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Laura’s Shadow by Allison Pittman Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Laura’s Shadow

Author: Allison Pittman

Genre: Christian/Historical/Romance

Release date: August 1, 2022

Family Secrets Spill One Conversation at a Time

Visit historic American landmarks through the Doors to the Past series. History and today collide in stories full of mystery, intrigue, faith, and romance.

De Smet, South Dakota—1890 
Young women growing up in DeSmet live by two rules: don’t go out in a snowstorm and don’t give your heart to Cap Garland. Young Mariah Patterson only managed to obey one. Orphaned and having devoted her youth to scrapping out a life with her brother Charles, Mariah finds herself with no interesting suitors or means of support. Throwing caution to the wind, she seizes an opportunity to lay her feelings at Cap’s feet, even though she knows Cap sees the world through the torch he carries for Laura Ingalls. Mariah is certain her love for Cap will be strong enough to break both bonds, and she’s willing to risk everything to prove it.

De Smet, South Dakota—1974 
Trixie Gowan is the fourth generation of living Gowan women residing in the sprawling farmhouse on the outskirts of De Smet. Well, former resident. She’s recently moved to Minneapolis, where she writes ads for a neighborhood paper edited by Ron Tumble. She might live and work in the city, but her co-workers still call her Prairie Girl. Thus the inspiration for her comic strip—“Lost Laura”—in which a bespectacled girl in a calico dress tries to make her way in the city. The name is a quiet rebellion having grown up in a household where she’d been forbidden to mention the name, Laura Ingalls. But when her great-grandmother Mariah’s declining health brings Trixie home for a visit, two things might just keep her there: the bedside manner of Dr. Campbell Carter and the family secret that seems to be spilling from GG’s lips one conversation at a time.

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

“I used to worry about you, our little Trixie. Growing up in this house. None of us set a very good example of how to be a wife or mother. Almost like each of us could do one but not the other.”

Allison Pittman tends to write books just a little grittier than I expect, not quite the happily-ever-after that I often want, but, oh, the impressions her books leave behind!

Laura’s Shadow by Pittman surprised me in a few ways. I had never imagined people NOT liking Laura Ingalls (except for Nellie Olsen, but does she count?) So this took me aback. Then, I had another issue to overcome. Usually, a main character or such a prominent one is positively portrayed, but I really did not like Mariah much. She was a very bitter woman, who gave up what she could have for something she knew was out of reach and bounds. That said, there are a lot of unlikable people in life. So, I really appreciated Mariah’s character. Her personality made this novel feel more like literature. Bold move, Ms. Pittman, bravo!

My heart just went out to each of these four women for different reasons. Each, except for Trixie, acted in such a way that I was sure I didn’t like her. Then, as Pittman reveals secrets and motivations one-by-one, like a slowly peeled onion, my feelings reversed. Perhaps that is why we are not to judge others. How can we really understand what they’ve been through, without knowing them deeply? Only God knows us that thoroughly.

I loved the romantic triangle. Another well-drawn sub-plot.

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

Notable Quotables:

“That was a bald lie, but it seemed the thing to say, and the relief that washed across his face justified the sin.”

“Was there sin? Yes, but sin can be forgiven. Shame you drag around with you.”

“Life was exercise. We never got to stop moving until we died.”

“I knew the living child would be a piece of God’s mercy I could hold in my hands. I felt his love in a way I would never feel Oscar’s. I swallowed his forgiveness along with my unshed tears.”

“She’d been living with a decades-old broken heart, and that heart had been broken by Cap Garland.”

“I don’t know how many tomorrows I have left.”

“There’s nobody at this table with a right to throw stones.”

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Magnificent! Memorable, Literary Vibes

About the Author

Allison Pittman is the author of more than a dozen critically acclaimed novels and a four-time Christy finalist—twice for her Sister Wife series, once for All for a Story from her take on the Roaring Twenties and most recently for the critically acclaimed The Seamstress which takes a cameo character from the Dickens’ classic A Tale of Two Cities and flourishes her to life amidst the French Revolution. She lives in San Antonio, Texas, blissfully sharing an empty nest with her husband, Mike. Connect with her on Facebook (Allison Pittman Author), Twitter (@allisonkpittman) or her website, allisonkpittman.com.

More from Allison

I can credit Laura Ingalls Wilder for just about every aspect of my identity. I’m a reader because I read her books over and over and over again, checking them out from my little elementary school library. I can still see them—last bookcase, bottom shelf. During the summer, I checked them out from the Bookmobile, and one magical Christmas, I received my own set. The well-worn, yellow paperbacks have a place of honor in my office: top shelf, center stage. It was amazing to my eight-year-old self that I could pick up Little House in the Big Woods, skip the dull parts, and jump straight to These Happy Golden Years in a single afternoon.

Looking at Laura’s writing now (as I often do), I realize I spent my childhood absorbing the art of telling a story. Her books masterfully string meaningful vignettes within an over-arching conflict. She creates stories-within-a-story-within-a-story whenever Pa launches into a tall tale, and minor characters come to life no matter how brief their appearance. (Aunt Docia, anyone?)

When I first came up with the concept of writing a story set in the world of Laura Ingalls Wilder, I knew I couldn’t bring Laura herself in as a character. There’s a sacredness to her story, and I wouldn’t dream of inserting myself into the cannon of her pages. But—I thought—surely she had peers who grew up alongside her, classmates who also hated Miss Wilder, young men who might have set their own cap for her, townsfolk who remembered the vibrant young woman with the button-brown eyes and dark curls. And then I pondered further: maybe there was another side to Laura—a side that she kept from the romanticized ideal skipping through the pages of her books. My first thought was to create a fictional De Smet town girl, but then…

In researching and reading Pioneer Girl, The Annotated Autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, I came across a bit of information that brought the story to life for me. In These Happy Golden Years, Laura teaches her first class: five students, two families. And while the “Brewster” children are documented in other sources, the Harrison children are not. There are no census records, land deeds, or any official documents to support the identity of Charles and Martha as they are depicted in the novel. And so, it clicked. If Laura could fictionalize these people, well, then, so could I. Thus Martha Harrison was lifted from those pages, renamed Mariah, and given a new life and a new story in mine.

Writing Laura’s Shadow allowed me to indulge in a few favorite directions. First, I’m fascinated with the idea of extreme longevity (showcased in my novel All for a Song), and creating a character whose lifespan stretches from homesteading to disco was delightful. My Mariah chafes at the romanticized depiction of pioneer life, telling us in her old age that it was really more of a daily struggle for survival. I also enjoyed exploring the family dynamic of four generations of women and how each generation faced the  same battles and fought them so, so differently. Finally—and this is what truly speaks to my fourth-grade self…

You know that Elton John song, “Your Song” with the lyrics, “I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words…” Well, I got to put down in words my lifelong crush on Cap Garland. Sure, Almonzo is great and everything, but I always thought Cap was more exciting. More fun. More…more. Bringing him to life in this book set my old heart racing. My research for this novel took me to De Smet, and to his gravesite, where I spoke this story to his stone. I like to think he’d approve, and I hope all of the Laura fans will join me in this tale and let their imaginations run wild.

Blog Stops

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, August 30

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 30

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions , August 31

Texas Book-aholic, August 31

Genesis 5020, September 1

Inklings and notions, September 1

The Avid Reader, September 2

For Him and My Family, September 2

deb’s Book Review, September 3

Simple Harvest Reads, September 3 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 4

Blogging With Carol, September 4

Betti Mace, September 5

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 5

Blossoms and Blessings, September 6

Jeanette’s Thoughts, September 6

lakesidelivingsite, September 7

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, September 7

Connie’s History Classroom, September 8

Mary Hake, September 8

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 9

Through the Fire Blogs, September 9

Tell Tale Book Reviews, September 10

Bigreadersite, September 11

Pause for Tales, September 11

For the Love of Literature, September 12

Labor Not in Vain, September 12

Remembrancy, September 13

To Everything There Is A Season, September 13

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, August 30

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 30

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions , August 31

Texas Book-aholic, August 31

Genesis 5020, September 1

Inklings and notions, September 1

The Avid Reader, September 2

For Him and My Family, September 2

deb’s Book Review, September 3

Simple Harvest Reads, September 3 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 4

Blogging With Carol, September 4

Betti Mace, September 5

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 5

Blossoms and Blessings, September 6

Jeanette’s Thoughts, September 6

lakesidelivingsite, September 7

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, September 7

Connie’s History Classroom, September 8

Mary Hake, September 8

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 9

Through the Fire Blogs, September 9

Tell Tale Book Reviews, September 10

Bigreadersite, September 11

Pause for Tales, September 11

For the Love of Literature, September 12

Labor Not in Vain, September 12

Remembrancy, September 13

To Everything There Is A Season, September 13

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Allison is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon E-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/210cb/laura-s-shadow-celebration-tour-giveaway

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

The Wonderland Trials by Sara Ella Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: The Wonderland Trials

Author: Sara Ella

Genre: YA Dystopian Fantasy / Alice in Wonderland retelling

Release date: July 12, 2022

Solve the clues. Face your fears. Survive the Trials. 

All Alice Liddell wants is to escape her Normal life in Oxford and find the parents who abandoned her ten years ago. But she gets more than she bargained for when her older sister Charlotte is arrested for having the infamous Wonder Gene—the key to unlocking the curious Wonderland Reality.

Soon, Alice receives a rather cryptic invitation to play for Team Heart in this year’s annual—and often deadly—Wonderland Trials. Now she has less than twenty-four hours to find her way into Wonderland where nothing is impossible . . . or what it seems.

The stakes are raised when she discovers players go missing during the Trials each year. Will she and her team solve the clues and find the missing players? Or will betrayal and distrust win, leaving Alice alone in a world of her own? Follow the White Rabbit into this topsy-turvy fantasy where players become prey, a sip of the wrong tea might as well be poison, and a queen’s ways do not always lead one where they ought to go.

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

“Nothing is impossible.”

“Wonderland is for Wonders. Outsiders don’t belong.”

Hmmm…This is definitely a YA novel in terms of the mental processing going on, the quick changing of allegiances, the uncertainty of knowing one’s own mind. Seems to me that Sara Ella captured the thought processes of a young adult very well in her retelling of Alice in Wonderland as she pens The Wonderland Trials.

I am going to go out on a limb and say this is an allegorical novel, reminding me loosely of the allegory of C S Lewis’s Narnia. I loved that part. If you love chess, you will certainly want to read this novel. Also, if you love the nonsense of Alice in Wonderland (which I always struggled with), you will love this remade tale. Sara Ella does a fantastic job of incorporating many of the characters and sayings of the original work and making some of them very endearing to a nonpreferred reader of the Lewis Carroll novel like myself. I found an affinity to Chess, Alice, and Dinah that I did not expect out of this novel that contained more nonsense than I thought I could handle. It worked together enough to make a believer out of me by the end of the book! For that reason, while this read is not my chosen cup of tea, it certainly is a great antidote for the skeptic like myself, and I am accordingly giving it 5 stars!

One caveat-reader beware- this book builds in intensity to a near frenzy (how fitting!), then ends in a cliff-hanger. That is something I always want to know before starting a book, and I do not consider that a spoiler!!

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

Notable Quotables:

“We’ve let fear rule us-divide us -for so long-we’ve forgotten we’re all part of the same team.”

“Sometimes family isn’t the one you’re born with. It’s the one you find. Or the ones who find you.”

About the Author

Once upon a time, Sara Ella dreamed she would marry a prince and live in a castle. Now she spends her days homeschooling her three Jedi in training, braving the Arizona summers, and reminding her superhero husband that it’s almost Christmas (even if it’s only January). When she’s not writing, Sara might be found behind her camera lens or planning her next adventure in the great wide somewhere. She is a Hufflepuff who finds joy in the simplicity of sipping a lavender white mocha and singing Disney tunes in the car. Sara is the author of the Unblemished trilogy and Coral, a reimagining of The Little Mermaid that focuses on mental health. Her latest journey into the world of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland feels like coming full circle after her time spent chasing the White Rabbit around Walt Disney World. Sara loves fairy tales and Jesus, and she still believes “Happily Ever After is Never Far Away.” Connect with her online at SaraElla.com or find her on Instagram at @saraellawrites.

More from Sara

Welcome to Wonderland!

When I started this journey down the rabbit hole, I had no idea where it would lead me. From switching publishers to signing a book contract during a pandemic, this writing journey has certainly been an adventure for the books!

As with every story I write, life handed me a few trials along the way with this one. I didn’t know how it would end until a few weeks before deadline. With that time crunch came an epiphany that altered a good portion of the plot—an idea that had me scrambling to rewrite entire scenes right up until the final hours before I turned the story in to my editor. It was difficult, but the book is better for it—I am better for it.

It could be said that an author shapes the story, but I personally believe it’s equally true that the story shapes the author. Every book I have written has changed me in some way. With The Wonderland Trials, I can pinpoint three takeaways that helped me grow in ways I never expected.

I learned to not take life so seriously.

We all have to do the adulting thing. We have bills to pay and homes to clean and deadlines to meet. But in the midst of all that chaos and craziness is a time to laugh. To play. To make a mess on the living room floor building Legos with my toddler or take a walk to the park.

I found myself often rushing through time with friends because I had to write or work or check more boxes off my task list. But feeling stressed and cutting friend and family time short didn’t accomplish anything. It didn’t get my book written faster. I’m not saying to put things off that need to be done—it’s important to be responsible. I am saying I learned that I have to balance work and play, and most importantly, I need to be present for those in my life.

It’s not only okay to sit back and relax now and again, it’s necessary. I need to let go of the constant to-do list and invest my time in things that bring me joy. That way, when it’s time to sit down and pound the keys, I’m filled and inspired, rather than tired and anxious.

I learned to see the beauty in found family.

They say you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. I disagree. As a girl who was raised by a stepdad who has loved me unconditionally as his own from the time I was two, I think there is something truly special about family that you find and make your own.

There have been times I’ve felt jealous of my friends who still have their biological parents around. I lost my mom in 2012 and my birth dad in 2020. I have maybe a handful of blood relatives left. I love them to bits, and I’m so grateful for them! But my family extends beyond the boundaries of blood. When I really think about it, I have family coming out of my ears and then some.

I have besties who became my soul sisters and women who stepped in as moms and grandmas. I have big brothers who would protect me with their lives and nieces and nephews I get to spoil on holidays and birthdays. As Alice says in The Wonderland Trials, “​​Sometimes family isn’t the one you’re born with. It’s the one you find. Or the ones who find you.”

I learned to believe in the impossible.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m the pessimist in my family. I try to see every worst-case scenario when making a decision. I ask all the what-ifs in the book. I’m like MJ in the Spider-Man movies— “If you expect disappointment, then you can never really get disappointed.”

My husband, on the other hand, has the faith of a child. When I’m lacking in faith, he’s there to remind me of all God can do. And God almost always surprises me with how He goes about doing those things. In a world with drive-thrus, mobile bank deposits, food deliveries, and every other form of instant service we can think of, the call to be patient and wait on the Lord is often forgotten.

I want answers now. I want my family member to be healed now. I want the baby we’ve been waiting over a year to adopt now. God can do the impossible, right? So why doesn’t He hurry up and do it already?

Because God is not a vending machine. And just because He chooses not to perform the miracle I want when and how I want it, that doesn’t mean he isn’t working. In fact, it’s the waiting period when God tends to do His best work on me.

More often than not, I am the impossible one, the impossible heart that needs changing. The stubborn clay that needs molding. The cracked tea cup that needs to be fixed and filled with rivers of gold. What I see as impossible to fix or change, God sees as an opportunity to help me grow. So I’ll keep believing in the impossible. After all, God took me, an impossibly helpless sinner, and made me into something new.

Thank you for taking time to read my thoughts and for giving this little book a chance. Happy reading, Wonders! The impossible awaits!

Sincerely,

Sara Ella

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, July 30

Rachael’s Inkwell, July 30

A Reader’s Brain, July 31

For Him and My Family, July 31

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 1

Texas Book-aholic, August 2

Where Faith and Books Meet, August 3

Inklings and notions, August 3

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, August 4

deb’s Book Review, August 5

Live. Love. Read., August 5

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 6

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 7

Mary Hake, August 7

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, August 8

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, August 8

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, August 9

Tell Tale Book Reviews, August 10

Melissa’s Bookshelf, August 10

Wishful Endings, August 11

Blogging With Carol, August 12

Rebecca Tews, August 12

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Sara is giving away the grand prize package of a signed Limited Edition Hardcover of The Wonderland Trials, $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card, and $15 Starbucks 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/2038e/the-wonderland-trials-celebration-tour-giveaway

BLOG, Kindle, Purchase, Revell

Among the Innocent by Mary Alford Review

About the Book

Title: Among the Innocent

Author: Mary Alford

Publisher: Revell

Released: June, 2022

When Leah Miller’s entire Amish family was murdered ten years ago, the person believed responsible took his own life. Since then, Leah left the Amish and joined the police force. Now, after another Amish woman is found murdered with the same MO, it becomes clear that the wrong man may have been blamed for her family’s deaths.

As Leah and the new police chief, Dalton Cooper, work long hours struggling to fit the pieces together in order to catch the killer, they can’t help but grow closer. When secrets from both of their pasts begin to surface, an unexpected connection between them is revealed. But this is only the beginning. Could it be that the former police chief framed an innocent man to keep the biggest secret of all buried? And what will it mean for Leah–and Dalton–when the full truth comes to light?

USA Today bestselling author Mary Alford keeps you guessing as two determined souls plumb the dark depths of the past in order to forge a brighter future–together.

My Impressions

“The inevitable showdown coming had been a decade in the making. When it was over, would any of them be left standing?”

This quote. It indicates the enormous level of suspense created and maintained throughout novel. I felt the need to check my blood pressure after reading Among the Innocent by Mary Alford, to make sure it was not abnormally high!! This particular novel is a little darker than most I choose to read, but it is oh, so well done!

I did identify with Leah more than I would like at some points. “She’d lost her family to a killer—probably Ellis to the same man. Now she was slowly losing Marge to a different kind of killer.” The killer that stalks Marge is all too prevalent, and so many families must deal with that threat. I loved how that thread strengthens the story.

Sigh. Dalton is swoony dreamboat who might be perfect, but for his secrets. Full of faith despite a rough past, he is protective of Leah, kind, sensitive, and quite the looker. Will he and Leah be able to work together to keep tragedy away from the Amish community, or will they become part of the region’s mounting calamities?

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

Notable Quotables:

“Let it go. The past is written and done, but you’re not.”

He was back. John was back.

“…he wanted to beg her to trust him. Yet how could he ask for trust when he had his own secrets?”

“It’s going to be okay.” And it would, because he’d make sure of it. Yet to get to okay, they’d have to go through a whole lot of bad.

“Her heart kicked out an unsteady beat at his protectiveness. Something about him made her wish for a second that she could be normal.”

“The mountains were black shapes in the distance, but they were always there. Just as God was. Even in the darkest moments when it was hard to feel his presence.”

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Magnificent! A thriller-chiller of the first degree!

About the Author

Mary Alford is the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of more than fifty novels. Her books have been finalists in the Selah Award, the Daphne du Maurier Award, and the HOLT Medallion Contest. As a writer, Mary is an avid reader. She loves to cook and can’t face the day with-out coffee. She and her husband live in the heart of Texas in the middle of 70 acres with two very spoiled cats and one adorable rescue dog. Mary is very active online and would love to connect with readers on Facebook and Twitter or any social platforms listed at http://www.maryalford.net.

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
BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour

Brought to Book, #1 The Wilkester Mysteries, by Barbara Cornthwaite Review and Giveaway

About the Book



Book:  Brought to Book

Author: Barbara Cornthwaite

Genre:  Christian cozy mystery

Release Date: June 24, 2020

1- Brought to Book-sm

There’s nothing in Emily Post about dealing with murder.

Katrina just wanted to spend time among the books at Frank’s Bookstore. Yes, that’s an unimaginative name for a store, but Frank’s an unimaginative guy–or he was.

Now he and his murder are the reason Katrina is spending her spare time with Wilkester detective, Todd Mason. Or, that’s what she tells herself.

Why would anyone want to kill Frank Delaney? Who would do it? And is Katrina herself even safe?

Mixing faith, literary humor, sweet romance, and a cozy mystery that will keep you guessing, Barbara Cornthwaite’s first Wilkester Mystery has everything you want for a cozy read.

Begin your investigation of Brought to Book today.

Click here to get your copy!


My Impressions

Lovers of Christian cozies have a new author to follow, Barbara Cornthwaite. Since turning her literary hand to cozies, Cornthwaite has penned two books in The Wilkester Mysteries so far. This first book, Brought to Book, introduces us to the heroine, a literature professor named Katrina Peters. Katrina befriends Frank Delaney who owns a bookstore neighboring Wilkester college. Oddly, Frank seems an unlikely bookstore owner and is glad for Katrina’s organizational help. When a crime happens, Katrina’s staid life becomes very challenging.
Writing in first-person POV, with a spinster heroine, Cornthwaite shows the small historical town upended by mayhem, romance, avarice, and secrets.

Forgeries, foster children, and faith discussions all play a major role in this mystery. Apparently, there actually is a connection between a famous poet and the world of forgeries. How interesting! I just loved the way Cornthwaite paints the foster family so realistically. Sometimes I felt the faith discussions seemed a little less than a totally natural inclusion.
I finally figured out whodunnit, but that did not lessen my enjoyment of the story, as I anxiously read to see how the action would all play out. This was a book I eagerly read from start to finish. I look forward to the next one.


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

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!

About the Author

Barbara Cornthwaite lives in the middle of Ireland with her husband and children. She taught college English before “retiring” to do something she loves far more; her days are now filled with homeschooling her six children, trying to keep the house tidy (a losing battle), and trying to stay warm in the damp Irish climate (also a losing battle). She is surrounded by medieval castles, picturesque flocks of sheep, and ancient stone monuments. These things are unappreciated by her children, who are more impressed by traffic jams, skyscrapers, and hot weather.

More from Barbara

Meeting of the Minds

A Wilkester Mysteries Introduction

Detective Todd Mason knew Katrina was the one the first time he met her. The woman had witnessed a murder—if not with her eyes, at least with her ears. She’d seen the man dying and called for help, afraid all the while that the killer would return for her. So much he’d been told before he went into the interrogation room.

“How’s she handling it?” he asked the officer who had arrived first at the scene and escorted her to the police station.

“Not too badly,” said Gary. “She’s in shock, of course, but she’s trying to hold it together. Katrina Peters. She’s in Room 2.”

He’d gone in then and gotten his first look at her. Late thirties or early forties. Brown hair that fell to her shoulders in loose waves. Brown eyes that were red-rimmed from crying. Hands clutching a tissue. She managed a faint smile when he walked in.

“Hello, Ms. Peters. I’m Detective Todd Mason. I need to ask you some questions, if that’s all right.”

“Miss,” she said, almost as a reflex.

“I beg your pardon?” Todd wasn’t sure he’d heard her correctly.

“It’s Miss Peters.” She said it firmly, repudiating the term Ms. even at such a stressful moment. Something made her blush then, and he saw her glance at his left hand. “Never mind,” she murmured.

She’s afraid I’ll think she’s trying to advertize her availability. It amused Todd to see the blush—if only she knew how refreshing it was to see a woman who would even be conscious of such a thing. Old fashioned, he thought. In a good way.

She answered his questions as calmly as she could, and even apologized for the tears that insisted on coming out now and then. When she alluded to Daniel in the lion’s den, he knew she really was out of the ordinary, and it took all his self-control not to offer to drive her home himself.

To join the investigation, read your copy of Brought to Book today.

Blog Stops

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 10

21st Century Keeper at Home, October 10

The Avid Reader, October 10

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, October 11

Remembrancy, October 11

For the Love of Literature, October 12

Worthy2Read, October 12

Genesis 5020, October 12

deb’s Book Review, October 13

Blogging With Carol, October 13

Robin’s Nest, October 13

Texas Book-aholic, October 14

Losing the Busyness, October 14

April Hayman, Author, October 14

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, October 15

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 15

Inklings and notions, October 16

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, October 16

Daysong Reflections, October 16

Older & Smarter?, October 17

For Him and My Family, October 17

Ashley’s Bookshelf, October 18

Just Your Average reviews, October 18

Lis Loves Reading, October 18

Locks, Hooks and Books, October 19

As He Leads is Joy, October 19

Emily Yager, October 19

Sodbusterliving, October 20

Artistic Nobody, October 20 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Labor Not in Vain, October 20

She Lives To Read, October 21

Bizwings Blog, October 21

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, October 21

Godly Book Reviews, October 22

Mary Hake, October 22

Vicky Sluiter, October 22

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, October 23

Sara Jane Jacobs, October 23

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Barbara is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a paperback 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/10210/brought-to-book-celebration-tour-giveaway

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Favorite

Secrets Resurfaced, #4 Roughwater Ranch Cowboys by Dana Mentink with Giveaway

Secrets-Resurfaced-FB-Banner

About the Book

Book:  Secrets Resurfaced

Author: Dana Mentink

Genre:  Romantic Suspense

Release Date: June 2, 2020

When new evidence surfaces about a tragic boating accident that put her ex-boyfriend’s 48829641father in prison, private investigator Dory Winslow’s determined to look into it. But now someone’s dead set on silencing her. And working with Chad Jaggert—the father of her secret child—may be the only way to survive the treacherous truth about the tragedy that once tore them apart.
Click here to get your copy!

My Review

Secrets that rise to the surface are indeed deep. Some are delightful, some are painful, and others are like a hidden branch that will catch you, hold you, and cause you to drown. When all the secrets are out, who survives, and who drowns figuratively, if not bodily?
I loved this book on many levels. Dana Mentink is a new-to-me author, but one I’ve been wanting to squeeze in for quite a while. Water catches my eye, so the cover caught my attention first. Then I discovered Dory Winslow. Although trained by her father to be a PI, she is very down-to-earth and relatable. So is Chad, her ex-boyfriend, who works for a ranch. I loved the way he “adopted” the family where he works, with the goal of starting up a rescue horse operation as therapy for veterans.

Secrets Resurfaced 1
Chad’s biological father had been driving a boat drunk 5 years ago, and two people were killed. Now one of those, Blaze, shows up alive and shooting. Dory and Chad teeter back and forth between trying to rekindle their former relationship and totally antagonizing each other, yet they need each other to solve this mystery.
For a person trying to make amends, Dory sure seems to sink back into the hate and snark pretty quickly. I found Chad much easier to like, as Dory’s thought processes just didn’t seem too sound sometimes.

Secrets Resurfaced 2
Secondary characters can make or break a book for me, and Mentink threw in some great ones. I loved Aunt Ginny and her husband, and the way they loved on friends of Chad who needed help. I loved the camaraderie and brotherhood forged by Chad and his two adopted brothers. I was quite surprised by the wonderfully humble personality of one person, and who wouldn’t love Ivy and Meatball? Meatball steals the show! Steel Magnolias has nothing on Sarah, Dory’s mom, either!!
I highly recommend this novel, and I will be on the lookout for others by Dana Mentink. I hope animals are included.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit. This in no way affects my opinions, which are solely my own.

 

My Rating

5 Stars – Superior- Hit My Reading Sweet Spot!

 

About the Author

Dana Mentink is a two time American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award winner, a dana-mentink-223x300Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award and a Holt Medallion winner. She is a national bestselling author of over forty titles in the suspense and lighthearted romance genres. She is pleased to write for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense, Harlequin Heartwarming and Sourcebooks. Besides writing, she busies herself teaching third grade. Mostly, she loves to be home with Papa Bear, teen bear cubs affectionately nicknamed Yogi and Boo Boo, Junie, the  nutty terrier, and a chubby box turtle. You can connect with Dana via her website at danamentink.com, on Facebook, YouTube (Author Dana Mentink) and Instagram (dana_mentink.)

 

More from Dana

Well, it’s been a wild ride through the Roughwater Cowboy series! Here we are at the end, with youngest brother Chad’s story. Fortunately, the rest of the clan (Mitch, Liam and Helen) are here to lend a hand when the man Chad’s father was jailed for killing comes back to life. Helping out also is Jingles the hapless dog, and a new member of the canine family, three legged Meatball. Throw in a killer on the loose and a secret child, and we’ll have a ‘hold onto your hat’ finish to this series. Thanks for coming along with me! God bless you!

 Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 5

Texas Book-aholic, June 5

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, June 6

deb’s Book Review, June 6

Pause for Tales, June 6

Inklings and notions, June 7

Just Your Average reviews, June 7

Genesis 5020, June 8

Through the Fire Blogs, June 8

Hallie Reads, June 8

She Lives To Read, June 9

For the Love of Literature, June 9

Betti Mace, June 10

Quiet quilter, June 10

Older & Smarter?, June 10

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, June 11

Blogging With Carol, June 11

For Him and My Family, June 12

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, June 12

Bigreadersite, June 12

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 13

reviewingbookplusemore, June 13

Reading Is My SuperPower, June 14

KarenSueHadley, June 14

Moments, June 14

Simple Harvest Reads, June 15 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, June 15

Remembrancy, June 16

Bizwings Blog, June 16

To Everything There is A Season, June 16

Splashes of Joy, June 17

Blossoms and Blessings, June 17

Just the Write Escape, June 18

Daysong Reflections, June 18

Artistic Nobody, June 18  (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Giveaway

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

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

https://promosimple.com/ps/fc1a/secrets-resurfaced-celebration-tour-giveaway