Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far In 2015

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme feature created at The Broke and the Bookish. We’d love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists. For the list of past topics and future schedule, click here.

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Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far In 2015

The year is already half over? Already? Where has time gone? Wow.

I don’t think I’m ready to be halfway through the year!

The Super Cowboy Rides ~ Daris Howard

This book is a great example detailing what it is like to grow up, giving young readers concrete examples of how to live the morals their family teaches and be a compassionate and kind person.

Timmy Johnson is the kind of kid you want to be friends with in grade school. He’ll stick by your side like Crazy Glue and stand up for you when it’s needed. He has a kind, beautiful heart for a young boy. However, he’s the target of the school’s gang of bullies. His only fault? He can’t read, and his teacher treats him as if he is totally unteachable and stupid. (Each time a classroom scene came up, it made my blood broil!)

Timmy’s life is filled with some exciting things, but school is not one of them. Timmy definitely has an imagination! He uses it expertly in church. 😉 He has plenty of siblings who help him get in or out of trouble, and he forges bonds of friendship with his dog and the little lamb he is gifted with.

Candle in the Darkness ~ Lynn Austin

Caroline’s character is what makes this book momentous for me. Even though she is a Southerner, born and raised in the South, she doesn’t see the institution and societal nuances of slavery as other Southerners. Instead, her character views slavery under a humanitarian microscope. She is strong and bold in the ways she can be, and I wholeheartedly loved her character.

This book does have a slight religious aspect to it, predominately through Eli’s interactions with Caroline, but it is not overly preachy.

Baxter’s Draw (Lockwood Legacy #2) ~ Juliette Harper

Baxter’s Draw reveals A LOT of craziness that the Lockwoods’ stalwart father, Langston, kept hidden from them their entire lives. The man they thought they knew as their father takes on such a complexity with the new discoveries, as well as some strange things that he did.

I enjoyed the relationships between the characters – as well as a new character added to the mix, to aid the sisters in how to protect and retain the heritage their father so carefully crafted.

Alice’s Portait (Lockwood Legacy #3) ~ Juliette Harper

The novelty continues in the third installment, and the focus hones in on Jenny digging into her parents’ marriage and their past. After what is revealed in Baxter’s Draw, the girls continue to put together the pieces even though they know danger is lurking.

What I loved most about this installment is that the bond between Kate and Jenny, and the supports the men give to the three sisters. This book is all about relationships, and I loved seeing these aspects of the characters as individuals.

The First Fight (School for Adventurers #1) ~ Kara Loo, Jennifer Young

 It’s like Hogwarts meets Looking for Alaska … but with thieves and warriors, too! Just like in HP, students range from every socioeconomic background, and being royalty or upper class has no bearing on placement within the school.

The characters – and there are a handful to keep up with – are what make this book so enjoyable, in addition to the thievery and other antics. The writing was wonderful and flowed well, the dialogue between characters was excellent, and the plot was fast-paced. I consider this a great read for everyone, from YA age into adulthood.

Frankie Dupont and the Lemon Festival Fiasco (Frankie Dupont #2) ~ Julie Anne Grasso

 It’s Frankie. His antics and investigative style make the books, and this one is definitely having him chasing circles, which always makes for a good mystery. As soon as he ties up one point in the investigation, something else unravels. I loved sleuthing along with Frankie trying to figure things out myself.

The variety of characters and the interactions between characters is something I applaud in the Frankie Dupont series. There is never any room for boredom!

You Can’t Get Blood Out of Shag Carpet (Study Club Mystery #1) ~ Juliette Harper

Alright, Juliette Harper has appeared three times on this list. Yes, her writing is that good to be worth checking out. This new mystery club series is a spin-off of The Lockwood Legacy above, comprising of “the old ladies” I mention in the review of Alice’s Portrait. These women never leave anything upturned in their town, and they are hot on the trail of the latest crime.

This series is compromised of a strong cast of female characters who cloister themselves away from prying eyes to take care of their business, whatever it may be. Due to this, they have very strong and interdependent relationships, and the language, dialogue and thought processes reveal this. Like with Frankie Dupont, I was constantly sleuthing alongside the gals, and I took immense delight in the humor (and language used) in this first installment.

 A Batter of Life and Death (Bakeshop Mystery #2) ~ Ellie Alexander 

Jules is back! Well, really, she never left. She is still in Ashland, helping out with the family bakeshop, Torte. The season is now changing to fall, and the rile of the summer has started to cool off. Now, there is a television network pastry show coming to town to film a reality show on location, and Torte’s kitchen will be used! What’s more is Jules has the opportunity at the last minute to join the competition to compete for $25,000. That would definitely help update Torte! Until somebody needs to kill for that kind of dough.

The characters were so lovable in this second installment. I got to see so much more of Jules, and I could identify easily with how she feels about the relationships in her life. An all-around great read!

 Hope In Every Raindrop ~ Wesley Banks

The writing. Oh, the writing. This novel is a blend of new adult, romance and literary fiction with such seamless writing. Katie, the MC, is such an interesting person. I loved seeing her in the roles as a writer, daughter, and woman. Katie is a young writer – a young, repeated bestselling writer in a single year – but she has lost all inspiration for writing. When faced with an ultimatum, Katie follows in her father’s footsteps to find her next story.

It takes one special Santa look-alike to help Katie realize the story she has traveled so far to write isn’t quite what she expected. She thought she was writing about the Carolina grays – but she finds her story is about something else entirely. I wish there were going to be a second installment, but I don’t think there will be. :/

 A Time for Everything ~ Mysti Parker

I didn’t realize at first this was set during the antebellum era, which is a time period that I have always liked since learning about it in school. Who am I kidding? I just love U.S. history. Portia McAllister is suffering horribly after losing her child and husband to the ravages of the Civil War. At only 25, she decides to leave everything behind and make a fresh start as a live-in tutor. But she is a Confederate widow in a Union household. Her welcome into the Stanford household is far from welcoming, and her task of teaching is even more difficult. It’s not the young Stanford boy that needs the teaching, though – it’s his war veteran and widower father who is also suffering.

I adored this book! The growth in all of the characters is such a beautiful thing. Portia does find her place and her young pupil grows and glows under her tutelage. I loved seeing their relationship blossom.

Release + Giveaway: A Batter of Life and Death

Today we are excited to announce the release of A Batter of Life and Death by Ellie Alexander! This is the second book in the Bakeshop Mystery series and is now available for sale!

***** Guest Post *****

Welcome to Ashland, Oregon the home of the world famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival and home to the fictional family bakeshop Torte and pastry chef Juliet (Jules) Capshaw.


Torte is more than a bakeshop it’s a gathering place for neighbors and friends. Whether you’ve lived in Ashland for your entire life or are just passing through to catch a production of Shakespeare under the stars, at Torte everyone is family. Jules and her staff handcraft delectable cakes and baked goods and offer up a listening ear to everyone who walks through Torte’s front door. That makes it the perfect setting for murder. Sometimes the sweets at Torte are to die for—literally.

While Torte (and murder) may be fictional in A Batter of Life and Death, the town of Ashland is very real and oh so charming. The plaza downtown is a hub for artists, foodies, musicians and travelers from every corner of the globe. Spend an afternoon strolling through Lithia Park with its meandering paths, gorgeous fountains, hiking trails, and ancient trees. Stop for a pint at Oberon’s Tavern or an afternoon sweet at Mix, and then wander up to the bricks to catch a spectacular live show.

One of my favorite things about writing the Bakeshop Mystery series is introducing readers to Ashland and the surrounding areas. I hope that readers will enjoy getting a little glimpse into the world of the theater, Shakespeare, a family bakeshop, and Southern Oregon.

Happy reading and baking!

~Ellie Alexander

***** About the Book *****

A Batter of Life and DeathWelcome to Torte–a small-town family bakeshop where the coffee is hot, the muffins are fresh, and the cakes are definitely to die for…

It’s autumn in Ashland, Oregon–’tis the season for a spiced hot apple cider with a serving (or two) of Torte’s famous peach cobbler. It’s also the perfect time for Jules Capshaw to promote her family’s beloved bake shop by competing in The Pastry Channel’s reality show, Take the Cake. The prize is $25,000. But as Jules quickly learns, some people would kill for that kind of dough. Literally.

Then, just as Jules dusts off her Bavarian Chocolate Cake recipe and cinches up her apron, the corpse of a fellow contestant is discovered–death by buttercream. What began as a fun, tasteful televised adventure has morphed into something of a true-crime detective show for Jules and everybody else on set. Who could have killed Chef Marco, and why? Can Jules sift out the killer before someone else gets burned?

Make sure to check out book one, Meet Your Baker!
 

***** About the Author *****

Ellie Alexander is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter to learn more.

***** Giveaway ****

Signed copy of Meet Your Baker and A Batter of Life and Death, 1 pound coffee, Oregon Chai, Gourmet cupcake liners (US)

Ends July 21st

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway! 

This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.

Review: A Time for Everything

I am thrilled to be sharing another of Mysti Parker’s works! I fell in love with her writing last year after reading her Tallenmere series. If you wanna know more about those books, you can read my reviews here, here, and here. Hearts in Exile really got to me. Mysti has also appeared on the blog a couple of times (here and here). She’s a much loved author in the Land of 1000 Wonders.

I was excited when she asked me out of the blue if I would read her newest work, A Time for Everything. I knew nothing about it, but I didn’t need to! Right now A Time for Everything is on sale! It is such a wonderful read with a lot of character growth. It’s a lot of warm fuzzies. 🙂

Title: A Time for Everything
Author: Mysti Parker
Publisher: EsKape Press
Release Date: July 2015
Length: 336 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Historical Romance

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

After losing her husband and only child to the ravages of the Civil War, twenty-five-year-old Portia McAllister is drowning in grief. When she sees an ad for a live-in tutor in another town, she leaves everything behind in hopes of making a fresh start. But as a Confederate widow in a Union household, she is met with resentment from her new charge and her employer, war veteran Beau Stanford.

Despite their differences, she and Beau find common ground and the stirrings of a second chance at love—until his late wife’s cousin, Lydia, arrives with her sights set on him. Burdened with a farm on the brink of bankruptcy, Beau is tempted by Lydia’s hefty dowry, though Portia has captured his heart.

In another time and another place, his choice would be easy. But love seems impossible amid the simmering chaos of Reconstruction that could boil over at any moment into an all-out battle for survival. Will Beau and Portia find their way into each other’s arms, or will they be swept away by raging forces beyond their control?

***** Review *****

The Skinny

Grief-stricken Portia “Po” McAllister needs a fresh start. She can’t keep relying on her late husband’s family to care for her, so she answers an ad to tutor a young boy. She makes the move and quickly realizes she is not as welcomed or sure about this idea. As a Confederate widow going into a Union household, there was a lot of disdain over differences of opinions in a time when they were highly volatile…and could get one killed because of them.

But Portia is there to teach young Jonny. Education is something that Portia values strongly, and she sets to work immediately with her charge. There’s just a few problems that are snags in Portia’s well-laid plans, which she takes in stride. She quickly becomes Jonny’s confidante and champion. His isn’t the only heart she’s stolen, but things all change when young, buxom Lydia Stanford waltzes back into town with her eyes dead set on marrying Beau.

Beau’s late wife, the war, and the aftermath at home all play pivotal roles in the novel that affect Beau’s and Portia’s decisions.

The Players

Portia – She is a young widowed woman who is at the end of her rope. Answering the Stanford’s ad for a tutor is her saving grace. She is outspoken, determined, and capable. Despite coming from a Confederate household, she by no means believes in the tenets of the Confederacy, and welcomes the opportunity to teach black children. She begins to heal in her work with Jonny, and has the best of hearts and intentions.

Beau – Beauregard Stanford is a middle-aged man who suffered gravely due to the Civil War. Like Portia, he lost his dear wife during the war, and as a result he lost it. This has impacted all around him, and caused a great rift between him and his son. He is struggling emotionally, mentally and physically. He works incredibly hard to build up the horse farm business to what it was before the war.

Jonny – Jonny is only ten, but he has seen ugliness of the world. He has not spoken since his father returned from the war and lost his mind, as Bessie puts it. He is a bright, kind boy who yearns for the love of his father. He blossoms under Portia’s TLC and teaching.

Ezra – Ezra, or Pa, is Beau’s father. Despite his age, he is very much involved in the running and upkeep of the place. He has been known to meddle and try to set Beau up with a new wife, however, Portia’s hiring is all for Jonny. Ezra is hands-on in the work under Beau’s directions, but has no problem asserting his authority.

Bessie & Isaac – These are a beautiful married couple, “the help” around the place. They are free, but stay with the family. Bessie and Isaac raised Beau like their own son, right alongside their own. Bessie’s role is largely compromised as an unofficial mother.

Harry – Harry is like a brother to Beau and quite a charmer. They grew up together, went off to war together. They come home together, but Harry never recovered from his injuries. Instead, he has found a way to numb them, and it is a nasty business he gets mixed up in, and he tries Beau’s patience many times.

Lydia – The little cousin of Beau’s late wife, she is the spitting image of Claire, but not at all the same. Where Claire was kind and gracious, Lydia is not. Both women come from monied, socialite families. Lydia can bat her eyelashes like an angel and whisper cruelties in her next breath.

Beau and Harry have a complex life, intricately woven around the vestiges of the war.Whereas Beau came home and grieved and locked it all away to recover, Harry found other, unsavory and dangerous, means of dealing with his pain. It is something that Beau does not condone, but also does not put a stop to, and it comes at a price. A very high price.

Portia and Jonny develop a beautiful and loving relationship once Jonny accepts Portia. Jonny blooms under Portia’s loving care, because Jonny requires that before he can let her in. They become each other’s companions as Jonny grows and confides in Portia.

Bessie and Portia also develop a beautiful friendship. It is stunning how much growth occurs in their relationship, from the cold hatred in Bessie’s voice, eyes and manner when Portia first steps into the Stanford home, to the tears of pain and heartache when she leaves it.

First Impressions

I’ve read Mysti’s work before, and there is always a beautiful love story seamlessly weaved within. I knew I could expect that, but I didn’t know much more.

Second Thoughts

The cover looks like a typical romance read, right?

The book is SO much more than that. It’s a complex web of societal constructs in a very important historical time.

There is definitely the statement of equality stated, given the context of the setting, but I think the more overarching theme of the novel was acceptance and love. Accept those for who they are – judgement free – and simply love them. No one is not worth love.

Portia highly values education, and is in the minority in her thoughts that black children also deserve an education – as a right. She is challenged to teach a black child, and she does rise to the occasion. Despite all of the Stanford household’s first opinions of Portia, she has a heart that is wide open to love. She doesn’t have one bad bone in her body.

There is not a dull moment in Portia’s new life. Something is always happening, and as volatile as the war was, so is the Stanford household and the emotions Portia feels. Beau opens up to her slowly, but once Lydia arrives to stake her claim, things quickly go downhill. I wouldn’t say they regress – but there is a serious decline in their relationship.

Lydia Clemons. Pure evil smothered in blonde curls and a dress. Although Lydia does show character growth, and has a memorable exit, I still couldn’t really get behind liking her. She complicates so much in life when she comes back into town with her parents, and her father further complicates the lives of Beau and all those he loves. The backlash of the time is evident, and the threats on life are real.

Portia is such a beautiful character. She is ready to walk away from what she has come to love in order to give Beau the space he needs to do what he needs to do for those he loves, and for what is right.

***** About the Author *****

 Mysti Parker (pseudonym) is a full time wife, mother of three, and a writer. Her first novel, A Ranger’s Tale was published in January, 2011 by Melange Books, and the second in the fantasy romance series, Serenya’s Song, was published in April 2012. The highly anticipated third book, Hearts in Exile, came out in June 2013. The Tallenmere series has been likened to Terry Goodkind’s ‘Sword of Truth’ series, but is probably closer to a spicy cross between Tolkien and Mercedes Lackey.

Mysti’s other writings have appeared in the anthologies Hearts of Tomorrow, Christmas Lites, and Christmas Lites II. Her flash fiction has appeared on the online magazine EveryDayFiction. She serves as a class mentor in Writers Village University’s seven week online course, F2K. Currently, she’s working on her first historical romance and has two children’s books in the hands of a hard-working agent.

When she’s not writing, Mysti reviews books for SQ Magazine, an online specfic publication, and is the proud owner of Unwritten, a blog voted #3 for eCollegeFinder’s Top Writing Blogs award. She resides in Buckner, KY with her husband and three children.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Sunday Post (June 28)

Sunday PostThe Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news, a post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things received, and share news about what is coming up on the blog for the week ahead. To get in on the Sunday funday, see the rules here: Sunday Post Meme.  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This past week leads up to one of the biggest festivals in my hometown, with everything culminating on Saturday with a parade (over 100 entries), arts and crafts booths, amazing food, softball and volleyball tournaments, competitions and tons of other vendors. I’ve gone every year – including in the womb. This is when all of the classes have their reunions, and they always have a float in the parade. Last year three years ago (holy mole) my class had our 5 year reunion. We went all out with a flatbed 18 wheeler float complete with kiddie pools and water guns. I’ll be sharing more pictures later this week from this year’s festivities. 🙂

I also had my (unofficial) godson only one day this week. We got our summer on!

~ Last Week  on G1000W ~

Last week was kind of sparse on the blog, thanks to my summer reading slump. I think I’m back into things now!

~ This Week on G1000W ~

  • Monday
    • Review ~ A Time for Everything
  • Tuesday
    • Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Books of 2015
  •  Wednesday
    • WWW Wednesday
  • Thursday
    • Thoughts on Thursday ~ Why I Love Romances
    • Blast + Giveaway ~ Stick in the Mud
  • Friday
    • Feature Follow Friday ~ First Book

~ Other Giveaways ~

~ Around Town in the Spotlight ~

Feature Follow Friday (June 26)

Alison Can Read Feature & FollowIt is the Friday Feature Follow!

This is a weekly blog meme hosted by Parajunkee’s View and Alison Can Read.

Here are the general rules to Follow Friday:
1. Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts (links above) and any one else you want to follow on the list
2. Follow our Featured Bloggers
3. Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing.
4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say hi in your comments
5. Follow Follow Follow as many as you can
6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love…and the followers
7. If you want to show the link list, just follow the link below the entries and copy and paste it within your post!
8. If your new to the follow Friday hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!
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The Question:

Is there a book that you were required to read in school that you actually loved? – Natalie Hearts Books

My Answer: 

Yes! There were several, actually. Thinking back to the required readings makes me realize just how many books we read through the years. Unfortunately, it’s the most that some will read in their lifetime. 😦

7th Grade

  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
  • The Outsiders

8th Grade

  • The Giver

9th/10th Grade (I had the same teacher both years, so they kinda blur together)

  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • And Then There Were None / Ten Little Indians
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • A Farewell to Arms – I didn’t love, but I really, really liked
  • Julius Ceasar

11th Grade

  • Night
  • Ender’s Game
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

12th Grade (Ironically, this was my favorite English teacher and I can’t remember what we read!)

  • A Streetcar Named Desire
  • King Lear
  • Macbeth
Cannery Row

College

  • Cannery Row
  • Looking for Alaska
  • He Forgot to Say Goodbye
  • The Hunger Games – strictly from the teaching standpoint I mentioned here
  • Monster – Walter Dean Meyers is now a go-to for my male students
  • The Remains of the Day
  • Regeneration
  • various short stories from anthologies

Did you fall in love with any required readings? Leave a comment with your response and your Friday Follow. 

WWW Wednesdays (June 24)

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This is a weekly meme hosted by MizB @ Should Be Reading. To join in, click on the image above, and answer the following three questions.


What are you currently reading? 

I’m squeezing this one in before I get to my next tour book. A Time for Everything is a historical romance, which I love! So far, it has proven quite interesting and humorous.

After losing her husband and only child to the ravages of the Civil War, twenty-five-year-old Portia McAllister is drowning in grief. When she sees an ad for a live-in tutor in another town, she leaves everything behind in hopes of making a fresh start. But as a Confederate widow in a Union household, she is met with resentment from her new charge and her employer, war veteran Beau Stanford.

Despite their differences, she and Beau find common ground and the stirrings of a second chance at love—until his late wife’s cousin, Lydia, arrives with her sights set on him. Burdened with a farm on the brink of bankruptcy, Beau is tempted by Lydia’s hefty dowry, though Portia has captured his heart.

I snagged a FREE audiobook of Great Expectations (narrated by Anton Lesser) to complete my Classic square on my bingo card. I listened to about 1/3 of the book the first day, but I haven’t picked it back up since.

This is my second attempt with this book. I originally started reading it for 9th or 10th grade AP English (summer reading) and just could not do it.

I’m not sure if audiobooks are the thing for me, as I didn’t enjoy it overly much. To give credit, I was furiously cleaning – that was the day I noticed Baby had fleas from the vet – but I’m also not digging the narrator. Hopefully it’s just the narrator (sorry, Anton!). I want to like audiobooks…if only to help out my reading numbers. 😉

How do you get these free audiobooks? Find out here.


 What did you just finish reading?

I finished A Batter of Life and Death and I think I like it even more than the first in the series. I can’t decide – it’s a close call.

Jules is still in her hometown of Ashland, where she and her mother operate the family bakeshop, Torte. It is a local hot spot and has landed Jules a new opportunity to promote the bakeshop by competing on a pastry reality show. The $25,000 prize money would definitely help out Torte, but Jules quickly learns that some would kill for that kind of dough.

You can read my review of the first book in the series, Meet Your Baker.

Look for my review of A Batter of Life and Death in early July.


 What do you think you’ll read next?

Last week I said this would be my next read, but I need a quick breather in between tour books. I loved the last one, but it took a lot out of me and I need some recoup time with a favorite genre.

I have the feeling that Teresa of the New World is going to be an intense read. I don’t know why, but every time I look at the cover or read the synopsis, I get this foreboding that it’s going to be much more than I’m expecting. I am excited to read about the historical aspect and time period. That’s right up my alley, and a time period I haven’t read too much about.

 


 How about you? What are you reading this week?

Leave a comment with your answers! Share the link to your WWW Wednesday post OR leave your answers in the comments if you don’t have a blog. Happy Reading! 🙂

Review + Giveaway: Hope In Every Raindrop

HopeInEveryRaindrop_Banner

I am excited to share this new novel! Hope In Every Raindrop is a new adult, clean romance. I also have a guest post from author Wesley Banks about small towns. To see what’s going on at the rest of the tour stops, visit the tour schedule.

Title: Hope In Every Raindrop
Author: Wesley Banks
Release Date: May 2015
Length: 201 pages
Series?: no
Genre: New Adult, Romance

kindle-final-jpgFind the book: Goodreads | Kindle | Nook | iBooks

“Small towns have big stories.” That was a lesson Katie’s father taught her years ago. A lesson she’s taken to heart. And right now, Katie is desperate for a big story. Reeling from the recent loss of her father and with her agent breathing down her neck for the next book, the twenty-one-year-old writer picks a spot on the map and finds herself bound for a middle-of-nowhere town called Bishopville, South Carolina.

Taking a chance on the words of a local grocer, Katie stumbles upon a rare breed of dogs raised by the town doctor and his nephew Kyle. The only problem? Kyle isn’t interested in telling stories—especially not to a big-city girl who can’t seem to sit still. In an attempt to win him over as the clock winds down, Katie finds herself immersed in Kyle’s world, doing everything but writing.

When inspiration finally strikes, Katie is faced with an unforeseen catastrophe and a truth she can no longer ignore. While she has come to love the dogs, the real story may be about Kyle Walker.

***** Guest Post *****

10 Reasons to Live in a Small Town

Small town life isn’t for everyone. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true. However, in the case of Kyle Walker and Hope In Every Raindrop, small town life is the only life he knows. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.

Here are 10 reasons to live in a small town.

1.       Everyone knows everyone. This means your name matters. You’re not just another teacher, doctor, or engineer. You’re the teacher, doctor, or engineer. And everyone knows it.

2.       Life doesn’t move so fast. Have you ever heard the saying, “Stop and smell the roses?” In small towns there’s no need to say it. You’re not walking down the street nose in your cell phone, or rushing to your next big meeting. You’re living life as it’s meant to be lived. Enjoying every moment.

3.       Family matters…a lot. It’s not that family doesn’t matter in larger cities, it’s just that it’s typically more of a priority in smaller towns. It’s a great environment to raise a kid.

4.       The great outdoors. Have you ever noticed how many people leave big cities to go on vacation? To get back to the peace and calm and wonder that is nature? Small towners have a greater focus (daily) on the outdoors.

5.       Do it yourself is an actual thing. How many do it yourself (DIY) blogs do you follow? Seriously. There’s not a good explanation for this, but in small towns the answer to “Can I fix this?” is always “Yes.”

6.       Fun has a whole new meaning. Movie theater? Shopping downtown? Bars and clubs? Nope. Playing cool, and completely made up games with friends? That’s a small town.

7.       Stars, stars, and more stars. I’m not talking about Zac Efron or Jennifer Lawrence. I’m talking about the stars you see at night when you look up. There’s no skyscrapers or smog blocking out the starlight in small towns. And it’s amazing.

8.       There’s always parking, but no parking lots. You just kind of drive where you need to go and then stop when you get there.

9.       Peace and quiet. If you’re a writer or a reader you will absolutely love the peace and quiet.

10.   The simple life. Somehow in big cities we get too caught up with things that aren’t that important. Small town life is simple. Food, shelter, a good book, fun with your friends and family, your health. Those are the things that matter. Oh, and of course your dog.

***** Review *****

The Skinny

This novel is a blend of new adult, romance and literary fiction. The writing is done so seamlessly it’s hard to realize how to place this novel into a genre.

Katie is a young writer – a young, repeated bestselling writer in a single year – but she has lost all inspiration for writing. Her agent is chomping at the bit for the next book’s draft Katie has said she’s been working on. When faced with an ultimatum, Katie follows in her father’s footsteps to find her next story.

A stroke of fate lands Katie in Bishopville, South Carolina with an old-fashioned, country doctor, a strong, guarded young man and a pack of dogs that have an interesting history…and do even more interesting things.

The Players

“How did I ever write a New York Times Best Seller?” she said out loud.

Katie –  Katie is grasping at straws to keep her agent and publisher off her back, but she doesn’t have a story at all. She doesn’t feel the inspiration to write. She’s young – only 21 – and skyrocketed into the big leagues of the publishing world. She takes matters into her own hands and follows in her father’s footsteps to get her story.

It was like his eyes judged her as a person even as his words judged her as a writer.

Kyle – Kyle is a strong, silent young man who formed a bond with a new breed of wild dogs – the Carolina grays. He lives in the barn out at his uncle’s place and is constantly dealing with ignoring tourists and passers by who want to see the dogs and the extraordinary work he does with them. Kyle is very hard to get a read on, and quite aloof.

Perhaps a few inches over six feet, his legs were like tree trunks against his jeans, and his forearms looked more like calves as he wrapped his hand around a large walking staff that stopped just past his shoulders. He had a neatly trimmed white beard and his hair was pulled back in a ponytail that hung barely above his shoulders. Every facet of him seemed imposing. Until he smiled. 

Doc – Doc is a good ol’ Carolina man. He’s the local doctor and at times gets pulled away from the farm. He welcomes Katie with open arms and sets her up to work. He is Kyle’s uncle and sometimes has to assert that authority over his standoffish nephew.

Kyle swiveled around in his chair as the back door opened and Katie walked through. Earl followed, talking all the way. 

“…four common whales in California? The gray whale, the humpback whale, the blue whale and the fin whale. The blue whale can be over one hundred tons!”

“Earl! How many times do I gotta tell you the customers don’t want to hear that nonsense?”

Earl looked at Pearl with a straight face. “Everyone likes whales.” Then her turned back around and walked right out the door still talking. “I mean, there is a whole television station on whales…”

Other than these three, there are two characters in town that are quite charming. Pearl’s Place is where Kyle and Doc get their supplies, but Pearl, the proprietor, is like a “wise grandmother” and Earl is a technology guru. Earl is eager for conversation and engagement. He cracked me up – like a little old man tinkering away but ready to strike a conversation with anyone while under Pearl’s thumb. Pearl and Earl point Katie in the right direction to get her story.

And then there are the dogs. There are many of them, paired up like sled dogs, but the one who takes prominence in the story is King. He was the first dog, whom Kyle discovered as an orphaned pup. They have an exceptional relationship that is tested in the book.

Brilliant plan, Katie. Write a book about a bunch of dogs and the least talkative person on the planet.

Katie was a very well-rounded character, and I appreciated all of the facets to her as a daughter, writer, and woman. I could understand her frustration with stoic and silent Kyle, but also how she turned some of that into humor on her own part. Doc is like the proverbial Santa Claus. Who doesn’t love Santa? He has the patience of a saint to put up with Kyle, but he is gentle as a lamb. Kyle, on the other hand, rubbed me the wrong way for the longest time…until more of his story was revealed.

Doc leads both Katie and Kyle in a journey of understanding one another. He creates the buffer between the two until they are comfortable enough for Kyle to open up and Katie to write the story she has come so far to write.

First Impressions

At first I had no idea what I was doing with this book. I admit it was a relationship purely based on cover love. Intriguing covers always get me!

Second Thoughts

Kyle is a lot more than meets the eye, but it’s hard to understand that by his natural hardened exterior. There is much more to this young man than Katie could ever have guessed, and she slowly discovers this piece by little piece as she whittles away life in Bishopville while working with Doc and Kyle. Kyle is so in sync with the dogs, which is why he works so well with them.

“Often times when a person looks at a dog they forget that the dog doesn’t look back at them the same way. When she sees you she doesn’t see a pretty brunette girl that loves to write. She sees the way your shoulders are slightly angled towards her. She notices the few strands of hair not tucked behind your ear. She watches the subtle part in your lips. The dogs see everything. The way you walk, the lightness or heaviness of a single step. The way you look at things, with curiosity or insecurity. Even the way you breathe. They take the time to notice the details that we often take for granted. All their decisions are based on these details.”

I thought this was a very powerful moment in the book, and also provided a turning point for Katie. It sure opened my eyes, that’s for sure!

The title comes from writings of Katie’s father. Kyle grew up with these sentiments, never knowing they came from anyone other than Doc. It was an interesting connection that linked them all together and showed just how perfect Katie’s search for her story is.

The writing of this novel is so relaxed in the writing style, yet controlled in what is revealed and how it is revealed. It is an interesting dynamic that suited well for the relationship between Katie and Kyle, as well a reader with the writing itself and the story that Katie eventually comes to write.

This is a book with many complexities, which is always welcomed to my shelves. There is a depth to this book that has such strong and touching moments – and lessons – to share with others.

***** About the Author *****

wesley-bio-300x460Wesley Banks was born in 1983 and grew up on the west coast of Florida. He graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Civil Engineering.  After spending over 7 years building movable bridges from Florida to Washington he decided to focus on his true passion: writing.

Wesley recently moved from Florida to Oregon to get back to the great outdoors that he’s love so much. He lives with his wife Lindsey, and his two dogs Linkin and Story. Most of his time these days is spent writing, with as much rock climbing, hiking, or skiing as they can fit in.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

***** Giveaway *****

The author will be giving away $25 Amazon Gift Card and 2 ebook copies of “Hope in Every Raindrop” to the winners of the below Rafflecopter.  The giveaway ends July 7th.

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.