BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Kindle, Purchase

A Sprinkle in Time by Dana Mentink Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: A Sprinkle in Time

Author: Dana Mentink

Genre: Cozy mystery (general market)

Release date: May 24, 2022

Asprinkleintime

It’s Alpenfest in Upper Sprocket! Yodelers are congregating in the square, tourists flocking to the town, and Trinidad Jones is scooping up some fall flavors at her Shimmy and Shake Shop.

The cherry on the sundae is her upcoming feature in Go West magazine. She’s determined to serve up the perfect interview, but it won’t be easy, thanks in part to her meddling Cuban grandfather Papa Luis who has decided to make Sprocket his home for the foreseeable future. Papa Luis has set himself up as a taxi driver in his classic 1951 Buick.

But things take a turn when Papa Luis tells her he’s found a corpse in his trunk. Upon closer investigation, they realize the body has disappeared. With the assistance of Juliette and Bonnie (her sisterhood of exes) and the way too handsome nut farmer Quinn Logan, Trinidad must solve the mystery of the disappearing corpse, before her father is up to his neck in a murderous mess.

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

Life can be hard. Enter cozies like A Sprinkle in Time by Dana Mentink. Clean, with a sweet romance, whose amateur sleuth runs a delectable shake shop. A dog, a child, precocious twins who work for the shake shop, and lovable Papa Luis. Plus, of course, plenty of suspects. “Murder, mayhem, and milkshakes. Who’d a thunk it?”

Trinidad Jones becomes someone I truly care about in this book. I am amazed at how she and Gabe’s two other former wives forgive each other and actually become friends. Not just friends, but family, as thick as blood. Now there is a small cluster of characters to follow and enjoy in this town of Upper Sprocket. Fun!

I enjoy the inclusion of dogs, children, and special-needs people, and Dana Mentink brings them all to our Shimmy and Shake Shop story. Noodles is old, but what a loyal companion, and, wow, does he have an amazing ability or two! Little Felice adds warmth and vulnerability to the tale. Doug, the special-needs brother of Trinity’s love interest, Quinn, adds reality and complexity to the novel.

Mentink has a good sense of humor and I laughed out loud several times. Just what I want out of a cozy. Mystery, romance, great characters, laughter. A fun occupation that the sleuth actually works at. I am happy to report I made it through the book without indulging in ice cream! But, can you?

I am looking forward to more murder and mayhem in Upper Sprocket! Plus more Freakshakes!

—————————————————————————

I received a copy of the book from Celebrate Lit. (I also bought my own copy.) No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

————————————————————————-

Notable Quotables:

“He was merely a friend the way a Ming vase was just an old pot.”

“There’s your plan and God’s plan, and your plan…” “Doesn’t count,”

“Maybe it’s one of those weird small-town happenings.” “A body in your trunk isn’t a happening, it’s a horror movie,”

“It wasn’t an easy thing to command the heart to feel what the brain ordered.”

“Rumors carry so much more weight than the truth, sometimes.”

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Magnificent! Frozen Desserts, Just Deserts, and Justice

About the Author

Dana Mentink is a USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author as well as a two-time American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award winner, and the recipient of a Holt Medallion. She’s written over fifty titles in the suspense, lighthearted romance and mystery genres. She is pleased to write for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense, and Poisoned Pen Press. You can connect with Dana via her website at danamentink.com, on Facebook, YouTube (Author Dana Mentink) and Instagram (dana_mentink.)

More from Dana

Who wouldn’t want to visit Upper Sprocket? Sure there’s the odd corpse that turns up, but it’s a charming place, complete with a rail riders excursion business and the Shimmy and Shake Shop, run by the determined Trinidad Jones. It’s fall in Sprocket and the locals are hosting a series of Alpenfest events with everything from yodeling performances to sausage cook offs. Papa Luis, Trinidad’s grandfather is happy to shuttle people around in his classic Chevy Bel Air until a body turns up in his truck. But other than that, Sprocket is an idyllic place with a newly opened train car inn operated by Bonnie, one of three women who were married at various times to the same rapscallion of a man. Oh, and then there’s Noodles, Trinidad’s senior Labrador retriever who has learned how to operate the windshield wipers which comes in handy as stormy weather approaches. Trinidad, Papa, Bonnie and Noodles along with other Sprocket residents are going to have their hands full as Alpenfest kicks off and gruesome items begin to pop up around town. Come along on the adventure as Trinidad wades knee deep into the sticky mess.

Railriding research with my sister!

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, May 21

The Write Escape, May 21

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, May 22

She Lives To Read, May 22

Daysong Reflections, May 23

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 23

Texas Book-aholic, May 24

Pause for Tales, May 24

Inklings and notions, May 25

Blossoms and Blessings, May 25

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, May 26

For Him and My Family, May 26

deb’s Book Review, May 27

Blogging With Carol, May 27

Locks, Hooks and Books, May 28

Christina’s Corner, May 29

Tell Tale Book Reviews, May 29

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, May 30

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

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, May 31

Labor Not in Vain, May 31

Bigreadersite, June 1

Vicky Sluiter, June 1

Genesis 5020, June 2

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 2

Lighthouse-Academy, June 3

A Good Book and cup of Tea, June 3

Giveaway

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

(If the winner is outside the U.S., then he or she will receive an eBook.)

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/1df1a/a-sprinkle-in-time-celebration-tour-giveaway

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

Love’s Fortress by Jennifer Uhlarik Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Love’s Fortress

Author: Jennifer Uhlarik

Genre: Christian Fiction / Historical fiction / Romance

Release date: March, 2022

9781636091815 (2)

A Love Story from the Past Brings Closure to Dani’s Fractured Family

Walk through Doors to the Past via a series of historical stories of romance and adventure.

When Dani Sango’s art forger father passes away, Dani inherits his home. Among his effects is a book of Native American drawings, which leads her to seek the help of museum curator Brad Osgood to decipher the ledger art. Why would her father have this book? Is it just another forgery?

Brad Osgood’s four-year-old niece, Brynn, needs a safe home, and Brad longs to provide it. The last thing he needs is more drama, especially from a forger’s daughter. But when the two meet “accidentally” at St. Augustine’s 350-year-old Spanish fort, Castillo de San Marcos, he can’t refuse the intriguing woman.

Broken Bow is among seventy-three Plains Indians transported to Florida in 1875 for incarceration at ancient Fort Marion. Sally Jo Harris and Luke Worthing dream of serving God on a foreign mission field, but when the Indians arrive in St. Augustine, God changes their plans. Then when friendship develops between Sally Jo and Broken Bow and false accusations fly, it could cost them their lives.

Can Dani discover how Broken Bow and Sally Jo’s story ends and how it impacted her father’s life?

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

I enjoyed Jennifer Uhlarik’s contribution to the Doors to the Past series by Barbour. Each book is a stand-alone novel that presents as an intriguing dual-timeline. Love’s Fortress connects the present day Florida to St. Augustine, FL, in the 1870s.

Matty is my favorite character in the present-day scenarios. He is so big, tough, and scary looking, but he has a heart of gold. He loves Jesus and he loves those around him. He sees people without any discrimination. “Everyone’s welcome in God’s kingdom, darlin’. Doesn’t matter what you wear or how you fix your hair. It’s what’s in here.” He is loyal to a fault and can be surprisingly gentle.

Broken Bow is my favorite character in the historical sections. I love how Uhlarik shows the Native American’s probable way of thinking in keeping with their tribal customs. While there are some clashes between the Native Americans and the white peoples, Uhlarik tries to present the good and bad of both sides, never saying one is better than the other. My heart wanted to cry at the injustices that Broken Bow and others like him endured simply because he was not white.

I received a copy of the book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit via NetGalley. All opinions are my own, and no positive review was required.

Uhlarik includes historical notes and fact vs. fiction at the end, always a welcome addition to any book that draws a historical picture for us.

Notable Quotables:

“Oh, sweet heavenly Father, thank You! You do have a plan!”

“Me? I’m just a mixed-up little girl in a grown-up girl’s body.”

“We may never see the. . .impact we make when we follow God’s leading.”

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I Learned a Lot About the Time of Native American Incarceration at St. Augustine.

About the Author

Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a preteen, when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a BA in writing, she has won five writing competitions and was a finalist in two others. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers and is a lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, teenage son, and four fur children.

More from Jennifer

Florida has been my home since I was ten, and I’ve visited the city of St. Augustine several times in my many years here. There, I stumbled across the fact that the Castillo de San Marcos, the town’s 350-year-old Spanish fort, was home to several groups of Native Americans in the 1800s. Ever since learning this fact, I’ve considered writing a story about the three-year period from 1875-1878 when seventy-three Plains Indians from various tribes called the fort (known then as Fort Marion) their home. However, since I’m mainly a western and western romance author, all of my story settings to date have been west of the Mississippi—not in Florida. So this interesting historical factoid remained dormant in my imagination for years, waiting for the right opportunity.

That opportunity came last year when I was asked to submit an idea for Barbour’s dual-timeline Doors to the Past series. These stories must be set in or around a major landmark, the plot must focus on a newsworthy event, and there must be a bit of a mystery that connects the historical timeline to the contemporary plot. Obviously, as the oldest masonry fort in the United States, Castillo de San Marcos is an important and interesting landmark. Originally built by the Spanish, it later became a British possession, reverted again to the Spanish, and eventually became part of the United States’ holdings. With such a long and varied history, I’m sure you can see why this unique structure would make an interesting landmark around which to base a story.

The newsworthy event the plot focuses on is the incarceration of those seventy-three Plains Indians, deemed some of the “worst of the worst” offenders in the Indians Wars of the West. Can you imagine the buzz such an event would create? Once the Indians fell into their routine inside the fort, they were given quite a bit of freedom to interact with the locals and tourists. People came from far and wide to see these men and their historic surroundings along the banks of the Matanzas River. With a simple day pass from the fort’s commander, outsiders could enter, walk among and talk with the prisoners, see the historic fort, and even watch cultural events like dances, powwows, mock buffalo hunts, and archery displays. The Native men could also leave the fort and venture into town to shop or sell handmade goods, from bows and arrows to hand-crafted items made from locally-sourced seashells and plants, to their original “ledger art.”

It’s the ledger art that comprises the mysterious puzzle piece connecting the historical timeline of Love’s Fortress to the present day. When Dani Sango learns her long-estranged father has died, she inherits his rundown St. Augustine house. Inside, she discovers a book of Native American art depicting events from one Indian’s daily life. But because her father was a convicted art forger, Dani questions why he would have the strange and rudimentary artwork. She suspects it was his latest scam, so she enlists the help of Brad Osgood, curator of a western art museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, to help her discover where the art originated and how her father came to possess it. In the process, the pair digs deep into the history of the St. Augustine fort and its former residents.

I found it fascinating to research this brief period in the Castillo’s long history, and I hope you’ll enjoy the story that came from my efforts.

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 26

Remembrancy, March 26

The Christian Fiction Girl, March 27

Texas Book-aholic, March 27

Inklings and notions, March 28

Jeanette’s Thoughts, March 28

Bigreadersite, March 29

For Him and My Family, March 29

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, March 30

Betti Mace, March 30

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, March 31

Tell Tale Book Reviews, March 31

deb’s Book Review, April 1

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, April 1

Older & Smarter?, April 2

Locks, Hooks and Books, April 2

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, April 3

Life of Literature, April 3

Genesis 5020, April 4

For the Love of Literature, April 4

Connie’s History Classroom, April 5

Blossoms and Blessings, April 5

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, April 6 (Spotlight)

Splashes of Joy, April 6

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, April 7

Through the Fire Blogs, April 7

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, April 8

Pause for Tales, April 9

Labor Not in Vain, April 9

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Jennifer is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and 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/1c10d/love-s-fortress-celebration-tour-giveaway

Barbour, BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Kindle, NetGalley

Behind Love’s Wall by Carrie Fancett Pagels Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Behind Love’s Wall

Author: Carrie Fancett Pagels

Genre: FICTION/ Christian/Romance

Release date: November 1, 2021

9781636090696 (2)

Two successful women, a hundred-and-twenty-years apart, build walls to protect their hearts. Modern-day Willa, a successful interior decorator, is chosen to consult for the Grand Hotel’s possible redesign. She discovers a journal detailing the struggles of a young woman, Lily—which reveals dark secrets. The renowned singer wasn’t who she pretended to be. As Willa reaches out to Lily’s descendant, a charismatic and prominent landscape artist, she lets down her guard. Should she share the journal with him, or once again erect a wall as she struggles to redesign both the Grand and her life?

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

Behind Love’s Wall, the latest addition to the Doors to the Past series by Barbour, is a great dual timeline novel. Penned by Carrie Fancett Pagels, herself originally a “Yooper,” this romantic mystery is set on the magical Mackinac Island. Having a passing familiarity with the area, I enjoyed Ms. Pagels’s description of the Island, its landmarks, and the Grand Hotel itself.
I had a little trouble with the dual timeline at first. This is unusual for me, as I generally read many dual-timelines without feeling lost. Eventually, I closed the book with a well-satisfied feeling that all things worked out, and there were some great twists and surprises that truly made the novel delightful. Bravo for a stunning conclusion!!
The author’s notes were of great interest to me. They elaborate so well on the author’s research and separate fact from fiction, which I love.


Be prepared for the unexpected! Many of the main characters surprised me, like Michael. I really empathized with him as he struggled. I especially connected with Lilly, the heroine of the early timeline. How many times do we humans worry about a malady running through bloodlines or obsess over some parental issue we are sure we will inherit? Faith is a gentle aspect, bringing in hope and release from self-made prisons.
Recommended!

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

My Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Great! Busy Dual Timeline, Mackinac Island Hides Family Secrets

About the Author

ECPA-bestselling author Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D., is the award-winning author of over a dozen Christian historical romances. Twenty-five years as a psychologist didn’t “cure” her overactive imagination! A self-professed “history geek,” she resides with her family in the Historic Triangle of Virginia but grew up as a “Yooper” in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Carrie loves to read, bake, bead, and travel – but not all at the same time! You can connect with her at http://www.CarrieFancettPagels.com.

More from Carrie

Why I Wrote This Novel

I got a chance to write another novel set on Mackinac Island!!!

I’m the author of over twenty published stories. I have many books, both novel and novella length, set at the Straits of Mackinac including Maggie Award winner and Romantic Times Top Pick My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island. In the summer, I go up to the area and I’m blessed to sign books at the Island Bookstore—sometimes hundreds of books which is such an amazing thing I can’t tell you! Now that MHBoMI is out of print, Barbour has been helping by doing limited print runs for while I am up there.

My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island was originally part of a full series that I pitched but it didn’t get picked up for all three stories. MHBoMI got picked up as part of the My Heart Belongs series that Barbour put out a few years ago. The second book in my original Brides of Mackinac series was heroine Sadie’s story, which was published as a novella “His Anchor” in First Love Forever collection.  So I had two of my book babies delivered out into the world and Lily’s story sat there for a while.

In the Covid summer of 2020, I arrived in my home state of Michigan and over dinner with a close friend I learned that the folks at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island were having legal trouble with their previous long-time designed Carlton Varney suing them. I’d been disappointed that the Mussers, who’d owned the Grand for generations, had sold the hotel but this new development really bugged me.  While I was in the Upper Peninsula, I finished an Indy book, Dogwood Plantation, which only figures since I often write my Michigan stories while I am in Virginia and vice versa! I knew the only other book I wanted to work on was to complete my Brides of Mackinac trilogy (not exactly since they aren’t all in one series!) with Lily’s story. I also had a manuscript about 70% done that was my very first contemporary Women’s Fiction novel. When my agent encouraged me to submit a Mackinac Island story set at the Grand Hotel to Barbour’s Doors to the Past series, I knew immediately that the only story for historical I wanted to write was Lily’s. That meant that I needed, for this dual-timeline series, a contemporary story. That wasn’t just a chance sharing at dinner—I believe the info about the lawsuit was meant to be passed on to me one of those God-incidences. My modern-day heroine then became an established resort designer who had a trunkful of issues just like Lily did.

Was I ever glad that I had finally written my first contemporary Women’s Fiction (Butterfly Cottage) because that skill set came in very handy in writing the modern-day 2020 story of Willa in Behind Love’s Wall! This was the most difficult novel to write that I have done so far as I write in character and going back and forth between the 1895 and 2020 timelines could be draining. I tried to write each character and setting on separate days but that couldn’t always be managed.

I pray that this story will touch readers’ hearts. I pray that someone, like the young waitress I meant on Mackinac Island who had been spiritually moved by My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island (she read her grandmother’s copy after her grandma passed away!), will read this book and feel that connection to our Maker. That’s what Christian Fiction is all about!

Blog Stops

Life of Literature, November 18

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 18

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, November 19

Cats in the Cradle Blog, November 19

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 19

Inklings and notions, November 20

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, November 20

For Him and My Family, November 21

Mary Hake, November 21

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, November 22

Texas Book-aholic, November 22

For the Love of Literature, November 22

deb’s Book Review, November 23

Betti Mace, November 23

Genesis 5020, November 23

Older & Smarter?, November 24

Remembrancy, November 24

Blossoms and Blessings, November 25

Stephanie’s life of determination, November 25

Connect in Fiction, November 25

Rebecca Tews, November 26

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 26

Through the fire blogs, November 27

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, November 27

Pause for Tales, November 27

Bigreadersite, November 28

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, November 28

Tell Tale Book Reviews, November 28

Connie’s History Classroom, November 29

Bizwings Blog, November 29

Labor Not in Vain, November 29

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, November 30

To Everything There Is A Season, November 30

Jeanette’s Thoughts, December 1

Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen, December 1

Where Faith and Books Meet, December 1

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Carrie 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/137e9/behind-love-s-wall-celebration-tour-giveaway


ARC, BLOG, Favorite, Purchase

A Mug of Mayhem, #4 The CafFUNated Mysteries by Angela Ruth Strong

About the Book

Title: A Mug of Mayhem

Series: #4 The CafFUNated Mysteries

Author: Angela Ruth Strong

Publisher: Mountain Brook, Ink

Released: September 2021

When their wedding venue becomes a crime scene, the bride and groom are in for a real trick-or-treat.

One week before Marissa plans to get married at her fiancé’s farm, Connor is arrested for a murder in the corn maze. Marissa and her maid of honor, Tandy, must prove the groom innocent before the wedding is cancelled.

With a coffee shop to run, family visiting from out of town, and preparations for the big day, time is running out. The senior citizens who’d been at the farm during the homicide offer to help investigate, but are they witnesses or suspects? A cranky military veteran goes rogue and disappears with his gun, a retired spy suffers from dementia, and a former Broadway star still seems to be putting on a show. Unless the real killer is unmasked, death could do them all part.

My Impressions

Sometimes I need a light, fun, clean cozy to cleanse my literary palate. If you do, too, might I suggest Angela Ruth Strong’s series, The CafFUNated Mysteries? This is a great cozy series about two mismatched barista friends who open a combo coffee/tea shop instead of the original opposing stores. These books need to be read in order because events are sequential. Now that all the books are published, you COULD just binge-read them!

I am sharing about book #4 today, A Mug of Mayhem. Like the other books in the series, there is hilarity enough to make you hold your sides with laughter. The residents of the assisted living home are such “characters” that I found myself talking out loud to them or their caregivers, trying my best to look out for them from the privacy of my living room. (Not advised: nobody listened!) But you will love the old man, Archibald, who plays at being a PI but resembles Elmer Fudd. The elderly Birdie, who has both dementia and sticky fingers, plus a rumored past. Winifred, who sings beautifully as a remedy for any situation. And Pete, who thinks he’s still a farmer. Plus, Marissa and Tandy have picked up the most enigmatic barista help: you’ll have to read the book to see why he’s such a great addition!

I can finally say I actually love Marissa. Before, she was a beautiful, albeit clumsy blonde; the perfect foil for Tandy, a great sparring partner, and love interest for Connor. She will always be “mechanically declined” as my husband terms it. But as Connor’s innocence is questioned, Marissa grows into someone absolutely wonderful in this last book, and I didn’t want her and Tandy to leave us!
Besides, isn’t there more to be said about Tandy and Greg’s love story? (I am now begging.)

Some quotes I loved:

“Her life was like the corn maze. She was blocked at every turn.”

“Tingles shot through Marissa’s body. The answer to all her prayers was on the other end of the line.”

“I run on coffee and combat boots.”

“Not that there was anything wrong with snooping. It solved crimes.”

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!! Tandy & Marissa really need to make a encore!!

About the Author

Angela sold her first story to a national magazine while still in high school and went on to study journalism at the University of Oregon. Her debut novel LOVE FINDS YOU IN SUN VALLEY, IDAHO released in 2010 to a four-star review from Romantic Times. Angela loves connecting with fans and mentoring aspiring authors, which led her to start IDAhope Writers. She currently lives in Boise with her husband and three kids.

More About Angela’s Works

Angela has published multiple books of different genres. One of my favorite series of hers is the Finding Love line. There are four books in this series, and the second, Finding Love in Blue Sky, Montana, has just been made into a movie of the same name, in which Angela and her hubby had small parts! There’s a series for kids, called Fun4Hire, a few romantic suspense, the cozy series The CafFUNated Mysteries, and her new rom-com, Husband Auditions. Several of the titles are included in anthologies and collections with other authors, of which I have only shown one.

This last book is representative of several book collections that Angela Ruth Strong’s stories appear in.
BLOG, Favorite, Revell

The Edge of Belonging by Amanda Cox

About the Book

Title: The Edge of Belonging

Author: Amanda Cox

Publisher: Revell

Released: September 2020

Genre: Christian Dual-Time, Contemporary

When Ivy Rose returns to her hometown to oversee an estate sale, she soon discovers that her grandmother left behind more than trinkets and photo frames–she provided a path to the truth behind Ivy’s adoption. Shocked, Ivy seeks clues to her past, but a key piece to the mystery is missing.

Twenty-four years earlier, Harvey James finds an abandoned newborn who gives him a sense of human connection for the first time in his life. His desire to care for the baby runs up against the stark fact that he is homeless. When he becomes entwined with two people seeking to help him find his way, Harvey knows he must keep the baby a secret or risk losing the only person he’s ever loved.

In this dual-time story from debut novelist Amanda Cox, the truth–both the search for it and the desire to keep it from others–takes center stage as Ivy and Harvey grapple with love, loss, and letting go. 

My Impressions

The Edge of Belonging is such a spellbinding, dual-time novel from Amanda Cox. I foresee Edge of Belonging winning an award for debut novels. For myself, I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the page. Heart-rending themes such as foster homes, homelessness, human trafficking, depression, and PTSD are dealt with from both the sufferer’s and a loving helper’s POV. The raw loneliness hurt, and need that several of the characters experience is portrayed so poignantly. It seems each character in the earlier story (Harvey, Pearl, Thom, and Miriam) feels they are on the edge of belonging to some degree.

In the later story, Ivy is the focal point who feels like she doesn’t quite belong, but her best friend Reese has often struggled with those same sentiments. I was thrilled to see how the book’s title applied to so many. I also loved seeing the hope and mercy that certain characters, especially Pearl and Reese, generously dole out to others. Again, so many of Ms. Cox’s characters show significant growth by the end of the story.
While it is easy to see early on where the stories will connect, there remains the fascination of just how Ms. Cox is going to work it all out.


I usually like to pick a favorite character, but they were all faves. I love Reese for his steadiness and undying care. Harvey, for the way he supersedes his own fears to love another. And Pearl, for her radar to find and genuinely love lost souls.
Get your own copy of this must-read debut!
I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher through Revell Reads via NetGalley. All opinions are my own and no positive review was required.

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!

Amanda Cox is a blogger and a curriculum developer for a national nonprofit youth leadership organization, but her first love is communicating through story. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Bible and theology and a master’s degree in professional counseling. Her studies and her interactions with hurting families over a decade have allowed her to create multidimensional characters that connect emotionally with readers.

Connect with Amanda on her website at https://amandacoxwrites.com

or on Twitter @amandacoxwrites

BLOG, Purchase

The Sleuth’s Surprise, #4 The Librarian Sleuth by Kimberly Rose Johnson

About the Book

Title: The Sleuth’s Surprise

Series: #4, The Librarian Sleuth

Author: Kimberly Rose Johnson

Publisher: Mountain Brook Ink

Released: Sept 2020

Mary Daley has been the sheriff of Tipton County for more than two decades, but someone wants her job. When it seems circumstances can’t get more complicated, a murder happens on her watch. Had she been the intended victim?

Deputy Chief Lyle Griffin only wants Mary to be happy, but when he asks her if she’d consider retiring, it sets off a string of events and emotions that muddy their friendship.

Nancy Daley-Malone can’t believe anyone would run for sheriff against her mom. She is onboard to help run the best campaign Tipton County has ever seen until the sheriff’s opponent is murdered and Nancy’s husband joins the race. On top of that, it appears someone is out to kill her mother as well.

Can Nancy, along with the sheriff’s department, find the murderer before it’s too late? Will Lyle and Mary be able to admit their feelings for one another or will the status quo remain?

My Impressions

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”
I first loved The Sleuth’s Surprise, #4 The Librarian Sleuth, because it is a Christian cozy. No bad words, no bad scenes, but a small town with a murder and an amateur sleuth.
While I vaguely remembered the librarian, Nancy, who tries to solve the mystery (I’d only read one other book in the series), it was obvious that this book could stand on its own merits. Yay.

The main character, Mary, is a mature woman, into her fifties. She is quite capable and respected in her job AND she has a romance waiting to happen IF she and a friend can get past the “friend” point. How often main characters are only in their twenties or thirties at best! Thank you, Ms. Johnson.


The competition that Kimberly Rose Johnson sets up for Nancy’s heart. How can Nancy ever decide whom to support between the two people she loves most.
Just for free, the main characters of the other book I read were also involved and their relationship grew, as well.
Lighter than my most recent read, The Sleuth’s Surprise was a timely, delicious surprise for a hungry bookworm.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. This in no way affects my opinions, which are solely my own.

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!

About the Author

Award winning author Kimberly Rose Johnson married her college sweetheart and lives in the Pacific Northwest. From a young child Kimberly has been an avid reader. That love of reading fostered a creative mind and led to her passion for writing. She especially loves romance and writes contemporary romance that warms the heart and feeds the soul.


Kimberly holds a degree in Behavioral Science from Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington, and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.

You can sign up for Kimberly’s newsletter via her website at: https://kimberlyrjohnson.com/ 

Bethany House, BLOG, NetGalley

Set the Stars Alight by Amanda Dykes

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About the Book

Title: Set the Stars Alight

Author: Amanda Dykes

Publisher: Bethany House

Released: June 2020

Genre: Christian fiction, Timeslip

Lucy Clairmont’s family treasured the magic of the past, and her childhood fascination with stories of the high seas led her to become a marine archaeologist. But when tragedy strikes, it’s Dashel, an American forensic astronomer, and his knowledge of the stars that may help her unearth the truth behind the puzzle she’s discovered in her family home.

Two hundred years earlier, the seeds of love are sown between a boy and a girl who spend their days playing in a secret sea cave, while the privileged young son of the estate looks on, wishing to join. As the children grow and war leads to unthinkable heartbreak, a story of love, betrayal, sacrifice, and redemption unfolds, held secret by the passage of time.

As Lucy and Dash journey to a mysterious old estate on the East Sussex coast, their search leads them to a community of souls and a long-hidden tale that may hold the answers–and the healing–they so desperately seek.

 

My Review

Set the Stars Alight by Amanda Dykes is a book that I had to get my hands on. I hope you will want to, also. This is a realistic story, yet stirred into it are the timeless allure of magical inklings, coupled with family ties swelling and shrinking. Love slowly takes root and blossoms, yet is carefully guarded until the right time. And the wondrous fact is, that this is actually true of both subplots of this amazing novel, which comprise this split-time tale.
One portion of our adventure concerns Lucy, born to a clockmaker in London in recent times. Lucy’s warm, welcoming family time is built around tales spun by her enigmatic father and amended by her jovial mother. Dash, a young misfit, American boy, is welcomed into their familial atmosphere. Suddenly, life flips and flops, and Lucy finds herself alone and floundering with only her marine interest to keep her afloat.
The second saga is a melodrama about a young son of a military hero in the war against Napoleon. Frederick tries hard to make his father proud, but loyalty and fate interfere.

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Split-time stories depend upon the author’s fantastic ability to draw two separate, believable strands, at first totally disparate paths, then cause them to become parallel roads, then bring those parallel roads into an obvious intersection where the highways then become one. I had trouble suspending disbelief at some points. I wanted more communication in others. Some issues dragged on too long between people because of a fear of communication that I didn’t find realistic.
So, I thought this was a great book, but it stopped short of the terrific level of Ms. Dykes’s debut novel. Still a very worthy read. Get ahold of Set the Stars Alight and judge for yourself.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House and NetGalley. This in no way affects my opinions, which are solely my own.
Notable Quotables:

“When things seem dark…that’s when you fight for the light.”

“The God of the stars . . . He is coming, and coming, and coming after you. Always. The heart of a father who will never forget his daughter.”

“But it started with smaller things, which bigger things built on again and again until the big betrayal no longer felt like a plunge to him. It was a small—almost natural—next step.”

“‘Impossible?’…The word had been gifted to them all their lives as a challenge. A lens to see wonder where others saw walls.”

 

My Rating

4 Stars- Great, Almost Terrific!

 

About the Author

517ufoFnplL._US230_Amanda Dykes is the author of Bespoke: A Tiny Christmas Tale, the critically-acclaimed bicycle story that invited readers together to fund bicycles for missionaries in Asia. A former English teacher, she has a soft spot for classic literature and happy endings. She is a drinker of tea, a dweller of Truth, and a spinner of hope-filled tales, grateful for the grace of a God who loves extravagantly.

BLOG, Favorite, Lyrical Underground, NetGalley

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

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ABOUT THE BOOK

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

AUTHOR: Heather Gilbert

PUBLISHER: Kensington/Lyrical Underground

RELEASED: June 25, 2019

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

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

MY REVIEW

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

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

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

MY RATING

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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

 

 

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Shadow Sister by Katherine Scott Jones

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About the Book

 

Book Title: Shadow Sister

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Author: Katherine Scott Jones

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Release date: August 28, 2018

Working on her father’s vineyard allows Sarah Lanning to bury memories of a lost love and a career that might have been. But then her fractured family receives word that her estranged sister, Jenna, is dead, leaving behind an unexpected request: that Sarah travel to Bolivia to scatter her ashes.

Accompanied by pilot Chase Maddox, Sarah embarks on an Andean journey that tests her devotion to home and exposes Jenna’s secret life. Each staggering discovery creates new mysteries—until the last, which leaves Sarah questioning everything she understood about family loyalty. At a crossroads, she must decide whether truth is worth the cost of forgiveness—and whether she can lay claim to a future of happiness without it.

Bittersweet and bold, Shadow Sister explores the mysteries of the human heart and the bond of unquenchable love.

 

MY REVIEW:

“Blood is blood.” This favorite saying of Sarah and Jenna’s father is both a promise and a curse in Katherine Scott Jones’s novel, Shadow Sister.

Family means everything to the Lanning family, until two tragic accidents begin to tear the remains of the family apart. When a third tragedy occurs, Sarah is left reeling and wondering what had ever come between her and Jenna.

Divided between the two sisters, the narrative starts at different points in the family’s history, one in the present tense and one in the past. At first, I wasn’t sure there was enough action to hold my attention. Shadow Sisters is an exploration of relationships and emotions, and what a deep and lovely book it turned out to be.

The characters are very fluid and realistic. It is this dichotomy of the human nature that allows for the puzzle in the relationships. Even those who know Jesus personally in the story struggle with handing over their foibles. Isn’t that so true of real life!

Quotables:
“Remember, Sarah, shadow is as important as light. We need them both or we’re left with something flat and two-dimensional. Dull. But when we bring them together, shadow and light add depth. Interest. Life!”

“When the things that hurt God’s heart hurt ours too, that keeps us close to Him. And that’s always a good thing.”

I received a complimentary copy of this book through the author and Celebrate Lit. This is no way affects my opinions, for which I am solely responsible. I was not required to leave a positive review.

 

Click here to purchase your copy!

 

About the Author

Katherine-Jones-295x300Katherine Scott Jones grew up in cities on every U.S. coast and overseas as her family moved with her father’s Navy career. Seattle became home when she married her husband twenty-eight years ago. After graduating Whitworth University with a degree in communications, she established herself as a freelance writer before turning her hand to fiction. She blogs about books that celebrate beauty at www.katherinescottjones.com. Katherine and her husband have two teenage children. Shadow Sister is her second novel.

Guest Post from Katherine Scott Jones

Shadow Sister: Outtake Reel

By Katherine Scott Jones

Much as I love a good movie, my favorite part often comes at the end when the director includes outtakes—those false starts and bits from the making of the movie that wind up on the cutting room floor.

In a similar vein, I’m going to let you in on some of what went into the creation of my novel, Shadow Sister,but did not make the final cut.

Shadow Sister is a work of inspirational women’s fiction with a global accent—written for women with a heart for complex relational issues as well as a passion for biblical justice. It is the story of a vintner’s daughter who travels to Bolivia to scatter her estranged sister’s ashes. There, she unravels secrets that test her devotion to home and make her question whether truth is worth the cost of forgiveness. Shadow Sister explores the mysteries of the human heart and the bond of unquenchable love.

Now that you know a bit about what it is, come along as I pull back the curtain and share an exclusive peek at what Shadow Sister is not.

Working Titles

It took me a while to finally land on the right title. Early contenders:

– The Sweetness of Light

– Variations on Shadows and Light.

Characters

It also took a bit of experimenting before I found the right combination of people and places:

– Sarah, the main character, was originally a marine biologist. I first imagined the story set in Seattle before moving it to the fertile plains of Eastern Washington wine country.

– Sarah was originally engaged; and Chase and Rachael were involved.

– The gender of Matilde’s baby changed from what I first plotted. That simple switch got me unstuck from a perplexing snag of writer’s block.

– Names:

o Nicole, Stasi, Rees, and Stephen were all main-character names I considered and rejected.

o Little sister Sarah and big sister Jenna began as litter sister Jenna and big sister Kate. Then Jenna became Somer and finally Sarah, while Kate became Jenna.

o Sassy Britches is named after an actual racehorse by the same name.

Unused research

Of course, story exploration turned up far more tidbits of interesting info than I could possibly fit into the pages of a novel! Some of what I wished I could have used…

– Bolivian fun facts

o Customs.

  • Bolivians tend to eat outdoors when it is not raining. Many men do not feel comfortable eating in front of strangers, so they will often face a wall or sit hunched over their food when they are eating in public.
  • Cha’lla is a ritual blessing drawn from Catholic tradition, indigenous religious ceremony, or—typically—a combination of both. Performed by a yatiri (spiritual leader) or Catholic priest, a cha’lla ceremony is performed whenever a new building is finished to ensure future peace in that building.
  • Many Bolivians believe in karisirus, or night phantoms. These harmful spirits catch people out after dark or when they’re sleeping. Legend says that they split their victim’s stomach and extract some of the fat.

o Drinks. While the traditional Bolivian beverages api and mate de coca are featured in Shadow Sister, several others are not:

  • refresco (fruit juice with a dried peach at the bottom of the glass)
  • tostada (a mixture of barley, honey, cloves in water)
  • chicha (homemade corn beer)
  • singani (made from grapes, a cross between wine and whiskey)

o Language. Spanish, Aymara, and Quechua are Bolivia’s three national languages, and they differ from each other greatly. For example, the number one in Spanish = uno, Aymara = ma, Quechua = hoq.

– Quotes:

o On wine: “Wine is sunlight held together by water.” ~ Galileo

o On art: “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” ~ Thomas Merton

I hope this glimpse into what didn’t make it onto the pages of Shadow Sister piques your interest for discovering what finally did!

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, September 4

Carpe Diem, September 4

Reflections From My Bookshelves, September 5

The Power of Words, September 5

Among the Reads, September 5

Fiction Aficionado, September 6

The Becca Files, September 6

RebekahsQuill, September 7

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, September 7

Bigreadersite, September 7

Just the Write Escape, September 8

Jennifer Sienes: Where Crisis and Christ Collide, September 8

Bibliophile Reviews, September 9

Living Life Free in Christ, September 9

Inspirationally Ever After, September 10

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, September 10

Texas Book-aholic, September 11

Livin Lit, September 11

Janices book reviews, September 12

Remembrancy, September 12

All-of-a-kind Mom, September 13

Inklings and notions, September 13

The Midnight Bookaholic, September 14

Pause for Tales, September 14

The Mimosa Blossom, September 14

Kelly Harrel, September 15

Two Points of Interest, September 15

A Baker’s Perspective, September 16

proud to be an autism mom, September 16

Godly Book Reviews, September 17

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 17

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Katherine is giving away a grand prize that includes a personalized signed print copy of the book, a Shadow Sister bookmark, a Frame-able print, Book-lover’s tea, 6 Handcrafted notecards, and a set of vineyard-themed playing cards!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway!

Click link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/d25f/shadow-sister-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Caffeine Conundrum, #1The CafFUNated Mysteries by Angela Ruth Strong

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About the Book:

Title: A Caffeine Conundrum,

#1 The CafFUNated Mysteries

Kindle Edition, 227 pages
Expected publication: September 1st,2018 by Mountain Brook Ink
ASIN
B07FRXWSVM
Solving a murder mystery is harder when you don’t trust your partner…or their taste in beverages.

Sassy city girl Tandy Brandt moves to the small town of Grace Springs to start a coffee shop, never imagining she’ll be competing with local beauty queen Marissa Alexander and her dream of running a tea house. Unfortunately, the current store owner dies before selling the location to either of them, and they both become murder suspects.

The unlikely pair team up in an attempt to discover the real killer, though with the secrets in Tandy’s past and Marissa’s infamous clumsiness, they could be their own worst enemies. Despite their differences, they follow clues to question a sweet, apple pie baking antique store owner, a GQ Santa in the retirement center, and a hipster millionaire with no social skills. Will they be able to figure out whodunit and prove their innocence before one of them goes to jail…or worse?

MY REVIEW:

Warning: laughter will come easily as you read this Christmas-themed cozy by Angela Ruth Strong. When paired with coffee or tea, there may be some liquid spouting or spewing as you work to hold the mirth in.

Indeed, the trouble begins with both coffee and tea. Marissa, a bumbling, almost-beauty queen who loves tea, can’t decide whether Tandy, a grunge-wearing, toy dog lover and coffee aficionado should be her enemy or her friend.

This novel is more than just a barrel of laughs, however. While I laughed my way through the whole thing, howling out loud at the ridiculousness of the characters’ situations, they also presented with very real problems: jumping to conclusions prematurely, taking others for granted, and needing to put up façades of perfection.

I love Angela Ruth Strong’s humor, her word pictures(ex: “blizzard of thoughts”), similes(ex:”as subtle as a snow scraper”), and references to pop culture. But most of all, she points to the answer that every soul needs-grace in Christ.

Quotables:

“She needed to work on being kind rather than being nice.”

“We all need grace. Even if it’s for harm caused accidentally.”

“If people could change, then it was ok to make mistakes and grow from them. It was ok not to be perfect.”

“By accepting that she needed grace, her shame had been wiped away.”

I gratefully received an e-copy of this book from the author. This in no way affects my opinions, for which I am solely responsible. I was not required to leave a positive review.

About the Author:

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Angela Ruth Strong
Angela sold her first story to a national magazine while still in high school and went on to study journalism at the University of Oregon. Her debut novel LOVE FINDS YOU IN SUN VALLEY, IDAHO released in 2010 to a four-star review from Romantic Times. Angela loves connecting with fans and mentoring aspiring authors, which led her to start IDAhope Writers. She currently lives in Boise with her husband and three kids.