Category Archives: Book Review

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

Undercover Assignment Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: Undercover Assignment

Author: Dana Mentink

Genre: Suspense

Release date: June 28, 2022

This K-9 will stop at nothing to keep a child safe.

When a little boy is threatened, Officer Daniella Vargas and K-9 partner, Zara, are assigned to pose as his nanny to uncover the culprit’s identity. Suspecting one of the guests in his inn, widower Sam Kavanaugh’s only option is to begrudgingly trust Daniella and Zara to help. But can they solve the case and its mysterious connection to Sam’s late wife before it’s too late?

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. She’s written more than forty mystery and suspense novels for Love Inspired Suspense, Harvest House, and Poisoned Pen Press. She is honored to have received two ACFW Carol Awards, a Holt Medallion Award, and a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award. Please visit her on the web at www.danamentink.com to sign up for her newsletter, or find her on Twitter, Facebook and Bookbub.

More from Dana

What a joy to participate in a series with seven other talented authors! A continuity series is a set of books, each written by a different author, and each with its own suspense plot along with an overarching series plot and characters. It’s a very complicated project to complete, but the fantastic part is chatting, collaborating, and sometimes commiserating with other writers. What a rare treat, since most of our work is done alone in dark rooms with computer screens and bottomless cups of coffee! This series was especially fun to write because of the whole wilderness lodge setting which is my favorite type of story. Picture it! Ancient cliff dwellings, a freak electrical storm, twenty-four hours with no power and a killer on the loose! That’s my kind of suspense novel. I hope you will enjoy this multi author series as much as we enjoyed creating it!

My Review

Human predators were good at surviving and thriving too, she thought, sometimes hiding in plain sight.

Aside from the fact that I love Dana Mentink’s writing, the first thing that attracted me to this book was its focus on dogs. As strange as it may sound, that also made me nervous because I can’t bear to read stories in which any harm comes to the dog, even if it’s a work of fiction. Thus I both applaud and cringe when I come across a new book—or better yet, a series—that spotlights working dogs. This is the first book in the Rocky Mountain K-9 Unit series that I have read, the fourth book in the series, and it can easily be a standalone. Furthermore, for any readers who share my concerns, I’m very happy to report that the canine comes through unscathed. Admittedly, this is just about the most important part for me! While I’m familiar with service dogs, I am less well acquainted with police canines, and Undercover Assignment offers a glimpse into the life of a K-9 officer and her four-legged partner.

A seemingly eclectic mix of characters greet the reader within the pages of this suspenseful yet heartwarming tale. Officer Daniella Vargas finds herself at the remote Cliffside Lodge in New Mexico with her K-9 partner, Zara, posing as a nanny in order to investigate strange goings-on there while keeping owner Sam Kavanaugh’s young son, Oliver, safe. What Daniella thinks is a humiliating waste of her time soon proves to be a true mystery with real dangers, and it’s somehow connected with Sam’s late wife. In spite of their different personalities, he and Daniella share a similar predicament: they have each erected nearly impenetrable walls around themselves to protect their hearts. Strength and perseverance can become handicaps when we close off our hearts and don’t rely on God for our daily needs or allow Him to be our strength. This is just as important during our grief as it is during our joy, and it always involves stepping outside of our comfort zones, even when it doesn’t make sense, as Daniella observes: “From what she knew of Sam, he’d fight and scrap to make the best of what God had given him, just like she had.” Often, the biggest blessings come after determining to endure. What we lose might just pave the way for a blessing that we never expected, and sometimes it takes the loyalty and devotion of a dog to help us realize that.

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.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, June 15

Inklings and notions, June 15

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 16

EmpowerMoms, June 16

Vicky Sluiter, June 17

For Him and My Family, June 17

An Author’s Take, June 18

Blogging With Carol, June 18

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 19

Betti Mace, June 20

Texas Book-aholic, June 20

Locks, Hooks and Books, June 21

Blossoms and Blessings, June 21

She Lives To Read, June 22

Through the Fire Blogs, June 23

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, June 23

Labor Not in Vain, June 24

deb’s Book Review, June 25

Pause for Tales, June 25

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, June 26

For the Love of Literature, June 26

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, June 27

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, June 27

Genesis 5020, June 28

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, June 28

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Dana is giving away the grand prize package of a $75 Amazon gift card and a signed book!!

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

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

https://promosimple.com/ps/1eff2/undercover-assignment-celebration-tour-giveaway

A Promise Engraved Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: A Promise Engraved

Author: Liz Tolsma

Genre: Christian Fiction/Historical Fiction/Romance

Release date: May, 2022

Can Promises Made in Times of Struggle Endure 200 Years?

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

Young, spirited Josie Wilkins life is about to take a turn when faced with political turmoil and forbidden love in San Antonio of 1836. John Gilbert has won her heart, despite being a Protestant preacher who is forbidden to practice his faith in Texas. Will either of them survive an epic battle for liberty to create a legacy of love?

Nearly 200 years later, Kayleigh Hernandez takes breaks from her demanding job as a refugee coordinator working with Mexican migrants to attend flea markets where she has found a uniquely engraved ring. Enlisting the help of appraiser Brandon Shuman, they piece together a love story long forgotten. But will dangers linked to Kayleigh’s work end her own hopes for leaving a legacy built on hope, faith, and love?

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Liz Tolsma is the author of several WWII novels, romantic suspense novels, prairie romance novellas, and an Amish romance. She is a popular speaker and an editor and resides next to a Wisconsin farm field with her husband and their youngest daughter. Her son is a US Marine, and her oldest daughter is a college student. Liz enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping. Please visit her website at www.liztolsma.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter (@LizTolsma), Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. She is also the host of the Christian Historical Fiction Talk podcast.

More from Liz

The Story of Susannah Dickinson, Alamo Survivor

When asked how many died at the Alamo, many would answer that everyone did. While it’s true that all fighting on the side of Texas independence perished, there were survivors, all women and children and one slave. The only white woman (the rest were of Mexican descent) was Susannah Dickinson, along with her daughter Angelina. Susannah had followed her husband, Almaron, to Mexican Texas in 1831. They had married two years before when Susannah was just fifteen. She never learned to read or write.

She and the other women hid in the sacristy of the church, one of the surviving buildings in the mission and what we now think of as the Alamo. Her husband died, but Mexican General Santa Anna found them and spared their lives, sending them to Sam Houston with $2 each and a blanket.

She married again the following year but divorced him almost immediately on the grounds of cruelty. She married a third time the following year and was married for five years until her husband died of alcoholism. A fourth marriage occurred in 1847, but she divorced again in 1857, this time allegedly because she was having an affair. That same year, she married for a fifth time. This marriage lasted until her death in 1883.

The ring in A Promise Engraved is based on a cat’s eye ring supposedly given to Angelina by William Travis before the battle. Angelina was Susannah’s only child. She married and had three children, but that marriage ended in divorce. She gave the ring to a man she’d become involved with in New Orleans. She married again and had one more child but died in 1869 from a uterine hemorrhage.

Today there are many descendants of Susannah Dickinson. If you visit the Susannah Dickinson house in Austin, you’ll see a quilt that is signed by many of her living descendants.

My Review

Being largely unfamiliar with the Texas Revolution, I found this eighth standalone book in Barbour’s historic Doors to the Past series particularly intriguing. Liz Tolsma crafts A Promise Engraved, her first split-time novel, seamlessly, intertwining historic and contemporary events to demonstrate the truths of Scripture. The genealogical journey forming part of the present-day storyline is relevant to so many investigating their own ancestry amidst the range of tools available, and the issue of illegal immigration and refugees, especially as it applies to young children caught in the middle, is straight from the headlines. The historical segment of the narrative proves to be just as pertinent, dealing with issues such as assault, murder, and trauma. Exploring the echoes of history informs the present and guides the future. As Brandon tells Kayleigh, “There’s always an important story to learn at the end. Along the way, we might discover something about ourselves.

Beginning in 1835 but taking place mostly in 1836, the story of 18-year-old Josie Wilkins and Protestant pastor John Gilbert in San Antonio plays out during the determining battles of the Texas Revolution, and Tolsma offers insight into the motivations and strategies of those involved. Josie has a very unique position and a tragic past that isolates her in many ways, but John reminds her that “true joy is only found in the Lord” and urges her to “Give everything over to God. All your sins, all your hurts, all your trials and pains. He will heal and restore and bring you everlasting peace that surpasses all understanding. Place your trust and faith in Him. He will carry you through.” What might seem like trite platitudes becomes demonstrably true despite the horrors of war and loss, creating a legacy that connects to refugee coordinator Kayleigh Hewland nearly two centuries later. Kayleigh, her own past marred by tragedy, happens upon a special ring in a flea market and teams up with appraiser Brandon Mullins to discover how its history might shed light upon her own. From one survivor’s story to another, A Promise Engraved attests that, as Brandon assures Kayleigh, “With faith, you can endure anything, because there’s the hope that God is working out everything, even when you can’t see it.” And even when the good that God is working develops over centuries!

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, May 28

Bigreadersite, May 28

The Write Escape, May 28

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 29

Christina’s Corner, May 29

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, May 29

lakesidelivingsite, May 30

Texas Book-aholic, May 30

Rebecca Tews, May 30

Inklings and notions, May 31

Blogging With Carol, May 31

Splashes of Joy, May 31

Betti Mace, June 1

Southern Gal Loves to Read, June 1

Genesis 5020, June 2

Daysong Reflections, June 2

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, June 2

Remembrancy, June 3

Books, Books, and More Books, June 3

For Him and My Family, June 3

Older & Smarter?, June 4

Locks, Hooks and Books, June 4

Tell Tale Book Reviews, June 5

deb’s Book Review, June 5

Mary Hake, June 5

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, June 6

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, June 6

Blossoms and Blessings, June 6

Connie’s History Classroom, June 7

Life of Literature, June 7

Back Porch Reads , June 7

Bizwings Blog, June 8

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 8

For the Love of Literature, June 8

Through the Fire blogs, June 9

Pause for Tales, June 9

Labor Not in Vain, June 9

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, June 10

Melissa’s Bookshelf, June 10

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, June 10

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Liz is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and 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/1e37a/a-promise-engraved-celebration-tour-giveaway

Courage Doesn’t Always “Rawr”: A Book Review of “Fearless” by Kristin Johnson

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But if you do worry, remember that being fearless doesn’t mean you’re never afraid. And if you can help someone else through their fears, you’ll be less likely to be afraid yourself.

Kristin Johnson’s Fearless struck a chord with me, and it was not a note of fear but of empathy and nostalgia. The story’s premise is that 11-year-old Jessie Nelson and her dad head to her grandpa’s house in southern Minnesota after her active-duty mom goes missing in action. Jessie becomes friends with two local boys, Oscar and Nicky, and when an adventure turns into the discovery of a puppy mill, Jessie tries to be fearless like her mom as she rescues one of the dogs and endeavors to keep it a secret. She reflects that “now I had chosen a war, too. I hoped the research I had done at the library would help with that. The dogs were prisoners of war. Dog POWs.” This is one of my favorite aspects of Jessie’s character; Johnson does an admirable job of demonstrating how Jessie connects the events happening in her own life to what her mother or other military members might be experiencing in Afghanistan. Not only that, but the range of honest emotions and the insightful thoughts that Jessie has, such as how another person or a dog is feeling in a certain situation, add depth to her character. I love that she journals in poems, which might encourage readers to explore writing or poetry, or both! Furthermore, the imagination and thought processes of early adolescence are relatable for middle-grade readers and nostalgic for older readers.

With all that is going on in the world today, Fearless addresses how unsettling and upsetting events can cause us to grow when we rise up to meet them and help others along the way. Johnson neatly juxtaposes this with elements from The Wizard of Oz, which was particularly poignant for me because my mom loved that movie. As may be expected with a story featuring military families, serious topics appear throughout the narrative. There is a military funeral for a townsperson, and one of the characters suffers from PTSD, which is important for people of all ages to be aware of at age-appropriate levels. The puppy mill that is central to the storyline is heartbreaking to read about, but Johnson writes it in such a way that she conveys the awfulness of the situation in as palatable a manner as possible. Fearless contains Christian elements, including faith, prayer, and God’s protection—although there is a mention of a same-sex couple—and all of the aforementioned potentially triggering aspects throughout the narrative are handled with care and sensitivity. Everyone faces daunting challenges at one point or another, and it seems that Jessie sums it up best when she tells her dad: “And I know you still hurt, and you’re probably scared, but you can’t not take risks because you’re afraid of getting hurt. You have to put yourself out there again. You have to be…fearless.

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

Get your copy HERE!

Death Valley Hideout Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: Death Valley Hideout

Author: Dana Mentink

Genre: Christian fiction

Release date: April 26, 2022

Running from a murderer

with only the desert as refuge…

Placed in WITSEC while his brother testifies against a terrifying criminal, Tony Ortega must guard his young niece and nephew from the hit man hunting for them. Death Valley local Willow Duke’s hideout might just be the difference between the little family’s life or death. When bullets start flying, can they thwart a killer long enough to survive and become a family for real?

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.)

More from Dana

Wooty woo! We’re back in Death Valley again! So excited about this fourth book in the series because Papa Bear and I have actually returned to this amazing place. (Our previous return trip was stalled for a while due to the virus that shall not be named!) People have asked me, “Why do you love Death Valley so much?” I can only respond that you just have to go there to understand. Is it the vastness of the place? The enormous topographical variety? Maybe it’s the profound quietness that permeates the national park and environs. Then again, it might be the panorama of nighttime stars. (Death Valley National Park is a certified International Dark Sky Park due to its limited light pollution.) Could it be the tenacity of people who live there and survive the one hundred twenty plus degree temperatures in the summer? And how about those animals? The Death Valley pupfish is a teeny little endangered fish that lives in precisely one spot on the globe (Death Valley) and only two places within that range, Salt Creek and Cottonball Marsh. Imagine that! So why set a six book series in Death Valley? Because there’s no more hostile and incredible place I can think of. I hope you will enjoy taking a fictional trip with me there too. Enjoy the adventure, reader friends!

My Review

The Duke family saga continues with Death Valley Hideout, book four in Dana Mentink’s Desert Justice series and part of the Love Inspired Suspense set. Even though I am not a fan of deserts, I have loved this series, and this book was my favorite story thus far. Likewise, Willow Duke stands out as my favorite character from amongst those featured in the books. Her tenacity in the face of life-threatening circumstances and her compassion despite past betrayal speak to the optimism that characterizes her. Tony Ortega is someone who was also easy to connect with because Mentink writes him realistically, as a man whose life has been upended and who is struggling to do the right thing in a situation with no good options. He’s in over his head, and I appreciate that Mentink portrayed his weaknesses. As Willow observes, “You’ve gotten through it one day at a time, alone…holding on to God’s provision. That is strength, Tony. That’s love.” Most of the time, when God calls us to a task, it is something that we can accomplish with His help alone, and Tony demonstrates that.

Death Valley Hideout delivers a perfect balance of suspense and romance. With an unrelenting pace and non-stop action, this book is a hard one to put down! The witness protection program (WITSEC) adds an extra layer of intrigue, while criminal cyberactivity highlights the reality of crime in the digital age. The story takes place outside the realms of a computer, however, and in the heat of the Death Valley landscape, where romance can blossom despite the sweltering temperatures. As with the previous books in the Desert Justice series, the family members all play a role in the story, and this close-knit clan is both humbling and inspiring in their dedication to the Lord and to one another, not to mention the comic relief that they add just when it’s needed. After all, the villain may seem to have the upper hand, “But the Maestro hadn’t counted on one thing…he’d never met the Duke family.” Discovering how this salt-of-the-earth family works together to accomplish daunting tasks by relying on each other and, most importantly, God, makes Death Valley Hideout and the entire Desert Justice series a wonderful reading experience.

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

Remembrancy, April 21

Texas Book-aholic, April 21

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, April 22

Bigreadersite, April 22

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, April 23

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, April 23

Life, Love, Writing, April 24

For Him and My Family, April 24

Betti Mace, April 25

Inklings and notions, April 25

Locks, Hooks and Books, April 26

EmpowerMoms, April 26

deb’s Book Review, April 27

Blogging With Carol, April 27

For the Love of Literature, April 28

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, April 28

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, April 29

Simple Harvest Reads, April 29 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, April 30

Vicarious Living, April 30

Bizwings Blog, May 1

Blossoms and Blessings, May 1

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, May 2

Paula’s Persuasion, May 2

Labor Not in Vain, May 3

Through the Fire Blogs, May 3

Pause for Tales, May 4

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, May 4

To Everything There Is A Season, May 4

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Dana is giving away the grand prize package of the first four books in the series-Framed in Death Valley, Missing in the Desert, Death Valley Doublecross and Death Valley Hideout (Paperback for U.S. Only) 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/1d0af/death-valley-hideout-celebration-tour-giveaway