Tag Archives: historical mystery fiction

Book Spotlight — The Last Gasp

17 Jun

About The Book

Book:  The Last Gasp

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre: Christian Historical Mystery, Fairytale retelling

Release date: July 6, 2021

At the pinnacle of his Hollywood career, Garrison Prince’s reign ends tonight.

As plain old Gary Prinz, he can pursue his Bible education, buy a bungalow in Pasadena, acquire a few chickens, and marry the girl of his dreams. He just never imagined trading the silver screen for a pulpit would wreak such havoc.

A cigarillo girl, Lucinda Ashton spends her days with her boyfriend, Gary, and her evenings selling candy and “gaspers” to the Hollywood elite at the Taj Mahal Theater.

However, when gunshots ring out just as intermission begins, Lucinda finds herself smack-dab in the middle of a brouhaha that leaves three dead, and no one has a clue why.

All the police know is that the evidence points to Lucinda as the killer and Gary as the intended target.

Four new friends, one young orphan, and a potluck of clues that don’t seem to fit anywhere leave the police baffled, Lucinda in fear for her freedom, and Gary ready to trade in his acting shoes for gumshoes if it’ll save his “Cinda.”

The first book in the Ever After Mysteries combining beloved fairy tales and mysteries, The Last Gasp. This Cinderella retelling blends a murder with enough crime and story clues to keep you on the edge of your seat.

BOOK EXCERPT

Gary Prinz stepped out of the California sunshine and into the role of Garrison Prince, rising Hollywood royalty.

An unfashionably buxom receptionist bustled toward him in miserable-looking tweed. “Oh, Mr. Prince. Everyone’s waiting! So exciting. Come, come…” A second glance at him hinted she disapproved of his trousers, rolled-up shirtsleeves, and lightweight sweater vest. “You might have worn a sport coat at least.”

Everyone’s waiting? Sport coat? What for?

A few people waved as the woman trotted down the hallway, chattering about her excitement regarding the night’s premiere. “I won’t have tickets, of course, but I just know everyone will love The Stolen Title. It’s sure to be your best work yet!”

“I hope so, Miss Fischer. I hope so.”

The way she paused, as if for dramatic effect before flinging the door open, provided a hint of warning. Mr. Walker greeted him—Werner, if anyone did any digging, but German surnames were still out of fashion in America after the Kaiser and The Great War. “Come in, come in, Garrison. Our prince has arrived… We even have Eva here to celebrate with you. No champagne, of course. Must comply with Volstead, but…”

Purchase HERE.

ADDITIONAL EXCERPTS

Simple Harvest Reads

Susan K. Beatty

Montana Made

Blossoms And Blessings

Artistic Nobody

Cheri Swalwell

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author of the bestselling Aggie and Past Forward series, Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her at chautona.com and say howdy — if you can remember how to spell her name.

First Line Friday — The Red Ribbon

30 Oct

I’m headed up to the North Georgia mountains again this weekend — that is definitely my happy place! And again I am taking a book set in the Blue Ridge, this time Virginia. The Red Ribbon by Pepper Basham is part of the True Colors series. With Pepper’s Appalachian roots, this book is sure to be a perfect read for my time at the cabin.

Here’s the first line:

The coming dusk cast gray shadows across the box-shaped buildings of Main Street, Hillsville, as Ava Burcham kept a vigilant watch toward Beaver Dam Road.

 

An Appalachian Feud Blows Up in 1912
 
Step into True Colors — a new series of Historical Stories of Romance and American Crime
 
In Carroll County, a corn shucking is the social event of the season, until a mischievous kiss leads to one of the biggest tragedies in Virginia history. Ava Burcham isn’t your typical Blue Ridge Mountain girl. She has a bad habit of courtin’ trouble, and her curiosity has opened a rift in the middle of a feud between politicians and would-be outlaws, the Allen family. Ava’s tenacious desire to find a story worth reporting may land her and her best friend, Jeremiah Sutphin, into more trouble than either of them planned. The end result? The Hillsville Courthouse Massacre of 1912.

Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor with a southern Appalachian flair. Her books have garnered recognition in the Grace Awards, Inpsys, and the ACFW Carol Awards, with The Thorn Healer selected as a 2018 finalist in the RT awards. Both her contemporary and historical romance novels consistently receive high ratings from Romantic Times, with Just the Way You Are as a Top Pick. Most recently she’s introduced readers to Bath, UK through her novellas, Second Impressions and Jane by The Book, and taken readers into the exciting world of WW2 espionage in her novella, Façade. The second novel in The Pleasant Gap series, When You Look at Me, arrives in October and her contribution to Barbour’s wonderful My Heart Belongs series hits the shelves in January 2019 with My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge. Her books are seasoned with her Appalachian heritage and love for family. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of five great kids, a speech-pathologist to about fifty more, and a lover of chocolate, jazz, hats, and Jesus.

You can get to know Pepper on her website, http://www.pepperdbasham.com, on Facebook, Instagram, or over at her group blog, The Writer’s Alley.

 

For more First Line Friday fun, head over to Hoarding Books.

 

Book Review: The Woman in The Green Dress

6 Aug

A cursed opal, a gnarled family tree, and a sinister woman in a green dress emerge in the aftermath of World War I.

After a whirlwind romance, London teashop waitress Fleur Richards can’t wait for her new husband, Hugh, to return from the Great War. But when word of his death arrives on Armistice Day, Fleur learns he has left her a sizable family fortune. Refusing to accept the inheritance, she heads to his beloved home country of Australia in search of the relatives who deserve it more.

In spite of her reluctance, she soon finds herself the sole owner of a remote farm and a dilapidated curio shop full of long-forgotten artifacts, remarkable preserved creatures, and a mystery that began more than sixty-five years ago. With the help of Kip, a repatriated soldier dealing with the sobering aftereffects of war, Fleur finds herself unable to resist pulling on the threads of the past. What she finds is a shocking story surrounding an opal and a woman in a green dress. . . a story that, nevertheless, offers hope and healing for the future.

Tea Cooper is an Australian author of historical and contemporary fiction. In a past life she was a teacher, a journalist and a farmer. These days she haunts museums and indulges her passion for storytelling.

Website: http://www.teacooperauthor.com
Blog: http://www.teacooperauthor.com/blog.html
Twitter: @TeaCooper1
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TeaCooper
Newsletter sign up: http://eepurl.com/LtrSn

 

My Impressions:

I chose The Woman in The Green Dress as my book club’s surprise selection for a number of reasons. We read a lot of contemporary suspense because my group likes a puzzling mystery, but we rarely read historical fiction because of the first statement. 😉 So I decided to find a book that would combine history with mystery plus had something a bit different. Hence Tea Cooper’s Australian-set, dual timeline, history/mystery. I usually have a good idea going into our discussions how my group will like a book — we have been meeting for years and years. But I am unsure what their reaction will be to this complex and sometimes weird book. It has a great gothic vibe going on, the characters are well-drawn, the setting cannot be better, and the two plots are tangled in creative ways.

Australia is a place I would love to visit, but probably won’t because of the distance and expense. The Woman in The Green Dress brings the reader to a past Australia with its natural beauty, yet ugly social structure. I found a lot of parallels with the policies and prejudices of the US during the same time periods. Cooper’s detailed descriptions helped me envision the flora and fauna and the plight of the Darkinjung people. Main characters Della and Stefan from 1853 and Fleur from 1919 are complexly written, but I have to say that Bert, a supporting character that spans both story lines is perfect in his portrayal. The story revolves around the death of Fleur’s husband in WWI and a missing opal in 1853, but there really is so much more to the book. I found the mysteries interesting, but the characters were what kept me reading.

I listened to the audiobook of The Woman in The Green Dress. The narrator does a wonderful job of making the setting and characters come to life. The novel is published by Thomas Nelson, however, there is some language that traditional readers of Christian fiction may find offensive. I didn’t like it, but it didn’t make me stop reading either. Overall, I would recommend this novel, but perhaps not to every reader.

Recommended with some caveats. (Language)

Audience: adults.

(I purchased the paperback and audiobook from Amazon/Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

August Book Club Selection — The Woman in The Green Dress

3 Aug

This month’s book club selection is The Woman in The Green Dress by Australian author Tea Cooper. This novel full of mystery and history has a dual timeline — 1853 and 1919 — and is set almost entirely in Australia. I have already read the book (I listened to the excellent audiobook edition) and will be reviewing it soon. Although I usually can judge these things, I am really not sure how my group will like this book. All I will say right now, is that it has a lot of interesting elements.

Have you read it? We would love to know your thoughts.

 

 

A cursed opal, a gnarled family tree, and a sinister woman in a green dress emerge in the aftermath of World War I.

After a whirlwind romance, London teashop waitress Fleur Richards can’t wait for her new husband, Hugh, to return from the Great War. But when word of his death arrives on Armistice Day, Fleur learns he has left her a sizable family fortune. Refusing to accept the inheritance, she heads to his beloved home country of Australia in search of the relatives who deserve it more.

In spite of her reluctance, she soon finds herself the sole owner of a remote farm and a dilapidated curio shop full of long-forgotten artifacts, remarkable preserved creatures, and a mystery that began more than sixty-five years ago. With the help of Kip, a repatriated soldier dealing with the sobering aftereffects of war, Fleur finds herself unable to resist pulling on the threads of the past. What she finds is a shocking story surrounding an opal and a woman in a green dress. . . a story that, nevertheless, offers hope and healing for the future.

This romantic mystery from award-winning Australian novelist Tea Cooper will keep readers guessing until the astonishing conclusion.

 

Tea Cooper is an Australian author of historical and contemporary fiction. In a past life she was a teacher, a journalist and a farmer. These days she haunts museums and indulges her passion for storytelling.

Website: http://www.teacooperauthor.com
Blog: http://www.teacooperauthor.com/blog.html
Twitter: @TeaCooper1
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TeaCooper
Newsletter sign up: http://eepurl.com/LtrSn

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Book Titles That Make Me Smile, Chuckle, Snicker . . .

14 Jul

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt is Books That Make Me Smile. I am going with book titles that caused me to smile, a smirk, or LOL! Cute titles always catch my eye and make me want to know more. My list seems to be heavy on mysteries, southern, and women’s fiction, so if you like those genres you are all set! 😉

What about a book makes you smile?

 

For more Top Ten Tuesday fun, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

Top Titles That Made Me Smile, Smirk, Snicker . . .

 

The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder by Rachel McMillan

Charlotte Figg Takes over Paradise by Joyce Magnin

The Fine Art of Insincerity by Angela Hunt

Five Miles South of Peculiar by Angela Hunt

A Fool And His Monet by Sandra Orchard

For Whom The Wedding Bell Tolls by Nancy Mehl

Murder, Mayhem, And A Fine Man by Claudia Mair Burney

Pretty Is As Pretty Does by Debby Mayne

Secrets over Sweet Tea by Denise Hildreth Jones

Truelove And Homegrown Tomatoes by Julie Cannon

Top Ten Tuesday — Forgotten TBR

9 Jun

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday prompt is books you have added to the TBR, but can’t remember why. I remember why I have purchased a book, I just don’t always remember it is on my shelf! 😉 Last week I got new carpeting in my office/library which caused me to move a whole lot of books off the shelves. This made me reorganize all the shelves that fill rooms all through my house. A big, but enjoyable, task. The double parked books kept many hidden from view. It was like Christmas finding gems I didn’t remember I had. I limited the list to the proscribed 10 — yes I had more than that!

Do you have any books on your shelves and don’t know why?

 

For more TBR confessions, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

10 Forgotten Gems on the TBR Shelves

 

Blood Sisters by Melody Carlson

After losing her family, Judith Blackwell seriously considers ending her life … until a mysterious letter captures her attention. Opening the envelope, she is shocked to discover the obituary of Jasmine, her childhood friend. Shaken out of her valley of darkness, Judith journeys to her hometown and uncovers more than she bargained for. When she confides the truth to a handsome detective, they form a plan that will save the community … or trap them in the heart of danger.

A riveting novel, Blood Sisters demonstrates how God brings His own from the edge of darkness into His incredible light.

The Cairo Brief by Fiona Veitch Smith

Intrepid reporter sleuth Poppy Denby is invited to attend the auction of the Death Mask of Nefertiti. The auction is to be held on the country estate of Sir James Maddox, a famous explorer and Egyptologist. Representatives of the world’s leading museums will be bidding on the mask which was found, in Egypt, under murderous circumstances. Poppy and her colleagues from The Daily Globe, who are trying to stay one step ahead of their rivals from The London Courier, dismiss rumours of an ancient curse. But when one of the auction party is murdered, and someone starts stalking Poppy, the race is on to find the killer before ‘the curse’ can strike again.

Death at Thorburn Hall by Julianna Deering

Drew Farthering arrives in idyllic Scotland for the 1935 British Open at Muirfield hoping for a relaxing holiday, but he soon finds a mystery on his hands. Lord Rainsby, his host at Thorburn Hall, fears his business partner may be embezzling and asks Drew to quietly investigate. Before Drew can uncover anything, Rainsby is killed in a suspicious riding accident.

Thorburn Hall is filled with guests, and as Drew continues to dig, he realizes that each might have had a motive to put Raisnby out of the way. Together with Madeline and Nick, he must sort through shady business dealings, international intrigue, and family tensions to find a killer who always seems to be one step ahead.

The First Gift by Ruth Logan Herne

Kindergarten teacher Kerry McHenry is nobody’s fool. She sees her own tough upbringing in the face of a poverty stricken child and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to make things better.

At the same time, she finds herself torn between a commitment-phobic doctor and Phillipsburg’s widowed deputy sheriff, a complicated man who is still angry with God.

As the stakes grow higher and the characters’ lives intersect in unexpected ways, each will face a true test of faith—and come face to face with indisputable evidence of God’s love.

The Half-Stitched Amish Quilting Club by Wanda E. Brunstetter

As Amish widow Emma Yoder contemplates the task ahead, her thoughts center on one: What if she fails? Longing to remove a burden from her family by becoming self-sufficient, Emma has offered to hold quilting classes in her home. But when she sees the patchwork of faces assembled for the first lesson, her confidence dwindles as doubt takes hold.
 
There’s Star Stephens, a young woman yearning for stability; Pam and Stuart Johnston, a struggling couple at odds in their marriage; Paul Ramirez, a widower hoping to find solace in finishing a quilt; Jan Sweet, a rough and tough biker doing creative community service; and Ruby Lee Williams, a preacher’s wife looking for relaxation amid mounting parish problems.
 
While Emma grows to realize her ability to share her passion for quilting and her faith, the beginning quilters learn to transform scraps of fabric into beauty. And slowly, their fragmented lives begin to take new shape — some in unexpected ways — with the helping hands of each other and the healing hand of God.

An Irishwoman’s Tale by Patti Lacy

Far away from her Irish home, Mary Freeman begins to adapt to life in Midwest America, but family turmoil and her own haunting memories threaten to ruin her future. It takes a crisis in her daughter’s life — and the encouragement of Sally, a plucky Southern transplant — to propel Mary back to the rocky cliffs of her home in County Clare, Ireland.

 

 

Light from Distant Stars by Shawn Smucker

When Cohen Marah steps over his father’s body in the basement embalming room of the family’s funeral home, he has no idea that he is stepping into a labyrinth of memory. As the last one to see his father, Cohen is the primary suspect.

Over the next week, Cohen’s childhood memories come back in living color. The dramatic events that led to his father being asked to leave his pastoral position. The game of baseball that somehow kept them together. And the two children in the forest who became his friends–and enlisted him in a dark and dangerous undertaking. As the lines blur between what was real and what was imaginary, Cohen is faced with the question he’s been avoiding: Did he kill his father?

In Light from Distant Stars, master story weaver Shawn Smucker relays a tale both eerie and enchanting, one that will have you questioning reality and reaching out for what is true, good, and genuine.

The Long Journey Home by Sharlene MacLaren

After divorcing her abusive husband, single mother Callie May is still nursing the scars of a
painful past. The last thing she needs in her life is another man, so she’s less than thrilled
when a handsome but brooding stranger moves into the apartment across the hall.
Dan Mattson may be attractive, but his circumstances certainly aren’t: a former church
pastor, he abandoned his flock in Michigan and fled to the Chicago suburbs after the death
of his beloved wife and baby daughter in a tragic automobile accident. Embittered by his
loss, Dan turns his back on God.

Callie mistrusts men, and the angry Dan often gives her good reason to. Both are weighed
down by the scars and disappointment in their pasts. When Callie’s ex–husband shows up to
wreak more havoc in her life, Dan finds himself coming to her defense—and facing his own
demons in the process. Will Dan and Callie be able to get past their baggage and give love
another chance? Can they come to see life’s apparent tragedies as part of God’s perfect plan?
Can the power of God change their hearts and mend their hurts?

Sidney Chambers And The Shadow of Death by James Runcie

It is 1953, the coronation year of Queen Elizabeth II . Sidney Chambers, vicar of Grantchester and honorary canon of Ely Cathedral, is a thirty-two-year-old bachelor. Tall, with dark brown hair, eyes the color of hazelnuts, and a reassuringly gentle manner, Sidney is an unconventional clerical detective. He can go where the police cannot.

Together with his roguish friend, inspector Geordie Keating, Sidney inquires into the suspect suicide of a Cambridge solicitor, a scandalous jewelry theft at a New Year’s Eve dinner party, the unexplained death of a jazz promoter’s daughter, and a shocking art forgery that puts a close friend in danger. Sidney discovers that being a detective, like being a clergyman, means that you are never off duty, but he nonetheless manages to find time for a keen interest in cricket, warm beer, and hot jazz-as well as a curious fondness for a German widow three years his junior.

With a whiff of Agatha Christie and a touch of G. K. Chesterton’s Father Brown, The Grantchester Mysteries introduces a wonderful new hero into the world of detective fiction.

The Unquiet Bones by Mel Starr

Hugh of Singleton, fourth son of a minor knight, has been educated as a clerk, usually a prelude to taking holy orders. However, feeling no certain calling despite a lively faith, he turns to the profession of surgeon, training in Paris and then hanging out his sign in Oxford. A local lord asks him to track the killer of a young woman whose bones have been found in the castle cess pit. She is identified as the impetuous missing daughter of a local blacksmith, and her young man, whom she had provoked very publicly, is in due course arrested and sentenced at the Oxford assizes. From there the tale unfolds, with graphic medical procedures, droll medieval wit, misdirection, ambition, romantic distractions and a consistent underlying Christian compassion.

 

Which of these books would you read next?

 

Book Review: The Gray Chamber

30 Jan

About The Book

Book:  The Gray Chamber

Author: Grace Hitchcock

Genre:  Christian Historical / Suspense

Release Date: January, 2020

The Gray ChamberWill Edyth prove her sanity before it is too late?
Step into True Colors—a new series of Historical Stories of Romance and American Crime

On Blackwell’s Island, New York, a hospital was built to keep its patients from ever leaving.

With her late parents’ fortune under her uncle’s care until her twenty-fifth birthday in the year 1887, Edyth Foster does not feel pressured to marry or to bow to society’s demands. She freely indulges in eccentric hobbies like fencing and riding her velocipede in her cycling costume about the city for all to see. Finding a loophole in the will, though, her uncle whisks Edyth off to the women’s lunatic asylum just weeks before her birthday. And Edyth fears she will never be found.

At the asylum she meets another inmate, who upon discovering Edyth’s plight, confesses that she is Nellie Bly, an undercover journalist for The World. Will either woman find a way to leave the terrifying island and reclaim her true self?

 

Click here to get your copy!

 

My Impressions:

The Gray Chamber is the second novel I have read by Grace Hitchcock. Her debut, The White City, was a treat, but this novel exceeded my expectations. Hitchcock has grown as a writer, and I am so very pleased because now I have another must-read author of historical mystery/suspense to add to my list! The Gray Chamber is part of the True Colors series which draws inspiration from true life crimes in our nation’s history. In this installment, the book centers on the horrific conditions of the mental health industry of the late 19th century. Nellie Bly exposed the abuses in her newspaper expose’ and subsequent book. Hitchcock took those experiences (and used Bly as a secondary character) to create a very personal portrayal of the arbitrary, and sometimes sinister, nature of commitment to the notorious Blackwell’s Island in NYC. Main character Edyth Foster is delightful in her eccentricities and independence, but those traits land her in the mad house. The abuses she faces and the peril she seeks to escape kept my attention riveted. This book was unputdownable. Her love interest was also especially swoony and a true hero as he seeks to free her. The historical details were spot on, and I found myself googling to find out more. The Gray Chamber was intense at times, and to counter that Hitchcock added a bit of levity at just the right moments. Edyth’s spunk and perseverance won my heart. As Edyth’s situation became more and more desperate, her reliance on God became more pronounced. Trust at the darkest of moments was difficult, but the truth that God fights for us when we cannot shines through.

I highly recommend The Gray Chamber for those interested in true crime, historical fiction, or just a really good story. I look forward to more from this talented author.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: Adults.

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

 

About The Author

GraceHitchcock_BWGrace Hitchcock is the author of three novellas in The Second Chance Brides, The Southern Belle Brides, and the Thimbles and Threads collections with Barbour Publishing. The White City is her debut novel and releases March 2019 with Barbour Publishing. She holds a Masters in Creative Writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in History. Grace lives in southern Louisiana with her husband, Dakota, and son. Visit Grace online at GraceHitchcock.com.

 

More from Grace

I am thrilled to share with you my second novel in the True Colors series, The Gray Chamber, which is set in New York City in 1887. I loved writing about Edyth Foster, our cat-rescuing, spunky heroine who spends her days painting, fencing with her dreamy instructor, and avoiding society at all costs, which as you can imagine, comes back to haunt her before the end. I’ve never written about a character who despised reading, so that was a new one for me. Edyth just doesn’t like to sit still long enough to finish a book, but you’ll find out why later.

 

I am pretty certain the librarians at my local branch are wondering what in the world my hobbies are, judging from the stacks of fencing books for beginners, histories of New York crime in the 19thcentury, and Nellie Bly’s Ten Days in a Mad-House, and more that I have continuously checked out since moving back to Louisiana.

 

The inspiration for this book came from Nellie Bly’s scandalous exposé for Joseph Pulitzer’s newspaper, The World. In reading Nellie’s articles, I was shocked at the grounds by which the asylum would commit women and that’s when I discovered a tiny mention about an heiress with family members who had her tucked away so they could have her fortune. . .and Edyth Foster was born.

 

I hope you will enjoy reading about our eccentric leading lady and her fencing master hero, Raoul “Bane” Banebridge. If you are interested in seeing pictures of the asylum and to see what I pictured the characters looking like, check out my Pinterest board here.

 

Thank you for joining the fun for the Celebrate Lit tour! Join my author newsletter for more bookish news and to find out what is coming next! Just enter your e-mail address and name here. Happy Reading!

 

“With beautiful description and shiver-worthy scenes, Grace Hitchcock has penned an incredible fiction story based on true history. The Gray Chamber was a fascinating and chilling read. Edyth’s story had me glued to the pages. But as I journeyed with the heiress and her eccentricities, the greed of her family which saw her locked up in an asylum against her will made me grateful for the freedoms I have today. And made me pray that my voice would never be silenced. The nightmare was brought to life so vividly that I found myself holding my breath and then cheering on Bane as he never gave up on Edyth. This is a story that will stick with me for a long time…”

 

~Kimberley Woodhouse – Carol-Award winning and Best-Selling Author of more than twenty books, including: MissTaken Identity, The Express Bride, The Golden Bride, The Patriot Bride, and The Mayflower Bride.

Blog Stops

A Reader’s Brain, January 20

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 20

Texas Book-aholic, January 20

Emily Yager, January 21

All-of-a-kind Mom, January 21

Older & Smarter?, January 21

Bigreadersite, January 22

Inklings and notions, January 22

For Him and My Family, January 22

Genesis 5020, January 23

deb’s Book Review, January 23

Blogging with Carol, January 23

Christian Bookaholic, January 24

KarenSueHadley , January 24

Mary Hake, January 24

For the Love of Literature, January 25

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 25

Godly Book Reviews, January 26

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, January 26

The Becca Files, January 26

Through the Fire Blogs, January 27

Daysong Reflections, January 27

Back Porch Reads, January 28

Robin’s Nest, January 28

Connie’s History Classroom, January 28

Betti Mace, January 29

Rebecca Tews, January 29

Vicky Sluiter, January 29

By The Book, January 30

Hallie Reads, January 30

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, January 30

Blossoms and Blessings, January 31

A Baker’s Perspective, January 31

Remembrancy, February 1

To Everything There Is A Season, February 1

With a Joyful Noise, February 1

Locks, Hooks and Books, February 2

Pause for Tales , February 2

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Grace is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a free copy of The Gray Chamber!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click HERE to enter.

 

Reading Road Trip — Wisconsin

22 Jan

Today’s Reading Road Trip heads to Wisconsin. Go, Badgers! Ok, I know that is University of Wisconsin, but I couldn’t resist. My daughter’s fella originally hails from Wisconsin and is a Badgers fan. I coerced him into giving me a sweatshirt for Christmas — thanks Keaton! Every Christmas Keaton and his family head to Wisconsin to partake of a big family get together . . . and cheese. So what’s not to like about Wisconsin!

It is probably obvious I have never been there, so I have had to content myself with reading Wisconsin-based books. You’ll notice I have 4 books on my list by Wisconsin author, Jaime Jo Wright. Her books feature dual timelines, so in reading them you’ll get a contemporary Wisconsin-vibe and a bit of historical context of the state. There’s something for everyone on this list — mystery, history, romance, and women’s fiction.

I hope you enjoy all the books I have gathered. And if you have read any other Wisconsin-based books, feel free to share! 🙂

 

Reading Road Trip — Wisconsin

The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright

Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious death fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather’s Wisconsin hometown. But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house’s dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide.

A century earlier (1906), the house on Foster Hill holds nothing but painful memories for Ivy Thorpe. When an unidentified woman is found dead on the property, Ivy is compelled to discover her identity. Ivy’s search leads her into dangerous waters and, even as she works together with a man from her past, can she unravel the mystery before any other lives — including her own — are lost?

The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond by Jaime Jo Wright

For over a century, the town of Gossamer Grove has thrived on its charm and midwestern values, but Annalise Forsythe knows painful secrets, including her own, hover just beneath the pleasant faade. When a man is found dead in his run-down trailer home, Annalise inherits the trailer, along with the pictures, vintage obituaries, and old revival posters covering its walls. As she sorts through the collection, she’s wholly unprepared for the ramifications of the dark and deadly secrets she’ll uncover.

A century earlier (1907), Gossamer Grove has been stirred into chaos by the arrival of controversial and charismatic twin revivalists. The chaos takes a murderous turn when Libby Sheffield, working at her father’s newspaper, receives an obituary for a reputable church deacon hours before his death. As she works with the deacon’s son to unravel the mystery behind the crime, it becomes undeniably clear that a reckoning has come to town–but it isn’t until another obituary arrives that they realize the true depths of the danger they’ve waded into.

Two women, separated by a hundred years, must uncover the secrets within the borders of their own town before it’s too late and they lose their future — or their very souls.

The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright

Left at an orphanage as a child, Thea Reed vowed to find her mother someday. Now grown, her search takes her to Pleasant Valley, Wisconsin, in 1908. When clues lead her to a mental asylum, Thea uses her experience as a post-mortem photographer to gain access and assist groundskeeper Simeon Coyle in photographing the patients and uncovering the secrets within. However, she never expected her personal quest would reawaken the legend of Misty Wayfair, a murdered woman who allegedly haunts the area and whose appearance portends death.

A century later, Heidi Lane receives a troubling letter from her mother–who is battling dementia — compelling her to travel to Pleasant Valley for answers to her own questions of identity. When she catches sight of a ghostly woman who haunts the asylum ruins in the woods, the long-standing story of Misty Wayfair returns–and with it, Heidi’s fear for her own life.

As two women across time seek answers about their identities and heritage, can they overcome the threat of the mysterious curse that has them inextricably intertwined?

Echoes among The Stones by Jaime Jo Wright

After Aggie Dunkirk’s career is unceremoniously ended by her own mistakes, she finds herself traveling to Wisconsin, where her grandmother, Mumsie, lives alone in her rambling old home. She didn’t plan for how eccentric Mumsie has become, obsessing over an old, unsolved crime scene — even going so far as to re-create it in the dollhouse.

Mystery seems to follow her when she finds work as a secretary helping to restore the flooded historical part of the cemetery. Forced to work with the cemetery’s puzzling, yet attractive archeologist, she exhumes the past’s secrets and unwittingly uncovers a crime that some will go to any length to keep quiet — even if it means silencing Aggie.

In 1946, Imogene Flannigan works in a local factory and has eyes on owning her own beauty salon. But coming home to discover her younger sister’s body in the attic changes everything. Unfamiliar with the newly burgeoning world of criminal forensics and not particularly welcomed as a woman, Imogene is nonetheless determined to stay involved. As her sister’s case grows cold, Imogene vows to find justice . . . even if it costs her everything.

The Dandelion Field by Kathryn Springer

This handsome firefighter makes a living coming to the rescue, but Gin doesn’t need a man to fight her battles.

After Raine’s dad walked out, Ginevieve Lightly never lived in one place too long, a rambling lifestyle that defined her daughter’s youth. When their car dies in Banister Falls, Wisconsin, Gin promises Raine they can stay until she finishes her senior year of high school. Gin will do anything to make sure her daughter has a bright future . . . a future that’s compromised when Raine reveals she’s pregnant.

Dan Moretti has only ever called Banister Falls home. After losing his best friend in a tragic accident, Dan devoted himself to responding to fires, rescuing the helpless, and guiding Cody Bennett, his best friend’s son, through life. With Cody being the epitome of the good kid, it was an easy job. Until he says four little words: “The baby is mine.”

Knowing gossip of Raine’s pregnancy will erupt sooner or later in the small town, Gin’s reflex is to grab the suitcase and escape to a new city, a new life. But with each passing day, Gin’s feet stay rooted in Banister Falls, and she falls a little more for this local firefighter who shows her not all men abandon women at the first sign of smoke.

As Gin and Dan do the best they can to guide the two teenagers through their early entry into adulthood, they discover together that romance can bloom in the rockiest of situations. And God can turn the pieces of a broken past into a beautiful new beginning.

How The Light Gets In by Jolina Petersheim

When Ruth Neufeld’s husband and father-in-law are killed working for a relief organization overseas, she travels to Wisconsin with her young daughters and mother-in-law Mabel to bury her husband. She hopes the Mennonite community will be a quiet place to grieve and piece together next steps.

Ruth and her family are welcomed by Elam, her husband’s cousin, who invites them to stay at his cranberry farm through the harvest. Sifting through fields of berries and memories of a marriage that was broken long before her husband died, Ruth finds solace in the beauty of the land and healing through hard work and budding friendship. She also encounters the possibility of new love with Elam, whose gentle encouragement awakens hopes and dreams she thought she’d lost forever.

But an unexpected twist threatens to unseat the happy ending Ruth is about to write for herself. On the precipice of a fresh start and a new marriage, Ruth must make an impossible decision: which path to choose if her husband isn’t dead after all.

 

 

 

 

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Winter TBR

17 Dec

We finally have some cool weather here in middle Georgia — cool enough to turn on the gas fireplace for a little bit before it triggers the air conditioning 😉 . But the conditions outside won’t keep me from snuggling with a good book. I have quite the fabulous TBR list going. Are any of my selections on your list as well?

For all the books bloggers will be reading in the coming months, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

Top 10 Books on The TBR List

 

Above The Fold by Rachel Scott McDaniel

After losing the love of her life to a big city journalism job, Elissa Tillman pours herself into the suffragette movement and her secretarial work helping keep her father’s Pittsburgh newspaper afloat.

Cole Parker returns to the steel city with the phantom failures of his past nipping his heels. All he asks of the future is a second chance with the woman he once spurned.

The murder of a millionaire offers the perfect chance for Elissa to prove to her father and the world that she’s a serious journalist. But there’s a catch — she has to compete for the story. Against none other than Cole Parker, the very man who shattered her heart.

Daughter of Rome by Tessa Afshar

When the daughter of a prominent Roman general meets a disinherited Jewish immigrant, neither one can dream of God’s plan to transform them into the most influential couple of the early church. Nor can they anticipate the mountains that will threaten to bury them. Their courtship unwittingly shadowed by murder and betrayal, Priscilla and Aquila slowly work to build a community of believers, while their lives grow increasingly complicated thanks to a shaggy dog, a mysterious runaway, and a ruthless foe desperate for love. But when they’re banished from their home by a capricious emperor, they must join forces with an unusual rabbi named Paul and fight to turn treachery into redemption.

With impeccable research and vivid detail, Daughter of Rome is both an emotive love story and an immersive journey through first-century Rome and Corinth, reminding readers once again why Debbie Macomber has said that “no one brings the Bible to life like Tessa Afshar.”

Echoes among The Stones by Jaime Jo Wright

After Aggie Dunkirk’s career is unceremoniously ended by her own mistakes, she finds herself traveling to Wisconsin, where her grandmother, Mumsie, lives alone in her rambling old home. She didn’t plan for how eccentric Mumsie has become, obsessing over an old, unsolved crime scene–even going so far as to re-create it in the dollhouse.

Mystery seems to follow her when she finds work as a secretary helping to restore the flooded historical part of the cemetery. Forced to work with the cemetery’s puzzling, yet attractive archeologist, she exhumes the past’s secrets and unwittingly uncovers a crime that some will go to any length to keep quiet–even if it means silencing Aggie.

In 1946, Imogene Flannigan works in a local factory and has eyes on owning her own beauty salon. But coming home to discover her younger sister’s body in the attic changes everything. Unfamiliar with the newly burgeoning world of criminal forensics and not particularly welcomed as a woman, Imogene is nonetheless determined to stay involved. As her sister’s case grows cold, Imogene vows to find justice . . . even if it costs her everything.

End Game by Rachel Dylan

When elite members of the military are murdered on the streets of Washington, DC, FBI Special Agent Bailey Ryan and NCIS Special Agent Marco Agostini must work together to bring the perpetrator to justice. Unfortunately, all evidence points to a Navy SEAL sniper whom Bailey refuses to believe is guilty.

When Bailey and Marco start to connect the dots between the victims, including a link to a powerful defense contractor, they wonder if there’s a deeper cover-up at play. Then Bailey is targeted, and it becomes clear that someone is willing to kill to keep their dark secrets.

With the stakes getting higher by the moment in a twisted conspiracy, there’s a rush against the clock to determine whom they can really trust. As allies turn to enemies, the biggest secret yet to be uncovered could be the end of all of them.

The Gray Chamber by Grace Hitchcock

Will Edyth prove her sanity before it is too late?

On Blackwell’s Island, New York, a hospital was built to keep its patients from ever leaving.
 
With her late parents’ fortune under her uncle’s care until her twenty-fifth birthday in the year 1887, Edyth Foster does not feel pressured to marry or to bow to society’s demands. She freely indulges in eccentric hobbies like fencing and riding her velocipede in her cycling costume about the city for all to see. Finding a loophole in the will, though, her uncle whisks Edyth off to the women’s lunatic asylum just weeks before her birthday. And Edyth fears she will never be found.
 
At the asylum she meets another inmate, who upon discovering Edyth’s plight, confesses that she is Nellie Bly, an undercover journalist for The World. Will either woman find a way to leave the terrifying island and reclaim her true self?

Lethal Target by Janice Cantore

Police Chief Tess O’Rourke thought she’d taken care of her small town’s drug problem last year. But now Rogue’s Hollow residents are up in arms over a contentious vote on legalizing the sale of marijuana within city limits. And when an eighteen-year-old is found dead of a possible overdose, Tess wonders if the local pot farms might be involved and begins to fear that a new, deadlier drug supply chain has cropped up. As tempers flare and emotions boil over, Tess faces the possibility of losing the town’s support.

With her relationship to Sergeant Steve Logan on shaky ground, Tess could really use a friend, and she feels drawn to Pastor Oliver Macpherson’s quiet presence. But the anger she holds over her father’s death prevents her from embracing his faith and finding peace.

Battling storms within and without, Tess is shocked when a familiar face from her past shows up in town to stir up more trouble. And his threats against Tess may prove lethal.

Promised Land by Robert Whitlow

With historical mysteries, religious intrigue, and political danger, Promised Land asks one momentous question: What if your calling puts you—and your family—in the crosshairs?

Despite their Israeli citizenship, Hana and Daud cannot safely return to their homeland because a dangerous terrorist ring is threatening Daud. Hana is perfectly fine remaining in the United States, working for a law firm in Atlanta, especially when she learns she’s pregnant. But Daud can’t shake the draw to return home to Israel, even if it makes him a walking target.

Hana is helping her boss plan a huge Middle East summit in Atlanta when Jakob Brodsky, her old friend and former co-litigator, asks for her help with a case. His client is attempting to recover ancient artifacts stolen from his Jewish great-grandfather by a Soviet colonel at the end of World War II. Because the case crosses several national borders, he needs Hana’s knowledge and skill to get to the bottom of what happened to these precious artifacts.

Meanwhile, Daud is called in to help a US intelligence agency extract a Ukrainian doctor from a dangerous situation in Egypt. While overseas, he can’t resist the call of Jerusalem and thus sets off a series of events that puts thousands of people in danger, including his wife and unborn child.

Bestselling author Robert Whitlow explores the meaning of family and home — and how faith forms the identity of both—in this breathtaking sequel to Chosen People.

Rough Way To The High Way by Kelly Mack McCoy

Pastor turned long-haul trucker, Mack, struggles with grief and perceived failures as a minister while he is confronted with a mysterious hitchhiker, smugglers, and a determined killer. After an unbearable tragedy strikes his life, he sells everything he owns and buys a new Peterbilt truck, returning to the trade he learned decades earlier.

Hoping for some windshield therapy and peace of mind behind the wheel of his new rig, Mack gets neither after God nudges him to pick up a hitchhiker near the Jordan State Prison outside Mack’s childhood home of Pampa, Texas.

When his world is ripped apart, he seeks to run away from it all, going as far as to cut off communication with all but a handful of people. But he is pursued by God, who will not let him go. Unbeknownst to Mack, God is equipping His servant with tools to handle events his past education and experience could never have prepared him for.

The story unfolds as the hitchhiker enters Mack’s Peterbilt. The man reminds Mack of his father, a hard living, hard drinking oilfield roughneck who died in prison. God begins to do a work in Mack’s heart while Mack seeks to minister to his new passenger. But Mack soon rues the day he let the hitchhiker into his truck.

His old life in ruins now, Mack learns he has angered a new enemy who threatens to destroy his life on the road as well. Mack suspects he is being followed and is in the sights of a killer who plots a revenge no one could have seen coming.

God works His mysterious way in Mack’s life steamroller-style all the way to an ending that will leave the reader thinking about it long after reading The End at the bottom of the last page.

Rough Way to the High Way is the first of a series of novels about Mack’s adventures on the road as lives are transformed through his new ministry. The first life to be transformed as Rough Way to the High Way develops appears to be that of the hitchhiker. But God is working in Mack’s life all along, preparing him for a new ministry that will transform lives across the country.

Seconds to Live by Susan Sleeman

When cybercriminals hack into the US Marshals’ Witness Protection database and auction off witnesses’ personal details to the highest bidders, the RED Team led by FBI Agent Sean Nichols begins a high-stakes chase to find the hacker. But before he can even get started, the first witness is targeted and barely escapes with her life. Sean believes Phantom, an obsessed hacker who previously outwitted the top minds in the field, is behind the attack, and Sean needs this witness’s help, as she’s the person who has come closest to discovering Phantom’s identity.

Trouble is, she’s a witness under the care of US Marshal Taylor Mills, and Sean is reluctant to work with the captivating marshal who knows his deepest secrets. But Phantom claims he knows where the witness is hiding and will kill her, so to stop the hacker, Sean and Taylor must work through their personal pain and learn to trust each other. . . . The seconds are ticking down before someone dies.

The Thief of Lanywyn Manor by Sarah E. Ladd

Cornwall, England, 1818

Julia Twethewey needs a diversion to mend her broken heart, so when her cousin invites her to Lanwyn Manor, Julia eagerly accepts. The manor is located at the heart of Cornwall’s mining industry, and as a guest Julia is swept into its intricate world. It’s not long, though, before she realizes something dark lurks within the home’s ancient halls.

As a respected mine owner’s younger son, Isaac Blake is determined to keep his late father’s legacy alive through the family business, despite his brother’s careless attitude. In order to save their livelihood — and that of the people around them — the brothers approach the master of Lanwyn Manor with plans to bolster the floundering local industry. Isaac can’t deny his attraction to the man’s charming niece, but his brother has made clear his intentions to court the lovely visitor. And Isaac knows his place.

When tragedy strikes, mysteries arise, and valuables go missing, Julia and Isaac find they are pulled together in a swirl of strange circumstances, but despite their best efforts to bow to social expectations, their hearts aren’t so keen to surrender.

 

What’s on your TBR list?

 

Mini-Review: In The Shadow of Croft Towers

28 Nov

With murderers, smugglers, and spies on the loose, nothing—and no one—at Croft Towers is what they claim. Can one woman even trust what she knows about herself in this Gothic Regency romance?

When Sybil Delafield’s coach to Croft Towers was robbed by highwaymen, she should have realized that her new position as companion to old Mrs. Chalcroft would be no ordinary job. Upon Sybil’s arrival, Mrs. Chalcroft sneaks into her room in the dark of night, imploring her to relay messages to town that are to stay hidden from the rest of the family. Who exactly is she working for and what do the messages contain?

When fellow passengers of the robbed coach are later murdered, Sybil’s hunt for the truth takes on a new urgency. The only person she can rely on is Mr. Sinclair, Mrs. Chalcroft’s godson, but under all his charms he too leads a double life. Sybil must decide if he is the one honest voice she can trust, or if he is simply using her for his own advances.

Croft Towers holds more than its share of secrets . . . and Sybil is determined to uncover them all.

Abigail Wilson combines her passion for Regency England with intrigue and adventure to pen historical mysteries with a heart. A Registered Nurse, chai tea addict, and mother of two crazy kids, Abigail fills her spare time hiking the National Parks, attending her daughter’s gymnastic meets, and curling up with a great book. In 2017, Abigail won WisRWA’s Fab Five contest and in 2016, ACFW’s First Impressions contest as well as placing as a 2017 finalist in the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. She is a cum laude graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and currently lives in Dripping Springs, Texas, with her husband and children.

My Impressions:

For a debut novel, In The Shadow of Croft Towers by Abigail Wilson is pretty impressive. I found this Gothic-Regency romance to be very well-written and highly entertaining. There are plenty of mysterious doings — secret letters, highwaymen, murders — to keep a reader engaged, while a very plucky main character and a swoony hero satisfy all the romantic longings. I loved the first person account by Sybil Delafield, especially as she interjects her dry humor onto her account. The setting is perfect to accompany the suspense — moors and a mouldering old house. And the cast of characters cannot be trusted to reveal their true motives — I loved trying to figure out their secrets too.

A quick read, if you enjoy historical romance with a good dose of mystery, this one is for you. I can’t wait to read Wilson’s other books!

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

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