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Monday, November 18, 2019

Loving Like Jane by Connie Sokol

Available on Amazon
Since last week's was such a heavy topic, I thought I'd switch gears.


LOVING LIKE JANE
by Connie Sokol


Back of the Book: Allie’s dream of writing a best-selling novel for a top literary agent is finally coming true. Except, she's already agreed to go on a bucket list Jane Austen Tour for three weeks with her newly-divorced aunt and widowed mother. To complicate matters, Allie can’t decide what the Best Novel Ever idea should be, and the first three chapters are due in, what else, three weeks. Determined to buckle down, Allie devotes her time to writing while refusing to engage in the trip’s delights, or gorgeous but enigmatic Beckett, the assistant tour director. Despite her attempts to stay focused, Allie is drawn to Beckett's quick wit, Jane Austen wisdom, and deciding if his help will further her dreams or get in the way. Join Allie on her inspiring, hilarious, and romantic adventure as she learns how loving like Jane Austen creates unexpected changes that could lead to the life she loves. I have enjoyed both the fiction and non-fiction I've read from Connie Sokol. And this book was no different. It was such a fun, but kind of long, read. There were a few times when I relaxed thinking the story was wrapping up but it just amped up instead.


My Take: I loved the Austen quotes at the beginning of the chapters and the little tidbits about her life that were woven into the story. I appreciated Allie's determination in finding and writing 'the best novel ever'--and wished my writing process could be so productive (I thought it was a little unrealistic, but that could be strictly based on my lack of ability). I loved Beckett and the romance that developed. I know beach season has wrapped up, but if you're heading there for the holidays, this would be great to take along. Or if it's blizzarding and you want to curl up with a hot cup of tea, bring this book and enjoy a little Austen detour.


I received an ARC. The opinions are my own.

Monday, November 11, 2019

A Cry of the Heart by Debra Rush and Penelope Childers

My friend!

You know I have an interest in raising awareness about human trafficking, so when the opportunity came to read and review this book by Debra Rush and Penelope Childers, I gladly took it.

This book! So well-written about such a dark and heavy subject. I cried and hoped and cheered for Debra during her horrifying ordeal. I highly recommend reading this one. Talk about it with your friends and family. Education is one of our best tools in combatting this.

Here's my posted review on Amazon and Goodreads:

I don't typically read non-fiction simply because I don't generally enjoy it. This book, however, piqued my interest because I have supported or follow organizations like O.U.R., Shared Hope International, and SariBari India. It is so incredibly well-written (with the perfect amount of detail), thought-provoking, and engaging that I had a difficult time putting it down. I don't need to put any of the book details, as they are in the book description and other reviews, but I loved that Debra is so open about her spiritual journey and the way God led her and directed others to her. There are so many organizations out there devoted to helping these survivors. If not Breaking the Chains, find another one and do something. You CAN make a difference in helping victims overcome this tragedy that occurs globally but more specifically in your town or city.

You can get it in paperback or ebook on Amazon.


Thursday, October 10, 2019

Cover Reveal!

An Oxford Murder by G.G. Vandagriff

Isn't this cover fun and mysterious? You'll have to wait until November 6th, 2019 to get your copy, but the Pre-Order is available now on Amazon and you don't want to wait for that.

Why? Because there's a giveaway! Yes, my friend, a Giveaway! 

When you pre-order the book, take a screenshot of the Amazon "thank you" page, post it in the comments and you will be entered in the drawing to win a $30 Amazon gift card! How fabulous is that?! Giveaway runs through Sunday night.


The WINNER could be YOU and will be announced on Monday, so don't lose out by waiting!


Now for some fun details from the back of the book: 


A stylish 1930’s mystery set in Oxford with a love triangle, a murder, and a cast of eccentric suspects. 
Fans of Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane will love this tale!

“Vandagriff’s atmospherics are first rate. She amazes me.”—Anna Stone.

After Miss Catherine Tregowyn, poet, and  Dr. Harry Bascombe, her bĂȘte noire, discover a body in the Somerville College chapel, they are declared suspects in a murder inquiry. How can they prove their innocence? The pair decide they must launch their own investigation into the strangling of Oxford don, Agatha Chenowith. But working as a team will not be easy. Their relations are anything but cordial.
It is not long before they uncover motives aplenty. Apparently, Dr. Chenowith was not at all what she seemed. As the surprises about the victim’s secret life multiply, they are awash in a sea of suspects. 
Into this scenario sails the former love of Catherine’s life as he returns from Kenya. Is she going to give Rafe another chance to break her heart? He convinces her to give him a six-month trial, and eager to show his worth, he joins in the investigation. Rafe offers to fly Catherine and Harry in his de Havilland six-seater to the Isle of Man where they must pursue a lead. Inevitably, Rafe and Harry square off in a battle for Catherine’s affections.  
Meanwhile, playing detectives proves to be a dangerous pursuit. Catherine and Harry shortly embroil themselves in a plot much larger than mere murder. No one wants to hear their theory, however. It contains truths too painful to contemplate. And it makes Catherine and Harry’s lives expendable.


And there you have it! I can't wait to see how it turns out. Remember to post a copy of your thank you page in the comments in order to be entered in the drawing which runs through Sunday night. Click here to go directly to Amazon to get your copy.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Upon My Heart Forever



What it's about:

When Clara Moore learns of her brother's unthinkable scheme—to take her to England and force her into a hasty marriage—she knows she must escape New York. But when she finds out who has accepted the job of taking her to Boston, she almost rethinks her own hurried plan. For the handsome man who comes to her aid is none other than her former love, Ethan Barrik. He left her heart in shambles six years before. Can she trust him a second time?


Ethan Barrik is no stranger to struggle. But tracking the enemy, and war-time spying are nothing compared to the pain of regret. Ready at last to leave his past behind, he accepts one final job for a friend, only to discover the person he's really helping is the woman he still loves. Despite her ire, he knows he must make every attempt to make it right—and hope she will find a way to forgive him and give their love another chance.


The lovely cover of Upon my Heart Forever.

Follow the author:







Don't miss the other blogs on this Tour:


May 10th - Peggy Urry

And be sure to ENTER the Rafflecopter contest:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Beneath an Italian Sky

A love match turns into a lonely marriage. Will Clare and Emmett reconcile their differences before it's too late?


From USA Today bestselling author Stacy Henrie, comes BENEATH AN ITALIAN SKY, An American Heiress novel.

--1908--
American heiress Clare Herschel made what she hoped was a love match when she married the handsome, witty Emmett Markham, the Earl of Linwood. A little over a year into her marriage, though, Clare finds herself wintering in Sicily—alone. She is sure the mild climate is the answer to avoiding another miscarriage and Emmett’s apparent indifference, so she’s determined to remain in Italy as long as possible. The last person she expects to show up at the villa is her husband, especially when Emmett confesses he’s there to convince her to return to England.


As the only surviving son of a marquess, Emmett has done everything his father has asked of him—even agreeing to run for a seat in the House of Commons. However, this latest task comes with a nearly impossible caveat. He must convince his wife Clare to come back to England with him in order for them to appear to be a happy couple for his political campaigning. Emmett isn’t confident Clare will agree to the plan, though, not when she seems to want nothing to do with him or the life they’d begun building before she abruptly left him for Italy.


When a massive earthquake strikes Messina, Sicily, claiming the lives of thousands, Clare and Emmett must set aside their mutual misgivings about their marriage in order to survive and lend a helping hand to others. But in the wake of the destruction, they begin to realize they’ve been given a chance to decide if their love is stronger than the upheavals of the past.


AMERICAN HEIRESS SERIES:
Among Sand and Sunrise (coming October 2019)

Enter the contest and don't miss the other blogs on this tour:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog tour schedule:
April 22nd - Heidi Reads
April 23rd - Peggy Urry

Visit Stacy Henrie on Amazon or Facebook. Be sure to follow her to stay up-to-date on new projects.




Monday, March 25, 2019

Will You Do Something Part 2

More information on preventing sex trafficking with a huge thank you to Ashleigh Becker at SelaDesigns and her work in this fight.

She says:

Just a quick recap: We talked about how good kids end up getting trafficked too and what parents can do to keep their kids safe. This week I want to highlight kids that are high-risk and prime candidates that traffickers seek out.

On Monday, I listened a seasoned detective speak for more than two hours about sex trafficking in the county next to mine. She has more than 10 years of experience working in this area and had countless heartbreaking stories. 

From the time I sat down until the time we walked out of the meeting, my pen never left the paper. The information was so overwhelming I knew I needed to write it down in order to process it more fully later.

My husband looked at me and said, "Boil it down to two highlights. What would they be?" And here's what I said:
  1. I heard the ages 13, 14, and 15 over and over and over again.
  2. A trafficker will spend up to 2 years pursuing and grooming a victim because he can sell her 10-30 times per night and 80% of the time that starts on social media.
Those are the two things I still remain stunned by. 


Let's talk about traffickers for a minute:
  • Many are good looking, charismatic, articulate, muscular and appear to be "nice".
  • Can be men or women. Women traffickers are typically the meanest type. 
  • They have honed a skill and are very good at it.
  • Everything boils down to control over the victim and here's how they get it:
    •  DRUGS - many victims are shot up against their will and then forced to reach a    quota in order to get the drugs their bodies crave
    • Physical violence 
    • Threats to hurt their loved ones
    • Debt bondage
  • Sometimes it's a family business. Boys are raised to believe girls are sex objects that should be sold. Girls are raised to believe they are only good for sex. It is a culture. 
Now, let's talk about high-risk victims:
  • Boys are underrepresented and get trafficked too
  • Runaways and homeless kids are an easy target
  • People looking for freedom in America or from their family
  • Disabled people
  • People with mental health issues
  • Undocumented people (this is especially true in labor trafficking situations as well)
  • People with addiction issues - recruiting often happens at NA & AA facilities and rehab clinics
  • Prior trauma or abuse create vulnerability
  • Anyone labelled a "trouble maker" by society
There's a motto among traffickers, "Promise her heaven. Take her to hell."And that is exactly what traffickers do: promise victims everything they ever wanted, give them a little of it to make it feel real and then take them to hell.
 
 


I know this is heavy. I know these words are difficult to read. I know that maybe you don't want to know anymore, but friend, please don't turn away. 

Take the anger, hurt and pain you feel and let it fire you up to raise awareness and be a light in the darkness. What to be a part of the solution? Here's what you can do:
  1. Know a kid that falls in 1 or more of those high-risk categories? Be their place of safety, the adult they can trust to love them no matter what. 
  2. Volunteer at organizations like Big Brothers, Big Sisters who are working to create safety for at-risk teens. 77% of kids in foster care will be trafficked.
  3.  Educate every young person you know about the dangers of putting too much information on social media. Urge them to use private profiles and skip the hashtags.
  4. Keep your eyes open - be aware of people around you. If you see a man in a gas station with multiple young girls who won't look up, seem overly submissive or look malnourished CALL THE POLICE. If you see something that doesn't look or feel right, it probably isn't. If you are wrong no one gets hurt. If you are right, a life gets saved. 
This is a fight worth fighting. You know what the solution is? IT'S YOU! You and I are the solution to this crisis. Just having this knowledge is great, but doing something with it will change our communities.

Thank you for being a voice for the hopeless and defending the cause of the most vulnerable. 


Me: I hope this is something you will take seriously, that you will talk to your children/grandchildren about. It's an ugly topic, but kids need to know how to protect themselves. 

Monday, March 18, 2019

Will You Do Something? Part 1

I believe in the goodness of humankind--I see it around me every day. But I also know, that people don't always choose the good. My heart hurts when I see the awful things we humans do to each other.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."  --Edmund Burke

PART 1


Human sex trafficking. I have posted about this before, but Ashleigh Becker of SelaDesigns recently shared via email some information she learned from an anti-trafficking organization in her community.

This is what she had to say:

Last week I spent 90 minutes talking with a rep from Eye Heart World, a local anti-trafficking organization in WI. My entire purpose for the call was to get some real answers to my questions:
  1. What does sex trafficking look like in my city?
  2.  What can I do about it?
Human trafficking is happening in every county in my state. If it's happening here I'm going to go ahead and say it's happening where you live as well. Today I want to talk specifically about sex trafficking (labor trafficking is another wide-spread problem).

I fully understood the big picture stories of girls being taken, stolen and things like that we often hear about, but I know that's not actually what usually happens. I needed to understand how a girl who grew up in a great family, doesn't have an issue with drugs or partying, ends up being trafficked.

Here's what I learned:
  1. Kids get angry at their parents, no matter how great the parents are. And in today's world, they take that anger to social media. They don't realize what they are doing when they write a post about how awful their parents are and use a hashtag like #ihatemymom or #mylifesucks. 
  2.  Traffickers are interested in one thing - making money. They are skilled in their craft. They prey on kids who are angry with their parents or have any type of a problem at home. 
  3.  Traffickers know how to speak 13 year old girl lingo! They will befriend "good girls" on social media and spend up to a year building that relationship. Eventually they will arrange a face to face meeting. 
  4.  Traffickers will work in different ways to take the victim to the next level - maybe start buying gifts or playing with their emotional state - whatever they need to do to build trust and eventually control.
Now you may be wondering how/why the girl ends up having sex for money. I certainly was! Here's a common scenario: the trafficker invites the girl for a weekend away or to a party. She goes. He gives her a lot of alcohol or drugs. She passes out. He lets 5 men have sex with her. She wakes up naked and wonders what happened.

The trafficker shows her pictures of the night and all the men the girl has had sex with. He tells her that if she doesn't continue to do it he will ruin her life - tell her parents and friends what she has done, etc. The trafficker now has control over his victim.

That's heavy, difficult to read. Need a break? My heart is racing as I write this...

Friend, this is just one common way traffickers work. There is more, but that's enough for today. Let's talk about what we can do to prevent this, because there is hope.

Parents, Aunts, Teachers, Counsellors, Youth Group Leaders, etc - we all have a role to play here. We all have a responsibility to the young people in our lives. Here's how we can help them:
  1. PARENTS: know what your kids are doing! Know where they are and who they are with at all times. Have regular check-ins. MONITOR ALL ELECTRONIC DEVICES! 
  2. Teach young people about trafficking. Tell them the lies that traffickers use. When the lies have already been exposed they lose their power. 
  3. Remind teenagers that people on social media are strangers. We do not know who is behind a cute photo. Make profiles private. Don't ever tag your current location.
Small steps in the right direction change the world. Applied knowledge is powerful.


She is right, applied knowledge is powerful. Make sure the kids in your life know about this. Be proactive, be part of their lives, make a difference. Another way you can support this is by giving to organizations in your community/globally who fight this. Shop their sites, give a little every month, talk about it with your friends and your kids. As soon as they have access to social media, we should be having these conversations. If you think they're too young to have these conversations, then maybe consider that they are too young for social media. 




Loving Like Jane by Connie Sokol

Available on Amazon Since last week's was such a heavy topic, I thought I'd switch gears. LOVING LIKE JANE by Connie Sokol ...