Monday, June 29, 2020

Review of A Cowgirl's Dream (Barrels & Hearts Book One) by Edith Mackenzie #CDPrism

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Welcome to the book tour for A Cowgirl's Dream, the first book in a new series, Barrels & Hearts, by Edith Mackenzie! I had the opportunity to read this book and am sharing my thoughts below. You can follow the tour to catch more reviews, some excerpts, and more. I also have an interview with the author over at Candrel's Crafts, Cooks, and Characters. Best of luck entering the great giveaway!

A Cowgirl's Dream
(Barrels & Hearts, #1)
By Edith MacKenzie
Contemporary Romance, Western
Paperback & ebook, 154 Pages
June 24, 2020

An Aussie cowgirl far from home. A handsome Brazilian bull rider. Can they have a rodeo love story of their dreams?

Frankie dreams of being a champion barrel racer. When the opportunity of a lifetime knocks on her door, she moves halfway across the globe to chase it. After having her heart broken, she’s determined to focus on her ambitions. That means no time for cowboys, even if he is bloody cute.

Luciano is well on his way to getting everything he has ever dreamed of. That is, until an Aussie cowgirl crashes into his world, setting his soul on fire. He knows what it takes to get to the top and Frankie has it in spades. Now, all he has to do is convince her to see beyond the suave exterior and give him a chance.

Finally, Frankie has a shot at the championship buckle, but when photos appear of Luciano on the internet, she has to decide whether to stay or walk away. Is she kidding herself, can she have it all? Can Frankie find her courage to trust in love and still chase her Cowgirl’s dream?

(Affiliate link included.)

**My thoughts**
I don't know why I have been drawn to stories about ranchers and cowboys/cowgirls over the last couple of years. It never was a genre I'd entertained before. But now I'm completely enamored of them. This one started out a bit different because Frankie, our heroine, actually lives and competes in Australia. She makes it over to America after winning a tournament in Australia. When she comes to stay at the American ranch, she is focused on refining her skills with a new horse and making her mark. I admire her tenacity in being the best that she can be. And I love her relationship with her best friends.

Luciano is from Brazil and is a star. And he knows it. So he is very cocky. It's hard to warm up to him. But he does soften once he meets Frankie, who is the one who can finally tame him in the romance department.

The two of them are definitely devoted to each other. Frankie has a bit of a past that makes her nervous around trusting men, which is lightly touched upon and also causes her a couple of issues with Luciano. Somehow they work together, though I admit I felt like I kind of missed that moment and development happening.

I admit I had a hard time accepting that Frankie and all of her friends would so quickly pack up and move halfway around the world for this opportunity. Frankie, I get it, because she has the opportunity of a lifetime to further her career. I guess it was more the other girls coming over with her. It was a very spontaneous decision. But they do settle in, and we need to continue this series, right?

So despite the couple of hiccups I felt in the storyline, I did actually enjoy this book. I read the whole thing while sitting poolside on a mini-vacation. I still like to read about the competitions in addition to the romance. I have already grabbed the free prequel and am looking forward to the releases of the next in the series. I think it really has some potential.

Thank you to the publisher and Prism Book Tours for honoring my review request. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

(Linked to an Amazon affiliate link.)

Other Books Coming in the Series

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About the Author

Edith MacKenzie or Eddie Mac to her friends is an Australian author of sweet and wholesome contemporary cowboy romance. They say in literary circles to write what you know and Eddie has certainly taken that to heart. Before embarking on a writing career she trained horses professionally and brings that wealth of knowledge to her writing.

Now a mum to a boy and girl, as well as wife, she delights with her tales of strong cowgirls and their adventures in finding love. When not weaving the love stories of her characters, she enjoys hanging out with her family and animals, as well as reading, fishing and camping

Just remember once a cowgirl, always a cowgirl.

Tour Schedule

Tour Giveaway

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Open internationally to those eligible to use one of Amazon's branches
Ends July 5, 2020

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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Review of When I Am Anxious: Moses and the Other Stories by Debbie Duncan

Spark a discussion about feeling uncertain through a Bible story that children can read and relate to.

A chapter book retelling the story of Moses, who felt anxious about being called to lead a nation out of Egypt with additional related snippets from other Bible stories. But God cares, providing constant reassurance and support through others around him. A reassuring story to help older children reflect and talk to people they trust about when they feel uncertain, and the support they need to build their confidence, including from God

The 'God Cares' series provides a Biblical approach to discussing emotions and behaviour with children to nurture an attitude of wellness. Children at different ages approach things differently in their stages of emotional development, so this series works at two different levels: Illustrated Readers aimed at 5-7 year-olds and Chapter Books aimed at 8+ years.

Please note that children progress at different reading abilities and stages of emotional development so the age ranges are only a guide for parents and carers.

The Bible stories are retold reflecting on the emotions and encourages children to discuss and relate this within their situations. Sections at the back provide a reflective space for children and practical advice for parents and carers.

Book Links

**My thoughts**
This installment of the series is geared toward older children, as it is in more of a chapter book format. This one tells stories about Moses and talks about how he must have been feeling some anxiety at these various points of his life. And then another story from the Gospels is shared in the middle of that chapter, between two parts about Moses. All three parts of each chapter get into some explanation about the feelings that could have been going on with the various characters in each story and try to relate it to the child's life. The end of the chapter gives some kind of writing prompt of reflection for the child to use to contemplate his own feelings.

For this section, I liked how these familiar Bible stories were being used to help the child explore her own feelings. I felt it was a bit odd and disjointed to have a Gospel story thrown into the middle of the chapter with two parts about Moses surrounding it, though. It was like switching gears midstream somehow. But this did feel like it could be a self-guided study. I appreciated the suggestions it gave to the child about how to approach trusted adults for discussion and guidance.

Then the back of the book is a section for parents and caregivers about how to handle anxiety in a child and when to seek help. This is a great resource for parents. I just feel weird about having it in a book that is designed for a child to read on his own, especially in a book for older children. I think for some kids, it would increase their anxiety as they read the descriptions and start to wonder if that is going on with them.

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a review copy via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Mail Order Mallory (Widows, Brides, and Secret Babies Book 15) by Jo Grafford

Mallory Price elopes with her childhood sweetheart in post-war Savannah, against her well-to-do family’s wishes, with nothing but a travel bag of dreams and visions of happily-ever-afters in her head. However, tragedy strikes a mere two months later, leaving her a widow with a baby on the way. Crawling back to a family that has disinherited her is not an option, so she leaps at the opportunity to become a mail-order bride. She prays her would-be groom in Dallas is a good man and won’t object to becoming a father in record time.

Former bounty hunter Duke Stratton can think of only one thing he’s missing in his quest to transform himself into a respectable businessman, and that’s the acquisition of a proper wife. There’s one undeniable problem — no high society lady is going to ally herself in holy matrimony to a fellow with his dubious reputation. Thank heavens he discovers a shortcut to the courting process and fills out an application for a mail-order bride.

When Mallory steps off the train, his old bounty hunting instincts go on full alert. Why in tarnation would a woman of her beauty, education, and obvious good breeding agree to such an outlandish marriage proposal? That is, unless she has something to hide... Duke is very good at ferreting out secrets, so he knows it’s only a matter of time before he uncovers Mallory’s. He just hopes it is something he can live with, because he’s never been good at admitting defeat or giving up what’s his.

(affiliate link)

Jo is an Amazon bestselling author of sweet romance stories with humor and heart — and always with a happily ever after.

A typical day finds her at her laptop, a fizzy beverage within reach, and a cat snoozing on her desk. He takes credit for most of what she does. When Jo's not writing stories, she's reading them. She adores cowboys, heroes in uniform, billionaires, mail order brides, and humorous sidekicks.

Readers can visit with her in Cuppa Jo Readers on Facebook at To join her New Release Email List, visit

I was compensated via Fiverr for sharing this post. I only share those books that I feel will be of interest to my readers.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

A Music Playlist for Memoir of a Hockey Nobody by Jerry "Teabag" Hick

All good stories have a soundtrack. At least that's the way my life feels. And this story, Memoir of a Hockey Nobody, has one, too. Author Jerry "Teabag" Hack shares his picks to accompany his book. You can also check out an excerpt and then follow the tour for more. Best of luck entering the giveaway!

Memoir of a Hockey Nobody is the unlikely true story of an average Canadian kid who grew up playing street hockey. Although he didn't learn how to skate until his late teens, he took a shot at entering the world of professional ice hockey with, shall we say, haphazard results.

This is an "against all odds" tale of one man's journey from Vancouver, to all over Western Canada, California, The Yukon, and Alaska. Seemingly blocked at every turn, from managers who believed that someone who came from such humble beginnings couldn't be any good, to coaches who would rather see big names with bigger reputations. It's a story of tragedy, triumph and determination. A roller coaster ride with hilarious anecdotes of all the characters he met along the way.

This is a tale for those who dare to live their dream!

Read an excerpt:
“I managed to figure out how to get my pads on over my skates, and then the rest of the equipment followed. The Zamboni took about ten years to get off the ice. The time came for me to make my debut. The definition of inauspicious is as follows: “showing or suggesting that future success is unlikely”. Inauspicious doesn’t even come close to describing my entrance to the game of ice hockey. When I stepped on the ice there was about a one-foot drop from the gate. I stepped down and tried to skate, but the equipment seemed like it weighed a ton and was toppling me over. The skates were not helping as there was no resistance under my toes. I fell over onto my hands and knees and needed help getting up. I’m sure the guys were all thinking that they got the one goalie in Vancouver who was worse than Lonnie.”

Buy Links
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Music Playlist for Memoir of a Hockey Nobody by Jerry “Teabag” Hack

I have been a music lover since the day I was born, so here are the songs that if my book was ever made into a movie, would comprise its soundtrack.

Chapter One: Marlene and The Canadiens (pronounced KANAdyenz)

“Please Mr. Postman” by The Marvelettes. It was the #1 song the day I was born, December 10, 1961. Apropos as the Doctor (the Postman in this scenario) delivered a healthy 7 lb. 13 oz. Baby boy.

“Draggin’ The Line” by Tommy James. 1971, the year I really got into watching the NHL and my passion for hockey and being a goalie started. Being a goalie, you are the last line of defense.

Chapter Two: The Move

1973 is the year I met Randy, who would be my best friend until his death in 1976 when I was 14.

“How Do You Do” by Mouth and MacNeil.

“Your My Best Friend” by Queen

“Don’t Pull Your Love” by Hamilton, Joe Frank, and Reynolds. Randy and I both loved this song. It was part of a K-Tel record that we played endlessly.

“Misty Blue” by Dorothy Moore. This was a hit song when Randy passed away and would always remind me of him. The lyrics don’t really work but the song always made me think of him. Even to this day, some 44 years later, I still have a tough time listening to this song.

Chapter 3: And the Band Played On, through to Chapter 11: The Golden Years

Spans from 1980, the year I started to play ice hockey, through to 1987 when I left to play Senior Hockey in Saskatchewan.

“Another Brick in the Wall” by Pink Floyd. As a goalie you are supposed to be “A Brick Wall”

“Call Me” by Blondie. I was constantly getting phone calls to come out and play. Somebody once referred to me as a “Hockey Whore” because I would play with anybody.

“Ride Like the Wind” by Christopher Cross. This song represents my rapid improvement and becoming a very good goalie during these years.

“Golden Years” by David Bowie.

“Heat of the Moment” by Asia. Would be played when my team won the league championship for the first time.

“Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi. When I left for Saskatchewan, I was throwing caution to the wind to live out my dream.

Chapter 12: Game Changer to Chapter 20: Domination

Spans 1987 when I left for Saskatchewan to 1991, the last year I was there.

“Wild Wild West” by The Escape Club. Technically I went East but never let facts get in the way of a good story. This song was huge in Saskatchewan in 1988.

“Every Rose has it’s Thorn” by Poison. This song represents my struggles in 1989 dealing with being relegated to the bench and not playing for the final two months of the season.

“Savin’ Myself” by Eria Fachin. This song was HUGE in Assiniboia, SK, but I never heard it anywhere else. Catchy tune that we always partied to.

“Unbelievable” by EMF. Represents my “redemption”, if you will, when during the following seasons I played a big part in my team winning 2 Provincial and League Championships in successive years.

Chapter 21: California Dreamin’

No brainer. “California Dreamin’” by The Mamas and The Papas. No explanation needed.

Chapter 22: New Horizons to the Epilogue.

Spans 1991 to 1993. My time in Whitehorse, Yukon.

“North to Alaska” by Johnny Horton. Again, no explanation needed.

“Alive” by Pearl Jam. Pearl Jam exploded on the scene in 1991 and this was my favourite song.

“What’s Up” by 4 Non-Blondes. This song represents the end of my time in Whitehorse when the team left for the Canadian Championships and I was left behind in favour of another goalie the coaches liked better. The line where she screams “what’s going on?!” really states emphatically how I felt at the time.

And finally, the end of my “serious hockey” career would be played out to “Cats in the Cradle” by Ugly Kid Joe. This song represents my whole life to that point. From cradle to adulthood. When I had to get serious about life and look for a career outside of hockey and find a “real job”.

This was a really fun exercise. Thank you so much for indulging me. I hope you read and enjoy the book and have these songs running through your head as you are doing so. Thanks again.

Jerry Hack


I was born and raised in Burnaby, British Columbia. My sisters and I were raised by hard-working blue collar parents. We were and are a tight knit family. I grew up loving sports but hockey most of all. In fact, it was my passion. I read about it, watched it and played it. I was an average student and a good athlete. I could play most sports without looking out of place. But I was born to be a goalie. I graduated from high school in 1979 and a year later began my journey playing ice hockey. 40 years later, I am happily married with a 12 year old daughter and loving life more than ever.



Jerry Hack will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Sweethearts Old (Lucky Sweethearts Book One) by Rachel A. Andersen

Some things are better left in the past, and high school is one of them. But is your high school sweetheart the exception or the rule?

You are cordially invited to Thomas Jefferson High School in Denver, CO to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of your graduation...

Marissa Lambert is not the kind of woman to let her circumstances dictate her opportunities. From raising her three siblings after her parents' car accident to adopting a boy from foster care as a single woman to starting her own accounting business so she can work from home, the only thing which continues to elude her is true love. So, why does her sister, Cassie, insist that her twentieth high school reunion is the key to recapturing her lost sense of joy and fulfillment?

Approaching the one-year anniversary after his wife's death, Declan Pierce is content to let his mother-in-law keep the household running while he loses himself in work, television, and video gaming. That is, until he's on his own for a day, and his kids seem to believe him utterly inept. No longer willing to let his in-laws dictate his parenting and home life, he awakens again just in time for his high school reunion where he reunites with the first woman he ever loved. True to his luck, after one of the nicest evenings he's shared with anyone since his wife died, he makes a mistake that threatens it all.

Twenty years of broken dreams can change people, and no matter how drawn to one another Marissa and Declan may feel, they can't help but wonder if history will repeat itself or if love is here to stay for the Sweethearts Old.

If you like stories of emotional growth and sweet romance, like those written by Robyn Carr and Debbie Macomber, check out this sweet second chance romance. A "spectacular new find" with vivid characters, relatable emotion, and a charming voice, Rachel A. Andersen's books will have you coming back for more. 

Inspired by the wedding rhyme, "Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue," the Lucky Sweethearts series follows four couples on their way to the altar. Though each book can be read as a standalone, readers may stumble on spoilers when books are read out of order due to recurring characters.

Available on Amazon

I was compensated via Fiverr for sharing this post. I only share those books that I feel will be of interest to my readers.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Review of God's Big Plan by Elizabeth F. Caldwell and Theodore Hiebert

The world is full of so many different things: animals, plants, foods, languages, people. But it might not have been that way if it weren’t for God’s big plan . . .

This vibrant picture book illuminates a new understanding of the story of Babel in Genesis, revealing God’s plan for wonderful diversity throughout the world. God’s Big Plan includes a note for parents and educators.

God's Big Plan is a Junior Library Guild Selection.

Book Links
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**My thoughts**
I like the sentiment of this story, that we have so much diversity in this world because that is what God wanted and planned for. It's presented in a simple format that kids will be able to pay attention to and enjoy. The illustrations felt a little flat to me, but did convey people of a variety of colors, races, cultures, and abilities, thus demonstrating the truly wide variety of people we have on this earth. Bonus points to the book for acknowledging that people also observe different religions and may worship differently. I think that part was honestly my favorite.

Thank you to the publisher for fulfilling my review request via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Review of The NIght of His Birth by Katherine Paterson

Sing out, my soul, the wonder . . .

Mary’s baby has arrived, and she can’t contain her joy! As Joseph sleeps, she examines her newborn’s tiny mouth, his wild hair, his little hands. Yet what’s most wondrous is that this child is not just Mary’s own but a gift that God has shared with everyone.

Poetic text by Newbery Medalist Katherine Paterson and striking images by Lisa Aisato reveal the intimacy of that unforgettable night long ago, when the mother of Jesus was the first to welcome him into a world he would change forever.

The Night of His Birth is a Junior Library Guild Selection.

Book Links
Goodreads * Amazon * BN * IndieBound
(affiliate link included)

**My thoughts**

I'm most familiar with Katherine Paterson because of her book Bridge to Terabithia, which was one of my favorites as a kid. I had no idea that she wrote picture books as well!

This is the story of Jesus' birth told from the point of view of Mary, which is a unique perspective I have not come across in children's literature. Paterson imagines the conflicting thoughts that could have been in her head as this story unfolded. It also touches on the doubt that I have always believed others in Mary's life would have initially had as well. But it does so in a gentle way that is not going to cause children to doubt Mary's story. 

It is the ultimate love letter from Mary to her precious son. And the words are illustrated with magical, beautiful pictures that echo the enchantment. They are absolutely stunning. I think this is one of my new favorite Christmas picture books.

Thank you to the publisher and to NetGalley for fulfilling my review request. All thoughts and opinions are my own.