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. 

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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

 

BLOG, Favorite, NetGalley

The House at the End of the Moor by Michelle Griep

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About the Book

Title: The House at the End of the Moor

Author: Michelle Griep

Publisher: Shiloh Run Press

Release: April 2020 (I received an ARC from the author, as well as an e-copy from NetGalley through Celebrate Lit)

What Can a London Opera Star and an Escaped Dartmoor Prisoner Have in Common?

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.

My Review

(Just a note here. I am on the author’s launch team, so I am posting now. I will post again when the Celebrate Lit Tour takes place.)

“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.)

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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. “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?”

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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 and Celebrate Lit. This in no way influences my opinions, which are solely my own.  

 

My Rating

5 Stars- Superior- Hit My Reading Sweet Spot, Tasted Like Honey to My Reading Soul

About the Author

I hear voices. Loud. Incessant. And very real. Which basically gives me two options: 2754194choke 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?

 

BLOG, NetGalley, Revell

Out of the Embers, #1 Mesquite Springs by Amanda Cabot

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About the Book

Title: Out of the Embers

Series: Mesquite Springs

Author: Amanda Cabot

Publisher: Revell

Released: March 2020

Genre: Historical Romance

Ten years after her parents were killed, Evelyn Radcliffe is once more homeless. The orphanage that was her refuge and later her workplace has burned to the ground, and only she and a young orphan girl have escaped. Convinced this must be related to her parents’ murders, Evelyn flees with the girl to Mesquite Springs in the Texas Hill Country and finds refuge in the home of Wyatt Clark, a talented horse rancher whose plans don’t include a family of his own.

At first, Evelyn is a distraction. But when it becomes clear that trouble has followed her to Mesquite Springs, she becomes a full-blown disruption. Can Wyatt keep her safe from the man who wants her dead? And will his own plans become collateral damage?

Suspenseful and sweetly romantic, Out of the Embers is the first in a new series that invites you to the Texas Hill Country in the 1850s when the West was wild, the men were noble, and the women were strong.

My Review

There’s just something magnetic about a light romantic tale from the Old West. Add some mystery and suspense and you have the ingredients for a very enjoyable read by Amanda Cabot, Out of the Embers.
Evelyn Radcliffe and young Polly escape the orphanage fire that is deliberately set. How far must they run to find a new, secure life?
Evelyn is a very mature, loyal young woman who will do anything to protect those she loves. Her “adoption” of Polly proves how unselfish she is. I liked how her unselfish helping at the Circle C eventually leads to her dream future. But the path to get there is rocky.
Wyatt Clark is quickly interested in the young woman who comes to stay at the Circle C. However, the facts aren’t building a truthful foundation for a friendship, let alone anything more. Wyatt is a very responsible and caring individual who puts others above himself, as well. Which is why he is still present on the Circle C, a place he longs to leave. I love that Wyatt is not afraid to accept help and that he also listens to the voice of reason. These qualities go far in any relationship, be it friendship or love. Eventually, we see the far-reaching effects of lives lived for others.
I am not as impressed with Polly, the child in this novel. However, she does seem to act true to her identity.
Unless he shows up again in future books and bigger roles, I was unimpressed with the story thread of “the Watcher.” You’ll have to read the book to see if you agree. You may form a totally different opinion, which makes writing and reading these reviews fun. You get to read the actual text, write a review, then see what other readers think.
One thing I know. I got a sneak peek at a few pages of the next book, and I am anxious to read the next volume, Dorothy and Brandon’s story.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell through NetGalley. This did not influence my opinions, which are solely my own.

My Rating

4 Stars – Excellent- I Gladly Recommend This Book

About the Author

1609844With both parents avid readers, it’s no surprise that Amanda Cabot learned to read at an early age. From there it was only a small step to deciding to become a writer. Of course, deciding and becoming are two different things, as she soon discovered. Fortunately for the world, her first attempts at fiction were not published, but she did meet her goal of selling a novel by her thirtieth birthday. Since then she’s sold more than thirty-five novels. When she’s not writing, Amanda enjoys sewing, cooking and – of course – reading. Follow Amanda’s writing on her website, http://www.amandacabot.com/

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Favorite, NetGalley, Thomas Nelson

One Little Lie, #1 Pelican Harbor Series by Colleen Coble

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About the Book

Book:  One Little Lie

Author: Colleen Coble

Series: Pelican Harbor #1

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Genre:  Romantic Suspense

Release Date: March 3, 2020

 

50852923._SX318_SY475_It started with one little lie. But Jane Hardy will do everything in her power to uncover the truth in this gripping new romantic suspense.

Jane Hardy is appointed interim sheriff in Pelican Harbor, Alabama after her father retires, but there’s no time for an adjustment period. When her father is arrested for theft and then implicated in a recent murder, Jane quickly realizes she’s facing someone out to destroy the only family she has.

After escaping with her father from a cult fifteen years ago, Jane has searched relentlessly for her mother—who refused to leave—ever since. Could someone from that horrible past have found them?

Reid Bechtol is well-known for his documentaries, and his latest project involves covering Jane’s career. Jane has little interest in the attention, but the committee who appointed her loves the idea of the publicity.

Jane finds herself depending on Reid’s calm manner as he follows her around filming, and they begin working together to clear her father. But Reid has his own secrets from the past, and the gulf between them may be impossible to cross—especially once her father’s lie catches up with him.

 

Click here to get your copy.

My Rating

5 Stars – Superior – Hits My Reading Sweet Spot (If only we didn’t have to wait for the ending!)  😦

My Review

A green police chief, vigilante justice, and a town full of secrets. Mixing these together with Colleen Coble’s compelling suspense and a dollop of romance brings you One Little Lie, a “most excellent” police adventure.
I really loved the storyline and most of the characters. The jury is still out on a few of them, namely the mayor, whom I’m trying to figure out. I did enjoy Jane Hardy and Reid and Will Dixon. Will sounds like one very neat teenager. Jane and Reid work together well. I have to wonder about how involved Reid was in the cases, as a civilian. Yet, my mind argues back that real life can be hard to separate into separate columns, and this just solidifies that point.

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The bay seems to be a little murky and so are so many of the relationships in this faith-filled novel. We see true friendship, bad parenting, misguided parenting, great parenting, and arms that lost the child they should have parented. I can just imagine Jane, if she had a theme song, singing “Lies,” from Jonathan Butler eons ago. The question is, who would she be singing it about? Faith, love, forgiveness, deceit, and revenge all surface in Pelican Harbor. Unfortunately for us, the readers, a neat ending does not. I appreciated Coble’s note that explained her reasoning. I appreciated that we had a “soft” ending, with more to come in the next Pelican Harbor installment ( Two Reasons to Run, coming September 2020), rather than a rushed, messy ending. Definitely a book to pick up, but preferably during daylight hours, with plenty of safe people around.

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I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit via NetGalley. This does not affect my opinions, which are solely my own.

 

About the Author

33227Best-selling author Colleen Coble’s novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, the ACFW Carol Award, the Romance Writers of America RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has over 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana. You can visit her website at http://colleencoble.com.

Blog Stops

Back Porch Reads, March 10

Life of Literature, March 10

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 10

Texas Book-aholic, March 10

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, March 11

The Avid Reader, March 11

Lighthouse Academy, March 11

By The Book, March 12

Older & Smarter?, March 12

Through the Fire Blogs, March 12

Remembrancy, March 12

Betti Mace, March 13

April Hayman, Author, March 13

Emily Yager, March 13

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, March 14

Bigreadersite, March 14

deb’s Book Review, March 14

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, March 15

Inklings and notions, March 15

CarpeDiem, March 15

Christian Bookaholic, March 15

Just the Write Escape, March 16

For Him and My Family, March 16

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 16

Robin’s Nest, March 17

All-of-a-kind Mom, March 17

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, March 17

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, March 17

Stories By Gina, March 18

Janicesbookreviews, March 18

Mary Hake, March 18

Empowermoms, March 18

For the Love of Literature, March 19

Blossoms and Blessings, March 19

Because I said so – and other adventures in Parenting, March 19

Hallie Reads, March 19

A Baker’s Perspective, March 20

Quiet Quilter, March 20

Simple Harvest Reads, March 20 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Splashes of Joy, March 21

Moments, March 21

amandainpa, March 21

Locks, Hooks and Books, March 21

Pause for Tales, March 22

Britt Reads Fiction, March 22

Spoken from the Heart, March 22

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, March 22

To Everything There is a Season, March 23

Life love writing, March 23

Daysong Reflections, March 23

Lights in a Dark World, March 23

*No Giveaway for this Celebration Tour

 

 

Bethany House, Biblical Fiction, BLOG, Favorite, NetGalley

Like Flames in the Night, #4 Cities of Refuge by Connilyn Cossette

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About the book

Title: Like Flames in the Night

Series: Cities of Refuge, #4

Author: Connilyn Cossette

Publisher: Bethany House

Released: March 2020

Strong-willed Tirzah wants to join her people in driving the enemy from the land of Israel and undergoes training for a secret mission inside the stronghold of Shechem. But soon after she has infiltrated the ruthless Aramean commander’s kitchen, she makes a reckless decision that puts her and her allies in grave danger.

Fresh off the battlefield, Liyam returns home to discover his beloved daughter is dead. After his vow to hunt down her killer leads to months of fruitless pursuit, his last hope is in a family connection that comes with strings attached. Strings that force him to pose as a mercenary and rescue an infuriating woman who refuses to leave her mission uncompleted.

When an opportunity to pave a path to a Hebrew victory arises, can Tirzah convince Liyam to fight alongside her in the refuge city of her birth? Or will Liyam’s thirst for vengeance outweigh his duty to his people, his God, and the woman he’s come to love?

 

My Review

Connilynn Cossette consistently brings us novels of Biblical times that draw the readers in and make us believe that we are part of the ancient world she has flung open like a door. Like Flames in the Night is a tale of the nation of Israel as it is terrorized by the cruel Arameans, with Othniel leading the resistance. More specifically, we meet brave, bold Tirzah, who yearns to do her part to free the Hebrew people. Liyam is a warrior who loses his faith when he loses his dearest possessions. Somehow these two are key players in Israel’s struggle to be free. 

Tirzah is a highly relatable character because she has several brothers and is very comfortable competing against them. Many female readers will either relate to the idea of competing with brothers or just wanting their contributions to be as valued as men’s. Some may say that women leaders were unheard of in Israeli history, but we can easily recall names of heroines such as Miriam, Deborah the judge, or Esther. I love how Tirzah slowly recognizes that Yahweh Himself has spoken through her outspoken personality. God uses us as we are. 

Ah, Liyam. Heartthrob, spy, blood-avenger. He looks so good in his protective role, one might actually think he can let go of his blood-lust. What a tension this creates as Tirzah’s family tells their own history, and multiple friends urge the angry Hebrew to pursue life, not death. But is that even possible for Liyam? 

I almost forgot Odeleya. She will worm her way into your heart and find a permanent spot.  

If you like Biblical fiction, you need to add this last book in Cities of Refuge series to your collection. You could read this book as a stand-alone, but the series is too great. You will want to read all four books in Connilynn Cossette’s series.  

So many “notable quotables.” I will keep them to just a few. 

“Has Yahweh disappeared? Or has the power that split the sea diminished since the Arameans took control? Or have we simply forgotten who we are?” 

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“…where the black shadow of Har Ebal stood, and at its peak, the altar of Yehoshua.  “A fire will burn there again soon. And when it does, be assured that it was your iron strike against our flint hearts that created the first spark.” 

“But it is our duty as men consecrated by Adonai Most High to speak truth. We have hidden too long in our homes, cowering, keeping His Words locked in our hearts instead of on our tongues.” 

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“If the people of Yahweh rise up and remember who they are, nothing will stop our armies from being victorious over the Arameans this time. Nothing.” 

“Who was I to speak to the mind of the Eternal One? Or to turn my face away from the gifts he’d given me?  Perhaps even the trials I had endured were gifts in a way, making me stronger, wiser, more prepared to accomplish his purposes.” 

“Justice without mercy was tyranny, and mercy without justice was lawlessness.” 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House and the author. This in no way influenced my opinions, which I am voluntarily leaving. I am solely responsible for these opinions. 

My Rating

5 Stars – Superior – Hits My Reading Sweet Spot

About the author

14134437Connilyn Cossette is the Carol Award Winning and ECPA Bestselling author of the Out from Egypt Series and the Cities of Refuge Series from Bethany House Publishers. When she’s not engulfed in the happy chaos of homeschooling two teenagers, devouring books whole, or avoiding housework, she can be found digging into the rich ancient world of the Bible. She delights in discovering new gems of grace that point to Jesus and weaving them into an immersive fiction experience. Connect with her at www.ConnilynCossette.com

BLOG, Favorite, Kensington, Lyrical Underground, NetGalley

Belinda Blake and the Birds of a Feather, #3 Exotic Pet-Sitter Mysteries by Heather Day Gilbert

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About the Book

Title: Belinda Blake and the Birds of a Feather

Series: #3 Exotic Pet-Sitter Mysteries

Author: Heather Day Gilbert

Publisher: Lyrical Press (Kensington)

Released: February 2020

Genre: Clean, Cozy Mystery

When exotic pet–sitter Belinda Blake starts pecking at the details of a suspicious accident in her sleepy hometown, she inadvertently digs up a murder case that won’t be solved without ruffling a few feathers . . .

The moment Belinda arrives in Larches Corner, her Upstate New York hometown, she’s immediately recruited to care for a deceased friend’s flock of homing pigeons. But Belinda’s plans for a swift visit scatter after a local college student is mowed down in a malicious hit-and-run that has the whole town reeling.

At first, the gruesome demise of Jackson Hait appears to be a random tragedy. But Belinda quickly uncovers connections to a tight-knit group of friends and a similar death three years earlier . . . one that wasn’t as accidental as it seemed. Now, Belinda must pluck the truth from a tangled nest of lies before a cruel killer takes wing.

My Review

The third novel in the Belinda Blake series by Heather Day Gilbert has finally arrived. Birds of a Feather is a great addition to Gilbert’s superb cozy series. I have loved the love triangle that developed between Stone the Fifth and Belinda and Jonas, but never quite understood so well Belinda’s attraction to Stone the Fifth until this book: Stone looks like a ”modern-day Remington Steele.” Ooh, la, la, pretty certain that might have swayed me a little more (ok, a LOT more) to Team Stone the Fifth over Team Jonas.

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Belinda returns home to her little hometown for the funeral of Jonas’s mom. She reluctantly agrees to sit the pigeons Jonas’s mom was watching at the time of her death. While home, Belinda meets up with an old reporter friend who quickly involves her in a mystery of first one drunk college literary club member, then another.
I would have liked to see the pets (pigeons) play as big a role in this novel as the snake and the wolves did in the first two. I did enjoy the heightening of romantic elements. I also loved this mystery. I could really feel the tension of needing to “help” solve the crime before Belinda herself is in mortal danger. But guess the correct murderer? Nope. Gilbert still was wilier than me. AND Gilbert left the door open, that just MAYBE, there COULD be a book four. Bring it on!!

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I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley. This did not influence my opinions, which are my own, and for which I am solely responsible.

My Rating

5 Stars- Hits My Reading Sweet Spot with a Flock of Praise

About the Author

Heather Day GilbertHEATHER 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 Weekly 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, NetGalley, Revell

Two Steps Forward, #3 The Deacon’s Family by Suzanne Woods Fisher

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About the Book

Title: Two Steps Forward

Series: #3 The Deacon’s Family

Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher

Publisher: Revell

Released: February 2020

Genre: Amish Romance

Length: 319 pg

Back and broke in Stoney Ridge, Jimmy Fisher has coasted as long as he could through life on charm, good looks, and deep-set dimples. They always worked just fine for him–until they didn’t. His smile has no effect on the violet-eyed beauty he met at the Bent N’ Dent, the one with that stunning horse. She’s offered him a job, but nothing else.

The last thing Sylvie Schrock King needs around Rising Star Farm is a grown boy working for her, especially her neighbor Edith’s son. The woman holds a serious grudge against Sylvie and her son, and hiring Jimmy Fisher will only fan the flames of Edith’s rancor. But Sylvie is desperate for help on the farm, and Jimmy understands horses like no one else.

While Jimmy’s lazy smile and teasing ways steal Sylvie’s heart, Edith is working on a way to claim her land. Has Sylvie made another terrible mistake? Or is it too late to outfox the fox? More importantly . . . just who is the fox?

Writing with both wit and warmth, Fisher delivers a supremely satisfying conclusion to the popular Deacon’s Family series.

 

My Review

In this heartwarming, soul-searching tale, Suzanne Woods Fisher invites us back to Stoney Ridge. In Two Steps Forward, we see Luke Schrock maturing as a deacon; Izzy still looking for her missing childhood, and Jimmy Fisher returning from Colorado. Unsure of his plans, Jimmy accepts an unexpected offer from widow Sylvie Schrock King to help with her horse and farm.
Sylvie is a very likable character. She is independent, a hard worker, and she will defend and protect those she loves. For her, the question seems to be, is Jimmy worth loving?
I really couldn’t decide how I felt about Jimmy. Fisher drew him in such a way that I liked him, felt sorry for him, but despised and wanted to be done with him.

Two Steps Forward 1


The creek, which divides Sylvie’s property from Edith Fisher Lapp’s, is slowly meandering closer and closer to Edith’s house. Perhaps symbolic of the way Edith’s sphere of influence gets smaller and smaller the more in control of others she tries to be.
Edith is NOT a nice person, but Bishop David Stolzfus gives her lots of room (grace) to be herself. In our time in Stoney Ridge, I have enjoyed watching his people-handling skills, honed by hours of prayer. David is a very patient and wise bishop and is teaching Luke well by example.
While Luke has grown by leaps and bounds, Izzy is still chained to her unfulfilled childhood longings. Will she ever feel that she can move on without the ability to settle her past?

Two Steps Forward 2


Themes include righting wrongs towards others (mending fences); forgiveness (can those already given grace pay it forward)?; protecting those who can’t defend themselves (adoption or fostering). It’s important to take action, realizing by being part of the solution, we can help people, one by one.
Yet, a fourth theme was the importance of a loving father in the home.
I totally enjoyed this story and recommend it. That being said, I wish there had been one less twist at the end.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and the author through NetGalley. This in no way affects my opinions, for which I am solely responsible.

My Rating

5 Stars- Superior – Hits My Reading Sweet Spot and makes me want to stay in Stoney Ridge.

 

About the Author

Suzanne Woods Fisher

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling, award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction books about the Old Order Amish for Revell Books, host of the radio-show-turned-blog Amish Wisdom, a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazine.

Her interest in the Amish began with her grandfather, who was raised Plain. A theme in her books (her life!) is that you don’t have to “go Amish” to incorporate the principles of simple living.

Suzanne lives in California with her family and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To her way of thinking, you just can’t take life too seriously when a puppy is tearing through your house with someone’s underwear in its mouth.

Suzanne can be found online at: www.suzannewoodsfisher.com