Mini-Book Review — Hope Beyond The Waves

8 Dec

Heidi Chiavaroli hit it out of the park with her dual timeline novel, Hope Beyond The Waves. With its intriguing subject matter, complex characters, and a hope-filled message, this novel was one of the highlights of my summer reading. The two main characters Emily (1993) and Atta (1916) are burdened by sin and guilt and wrestle with the concepts of penance and forgiveness. Both are abandoned by those closest to them. Emily, shipped off to her grandmother’s home because of her pregnancy, discovers the seemingly untold story of her great-aunt Atta who was sent to live on an island serving as Massachusetts’ leper colony. While Emily is an appealing and relatable character, it is Atta’s story that took hold of my imagination. Atta’s overwhelming fear of a diagnosis of Hansen’s disease is further aggravated by the isolation of her care. I really became invested in her life which seemed so hopeless. Little was known about Hansen’s at the time, and the treatment for it was pretty horrific. But . . . Hope Beyond The Waves is not a bleak book. Far from it. Strong spiritual messages spoke to the hearts of the suffering characters, as well as this reader. Atta finds God’s strength through her weakness.

Hope Beyond The Waves is an excellently written novel that left me thinking long after I closed its cover. It is definitely a highly recommended read.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: Adults.

(I purchased this novel from Amazon. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Massachusetts, 1993

After making a grievous mistake that will change her life forever, Emily Robertson is sent away to live with her grandmother on Cape Cod. When Emily finds a timeworn photograph buried in a drawer, she realizes her grandmother has concealed a secret even bigger than her own. Will convincing Gram to reveal their family history help Emily make the most important decision of her life or will it prove her parents right—that family scandal is better off buried and forgotten?

Massachusetts, 1916

Atta Schaeffer plans to marry the man of her dreams and whisk her little sister away from their abusive father. But when she is diagnosed with a dreaded malady, Atta is forced into a life of exile, leaving her sister in harm’s way.

On Penikese Island, Atta’s best hope lies with Harry Mayhew, a doctor who seeks a cure for his patients at any cost. But when experiments fail, Atta runs from Harry—and from God. Can she return to her sister before it’s too late? Or will her illness consume both her body and soul?

A testament to faith and love, Hope Beyond the Waves is the raw account of the journey of two generations of women running from desperate situations toward irresistible hope.

Heidi Chiavaroli is a hope-inspired storyteller writing from the deep curiosity of her own heart. Her debut novel, Freedom’s Ring, was a Carol Award winner and a Christy Award finalist, a Romantic Times Top Pick, and a Booklist Top Ten Romance Debut. Her second Carol Award-winning novel, The Orchard House, is inspired by the lesser-known events in Louisa May Alcott’s life and led her to write The Orchard House Bed and Breakfast series, a contemporary twist on Little Women. Heidi makes her home in Massachusetts with her husband and two sons.

Connect with Heidi online at her website (

First Line Friday — Last to Know

8 Dec

Happy Friday! I am deep into my Christmas reading list and am loving it! This week I am featuring Last to Know, a romantic suspense by Brandy Heineman. There’s a lot to love about this novella — my review posts next week. Brandy is joining the suspense discussion panel at Turning A New Page Book Festival in Perry, Georgia in January. I cannot wait to meet this talented Georgia author!

Here’s the first line:

Nadine Notaro tapped the marble cornerstone of the historic Foster building as she navigated snowdrifts and hurried for refuge from the cold.

All she wants for Christmas . . . is an end to this terrible year.

Silver bells are ringing, but family drama and flaky finances have Nadine Notaro wrung out. The only bright spots this holiday season are her job at the Blissford Historical Society and her cheery, dependable co-worker, Chase Garren—until the City Council cuts their funding. The lost income will be bad enough, but what about Chase? Though quick to remind everyone they’re just friends, she can’t stomach losing him, too.

While packing up the Society’s record collections, Chase and Nadine discover a journalist’s cache of negatives pointing to a decades-old scandal and cover-up. Entanglements with the City’s biggest power players pull their strings, but every clue brings them closer to the truth—and each other—until Nadine finds evidence of a betrayal she never thought possible.

Casting light on the lies may ruin Christmas and their friendship, but it stands to cost them much more.

Brandy Heineman is a book hoarder, cat herder, and author of inspirational dual timeline novels. Antique shops and digital newspaper archives top her list of happy places, and she fuels her day job in marketing and life as a novelist with endless cups of tea. Her debut finaled in the 2014 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Contest, and after its initial publication, was rereleased in 2020. Brandy has served as president of the North Georgia chapter of ACFW and lives in Metro Atlanta with her husband, Michael.

Spotlight on Biblical Fiction — And Their Numbers Grew

7 Dec

And Their Numbers Grew JustRead Blog Tour

Welcome to the Blog Tour for And Their Numbers Grew by Naomi Craig & Donna E. Lane, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

About The Book

And Their Numbers Grew

Title: And Their Numbers Grew
Author: Naomi Craig and Donna E. Lane
Publisher: Bear’s Place Publishing
Release Date: November 7, 2023
Genre: Biblical Historical Fiction

Four lives. Four destinies. One gospel.

Fans of Mesu Andrews and Connilyn Cossette will love And Their Numbers Grew.

If you love The Chosen, the story continues in And Their Numbers Grew.

Rumors of the risen Christ spread through Jerusalem like a wildfire—and the Sanhedrin is paying attention.

Their efforts to stifle the name of Jesus only fuel the cause until a young Pharisee gets involved, breathing threats of imprisonment—or worse. Stephen’s brutal stoning accelerates the persecution and sends the faithful fleeing the city for their lives.

They are afflicted in every way, but not crushed. As the fledgling church disperses, their numbers continue to grow. Now, the apostles must train the new believers in the ways and words of Jesus—and what it means to live in God’s Kingdom here on earth.

The Kingdom of God spreads to Damascus, Joppa, Caesarea, Antioch, and Tarsus through the testimonies of Ananias, Tabitha, and Barnabas. While an outraged Saul sets out for Damascus to arrest them all, the followers press on fervently, with the help of the Holy Spirit—though it may cost them their lives.

Four disciples whose lives are intertwined, told in four novellas, chronicling the birth pains of the early church.

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub


“I’m a realist. What Jesus has given us to accomplish is impossible. First, none of the leaders are educated men—except Matthew, but who will listen to a former tax collector? Yet, somehow, we’re supposed to spread His message to all nations? I’ll be surprised if we can spread it in Judea.”

Tabitha frowned. “You still don’t understand. We aren’t going to accomplish anything. You believe it’s up to us? No wonder you’re discouraged.”

Why is she criticizing me? I’m simply stating the obvious. “Well, who’s going to accomplish it then?” My gut clenches. I didn’t mean for my tone to be so harsh.

Tabitha stops in her tracks and slams her free hand on her hip. “Why do you think the Lord told us to wait on the Holy Spirit?”

Is her question rhetorical? The heavy silence in my pause hangs between us like an accusation.”

About The Authors

Naomi CraigDonna E. Lane

Author of Biblical fiction, avid reader, pastor’s wife, Naomi Craig loves reading the Bible and imagining how things were at the time. When she’s not serving in various areas at church or trying to stay on top of mountains of dishes, you’ll most likely find her enjoying a good book and a cup of coffee. Naomi co-hosts #BehindTheStory on YouTube and helps facilitate Biblical Fiction Aficionados Community on Facebook. When not writing or trying to wrangle social media, Naomi attempts to get her rescue dog to be cute on command for the many pics she takes throughout the day.

Connect with Naomi by visiting to follow her on social media and sign up for email updates.

Donna E. Lane is an award-winning, multi-genre author with a passion for exploring all aspects of the human experience. As a Christian counselor and spiritual director, Dr. Lane has dedicated herself to guiding individuals on their spiritual journeys, offering solace and wisdom through her integrated approach. Her 46 years of experience in this field have provided her with insights which she seamlessly weaves into her writing, delving into the complexities of relationships and the depths of the human heart.

With a boundless imagination, a fervent devotion to Jesus, a love for history, and a fascination with time, she crafts stories that resonate deeply with readers, offering the opportunity to embark on unforgettable journeys to other worlds, across time, and into space.

A devoted wife of 44 years and mother of three, she now cherishes her role as a grandmother and mom to her new puppy, a little white furball named Rosie Cotton.

Connect with Donna by visiting to follow her on social media and sign up for email updates.

Tour Giveaway

(1) winner will win a paperback copy of And Their Numbers Grew and a $25 amazon gift card!

And Their Numbers Grew JustRead Blog Tour Giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight December 4, 2023 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on December 11, 2023. Winners will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US/CAN only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to JustRead Publicity Tours Giveaway Policies.

Enter Giveaway

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

JustRead Publicity Tours

Mini-Audiobook Review — The Unbroken Song

6 Dec

December is for Christmas-y books, in my opinion. The Unbroken Song, a historical romance novella by new-to-me author Jennifer Q. Hunt, was the perfect accompaniment to walks on the treadmill and chores I just couldn’t avoid. 😉 This sweet story made the time fly by in a very agreeable way. Set primarily in Atlanta in the 1890s (there is a beginning and ending in the 1940s that introduces and concludes the story), this novella which is part of Hunt’s Sorrow And Song series, brought to life the burgeoning city still rebuilding following the Civil War. Sarah Fuller struggles with keeping her family together, taking on all the responsibilities of a homemaker at a very early age. Her Native American and impoverished roots, combined with a lack of formal education, make Sara believe she could not be worthy of a man like Boston-born John Sweet. John has struggles of his own, believing that he is a failure in his calling from God and never good enough for his family. Both grow to believe God truly does direct their steps regardless of their own abilities or lack thereof. I found The Unbroken Song to be a sweet love story with a strong spiritual message. While the story takes place over several months, it finishes with a very Christmas-y ending. As to the audiobook version, I enjoyed the pace and voice of the narrator — her reading of the book fit the style perfectly.

The Unbroken Song is for those who love a Christmas-y historical romance.


Audience: Adults.

(Thanks to the author for a copy of the audiobook. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Coming from opposite worlds, what could possibly unite them?

Rejected, frustrated, and no longer confident about God’s plan for his life, John Sweet takes a year-long assignment in Atlanta, Georgia. The city is bustling with preparations for the Cotton States and International Exposition to be held in the autumn of 1895. Sarah Fuller is also new to the city but trying desperately to make a home for her lonely father and motherless little sister. When a special assignment for the Exposition puts John and Sarah in close contact, they discover that while their pasts are completely different, their future dreams are much the same. As their families create obstacles and opposition, will they be able to find a way forward together?

At Christmas 1945, with her family still reeling from the changes brought by the Second World War, “Grandma Sarah” tells her teenage granddaughter about the year that changed her life. Can her simple story bring the healing and perspective they both need to embrace a different future than they had planned?

This standalone Christmas prequel to the Sorrow and Song Trilogy will transport you back to a Victorian Christmas, when the world was very different, yet the same longing for peace and purpose resounded in every heart.

A lifelong storyteller, Jennifer Q. Hunt has worked as a writer of both fiction and nonfiction, as well as an editor and ghostwriter. She has over twenty-five years of ministry writing experience for churches, pastors, and Christian ministries.

Jennifer writes fiction with faith and purpose. Her Sorrow and Song trilogy shows multi-generations as they wrestle with their place in history and following the Lord through challenging circumstances.

Back in north Georgia after several years away, Jennifer is a happy wife to Christopher and homeschool mother to four elementary-aged children.

For history tidbits, deleted scenes, and more “extras” as well as information about upcoming releases, visit or follow Jennifer on Facebook at Jennifer Q. Hunt, Author or Instagram at

Top 10 Tuesday — Hospitals!

5 Dec

Today is a TTT Freebie, s0 I thought I would tackle the depressing setting of hospitals. LOL! My husband laughed and rolled his eyes at me when I announced the topic. Surely I could have found a cheerier setting for the first TTT of December 2023? Probably, but I am in a rebellious mood. 😉 The books I am featuring all revolve around a hospital of some sort and encompass various time periods and genres. They are great for whatever ails you. Ugh!

For cheerier Freebie topics, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Books Set In And Around Hospitals

Airborne by DiAnn Mills

Ghost Heart by Lisa Harris and Lynne Gentry

Hope Beyond The Waves by Heidi Chiavaroli

In This Moment by Gabrielle Meyer

Step by Step by Candace Calvert

Surgeon’s Choice by Richard Mabry

Wedded to War by Jocelyn Green

When I Close My Eyes by Elizabeth Musser

With Every Breath by Elizabeth Camden

With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin

Happy Release Day — Sniffing Out Murder

5 Dec

Happy release day to Kallie Benjamin aka Valerie Burns. Book 1 in her newest cozy mystery series, Sniffing Out Murder, is now available. Valerie will be joining the Coffee, Tea, and Murder discussion panel at Turning A New Page Book Festival in Perry, Georgia in January. If you live nearby, you won’t want to miss it!

When a murder unleashes a widespread investigation through Crosbyville, children’s book author Pris and her trusty bloodhound, Bailey, must sniff out the truth before the whole town goes to the dogs.

After deciding that life as a teacher wasn’t right for her, Priscilla found inspiration for her first children’s book in her three-year-old bloodhound’s nose for truth, and so The Adventures of Bailey the Bloodhound was born. After the book’s massively pawsitive response led Pris to move back to her hometown of Crosbyville, Indiana, to continue the series, she’s surprised by how things have changed in the town, but even more so how they haven’t.

Pris is frustrated to discover that newly elected school board trustee Whitney Kelley—a former high school mean girl—is intent on making Crosbyville more competitive by eliminating “frivolous spending” on the arts and social programs, including Pris and Bailey’s beloved pet-assisted reading program. A minor altercation between them isn’t anything unusual, but after Bailey sniffs out Whitney’s body in a bed of begonias, locals start hounding Pris and Bailey as suspects for the crime.

With Bailey’s sharp senses and Pris’s hometown know-how, can they prove to the community that they’re all barking up the wrong tree?

Kallie E. Benjamin (Valerie Burns) is the author of the Bailey the Bloodhound Mystery series. Valerie is an Agatha, Anthony, Edgar, and Next Generation Indie Book Award finalist. Writing as V. M. Burns she is the author of the Mystery Bookshop Mystery, Dog Club Mystery, and RJ Franklin Mystery series. Writing as Valerie Burns, she is the author of the Baker Street Mystery series.

Valerie is also an adjunct professor in the Writing Popular Fiction Program at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA. Born and raised in northwestern Indiana, Valerie now lives in Northern Georgia with her two poodles.

Mini-Book Review — The Bells of Christmas

4 Dec

The Bells of Christmas by Amanda Tru combines the spirit of the holiday season with romance and mystery. Tayde Wright, who dreams of being an investigative journalist, takes on an advice column that gains instant popularity. The only problem is she seems to be missing perspective. Mr. Bells, the anonymous writer of letters, always seems to be a step ahead of Tayde when it comes to knowing the “rest of the story”. The two spar, until chemistry takes over. There’s some mystery and intrigue as well, which added a nice dimension to the book. Looking for the truth is a big theme in this Christmas-y novella. Emphasis is on looking deeper even when a situation seems clear cut. A light and quick read, The Bells of Christmas is a good choice for your holiday reading.


Audience: Adults.

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

Can you hear the bells?

When Tayde Wright lands a job at a distinguished magazine, she knows her dreams of being an investigative reporter are about to come true. But then her boss assigns her an advice column that is the equivalent of the magazine’s complaint box. Though she abhors writing clickbait to fuel the magazine’s online presence, she either follows her boss’s wishes and adopts the Wrongs made Wright column as her own, or she loses her job.

Her first column unexpectedly goes viral when an anonymous stranger replies, revealing a different side to Tayde’s column and completely humiliating her in the process. Now, Tayde must satisfy her boss’s wishes while also avoiding any further humiliation from the mysterious stranger, dubbed Mr. Bells.

Tayde’s journey passes alongside the stories of many others as she tries to right the wrongs of the world, but sometimes right and wrong are difficult to determine. Despite her best efforts, Mr. Bells continually paints her as the villain, and the public loves it. Who is Mr. Bells, and what compels him to respond to Tayde’s column? And why does he always ask the same mysterious question at the end of his letters?

Each story Tayde encounters changes her perspective and provides her more clues. It’s a message that will change the world, but can she lift her voice to speak it?

With a lifelong love of reading and writing, Amanda Tru loves to let her imagination paint pictures in a wide variety of genres. Her current book list includes everything from a Christian time travel / romance series, to an action-packed suspense, to inspirational and holiday romance. Amanda is also the mastermind behind the popular Crossroads Collection series, which interweave five independent books into one beautiful, page-turning novel.

Amanda is a former elementary school teacher who now spends her days being mommy to four young children and her nights furiously writing. Amanda lives in a small town in Idaho where the cows outnumber the people.

Find out more about Amanda Tru and her upcoming books at her website

December Book Club/First Line Friday — Better Watch Out

1 Dec

Is it really December 1st already?! I am again behind in my Christmas preparations . . . except for my TBR. LOL. I have already finished 5 Christmas-themed books including my book club’s choice for this month, Better Watch Out. I really enjoyed Natalie Walter‘s NYC setting. My husband and I had such a great time there one Christmas, and this book brought back great memories. I am glad I didn’t run into all the mayhem main characters Frannie and Andrew did though!

Here’s the first line:

Bells! Literal jingle bells rang out as if the city of New York was saying, “Welcome to your holiday dreams, Francis Frost, where romance sparkles brighter than the lights in Times Square.”

An accidental meet-cute, a case of mistaken identity, and a bucket-list of Christmas activities befitting a Hallmark movie make this holiday romantic adventure the perfect Christmas read.

Leave the candy canes, take the pepper spray!

Nothing screams Christmas like a week spent ice skating, visiting Santa, and sharing a kiss or two under the mistletoe. Frannie Frost has crafted the perfect bucket list of romantic activities to surprise her boyfriend in the most magical place at Christmas time—New York City. When he unexpectedly becomes her ex, her plans are derailed leaving her with a choice. Wallow in self-pity at Christmas time or take matters into her own hands.

Former NHL defenseman turned personal protection agent, Andrew Bishop, loves his job—when things go as planned—but Frannie Frost is definitely not part of the plan. Still, when her brother, the man who saved Andrew’s life last year, asks him to deliver his sister safely to the airport, he can’t say no.

The only problem? Frannie isn’t leaving. She’s determined to make the most of her trip by checking off a bucket list of cliché Christmas activities that would make even Santa’s elves jealous. Andrew’s content to let her go until he learns that Frannie’s been mistaken for his client and thrust into the midst of danger.

Mini-Book Review — When Stone Wings Fly

1 Dec

Karen Barrett‘s National Park-based novels are always a treat. When Stone Wings Fly is a dual timeline novel set in The Great Smoky Mountains. The modern-day story features a young woman desperately trying to learn about her heritage in the face of her grandmother’s worsening Alzheimers. The Depression-era storyline presents the beginnings of the park with the loss of family farms and homesteads. I knew little about that part of the story. The park today is magnificent, but so much of family legacies were lost when the federal government began buying the land to create it. Both Kieran and Rosie learn the importance of not holding on too tightly, yet continuing a family legacy. There is a good bit of heartache and hard times in this novel, but God redeems when we allow Him to set our flight.

If you are a fan of historical novels based in the early 20th century or love a story about family and faith, then When Stone Wings Fly is a good choice.


Audience: Adults.

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

Kieran Lucas’s grandmother is slipping into dementia, and when her memory is gone, Kieran’s last tie to the family she barely knows will be lost forever. Worse, flashbacks of her mother’s death torment Granny Mac and there’s precious little Kieran can do to help.

In 1931, the creation of the new Great Smoky Mountains National Park threatens Rosie McCauley’s home. Rosie vows the only way the commission will get her land is if they haul her off in a pine box. When a compromise offers her and her disabled sister the opportunity to stay for Rosie’s lifetime, her acceptance sets her apart from the other mountain folk. And the bond she’s forming with ornithologist and outsider Benton Fuller only broadens the rift.
Eighty-five years later, Kieran heads back to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to find answers to her great-grandmother’s mysterious death and bring peace to Granny Mac before it’s too late. Park Historian Zach Jensen may be the key to locating both the answers. But what Kieran needs clashes with the government regulations Zach is sworn to uphold. Can she trust God for a solution to heal this generations-old wound?

Karen Barnett, the award-winning author of eight novels, writes historical romance that sweeps readers into the beauty and adventure of our national parks. A former park ranger and naturalist, she worked at Mount Rainier National Park, Oregon’s Silver Falls State Park, and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, two kids, and three mischievous dachshunds. When not writing, Karen enjoys photography, hiking, public speaking, and decorating crazy birthday cakes. In 2016, she was named Writer of the Year by the prestigious Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. Oregon Christian Writers (OCW) honored her with the Writer of Promise Award in 2013 and a 2014 Cascade Award for her debut novel, Mistaken.

Spotlight on An Advent Devotional — Where He Dwells

30 Nov

My friend Chrissie Tomlinson is a Bible teacher extraordinaire plus a great writer of devotionals. This year she shares her thoughts and God’s truth in Where He Dwells: Readings for Advent. If you are on the lookout for a book to help you really discover the Christmas Spirit, then you need to check out her book. It is available in print as well as on Kindle (only $5!). Find out more below.

There is something about Christmas that turns our hearts toward home. It’s the season that we focus on Jesus coming to make His home among us and accomplishing a redemptive work so our home with Him can be eternal. This Advent devotional book for 2023 is about how our Lord longs to dwell with us. It’s about Christmas, but it’s also about Heaven. Your heart will be encouraged and inspired as you set aside time each day of this season to abide with Christ in a deeper way.