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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

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

Love’s Fortress Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: Love’s Fortress

Author: Jennifer Uhlarik

Genre: Christian Fiction / Historical fiction / Romance

Release date: March, 2022

Upon receiving word that her long-estranged father has passed away, Dani Sango inherits the former art forger’s entire estate. Among his many pieces of artwork are a series of obviously Native American drawings and paintings, which lead her to research St. Augustine of 1875. White Elk is transported to Florida to join other Cheyenne braves already being held in Fort Marion. Sally Jo Harris is at the fort teaching the Indians. When a friendship develops between them and false accusations fly, it could cost them their lives. Can Dani discover how their story ends and how it shaped her own father’s life?

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a preteen, when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a BA in writing, she has won five writing competitions and was a finalist in two others. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers and is a lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, teenage son, and four fur children.

More from Jennifer

Florida has been my home since I was ten, and I’ve visited the city of St. Augustine several times in my many years here. There, I stumbled across the fact that the Castillo de San Marcos, the town’s 350-year-old Spanish fort, was home to several groups of Native Americans in the 1800s. Ever since learning this fact, I’ve considered writing a story about the three-year period from 1875-1878 when seventy-three Plains Indians from various tribes called the fort (known then as Fort Marion) their home. However, since I’m mainly a western and western romance author, all of my story settings to date have been west of the Mississippi—not in Florida. So this interesting historical factoid remained dormant in my imagination for years, waiting for the right opportunity.

That opportunity came last year when I was asked to submit an idea for Barbour’s dual-timeline Doors to the Past series. These stories must be set in or around a major landmark, the plot must focus on a newsworthy event, and there must be a bit of a mystery that connects the historical timeline to the contemporary plot. Obviously, as the oldest masonry fort in the United States, Castillo de San Marcos is an important and interesting landmark. Originally built by the Spanish, it later became a British possession, reverted again to the Spanish, and eventually became part of the United States’ holdings. With such a long and varied history, I’m sure you can see why this unique structure would make an interesting landmark around which to base a story.

The newsworthy event the plot focuses on is the incarceration of those seventy-three Plains Indians, deemed some of the “worst of the worst” offenders in the Indians Wars of the West. Can you imagine the buzz such an event would create? Once the Indians fell into their routine inside the fort, they were given quite a bit of freedom to interact with the locals and tourists. People came from far and wide to see these men and their historic surroundings along the banks of the Matanzas River. With a simple day pass from the fort’s commander, outsiders could enter, walk among and talk with the prisoners, see the historic fort, and even watch cultural events like dances, powwows, mock buffalo hunts, and archery displays. The Native men could also leave the fort and venture into town to shop or sell handmade goods, from bows and arrows to hand-crafted items made from locally-sourced seashells and plants, to their original “ledger art.”

It’s the ledger art that comprises the mysterious puzzle piece connecting the historical timeline of Love’s Fortress to the present day. When Dani Sango learns her long-estranged father has died, she inherits his rundown St. Augustine house. Inside, she discovers a book of Native American art depicting events from one Indian’s daily life. But because her father was a convicted art forger, Dani questions why he would have the strange and rudimentary artwork. She suspects it was his latest scam, so she enlists the help of Brad Osgood, curator of a western art museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, to help her discover where the art originated and how her father came to possess it. In the process, the pair digs deep into the history of the St. Augustine fort and its former residents.

I found it fascinating to research this brief period in the Castillo’s long history, and I hope you’ll enjoy the story that came from my efforts.

My Review

Love’s Fortress by Jennifer Uhlarik is book seven in Barbour’s “Doors to the Past” series, and in many ways, I find it to be the most compelling thus far. I also commend both the author and the publisher for taking on this controversial subject, especially at such a divisive time in our country. The treatment of Native Americans is a source of much bitterness and anger, and understandably so, and to approach this from a Christian viewpoint both historically and currently offers a healing lens that can serve well going forward. One of the advantages of fiction is that it allows for the exploration of how current ideas could have changed the outcome of historical situations, or how historical methods could influence contemporary issues.

Uhlarik skillfully articulates several of the main obstacles involved in the three-year incarceration of the seventy-three Native American men from various tribes at the Castillo de San Marcos (later renamed Fort Marion) in St. Augustine, Florida, in 1875. They were detained due to their roles in the conflicts in the American West. Through the characters of Lieutenant Richard Henry Pratt and Broken Bow, primarily, the challenges of forced assimilation become evident, as well as the impact of Christianity. Broken Bow’s character demonstrates how difficult it was for the Native Americans to understand the foundation of the Christian faith, and how important effective communication is, not only in ministering to others, but in establishing the trust necessary to earn another’s respect. If we want someone to listen to us regarding personal matters and beliefs, we first need to demonstrate our care for them; other approaches likely seem condemnatory, be that the intention or not.

Relationships likewise constitute another major theme in Love’s Fortress. As a dual-timeline story set in 1875 and in the present day, generational trauma and moral tradition both inform the narrative through the characters’ actions and the resulting series of events. As surprising as some of the revelations were, they all serve as reminders to disregard rumors in favor of facts. So much tragedy stems from relying on the incorrect interpretation of another’s culture or lifestyle. As such, Matty Joie is an exemplary illustration of the joyful servants that the Lord calls us to be. Likewise, one observation by Sally Jo Harris particularly resonated with me: “Just as if they were on a mission field in some faraway country, she and the others must rely on God’s leading and His timing. If she and Luke would have made it to Liberia or another mission field, her experiences would have differed there too. And regardless of where they were called, no one held the power to bring true healing and change through their own wisdom. Only the Holy Spirit could break down those walls.” The mission field is often within our own communities, and sometimes all it takes is a wild goose chase to find the blessings God has planned for us!

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

My Rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 26

Remembrancy, March 26

The Christian Fiction Girl, March 27

Texas Book-aholic, March 27

Inklings and notions, March 28

Jeanette’s Thoughts, March 28

Bigreadersite, March 29

For Him and My Family, March 29

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, March 30

Betti Mace, March 30

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, March 31

Tell Tale Book Reviews, March 31

deb’s Book Review, April 1

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, April 1

Older & Smarter?, April 2

Locks, Hooks and Books, April 2

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, April 3

Life of Literature, April 3

Genesis 5020, April 4

For the Love of Literature, April 4

Connie’s History Classroom, April 5

Blossoms and Blessings, April 5

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, April 6 (Spotlight)

Splashes of Joy, April 6

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, April 7

Through the Fire Blogs, April 7

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, April 8

Pause for Tales, April 9

Labor Not in Vain, April 9

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Jennifer is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and 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/1c10d/love-s-fortress-celebration-tour-giveaway

High-Wire Heartbreak Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: High-Wire Heartbreak

Author: Anna Schmidt

Genre: Christian/Romance/History

Release date: January 1, 2022

In 1936–A party at the Ringling mansion Ca d’Zan in Sarasota, Florida, leads to a robbery–and possibly death.

A successful historical mystery writer, Chloe Whitfield comes to Ca’ d’Zan to research her next novel. Chloe’s fascination with the circus is rooted in family stories of her great-grandmother Lucinda Conroy, who reportedly was a trapeze artist of some renown. She’s heard hints of scandal—and perhaps larceny, but no details.

Chloe’s grandmother—rumored to be Lucinda’s only offspring—was raised in an orphanage and never knew her mother. Intrigued as she is, Chloe has no intent of writing about Lucinda until she sees a poster featuring Lucinda as the star performer for a 70th birthday gala for John Ringling in May of 1936. From there the trail goes cold.

Who was Lucinda and what happened to her?

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Anna Schmidt is the author of over twenty works of fiction. Among her many honors, Anna is the recipient of Romantic Times’ Reviewer’s Choice Award and a finalist for the RITA award for romantic fiction. She enjoys gardening and collecting seashells at her winter home in Florida.

More from Anna

It’s hard to split time living between Wisconsin and Sarasota Florida and NOT get caught up in the circus world! The Ringlings are icons in Sarasota where a LOT of things are named for them! But the five circus brothers got their start right here in Wisconsin. So, when the opportunity to create a story for DOORS TO THE PAST came my way, it was pretty much a no-brainer that I would go with John and Mable Ringling’s incredible home, Ca ‘d Zan as the setting. Then somehow, I stumbled on this picture:

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and I knew she was my character of Lucinda, the trapeze artist whose story would drive my novel. I hope you fall in love with her—and Chloe—as I did, and most of all I hope you’ll be in touch to let me know what you thought at http://booksbyanna.com.

HAPPY READING and all best wishes, Anna

My Review

For a writer, she was suddenly bereft of words to say how much she liked that idea—liked the whole idea of a rest-of-my-life kind of love.

There is a reason that I love a good series like Doors to the Past. Once I begin a series, I feel a need to read it in its entirety, even if the books are stand-alones, as is the case here. Otherwise, I would never have picked up High-Wire Heartbreak because if I’m being honest, nothing about the circus has ever interested me. Thus I was admittedly a bit dubious, especially given that Anna Schmidt is also an author whose work I haven’t previously read. However, I am impressed by this tale of romance, heartbreak, and the echoes of history.

Told in the alternating third-person viewpoints of Lucy in 1936 and Chloe in 2022, High-Wire Heartbreak by Anna Schmidt gives readers a fictional glimpse into the Ringling Circus and its star trapeze artist, Lucinda Conroy, contrasted with a present-day bestselling historical mystery author, Chloe Whitfield. The stories intersect at Ca’ d’Zan in Sarasota, Florida, where Chloe is working on her next novel and exploring her grandmother’s connection to Lucinda. As the storylines dovetail, the scandal that overhangs the past becomes increasingly intriguing to Chloe. With the advent of genealogy sites and resources that have become available in recent years, ancestry, in my opinion, provides a fascinating basis not only for reference but also for connecting with relatives from around the world.

A novel with elements that will appeal to readers of various genres, High-Wire Heartbreak speaks to those who admire resiliency and the strength to trust God despite scandal, rejection, and self-doubt. Despite not caring for her character much at first, overall I found Tilda to be a surprise, a testament to what using one’s own God-given skills and talents can accomplish. This story highlights the need for us to encourage and care about others, whether they are our friends or not. Schmidt’s description of Chloe at one pivotal point in the plot demonstrates this: “Chloe’s heart went out to her, and she decided she would do her best to make sure Tilda was a success on her own terms for a change.” Sometimes that is all a person needs to shift their attitude or behavior, and even to even to solve a decades-old mystery!

For fans of split-time stories, Christian historical fiction, the circus and especially the trapeze, genealogy, and of course romance, High-Wire Heartbreak blends all of these elements beautifully. Schmidt brings together a surprising and unexpected plot resolution in which both the historical and the contemporary plotlines merge to form a lovely grand finale.

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

My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 25

Remembrancy, January 25

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, January 25 (Author Interview)

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, January 26

For the Love of Literature, January 26

Where Faith and Books Meet, January 26

Genesis 5020, January 27

Texas Book-aholic, January 27

Inklings and notions, January 28

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 28

Rachael’s Inkwell, January 28

Austen’s Angle: Jane Austen’s Influence in Modern America, January 29

For Him and My Family, January 29

Rebecca Tews, January 29

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, January 30

deb’s Book Review, January 30

Tell Tale Book Reviews, January 31

Wishful Endings, January 31

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 31

Bizwings Blog, February 1

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, February 1

Book Butterfly in Dreamland, February 1

Older & Smarter?, February 2

Connie’s History Classroom, February 2

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, February 3 (Spotlight)

Bigreadersite, February 3

Blogging with Carol, February 3

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, February 4

Life of Literature, February 4

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, February 4

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 5

Joannabair, February 5

Blossoms and Blessings, February 6

Pause for Tales, February 6

Labor Not in Vain, February 6

Splashes of Joy, February 7

Through the Fire Blogs, February 7

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Anna is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon e-gift card and paper 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/186c0/high-wire-heartbreak-celebration-tour-giveaway

Now That I Know You Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: Now That I Know You

Author: Olivia Newport

Genre: Split-Time Contemporary/Historical

Release date: Fall, 2021

Cate Butler is the distant cousin genealogist Jillian was so certain she wanted to find—and the only connection she has to her deceased mother’s Parisi family tree. So why does she wish Cate would stop pestering her? And why can’t Jillian find a paper trail proving Cate is who she says she is?

Cate wants something for her own career that Jillian can’t give, but she also holds the key to family history Jillian can’t bring herself to walk away from. Nolan, Jillian’s father, steps in when Cate’s chronic career chaos requires legal rescue. Drew, the man who holds Jillian’s heart, has a surprising past with Cate. The truths Jillian, Cate, and Drew find while untangling these knotted threads tie them back together in remarkable ways none of them ever would have imagined.

Now That I Know You is Book 5 in the Tree of Life series, exploring and celebrating unforgettable family stories in Canyon Mines, the mountain town that invites you back again and again.

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Olivia Newport’s novels blend the truth of how our pasts carry us into where we find ourselves now. Curiosity about history seems to creep into everything she does. Her books include Amish, historical, and contemporary stories that span the centuries from before the Revolutionary War right up to the present moment.

She chases joy in stunning Colorado at the foot of Pikes Peak. Visit www.olivianewport.com.

More from Olivia

I’ve wanted to write Now That I Know You for nearly 20 years—at least the historical story part of this split-time novel.

When my son was a freshman in high school, he joined the mock trial team, and my husband and I entered the league of parents who watched versions of the same competition over and over. The state bar association selects a case and provides every team with the same documents to study as the basis of preparing both prosecution and defense. Team members play roles of attorneys and witnesses.

That first year, the case was trying a particular individual in connection with his role in events that culminated in the 1914 “Ludlow Massacre,” which is featured in Now That I Know You. My son played a witness for the prosecution. My proudest moment was when one of the scoring judges—who are actual court judges—singled him out for his skill in recognizing and dodging the opposing counsel’s interrogation strategy. Somebody hold me in my chair, because you really are not supposed to jump and cheer at mock trial!

Since I heard the case several times, the history wormed its way into my heart and mind. The injustice and tragedy of the story weighed heavy, but so did the legacy of the events and their eventual impact on history that affects us even today. People often ask where book ideas come from. Sometimes they germinate inside me for a long time before the moment is ripe to put them on the page in the lives of characters who have grown around them. This is one of those stories.

—Olivia Newport

My Review

Review coming soon!

My rating:

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, January 10

Bigreadersite, January 10

lakesidelivingsite, January 11

Daysong Reflections, January 11

All-of-kind Mom, January 11

The Write Escape, January 12

Lots of Helpers, January 12

The Sacred Line, January 13

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 13

Betti Mace, January 14

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 14

Texas Book-aholic, January 15

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 15

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, January 16

Splashes of Joy, January 16

deb’s Book Review, January 17

Through the Fire Blogs, January 17

Sodbuster Living, January 18

For Him and My Family, January 18

Tell Tale Book Reviews, January 19

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, January 19

For the Love of Literature, January 20

The Book Club Network, January 20

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, January 21 (Spotlight)

Blogging With Carol, January 21

Mary Hake, January 21

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, January 22

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 22

Inklings and notions, January 23

Connect in Fiction, January 23

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Olivia is giving away the grand prize package of a signed set of all 5 books in the Tree of Life series!!

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/193c0/now-that-i-know-you-celebration-tour-giveaway

Behind Love’s Wall Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: Behind Love’s Wall

Author: Carrie Fancett Pagels

Genre: FICTION/ Christian/Romance

Release date: November 1, 2021

Two successful women, a hundred-and-twenty-years apart, build walls to protect their hearts. Modern-day Willa, a successful interior decorator, is chosen to consult for the Grand Hotel’s possible redesign. She discovers a journal detailing the struggles of a young woman, Lily—which reveals dark secrets. The renowned singer wasn’t who she pretended to be. As Willa reaches out to Lily’s descendant, a charismatic and prominent landscape artist, she lets down her guard. Should she share the journal with him, or once again erect a wall as she struggles to redesign both the Grand and her life?

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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ECPA-bestselling author Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D., is the award-winning author of over a dozen Christian historical romances. Twenty-five years as a psychologist didn’t “cure” her overactive imagination! A self-professed “history geek,” she resides with her family in the Historic Triangle of Virginia but grew up as a “Yooper” in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Carrie loves to read, bake, bead, and travel – but not all at the same time! You can connect with her at www.CarrieFancettPagels.com.

More from Carrie

Why I Wrote This Novel

I got a chance to write another novel set on Mackinac Island!!!

I’m the author of over twenty published stories. I have many books, both novel and novella length, set at the Straits of Mackinac including Maggie Award winner and Romantic Times Top Pick My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island. In the summer, I go up to the area and I’m blessed to sign books at the Island Bookstore—sometimes hundreds of books which is such an amazing thing I can’t tell you! Now that MHBoMI is out of print, Barbour has been helping by doing limited print runs for while I am up there.

My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island was originally part of a full series that I pitched but it didn’t get picked up for all three stories. MHBoMI got picked up as part of the My Heart Belongs series that Barbour put out a few years ago. The second book in my original Brides of Mackinac series was heroine Sadie’s story, which was published as a novella “His Anchor” in First Love Forever collection. So I had two of my book babies delivered out into the world and Lily’s story sat there for a while.

In the Covid summer of 2020, I arrived in my home state of Michigan and over dinner with a close friend I learned that the folks at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island were having legal trouble with their previous long-time designed Carlton Varney suing them. I’d been disappointed that the Mussers, who’d owned the Grand for generations, had sold the hotel but this new development really bugged me. While I was in the Upper Peninsula, I finished an Indy book, Dogwood Plantation, which only figures since I often write my Michigan stories while I am in Virginia and vice versa! I knew the only other book I wanted to work on was to complete my Brides of Mackinac trilogy (not exactly since they aren’t all in one series!) with Lily’s story. I also had a manuscript about 70% done that was my very first contemporary Women’s Fiction novel. When my agent encouraged me to submit a Mackinac Island story set at the Grand Hotel to Barbour’s Doors to the Past series, I knew immediately that the only story for historical I wanted to write was Lily’s. That meant that I needed, for this dual-timeline series, a contemporary story. That wasn’t just a chance sharing at dinner—I believe the info about the lawsuit was meant to be passed on to me one of those God-incidences. My modern-day heroine then became an established resort designer who had a trunkful of issues just like Lily did.

Was I ever glad that I had finally written my first contemporary Women’s Fiction (Butterfly Cottage) because that skill set came in very handy in writing the modern-day 2020 story of Willa in Behind Love’s Wall! This was the most difficult novel to write that I have done so far as I write in character and going back and forth between the 1895 and 2020 timelines could be draining. I tried to write each character and setting on separate days but that couldn’t always be managed.

I pray that this story will touch readers’ hearts. I pray that someone, like the young waitress I meant on Mackinac Island who had been spiritually moved by My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island (she read her grandmother’s copy after her grandma passed away!), will read this book and feel that connection to our Maker. That’s what Christian Fiction is all about!

My Review

Review coming soon!

My rating:

Blog Stops

Life of Literature, November 18

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 18

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, November 19

Cats in the Cradle Blog, November 19

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 19

Inklings and notions, November 20

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, November 20

For Him and My Family, November 21

Mary Hake, November 21

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, November 22

Texas Book-aholic, November 22

For the Love of Literature, November 22

deb’s Book Review, November 23

Betti Mace, November 23

Genesis 5020, November 23

Older & Smarter?, November 24

Remembrancy, November 24

Blossoms and Blessings, November 25

Stephanie’s life of determination, November 25

Connect in Fiction, November 25

Rebecca Tews, November 26

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 26

Through the fire blogs, November 27

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, November 27

Pause for Tales, November 27

Bigreadersite, November 28

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, November 28

Tell Tale Book Reviews, November 28

Connie’s History Classroom, November 29

Bizwings Blog, November 29

Labor Not in Vain, November 29

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, November 30

To Everything There Is A Season, November 30

Jeanette’s Thoughts, December 1

Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen, December 1

Where Faith and Books Meet, December 1

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Carrie 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/137e9/behind-love-s-wall-celebration-tour-giveaway

Undercurrent of Secrets Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: Undercurrent of Secrets

Author: Rachel Scott McDaniel

Genre: Christian Romance

Release date: September 2021

Two women, a century apart, are bound by a haunting secret aboard a legendary steamboat.

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

As wedding coordinator for the 100-year-old steamboat The Belle of Louisville, Devyn Asbury takes pride in seeing others’ dreams come true, even though her engagement had sunk like a diamond ring to the bottom of the Ohio River. When the Belle becomes a finalist in the Timeless Wedding Venue contest, Devyn endeavors to secure the prestigious title with hopes to reclaim some of her professional dreams. What she hadn’t planned on was Chase Jones showing up with a mysterious photo from the 1920s.

A century earlier, Hattie Louis is as untamable as the rivers that raised her. As the adopted daughter of a steamboat captain, her duties range from the entertainment to cook. When strange incidents occur aboard the boat, Hattie’s determined to discover the truth. Even if that means getting under First Mate Jack Marshall’s handsome skin.

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Rachel Scott McDaniel is an award-winning author of historical romance. Winner of the ACFW Genesis Award and the RWA Touched By Love award, Rachel infuses faith and heart into each story. Rachel can be found online at www.RachelScottMcDaniel.com and on all social media platforms. Her work is represented by Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Agency. Rachel resides in Ohio with her husband and two children.

More from Rachel

A Century on the River

In 1914, America hadn’t joined WWI yet. Airplanes, or flying machines as they were called, were still a phenomenon. Radios weren’t a thing. Hawaii and Alaska weren’t part of the United States. The world as a whole looked different than the one we walk today. But one thing remains true as it had 100 years ago—The Belle of Louisville graced the waters. In fact, the century-old steamboat is like a floating time capsule.

zFirst named the Idlewild, this boat was built in Pittsburgh, PA and was launched in October 1914. It began its days as a packet boat, hauling freight and ferrying passengers. During the ‘Roaring 20s’ there wasn’t much documentation for her travels. But it’s believed the Idlewild spent the decade tramping—a steamboat term for going up and down the river, stopping at various towns and taking passengers for excursions. Which worked perfectly for Undercurrent of Secrets.

The boat was then sold to New Orleans where it continued to ferry passengers. In 1931, The Idlewild spent a season in Louisville running trips to Rose Island and Fontaine Ferry amusement parks. It then spent the next several years coursing the waterways from Canada to New Orleans, living upon the Mississippi and Ohio river systems until WWII. The second world war brought a lot of action to the Idlewild which was then outfitted with special equipment to push oil barges along the river. She also served as a floating USO nightclub for troops stationed at military bases along the Mississippi River.

In 1947, she was sold and renamed the Avalon. For the next two decades the legendary lady spent her days along the rivers, hosting excursions, bringing adventure to the hearts of many Americans. But all those years and miles eventually caught up to her and she fell in disrepair. In 1962, she was put up for auction in Cincinnati where she was purchased by Jefferson County Judge Executive Marlow Cook for $34,000. She then received her third name, The Belle of Louisville.

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The restoration of the boat was supervised by marine architect Alan L. Bates (later Captain Bates). Capt. Bates’ books, Str. Belle of Louisville, and Moonlight at 8:30, were a huge help to me while researching the history of the boat and the crews who worked on her. The reno crew worked tirelessly rebuilding the Belle and on April 30th, she tested the waters again by racing against the Delta Queen in the first Great Steamboat Race. The Belle has been wharfed in Louisville ever since. This century-old steamboat has stood the test of time, surviving decades, sinkings, storms, weathering all the trials with grit and grace. If you ever find yourself in Louisville, you could book a cruise on the Belle and experience history.

My Review

Barbour Publishing’s Doors to the Past series just keeps getting better and better! Each standalone, dual-timeline story is penned by a different author and features a combination of romance, mystery, and faith. Barbour stands out to me for its excellent series these last few years, including but certainly not limited to Brides of the Mayflower and True Colors. Something that I truly appreciate is when I read a book that I otherwise may not have and love it so much that I know it will be one of my favorites for the year. Undercurrent of Secrets fits the bill, and the literary finesse that Rachel Scott McDaniel demonstrated in her debut, Above the Fold, becomes even more prominent in this fourth Doors to the Past book.

As the two storylines in Undercurrent of Secrets emerge, a delightful cast of characters surfaces. In the present, Devyn Asbury serves as wedding coordinator for The Belle of Louisville, trying to blend into the background after a disastrous end to her engagement, while her 1926 counterpart, Hattie Louis, lives an unconventional life on the river as the adopted daughter of an elderly steamboat captain. Both young women find the course of their lives altered by unexpected revelations and unforeseen romance that has enduring reverberations. Mystery creeps into Devyn’s already-full schedule through the appearance of Chase Jones and an enigmatic photograph from a century ago, while new first mate Jack Marshall’s arrival interrupts the steady flow of Hattie’s routine. The turbulence is reflected in Jack’s words, “I’m just wondering if your voice is the sound of an angel guiding me along, or a siren drawing me in to my demise.

One aspect of split-time fiction that seems to characterize the genre, and one that speaks to me, is the theme of belonging to two different worlds, or feeling caught between two existences. A nostalgic identity crisis, of sorts. Whether this plays out as being drawn to the past in order to resolve something that happened there, or being either ahead of one’s time or old-fashioned, this premise lends itself to the heart of stories such as Undercurrent of Secrets. I love how McDaniel connects her characters, and how the contemporary characters unearth the mystery and intrigue surrounding those of the past, as a puzzle to solve rather than just having the answer handed to them, with faith leading the way. As Devyn proclaims, “Love is bold. It doesn’t cower, but expresses itself. Think of Jesus. What He did on the cross was bold. He gave His life without any guarantee that anyone would love Him back. It was daring and beautiful.” The intersection of the characters’ stories intertwines throughout the narrative, coalescing at the very end in a satisfying conclusion that brings together all of McDaniel’s skillfully dropped hints. Above all else, trusting God to guide us through every high and low, allowing Him to be the captain of our lives, is the most important message. For “God had a way of leading His children. It may not be the course Devyn had imagined, but as long as she stayed in the current of His love, she knew she could rely on Him in both the still and the troubled waters. He was faithful to steer her through it all.

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

My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 25

Rachael’s Inkwell, September 25

Texas Book-aholic, September 26

Christian Bookaholic, September 26

Where Faith and Books Meet, September 27

Inklings and notions, September 27

Genesis 5020, September 27

For Him and My Family, September 28

Life of Literature, September 28

deb’s Book Review, September 29

Jeanette’s Thoughts, September 29

Remembrancy, September 30

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 30

She Lives to Read, October 1

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, October 1

Older & Smarter?, October 1

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, October 2

Mary Hake, October 2

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, October 3

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

Bizwings Blog, October 3

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, October 4

For the Love of Literature, October 4

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 5

Through the fire blogs, October 5

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, October 6

Pause for Tales, October 6

Artistic Nobody, October 7 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Just Your Average reviews, October 7

Splashes of Joy, October 8

Labor Not in Vain, October 8

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Rachel 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/11b61/undercurrent-of-secrets-celebration-tour-giveaway

What You Said to Me Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: What You Said to Me

Author: Olivia Newport

Genre: Christian Fiction

Release Date: November 2020

Book 4 in the Tree of Life Series: A Father-Daughter Genealogy Team Link Faith Journeys on Family Trees

When 15-year-old Tisha Crowder gets caught shoplifting, attorney Nolan Duffy tries to protect her from consequences that could rattle her already troubled life. His daughter, Jillian, feels like she’s the one being punished instead—by having Tisha assigned to work with her on a backlog of genealogy files. Tisha doesn’t seem interested in taking the job seriously, and Jillian’s patience wears thin. Besides, everyone in Canyon Mines knows the Crowder family has experienced generations of brokenness. Then a sliver of hope turns up in long-ago words in plain sight, challenging shrouded assumptions about Tisha’s family. Now Jillian is the one who can walk with Tisha back to 1893 and uncover where everything went wrong in the first place—and save her from the past.

What You Said to Me is the fourth book in the Tree of Life series by Olivia Newport. You’ll want to return to the lovely Colorado mountain town of Canyon Mines again and again to explore and celebrate unforgettable family stories that will inspire you to connect with your own family histories and unique faith journeys.

Click HERE to get your copy! 

About the Author

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Olivia Newport’s novels twist through time to find where faith and passions meet. Her husband and twentysomething children provide welcome distraction from the people stomping through her head on their way into her books. She chases joy in stunning Colorado at the foot of Pikes Peak.

More from Olivia

Careful Words

“You didn’t just say that.” Or, “I can’t believe you said that.”

Have you ever said that in retort to someone whose comment offended or wounded? I know I have. But what cuts me even more deeply is when I say to myself, “I can’t believe I just said that.”

The words of a parent at wit’s end, a spouse harboring hurt, a friend saddened by misunderstanding, an employee feeling undercut—they have all been my words. And they came out too fast to swallow back before they did their damage.

I hope I have also had the words of a parent who set aside busyness to listen, a spouse offering loving encouragement, a friend checking in with someone going through a tough patch, a coworker curious to see how I could help rather than compete. Those are the kinds of words I’ve never regretted, never had to repent of, never had to do rebuild from.

I certainly didn’t write What You Said to Me because I think I get it right all the time or even most of the time. Far from it! In our culture of rushing and achieving and—let’s face it, sometimes just getting through the demands of the day—sometimes our words are the last thing we are careful with. Yet they have the longest lasting consequence in our relationships and families—sometimes for generations. The dual-timeline story traces how words that injure became a pattern in one family line until one girl finally fought back to find healing for her future.

My challenge for myself, and all who read What You Said to Me, is to be the person who speaks healing words of hope so that “I can’t believe you said that” becomes “Thank you for saying that.”

If you have a particularly poignant experience of how another’s words impacted you, I’d love to hear from you.

Olivia Newport

My Review

Reluctant as I am to say goodbye to the quirky, heartfelt world that Olivia Newport has created, her Tree of Life series is one that I will remember and cherish. I would highly recommend reading the books in order because although the plots are different in each, the character trajectories form an ongoing narrative that is otherwise disrupted. The small town of Canyon Mines seems reminiscent of Stars Hollow (of Gilmore Girls fame), and I so enjoy spending time there amongst the shopkeepers and other townspeople. It is the perfect blend of modern with an old-fashioned touch, matching the dual-timeline that each book features.

The fourth and final book in this delightful series, What You Said to Me, takes a bit of a different track than the previous three. The mystery is intentionally not really a secret, and is apparent early on; in most cases, this would ruin the book for me and cause me to lose interest, but Newport creates enough conflict in the present day to ensure an intriguing tale. Prior to this, I was relatively unaware of the 1893 recession and the collapse of the silver mining industry, and reading about how devastating this was for the people of just one town in Colorado alone is heartrending. Even though the Brandt family is fictional, the historical backdrop is not, and considering what our country has been through in 2020, it is easier to empathize with them.

Contemporary issues intersect with those of the past century in the form of an angry, lost teenager named Tisha Crowder. Beneath her bad attitude and lack of motivation lies the root of a generations-old bitterness, one that can be eradicated only by love and healing. Her story is a keen reminder to look beyond what we can see and to acknowledge that everyone is struggling with something, that bad attitudes and bad behavior have a reason that needs to be explored with patience, love, and understanding regardless of age. When we make way for God to move in us and through us, miracles happen!

Throughout the Tree of Life series, my favorite character has been Nolan. I relate more to Jillian’s character, from her introversion to her fascination with genealogy and history, but I love her dad’s ability to assess a situation and recognize what people need in order to come to reconciliation, and to then act as mediator. While Nolan is obviously human and therefore not perfect, he serves as a subtle yet powerful reminder that Christ is our true mediator, dying for our sins and bringing us back into a right relationship with God if we accept this priceless gift. Our attitude matters, and our words matter. Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death.” Choose life.

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

Through the Fire Blogs, November 21

deb’s Book Review, November 21

Remembrancy, November 22

Connect in Fiction, November 22

lakesidelivingsite, November 22

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 23

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, November 23

Splashes of Joy, November 24

Robin’s Nest, November 24

Sara Jane Jacobs, November 24

Ashley’s Bookshelf, November 25

Mamma Loves Books, November 25

Pause for Tales, November 25

Godly Book Reviews, November 26

Lis Loves Reading, November 26

Hallie Reads, November 26

Older & Smarter?, November 27

Texas Book-aholic, November 27

Inklings and notions, November 28

21st Century Keeper at Home, November 28

The Write Escape, November 28

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

Blogging With Carol, November 29

Mary Hake, November 29

For Him and My Family, November 30

Artistic Nobody, November 30 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Betti Mace, December 1

Worthy2Read, December 1

All-of-a-kind Mom, December 1

Lots of Helpers, December 2

Bigreadersite, December 2

Tell Tale Book Reviews, December 2

Amanda Tero, blog, December 3

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 3

For the Love of Literature, December 4

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 4

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Olivia 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/103f1/what-you-said-to-me-celebration-tour-giveaway

A Longing Fulfilled is a Tree of Life: A Book Review of Amanda Cox’s “The Edge of Belonging”

If the story of my life could say one thing, I’d hope it would show the importance of venturing into the highways and the hedges to let invisible people know they’re seen and loved. To invite them in.

A breathtaking tour de force, Amanda Cox’s The Edge of Belonging tugs at the heartstrings and reminds readers that belonging goes beyond having a place to live to encompass the people who love us and, by so doing, help us to truly belong. Cox employs a split-time structure to tell Ivy and Harvey’s story, and what I love about this format is the short time lapse; the two main storylines take place in 1994 and the present day, creating a small generational gap that allows readers to follow the same characters from one period of time to another. For a debut novel, The Edge of Belonging hits the perfect notes, drawing all of the characters together in a symphony both heartwarming and bittersweet.

With this intricately nuanced cast of characters, Cox demonstrates her keen understanding of and insight into the human psyche. In the present: a broken 24-year-old young woman who does not know who she is anymore and wonders if she ever did. Twenty-four years prior: a homeless man with a sorrowful past who finally has solitude and routine until he finds a newborn baby. An older woman heartbroken from recent losses but with much love still to give. A couple aggrieved by their inability to have children. And the thread of hope and faith that binds them all together.

My favorite aspect of the characters is how they exemplify Jesus amidst their mistakes and brokenness and humanness. Pearl is a prime example of this, and she is my favorite character, despite my incorrect characterization of her when she is first introduced. As a result of this and of several scenarios in the narrative, I find The Edge of Belonging to be convicting. How often do we judge someone based on their behavior or appearance without making any effort to reach out to them or know them on a personal level? Pearl is one of the foremost characters who demonstrates openhearted compassion, which she sums up in a simple and beautiful way: “Nurturing is nurturing. It doesn’t take a blood relative. We’re all adopted into God’s family through Jesus. And I decided long ago that if it was good enough for God, it was good enough for me. So I set in my heart that I would love and mother anyone who crossed my path who needed that kind of love.

By far one of the best debut novels I’ve had the pleasure of reading, The Edge of Belonging gently speaks to many current issues, including PTSD, fostering and adoption, domestic violence, abuse, grief, and both platonic and romantic love. Most of all, it guides us toward the unconditional love of the One Who gave His life for us, and in Whose arms we will always find our place of belonging.

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