Upper Peninsula planned, no trip to see for myself would be possible. At least at that time.

Then God intervened. My son who is in the United States Coast Guard was stationed in the Upper Peninsula this past summer (2017.) He saw the Amish driving around in their buggies. And he felt like a stalker as he followed one to see where he went and drove through the area. He even sent pictures. (Shhhh.)

Yes, there are Amish in the Upper Peninsula – at least at the time this book was written.

Okay, as a Michigan native, I used some terms that may not be familiar to non-Michiganders. A Yooper is someone who lives in the Upper Peninsula. A Troll is someone from the Lower Peninsula. A pastie is kind of like a Hot Pocket, except it’s a meat pie made with root vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, and rutabagas. They are so good. And the straits are the area of the Great Lakes connecting Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

As for the wildfire, the earliest wildfire I could find any documentation on in the Upper Peninsula was in April. It is generally a snowy area — trust me. I lived near the Muskegon area and saw snow drifts in May. We sometimes had over six feet of snow on the ground at one time. So, to get the wildfire when I wanted/needed the wildfire I used artistic license. Yes, fires really happened in Michigan’s history. Just not in the month mentioned in the book.

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I am attaching a meme about Michigan seasons. We’ll call the fire set in “fool’s spring.” My son got married during the “third winter” this year. April 21 and there’s snow on the ground. He and his beautiful bride got married at a water fall (Tahquomenon Falls) very near where the story is set.

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Thanks for reading Firestorm!!

Blog Stops

Carpe Diem, July 10

Blogging With Carol, July 10

Reading Is My SuperPower, July 11

Moments Dipped in Ink, July 11

The Avid Reader, July 12

Blossoms and Blessings, July 12

Texas Book-aholic, July 12

God’s Little Bookworm, July 13

Inklings and notions, July 13

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 13

Among the Reads, July 14

Because I said so- adventures in parenting, July 14

Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner, July 15

Random Thoughts From a Bookworm, July 15

A Reader’s Brain, July 16

Luv’N Lambert Life, July 16

Daysong Reflections, July 17

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, July 17

Janices book reviews, July 17

Inspiration Clothesline, July 18

lady ansel book blog, July 18

Jeanette’s Thoughts, July 18

cherylbbookblog, July 19

Two Points of Interest, July 19

A Baker’s Perspective, July 19

Pause for Tales, July 20

Ashley’s bookshelf, July 20

amandainpa, July 21

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, July 21

Bigreadersite, July 21

proud to be an autism mom, July 22

Bibliophile Reviews, July 22

For The Love of Books, July 23

Pink Granny’s Journey, July 23

Little Homeschool on the Praire, July 23

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Laura is giving away

Grand prize: Firefighter Puppet 9 (Melissa & Doug), Copies of Amish Firefighter and Firestorm by Laura Hilton.

First place prize of “I Love You to the Cross & Back” Mug (Gardenfire) & Firestorm by Laura Hilton!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/cf87/firestorm-celebration-tour-giveaway

Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne Bischof Review

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About the Book

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Title: Sons of Blackbird Mountain

Author: Joanne Bischof

Genre: Historical Romance

After the tragic death of her husband, Aven Norgaard is beckoned to give up her life in Norway to become a housekeeper in the rugged hills of Nineteenth-Century Appalachia. Upon arrival, she finds herself in the home of her late husband’s cousins—three brothers who make a living by brewing hard cider on their three-hundred acre farm. Yet even as a stranger in a foreign land, Aven has hope to build a new life in this tight-knit family.

But her unassuming beauty disrupts the bond between the brothers. The youngest two both desire her hand, and Aven is caught in the middle, unsure where—and whether—to offer her affection. While Haakon is bold and passionate, it is Thor who casts the greatest spell upon her. Though Deaf, mute, and dependent on hard drink to cope with his silent pain, Thor possesses a sobering strength.

As autumn ushers in the apple harvest, the rift between Thor and Haakon deepens and Aven faces a choice that risks hearts. Will two brothers’ longing for her quiet spirit tear apart a family? Can she find a tender belonging in this remote, rugged, and unfamiliar world?

A haunting tale of struggle and redemption, Sons of Blackbird Mountain is a portrait of grace in a world where the broken may find new life through the healing mercy of love.

My Thoughts:

I don’t use this phrase often,  but this book gave me “all the feels”. Joanne Bischof is a master storyteller. There were moments when I laughed out loud and moments where tears were in my eyes as I read this beautiful tale.

The characters in this story are very richly developed. They are flawed and real in a way that made me feel for them more than most fictional characters I read about.

The inclusion of a person who is deaf was very interesting. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to be in that isolation of a silent world. The author’s descriptions of what this character’s life is like were very good. She brought to attention things that I had never thought about…not only the character’s experiences but also his emotions.

The romance, (ah, the romance!) in this book was one of my favorite love stories. It was beautiful and never felt rushed or forced. Can I say that I have my first official book boyfriend?

The historical setting was very descriptive….taking place in 1890, soon after the Civil War ended, there was a lot of turmoil in Virginia, where this book is set. The author never sugar coats the facts of that time period and I appreciate that as I feel that history should be remembered so that it isn’t repeated.

I loved this book. I was immersed in the story and the lives of the characters. It is definitely a story that will stay with me and a favorite read of 2018. I highly recommend it!

*I received this book from the author/publisher to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

About the Author

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JOANNE BISCHOF is an ACFW Carol Award and ECPA Christy Award-winning author. She writes deeply layered fiction that tugs at the heartstrings. She was honored to receive the San Diego Christian Writers Guild Novel of the Year Award in 2014 and in 2015 was named Author of the Year by the Mount Hermon conference. Joanne’s 2016 novel, The Lady and the Lionheart, received an extraordinary 5 Star TOP PICK! from RT Book Reviews, among other critical acclaim. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her three children. Visit her online at JoanneBischof.com, Facebook: Author, JoanneBischof, Instagram: @JoanneBischof.

Guest Video from Joanne Bischof

Blog Stops

Genesis 5020, July 5

Carpe Diem, July 5

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, July 5

All-of-a-kind Mom, July 6

The Power of Words, July 6

Among the Reads, July 6

Fiction Aficionado, July 7

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, July 7

A Baker’s Perspective, July 7

History, Mystery & Faith, July 8

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, July 8

Luv’N Lambert Life, July 8

Cordially Barbara, July 9

Kathleen Denly, July 9

Reading Is My SuperPower, July 9

Faithfully Bookish, July 10

Christian Bookshelf Reviews, July 10

Simple Harvest Reads, July 10 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Novels corner, July 11

Inklings and notions, July 11

Just Commonly, July 11

Two Points of Interest, July 11

Maureen’s Musings, July 12

Book by Book, July 12

To Everything A Season, July 12

Inspiration Clothesline, July 13

With a Joyful Noise, July 13

Pause for Tales, July 13

Radiant Light, July 13

The Christian Fiction Girl, July 14

Remembrancy, July 14

proud to be an autism mom, July 14

Just the Write Escape, July 15

Bibliophile Reviews, July 15

Vicky sluiter, July 15

By The Book, July 16

Texas Book-aholic, July 16

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 16

Janices book reviews, July 17

Jeanette’s Thoughts, July 17

Bigreadersite, July 17

Connie’s History Classroom, July 18

amandainpa, July 18

Seasons of Opportunities, July 18

Reader’s cozy corner, July 18

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Joanne is giving away

Grand prize of a country crate, a jar of apple butter, a bag of gummy berries, journal, bath salts, honey spoons, copper earrings, and a blackbird sign!!

Click below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d140/sons-of-blackbird-mountain-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

The Last Summer by Brandy Bruce Review and Giveaway

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About the Book

The Last Summer

Genre:  Contemporary, Inspirational, Romance
Publisher: Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas
Publication date: June 2017

A group of seven friends navigate relationships and personal growth during a season of change.

GOODREADS | AMAZON

About the Author

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Brandy Bruce is a mom, a wife, a book editor, an author, and someone who really loves dessert. She’s the author of the award-winning novel The Last SummerLooks Like Love, and The Romano Family Collection. Brandy, her husband, and their children make their home in Colorado.

FACEBOOK | TWITTER | PINTEREST | INSTAGRAM | BLOG

My Thoughts

This book had a realistic depiction of friendship that can be difficult to find in fiction. The friendships in this book are tight knit but not lacking some conflict and angst. I’ve always wished to be part of a group of friends like the one in The Last Summer.

The characters in the story were all well defined…so much so that I could probably guess who was speaking by only reading their dialogue.

I originally thought that this would be a Young Adult book but was pleasantly surprised to find that the characters were in their early 20s. I enjoyed reading about that age group as the characters were looking to find marriage partners and start families. I also could remember the days of being that age with my husband as newlyweds (I was married at 21), and not really fitting into a group at church. Because of this, I had to chuckle when Lily and Sam were reluctant to move from the Singles class to the Young Marrieds class 🙂

This book was a great read, I was biting my nails throughout, wondering how it could end.

The faith content in the book was great. It was so nice to see a young couple staying in separate bedrooms/apartments when staying overnight somewhere. I also loved the references to scripture and how God fixes broken things.

There were a lot of references to the state of Texas, which made the story fun, but the phrase “Texas, Y’all” got a bit monotonous to me.

Overall, I really loved this story. The writing flowed easily and I read the whole book in 1 day. I highly recommend it!

*I received this book from the author/ publisher to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Giveaway

TLS summer pack giveaway

Enter the giveaway HERE.

Giveaway package includes the following: summer swag (beach towl, flip flops, sunglasses, bookmark, and candy) & winner’s choice of a print or e-copy of the book.

Giveaway open to US residents only and ends 11:59pm MT on July 21st.

Giveaway is subject to policies HERE.

Tour Schedule

July 16-Jorie Loves A Story | Joy of Reading  | amandainpa
July 17- Paulette’s Papers  | The Power of Words
July 18-Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic | Pause for Tales | Among the Reads
July 19-Book by Book | Edits and Reviews by Leslie | The Green Mockingbird
July 20-Heidi Reads… | Reading Is My SuperPower | Why Not? Because I Said So!
July 21-Remembrancy | Katie’s Clean Book Collection

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Aaru by David Meredith Review

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Synopsis:

Rose is dying. Her body is wasted and skeletal. She is too sick and weak to move. Every day is an agony and her only hope is that death will find her swiftly before the pain grows too great to bear.

She is sixteen years old.

Rose has made peace with her fate, but her younger sister, Koren, certainly has not. Though all hope appears lost Koren convinces Rose to make one final attempt at saving her life after a mysterious man in a white lab coat approaches their family about an unorthodox and experimental procedure. A copy of Rose’s radiant mind is uploaded to a massive super computer called Aaru – a virtual paradise where the great and the righteous might live forever in an arcadian world free from pain, illness, and death. Elysian Industries is set to begin offering the service to those who can afford it and hires Koren to be their spokes-model.

Within a matter of weeks, the sisters’ faces are nationally ubiquitous, but they soon discover that neither celebrity nor immortality is as utopian as they think. Not everyone is pleased with the idea of life everlasting for sale.
What unfolds is a whirlwind of controversy, sabotage, obsession, and danger. Rose and Koren must struggle to find meaning in their chaotic new lives and at the same time hold true to each other as Aaru challenges all they ever knew about life, love, and death and everything they thought they really believed.

My Thoughts:

The synopsis of this book piqued my interest and it definitely did not disappoint. Immortality is something that I think everyone thinks about from time to time and this book explores this possibility in a unique way of downloading your persona onto a massive super computer called “Aaru”.

The story was very well done…the writing flowed very smoothly and I was engaged from the first page to the last. It had some unexpected moments and ended in a way that would satisfy but also leaves me wanting more (book 2, Aaru, Halls of Hel is advertised to be released in 2018).

The characters were interesting. I did find it difficult to be on board with Koren being  only 13 or 14 years old, based on the lack of parental supervision and some of the things that happened to her (although I realize that this does happen).

Rose was a sweet character and I loved seeing the virtual world through her eyes. I did find some of the concepts of Aaru to be a bit confusing at times but overall the world building was solid.

This is not a Christian fiction book, so there was some cursing and some references to Heaven and God that I didn’t agree with.

Overall, this was a nice change from the contemporary stories I’ve been immersed in lately. It had a mixture of many genres…fantasy, thriller, horror, mystery, and romance.

My Rating:

4 stars

I received this book from the author to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

When Through Deep Waters by Rachelle Dekker Review

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Synopsis:

Alicen McCaffrey finally has the life her mother always dreamed for her: beautiful home in Santa Monica, successful husband, adorable daughter. Then tragedy blows her carefully assembled facade to pieces. Worse yet–Alicen feels solely responsible. At rock bottom, she decides to accompany a childhood friend back to Red Lodge, Montana, where they spent summers together as kids.

The peaceful mountain landscape, accented with lush forests and small-town charm, brings back happy memories of time spent with her beloved, eccentric Grandma Josephine. Alicen begins to hope that perhaps things could be different here. Perhaps the oppressive guilt will lift–if only for a moment.

But when Alicen starts hearing voices and seeing mysterious figures near the river in the woods, she begins to fear she’s completely lost her sanity, as it’s rumored her grandmother did. Or might there be more to Red Lodge than meets the eye? Could the voices and visions be real–and her only means of finding the healing she so desperately needs? Or will they prove to be her final undoing?

My Thoughts:

This is a difficult book to review because I have many mixed feelings about it. I didn’t really know what to expect when I started reading it, based on the synopsis and it was definitely different than anything I’ve read before.

It almost felt like the author was adding elements of magical realism to the story and trying to fit them into the story of salvation but to me, it didn’t quite work. The theology behind some of the things said and seen in the story just didn’t make sense. I’m not a fan of magical realism/paranormal aspects so this probably had a lot to do with my feelings towards the book.

I liked the character of Alicen and felt that her grieving process seemed very realistic. I also found the descriptions of how depression felt as very accurate. I also loved the friendship she shared with Louise and the support she received from her.

The story moved very fast and I found myself flying through the pages. Unfortunately, I just felt like some elements of the story were confusing and a bit strange. It wasn’t the book for me.

My Rating: 2.5 stars

I received this book from the publisher to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Hunter and the Valley of Death by Brennan S. McPherson Review

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Synopsis:

Experience the psalms like never before–through thought-provoking fiction. 
A man wakes up in the Valley of Death and realizes he’s given up everything, including his memories, to attempt to kill Death so that he can bring his wife back to life. But when he fails, who will be there to rescue him?
The Hunter and the Valley of Death is a profound meditation on life, death, loss, and love. Formatted as a fantasy parable on the topic of surrender, this story shows that there is only One who could kill Death–and because of him, and him alone, we say, “Oh, Death, where is your sting?” 

My Thoughts:

This small book packed a lot of punch! The story is a fantasy parable relating to Psalm 23 and many other stories of the Bible.

Told in a fantasy style, the story moves at a swift pace and the reader travels with The Hunter through many places and encounters many creatures along the way.

The symbolism is easy to decipher for those familiar with the Bible. The story is packed with symbols, many that are subtle, so this book would be great for re-reading as new things would be discovered with each read.

It took a bit for me to get invested in the story but once I was hooked, I couldn’t put it down. The descriptions were very vivid and the story was hard hitting. I went through a vast range of emotions when reading the story, from sadness and remorse, to joy and thankfulness.

This would be an excellent story to use in Bible studies and small groups. There are author’s notes at the end that explain the symbolism and how the story relates to the Bible, specifically to Psalm 23. The author’s love for Christ and the scripture truly shines through and I am thankful to have had the opportunity to read this book.

This is the first book in a series (the Psalm series) by various authors and I am eagerly awaiting the release of the next story.

My Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from the author to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Just Let Go by Courtney Walsh Review and Giveaway

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About the Book

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Title: Just Let Go

Author: Courtney Walsh

Release Date: June 5, 2018

Genre: Contemporary Romance

For Quinn Collins, buying the flower shop in downtown Harbor Pointe fulfills a childhood dream, but also gives her the chance to stick it to her mom, who owned the store before skipping town twenty years ago and never looking back. Completing much-needed renovations, however, while also competing for a prestigious flower competition with her mother as the head judge, soon has Quinn in over her head. Not that she’d ever ask for help.

Luckily, she may not need to. Quinn’s father and his meddling friends find the perfect solution in notorious Olympic skier Grady Benson, who had only planned on passing through the old-fashioned lakeside town. But when a heated confrontation leads to property damage, helping Quinn as a community-service sentence seems like the quickest way out—and the best way to avoid more negative press.

Quinn finds Grady reckless and entitled; he thinks she’s uptight and too regimented. Yet as the two begin to hammer and saw, Quinn sees glimpses of the vulnerability behind the bravado, and Grady learns from her passion and determination, qualities he seems to have lost along the way. But when a well-intentioned omission has devastating consequences, Grady finds himself cast out of town—and Quinn’s life—possibly forever. Forced to face the hurt holding her back, Quinn must finally let go or risk missing out on the adventure of a lifetime.

Click here to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

This is the second book by Courtney Walsh that takes place in Harbor Pointe, Michigan and I was delighted to revisit this quaint little town and to see some of my favorite characters from “Just Look Up”.

This story follows Grady and Quinn, two broken people who at first glance seem like opposites but after digging deeper, they come to realize they have a lot in common.

I loved the character development that occurred in both of the main characters. It was gradual and felt genuine. I also loved the inclusion of the side characters…Quinn’s dad, her friends, and the judge were developed very well and made a nice addition to the story.

The faith content was great in the story. I loved how Quinn stuck to her morals regarding purity and dating, but there were also discussions about redemption and forgiveness in regards to this.

I enjoyed this story but not as much as the first in the series. I didn’t relate to the characters as much in this book and at times I found that the plot was becoming a bit repetitive.

My Rating

3.5 stars

I received this book from the publisher to review. All thoughts an opinions are my own.

About the Author

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Courtney Walsh is a novelist, artist, theatre director, and playwright. Her debut novel, A Sweethaven Summer, hit the New York Times and USA Today e-book bestseller lists and was a Carol Award finalist in the debut author category. She has written two more books in the Sweethaven series, as well as two craft books and several full-length musicals. Courtney lives in Illinois with her husband and three children. Visit her online at http://www.courtneywalshwrites.com.

Blog Stops

By The Book, June 26

Faithfully Bookish, June 26

Luv’N Lambert Life, June 26

Reading Is My SuperPower, June 27

Among the Reads, June 27

Splashes of Joy, June 27

God is Love, June 28

Fiction Aficionado, June 28

Genesis 5020, June 28

All-of-a-kind Mom, June 28

Carpe Diem, June 29

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, June 29

100 Pages per Hour, June 29

The Power of Words, June 30

Lighthouse Academy, June 30

Radiant Light, June 30

Just the Write Escape, June 30

Quiet Quilter, July 1

C Jane Read, July 1

A Baker’s Perspective, July 1

Cordially Barbara, July 2

Baker kella, July 2

The Christian Fiction Girl, July 3

Remembrancy, July 3

amandainpa, July 3

Two Points of Interest, July 4

Daysong Reflections, July 4

SusanLovesBooks, July 4

Vicky Sluiter, July 5

proud to be an autism mom, July 5

Moments Dipped in Ink, July 6

Pause for Tales, July 6

Bibliophile Reviews, July 7

Texas Book-aholic, July 7

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 7

Janices book reviews, July 8

Bigreadersite, July 8

Blossoms and Blessings, July 8

Godly Book Reviews, July 9

Jeanette’s Thoughts, July 9

Christian Author, J.E.Grace, July 9

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Courtney Walsh is giving away a grand prize of a library of Courtney Walsh’s books and a $25 Amazon gift card!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/d0a4/just-let-go-celebration-tour-giveaway