Bethany House, BLOG, NetGalley

Echoes Among the Stones by Jaime Jo Wright

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About the Book

Title: Echoes Among the Stones

Author: Jaime Jo Wright

Publisher: Bethany House

Released: December 2019

After Aggie Dunkirk’s career is unceremoniously ended by her own mistakes, she finds herself traveling to Wisconsin, where her grandmother, Mumsie, lives alone in her vintage, though very outdated, home. Aggie didn’t plan for how eccentric Mumsie has become, obsessing over an old, unsolved crime scene–even going so far as to re-create it in a dollhouse.

Mystery seems to follow Aggie when she finds work as a secretary helping to restore the flooded historical part of the town’s cemetery. Forced to work with a puzzling yet attractive archaeologist, she exhumes the past’s secrets and unwittingly uncovers a crime that some will go to any length to keep hidden–even if that means silencing Aggie.
In 1946, Imogene Grayson works in a beauty salon but has her sights set on Hollywood. But coming home to discover her younger sister’s body in the attic changes everything. Unfamiliar with the burgeoning world of forensic science and, as a woman, not particularly welcomed into the investigation, Imogene is nonetheless determined to stay involved. As her sister’s case grows cold, Imogene vows to find justice . . . no matter the cost.

My Review

“My mother told me that when the boys came home from the war, people thought the world would go back to the way it was before. But it didn’t. The war lived on in souls for years after, and people were just never really the same again.”
This quote by Jaime Jo Wright in Echoes Among the Stones so aptly captures the mood of Mill Creek, Wisconsin in July of 1946. Wright recreates the ominous heaviness that the war brings to America’s hearts. Some people, like the young men who survive, come home brooding or unable to find their way out of the horror now relegated to memory. Others are affected by the loss of family members or the great personality change in a family member who returns. Still others like Imogene and Hazel are also affected second-hand by the war brought to America.

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Jaime Jo Wright has penned yet another mystery novel with spooky, ominous undertones that beckon the tentative reader in. Echoes Among the Stones is a time-slip novel, marrying two distinctly different and at first seemingly unrelated plots, no pun originally intended. In the present day, Aggie loses her real estate job and returns to her selfish, demanding grandmother’s home, while working a cemetery job. Collin, the archaeologist who works with Aggie, frustrates her, intrigues her, and challenges her by turns.
There was enough eerie mystery, romance, and humor (“You have all the sense of an addlepated muskrat, ”) plus faith scattered throughout the book that this book is a big winner for me. Also, I loved the way the solution took me by surprise. Look for this book among my favorites in 2019.

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Quotes:
“Sometimes…you must step outside of your own strength and realize there’s a greater Strength waiting to hold you.”

“All I can say right now is that we sell God short when we look at the pain. Instead, we should focus on what He’s provided us to help us heal.”

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House through NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinions, which are solely my own.

My Rating

5 Stars- Hit My Reading Sweet Spot!

About the Author

Daphne du Maurier and Christy Award-Winning author, Jaime Jo Wright resides in the 13916081hills of Wisconsin writing suspenseful, mysteries stained with history’s secrets. Jaime lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures at jaimewrightbooks.com!

 

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, NetGalley, Thomas Nelson

Midnight on the River Grey by Abigail Wilson with giveaway and excerpt

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About the Book

Book: Midnight on the River Grey                          6c783407-6e8e-4344-99de-e6e3427005c1.jpg

Author: Abigail Wilson

Genre: Historical Romance/Mystery

Release date: July 2, 2019

Abigail Wilson returns to Regency England with another tale of murder, mystery, and romance.

After her elder brother’s mysterious death, Rebecca Hunter vows to expose the man she believes responsible-Mr. Lewis Browning-known by the locals as the Midnight Devil and by Rebecca as her new guardian. He alone was on the bridge that fateful night and openly admits striking her brother with his horse, but he claims he remembers little else.

Summoned to his reclusive country estate to await her London season, Rebecca plans her own secret investigation. Yet, Lewis Browning is not as she once imagined, and his motivation is horribly unclear. Recurrent nightmares and Rebecca’s restless feelings are further complicated by the shadow of her mother’s prior descent into madness and whether she too will follow the same heartbreaking path.

Even as midnight rides, strange injuries, and further murders lead back to Lewis, Rebecca can’t ignore the subtle turn of her heart. Has she developed feelings for the man she swore to see hanged? And moreover, can she trust him with her uncertain future?

 

Click here to grab your copy.

My Review

English moors beset by swirling mists and winds; wicked storms, dreary weather, and centuries-old decrepit buildings slowly decaying; combine to make a great Gothic tale, but not a place I would care to visit. Abigail Wilson, in Midnight on the River Grey, carefully employs dark words, effectively painting a very dreary, spooky mood in Regency England. 

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What is the allure of a musty setting like this? It “must” be the reader’s desire to see if the unfortunate characters can find hope or color in their lives, against all the odds of the Dickens-like environment. Rebecca has an overriding fear that she must face head-on. Lewis Browning has a horrible reputation that causes townspeople to ostracize him completely. Under the darkness of this tale is a thin ray of light struggling to find greater purchase and freedom. As a reader, I raced through the pages hoping to free Rebecca from her invisible prison. Would she determine the cause of the turmoil in her new surroundings, or would she become the next victim? 

Who will not like Rebecca? She can’t seem to stay safe, but she is determined to prove her loved one innocent and make the guilty pay. Rebecca has spunk, inquisitiveness, and clear thinking in spades, although some might like her to think otherwise. 
I loved the slow unwrapping of the romance as if one were unwrapping a present covered in layers of newsprint. Lewis was kind enough to sympathize with Rebecca’s feelings. That goes a long ways towards winning her respect, as opposed to just defending her father. Lewis also proves himself to be thoughtful and generous in undeniable ways. By this point, I didn’t care if Lewis was good-looking or not. Actions transform the face and person. 

I wondered if maybe Rebecca had unfairly judged both her father and Lewis. My Bible reading just yesterday cautioned against judging. It seems we point fingers back at ourselves when we refuse to extend grace to others. 
Aunt Jo is very likable and seems to have a quiet caution and wisdom. She is an excellent foil for Rebecca. 
A quote. (I will post longer ones as memes.)

“Sometimes people do awful things when they feel justified.” 

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I recommend this book, with a few caveats. While it is clean, there are, however, a few situations that would make it for mature readers. There was no mention of faith, which is disappointing when the book comes from a Christian publisher. 

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

My Rating

golden-stargolden-stargolden-stargolden-stargolden-star

 

About the Author

Abigail-Wilson-1-200x300Abigail Wilson combines her passion for Regency England with intrigue and adventure to pen historical mysteries with a heart. A Registered Nurse, chai tea addict, and mother of two crazy kids, Abigail fills her spare time hiking the National Parks, attending her daughter’s gymnastic meets, and curling up with a great book. In 2017, Abigail won WisRWA’s Fab Five contest and in 2016, ACFW’s First Impressions contest as well as placing as a 2017 finalist in the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. She is a cum laude graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and currently lives in Dripping Springs, Texas, with her husband and children. Connect with Abigail at www.acwilsonbooks.com; Instagram: acwilsonbooks; Facebook: ACWilsonbooks; Twitter: @acwilsonbooks.

 

An excerpt from Midnight on the River Grey

My heartbeat turned sluggish as an ache swelled in the back of my throat. This man—the

person responsible for my brother’s death—expected me to live with him? In his house? Madness.

“And if we refuse?”

“I’m afraid there is little choice in the matter at this point. The arrangements are already complete.”

Mr. Browning narrowed his blue eyes, scrutinizing me, no doubt, as the numbing shock of his declaration faded to resignation across my face. He sighed. “I do realize Greybourne Hall might hold unfortunate associations for you—”

 “Unfortunate?” My voice came out a bit louder than I’d expected. “Is that what you choose to call it?”

He gave a sideways glance at Aunt Jo then returned to me, a pained look hovering about his eyes. His voice, however, remained firm. “Forgive me if I startled you. I hadn’t expected such a violent reaction to what I assumed was the logical next step. Perhaps I should make myself a bit clearer.” He gave a curt sigh. “I only intend for you to stay at Greybourne Hall till someplace more suitable can be arranged. Unfortunately, there are few options at present.”

Ice enveloped my heart. I had no wish to travel to, let alone live at that dreadful house, not even for a single night. In his letters, Jacob had described the rambling structure as a gray pile of stones fit for vampires, or worse. I could only image Mr. Browning, this dark-headed devil before me, at home in such a place.

Blog Stops

Fiction Aficionado, July 11

All-of-a-kind Mom, July 11

The Power of Words, July 11

Emily Yager, July 12

Blogging With Carol , July 12

Stories By Gina, July 12

Just the Write Escape, July 13

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, July 13

Simple Harvest Reads, July 14 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)

For Him and My Family, July 14

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, July 15

Wishful Endings, July 15

Godly Book Reviews, July 15

Texas Book-aholic, July 16

Retrospective Spines, July 16

Seasons of Opportunities, July 17

For the Love of Literature, July 17

Mary Hake, July 17

Genesis 5020, July 18

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, July 18

Bigreadersite, July 18

Blessed & Bookish, July 19

Through the Fire Blogs, July 19

Blossoms and Blessings, July 19

Tell Tale Book Reviews, July 20

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, July 20

Remembrancy, July 20

Inspiration Clothesline, July 21

Locks, Hooks and Books, July 21

Pause for Tales, July 21

A Reader’s Brain, July 22

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 22

Inklings and notions, July 22

Hallie Reads, July 23

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, July 23

janicesbookreviews, July 23

A Baker’s Perspective, July 24

Ashley’s Bookshelf, July 24

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Abigail is giving away a grand prize of a copy of her 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/e5a8/midnight-on-the-river-grey-towers-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

Bethany House, BLOG, NetGalley

Sweet on You, #3 Bradford Sisters Romance by Becky Wade

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ABOUT THE BOOK:

AUTHOR: Becky Wade

TITLE: Sweet on You

SERIES: Bradford Sisters Romance

PUBLISHER: Bethany House

RELEASED: April, 2019

Britt and Zander have been best friends since they met thirteen years ago, but unbeknownst to Britt, Zander has been in love with her for just as long. When Zander’s uncle dies of mysterious causes, he returns to Washington to investigate. As they work together to uncover his uncles tangled past, will the truth of what lies between them also come to light?

 

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MY REVIEW:

I have not been in a particular hurry to read Becky Wade’s romances, but if they’re all as good as Sweet on You, I have lied to myself. I need to hurry and read the first two in this series, although Sweet on You stands alone well.
Zander Ford has finally made a literary name for himself, only to be called home to deal with lies.
Lies like… he could get over loving Britt Bradford, his best friend… like the uncle who adopted him was everything he claimed to be…life could just go back to normal after his uncle’s funeral.
I loved the fact that this tale was more than just a fluffy romance. There was real substance to the problems that were keeping Zander and Britt apart. Plus, there was a great (for the reader) mystery involving the true identity of Zander’s uncle. Zander turns away from God because God doesn’t answer to Zander’s liking in Zander’s timing. This is so like us humans in general. I was brought up a little short as I wished Britt would stop being so self-sufficient that she held people at arm’s length. I realized I often try to make it on my own, not accepting others’ help. That doesn’t make us look strong, just stubborn. Ouch. But this is the best part of Christian fiction- seeing something of myself in a character that needs to be changed to produce a better person.
I found a few quotes to love.

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“Once, he’d been an orphan convinced he didn’t need saving. But then Carolyn and Frank had proved him wrong when they’d gone ahead and saved him anyway.”
“He reminds me of a Dickens orphan. Tragic and brooding and gorgeous.”
“So many lies. The revealing of them made Zander feel as though the foundation of this house might be torn in half at any second by an earthquake.”
”He was God’s son. A son full of mistakes. But a son, nonetheless.”
I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinions, which are solely my own.

MY RATING:

golden-stargolden-stargolden-stargolden-stargolden-star

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

During her childhood in California, Becky frequently produced homemade plays starring her sisters, friends, and cousins. These plays almost always featured a heroine, a prince, and a love story with a happy ending. She’s been a fan of all things romantic ever since.

Becky and her husband lived overseas in the Caribbean and Australia before settling in 5298259

Dallas, Texas. It was during her years abroad that Becky’s passion for reading turned into a passion for writing. She published three historical romances with Avon Books, then put her career on hold for several years to care for her three kids, then recently returned to writing sheerly for the love of it. She felt led to move to the genre of contemporary Christian romance and couldn’t be more thrilled with it.

These days Becky can be found failing but trying to keep up with her housework, sweating at the gym, carting her kids around town, playing tennis, hunched over her computer, eating chocolate, or collapsed on the sofa watching TV with her husband.

 

 

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The Sleuth’s Dilemma, #2 The Librarian Sleuth by Kimberly Rose Johnson

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ABOUT THE BOOK:

TITLE: The Sleuth’s Dilemma, #2 The Librarian Sleuth

AUTHOR: Kimberly Rose Johnson

PUBLISHER, PUBLISHED: Mountain Brook Ink, February 2019

Anna loves her job as a high school English teacher until everything goes sideways. The one bright spot in her life is Titus Gains, the school counselor, who is there for her at every turn.

Titus’ boss complicates his ordered world when she tasks him with running a meeting that changes everything. How had he not noticed Anna earlier? Someone is out to destroy her, and he can’t let that happen.

As the head of the English department, part of Luke Harms’ job is to make sure everything runs smoothly. Things went haywire when Anna was put in charge of the big writing contest. Entries are missing, Anna appears to be in danger, and her job is on the line. Luke is investigating and wants to make things right for this woman he’s starting to care about.

Can a trio of school officials along with Nancy Daley, the town sleuth, stop the saboteur before it’s too late? And will Anna choose the right man, or lose them both?

 

MY REVIEW:

Teachers are notoriously overworked and I could certainly feel, as a former teacher and one who has many teacher friends, the huge weight of an additional, unwanted assignment. English teacher Anna Plum is saddled with running the high school writing contest as the former chair has refused to continue in that role. While Anna agrees to chair the contest, bad things begin to happen and she begins to wonder if it was a huge mistake.

The characters are well-drawn. I especially liked Anna as a former teacher. Her fears were very believable. The whole scenario of a single teacher with a few close friends who would go to bat for her was a home run for me. Nancy Daley, the librarian, is very loyal and would be a great friend to have. I enjoyed the tension between Nancy and her deputy sheriff boyfriend as they learn how to trust each other without necessarily giving up delicate information. I liked the romantic aspect as well as the mystery that kept me guessing. In short, I really loved it, even though I haven’t yet read book one. ( Which is now higher on my TBR pile.) If you are looking for a sweet, mysterious romance that includes asking for God’s guidance, buckle in and come along for the ride Kimberly Rose Johnson provides.
I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are expressly my own and no positive review was required.

MY RATING:

golden-star-e15383548489823golden-star-e15383548489823golden-star-e15383548489823golden-star-e15383548489823golden-star-e15383548489823

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. 7082210

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/

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A Rumored Fortune by Joanna Davidson Politano

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About the Book:

Title: A Rumored Fortune

Paperback, 416 pages
Published July 31st,2018 by Fleming H. Revell Company (first published July 2018)

Tressa Harlowe’s father did not trust banks, but neither did he trust his greedy extended family. He kept his vast fortune hidden somewhere on his estate in the south of England and died suddenly, without telling anyone where he had concealed it. Tressa and her ailing mother are left with a mansion and an immense vineyard and no money to run it. It doesn’t take long for a bevy of opportunists to flock to the estate under the guise of offering condolences. Tressa knows what they’re really up to. She’ll have to work with the rough and rusticated vineyard manager to keep the laborers content without pay and discover the key to finding her father’s fortune–before someone else finds it first.

Award-winning author Joanna Davidson Politano welcomes readers to Trevelyan Castle, home of the poorest heiress in Victorian England, for a treasure hunt they’ll not soon forget.

MY REVIEW:

Powerful!! A Rumored Fortune, only the second book written by Joanna Davidson Politano, is on my list of top ten for 2018. More importantly, though, this novel will be in the running for top honors among book awards. This is my prediction for a novel of such high-caliber.

Tressa Harlowe’s odd vineyard-keeping father has disappeared from their mid-1800’s castle. Sadly, the search begins not so much for him, but for the treasure rumored to have been behind.

I should mention the narrative switches between first person, the rich heiress, Tressa; and third person, Donegan, the vinedresser in a class beneath her. Considering the societal differences so important at that time, this is extremely
clever of Politano.

This book grasped my attention from the start and held on, like the sea and mist that surround the castle and rarely loosen their clutches on it or its land.

Sadly, no matter what time period, people change very little. There are those who hear of someone else’s fortune and justify it should be theirs instead; schemers descend like vultures determined to get their share of the grand meal.

Obviously, Politano is an anglophobe and describes the area, life, and characters with a poetic prose that makes them “a wonder to behold.” She is a romantic in the linguistic sense of the word.

Fortunately, Politano is quite the romantic in the more common sense of the word. We see several possible romances, involving more than just the main characters. Which will thrive, and which will die, because there was no real connection?

Speaking of connections, Tressa has three main interests: her father, (and the vineyard because that was his obsession); relationships, and the fortune. Politano weaves them all together in an unforgettable story of agricultural lessons for life, including the spirit, romance, and intrigue that will leave you amazed at the experience you have just sojourned.

Hard to pick just a few quotes, but here are some faves:
“Strength comes to the branch through connection, and that’s what I’m offering.” How Tressa needs connections in more ways than one!

“It takes a harsh summer to yield abundance in the vineyards…When you feel you’re dying in the summer, all a branch needs to do is hang on.” So timely for anybody going through a rough patch!

“…isn’t the sort of man I would imagine knowing much Scripture.” ‘No, …he simply lives it out.’” We all need to live out our faith like that unnamed character!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. (I also bought my own copy.) This did not affect my opinions in any way, nor was I required to leave a positive review.

About the Author:

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Joanna Davidson Politano

Joanna Davidson Politano freelances for a small nonfiction publisher but spends much of her time spinning tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives. Her manuscript for Lady Jayne Disappears was a finalist for several contests, including the 2016 Genesis Award from ACFW, and won the OCW Cascade Award and the Maggie Award for Excellence. She is always on the hunt for random acts of kindness, people willing to share their deepest secrets with a stranger, and hidden stashes of sweets. She lives with her husband and their two babies in a house in the woods near Lake Michigan and shares stories that move her at www.jdpstories.com.

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Killer Green Tomatoes,#2 Farm-to-Fork Mysteries by Lynn Cahoon

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About the Book:

Kindle Edition, 182 pages
Published July 3rd, 2018 by Lyrical Underground
ASIN
B078LJPT23
  • Killer Green TomatoesKiller Green Tomatoes
    Genre: Mystery, Cozy, Contemporary

The time seems ripe for success as Angie Turner opens her farm-to-table restaurant in her Idaho hometown—until her new tomato supplier is accused of murder and Angie has to pick the real killer . . .

To Angie, nothing tastes more like summer than her Nona’s fried green tomatoes. Eager to add the recipe to the menu at the County Seat, she’s found the perfect produce supplier—her sous chef Estebe’s cousin, Javier. Just one problem: ladies’ man Javier’s current hot tomato Heather has turned up dead, and he’s the prime suspect. Somehow, between managing her restaurant and navigating a romantic triangle between Estebe and Ian, the owner/manager of the farmer’s market, Angie needs to produce evidence to clear Javier—before this green tomato farmer gets fried . . .

MY REVIEW:

In Lynn Cahoon’s second book of the Farm-to-Fork series, titled Killer Green Tomatoes, Angie and Felicia are beginning to hit their groove with the rest of the restaurant staff. The County Seat is a popular place to eat, with reservations needing to be secured well in advance. 

Angie soon finds she has more than she can chew, though, when she has her elderly neighbor for a house guest and Estebe, her sous chef, has family involved in a murder and disappearance.

I really enjoyed the difficulties between Angie and Mrs. Potter. (Sorry, Angie!) They made for very realistic, yet hilarious times.

The portrayal of the Basque people was very tasteful and sensitive to a group very proud of their heritage. 

In this book, we start to see the inner connectivity of people in the town. Several attitudes and actions are based upon someone’s protectiveness or love for another. This is actually true for multiple characters. Small town living, as Angie rediscovers, has both its joys and its jinxes.

Things one may not like: some may figure out the murderer, but there were enough twists that I was ultimately surprised. Sex was mentioned quite a bit. However, true to cozy form, there were no bedroom scenes.

Bottom line, I enjoyed this book, as Angie and Felicia and their crew really start to become their own “work family.” 

I gratefully received a copy of this book from the author and NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinions, for which I am responsible. I was not required to leave a positive review.

About the Author:

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Lynn Cahoon
Website
Twitter
Lynn Cahoon is the author of the NYT and USA Today best-selling Tourist Trap cozy mystery series. GUIDEBOOK TO MURDER, book 1 of the series, won the Reader’s Crown for Mystery Fiction in 2015. She also pens the Cat Latimer series available in mass market paperback. This year, she’s released WHO MOVED MY GOAT CHEESE in March as part of the new Farm to Fork series. She also writes romance under Lynn Collins. She lives in a small town like the ones she loves to write about with her husband and two fur babies. Sign up for her newsletter at www.lynncahoon.com