ARC, BLOG, Favorite, Kindle, LPC, New-to-Me Author

A Strike to the Heart by Danielle Grandinetti

About the Book

Title: A Strike to the Heart

Series: Strike to the Heart

(Prequel Novella: To Stand in the Breach

Christmas Novella: As Silent as the Night)

Author: Danielle Grandinetti

Publisher: Iron Stream Media

Genre: Historical Christian Romantic Suspense, Mystery

Releases: April 12, 2022 (I reviewed an ARC copy.)

She’s fiercely independent. He’s determined to protect her.

Wisconsin, 1933—When a routine mission becomes an ambush that kills his team, Craft Agency sniper Miles Wright determines to find the persons responsible and protect the woman he rescued. But the fierce independence that led Lily Moore to leave her family’s dairy business for the solitary life of a dog trainer and the isolation of her farm don’t make that easy. Neither does his unwanted attraction to her. Meanwhile, escalating incidents confirm that she’s far from safe.

Lily fears letting the surprisingly gentle retired marine into her life almost as much as she fears whoever is threatening her. As Wisconsin farmers edge toward another milk strike, one that will surely turn violent, it becomes clear that the plot against Lily may be part of a much larger conspiracy. When the search for her abductor leads close to home, she must decide whether to trust her family or the man who saved her life.

Get your book at one of these links below!!

https://www.amazon.com/Strike-Heart-Danielle-Grandinetti/dp/1645263525

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-strike-to-the-heart-danielle-grandinetti/1139873924?ean=9781645263524

https://www.christianbook.com/a-strike-to-the-heart/9781645263524/pd/263521

https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781645263524

https://shoplpc.com/a-strike-to-the-heart/

My Impressions

“He might be an ex-soldier, a sniper trained to kill, but he prayed daily that kindness would be the trait people would identify most when they interacted with him.”

I love how Danielle Grandinetti marries Miles’s sniper’s skills to that of a tender heart! Strong, shrewd, and swoon-worthy, Miles is willing to sacrifice everything for those he loves. A totally relatable romantic suspense hero. Then, Grandinetti’s heroine, Lily, is a similar juxtaposition of traits. Fiercely independent, Lily is a compassionate, dog trainer who needs protection. She can push the ones she cares about to great heights. Now Grandinetti really had my attention, and I was swiping pages as fast as I could to reach the conclusion of A Strike to the Heart. While this was my first Grandinetti novel, it won’t be my last.

Faith is a constant thread throughout this novel. Lily seeks God out daily. Miles isn’t quite as comfortable with God due to past events, but one hopes and prays he will find his way totally back to God. Perhaps… ”second chances were meant for redemption.”

Miles needs redemption in more ways than one. He fails his team, it seems. Will he fail to protect Lily, who is becoming very important to him? Will he fail his boss? Lily’s family, who doesn’t care much for him?

Which begs the next question. In this fast-paced action novel, who is trustworthy? Who is treacherous? Relationships are tested. The milk strikes of 1933 were dangerous, yet Lily’s family is embroiled in the midst of it all. What, if anything, does Lily’s kidnapping have to do with the strikes?

So many questions!! So many possibilities! I suspected some answers, but Grandinetti successfully includes a lot of twists and turns until more than Miles and Lily were unsure.

I love to highlight a notable secondary character. Gio is so awesome. He has Miles’s back, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The special way Gio prays for Lily is just amazing and it teaches Miles how to pray effectively for a loved one at the same time. Maybe Gio will get his own book soon.

So many Notable Quotables…

“Whom should he fear more … the men who would kill them or the woman who tested the fortifications of his heart?”

“…the simple change of clothes caused him to go from intense protector to confident friend.”

“She would have hope for both of them until there was no hope left to be had.”

I received this book from the author. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Magnificent!! These Two Characters Stole My Heart!!

About the Author

Danielle Grandinetti is a book blogger at DaniellesWritingSpot.com, focusing on Christian historical romance, romantic suspense, and sweet romance.

Her historical romantic suspense (published by Heritage Beacon Fiction) releases in April 2022.

A Chicagoland native, Danielle lives along Lake Michigan’s Wisconsin shoreline with her husband and their two young sons. She loves quiet mornings served with the perfect cup of tea.

More from Danielle

Because I had a lot of questions for Danielle about her book, she was gracious enough to respond and give us readers a peek into what goes on in the mind of a writer…Thank you, Danielle!!

Q: What inspired you to write about the milk strikes of 1933 in Wisconsin?

A few years ago, Wisconsin farmers were in a position where they had to dump their cow’s milk because it was more expensive to transport than dump. That made me curious as to whether it had happened before. Not only had it, but in 1933, farmers organized three strikes in order to prompt a raise in milk prices. 

Q: I love that you made Miles a trained sniper who prays people see him as a loving, caring person. Probably one reason I love this book so much. What gave you the idea to make him have two very different sides to his personality?

Snipers seem to have this distant, cold persona, but as I dug into Miles’ past, I realized his skill and his personality were at odds, creating an internal conflict for him. I had him wrestle through holding life and death in his hands as he held the rifle and doing so because of his desire to protect those he cared about.

Q: I love that you made Lily a dog trainer. (My daughter and I have taken our puppies through basic obedience, and years ago our daughters took our dogs through rigorous 4-H training for the local fair. It’s a lot of hard work!! How did you research Lily’s professional dog training?

I’ve also always loved dog training and have studied it myself for years. What made the historical aspect even more fun to include was because of the history of dog obedience training. In October of 1933, two women in New York became the first individuals to organize Dog Obedience Trials. As a nod to them, I made Lily a dog trainer.

Q: Do you rely on a team of writing buddies to help you when you hit writer’s block?

I do have several writing friends who help me with all aspects of my writing career. Two names stand out: My critique partner, Ann Elizabeth Fryer, who also writes Historical Romance, sees my rough drafts before my editor does and she helps me through plot holes and brainstorming ideas. My writing friend Beth Pugh, who writes Contemporary Romance, signed with my publishing house at the same time as I did, so I’m grateful to have been through the process together.

Q: Do you include snippets of yourself in your characters?

I think every author does to some extent. As for the characters in A Strike to the Heart, Lily’s dog training and Gio’s Italian heritage are two aspects of myself I included.

Q: Can you tell us about your next book? Is there a story coming for Gio? You have made him so charismatic, I certainly hope so!!

Yes!! Gio gets a story! I love Gio, too, and was so excited to give him a story, at Christmas no less. As Silent as the Night releases in September.

He can procure anything, except his heart’s deepest wish. She might hold the key, if she’s not discovered first.

Chicago, 1933―Lucia Critelli will do anything for her ailing grandfather, including stand in a breadline to have enough food to make him a St. Nicholas Day meal. When she catches the eye of a goon who threatens her grandfather, she discovers the end of Prohibition doesn’t mean the end of the mafia’s criminal activity.

Retired Marine Scout Giosue “Gio” Vella can find anything, especially if it helps a fellow Italian immigrant, so he has no doubt he can locate his neighbor’s granddaughter, who has gone missing from a local church. Keeping her safe is another matter. Especially when he chooses to hide out with his Marine buddy in Eagle, Wisconsin, the site of a barely-held truce among striking dairy farmers.

Will Christmas bring the miracle they all need or will Gio discover there are some things even he can’t find, particularly when he stumbles upon the most elusive gift of all: love?

Q: Lastly, you are writing at least a three-book series. Is it necessary to read the books in order, or would we just feel more connected to the characters if we do?

Readers do not need to read the three books in order. A Strike to the Heart is the main book in the series and the only full-length novel. To get a little back story and a running start into the conflict, I recommend reading To Stand in the Breach, the prequel novella featuring Lily’s brother and her best friend. Gio’s Christmas novella, As Silent as the Night, serves as a Christmas wrap-up that will hopefully have everyone getting a happily ever after.

Wow, I for one am ready for Gio’s story—yesterday!! Thank you for your time with us, Danielle!!

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

When Dignity Came to Harlan by Rebecca Duvall Scott Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: When Dignity Came to Harlan

Author: Rebecca Duvall Scott

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

Release date: January 17, 2021

I made up my mind right then and there that I would just have to wade into this move like wading into a pond or lake I’d never seen before – slow and steady, feeling around for my footing and trying to avoid the sharp edges at the bottom that you never see coming.

***

News of what really happened to me – to us – spread through town like wildfire. It caught from one dry gossip tree to another and burned them to the ground with shame.

***

“Y’can do this, child – show ’em why I call y’Dignity,” my old friend winked at me.                

Skillfully written and sure to draw you in to its pages, When Dignity Came to Harlan is set in the early 1900s and follows twelve-year-old Anna Beth Atwood as she leaves Missouri with her family dreaming of a better life in the coal-rich mountains of Harlan County, Kentucky. Anna Beth’s parents lose everything on the trip, however, and upon asking strangers to take their girls in until they get on their feet, Anna Beth and her baby sister are dropped into the home of Jack and Grace Grainger – who have plenty of problems of their own. Anna Beth suffers several hardships during her time in Harlan, and if it wasn’t for her humble and wise old friend who peddles his wisdom along with his wares, all would be lost.

Based on a true family history, this is a story of heartbreak and hope, challenges and perseverance, good and evil, justice and merciful redemption. It exemplifies the human experience in all its many facets and shows what it means to have real grit.

Take the journey with us and see how, with the unseen hand of God, one girl changed the heart and soul of an entire town.

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Rebecca Duvall Scott is an award-winning author with titles holding #1 bestseller within her publishing companies long after release. Her first work was self-help memoir, Sensational Kids, Sensational Families: Hope for Sensory Processing Differences, which she wrote in the years following her son’s sensory processing disorder diagnosis and their family’s successful treatment plan. While her special-needs advocacy helping parents, teachers, and professionals better understand individuals with SPD has a large part of her heart, her roots have always been in historical fiction. Her long-awaited Christian historical fiction novel, When Dignity Came to Harlan, was based on her great-grandmother’s childhood, and Teaching Dignity continues the tender and heroic story. She looks forward to writing more in both the Dignity and Sensational Kids series.

In addition to writing, Rebecca enjoys family, church, educating her children at home, painting, and directing a local homeschool cooperative organization where she works hard to accommodate all special needs.

More from Rebecca

From the time I was a little girl, my grandmother would gather me around her kitchen table – usually with homemade peach pies – and tell me stories of our forebears. I found the experiences of those who came before me to be both tragic and joyful, but most of all I found them worthy of being told and never forgotten. When I was 16, I started taking notes on everything my grandmother could remember about her mother (one of the humblest and most heroic of my ancestors) and as a senior in college, I turned in the first 70 pages of the manuscript based on her childhood, When Dignity Came to Harlan. I’ll never forget how on graduation day, my creative writing teacher shook my hand and said, “Rebecca, please finish the story.” It took years to finish my debut novel… I think because I had to grow up and develop a deep enough emotional well to do it justice… but finish the story I did. Little did I know, however, this bestselling and award-winning book, the one I was always meant to write, would be the starter of a new, yet powerfully old-fashioned, Christian historical fiction series!

My Impressions

Twelve year-old Anna Beth Atwood narrates When Dignity Came to Harlan by Rebecca Duvall Scott. This is a fictionalized account of Scott’s own great-grandmother’s coming-of-age.

Gritty and straightforward, this was an emotionally difficult story to read. I would have liked to have had better warning ahead of time of some of the subject matter. The first-person narration is well-done, with excellent attention to local color and accent.

Ben and Laura Atwood move their young family of four girls from Missouri to the coal mining town of Harlan, Kentucky. Out of both work and money, they farm the girls out to their new neighbors in exchange for the girls’ room and board. And so Anna Beth’s story slowly builds in emotional intensity. I was spellbound while I was terrified for Annabeth and Grace.

While life is difficult for Anna Beth, she determines to make the most of the life she’s been handed. She is extremely brave beyond her years. I was so happy when she was able to make a few friends who sustained her through very tough times.

Anna Beth realizes she needs the faith in God that she saw in her parents and now sees in Grace. True belief in God is equated with a wonderful emotional experience.

Scott includes comprehension questions at the end (I wish she would have called them discussion questions: I felt like a jr. higher answering questions about a passage read at school). A fact vs. fiction chart is also included which is very interesting.

Notable Quotables:

Who would I become if I forgot my roots?

Secrets have a life of their own; they scratch from the inside, clawing their way to the light.

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

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Great!! Anna Beth is Bravery Personified!!

Blog Stops

deb’s Book Review, February 12

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 13

Inklings and notions, February 14

Texas Book-aholic, February 15

Locks, Hooks and Books, February 16

For Him and My Family, February 17

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, February 18

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, February 18

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, February 19 (Spotlight)

Jeanette’s Thoughts, February 19

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, February 20

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, February 21

Connie’s History Classroom, February 22

Lots of Helpers, February 23

Elly Gilbert, February 23

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 24

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, February 25

Giveaway

One winner will receive the grand prize package of signed copies of When Dignity Came to Harlan and Teaching Dignity, a handmade ornament, and popular early 1900s candy!

Click below to enter the giveaway!

https://promosimple.com/ps/1a45d/when-dignity-comes-to-harlan-celebration-tour-giveaway

Barbour, BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Favorite, Kindle, New-to-Me Author

High-Wire Heartbreak by Anna Schmidt

About the Book

Book: High-Wire Heartbreak

Author: Anna Schmidt

Genre: Christian/Romance/History

Release date: January 1, 2022

In 1936–A party at the Ringling mansion Ca d’Zan in Sarasota, Florida, leads to a robbery–and possibly death.

A successful historical mystery writer, Chloe Whitfield comes to Ca’ d’Zan to research her next novel. Chloe’s fascination with the circus is rooted in family stories of her great-grandmother Lucinda Conroy, who reportedly was a trapeze artist of some renown. She’s heard hints of scandal—and perhaps larceny, but no details.

Chloe’s grandmother—rumored to be Lucinda’s only offspring—was raised in an orphanage and never knew her mother. Intrigued as she is, Chloe has no intent of writing about Lucinda until she sees a poster featuring Lucinda as the star performer for a 70th birthday gala for John Ringling in May of 1936. From there the trail goes cold.

Who was Lucinda and what happened to her?

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions


These novels in Barbour’s The Doors to the Past series just keep getting better and better. I found High-Wire Heartbreak by Anna Schmidt to be a new favorite.

First off, I love stories that are split-time, and Schmidt does a masterful job at weaving the mystery in and out of the two storylines and finally tying them back together with an unexpected twist.

I also love stories set in a particular historical location. Schmidt so well describes Ca d’Zan in its heyday that I can’t help adding it to my bucket list of places to visit.

I can’t express how much I cared about the characters and their struggles and triumphs. Reading about Lucy early on tore my emotions up. How I wanted her to make different choices! And Chloe. While I could see where her heart was headed, I wasn’t sure how her assistant, Tilda, would affect the outcome of Chloe’s personal and professional life. What kind of wild card is Tilda in the scheme of this split-time puzzle?

And I found it to be especially heart-wrenching at times as different characters were either maligned or were desperate for love or approval that didn’t seem likely.
I did wish there were more references to how faith played an integral part in the main characters’ lives. Mostly we see a few very short prayers from Chloe.

After reading this novel by Anna Schmidt, I eagerly look forward to the next Doors to the Past story. Can it possibly top this one? And as this is my first Schmidt novel, I’m off to add other of her books to my to-be-read pile!

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

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!! Drawn into These Characters’ Lives Immediately!

About the Author

Anna Schmidt is the author of over twenty works of fiction. Among her many honors, Anna is the recipient of Romantic Times’ Reviewer’s Choice Award and a finalist for the RITA award for romantic fiction. She enjoys gardening and collecting seashells at her winter home in Florida.

More from Anna

It’s hard to split time living between Wisconsin and Sarasota Florida and NOT get caught up in the circus world! The Ringlings are icons in Sarasota where a LOT of things are named for them! But the five circus brothers got their start right here in Wisconsin. So, when the opportunity to create a story for DOORS TO THE PAST came my way, it was pretty much a no-brainer that I would go with John and Mable Ringling’s incredible home, Ca ‘d Zan as the setting. Then somehow, I stumbled on this picture:

and I knew she was my character of Lucinda, the trapeze artist whose story would drive my novel. I hope you fall in love with her—and Chloe—as I did, and most of all I hope you’ll be in touch to let me know what you thought at http://booksbyanna.com.

HAPPY READING and all best wishes, Anna

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 25

Remembrancy, January 25

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, January 25 (Author Interview)

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, January 26

For the Love of Literature, January 26

Where Faith and Books Meet, January 26

Genesis 5020, January 27

Texas Book-aholic, January 27

Inklings and notions, January 28

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 28

Rachael’s Inkwell, January 28

Austen’s Angle: Jane Austen’s Influence in Modern America, January 29

For Him and My Family, January 29

Rebecca Tews, January 29

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, January 30

deb’s Book Review, January 30

Tell Tale Book Reviews, January 31

Wishful Endings, January 31

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 31

Bizwings Blog, February 1

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, February 1

Book Butterfly in Dreamland, February 1

Older & Smarter?, February 2

Connie’s History Classroom, February 2

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, February 3 (Spotlight)

Bigreadersite, February 3

Blogging with Carol, February 3

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, February 4

Life of Literature, February 4

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, February 4

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 5

Joannabair, February 5

Blossoms and Blessings, February 6

Pause for Tales, February 6

Labor Not in Vain, February 6

Splashes of Joy, February 7

Through the Fire Blogs, February 7

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Anna is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon e-gift card and paper 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/186c0/high-wire-heartbreak-celebration-tour-giveaway

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Kindle, Love Inspired Suspense, New Author, New-to-Me Author

Buried Cold Case Secrets by Sami A Abrams Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Buried Cold Case Secrets

Author: Sami A. Abrams

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Release date: December 28, 2021

cover

Recovering her missing memories…

Could be the key to solving a murder…

Searching for her best friend’s remains could help forensic anthropologist Melanie Hutton regain her memories of when they were both kidnapped—unless the killer gets to Melanie first. For her safety, Melanie must rely on Detective Jason Cooper, who still blames her for his sister’s death. Can Jason set the past aside to solve the cold-case murder…and shield Melanie from the same fate?

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

“He wasn’t her attacker. He was worse. Her best friend’s brother, Jason Cooper, stood before her. The man who hated her guts.”

Melanie Hutton returns to the small town she left years ago, following the horrendous kidnapping of her best friend and herself. She vows to find justice for her murdered friend but doesn’t count on having to work with her best friend’s brother.
Sami Abrams brings us a fast-paced romantic suspense adventure in Buried Cold Case Secrets. I liked the trope of childhood best friend’s brother to more. Jason seemed a bit insensitive until I really understood all the baggage he was juggling for years. Then his unreliable actions make a lot of sense. Amazing how easy it is for us humans to judge each other when we don’t know somebody else’s full story. It seems the whole book was about that, yet I just realized I may have been doing that throughout the book!

I found Melanie to be incredibly brave. Just returning to her hometown is hard enough, but in her efforts to discover the truth, she eventually makes some choices that cause her some very painful results.

The hidden gem of this book? (That invaluable secondary character?) That would have to be a tie between Mrs. Evans and Keith, Jason’s partner. What a sweet, wonderful, wise, and older lady. And Keith always has Jason’s back!

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. 

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent! Great Debut Novel!

About the Author

Two-time Genesis winner Sami A. Abrams and her husband live in Northern California, but she’ll always be a Kansas girl at heart. She enjoys visiting her two grown children and spoiling their sweet fur babies. Most evenings, if Sami’s not watching sports, you’ll find her engrossed in a romantic suspense novel. She thinks a crime plus a little romance is the recipe for a great story.

More from Sami

What writer doesn’t grow up reading every chance they get? That would be me.

Until my thirties, I hated to read. Then someone told me about Terri Blackstock, and I decided to give her books a try. I was hooked. I guess there’s something to finding the right genre. Romantic Suspense is it for me. Of course, that makes sense. I love CSI, NCIS, and Criminal Minds. Over the years, I have expanded my taste, but there’s just something about suspense that keeps me coming back.

A little over five years ago, I decided to start checking off some of the items on my bucket list. I learned how to rock climb and got my scuba certification, among other things. When I got to the item, writing a novel, I sat down and pounded it out. Check the box; I was done. Wrong. God had other plans and placed some amazing people in my life.

One of those plans was attending MurderCon, a conference for writers where they learn from experts about, you guessed it…murder. Actually, it’s about police procedures, crime scene analysis…the list goes on and on. One of the workshops I attended was with a forensic anthropologist, and the idea for Melanie Hutton and Buried Cold Case Secrets was born.

I loved writing Melanie’s story. She’s a fighter and refuses to let anything stand in her way, including the man, Jason Cooper, who blames her for her best friend’s death. Jason holds on to the past and his hatred toward Melanie, but he soon learns that if he puts aside his assumptions and listens, he’ll discover the truth about the day his sister died. Letting go of his anger and blame is tough for Jason, but when he does, he finds the life he’s always wanted.

I hope you enjoy reading Melanie and Jason’s story as much as I did writing it.

I’d love to hear from you. Please visit my website at samiaabrams.com and sign up for my newsletter.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, January 8

The Avid Reader, January 8

Bigreadersite, January 8

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 9

Bizwings Blog, January 9

Texas Book-aholic, January 10

The Sacred Line, January 10

Inklings and notions, January 11

Labor Not in Vain, January 11

Betti Mace, January 11

For Him and My Family, January 12

For the Love of Literature, January 12

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, January 13 (Author Interview)

deb’s Book Review, January 13

Lights in a Dark World, January 13

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 14

Elly Gilbert, January 14

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, January 15

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 15

Mary Hake, January 15

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, January 16

Kayem Reads, January 16

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, January 17 (Spotlight)

Through the Fire Blogs, January 17

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, January 18

Britt Reads Fiction, January 18

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 19

Blogging With Carol, January 19

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, January 20

Simple Harvest Reads, January 20 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, January 21

Pause for Tales, January 21

Blossoms and Blessings, January 21

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Sami is giving away the grand prize package of a book, a coffee mug, a notebook, a pen!!

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/17198/buried-cold-case-secrets-celebration-tour-giveaway

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

Queen of the Rockies by Angela Breidenbach Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Queen of the Rockies

Author: Angela Breidenbach

Genre: Historical Romance

Release date: September 1, 2021

QotR-book1

What will her courage cost?
1889 (Helena, MT): As the gold rush era ends in the most elegant and modern city in the world and Montana emerges as a state, one woman must decide if social pressure will prevail over her own beliefs. Calista Blythe enters the first Miss Snowflake Pageant celebrating Montana at Christmastime to expose the plight of street urchins. But hiding an orphan could unravel Calista’s reputation, and her budding romance with pageant organizer, Albert Shanahan, if her secret is revealed. Will love or social pressure prevail? Courage is choosing to do the right thing regardless of the cost… Romantic, comedic adventure set in picturesque Helena, Montana written by a bestselling author who is also a professional genealogist.

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

“Miss Snowflake will be our new tourism queen. A representative of Montana’s grace and elegance. Her duties will be to help Helena, and Montana, become recognized as Queen of the Rockies to the rest of the world. Our businesses and economy depend on drawing tourists year-round.”

On the eve of Montana becoming a state, young, enterprising Albert Shanahan realizes that Montana needs to connect with the rest of the country and world if she will survive her soon-to-be-played-out gold rush. Enter his plan for a Winter Pageant involving young debutantes, Calista Blythe in particular, to help promote tourism in this beautiful new state.

I was delighted by this book. It has a swoon-worthy romance, timely themes, loveable waifs, and great quotes! Faith, courage, and pushing oneself beyond one’s comfort level to do right for the love of others are strongly encouraged.

I am always looking for secondary characters that make the storyline great or at least possible. Calista’s parents have to be on this list. While not always having the same views as Calista, they certainly love her and have great and even godly wisdom to pass on at just the appropriate times. “If I let other people’s behavior stop me because I made a mistake, I’d never follow the path God Almighty set before me.” “Daughter, there’ll always be unkind people out to trip you and laugh as you fall. Get back up and hold yourself with dignity.”

Charles and Mrs. Brown are also some of those people in this book for me, with their willingness to put everything on the line to help Calista. They even encourage her to trust God. “Sometimes, we just have to take the next step when we don’t get to see the whole path. That’s trust, Miss Calista, trust. Do you think you can trust God to show you the next step?” Then there’s Mr. Broadwater, the business mentor to Albert. Seemingly a small part of the story, he is a huge contributor to Albert’s success. “Success in business, my boy, is about timing and relationships.” He tapped his temple. “But it’s also about ingenuity. You might be in the midst of all three.”

And villains or antagonists. Every great novel needs at least one. Dora is a great one that I strongly disliked!! What an antithetical personality to sweet, loving, Calista who is always looking out for the best of others. “But for a pretty woman, her vanity and demeanor left a lot of beauty to be desired.” This is a truism we have been working to ingrain in our own children. Beauty is only as beauty does.

I should admit the obvious. I loved Calista and Albert and their struggle to romance! *Sigh!*

And the Montana visitor guide suggestions make me realize there’s more to Montana than open skies and open roads. New vacay destination ahead! Author’s notes enhance the story as well.

After finishing, I rushed to my fave online store to buy the rest of the series. I enjoyed this book that much. If you like historical fiction, impossible odds, or adults helping unwanted children, this book is a must-read!

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

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!! Loved it, Purchased rest of series!

About the Author

Angela Breidenbach is a professional genealogist, media personality, bestselling author, and screenwriter. She’s also the Christian Authors Network president. Angie lives in Montana with her hubby and Muse, a trained fe-lion, who shakes hands, rolls over, and jumps through a hoop. Surprisingly, Angie can also. Don’t miss her show and podcast, Genealogy Publishing Coach! Find her on social media: @AngBreidenbach

More from Angela

Queen of the Rockies captured my imagination and my interest in the originality of Montana’s entrance into the United States of America. The people of Montana are quite varied, a true but much unknown fact. People here come from around the world, completely different genealogical origins as well as backgrounds. The influence of gold mining, transportation, and entrepreneurship as well as the exploration of the wild and beautiful lands inspired amazing creativity for both survival and communities.

From completely uncivilized mining camps to stunning old-world know-how of the native peoples to about 100 different immigrant nations brought Montana to statehood. Today, many of those descendants still are here farming, mining, doing business. Many of those languages are still spoken. We have immigrant populations that have continued to come. So though Montana is thought to be nearly all-white Americans, that’s not anywhere close to the real Montana. Don’t believe everything you see on TV 😉 Come see for yourself.

Vibrant wildlife, dangers of the wilderness and weather, and the opportunity partnered with intensely hard-working conditions created more millionaires in one place than had ever been before. But that didn’t mean everyone knew how to handle that new wealth. Vigilantes, including a sheriff who robbed those he was supposed to protect, ran the ranges for years. The women who brought civilization tamed the men who couldn’t quite keep themselves under control. It’s these incredible women who braved the elements and the hardships that are the stars in my books. Come and meet them. They continue to inspire me today!

Touring and researching through Montana and especially the three original capitals (finally ending up with Helena) fascinated me. There’s so much to do year-round here. I enjoyed it so much that I wrote short travel articles at the back of each book for my readers. I really hope those articles will intrigue people to come and visit the ghost towns, living history towns, hot springs, mountains, and small cities. Each book in this 6-book series will share something special that may not be well-known but will be unforgettable for you as a tourist.

I hope the stories are fun, full of historic entertainment and romance, but also that you’ll have a fresh view of Montana that fires you up to come and visit our beautiful state.

Please remember to pop over to my website and send me a note through the contact page if you’d like an autographed bookplate for all of your copies of the Queen of the Rockies series. If you’re an eBook fan, I’ve heard of the brilliant idea to keep an album of your favorite authors’ bookplates. I’d be happy to send you those for an album as well.

Best wishes,

Angela Breidenbach

Blog Stops

lakesidelivingsite, January 17

Austen’s Angle: Jane Austen’s Influence in Modern America, January 17

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, January 18

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 19

Joanna Bair Author, January 19

Texas Book-aholic, January 20

Betti Mace, January 20

Inklings and notions, January 21

Connect in Fiction, January 21

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, January 22

For Him and My Family, January 22

deb’s Book Review, January 23

Blossoms and Blessings, January 23

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 24

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, January 25

Pause for Tales, January 25

Connie’s History Classroom, January 26

Tell Tale Book Reviews, January 27

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, January 27 (Spotlight)

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, January 28

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, January 28

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 29

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 30

Mary Hake, January 30

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Angela is giving away the grand prize 20-minute genealogy consultation to a winner via Zoom!!

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/17c5b/queen-of-the-rockies-celebration-tour-giveaway

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

The Lost Dutchman’s Secret by Rebekah Jones Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: The Lost Dutchman’s Secret

Author: Rebekah Jones

Genre: Christian Historical Mystery, Fairytale retelling

Release date: November 2, 2021

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There’s a deadly secret in them thar hills—and gold, or so they say.

Deeply in debt to a wealthy local, Charles Sinclair, Dorothy Hodges’ father finally promises she’ll pay and in gold, no less. If only Dorothy could take to take the promises he spins out of thin air and turn them into that gold, all would be well.

With the help of a strange, rumpled man, Dorothy does manage to bring payment to one of Sinclair’s sons only to discover it won’t pay off the debt. Will the next payment be enough?  The next?

When Charles Sinclair ends up dead, Dorothy is the obvious prime suspect, but Sinclair’s son isn’t so certain. Together they work to clear her name and find the real murderer of the Superstitions, but will they find the answers buried in those hills?

Find out in this next book in the Ever After Mysteries, combining beloved fairy tales and mysteries. The Lost Dutchman’s Secret offers a retelling of “Rumplestilskin” that requires more digging than a miner searching for The Lost Dutchman Mine.

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

“Dorothy took a deep breath. ‘Why should I trust you? I don’t know you.’ The man grinned one more time. ‘Because you know that you can’t trust Charles Sinclair. I’m your only other choice.’“

As others mention, the book starts a little slowly and it took me a while to be enticed deeply into its caverns and canyons. Once intrigued, I was eager to discover who was behind all the evil goings-on in the desert.

It was hard to imagine someone successfully pulling off the life that Charles Sinclair, a wealthy loan shark, does. His children have no idea of what he really does for a living.

I felt so badly for Dorothy. Her father is so selfish and uncaring. He even sets her up for trouble, with no desire or effort on his part to help her. Dorothy herself trusts God, often praying for help. She does have to be reminded, though, that a Christian confesses a wrong and asks forgiveness. Once that is done, we have to accept the forgiveness and move on. “To continue to dwell over and over on what you should or should not have done will change nothing. To continue to wallow in guilt seems to suggest that Christ’s blood is not enough.”

Little Hazel is adorable! I just wanted to squeeze her, and wish her brother Theo would love her as she desired.

The conclusion of the Lost Dutchman’s Secret by Rebekah Jones left me well-satisfied. Many threads come together to make it a complex mystery. The mystery is thoroughly enjoyable by this point, and I was sorry to leave our new friends behind.

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

My Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Great! Slow Start, but Intriguing Mystery!

About the Author

Rebekah Jones is first and foremost a follower of the Living God. She started writing as a little girl, seeking to glorify her King with her books and stories.
Rebekah is an old soul in a young body (she’s not 12 —honest!) While her exact age is classified, her interests are not. Among them are reading a variety of books, singing, playing, and composing music, studying all manner of subjects, nannying an adventurous group of youngsters, and, of course, writing her books, poems, articles, and short stories. She writes a wide range of books from gentle children’s adventures to family sagas to murder mysteries.

More from Rebekah

“They say that no one had ever seen gold ore like it before, neither have they ever since. Except in the possession of Jacob Waltz. His mine had ore of higher value and higher potency than any other mine found in Arizona…”

What if the Miller’s daughter from the tale of Rumpelstiltskin didn’t have to spin gold, but pay it? And because of an enormous debt – that she had no way of knowing the value? And her father wasn’t a miller, but an old miner with a penchant for carving animals while living in the Arizona desert? And what if, for her pains, she found herself mixed up in a murder?

And what if, somehow intermixed with this poor young woman and her troubles, came the legend of the Lost Dutchman’s Goldmine?

If you don’t know about the legend of that lost mine, you should. Or I think that you should. It’s a real legend as old as the 1860’s. Except, it wasn’t lost when Jacob Waltz went bragging about it. That came later.

The mountains that house the legend are magnificent. When a friend of mine came to visit me, she and I went to explore the area around the Superstition Mountains, as well as a part of the mountains themselves. Standing in a forest of cacti and brush, the jagged rocks and sharp peaks towered above my head, while a critter skittered unseen. Beautiful isn’t quite a strong enough word to describe it. As we hiked up the mountain, making our way through a myriad of desert plant life, rocks of so many shapes and sizes, and tiny critters, I could picture Dorothy, the miner’s daughter.

The modern structures and buildings in sight, faded in my mind’s eye, and I could imagine the young woman partway up the mountain in 1929, wearing her old, faded dress, and staring out across the valley. We plotted out where her father’s shack would have stood, and I made note of a perfect crevice of rock where she might have sat to think or read. I rather found myself wishing I could live out there myself, even if living in a shack in the heat of the Arizona summer doesn’t wholly appeal to me.

When I finally got in front of my manuscript again, I could see Dorothy’s world so clearly, I can only hope I managed to capture it in the book itself. I doubt if I could have captured the beauty of those mountains in words, the sight of them as they changed colors in the sunset, or the glowing starry sky above them after dark.

As for the Lost Dutchman’s Goldmine, I would be lying if I said I didn’t entertain fantasies about exploring the mountains to discover it, but we certainly did not go that far into the mountains. Besides, it was June in the Arizona desert. One does not blindly venture into the mountains on such an errand in such a time of year unless one has a death wish. It’s rather fun to imagine though. Perhaps one day, I can go on a search – though I confess, I doubt it.

As for the book, I won’t say whether that lost goldmine is discovered or not. I’ll leave that for a reader to discover for themselves.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, December 17

An Author’s Take, December 17

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 18

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 18

Texas Book-aholic, December 19

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, December 20

Genesis 5020, December 20

Inklings and notions, December 21

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 21

For Him and My Family, December 22

For the Love of Literature, December 22

deb’s Book Review, December 23

Simple Harvest Reads, December 23 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Blogging With Carol, December 24

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, December 25 (Author Interview)

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 26

Vicarious Living, December 26

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, December 27

Connect in Fiction, December 27

Connie’s History Classroom, December 28

Mary Hake, December 28

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, December 29

Back Porch Reads, December 29

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, December 30

Through the Fire blogs, December 30

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Rebekah is giving away the grand prize package of $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/14f1b/the-lost-dutchman-s-secret-celebration-tour-giveaway

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

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

About the Book

Book:  A Giant Murder

Author: Marji Laine

Genre: Christian Historical Mystery, Fairytale retelling

Release date: August 3, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

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

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

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

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

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

Notable Quotables:

“Where goes suspicion seldom goes grace,”

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

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

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

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

My Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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

About the Author

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

More from Marji

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

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

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

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

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

Date Candy

1 box – light brown sugar

4 T – corn syrup

½ pt – whipping cream

1 cup – dates

1 cup – pecans

1 t – vanilla

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

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

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, September 17

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, September 17

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 18

For the Love of Literature, September 18

Inklings and notions, September 19

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

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, September 20

For Him and My Family, September 20

deb’s Book Review, September 21

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 21

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 22

A Reader’s Brain, September 23

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 23

Connie’s History Classroom, September 24

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

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, September 25

Mary Hake, September 25

Rebecca Tews, September 26

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, September 26

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 27

Connect in Fiction, September 28

Bigreadersite, September 28

Through the fire blogs, September 29

Blogging With Carol, September 30

Back Porch Reads, September 30

Giveaway

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

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