BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Favorite

Trail of Tears: The Story of John Ross, #1 The Ross Family Saga, by Anne Greene

About the Book

Book: Trail of Tears

Author: Anne Greene

Genre: Historical with some romance

Release date: 2021

COVER TRAIL OF TEARS PROMO

One man fights overwhelming odds to survive and protect. Caught between the love of two beautiful women, which one will he choose?

What if you are a twenty-year-old about to attend college, and your whole world collapses? Your mother and sister are missing, and soldiers murder your father, burn your mansion, and take you prisoner.

Trail of Tears relives one of the most heartrending chapters in American history as the US Government transports the self-governing, wealthy Cherokee nation from their ancestral homeland to relocate in hostile Indian Territory.

The Georgia militia force John Ross, with only a trickle of Indian blood flowing in his veins, to walk the thousand-mile Trail of Tears.

After John protects a full-blood Indian girl from the lustful wagon master, the cruel soldier targets John for retribution—until John’s shoved too far.

Bitter animosity explodes from a jealous Army Captain as John pushes and pulls his Conestoga wagon over mountain roads made muddy by rain and slippery by snow. Yet the persuasive voices of the preacher and his daughter have an impact.

A new destiny awaits John at the end of the trail—if he survives. Four thousand Cherokee do not.

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Anne’s home is in the quaint antiquing town of McKinney, Texas, just a few miles north of Dallas. Her husband is a retired Colonel, Army Special Forces. Her little gold and white Shih Tzu, Lily Valentine, shares her writing space, curled at her feet. She has four beautiful, talented children, and eight grandchildren who keep her on her toes and running.

Besides her first love, writing, she enjoys travel, art, reading, and way too many other things to mention. Life is good. Whether writing contemporary or historical, her books celebrate the abundant life.

Anne is a multi-award-winning author. This latest book, TRAIL OF TEARSmakes her thirtieth published book.

Anne loves writing about alpha heroes who aren’t afraid to fall on their knees in prayer, and about gutsy heroines. Her suspense novel, Shadow of the Dagger, is the first book in her CIA Series. Her Women of Courage series spotlights heroic women of World War II, first book, Angel with Steel Wings. Her Holly Garden Private Investigating series blasts off with Red is for Rookie. Enjoy her award-winning Scottish historical romances, Masquerade Marriage and Marriage by ArrangementAnne hopes her stories transport you to awesome new worlds and touch your heart.

If you enjoy a short read, you’ll love her novellas: A Small Voice, Love At Christmas, Brides of The Wild West, A Crazy Optimist, Recipe For A Husband, Lacy and The Law, A Williamsburg Christmas, Her Reluctant Hero, Mystery At Dead Broke Ranch, Avoiding The Mistletoe, Lord Bentley Needs A Bride, Keara’s Escape, Daredevils, Spur of the Moment Bride, A Christmas Belle, A Texas Christmas Mystery, Texas Law, Hatteras Lighthouse Mystery, and A Time to Stand which will release in September.

Buy Anne’s books at https://www.amazon.com/Anne-Greene/e/B004ECUWMG. To learn more of Anne and to view her art and pictures of her extensive travel, visit her at www.facebook.com/AnneWGreeneAuthor. To view Anne’s books go to www.annegreeneauthor.com/anne-s-books.html. Join her newsletter for fun, events, and give-aways at www.AnneGreeneAuthor.com.

More from Anne

During our Fellowship Class one Sunday morning, a visiting missionary told the bare basics of the historic Trail of Tears, or Trail Where They Cried. I had lived, up to that time, all my life in the northern states, so I had never heard of what happened to the Cherokee Nation and those of mostly Caucasian blood who lived in Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Virginia, and Kentucky. The true story captivated me, and I felt this history needed to be told in a fascinating story context.

So, John Ross was born. For research, I travelled the Trail, though in far more comfort than the Conestoga wagons issued to the Cherokee men, women, children, and those with even small amounts of Cherokee blood. Under orders from President Andrew Jackson, the Georgia militia stripped the Nation of their land, their wealth, and their lives and transported them to hostile Indian land in the untamed Oklahoma Territory. At the time, the Cherokees were a civilized nation with a constitution, plantations, schools, and a newspaper. They considered themselves Americans.

The story sounds as if it might be sad … and there are tragic events portrayed, but my Trail of Tears is about hope, overcoming, and finding a new way of life. I think from the first page to the last, you will find Trail of Tears difficult to put down. It’s one of my favorite books!

My Review

“Behind him, scattered over a nine-hundred-mile trek, remained the graves of four thousand Cherokees.”

Get the Kleenex handy before you start this book. This is a highly emotional story, a fictionalization account of a tragic historical event that many people may not be familiar with. Sure, I’d heard of the Trail of Tears and brief references to it. Yet, Anne Greene’s book, Trail of Tears, #1, The Ross Family Saga, will give stark life to the Cherokees’ violent, dreadful march.

We follow young John Ross from losing his plantation to being prisoner in a crowded stockade, following the Army’s mantra of “hurry up and wait,” to the months’ long difficult trek across treacherous terrain in freezing weather. Greene’s story gives faces to this unbelievably sad event. I wanted to rail against those who made such evil, cruel decisions against their fellow man and cheer for those who reached within themselves to see all humans as of equal value. Loved the love triangles presented. There were several!!

Be aware: Greene is not above adding, growing, or deleting characters as she sees fit to give the Trail authenticity. (Translation: twists, surprises, faith in awesome glory, and tears!)

I love to pick favorite secondary characters to “award” best supporting roles to. Watch for Pastor Worcester, a White who chooses to unnecessary hardship to travel with the Cherokee to reach them with the Good News. What an inspiration he is. Rachael, a full-blooded Cherokee, is a devout, yet warm Christian whose faith is also contagious.


In the end, each character we meet, whether John, Peterson, Bold Hunter, Jeremy, Dread or Worthington; each must choose whether love or hate will win in his heart. Oh, my! My heart will be crying and remembering for months! May we as people learn from history, to treat each other as equals, all beloved in God’s eyes.

I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit. No positive review was required, and all thoughts are my own, freely offered opinions.

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent! My Heart will be crying and remembering for months! May we choose to let love win!

Blog Stops

The Avid Reader, September 20

Bizwings Blog, September 20

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 21

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, September 21

Inklings and notions, September 22

Texas Book-aholic, September 23

Betti Mace, September 23

deb’s Book Review, September 24

For Him and My Family, September 25

Reviewingbooksplusmore, September 25

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 26

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 27

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 27

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, September 28

Connie’s History Classroom, September 29

Simple Harvest Reads, September 29 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, September 30

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, October 1

Jeanette’s Thoughts , October 1

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, October 2

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 3

Pause for Tales, October 3

GIVEAWAY

To celebrate her tour, Anne is giving away the grand prize package of a $100 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
https://promosimple.com/ps/119f7/trail-of-tears-celebration-tour-giveaway



Celebrate Lit Publishers, Celebrate Lit Tour, New-to-Me Author

A Giant Murder, #2 Ever After Mysteries by Marji Laine Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book:  A Giant Murder

Author: Marji Laine

Genre: Christian Historical Mystery, Fairytale retelling

Release date: August 3, 2021

Would you like a shot of… death with that, sir?

Josephine Jacobs was just doing her job, serving at an exclusive party, so why is she now being accused of shooting TG Taggert?

At a party full of suspects in the murder of Taggert, Josie served the food giant everything but an eternally “parting shot.” Who really killed TG Taggert?  His wife?  His son, Jack?  What about Harper Davis?  Rumor has it, she was having an affair with him—motive for her or Taggert’s wife! The list of those who seemed to hate him keeps growing, including a chemist and a chef!

With her long-time friend, Office Porter O’Brien, Josie sets out to find out who really killed “the giant,” and clear her name.

Find out in this next book in the Ever After Mysteries, combining beloved fairy tales and mysteries. A Giant Murder offers a retelling of “Jack and the Beanstalk” with enough clues and suspects to keep you looking over your shoulder. We’d recommend Kevlar… but it hasn’t been invented yet!

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

“Like a father who is loving and teaching his toddler to walk, that’s how God sees you when you ask to become His.” My fave line of the book, one I want to remember! I love this word picture! Our Father is indeed loving, but I don’t know if I’ve ever heard it explained in such a heart-warming way.

It’s 1926 in Dallas,Texas. A power couple hosts a gala party at their fancy hotel. By the end of the night, the millionaire host has been murdered, and poor waitress Josephine “Josie” Jacobs has been fingered for the crime.

Imaginative fairy-tale retellings with mysteries woven in. This is the premise of the Ever After series. Marji Laine turns Jack & the Beanstalk into quite the high society-gone-amuck-tale in #2, A Giant Murder. I enjoyed the trope of friendship to lovers between Porter and Josie. I could actually see a young, naive woman acting as Josie did. I found Porter very endearing and would hope a similar young officer would be in my neighborhood, if needed. I was pulled into the story more than I expected, since I am not typically a fan of 1920ish books. Surprisingly enough, this mystery is one I pegged- but only very partially! Good twist there!

A positive is that there is a strong, clear salvation message early in the book. This also could be a negative, as it seemed a little clunky and like the author wanted to insert the whole message early on. I would have liked for the message to be given out in small, more natural conversation.

There was enough mayhem to keep me reading quickly to find out who dunnit. The ending fell flat for me when one character suddenly changes his stripes. This is only my opinion, and I would urge you to read A Giant Murder for yourself.
I received a copy of the book from the author through Celebrate Lit. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

Notable Quotables:

“Where goes suspicion seldom goes grace,”

“The only people who didn’t hate TG were those who didn’t know him.”

“Arriving as a police car pulled into her lot, she was beginning to get used to seeing them there. A habit to which she didn’t want to become accustomed.”

“I keep thinking the next thing will set everything perfect, but it doesn’t. And accomplishments, finished products start to crumble. People. Only out for themselves.”

“We do the best we can with what we have, our very best, and then we let God be God to make it work the way He wants it.

My Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Great! Overall a fun mystery, one that makes me want to read the whole series! Thank you, Ms. Laine, for my great first taste!

About the Author

Marji Laine is a graduated home-schooling mom of four with two college students staying in the nest for a little longer. She and her hubby of 34 years also share their North Texas home with a rescue pup named Rosie. When Marji isn’t editing or publishing the books for her authors at Write Integrity Press, she indulges in penning her own mystery, suspense, and romance novels. She loves acting in musical comedy, has directed many stage productions, leads a high school Bible study and sings in her church choir. She prefers mountains to beaches, dogs to cats, NASCAR to football, Magnolia pie, white roses, green, and Hallmark Movies and Mysteries. You can find her at her website: MarjiLaine.com

More from Marji

I so enjoyed researching the history of downtown Dallas as I crafted my story, A GIANT MURDER. The house that I chose for Josie and her mom is actually still there on Haskell Avenue. The photo with the wrought iron is about twenty years old, but the house was built circa 1914. The photo with the wooden fence is from last year, after a big remodel. This house was also the setting of another of my books. It and the field that used to be next to it was an after-school child care center in AIN’T MISBEHAVING.

Thinking about what life might have been like in this house in the twenties, I can’t help but think about my grandparents. They were teenagers at the time of my story – 1926 – and while my grandfather grew up in, what was then, a little farming town called Paris, Texas, my grandmother grew up in Oak Cliff, just across the bridge over the Trinity River from this house in downtown Dallas.

Makes the research that I did on this era even that much more special. Having come through COVID, I realize that my great-grandparents had to nurture their preteens and teenagers through the Spanish Flu that devastated whole communities. The more things change, the more they stay the same?

All of this reminiscing sent me to an old recipe book that had been a wedding present for me from my mom almost thirty-five years ago. In the dessert section near the back, I found a precious recipe for Date Candy that had come by way of my great-grandmother, Carrie Ethel Leatherwood Morin. I never met her, but I do remember hearing from my mom that she was a woman of faith, and I have a poem she wrote late in life, about growing up in the country.

I would say this is a 1920s recipe, but who could tell? She was a middle-aged mom at that point, so it’s a good bet.

Date Candy

1 box – light brown sugar

4 T – corn syrup

½ pt – whipping cream

1 cup – dates

1 cup – pecans

1 t – vanilla

Mix sugar, syrup, and cream. Cook until almost a hard ball. Just before removing from pan, put in dates and stir until they melt. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Beat until almost hard – then add pecans. Wet a cup towel. Pour mixture onto cup towel and roll into a roll. Let it cool – firm – then slice.

Let me know if you decide to make my great-grandmother’s candy. I’d love to find out how it turned out!

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, September 17

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, September 17

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 18

For the Love of Literature, September 18

Inklings and notions, September 19

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, September 19 (Author Interview)

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, September 20

For Him and My Family, September 20

deb’s Book Review, September 21

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 21

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 22

A Reader’s Brain, September 23

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 23

Connie’s History Classroom, September 24

Simple Harvest Reads, September 24 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, September 25

Mary Hake, September 25

Rebecca Tews, September 26

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, September 26

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 27

Connect in Fiction, September 28

Bigreadersite, September 28

Through the fire blogs, September 29

Blogging With Carol, September 30

Back Porch Reads, September 30

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Marji is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
https://promosimple.com/ps/119f5/a-giant-murder-celebration-tour-giveaway

ARC, BLOG, Favorite, Purchase

A Mug of Mayhem, #4 The CafFUNated Mysteries by Angela Ruth Strong

About the Book

Title: A Mug of Mayhem

Series: #4 The CafFUNated Mysteries

Author: Angela Ruth Strong

Publisher: Mountain Brook, Ink

Released: September 2021

When their wedding venue becomes a crime scene, the bride and groom are in for a real trick-or-treat.

One week before Marissa plans to get married at her fiancé’s farm, Connor is arrested for a murder in the corn maze. Marissa and her maid of honor, Tandy, must prove the groom innocent before the wedding is cancelled.

With a coffee shop to run, family visiting from out of town, and preparations for the big day, time is running out. The senior citizens who’d been at the farm during the homicide offer to help investigate, but are they witnesses or suspects? A cranky military veteran goes rogue and disappears with his gun, a retired spy suffers from dementia, and a former Broadway star still seems to be putting on a show. Unless the real killer is unmasked, death could do them all part.

My Impressions

Sometimes I need a light, fun, clean cozy to cleanse my literary palate. If you do, too, might I suggest Angela Ruth Strong’s series, The CafFUNated Mysteries? This is a great cozy series about two mismatched barista friends who open a combo coffee/tea shop instead of the original opposing stores. These books need to be read in order because events are sequential. Now that all the books are published, you COULD just binge-read them!

I am sharing about book #4 today, A Mug of Mayhem. Like the other books in the series, there is hilarity enough to make you hold your sides with laughter. The residents of the assisted living home are such “characters” that I found myself talking out loud to them or their caregivers, trying my best to look out for them from the privacy of my living room. (Not advised: nobody listened!) But you will love the old man, Archibald, who plays at being a PI but resembles Elmer Fudd. The elderly Birdie, who has both dementia and sticky fingers, plus a rumored past. Winifred, who sings beautifully as a remedy for any situation. And Pete, who thinks he’s still a farmer. Plus, Marissa and Tandy have picked up the most enigmatic barista help: you’ll have to read the book to see why he’s such a great addition!

I can finally say I actually love Marissa. Before, she was a beautiful, albeit clumsy blonde; the perfect foil for Tandy, a great sparring partner, and love interest for Connor. She will always be “mechanically declined” as my husband terms it. But as Connor’s innocence is questioned, Marissa grows into someone absolutely wonderful in this last book, and I didn’t want her and Tandy to leave us!
Besides, isn’t there more to be said about Tandy and Greg’s love story? (I am now begging.)

Some quotes I loved:

“Her life was like the corn maze. She was blocked at every turn.”

“Tingles shot through Marissa’s body. The answer to all her prayers was on the other end of the line.”

“I run on coffee and combat boots.”

“Not that there was anything wrong with snooping. It solved crimes.”

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!! Tandy & Marissa really need to make a encore!!

About the Author

Angela sold her first story to a national magazine while still in high school and went on to study journalism at the University of Oregon. Her debut novel LOVE FINDS YOU IN SUN VALLEY, IDAHO released in 2010 to a four-star review from Romantic Times. Angela loves connecting with fans and mentoring aspiring authors, which led her to start IDAhope Writers. She currently lives in Boise with her husband and three kids.

More About Angela’s Works

Angela has published multiple books of different genres. One of my favorite series of hers is the Finding Love line. There are four books in this series, and the second, Finding Love in Blue Sky, Montana, has just been made into a movie of the same name, in which Angela and her hubby had small parts! There’s a series for kids, called Fun4Hire, a few romantic suspense, the cozy series The CafFUNated Mysteries, and her new rom-com, Husband Auditions. Several of the titles are included in anthologies and collections with other authors, of which I have only shown one.

This last book is representative of several book collections that Angela Ruth Strong’s stories appear in.
BLOG, New-to-Me Author, Revell

Under the Bayou Moon by Valerie Fraser Luesse

About the Book

Title: Under the Bayou Moon

Author: Valerie Fraser Luesse

Publisher: Revell

Released: August, 2021

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Restless with the familiarity of her Alabama home, Ellie Fields accepts a teaching job in a tiny Louisiana town deep in bayou country. Though rightfully suspicious of outsiders, who have threatened both their language and their culture, most of the people in tiny Bernadette, Louisiana, come to appreciate the young and idealistic schoolteacher as a boon to the town. She’s soon teaching just about everyone–and coming up against opposition from both the school board and a politician with ulterior motives.

Acclimating to a whole new world, Ellie meets a lonely but intriguing Cajun fisherman named Raphe who introduces her to the legendary white alligator that haunts these waters. Raphe and Ellie have barely found their way to each other when a huge bounty is offered for the elusive gator, bringing about a shocking turn of events that will test their love and their will to right a terrible wrong.

A master of the Southern novel, Valerie Fraser Luesse invites you to enter the sultry swamps of Louisiana in a story that illuminates the struggle for the heart and soul of the bayou.

My Impressions


Young Ellie Fields is about to enter a world very different from which she came. Will she try to change the people to match her cultural norms? Will she bow to pressure from powerful, yet nefarious persons who want to use her as a pawn? Will she find a new life, or will she return to the familiar one she fled?
Valerie Fraser Luesse writes so smoothly and enticingly in Under the Bayou Moon that I was under her magical spell after the first sentence. Luesse brings the sultry bayou out of the pages and delights the reader with its incredible sights, sounds, and smells.

I loved the friendship of Ellie and Raphe and Heywood. How beautiful! How enduring! A quote, not from the book, but so fitting for this trio, “Friends are the family we choose for ourselves.” When I finished Under the Bayou Moon, I felt I had been part of something sacred. Something that had little to do with “L’Esprit Blanc” as the white alligator was called.
Ellie chooses to befriend some young women who help her in the school. She befriends a group of grandparents who take on an incredible task in order to make life more pleasant for their beloved grandchildren. She befriends a precious older lady who lives near her borrowed cottage. All these relationships affect her life profoundly. And, of course, she befriends Rafe, Remy, and Heywood.
I would urge you to read this book, if you, like myself, are not from the ancient Bayou culture. This is the “Christy” of the Bayou.

Notable Quotables:
“What she longed for was not change, but transformation.”

“If you ask me, it’s no less despicable to deny a child knowledge than to deny him food.”

I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher through Revell Reads. I am voluntarily leaving my opinions (no positive review required), and all thoughts are my own. 

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

About the Author

Valerie Fraser Luesse is the author of four novels set in the South: Christy Award winner Missing Isaac (2018), Almost Home (2019), The Key to Everything (2020), and the upcoming Under the Bayou Moon (August 2021), all published by Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group. An award-winning magazine writer, Luesse is perhaps best known for her feature stories and essays in Southern Living, where she wrote major pieces on the Mississippi Delta, Acadian Louisiana, and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Her editorial section on the recovering Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, photographed by Mark Sandlin, won the 2009 Travel Writer of the Year award from the Southeast Tourism Society. Luesse earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from Auburn University and Baylor University, respectively. She is a native of Harpersville, Alabama, and lives in Birmingham, where she is the senior travel editor for Southern Living. Find her online at valeriefraserluesse.com; facebook.com/valeriefraserluessebooks; bakerpublishinggroup.com; bookbub.com/authors/valerie-fraser-luesse; and goodreads.com

Barbour, BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, NetGalley, New-to-Me Author

The Cryptographer’s Dilemma

About the Book

Book:  The Cryptographer’s Dilemma

Author: Johnnie Alexander

Genre: Historical Christian Fiction

Release date: August, 2021

9781643529516

A Code Developer Uncovers a Japanese Spy Ring

Full of intrigue, adventure, and romance, this new series celebrates the unsung heroes—the heroines of WWII.

FBI cryptographer Eloise Marshall is grieving the death of her brother, who died during the attack on Pearl Harbor, when she is assigned to investigate a seemingly innocent letter about dolls. Agent Phillip Clayton is ready to enlist and head oversees when asked to work one more FBI job. A case of coded defense coordinates related to dolls should be easy, but not so when the Japanese Consulate gets involved, hearts get entangled, and Phillip goes missing. Can Eloise risk loving and losing again?

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

Eloise Marshall cannot stand Phillip Clayton. She finds him arrogant, condescending, and full of old-fashioned ideas about women’s roles in society.

Phillip Clayton can’t believe his new partner is a woman. One with no espionage experience or training, and this mission they’re on… interviewing women about collector’s dolls?! Child’s play when you consider the life-and-death case he is currently wrapping up.

How do two mismatched people move from disdain and contempt to grudging admiration to love? Author Johnnie Alexander aptly traces this very gentle, romantic adventure from its inception in her suspenseful novel, The Cryptographer’s Dilemma, #1 Heroines of WWII.

I love the way that we see the softer sides of both Phillip and Eloise come to light in the other’s eyes, and their integrity become evident.

This line made Phillip swoon-worthy to me:

“In the depth of his eyes, she detected curiosity, but more than that, she found compassion.”

Yes, Phillip is good looking, but Eloise finds that off-putting until she realizes his gentle, caring nature. Isn’t that an important quality most women want in a man?

Eloise, for her part, like Phillip, knows when to pry and when to give him space until he’s ready to share the massive burdens weighing down his heart. Plus she’s brave, adventurous, smart, and good at ferreting out information from suspects.

One part of the storyline gave me pause. I puzzled over it for a couple of days, wondering if the character’s actions fit with how that person was drawn. I finally decided one never knows the human heart and its machinations. I may or may not have written that part of the story with those results, but I agree it could be plausible.

If you like WWII novels, near-enemies to lovers(clean) stories, or tales where individuals overcome hurts in their past, this Johnnie Alexander novel is calling your name. Listen.

I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit. No positive review was required. All opinions are my own, voluntarily given.

My Rating

Magnificent! WWII Espionage with Dolls. You will fall in love with the hero and heroine as they gradually learn to work together.

About the Author

Johnnie Alexander creates characters you want to meet and imagines stories you won’t forget in a variety of genres. An award-winning, best-selling novelist, she serves on the executive boards of Serious Writer, Inc. and the Mid-South Christian Writers Conference, co-hosts Writers Chat, and interviews other inspirational authors for Novelists Unwind. Johnnie lives in Oklahoma with Griff, her happy-go-lucky collie, and Rugby, her raccoon-treeing papillon. Connect with her at http://www.johnnie-alexander.com and other social media sites via https://linktr.ee/johnniealexndr.

More from Johnnie

American Traitor in WWII

Not all secret messages involve substitution codes where random letters and numbers replace the original letters and numbers. Velvalee Dickinson, a doll collector who owned a doll shop on Madison Avenue in New York City, used jargon code to pass along information to the Japanese about the U.S. ships that had been damaged at Pearl Harbor.

Here’s an excerpt from one of the letters (as originally written):

The only new dolls I have are THREE LOVELY IRISH dolls. One of these three dolls is an old Fisherman with a Net over his back—another is an old woman with wood on her back and the third is a little boy….I can only think of our sick boy these days. You wrote me that you had sent a letter to Mr. Shaw, well I want to see MR. SHAW he distroyed Your letter, you know he has been Ill. His car was damaged but is being repaired now. I saw a few of his family about. They all say Mr. Shaw will be back to work soon.

Velvalee, who the FBI nicknamed The Doll Woman, wrote this letter on her Underwood typewriter. She used the return address and forged the signature of one of her regular customers, Mary Wallace of Springfield, Ohio. Then Velvalee mailed the letter to an address in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Unknown to Velvalee, the Japanese had abandoned the Buenos Aires address as a drop point. The letter was marked “return to sender.” When Mrs. Wallace received it, she turned it in to the Post Office Director in Springfield who passed it along to the FBI.

Cryptographers determined that the letter was written in jargon code. To the casual reader, the letter is about dolls. But the intended recipient would have understood it’s about much more than that.

In this example, only one of five letters given to the FBI between February and August of 1942,

cryptographers decoded the message as follows:

  • Old Fisherman with a Net over his back ~ refers to an aircraft carrier which has anti-torpedo nettings on its sides.
  • Old woman with wood on her back ~ refers to an older battleship, one made of wood.
  • A little boy plus our sick boy ~ a damaged ship.

Cryptographers believed that the words Mr. Shaw and Your were purposely capitalized and that the word distroyed was purposely misspelled to draw attention to them. Mr. Shaw referred to the USS Shaw, a destroyer (distroy + your = destroyer).

The remainder of the letter says Mr. Shaw is ill but “will be back to work soon.”

The ship was in dry dock at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked. As the heroine in The Cryptographer’s Dilemma explains, “About two weeks before this letter was written, it [the USS Shaw] was undergoing repairs in San Francisco.”

In the novel, Eloise Marshall is a naval cryptographer who teams up with FBI agent Phillip Clayton, to find the person responsible for forging the signatures on the letters. Their search takes them from Washington, DC to the Springfield, Ohio, to the west coast and back again. On their journey, Eloise will confront an unexpected specter from her past and Phillip will risk his life to save hers.

Blog Stops

Life of Literature, August 25

Where Faith and Books Meet, August 25

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, August 25

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 26

Reflections From my Bookshelves, August 26

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, August 27

Bizwings Blog, August 27

Daysong Reflections, August 27

Texas Book-aholic, August 28

A Baker’s Perspective, August 28

Inklings and notions, August 29

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, August 29

For Him and My Family, August 30

Simple Harvest Reads, August 30 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Older & Smarter?, August 31

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, August 31

Aryn the Libraryan 📚, September 1

Rebecca Tews, September 1

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, September 2

deb’s Book Review, September 2

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 3

Blossoms and Blessings, September 3

Mary Hake, September 3

Connie’s History Classroom, September 4

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, September 4

Sodbusterliving, September 4

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, September 5

Labor Not in Vain, September 5

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 6

Moments, September 6

Splashes of Joy, September 6

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 7

Pause for Tales, September 7

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Johnnie is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

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

https://promosimple.com/ps/1161a/the-cryptographer-s-dilemma-celebration-tour-giveaway

BLOG, Favorite, Purchase

On Sugar Hill, #2 Georgia Magnolias, by Ane Mulligan

About the Book

Title: On Sugar Hill

Series: #2 Georgia Magnolias

Author: Ane Mulligan

Publisher: Heritage Beacon Fiction

Released: May 2021

To make ends meet, the Fitzgerald women must open their home as a boardinghouse, but will the secrets they uncover prove their undoing?
The day Cora Fitzgerald turned sixteen, she fled Sugar Hill for the bright lights of New York City, leaving behind her senator father’s abuse. But just as her career takes off, she is summoned home.
The stock market has crashed. The senator is dead. Her mother is delusional, and her mute Aunt Clara pens novels that expose the town’s secrets. Then there’s Boone Robertson, who never knew she was alive back in high school but now manages to be around whenever she needs help.

And the Fitzgerald women need a lot of help, indeed. They are forced to find a way to make ends meet, whether it s mining for gold or doing what Southern women have done for generations in times of need turning their home into a boardinghouse.

But will the people of Cora’s past keep her from returning to a brilliant future? 

My Impressions

Ane Mulligan has been an author whose works I buy immediately upon release ever since I met her Chapel Hill characters. The Georgia Magnolia series is set around the Great Depression. The female characters “have iron in their veins.” They are stronger than they know as they face insurmountable odds together. It is not necessary to read the books in order, as they are connected by theme, not characters.
But how I learned to love those characters! Fitzie, the Senator’s wife, and mother of Cora and sister to mute Clara. Just how sane has reality left Fitzie? And yet, she is such a blessing to those around her and retains a wonderfully positive attitude despite her life.
Clara is quite the enigma. Mute, but not deaf. She has strong opinions and contributes much to the solutions that will rescue the ladies from their troubles.


Pearl is just wonderful! She is loving and beneficent to those around her, when she has every reason to be hateful and resentful instead.
Poor Cora! She is easy to identify with, and one wonders if she’ll ever escape the mental prison others have made for her.
Boone is drawn in such a way I wanted to trust him and wanted Cora to fall for him, but what if he’s hiding more than can be seen?
Try to read this when you’re not hot or hungry. Every time I read about Cora’s wonderful support group, the Dillies, I pictured ice cream bars! Seriously, they are some truly refreshing friends.
To wrap this up, if you liked Steel Magnolias, you’ll love On Sugar Hill, #2 The Georgia Magnolias.
Notable Quotables:

“You can forgive the person and still hate what they did.”

“Some voices are harder to turn off than others.”

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent! Southern Fiction at its Best, Imbued with Hope!

About the Author

I’ve been a voracious reader ever since my mother instilled within me her own love of reading at an early age. Together we would escape together into worlds otherwise unknown.

A new love entered my life when I saw Mary Martin in PETER PAN. Struck with a fever from which I never recovered, I submerged myself in drama through high school and college, but, alas, Broadway never found my phone number.

While a large, floppy straw hat is my favorite, I’ve worn many different ones: hairdresser, legislative affairs director (that’s a fancy name for a lobbyist), business manager, creative arts director and writer. My lifetime experience provides a plethora of fodder for my Southern-fried fiction (try saying that three times fast).

I wrote and published my first script in 1996 and to date have over 4-dozen scripts in print, nine books, and numerous articles on various aspects of Christian drama and the craft of writing. In Jan of 2003, having quit my job with my husband’s encouragement, I began to write full time. I reside in Sugar Hill, Georgia with my artist husband and a rascally Rottweiler. 

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, New-to-Me Author

Choir Loft Murder, #3 A Frankie Shep Suspense Novella by Karen Randau

About the Book

Book:  Choir Loft Murder

Author: Karen Randau

Genre: Mystery Suspense

Release date: August 24, 2021

ChoirLoftMurder5_Revised - 3 (1)

In book 3 of the Frankie Shep Suspense Novellas, a member of the church choir dies during rehearsal, and the apparent murder weapon—a blowgun—implicates the man Frankie loves. She’s shocked to discover Quint was a champion at the sport before he accepted the senior pastor role at the church. And he’s refusing to talk about his fate.

Her investigation reveals that Quint isn’t the only person with the skill to hit a woman’s carotid artery while she’s singing a high note, and Frankie is convinced someone is framing Quint. The closer she gets to proving it, the more she faces a stalker’s deadly wrath.

Can Frankie save herself and the man she loves from becoming the next victims?

Click here to get your copy!


My Impressions

“Stay away from my family. We’ve been through enough because of your pastor boyfriend.” Frankie Shep is being terrorized and threatened on many fronts as she frantically tries to prove her pastor-fiancé Quint not guilty of murder. While this is the third novella in the Frankie Shep series, there is enough backstory to understand how many terrible events have happened to Frankie or her loved ones. Author Karen Randau skillfully inserts pieces of Frankie’s past to ratchet up the suspense and horror of her present. I did ultimately guess who the real murderer would be, but still found the fleshing out of the action to be enjoyable. I wanted to see more of Mrs. Williams, because she seemed like a very interesting, rather enigmatic character. I loved the sister relationship between Frankie and Isabella and Cole. After reading Choir Loft Murder, # 3 Frankie Shep Novella by Karen Randau, I wanted to know more about Frankie’s background. I believe it’s the sign of a good author when you don’t need the prequels but you want them anyway. Set against a ranch backdrop with horses, pet cows, and terrific dogs, animal lovers will take note.


I received a copy of the book from the author and publisher via Celebrate Lit. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own, voluntarily submitted. 

My Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Great!

About the Author

Karen Randau authors fast-paced mystery, thriller, and suspense books, including the Frankie Shep Suspense Novella series, Rim Country Mysteries, and Deadly Reception (a stand-alone novella as one of seven of the Tawnee Mountain Mysteries box set written by best-selling and award-winning authors). Her Rim Country Mystery novel, Deadly Payload, was a finalist in the Book Excellent Awards and the Beverly Hills Book Awards. She’s a lifelong writer, both for fun and as a professional in marketing communications. She holds a degree in journalism/public relations. A native of the southwestern U.S., Karen lives with her husband in Arizona.

More from Karen

Since Choir Loft Murder is the third book in the Frankie Shep Suspense Novellas series, I wanted to show how Frankie has grown through the series—from broken woman who is angry at God for allowing the deaths of family into a strong and happy woman who relies on God to help her through an unusually tough life.

She has shown her grit in all three novels in the series, and this one shows how she has grown through the adversity life has thrown at her.

In writing Choir Loft Murder, I wanted to show that ordinary people usually are stronger and more resilient than they know.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, August 27

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, August 27

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 28

Blogging With Carol, August 28

Texas Book-aholic, August 29

Inklings and notions, August 30

For Him and My Family, August 31

deb’s Book Review, September 1

Girls in White Dresses, September 1

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 2

Betti Mace, September 3

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 4

Simple Harvest Reads, September 4 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 5

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, September 6

Mary Hake, September 6

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, September 7

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 8

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 9

Pause for Tales, September 9

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Karen is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a paperback copy of the book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
https://promosimple.com/ps/1161c/choir-loft-murder-celebration-tour-giveaway

ARC, BLOG, Kregel, Purchase

Husband Auditions by Angela Ruth Strong

About the Book

Title: Husband Auditions

Author: Angela Ruth Strong

Publisher: Kregel

Release Date: August 17, 2021

Genre: Christian Romance, Comedy

How far would you go to find the perfect husband? All the way back to the 1950s?

In a world full of happily-ever-after love, Meri Newberg feels like the last young woman on the planet to be single, at least in her Christian friend group. So when she’s handed a strange present at the latest wedding–a 1950s magazine article of “ways to get a husband”–she decides there’s nothing to lose by trying out its advice. After all, she can’t get any more single, can she?

Her brother’s roommate sees the whole thing as a great opportunity. Not to fall in love–Kai Kamaka has no interest in the effort a serious relationship takes. No, this is a career jump start. He talks Meri into letting him film every silly husband-catching attempt for a new online show. If it goes viral, his career as a cameraman will be made.

When Meri Me debuts, it’s an instant hit. People love watching her lasso men on street corners, drop handkerchiefs for unsuspecting potential beaus, and otherwise embarrass herself in pursuit of true love. But the longer this game goes on, the less sure Kai is that he wants Meri to snag anyone but him. The only problem is that he may not be the kind of husband material she’s looking for . . .

With droll comic timing, unbeatable chemistry, and a zany but relatable cast of characters, Angela Ruth Strong has created a heartfelt look at the reality of modern Christian dating that readers will both resonate with and fall for. 

About the Author

Angela Ruth Strong sold her first Christian romance novel in 2009 then quit writing romance when her husband left her. Ten years later, God has shown her the true meaning of love, and there’s nothing else she’d rather write about. Her books have since earned TOP PICK in Romantic Times, been optioned for film, won the Cascade Award, and been Amazon best-sellers. She also writes non-fiction for SpiritLed Woman. To help aspiring authors, she started IDAhope Writers where she lives in Idaho, and she teaches as an expert online at WRITE THAT BOOK. Get to know her even better at http://www.angelaruthstrong.com.

My Impressions

“Poor ideas in real life often make the best entertainment.” And so is born the premise of this hilarious rom-com novel from Angela Ruth Strong. Meri and Kai, reluctant roommates (actually housemates)act and film respectively in a reality-made-for-YouTube channel serial movie about 100 ways to catch a husband. The catch of Husband Auditions is, that the rules are taken from a 1950s women’s magazine and applied in today’s world. As filming progresses, Meri and Kai begin to wonder how wise it is to complete this unusual project. Will there be a winner, or just losers?

With a sense of humor that will have you laughing out loud, Ms. Strong also presents very real moral situations for her characters to work through. Staid Sunday School answers need not apply. How does the very real love of Jesus work itself out in (gasp)Hollywood? In personal boundaries? In how we judge and treat others? Conservatives may have a hard time with the emphasis of the fact the Meri and Kai and another beauty are roommates(housemates). Strong WANTS you to be uncomfortable. Are we as readers assuming relationships that are not present? Do people answer to God or us? One of many dilemmas couched in Strong’s trademark humor to challenge your reactions to others and make you question if you are fully living out your faith.

My Rating

5 Stars!!

Magnificent! Hilarious Rom-Com

Angela has added a special prize, so I am reporting this on the date Husband Auditions is officially released.

All right, guys. [Today] is the big day!!! And I have big news. I’m giving away a free flight to one lucky winner. Here’s the link where you can sign up and share! https://mailchi.mp/50fe6fc73514/husband-auditions-book-launch/

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour

Summer Plans and Other Disasters (Audiobook) by Karin Beery

About the Book

Book:  Summer Plans and Other Disasters

Author: Karin Beery

Genre: Women’s Romantic Fiction

Release date: April 2021

Elementary school music teacher Callie Stevens thinks she’s finally figured out God ’s plan for her life—she even made a list to keep her on track. Moving in with her brother and reconnecting with her ex-boyfriend are at the top of the list. What ’s not on the list is running into her childhood crush, Ryan. God wanted her to connect with Kyle, right? Trying to figure out God ’s plan is hard enough. But a dating-averse older brother, the young blonde who adores him, a pregnant best friend, and Callie ’s continual mishaps make her wonder whether her best-laid plans were truly God-inspired.

Click here to get your copy!


About the Author

Karin Beery grew up in a small, rural Michigan town where she wrote her first novel in high school. She’s still writing today, telling contemporary stories with a healthy dose of romance. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s editing or teaching it. And when she’s not doing that, she enjoys time at home with her husband and fur babies, once again living in a small, rural Michigan town.

More from Karin

I discovered audiobooks two years ago, and they have changed my life! Now I look forward to long car rides and endless hours cleaning and cooking. Well, I don’t really look forward to the cleaning and cooking, but at least the chores are tolerable because I just turn on a new book and listen to a story while I work! I know I’m not the only one who multitasks with audiobooks. I had a few friends ask me when my books would be available in audio form so they could listen—with long commutes and families at home, they prefer listening to their books in the quiet of the car.

That’s why I’m so excited to bring Summer Plans and Other Disasters to audiobook, and I’m just as excited about my narrator, Jasmine Zhwalen. Summer Plans was my first published book, and now it will be Jasmine’s first too. As soon as I heard her audition, I knew I wanted her to give Callie, Jack, Stacey, and Ryan their voices. Considering it’s the first go-round for both of us, I think it turned out pretty well!

Thanks for listening!

Blog Stops

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, August 17

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 17

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 18

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, August 19

Texas Book-aholic, August 20

Cats in the cradle blog, August 20

Inklings and notions, August 21

For Him and My Family, August 22

deb’s Book Review, August 23

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 24

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, August 24

By The Book, August 25

The Sacred Line, August 26

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, August 27

CarpeDiem, August 28

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, August 28

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, August 29

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, August 30

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Karin is giving away the grand prize of a $25 Audible gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
https://promosimple.com/ps/112e5/summer-plans-and-other-disasters-celebration-tour-giveaway
ARC, BLOG, Kregel, Purchase

Husband Auditions by Angela Ruth Strong

About the Book

Title: Husband Auditions

Author: Angela Ruth Strong

Publisher: Kregel

Release Date: August 17, 2021

Genre: Christian Romance, Comedy

How far would you go to find the perfect husband? All the way back to the 1950s?

In a world full of happily-ever-after love, Meri Newberg feels like the last young woman on the planet to be single, at least in her Christian friend group. So when she’s handed a strange present at the latest wedding–a 1950s magazine article of “ways to get a husband”–she decides there’s nothing to lose by trying out its advice. After all, she can’t get any more single, can she?

Her brother’s roommate sees the whole thing as a great opportunity. Not to fall in love–Kai Kamaka has no interest in the effort a serious relationship takes. No, this is a career jump start. He talks Meri into letting him film every silly husband-catching attempt for a new online show. If it goes viral, his career as a cameraman will be made.

When Meri Me debuts, it’s an instant hit. People love watching her lasso men on street corners, drop handkerchiefs for unsuspecting potential beaus, and otherwise embarrass herself in pursuit of true love. But the longer this game goes on, the less sure Kai is that he wants Meri to snag anyone but him. The only problem is that he may not be the kind of husband material she’s looking for . . .

With droll comic timing, unbeatable chemistry, and a zany but relatable cast of characters, Angela Ruth Strong has created a heartfelt look at the reality of modern Christian dating that readers will both resonate with and fall for. 

About the Author

Angela Ruth Strong sold her first Christian romance novel in 2009 then quit writing romance when her husband left her. Ten years later, God has shown her the true meaning of love, and there’s nothing else she’d rather write about. Her books have since earned TOP PICK in Romantic Times, been optioned for film, won the Cascade Award, and been Amazon best-sellers. She also writes non-fiction for SpiritLed Woman. To help aspiring authors, she started IDAhope Writers where she lives in Idaho, and she teaches as an expert online at WRITE THAT BOOK. Get to know her even better at http://www.angelaruthstrong.com.

My Impressions

“Poor ideas in real life often make the best entertainment.” And so is born the premise of this hilarious rom-com novel from Angela Ruth Strong. Meri and Kai, reluctant roommates (actually housemates)act and film respectively in a reality-made-for-YouTube channel serial movie about 100 ways to catch a husband. The catch of Husband Auditions is, that the rules are taken from a 1950s women’s magazine and applied in today’s world. As filming progresses, Meri and Kai begin to wonder how wise it is to complete this unusual project. Will there be a winner, or just losers?

With a sense of humor that will have you laughing out loud, Ms. Strong also presents very real moral situations for her characters to work through. Staid Sunday School answers need not apply. How does the very real love of Jesus work itself out in (gasp)Hollywood? In personal boundaries? In how we judge and treat others? Conservatives may have a hard time with the emphasis of the fact the Meri and Kai and another beauty are roommates(housemates). Strong WANTS you to be uncomfortable. Are we as readers assuming relationships that are not present? Do people answer to God or us? One of many dilemmas couched in Strong’s trademark humor to challenge your reactions to others and make you question if you are fully living out your faith.

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent! Hilarious Rom-Com