Book Review, Blog Tour, and Giveaway: “A Spring of Weddings” by Toni Shiloh and Melissa Wardwell

About the Book

Book: A Spring of Weddings: A Contemporary Spring Weddings Collection

Authors: Toni Shiloh & Melissa Wardwell,

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Release Date: March 30, 2017

A Spring of Weddings is delightful. Two beautiful novellas encased within one book. Although they are both stories of love, they are entirely different from each other … in an interesting way.

“A Proxy Wedding” by Toni Shiloh

“Just keep it together, Nichols. A few more days in her company before you part ways again and all will be right back to normal.”

Carly and Damien have been asked to stand in as proxy bride and groom by their best friends Brenda and Adam. This ‘proxy wedding’ was to take place in beautiful Montana, so lovely a place that almost anything could happen. Maybe, two strangers could fall in love. But the road wasn’t meant to be easy, both Carly and Damien had their own demons and fears in life. Would they be able to overcome these fears and superstitions, and go on to live a happy life together?

My Thoughts:

What a beautiful story. Toni Shiloh, you had me at the first line.

Yes, I am willing to concede that there was a fair amount of predictability, but if there is to be a happy ending, and I just love a happy ending, then some things are slightly predictable. This was a gorgeously, romantic (sorry about the adverb … not! I love adverbs) story. My heart was a-flutter right the way through. Adequate suspense was provided … was it ever! I couldn’t stop turning (clicking) the pages. Conflict was present in all his shapes and forms. You were kept wondering right until the end … “what is going to happen?”  Now, for those who haven’t read this beautiful story, please don’t assume that ‘happy ending’ means ‘girl gets boy’ or vice versa. These two characters are so incompatible in so many ways. Want to know what happens? Hear all the gossip? You’ll just have to read the story.

 

“Hope Beyond Savannah” by Melissa Wardwell

 “The fringed Atlantic waves crashed onto the sandy shores of Tybee Island as Lily Allman nestled deeper into the arms of her boyfriend, Nik Lagatuo. Wrapped in a cocoon of blankets, they sat on the beach waiting for the clock to strike midnight.”

It was obvious to both of them that they were totally infatuated with each other, and those strong feelings had turned into love; but would the differences in culture, upbringing, and individual personalities, allow them to be together forever? More importantly, would Nik’s very traditional Samoan parents ever be able to accept Lily as a member of their family? Lily was definitely not the ‘good Samoan girl’ that tina had expected Nik to choose for his bride.

My Thoughts:

I loved this gorgeous story. I found this story to be going in almost the opposite direction to the first, within this beautiful book. It was New Year’s Eve, the most romantic time of the year, and a time for new beginnings. Two young people were in love, what could possibly go wrong? Suspense held onto me right throughout the story, constantly hoping with all my heart that everything would be okay, differences could be settled, misunderstandings forgiven, and a love so perfect, gifted from God, could become reality.

I loved the imagery throughout, whether on a beach or a backyard deck, the scene was perfectly set. I could visualise myself being with each of the characters as they went through their own private turmoil, and when they were interacting to find solutions. The main characters were very well rounded and I feel that I know each of them personally. The inclusion of a glossary of some Samoan words was delightful. Those beautiful words added to the intensity of the romance.

Several issues to do with intercultural marriage were tackled successfully. Nik and Lily won’t go through their married life problem free, but who does? There will always be some issues and conflicts to be dealt with, as with all marriages, but especially when two cultures join. I loved the fact that they both knew and loved Jesus. This will be the saving grace that keeps them together.

If you are looking for some lovely romance to while away a few hours, then I would highly recommend that you buy “A Spring of Weddings”.  Both stories are superb, suspenseful, well written, and full of good, clean, innocent love.

Giveaway:

To celebrate the tour, Celebrate Lit Publishing is giving away a Kindle! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! CLICK HERE TO ENTER GIVEAWAY

 

 

 

“A Spring of Weddings” is now available on Amazon and Amazon Australia

I was kindly provided with a free copy of this book by CelebrateLit Publishing. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Upcoming Blog Tour Posts:

May 7: God is Love

May 7: Ashley’s Bookshelf

May 8: Autism mom

May 8: Caffeinated Reads

May 9: Bibliophile Reviews

About the Authors

Toni Shiloh is a wife, mother, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honour her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.

 

 

 

 

Melissa Wardwell was born and raised in a small mid-Michigan community living there still with her Husband and three children. She enjoys taking pictures, reading, and leisurely rides with her husband on their motorcycle. All her stories revolve around women who are mothers. Single mothers, widowed mothers, young mothers, married mothers, and even women who have a mother’s heart but no children of her own. Her hope is that each story touches your heart, gives you hope, or just gives you a moment away from the chaos of life.

Guest posts from Toni & Melissa

A Proxy Wedding

By Toni Shiloh

Spring is here! I love it because I always think of new beginnings as the flowers bud and then bloom. The trials and tribulation of the winter season are no longer on my mind. My hope that the winter season would not linger begins to become visible as new life takes shape on the bare trees. The seeds I planted in faith of God’s faithfulness sprout up in hope and promise.

When I sat down to write A Proxy Wedding, I had to imagine springtime, because the dreary, overcast skies outside my window were a constant reminder that I was in a season of sickness. One person would get sick, then the next, and the next. By the time the last person got sick, the round would start over. Visits to the doctor were made. Miserable kids were constantly whining in their discomfort.

It. Was. Rough.

It made perfect sense for me to throw my characters into a new situation. One that would make the stretch, take them out their comfort zone, and search for God’s goodness. I wanted to give them a hint of goodness and throw in a trial or two so they could make the decision that sometimes, the risk is worth it. Just as we all react differently to new situations, so did my characters.

Carly was intent on making lemonade from her lemons. She tries to get the handsome broker, Damien, to see the importance of smelling roses and lingering over new adventures. Of course, Damien wasn’t partial to the frivolity. He’s so intent on becoming a success that he had no time to slow down.

In order for them to see God’s handiwork in their lives, I had to remind them that they were not products of their past. That in God, they’re a new creation with new opportunities available to them.

I hope you enjoy A Proxy Wedding. May you think of the Father’s love as you take time to stop and smell the roses.

Hope Beyond Savannah

By Melissa Wardwell

I hope you enjoy this story of love, acceptance and new beginnings. It was a joy to write because there is much more to it than the hope of marriage. It is about the blending of two families who are from two completely different cultures. Researching the island traditions, beliefs, and customs was not only fun but enlightening. Being able to return to my background in bridal as well as the most beautiful city in the United States was just an added bonus.

With Nik and his family being from another country, I gave you a glossary of words and phrases used so you knew what was being said. I found the language to be rather beautiful and to not include it would take away from who these people are. I also give a small explanation as to what Rock-a- billy is. Lily is a funky chick who dresses in a fun and exciting way. When I saw this couple in my head, I knew it would be quite the uncommon match. As you will soon see, they fit together quite nicely.

My point in using a bi-racial couple for this story was based on what we have been seeing in the news lately. It is unlike anything I have ever done but after talking to friends in similar relationships, I knew I had to step out on this limb. I think it is time we begin to look at people through the eyes of God and not man, then we would see how beautiful we all are. It doesn’t matter what colour our skin is or what our past contains, we are all God’s creation and we are beautifully and wonderfully made.

Life After E.L.E. by J.C. Morrows

My Review:

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I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book!

I’ve just discovered another favourite author, there are quite a few on my bookshelf and on my Kindle.

Life After E.L.E. is a young adult, post-apocalyptic, dystopian story, but anyone from sixteen to one hundred and sixteen would enjoy reading it. Thirty years after a rogue moon had crashed into the earth, leaving a frozen world in its wake, we learn about how the human race had only just escaped extinction, and how they had to revert to living as cave people, the harsh systems that had been put into place by an unrelenting government, and the many secrets and conspiracies that would make daily life extremely difficult and dangerous.

The story reeled me in from the get-go. From page one I was hooked on every word, wanting to know what would happen next. About one-third of the way through reading this book, the mystery and suspense had built to such an extent that I just couldn’t put the book down. Not bad for someone who didn’t previously enjoy fantasy/Sci-Fi or Speculative Fiction. Just as Eve was starting to become more suspicious and paranoid about the circumstances surrounding her father’s death … so was I.

… and the young people who had been executed, what had they done to deserve such a harsh punishment?  What secrets had Eve’s father entrusted to her before his untimely death? I found myself wishing she would divulge those secrets, because I wanted to have some answers too, and the suspense was killing me … but in a good way.

Life, it seemed, wasn’t too dissimilar to how it would have been thousands of years ago, after all, they had to start from scratch and rebuild their world, such as it was. Celebrations were rare in the caves, within the compound. Families had even been restricted to having two children. Times were tough, however, what seemed to make things worse was the fact that as only thirty years had passed since E.L.E., many had fond memories of how life on earth used to be.

downloadSome good Christian values were subtly introduced. There were regrets. Just as Eve was angry with her father for ‘not trying harder to survive’, her mother regretted being angry with her husband the last time she’d seen him. ‘The last words I spoke to your father were in anger. I’m not going to do that to you.’  Gently reminding us of the importance of forgiveness, love and understanding, no matter what.

Although the kissing scenes may have been a little overdone for strict Christian taste, I loved them. Why? Because it meant that these poor people were just as human as anyone else. Under such difficult and confusing circumstances … life after the event, and with the new, cold, and harsh world they now found themselves in, love could and would still blossom. It had to I guess, for life to continue.

Even now after E.L.E., it would seem that human beings had learnt nothing from their past. There were the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’, and the ‘haves’ were just as greedy, jealous, suspicious and malicious as their fore-bearers had been. Life was survival of the fittest, although in the animal kingdom more decorum would have been displayed. Very little if anything had changed.

Rules around what couples could/couldn’t do in public unless they were ‘bound’ were similar to the strict cultural laws of various countries in the old world. Great emphasis was put upon how our actions in any situation, would affect not just ourselves, but all of those around us. Eve’s compassion and caring nature towards others, even when she was in pain, was extraordinary. What a world we’d have if everyone’s heart was like Eve’s.

‘If only the people on the moon base had survived … If the government had gone on the way it was supposed to after that rogue moon had hit earth …’

Many wonderful things will happen in life, but there will always be equal devastation. Our lives seem to be full of “what if’s” … but isn’t hindsight a glorious thing?

I love how Morrows describes the world by the use of dialogue, both spoken and in thought. I felt my mind connect with some of the characters, and it was as though their thoughts were my own.

My only real complaint about this book was the enormous cliff-hanger of an ending … darn it JC! Now I just have to wait with baited breath for the next instalment.

One of the discussion questions for book club readers intrigued me.

‘If you found yourself in a post-apocalyptic world, how do you think that would affect your faith? Would you hold on tighter to God – or would you maybe begin to question His plan?’

cI gave this question some thought, and I don’t believe it would make much difference. Our current world is made up of believers and non-believers, and even those who either believe something entirely different, or nothing at all. Often we hang on to our faith out of sheer fear of what might happen if we don’t … a kind of insurance if you will. What do you think? How might you answer this question?

What a riveting, enthralling adventure reading this book was. JC I love your work!

A little about the author:  JC Morrows, author of the bestselling young adult dystopian series: Order of the MoonStone and the new Frozen Earth series (Post-Apocalyptic with a Dystopian edge), spends her days writing, arguing with her evil computer, juggling two kids, and wishing someone would invent a coffee IV.

A storyteller in the truest sense of the word, JC has been telling stories in one form or another her entire life, and once her mother convinced her to write them down, she simply couldn’t stop.
And . . . as a true believer, she gives God all of the glory for her talent and ability!
“And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.” Habakkuk 2:2

Giveaway: To celebrate her tour, JC Morrows is giving away a themed basket including the book and swag and some specially chosen surprises!! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/b0fd.

Link to purchase this book: Life After E.L.E. JC Morrows Amazon

I was generously provided with a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Glimpses of Light Anthology Blog Tour (stop 10) by Josephine-Anne Griffiths

The following post was written just under a year ago.

There was much excitement around the birthing of this book baby as for many of us, it would contain our very first published piece of art. I should also mention the stress and angst of the people who generously gave of their time to edit and publish this gorgeous anthology right down to the cover design. The cover photograph was generously provided by Helene Young (author).  Of course, you can still buy ‘Glimpses of Light’ through the links which follow below, and we hope you will.

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January 29th, 2016  My goodness, we only have three days left of January.  I remember thinking at the very beginning of this blog tour, which began prior to Christmas with Nola Passmore’s post, that I had oodles of time to write this.  How time flies! It wasn’t until I read this anthology myself and all these wonderful blog posts, that I really gained a better insight into the many meanings and interpretations of ‘light’. You could say ‘I saw the light’.light-bulb

Being the ‘International Year of Light’ 2015 was the perfect year to produce this beautiful collection of short stories, poems, flash fiction and creative non-fiction.

Today it is my turn to inspire you with my thoughts on the anthology as I take the baton from Adele Jones  who is a Queensland author who writes young adult and historical novels, poetry, inspirational non-fiction and other works of short fiction. In her spare time, Adele balances family responsibilities with her daytime job in the field of science.

My contribution to this anthology was a complete surprise to many, especially myself as it is my first published piece – ever.  When the call came out for applications for contributions, my initial thoughts were – I wish I could do something like that.  Well here we are many months down the track, after so much hard work by so many wonderful and talented people – it’s done.  There are so many ways to look at light – heavenly light, the light of the sun or the moon, electric light, even seeing things in a different light.

At the time of the call, I was working on parts of my brother’s fictional memoir. I tried very hard to take a scene from the memoir and turn it into a piece of flash fiction.  Once the editors saw it they knew that it really did belong to a much bigger story. In a quandary, and having not tried my hand at poetry before, I thought – okay here goes nothing. But in the end and thanks to our very patient editors, it became something.  My inspiration came from all of the emotions that bubbled up while I was trying to write about my beloved brother, Charlie.  My poem is based upon my own Grandfather, whose name my brother shared.  Yes finally the light was on, my words and emotions were flowing, and I just had to finish before the globe popped. Consequently, there were edits required, enough to give anyone a headache.  But it was so much fun. I enjoyed reading all of the stories, poems and words of hope and inspiration, and in particular, I really enjoyed Adele’s story Kaleidoscope. kkkAs a child, I enjoyed playing with one as I am sure many in my generation did.  Out of curiosity I actually read Adele’s story first. Why you ask?  It just seemed to me that a ‘kaleidoscope’ of works of art, was exactly what this anthology was.  Within my poem, I tried to represent the natural lights and hues of nature, the heavenly light that we can mostly only dream about, and of course when Charles finally ‘saw the light’ and realised what an important member of the family he was.

“He can no longer feel the wind’s chill,

As the door opens … Who will read the bedtime story, if I’m not here?

There are gardens to water, meals to help prepare, and stories to tell.”

I would humbly thank my Heavenly Father who helped me from that very first moment when I decided to apply;  also all of the contributors/authors, editors, proof-readers and artistry team. I also thank all of my family and friends who have believed in me and supported me along the way.  Whatever you do don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to purchase “Glimpses of Light Anthology” either as an eBook or print copy.   You can purchase from the following links:

Amazon.com   as a hard copy (US$12 plus postage) or as an eBook  (US$3.53) 

or through Amazon.com.au  eBook @ (AU$4.87)

You will be making so many people happy as well as inspiring yourself, as all profits are going to CBM Australia who work tirelessly with the poor and disabled in developing countries, restoring sight to the blind.

Lastly but certainly not least, keep an eye out for Robyn Campbell as she takes the baton from me next week on Monday, February 1st. daisy-in-the-sunRobyn is a children’s author and poet from the United States. Picture books are her greatest love, and she will be hoping to find a worthy home for them soon. Robyn lives on a mountain in North Carolina on a horse farm where she has plenty of story ideas to keep her creative cauldron bubbling for quite some time.

BLOG AWARD TOUR – Whats and Whys of My Words.

ritaAustralian, Inspirational,Historical Romance author, Rita Stella Galieh has tagged me for the Blog Award Tour. Rita’s heritage is an interesting one, being of English, Scottish and Jewish decent. Her love of storytelling began during childhood, inventing tales of adventure with her Grandmother, while her mother worked. Rita’s mother encouraged her to write poems after school was finished for the day. These poems which were published in the children’s section of the Sunday papersin instilled into Rita a thirsty craving for writing. In addition to being an accomplished author, she is also an extremely talented artist, specialising in ceramics.

Rita has an absolute passion for the 19th Century Victorian Era, which is evident in her stories. She writes to entertain and inspire her readers while remaining faithful to the honour and glory of Our Lord.

Rita is currently editing her next book “A Parcel of Promises” which is book number three in her Victoriana series. The other two in the series which come highly recommended, are “The Tie That Binds” and “Signed Sealed Delivered”. She is also working on “Miss Kate’s Great Expectations” which was runner-up in the Caleb Awards. You can find Rita and her wonderful works at www.ritastellagalieh.com

 

As part of the Blog Award Tour, Rita has asked me to provide answers to four questions. So, here’s a little about me and what I am working on.

  1. WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?

Good question. What am I not working on? I have recently finished another 10,000 words towards my first draft of my very first book “Charlie Dreams”.  I had previously written another 20,000 precious words during NaNoWriMo last November, and this 10k was dragged out of me in this year’s (July Camp NaNoWriMo). I did manage just over eleven thousand, but ten was my goal. charlie-dreamsI refer to ‘Charlie Dreams’ as a book for now, as whether it becomes a novella or a novel really depends upon how far my memory and imagination takes me. The picture to the right of the screen is one of many cover ideas (this being my favourite at the moment). It is a fictional memoir (or realistic fiction, depending on how each reader may view it).  July Camp NaNoWriMo was really exciting as I got to be Cabin Mum (or Mumma Bear). What a wonderful experience it was getting to know other Christian writers, sharing virtual coffees and cakes, snuggling around an imaginary campfire, singing and strumming, and realising that I am not alone.

I am also studying a certificate of Editing and Proofreading, and wading through the sixth edition of the Style Manual. Hopefully, I will be finished by Christmas and able to focus more on my writing. I am currently developing my website/blog which I’m aiming to fill with poems or short stories. My blog is meant to touch upon various aspects of life and how God’s word influences them. I hope to be inspired with the right words to capture you. Next year after my course is out of the way, I shall begin work on the first draft of my next book. It will be a work of narrative non-fiction of which I am extremely excited about.

  1. HOW DOES YOUR WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS IN YOUR GENRE?

As a novice writer, that is a difficult question to answer. I don’t believe at this stage that my writing is that different other than the fact that it has my own personal stamp on it. I write from my heart as most writers do, however, my heart is unique.

  1. WHY DO YOU WRITE OR CREATE WHAT YOU DO?

I have always had a passion for reading good stories. I love to read them, tell them and now I have this burning desire to put those little gems down on paper (or on screen for those with an e-reader or tablet). I have actually been writing in one form or another since I was quite young, but now it would be nice to share some stories with the rest of the world. I daydream a lot. dreamy-cloudsSo many story ideas sprout from these daydreams. I’ve been in trouble throughout most of my life for this delightful habit of constantly drifting off with the fairies. I was born on February 24, so what can I say? Dreaming is good.

I have always held fast to a strong faith, but in recent years circumstances made me question a lot of details about my life, and have consequently brought me closer to Our Lord. These days my faith has changed, for the better, I believe. I now have a relationship with Jesus; He is my best friend, my comforter and protector – my absolute world. So why do I write and create what I do?  It is simple really, my pen is guided by God’s love and grace, illuminated by the light of His Holy Spirit; and I allow Him to show me what He wants me to share with others. Reading, but especially writing completes me. It is all I have ever wanted to do.

  1. HOW DOES YOUR WRITING/CREATIVE PROCESS WORK?

Hmmm, process – do I have one? Yes of course I do, but I wish I could tell you that I am super organised, plotting out each scene, developing my characters before sitting in front of my laptop – sigh. Most writers would tell you that they are a combination of organised planners (plotters) and running by the seat of their pants (pantsers) writers. Balance is good. Often I go mad, pick up my notebook and do some planning, but mostly I am a pantser – guilty as charged. I am also known as “last minute Jo’Anne” or “eleventh hour Jo”.  I am even writing this the night before it is due to be published. So in a nutshell, I am a crazy, passionate pantser who thrives on stress. Yes, the last minute or moments can be extremely motivating. My very best ideas and thoughts usually come in the wee small hours of the morning (notepad is on my bedside table); also inconveniently loads of ideas and stories come to me while in the bathroom. I really must invest in a waterproof writing pad. Seriously though, I am my most creative when writing with a pen on notepaper; I don’t know why, but the words just seem to flow better. Of course, they get changed around again when I am feeding them into the computer. One thing is for certain, when I have my writer’s hat on, I am not present, not available for anyone or anything – just my story, poem, blog or book baby.

The next writer to take part in this awesome blog tour is Robyn Harbour.

robyn-harbourRobyn, along with her husband Russell, served as a full-time missionary in Vanuatu for three years. Based in Inverloch, Victoria, Australia, both continued to minister throughout the islands of the South Pacific, speaking at conferences, Pastor’s Retreats, and Sunday School conferences for another four years. They have both been happily retired since February 2015.

Beyond the Palm Trees” is Robyn’s first published book, published by Ark House Press.

Robyn continues to maintain many beautiful and valuable friendships with local indigenous people, who have shared their stories and experiences with her.

To find out more about Robyn, her writing and her fabulous ministries, please look out for her post on this blog tour next Monday, August 24th, 2015.

You’ll find Robyn at www.robynharbour.com

Originally published on my Just Jo’Anne blog, August 2015