First Line Friday — A Season on The Wind

15 Oct

Happy Friday! I am featuring one of my favorite authors this week — Suzanne Woods Fisher. I don’t read a lot of Amish fiction, but I do read every book that Fisher publishes, including, and especially, her Amish novels. There is just something about the communities she portrays that draw me in. Real and relatable are two adjectives I can always ascribe to her characters. A Season on The Wind is her latest novel, and I will be reading it soon.

Here’s the first line:

Penny Weaver stayed so still that the field sparrow in her yard didn’t seem to know she was there.

Ben Zook had only two loves in his life: books and birds. In a stroke of good fortune, he’d stumbled onto a way to cobble together those two loves into a career, writing books about rare birds. He was as free as a bird–until a chase for a rare White-winged Tern takes him to the one place on earth he planned to never return: his Amish home in Stoney Ridge. 

Desperate for photographs of the elusive tern, Ben hires a local field guide, Micah Weaver, and boards at Micah’s farm, planning to “bag the bird” and leave Stoney Ridge before anyone recognizes him. But he neglected to plan for Micah’s sister, Penny. 

One long-ago summer, Penny had introduced Ben to birding, even sharing with him a hidden eagle aerie. That was when she knew true love. She’d always hoped he would come back to Stoney Ridge. Back to his Amish roots. Back to her. The only problem? Ben has absolutely no memory of Penny.

Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher welcomes her readers to the Amish community at Stoney Ridge in this engaging story of discovering just who the rare birds are in life.

Suzanne Woods Fisher loves stories worth telling about people worth remembering. With over a million copies of her book sold worldwide, this bestselling, award-winning author of more than 30 books is always on the lookout for the unsung hero with an untold story.

Readers are invited to stop by Suzanne’s website at: http://www.suzannewoodsfisher.com.

Mini Audiobook Review: Enchantress of Numbers

14 Oct

One of my book clubs chose Enchantress of Numbers to further our goals of reading biographical fiction. We chose the book featuring Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace because we had read and enjoyed author Jennifer Chiaverini’s books and because it was not set in WWII. 😉 The story revolves around Lord Byron’s only child, Ada, and her fascination with all things mathematical and mechanical. Ada was quite the prodigy and is credited as the first computer programmer. There’s even a STEM holiday commemorating her. It was a long book, emphasis on long. While it did shed light on the era — Regency and early Victorian England — it was a bit of a slog. I listened to the audiobook borrowed from my library and had to renew twice. Another of our members stated that she felt like it was a school assignment to dread. No glowing recs from my group. It did emphasize the differences between educational and societal norms for women of the time and in our modern world. Ada was shaped by the legacy of her absent father and her domineering mother. I felt for Ada, but wish that the author had written more concisely. One of my group said she kept going with the novel in anticipation of something happening.

While we really can’t recommend the book, we were impressed by all that Ada Byron King accomplished. As always, reviews are subjective, but none of my group liked this book. Perhaps we were just not the target audience.

(I borrowed the audiobook from my library via Libby. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

The only legitimate child of Lord Byron, the most brilliant, revered, and scandalous of the Romantic poets, Ada was destined for fame long before her birth. But her mathematician mother, estranged from Ada’s infamous and destructively passionate father, is determined to save her only child from her perilous Byron heritage. Banishing fairy tales and make-believe from the nursery, Ada’s mother provides her daughter with a rigorous education grounded in mathematics and science. Any troubling spark of imagination—or worse yet, passion or poetry—is promptly extinguished. Or so her mother believes.

When Ada is introduced into London society as a highly eligible young heiress, she at last discovers the intellectual and social circles she has craved all her life. Little does she realize how her exciting new friendship with Charles Babbage—the brilliant, charming, and occasionally curmudgeonly inventor of an extraordinary machine, the Difference Engine—will define her destiny.

Enchantress of Numbers unveils the passions, dreams, and insatiable thirst for knowledge of a largely unheralded pioneer in computing—a young woman who stepped out of her father’s shadow to achieve her own laurels and champion the new technology that would shape the future.

Top 10 Tuesday — Science Lectures, Laboratories, and Math Classes, Oh My!

12 Oct

Happy Ada Lovelace Day! If you have no idea who this holiday commemorates, you are not alone. One of my book clubs is reading biographical fiction this year, and we chose Enchantress of Numbers by Jennifer Chiaverini as our October selection. Our discussion is tomorrow, so we will be celebrating a day late. 😉 For those of you who don’t know, Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace, the only child of Lord Byron, was a math prodigy and heralded as the first computer programmer. So to honor her memory, my TTT list includes characters who know their way around a laboratory, a science lecture, or math class. The characters all have some connection to STEM (science, technology, engineering, or math) — geologists, computer scientists, lab techs, math teachers, physicists, just to name a few. While some of these books reinforced my choice of English as a college major 😉 , I am very glad that more and more women are entering occupations once filled only with men.

For more favorite book settings, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Books Featuring STEM Characters

An Air That Kills by Christine Poulson (medical researcher)

Enchantress of Numbers by Jennifer Chiaverini (mathematician)

The Engineer’s Wife by Tracy Enerson Wood (engineer)

In Too Deep by Lynn H. Blackburn (professor/computer forensics)

Let It Be Me by Becky Wade (high school math teacher)

A Mosaic of Wings by Kimberly Duffy (entomologist)

State of Lies by Siri Mitchell (physicist)

The Stones Cry Out by Sibella Giorello (geologist)

Strands of Truth by Colleen Coble (marine biologist)

With Every Breath by Elizabeth Camden (lab assistant)

Spotlight And Giveaway! — With Every Breath

11 Oct

With Every Breath JustRead Blog + Review Tour

Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour for With Every Breath by Natasha D. Frazier, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK

With Every Breath

Title: With Every Breath
Series: McCall Family #1
Author: Natasha D. Frazier
Publisher: Encouraging Works
Release Date: October 5, 2021
Genre: Christian Contemporary Romance

She has nothing to lose, but loving her could cost him everything. Is he willing to risk it all a second time around when she has less than thirty days to live?

Renowned motivational speaker Nina Marie Robinson has received a grim prognosis. With the little time she has left, she’s giving one last commencement speech at her alma mater Jackson State University and taking a well-deserved vacation to the Bahamas. Nina is also determined to show her college sweetheart she’s still in love with him, but can she convince him to drop everything and board that plane with her?

Andrew McCall is one step away from being promoted to professor at Jackson State University. If anything goes wrong, Andrew will find himself in the last place he wants to be—chief executive officer of McCall Resorts as his father’s successor. When Nina comes to town and requests that he accompany her to the Bahamas, will he have to choose between the woman he’s always loved and everything he’s worked for?

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | BookBub


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Natasha D. Frazier

Natasha D. Frazier fell in love with love around the age of twelve because of artists like Babyface, Boys II Men, Whitney Houston, and New Edition. Around sixteen when her mother purchased a romance novel and left it lying around the house untouched, Natasha read it and a spark for the written word had been ignited.

Natasha believes that writing is one of her purposes and contributions to the world. She feels accomplished when she can get a few words written and like blah when life gets in the way. Her hope is that at the end of every novel, readers will feel like they’ve been wrapped in a cozy blanket with a mug of their favorite coffee/tea/warm drink.

When she isn’t reading or writing, she is likely watching movies with her family. Natasha resides in Richmond, TX with her husband, Eddie Frazier, Jr. and their three children, Eden, Ethan, and Emilyn. Her greatest joy and commitment is to her family who she hopes to inspire above all else. One of her many mottos in life is: Faith removes limitations. Natasha and her family attend Parkway Fellowship in Richmond, TX, where she volunteers as a small group leader for elementary students. Natasha is also a member of the Houston Area Alumni Chapter of Jackson State University and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

CONNECT WITH NATASHA: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


TOUR GIVEAWAY

(2) winners will receive an audiobook bundle of the Love, Lies & Consequences series (4 titles), an autographed copy of With Every Breath, and a $10 Amazon gift card!

With Every Breath JustRead Giveaway

Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight October 11, 2021 and lasts through 11:59 PM EST on October 18, 2021. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

JustRead Publicity Tours

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

First Line Friday — Labyrinth of Lies

8 Oct

Happy Friday! I am always on board for a book by Irene Hannon. I love both her contemporary romance and her romantic suspense novels. Today I am featuring Labyrinth of Lies, the second book in her Triple Threat series. I am woefully behind on this series, but I now have two great reading opportunities . 😉 In the coming weeks look for reviews of this book and the first in the series, Point of Danger.

Here are the first two lines:

They wanted her to take on another undercover gig? No way.

When the daughter of a high-profile businessman disappears from an exclusive girls’ boarding school, police detective Cate Reilly is tapped for an undercover assignment. It doesn’t take her long to realize that beneath the veneer of polish and wealth, things are not as they seem at Ivy Hill Academy. But the biggest surprise of all? The only man she ever loved is also working at the school.

Zeke Sloan has never forgotten Cate, but now isn’t the best time for their paths to cross again. When their two seemingly disparate agendas begin to intertwine–and startling connections emerge among the players–the danger escalates significantly. But who is the mastermind behind the elaborate ruse? And how far will they go to protect their house of cards?

Queen of romantic suspense Irene Hannon invites you to scale the heights of human folly and plumb the depths of the human heart in this second gripping book in the Triple Threat series.

Irene Hannon is the best-selling author of more than 35 novels. Her books have been honored with the coveted RITA Award from Romance Writers of America, the HOLT Medallion, the Reviewer’s Choice Award from Romantic Times BOOKreviews magazine and the Daphne du Maurier Award for mystery/suspense. Irene and her husband make their home in Missouri, USA. Irene invites you to visit her at her website, http://www.irenehannon.com.

Book Review: The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery

7 Oct

Amanda Cox is a new-to-me author. I really didn’t know what to expect when I picked up The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery, other than the buzz I had read from other reviewers. The blurb was intriguing and the cover called to me. I’m thankful I took the time to read it, because it is now one of my favorites from this year — very highly recommended.

Present Day. After tragedy plunges her into grief and unresolved anger, Sarah Ashby returns to her childhood home determined to finally follow her long-denied dream of running Old Depot Grocery alongside her mother and grandmother. But when she arrives, her mother, Rosemary, announces to her that the store is closing. Sarah and her grandmother, Glory Ann, make a pact to save the store, but Rosemary has worked her entire life to make sure her daughter never follows in her footsteps. She has her reasons–but she’ll certainly never reveal the real one.

1965. Glory Ann confesses to her family that she’s pregnant with her deceased fiancé’s baby. Pressured into a marriage of convenience with a shopkeeper to preserve the family reputation, Glory Ann vows never to love again. But some promises are not as easily kept as she imagined.

This dual-timeline story from Amanda Cox deftly explores the complexity of a mother-daughter dynamic, the way the secrets we keep shape our lives and the lives of others, and the healing power of telling the truth.

Before becoming a stay-at-home parent, Amanda Cox spent her time counseling children, families, and individuals through life’s challenging moments. Now she uses those same skills to develop layered characters and stories, bringing them on a journey of hope and healing. A journey she hopes her readers experience in their own lives as they read.

A few of her favorite things are the sanctuary of the great outdoors, the feeling of pen on paper, the sound of her children’s laughter, and exploring new places with her husband of 15 years. (Oh, let’s not forget good fiction and good coffee. She’s addicted to both.) You can stay connected with her latest writing updates at http://www.amandacoxwrites.com. You can find her on social media by searching Amanda Cox Writes.

My Impressions:

The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery is the second book from new-to-me author Amanda Cox. Its complex and tight writing style kept me reading and wondering as the three main characters concealed and uncovered family secrets. A novel as good as this one is often the hardest to review. Bear with me as I try to convey its many strong points. The book is told from the viewpoints of three women — grandmother, mother, and daughter — across three time periods. The style was never confusing, because the women each have distinct voices and their particular eras are well-detailed. I loved all the women, though some took longer to embrace than others. You’ll know when you read it. 😉 And read it you should! You’ll laugh and you’ll cry as Sarah, Rosemary, and Glory Ann each try to protect one another from the hurts of the world. Mother-daughter relationships are front and center, as is the danger of secret-keeping. Instead of providing walls of protection, the secrets became barriers to healthy communication and relationships. And those barriers spilled over into the women’s interactions with others as well. While the bulk of the story surrounds the three women, I think my very favorite character was Clarence Clearwater, Glory Ann’s husband. He lived and loved so much like Christ. And then there is Old Depot Grocery, so much like a character in itself, as it symbolized the strengths of family and close community.

A perk of discovering another talented author is getting to read more of her books! Cox’s debut, The Edge of Belonging, is a 2021 Christy Award finalist for First Novel. It is now on my TBR wishlist — looking forward to some more great reading!

Very Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults

(Thanks to Revell for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Book Review: A Christmas in The Alps

6 Oct

I always like to start off my Christmas reading with a novella from Melody Carlson. This year’s offering is A Christmas in The Alps, a feel-good story about reconciliation. A recommended read, this book will whisk you off to the charming French Alps — bucket list anyone?

After a time of heartache and loss, Simone Winthrop discovers a tantalizing letter from her French great-grandmother, which seems to suggest that she is heir to a family treasure. Ever practical, Simone assumes the claim is baseless, but her best friend encourages her to find out for sure. Despite her deep-rooted fear of flying, Simone boards a jet to travel to Paris at Christmastime to uncover the truth.

During the long flight, Simone meets the charming Kyle Larsson, who’s on his way to France to become an apprentice clockmaker. Though they abruptly part ways, an unexpected rendezvous in the French Alps at Simone’s family’s clock factory may lead to the discovery of the family treasure . . . and so much more.

For anyone who is wearying of staying home, Melody Carlson invites you to spend Christmas with her in the beautiful French Alps this year. So pull on your mittens, tie your scarf tight, and prepare yourself for a magical mountain holiday.

Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books for teens, women and children. That’s a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a “storyteller.” Her novels range from serious issues like schizophrenia (Finding Alice) to lighter topics like house-flipping (A Mile in My Flip-Flops) but most of the inspiration behind her fiction comes right out of real life. Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, TrueColors etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She’s won a number of awards (including Romantic Time’s Career Achievement Award, the Rita and the Gold Medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog. To find out more about Melody Carlson, visit her website at http://www.melodycarlson.com/.

My Impressions:

I always like to start my holiday reading off with a novella from Melody Carlson. This year, Carlson takes readers away to the French Alps with a young woman who longs for family in A Christmas in The Alps. Simone has been left alone after the death of her grandmother. Facing an uncertain future, she allows herself to be talked into a trip to her great-grandmother’s home village to discover a mysterious treasure. Throughout the book I was reminded of the verse in Matthew 6: for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Several of the characters learn the truth of this scripture as they search out lost family connections. Simone finds family, love, and a new purpose on her trip. The story isn’t complicated and is somewhat predictable, but I enjoyed it. Sometimes I just need a sweet read that turns out the way I want. 😉

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to Revell for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Blog Tour — Blood from A Stone

6 Oct

Blood from a Stone JustRead Blog + Review Tour
Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour for Blood From a Stone by David James Warren, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK

The continuing adventures of Rembrandt Stone from the creative minds of James L. Rubart, Susan May Warren, and newcomer David Curtis Warren, writing collectively as David James Warren.

Blood from a StoneTitle: Blood From a Stone
Series: The True Lies of Rembrandt Stone #5
Author: David James Warren
Publisher: TriStone Media
Release Date: October 5, 2021
Genre: Time Travel Detective Series

He fled the future with blood on his hands. Now, he’ll do anything to stop a killer.

Tragedy has yet again taken from Detective Rembrandt Stone everything he loves. Now, he has one last chance to get things right and stop a killer he’s been hunting across four timelines. Instead, he gets tangled in a petty crime that just might cost him his one chance at justice.

With two murders to stop, and thirty-eight lives still in the balance, Rembrandt must play his hand against time just right if he wants to win his future. Play it wrong and his life will stay shattered beyond repair.

What sacrifices will he have to make to come home to his wife and daughter?

The stakes have never been higher in the heart-wrenching, edge-of-your-seat fifth story of the True Lies of Rembrandt Stone.

EXCERPT

This is not my world.

Not my life. 

Not my time. 

Sure, it resembles a life I knew—from the snow piled up along the blackened, salted streets, the icy wind buffeting the frosty diner window, to the sound of Celine Dion singing how her heart will go on, and even the smell of oil in the fryers of the late-night diner. It could be any one of the diners I used to frequent in downtown Minneapolis after a long day of investigations. 

But this is not my life. 

My life is twenty years in the future, and right now, if fate were kind, or even fair, I would be reading Llama, Llama, Red Pajama to my seven-year-old blonde cherub as she clutches a ratty one-eyed bear named Gomer and tells me to slow down, to read it again. 

My gorgeous wife, Eve, would be standing in the doorway of our partially remodeled craftsman located in a suburb of Uptown. Or maybe she’d be across the hall in our king bed, bundled up in her wool socks and thick bathrobe, her reading glasses down on her nose, deep in the latest issue of the Journal for Forensic Scientists. 

 Downstairs, the light in my den would be on, the cursor at my computer blinking, waiting for me to continue my half-finished novel. 

And I would be happy. Until now, I wouldn’t realize how happy, but as I sit here, I know. 

I had a happy ending. 

This is not it. But this time around, if I’m smart, I’ll win. 

I must win.

To a time traveler, until you’ve been someplace for a long time, rewriting the past feels like a game. We jump into the moment, armed with knowledge we shouldn’t possess, the older and wiser versions of ourselves, with the goal of rewriting our lives, this time for the better. 

For us, the game isn’t win or lose, but rather, scored on the what-ifs that we grab, the shouldas we accomplish. And, all the while, in the back of our minds, if we make a wrong move, we’re buoyed by the surety it can be reset. 

It’s taken me four rounds, but this time I know. 

This is not a game. 

Time is playing for keeps and there’s no reset if I fail. 

But don’t worry—this time, I will not be bested. 

I swear it on my life.

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookBub

BOOKS IN THIS SERIES

CONNECT WITH REMBRANDT STONE: Website | Instagram


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

James L. Rubart, Susan May Warren, David Curtis Warren

James L. Rubart is 28 years old, but lives trapped inside an older man’s body. He’s the best-selling, Christy Hall of Fame author of ten novels and loves to send readers on mind-bending journeys they’ll remember months after they finish one of his stories. He’s dad to the two most outstanding sons on the planet and lives with his amazing wife on a small lake in eastern Washington. More at http://jameslrubart.com/

CONNECT WITH JAMES: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Susan May Warren is the USA Today bestselling, Christy and RITA award–winning author of more than eighty novels whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. The mother of four grown children, and married to her real-life hero for over 30 years, she loves traveling and telling stories about life, adventure, and faith.

For exciting updates on her new releases, previous books, and more, visit her website at www.susanmaywarren.com.

CONNECT WITH SUSAN: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

David Curtis Warren is making his literary debut in these novels, and he’s never been more excited. He looks forward to creating more riveting stories with Susie and Jim, as well as on his own. He’s grateful for his co-writers, family, and faith, buoying him during the pandemic of 2020, and this writing and publishing process.

CONNECT WITH DAVID: Instagram


TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) winner will receive a print copy of Blood from a Stone and a $15 Amazon gift card!

Blood from a Stone JustRead Giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight October 5, 2021 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on October 12, 2021. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

JustRead Publicity Tours

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

2021 Christy Award Finalists

5 Oct

Congratulations to the 2021 Christy Award Finalists! So many books to add to your TBR list! 😉

Contemporary Romance

Just Like Home by Courtney Walsh

Some Bright Someday by Melissa Tagg

Stay with Me by Becky Wade

First Novel

A Noble Calling by Rhona Weaver

The Edge of Belonging by Amanda Cox

Rain by Dana McNeely

Roots of Wood And Stone by Amanda Wen

General Fiction

Set The Stars Alight by Amanda Dykes

The Water Keeper by Charles Martin

The Way It Should Be by Christina Suzann Nelson

Historical

Like Flames in The Night by Connilyn Cossette

Under The Tulip Tree by Michelle Shocklee

The White Rose Resists by Amanda Barratt

Historical Romance

A Portrait of Loyalty by Roseanna M. White

Prince of Spies by Elizabeth Camden

When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin

Mystery/Suspense/Thriller

Point of Origin by Lisa Harris and Lynne Gentry

Relative Silence by Carrie Stuart Parks

Unknown Threat by Lynn H. Blackburn

Short Form

A Match Made at Christmas by Courtney Walsh

Joy to The World: Far As The Curse Is Found by Amanda Barratt

Joy to The World: Wonders of His Love by Erica Vetsch

Speculative

Extinction Island by Janice Boekhoff

Forsaken Island by Sharon Hinck

The Story Hunter by Lindsay A. Franklin

Young Adult

Dust by Kara Swanson

Moral Sight by Sandra Fernandez Rhoads

Rebel Daughter by Lori Banov Kaufmann

Top 10 Tuesday — Book World Problems

5 Oct

My husband and I often joke that many of our frustrations, annoyances, and irritations are First World Problems. In that spirit, I have decided to twist the TTT prompt of Bookish Pet Peeves to Book World Problems. In a world with so many book options and the reality of not enough time to read All The Books, I cringe at the number of books I have to leave on the shelf. But I am determined to whittle down the TBR, and with this list, increase yours! LOL!

For more bookish pet peeves be sure to check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Book World Problems

Finding a debut author I love and acknowledging I have to read all her subsequent books!

Kimberly Duffy

Finding a new-to-me author, and discovering he has a backlist.

Tom Threadgill

Having just one more book in a series to read, yet can’t find time to read it!

Maybe It’s You by Candace Calvert

The Solid Grounds Coffee Company by Carla Laureano

Portrait of Vengeance by Carrie Stuart Parks

Waiting on an author to finish a series. Yes, I am looking at you, Heather Day Gilbert! 😉

Heather Day Gilbert

What are some of your Book World Problems?