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review 2019-12-15 10:00
A Season to Dance Review and GIVEAWAY!
 
 

About the Book

 


Book:  A Season to Dance

Author: Patricia Beal

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

Release Date: May, 2017

Ana Brassfield has her path to the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House all figured out until her first love, renowned German dancer Claus Gert, returns to Georgia to win her back. Despite a promising start towards her ballet career and pending marriage to landscape architect, Peter Engberg, Ana wonders if her dreams of dancing at the Met are as impossible as her previous romantic relationship with Claus.

Then, an on-stage kiss between Ana and Claus changes everything.

Convinced the kiss is more than a one-time mistake, Peter breaks off their engagement. With an old dog crippled by arthritis and dreams deferred but not left behind, Ana moves to Germany to be with Claus. But the ghost of his late wife, Ana’s own feelings for Peter, and the pressure of earning a spot in a large ballet company are a high price for a shot at success. Ana seems on the verge of having everything she ever dreamed of, but will it be enough?


Click HERE to get your copy!  

About the Author

 


Patricia Beal is a 2015 Genesis semi-finalist and First Impressions finalist. A Season to Dance is her debut novel (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, May 2017). Her second novel comes out in February of 2020. Patricia graduated magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati in 1998 with a B.A. in English Literature and has worked for the U.S. Army as a writer and editor for many years. Patricia writes from Fayetteville, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband and two children. You can find more info about Patricia on her website HERE.  

More from Patricia

 

A Season to Dance: The Book That Wrote Me
 
When I wrote the first line of my first novel in January of 2011, I wanted to get published because I was desperate to feel important.
 
I finished writing A Season to Dance that fall and hired coach Gloria Kempton via Writer’s Digest to look at the whole thing and tell me if it was any good.
 
She saw potential in the story of a small-town professional ballerina with big dreams, but explained I needed a clearer quest, more telling details, better scene structure, and better balance between sequels and dramatic scenes. I joined Gloria’s critique group and spent a year rewriting.
 
During that year, my husband got orders to move the family from Fort Benning, Georgia, to Germany, and he deployed for the sixth time soon after we settled on a lovely mountaintop in Idar-Oberstein.
 
When I finished rewriting, Gloria said the novel looked good and had everything a novel was supposed to have. But… “Something’s still missing. I don’t know what it is. We’ve covered it all.”
 
So of course I did what any writer desperate for validation would do. I told my coach that surely nothing was missing and that it was time to query. I hired a service to blast queries everywhere for me. I know… Shame on me… But God used that.  
 
God’s Plan—Phase One
 
One query ended up with Mrs. Joyce Hart, of Hartline Literary. The novel wasn’t Christian—I wasn’t a Christian. She shouldn’t have received my query. But she did. She sent me a note saying she liked the storyline but that in Christian novels the protagonist couldn’t live with her love interest without being married. She was very kind and said that if she was missing the point and if the novel was indeed Christian that I should resubmit explaining the living together piece.
 
When I read it I laughed and rolled my eyes. I started typing a condescending reply. Something about Christian fairy tale brains and me living in the real world, but I decided not to send it.
 
Days passed. A week passed. A month passed. And all I did was collect rejections. I became bitter. Bitterly sad at first. Then bitterly discouraged. And then bitterly ugly. I’d never been ugly before. Not like that.
 
See, up to that point, I’d believed that there was some kind of “god” and that somewhere, somehow, being good was right and that it paid off. But with the disappointments of the publishing journey those beliefs became a joke to me. I stood in the middle of my empty German kitchen—husband deployed, kids at school, my first dog had just died. And I looked at that inbox full of rejections and stated to whomever or whatever was out there: “God is dead.”
 
Mercy. Surely I said that to the “god” of my imagination, and not to the real God—God as He reveals Himself in the Bible. But I know that He was in that kitchen with me. And phase two of His plan was about to start.
 
Luke 22:31-32: “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”  
 
God’s Plan—Phase Two
 
As I lost all restraint and became the worst version of myself, God removed me from my green German mountaintop.
 
After less than eighteen months in Germany, we were sent back to America, to the Chihuahuan Desert in West Texas. To a place called Fort Bliss—a place from which you can see a Mexican mountain with the words: “Cd. Juárez. La Biblia es la verdad. Leela.” That translates to “City of Juárez. The Bible is the truth. Read it.” Gotta love it. God is good.
 
During the first six months back in America, I went to two secular writers’ conferences and met more rejection. My lack of restraint and my selfishness didn’t really make me happy. I wanted to go to therapy. I wanted a job. I still dreamed of that book deal that had to be just around the corner. I wanted, I wanted…
 
But nothing happened, and it didn’t matter how hard I tried to get help, get happy, and find any kind of relief for the pain I felt. Nothing. Happened. I’d never seen so many closed doors—slammed-shut doors—ever in my life. Even the shrink kept double booking, closing early, and somehow cancelling on me. It was ridiculous.  
 
The One Open Door
 
When God planted our family in the desert, He planted us two blocks from a friend from the Fort Benning years. A friend whose claim to fame was church shopping whenever the Army moved her family. I asked her to take me to church on the first Wednesday of January of 2013.
 
I fell in His arms. Surrendered, defeated, and dependent. Or what God likes to call—ready. I was born again two weeks later and was baptized on Super Bowl Sunday that February.  
 
Gloria’s “Something Missing”
 
I had tickets to go to New York for the Writer’s Digest conference that spring, but sometime in March, it dawned on me: “You silly goose of a girl. You wrote a salvation story without the salvation piece.” My first coach, Gloria Kempton, had been right all along. There was something missing!
 
A Season to Dance isn’t just the story of a small-town professional ballerina who dreams of dancing at the Met in New York and the two men who love her. It’s also the story of a girl desperately trying to fill the God-shaped hole in her heart with often misguided career and romantic pursuits.
 
I deleted Mrs. Hart’s email that week. Yes, it was still in my inbox. Job well done, Mrs. Hart.
 
Now, I had work to do. I spent 2013 and the first half of 2014 rewriting the novel. Five ladies from my Sunday school read chapter after chapter as I produced them and cheered me on through that gruesome process. I couldn’t have done it without their support. God is good.
 
Jeff Gerke edited my novel in the summer of 2014 and had me read Robert McGee’s The Search for Significance: Seeing Your True Worth Through God’s Eyes. God is good.
 
I went to my first Christian writers conference, the ACFW 2014 in St. Louis. Two weeks later, Les Stobbe offered to represent me. God is good.
 
ACFW 2015 was fantastic and many houses are looking at that first manuscript. God is good.
 
In early 2016, we sold the manuscript to Bling! Romance, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. A Season to Dance released in the spring of 2017. God is good.
 
My family got saved, too. My husband in July of 2013. Our son in December of 2013. My mom in the fall of 2014. And our little girl just this past summer, the summer of 2015. God is amazingly good!
 

My Review

 

Sometimes broken dreams pave the way to our true calling.

Patricia Beal’s “A Season to Dance” is one of those books that I signed up to review on a whim. It’s not one that I would pick up for leisure reading; being a ballerina never appealed to me personally, and just the thought of such a highly-competitive career makes me cringe. Romances aren’t really my thing, either. Nevertheless, I want to broaden my literary horizons as much as possible within the Christian genre, and that means stepping outside of my comfort zone at times to explore books that I might then be able to recommend to others who would benefit from these stories and draw closer to God through them.  

Setting chapter one almost four years later than the progression of the rest of the novel (save for the last couple of chapters and the epilogue), Beal immediately kicks off her debut with an adrenaline rush. This drew me in quickly, especially when I realized that the name of Ana’s husband is cleverly left out of the first chapter. However, after that, I had a difficult time getting into the story, even though it is narrated in the first person by Ana. I didn’t connect with any of the characters and felt rather disappointed in them and in their foolhardy decisions. Then, when a beloved dog dies, I cried because that is one of my deal-breakers in books—namely, I do not read books where dogs die, especially not in emotional scenes like this one. But at slightly past the halfway point, there is a shift that begins to occur. Circumstances begin to develop Ana’s nascent faith, leading her to start truly seeking the God she is so unsure about and wary of, and I was reminded that as Christians we need to plant seeds of faith and trust God to water and grow them, even when we may not perceive any discernible effects.

What at first seems to be a narrative wrought with discontent and unfulfilled hopes gradually transforms into a salvation story that demonstrates the unconditional, never-ending love of God, who is always with us in all seasons. As Ana remarks, “Spotting worked for life too. My husband was my spot. But while in ballet it’s ok to pick a spot that moves, like another dancer, it’s not okay to pick a spot that’s completely unpredictable. As my spot became more and more unpredictable, I could only hope that religion would work. I’d run out of other options.” God will use every situation to draw us to Him if we are willing to open our hearts to Him even a fraction of an inch; all we have to do is respond to Him!

While I recommend this book to readers of contemporary romance, to those who enjoy ballet, and to anyone searching for that missing piece of their lives, I do want to give a few trigger warnings. This is a clean novel, but there are: mentions of and allusions to sex, deaths, Huntington ’s disease, and unmarried people living together. “A Season to Dance” includes thoughtful discussion questions to ponder after reading the story, either individually or in a group.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.


Blog Stops

 

Among the Reads, December 12

The Power of Words, December 12

As He Leads is Joy, December 13

Through the Fire Blogs, December 13

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 14

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 15

For the Love of Literature, December 15

Hallie Reads, December 16

By The Book, December 16

Girls in White Dresses, December 17

All-of-a-kind Mom, December 17

Texas Book-aholic, December 18

janicesbookreviews, December 19

God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae, December 19

Godly Book Reviews, December 20

Blogging With Carol, December 20

Christian Bookaholic, December 21

For Him and My Family, December 21

Inklings and notions, December 22

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, December 22

Emily Yager, December 23

CarpeDiem, December 23

A Reader’s Brain, December 24

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 25

Batya’s Bits, December 25

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Patricia is giving away the grand prize package of a themed basket of book-inspired coffees and chocolate!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

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review 2019-12-06 10:00
Christmas on Breakers Point Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book:  Christmas on Breakers Point

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre: Christian Contemporary Fiction, Christian Romantic Fiction, Christmas

One man’s last Christmas wish might change two lives forever.

Mallory Barrows has one last Christmas with her uncle.  She’s determined to make it the best one he’s ever had.

She knows when she asks what he wants as his final gift, it won’t be a tie or a new mug. He won’t need those where he’s going, and he’s quite happy about that.

Mallory just didn’t think he wanted a miracle wrapped in paper and tied with a shiny red bow!

Christmas on Breakers Point is the introductory book to the Independence Islands Series.



Click HERE to get your copy! 

About the Author

 


Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her on the web and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.  

More from Chautona

 

The book opens with a phone call that goes like this:
 
Her phone buzzed. Without taking her eyes from the page, Mallory Barrows fumbled about until her hand closed around it. The book held her bound in ropes of suspense as the villain slipped into the party unannounced—unseen. While she followed him around the edge of the imaginary room, her thumb swiped, tapped, and answered the call as if on autopilot.
 
Even as Mallory said, “Hello?” her breath caught. The guy had found his prey.
 
“Mallory, honey?” Without a second look, she dropped the book and sat up, feet planted firmly on the floor and all attention on the call.  “Is it time?”
 
“’Fraid so, darlin’. Doc says it’s a matter of weeks or a month or two. And I promised.”
 
“I’ll be there Friday afternoon.”  
 
 
 
Just days after I wrote those lines, I woke up to a message from my sister.  “Call Mom.”
 
I called.  Mom said, “I need you to come.”  That was Thursday.  I walked into Mom’s house on Saturday evening and our lives changed forever.
 
I don’t know if God prepared me for this change by having me write that scene just days before, but I have to say it felt like it!  Everything went crazy for over a month as I tried to wrap up my mother’s affairs in Missouri, I had to try to finish three books in a time of upheaval and turmoil.  No, it’s not the same as trying to help a young woman reclaim her True First Love so she could reclaim her first earthy love.  It isn’t the same as starting a whole new life and a new business.  But… oh, how it felt like it.
 
Another parallel in the story and my life was how Mallory struggles to try to get Uncle Bud to eat. I did the same thing for most of my time in Missouri.  Mom struggled so hard just to swallow and just wanted to eat.  So, while I was writing, I worked hard to come up with a recipe that Mallory might use to convince Uncle Bud to eat something.  The result were these Coconut Lime Cookies. I hope you love them as much as Uncle Bud did.
 


Coconut Lime Cookies Ingredients:

2 ¼ cups white flour ½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 cup shredded coconut

1 cup sugar

3 oz room temp cream cheese—cubed

½ tsp vanilla

Zest of 1 lime (key limes may be preferred)

½ cup (1 stick) melted butter (warm)

1 egg

1 TBS milk (whole is the most delicious… and half & half is even better)

1 TBS lime juice (again, some may prefer key limes)

½ cup powdered sugar  (reserved for rolling cookies in)

Directions: (oven preheats to 350)

Stir together the first five ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.Set aside

Stir together sugar, cream cheese, and lime zest in a large mixing bowl. Cream butter in. Repeat with egg, milk, and lime juice, one at a time. Make sure your ingredients are thoroughly mixed.

Add dry ingredients slowly. Mix well. Roll dough into approximately 1” balls.  Roll each ball into powdered sugar and place on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.

Bake for approximately 11-12 minutes until lightly golden.

Before you eat, close your eyes and imagine yourself beneath swaying palm trees with warm sand between your toes.  Merry Christmas!
 

My Review

 

Every year I intend to read lots of Christmas books during November and December, but somehow this doesn’t usually happen. When your to-read list has gone well past the point of no return, it becomes difficult to fit in all of the books that you expect to get through. As a book reviewer, it’s nice to have a set schedule in advance, and another perk is the opportunity to branch out and take a chance on books that are different from what you usually choose. “Christmas on Breakers Point” fits the bill! I have to admit that I am not at all an island or beach girl, although I have always loved lighthouses, and I’m not gung-ho for romances either, so I had some trepidation going into this one. As it turns out, I ended up enjoying it immensely!

Blending a variety of engaging elements together, Chautona Havig writes “Christmas on Breakers Point” with both sadness and joy interlaced into each chapter. Despite being a short book, it reads like a full-length novel, with detail and depth that are not rushed yet also not dawdling. Had I known the plotline beforehand, I likely would have passed this one up for fear that it would be too sad, and this is just another reason that I like to enter into a book figuratively blind. One of the main characters has terminal cancer and an unattainable wish for Christmas, but thankfully God does the impossible every day, and He often works through people.

With finesse, Havig offers a story that is layered with sorrow yet filled with hope and joy. A terminal illness, lost love, and renounced faith all figure prominently, but I did not once think that the narrative was depressing. Instead, I found myself inspired by the sacrificial love and deep conversations of the characters, highlighting a multitude of passages that I felt were convicting and very pertinent in this day and age. Mallory seems to speak to the prodigal in all of us when she says, “You have decided how you want things to be, and because they’re not, you’re crying foul. You define what He does by what you want rather than what it is. He speaks to us today. Don’t tell me His Word doesn’t.” What it all comes down to is that life is not about us, but about HIM. “If you’re going to choose a cause over Jesus, then you’re choosing to die for that cause. You’re throwing what Jesus did for you and for all mankind up in His face.” When we follow His Word and walk in faithful obedience to Him, we have joy; all other paths lead to death.

There is so much to love about this first book in the Independence Islands series. It will make you laugh, cry, and cheer. Although obviously a great holiday read, this is one that can easily be enjoyed at any time of year. I think that everyone needs an Uncle Bud in their lives to speak truth, love, guide, and pray them through the good and the bad. One line from the book beautifully encapsulate the story: “A lifetime of moments could be summarized in a Breakers Point sunset.”

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.


Blog Stops

 

Among the Reads, December 2

She Lives to Read, December 2

Daysong Reflections, December 2

A Reader’s Brain, December 3

Mamma Loves Books, December 3

Aryn the Libraryan, December 4

CarpeDiem, December 4

A Baker’s Perspective, December 5

Hebrews 12 Endurance, December 5

Betti Mace, December 6

For the Love of Literature, December 6

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, December 7

Cultivating Us, December 7

Inklings and notions, December 8

For Him and My Family, December 8

janicesbookreviews, December 9

SusanLovesBooks, December 9

Texas Book-aholic, December 10

Connect in Fiction, December 10

Lots of Helpers, December 11

My Devotional Thoughts, December 11

Wishful Endings, December 11

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 12

Stories By Gina, December 12

Quiet Quilter, December 13

Batya’s Bits, December 13

Godly Book Reviews, December 14

Emily Yager, December 14

Blossoms and Blessings, December 15

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 15

Back Porch Reads, December 15

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away the grand prize of a 6 Month Kindle Unlimited subscription!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

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review 2019-12-04 14:41
ARC REVIEW Reckless With You by Carrie Ann Ryan

Reckless With You (Less Than, #2)Less Than #2, We are back with the Carr siblings this time with Amelia the landscape architect. Everyone naturally assumed that Amelia and her best friend Tobey were dating, they weren't but Amelia wanted to change that. Unfortunately Tobey was not the man we had hoped to be, good thing Amelia has a wonderful support system in her family included in that her brother's best friend Tucker.

Tucker is hot, both men and women hit on him or just eye fucked him. He was fine with that he never had plans on getting married. After being raised in the foster system he had a hard time believing in anything permanent. Tucker always liked Amelia he never before let himself get to carried away by the attraction because his friendship with her brother but after what happened with Tobey and finding her drunk practically naked he's been thinking about her a lot more and not in the sisterly way either.

Tired of the pitying looks from her family and friends and to keep them from trying to set her up on a blind date she blurts out she dating already and the first name that comes out her mouth, Tucker. Tucker does not like lying to her family so they keep as close to the truth as possible but it doesn't take long before their fake relationship is real and by the time the emotions are running deep the other shoe drops but not like how you would think.

Overall, a fantastic read. It surprised me the direction she went with this but it was a good surprise. I love Tucker one of the things I enjoy about these books is how normal these people are with normal jobs; Tucker is a radiologist, Devin is postman (I keep expecting a postman always rings twice joke). They are amazing people who have learned to love despite their parents. Carrie Ann Ryan is a wonderful wordsmith with a knack for emotion, you feel for her characters, hurt when they hurt, laugh when they laugh, you root for them you want them to be happy and get their HEA. I am very much looking forward to Shameless With Him, it's about time for Zoey's story.   




 

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review 2019-12-03 04:06
Holiday Ever After: Eleven Contemporary Romance Short Stories
Holiday Ever After: Eleven Contemporary Romance Short Stories - Amy Andrews,Erin Nicholas,Maria Luís,Kimberly Kincaid,Erika Kelly,Kate Canterbary,Lili Valente,Lucy Score,Willow Winters,Natasha Madison,J.H. Croix

 

 

 

Holiday Ever After gave emotions something to sing about. With authors like Erika Kelly, Kimberly Kincaid and Lili Valente, sexy is a given. When it comes to keeping it heartwarming there's no one better than Erin Nicholas, J.H. Croix and Natasha Madison. Amy Andrews and Maria Luis balance out this journey of feels with a sense humor to go along with the heart. There's something for every heart. With so many choices, it's hard to fall in love with just one and I'm okay with that. A year round delight.

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review 2019-11-28 17:08
Starting from Zero (Starting From #1) by Lane Hayes 3.5 Stars!!
Starting from Zero (Starting From #1) - Lane Hayes

ustin Cuevas is going through a rough patch. A broken relationship, a scandal, and the demise of his band have shaken the aspiring rock star’s confidence. Working two jobs and sleeping on his friend’s sofa isn’t ideal, but Justin isn’t ready to give up yet. With a little luck, he’s hoping to re-launch his music career in LA with his new band, Zero. The key is to stay focused, and not get distracted by his past…or the sexy songwriter he can’t get out of his head.

Gray Robertson has written dozens of hits and worked with some of the biggest names in the industry. But he’s never met anyone like Justin. The younger man is fiery, passionate, and smart. A powerful voice for a new generation. Other than an unforgettable one-night stand and a passion for music, the two men have nothing in common. Or do they? Justin knows the out-of-the-blue challenge to write a quintessential love song is a huge opportunity. And it’s the ultimate test for someone who’s doesn’t believe in happily ever after. When sparks fly, Justin and Gray realize they have a shot something special if they start from zero together. Maybe even love.

 

Review 

 

The start to a good series set in LA music culture. The romance is really sexy and the age difference is well handled. I like the bisexual rep in this book particularly.

Good chemistry here and good secondary characters that should make for great heroes.

The drama with the older hero's ex is really will done but the drama with the younger hero's ex and the music business is way less engaging.

I am looking forward to the next book with Charlie as the lead.

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