BLOG, New-to-Me Author, Revell

Under the Bayou Moon by Valerie Fraser Luesse

About the Book

Title: Under the Bayou Moon

Author: Valerie Fraser Luesse

Publisher: Revell

Released: August, 2021

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

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

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

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

My Impressions


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

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

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

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

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

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

About the Author

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

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

The Cryptographer’s Dilemma

About the Book

Book:  The Cryptographer’s Dilemma

Author: Johnnie Alexander

Genre: Historical Christian Fiction

Release date: August, 2021

9781643529516

A Code Developer Uncovers a Japanese Spy Ring

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

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

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

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

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

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

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

This line made Phillip swoon-worthy to me:

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Rating

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

About the Author

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

More from Johnnie

American Traitor in WWII

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

cryptographers decoded the message as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

Blog Stops

Life of Literature, August 25

Where Faith and Books Meet, August 25

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, August 25

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 26

Reflections From my Bookshelves, August 26

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, August 27

Bizwings Blog, August 27

Daysong Reflections, August 27

Texas Book-aholic, August 28

A Baker’s Perspective, August 28

Inklings and notions, August 29

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, August 29

For Him and My Family, August 30

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

Older & Smarter?, August 31

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, August 31

Aryn the Libraryan 📚, September 1

Rebecca Tews, September 1

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, September 2

deb’s Book Review, September 2

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 3

Blossoms and Blessings, September 3

Mary Hake, September 3

Connie’s History Classroom, September 4

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, September 4

Sodbusterliving, September 4

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, September 5

Labor Not in Vain, September 5

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 6

Moments, September 6

Splashes of Joy, September 6

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 7

Pause for Tales, September 7

Giveaway

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

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

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

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

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

About the Book

Book:  Choir Loft Murder

Author: Karen Randau

Genre: Mystery Suspense

Release date: August 24, 2021

ChoirLoftMurder5_Revised - 3 (1)

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

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

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

Click here to get your copy!


My Impressions

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


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

My Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Great!

About the Author

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

More from Karen

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

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

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

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, August 27

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, August 27

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 28

Blogging With Carol, August 28

Texas Book-aholic, August 29

Inklings and notions, August 30

For Him and My Family, August 31

deb’s Book Review, September 1

Girls in White Dresses, September 1

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 2

Betti Mace, September 3

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 4

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

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

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, September 6

Mary Hake, September 6

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, September 7

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 8

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 9

Pause for Tales, September 9

Giveaway

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

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

The Secret of the 14th Room, #1 The Granton House by Rebecca Hemlock

About the Book

Book:  The Secret of the 14th Room

Author: Rebecca Hemlock

Publisher: Bluecap Publishing

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Release date: March 16th

Memories can be a killer.

When Levi Corbin returns to Granton, Tennessee after the death of his beloved grandmother, it sets off a chain of events he’d rather have avoided. Claiming his inheritance should have been a piece of cake, but a cousin appears, threatening to steal it all.

Even worse (and better, too), he’s falling for the girl he just met and now must team up with her to try to stop his cousin. Their quest for his inheritance uncovers secrets frozen in time—and one might just be the answer to save his grandmother’s home.

Things go from worse to completely out of hand when a freak fire threatens it all. Add to that a nosy old woman and a battered runaway, and Levi can’t help but wonder what is going on!

As circumstances rekindle his faith and new love spurs him onward, Levi races against time and odds to save Grandma’s house from certain destruction, but the result might just mean saving himself as well.

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

I had never read anything by Rebecca Hemlock before, but I had barely started Secret of the 14th Room when I knew I’d discovered a treasure.
From the first scene of Dorothy Corbin’s death to the epilogue, I was glued to the page, not willing to miss a single word. Why you ask? For starters, Hemlock has penned a cozy that takes place in small-town Tennessee, rife with a history dating to the Civil War. The author depicts the town so well I felt like I was the one walking the streets. For genealogy buffs, there are many ancestry references. For those who understand the value of family, the wonderful relationships between Levi Corbin and his grandmother are highlighted, as well as Abigail’s close relationship with her parents. For lovers of old houses and architecture? You’ll love this old town. Nefarious evildoers? Check. Faith? Smoothly integrated into the story. Action and twists abound. The best part is, there is a sequel coming! I. Can’t. Wait!


I received a copy of the book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit. I am voluntarily leaving my thoughts, which are solely my own.

My Rating

Magnificent!! I absolutely adored this one!!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

About the Author

Rebecca lives in Eastern Kentucky with her husband and children. She absolutely loves mysteries. Rebecca has been writing stories for many years and enjoys reading, painting and spending time with her family. Her favorite times to write are early in the morning when the sun is coming up and at sunset. She has worked as a freelance journalist for 4 years and is a member of Sisters in Crime and American Christian Fiction Writers. Rebecca has earned a degree in English and an Appalachian Studies certificate in Creative Writing.

More from Rebecca

Looking for new ideas is my favorite part of writing because it comes with talking to interesting people and exploring antique shops all over the country.

This book not only captures my love for American history and riveting romantic suspense, but it also captures how old wounds of the heart can be healed.

Levi Corbin in The Secret of the 14th Room learns this the hard way after carrying his broken heart for most of his adult life. He has to discover the real meaning of family and family pride. Levi must face the past so that he can move on to a brighter future.

Granton, Tennessee, is a town I hope you fall in love with, just as I did when I created it. There are so many delightful characters, some with a dark secret or two. This story has been brewing for a while, and I am glad that I finally have the opportunity to share it with you.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, April 21

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, April 21

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, April 22

Genesis 5020, April 22

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, April 23

A Novel Pursuit, April 23

Texas Book-aholic, April 24

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, April 24 (Author Interview)

Inklings and notions, April 25

Blogging With Carol, April 25

Betti Mace, April 26

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, April 26

For Him and My Family, April 27

Godly Book Reviews, April 27

deb’s Book Review, April 28

CarpeDiem, April 28

Older & Smarter?, April 29

Locks, Hooks and Books, April 29

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, April 30

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

Tell Tale Book Reviews, May 1

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, May 1

KarenSueHadley, May 2

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, May 2

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, May 3

Mary Hake, May 3

Through the Fire Blogs, May 4

Adventures Of A Travelers Wife, May 4

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Rebecca is giving away the grand prize of a $50 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/10b6a/the-secret-of-the-14th-room-celebration-tour-giveaway

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

Cooking Up a Mystery by Gail Pallotta

About the Book

Book:  Cooking Up A Mystery

Author: Gail Pallotta

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Release date: April 24, 2020

CookingUpAMystery website large size

Laney Eskridge worked to put her husband through dental school. Then he left with another woman. She’s on edge from the emotional scars and her parents’ deaths. Then she hears unexplained noises in her new tea house, and her anxiety is tripled. Add a budding romance with Eric—a guy with a fear of commitment—and it’s all too much to handle. She cuts ties with Eric and plunges into making her business pay off.

When Eric discovers that Laney’s in danger, he vows to protect her. But can he make a lasting promise? Will she trust him? . . .and when they overhear a threat that could cause national turmoil, will anyone believe them? There’s more brewing than herbal tea in Cooking up a Mystery.

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions


“He’d wrapped her in shame and disgust and tied it as tight around her as if he’d bound her to a chair. No matter how much she tried, she couldn’t untie the knots.” Laney Eskridge, the protagonist in Gail Pallotta’s Cooking Up a Mystery, is hurting from the mistreatment in her first marriage and has no time for romance as she starts her dream restaurant. When she meets recuperating college professor Eric, will she rebuff his offers of friendship and possibly more because of her past?
The novel starts off a little slowly for my liking. The action picks up about mid-book with more mystery in the restaurant itself, some of it revolving around an unseemly simple painting.
Eric sounds like a winner, yet he can’t figure out why he scares Laney off sometimes. I read this thinking, “Slow down, pal, she’s giving off signals that say not to move too fast!!” So his puzzlement eludes me.



I love a good secondary character, and George is a wonderful one! He isn’t part of the romance, but he does want to help the romance along. He will do anything within his power to help Laney and gives extra of his time and thought to help her. He is just sweet and loveable. Nominated for best secondary character.
I like that Laney spends a good deal of her time actually at her restaurant, and we see her interactions there. I always think that it is important the main character truly works the job she supposedly holds. Kudos to Pallotta here.
Overall a great read.
I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit. I am voluntarily leaving my thoughts, which are solely my own. 

My Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Great!

About the Author

Award-winning author Gail Pallotta’s a wife, Mom, swimmer and bargain shopper who loves God, beach sunsets and getting together with friends and family. A 2013 Grace Awards finalist, she’s a Reader’s Favorite 2017 Book Award winner and a TopShelf 2020 Book Awards Finalist. She’s published six books, poems, short stories and several hundred articles. Some of her articles appear in anthologies while two are in museums.

More from Gail

In Cooking up a Mystery running a business with no background or formal training in accounting or management overwhelms Laney, the heroine. George, her assistant, tells her she has him and God, who knows her needs. Then he adds, “You … have your mom’s wonderful recipes and you whip them up like a pro.”

I chose the food industry for Laney, a woman entrepreneur succeeding against the odds, because I have lots of cooking experience. I learned the skill at age ten. The reason, according to my father—I’d know how when I got married. I didn’t marry until I was thirty. By then, I’d received lots of instruction, so I knew how to prepare some pretty good dinners. My husband said, “You could start a restaurant.” I wanted to do other things instead, such as write, but I started one in this book.

Mt first woman entrepreneur appears in Hair Calamities and Hot Cash, a romantic comedy about a hairstylist. It’s set in Eve’s Clips, a salon in Triville, a fictitious town in the North Carolina Mountains where Laney opens Laney’s Delectable Delights.

A section in the back of Cooking up a Mystery, Laney’s Chefs in the Making, features over two dozen recipes. Only Laney’s Pineapple Rice is mine. The rest are from a book, Heavenly Delights, authored by my friend, Pam Nichols Griffin, as a fundraiser for Mission Love Seeds, a charity that helps children throughout the world and responds locally after disasters to demonstrate God’s love.

Laney’s Pineapple Rice

Ingredients:

Rice (can be instant, but not boil-in-the-bag)

Cooking oil or spray

One small onion (chopped thin)

Five cloves garlic (or minced gloves equaling five cloves)

One tablespoon fresh grated ginger

One cup fresh pineapple

Small amount of pineapple juice

One teaspoon sugar

One lime

Cook rice according to directions on the box, but substitute a couple of tablespoons to 1/4 cup pineapple juice (depending on taste) for part of the water.

Chill rice

Coat a heavy bottom skillet with oil. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, pineapple and sugar and stir. Add cold rice, break up, squirt with the juice of one lime and stir until heated and blended.

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, April 9

Blogging With Carol, April 9

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, April 10

She Lives To Read, April 11

Texas Book-aholic, April 11

Inklings and notions, April 12

Genesis 5020, April 12

For Him and My Family, April 13

deb’s Book Review, April 14

Worthy2Read, April 14

Reflections From My Bookshelves, April 15

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, April 15

Locks, Hooks and Books, April 16

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, April 17

Godly Book Reviews, April 17

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, April 18

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, April 19

CarpeDiem, April 19

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, April 20

April Hayman, Author, April 20

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, April 21

Simple Harvest Reads, April 21 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, April 22

Labor Not in Vain, April 22

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Gail is giving away  the grand prize of a $40 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/10a4e/cooking-up-a-mystery-celebration-tour-giveaway

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

Matchmaker’s Best Friend, #3 Elnora Island: #9 Independence Islands, by Kari Trumbo

About the Book

Book:  Matchmaker’s Best Friend

Author: Kari Trumbo

Genre: Christian Contemporary Romance

Release date: March 30, 2021

“You’re just like a brother to me. I don’t like you in that way.”

When they dated ten years ago as teens, it almost destroyed their friendship. So Pen Reese did the only logical thing.  She lied about how she felt—and still feels—about him.

She’s still paying for that lie.

A brilliant plan to set Mike and a friend up and get over him has one problem.

It’s breaking her heart.

When Pen pushed him away, Mike Gaines assumed she just didn’t understand his faith. People like her persnickety aunt even claim he’s part of a cult—ridiculous, but it’s true. Still, if she wants him to play the part of a big brother, fine. At least he can stay close this way.

At first, Pen’s attempt to set him up with one of her close friends hurts. But what if it’s the perfect opportunity to show her what she’s missing if she sees him with someone else?

In this friends-to-more-meets-second-chance romance, The Matchmaker’s Best Friend continues the Elnora Island romances of the Independence Islands Series featuring five islands, six authors, and a boatload of happily-ever-afters.
The Independence Islands Series: beach reads aren’t just for summer anymore.

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

“She’d always imagined life would be like a swing. Sometimes you could see the sky, sometimes only the ground coming at you fast, but all of it could be glorious if you worked at it. Lately, all she saw was the ground coming at her…”
This explains poor Pen Reece, wedding planner extraordinaire, and her miserable condition. Splitting her time between a thriving business on the mainland and an upstart on the islands that just isn’t starting, Reese sets up her best friend Mike (whom she has loved forever) with another friend. Now the matched friends are headed for the altar, and Pen’s businesses and reputation are about to crumble.
Truth, please. Somebody tell the truth. I wanted to scream this a few times during this novel. But maybe because I can’t keep a secret, I have a hard time believing so many people can cover up the truth and deceive each other, hurting each other in the process.


The Matchmaker’s Best Friend, Elnora Island, #3 Independence Islands, by Kari Trumbo, might be best suited for those in their 20s and 30s. I like to think that a person older than that would think through the situations more maturely than the main characters do. I enjoyed the book, but feel like I need to help guide Pen, Mike, and their friends into clearer thinking and better decision-making. Maybe that’s because I realize that marriage is indeed for life, and not something to be trifled with, which Pen only partially appreciates, by her actions.
I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit. I am voluntarily leaving my thoughts, which are solely my opinions.

My Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Great!

About the Author

Where western meets happily ever after.

Kari writes swoony heroes and places that become characters with detail and heart.
Her favorite place to write about is the place her heart lives, (even if she doesn’t) South Dakota.

Kari loves reading, listening to contemporary Christian music, singing when no one’s listening, and curling up near the wood stove when winter hits. She makes her home in central Minnesota, land of frigid toes and mosquitoes the size of compact cars, with her husband of over twenty years. They have two daughters, two sons, one cat, and one hungry wood stove.

More from Kari

Pen is Mightier than the Sword

Especially in sparkly, stacked espadrilles and pink power suit. Don’t let Pen Reese’s pink façade fool you, she’s a businesswoman to the core, with a heart of gold. She has built a party planning business from the ground up, and she’s about to create another.

Pen is one of those characters that I could just see CLEARLY as I was writing. She is about ninety percent Elle Woods from Legally Blonde and ten percent a close personal friend. I heard her voice in my head. I could hear her talking as I wrote the book. Her personality was perfect for the energetic party planner.

I’m sure if I put a character description up without context or clarity many people wouldn’t want to read the book, they would write Pen off as shallow. But she’s not. She’s heartbroken.

Do you still remember your first love? Maybe you still care for them? Pen fell hard for her first love and no matter how professional she is or how many lavish weddings she plans, she can’t forget the one wedding she’ll never get to create. Her own.

Pen things that if Mike falls for someone else, goes off and gets married, she’ll finally be able to move on. So, she sets a plan in motion. That’s when her world completely falls apart and you see the tender parts of Pen that she doesn’t show to just anybody.

She is a very complex character and I hope she touches you like she touched me.

I hope you enjoy Pen’s tale of matchmaking gone wrong.

Blog Stops

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, April 14

Books and Everyday Life, April 14

Labor Not in Vain, April 14

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, April 15

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, April 15

lakesidelivingsite, April 16

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, April 16

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, April 17

Rebekah Reads, April 17

Artistic Nobody, April 17 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, April 18

A Novel Pursuit, April 18

She Lives To Read, April 19

deb’s Book Review, April 19

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, April 20

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, April 20

Splashes of Joy, April 20

Aryn the Libraryan, April 21

For Him and My Family, April 21

Texas Book-aholic, April 22

Blogging With Carol, April 22

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, April 23

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, April 23

CarpeDiem, April 23

Locks, Hooks and Books, April 24

Connect in Fiction, April 24

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, April 25

Simple Harvest Reads, April 25 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Inklings and notions, April 26

Godly Book Reviews, April 26

Batya’s Bits , April 26

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, April 27

Blossoms and Blessings, April 27

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Kari is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

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

https://promosimple.com/ps/10acd/matchmaker-s-best-friend-celebration-tour-giveaway

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The Indebted Earl, #3 Serendipity and Secrets, by Erica Vetch

About the Book

Title: The Indebted Earl

Series: #3 Serendipity and Secrets

Author: Erica Vetch

Publisher: Kregel

Released: March 2021

Can Captain Wyvern keep his new marriage of convenience all business–or will it turn into something more?

Captain Charles Wyvern owes a great debt to the man who saved his life–especially since Major Richardson lost his own life in the process. The best way to honor that hero’s dying wish is for Wyvern to escort the man’s grieving fiance and mother safely to a new cottage home by the sea. But along the way, he learns of another obligation that has fallen on his shoulders: his uncle has died and the captain is now the Earl of Rothwell.

When he and the ladies arrive at his new manor house in Devon, they discover an estate in need of a leader and a gaggle of girls, all wards of the former earl. War the new earl knows; young ladies and properties he does not. Still wishing to provide for the bereaved Lady Sophia Haverly, Charles proposes a marriage of convenience.

Sophie is surprised to find she isn’t opposed to the idea. It will help her care for her betrothed’s elderly mother, and she’s already fallen in love with the wayward girls on the Rothwell estate. This alliance is a chance to repay the captain who has done so much for her care, as well as divert her attention from her grief. When Wyvern returns to his sea commission, she’ll stay behind to oversee his property and wards.

It sounds so simple. Until the stalwart captain is arrested on suspicion of smuggling, and Sophie realizes how much he’s come to mean to her. Now she’ll have to learn to fight, not only for his freedom but also for his love.

Click here to read an excerpt.

My Impressions

Erica Vetch is one of those authors whose name has been publicized in my reading groups as a Christian Regency author not to miss.
I finally got the opportunity to taste Ms. Vetch’s ability in this last book of the series, The Indebted Earl, #3 Serendipity and Secrets.
I loved Sophie from the moment I met her. Sweet, strong, and determined to take care of her almost-mother-in-law who is settling into dementia, Sophie has a loveable, calming influence on those around her. She is also fiercely loyal.


The captain was not quite so easy to love, but Vetch doesn’t set out to make him super loveable. He’s rigid, unbending, operating with military-like precision, and not good at showing affection. So, Vetch pulls off a coup as she convinces the reader to love him and root for this marriage of convenience between Sophie and Charles.
Both Sophie and Charles are realistic individuals. They struggle with God’s will going against their own carefully constructed plans. Vetch allows both Charles and Sophie to question God, to cry out to Him, to wonder where He is in the valley of suffering. “Why, God? Why did You allow this to happen? How can this possibly be Your will?”
Eventually they will stretch and grow through their trials.
For those who have read previous books, characters from former novels put in appearances, but I enjoyed the book as a standalone. (However, I do plan to rectify that situation.)
Several twists move the storyline along in surprising directions and a bit of suspense kept me eagerly reading.


My attention was especially captured by the young children, all three with unique personalities. I adored each of them. Will Sophie and Charles attach themselves to these orphans or wash their hands of them?
Vetch touches on the subject of suicide (briefly), and deals tenderly with dementia.
For me, The Indebted Earl lived up to its hype. Highly recommended.
I received a copy from the author and publisher through Read with Audra. I am voluntarily leaving my thoughts, which are solely my own.

My Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!!

About the Author:

Erica Vetsch is a New York Times best-selling and ACFW Carol Award–winning author. She is a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota with her husband, who she claims is both her total opposite and soul mate. 
 
Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks.
 
A self-described history geek, she has been planning her first research trip to England.
 
Learn more about Erica Vetsch and her books at www.ericavetsch.com. She can also be found on Facebook (@EricaVetschAuthor)Instagram (@EricaVetsch) and Pinterest (Erica Vetsch).

Click the link below to enter:

https://promosimple.com/ps/10ba3/the-indebted-earl

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A Dance in Donegal by Jennifer Deibel

About the Book

Title: A Dance in Donegal

Author: Jennifer Deibel

Publisher: Revell

Released: February, 2021

Genre: Historical Romance

To fulfill her mother’s dying wish, Moira Doherty moves from Boston to the rolling green hills of 1921 Ireland to teach in a village school. She doesn’t expect to fall in love–or to uncover a scandalous family reputation her mother left behind years ago.

My Impressions

Could it really be that this is Jennifer Deibel’s debut novel? A Dance in Donegal by Revell is so gloriously rich in Irish culture, lore, and the magic of the Emerald Isle itself, a reader who is even the slightest fan of historical romance and mystery will be swept away. I certainly was.
In 1921, Moira Doherty leaves Boston to teach school in her deceased mother’s hometown of Ballymann, in Donegal. What starts as an adventure becomes an arduous trial as Moira finds the Irish folk distrusting of her and her motives. With a very small handful of friends, Moira must decide who or Who she will please and learn to live well with the consequences.
Sean McFadden, the young, searching, roof thatcher, is such a quiet gem. Thoughtful, humorous, quick to learn from his mentor, Colm, Sean is a deep well as opposed to the babbling brook personality of a certain returned barrister.
I love the warmth of Brid, and the great depth and wisdom of both Peg and Colm. What it would be like to have them for friends!
I love how God’s quiet voice speaks His Word into Moira’s heart, calming her and giving her peace. Comforting Scripture is quite naturally sprinkled throughout.
“Once again, the words allowed a sense of peace to settle over Moira’s heart. She might not know what the future held, but she knew the One Who did, and she knew of His love for her.”
Forgiveness, obedience despite consequences, and grace vs. judgment are all themes Deibel presents well.
So many Notable Quotables. Here are a few:

“When ya seek to love the Laird wit’ all year heart, soul, an’ mind, and then seek ta love others selflessly, ye’re a man who will make a difference in this world one person at a time.”

“Smack in the middle of what God is askin’ us is the best place for any of us to be.”

“The Laird can change even the coldest man’s heart.”

“It doesna matter what the world says I am. It doesna even matter what I believe myself to be…if I believe in the Laird Jesus Christ and what He did fer me, I canna be condemned.”

I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher. I am voluntarily leaving my thoughts, which are solely my own.

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!! I expect A Dance in Donegal to be in the running for CF Book of the Year!!

About the Author

Jennifer Deibel is a middle school teacher and freelance writer. Her work has appeared on (in)courage, on The Better Mom, in Missions Mosaic Magazine, and others. With firsthand immersive experience abroad, Jennifer writes stories that help redefine home through the lens of culture, history, and family. After nearly a decade of living in Ireland and Austria, she now lives in Arizona.

Debut novel, A Dance in Donegal, releases February 2, 2021 from Revell. Follow Moira Doherty to the wilds of rural Ireland in 1921. Available for preorder wherever books are sold.

Connect with Jennifer on her blog at jenniferdeibel.com or on Twitter @thisgalsjourney.

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Decoy Valentine by Shannon Kent

About the Book

Title: Decoy Valentine

Author: Shannon Kent

Publisher: Kindle Edition

Released: January 2021

Genre: Christian Romantic Suspense, Mystery

FROM FAKE RELATIONSHIP TO TRUE LOVE

A broken engagement drives Susanna Kelly back to her hometown of Sweetheart, Texas and the arms of its quirky, lovable citizens. But her peaceful return to her roots is shattered when heart-shaped notes with sinister messages start appearing. The support of Daniel Sheppard, Asian American bestselling author and her childhood friend, gives her a much needed ally amidst the turmoil. He offers to play the role of her boyfriend to discourage the stalker, but Susanna resists. Pretending to be a couple? And with Daniel of all people? Who would buy it?

The note writer’s mind games force her to reconsider. Susanna accepts Daniel’s crazy plan, but her heart acts up whenever she’s near her decoy valentine. Comfortable, uncomplicated Daniel has turned into a full-grown man who makes her senses spin. As she tries to sort out her feelings, the make-believe romance has the opposite effect intended. Harmless notes turn into life-threatening accidents, and Daniel and Susanna must find out who’s behind the chaos before they can decide if their temporary relationship is a heaven-sent gift meant to last forever. 

My Impressions

Susannah Kelly is having a bad day. Or a bad three weeks, at least. Plus an unwanted suitor who can’t take a hint. How should she protect herself from the all-too familiar paper heart notes sent by a stalker, plus the wannabe boyfriend? Daniel Sheppard, Susannah’s best friend who has become a best-selling author in his three years away from Sweetheart, Texas, thinks he has the solution. Just be his valentine.

“It will never work,” she said. “No one will believe it. They’ll know we’re faking.” “We’re not faking.” Daniel met her on the porch, stuck his hands in his jacket pockets, and leaned against the railing. “You didn’t want to lie. Remember? We’re an honest-to-goodness couple.”

Author Shannon Kent sets Decoy Valentine in a small Texas town, preparing for their annual Candy Hearts Festival. The trope of (best) friends to couple is combined with a sprinkle of mystery, suspense, and humor. The little town seems chock-full of quirky characters that by turns are very fun to know or very irritating. I would enjoy seeing more of the Ladies’ Auxiliary, including Lannette and Elise. While this was not a chiller, there were certainly some scary vibes going on, and Kent does a great job portraying realistic, flawed, lovable and unlovable characters. Now that Daniel and Susannah have their act together, I hope we see another lovelorn couple from this town.

Fave Quotes:

The Bible says I have to forgive you, but I don’t have to hug you.

Daniel was determined to go through with this crazy charade. She squeezed her eyes shut and prayed under her breath. “Please, God. Don’t strike us both with lightning.”

She was so tired of being the strong one. Why couldn’t someone else save the day for a change?

I received a complimentary copy of the book from the author. I was under no obligation to leave a positive review, and all opinions are my own.

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!

About the Author

When Shannon Kent earned an M.A. in Journalism, she never imagined her first published work of fiction would be inspired by TV shows from a faraway land. She loves the wacky, romantic world of Korean dramas and likes to share her opinions with fellow fans under the pen name Dramarookie at the Dramas with a Side of Kimchi blog.