Sunday, August 30, 2020

Book Tour Grand Finale #DHFPrism

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

We hope you enjoyed the tour! If you missed any of the stops
you'll find snippets, as well as the link to each full post, below:

Launch - Author Interview

What inspired you to write DARLING HEDGEHOG GOES DOWN A FOXHOLE? 

My author friend, Kathy Joy, had been visiting, and for a thank you when she went home, she gave me a card with a little stuffed hedgehog in a pink tutu. Well, I put it on my window ledge and that meant that I saw it there every time I opened my eyes in the morning. It really made me smile. One morning as I was slowly coming awake, the beginning of the story just came to me. I'd never written a children's book, but I thought I'd like to try. Also, it is just in my nature to be a little quirky. I've also been known to give people out-of-the-box advice. All of these elements come to life in this story. 

"Darling Hedgehog is an engaging book intended to teach children about stranger danger. I found the pictures to be irresistibly cute and aptly illustrated the story. Overall, a good book for children."

". . . an adorable children’s story. It teaches some valuable lessons for very young readers. It, also, has some fun, vibrant and colorful illustrations by the talented Julia Swezy. The whole book was just a delight to read."

"Darling Hedgehog Goes Down a Foxhole has adorable illustrations and a fable-like lesson. . . . Darling is very susceptible to Miss Fox’s trickiness because she wants her to like her. That’s a lesson to teach our kids too. Don’t change yourself to make people like you. And don’t take gifts from strangers!"

Bizwings Blog - Review

"Darling Hedgehog Goes Down a Foxhole has a great storyline. Every child has experiences with friends, so it's a story they can relate to. . . . It's well written and easy to understand."

Wishful Endings - Excerpt & Review
"A sweet book to read with younger children, easy enough for first-grade readers, but would be worth reading through fourth grade for a quick read."

"This is a good book to teach children about strangers and the dangers of believing things that people may say. This is an especially important subject in the times we are living right now."

Splashes of Joy - Review

"The pictures were cute, and they did fit the story. And the book cover is adorable with Darling in her tutu. . . . It is a really cute story with great potential."

Remembrancy - Excerpt
Andi's Kids Books - Spotlight

Don't forget to enter the giveaway at the end of this post...

Darling Hedgehog: Goes Down a Foxhole
By Auralee Arkinsly
Children's Chapter Book
Paperback & ebook, 44 Pages
August 8, 2019 by Capture Books

Darling Hedgehog goes on an adventure to look for her parents who dropped out of sight. 

Darling Hedgehog learns about the animal nature of things in high humor and carefree, cute, and winning episodes. Learn about opposites, homophones, and similes as two animals in nature roll into fantasy land. For children 4-8 or preschool and kindergarten, as a read-to-me picture book, and first grade and second grade as a chapter book.

Darling and Miss Fox come to life as Darling introduces herself to the strange animal who is Miss Fox. Miss Fox gives her gifts so that Darling is distracted from her mission. The two animals look for things to do together in fantastical attempts to be friendly. When Darling enters Miss Fox's kitchen, she realizes that by nature, not all strangers are good for you. Will Darling save the day when it's already dinner time?

Pictures similar to Charlotte's Web and the Mercy Watson series are characterized and painted in full-color, though the pages are set up like a chapter book.

This book helps to train children in natural wisdom, analysis, and discernment. It helps to balance the teachings of acceptance of everyone and friendliness to all. There may be good purposes for everyone to exist under heaven, yet all purposes may not be good for a child. So, beware, and flee from crafty foxes especially when they are holding your parents in the pantry.

(Affiliate links included.)

About the Author

Auralee Arkinsly writes in good humor about serious subjects because kids of all ages can learn a lot from laughing. Since opposites exist, she believes children can learn to identify the nature of things and get out of a risky situation. "Good Laughter sparks the mind." She reckons if she can save some from the bumps and bruises, then she has done a good day's work.

Tour Giveaway

One winner will receive a $25 Amazon eGift Card
Open internationally to those who can receive the gift card through one of Amazon's branches
Ends September 2, 2020

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Monday, August 24, 2020

Review & Giveaway: It Started in Budapest by Julie Daines

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing


Molly Cooper is haunted by one simple fact: it is her fault her twin brother, Matthew, has spent his life trapped in a frail body while she has thrived. Deep in her heart, she knows he can’t hold on much longer . . .

In her desperation to save her brother, Molly finds inspiration in an unlikely source: the newly published novel Dracula. When her family embarks on the Orient Express to seek treatment for Matthew in Bulgaria, Molly is prepared to set her plan in motion: she will sneak away from her parents and journey alone to Transylvania, where she will seek a vampire, whose blood can make her brother immortal. Molly’s rash plan is going flawlessly—until she encounters Percy Hunt, a handsome American traveler running from the shadows of his own past. When he discovers Molly’s plan, Percy’s concern for the naive young woman leaves him no choice but to accompany her on her strange quest. But neither Percy nor Molly is prepared for the feelings that quickly grow between them or for the death-defying escapade that awaits.

My Review

First off, I just have to say how much I loved the setting in this book since it reminded me of my first trip to Europe last summer. It felt like I was back on my foreign adventure with everything new and unfamiliar, yet grounded in reality. We quickly get to know Molly and her family circumstances, which comes with an extreme dose of guilt for her brother's infirmities and an irrational phobia of the color white. I was surprised by her naive yet desperate belief that she can encounter a vampire if she follows the travels of Bram Stoker's character Jonathan Harker as told in Dracula. I haven't read the book (although I want to now!) and after learning that it's written as a series of letters, diary entries, newspaper articles, and ships' log entries, I can understand why Molly may have put faith in the realistic presentation of the paranormal story. 

I loved her rocky friendship with Percy, her self-appointed protector, who follows her as she gets in one predicament after another. The revealing of both Molly and Percy's deeper layers amidst their journey kept me interested in seeing how they could manage a happily ever after. There are powerful themes of death, grief, loneliness, duty, and loyalty. I was in tears as Molly learned some difficult but beautiful lessons about the fragility of life, the strength we can find in ourselves and those around us, and the inner peace that we can find in our faith. There is a lovely balance of adventure, excitement, and danger with quieter moments of connection and introspection.

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)

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Friday, August 21, 2020

Author Interview & Giveaway: The London Restoration by Rachel McMillan


The London Restoration by Rachel McMillan

Publication Date: August 18, 2020
Thomas Nelson
Paperback, eBook, & Audiobook
Genre: Historical Fiction


From author Rachel McMillan comes a richly researched historical romance that takes place in post-World War II London and features a strong female lead. Determined to save their marriage and the city they love, two people divided by World War II’s secrets rebuild their lives, their love, and their world. London, Fall 1945. Architectural historian Diana Somerville’s experience as a codebreaker at Bletchley Park and her knowledge of London’s churches intersect in MI6’s pursuit of a Russian agent named Eternity. Diana wants nothing more than to begin again with her husband Brent after their separation during the war, but her signing of the Official Secrets Act keeps him at a distance. Brent Somerville, professor of theology at King’s College, hopes aiding his wife with her church consultations will help him better understand why she disappeared when he needed her most. But he must find a way to reconcile his traumatic experiences as a stretcher bearer on the European front with her obvious lies about her wartime activities and whereabouts. Featuring a timeless love story bolstered by flashbacks and the excavation of a priceless Roman artifact, The London Restoration is a richly atmospheric look at post-war London as two people changed by war rebuild amidst the city’s reconstruction.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound


Interview with Author Rachel McMillan

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I live in Toronto, Canada and I love to travel solo –especially for research for my books.  I am also a Starbucks addict and Broadway nerd (I have seen Les Miserables on 3 continents). I am a Hallmark Christmas movie buff and my favourite movie is Master and Commander. I would love to visit Egypt someday and own a basset hound. But most of all, more than anything in the world, I love to read and gush about books.


What do you do besides writing?

Reading is a huge part of my life!  I am a literary agent as well so I get to work in publishing basically all of the time which is wonderful for me.  I love visiting my little nieces and nephew and I love being out and around in Toronto.  Travel is a huge part of my life, as mentioned, and I am also a classically trained vocalist. I love music!


What was your favorite part of researching this book?


I loved learning all about the churches and studying the Wren designs from when he first rebuilt the churches after the Great Fire in 1666. Many of the churches rebuilt after the Blitz were based on those designs. The Toronto Reference Library has wonderful facsimiles of some of Wren’s original blue prints and it was so fun to sit there with my notebook and look over them all and take notes.


I also spent 10 days in London with a side trip to Bletchley Park immersed in this world. I specifically spent time in Clerkenwell (Where Brent Somerville’s flat is ), Along Fleet Street and the Strand and King’s College and in over 30 churches ( Wren designed and those from other architects) bombed or rebuilt after the war taking notes and pictures and doing on-location writing. All of that helped me capture Brent and Diana’s world: pre-war and post-war.


Do you have images you can share that come close to how you picture your characters? Do you like to find visual inspiration for your characters before or during your writing process?

Some writers create characters, I always say that I meet mine because they appear to me so clearly set in my mind that it is often hard to find real life counterparts. I see them down to the freckle and hear them so clearly in my mind.

That being said, I knew this question would come up and so I tried. Brent is especially hard because he has dark red hair and is broad-shouldered.  One reader said she pictured Eddie Redmayne, another James Norton... maybe he’s a hybrid of both.

Diana is a striking, curvy blonde who might look a bit like Romola Garai.


What are some songs that you listened to or inspired you while writing your book?

Mozart plays a pretty big role in this book and in the companion book releasing next year called The Mozart Code

So, I listen to a lot of Mozart.  The Grosse Messe in C Minor,  Ave Verum Corpus and his Piano Concerto No. 17 play a big part in London Restoration and in the upcoming The Mozart Code.

I once wrote a contemporary romance called Rose in Three Quarter Time where music played a huge role and so I “auditioned” songs, especially for key and pivotal moments in my conductor hero and violinist heroine’s lives. With The London Restoration, I knew that I had to find Brent and Diana the perfect song.  So I listened to a lot of songs I knew--- standards and war ballads—trying to find something perfect. As a big music lover this was not a chore: amazing music came out of the pre-war and war periods. In the end, I settled on two different songs: I’ll Be Seeing You( a favourite of my Opa –who was a stretcher bearer for the Canadian forces and whom inspired that part of Brent Somerville’s life. I sang this song at his funeral when I was a teenager) and A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square.

In the end, I went with the latter: because it is not only a love story between two people but also the city that they love.  The London Restoration is a love story between Diana and Brent but also a love letter to London and it just fit.  So music plays a huge part in this book as in all of my books.

During edits though?  When times get tough? I just crack out my favourite Broadway musicals lol.  So a lot of Phantom and Wicked!


What message would you like readers to ultimately take away from the book?

There is something so amazing about the building of cathedrals. Liturgical almost. I remember when I watched Notre Dame burn on tv last April and how overcome I was by the loss of history I loved and had spent hours exploring.  But then even that day, firefighters were risking their lives to save it.  And plans for rebuilding were already in place.  In WWII Britain,  Churchill was so adamant St Paul’s Cathedral be saved that he formed a Paul’s Watch of volunteers that would protect the cathedral from firebombs at the cost of their lives. 

I find this so amazing. The testament to Matt 16:18 that the fires of hell will not prevail against God’s house on earth. 

But more still, the stonemasons and carpenters and architects who designed the great cathedral (building as high as they could up to heaven) knew that during their lifetimes they would never see the fruits of their labour.  They wouldn’t live to see the cathedrals in their entirety. They had to work knowing that what they were building would outlast them long after they were gone. I think that’s a really wonderful way to look at our legacy as humans. To be resilient when things crumble around us in adversity but also to recognize that we are just a blip on history’s timeline and the legacy and seeds that we plant now—the brick and mortar we contribute to a great cathedral of our works—can have eternal repurcussions.


What can we look forward to coming from you in the future?

On October 6, I have a Very Merry Holiday Movie Guide releasing---

Available for pre-order on Amazon

The Movie Lover’s Guide to Yuletide
Are you a holiday film fan? If so, you’re in good company. Fellow made-for-TV movie buff Rachel McMillan invites you to skip the office Christmas party, put on your coziest pj’s, and crash on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate in one hand and your remote in the other to watch the movies that have become the “hallmark” of the holiday season.  
This one-of-a-kind illustrated guide features 15 themed celebrations featuring customized viewing lists, fun suggestions for starting new traditions, and festive facts about the happiest season of all. From baking to books, romance to royalty, and more, Rachel has put together a picture-perfect selection of holiday films to suit any interest.
A Very Merry Holiday Movie Guide is an ideal gift or stocking stuffer for the Christmas movie lover in your life or a welcome addition to your family’s holiday traditions.    


Then, next Summer the companion book (though not a direct sequel ) to The London Restoration releases called The Mozart Code featuring two characters you meet in LR!

Available for pre-order on Amazon

From author Rachel McMillan comes a richly researched historical romance that takes place in post-World War II Europe and features espionage and a strong female lead.

Lady Sophia Huntington Villiers is no stranger to intrigue, as her work with Alan Turing’s Bombe Machines at Bletchley Park during the war attests. Now, as part of Simon Barre’s covert team in postwar Vienna, she uses her inimitable charm and code name Starling to uncover a lethal double agent immersed in the world of relics—including the death mask of Mozart. 

Simon Barrington, eighth earl of Camden, is determined to end the Cold War before it becomes as devastating as the war Britain has just won. He has been in love with Sophie Villiers since the moment he met her. A marriage of convenience to save Simon's estate brings them closer until a mission in Prague drives Sophie to a decision that will brand her not only a traitor to her country but also to her new husband.

With Sophie’s allegiance in question, Simon is torn between his duty to the crown and saving the woman who might have betrayed his cause and his heart.


 Thank you Rachel!

About the Author

Rachel McMillan is the author of The Herringford and Watts mysteries, The Van Buren and DeLuca mysteries and The Three Quarter Time series of contemporary Viennese romances. Her next work of historical fiction, The London Restoration, releases in Summer 2020 and takes readers deep into the heart of London's most beautiful churches. Dream, Plan, Go (May, 2020) is her first work of non-fiction. Rachel lives in Toronto, Canada and is always planning her next adventure.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | Goodreads


Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, August 18 Review at Nursebookie Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, August 19 Review at Austenprose Review at Amy's Booket List

Thursday, August 20 Review at Gwendalyn's Books Review at Little But Fierce Book Diary

Friday, August 21 Interview at Heidi Reads... Review at Foals, Fiction, and Filligree

Saturday, August 22 Review at Donna's Book Blog

Monday, August 24 Review at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals Interview at The Green Mockingbird

Tuesday, August 25 Review at The Green Mockingbird

Wednesday, August 26 Review at 100 Pages a Day Interview on Jorie Loves A Story

Thursday, August 27 Review at The Lit B*

Friday, August 28 Review at Read Review Rejoice

Saturday, August 29 Review at Books and Backroads Review at Reading is My Remedy

Monday, August 31 Review at Passages to the Past



During the Blog Tour, we are giving away 5 copies of The London Restoration! To enter, please use the Gleam form below. The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on August 31st. You must be 18 or older to enter.


 The London Restoration