Tag Archives: historical suspense

The Gold Digger Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: The Gold Digger

Author: Liz Tolsma

Genre: Christian/Historical/Suspense

Release Date: December, 2020

Men Are Disappearing in LaPorte, Indiana

Book 9 in the True Colors series—Fiction Based on Strange-But True History

Fiction Based on Strange, But True, History

In 1907, shy but loyal Ingrid Storset travels from Norway to support her grieving sister, Belle Gunness, who owns a farm in LaPorte, Indiana. Well-to-do widow Belle, who has lost two husbands and several children, provides Ingrid with enough money to start a small business. But Ingrid is confused by the string of men Belle claims to be interviewing for her next husband. When Nils Lindherud comes to town looking for his missing brother, who said he was going to marry Belle, Ingrid has a sinking feeling her sister is up to no good.

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Liz Tolsma is a popular speaker and an editor and the owner of the Write Direction Editing. An almost-native Wisconsinite, she resides in a quiet corner of the state with her husband and is the mother of three. Her son proudly serves as a U.S. Marine. They adopted all of their children internationally, and one has special needs. When she gets a few spare minutes, she enjoys reading, relaxing on the front porch, walking, working in her large perennial garden, and camping with her family.

More from Liz

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This story was so much fun to write, and the research was so interesting. It has to rank up there with one of my favorite books to write. That’s what makes my job the best around.

There are a great number of characters in The Gold Digger who are historical. Many of the places I mention are also historical. I had the pleasure of spending a day in LaPorte, Indiana, to research the book and take some pictures they had in the museum there. Research is one of my favorite aspects to writing. I could have spent much, much longer losing myself in the museum and in the archives. Good thing my cousin, who I was staying with, called me to let me know that it was getting dark and she had dinner ready, otherwise who knows how long I would have been there. Probably until they kicked me out!

One thing that the people of LaPorte would want you to know is that they really are nice people and that their town is a nice town. Lots of good people have been born there or have lived there over the years, including Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, William Mayo, who founded Mayo Clinic, and William Scholl, who found Dr. Scholl’s. They kept emphasizing to me while I was there what a great place LaPorte is. Judging by their friendliness and helpfulness, I would have to agree.

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To help you better visualize the characters and setting, here are some photographs of the real people and places that appear in The Gold Digger.

Enjoy the book!

Liz

My Review

They were taking a risk. They both wanted answers, but different ones. No matter what happened, one of them would be disappointed. More than that. Likely devastated.

An interest in forensics has led me to a variety of TV programs and books over the years, because while the crimes themselves were heinous and reprehensible, solving them intrigued me. Considering the lack of both sophisticated equipment and knowledge about DNA until recent years, it seems quite impressive that earlier investigators were able to solve as many cases as they did. The drawback of reading material of this nature is its darkness, which can be nightmare-inducing at times, and this is why I love Barbour’s True Colors (Historical Stories of American Crime) series so much. Able to be read in any order and written by a variety of authors, each story focuses on a major criminal event that occurred in America sometime between the late eighteenth through the early twentieth century. Best of all, these books are not only clean, leaving out the graphic details, but also inspirational, with a faith message in each.

Each True Colors book proves to be fascinating, and The Gold Digger by Liz Tolsma is no exception. Even though I was already familiar with the story of Belle Gunness, I was a bit hazy on some aspects of the case, so I still very much enjoyed reading this story. With a story such as this, it is easy to recognize the draw of sinful activities that may and perhaps even do start as one-time events that escalate. The enemy knows that it is more difficult to grow and to mature in our faith walk when we’re isolated, and most of the attacks that happen in this story are perpetrated at night when the victim is alone. Nevertheless, this is when prayers need to become all the louder and more confident, knowing that the God who promises never to leave or forsake us is the same God who created us and who has numbered every hair on our heads.

Echoing the sentiment of Jesus’ parable of the rich fool as found in Luke 12, The Gold Digger exposes the raw and evil root of greed and how it negatively affects relationships. To people living in the early twentieth century, without the means of immediate communication with others regarding business and especially personal matters, family was essential. So, it seems, was keeping secrets. Ingrid Storset, Belle Gunness’ fictional sister, ruminates on the thought that “When you didn’t have family, you didn’t have anything.” As an immigrant to America, her only relative and friend is her sister, Belle; Ingrid has great difficulty in speaking with others and lives under Belle’s shadow. When the threats begin, however, Ingrid starts to wonder whom she should trust, especially as “a stranger in a strange land.” This is the current status of all of us who belong to the Lord as we await His return.

Tolsma employs chilling, clever foreshadowing throughout the narrative. It often has a double meaning, and for those who do not know the story beforehand, it is definitely worth a re-read so as to pick up on all of the delightful literary clues scattered throughout the work, pointing toward what will happen.

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

Connie’s History Classroom, December 17

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, December 17

Genesis 5020, December 17

Pause for Tales, December 17

Artistic Nobody, December 18 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Sodbuster Living, December 18

21st Century Keeper at Home, December 18

Older & Smarter?, December 19

Sara Jane Jacobs, December 19

Blossoms and Blessings, December 19

The Write Escape, December 19

For the Love of Literature, December 20

deb’s Book Review, December 20

Blogging With Carol, December 20

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, December 21

lakesidelivingsite, December 21

Betti Mace, December 21

Inklings and notions, December 21

Ashley’s Bookshelf, December 22

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, December 22

All-of-a-kind Mom, December 22

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 23

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, December 23

CarpeDiem, December 23

Hallie Reads, December 23

Remembrancy, December 24

Christian Bookaholic, December 24

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 24

Writing from the Heart Land, December 25

Splashes of Joy, December 25

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, December 25

Through the Fire Blogs, December 26

Rebecca Tews, December 26

For Him and My Family, December 26

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, December 27

Bigreadersite, December 27

Southern Gal Loves to Read, December 27

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 27

Tell Tale Book Reviews, December 28

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 28

Mary Hake, December 28

Texas Book-aholic, December 29

Godly Book Reviews, December 29

Daysong Reflections, December 29

Melissa Wardwell’s Back Porch Reads, December 30

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, December 30

Daysong Reflections, December 30

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Liz is giving away the grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card and copy of The Gold Digger!!

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/104fc/the-gold-digger-celebration-tour-giveaway

How Do I Love Thee: A Book Review of Joanna Davidson Politano’s “The Love Note”

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I’ll be honest. I almost didn’t request this title. The vintage cover drew me in, though, and a fleeting glimpse at the synopsis made it sound promising, so even though I’m not much of a romance reader, I decided to give it a chance. Oh my word. I am fairly certain that this is going to be my favorite new release of 2020, and most likely the best fictional romance (historical or otherwise) that I’ve read to date. Very rarely, if ever, do I use the word “swoon-worthy,” but I have to say, this book fits that description perfectly, while also being tempestuous and haunting.

The Love Note is the first of Joanna Politano’s novels that I’ve read, despite her previous works being on my to-read list, and I now find myself wondering why I waited so long! From the first chapter, I was engaged in the story, and unlike so many others, this is one that does not lag at any point. Politano seamlessly blends an assortment of genres that keeps readers on their toes: romance, mystery, history, spirituality. As the final third of the story unfolds, the twists are so beautifully executed for maximum impact, right through the final chapter. Willa Duvall herself proclaims early on: “I had been right all along—the letter I’d found in that desk was a piece of something much larger, a story more epic than mere romance.” Nothing is clear-cut until the ending, and I love that! What’s more, Politano meaningfully brings all of the storylines together into one glorious whole.

With echoes of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, The Love Note reads like a classic. Politano’s writing style reflects that of the nineteenth century but is free of antiquated words or phrases, thereby making this an easy-to-read book. That is not to say, however, that no hard issues arise within the story. On the contrary, for all of the romance, there is also a fair share of tragedy, as Willa notes immediately: “but I couldn’t shake the tenor of underlying romance lurking in the shadows of this house. It was there, pulsing and sweeping through like a ghost, even if everyone attempted to stifle and deny it.” Through characters such as Celeste, Willa, and Aunt Maisie (a personal favorite), the importance of using one’s voice for encouraging others and the significance of women’s rights is subtly explored. Pithy epigraphs called “A scientist’s observations on love” open each chapter, and a shifting narrative voice allows for the exploration of multiple points of view. The majority of the narrative is comprised of Willa’s story as told by the character herself in the first person, and occasionally another character with whom her story intersects provides a third-person account of something happening to them. Even as readers privileged with this omniscience, though, the surprises are astounding.

As with any Christian-based novel, the best attribute is transformation, and The Love Note achieves this remarkably well. Remarkably because the characters change their hearts and attitudes in spite of their fear and in spite of the leap of faith needed to do so. Willa realizes this in her own quest, remarking, “What makes the past so intriguing, anyway? Perhaps because understanding those stories that so enchant us, those ghostly echoes of long-ago mistakes and passions, means untangling the present and changing the future.” May we glean wisdom from the past as we all strive toward the bright future that awaits us as believers in Christ.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and was under no obligation to post a positive review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥

Buy your copy HERE

The Black Midnight Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: The Black Midnight

Author: Kathleen Y’Barbo

Genre: Christian Historical Suspense

Release Date: August 2020

Death Seems to Follow Harriet’s New Friend

Book 7 in the True Colors series—Fiction Based on Strange-But True History

Three years before Jack the Ripper began his murderous spree on the streets of London, women were dying in their beds as The Midnight Assassin terrorized the citizens of Austin, Texas. Now, with suspicion falling on Her Majesty’s family and Scotland Yard at a loss as to who the Ripper might be, Queen Victoria summons her great-granddaughter, Alice Anne von Wettin, a former Pinkerton agent who worked the unsolved Austin case, and orders her to discreetly form a team to look into the London matter.

The prospect of a second chance to work with Annie just might entice Isaiah Joplin out of his comfortable life as an Austin lawyer. If his theories are right, they’ll find the The Midnight Assassin and, by default, the Ripper. If they’re wrong, he and Annie are in a bigger mess than the one the feisty female left behind when she departed Austin under cover of darkness three years ago.

Can the unlikely pair find the truth of who is behind the murders before they are drawn into the killer’s deadly game? From Texas to London, the story navigates the fine line between truth and fiction as Annie and Isaiah ultimately find the hunters have become the hunted.

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author


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Bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee of more than sixty novels with almost two million copies of her books in print in the US and abroad.

More from Kathleen Y’Barbo

I am a tenth generation Texan, but London has held a place in my heart for over ten years. You see, I have a son who has lived there for more than a decade. Thanks to him and his family of three—my granddaughter was born there on New Year’s Eve 2019—the city will always be special to me. There is absolutely nothing like walking those streets with a thousand years of history close enough to touch.

It was on a walk with my son through this great city that the stories of nineteenth century London came alive. With fog shrouding the rooftops of buildings that were hundreds of years old and our footsteps echoing on the cobblestones, I could imagine a time when lack of electricity and CCTV would make this place less than charming on a dark night. What reminded me of my favorite childhood movie, Mary Poppins, quickly became more reminiscent of Jack the Ripper. And then a story was born.

Only I just had half the story.

The other half came to me several years later when I stumbled across an article in Texas Monthly magazine about a serial killer who rampaged through Austin, Texas in 1884 and 1885 and was never caught. Some surmised this madman, called “The Midnight Assassin” by some, might have been Jack the Ripper honing his skills before he crossed the Atlantic to begin his famous crime spree in Great Britain.

But Austin? Ironically, my other two sons lived in Austin. So while part of my heart was in London, two more parts of that same heart resided in the Texas capital. I thought I knew Austin inside out. Between one of my sons getting not one but two degrees from the University of Texas (this Aggie grad is still proud of him in spite of what I jokingly call his burnt orange rebellion) and my other son living there and managing a restaurant at the time (and who just graduated from Texas A&M Galveston last month!), I had spent many years in the city. And yet I had never heard of the Midnight Assassin.

Research turned up a tale that sounds so close to fiction I had to write about it. Discovering the theory that the Austin killer might also be the Ripper just added to my interest—neither had been caught. And I like to write about Pinkerton detectives.

From there the story unfolded. If you’ve read any of my historical romances, you know that I love incorporating actual history into my stories. As you’ll see when you read The Black Midnight, this book is no exception. While I will continue writing the historical romances I love to bring to you, I will confess that writing this book has me itching to research another one like it.

What’s next in my foray into true crime novels? Maybe Houston. You see, I have a daughter who lives there…

In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy reading The Black Midnight as much as I enjoyed writing it!

My Review

Reading another installment in Barbour’s True Colors series never fails to be an exciting experience. In recent years, I haven’t read much true crime, although the investigations and forensics have always interested me, so this series has rounded out my reading in a sense. What I appreciate most, though, is that it is Christian-based. While I do not recall any specific mention of God in this story, it is a clean read, which is quite an achievement given the subject matter. It’s refreshing to be able to read an (albeit fictionalized) account of historical crimes that includes enough detail to get the point across without devolving into vulgarity. The fact that this segment of the story is built around a personal connection between the fictional main characters ups the ante.

Because the focus of this series is American crime, almost 70% of Kathleen Y’Barbo’s The Black Midnight centers on the serial killer active in Austin, Texas from December 1884-December 1885 and known to history as the Midnight Assassin or the Servant Girl Annihilator. This part of the narrative is told as a flashback, flanked by an investigation into the infamous Whitechapel murders of 1888. Usually I am not fond of this technique, but Y’Barbo makes it work here. She drops enough hints in the beginning to raise interest in the backstory of Alice Anne (Annie) von Wettin and Isaiah Joplin, both former Pinkerton detectives. At the behest of Queen Victoria herself, they investigate the Jack the Ripper killings, taking the reader first back to their initial partnership in Texas. There is enough suspense to intrigue without delving into the realm of horror, at least in my opinion, and with such unique character backgrounds, Y’Barbo explores a range of possibilities regarding the crimes themselves.

Not being very familiar with the Midnight Assassin case, learning about the speculated connection between it and the Whitechapel murders captured my interest. Y’Barbo does a fine job of weaving together fact and fiction in a compelling narrative about two intelligent individuals with a complicated past, one which involves the British monarchy and a mysterious secret society. I will not give away whether or not a culprit is discovered, but I did enjoy reading the author’s notes at the end of the book, in which she discusses how and where she twisted the historical record for the purpose of the story. These are found in each book of this enthralling series, and I always greatly appreciate them. As long as the true identity of the perpetrators (or perpetrator) remains a real-life mystery, there will be plenty of material for series such as this one, just as there will always be a light of faith shining in the darkness.

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, August 27

Genesis 5020, August 27

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 27

Inklings and notions, August 28

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 28

Ashley’s Bookshelf, August 28

Older & Smarter?, August 29

Texas Book-aholic, August 29

Artistic Nobody, August 29 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

For the Love of Literature, August 30

Connie’s History Classroom, August 30

For Him and My Family, August 31

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, August 31

Betti Mace, September 1

Robin’s Nest, September 1

Bigreadersite, September 1

deb’s Book Review, September 2

Splashes of Joy, September 2

Just Your Average reviews, September 2

Rebecca Tews, September 3

Just the Write Escape, September 3

Emily Yager, September 3

Christian Bookaholic, September 4

reviewingbooksplusmore, September 4

KarenSueHadley, September 4

Remembrancy, September 5

Through the Fire Blogs, September 5

21st Century Keeper at Home, September 6

Tell Tale Book Reviews, September 6

Blogging With Carol, September 6

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, September 7

Life of Literature, September 7

Mary Hake, September 7

Godly Book Reviews, September 8

Back Porch Reads, September 8

Daysong Reflections, September 8

Pause for Tales, September 9

Blossoms and Blessings, September 9

Hallie Reads, September 9

Giveaway


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

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

https://promosimple.com/ps/ffb7/the-black-midnight-celebration-tour-giveaway