Category Archives: Book Review

Christmas Crime Cover-Up Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: Christmas Crime Cover-Up

Author: Dana Mentink

Genre: Inspy Suspense

Release date: November 29, 2022

From USA TODAY bestselling author Dana Mentink…

A violent attack

Isn’t the homecoming she expected.

When an ATV tries to run her down in Death Valley, animal rescuer Nora Duke knows it’s a sign she never should have returned. Now she’s stuck on Seth Castillo’s ranch until Christmas with a pregnant donkey—and a criminal desperate to silence her. Facing her past is as terrifying as uncovering a killer’s twisted plan. But can Seth convince her to stay…if they live through the holidays?

From Love Inspired Suspense: Courage. Danger. Faith.

Desert Justice

Book 1: Framed in Death Valley
Book 2: Missing in the Desert
Book 3: Death Valley Double Cross
Book 4: Death Valley Hideout
Book 5: Christmas Crime Cover-Up
Book 6: Targeted in the Desert

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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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, Harlequin Heartwarming 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.) Her monthly newsletter features plenty of goodies, gab and giveaways. https://www.subscribepage.com/b8q0y5

More from Dana

Well here we go! Book five in the Desert Justice series features Nora (Chief Jude’s estranged sister), a wild donkey who needs rescuing, and a crime from the past that intrudes into the present. Twisty, right? I was inspired to write this story after visiting Death Valley and learning about the feral donkeys which inhabit the region. They’re cute, visitors love them, but the burros can encounter health problems and cause environmental damage if they aren’t settled into a safe area. It’s amazing to me that wild donkeys are adept at detecting underground water sources. They dig “wells” which can benefit many thirsty animals. Fascinating, right? Hope you’ll enjoy meeting Bubbles the donkey and the helpful humans who rescue her in this novel. God bless and thanks for reading!

My Review

The Desert Justice series, authored by Dana Mentink, continues with book five, Christmas Crime Cover-Up. Each story builds upon the others with regard to the characters and their relationships but does come to a conclusion, so although I would recommend reading them in order, it isn’t required to enjoy the series. I have thoroughly enjoyed each book, but Christmas Crime Cover-Up is now my favorite. There is so much that I love about it, from the donkey connection to the seasonal setting to the intriguing cover itself, which instantly reminded me of Moses and the burning bush. God might not speak as directly as He did during that encounter, but He definitely communicates with the characters in the novel, just as He does with us.

In Christmas Crime Cover-Up, Mentink tells the story of Furnace Falls resident Seth Castillo and prodigal daughter Nora Duke, who left home abruptly after graduation and never looked back, taking her best friend Felicia Tennison with her. Now working with animal rescue in Colorado, capturing a feral donkey brings them home, but they soon become targets of an unknown assailant. Nora finds herself stuck in her old hometown with a killer and the helpful, affable Seth, bent on protecting her. However, as she sees it, “Prayers were for people who needed saving. Nora intended to do the saving herself.” Her independence and stubborn streak cause her to hold people at arm’s length, especially after the decisions she made in her past, and she avoids revealing her “weak and vulnerable places, places she did not want to acknowledge.” Can she really go home again, and does she even want to? As Seth, who always wants to do as much as he can for those he loves, acknowledges, “Need made people stay close for a while. Want was the thing futures were built on.” The same holds true for a relationship with God; someone can hold tightly to the Lord while they feel that they need help or intervention and then drift away afterward, but true faith means remaining close to God regardless of circumstances because they want to out of love, not just necessity.

I love the inclusion of the donkey, Bubbles, in this story, and because it takes place at Christmastime, I can’t help but make a symbolic connection with the birth of Jesus in a stable. The theme of the prodigal and the burdens of the past speaks to a wide audience, counterbalanced by the man who always does the right thing but starts to think that he will always be overlooked. The best lesson in Christmas Crime Cover-Up, I think, is that although you can run away from home, you can never run away from God. He is always there, loving us and waiting for us to surrender to His love, no matter what the season.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, December 3

deb’s Book Review, December 3

Through the Fire Blogs, December 3

Texas Book-aholic, December 4

Paula’s Pad of Inspiration, December 4

Betti Mace, December 5

Genesis 5020, December 5

Bizwings Blog, December 6

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 6

Bigreadersite, December 7

Inklings and notions, December 7

Daysong Reflections, December 8

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 8

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 9

Empowermoms, December 9

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, December 10

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 10

Pause for Tales, December 10

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, December 11

For Him and My Family, December 11

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, December 12

Holly’s Book Corner, December 12

Blogging With Carol, December 13

Vicky Sluiter, December 13

For the Love of Literature, December 14

Lily’s Book Reviews, December 14

Cover Lover Book Review, December 15

Simple Harvest Reads, December 15 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Blossoms and Blessings, December 16

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, December 16

Labor Not in Vain, December 16

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Dana is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the 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/22ec8/christmas-crime-cover-up-celebration-tour-giveaway

Passages of Hope Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: Passages of Hope

Author: Terri J. Haynes

Genre: Christian Fiction / Historical / Romance

Release date: November, 2022

Discover the Story Behind a Secret Passageway

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

Gracie Kingston begins renovations on the Philadelphia house inherited from her grandmother and finds a secret room. It is connected to a house nearby, the home of William Still, the man known as the father of the Underground Railroad. As she researches, she discovers a mystery in her house’s ownership. In 1855, Olivia Kingston helps a mother and her young child by hiding them in a secret room in her home. As she helps, she learns that there may be an impostor conductor in their community. As Gracie’s and Olivia’s stories intertwine, they learn the meaning of sacrifice and love.

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Terri J. Haynes, a native Baltimorean, is a homeschool mom, writer, prolific knitter, freelance graphic artist and former Army wife (left the Army, not the husband). She loves to read, so much that when she was in elementary school, she masterminded a plan to be locked in a public library armed with only a flashlight to read all the books and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. As she grew, her love for writing grew as she tried her hand at poetry, articles, speeches and fiction. She is storyteller at heart. Her passion is to draw readers in the story world she has created and to bring laughter and joy to their lives.
Terri is a 2010 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis contest finalist, and a 2012 semi-finalist. She is also a 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarterfinalist. Her publishing credits include: Cup of Comfort for Military Families, Crosswalk.com, the Secret Place Devotional, Urbanfaith.com, Vista Devotional, and Publisher’s Weekly.
Terri holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology, a Master’s degree in Theological Studies and a certificate in creative writing and graphic design, meeting the minimal requirements of being a geek. She and her husband pastor a church where she serves as executive pastor and worship leader. Terri lives in Maryland with her three wonderful children and her husband, who often beg her not to kill off their favorite characters.
Website: www.terrijhaynes.com
Blog: www.inotherwords.terrijhaynes.com

More from Terri

Family, Underground Railroad, two strong Black women, and knitting in one book? Yes.

As an author, I explore my world with curiosity. I find many subjects interesting and it shows in this book. It’s not often that an author can combine such a range of topics in one novel. I’m so glad I got to do it for this one.

In addition to being an author, I am a knitter, crocheter, indie yarn dyer, business owner, unofficial historian, wife, mother, and sister. At first glance, all those things seem too different to combine in one book. But they weave together so perfectly.

Life is a tapestry of many colors knit together and my goal was to show that. That family and history, grieving and crafting, struggle and triumph, are all entwined threads. Their vibrancy can be combined to create a beautiful project, the pain and joy both add hue and color to life. This is what I hope you find in this book.

My Review

Able to be read in any order, the Doors to the Past series weaves together a historical and a contemporary storyline that demonstrate the resounding impact of the past upon the present through the situations of the characters. Each book reveals the connections between the contemporary characters and their historical counterparts and how their lives reflect an extraordinary continuity between generations. History, suspense, and romance await!

For every dreadful, tragic event, there is a hopeful side, a thread of redemption interwoven to encourage us to press on and to hold fast to our faith in the Lord. The blight of slavery in the United States led to the creation of the Underground Railroad, the effect of which continues to have an impact today, as Terri Haynes demonstrates in her novel Passages of Hope. A dual-timeline story set in Philadelphia, the two main characters are Gracie in the present day and Olivia in 1855. Gracie is not used to having help with anything, and Olivia tries to do everything without help, both shouldering more than necessary as we all do at times because we think that is easier than surrendering control. The truth, however, is that while hard times are inevitable, loving friends help lift us up, and the Lord tells us to give our burdens to Him.

Passages of Hope deals with the topic of grief in a unique way. Herself a free Black, Olivia experiences the sorrows of slavery through her work as a stationmaster on the Underground Railroad while also deeply longing for a family with her husband: “To tell her children the story of their history. That their grandparents and parents were conductors and stationmasters and took up this sacred work to help others.” Over 150 years later, Gracie has had a difficult life of just scraping by but had a special relationship with her grandmother, and “her life was better with Gran in it. Now Gran, like her mother, had gone to the sweet by-and-by and left Gracie in the grim here and now.” I felt a special empathy for Gracie because my own mom passed away not long ago, and the grief still feels fresh. Again, though, hope whispers; while she sees herself as a failure and believes that she does not deserve her inheritance, Gracie’s name itself serves as a reminder that God’s grace is unmerited. Indeed, may we, too, realize the Source of our hope and love: “And she now knew that no matter how bad things were, she could always hope in love.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 29

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, November 29

lakesidelivingsite, November 30

Texas Book-aholic, November 30

Cover Lover Book Review, December 1

Inklings and notions, December 1

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, December 2 (Author Interview)

deb’s Book Review, December 2

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 3

For the Love of Literature, December 4

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, December 4

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, December 5

Connie’s History Classroom, December 5

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 6

Holly’s Book Corner, December 6

Blossoms and Blessings, December 7

Mary Hake, December 7

Remembrancy, December 8

For Him and My Family, December 8

Tell Tale Book Reviews, December 9

Lis Loves Reading, December 9

Through the fire blogs, December 10

Spoken from the Heart, December 10

Pause for Tales, December 11

Labor Not in Vain, December 11

Betti Mace, December 12

Marriage, Motherhood, & Homeschool, December 12

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Terri is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon e-gift card and a print 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/22cd0/passages-of-hope-celebration-tour-giveaway

In a Dark, Dark Room: A Book Review of B.A. Paris’ “The Prisoner”

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While this may not have been my favorite B.A. Paris novel to date—her debut was astounding!—The Prisoner delivers all that readers have come to expect from this bestselling suspense author, and I quickly became intrigued with the narrative. Throughout the story, there is a niggling sense that something is off, not quite right, adding to the tension in a way that reminds me of the static preceding a lightning strike. It’s subtle, but suddenly it gives way and chaos ensues. As with her other novels, The Prisoner is primarily psychological suspense, which I find more frightening than outright horror. Beware of making presumptions and of taking things at face value, because circumstances cast doubt on what is really happening. When done well, the twists and revelations can turn the narrative on its head, and Paris has made this her trademark.

Comprised of two segments, The Prisoner is both literal and a metaphor, representing the main character’s status in more ways than one. Kidnapped and held in an empty, windowless, pitch-black room, Amelie Lamont goes from fears surrounding her new husband to wondering where she is and why, and what is really happening. Narrated in the first-person by Amelie, readers assume her limited point of view while being drawn alongside her into the situation. The Prisoner evokes such a keen sense of claustrophobia, and Paris writes with a cinematic style that makes it easy for readers to put themselves into Amelie’s position. Some chapters during the first section of the book take place during the past and offer vignettes into Amelie’s life prior to the kidnapping and how they shaped her into the independent woman she became. As with the story itself, each layer reveals another aspect and another surprise. Paris does with The Prisoner what she does with her other novels, taking a seemingly common trope and turning it on its head with a domino effect of twists that always go further than expected. Talk about being held captive!  

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥

Wellspring of Life Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: Wellspring of Life

Author: Allen Brokken

Genre: Middlegrade Christian Fantasy

Release date: November 4, 2022

Lauren (12), Aiden(9), and Ethan(5) have been reunited with their mortally wounded Father. But, they must take him to the Wellspring of Life before it’s too late.

The Dark One suffered a massive loss when twelve-year-old Lauren and her younger brothers Aiden and Ethan rescued their father from his clutches. However, the battle left Father horribly burned and barely hanging on to life. However, they found a clue to his salvation, the fabled Wellspring of Life.

As the children trek across the wildlife of the prairie, take sides against them to drive them off their path. Meanwhile, the giant known as Skull Crusher hunts them mercilessly while seeking to master the Darkness so he can destroy the family once and for all.

New friends join them in their quest to save Father, but they could also choose the Darkness and lead them further astray. The children’s mission to save their father will fail if they can’t find the Wellspring of Life in time. Will they have the faith to stay on the narrow path to redemption?

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Allen Brokken is a teacher at heart, a husband and father most of all. He’s a joyful writer by the abundant grace of God. He began writing the Towers of Light series for his own children to help him illustrate the deep truths of the Bible in an engaging and age appropriate way.

He’s dedicated 18 years of his life to volunteer roles in children’s ministry and youth development. Now that his own children are off to college he’s telling stories and sharing clean humor on social media @allenbrokkenauthor, and through his website allenbrokkenauthor.com.

More from Allen

Wellspring of Life was a blast to write! As a writer, one of the things I’ve had to contend with is that my characters rarely take me on an easy linear path from the start of a book to the end. As I work on a story, things tend to develop organically, and suddenly, the story’s conclusion is very different than when I put the first word on a page.

That’s where I found myself at the end of book 4 in the series, Armor of God. Unfortunately, the devastating way Father was wounded wasn’t in the original outline of the story or the series as a whole. So I had to write a whole book to determine if he survived. I also wanted to collaborate with a good friend, K. A. Cummins, author of the Snowglobe Travellers series, on a possible crossover. These combined to let me try out some new things as a writer.

For example, Wellspring of Life has a glitter bomb, a murder of wicked crows, and no good egg stealin’ prairie dogs, to name a few of the twists and turns you’ll find in this book. The kids also meet some new friends along the way. I enjoyed this the most because the new kids reflect the personality of my kids’ best friends from our homeschool co-op. Despite these kids now being off to college, we all had fun brainstorming their roles in the story.

Speaking of homeschool co-op, the book is dedicated to the Wellspring Homeschool Co-Op that my kids grew up in. Their verse is Proverbs 4:23 “Guard your heart because it’s the wellspring of life.” I couldn’t find a more appropriate theme for this book that deals with the consequences of an unguarded heart.

So I hope you take the time to pick it up, because it’s a wild ride across the prairie with a message of redemption I’m sure your family will enjoy.

My Review

The Towers of Light series has found a special place in my heart. It is just the sort of story that I would have loved and devoured as a child, and the same is true now a few decades later! As such, these books are versatile enough that older children can read them on their own or adults can read them out loud. As author Allen Brokken notes, he intentionally identifies the adults in the stories by titles rather than proper names—such as Father, Knight Protector—in order to make them more relatable to the young audience. These books should be read in chronological order, as they do build upon each other and form an ongoing storyline. With that in mind, something that I greatly appreciate is the brief summary of each previous book that Brokken provides, along with a description of each faction from the story, a cast of characters, and notes on the world of Zoura. Placing these at the very beginning of each book is so helpful, and can also help to facilitate discussion between adults and children as they enter again into the battle of light vs. darkness, good vs. evil.

Book five in the Towers of Light series, Wellspring of Life returns readers to the perilous circumstances of siblings Lauren, Aiden, and Ethan, whose seriously injured Father is in desperate need of healing from the Wellspring of Life. They face even more challenges to their faith as they continue on their quest to find healing for their Father and to dispel the darkness from Zoura. In keeping with the series, each book becomes more intense and slightly more complex, and Wellspring of Life is no exception. I think that this encourages readers to truly think and to engage with the story and with the conflicts therein, right alongside the main characters. The Biblical teaching that Brokken infuses into Wellspring of Life is age-appropriate for a middle-grade audience and is interspersed cohesively into the narrative without feeling stilted or sanctimonious. Not all of the children’s friends share their devotion or even their faith, an accurate portrayal of real life, and these exchanges prove to be some of the most enlightening. The theme explored in Wellspring of Life is redemption, and Brokken demonstrates how redemption applies not only to those caught in Darkness, but to those who belong to the Light, as well.

Wellspring of Life, along with the rest of the series, blends the simplicity of rural life with the ingenuity of fantasy to create a story that fuels the reader’s imagination in all of the best ways. I love that Lauren, Aiden, and Ethan work hard and are respectfully obedient yet able to think for themselves, and that they will challenge authority when it goes against their conscience. Brokken portrays them as true children, with humorous quirks, and they do make mistakes, as do the adults. In our current world where many kids are hooked to screens all day long, I find it incredibly refreshing and heartening that the children in the Towers of Light series naturally spend their time outdoors and that they compassionately connect with animals and interact with each other face-to-face with truthful, honest discussions. The dialect and colloquialisms in this fifth book, in particular, are endearing and provide comic relief. We are all always learning while, hopefully, growing and maturing in our faith in Christ, and Wellspring of Life encourages readers of all ages to let their light shine no matter the circumstances.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 9

Texas Book-aholic, November 10

Inklings and notions, November 11

Blossoms and Blessings, November 12 (Author Interview)

deb’s Book Review, November 12

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 13

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, November 14

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, November 15 (Author Interview)

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, November 15

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

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 17

For Him and My family, November 18

A Reader’s Brain, November 19 (Author Interview)

For the Love of Literature, November 20

Lights in a Dark World, November 21

Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen, November 22 (Author Interview)

Giveaway

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To celebrate his tour, Allen is giving away the grand prize of 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://www.celebratelit.com/wellspring-of-life-celebration-tour/

Calm in the Mountain Storm Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: Calm in the Mountain Storm

Author: Misty M. Beller

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Release date: September 13, 2022

This epic journey will test his strength and ability to protect his children—and they’re all he has left.

When Elise Lane and her brother set out as missionaries to the native tribes in the Rocky Mountains, she knew the work would be challenging. But nothing fully prepared her for the hardships, nor the joys of getting to know the people. And even more so when some of them decide to accept God’s grace. When they discover the entire village where they’ve been working has been massacred, the mysterious brave standing at the edge of the devastation appears to be part of the danger. Especially when Elise realizes he’s holding a baby she recognizes as the daughter of one of the women who now lies dead.

Gone far too long on a mission to return his son who’d been taken by an enemy war party, Goes Ahead is relieved to return home with the boy. Until they reach their village, and the death they find there ignites his fury. His wife has been killed, along with all their friends and neighbors. No one is left alive—except their infant daughter. It can’t be coincidence that both his children have survived such evils. Now he must keep them alive and cross the mountains to return to his family, people who can help protect his family from further danger.

Traveling with an infant not yet four moons old—and no mother to feed her—is more than even Goes Ahead can overcome. Allowing the white strangers to accompany him seems the only choice since one in their party is already nursing a babe of her own. As winter closes in and the mountains prove treacherous beyond anything Goes Ahead can control, only a strength and love greater than his own can save his children—and the woman he’s come to love.

From a USA Today bestselling author comes another epic journey through breathless landscapes and adventure so intense, lives will never be the same.

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Misty M. Beller is a USA Today bestselling author of romantic mountain stories, set on the 1800s frontier and woven with the truth of God’s love.

Raised on a farm and surrounded by family, Misty developed her love for horses, history, and adventure. These days, her husband and children provide fresh adventure every day, keeping her both grounded and crazy.

Misty’s passion is to create inspiring Christian fiction infused with the grandeur of the mountains, writing historical romance that displays God’s abundant love through the twists and turns in the lives of her characters.

Sharing her stories with readers is a dream come true for Misty. She writes from her country home in South Carolina and escapes to the mountains any chance she gets.

More from Misty

Early Missionaries to the Rocky Mountain Native American Tribes

One of the things I love about writing stories set in the 1830s Rocky Mountains is that Eastern civilization hadn’t yet touched the frontier. The only people who lived in or visited the Rockies during that were Native Americans and mountain men (usually trappers, but sometimes just explorers).

From that limited experience with white people, two of the native tribes realized they wanted to learn more about the white man’s God and his “Book of Heaven” (the Bible). In 1831, a delegation of four Native Americans—two Nez Perce and two Flathead—showed up in St. Louis, Missouri, asking for someone to come and teach their people about God.

Over the next several years, a number of people went west as missionaries, and this was the real-life inspiration for the heroine in Calm in the Mountain Storm. Though the characters in this story are fictional, the events certainly could have happened!

When Elise Lane heard that the Indians actually wanted to learn about God and simply needed someone to come tell them, she knew she had to answer that call. Of course, her brother Benjamin couldn’t let her go into that danger alone, so together, they set out on an expedition they knew would likely change them forever. Elise doesn’t have any idea exactly how much!

I pray you enjoy reading the story of Elise and Goes Ahead, the brave she meets who’s desperate for help getting his young children across the mountains. As with our hero and heroine in the story, I pray your faith is inspired!

Blessings!

Misty

My Review

This series just keeps getting better, and each title that releases becomes my new favorite! Even as an historical fiction aficionada, I am always impressed by Misty Beller’s ability to create new plotlines set in the Rocky Mountains with the same general cast of characters without any redundancy ever marring the narrative. Add to that the thrill of wilderness adventure and a sweet romance, and the Call of the Rockies series always exceeds my expectations! Calm in the Mountain Storm, book nine, appealed to me by the title alone, and I appreciate how the storm reflects both the natural phenomenon as well as that which occurs within us at times.

From the first heartrending chapter, Calm in the Mountain Storm dives headfirst into the grittiness and reality of frontier life in the early 1830s, as experienced by a group of missionaries. Elise Lane and her brother, Ben, joined by Lola and her husband, White Owl (a couple whose story is told in Grace on the Mountain Trail), travel to various tribal villages to introduce them to the God of the Bible: “In every village where they stopped to share the gospel, the people there would be resistant until a single person finally softened. Then one by one, others would come to meet the Lord for themselves.” Beller does not shy away from the challenges of this lifestyle, presenting it authentically yet without graphic details, even when the opening scene reveals the aftermath of a massacre survived by a single infant, whose warrior father returns with his young son to find the mother of his children dead with the rest of her tribe. Despite his deep distrust and disdain for the missionary party, he has no choice but to travel with them on his way to his own home village. The Lord works in mysterious ways, indeed.

One of the facets of Beller’s novels that I appreciate the most is the dual perspective that provides readers insight into both the Native American and white viewpoints. Realizing and recognizing such differences between people groups is just as important today, too, but can be easy to overlook. In Calm in the Mountain Storm, it becomes evident that Christianity is countercultural to the Native American way of life in general, and to that of Goes Away in particular. No matter how strong or capable we are, we will never be enough on our own because we all fall short and need the Savior, Jesus, who also provides strength in our weakness. The most incredible part is how, when the Lord is actively made a part of the equation, the two contrasting perspectives are brought together and reconciled, without either being cast aside. In the midst of prejudice, Elise’s frustration is no less apropos today: “Why couldn’t everyone let a person’s character stand for itself without worrying over their race or how they lived?” Then, as now, our faith must be demonstrated and lived out through our actions and not merely through words, because that is how we will reach people for Christ. Scripture is essential, yes, but only if we apply it to our lives.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥

Blog Stops

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, September 15

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 16

Texas Book-aholic, September 17

Holly’s Book Corner, September 17

Inklings and notions, September 18

Pause for Tales, September 19

Betti Mace, September 19

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, September 20

For Him and My Family, September 21

Blossoms and Blessings, September 22

deb’s Book Review, September 22

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 23

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 24

Jeanette’s Thoughts, September 24

Connie’s History Classroom, September 25

For the Love of Literature, September 26

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 27

Mary Hake, September 27

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 28

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Misty is giving away the grand prize of 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/21812/calm-in-the-mountain-storm-celebration-tour-giveaway

Laura’s Shadow Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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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!

About the Author

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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.

My Review

Even if I had not already committed myself to reading each of the Doors to the Past books (not out of obligation, but simply because it is another superb series by Barbour), I would not have been able to pass this one up. You see, the Laura in Laura’s Shadow refers to that Laura, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and like so many others, I too was enamored with the world of Little House on the Prairie as a child; I just never outgrew it. So when I realized that this ninth installment, penned by Allison Pittman, had a connection to that legacy, I was thrilled. Having read countless renditions of the pioneer story and of the Ingalls family in particular over the years, I went into this novel with a somewhat jaded curiosity, not expecting anything truly distinctive but ready to just enjoy a good story. Thus I was pleasantly surprised by how different this narrative proved to be.

Despite the link with Laura Ingalls, she is not the focal point. Rather, Laura’s Shadow is a character unto itself, always lurking in the background and serving as a reminder of the shadowed secrets of the past. Two timelines and four generations converge near De Smet, South Dakota in 1974 when Trixie Gowan gradually learns more about her 104-year-old great-grandmother Mariah’s life as a young woman in 1891. This provides a unique perspective on how an outsider may have seen Laura Ingalls, and it offers a speculative glimpse into Cap Garland, who had a crush on Laura and for whom Mariah developed feelings. Generational trauma and keen humor demonstrate that the line of unconventional Gowan women are as inspirational as they are tragic. As Trixie’s grandmother says, “Was there sin? Yes, but sin can be forgiven. Shame you drag around with you.” Coming to terms with the past and making peace with it are necessary regardless of the circumstances, and it is never too late to do so.

A few aspects of Laura’s Shadow that I most enjoyed include a witty romance that I won’t spoil by detailing and the Lost Laura cartoon, which epitomizes the struggles of both Mariah and Trixie, in my opinion. I found this latter to be such an interesting addition to the story, as well as a reminder of perseverance. The one thing that I wish had been more prominent is the Christian element, especially given the subject matter, which highlights the need for and beauty of redemption.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 4 stars ♥♥♥♥

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

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Allison is gicing 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

Twin Murder Mix-Up Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: Twin Murder Mix-Up

Author: Sami A. Abrams

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Release date: August 23, 2022

A case of mistaken identity…

has lethal results

After capturing a murder on her camera, photographer Amy Baker becomes the next target—but her identical twin is killed instead. Now on the run with her sister’s newborn, Amy has only one person to turn to—Detective Keith Young, her childhood crush. But when they discover Keith is the baby’s father, can he regain Amy’s trust to keep them safe…before the killer strikes again?

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Sami A. Abrams lives in Northern California, but she’ll always be a Kansas girl at heart. She loves to travel and watch sports. However, most evenings, you’ll find her engrossed in a romantic suspense novel. She thinks a crime plus a little romance is the recipe for a great story.

More from Sami

#Authorproblems That’s what the excitement around Keith Young was…a problem—Kinda. Lol!

When I started to hear request for his story, I panicked. Authors don’t want to disappoint their readers. And being new to the published scene…Well, you get the picture. 😊

After the release of Buried Cold Case Secrets, many readers told me they wanted Keith’s story. In fact, the overwhelming response puzzled me. What had I done to create such a buzz about Jason’s partner? And of course, I had to ask why?

The general answer I received…Keith’s a nice guy and the perfect partner.

I have to admit, I got a little nervous since I had already written his story. And I worried if I’d done his character justice?

However, after writing Buried Cold Case Secrets, I knew Keith had to have his own story. He’s such a great guy and needed his happily ever after. So, I dove in and asked, what would happen if he made a huge mistake? Not just a physical one, but a heart one.

By the time I finished, I loved seeing Keith and Amy move past their poor choices and hurt to find acceptance and love. The perfect ending to Keith’s struggles.

All that to say, I hope you love Keith and Amy’s story as much as I do. #TeamKeith

My Review

Amy Baker maneuvered through the afternoon traffic, whispering a prayer for the millionth time that the person for her sister’s death hadn’t discovered his mistake: he’d killed the wrong twin.

There is something about twins, particularly identical twins, that has always fascinated me and has sometimes made me wish that I was one. As Sami Abrams demonstrates in Twin Murder Mix-Up, however, there are obviously a few disadvantages, too! Most cases of mistaken identity end up being of little consequence, but in this case, the stakes are much higher when Amy Baker inadvertently photographs a murder in progress. Like Amy, readers find themselves thrust into the middle of an intense cat-and-mouse game with no answers and everything to lose. Detective Keith Young, her childhood best friend who dropped out of her life a year ago, is the only person she can reach out to, but wounds run deep and add to the challenges.

Featuring one of the characters from Buried Cold Case Secrets, Twin Murder Mix-Up can easily be read as a standalone. Abrams focuses more on the characters and their relationships than on the suspense element per se, highlighting how a person’s actions and communication (or lack thereof) have direct consequences. As much as the main characters frustrated me at times, I realized that it is important for Christian fiction to portray realistic characters that have flaws and have made mistakes. These are the types of characters that people can relate to the most, and even more importantly, they are the types of characters that might speak to nonbelievers. Amy and Keith do grow throughout the story as they encounter situations that test their faith and their perspectives, and Abrams explores the nearly-ubiquitous problems of lacking self-confidence and being unable to forgive oneself. When we come to the end of ourselves, we realize that God has been in control all along, and that when we accept Him as Savior and Lord, all things do work together for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28).

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 4 stars ♥♥♥♥

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, August 27

Bizwings Blog, August 27

The Avid Reader, August 27

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 28

Christina’s Corner, August 28

Genesis 5020, August 29

Texas Book-aholic, August 29

Inklings and notions, August 30

Through the Fire Blogs, August 30

EmpowerMoms, August 30

Betti Mace, August 31

deb’s Book Review, August 31

For Him and My Family, September 1

Pause for Tales, September 1

The Sacred Line, September 1

She Lives To Read, September 2

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 2

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 3

Britt Reads Fiction, September 3

For the Love of Literature, September 4

Lights in a Dark World, September 4

Paula’s Persuasion, September 4

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 5

Book Looks by Lisa, September 5

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 6

Vicarious Living , September 6

Mary Hake, September 6

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, September 7

Bigreadersite , September 7

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 8

Blogging With Carol, September 8

Simple Harvest Reads, September 9 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Labor Not in Vain, September 9

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Sami is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon card and signed copy of Twin Murder Mix-Up (US only) or eBook for outside the US!!

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/210ca/twin-murder-mix-up-celebration-tour-giveaway

The Heart of the Mountains Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: The Heart of the Mountains

Author: Pepper Basham

Genre: Christian Fiction / Romance

Release date: July 1, 2022

Can their hearts overcome the darkness of the mountains?

To escape a forced marriage, Cora Taylor travels from England to the Blue Ridge Mountains in search of her brother, who is working as a teacher in a mission school. She hopes to find a place where her nursing skills and independent ideas will be accepted and appreciated, but nothing prepares her for the wild mixture of isolation, community, brokenness, and hope within these mountains…or in the person of Jeb McAdams.

Returning from the devastation of World War 1 emotionally damaged, Jeb McAdams struggles against the rampant mountain alcoholism to soothe his nightmares. It’s easy to hide within the mountains, or it was, before Cora Taylor arrived. Now, she seems to show up at every turn, bringing her modern ideas, curiosity, and beautiful eyes with her.

Bound by their shared war history, the pair develop an unlikely friendship, which unexpectedly hints to something more. But when Cora’s desire to help the women of the mountains crosses an unspoken line, will Jeb be able to protect this feisty flatlander from the wrath of the mountain men or will he end up losing much more than his heart?

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor with southern Appalachian flair. Both her historical and contemporary novels have garnered recognition in the Grace Awards, Inspys, and ACFW Carol Awards. Her historical romance, The Thorn Healer, was a finalist in the 2018 RT Awards. Her historical romance novels, My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge and The Red Ribbon, and her contemporary novels, the Mitchell’s Crossroads and Pleasant Gap series, showcase her Appalachian heritage, as well as her love for humor and family. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of five great kids, a speech-language pathologist to about fifty more, and a lover of chocolate, jazz, hats, and Jesus.

You can learn more about Pepper at her website http://www.pepperdbasham.com or connect with her on FB, IG, or Twitter.

More from Pepper

It’s so interesting how one idea can influence an entire series, or…how one person’s story can.

The idea for The Heart of the Mountains started in Laurel’s Dream with a hint of a family history story about a girl named Kizzie. (Someday, I hope to bring Kizzie’s story to the pages of a book). From there, the idea began to grow out of a love for my Appalachian culture into a series of books which highlighted (and fictionalized) stories from my family history.

The main story in The Heart of the Mountains is about Jeb and Cora, two different people with similar servant hearts, but the secondary story that touched me so much was the one based on my great grandfather’s life. I write about it in the Author’s Note at the end of the novel, so I won’t go into detail about it. However, what I loved getting to do is bring the truth of God’s redemption in my great grandfather’s life…to life again.

I never knew “Papa Rat”. I only knew the stories handed down to me by my granny and my mama, but in writing this story, I feel as though I had a tiny opportunity to “meet” him in these pages. He was a gruff mountain man with a broken past which led him to make a whole lot of broken choices, but his story is incredibly encouraging, because it points to the God of broken people. My great grandpa wasn’t left in his brokenness, but, after years of running away from God, he would later recount that God pursued him. The beauty of Sam McAdams’ journey in The Heart of the Mountains is only a little glimpse into what I imagine my great grandpa’s redemption story looked like.

Because my great grandpa was forever changed when Jesus saved him (as any of us should be).

I think that’s what my granny and her siblings (and even “Papa Rat” himself) would want most -that his story would point to Jesus. I hope that’s what you see when you read about Sam McAdams in The Heart of the Mountains.

Have you ever read a book based on family history? One of my favorites is Catherine Marshall’s Christy.

My Review

Pepper Basham is one of those rare authors whose work I pick up without question, knowing that it will end up being one of the best books I’ll read that year. What makes it more remarkable is that I mostly steer away from romance-driven novels, yet here I sit after finishing The Heart of the Mountains, thinking that if another author had attempted this story, I likely would have found it overdone, but as it is, I feel a sense of fulfillment. It occurred to me that while some of the circumstances in the story seemed almost too providential or too sweet at times, there is a reason that our hearts ultimately long for these outcomes, and a reason to include them in Christian fiction. Just as the stories of some characters will reflect the fallen, broken nature of humanity, some may also point to the love Christ has for each of us. After all, happily-ever-after IS real for born-again followers of Jesus!

With its 1919 Appalachian Blue Ridge Mountains setting, The Heart of the Mountains is primarily a romance, complete with the inherent challenges, dangers, and customs therein. Cora Taylor arrives in Maple Springs after fleeing her family’s upper-class home in England to avoid being forced into an unwanted marriage, following the earlier path of her brother, who teaches at a local mission school. In spite of her experience on the war front over the past year, she still finds herself overwhelmed by how primitive her new surroundings are, and determined to prove herself, she considers that “Surely, she couldn’t just entrust everything to God. She’d had to fight so hard to make her place in a world where people thought she was too young to manage the devastation of nursing in war and too ‘female’ to do anything but end up as the wife of a rich man.” Even today, the struggle lives on, whether it’s based on gender bias or any other form of preconception. It is so much easier to try to take matters into our own hands than it is to trust the One who is truly in control. However, as the longsuffering Caroline McAdams wisely tells Cora, “But prayin’ is where we admit we ain’t the lords of our own lives, nor of any lives, to be true. And, as I study on it, God uses prayin’ to change my heart into what He’s wantin’ it to be in sun or rain, ‘cause I’m trustin’ His love and His plan.” This profound statement speaks to the place where our will and God’s will come into alignment, which is when mountains are moved and miracles happen.

There are a myriad of life lessons contained within The Heart of the Mountains, all gently stemming from the truth of Scripture. As Cora observes and experiences more of the mountain life, she begins to realize the beauty and goodness amidst the hardship. Having less doesn’t necessarily mean that someone is worse off. Cora herself admits to local resident Jeb McAdams: “But I’ve felt more alive and more myself in the middle of the hardest days, than I ever felt in the easiest. There was purpose and this…this joy in making a difference, in offering even the smallest hope to those who were hurting or heartbroken. I don’t think I would have seen it before in my gilded world, but I do now. And I don’t wish to go back to what I was before.” Likewise, as is the case with life today, most of those in bad situations do not want to stay there and did not land there intentionally. Acting with kindness and love will always accomplish more, and as we live out the gospel, we will find more ways to share it with those who need it the most.

While a sequel to Laurel’s Dream, which offers more backstory on the secondary characters, The Heart of the Mountains can be read as a standalone. It is such an inspirational, uplifting story that will touch every reader regardless of background. On a personal note, I love that Basham included a dulcimer in one of the scenes; my mom, who passed away last year, played the mountain dulcimer, and it’s rare to find it in a novel. Speaking of loss, Cora’s statement to Jeb resonated with me as well: “We trust that God’s love for us and the people we’ve lost is even bigger than ours for them. And so, whatever He’s chosen for their lives is a much better plan than one we can imagine.” Our relationship with the Lord is based on trust and our eternal hope in Him, and as with her other novels, Pepper Basham perfectly exemplifies this with The Heart of the Mountains.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥

Blog Stops

Bizwings Blog, July 28

Rachael’s Inkwell, July 28

Bigreadersite, July 28

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, July 29

Texas Book-aholic, July 29

Inklings and notions, July 30

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, July 30

Boondock Ramblings, July 30

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 31

Reading With Emily, July 31

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, July 31 (Author Interview)

lakesidelivingsite, August 1

Where Crisis & Christ Collide, August 1

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, August 1

Daysong Reflections, August 2

deb’s Book Review, August 2

Live. Love. Read., August 2

Betti Mace, August 3

Book Looks by Lisa, August 3

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 3

Remembrancy, August 4

For Him and My Family, August 4

Blossoms and Blessings, August 4

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, August 5

By the Book, August 5

Wishful Endings, August 5

For the Love of Literature, August 6

Books, Books and More Books, August 6

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, August 6

Connie’s History Classroom, August 7

SodbusterLiving, August 7

Splashes of Joy, August 7

Where Faith and Books Meet, August 8

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 8

Back Porch Reads, August 9

Through the Fire Blogs, August 9

Pause for Tales, August 9

Labor Not in Vain, August 10

Miriam Jacob, August 10

To Everything There Is A Season, August 10

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Pepper is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon e- gift card and a paperback copy of the book!!

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

https://promosimple.com/ps/20389/the-heart-of-the-mountains-celebration-tour-giveaway

Vanished Without a Trace Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: Vanished Without a Trace

Author: Sarah Hamaker

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Release date: June 28, 2022

A missing person case. A new clue. And a fight for survival.

After nine years searching for his missing sister, attorney Henderson Parker uncovers a clue that leads him to Twin Oaks, Virginia—and podcaster Elle Updike investigating the case. Partnering with the journalist is the last thing Henderson wants, until mysterious thugs make multiple attacks on both their lives. Now they’ll have to trust each other…before the suspected kidnappers make them disappear for good.

Click HERE to get you copy!

About the Author

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Sarah Hamaker loves writing books “where the hero and heroine fall in love while running for their lives.” She’s written romantic suspense novels and nonfiction books, as well as stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul volumes. As a writers coach, her heart is encouraging writers. She’s a member of ACFW; ACFW Virginia Chapter; and Faith, Hope and Love, as well as the president of Capital Christian Writers Fellowship. Her podcast, “The Romantic Side of Suspense,” can be found wherever you listen to podcasts. Sarah lives in Virginia with her husband, four teenagers, a preschool foster child and three cats. Visit her online at sarahhamakerfiction.com.

More from Sarah

As a podcaster myself, I’ve listened to many true crime podcasts, such as “Up and Vanished” and “Accused,” so when I was thinking about the plot for Vanished Without a Trace, I decided to have my heroine be a true crime podcaster investigating cold missing persons cases. I also am fascinated by unsolved mysteries, probably because I love history, and have a strong sense of justice—I want those who commit crimes to be caught. Of course, as a Christian, I do rest in the assurance of God as the ultimate and only truly righteous Judge, but I do find myself rooting for cold cases to be solved and criminals brought to justice. Thus the book combines my two of my interests—cold cases and true crime.

Personally, I can’t imagine anything more difficult than to have a loved one go missing and never be found or heard from again. The uncertainty of their fate must weigh very heavily on the family members left behind. I wanted to capture some of that with Henderson’s strong desire to find his missing sister, Helena, and reunite her with their mother. He’s seen how much Helena’s absence has taken a toll on their mother’s health and mental well-being, and when he has a chance to chase down the first real lead in years, he jumps at it.

Elle’s motives are no less personal than Henderson’s—her own heart aches for these grieving families. Having distant parents, she wants to help families heal by discovering what happened to a loved one if possible. But Henderson doesn’t trust her motives and the two clash more often than not over her podcast.

I hope you enjoy seeing how Elle and Henderson learn to work together to find Helena…and perhaps, their own happy ending.

My Review

There’s something about disappearances that is both intriguing and chill-inducing. As a mystery reader, I tend to gravitate toward those which involve disappearances because they are often more challenging and can offer any number of outcomes. That, combined with the fact that I had not previously read anything by Sarah Hamaker, compelled me to read Vanished Without a Trace. I went into the book blindly, solely viewing the title and cover and only reading the summary on the back cover after finishing the story, and I would personally recommend this to future readers, especially those who don’t wish to know any plot points ahead of time. The novel is enjoyable either way, and this is a personal preference, so it does not affect my rating; it’s simply a suggestion based on my experience.

A diverse cast of characters and a savvy use of modern technology make Vanished Without a Trace an interesting romantic suspense tale, complete with a bit of humor peppered in to lighten the tension. As is characteristic of the Love-Inspired Suspense series, there is relentless action rivaling that of a TV movie, with the same high stakes, to boot. The nearly decade-old vanishing of Henderson Parker’s sister, Helena, has set him on a quest to find her, following any and every lead until he winds up in Twin Oaks, Virginia. Podcaster and journalist Elle Updike is similarly pursuing the cold case for her show, and when dangerous threats are manifested, Henderson realizes he has to join forces with Elle, despite his dislike of journalists. Elle brings important investigative techniques she has learned from her prior experiences and from online research, underscoring the ubiquity of such resources. I appreciated her character and how she contributed to the story, but it didn’t seem to me that she or Henderson grew much as characters throughout the course of the novel, as their approaches did not change, which I admittedly found frustrating at times. Henderson’s stubbornness was, however, counterbalanced by loyalty and compassion.

Vanished Without a Trace also focuses on relationships and the impact of trauma. Several of the characters have had poor relationship experiences in the past, and Hamaker demonstrates how the lingering effects impact the present. This is particularly notable with Henderson, as “His guilt over failing to find Helena had eaten away at his ability to have a relationship with anyone, leaving him with a hollow hole where his heart had been.” I do wish that the faith element would have been more prominent; the faith theme naturally coalesces with the plot, and I would love to see it further emphasized. The challenges which the characters encounter are relevant to those facing society today, and the ultimate solution is the same as well: trusting the Lord with our concerns and seeking Him above all else.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 4 stars ♥♥♥♥

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, July 25

Where Crisis & Christ Collide, July 25

Bizwings Blog, July 26

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, July 27

Through the Fire Blogs, July 27

Betti Mace, July 28

For the Love of Literature, July 28

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 29

Pause for Tales, July 29

Texas Book-aholic, July 30

Inklings and notions, July 31

Genesis 5020, August 1

Bigreadersite, August 1

For Him and My Family, August 2

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, August 2

deb’s Book Review, August 3

Livin’ Lit, August 3

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 4

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, August 5

Paula’s Persuasion, August 5

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, August 6

Blogging With Carol, August 7

Mary Hake, August 7

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Sarah is giving away the grand prize package of a Vanished Without a Trace branded tote bag, Vanished Without a Trace pin, a print copy of the book, plus a $75 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/1ffe1/vanished-without-a-trace-celebration-tour-giveaway

Oddball Ornaments Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: Oddball Ornaments

Author: Terry Overton

Genre: Middle Grade Christmas Story

Release date: November 16, 2021

The ornaments in the attic are excited. It’s almost Turkey Day, and they know when they start smelling turkey, they’re going to be pulled down out of the attic and hung on a tree for the humans to enjoy. After all, Box Day is all about admiring the ornaments, isn’t it? But when Grandma joins them for Turkey Day instead of Box Day and brings a bunch of new ornaments with her, the Oddball Ornaments know something isn’t right. Determined to find out the source of Grandma’s sadness and what Box Day is really about, Nutcracker sets out on a quest to climb to the top of the tree to ask Angel about the true meaning of Christmas and discovers the truth is much more wonderful than they could ever have imagined.

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Terry Overton is a retired university professor of educational and school psychology. She has an Ed.D. in Special Education and a Ph.D. in Psychology. Her professional experience includes teaching public school, teaching at the university level, and being a college dean. She has two children and six grandchildren. Her writing and publication experiences include textbook and journal articles in the fields of special education and school psychology. She seeks to answer God’s call to share the good news and grow the church by writing Christian books and devotionals. Her book Both Sides of the Border is a Firebird Book Award winner in the categories of Cross-Genre, Socio-Political Fiction, and Women’s Fiction. Both Sides of the Border also won the American Writing Awards in the Multicultural Fiction category, Social Change category, and a finalist for the Women’s Fiction category. Her book, America of We the People was awarded the Firebird Book Award for Socio-Political and Political categories. She and her husband live in the southern tip of Texas where they enjoy semi-tropical weather and spending time with their friends and family.

More from Terry

Oddball Ornaments: The Story of Christmas was written one late fall while I looked at my own Christmas tree. I wondered, “If the ornaments could talk, what would they say? Would they even know why they were hung on the tree?” And that was how the book began. I played Christmas music and imagined a cast of characters like toys in Toy Story but ornaments and humans. It was such fun to write. I ran a few things by my regional experts (grand Angels) and they approved. It always means so much more when family are involved in my writing projects.

Not long after the book was out, the sequel was completed, and it will be released late summer 2022. “Oddball Ornaments: The Story of Forgiveness.”

I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did writing it!

My Review

A short but sweet children’s chapter book, Terry Overton’s Oddball Ornaments: The Story of Christmas retells the Christmas story from the perspective of a small group of ornaments. Though not the first tale told about anthropomorphic objects during the holiday season, this one stands out for its succinct life lessons and for the unique incorporation of the reason for Christmas. I love Overton’s choice of “oddball” ornaments, which they themselves define as “unique, unmatched, or special ornaments, unlike any other.” In an era when bullying is far too common, demonstrating that being oneself—who God created each of us to be—is a blessing and should be embraced rather than seen as something to be embarrassed about or ashamed of, is crucial. Likewise, the theme of working together and reaching out to others both to give and receive help is essential.

Among the ornaments, Nutcracker serves largely as a main character due to his role in the story, leading the quest for answers when new ornaments arrive for decorating the tree and Grandma seems sad. The ornaments decide that Nutcracker should ask Angel, who is at the top of the tree, about the true meaning of Christmas. Overton manages to explain this concisely through Angel, revealing the egocentric view that we all have until we come to know the Gospel: “This was news to Nutcracker. His whole world was being turned upside down. He thought he knew everything. He thought he understood all about the decorating, the singing, the staring at the tree, and the boxes and all of the stuff in the boxes.” Angel tells Nutcracker that in order to truly understand and find the answers to the ornaments’ questions, he has to visit the place at the bottom of the tree, advising, “I have faith in you. I know that you can. But you must decide that you want to find out, and you must decide to climb down to see.” This hearkens back to Matthew 7:7-8: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Furthermore, this underscores the fact that Jesus must be personally experienced. The way in which Overton inserts Scriptural truths into the narrative naturally via inference is very fitting for a young audience and leaves room for adults to explain these connections if they are reading the book to or with children.

My only criticisms of this story are really nitpicks on my part, and I’ll mention them briefly, but they do not lessen my overall enjoyment of this book. Because angels are not women, I did have a few qualms about Angel and her role, but obviously due to the nature of the story, her character is understandable. Also, there is mention of a Bible ornament that the characters should read, but it seems that they don’t, as Nutcracker continues to get the answers from Angel. Again, I very much enjoyed this story, and I do recommend Oddball Ornaments: The Story of Christmas.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 4 stars ♥♥♥♥

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, July 2

Inklings and notions, July 3

Lights in the Dark World, July 4

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, July 5

Girls in White Dresses, July 6

Older & Smarter?, July 7

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 8

For Him and My Family, July 9

deb’s Book Review, July 10

Locks, Hooks and Books, July 11

Mary Hake, July 11

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, July 12

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, July 13

For the Love of Literature, July 12

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, July 12

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, July 14

Blogging With Carol, July 15

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Terry is giving away the grand prize package of 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/1f7f2/oddball-ornaments-celebration-tour-giveaway