Category: Equality In Literature

A #blogmas #HarlequinHeartwarming Blog Book Tour | “The Christmas Kiss” (Back to Bluestone River series, Book Two) by Virginia McCullough

Posted Friday, 13 December, 2019 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

#blogmas 2019 badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I started hosting with Prism Book Tours at the end of [2017], having noticed the badge on Tressa’s blog (Wishful Endings) whilst I was visiting as we would partake in the same blog tours and/or book blogosphere memes. I had to put the memes on hold for several months (until I started to resume them (with Top Ten Tuesday) in January 2018). When I enquiried about hosting for Prism, I found I liked the niche of authors and stories they were featuring regularly. I am unsure how many books I’ll review for them as most are offered digitally rather than in print but this happily marks one of the blog tours where I could receive a print book for review purposes. Oft-times you’ll find Prism Book Tours alighting on my blog through the series of guest features and spotlights with notes I’ll be hosting on behalf of their authors.

I received a complimentary copy of “The Christmas Kiss” direct from the author Virginia McCullough in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Why I enjoy reading a Virginia McCullough
Harlequin Heartwarming novel:

Ruby is the kind of woman who likes to see the potential in life rather than the sour lemons that can upset your plans. She wouldn’t be the first to admit that losing a job she believed in struck her in the heart and was effectively difficult to re-group after due to how much of herself she put into the belief her job was one that had mattered. Instead, she put on the kind of brave face you hope will soak through you the longer you wear it and decides to re-settle into her hometowne of Bluestone River! This coming off the suggestions of her bestie Emma kept nudging her with photos of the open prairie grasses, the calming scenes of wildlife and the potential of what Ruby might find once she arrived. I think the key word there is how Ruby might find something she hadn’t planned to find and thereby, finding a new way forward when life felt like it was falling apart. That’s a sentiment I think most can relate too when things go south and you have to rebuild your life.

Counter to Ruby’s woes are Emma’s concerns for her own health – as she has a serious condition that requires not just surgery but loads of patience as the recovery isn’t an easy one. These are two woman at cornerstones of their lives seeking comfort and shelter together if only to weather the storms and find a way to come through them a bit less affected than if they were to ride them out alone. Although the same could be said for Mike and his young son Jason; as they were two warriors riding into their own storm as well. Mike was the kind of father who was not just committed to his son but he was an encourager of random joy. He liked to keep the legacy of how he was raised in the growing years of his son Jason, even if his own childhood and his son’s held a few stark differences between them. For instance, when Mike was growing up he wasn’t struggling with PTSD like his son but there was solace in being back in Bluestone River. The area held a calmness over it – where the natural world in of itself had the best calming effect on the residents and perhaps, a healing effect as well.

I liked how McCullough took her time in allowing Jason to come round to others; how he interacted with his father, his teacher and even new persons he was just starting to meet like Ruby and Peach (the dog). His behaviour matched what you would expect from a young child who was struggling with the issues he had and yet, each time he was in-scene, it felt organic, honest and real. Nothing felt forced and I appreciated the realism and the extra touches of honesty threading into how Jason was portrayed.

McCullough tackles childhood PTSD and what causes a child to be mute rather than to speak through their emotions and their crises; giving new empathy for how PTSD affects children but also, how sometimes children find the hardest part of their recovery and healing process is resuming the art of speaking. Words have a lot of hidden meanings but they also hold a lot of truths that can be hard to speak; which I felt is partially why Jason might have stopped speaking as his reality had become shattered in such a tragic and traumatic way, it was easy to see why his voice might have become silent for awhile.

There is an ease of awareness and of setting here – you can tell McCullough has taken her time to develop this series, of giving us a well-rounded and well-thought out plotting to where the foundation of the series can build out of this first installment. It is a place that isn’t entirely without its prickles of angst but it has a heart-centred feel to it which gives you the hope of what could happen if people allow themselves to forgive the past and to seek a future without allowing the past to dictate how your life is meant to be lived.

-quoted from my review of A Family for Jason

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A #blogmas #HarlequinHeartwarming Blog Book Tour | “The Christmas Kiss” (Back to Bluestone River series, Book Two) by Virginia McCulloughThe Christmas Kiss
Subtitle: Back to Bluestone River
by Virginia McCullough
Source: Author via Prism Book Tours

Will working together

…lead to together forever?

Recently divorced, Parker Davis needs to focus on his new job so he can provide a stable home for his daughter in time for the Christmas holidays. The problem is, he’s frequently at odds with his boss. He and Emma O’Connell approach everything differently. Yet he finds her intriguing, and Bluestone River festivities keep pushing them together—often enough that two people at odds could find themselves evenly matched in love!

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781335510969

Also by this author: A Family for Jason

Also in this series: A Family for Jason


Genres: Christmas Story &/or Christmas Romance, Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Contemporary Romance, Romance Fiction


Published by Harlequin Heartwarming

on 3rd December, 2019

Format: Larger Print (Mass Market Paperback)

Pages: 375

Published by: Harlequin Heartwarming

Converse via: #Contemporary + #Romance and #HarlequinHeartwarming

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Back to Bluestone River series:

A Family for Jason (book one) : Ruby & Mike’s story (see also Review)

The Christmas Kiss (book two) : Emma & Parker’s story

I love how the sequel involves Emma! She’s Ruby’s best friend & she helped Ruby become re-established back into Bluestone River. I thought it was fitting she’d get her own story after finding out how tied-in she is to the community & Ruby’s life!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

About Virginia McCullough

Virginia McCullough

Born and raised in Chicago, Virginia McCullough has been lucky enough to develop her writing career in many locations, including the coast of Maine, the mountains of North Carolina, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and currently, Northeast Wisconsin. She started her career in nonfiction, first writing articles and then books as a ghostwriter and coauthor. She’s written more than 100 books for physicians, business owners, professional speakers and many others with information to share or a story to tell.

Virginia’s books feature characters who could be your neighbors and friends. They come in all ages and struggle with everyday life issues in small-town environments that almost always include water—oceans, lakes, or rivers. The mother of two grown children, you’ll find Virginia with her nose a book, walking on trails or her neighborhood street, or she may be packing her bag to take off for her next adventure. And she’s always working on another story about hope, healing, and second chances.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Friday, 13 December, 2019 by jorielov in 21st Century, A Father's Heart, Blog Tour Host, Bookmark slipped inside a Review Book, Contemporary Romance, Content Note, Equality In Literature, Family Drama, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Fly in the Ointment, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Indie Author, Life Shift, Modern Day, Mute | Medical Loss of Voice, Prism Book Tours, PTSD, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, Second Chance Love, Single Fathers, Small Towne Fiction, Small Towne USA, Special Needs Children

An early #blogmas Book Review | “Home for Christmas” (Book No.12 of the Shores of Indian Lake series) by Catherine Lanigan One of the #HarlequinHeartwarming series I love reading!

Posted Friday, 22 November, 2019 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

#blogmas 2019 badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I’ve been hosting for Prism Book Tours since September of 2017 – having noticed the badge on Tressa’s blog (Wishful Endings) as we would partake in the same blog tours and/or book blogosphere memes. As I enquired about hosting for Prism, I found I liked the niche of authors and stories they were featuring regularly. Oft-times you’ll find Prism Book Tours alighting on my blog through the series of guest features and spotlights with notes I’ll be hosting on behalf of their authors when I’m not showcasing book reviews on behalf of Harlequin Heartwarming which has become my second favourite imprint of Harlequin next to my beloved #LoveINSPIRED Suspense. I am also keenly happy PRISM hosts a variety of Indie Authors and INSPY Fiction novelists.

I received a complimentary copy of “Home for Christmas” direct from the author Catherine Lanigan in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Before I begin sharing my thoughts on this 12th installment,
let’s look back and re-visit what I enjoyed in “Hers to Protect”:

You could feel the frustration Violet Hawks had within her – she was a rookie who wanted to make her mark on the force but in a way which would catapult her forward rather than keep her grounded in a small towne (such as Indian Lake); as she had goes to escape into a larger metropolis where her skills could be sharpened on more challenging cases. Except for the main concern hitting Midwestern small townes is the same as it is elsewhere (ironically or not) – the rise on drug runners and lines of distribution of said drugs is becoming a small towne issue rather than a big city trade. This is why local police and law enforcement have to think outside the box and rely on their detectives and officers to stay vigilant about enforcing the law in order to combat the complexities of erasing the drug trade from their region.

Being a woman who wants to advance in her field, you could almost feel the tension from Violet’s co-workers (all men) who did not wish to see her find traction on a case remotely of interest to their Chief. This is another keen example of Ruth Bader Ginsberg legacy case (showcasing “on the basis of sex”) wherein what is inherently wrong between the genders is a disillusion of equality and the fact most issues between men and women arise out of preferential treatment skewing inequality against the other.

One thing that irks my ire inasmuch as Violet’s are the people who think money and their own self-deducing sense of power can entitle them to just about anything they please. Thus, when you see how she arrests Josh for his outwardly poor choices in driving in excess of speeds past 200 mph – you can see why she made the choice to arrest his sorry butt than to debate the merits of his ironically self-inflated ego to compensate for said poor choices in driving speeds! You really want to rally behind Violet – not just for the flak she might be hedging to take once she’s back at HQ but for how she stood her ground, drove home her point in a decidedly calm manner of delivery and also didn’t let the county sheriff derail her effects to take-in a person who felt he was above the law.

You had to laugh really, how Josh didn’t check his conscience until after he spoke to his agent? If you flashback to the CARS sequence of films, even Lightning McQueen had to learn that life lesson! If all you do is coast through life on an ego trip and view everything as one entitled perk after another – then where do you draw the line? Josh Stevens is your typical celebrity racer who hasn’t learnt how to eat humble pie but something told me Violet Hawks was going to be part of the proverbial change in his inflated perspective of self.

In true Lanigan fashion, there is always something a bit extra bubbling beneath the surface of her characters – by the time you sort through the kind of childhood Josh Stevens had lived and the traumatic deaths he had endured from his family, you can see a margin of reason towards his recklessness now as an adult. It wasn’t an excuse for his choices but it was a reason of intention behind them which softened your ire against him. He wasn’t just a reckless driver for the benefit of the joy in the height of driving without limitations – there was more to it than that and this is what made him an interestingly flawed character to read about as the story evolved.

Mrs Beabots is the kind-hearted landlady you definitely wish you had in your life – not just for the random dinner parties and the kindnesses she gives to make you feel welcome as a neighbour but for how she proves that community begins with people reaching out to people. She is also the spearheaded visionary behind the new start-up non-profit to help the foster children in Indian Lake – which proves that sometimes a lot of change can begin with a singular act. She was the secondary character who stood out to me the most within the pages of Hers to Protect. I had a feeling the rest of the supporting cast were making re-appearances from previous stories – I eagerly await making their acquaintances as I journey back into the series lateron this year; however for now, it was Mrs Beabots who held my heart.

One of the reasons I love reading (or watching) police procedurals is how the cases are worked from the inside out. You can have a seemingly one layered case to solve but the more you dig into the particulars of what is involved the more complicated the whole thing becomes and this is what I was loving about the direction Hers to Protect was taking as it gave way to seeing how small townes are policing their communities with an edge of insight generally resolved for larger departments in larger cities.

Lanigan excells in giving you a feel for the track as Josh retakes his position as a driver in the high stakes racing renown for an Indianapolis race. Repleat with the dangers that go with racing in general – you can’t peel your eyes off the race even though your concern for Violet’s heart is on the line as well. There is a tempering of emotions between Violet and Josh which make sense since their both in new territory – her for bracing herself against a potentially attractive bloke who may or may not be involved in her current case whilst for Josh, the temptations for feeling smitten by anyone is new for a bloke whose tried to remain emotionally neutral for most of his life.

By the time this story concludes, you feel as hugged inside Indian Lake as your first visit – Lanigan has created a close-knit community where neighbours become extensions of your family and where friendships thrive against the backdrop of the love and warmth only a small towne can provide. I enjoyed watching how Josh grew out of the desperation he was facing as a racer – as a lot of what plagued him on the track was internal and emotionally dimensional to his past. He found a new lease on life in a place he would hardly have considered if life hadn’t intervened and that is what makes this such a sweet second chance romance – as it wasn’t a second chance relationship but rather of carving out your own niche of living in a place which took you by surprise.

-quoted from my review of Hers to Protect

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An early #blogmas Book Review | “Home for Christmas” (Book No.12 of the Shores of Indian Lake series) by Catherine Lanigan One of the #HarlequinHeartwarming series I love reading!Home for Christmas
Subtitle: Shores of Indian Lake
by Catherine Lanigan
Source: Author via Prism Book Tours

Can a magical Christmas under glass…

…bring them back together for good?

Widowed dad Adam Masterson still doesn’t understand why Joy Boston left Indian Lake and broke his heart all those years ago. Now she’s returned to sell her grandfather’s beloved poinsettia greenhouse—and Joy and Adam’s connection is as strong as ever. But Joy has a life in New York. And Adam has only until Christmas to convince Joy that she belongs in Indian Lake—with him.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1-335-51092-1

Also by this author: His Baby Dilemma, Rescued by the Firefighter, Hers to Protect

Also in this series: His Baby Dilemma, Rescued by the Firefighter, Hers to Protect


Genres: Adoption & Foster Care, Christmas Story &/or Christmas Romance, Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Contemporary Romance, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction


Published by Harlequin Heartwarming

on 5th November, 2019

Format: Larger Print (Mass Market Paperback)

Pages: 384

The Shores of Indian Lake series:

The Shores of Indian Lake series collage by Prism Book Tours

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Previously I’ve read the following in the series:

His Baby Dilemma (book nine) | see also Review

Rescued by the Firefighter (book ten) | see also Review

Hers to Protect (book eleven) | see also Review

Home for Christmas (book twelve)

(*) I’ve acquired a copy of “Sophie’s Path” to be read in conjunction with borrowing the rest of the series via inter-library loan

Published by: Harlequin Heartwarming (@HarlequinBooks) | imprint of Harlequin Books

Formats Available: Paperback* and Ebook

*Harlequin has the luxury of offering Regular, Large & Larger Print editions
which I personally can attest are lovely to be reading! Especially after a migraine or when my eyes are fatigued.

Converse via: #ShoresOfIndianLake and #HarlequinHeartwarming

About Catherine Lanigan

Catherine Lanigan

Catherine Lanigan is the international bestselling and award-winning author of forty published titles in both fiction and non-fiction, including the novelizations of Romancing the Stone and The Jewel of the Nile, as well as over half a dozen anthologies, including “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living your Dream”, “Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul”, and more.

Ms. Lanigan’s novels have been translated into dozens of languages including German, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, Chinese, and Japanese. Ms. Lanigan’s novels are also available in E-books on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com, Apple Store, Mobi and Kobo. Several of her titles have been chosen for The Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Clubs. Her Vietnam war-based novel, The Christmas Star, won the Gold Medal Award Top Pick from Romantic Times Magazine and has also won Book of the Year Romance Gold Award from ForeWord Magazine as well as Book of the Year Romance from Reader’s Preference.

Lanigan is the author of a trilogy of non- fiction books regarding angelic intervention in human life: Angel Watch, Divine Nudges and Angel Tales published by HCI and Cedar Fort. Skyhorse published Lanigan’s “how-to” book on writing: Writing the Great American Romance Novel. Lanigan was tasked by the NotMYkid Foundation to write a non-fiction book addressing teen addictions. Ms. Lanigan’s first Young Adult adventure novel, The Adventures of Lillie and Zane: The Golden Flute, was published by Cedar Fort.

Currently, she has published eight novels in the Shores of Indian Lake series for Harlequin Heartwarming: Love Shadows, Heart’s Desire, A Fine Year for Love, Katia’s Promise, Fear of Falling, Sophie’s Path and Protecting the Single Mom. Family of His Own pubs July, 2016. She has recently contracted for one more in the series: His Baby Dilemma.

As a cancer survivor, Ms. Lanigan is a frequent speaker at literary functions and book conventions as well as inspiring audiences with her real stories of angelic intervention from her Angel Tales series of books.

She is an outspoken advocate for domestic violence and abuse and was honored by The National Domestic Violence Hotline in Washington, D.C. (THE EVOLVING WOMAN). She has been a guest on numerous radio programs including “Coast to Coast” and on television interview and talk show programs as well as blogs, podcasts and online radio interview programs.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Divider

Posted Friday, 22 November, 2019 by jorielov in 21st Century, Blog Tour Host, Contemporary Romance, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Equality In Literature, Foster Care, Indie Author, Modern Day, Orphans & Guardians, Prism Book Tours, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, Small Towne Fiction, Small Towne USA

#HarlequinHeartwarming Blog Book Tour | “A Family for Jason” (Back to Bluestone River series, Book One) by Virginia McCullough

Posted Tuesday, 20 August, 2019 by jorielov , , , , 2 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I started hosting with Prism Book Tours at the end of [2017], having noticed the badge on Tressa’s blog (Wishful Endings) whilst I was visiting as we would partake in the same blog tours and/or book blogosphere memes. I had to put the memes on hold for several months (until I started to resume them (with Top Ten Tuesday) in January 2018). When I enquiried about hosting for Prism, I found I liked the niche of authors and stories they were featuring regularly. I am unsure how many books I’ll review for them as most are offered digitally rather than in print but this happily marks one of the blog tours where I could receive a print book for review purposes. Oft-times you’ll find Prism Book Tours alighting on my blog through the series of guest features and spotlights with notes I’ll be hosting on behalf of their authors.

I received a complimentary copy of “A Family for Jason” direct from the author Virginia McCullough in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Why I was eager to read my first Virginia McCullough
Harlequin Heartwarming novel:

I know I’ve crossed paths in the book blogosphere with this author at some point over the past six years if not a bit before I started blogging. I’m unsure exactly when I first saw her name or in which capacity I saw her but I’ve had her name on my list of authors to seek out to read. When I saw the blog tour announced, I was thankful I was able to start reading one of her stories at the beginning of a new series whilst at the same time, the title of the series held a lot of promise for me!

I’ve happily read Return of the Blackwell Brothers this year, and therefore, any title which refers to ‘returning’ to a particular place or a particular set of characters who are going through a reunion of sorts are the kind of stories which are interesting me this year. I believe this is the author’s second Heartwarming series but as I was reading about Bluestone River on her author’s website, it felt like the kind of setting you can get lost inside reading – letting her be your guide as you navigate this new community and see their transitions as this is a towne who has been forced to undergo a bit of a Renaissance as most small townes need to embrace in today’s economy.

How they were vibrant in the past isn’t necessarily going to sustain them in the present and those are the kind of stories I am attracted to as well. Where communities come together, find a way to thrive and move forward into a future they built together. Overall, my anticipation for soaking into this story was quite high and as always, it was refreshing as a reader who loves the imprint to get the chance to ‘meet’ a #newtomeauthor as a series is just beginning to unfold!

As a side note, I love when authors tuck in bookmarks with their stories – the Heartwarming authors do this quite regularly and I have become a bit spoilt on those small little random acts of kindness as it makes reading their stories extra personal. Especially in the cases where their bookmarks are either about the series in-progress and/or about other series or one-offs they’ve written as it helps me expand my knowledge of what is in their backlist as much as their frontlist! In this case, I received a Two Moon Bay series bookmark and it is wicked lovely! I loved the curved edges, too!

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#HarlequinHeartwarming Blog Book Tour | “A Family for Jason” (Back to Bluestone River series, Book One) by Virginia McCulloughA Family for Jason
Subtitle: Back to Bluestone River
by Virginia McCullough
Source: Author via Prism Book Tours

She’s not home for keeps

Unless he proves first love is forever

Bluestone River is a minefield of memories for Mike Abbot—all involving Ruby Driscoll. Twenty years after scandal divided them, they’re both back in their hometown. Ruby’s visit is strictly temporary. But as she uses her trauma expertise to help his vulnerable son, Mike faces what his heart has always known. Ruby’s still his one and only. This time, can he convince her to stay?

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1335510792

Also by this author: The Christmas Kiss

Also in this series: The Christmas Kiss


Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Contemporary Romance, Romance Fiction


Published by Harlequin Heartwarming

on 6th August, 2019

Format: Larger Print (Mass Market Paperback)

Pages: 384

Published by: Harlequin Heartwarming

Converse via: #Contemporary + #Romance and #HarlequinHeartwarming

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Back to Bluestone River series:

A Family for Jason (book one) : Ruby & Mike’s story

The Christmas Kiss (book two) : Emma & Parker’s story
← forthcoming 3rd December, 2019!

I love how the sequel involves Emma! She’s Ruby’s best friend & she helped Ruby become re-established back into Bluestone River. I thought it was fitting she’d get her own story after finding out how tied-in she is to the community & Ruby’s life!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

About Virginia McCullough

Virginia McCullough

Born and raised in Chicago, Virginia McCullough has been lucky enough to develop her writing career in many locations, including the coast of Maine, the mountains of North Carolina, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and currently, Northeast Wisconsin. She started her career in nonfiction, first writing articles and then books as a ghostwriter and coauthor. She’s written more than 100 books for physicians, business owners, professional speakers and many others with information to share or a story to tell.

Virginia’s books feature characters who could be your neighbors and friends. They come in all ages and struggle with everyday life issues in small-town environments that almost always include water—oceans, lakes, or rivers. The mother of two grown children, you’ll find Virginia with her nose a book, walking on trails or her neighborhood street, or she may be packing her bag to take off for her next adventure. And she’s always working on another story about hope, healing, and second chances.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Divider

Posted Tuesday, 20 August, 2019 by jorielov in 21st Century, A Father's Heart, Blog Tour Host, Bookmark slipped inside a Review Book, Contemporary Romance, Equality In Literature, Family Drama, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Indie Author, Life Shift, Modern Day, Mute | Medical Loss of Voice, Prism Book Tours, PTSD, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, Second Chance Love, Single Fathers, Small Towne Fiction, Small Towne USA, Special Needs Children