Book Spotlight, Author Interview & GIVEAWAY: My Unexpected Hope by Tammy L. Gray

Welcome! I want to wish the happiest of book birthdays today to author Tammy L. Gray for her new release, My Unexpected Hope, an inspirational contemporary romance. She has dropped by the blog today for an interview AND is graciously giving away a signed paperback copy of this new release here ony my blog! First, here’s a little more about the book…..

About the Book

My Unexpected Hope by Tammy L. GrayAfter a year of grieving her divorce and living a life permanently stuck on pause, Laila Richardson is finally ready to have her own happy ending. Then a listing for a quaint cottage in another town answers her prayers for a fresh beginning—one that will bring her closer to her new boyfriend, Ben. Unfortunately, in her small town of Fairfield, Georgia, letting go of the past is virtually impossible. No one wants to see her move on, including the man who destroyed her heart to begin with.

Chad Richardson has spent years in misery but finally has his life on somewhat stable ground. When he learns his ex-wife is dating, he knows it’s time to go back and fight for the life he abandoned. Bolstered by his newfound sobriety, Chad has every intention of winning back the woman he loves, even if that means facing old demons that are waiting for him to fail.

Passions run deep as two souls searching for a second chance find the courage to let go of old patterns. Can they recognize that their dreams are still possible, even when forged from a broken past?

Interview with the Author

What inspired you to write My Unexpected Hope?

Laila and Chad were first introduced in My Hope Next Door. I fell in love with their story and wanted them to have a happy ending. I also felt that divorce really hadn’t been explored much in Christian fiction and felt it should be.

What message or theme do you want to communicate to readers with this story?

I wanted to write a believable reconciliation while showing that the baggage we bring into a marriage impacts both parties and must be dealt with. I also wanted to show hope for addiction through Christ.

What was most challenging about writing a story set in this time period or place?

Time period and place wasn’t as much of a challenge as was the subject matter. Writing a hero who struggled with addiction was very difficult. I needed to show the realism of his life-long battle while also shedding light on how victory can be found in Christ.

Which character was your favorite to write?

Katie. She’s still one of my favourite female characters I’ve ever written and getting to show her in a new role as a mentor and friend, while still keeping that spunk she has, was a lot of fun.

Just for fun: Do you have any hobbies? 

Yes, and it’s rather cliché for an author. I love to read. It’s what I do in my down time.

Reading isn’t too cliché, it’s the BEST hobby! 

If you could live in any other time period in history, which would it be and why?

Unfortunately history has not been so kind to women, so I’m not sure my strong personality would fit in any historical time. But it would be very cool to witness the New Testament first hand.

What are you currently reading?

That answer changes daily! J But the most recent one I’ve picked up is Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han.

Thank you so much, Tammy, for taking the time to answer my questions! I (and my readers) love hearing about the themes and inspiration behind a story. I look forward to reading My Unexpected Hope soon!

About the Author

IMG_3789 small (1)Tammy L. Gray lives in the Dallas area with her family, and they love all things Texas, even the erratic weather patterns. She writes modern Christian romance with true-to-life characters and culturally-relevant plot lines. She believes hope and healing can be found through high quality fiction that inspires and provokes change.

Tammy is often lauded for her unique writing style within the inspirational genre, preferring to use analogies verses heavy-handed spiritual content. Her characters are real, relatable and deep, earning her a 2017 RITA award nomination in the Romance with Religious and Spiritual Elements category. Tammy currently has six published works available with the seventh, My Unexpected Hope releasing June 2017.

When not chasing after her three amazing kids, Tammy can be spotted with her head in a book. Writing has given her a platform to combine her passion with her ministry.

Tammy L. Gray has lots of projects going on. For all the latest info, visit her website at http://tammylgray.com and sign up for her periodic newsletter.

Tammy says: I’d love to hear from all of you! Come join me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tlgraybooks or Instagram and Twitter (@tlgraybooks)

Giveaway

Now, on to the giveaway fine print! Giveaway is for one (1) signed paperback, U.S addresses only, please. Giveaway is open 1 week until 7/4/17, 11:59 pm. CT.

To enter, comment with a valid email address and answer one of these questions: What is one of your favorite contemporary romances? OR What is one tough subject you would like to see addressed in a novel?

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Review: “The Thirteenth Chance” by Amy Matayo

Today’s review is of an upcoming release from Amy Matayo, The Thirteenth Chance (releasing Sept 27). I first thought it might be slightly out of my normal “comfort zone”. Because baseball . But from everything I’d heard around the blogosphere about Amy’s storytelling, I jumped at the chance to review it. (And I’m happy I did!) So first, a side note on baseball, then my review!

From first reading the synopsis, I knew baseball was central to the theme, and I’m not really a sports fan — I’m neutral. The good news? Reading this I discovered you don’t have to know anything beyond “3 strikes and you’re out”, and the fact that fastball and curveball pitches are completely different. That’s it. 🙂

About the Book

Baseball star Will Vandergriff knows any number of women who would happily pretend to be his girlfriend. In a last-ditch effort to restore his good standing with his team’s higher-ups, he enlists the help of his neurotic, goody-goody neighbor. The Thirteenth Chance.jpgSchoolteacher Olivia Pratt might be a bit quirky and a bit of a loner, but she’s a lot more inviting than she knows. Will hopes that bringing her to his next game might revamp his reckless reputation and help get his career back on track. The only problem? The plan works a little too well. Not only do the higher-ups love Olivia, but Will plays his best game yet. Suddenly his losing streak is a thing of the past, and Olivia is his new good-luck charm. Will feels anything but lucky.

After years of keeping the world at bay, Olivia Pratt is pulling off the ultimate performance—not only reluctantly posing as Will’s girlfriend but also insisting that she’s oblivious to his major-league appeal. But she can only lie to herself for so long. Being by Will’s side feels good. Really good. Maybe it’s finally time to make a pitch for everything she really wants—and to find out just how exhilarating love can be.

Review

Olivia has walls. Walls she thought were for her own good, to protect herself, but are instead keeping her distant from others. Her wariness and slight superstition related to the number “13” shows itself when she learns it’s Will’s number. When we finally learn the truth behind her “13” superstition, it sheds major light on her personal baggage and family story. Will is bold and different, not afraid to call out her quirks and dig deeper into her personality. While he can be brash and outspoken, Olivia can hold her own in a battle of words. This makes for some hilarious exchanges between the two, my personal favorites being when Perry the cat is involved. I think the two of them really compliment each other.

The story is told with alternating 1st person points-of-view. It’s a clever tool Amy uses to accomplish just the right tone of humor and directness. It gives us an inside look at the thoughts and emotions of Olivia and Will. At times, though, the narrative is as much about what is not being said or outright avoided in the character’s head as what is directly told. 14322299_884739008326894_660630574878250141_nAfter a couple of chapters of learning the tones of Olivia and Will, I could start to read between the lines and see what each was choosing not to focus on. (especially in a few key scenes near the end. what fun!)

This is a cute romantic comedy with life lessons each of the lead characters must face. Underneath the humor, spark, and banter of these two lies a deeper story of letting go, of risking self and heart to gain kinship and acceptance. Both of them learn, in different ways, that perceptions and initial judgments can be “off base” (pun intended by myself and Amy). They must decide if they will bravely let the past be the past and strive to be better in the future. If you enjoy romance, wit, or stories of crazy-cat-ladies paired up with impulsive, flirty sports fanatics, (or clean new adult in general), this is a story I’d definitely recommend trying out!

Thank you to Relz Author Support Services and the author/publisher for a complimentary review copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

 

 

“How a Star Falls” 1-year Anniversary & Giveaways

Happy 1 year anniversary for the release of How a Star Falls by Amber Stokes!!!! Amber is celebrating the release with a NEW cover and a giveaway with 3 lovely prizes!

I’m so glad to share this info with you all today. Amber has braved the self-publishing journey a few times now, and I’m very happy to see her success — it is well-deserved. Before we hear from Amber, you can check out my thoughts on How a Star Falls in my review and interview post here. 

A Note from the Author

A year ago today (November 18th), my little star story, How a Star Falls, landed on Amazon. I’m thrilled to celebrate the anniversary of its release with you by introducing a brand-new cover (where the hero, Derrick, makes an appearance) and sharing a fun giveaway with prizes from some of my favorite Etsy shops!

If you journeyed with Derrick and Brielle when their story first released, thank you for allowing them into your heart. And if this will be your first time meeting them, I hope you’ll be encouraged by their story and reminded of the hope of Psalm 138:8: “The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me.”

Blessings through life’s seasons!

~Amber

HowaStarFalls-new

This new cover is so adorable!

About the Book

Sweet New Adult Contemporary Romance Novella

How does a star fall?
Quickly. Completely. Unexpectedly.

Derrick Knolane escapes to Trinidad Head most evenings, avoiding his apartment and planning for the day he’ll break free of Humboldt County. Working in a music store might be fine for a while, but it’s far from the goal he had in mind when he got his college degree. Not to mention the fact that his roommate is a jerk and his family won’t stop trying to run his life.

Then Brielle falls into his world.

She claims to be a star. Not from Hollywood, but from heaven. He thinks she’s crazy. Certainly delusional. Yet, he can’t just leave her alone on the cliffs. So he takes her home.

And his whole world falls apart.

A heartfelt and fanciful contemporary romance novella, How a Star Falls explores the uncertain season of new adulthood and shows that sometimes the worst inconveniences make for the best miracles of all.

How-a-Star-Falls-audio-cover-new2This novella is available in the following formats:

2-hour unabridged audiobook ($6.95)

Paperback ($6.99)

Kindle ebook ($.99)

Author Bio

Amber StokesAmber Stokes works as a marketing content writer for a Christian publisher. On the side, she self-publishes inspirational fiction depicting the seasons of life and love. Her passion for books compelled her to earn a bachelor’s degree in English and run her own freelance editing and publicity business for over a year. Happily, this chapter of her career takes place in the Pacific Northwest—a part of the world she’s always considered home.

You can learn more about Amber’s books, sign up for her author newsletter, join the Amber’s Gems street team, and more at www.SeasonsofaStory.blogspot.com.

Cover Designer Bio

Lena GoldfinchLena Goldfinch writes inspirational historical romance and books for teens. She’s always been a sucker for a good old-fashioned romance, whether it’s a novel or short story, young adult or adult, fantasy or realistic, contemporary or historical. Lena has been a finalist in several national writing contests, including the RWA Golden Heart and ACFW Genesis contests. She enjoys life in a quiet small town with her husband, two kids, and two very spoiled black Labs.

Visit Lena at www.LenaGoldfinch.com.

Giveaway!

Fill out the form below to enter to win one of three prizes from some of the author’s favorite Etsy shops! The prizes are…

Why these prizes? The earrings include stars, which fit this occasion for obvious reasons. 😉 The compass is a reference to a song mentioned in the story: “If My Heart Was a House” by Owl City (you can listen HERE). And the cards are a little teaser for my next contemporary romance, Where Trains Collide. (Let’s just say the hero’s nickname is Paul Bunyan. Can you guess the heroine’s nickname?)

Note: Giveaway is open to US residents only due to shipping costs.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY

While You’re Awake ~ Review & Release Day Blitz ~ Novelette from Amber Stokes

It’s release day for my blogger and bookish friend Amber Stokes!!! Her novelette, While You’re Awake, is releasing in ebook format TODAY! (You might have seen my cover reveal post, in which Amber shared a fun personality quiz.)

In this special release day post, I’m sharing my review of this fun story, additional info, and a link to the fabulous giveaway Amber is offering!!!!

While You're Awake by Amber Stokes - Cover Reveal

About the Book

Sweet New Adult Contemporary Romance Novelette

There’s no rest for the fearful.

Ava always knew the bees would come. Just when she’s settled into a place of her own, freelance editing and savoring her independence, her rental house is invaded by a swarm of honey bees. And with their arrival, her lifelong fear morphs into a full-fledged panic that steals her sleep—and her peace of mind.

Keegan knows all about fear. When he meets Ava at the coffee shop where he works, he can’t help but come to her rescue. Together with his German shepherds, Sun and Moon, he sets out to break the “curse” that hovers over Tired Girl. But is it possible to conquer nightmares and live a dream while you’re awake?

This sweet novelette is a contemporary re-imagining of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale that sheds light on the worries that bind us and the love that leads to peace.

Order for $.99 on Amazon! | Add to Goodreads

My ReviewWhile You're Awake Bee Quote Card 4

Amber has the ability to draw you into the story and immerse you in the world of the characters. Even though this novelette is fairly short, I was eagerly anticipating what would happen next to Ava and Keegan in each scene. To see their friendship form and how they began to rely on each other was charming and sweet. And, the attraction between them was honest and fresh without being too flirty. The story unfolds at a “just right” pace, moving from Ava to Keegan’s perspective to keep it flowing.

While You're Awake Dog Quote Card 1This story had moments that were funny, romantic, intense, and even serious with the weight of the subject matter. It begs the question, will you hide from or confront your fears? Will you let your past weigh you down and rob your joy? Or will you embrace your role in life and live? Definitely some thought-provoking elements!

The undertones of “Sleeping Beauty” were perfectly woven throughout and neatly accomplished by the end. I kept wondering just how everything would work out with the bees! You’ll have to read it to find out 🙂

 

Author Bio

Amber StokesAmber Stokes works as a marketing content writer for a Christian publisher. On the side, she self-publishes inspirational fiction depicting the seasons of life and love. Her passion for books compelled her to earn a bachelor’s degree in English and run her own freelance editing and publicity business for over a year. Happily, this chapter of her career takes place in the Pacific Northwest—a part of the world she’s always considered home.

You can learn more about Amber’s books, sign up for her author newsletter, join the Amber’s Gems street team, and more at www.SeasonsofaStory.blogspot.com.

Social Media Links

Blog: www.seasonsofhumility.blogspot.com

Goodreads: Amber Stokes

Pinterest: pinterest.com/seasonshumility

Twitter: @SeasonsHumility

GIVEAWAY!!!

Enter to win a little something sweet from Ava, Keegan, and the author! One winner will receive a lovely yellow and gold flower necklace & earrings set from Baubles, Beads and Stuff; a $10 Starbucks gift card (delivered
electronically); and a Kindle copy of While You’re Awake (can be gifted to a friend, if desired!). Open to US residents only due to shipping costs.Jewelry Prize from Baubles, Beads and Stuff 2

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.

Thanks a million to Amber for the ebook review copy of this story.

Cover Reveal: “While You’re Awake” by Amber Stokes

Today I get to share a sweet cover reveal of a new novelette by my blogger and bookish friend Amber Stokes!!! Her new novelette (isn’t that a fun word!?), While You’re Awake, is releasing in ebook format on October 20th. In addition to the cute cover…drumroll, please…. Amber has put together a fun little personality quiz that corresponds with her characters!

Read on for more about the story, how to contact Amber, and the personality quiz.

First, here is the cover!!!!!

While You're Awake by Amber Stokes - Cover Reveal

About the Book

Sweet New Adult Contemporary Romance Novelette (Just in case you’re wondering, like I was, a novelette is longer than a short story but shorter than a novella.)

There’s no rest for the fearful.

Ava always knew the bees would come. Just when she’s settled into a place of her own, freelance editing and savoring her independence, her rental house is invaded by a swarm of honey bees. And with their arrival, her lifelong fear morphs into a full-fledged panic that steals her sleep—and her peace of mind.

Keegan knows all about fear. When he meets Ava at the coffee shop where he works, he can’t help but come to her rescue. Together with his German shepherds, Sun and Moon, he sets out to break the “curse” that hovers over Tired Girl. But is it possible to conquer nightmares and live a dream while you’re awake?

This sweet novelette is a contemporary re-imagining of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale that sheds light on the worries that bind us and the love that leads to peace.

Pre-order for $.99 on Amazon! | Add to Goodreads

Author Bio

Amber Stokes works as a marketing content writer for a Christian publisher. On the side, she self-publishes inspirational fiction depicting the seasons of life and love. Her passion for books compelled her to earn a bachelor’s degree in English and run her own freelance editing and publicity business for over a year. Happily, this chapter of her career takes place in the Pacific Northwest—a part of the world she’s always considered home.

You can learn more about Amber’s books, sign up for her author newsletter, join the Amber’s Gems street team, and more at www.SeasonsofaStory.blogspot.com.

Social Media Links

Blog: www.seasonsofhumility.blogspot.com

Goodreads: Amber Stokes

Pinterest: pinterest.com/seasonshumility

Twitter: @SeasonsHumility

Personality Quiz

Are you Sleeping Beauty, a barista, or an angel? This fun and quirky personality quiz takes some of the personality types from While You’re Awake and offers you a chance to discover how you inspire others. Hopefully you’ll be encouraged to keep being awesome, wonderful you!

Click here to take the quiz!

*Disclaimer: This is just a for-fun quiz. The results are designed to encourage but not to diagnose! 😉

I can’t wait to read this story myself! Expect my review post some time this month 🙂

“How a Star Falls” REVIEW + INTERVIEW with author Amber Stokes

Today I’m absolutely delighted to be hosting Amber Stokes as a part of her blog tour for her latest contemporary “new adult” novella, How a Star Falls. (You may remember my cover reveal post) Amber has been a long time blogging and Twitter friend, and I’m happy to share my love of her writing skills with you all. Read on for my review, interview with Amber, ways to connect with her, and GIVEAWAY info. FOR THE BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE, CLICK HERE.

How a Star Falls by Amber StokesAbout the Book

Sweet NA Contemporary Romance Novella

How does a star fall?
Quickly. Completely. Unexpectedly.
Derrick Knolane escapes to Trinidad Head most evenings, avoiding his apartment and planning for the day he’ll break free of Humboldt County. Working in a music store might be fine for a while, but it’s far from the goal he had in mind when he got his college degree. Not to mention the fact that his roommate is a jerk and his family won’t stop trying to run his life.

Then Brielle falls into his world.

She claims to be a star. Not from Hollywood, but from heaven. He thinks she’s crazy. Certainly delusional. Yet, he can’t just leave her alone on the cliffs. So he takes her home.

And his whole world falls apart.

A heartfelt and fanciful contemporary romance novella, How a Star Falls explores the uncertain season of new adulthood and shows that sometimes the worst inconveniences make for the best miracles of all.

Purchase on Amazon

My thoughts: 

I thought How a Star Falls was a sweet, intriguing story of finding your place — and learning that sometimes your biggest blessings are right in front of you. As Derrick and Brielle adventured through a few days, I was continually wondering if the story would move beyond the borders of reality into a fantasy. (I can’t tell you if it did or not, but I will say that I was happy with the ending) Amber’s writing style flows smoothly and with detail, causing me to wish  the story wasn’t over so soon. I could definitely read more about these characters! Perhaps she’ll write more about Derrick’s sisters at some point 🙂

Brielle seems to bring out the best in Derrick, making him leave his comfort zone and dare to hope his life could be better, even if it’s not quite what he first imagined. I loved the references to pop culture sprinkled through the story. They are an obvious reflection of Amber’s tastes and fun personality. Overall, this was a very enchanting story and one I would recommend to both mainstream and inspirational fiction fans!

Thank you to Amber for providing a copy in exchange for my honest review!

~Interview with Amber~

What inspired you to write this book?

I’m not entirely sure how the idea first popped into my head. Maybe it was when I was walking around my parents’ house and noticed the International Star Registry® certiface on the wall. I just recall a really vague idea about a story of stars personified and dancing coming to mind while I was doing a workout video in my parents’ living room. That was about a year ago.

Since that time, the cover my designer put together, her suggestion to change my initial title, my daydreams about the beginning of the book, and my life experiences all led to a very different sort of story. Truly, the novella wouldn’t be what it is without me going through the events of 2014—applying to different jobs, waiting (and waiting) for news, working at a grocery store for a brief time, and finally obtaining a position at a publisher and moving into my own apartment in a different state. Derrick and Brielle’s story ended up being shaped to a large extent by these changes and by my time living at home after college.quote

What spiritual message or theme do you want to communicate to readers with this story?

There is hope, even when it feels like the future we envisioned has become the present we never expected. And through God’s grace there can be meaning and joy and revival, even in the midst of seemingly undesirable circumstances.

If you could live in any other time period in history, which would it be and why?

I’ve come to understand and appreciate that there’s a place for me in this time, as much as I love stories about the past. 🙂 But if I had to choose another time to live in, I would probably say the 19th century in the U.S. I love reading and writing about that era, with all its wildness and changes. There’s something about the time period with its mixture of challenge and simplicity (or at least our romanticized perceptions of it!) that draws me. Plus, I love the West. It’s home to me, and I find its history fascinating.

Thank you, Amber, for graciously agreeing to the interview! I’m so glad your journey shaped this story.

About AmberAmber Stokes Author Pic

Amber Stokes works as a content writer (marketing services) for a Christian publisher. On the side, she self-publishes inspirational fiction depicting the seasons of life and love. Her passion for books compelled her to earn a bachelor’s degree in English and to run her own freelance editing and publicity business for over a year. Happily, this new chapter of her career takes place in the Pacific Northwest—a part of the world she’s always considered home. Learn more about Amber’s books at www.SeasonsofaStory.blogspot.com.

Social Media Links

Twitter: @SeasonsHumility

Blog: www.seasonsofhumility.blogspot.com

Website: www.seasonsofastory.blogspot.com

Pinterest: pinterest.com/seasonshumility

Goodreads: Amber Stokes

Google +:  +AmberStokes

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Share in the excitement of Amber’s new release with a special starry giveaway! You can enter to win one of three prize packs using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to U.S. residents only.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/MTVjZWUzOTdmNzNhZTBkM2QzNmI4OTkwN2ZjZDVhOjM1/

Cover Reveal: “How a Star Falls” by Amber Stokes (plus a giveaway)

Today I’m so excited to be participating in Amber Stokes’ cover reveal for How a Star Falls!!!!

About the Book

How does a star fall?

Quickly. Completely. Unexpectedly.

Derrick Knolane escapes to Trinidad Head most evenings, avoiding his apartment and planning for the day he’ll break free of Humboldt County. Working in a music store might be fine for a while, but it’s far from the goal he had in mind when he got his college degree. Not to mention the fact that his roommate is a jerk and his family won’t stop trying to run his life.

Then Brielle falls into his world.

She claims to be a star. Not from Hollywood, but from heaven. He thinks she’s crazy. Certainly delusional. Yet, he can’t just leave her alone on the cliffs. So he takes her home.

And his whole world falls apart.

A heartfelt and fanciful contemporary romance novella, How a Star Fallsexplores the uncertain season of new adulthood and shows that sometimes the worst inconveniences make for the best miracles of all.

About the AuthorAmber Stokes Author

Amber Stokes works as a content writer for Harvest House Publishers and writes inspirational fiction depicting the seasons of life and love. Her passion for books compelled her to earn a bachelor’s degree in English and to run her own freelance editing and publicity business for over a year. Happily, the next step in her career lies in the Pacific Northwest—a part of the world she’s always considered home. Learn more about her indie-author adventure at www.SeasonsofaStory.blogspot.com.

Amber Stokes AuthorAbout the Cover Designer

Lena Goldfinch writes fantasy and romance for teens and adults. She’s a sucker for a good old-fashioned romance, whether it’s a novel, novella, or short story, young adult or adult, fantasy or realistic, contemporary or historical. Elements of romance, fantasy, and mystery have a way of creeping into her writing, even when she’s writing something light and contemporary. Learn more about Lena, her books, and her cover designs at www.LenaGoldfinch.blogspot.com.

You can connect with Amber at her website, on Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus, or by email.

To celebrate this cover reveal, Amber is giving away a $10 Amazon.com gift card! You can enter using the Rafflecopter form below:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/MTVjZWUzOTdmNzNhZTBkM2QzNmI4OTkwN2ZjZDVhOjMz/
a Rafflecopter giveaway