Barbour, BLOG, NetGalley

The Green Dress: #6 True Colors by Liz Tolsma with Giveaway

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About the Book

Book:  The Green Dress

Author: Liz Tolsma

Genre: Christian Historical Suspense9781643524757-197x300

Release Date: June 2020

 

Death Seems to Follow Harriet’s New Friend

Book 6 in the True Colors series—Fiction Based on Strange-But True History

When Harriet Peters came to Boston in 1882, the Robinson family took her in like one of their own, and Harriet became closer to Lizzie Robinson than her own siblings. Now, four years later, Lizzie is deathly sick, failing quickly just like several others in her family have done over the past few years. How can so many in one family die from the same mysterious illness? Harriet doesn’t have answers, but she is determined to help the family, bringing in a new-to-the-neighborhood doctor, Michael Wheaton.
As Harriet and Michael close in on the answer, putting their own lives at risk, can the cause be found before anyone else dies?

 

 

Click here to get your copy!

 

My Review

Aha! This was a crime I could solve, I thought. Each book in this True Colors series is an
historical American crime fictionalized to reach and even educate a wider audience than
the bare, macabre facts in a dusty tome. So, I was game. Liz Tolsma is creator of this fact-
turned-fiction tale aptly named The Green Dress.
Ready, Set, Go. The cast of characters was listed at the front. The year is 1886, and we first
meet Harriet Peters as she hurries to the sickbed of her best friend, Lizzie Robinson.
Much consternation abounds, as Lizzie’s symptoms exactly match those of other family
members who suddenly fell ill and died. Doctors are mystified by the repeated identical
deaths occurring solely in the Robinson household until a fresh-faced doctor is called in.
This was certainly another incredible crime. It wasn’t caught, largely because people
refused to even consider all possibilities, though those evidences were staring them in
the face.
“Outward appearances don’t always reflect a person’s character.”
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If only… Harriet had taken Lizzie’s words to heart, “No debt in friendship.” You can be
sure I heard those words and may or may not have screeched them aloud…more than
once.
Liz Tolsma does a great job with the story’s pacing. From the first sentence to the last, I
was captivated. I really did figure out some of the crime, but the whole timbre of the
novel was such that I had to stay up late to finish it in one sitting. No putting this one
down.
I enjoyed the romance development between Harriet and Michael Wheaton. I especially
liked seeing Michael grow in confidence and follow up on his hunches. Speaking of
hunches, Harriet ignores some of hers in the novel. I disagree with the author’s view
about where those hunches came from. As a Christian, God could certainly make sure
Harriet heard an audible voice.
Because death was a common occurrence in this story, the question of assurance of
salvation is addressed.
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Ending notes in a tale like this are essential, and the author shows both her great
research and care with this superior project.
The whole scenario sounds like something out of our time, not the 1880’s. Alas, for me,
Tolsma has the final word or twist. Good for her. The clues were all laid, I just didn’t put
those pieces together. Well done, Ms. Tolsma. This could have been a great Twilight Zone
episode.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher through
Celebrate Lit via NetGalley. This in no way affects my opinions, which are solely my own.

My Rating

5 Stars – Superior – Hit My Spooky Sweet Spot

 

About the Author

 

Liz Tolsma is a popular speaker and an editor and the owner of the Write Direction Editing. An almost-native  Wisconsinite, she resides in a quiet corner of the state with LizTolsma-200x300her husband and is the mother of three. Her son proudly serves as a U.S. Marine. They adopted all of their children internationally, and one has special needs. When she gets a few spare minutes, she enjoys reading, relaxing on the front porch, walking, working in her large perennial garden, and camping with her family.

 

 

More from Liz

We’ve all been there—started a letter or an email or even a list, didn’t like what we had, crossed it out or hit the delete button, and tried again. Now imagine that happening when you’re writing a novel.

 

That’s what occurred with The Green Dress. Finding the perfect place to start a novel can be tricky, but when you’re trying to balance fact with fiction, it’s even harder. I needed the fictional heroine, Harriet Peters, to have a good reason to come into contact with and become close to the factual Robinson family. And I needed for the hero, Michael Wheaton, to meet Harriet early on. So I dove into the story. Five chapters later, the hero and heroine hadn’t yet met. The book wasn’t working.

 

I scrapped those chapters and started at a different point. At first, it seemed to be going better. I was happy. Until I got to the fifth chapter, when I realized again that the book wasn’t working. Frankly, it was boring. So those ended up in the virtual trash bin. Meanwhile, the clock was ticking on my deadline. I was desperate to find the right starting point, at a place with high tension. Finally, I had an “aha” moment, and the story flowed from there. That’s how the first five chapters (and the rest of The Green Dress) came to be.

 

—Liz Tolsma

Blog Stops

The Power of Words, June 26

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 26

deb’s Book Review, June 26

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, June 26

A Reader’s Brain, June 27

Rebecca Tews, June 27

For Him and My Family, June 27

Texas Book-aholic, June 28

Back Porch Reads, June 28

Inklings and notions, June 28

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 28

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, June 29

Genesis 5020, June 29

Emily Yager, June 29

Christian Bookaholic, June 30

Robin’s Nest, June 30

To Everything There is A Season, June 30

Tell Tale Book Reviews, June 30

Blogging With Carol, July 1

Bigreadersite, July 1

Read Review Rejoice, July 1

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, July 2

Life of Literature, July 2

Connie’s History Classroom, July 2

Betti Mace, July 3

Southern Gal Loves to Read, July 3

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, July 3

Stories By Gina, July 3

For the Love of Literature, July 4

Remembrancy, July 4

Reviewingbooksplusmore, July 4

Godly Book Reviews, July 5

Splashes of Joy, July 5

Vicky Sluiter, July 5

Older & Smarter?, July 6

Through the Fire Blogs, July 6

Daysong Reflections, July 6

amandainpa, July 6

Locks, Hooks and Books, July 7

Pause for Tales , July 7

Just the Write Escape, July 7

Hallie Reads, July 8

Where Faith and Books Meet, July 8

Blossoms and Blessings, July 8

Spoken from the Heart, July 9

With a Joyful Noise, July 9

Artistic Nobody, July 9 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Liz is giving away the grand prize of a $25 Amazon 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/fcd8/the-green-dress-celebration-tour-giveaway

Barbour, BLOG, Favorite, NetGalley

The Chisholm Trail Bride, #12, The Daughters of the Mayflower by Kathleen Y’Barbo

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About the Book

Title: The Chisholm Trail Bride

Series: #12 The Daughters of the Mayflower

Author: Kathleen Y’Barbo

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Publisher: Barbour

Released: March 2020

Stubborn Hearts Clash on a Cattle Drive

Eliza Gentry’s pursuit of marriage to the son of her family’s sworn enemy has cost her greatly. Furious at his daughter’s choices, her father sends her off with the cattle drive heading toward Fort Worth and the Barnhart ranch, but under the watchful eye of Wyatt Creed, a Pinkerton man he has hired to see to her safety. With danger at every turn—not the least of which to his heart—can Wyatt Creed keep his focus with Eliza Gentry around? Is the Chisholm Trail a place for falling in love or a place to die at the hands of cattle thieves?

(Babbling Becky L’s insert here: I don’t know who read the book to prepare this blurb, or if the author had a loose idea of what the storyline would be, but the above is way off. 😦 )

 

Join the adventure as the Daughters of the Mayflower series continues with The Chisholm Trail Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo

More in the Daughters of the Mayflower series:
The Mayflower Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1620 Atlantic Ocean (February 2018)
The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo – set 1725 New Orleans (April 2018)
The Captured Bride by Michelle Griep – set 1760 during the French and Indian War (June 2018)
The Patriot Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1774 Philadelphia (August 2018)
The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear – set 1794 on the Wilderness Road (October 2018)
The Liberty Bride by MaryLu Tyndall – set 1814 Baltimore (December 2018)
The Alamo Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo – set 1836 Texas (February 2019)
The Golden Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1849 San Francisco (April 2019)
The Express Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1860 Utah (July 2019)The Rebel Bride by Shannon McNear – set 1863 Tennessee (December 2019)
The Blizzard Bride by Susanne Dietze – set 1888 Nebraska

 

My Review

Kathleen Y’Barbo has produced one of the best installments of The Daughters of the Mayflower. I loved almost everything about #12, The Chisholm Trail Bride. We first meet Eliza Gentry on a trail ride with her beloved father, William, and brothers. At fourteen, Eliza should be at finishing school, but she is much more interested in things of the Texas ranch, including the yearly cattle drive. When a trail skirmish ends in disaster, Eliza loses more than she can imagine.
Nine years later, in 1889, Eliza is still bucking her parents’ ideas of what is best for her. Will she marry Ben Barnhart, rich, ambitious, and headed for the presidency? Or will her father’s security guard protect her heart from ruin?

The Chisholm Bride 1
Any romance reader that has ever laid on the grass at night and located different star constellations or watched meteor showers is sure to enjoy this book. Especially as Y’Barbo’s Eliza is both so strong-headed and yet loves her father so fiercely. I love this quote that explains much of the two main tensions of the book:
‘“Eliza, you are me in female form, and that confounds the daylights out of me…
But there is one thing we do that is sometimes our downfall.” “What is that, Papa?” she asked. “We love too easily and too hard.”

The Chisholm Bride 2
William Gentry seems very unbending at times, yet at others, is wound around his daughter’s little finger. Even when it seems like he has drawn a definite line for her behavior, he makes provision for how he knows his daughter will act.
This, in turn, reminds me of the Heavenly Father. He knows what is best for us but ultimately allows us to make our own choice, just as Gentry does for Eliza. And, the Father also makes a provision for the choices we may make.
Another element of the novel I loved was the ability Y’Barbo has to make me identify with the characters. I felt every emotion Eliza and Wyatt felt, and I sure hated a few characters!
As a reader, I was happy to be engrossed by action that continued until the end of the novel. I liked some of the “little” odd twists that turned out to be important.
Definitely a book I recommend if you like westerns.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley. This in no way affects my opinions, which are solely my own.

 

My Rating

5 Stars- Superior- Hits My Reading Sweet Spot

About the Author

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Bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee of more than eighty novels with almost two million copies in print in the US and abroad.

A tenth-generation Texan and certified paralegal, she has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award as well a Reader’s Choice Award and is the winner of the Inspirational Romance of the Year by Romantic Times magazine.

To connect with her through social media, check out the links on her website at www.kathleenybarbo.com.

 

Barbour, BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Favorite, NetGalley, PB

The House at the End of the Moor by Michelle Griep- Celebrate Lit Tour & Giveaway

What do you do when you’ve already blogged about a favorite author’s book, but you signed up to blog about it later with a professional group? Why, you excitedly reblog, of course!! Besides, did I mention this one has a great giveaway?!

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About the Book

Book:  House at the End of the Moor

Author: Michelle Griep

Genre:  Christian Historical9781643523422-197x300

Release Date: April 2020

 

An Opulent London Opera Star Escapes to the Rugged Landscape of the English Moors

Opera star Maggie Lee escapes her opulent lifestyle when threatened by a powerful politician who aims to ruin her life. She runs off to the wilds of the moors to live in anonymity. All that changes the day she discovers a half-dead man near her house. Escaped convict Oliver Ward is on the run to prove his innocence, until he gets hurt and is taken in by Maggie. He discovers some jewels in her possession—the very same jewels that got him convicted. Together they hatch a plan to return the jewels, clearing Oliver’s name and hopefully maintaining Maggie’s anonymity.

 

Click here for your copy!

 

My Review

“Books are light and air.” This one was sweet ambrosia to my soul. It was midnight. I was just finishing Michelle Griep’s The House at the End of the Moor. All I could do was sit in my chair and grin hugely. The House at the End of the Moor was everything and more (pardon the pun) I could hope for from Griep. Firstly, the two Regency protagonists, Maggie and Oliver, are three-dimensional. They are both wonderful and flawed. And, yes, it is easy to fall in love with them as we learn more about their broken backgrounds. Griep writes with great imagery, humor, and skill. “Words stagger around on my tongue like little drunkards.” “…’Every soul has value.’” “’Even Barrow’s?’” “…That stung. Of course, Barrow was one of God’s creatures–but so was a rat.” (BTW, this “value” theme carries over from her last book, but yet The House at the Edge of the Moor is also a great stand-alone.)

House End Moor 1

The enemies are dark, dangerous, and even described as demons. How I loved that. But how I loved, even more, the subtle thread of one very lost, dark soul beginning to hear God’s call on his life. How far is too far for forgiveness? With people? With God? The faith element is present at appropriate times. Strong, but fitting. If you can’t have faith when approaching death, when can you? Does this same faith carry over into life? Greed, need of a loving father, trust, backward prejudice, judgment, and justice are all themes woven into this deliciously rich book that went down like honey into my reader’s soul.

House End Moor 2

“True justice starts with repentance. How can we ask God to show justice in the world while willfully nursing our own hidden prejudices, selfishness, lusts, greed…our own broken relationships?” By the end of the novel, I had completed a romance, filled my head with beautiful words, received words of faith to consider, and enjoyed more twists than I could have imagined. Yet every twist actually was credible. Thus, I closed the book, extremely happy. If only it weren’t over. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author as well as from NetGalley. This in no way influences my opinions, which are solely my own.

My Rating

5 Stars- Hits My Reading Sweet Spot ( And Won’t Let Go!)

 

About the Author

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the Christy Award-winning author of historical romances: A Tale of Two Hearts, MichelleGriep-242x300The Captured Bride, The Innkeeper’s Daughter, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, The Captive Heart, Brentwood’s Ward, A Heart Deceived, and Gallimore, but also leaped the historical fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan. If you’d like to keep up with her escapades, find her at http://www.michellegriep.com or stalk her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

 

 

More from Michelle

What comes to mind when you hear the word moor? For some, images of Jane Eyre spring to life. For others, The Hound of the Baskervilles starts barking. But for most, it’s a big fat goose egg. The fact is that most Americans don’t have a clue what a moor is, but never fear, my friend…after you read the next few paragraphs, you’ll never again go blank-minded when you hear the word moor.

 

Last summer I skipped across the pond and tromped around Dartmoor with my daughter and husband. What an awesome experience. I learned first-hand just how windy this vast stretch of land can be, for that’s really what a moor is at heart: a vast stretch of land. Webster’s defines it as an expanse of open rolling infertile land. Sounds rather desolate, eh? Yeah. Kind of. But it’s oh so much more.

 

In spring and summer, green does abound. Gorse bushes. Scrubby grasses. Lambs and sheep and goats. All these animals roam free so there are trails worn into the dirt that you can hike along. But I hear you…where could you possibly go if there’s nothing besides some farm animals roaming around the place?

 

You could hike to a tor, which is a “high, craggy hill.” Some of them can be a little treacherous to climb, but sweet mercy, what a view! The earth stretches out like a green and brown quilt. As I hiked that day last spring, whispers in the wind inspired me to wonder a lot of what-ifs, and those what-ifs came together in a story of intrigue and betrayal.

 

What would you do if you found a half-dead man bleeding in the middle of nowhere? Find out what heroine Maggie Lee does in The House at the End of the Moor.

 

 

Blog Stops

Batya’s Bits, April 18

The Avid Reader, April 18

Life of Literature, April 18

The Power of Words, April 18

For Him and My Family, April 19

Texas Book-aholic, April 19

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, April 19

Among the Reads, April 20

My Devotional Thoughts, April 20

As He Leads is Joy, April 20

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, April 20

Just the Write Escape, April 21

Reflections From My Bookshelves, April 21

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, April 21

Where Faith and Books Meet, April 22

deb’s Book Review, April 22

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, April 22

Inklings and notions, April 22

Remembrancy, April 23

Hookmeinabook, April 23

Christian Bookaholic, April 23

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, April 23

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, April 24

Britt Reads Fiction, April 24

Emily Yager, April 24

Betti Mace, April 25

Stories By Gina, April 25

Adventures of a Traveling Wife, April 25

Blossoms and Blessings, April 25

Splashes of Joy, April 26

Simple Harvest Reads, April 26 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Vicky Sluiter, April 26

Locks, Hooks and Books, April 26

Blessed & Bookish, April 27

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, April 27

Pause for Tales, April 27

Through the Fire Blogs, April 28

Hallie Reads, April 28

Faery Tales Are Real, April 28

To Everything There Is A Season, April 28

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, April 29

Bigreadersite, April 29

Older & Smarter?, April 29

Tell Tale Book Reviews, April 29

Genesis 5020, April 30

Read Review Rejoice, April 30

By The Book, April 30

For the Love of Literature, April 30

All-of-a-kind Mom, May 1

Bookishly Beverly, May 1

Daysong Reflections, May 1

Artistic Nobody, May 1 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

 Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Michelle is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a free 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/f8e2/the-house-at-the-end-of-the-moor-celebration-tour-giveaway

Barbour, BLOG, Favorite, NetGalley

From Sky to Sky, #2 No Less Days by Amanda G. Stevens

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About the Book

Title: From Sky to Sky

Series: No Less Days

Author: Amanda G. Stevens

Publisher: Barbour (Shiloh Run)

Released: February 2020

Genre: Speculative Fiction

Zac Wilson can’t die.

Daredevil Zac Wilson isn’t the first celebrity to keep a secret from the world, but his might be the most marvelous in history: Zac doesn’t age and injuries can’t kill him. What’s more, he’s part of a close-knit group of others just like him.

Holed up in Harbor Vale, Michigan, Zac meets two more of his kind who claim others in their circle have died. Are their lifetimes finally ending naturally, or is someone targeting them—a predator who knows what they are?

The answers Zac unearths present impossible dilemmas: whom to protect, how to seek justice, how to bring peace to turmoil. His next action could fracture forever the family he longs to unite. Now might be the time to ask for help. . . from God Himself. But Zac’s greatest fear is facing the God he has run from for more than a century.

 

My Review

“To Suspect your Own Mortality is to Know the Beginning of Terror; To Learn Irrefutably that you are mortal is to Know the End of Terror.” (Frank Herbert) Unfortunately, a small group of Amanda Steven’s speculative fiction characters has discovered they are not mortal and are beginning to understand that for a curse. They outlive spouses and children by a century. The few longevites, as they call themselves, cannot die, and life has become burdensome. From Sky to Sky is the story of Zac Wilson, acrobat, stuntman and people person who finds that facades are impossible to keep up. He also has been running from God for a long, long time. He needs help. And he has the strong need to help others. Betrayed in book one (No Less Days) by the person whom he was closest to, can Zac get close again to others? 

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While Stevens gives enough backstory, a reader could start with this book, it would be best to read book one first. It sets the tone for this story, plus the reader can understand David and Tiana, whose story was the lion’s share of that novel. I was slow to identify with these characters, but maybe when Zac’s worst weakness shows up, I was hooked. I needed to see if the new characters would be accepted into the original one. Would Zac find God again? David and Tiana exhibit so much patient faith in prayer. I love the way David and Tiana pray so comfortably, succinctly for Zac. When the longevites discover their new friends may have an enemy, by extension, they do, too. How do all these threads fit together? 

Sky to Sky 2


Fortunately, Stevens uses imagery and levity well and in just the right places. I enjoyed listening to the waves lap against the shores of Lake Michigan and feeling the sand beneath my feet with Zac and Simon, Rachel and Cady. By the time the story was ended, I felt like I was a part of the longevite family. There was so much growth in Zac, it was incredible. I can’t wait for the next story to see whose life we get to participate in. Marking this a sleeper favorite. 
I was given a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher and NetGalley. This in no way affects my opinions, which are solely my own. 

 

My Rating

5 Stars – Hits My Reading Sweet Spot and I can’t wait for more!

 

About the Author

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As a child, Amanda G. Stevens disparaged Mary Poppins and Stuart Little because they could never happen. Now she writes speculative fiction. She is the author of the No Less Days series and the Haven Seekers series, and her debut Seek and Hide was a 2015 INSPY Award finalist. She lives in Michigan and loves trade paperbacks, folk music, the Golden Era of Hollywood, and white cheddar popcorn.

Barbour, BLOG, NetGalley

The Blue Cloak: True Colors by Shannon McNear with Giveaway

About the Book

Book:  The Blue  Cloak

Author: Shannon McNear

Genre:  Christian Historical/Suspense 9781643523149-197x300

Release Date: March 2020

Evil Incarnate Leaves a Trail of Destruction across the Frontier

Book 5 in the True Colors series—Fiction Based on Strange-But True History

Rachel Taylor lives a rather mundane existence in 1797 at the way station her family runs along the Wilderness Road in Tennessee. She attends her friend Sally Rice’s wedding only to watch the marriage dissolve into horror has the groom, Wiley Harpe, and his cousin Micajah become murderers on the run, who drag their families along. Declaring a “war on all humanity,” the Harpes won’t be stopped, and Ben Langford is on their trail to see if his own cousin was one of their latest victims.

How many will die before peace can return to the frontier?

 

Click here for your copy.

My Review

“Today it”  (the wilderness ) ”held a definite air of menace.” While I’m quoting this line out of context, it could be said of the whole tone of The Blue Cloak by Shannon McNear. The latest in the True Colors: Historical Stories of True Crimes series, there is an ominous feeling of dread, if you, the reader, start reading not with chapter one, but with the words,  “Dear Reader.” 
Nine long months of terror seize the wilderness of Tennessee and Kentucky at the turn of the nineteenth century. Two brothers, Big and Little Harpe, with their three wives, prowl the beautiful countryside and turn it into a place of gruesome murders and fear, anxiety breathing down every settler’s neck. 

 

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Some phrases seemed so applicable to what our country is going through currently.  “It seemed, though, that the entire country held its breath, waiting, watching—.” 
I loved that McNear’s characters put a high value on prayer. This is mentioned many times throughout the unsettling narrative. I appreciated one such time as Rachel’s brother knows the business of the day needs to start,  “but I’m thinking we’ve a greater need to pray before you go any further on your journey.” 
How could a marriage that started with a few misgivings on the part of witnesses turn into a component of a horrible killing spree? What if one of those in the Harpe party wishes to escape? Rachel is sure her friend Sally had no idea of the fiend Little was when Sally and he wed. But can Rachel and her new friend Ben do anything to rescue a person that resists help? 
McNear is good to explain why she wrote this very intense novel, which can be hard to read at times. Much prayer and research went into this novel. I found the notes at the beginning most helpful. Is God indeed greater than man’s worst evil? Can God redeem even evil situations? (That is not to say there won’t be hurt from the terrible crimes.) So many questions brought to the forefront. 

Blue Cloak 1


Now, about the hero. Ben is so unselfish, wishing he could take his cousin’s place. Ben is closer to Thomas than his elder brother, as Ben’s uncle and aunt raised him after his parents died. Ben stays on the hunt for the Harpes for many months, motivated by love for his cousin, his uncle, and eventually Rachel. Ben also comes to understand that the social class distinctions of the East do not truly tell the mettle of a man. 
 “He already knew that the amount of a man’s coin did not necessarily correlate to the amount of wisdom he possessed, not gentility equate completely with pedigree.” 
I am amazed at both Ben and Rachel’s care for Sally. It took such gumption, courage, and incredible determination to even try to help her and the other wives. Yet, especially in Rachel’s mind, was the conviction that her friend was worth such loyalty. 
All in all, a good book, thoroughly researched, a real page-turner, but oh, so chilling! 
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and Celebrate Lit through NetGalley. This in no way influenced my opinions, which are solely my own. 

 

My Rating

5 Stars- Superior- Hits My Reading Sweet Spot When I Want a Chiller

 

 

About the Author

Transplanted to North Dakota after more than two decades in Charleston, South ShannonMcNear-219x300Carolina, Shannon McNear loves losing herself in local history. She’s a military wife, mom of eight, mother-in-law of three, grammie of two, and a member of ACFW and RWA. Her first novella, Defending Truth in A Pioneer Christmas Collection, was a 2014 RITA® finalist. When she’s not sewing, researching, or leaking story from her fingertips, she enjoys being outdoors, basking in the beauty of the northern prairies. Connect with her at www.shannonmcnear.com, or on Facebook and Goodreads.

 

More from Shannon

How dark is too dark for a Christian to write?

That was the question I wrestled with when deciding whether or not to take on the story of the Harpes. The histories in Scripture itself aren’t rated G, but writing fiction requires a level of detail and depth of emotion I wasn’t sure would be wise, or helpful, to explore in this case. But as I prayed and sought the counsel of those whose discernment I trust, the answer came back, overwhelmingly …

Is God stronger than the darkness, or not?

Well, of course He is. And nothing in human history has ever escaped His notice, or taken Him by surprise.

So, was there something redeeming to be found in the tale of the Harpes?

For the first few weeks of research, I walked around in a state of shock at the horror of the historical accounts, but details surfaced that helped me shape my fictional characters Rachel and Ben. With Rachel working in her family’s trading post near the wild frontier town of Knoxville, Tennessee, and Ben a lawyer who recently passed the bar, the real-life Hugh Lawson White provided a handy connection point between them. Many other details fell together in ways I had not foreseen when I began developing the story. Sally Rice Harpe, however, rose to the forefront. This was more her story than anyone’s, but realizing I couldn’t properly write the book without using her point of view? That was scary. I knew the moments I’d have to visit, some of them in real-time.

Despite the tragedy, however, I could see an overarching story of spiritual warfare. Felt a growing conviction that prayer must have played a vital role in bringing the Harpes’ reign of terror to an end. So it is my hope that against the backdrop of one of the most chilling episodes of our country’s early history, the hand of God shows clearly, and that yes, the reader finds it redemptive.

Blog Stops

Just the Write Escape, March 24

Texas Book-aholic, March 24

Inklings and notions, March 25

Girls in White Dresses, March 25

Emily Yager, March 25

Godly Book Reviews, March 26

Genesis 5020, March 26

Remembrancy, March 26

Among the Reads, March 27

Through the Fire Blogs, March 27

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, March 28

Christian Bookaholic, March 28

Inside the Wong Mind, March 28

For the Love of Literature, March 29

For Him and My Family, March 29

Betti Mace, March 30

Older & Smarter?, March 30

deb’s Book Review, March 30

Robin’s Nest, March 31

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, March 31

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, April 1

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, April 1

Stories By Gina, April 1

By The Book, April 2

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, April 2

Blossoms and Blessings, April 2

A Reader’s Brain, April 3

Connie’s History Classroom, April 3

Artistic Nobody, April 3 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Tell Tale Book Reviews, April 4

Back Porch Reads, April 4

Daysong Reflections, April 4

Locks, Hooks and Books, April 5

Pause for Tales, April 5

Britt Reads Fiction, April 5

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, April 6

Hallie Reads, April 6

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, April 6

Giveaway 

To celebrate her tour, Shannon is giving away the grand prize package of a copy of The Blue Cloak and a $25 Amazon 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/f7a3/the-blue-cloak-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

Barbour, BLOG, NetGalley

The Blizzard Bride, #11 the Mayflower Brides by Susanne Dietze

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About the Book

Title: The Blizzard Bride

Series: The Mayflower Brides, #11

Author: Susanne Dietze

Publisher: Barbour

Released: February 2020

A Blizzard Changes Everything

Abigail Bracey arrives in Nebraska in January 1888 to teach school…and to execute a task for the government: to identify a student as the hidden son of a murderous counterfeiter—the man who killed her father.

Agent Dashiell Lassiter doesn’t want his childhood sweetheart Abby on this dangerous job, especially when he learns the counterfeiter is now searching for his son, too, and he’ll destroy anyone in his way. Now Dash must follow Abby to Nebraska to protect her…if she’ll let him within two feet of her. She’s still angry he didn’t fight to marry her six years ago, and he never told her the real reason he left her.

All Dash wants is to protect Abby, but when a horrifying blizzard sweeps over them, can Abby and Dash set aside the pain from their pasts and work together to catch a counterfeiter and protect his son—if they survive the storm?

My Review

Susanne Dietze pens a worthy addition to the Mayflower Brides series with her title, The Blizzard Bride. Hoping against hope for snow this year, the title appealed to me, as I love the cold ferocity of a blizzard (as long as my family is all safely ensconced at home with me).
Set in the open plains of Nebraska in 1887, Abigail Bracey agrees to help the Secret Service by posing as a school teacher while looking for a missing boy and a counterfeiter. That might have been simple if the operative assigned the case were not Dash Lassiter, who left her six years ago amid their dreams for a wedding.
Abby has a lot of courage and spunk, but she also needs to learn to rely on others and the Lord. Life’s difficulties have taught her to reject getting too close to people, and to trust only herself.
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Dash has been cut to the core by people’s mean assessment of his lack. I found myself wondering whether Abby would truly be able to see beyond these deficiencies or whether she would reject Dash for good. Then, the big question, can Dash see himself as a person of worth in God’s eyes, or will he forever believe his inability equals personal failure?
Themes in The Blizzard Bride include questions of unanswered prayers and why we suffer for others’ sins. We also see lessons of forgiveness, fairness, the spirit of love (& spunk) fostered by forgiveness.
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I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley. This in no way affects my opinions, for which I am solely responsible.
My Rating
5 Stars- Hit My Reading Sweet Spot

About the Author

Susanne Dietze began writing love stories in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she’s the award-winning, RITA®-nominated author of several romances who’s seen her work on the Publisher’s Weekly, ECPA, and Amazon Bestseller Lists for Inspirational Fiction. Married to a pastor and the mom of two, Susanne lives in California and loves fancy-schmancy tea parties, the beach, and curling up on the couch with a costume drama and a plate of nachos. You can visit her on her website, www.susannedietze.com. 13657688

Barbour, BLOG, NetGalley

The Gray Chamber by Grace Hitchcock

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About the Book

Title: The Gray Chamber

Series: True Colors: Historical Stories of American Crimes

Author: Grace Hitchcock

Publisher: Barbour

Released: January 2020

Step into True Colors — a new series of Historical Stories of Romance and American Crime

Will Edyth prove her sanity before it is too late?

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

With her late father’s 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. Do any of Edyth’s friends care that she disappeared?

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?

 

My Review

Grace Hitchcock’s The Gray Chamber would probably win my “Sleeper of the Year” award. (And, yes, I know it’s only January.) I thought this book would be fun and interesting. I did not bargain for a love in danger of being lost nor a trip to Blackwell’s Island, infamous in its time for housing “insane” women. This series of historical American crimes gives a fictional façade to journalist Nellie Bly’s visit to the island. 

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At first, we are immersed in an enjoyable turn-of-the-century account of Edyth and fencing master Raoul Banebridge. Edyth is dying to have her best friend Raoul “Bane” notice her as a woman, but her eccentricities seem to block his view. When finally, he begins to see Edyth for the woman she is, her eccentricities have enabled other shocking developments. 
This book is the stuff my nightmares are made of. It made perfect sense, and I could visualize it all happening. The evil mankind can perpetrate on another, made in the image of the same God!! My only hope as I read with elevated blood pressure and eyes scurrying over the pages was for a happy ending. Certainly, a chiller. However, as I think more about it, I can think of the Great Shepherd going after that one lost sheep, as well. The ultimate love that conquers hate. 

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Having read Hitchcock’s previous novel in this collection, The White City, I was pleased to meet Jude Law again. I always like it when novelists include fun tie-ins like this to their other works. 
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. This in no way influences my opinions, which are my own. 

My Rating

5 Stars- Hits My Reading Sweet Spot

About the Author

Grace Hitchcock is the author of The White City and The Gray Chamber from Barbour 16145482Publishing. She has written multiple novellas in The Second Chance Brides, The Southern Belle Brides, and the Thimbles and Threads collections 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.

 

 

 

 

Barbour, BLOG, NetGalley

The Rebel Bride, #10 Daughters of the Mayflower by Shannon McNear

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About the Book

Title: The Rebel Bride

Series: The Daughters of the Mayflower

Author: Shannon McNear

Publisher: Barbour

Released: December 2019

During the clash between Union and Confederacy, quiet Tennessean Pearl MacFarlane is compelled to nurse both Rebel and Yankee wounded who seek refuge at her family’s farm. She is determined to remain unmoved by the Yankee cause—until she faces the silent struggle of Union soldier Joshua Wheeler, a recent amputee. The MacFarlane family fits no stereotype Joshua believed in; still, he is desperate to regain his footing—as a soldier, as a man, as a Christian—in the aftermath of his debilitating injury. He will use his time behind enemy lines to gather useful intelligence for the Union—if the courageous Rebel woman will stay out of the line of danger.

Join the adventure as the Daughters of the Mayflower series continues with The Rebel Bride by Shannon McNear.

More in the Daughters of the Mayflower series:
The Mayflower Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1620 Atlantic Ocean (February 2018)
The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo – set 1725 New Orleans (April 2018)
The Captured Bride by Michelle Griep – set 1760 during the French and Indian War (June 2018)
The Patriot Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1774 Philadelphia (August 2018)
The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear – set 1794 on the Wilderness Road (October 2018)
The Liberty Bride by MaryLu Tyndall – set 1814 Baltimore (December 2018)
The Alamo Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo – set 1836 Texas (February 2019)
The Golden Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1849 San Francisco (April 2019)
The Express Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1860 Utah (July 2019)
The Rebel Bride by Shannon McNear – set 1863 Tennessee (December 2019)
The Blizzard Bride by Susanne Dietze – set 1888 Nebraska (February 2020)
The Chisholm Trail Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo – (April 2020)

My Review

I was really looking forward to this book after reading an earlier Daughters of the Mayflower novel by Shannon McNear. While her previous book brought to mind authors such as Laura Frantz, Michelle Griep, or Jocelyn Green; The Rebel Bride fights for its place in a full field of Civil War novels. It alternately is compelling and then more of a textbook. The first sign of struggle is when the author, Shannon McNear, pens a very cautious “note from the author.” While I was impressed McNear wants me to follow her way of thinking, I did not feel she came across as confident in her ability to convince me.

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The storyline itself was sound and seemed at times strong, at other times weaker. A Sergeant from the Union Army, Joshua Wheeler, has had an arm amputated. He finds himself and several other very ill, POW Union soldiers billeted in a humble house in Georgia, following the Battle of Chickamauga. Pearl McFarlane, on the other hand, is the one pressed into caring for these grievously ill enemies. Can she handle the events God allows into her life around this time?
I liked the secondary characters that McNear factored into the story.
A father who is progressing through dementia; a wandering, curiously absent brother when work needs doing; and a shunned sister-in-law.
There were times the narrative shone, but it just didn’t flow smoothly, consistently, as I would have liked.

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The author’s ending note was quite long and a little off-putting because of said length. In retrospect, I believe there may have been too much information the author wanted to share, and the pressure of that came across in the written page. Please remember this is only my opinion and others, including yourself, may see the book quite differently.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley, which in no way influenced my opinions.

My Rating

4 Stars – Excellent – I Would Recommend This Book.

About the Author

6880909Shannon has been writing one thing or another since third grade and finished her first novel at age fifteen—but waited more than thirty years for her first book contract. In the meantime, she graduated from high school, attended college, met and married her husband, birthed nine children, lost one, taught five to drive, revised that first story innumerable times, and completed six others.

Her first published novella, Defending Truth, in A Pioneer Christmas Collection (Barbour, 2013 & 2015), was a 2014 RITA® nominee. She writes regularly for Colonial Quills, is a member of ACFW and RWA, and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.

Transplanted to North Dakota after more than two decades in Charleston, South Carolina, she loves losing herself in local history. When this homeschooling mom isn’t sewing, researching, or leaking story from her fingertips, she enjoys being outdoors, basking in the beauty of the northern prairies.

Connect with Shannon online at https://www.shannonmcnear.com/ or on Twitter @ShannonMcNear.

 

 

 

Barbour, BLOG

The Express Bride, #9 Daughters of the Mayflower by Kimberley Woodhouse

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About the Book

Title: The Express Bride

Series: The Daughters of the Mayflower

Author: Kimberley Woodhouse

Publisher: Barbour

Released: July 2019

The Wilderness Is a Great Place to Hide

Jacqueline Rivers manages a Pony Express station in 1860 Utah territory after her father’s death. There are daily stresses placed on her in this unconventional role—and now a government official is asking her to sniff out counterfeiters. When Elijah Johnson passes through on the stage while on an exhausting quest to find his boss’s heir, he doesn’t want to leave the beguiling station manager. In fact, he may never leave when caught in the crossfire of the territory’s criminal activities. Jackie can’t decide if Elijah is friend or foe. Can she remain strong when secrets of the past and present are finally unearthed?

Join the adventure as the Daughters of the Mayflower series continues with The Express Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse.

More in the Daughters of the Mayflower series:
The Mayflower Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1620 Atlantic Ocean (February 2018)
The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo – set 1725 New Orleans (April 2018)
The Captured Bride by Michelle Griep – set 1760 during the French and Indian War (June 2018)
The Patriot Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1774 Philadelphia (August 2018)
The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear – set 1794 on the Wilderness Road (October 2018)
The Liberty Bride by MaryLu Tyndall – set 1814 Baltimore (December 2018)
The Alamo Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo – set 1836 Texas (February 2019)
The Golden Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1849 San Francisco (April 2019)
The Express Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1860 Utah (July 2019)
The Rebel Bride by Shannon McNear – set 1863 Tennessee (December 2019)
The Blizzard Bride by Susanne Dietze – set 1888 Nebraska (February 2020)
The Chisholm Trail Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo – (April 2020)

My Review

The Express Bride, # 9 Daughters of the Mayflower by Kimberley Woodhouse, is yet another slice of life in American history and women’s roles in it. This era, lasting only a year and a half, was nevertheless a very important part of our country’s history.

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Woodhouse incorporates an engrossing story of a millionaire seeking a long- lost family with that of a female express station operator. The story flows smoothly, employing romance, faith, and mystery as it serves a memorable history lesson on this time long past. I especially loved the mystery thread.
Well- done, Ms. Woodhouse!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley. This in no way affects my opinion for which I am solely responsible.

My Rating

5 Stars – Superior – Hits My Reading Sweet Spot

About the Author

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Kimberley Woodhouse is the best-selling author of more than twenty books who loves the JOY of story. A lover of history and research, she often gets sucked into the past and then her husband has to lure her out with chocolate. She’s spoken to more than 800,000 people at more than 2,000 venues and has taught the craft of writing around the country. Married to the love of her life for twenty-five plus years, she makes her home in Montana. You can connect with Kimberley at: www.kimberleywoodhouse.com www.facebook.com/KimberleyWoodhouseAu…

Barbour, BLOG, Favorite

Once Upon a Dickens Christmas: 3 Charming Christmas Tales Set in Victorian England by Michelle Griep

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About the Book

Title: Once Upon a Dickens Christmas: 3 Charming Christmas Tales Set in Victorian England

Author: Michelle Griep

Publisher: Shiloh Run Press

Released: September 2019

Pour yourself a cuppa, get lost in the merriment of the season, and enjoy a Dickensian Christmas in three stories from fan-favorite Michelle Griep:

12 Days a Bleakly Manor: Brought together under mysterious circumstances, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters. What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.

A Tale of Two Hearts: Pleasure seeker William Barlow needs a wife immediately to gain his uncle’s inheritance, and Mina Scott is just the girl to make him look respectable—too bad she turns him down. Ought he give her a second chance?

The Old Lace Shop: Recently widowed Bella White is finally freed from the domination of the overbearing men in her life, but when she enters into a business partnership with the handsome Edmund Archer, she begins to wonder if marriage is worth a second chance.

My Review

A “second chance coin” and something that reminds me of “six degrees of separation ” from Charles Dickens threads itself through these three, lovely Yuletide novellas. Two have already been published (but a truly good story is always worth a re-read), while the third is brand-new.
I enjoyed reviewing The Twelve Days at Bleakly Manor. It brings our first couple together, Clara and Ben. 

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This novella was the recipient of the 2018 Christy award. My quote here?
“If you knew all the answers, there’d be no need for trust, little one.”
Next was one of my favorites, The Tale Of Two Hearts. It is the story of scoundrel William Barlow who pretends to be married to serving maid Mina Scott, in order to inherit. Oh, how I loved the characters in this one! Mina sure can stand up for herself! And the descriptive quotes:
“His face was a road map of years.”
“He wore his wrinkles like a garment, the deep creases on his
face in sore need of ironing.”
Indeed, Griep speaks Dickensian quite fluently.
“… real joy is not found in the best moments of life, but in trusting that God is making the best of every moment.”
“Maybe, perhaps, true meaning in life had nothing to do with outward trappings but with inward genuineness.”

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The Old Lace Shop brings us, Edmund and Bella, thrust together as unwilling business partners. I loved the mystery on a couple of different levels, and the wisdom both Bella and Edmund show.
Quotes:
“The two are as thick as scabs on a pox victim.”(Try picturing that one!)
“Either your faith will move mountains or your doubt will create them.”
This next sentence reminds us that even those without the “usual” gifts others have, may have a greater gift, the gift of joy. “How I wish I could bottle up the child’s laughter and carry it around with me, opening it now and then for a draught of joy when needed.” How true!
I received this complimentary book from the author and publisher. No positive review was required and all opinions are my own.

My Rating

golden-stargolden-stargolden-stargolden-stargolden-star

 

About the Author

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I hear voices. Loud. Incessant. And very real. Which basically gives me two options: choke back massive amounts of Prozac or write fiction. I chose the latter. Way cheaper. I’ve been writing since I discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. I seek to glorify God in all that I write…except for that graffiti phase I went through as a teenager. Oops. Did I say that out loud?

connect with Michelle here: https://www.goodreads.com/michellegriep