Thursday, December 8, 2016

Buy a Mystery & Help Feed a Community

Buy a Mystery:  Prose and Cons 

by Amanda Flowers

and Help Feed a Community

Buy a mystery and help feed a community!
By Amanda Flower

Six years, twenty published books. It’s a staggering statistic for any author, and it’s still hard to believe that it’s mine. I’m living my version of a fairy tale. I’ve been lucky. I’ve been blessed. I’ve worked incredibly hard. But I wouldn’t be where I am without the kindness of others. My agent, my family, my friends, my editors, and my readers have all been on this incredible journey with me, and in honor of all those people, in honor of you, I’m giving back to a local food pantry with the release of my twentieth novel, Prose and Cons. I hope you will join me!

Pre-order or purchase any edition of Prose and Cons, the second novel in the Magical Bookshop Mystery Series, between now and Tuesday, December 20, 2016, and I will donate $1 for every book sold to a local food pantry, The Landing, located in Akron, Ohio.

My brother and sister-in-law, Andrew and Nicole Flower, manage the Landing in the basement of Akron Christian Reformed Church with a group of dedicated volunteers. The food pantry feeds over sixty families in its neighborhood on $200 a week.

The Learned Owl will donate $1 to the Landing food pantry for every copy of Prose and Cons it sells before or at my book signing there on December 10th in addition to the $1 that I will donating to the Landing for every copy of Prose and Cons sold by any bookseller by December 20th. For those of you who cannot make the signing, the Learned Owl is also selling PERSONALIZED AND SIGNED copies on the novel. They can ship anywhere.


Buy a mystery and help feed a community! And as always thank you for reading! I hope Prose and Cons brings a smile to your face.

Enter to win one of four $25 gift cards to Barnes and Nobel or Amazon. Winner’s choice. Visit to enter!

Amanda Flower, a national bestselling and Agatha Award winning mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. She also writes mysteries as USA Today bestselling author Isabella Alan. In addition to being an author, Amanda is librarian in Northeast Ohio.
Follow Amanda on Social Media at: Facebook Twitter Instagram

Monday, December 5, 2016

5-Star Review of "Healing of the Heart" & Giveaway

Review of Healing of the Heart

(Secrets on Sterling Street #3)

by Loree Lough


Ruby McCoy is haunted by her father's sins....When Ruby McCoy arrives in Fairplay, her ornate carriage is followed by an entourage who heft steamer trunks, hatboxes, and traveling bags into the hotel?  where she has booked the entire second floor.   Upon her notorious gangster father's death, the now-wealthy Ruby, hiding under her mother's maiden name, set out to right her father's wrongs.  Ruby is determined to spend every penny of the inherited "blood money" on those who paid the price for her father's crimes. Sheriff Rex Truett doesn't trust Ruby and doesn't care who knows it.  The keeper of Fairplay's law and order makes it his business to find out why a stranger; especially a beautiful, spoiled, rich, female stranger; would set up businesses, donate to schools, hire workmen to rebuild houses, and provide access to the best medical care.  But when a typhoid epidemic sweeps through the city, he is forced to reconsider.  Will Rex blame Ruby for her father's sins?   Or will he accept the possibility that she is trying to create; and feel; the peace her father stole? 

MY REVIEW:  Ruby feels tremendous guilt and responsibility for the crimes her father committed on so many innocent lives, and she feels that she needs to repay all those innocent people.  How can one young woman ever repay people for such incredible losses?  And she plans to do it in secret.  They will never know her true identity as she plans to use her mother's maiden name.  Her mother intends for Ruby to be adorned at all times so that she can catch her dream man and start a family.  She is well on her way to completing her mission when they finally arrive in the final town of Fairplay, Colorado.  She and her mother have also found a town where they feel they can permanently live, but there's a sheriff in town and while Ruby finds him quite attractive, he finds her quite suspicious.   He is harboring his own secrets, and is busy with his own responsibilities but that doesn't stop him from his mistrust of Ruby.  What will come of Ruby and Rex's interactions?  Can they both live cordially in the same town?  Readers must read the book to discover answers to these questions and more.
         I love historical fiction and Loree Lough has mastered the art of capturing the old world charm and danger of the 1800's. I have a fascination with this time period and simply cannot imagine having a "Old West Robber" for a father.  I definitely cannot imagine my father being hung in a tree for his crimes.  I most definitely cannot imagine inheriting all that "dirty money" but I do see the desire to "donate" the money by doing good in the places where my father created such loss and fear.  Ruby is a character I greatly admired as I read the book due to her exemplary character and goodness.   I felt as if I were traveling along with Ruby as she sought to correct the wrongs of her father.   This book is the third in a series and while I have not read the previous two books in the series, I was able to follow along and did not notice information missing that was important to my comprehension of the story.  I would love to read the entire series now though.  
        I rated this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers of historical fiction.
*I received this book as a gift from Celebrate Lit and the author.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions expressed are my own.*


In honor of her tour, 
Loree is giving away her books: 
Secrets on Sterling Street series, Prevailing Love (3 in 1), 
Pricilla Hires a Husband, Lone Wolf, and Emma’s Orphans, 
a KJVER Study Bible, 
and an Abba pillar candle in a wicker basket! 
Click the link below to enter; 
be sure to comment on this post to claim your nine bonus entries for this giveaway!  
To enter giveaway,   Click Here
Leave a comment below with email (at) address (dot) com

About the Author:

Loree Lough

With 107 books (more than 6,000,000 copies in circulation!), best-selling author Loree Lough's writing style has been compared to Nicholas Sparks and Mary Jo Putney; readers and reviewers call her “a gifted writer whose stories touch hearts and change lives.”

With a long list of industry awards, it isn't likely this prolific author will ever retire...not even to her cozy li'l cabin in the Allegheny Mountains. She loves to hear from her readers and personally answers every letter sent to

Visit to see some of Loree's available titles.

Blog Stops
November 22: Bibliophile Reviews
November 22: Jeanette’s Thoughts
November 23: Neverending Stories
November 23: Lane Hill House
November 24: Christian Bookaholic

November 25: Redeemed Hope Dweller
November 26: Moments Dipped in Ink
November 27: inklings and notions
November 27: Splashes of Joy
November 28: Ashley’s Bookshelf
November 28: Daysong Reflections
November 30: Bigreadersite
December 1: Pause for Tales
December 1: Smiling Book Reviews
December 2: A Greater Yes
December 2: Genesis 5020
December 4: Karen Sue Hadley
December 5: Rhonda’s Doings

Monday, November 28, 2016

4-Star Review of "A Different Kind of Beautiful"


Discovering and Celebrating Beauty in Places You Never Expected

by Courtney Westlake

When Courtney Westlake’s family was given the shocking news that their daughter, Brenna, was born in 2011 with a severe, life-threatening skin disorder, they began to discover a new and different beautiful in their lives–one that values extraordinary differences and appreciates the wonderful sameness found in humanity. In A Different Beautiful, Courtney explores what her family has discovered in raising a child with physical differences and what she has learned about true beauty. Through her personal insights and experiences, Courtney shares how you, too, can learn to find and celebrate God’s version of beautiful in your life, especially within our differences and struggles.

MY REVIEW:  Courtney Westlake's water broke earlier than she had planned, and she awaited expectantly for the precious daughter that she and her husband, Evan, would soon hold in their arms and gaze in her eyes.  It didn't work out that way though.   Brenna was wiped and confusion and worry showed on the faces of all the doctors and nurses in the delivery room.   The loving mother's heart cried out, "Where's my baby?  When can I see her, hold her, kiss her tiny face?"  Instead of placing her sweet daughter in her aching arms, a neonatologist was summoned immediately.  Something was wrong. Something was wrong.  Something was wrong with Brenna.   Brenna was facing a fight.  She just entered the world and she was in pain and she had to fight, because the medical staff told her that babies born with harlequin ichthyosis rarely survived more than a few days.  They could keep her painfree until she passed.  That's when the heaviest decision fell on their shoulders.  Were they going to let Brenna just go?  She'd just arrived and they longed for this daughter.  
        Brenna's young mother, Courtney Westlake, walks us through the struggle for Brenna's life and then the joy the beautiful little girl brings to their home.   Brenna is blessed with the most compassionate brother and parents that God could have given her to.  I love the personal stories and the brutal honesty expressed in this book.  I did wish there were photographs.  I looked on Courtney's blog and looked at Brenna and smiled with tears in my eyes and whispered, "She is beautiful. She is precious."  Honestly, from the description in the book of her birth, I thought she would look frightening.   But she does not.  Her smile is infectious.   I did think that more scripture would have been helpful to accompany the stories and opinions.   What a lovely book, what an inspiring family!   
       I rated this book 4 stars and highly recommend it.
       I received an ARC copy of this book from netgalley and all opinions expressed are my own.
        As I finished the book, I thought of the song, "How Beautiful" by Twila Paris.  
How beautiful the hands that served
the wine and the bread
and the sons of the earth.
How beautiful the feet that walked
the long dusty roads
and the hills to the cross.
How beautiful
how beautiful
how beautiful is the body of Christ.
How beautiful the heart that bled
that took all my sin
and bore it instead.
How beautiful the tender eyes
that chose to forgive
and never despise.
How beautiful
how beautiful
how beautiful is the body of Christ.
And as He laid down His life
we offer this sacrifice
that we will live just as he died:
willing to pay the price
willing to pay the price.
How beautiful the radiant Bride
who waits for her Groom
with His light in her eyes.
How beautiful when humble hearts give
the fruit of pure lives

About the Author:
Blessed by Brenna blogCourtney with her beautiful little Brenna

Courtney Westlake lives in central Illinois with her husband, Evan, and two children, Connor and Brenna.  When Brenna was born in 2011 with a rare and severe skin disorder called harlequin ichthyosis, Courtney began a blog to chronicle their family life and experiences raising a child with physical differences and special needs.  Her writing has also been featured on other sites such as Yahoo Parenting, The Huffington Post, (in)courage, and Good Housekeeping.  Besides writing, Courtney enjoys photography, traveling, and a good bag of Doritos.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

5-Star Review of "Juniper: The Girl Who Was Born too Soon"


Review of Juniper: The girl who was born too soon

by Kelley and Thomas French

A micro preemie fights for survival in this extraordinary and gorgeously told memoir by her parents, both award-winning journalists.

Juniper French was born four months early, at 23 weeks' gestation. She weighed 1 pound, 4 ounces, and her twiggy body was the length of a Barbie doll. Her head was smaller than a tennis ball, her skin was nearly translucent, and through her chest you could see her flickering heart. Premature babies like Juniper, born at the edge of viability, trigger the question: Which is the greater act of love--to save her, or to let her go?

Kelley and Thomas French chose to fight for Juniper's life, and this is their incredible tale. In one exquisite memoir, the authors explore the border between what is possible and what is right. They marvel at the science that conceived and sustained their daughter and the love that made the difference. They probe the bond between a mother and a baby, between a husband and a wife. They trace the journey of their family from its fragile beginning to the miraculous survival of their now thriving daughter.

MY REVIEW:  This book is absolutely mesmerizing!  I grieved and prayed and cried along with her parents, Kelley and Thomas French.  Tom was a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and he and his wife, Kelley, are both award winning journalists.  So I expected impeccable writing when I read about the authors.   Such a tiny tiny little warrior, Juniper fought through what seemed like too many obstacles.  Tom and Kelley had to sit helplessly by and watch the doctors and nurses work their magic.  
           I taught a Preschool for Developmentally Delayed in a public school in North Carolina and many of the children in my class were preemies.   Tom and Kelley worried that Juniper, or Junebug as they called her, would also have developmental delays.   They longed to hold her and were terrified to hold her.   They watched as cubicles became empty and blankets were drawn over a lump in the incubator.  They knew they could be next.  Any day. Any moment.  They had longed for this child, this daughter.   Juniper is the answer to their dreams.  Readers simply must read this book.  It would definitely be appealing to those who have also experienced life with micro-preemies and/or preemies.  I had three perfectly normal daughters, but found this book to be breathtaking!  
             I rated this book 5 stars and give it the highest possible recommendation.
             I received a copy of this book from the publishers and netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author:

Thomas French, a Pulitzer prize-winning reporter, has spent the past quarter century redefining the possibilities of journalistic storytelling, both in his writing and in his teaching around the world.
French grew up in Indiana and attended journalism school at Indiana University’s Bloomington campus, where he was a Poynter scholar and editor-in-chief at the Indiana Daily Student, and where he won a Hearst award for a profile of a giant hog at the Indiana State Fair. An editor at the St. Petersburg Times read the hog story and hired French, just as he was graduating from IU, as a night cops reporter.
French spent the next 27 years at the Times, covering hurricanes and criminal trials and the secret lives of high school students. He experimented with narrative techniques both on deadline and nondeadline work and specialized in serial narratives, book-length stories published one chapter at a time.
In 1998, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing and a Sigma Delta Chi award for Angels & Demons, a series that chronicled the murder of an Ohio woman and her two teenage daughters as they vacationed in Tampa. Two of his other serials, A Cry in the Night and South of Heaven, were later published as books. His most recent project, Zoo Story, explored the inner world of Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo and is scheduled to be published in book form by Hyperion in July 2010.
French is a Writing Fellow at the Poynter Institute and has taught there for more than 20 years. He also teaches in a nonfiction masters program at Goucher College, outside Baltimore, and has led narrative workshops across the U.S. and around the world, from the Nieman conference at Harvard to newsrooms in Dubai, Singapore and Johannesburg. He is married to Kelley Benham, a national award-winning reporter and editor at the St. Petersburg Times, and has two sons.
He is proud to have returned to his alma mater and is currently teaching narrative journalism and story mechanics.
Kelley French

Friday, November 25, 2016

4-Star Review of "A Soldier Finds His Way"

Review of A Soldier Finds His Way

(A Veteran's Heart #1)

by Irene Onorato


Sometimes getting lost is the best way home . . .
After a painful youth spent in foster homes, Special Forces soldier Edward Giordano has all but given up on love. Returning to New York from a dangerous mission in Costa Rica with no one to welcome him home, he knows he must find a way through his bitterness and embrace faith, or he’s destined for misery and loneliness. But he never expects that saving someone else’s life might help him save his own…
Audra Lorenzo is a first-year school teacher with a bright future. All she’s missing is a man to share her happiness. Her father wants her to rekindle her relationship with her ex-boyfriend, but she can’t stop thinking about the handsome, kind, and courageous soldier who rescued her from a near-deadly car accident…
Edward too, has not stopped not thinking of Audra. After making peace with God and with his difficult past, he’s ready to re-connect with her and reveal his feelings. Edward knows that opening his heart will mean risking pain, but he’s prepared for whatever comes—from a perilous deployment to Audra’s meddling father…

MY REVIEW:  He steps from the plane and there are happy people running to his comrades but no one is waiting for him with a sign to welcome him home.  No one is there to give him a hug with tears of joy.   He always felt alone....and now on his return from a major difficult assignment in Costa Rica, things are no different.  In fact, they may even hurt more.  So his plan is to hide away and be like a hermit until he is scheduled to return to base.   But God has other plans when a pretty, young school teacher has a car accident that just happens to occur near him and she has her young niece along with her.   He has to rescue them as they are out in the middle of nowhere.   Sparks fly between Audra and Edward, and they're not just coming from the fireplace.  
           Who doesn't love to read about a hero?  and it's even better when the hero is an American soldier.  Will Edward and Audra find the love they're both looking for?  the love that they really need to complete them?   or will they continue to be hurt and living a lift without a loving, caring partner?  Lovers of romance novels will be thrilled to curl up with a cup of tea and find out the answers to all these questions and more.   
         I rated this book 4 stars.
         This book is a gift from the publisher and netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author:

Irene Onorato was born and raised in Bronx, New York. Her father, a first-generation American whose parents were born in Italy, was an Army veteran who had served with the 178th combat engineers during WWII. He told numerous stories of battles, hardships, tragedies and triumphs. The glimpses he gave into the hearts of many American warriors would later become the inspiration for much of Irene’s writings.

In 1972, a few months after graduating high school, Irene met James Onorato, a soldier who had just returned from Vietnam. After dating two weeks, they married, raised three children, and are still happily married today.

Irene and James, both radiation protection technicians, retired from the nuclear power industry in 2014 and now reside in Louisiana.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

5-Star Review of "Christmas Love Letters from God" and Giveaway

Review of Christmas Love Letters from God: Bible Stories

and Giveaway!!!  Leave comment here or on facebook or instagram to enter.  

My instagram is @rhondanashhall
My facebook is rhondagaylenashhall

Written by:  Glenys Nellist             Illustrated by: Rachel Clowes                                 

                                                                         29491916Written for children ages four to eight, Christmas Love Letters from God cleverly combines both prose and poetry as the story of Jesus’ birth unfolds. The book includes seven stories, beginning with Isaiah’s prophecy and ending with the visit of the wise men. Following each story, the child will find his or her own letter from God, folded into a small envelope attached to the page. Each letter begins with a space in which to write the child’s name, so each one can be specially addressed to the child.

Written as if God is speaking, each personalized message gives the young reader a sense of wonder as they discover anew the Christmas holiday and the birth of Jesus. A very special Bible verse, entitled God’s Perfect Promise, also accompanies each story and letter as God’s personal words of love, promise, and hope.

My review:  
          What could make Christmas even better for your 
child? How about if God could speak to your child?  Can you imagine the look on your child's face?  This book has the next best thing!  Each story featured in the book has a love letter from God to your child.  The seven Bible stories, centered around Christmas, begin with Isaiah's prophecy to the visit of the three wise men.  The illustrations are a beautiful accompaniment to the stories.   Children, ages 4-8, will learn so much from the lessons included within the pages.  
         I read it to some four-year-olds and while the story was a bit too long for their shorter attention spans, they were thrilled to open the love letter and listen to God's words for them. It's almost as good as having your little friend whisper a special secret in your ear.  
         I rated this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to inquisitive little ones.  This would also be a wonderful teaching tool for teachers in Christian schools, Sunday School, and Children's Church.   
       This book was a gift and my review was my own decision and all opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author and Illustrator:
Glenys Nellist

from goodreads author bio:

Although I live in Michigan, USA, I was born and raised in a little village in northern England.

I grew up in a big old house, with two wonderful parents and seven siblings. My dad was the one who introduced me to the gospel. My mum was the one who encouraged me to work with children.

And at primary school, my teacher was the one who urged me to write. One day a week, I was one of the lucky few withdrawn from the classroom to sit in big, comfy armchairs in the teachers' lounge. There, in front of a roaring log fire, with pencil and paper at the ready, I would write.

I never would have imagined that four decades later, I would be blessed enough to be an author of children's books, or be married to a wonderful husband, or be mum to four sons, and a grandma too. But of course, no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him. (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Illustrator Rachel Clowes:

About Me
Bio from illustrator's blog:

I'm a Children's Book Illustrator, trained at Cambridge School of Art, now living in Yorkshire with my husband Ben, an Illustrator too, three sons and two cats.

Monday, November 21, 2016

5-Star Review of "Desire's Promise"

Review of Desire's Promise

(The Desire Series, book 1)

by Karen Jurgens


Carlie Livingston is steering into her last year of college in Oxford, Ohio, confident that she and Lance Holloway are headed to the altar after graduation. Those plans are wrecked, however, by her dad’s infidelity, causing her parents to walk through a messy divorce. Will she have the same fate if she marries her college sweetheart who comes from a secular family? Her mother insists she will. 
She tests God’s Word by letting Him take the wheel of her life. But if God is in control, why are all her close relationships crumbling? Nothing makes sense. 
Just when it appears hopeless, Clay McKinney two-steps into Carlie's life, promising to provide everything she’s looking for. But if he’s God’s answer, why can’t her heart release Lance? Where will her final destination be on this journey of trust? 

MY REVIEW:  I am delighted to read a fresh, unique perspective in a Christian romance.   Basing the plot of the novella on the Bible verse,  2 Corinthians 6: 14  "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? 
Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?",  Carlie's mother encourages her to think very hard about the fact that her boyfriend, Lance, is not a Christian.  Her mother and father are going through a divorce and her mom does not want Carlie to experience the same fate.  Carlie is truly in love with Lance though.  Plus it further complicates the situation because Lance's twin, Meredith, is her best friend and college roommate.  Carlie wants to trust God and she wants to positively influence Lance and her other friends to follow Christ.  Can she do that or it God's job and not hers at all?  Can she trust God to resolve the situation without her help?  
          I don't think I've ever read a Christian romance written from this perspective and presented in the same fashion.  I find this very refreshing.  This novella will hold the appeal of adults as well as young people.  This novella could really be helpful to high school and college age readers.  Adults will definitely enjoy it as well.  This will certainly be a wonderful book to curl up by the fireplace with as you are wrapped in your favorite blanket with a cup of coffee, hot chocolate, or tea.  
          I rate this novella 5 stars.
          This novella was a gift and all words are my own opinion.   

About the Author:
Karen Jurgens

Karen Jurgens--Living in Texas for more than 30 years has been an adventure, but Karen still proudly claims her Cincinnati roots. She spent her career as a high school English and French teacher and will always be a lifelong learner. She loves everything French, especially creating gourmet cuisine for birthdays and holidays, and you will likely find French culture and language in whatever she writes. 
She began a new ministry, Touched by Him, where she blogs monthly. Her passion is to share answers from God's Word about life's trials, and to incorporate those answers into her fiction stories. Additionally, she also is a writer and assistant editor on two other blogs.
As a single mom, her best accomplishment has been raising two lovely daughters. Along with her mother who is now 94, the four of them enjoy fun times together shopping, dining out, and traveling.