BLOG, Favorite, Lyrical Underground, NetGalley

Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass, #1 An Exotic Pet-Sitter Mystery by Heather Gilbert

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ABOUT THE BOOK

TITLE: Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass, #1 An Exotic Pet-Sitter Mystery

AUTHOR: Heather Gilbert

PUBLISHER: Kensington/Lyrical Underground

RELEASED: June 25, 2019

When exotic pet-sitter Belinda Blake moves into a carriage house in tony Greenwich, Connecticut, she’s hoping to find some new clients. Instead she discovers a corpse in the garden—and a knack for solving murders . . .  
 
Pet-sitter Belinda Blake doesn’t rattle easily, but move-in day has been eventful, to say the least. The python in her care tried to slither to freedom—just as she met Stone Carrington V, her landlords’ disarmingly handsome son. With the constrictor back in its cage, she heads out to the garden, only to discover a designer shoe poking out of the boxwood hedge—attached to a woman’s dead body.

The victim, Margo Fenton, was a Carrington family friend, and no one in their circle seems above suspicion. Between client trips to Manhattan and visits to her family in upstate New York, Belinda begins to put the pieces together. But though she’s falling for Stone’s numerous charms, Belinda wonders if she’s cozying up to a killer. And soon, daily contact with a deadly reptile might be the least dangerous part of her life . . .

MY REVIEW

I love cozies. Cozies that meet the original definition as near as I can tell can be hard to come by, but Heather Gilbert’s newest had me smiling. Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass by Gilbert is a new favorite in this category. I don’t know that Greenwich is considered a “small town,” but the setting of a carriage house on the grounds of a mansion worked. The main character is an exotic pet-sitter. So no kittens or dogs. In this case, the snake Belinda is caring for plays an important role. Quirky characters? At least one, and Belinda is a little out-of-the-ordinary herself. Her other job is to review video games. How can she then hold Stone accountable for having a real job?
But what I especially liked was the fact there was no bad language nor scenes I was ashamed to read. Sure, there is hanky-panky somewhere behind the scenes. But if there were not, would there be any enemies or deaths?

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This was just a fun(when not scary) cozy. The action really started to snowball faster than I had expected, and a great tension ensues as Belinda searches for the killer before the killer finds her. I was surprised at the outcome. Also, forbidden romances add romantic tension and puzzle to the novel as well. I truly enjoyed this offering and I can’t wait to see what Belinda is up to in the next book, A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing.
Fave quotes:
“My mom would tell me to embrace myself and stop trying to be someone I’m not…’Why fit in when you can stand out?’ she’d say.”
“I extended my foot and gave his leg a little nudge with the toe of my Doc Martins, a reminder that we’d come for more than just drinks and lies.”

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“When money’s your god, everything else is a poor substitute.”
“…there were so many mixed signals coming from Stone, he could be a drunk referee.”
“Sometimes one forgot things when one was flying by the seat of one’s pants.”
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and NetGalley. This in no way affects my opinions for which I am solely responsible.

MY RATING

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

HEATHER DAY GILBERT, an ECPA Christy award finalist and Grace award winner, writes contemporary mysteries and Viking historicals. Her novels feature small towns, family relationships, and women who aren’t afraid to protect those they love. Publisher’s 7232683Weekly gave Heather’s Viking historical Forest Child a starred review, saying it is “an engaging story depicting timeless human struggles with faith, love, loyalty, and leadership.”

Find Heather on Pinterest (heatherdgilbert), Instagram (@heatherdaygilbert), Twitter (@heatherdgilbert), and Facebook (heatherdaygilbert). You can find all her books at heatherdaygilbert.com.

 

 

BLOG, Favorite, Pre-purchased through author.

Anointest My Head with Oil, #16 Psalm 23 Mysteries by Debbie Viguie

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ABOUT THE BOOK

TITLE: Anointest My Head with Oil

SERIES: The Psalm 23 Mysteries

PUBLISHER: Big Pink Bow

RELEASED: June 25, 2019, Kindle ed.

When an arsonist targets synagogues Jeremiah and Cindy must race to find him before he strikes again.

MY REVIEW

At long last. Book #16, of the Psalm 23 series by Debbie Viguié, Anointest My Head with Oil, is finally here.
First, we start with a smile. That’s because the first sentence of every book is very similar, changing only the character, day of the week, and his/her feeling toward it. So, for the first and only minute of the novel, the reader has a moment of calm before the hurricanes of action set in. I have called them hurricanes for a reason. Just as one tragedy or terror is resolved or survived, there is a short moment of rejoicing and romance and another dervish of frenetic action is set in motion. This particular volume holds the key to some mysteries locked beforehand, but also opens new possibilities and new fears.

Don’t miss Debbie Viguié’s latest Psalm 23 Mystery, Anointest My Head With Oil! Fun, Romance, and Terror in Every Chapter!
If you like Christy Barritt, you will love Debbie Viguié. Snarky, quick wit; hot, clean romance; a loyal group of friends; and intense suspense. These qualities make Anointest My Head…and the whole series one not to be missed.
Oh, yes. I read this in one sitting. Just necessary. Be warned.

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While I purchased the book directly from the author, this does not reflect in my opinions, which are solely my own.

MY RATING

golden-stargolden-stargolden-stargolden-stargolden-star

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Debbie Viguié is the New York Times Bestselling author of more than three dozen novels including the Wicked series co-authored with Nancy Holder. In addition to her epic dark fantasy work, Debbie also writes thrillers including The Psalm 23 Mysteries, the Kiss trilogy, and the Witch Hunt trilogy. Debbie also plays a recurring character on the audio drama, Doctor Geek’s Laboratory. When Debbie isn’t busy writing or acting she enjoys spending time with her husband, Scott, visiting theme parks. 174708

 

 

Bethany House, BLOG, Favorite, NetGalley

Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes

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ABOUT THE BOOK

TITLE: Whose Waves These Are

AUTHOR: Amanda Dykes

PUBLISHER: Bethany House

DATE RELEASED: April 2019

GENRE: Christian Historical Romance

In the wake of WWII, a grieving fisherman submits a poem to a local newspaper asking readers to send rocks in honor of loved ones to create something life-giving but the building halts when tragedy strikes. Decades later, Annie returns to the coastal Maine town where stone ruins spark her curiosity and her search for answers faces a battle against time.

Click here to purchase your copy.

My Review

“Every wave in that big old blue sea is a story.” With these words, young Annie’s great-uncle finds a way to unlock some of her fears and turn them into something beautiful. But when she returns to Ansel-by-the-Sea as an adult, will she have the key she needs to unlock her adult fears and turn them to confident love and purpose?
Amanda Dykes may be a name I had never heard before, but by penning Whose Waves These Are she is rapidly garnering attention in the Christian fiction world. I predict this novel will win an award for a debut novel in 2019.
A time-slip book, the reader is tossed like the sea between young Annie as she grows up, a mature Annie of the present, and a young Robert Bliss whose twin is drafted in 1944.
Annie is a great heroine. One can’t help but root for her as she returns to look for her great-uncle. Will she grow enough to fit in and find her place in this seashore town? The pieces to this puzzle are more numerous than I expected and definitely include Annie’s parents. A story like this, told chronologically, would have been interesting. By creating a time-slip out of it, and adding the unexpected twists, Dykes produces a work nothing short of amazing!
Some favorite quotes:
The first and most important to me-
“Life is big. And God is bigger.”
“You’re a good man. Let me try to be one, too.”
“He wasn’t the oldest, but they both knew he was the one who had the fury of a nor’easter inside him, a fury he could use to fight.”
“She imagines people as combination locks, each bit of information a tick on the dial as she works to build up their story in her mind, to unlock them.”
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“…if everything around you is broken, it’s time to unbreak something.”
When Annie is trying to figure out her purpose:
“‘The microbes,’ he says, ‘only have a single cell. And they use it to capture sunlight all day— their sole purpose. At night, when danger comes, …they don’t run. They don’t shrivel up or hide. They release the sunlight they’ve been storing up, right into the darkness. They fight it back by lighting up.’”
Expect a small town, big hearts, sweet romances, tragedy, and miracles. Expect a blessing in this book.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This in no way affects my opinions, which are solely my own.
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My Rating

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About the Author 517ufoFnplL._US230_

Amanda Dykes is the author of Bespoke: A Tiny Christmas Tale, the critically-acclaimed bicycle story that invited readers together to fund bicycles for missionaries in Asia. A former English teacher, she has a soft spot for classic literature and happy endings. She is a drinker of tea, a dweller of Truth, and a spinner of hope-filled tales, grateful for the grace of a God who loves extravagantly.

 

 

 

 

Barbour, BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Favorite, NetGalley

The Noble Guardian by Michelle Griep- on Tour with Celebrate Lit and Including a Giveaway!

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About the Book

Book: The Noble Guardian

Author: Michelle Griep

Genre: Christian Historical

Release date: June, 2019

A Cross-Country Trip through Regency England Brings Intrigue, Rogues, and High Adventure

The must-read conclusion to Michelle Griep’s Bow Street Runners Trilogy: Life couldn’t be better for Abigail Gilbert—but it’s been a long time in coming. Having lived with a family who hated her, it’s finally her time for love. Abby sets off on a journey across England to marry one of the most prestigious gentlemen in the land—until highwaymen upset her plans and threaten her life.

Horse patrol captain Samuel Thatcher arrives just in time to save Abby. But she’s simply another victim in a job he’s come to despise. Tired of the dark side of humanity, he intends to buy land and retire.

Abby pleads with him to escort her for the rest of her journey. He refuses—until she offers him something he desperately needs to achieve his goal. . .money. Delivering her safely will give him more than enough to buy property.

So begins an impossible trek for the cynical lawman and the proper lady. Each will be indelibly changed by the time they reach her betrothed, if they don’t kill one another first—or fall in love.

Click here to purchase your copy!

My Review

The Noble Guardian had me at the author’s name, “Michelle Griep.” I admit I sign up for any book she writes, plus I preorder the paperback copy. And if I haven’t read the synopsis first, no harm done. It IS Michelle Griep, read “you’re gonna love it” in my language.
Taking place in England in 1815, The Noble Guardian is, alas, the last of The Bow Street Runners Series. I loved the idea of danger from the dreaded outlaws, in some small way comparable to America’s “wild west.” The idea of a stagecoach being pulled at full gallop over the empty heath, a knowledgeable scout/protector riding ahead, DREAD being the constant companion in every coach on every trip.
Then, mix in the romance, slowly at first, like flour going into a cake, little by little coming to full flavor when all the right ingredients are finally present. (Excuse me while I stop and swoon here, the hero is just perfect for his role! The cover artist helps with that fact, too, giving just the right appearance to Samuel Thatcher. He is a lawman who is bone-weary of the very wickedness he tracks in his job. Thatcher wants only to retire to a nice, safe farm, but fortunately for poor Abby, duty is stronger than the desire for comfort.
This novel kept my attention from start to finish. I smiled to see references to characters from former books of the series. Yet, it is not imperative to read the other books to understand this one.
Griep likes to encourage the reader to build up her old English vocabulary, well-setting the tone. I did find Google to be a good friend as a few words and concepts like “truncheon” and the “putrid throat” got me curious exactly what they might be. Griep does include a glossary at the end to discuss some English historical references for those of us unversed in English history.
Learning to trust God to care for those we love, and to find our ultimate value in God are some of the themes.

“You say you’re on your way to happiness, when all along it’s been right under yer very nose. The truth is, ye are wanted, by the Creator of the stars, no less. Ye don’t have to run across the country to find love .png
Funny quotes, amazingly descriptive quotes, and quotes to live by are all planted within this wonderful book.
Here are a few of my favorites:
“God had provided the captain at just the right time today. Surely he would continue to provide tomorrow.” This is a concept I am currently utilizing to encourage both young children and young adults as well as myself. If we can memorialize God’s past faithfulness, we can have faith the next time as we wait for Him to act.
“…he stockpiled regrets as avidly as some men collected fine paintings.”
“You say you’re on your way to happiness when all along it’s been right under yer very nose. The truth is, ye are wanted, by the Creator of the stars, no less. Ye don’t have to run across the country to find love when every minute of every day it’s being offered to ye in God’s wide, open arms.”

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“Until ye’re fully satisfied with the love God gives ye, freely and without question, ye’ll not be satisfied at all.”
“Houses leaned one against the other, like drunken sailors holding each other upright. If one fell, the rest would lie down and never get up again.”
I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley. I also bought my own copy. The complimentary copy did not influence my opinions, which
are solely my own.

My Rating

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About the Author

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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, The 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

Highwaymen Aren’t All Glamorous

Highwaymen are often romanticized in historical romances, but the truth is these fella’s were generally not compassionate thieves at all. They were cutthroat robbers who sometimes killed. Here’s a brief history so that you’re in the know.

The term “highwayman” simply means a thief who steals—usually at gunpoint—from travelers on the road. Not all, but some of those attacks turned deadly, the robbers not wishing to leave anyone behind who could identify them. Others wore masks for the same purpose.

Long, deserted stretches of roads that were main thoroughfares were the particular favorite haunts of these men. Criminals would choose remote highways that supplied regular traffic going to and from major destinations, such as Hounslow Heath, about fifteen miles outside of London.

To combat these villains, in 1805 the Bow Street Horse Patrol was created. There were about sixty men hired to protect travelers on the principal roads within sixty miles of London. Most of the men had served previously in a cavalry regiment. Their most successful achievement was to rid Hounslow Heath of highwaymen.

And that’s where I got the idea for my hero, Samuel Thatcher, in The Noble Guardian. He’s a rough and tumble man who’s tired of life and the wickedness of man. Mostly he’s just biding his time until he retires—that is until he rescues Miss Abigail Gilbert from the clutches of one of the worst offenders of all…Shankhart Robbins.

Sound like an adventure? It is. Settle back with your own copy and see what it’s like to ride the rugged heath in a carriage, bounding along—until you hear the crack of a pistol.

Enjoy!

Blog Stops

Fiction Aficionado, June 8

The Power of Words, June 8

Ashley’s Bookshelf, June 8

Inspiration Clothesline, June 9

With a Joyful Noise, June 9

Locks, Hooks and Books, June 9

Back Porch Reads, June 10

Among the Reads, June 10

Captive Dreams Window, June 10

Genesis 5020, June 11

Inklings and notions, June 11

Blogging With Carol, June 11

The Christian Fiction Girl, June 12

As He Leads is Joy, June 12

Connie’s History Classroom, June 12

Carpe Diem, June 13

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, June 13

Abba’s prayer Warrior Princess, June 13

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, June 14

Wishful Endings, June 14

Stories By Gina, June 14

Through the Fire Blogs, June 15

Just the Write Escape, June 15

Blossoms and Blessings, June 15

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 16

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, June 16

Texas Book-aholic, June 16

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, June 17

For Him and My Family, June 17

Hallie Reads, June 17

Stories Where Hope and Quirky Meet, June 18

janicesbookreviews, June 18

Moments, June 18

Bigreadersite, June 19

Godly Book Reviews, June 19

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, June 19

Tell Tale Book Reviews, June 20

Remembrancy, June 20

Daysong Reflections, June 20

A Reader’s Brain, June 20

All-of-a-kind Mom, June 21

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 21

Pause for Tales, June 21

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Michelle is giving away a grand prize that includes a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of The Noble Guardian!!

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/e31b/the-noble-guardian-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

Barbour, BLOG, Favorite, NetGalley

The Golden Bride, #8 The Daughters of the Mayflower Series by Kimberly Woodhouse

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About the Book 

Title: The Golden Bride (#8 DoM)

Series: The Daughters of the Mayflower

Author: Kimberly Woodhouse

Publisher: Barbour

Released: April 1, 2019

Can Olivia survive the crime and Gold Rush fever of 1849…and the countless marriage proposals?
A series for fans of all things related to history, romance, adventure, faith, and family trees.

The Daughters of the Mayflower series continues when Olivia Brighton finds herself widowed and working her brother’s restaurant in San Francisco during the height of the rush for gold. Even though she receives at least twenty marriage proposals a day, she will never marry a gold miner. Her brother’s friend Joseph Sawyer has gotten caught up in local politics and the plight of Chinese in forced labor. The more Joseph gets pulled into investigating crime in the city, the less Olivia sees of the compassionate man. And just when she thinks she could love again, a fire threatens to steal all hope.

Click here to purchase the book!

My Review

At last! Kimberly Woodhouse strikes gold with this volume. My emotions were greatly moved by The Golden Bride by Woodhouse! A clear picture of the smutty town of San Francisco during the gold rush emerges from the pages of The Golden Bride, # 8 The Daughters of the Mayflower, crafted by Kimberly Woodhouse. This is Ms. Woodhouse’s finest offering to the series yet. While each book stands alone, Ms. Woodhouse ties the other two books of the series she authored to this by some special objects that change Olivia’s attitude towards her life. Also, I was very impressed by the way I was drawn into the narrative while consuming history. This time, the time period presented seamlessly melded with the beauty of the romantic, yet tragic story being revealed.
How many times have we repeated about someone, “He’ll never change”? Yet, The Golden Bride is a great example of less-than-wonderful people who decide to follow God, and who then find themselves walking a different path.
I loved the way Olivia refused to be forced into society’s mold but instead chose to see people through God’s eyes. So often we as Christians are afraid to be different from the world, then we wonder why the world doesn’t want our God.
A reminder we should be careful not to judge each other, but instead be encouragers:
“We’re all sinners, Olivia. All of us. We all struggle. But your brother told me when I first came to town to exhort one another. We’re all going to feel beaten down at some point and we’re all going to lose our confidence. It’s our job to help each other through the muck and mire.”
Evil in San Francisco was like an iceberg; while a great deal was visible, yet a huge, majority of it lay unseen beneath the surface.
A quote as true today as it was in 1849:

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“People are afraid to stick their noses where they don’t belong, and so evil facts face no resistance.”
A great book crafted by Kimberly Woodhouse, I received a complimentary copy from the publisher through NetGalley. 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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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.comwww.facebook.com/KimberleyWoodhouseAu…

Favorite, Waterbrook-Multnomah

The King’s Mercy by Lori Benton

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About the Book

Title: The King’s Mercy

Author: Lori Benton

Publisher: Waterbrook-Multnomah

To be Released: June 4, 2019

For readers of Sara Donati and Diana Gabaldon, this epic historical romance tells of fateful love between an indentured Scotsman and a daughter of the 18th-century colonial south.

When captured rebel Scotsman Alex MacKinnon is granted the king’s mercy–exile to the Colony of North Carolina–he’s indentured to Englishman Edmund Carey as a blacksmith. Against his will, Alex is drawn into the struggles of Carey’s slaves–and those of his stepdaughter, Joanna Carey. A mistress with a servant’s heart, Joanna is expected to wed her father’s overseer, Phineas Reeves, but finds herself drawn instead to the new blacksmith. As their unlikely relationship deepens, successive tragedies strike the Careys. When blame falls unfairly upon Alex he flees to the distant mountains where he encounters Reverend Pauling, itinerate preacher and friend of the Careys, now a prisoner of the Cherokees. Haunted by his abandoning of Joanna, Alex tries to settle into life with the Cherokees, until circumstances thwart yet another attempt to forge his freedom and he’s faced with the choice that’s long hounded him: continue down his rebellious path or embrace the faith of a man like Pauling, whose freedom in Christ no man can steal. But the price of such mercy is total surrender, and perhaps Alex’s very life.

My Review:

Lori Benton is an unknown author to me before now. Now I know why she is a favorite of many, and her new book, The King’s Mercy, is so greatly anticipated. Scheduled for release on June 4, (2019), I obtained an ARC through Waterbrook-Multnomah, the publisher. 
Ah, Benton had me at the double entendre title. How I love these. Obviously, we are talking about the mercy of two very different kings. Captured at the Scottish battle of Culloden, Alex McKinnon is spared death three times before he receives the true “king’s mercy,” banishment to the colonies as an indentured slave. I was impressed by how scornfully the phrase “the king’s mercy” was uttered by those who were unfortunate enough to receive it. Just a day after I finished this wonderful book, I encountered this telling verse in Proverbs 12:10: “Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.” (ESV) 
So we have established there is a lot of emotion-anger. There is also love, confusion, subterfuge, greed, avarice, helplessness, and an intense longing for freedom. As I reminisce about this sweeping saga, I am tempted to divide people into two groups: slave and free. Interestingly enough, the groups are not iron-clad, and it might be surprising who could land in each category. Who is really enslaved, and who is truly free? 
So many characters to like, some to love, others to despise. 
My favorite character is Alex. He is sensitive, humble, and empathetic to the pain of others’, be it Joanna’s loss of a friendship years ago; Elijah’s inability to work the smithy following his accident; or Jemma’s inability to fit in where expected. He still had a few flaws, but wouldn’t we all like to hear this: 
“…I don’t think it right or true that you be defined by a single choice.” 
And the quotes. Benton speaks well to present-day. 
“Ye’ve always had that about ye, a need for a purpose beyond yourself. ‘Tis the Almighty knit ye so.” We are all made in God’s image, with a purpose beyond just living for ourselves. 
When all seemed bad enough to drive one to insanity: “So be the iron. Bend with the heat.” 
“Despite her best intentions, she was playing the part of Martha again when she longed to be Mary, sitting at the preacher’s feet.”  
“If ye draw lines between yourself and folk, the least ye can do is keep to your side of them.” 
“…it was her very life that vexed her, its burdens, its injustices. She wanted freedom as badly as he.” 

 

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“Whatever we pour our treasure into will ultimately captivate our hearts. What captivates our hearts we worship. What we worship remakes us— into its image.”  
One issue I had is that historicals that mention several real places should always have maps. How frustrating to have locations referred to repeatedly, but have no idea where they really are. I found Cape Fear on a map; other locations I could only wonder. 
Finally, I liked very much the author’s note of explanation concerning the fact the story is loosely based on Biblical characters. Where truth and fiction collided, I found the characters true to Scripture. Well-done, Lori Benton!! 
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Waterbrook-Multnomah. No positive review was required and all opinions are my own. 

My Rating: 

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About the Author:

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Lori Benton was born and raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early American and family history going back to the 1600s. Her novels transport readers to the 18th century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history, creating a melting pot of characters drawn from both sides of a turbulent and shifting frontier, brought together in the bonds of God’s transforming grace.

When she isn’t writing, reading, or researching 18th-century history, Lori enjoys exploring the mountains with her husband.

Burning Sky, Lori’s debut novel, was a finalist for the ECPA 2014 Christian Book Award, and winner of the 2014 Christy Award for First Novel, Historical, and Book of the Year.

Celebrate Lit Tour, Favorite, LPC, NetGalley

The Songbird and the Spy

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About the Book

 

Book: The Songbird and the Spy43080349

Author: J’Nell Ciesielski

Genre: Clean historical romance

Release Date: Feb 19, 2019

As shells explode over Nazi-occupied France, American music student Claire Baudin is trapped behind enemy lines, struggling to protect her identity. Singing as a barmaid while she plans her escape, a handsome Third Reich captain threatens everything she knows to be true about the enemy.

Nazi Captain Michael Reiner isn’t who he claims to be. A British language expert turned spy, he discovers the truth about Claire, but he knows the importance of a secret. Struggling to resist his attraction to the songbird, he’s determined to complete his assignment, no matter the cost. His cover is threatened when a ruthless female Gestapo officer arrives hunting Resistance fighters. The raid forces Michael’s hand: complete the mission or save Claire.

As the war threatens to tear them apart, they must rely on each other for survival. Is there hope—and a future—for an American songbird and a British spy?

Click here to purchase your copy!

MY REVIEW

J’nell Ciesielski’s second novel, The Songbird and the Spy is a masterpiece of espionage, secrets, divided loyalties, and suspense. While not usually a WWII novel fan, I am a new devoted fan. Ciesielski’s characters covertly work their way off the page into your heart. Poor Claire only wants to return to her music studies in unoccupied France. But finding a safe route back is impossible and Claire must pose as a bar singer, attracting both the French nationals and the German soldiers.
One of those soldiers is Captain Michael Reichner, whose true identity is a carefully guarded secret.
This a very heart- wrenching story, lightened by a love that cannot be denied, yet must stay under wraps. I liked Michael’s strong sense of confidence. This can be very appealing in a man.
The tension is drawn even tighter when a female Gestapo agent, eager to earn her way to Berlin, begins to haunt Michael and his men and the very bar where Claire earns her keep.
I found it very interesting that the butcher’s son was named “Savon,” which means “soap” or “soap maker.” The Germans are determined to cleanse the land of undesirables, the French are desperate to wash the German army out of their land. Definitely a story worth reading and sharing.
One note: I was thrilled to see a map at the beginning of the book. The author’s short note was also appreciated.
Some great quotes:

“Trust is rather unreliable in your line of work.”

“If you give him a name, he becomes a person, a man. He is anything but!” 

“…the situation was so tangled that she could no longer determine if lies or truth were the better option.”

“She was the most important mission he’d ever undertaken.” 

I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher and Celebrate Lit. I was not required to leave a positive review and all opinions are my own.

MY RATING

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About the Author

Believing she was born in the wrong era, J’nell Ciesielski spends her days creating heart-stopping heroes, brave heroines, and adventurous exploits in times gone by. Winner of the Romance Through the Ages contest and Maggie Award, J’nell can often be found 17735994dreaming of a second home in Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Born a Florida girl, she now calls Virginia home, along with her very understanding husband, young daughter, and one lazy beagle. Find out more at www.jnellciesielski.com.

More from J’nell

The most popular question an author is asked is where did the inspiration come from. Most of the time, if not always, my inspiration comes from a trifecta of resources: movies, music, or books. A single song lyric, or secondary character, or novel setting can trigger a whole world of possibilities that has to be explored. In the case of Songbird and the Spy, it was a movie. A Quentin Tarantino movie to be exact set during WWII where one of the characters is a British officer posing as a Nazi meets up with other spies in a French bar. Another character was a Jewish woman posing as a theater-owning Frenchwoman. My brain immediately tingled with ideas. What if identities were all in question? What if you fell in love with the wrong person? Not just the wrong person, but the enemy? The drama and tension in such a situation would be unbelievable!

And that is how Songbird was born.

Here are a few bits of trivia for you:

  • Songbird was originally titled Iron Shepherd for Michael’s call sign.
  • There have been three or four different endings written.
  • Michael Reiner was based off of Michael (see what I did there?!) Fassbender’s character in Inglorious Basterds. The actor was born in Germany to German and Irish parents, and later grew up in Ireland J Art imitating life.
  • Music always makes its way into my stories and here it takes center stage.
  • I’ve always wanted to write a USO story so the ending was my perfect chance to squeeze it in.
  • Ilsa von Ziegler was based off of Elsa Schneider from Indiana Jones.
  • There was a scene showing Michael at SOE training in Scotland, but it was later cut.
  • Nazi headquarters in Paris really was located on Foch Ave. The building is still there.
  • The molten lead that Michael’s new assistant talks about is a German New Year’s tradition to divine fortune in the coming year. A small bit of lead or tin is melted, and then dropped in water. The form created by the metal predicts the future.
  • Chanteuse is a female singer. Edith Piaf, the most famous French singer of all, was known as The Little Sparrow. Songbird and chanteuse are both used to reference Claire and pay homage to Piaf.

Blog Stops

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, April 2

For Him and My Family, April 2

Among the Reads, April 3

Where Faith and Books Meet, April 3

Wishful Endings, April 4

Carpe Diem, April 4

Connect in Fiction, April 5

Emily Yager, April 5

Through the Fire Blogs, April 6

The Christian Fiction Girl, April 6

Hallie Reads, April 7

Lis Loves Reading, April 7

Babbling Becky’s Book Impressions, April 8

Genesis 5020, April 8

All-of-a-kind Mom, April 9

Godly Book Reviews, April 9

Stories By Gina, April 10

Maureen’s Musings, April 10

Carla Loves To Read, April 11

Mary Hake, April 11

Inklings and notions, April 11

Inspired by Fiction, April 12

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, April 12

Bigreadersite, April 13

As He Leads is Joy, April 13

Texas Book-aholic, April 14

The Becca Files, April 14

janicesbookreviews, April 15

A Reader’s Brain, April 15

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, J’nell is giving away a grand prize of a print copy of Songbird and $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/dfe9/the-songbird-and-the-spy-celebration-tour-giveaway