BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, NetGalley

The Refrain Within, #3 Music of Hope by Liz Tolsma Celebrate Lit Tour and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: The Refrain Within

Author: Liz Tolsma

Genre: WWII Fiction

Release Date: September 29, 2020

the refrain within cover

To save a life, would you betray everyone you love?

Hungary in 1944 is a dark place. The Nazis have invaded and turned the country upside down, their evil making its way into every life.

Clarinetist Eva Bognar is engaged to conductor and composer Patrik Kedves, happily planning her wedding. At first she doesn’t think the war will affect her directly; everyone around her can be trusted to do the right thing. Then her Jewish best friend and sister-in-law Zofia goes missing–and instead of the Gestapo being to blame, a friend says it was Patrik who led Zofia away. Has he betrayed Eva and everything the family stands for?

When the rest of the family’s lives are directly threatened, Patrik’s secrets must come to light. The Bognars flee for the border in hopes of getting out of the country to the safety of Palestine. Eva must put her life and the lives of everyone she loves in the hands of the very man who betrayed her–and they may not all make it out of the war alive . . .

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

“Which sin was worse- murder or lying?” So wonders Bognar Éva in The Refrain Within, a Christian WWII novel by Liz Tolsma. Musician Éva sees life’s choices as being very clear and decisive, with no middle ground. As the Germans oppress Hungarians daily, Éva doesn’t understand all the reasons the Gestapo is after her sister-in-law. When her fiancé, Kedves Patrik is not the person Éva thought, whom will Éva be able to trust?


This is a novel so moving and haunting that I sped through it as it made my blood run cold. I had to find out what would happen before the suspense, so palpable, was my undoing. Families being torn apart ripped at my own soul. The reality and historical accuracy is spot on. The warmth of the music was a fitting counterpoint to the cold reality of spies and war.

I loved the fact that there were Messianic Jews in the story. Hope, faith, betrayal, forgiveness, and love- truly beautiful love- shone against a dismal backdrop of occupied Hungary. Those who enjoy inspirational WWII fiction will not want to miss The Refrain Within.
I received a complimentary copy of the book from Celebrate Lit via NetGalley. I am voluntarily leaving my thoughts, which represent only my opinions.

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!

About the Author

Passionate might best describe Liz Tolsma. She loves writing, research, and editing. Her passion shone through in her first novel which was a double award finalist. On any given day, you might find her pulling weeds in her perennial garden, walking her hyperactive dog, or curled up with a good book. Nothing means more to her than her family. She’s married her high-school sweetheart twenty-eight years ago. Get her talking about international adoption, and you might never get her to stop. She and her husband adopted three children, including a son who is a U.S. Marine, and two daughters.

More from Liz

This is the third book in a series all set around music. The first heroine, Anna in The Melody of the Soul, was a violinist. The second heroine, Natia in When the Heart Sings, sang beautifully. So what did I choose for this heroine?

When I was in fifth grade, the band teacher from the middle school came to our class and encouraged us to join. She brought instruments with her for us to try. I really wanted to play the flute. I thought it was very feminine. But all the girls wanted to play that, and I would have to be really good to get a good chair. So I decided on the clarinet. I played all through middle school and high school, making first chair a couple of times. I participated in marching band and in solo and ensemble contests, earning a couple of first places in state competitions. Even after my “career” ended, I continued to play from time to time. I still play in church. I love the rich, full sound of the instrument. When played well, the clarinet is beautiful. It can be playful and happy or dark and sad. It can skip and it can cry. I’m very glad now that I chose the clarinet instead of the flute.

That’s why the heroine of The Refrain Within plays the clarinet. In fact, she comes from a family of clarinet makers, and her family stamp on the barrel of a clarinet means a great deal to her. As God would have it, my editor, Janyre Tromp, is also a clarinet player. Between the two of us, we worked hard bring out the unique aspects of playing clarinet, like the callous that forms on the inside of your bottom lip.

Eva is a special character to me because we share this passion for the clarinet. There have been many times throughout my life that my clarinet has skipped with me and plenty of times when it has cried with me. Music is God’s beautiful gift to us, and I thank Him for the opportunity to share some of that with you in The Refrain Within.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, October 23

Among the Reads, October 23

Maureen’s Musings, October 23

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, October 24

Texas Book-aholic, October 24

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 25

deb’s Book Review, October 25

21st Century Keeper at Home, October 25

By The Book, October 26

lakesidelivingsite, October 26

A Baker’s Perspective, October 26

Inklings and notions, October 27

CarpeDiem, October 27

Mary Hake, October 27

For Him and My Family, October 28

Reflections From My Bookshelves, October 28

Emily Yager, October 28

Locks, Hooks and Books, October 29

Older & Smarter?, October 29

Genesis 5020, October 29

Betti Mace, October 30

Christian Bookaholic, October 30

Sara Jane Jacobs, October 30

Artistic Nobody, October 31 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Simple Harvest Reads, October 31 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Rebecca Tews, November 1

Ashley’s Bookshelf, November 1

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 1

Connie’s History Classroom, November 2

Where Crisis & Christ Collide, November 2

Splashes of Joy, November 2

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, November 3

As He Leads is Joy, November 3

Bigreadersite, November 3

Pause for Tales, November 4

Hallie Reads, November 4

Southern Gal Loves to Read, November 4

Amanda Tero, author, November 5

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, November 5

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, November 5

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Liz is giving away the grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
https://promosimple.com/ps/102a9/the-refrain-within-celebration-tour-giveaway
ARC, BLOG, Favorite, NetGalley, Purchase, Waterbrook-Multnomah

The Librarian of Boone’s Hollow by Kim Vogel Sawyer

About the Book

Title: The Librarian of Boone’s Hollow

Author: Kim Vogel Sawyer

Publisher: Waterbrook-Multnomah

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

A traveling librarian ventures into the mining towns of Kentucky on horseback and rediscovers her passions in this powerful novel from the best-selling author of A Silken Thread.

During the Great Depression, Addie Cowherd dreams of being a novelist and offering readers the escape that books gave her during her tragic childhood. When her adoptive father loses his job, she is forced to leave college and take the only employment she can find–delivering books on horseback to poor coal mining families in the hills of Kentucky.

The small community of Boone’s Hollow is suspicious of outsiders and steeped in superstitions that leave Addie feeling rejected and indignant. Although she finds an unexpected friend in an elderly outcast, the other horseback librarians scorn her determination to befriend Nanny Fay.

Emmett Tharp grew up in the tiny mountain hamlet where most men either work in the coal mine or run moonshine. He’s the first in the community to earn a college degree, and he has big dreams, but witnesses the Depression robbing many young men of their future.

Then someone sets out to sabotage the library program, going so far as to destroy Addie’s novel in progress. Will the saboteur chase Addie and the other librarians away, or will knowledge emerge victorious over prejudice? Is Emmett the local ally that Addie needs–and might their friendship lead to something more?

Inspired by the real WPA program that sent librarians on horseback to deliver books to hill families in Kentucky, Kim Vogel Sawyer immersed herself in Appalachian history to tell this captivating story.

My Impressions

A while back, some polls were taken of Christian fiction readers. Many said their favorite fiction book of all time was Catherine Marshall’s Christy. Now we are blessed with several Christy-like books on the market. Certainly, the Appalachia of times gone by has a nostalgic pull for readers.
Kim Vogel Sawyer’s depiction of the Kentucky hills and her proud, but superstitious people will sate some of the longings to know these people who lived by their own code of honor. It wasn’t enough to live in the hills, one needed to be born and bred in the hills, know the neighbors from birth, and adhere to the superstitions.


In 1936, Addie Cowherd and Emmett Tharp, near strangers, and separate of each other, leave college in Lexington, KY, and attempt to make their respective homes in Boone’s Hollow (pronounced ”Holler” by the mountain folk). Emmett is rejected because of his outside education; Addie, for being a total stranger to an area where being a stranger ”like to as not” can get you shot on sight.
Sawyer shows us throughout the story what life in the mountains could be like. Superstitions run high, distrust of strangers is learned early, family feuds are fed for generations, and anyone stepping off the mountain is seen as a traitor.
Stills hide in the trees, feeding addiction, which then, in turn, feeds abuse, yet neighbors refuse to break the ”code of honor.”


I couldn’t believe that at the end of the story, Ms. Sawyer had me loving the person she had shown unlovable. That’s talent! And those are characters- who can forgive that mightily! So much to learn, more than even reading, from the people of ”Boone Holler.”
My two favorite characters (who like to be too shy to take a bow) would be Emmett’s mother, Damaris, and Nanny Fay. They just might could be the backbone of the mountain.
I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley. I also bought my own copy, to be sure I didn’t miss it. All opinions are my own, and no positive review was required.
Notable Quotables:
“…yawning during a sermon is most certainly a sin.”
“Just ’cause nobody else knows you done somethin’ extra special don’t mean it ain’t special.”
”She’d cracked that mirror herself so her soul could escape if the mirror captured it, but she didn’t want to take no chances by looking at herself too long.”

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!

About the Author

Award-winning, bestselling author Kim Vogel Sawyer told her kindergarten teacher that someday people would check out her book in the library. The little-girl dream came true in 2006 with the release of Waiting for Summer’s Return. Kim’s titles now exceed 1.5 million copies and are available in six different languages. A former elementary school teacher, she now enjoys a full-time writing and speaking ministry. Kim’s passion lies in writing stories that point the reader to a deeper, more intimate relationship with God. When Kim isn’t writing, you’ll find her traveling with her retired military hubby, spoiling her granddarlings, petting the cats, quilting, or–as time allows–participating in community theater. You can learn more about Kim’s writing and speaking ministries at her website, KimVogelSawyer.com. 

Bethany House, BLOG, NetGalley

At Love’s Command, #1 Hanger’s Horsemen by Karen Witemeyer

About the Book

Title: At Love’s Command  53166117._SX318_SY475_

Series: #1 Hanger’s Horsemen

Author: Karen Witemeyer

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Released: June 2020

Genre: Christian Historical Romance, Western

 

 

 

 

Ex-cavalry officer Matthew Hanger leads a band of mercenaries who defend the innocent, but when a rustler’s bullet leaves one of them at death’s door, they seek out help from Dr. Josephine Burkett. When Josephine’s brother is abducted and she is caught in the crossfire, Matthew may have to sacrifice everything–even his team–to save her.

 

My Review

Karen Witemeyer can be counted on for several hours of enjoyable historical fiction. At Love’s Command, #1 Hanger’s Horsemen, is no exception. Captain Matthew Hanger and 3 other men are so disillusioned with the atrocities of victory at Wounded Knee (1890) that they leave the military and join to form a vigilante service to solve crimes the local lawmen can’t. But this group, Hanger’s Horsemen, agrees not to use their guns to kill unless absolutely necessary.
This is the story of how Matt Hanger and Josephine Burkett meet. This novel proves that adage, “There’s somebody for everyone.”
Matthew seems so grief and conscience-stricken that he is only able to be a commanding military figure, kind and caring to his comrades, but otherwise without emotions or entanglements. He just isn’t the type to go soft in the head over some female.

At Love's Command 1
It takes someone like Jo who isn’t cowed by his “I’m in-charge” demeanor, but who is also abundantly capable in her field to catch his attention. While I appreciated Matt’s growing admiration for Jo, I felt like her lack of listening to him at times could have been downright dangerous. I wanted her to respect him a little more in his area of expertise. Just my opinion.
I look forward to reading the stories of the other Horsemen, but especially Jonah, who is a man of color. He already promises to be a very unique and interesting person, who might educate a few of us.

At Love's Command 2
Another point of interest in the novel for me is the faith element. It is an integral part, without being drawn-out or preachy. Just shown as the basis for life.
Redemption and growing up are also themes of this book, thank goodness. Our God is a God of second chances, but sometimes it is hard to know if you dare trust a promise-breaker again.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley. I was not required to leave a positive review. These are my own thoughts, voluntarily submitted.

 

My Rating

5 Stars – Superior- Hits My Reading Sweet Spot!

 

About the Author

3114906For those who love to smile as they read, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer offers warmhearted historical romance with a flair for humor, feisty heroines, and swoon-worthy Texas heroes. A transplant from California, Karen came to Texas for college, met a cowboy disguised as a computer nerd, married him, and never left the state that had become home.

Winner of the National Reader’s Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, ACFW Carol Award, Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, and a finalist for both the RITA and Christy Awards, Karen is a firm believer in the power of happy endings. . . and ice cream. She also loves to reward her readers. Every month she gives away two inspirational historical novels to someone from her newsletter list and offers substantial bonus content on her website. To learn more about Karen and her books, or to join her subscriber list, please visit www.karenwitemeyer.com.

 

BLOG, PB, Revell

A Reckless Love, #3 The Daughtry House Series by Beth White

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About the Book

Title: A Reckless Love

Series: #3 The Daughtry House

Author: Beth White

Publisher: Revell

Released: June 2020

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

On the trail of an elusive enemy, cynical, war-damaged lawman Zane Sager crosses paths once more with Aurora Daughtry, the vivacious Mississippi belle he once admired from a distance. As his defenses start to crumble, the criminal he’s been pursuing reminds him that that no one he loves is safe. Ever.

 

My Review

“Zane’s first thought when he came to was that the world was coming to an end.” With an explosive start like that, Beth White quickly lights a fire under the reader to delve into her last story of the Daughtry House series, A Reckless Love.
I was a little confused at first, because this sister’s chronicle backtracks a little from where the last book ended. But White has her reasons. By the way, this is one series that needs to be read in order.
The year is 1870, and slavery has been abolished. Many on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line struggle with racial equality. When Judge Teague, a beloved mentor of Deputy Marshall Sager, is attacked for ruling over a race-related trial, Sager vows to visit justice upon the guilty. Sager gets to know the Daughtry sisters as he works with Riggins, Selah’s husband, who is also a Pinkerton. Both men are working at ending organized racial intimidation and suppression in the South.

A Reckless Love 1
I find Aurora amazing in that she has a good business head at nineteen, but she is also high-handed, determined to orchestrate events as she sees fit. Every one else had better get in line behind her. She is a tough cookie but loves anyone with a good heart. She is brave and unconventional.
Sager is independent, also brave, and other than the judge, not one to be close to others. His appearance helps out his tenacious personality, but he is hiding a weakness. Plus, he failed at the protection gig once. He is afraid of failing again. If “there is no fear in love,” then there is no love in fear.
White, like Joelle, has a proclivity towards big words. I had to google quite a few definitions. I very much enjoyed getting to know all three of the Daughtry sisters in this series.

A Reckless Love 2
Notable Quotables:

”Find a man who serves Christ first. Then his love for you will fall rightly.”

“Honey, we all get left behind at some time or another. Only one person is always there.”

“And when somebody gives you a hand out of the mud, you don’t spit on it just because it doesn’t land you exactly where you want to go.”

“…secrets were burdensome things.”

“…he packed more raw emotion into one eye than most people conveyed in two.”

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and Revell Reads program. This in no way affects my opinions, which are solely my own.

 

My Rating

 5 Stars- Superior – Hits My Reading Sweet Spot

 

About the Author

Beth White teaches music at an inner-city high school in historic Mobile, Alabama. Her 7129454hobbies include playing flute and pennywhistle and painting, but her real passion is writing historical romance with a Southern drawl.

A native Mississippian, she is a pastor’s wife, mother of two, and grandmother of two–so far.

Also published as Elizabeth White, her novels have won the American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award, the RT Book Club Reviewers Choice Award, and the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award.

You can get in touch with Beth on Twitter @bethsquill and her website can be found at http://www.bethwhite.net/.

 

 

 

 

BLOG, Favorite, PB, Revell

What Momma Left Behind by Cindy K Sproles

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About the Book

Title: What Momma Left Behind

Author: Cindy K Sproles

Publisher: Revell

Released: June 2020

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

Worie Dressar is seventeen years old when influenza and dysentery ravage her Appalachian Mountain community in 1898, leaving behind a growing number of orphaned children with no way to care for themselves. Worie’s mother has been secretly feeding a number of these little ones on Sourwood Mountain. But when she dies suddenly, Worie is left to figure out why and how she was caring for them.

Plagued with two good-for-nothing brothers–one greedy and the other a drunkard–Worie fights to save her home and the orphaned children now in her begrudging care. Along the way, she will discover the beauty of unconditional love and the power of forgiveness as she cares for all of Momma’s children.

Storyteller and popular speaker Cindy K. Sproles pens a tender novel full of sacrifice, heartache, and courage in the face of overwhelming obstacles.

 

My Review

I want this over with. I want things back to the way they was. We didn’t ask for this mess.
And every minute that passes just pours more manure on top of us.” No, this is not
someone present-day talking about the Corona virus. This is 17-year-old Worie Dressar,
who in 1877 has watched both the flu and typhoid decimate her part of Appalachia. Now,
Worie’s mother is gone, and Worie’s faith is put to a fearsome test as 1877 proves to be
the hardest year of her young life.
Why should you pick up this book, what Momma Left Behind, by Cindy K Sproles? First,
it’s amazing to think sometimes that there was another time and place as arduous as this
year (2020) has seemed. There can be something comforting to see someone go through
something- a pandemic and separation from society, no less, and realize it’s possible to
come out alive and more mature on the other side. Oh, but the process!
Then there’s that quaintness about the speech patterns of the mountain people that pulls
you into the story faster than you can say “moonshine.” One example:
“Anger crawled up from the deepest part of me, hurt seeped outta my heart, and fear eat
at me like a hungry buzzard. Momma had left me in more ways than one.”
This novel is very reminiscent of Christy by Catherine Marshall. There’s even a young,
interested preacher. Pastor Jess is such a good complement to Worie. He has such a great
soothing way with people when Worie tends to fly off the handle.
What Momma Left Behind 1
I loved all, no, most, of the secondary characters. But all were well-drawn, even Calvin,
Justice, and deceased Momma.
Ely is a voice to be reckoned with. One part comfort, one part Scripture, one part reproof,
one part encouragement.
The children. They were my undoing.
I never knew what to expect around the bend, be it literal or figurative.
Sproles deftly diffuses more than one molasses-like sticky situation with humor and I
found myself laughing out loud. Sometimes the tears came. But then, I’d think how
strong the mountain women were.
As Momma would say, “Take a day to mourn your lot, then shovel it over your shoulder
and move ahead.”
What Momma Left Behind 2
The values of family, hope, and forgiveness shine above judgment and false self-
perception. You may move beyond this novel, but a piece of Sourwood Mountain will
forever rest in your soul.
Notable Quotables:

“I’d heard folks talk about lightnin striking twice in one place. I reckon it had done struck me twice and then some.”

“Them mountains, they’s like the hills and valleys in our souls. We can’t have one without the other, but we can figure the best way to
climb.”

“I thought trust was something you could find, but I’m seein it ain’t found- it’s gived.”

“…truth ain’t promised to be easy, but it is promised to always be right.”

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell. This in no way affects my opinions, which are solely my own.

My Rating

5 Stars – Superior – Hits My Reading Sweet Spot

 

About the Author

Cindy Sproles is an author and speaker. She has cofounded ChristianDevotions.us and serves as managing editor for SonRise Books and Straight Street Books, imprints of 214Fl3syn+L._CR0,0,160,160_UX160Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas/Iron Stream Media. Cindy teaches at Christian Writers Conferences and ladies retreats and ladies conferences across the country. Her devotions are heartfelt and honest. Edgy and inviting. Cindy serves as the executive editor of ChristianDevotions.us, a writing mentor, and life-coach.She shares mentoring with best-selling author, Yvonne Lehman at Write Right. Author of four non-fiction books, Cindy’s Fiction debut novel, Mercy’s Rain(Kregel Publishing), was book of the year and her second novel, Liar’s Winter won numerous awards. Cindy’s 3rd Appalachian Novel, Revell Publishing, What Momma Left Behind, releases June 2,2020 She is a contributing author to CBN.com and InspireaFire.com and serves as the director of the Asheville Christian Writers Conference. Visit her at http://www.cindysproles.com or contact her at cindyksproles@gmail.com

Cindy is available for speaking events by contacting her at cindyksproles@gmail.com.

 

 

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

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

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

House-at-the-End-of-the-Moor-FB-Banner

About the Book

Book:  House at the End of the Moor

Author: Michelle Griep

Genre:  Christian Historical9781643523422-197x300

Release Date: April 2020

 

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

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

 

Click here for your copy!

 

My Review

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

House End Moor 1

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

House End Moor 2

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

My Rating

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

 

About the Author

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

 

 

More from Michelle

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Blog Stops

Batya’s Bits, April 18

The Avid Reader, April 18

Life of Literature, April 18

The Power of Words, April 18

For Him and My Family, April 19

Texas Book-aholic, April 19

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, April 19

Among the Reads, April 20

My Devotional Thoughts, April 20

As He Leads is Joy, April 20

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, April 20

Just the Write Escape, April 21

Reflections From My Bookshelves, April 21

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, April 21

Where Faith and Books Meet, April 22

deb’s Book Review, April 22

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, April 22

Inklings and notions, April 22

Remembrancy, April 23

Hookmeinabook, April 23

Christian Bookaholic, April 23

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, April 23

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, April 24

Britt Reads Fiction, April 24

Emily Yager, April 24

Betti Mace, April 25

Stories By Gina, April 25

Adventures of a Traveling Wife, April 25

Blossoms and Blessings, April 25

Splashes of Joy, April 26

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

Vicky Sluiter, April 26

Locks, Hooks and Books, April 26

Blessed & Bookish, April 27

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, April 27

Pause for Tales, April 27

Through the Fire Blogs, April 28

Hallie Reads, April 28

Faery Tales Are Real, April 28

To Everything There Is A Season, April 28

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, April 29

Bigreadersite, April 29

Older & Smarter?, April 29

Tell Tale Book Reviews, April 29

Genesis 5020, April 30

Read Review Rejoice, April 30

By The Book, April 30

For the Love of Literature, April 30

All-of-a-kind Mom, May 1

Bookishly Beverly, May 1

Daysong Reflections, May 1

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

 Giveaway

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

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

https://promosimple.com/ps/f8e2/the-house-at-the-end-of-the-moor-celebration-tour-giveaway

Barbour, BLOG, NetGalley

The Blue Cloak: True Colors by Shannon McNear with Giveaway

About the Book

Book:  The Blue  Cloak

Author: Shannon McNear

Genre:  Christian Historical/Suspense 9781643523149-197x300

Release Date: March 2020

Evil Incarnate Leaves a Trail of Destruction across the Frontier

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

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

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

 

Click here for your copy.

My Review

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

 

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

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

 

My Rating

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

 

 

About the Author

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

 

More from Shannon

How dark is too dark for a Christian to write?

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

Is God stronger than the darkness, or not?

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

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

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

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

Blog Stops

Just the Write Escape, March 24

Texas Book-aholic, March 24

Inklings and notions, March 25

Girls in White Dresses, March 25

Emily Yager, March 25

Godly Book Reviews, March 26

Genesis 5020, March 26

Remembrancy, March 26

Among the Reads, March 27

Through the Fire Blogs, March 27

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, March 28

Christian Bookaholic, March 28

Inside the Wong Mind, March 28

For the Love of Literature, March 29

For Him and My Family, March 29

Betti Mace, March 30

Older & Smarter?, March 30

deb’s Book Review, March 30

Robin’s Nest, March 31

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, March 31

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, April 1

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, April 1

Stories By Gina, April 1

By The Book, April 2

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, April 2

Blossoms and Blessings, April 2

A Reader’s Brain, April 3

Connie’s History Classroom, April 3

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

Tell Tale Book Reviews, April 4

Back Porch Reads, April 4

Daysong Reflections, April 4

Locks, Hooks and Books, April 5

Pause for Tales, April 5

Britt Reads Fiction, April 5

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, April 6

Hallie Reads, April 6

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

Giveaway 

To celebrate her tour, Shannon is giving away the grand prize package of a copy of The Blue Cloak and a $25 Amazon gift card!!

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

https://promosimple.com/ps/f7a3/the-blue-cloak-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

Barbour, BLOG, NetGalley

The Gray Chamber by Grace Hitchcock

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About the Book

Title: The Gray Chamber

Series: True Colors: Historical Stories of American Crimes

Author: Grace Hitchcock

Publisher: Barbour

Released: January 2020

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

Will Edyth prove her sanity before it is too late?

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

With her late father’s fortune under her uncle’s care until her twenty-fifth birthday in the year 1887, Edyth Foster does not feel pressured to marry or to bow to society’s demands. She freely indulges in eccentric hobbies like fencing and riding her velocipede in her cycling costume about the city for all to see. Finding a loophole in the will, though, her uncle whisks Edyth off to the women’s lunatic asylum just weeks before her birthday. Do any of Edyth’s friends care that she disappeared?

At the asylum, she meets another inmate, who upon discovering Edyth’s plight, confesses that she is Nellie Bly, an undercover journalist for The World. Will either woman find a way to leave the terrifying island and reclaim her true self?

 

My Review

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

Gray Chamber 1


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

Gray Chamber 2


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

My Rating

5 Stars- Hits My Reading Sweet Spot

About the Author

Grace Hitchcock is the author of The White City and The Gray Chamber from Barbour 16145482Publishing. She has written multiple novellas in The Second Chance Brides, The Southern Belle Brides, and the Thimbles and Threads collections with Barbour Publishing. She holds a Masters in Creative Writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in History. Grace lives in southern Louisiana with her husband, Dakota, and son. Visit Grace online at GraceHitchcock.com.

 

 

 

 

Barbour, BLOG, NetGalley

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

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About the Book

Title: The Rebel Bride

Series: The Daughters of the Mayflower

Author: Shannon McNear

Publisher: Barbour

Released: December 2019

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

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

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

My Review

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

Rebel Bride 2.png


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

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

My Rating

4 Stars – Excellent – I Would Recommend This Book.

About the Author

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour

Love’s Allegiance #4 Wartime Brides by Linda Shenton Matchett

Loves-Allegiance-FB-Banner

About the Book

Book: Love’s Allegiance

Author: Linda Shenton Matchett

Genre:  Historical Romance

Release Date: August 15, 2019

Loves-Allegiance-ebook-jpg-cover-198x300With most U.S. boys fighting for Uncle Sam in far off countries, Rochelle Addams has given up hope for a wedding in her future. Then she receives an intriguing offer from a distant relative to consider a marriage of convenience.

Conscientious objector Irwin Terrell is looking forward to his assignment at Shady Hills Mental hospital to minister to the less fortunate in lieu of bearing arms. At the arrival of the potential bride his father has selected for him, Irwin’s well-ordered life is turned upside down. And after being left at the altar two years ago, he has no interest in risking romance again.

Despite his best efforts to remain aloof to Rochelle, Irwin is drawn to the enigmatic and beautiful young woman, but will time run out before his wounded heart can find room for her?

Inspired by the biblical love story of Rebekkah and Isaac, Love’s Allegiance explores the struggles and sacrifices of those whose beliefs were at odds with a world at war.

 

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

Set in Pennsylvania in 1943, this war romance introduces Rochelle Addams and Irwin Terrell. Linda Shenton Matchett has written Love’s Allegiance with two goals in mind, maybe three. First, Matchett provides a modern-day retelling of Isaac and Rebekkah. Secondly, we get a glimpse inside mental hospitals at the time, and thirdly, we are shown the poor treatment of Conscientious Objectors during World War II.

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We need more people who think like Irwin working with our mentally ill and special needs people. He realized the value of a person and gave that person the dignity of having space to prove himself.
The romance seemed to be written in a minor key. I kept hoping the “song” would hit some major key phrases, but they didn’t stand out. I wanted to be shown more than told. I really did appreciate the education I received about Co’s role in WWII. I didn’t realize things were quite so difficult once they volunteered.

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I think there are many who might really enjoy this book. You may want to check this book out. Points to Matchett for the reader’s guide with questions and the historical notes at the end.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author via Celebrate Lit. This in no way influenced my opinion, which is solely my own.

My Rating

4 Stars- Excellent- I Would Recommend This Book.

About the Author

Linda-Matchett-Head-Shot-200x300Linda Shenton Matchett is an author, speaker, and history geek. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, she was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry and has lived in historic places all her life. Linda is a member of ACFW, RWA, and Sisters in Crime. She is a volunteer docent and archivist for the Wright Museum of WWII and a trustee for her local public library.

 

More from Linda

Love’s Allegiance is the fourth book in the Wartime Brides series that retells biblical stories by setting them during World War II. Each story was challenging to write in some way, and this novella was no different.

While brainstorming ways to twist Rebekkah’s and Isaacs’s love story, I happened to take a phone call from my younger brother who is a pastor. I mentioned my quandary that I wasn’t sure which aspect of the home front to address with their story, and he suggested the topic of conscientious objectors (COs).

After we hung up, I realized I knew very little about COs and that I wasn’t sure how I felt about them. Were they cowards, as many people assumed? Were they right? Wrong? Were their convictions biblically based?

I began my research by reading first-person account articles and watched oral history interviews with men who served in the Civilian Public Service, a government organization created to use COs who refused military service as medics and other non-combatant roles. More than 12,000 conscientious objectors chose not to take up arms during the war, and I knew I had to tell their side of the story.

Blog Stops

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 8

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, November 9

Batya’s Bits, November 9

Blossoms and Blessings, November 10

Betti Mace, November 11

Rebecca Tews, November 11

Genesis 5020, November 12

mpbooks, November 13

As He Leads is Joy, November 13

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess , November 14

Back Porch Reads, November 15

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 16

Texas Book-aholic, November 17

For Him and My Family, November 17

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, November 18

janicesbookreviews, November 19

Inspired by fiction, November 19

A Reader’s Brain, November 20

Inklings and notions , November 21

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, November 21

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Linda is giving away all four books in the Wartime Brides series and a $10 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/f029/love-s-allegiance-celebration-tour-giveaway