Tag: Tyndale House Publishers

#INSPYSundays | Blog Book Tour feat. “The Medallion” by Cathy Gohlke

Posted Sunday, 9 June, 2019 by jorielov , , 7 Comments

#INSPYSundays banner made my Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! HFVBTs is one of the very first touring companies I started working with as a 1st Year Book Blogger – uniting my love and passion with Historical Fiction and the lovely sub-genres inside which I love devouring. It has been a wicked fantastical journey into the heart of the historic past, wherein I’ve been blessed truly by discovering new timescapes, new living realities of the persons who once lived (ie. Biographical Historical Fiction) inasmuch as itched my healthy appetite for Cosy Historical Mysteries! If there is a #HistRom out there it is generally a beloved favourite and I love soaking into a wicked wonderful work of Historical Fiction where you feel the beauty of the historic world, the depth of the characters and the joyfulness in which the historical novelists brought everything to light in such a lovingly diverse palette of portraiture of the eras we become time travellers through their stories.

I received a complimentary ARC copy of “The Medallion” direct from the publisher Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I am launching a special showcase called #INPSYSundays:

You might be aware of my 7o Authors Challenge – wherein I am attempting to get to know more Inspirational Fiction authors and their series? I have been wanting to find a way to bring this reading focus into the life of my blog but also, highlight some of the stories I am receiving for review purposes as well – not all of them can be featured on the weekends, but those which can I’ll be highlighting through this new series of posts as I love the idea of showcasing them on a day meant for renewal of spirit & rest.

The short version of “Inspirational Fiction” is INSPY and I have enjoyed using the tag #INSPY on Twitter to talk about the stories which fall under this umbrella of literature. It is far more encompassing than strictly reading Christian based fiction as INSPY is inclusive of all religions and faith backgrounds of interest – which is why eventually I’ll be expounding outwards from my initial wanderings of my reading challenge and seeking out more authors who write stories of INSPY that are from new and differing perspectives. A lot of what I currently have marked to read are traditional Christian Fiction selections as they were found via a fellow book blogger’s blog.

Although I had intended to introduce this featured focus in January, 2019 – I decided the timing wasn’t right for me to do so until June. I look forward to seeing where my readerly wanderings will take me as this will be just as wicked interesting of a feature to follow as my #HistoricalMondays or #SaturdaysAreBookish!

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#INSPYSundays | Blog Book Tour feat. “The Medallion” by Cathy GohlkeThe Medallion
by Cathy Gohlke
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

For fans of bestselling World War II fiction like Sarah’s Key and The Nightingale comes an illuminating tale of courage, sacrifice, and survival, about two couples whose lives are ravaged by Hitler’s mad war yet eventually redeemed through the fate of one little girl.

Seemingly overnight, the German blitzkrieg of Warsaw in 1939 turns its streets to a war zone and shatters the life of each citizen–Polish, Jewish, or otherwise. Sophie Kumiega, a British bride working in the city’s library, awaits news of her husband, Janek, recently deployed with the Polish Air Force. Though Sophie is determined that she and the baby in her womb will stay safe, the days ahead will draw her into the plight of those around her, compelling her to help, whatever the danger.

Rosa and Itzhak Dunovich never imagined they would welcome their longed-for first child in the Jewish ghetto, or that they would let anything tear their family apart. But as daily atrocities intensify, Rosa soon faces a terrifying reality: to save their daughter’s life, she must send her into hiding. Her only hope of finding her after the war–if any of them survive–is a medallion she cuts in half and places around her neck.

Inspired by true events of Poland’s darkest days and brightest heroes, The Medallion paints a stunning portrait of war and its aftermath, daring us to believe that when all seems lost, God can make a way forward.

Genres: Historical Fiction, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, War Drama

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781496429674

Published by Tyndale House Publishers

on 4th June, 2019

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 409

Published By: Tyndale House Publishers (@TyndaleHouse)
secondary site: Crazy4Fiction (@Crazy4Fiction)

Formats Available: Trade paperback, ebook and audiobook

Converse via: #TheMedallion, #INSPY w/ #HistoricalFiction or #HistFic

About Cathy Gohlke

Cathy Gohlke

Cathy Gohlke is the three-time Christy Award-winning author of the critically acclaimed novels The Medallion, Until We Find Home, Secrets She Kept (winner of the 2016 Carol and INSPY Awards), Saving Amelie (winner of the 2015 INSPY Award), Band of Sisters, Promise Me This (listed by Library Journal as one of the best books of 2012), William Henry Is a Fine Name, and I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires (listed by Library Journal as one of the best books of 2008), which also won the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Book of the Year Award.

Cathy writes novels steeped with inspirational lessons from history. Her stories reveal how people break the chains that bind them and triumph over adversity through faith.

When not traveling to historic sites for research, she, her husband, and their dog, Reilly, divide their time between Northern Virginia and the Jersey Shore, enjoying time with their grown children and grandchildren.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:


Posted Sunday, 9 June, 2019 by jorielov in #INSPYSundays, 20th Century, Aftermath of World War II, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Blog Tour Host, Equality In Literature, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, INSPY Realistic Fiction | Non-Fiction, Judiasm, Loss of an unbourne child, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Multicultural Marriages & Families, The World Wars, Women's Health

Blog Book Tour | “Lady of a Thousand Treasures” (The Victorian Ladies, No. 1) by Sandra Byrd

Posted Friday, 19 October, 2018 by jorielov , , , 1 Comment

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

Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! I received a complimentary copy of “Lady of Thousand Treasures” direct from the publisher Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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My favourite takeaways from my first reading of a Sandra Byrd novel:

I had noticed the quick-fire cross-references being mentioned throughout this blog tour on behalf of Mist of Midnight to lay a correlated thought of insight to the story if readers were familiar with Jane Eyre. I believe this is a bit of a misstep, as despite my fanciment for Gothic Lit intermixed into Historical Fiction, even I can appreciate how diversely eclectic and unique the offerings are within the genre-benders. It is a bit as to say that every Classic Psychological Suspense (i.e. Classic Horror) motion picture is going to be a cardinal carbon copy of the previous release. Although there are inherent similarities to Eyre or any novel within this subset of literature, there is a striking originality to Byrd’s narrative voice, and the way in which she stirs the setting to alight in your mind’s eye.

I did not hear any footfall or echo of Eyre’s voice in the character of Rebecca Ravenshaw, as instead, I heard Rebecca’s voice quite clearly on her own grounds. She’s a full-bodied character not a composite of a previous incarnation of a previous era’s most beloved heroine. The misstep for me is the presumption on what the story entails, as this isn’t a Governess tale, no, this is an inheritance and right of identity tale which pushes far past where Eyre ventured. Atmospherically I do agree, there are certain hidden clues and nudges to elude to where Eyre resided, but again, this isn’t a novel I’d cross-compare Byrd’s narrative, as it would deceive the readers who are wanting to soak inside it unless there is a definitive explanation about ‘what’ directly refers to setting and what is ‘different’ altogether in the story’s arc.

I found more crumbs of cognisant triggers of familiarity stemming out of Mists of Midnight to previous novels I’ve read by ChocLitUK and several via HFVBTs. More readily I would say the styling of how Bryd has writ her new series for the Daughters of Hampshire is a beautiful compliment to how ethereally and historically stimulating I’m finding the Lady Darby series by Anna Lee Huber. Wordsmiths who breathe a stability of place, time, character depth and arc of journey will always leave me perpetually museful for their discovery. Byrd is amongst my top favourites for giving us a story which transcends straight out of where we’ve planted our seat to hold the pages, which as they are turnt, lead us into the murky shadows of where truth and light are sometimes cast in gray.

Each Gothic Lit Historical Narrative is wholly original into itself, as the creator who inked the words alighted upon the premise by a different series of avenues before committing pen to creation. The die is cast so to speak with a uniqueness that is not quite like another story, but whose individual elements can bewitch you with their cosy comfortness of relating a particular sensory experience you had whilst reading other novels within the genre.

I only took sparse pauses away from this novel, as I have the tendency to want to devour a text such as this, save for slumber and a quick nosh; devouring it’s elegant world-building, as it’s secondary characters who alight on the page as if their histories were being writ as they lived. I love seeing secondary cast members as fully true in their bones as their lead counterparts. There is a realism in having this underwrit into a novel, and I must say, Byrd has excelled.

– as disclosed on my review of Mist of Midnight,
Daughters of Hampshire, Book One

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Blog Book Tour | “Lady of a Thousand Treasures” (The Victorian Ladies, No. 1) by Sandra ByrdLady of a Thousand Treasures
by Sandra Byrd
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Miss Eleanor Sheffield is a talented evaluator of antiquities, trained to know the difference between a genuine artifact and a fraud. But with her father’s passing and her uncle’s decline into dementia, the family business is at risk. In the Victorian era, unmarried Eleanor cannot run Sheffield Brothers alone.

The death of a longtime client, Baron Lydney, offers an unexpected complication when Eleanor is appointed the temporary trustee of the baron’s legendary collection. She must choose whether to donate the priceless treasures to a museum or allow them to pass to the baron’s only living son, Harry—the man who broke Eleanor’s heart.

Eleanor distrusts the baron’s motives and her own ability to be unbiased regarding Harry’s future. Harry claims to still love her and Eleanor yearns to believe him, but his mysterious comments and actions fuel her doubts. When she learns an Italian beauty accompanied him on his return to England, her lingering hope for a future with Harry dims.

With the threat of debtor’s prison closing in, Eleanor knows that donating the baron’s collection would win her favor among potential clients, saving Sheffield Brothers. But the more time she spends with Harry, the more her faith in him grows. Might Harry be worthy of his inheritance, and her heart, after all? As pressures mount and time runs out, Eleanor must decide whom she can trust—who in her life is false or true, brass or gold—and what is meant to be treasured.

Genres: Art & Art History, Feminist Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1496426833

Also by this author: Mist of Midnight

Published by Tyndale House Publishers

on 9th October, 2018

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 464

Published By: Tyndale House Publishers (@TyndaleHouse)
secondary site: Crazy4Fiction (@Crazy4Fiction)

Formats Available: Trade paperback, ebook and audiobook

Converse via: #SandraByrd, #VictorianLadies + #HistRom or #HistFic

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About Ms Sandra Byrd

Sandra Byrd

Bestselling author Sandra Byrd has published more than fifty books over her editing and writing career. Her traditionally published books include titles by Tyndale House Publishers, Howard Books, a division of Simon and Schuster, WaterBrook Press, a Penguin Random House imprint, and Bethany House. She’s also an independent author.

Sandra’s series of historically sound Gothic romances launched with the best-selling Mist of Midnight, which earned a coveted Editor’s Choice award from the Historical Novel Society. The second book, Bride of a Distant Isle, has been selected by Romantic Times as a Top Pick. The third in the series, A Lady in Disguise, published in 2017 and was named by the American Library Association’s Booklist as one of the Top Ten Inspirational Fiction books of the year.

Her contemporary adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake, which was a Christy Award finalist, as was her first historical novel, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. To Die For was also named a Library Journal Best Books Pick for 2011, and The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr was named a Library Journal Best Books Pick for 2012.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:


Posted Friday, 19 October, 2018 by jorielov in 19th Century, Antique Jewelry, Antiques, Antiquities, Art, Art History, Artist's Proof, Artwork Provenance, Blog Tour Host, Britian, British Literature, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Historical Romance, Passionate Researcher, the Victorian era, Writing Style & Voice

Blog Book Tour: The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate *Release Day!*

Posted Sunday, 1 September, 2013 by jorielov , , 5 Comments

Parajunkee Designs

The Prayer Box Virtual Book Tour The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate
Published by: Tyndale House Publishers, September 2013
Official Novel Website: The Prayer Box
Available Formats: Hardcover, Softcover, and E-book
Page Count: 400

Converse on Twitter: #ThePrayerBox

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Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a stop on “The Prayer Box” Virtual Book Tour, hosted by JKS Communications Literary Publicity Firm. I received a complimentary copy of “The Prayer Box” in exchange for an honest review by the publisher Tyndale House Publishers. The book releases on 1st September 2013. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein. This marks my first stop as a Tour Host for JKS Communications!

Partial Author BiographyLisaWingatepubpic  {quoted from her press kit}

Lisa Wingate is a magazine columnist, speaker, and the author of twenty mainstream fiction novels, including the national bestseller Tending Roses, now in its nineteenth printing from Penguin Putnam.

She is a seven-time ACFW Carol Award nominee, a Christy Award nominee, an Oklahoma Book Award finalist, and two-time Carol Award winner. Her novel Blue Moon Bay was a Booklist Top Ten of 2012 pick. Recently the group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organisation, selected Lisa along with Bill Ford, Camille Cosby, and six others, as recipients of the National Civics Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life.

Lisa lives on a ranch in Texas, where she spoils the livestock, raises boys, and teaches Sunday school to high school seniors. She was inspired to become a writer by a first-grade teacher who said she expected to see Lisa’s name in a magazine one day.

Lisa also entertained childhood dreams of being an Olympic gymnast and winning the National Finals Rodeo but was stalled by the inability to do a backflip on the balance beam and parents who couldn’t finance a rodeo career. She was lucky enough to marry into a big family of cowboys and Southern storytellers who would inspire any lover of tall tales and interesting yet profound characters. She is a full-time writer and pens inspirational fiction for both the general and Christian markets. Of all the things she loves about her job, she loves connecting with people, but real and imaginary, the most.

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On how I know Lisa Wingate: I discovered Southern Belle View Daily in early 2013, and over the months have come to appreciate conversing with all the Belles, including Lisa Wingate. I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with her through her blog, and won a book through a contest of hers in the past. I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time. I can attest that due to circumstances, I haven’t had the chance to read the aforementioned book I won, nor have I had the pleasure of ever reading a book by Ms. Wingate previously.

I still remember when she was first describing this book on “the Porch”, as Southern Belle View is most readily known, and I instinctively knew it would have the substance of a story that I would be drawn to read. I applaud strong characters who embark on a journey, whether internal, spiritual, or in life. Pieces of the premise reminded me a bit of a Hallmark Christmas film I tend to see during the holidays, starring Richard Thomas, “The Christmas Box”. I love when characters are set up to be in a place they are not intending to stay for a long period of time, yet the place they find themselves is the very place a transformation can occur. That is always powerful to read or watch, because there is such a hearty breath of living truth to the stories! Each of us are walking through life as best we can, growing and learning as we move forward, and never quite knowing when God has an alternative course in mind to restore something to us that has become lost or hidden from view.

[Southern Belle View Daily: author group blog featuring: Lisa Wingate, Julie Cantrell, Beth Webb Hart, Rachel Hauck, and Shellie Rushing Tomlinson]

Authors Note on Prayer Boxing:

Dear Reader,

This is how The Prayer Box came to be: by accident, if you believe in accidents. I glanced across the room one day, saw the small prayer box that had been given to me as a gift, and a story began to spin through my mind. What if that box contained many prayers accumulated over time? What if there were dozens of boxes? What if they contained the prayers of a lifetime?

What could more fully tell the truth about a person than words written to God in solitude? Of course, Iola would say those random questions popped into my mind – and The Prayer Box story itself – weren’t accidents at all. She would say it was divine providence. Something that was meant to be.

I believe divine providence has brought this story into your hands, as well. I hope you enjoyed the journey through Iola’s prayer boxes as much as I did. If the journey is still ahead of you, I hope it takes you to far-off places… and into inner spaces, as well. More than that, I hope it will inspire you to think about keeping a prayer box of your own and maybe giving one to somebody else.

The little prayer box that was given to me was by no means unique. I’d heard of prayer boxes, and I knew what they were for. They’re either keeping places for favourite Scriptures, or they’re similar to a prayer journal, only more flexible. Any scrap of paper will do, anywhere, any time of the day or night. The important part, in a world of fractured thoughts, hurried moments, and scattershot prayers, is to take the time to think through, to write down, to clarify in your own mind the things you’re asking for, the things you’re grateful for, the things you’re troubled about, the hopes you’ve been nurturing.

And then?

Put them in the box and . . .

Let. Them. Go.

That’s what trust is. It’s letting go of the worry. It’s the way of peace and also the way of God. It’s such a hard road to travel for people like me, who worry.  When I’m writing a story, I control the whole universe. In life . . . not so much. Actually, not at all. Things happen that I hadn’t anticipated and wouldn’t choose and can’t change. That’s the tough part.

Closing the lid on a prayer box is symbolic of so many things. When we give a prayer over to God, it’s supposed to be in God’s hands after that. I think that’s what Sister Marguerite was trying to teach Iola when she gave her that very first prayer box. Life is, so often, beyond our control, just as it was for that little ten-year-old girl, far from home. I like to imagine that Sister Marguerite decorated that box herself, prepared it with young Iola in mind, don’t you?

After studying more about prayer boxes and using them myself, I’m surprised we don’t do this more often. Prayer boxes have a long-standing tradition, both among early Christians and among Jewish families. Jews and early Christians often wore small leather or carved bone boxes on the body. These phylacteries or tefillin were a means of keeping Scripture close to the wearer. Large boxes, called mezuzah cases are still affixed to the doorposts of Jewish homes today.

It’s a beautiful tradition, when you think about it, to surround our coming in and going out with a brush with God. It’s also a reminder, as family members pass by, to pray and to trust that our prayers are being heard. That’s one of my favourite reasons for keeping a prayer box inside the home, as well, or for giving one as a gift. When you see the box, you’re reminded that things are supposed to go in it. In other words, the prayer box isn’t meant to gather dust; it’s meant to inspire a habit. That’s the real idea behind making a prayer box attractive – and the reason I think Iola must have decorated so many of hers. I imagined that, as each year came, she peppered a box that represented her life at the time, and then, she kept the box out where she would see it and be reminded that her Father was waiting to hear from her.

I wonder if Iola ever gave prayer boxes as gifts, just as that first box was given to her. Maybe that’s what she did with some of those many glass boxes she purchased from Sandy’s Seashell Shop. Do you think so? What better way to bind a family, help a friend struggle through an illness, see a just-married couple start off right, celebrate a tiny new life just born, send a graduate off into the world, than to give a prayer box and an explanation of what it’s for? The box can be something you buy premade or something you decorate yourself. If you’re hand-decorating it, why not personalise it with photos or favourite Scriptures?

Are you inspired to consider spreading the tradition of prayer boxing yet? I hope so. I could go on and on with ideas and stories here, but that’s another book in itself. If you’d like to learn more about how to use prayer boxes in  your church, your study group, your family, your ministry, your community, or as gifts, drop by www.LisaWingate.com for more information about prayer boxes, some examples, sample notes to include with prayer box gifts, and ideas for making, using, and giving them.

My wish for you is that, in this age-old tradition, you and others will find what Tandi found when she entered Iola’s blue room in her dream. May the glorious light fill you and shine upon you and draw you ever closer.

We all know who waits inside the light.


Lisa Wingate talks about “The Prayer Box”,

from Lisa Wingate by Tyndale House Publishers

OR if you prefer, you can watch this video on GodTube:
About the Prayer Box Novel from lisawingate on GodTube.

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Read An Excerpt of the Novel & my Favourite Passages therein:

On Lisa Wingate’s website, Chapter One of “The Prayer Box” is featured, which is where you start to realise the breadth of Ms. Wingate’s poetic voice that lights up the narrative prose as the opening scenes of The Prayer Box start to unfold.

The opening of chapter one is exactly how I draw back a breath of salt air into my being when I think of my respite whilst reading “The Prayer Box”: {page 1}

When trouble blows in, my mind always reaches for a single, perfect day in Rodanthe. The memory falls over me like a blanket, a worn quilt of sand and sky, the fibers washed soft with time. I wrap it around myself, picture the house along the shore, its bones bare to the wind and the sun, the wooden shingles clinging loosely, sliding to the ground now and then, like scales from some mystical sea creature washed ashore.

And, further into the story these passages have stayed with me: {pages 174 & 230}

What does a lighthouse do? I ask myself. It never moves. It cannot hike up its rocky skirt and dash into the ocean to rescue a foundering ship. It cannot calm the waters or clear the shoals. It can only cast light into the darkness. It can only point the way. Yet, through one lighthouse, you guide many ships. Show this old lighthouse the way.

You are not a God of endless harbors. Harbors are for stagnant sails and barnacled wood, but the sea… the sea is fresh rain and cleansing breeze and sleek sails. You are a God of winds and tides. Of journeys and storms and navigation by stars and faith. You send the ships forth to serve their purpose, but you do not send them forth alone, for the sea is yours, as well.

As well as one singular truth all parents try to get their children to understand: {page 274}

Hold the box up to the light,… See what happens to the cracks. Some of the hardest things you go through will teach you the most. Don’t let other people tell you who to be, Zoey. You are loved just the way you are.

As much as this passage reminded me of my own yearnings when losing someone I loved dearly: {page 341}

Forgive me, Father , for asking for another day yet, and another beyond that, when this one is so very beautiful. We, in our humanness, cannot help but foolishly desire eternity in this life.

Passages taken from “The Prayer Box” by Lisa Wingate. Copyright 2013 by Lisa Wingate. Used by permission by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. As stated on their Permissions page, up to 500 words can be used for non-commerical purposes; and I am under that count at 291.

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View Ms. Wingate’s Pin(terest) Board of Inspiration for The Prayer Box, which also features the e-novella prequel The Seaglass Sisters. This board provides a way to see the nibblements of the Outer Banks, North Carolina, combined with an author’s perspective of positive affirmations, sea glass jewelry, and snippets of the essences of what these two stories will reveal. On 11th of August, via Southern Belle View Daily, she shared a recipe worthy of the Carolina coastline, which has a tie-in to The Prayer Box and its prequel, The Seaglass Sisters. It set the course, for all the Belles to share wickedly smashing shrimp and crab delicacies!

On 26th of August 2013, via Southern Belle View Daily, she revealed the bounty of blessings the project “The Sisterhood of the Travelling Book” encompassed whilst readers throughout the country shared copies of The Prayer Box and became as wrapped up in the soothing legacy of Ms. Iola Anne Poole! I couldn’t help but leave a note of gratitude on that posting, as I had only mere minutes ahead of reading that post finished the very last chapter, myself! My heart was a thankful one, for having discovered this book tour and having requested to be a part of it in time to participate! I noticed that she had posted another update on the travelling books on 21 July 2013; as well as an earlier glimpse into the story, about how to re-affirm and re-attach ourselves to our younger selves, back in April. A post that I remember like it was yesterday, yet it was first read in Spring!

You see, I have this sense about the books that I receive by way of book contests, book tours, First Impressions selections, or even, books that are gifted to me, or even when a hold at the library comes through,.. there are singular moments when certain books {such as The Prayer Box}, that reach you at just the right moment your meant to read the story contained within its pages. The stories I read tend to align with a knowing murmur of something I am either facing in my own life, a contemplation on life itself, or even, a wondering curiosity of a life unknown to me yet causes a stir for me to uncover and get to know properly. There are stories that alight in our lives at just the right moment, for whichever reason, and I am thankful to recognise their arrivals as more than a passing fancy or coincidence.

The Prayer Box arrived ahead of my undertaking of my first read-a-thon {Bout of Books, 8.0}, which I contemplated whether or naught, I ought to read it ahead of the event; apparently, my hesitation had a reason beyond the knowledge of what I knew then! You see, I had to bow out of the read-a-thon on Day Six, one day short of completion, due to a bad case of food poisoning and a severe migraine! This is the blindingly horrid migraine, that doesn’t allow yourself to function properly, as waves of nausea hit you with such a strong force, its like the salt-sprayed houses that dot the Outer Banks, wondering if their prepared for their next storm, yet unwilling to yield that its too strong to overcome! I ducked away completely to ride out the first day and night, as I mentioned just how miserable that first day was on my Day Six recollection post. When I emerged, I had the blessings of a natural migraine medicine to help attack the throbbing, as I longed to sit in my comfy chair and soak myself into the Outer Banks, and the story I was eager to meet that Ms. Wingate had penned. Its interesting how quickly you can shift gears, how quickly it is to realise one goal you had a week ago now paled in view, for another one that felt more important somehow. As if you had reached this insular place for a reason. With a heavy heart, a resolute constitution, and a wearing migraine that had struck me as one to stay for the long haul, I willed myself to open The Prayer Box.

Hours melted away before I even realised that my eyes were leaden down with exhaustion, and that there was a lingering dull ache where the throbbing had been earlier. I dozed off a few times before continuing on into the story of Tandi Jo and Iola Poole, whose lifepaths were crossing into each other by such extraordinary circumstances that I felt pulled into their living sphere of uncertainty laced with hope, and a resounding calming balm of the sea-salted air that a setting like the Outer Banks can provide. I nearly felt the salt on my tongue, as that is how real it felt as though I had transported myself directly into the setting! And, I knew, after that first day I spent in Fairhope and Hatteras,… there was an undercurrent of a reason I was meant to read this book, right here, and right now.

The full measure of how impactful this book was on me, falls into a personal realm, which I will not fully disclose through public eyes. To say that it was hard to summarise my internal thoughts and feelings on a book, that came into my hands at such a pivotal moment in my life, was quite a difficult undertaking! There are so many key phrases and paragraphs that I felt were speaking directly into my heart and my soul as I read this story, that it (the book) became very personal to me. The experience of reading The Prayer Box had a very powerful effect on me personally, for which I will forevermore feel gratitude to the author for penning a story that can ignite such a powerful tug of heartstrings to such a diverse readership such as the one she has accumulated.

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The Prayer Box by Lisa WingateSoaking into the world of “The Prayer Box”, I discovered something rather extraordinary: This world was quite familiar to our own, as it takes place in the modern world, straight-out of our national weather updates on the wrecking numbness that hurricanes can wreck on any seacoast they take into their sails to plunder! Ever since the 2004-5 through 2012 storm seasons, I daresay, no one from the Gulf Coast straight through to the Jersey Shore will ever look at a hurricane in quite the same way again! When you’ve lived your life on a peninsula, storm battered and absolved of tragedy depending on the year and which way the storms blow ashore, you dig into your toes a bit at the mere mention of a ‘storm season’ on approachment! The Outer Banks were always in the back of my mind as a place I wanted to visit, yet ever so trepidaciously proposed as I knew what that particular slice of Carolina shore was used to surviving! Including the sunken remains of ships long since forgotten by most who are not keen on nautical history.

I have a cursory knowledge of the area, but what I felt and sensed as I read into Ms. Wingate’s words, were the setting of the place that beckons to those who call the Outer Banks home. There is an other worldly precipitation, a sense of belonging and longing, etched by the sea and the sands, where time itself steps back and folds in on itself. A place where tourists might bring in the commerce, but its a community set apart from its contemporary counterparts, owning to its own rhythm and pace. Its not for everyone, mind you, as there is a lulling of serenity stitched into the counterbalances. Its a place to re-define who you are and re-invent who you want to be. Surrounded by the kind patience of people you’ve only just met, who know you’re on a journey without ever asking you the details of what led you to where you currently are. There are very few places like this left in our modern world of technologic craziness. Places where the strength and integrity of interlocking your life with those you will soon call neighbours still has importance and mirth.

As I settled into the atmosphere of The Prayer Box, I knew I was setting into a place I would one day hope to find for myself. Ms. Wingate is a lyricist in her prose, as her words ebb you into Fairhope and Hatteras Village, as smooth as dew on honeysuckle. She envelopes you into the time slips, edging out of Tandi’s reality and slipping back into the life of Iola, as simple as picking up a discarded and hidden letter, meant for the one who would read the words to unlock the manifold puzzle of her life through a life lived before her. The words etch this entire world into your heart, and the pulse of the sea, and the towne make you eager to elongate your stay long past the last chapter’s fold.

Her inclusion of noting the spirituality of perspective seen vividly in seashells, sea glass, and driftwood, pieces of life and time tossed and intermixed together on a shore of a beach that may not even have a name, is a key to how magical this setting is to ebb away any doubts about how discarded and alone we all may feel at one point or another. There are elements of truth hidden in plain sight for each of us to pick up, collect, and cherish. Fragments of a living whole and an interconnected bond that we share as we walk through our lives, blessed to interact with the natural world, and find remnants of our own faith in ordinary objects that yield extraordinary truths.

Her use of secondary characters to paint the inner and outer landscape of Tandi Jo’s turmoil is a writer with a deft hand to interweave the undercurrents of a woman caught in a sea of upheaval. For me, the use of the mysterious one-eared cat is the measure of how much uncertainty and mystery is in each of our lives. There are always a lilting of the unknown, of things yet revealed to us, that keep us at bay from the darkness, if we choose to walk in the footsteps of the light, but evenso, there are times where the unknown feels ominous and oppressive. Whereas if we give into our human-felt fears, we might dip into unwanted waters. The cat mixes the doubts, the fears, and the uncertainty of not always knowing the full scope of what is happening in our lives with the pleasure of unexpected company and a sliver of joy. Cats have notoriously always been noted as being able to walk and see through the veils of our time here and into the next realms. The fact that this particular cat is midnight-coal black and quirkily more elusive than most, paints the picture of how we truly never are fully aware of everything that is going on.

The unassuming science teacher, who dresses as if humourously engaged in a perpetual private joke, and readily engages children into to the classroom outside the walls of school, makes me smile in knowing there are still good teachers out there who care about teaching and lighting a young mind up with the wonders of what is just outside our own doors. His gentle grace in acceptance and understanding, long since gained from his own tragic circumstances, is a harbour in Tandi Jo’s second beginning at living a life she was only just starting to understand how to thrive in. Paul is the type of man we all hope to meet and find ourselves interlaced with because his calm goodwill enlarges our ability to draw close towards the fissures of love.

And, where pray tell would Tandi Jo, Zoey, and JT be without the incorrigible inclusions of Brother Guilbeau and Sandy {of Sandy’s Seashell Shop}!? I didn’t focus as much on Tandi’s children {Zoey, the unhappy fourteen year old and JT the reclusive nine year old}, but through the unexpected gifts of their new neighbours and community members, all three of the residents of Iola Anne Poole’s rental cottage {er, bungalow! I can hear Brother Guilbeau correcting me as he walks through the meadow grass from the church!} go through a transformative phase. They each peel away slowly from the protective shell they came into towne with and eased into their more authentic selves one day at a time.

The fusion of long-forgotten tradition with a touch of enlightenment for the modern world: Prayer boxing has a rather long history from what I have been able to ascertain from working on this lovely review!! I hadn’t quite realised how deep into history the idea of writing down our innermost thoughts and prayers to our Heavenly Father would run, but I knew one thing: as surely as the moon and the sun, this is one of the ways man has suspended himself in time. Letters are encapsolants of our lives wound together by the words and phrases we each choose to illuminate our worlds. We each find different ways of expressing ourselves, inasmuch as the words we choose to convey our innermost desires, hopes, dreams, fears, stresses, and fallacies. When you take the time to commit the prayer to paper, it fuses itself into a new form, where its not merely a whispered prayer held silent between your mind and God’s ears, but rather a fusion of conversation intermixed with prayer, that takes on its own breath of life. You tend to expand your thoughts as you write, as the mere writing the words for a prayer box letter is the expulsion of a well come undone, running over without a cork to catch the current of water sprung forth!

To watch the interplay between reading Iola’s long-lived life play out through her letters, tolled closely to mind, one of the last books I’ve read which was Letters from Skye. Being a correspondent myself, I can attest that we tend to share our most intimate secrets and dreams spoken into the space between where our words lift out of our hearts and cast down onto the paper where pen or ink encase them. Seeing Tandi Jo’s entire being shift and flow and evolve in her understanding of life on the purist of levels, as one letter led her to another, until the entire 81 boxes spilt forth a living testament of one woman’s chosen path of how to live gave her the courage to seek out a new life for herself, and her children is beyond miraculous. Sometimes I think, letters are an everyday miracle. The words that the letter writer chooses to etch into the paragraphs and lines, sometimes has a way of resounding the truth of what the receiver needs to hear. Perhaps even, at a time the letter was first composed, the importance of what was said was not even known. This is true in real life as much as it in the reality of Tandi Jo and Iola Anne Poole.

We are all pebbles cast into a sea, finding each other when our paths are not even known to cross. I smile on this analogy as much as Chinese wisdom of understanding the red thread that connects us, heart and soul.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comMy Review of The Prayer Box:

As butterflies alight in our lives at the moment we need a reassurance of knowing someone is listening to us as we cast our thoughts heavenward whilst walking out in nature, so too, do our heartfelt prayers sometimes need a guiding force to help us understand our path in this world. Prayers are harder to give assurance towards, as they’re singularly our individualistic communication with God. Its one of the rare moments, where we are entirely alone and yet not alone at the same time. Our human nature is as such as we thrive more on communicating where we’re a component of two, rather than a solitary seeker of one. Yet. By casting these whisperments of prayer, fueled and stitched with heart, hope, and courage onto the surface of paper, inked and penned with our thoughts, we are stepping towards a new level of communication. One that allows us the tangible connection we seek. And, if we find a way to leave behind these thoughts, and memories of our lives as they were lived, without fear of judgement or criticism, to lend themselves a calming balm to someone down the road into the future, perhaps then, the circle is nearly complete, as we impart our experiences to another who needs a map to sort out their own path.

Tandi Jo is a girl not yet a grown woman in her self-image view of her current situation. She has issues with shedding the past hurts and issues she has been dealt since being forced to separate from her loving grandparents who taught and guided her when she was younger. Growing up in foster care, one placement after another, she was never taught how to trust much less how to acknowledge the difference between love and infatuation. She’s betwixt a heady situation that either could harden her more than she is, or enable her to move forward in a way that would finally shed the skins of the past, like the caterpillar who becomes the butterfly. Her entire time in the Outer Banks inside The Prayer Box, is a cocooning lesson in how to achieve true success and a living creed.

Iola Anne is a humble child of God whose faith in the everyday spillings of ‘grace’ as it trickles out into the lives of those who live around her, walks her faith in a quiet testament of philanthropy. Her life is marred and marked by the times she was bourne and raised, having come into this life at the age of servants and a class in life where the colour of your skin could hold you back. Her unexpected departure from her family home, hinged her spiritual life to her living lifepath. She learnt that a simple act of grace had more weight than any other thing she could ever hope to give. Little ripples of unknown kindnesses over a lifetime of giving back to a community she felt rooted into set the stage for one last gift to be opened.

There is more to living than existing, especially when you have two children under wing who need your guidance and your security. What I appreciated the most from the story, is the journey Tandi takes towards redemption and self-enlightenment. She truly is wrapped around the tender arms of the past, on a path towards understanding how to let go and let be, whilst finding that true friendship isn’t something that you have to force into your life. Sometimes, it walks in whilst your not expecting to find it. Sometimes life truly takes you to where you need to be in order to heal from the inside out. And, if returning to the one place where as a young girl Tandi felt the most secure and loved, then how can that not lead to her more authentic self!?

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On how being of service to others is as natural to me as drawing a breath of air:

Ever since I was a young girl, there has been a measure of kindness etched into my veins. It started even before I can draw a date to mind, whereupon my parents and I would give away food, clothes, toys, or other necessities to those in need. When I was a young girl, I gave my outgrown clothes to a young girl at my church.  She always felt special as she felt she had inherited a piece of my closet! She made me blush a bit in hearing those words of affection, but just knowing that the clothes were now loved by another was enough to make me know I had made the right choice. Its not always easy to decide what to give or know what gift is best for each situation, person, or need that your trying to fill. As I grew, those choices become compounded by local, state, national, and global calls for help. Over the past few years, I have been giving back to deployed soldiers and chaplains through Soldiers’ Angels, as I was called as a young girl to write letters, yet never knew how to fill a page worth sending! I am thankful, that 20+ years later, I would not be as gun-shy to write a letter, but be able to send little care packages of hope and faith to those who are deployed so very far away from home.

In the Spring of 2013, my Mum stumbled across two national knitting charity calls for knitters to send in 8×8 squares to form a love blanket for the victims of the Boston Bombings. This was the first time we had the opportunity to reach out on such a national level to impact the lives of those we had been holding close in thought and prayer. To not only overcome the tragedy of that day, but to rise up again, and find peace in living. On a local level this year, we were given the chance to knit in tandem six prayer shawls before the Winter holidays set in. The patterns of which were up to us to find and the yarn was provided by donations. As each stitch we knit is met by the needles that wind the patterns into graceful lines, we silently impart our prayers. These are only a few examples I am choosing to share, as the willingness to give and to serve others has become a part of my life. There are many more ways in which I would love to give one day, and I pray that I am given the opportunities to always strive towards making someone’s day or life a bit better and enriched by a kindness they were not expecting to receive. I gain a boomerang of love back each time I set my own affairs aside and focus on someone who needs what I can give.

I could directly relate to Iola Anne Poole, who hesitated in life to allow others to know what she was up too, and how much she cared about her ‘charges’, as I would refer to them as I read her story. There is something to be said that the art of giving needs no attribution, no sign of gratitude, no recognition of any kind, because the heart of the giver always wants to uplift the heart of the receiver. For this I know to be true, because it is a life that I am already living.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comJorie Loves A Story : Undertakes the Project of the Prayer Box

Inspired by the premise of the book, Jorie, her Mum {Bairbre}, and her Da decided to undertake the project of setting up a Prayer Box! She originally was going to start off by altering an office supply store’s ‘box’ for 6×9 envelopes, decorating it to reflect an introspective reflection of what the pieces and fragments of paper might reveal once their words were either spoken OR read. A project that one family chose to participate in, as an inwards journey towards acknowledging the Light that is always readily near-to-us, if we take a moment to be mindful of where we are and how we are living. However, in lieu of noticing that the prayer letters she, her Mum, & Da were composing were quite longer in length than she originally thought they would take them, a second plan materialised!! To use an Angel motif hat box to use as her family’s first prayer box!! In this way, it wouldn’t matter if their prayer letters were written by hand or composed on a computer, whichever way their hearts poured out onto the page, this prayer box could handle it!!

They started off by selecting to read passages out of: “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Tough Times: 101 Daily Devotions to Inspire & Support You in Times of Need” by Susan M. Heim & Karen C. Talcott, which Jorie won through a bookaway contest hosted by The Christian Fiction Historical Society, in April 2013. She received the book directly from an author [Marilyn Turk] , {without an obligation to post a review}, who is one of the featured writers who shared a story that speaks about the path God chooses to place us on that might run counter-current to the one we feel we are meant to walk ourselves. We read aloud Ms. Turk’s story and prayer settling into the mindset of the Prayer Box Project, aligning our thoughts and hearts towards an inward state of reflective pause, before each heading off to write their first prayer letter!

This is how they continued to begin each evening for the three weeks leading up to “The Prayer Box” release day!! After concluding dinner, the read-aloud became a calming balm and a way to not only share the stories inside a book geared towards anyone going through economic hardships but to draw an inner peace in knowing that there is a hand in the mix who is forevermore guiding us, helping us see what we feel we’re blind to seeing, and inspiring us to step forward each day with a renewed sense of Hope and Light.

Three weeks of Prayer Boxing has revealed: For Jorie, to not always be consumed by the days that tick off the clock where she hasn’t been able to write down her heart’s voiced prayers, but rather, to focus on the days where her mind and heart are conjoined in unison! Those are the days to write her prayer box letters, because the everyday for her, is generally lit with too much activity or stress, to lay a proper pause on what she wants to say or lay bare to give over to another who is better equipped to wrap his hands around the situation! Therefore, during the days she wasn’t able to write the letters, she found herself curled into a more focused prayer life, where her words were lifted silently rather than through text. The calming ebbing of uplifting stories of trial and tribulation through the devotional book set the pacing she found herself needing to serve as an anchor.

In full conclusion, the prayer box project is still underway in her family, because like life, it takes time to sort out the rhythm and pace that is best for the person who is participating. Everyone arrives at the door in their own unique way and in their own timing. The prayer box will continue to be filt with letters, both typed and hand-written, as whomever writes the letter will use the best method for them, as its not the vessel the words are on that matters, but rather, the imparting of the message to the paper, and the experience the writer achieved whilst composing it.

On 4 August 2013, Ms. Wingate wrote a spotlight post on Southern Belle View Daily, featuring a visual tutorial on how to construct a prayer box by hand using everyday objects, materials, and inspirations!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comQuestions I drew to mind, I wished I could have asked Lisa Wingate:

Ms. Wingate, throughout the hours you have spent pouring your innermost thoughts and whisperments of prayers into your own personal prayer boxes, what would you say was the most beneficial part of the experience? What draws you back to write more notes?

Ms. Wingate have you ever given away a prayer box where the receiver came back and said how it affected their life? Altered it in some way, and changed them thereafter?

Ms. Wingate you have composed a prequel {The Seaglass Sisters} as well as “The Prayer Box”, do you find yourself motivated to continue the storyline in future installments, or do you think it best to stop with these two stories?

Expanding on this, excerpts from a Q & A with Lisa Wingate:

You originally had the book set in Texas. What made you switch to the coastal setting? My special reader-friend, Ed Stevens, visited the Outer Banks (his daughter Shannon has a beach house in Duck) after Hurricane Irene, and he asked me to set a book in the Outer Banks to draw attention to the destruction there and the plight of residents—Irene was mostly thought of as a “nonevent” because it didn’t hit New York, etc. as was predicted. But the damage was very bad.

It’s a post-hurricane story, and we’ve had our share of hurricanes here in Texas. We lost our family beach houses (relatives on the coast) during Ike several years ago, so I understand the aftermath of having family treasures scattered to the tides and the feeling of losing a place you’ve loved and where you’ve made memories.

Your fans make big impacts on your writing—and your family. How did your aunt Sandy contribute toThe Prayer Box? Aunt Sandy is my mom’s sister, and while she and my mom (who I based the character Sharon on) wish I would have made them a bit younger in the book, they are great inspirations. My aunt designed her character and the Seashell Shop and made beautiful sea glass necklaces, glass boxes, and hummingbird suncatchers that will be given away as reader prizes. She is an amazing glass artist.

What’s the overall message? In this cyber age, it’s more important than ever to equip families with ideas for generating family table talk and storytelling. My first mainstream novel, Tending Roses, was inspired by stories shared by my grandmother. I’ve since watched that book travel around the world, and her stories— those simple remembrances from a farmwife’s life—have affected many lives. Our stories have amazing power and value, yet we’re in danger of losing that tradition of sharing our stories, particularly with the next generation.

Tell us about the e-novella prequel toThe Prayer Box you’re releasing in July. Titled The Sea Glass Sisters, this is a story of the sisterhood in Sandy’s Seashell Shop, a prominent theme in The Prayer Box. In this prequel, Sandy’s sister, Sharon, and Sharon’s daughter Elizabeth travel to the Outer Banks determined to convince Sandy to move back to the family land in Michigan and give up Sandy’s Seashell Shop before the financial costs of hurricane repairs bankrupt Sandy. The three women end up riding out the second hurricane on the Outer Banks and form a life-changing sisterhood.

How did you write twenty books in twelve years with kids at home? I’ve always loved to write, but I didn’t get serious about freelance writing and selling until after I’d graduated college, married, and started a family. I wrote and sold various smaller projects in between naps, diapers, and playgroups. And when the boys were older, during soccer practices, in carpool lines, while helping with homework, and in all sorts of other situations.

People often ask me if I need quiet in order to write. With boys in the house, if I’d waited for quiet, the writing would never have happened. I learned to lose myself in a story amid the noise of life and I loved it that way.

I asked myself what makes a story last, what really makes a story worth telling and worth reading? I wanted to write books that meant something, that explore the human soul.

I came across a notebook in which I’d written some of my grandmother’s stories. I’d never known quite what to do with those stories, but I knew they were significant in my life. When I rediscovered the notebook, I had the idea of combining my grandmother’s real stories with a fictional family who is like and unlike my own family. That little germ of an idea became my first women’s fiction novel, Tending Roses.

Now that the boys are practically grown and the house is often quiet, I’m redefining the writing routine again. Just as in books, life is a series of scenes and sequels, beginnings and endings, and new discoveries.

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This blog tour is courtesy of:

The Prayer Box Virtual Book Tour

“The Prayer Book” Virtual Book Tour Roadmap:

  1. 20 August: Review & Book Feature @ Sorry Television
  2. 25 & 26 August: Guest Post & Review  @ Afternoon Bookery
  3. 29 August: Guest Post @ Books a La Mode
  4. 31 August / 1 September: Review & Interview @ To Be A Person
  5. 1 September: Review @ Jorie Loves A Story
  6. 3 September: Review @ Kritter’s Ramblings
  7. 4 September: Interview @ SupaGurls Blog
  8. 5 September: Review @ Tanya’s Book Nook
  9. 6 September: Review @ Tattooed Books
  10. 7 September: Review @ Karma for Life Chick
  11. 9 September: Review @ Lit Lit Learn
  12. 10 September: Review @ Bless Their Hearts Mom

IF you came into the tour a bit late in the schedule be sure to go back around and see what everyone has featured on their respective blogs! Good books like these are meant to be celebrated and savoured! Enjoy your ‘roadmap’ and travels!!

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“Seaglass Sisters” Book Trailer, from Lisa Wingate

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“The Prayer Box” Book Trailer by Tyndale House Publishers

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “The Prayer Box”, Lisa Wingate’s photograph and biography, the Author’s Note about ‘The Prayer Box”, the Q & A with Lisa Wingate, and the blog tour badge were all provided by JKS Communications Literary Publicity Firm and used with permission. Both the interview with Ms. Wingate and the book trailers by Tyndale House Publishers & Lisa Wingate had either URL share links or coding which made it possible to embed these respective media portals to this post, and I thank them for this opportunity to share more about this novel and the author who penned it. Passages taken from “The Prayer Box” by Lisa Wingate. Copyright 2013 by Lisa Wingate. Used by permission by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. As stated on their Permissions page, up to 500 words can be used for non-commerical purposes; and I am under that count at 291. Blog Tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2013.


Posted Sunday, 1 September, 2013 by jorielov in Balance of Faith whilst Living, Blog Tour Host, Book Trailer, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, JKS Communications: Literary Publicity Firm, Life Shift, Mother-Son Relationships, Single Mothers, The Outer Banks, Women's Fiction