Blog Tour · Book Reviews · Fiction · Thriller

Blog Tour and Happy Pub Day to “He Started It” by Samantha Downing

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Happy Pub Day & Thank you @berkleypub for my gifted digital copy of ‘He Started It‘ by Samantha Downing!

From the twisted mind behind mega hit My Lovely Wife comes the story of a family—not unlike your own—just with a few more violent tendencies thrown in….

Beth, Portia, and Eddie Morgan haven’t all been together in years. And for very good reasons—we’ll get to those later. But when their wealthy grandfather dies and leaves a cryptic final message in his wake, the siblings and their respective partners must come together for a cross-country road trip to fulfill his final wish and—more importantly—secure their inheritance.

But time with your family can be tough. It is for everyone.

It’s even harder when you’re all keeping secrets and trying to forget a memory, a missing person, an act of revenge, the man in the black truck who won’t stop following your car—and especially when at least one of you is a killer and there’s a body in the trunk. Just to name a few reasons.

But money is a powerful motivator. It is for everyone.

He Started It‘ was personally my most anticipated new release of 2020 & I was beyond thrilled when Berkley asked me to be on the blog tour! I LOVED her first novel & 2019 thriller, the wickedly dark & original, ‘My Lovely Wife‘ so much! Also, back in February Amazon Studios & Nicole Kidman bought the film rights, so YAY! That incredible book will be a movie!

He Started It‘ is a twisted, darkly addictive, propulsive family drama/thriller that will have you wanting to read it in one sitting (or standing…in case you get the nervous urge to pace back & forth like I did!). I’m not sure where Samantha Downing comes up with such original, clever & diabolical stories, but I’m not sure I would ever want to be on her bad side…just sayin’.

Click HERE to add ‘He Started It’ to your Goodreads lists.
Click HERE to add ‘My Lovely Wife’ to your Goodreads lists.
Click HERE to follow Samantha Downing on Instagram.
Click HERE to go to Samantha Downing’s webpage.
Click HERE to go give some LIKE love to my Instagram post about this book.
Click HERE to find ‘He Started It’ at an independent bookseller near you or online using BookStoreLink.
Click HERE to get ‘He Started It’ on audiobook from Libro.fm. (*use my code MOMLOVESREADING & get a special 2-for-1 audiobook deal. Maybe you can even get ‘My Lovely Wife’ with that deal!

What others are saying about ‘He Started It’:

Wholly original. Scarily clever. Completely mesmerizing. You will never look at family road trips the same way again.”—Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Fast-paced and whip-smart. If you don’t mind spending time in dangerous company then I highly recommend this wild ride of a thriller”—Gilly Macmillan, New York Times bestselling author of What She Knew

“A thrill ride through the darkest parts of the American landscape—funny, scary and twisted until the explosive final page.”—Michele Campbell, internationally bestselling author of A Stranger on the Beach

“Once you start reading, you won’t want to stop. Dark, twisted, original, and so addictive it should come with a warning.”—Alice Feeney, New York Times bestselling author of Sometimes I Lie

Best for people who love Criminal Minds, research scams in their free time, and have a super f*cked up family.” —Betches 

A twisted mashup of a family drama and a thriller that you won’t be able to put down.”—Pop Sugar

“With our need to know ramped up through a series of teasers offering more to come, this tale is virtually impossible to put down”—Booklist (starred review)

Buckle up and settle in for one diabolically fun road trip.”—Kirkus

Deliciously devious.”—Publisher’s Weekly

“Downing is one bold and fearless author, who doesn’t blink in the face of fictional mayhem.”—CrimeReads

All hail the new Queen of the psycho thriller!!”—C.J. Tudor, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Chalk Man

“A wicked-fun read with razor-sharp wit and a killer twist, He Started It is compelling, captivating, and deliciously dark. Samantha Downing writes with a wry, sparse elegance that steadily entangles you until you’re utterly addicted.”—Christina McDonald, USA Today bestselling author of The Night Olivia Fell

“A diabolical drive into a dysfunctional family’s past. The story is chillingly twisted, perfectly paced. Once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down.”—Kaira Rouda, USA Today bestselling author of Best Day Ever

“I absolutely loved it: whip-smart, lean, deliciously dark and addictive. One of the best thrillers I’ve read in a long time.”—Ali Land, bestselling author of Good Me, Bad Me

“A tour de force in voice and structure. The brilliant Samantha Downing takes a glorious risk in this superbly captivating and endlessly surprising road trip from hell. It’s sibling rivalry pushed  to the max— dark and crazy and twisted—and  I could not put it down.”—Hank Phillippi Ryan, USA Today bestselling author of The First to Lie

A dark, twisting road trip into hell with a family you wouldn’t want to live next door to. I’ve never read anything like it!”—Mark Edwards, bestselling author of Here to Stay

Sibling rivalry reaches new and downright despicable heights…Creepy, unnerving and deliciously evil, Samantha Downing is one of the boldest authors I know. A must read!”—Hannah Mary McKinnon, national bestselling author of Her Secret Son, and The Neighbors.

Downing’s style remains in a league of its own, with to-the-point crisp language and snappy dialogue readers are taken on a gripping and edgy adventure.”—Maureen Joyce Connolly, author of Little Lovely Things


Samantha Downing currently lives in New Orleans, where she is furiously typing away at her next thrilling novel. (photo credit Jacqueline Dallimore)

Blog Tour · Book Reviews · Nonfiction

Blog Tour and Book Review of “All Things Reconsidered” by Knox McCoy

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Thank you @tlcbooktours & @thomasnelson for my gifted copy of ‘All Things Reconsidered‘ by Knox McCoy! (pub 6/2).

If ask just one question, does everything fall apart?
What happens when we question what we think we know?
Will our entire world unravel, leaving us directionless, in a perpetual state of doubt?
Or will discover that our instincts were right the first time around–only now we can articulate more authentically what we know to be true?

Podcaster Knox McCoy is convinced of the power of rethinking, whether we’re reexamining the movies & music we love or our deepest convictions about family & faith. In this laugh-out-loud defense of questioning what we believe, Knox brings his signature humorous, self-deprecating style to these topics & others:

*Are participation trophies truly the scourge of our times?
*Is it really worth it to be a ride-or-die sports fan?
*Where is home, & what does it mean to leave it behind?
*Do we believe in God because of the promise of heaven—or the threat of hell?
*Does prayer work? Is anyone even there?

This book is the catalyst we need to courageously ask the questions that will lead to a deeper understanding of ourselves—& God. It’s time to start reconsidering.

I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about this book before I started it, but let me just say, there’s a reason it (& McCoy’s previous book, ‘The Wondering Years’) has a 5-star rating on Amazon…it’s hilarious! I knew right away I’d like it after the first paragraph in the ‘How to Read This Book’ section:
“So, look, in a lot of ways this may be a weird read. First off, it’s not fiction. So it’s already not like the other books because it’s not ‘The Girl Next Door’s Husband’s Wife in Cabin 32 Who Went Missing and May Be Dead or Dying’.”
Like seriously, did he write that spot on for me (& many of you!) or what?

There’s a lot of pop culture references, which I always dig, including many from ‘Hamilton’ which ya’ll know I LOVE! (& if ya don’t know, now ya know… 👈A.Ham reference) Even the footnotes in this book are funny! I found myself annotating/underlining throughout the book, too! McCoy takes things we consider one way, whether it be good or bad, & explains how maybe if we reconsidered it another way, how it will change the way we look at it.

‘All Things Reconsidered’ is a quick, thought-provoking, witty, unexpected, & captivating read. I will be ordering ‘The Wondering Years’ now & listening to ‘The Popcast’ as well!

Click HERE to add ‘All Things Reconsidered‘ to your Goodreads lists.
Click HERE to go to Knox McCoy’s Instagram page.
Click HERE to go to MomLovesReading IG page & give me post a LIKE.
Click HERE to add ‘The Wondering Years‘ to your Goodreads lists.

‘The Wondering Years’ by Knox McCoy (2018, Thomas Nelson)

Yes, you can love God and binge Netflix!
Podcaster Knox McCoy, co-host of The Popcast with Knox and Jamie, tells hilarious stories about how pop culture helped him answer life’s biggest questions in his debut book, The Wondering Years. Through books, television, music and movies, Knox found many of the answers he was searching for about God and why we’re all here.
When you hear the phrase pop culture, you likely think reality television, boy bands or Real Housewives of various cities. While these are elements of popular culture, they aren’t all it has to offer. Pop culture may not cure diseases or make scientific breakthroughs, but it does play a vital role in the story of humanity.
From the first time he was punched in the face to saving dog souls as a canine evangelist, Knox reflects on how pop culture has helped shape his life and carve out the foundation of his faith. While the three cultural tentpoles—the South, the Church, and Sports—defined many aspects of his East Tennessee upbringing, it was pop culture that influenced Knox and his sense of the world at large.

What others are saying about ‘All Things Reconsidered’:

‘It has been my great luck to find Knox McCoy. His effortless, on-the-spot humor, while making me seethe with envy, absolutely translates to the page in All Things Reconsidered. In this book, you will find masterful storytelling, relatable humanity, and an unexpected story about picking up Cheesy Gorditas from Taco Bell in the drive-through with a naked friend. I’m just saying there is a lot in here, all hilarious and surprisingly tender. Knox is an American treasure.’ Jen Hatmaker, author of Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire: The Guide to Being Glorious You

‘In a world that worships certainty, Knox McCoy invites us to give our first impressions a second look and reconsider what we thought we knew for sure. With grace-filled humility, hard-won wisdom, and just the right amount of ridicule, Knox’s writing continues to challenge, entertain, and influence the way we talk about what we believe. I adore this book, and I hope Knox continues to write books forever. This statement needs no reconsideration.’ Emily P. Freeman, Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Next Right Thing

‘In All Things Reconsidered, Knox McCoy is engaging and imaginative as he paves the way for the rest of us to examine, and perhaps question, long-held ideas that no longer represent how we think, what we believe, or how we feel. In a fast-paced culture like ours, this is the reminder we need if we are to contribute our own thoughtful, creative, and sometimes new ideas to the larger conversation.’ Suzanne Stabile, author of The Path Between Us and coauthor of The Road Back to You

‘Entertaining, thought-provoking, and laugh-out-loud funny. Knox McCoy writes the books Chuck Klosterman would write if he’d grown up going to Sunday school.’ Chad Alan Gibbs, author of Two Like Me and You

‘We live in an age that villainizes changing your mind. Knox is here to reclaim the lost art of reconsideration. He is a thoughtful captain: helping you navigate the shallow coastlines and subterranean waters of the sacred and the secular, with equal weight and precision to each. Release yourself from the stigma of stubborn and inflexible beliefs and allow yourself to consider again, with Knox as your guide and All Things Reconsidered as your map.’ Erin Moon, author of Every Broken Thing: A Lent and Holy Week Guide to Answering Ecclesiastes

‘In his thoughtful new work, a ‘celebration of recalibration,’ Knox McCoy manages once again to unite comedy and candor, penning serious reflections that are seriously funny. His reflections on introversion and the Enneagram had me in tears, I was laughing so hard.’ Anne Bogel, author of Don’t Overthink It and I’d Rather Be Reading

‘This is the perfect book at the perfect time. For people weary of the us-versus-them culture, Knox offers smart, funny, and thoughtful permission to reconsider our lives with a kind posture, exemplifying how we can do the same for our own people.’ Kendra Adachi, author of The Lazy Genius Way

Knox McCoy loves laughing & making people laugh. Really anything that’s laughter-adjacent, he’s into.
He’s also super into the word swashbuckling, & his dream is to one day use it in a bio. Knox began podcasting in 2011 as a way to talk more about popular culture, & to his extreme surprise, he’s still doing via The Popcast with Knox & Jamie & The Bible Binge. As a resident of the South, Knox’s heritage is to enjoy football & barbecue, & he does so with great passion. He also enjoys zombie movies, police procedurals, & a good Netflix binge. Knox lives with his wife & three kids in Birmingham, Alabama, where he works as the swashbuckling cofounder of The Popcast Media Group.

Blog Tour · Book Reviews · Fiction

Book Tour and Book Review for “Saving Ruby King” by Catherine Adel West

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Thank you @bookclubbish & @parkrowbooks (#promotion) for including MomLovesReading in the Bookstagram Tour for & my gifted copy of ‘Saving Ruby King‘ by Catherine Adel King!

Set in the South Side of Chicago, an epic, enthralling story of a young woman determined to protect her best friend while a long-buried secret threatens to unravel both their families.

Family. Faith. Secrets. Everything in this world comes full circle.

(from the publisher)

When Ruby King’s mother is found murdered in their home in Chicago’s South Side, the police dismiss it as another act of violence in a black neighborhood. But for Ruby, it means she’ll be living alone with her violent father. The only person who understands the gravity of her situation is Ruby’s best friend, Layla. Their closeness is tested when Layla’s father, the pastor of their church, demands that Layla stay away. But what are his true motives? And what is the price for turning a blind eye?

In a relentless quest to save Ruby, Layla comes to discover the murky loyalties & dark secrets tying their families together for three generations. A crucial pilgrimage through the racially divided landscape of Chicago, ‘Saving Ruby King’ traces the way trauma is passed down through generations & the ways in which communities can come together to create sanctuary.

(from the publisher)

Saving Ruby King‘ is an emotional & revelatory story of race, family secrets, faith & redemption. This is an unforgettable debut novel from an exciting new voice in fiction and a powerful testament that history doesn’t determine the present, and that the bonds of friendship can forever shape the future.

This book is absolutely incredible & it should be on every bookclub’s radar because there are just so many areas of discussion. It is a very timely, relevant, powerful, well-written debut novel that brought out so many emotions while reading it. The book is told from several POV’s to convey the varying viewpoints of the fiction community. There are some very heavy themes covered in this book, too. (I have also heard rumors that West is writing a prequel to this book that focuses on Sara King, so I look fwd to that!)

Saving Ruby King” is complex, nuanced, poignant & thought-provoking, & you will long to discuss it with other readers. This book was released on 6/16. I highly recommend this 5-star read! Look for it today at an independent bookstore by using BookStoreLink to find one near you.

Click HERE to add it to your Goodreads TBR list.
Click HERE to get it on audiobook from Libro.fm & use my code MOMLOVESREADING for a BOGO. (The audio is amazing & has 7 narrators!)
Click HERE to use BookStoreLink & find it at an independent book store near you or online.
Click HERE to give my Instagram post some love! The author & publisher will appreciate it as much as I will!

What others are saying about “Saving Ruby King”:

“In the midst of widespread protests and calls to end racial injustice, the conversations and understanding tackled in Saving Ruby King are all significant reflections of this country’s reality today.” – Parade Magazine

“Family, friendship, secrets…this rich, suspenseful page-turner has it all.” – Woman’s World

 “Incorporating compelling perspectives, this is a powerful story of family, faith and friendship.” – MS. Magazine

“Saving Ruby King is a stunning force of a novel that has everything anyone could want in a family saga—honey-dipped prose, strikingly human characters, and a satisfying, soul-stirring conclusion that will stay with me for a long, long time.”
– Zakiya Harris, author of THE OTHER BLACK GIRL

“Told with teeth and tenderness, SAVING RUBY KING is a surprising, pedal-down debut that explores what happens when the fabrics of family, faith, and friendship snag on violent machinations of the heart. Redemption and survival share a pew with reckoning and hope here, all tangled up with the ties that bind. Catherine Adel West gifts us Chicago, the black church, and a choir of flawed, wonderfully complicated characters who flash fresh with every turn of the page, who stand against the wind, who won’t go down without a fight.”
– Leesa Cross-Smith, author of Whiskey & Ribbons and So We Can Glow

“What an astonishing book. Catherine Adel West breathes life into violence and mayhem like a poet on a new day. These are the stories we need to hear: voices of hope in a wilderness of pain.”
– Rene Denfeld, bestselling author of The Child Finder and The Butterfly Girl

“West is a bold, exciting new voice in fiction. With honesty and compassion, she brings readers beyond the headlines into the real south side of Chicago where love, church, and family abide. She makes us think not only about saving Ruby King, but about finding our own redemption as we save ourselves individually and collectively. In this assured debut, West deftly breathes life into this community with characters you’ll cry with and root for long after the last page.”
 – Nancy Johnson, author of The Kindest Lie

“[An] Ambitious, keenly observant debut… West’s tale of grace, redemption, and hope would translate handily to the screen. This should enjoy wide popularity with book groups.” 
– Publishers Weekly

“West uses a fresh approach to covering not only several decades of family history, but also complex themes including the ways in which close communities can nourish and harm their members; how friendships and family ties can hold intimacy and distance; the way misunderstandings and trauma can pass down the generations; and the difference between a relationship with God and a church. The characters, language, and plot come together for a story full of hard truths, insight, and warmth…a daring, dynamic story.
A multilayered love letter to South Side Chicago’s African American faith-based community.”
– Kirkus Reviews

“West delivers her debut with an honesty that jumps off the pages and into the laps of her readers. Telling Ruby’s story from multiple points of view, West writes with a precision that makes the story sing, with clear language and poetic imagery.”
– Booklist

“A story of intrigue and heartbreaking family secrets… A fresh look into the church community of Chicago’s South Side with a bold female perspective.”
– Library Journal


Catherine Adel West graduated with both her BA and MA in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her work has been published in Gay MagazineBlack Fox Literary MagazineFive2OneBetter Than Starbucks, and others. Catherine was born and raised in Chicago. Saving Ruby King is her debut novel.

Blog Tour · Nonfiction

Blog Tour for “The Opposite of Certainty: Fear, Faith and Life In Between” by Janine Urbaniak Reid

Thank you @wpublishing @thomasnelson @janineurbanurbaniakreid & @tlcbooktours for my gifted copy of “The Opposite of Certainty” which published on May 12th.

What happens when we can no longer pretend that the ground underfoot is bedrock and the sky above predictable?

All Janine Urbaniak Reid ever wanted was for everyone she loved to be okay so she might relax and maybe be happy. Her life strategy was simple: do everything right. This included trying to be the perfect mother to her three kids so they would never experience the kind of pain she pretended not to feel growing up. What she didn’t expect was the chaos of an out-of-control life that begins when her young son’s hand begins to shake.

The Opposite of Certainty is the story of Janine’s reluctant journey beyond easy answers and platitudes. She searches for a source of strength bigger than her circumstances, only to have her circumstances become even thornier with her own crisis. Drawn deeply and against her will into herself, and into the eternal questions we all ask, she discovers hidden reserves of strength, humor, and a no-matter-what faith that looks nothing like she thought it would. 

Beautifully written and deeply hopeful, Janine shows us how can we come through impossible times, transformed and yet more ourselves than we’d ever allowed ourselves to be.

Click HERE to add this to your Goodreads TBR

I found this story utterly compelling, touching, & heartbreaking, but also very heartwarming, uplifting, & inspiring. I have a family member who went through something similar with her son many years ago when he was diagnosed with cancer & she was raising 5 kids. The sleeplessness coupled with daily fatigue, battles with insurance companies & what they will or won’t cover, the daily uncertainty of what each new day will bring. Her son, just like Janine’s, was eventually cured, but the stress of it all really took a toll on my family member’s own health.

“The Opposite of Uncertainty” is a memoir about one mother’s deeply emotional & personal journey through motherhood, letting go of perfectionism & struggling with feelings of hopelessness & overwhelming fear after her son is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. Advocating for a proper diagnosis & treatment for him while navigating the healthcare system, Janine details the ups & downs she went through daily trying to get her son the care he needed & while trying to be what she considered a perfect wife & mother.

I couldn’t put this book down. It just resonated with me & spoke to my very soul, not to mention that I, too, have a son named Mason, who has autism & has also given us some pretty frightening health scares in his lifetime. This book also reminds me of the old saying, “God only gives us what we can handle.” Sometimes all the little things that are overwhelming & emotionally exhausting you really are just that…little things, & we get reminded of that when the big things come at us out of nowhere to give us that reality check. “The Opposite of Certainty” is more than just a medical memoir. It will also lift your spirits & help you learn to live in the present, not the past or future, & be mindful about how much time & energy you are really wasting on the trivial aspects of your existence.

This book is so well written & articulated, you will want to reread it as soon as you finish it! Beautiful, inspirational & motivational, this book is already available for purchase. You can also read a sneak-peek of the book at the author’s website, JanineUrbaniakReid.com. You can also use BookStoreLink to find this book & others at a local independent bookstore. Many of them offer curbside pick up, home delivery or e-commerce sales.

Reviews from other authors:

‘The diagnosis of life-threatening illness is one of the most terrifying challenges any family or individual can face. Anger, resentment, fear, and loneliness rise up ready to do battle with hope, and all are made more powerful by love. The Opposite of Certainty is a deeply personal memoir about such a journey, told with brutal honesty and so much grace it will touch your soul.’ –Jacqueline Winspear, award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of Journey to Munich, A Dangerous Place, Leaving Everything Most Loved, and nine other novels featuring Maisie Dobbs

‘A beautiful sucker punch, like life. When the ground crumbles beneath your hopes, big dreams, and great expectations, what do you stand on and for? Where do you find the strength to keep going? You find it in this gem of a book.’ –Ron Fournier, New York Times bestselling author of Love That Boy

‘Somedays it’s doughnuts and hot coffee. Other days it’s gurneys and scans. That’s true of almost every full life. Here’s the good news: observant and warm, the writing of Janine Urbaniak Reid is the finest company on both kinds of days.’ –Kelly Corrigan, New York Times bestselling author of Tell Me More and The Middle Place

About the Author

Janine Urbaniak Reid was born in Chicago and grew up in California. Before she began raising a family and then writing full-time, she was vice president of a San Francisco public relations firm.

Janine has been published in the Washington PostChicago Tribune, and San Francisco Chronicle and is widely syndicated. Hoping to bring humanity into the healthcare discussion by sharing her experience as a mother of a son with a brain tumor, she penned a piece for the Post that went viral. She has been interviewed on national news networks and continues her work as a spokeswoman for healthcare justice.

Janine writes about her imperfect life, what connects us, and addresses the question of what it means to love fiercely in a sometimes dangerous and always uncertain world.

Janine is a graduate of the University of California at San Diego and lives in Northern California with her family and a motley assortment of pets. She attends St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Marin City: all are welcome.

For more information, please visit JanineUrbaniakReid.com. You can also connect with Janine at Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram.

Blog Tour · MurderinoMonday

Book Tour for “Last Girl Standing” by Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush

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Murderino Monday book time!

Thank you @kensingtonbooks & @tlcbooktours for including MomLovesReading on the online book tour for “Last Girl Standing” by Lisa Jackson & Nancy Bush! This book will be available next Tues, May 26th!

The best of friends . . .
In the Portland suburb of West Knoll, Delta & her friends were the pretty, popular elite of the high school. That was fifteen years & a whole lifetime ago. Even then, backstabbing & betrayal erupted among the women in the group, a trio of which are now gathered around a hospital bed. And most of it revolved around the man lying close to death before them . . .

Until the day . . .
To Delta, it feels as if a nightmare unfolds every time they get together. It started at their senior year graduation party when a group of daredevils led by Tanner slipped under the safety rope & tumbled into the dangerous, fast-flowing river. One of their clique died following his lead. It all seemed spontaneous at the time. A thoughtless deed. But since then, there have been more deaths, more “accidents.” And the question hovers, unspoken: who’s next?

They die . . .
As the body count rises, Detective Chris McCrae, one of Delta’s classmates & a long ago friend of Tanner’s, realizes that stopping the terror means digging deep into the past. Hidden beneath the conflicting stories, gossip, & scandalous half-truths are secrets that someone will kill again & again to protect–until there is no one left to tell . . .

Click HERE to add it to your Goodreads list

Last Girl Standing” is co-written by sisters, Lisa Jackson & Nancy Bush, who also wrote the Colony book series together. Both authors have many books under their proverbial belt.

If you like suspense/mystery/thrillers that are fast-paced, twisty, well-written, with interesting characters, laced with romance & keeps you guessing until the end, then this one is for you! Add it to your TBR list or pre-order it today! Use BookStoreLink to find this book & others at a local indie bookstore. Many also ship to your home or have curbside pick-up available. Let’s support the indie stores & help them stay afloat & keep their beautiful brick-n-mortar stores in business!

Also, today is the last day to enter to win 1 of 3 sets of beautiful Elin Hilderbrand beach reads on my Instagram page. Click HERE to go to that post now. Hope you all have a wonderful Monday!