First Line Friday — Echoes Among The Stones

13 Dec

Happy Friday! Today I am featuring a favorite author — Jaime Jo Wright. Jaime has a new book out, Echoes among The Stones, that will delight those of you who like time slip novels and suspense with some gothic thrown in. I hope to have my review up in the coming weeks, but in the meantime enjoy the first line!

For more first line fun, head over to Hoarding Books.

 

 

After Aggie Dunkirk’s career is unceremoniously ended by her own mistakes, she finds herself traveling to Wisconsin, where her grandmother, Mumsie, lives alone in her rambling old home. She didn’t plan for how eccentric Mumsie has become, obsessing over an old, unsolved crime scene — even going so far as to re-create it in the dollhouse.

Mystery seems to follow her when she finds work as a secretary helping to restore the flooded historical part of the cemetery. Forced to work with the cemetery’s puzzling, yet attractive archeologist, she exhumes the past’s secrets and unwittingly uncovers a crime that some will go to any length to keep quiet — even if it means silencing Aggie.

In 1946, Imogene Flannigan works in a local factory and has eyes on owning her own beauty salon. But coming home to discover her younger sister’s body in the attic changes everything. Unfamiliar with the newly burgeoning world of criminal forensics and not particularly welcomed as a woman, Imogene is nonetheless determined to stay involved. As her sister’s case grows cold, Imogene vows to find justice . . . even if it costs her everything.

Daphne du Maurier and Christy Award-Winning author, Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing suspenseful, mysteries stained with history’s secrets. Jaime lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures at jaimewrightbooks.com!

 

 

Audiobook Review: A Defense of Honor

12 Dec

When Katherine “Kit” FitzGilbert turned her back on London society more than a decade ago, she determined never to set foot in a ballroom again. But when business takes her to London and she’s forced to run for her life, she stumbles upon not only a glamorous ballroom but also Graham, Lord Wharton. What should have been a chance encounter becomes much more as Graham embarks on a search for his friend’s missing sister and is convinced Kit knows more about the girl than she’s telling.

After meeting Graham, Kit finds herself wishing things could have been different for the first time in her life, but what she wants can’t matter. Long ago, she dedicated herself to helping women escape the same scorn that drove her from London and raising the innocent children caught in the crossfire. And as much as she desperately wishes to tell Graham everything, revealing the truth isn’t worth putting him and everyone she loves in danger.

 

Kristi Ann Hunter graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in Computer Science but always knew she wanted to write. In addition to several pre-published contests, Kristi is a Rita award winner and has also been a finalist in the INSPY, Christy, and GRW Maggie Award of Excellence. She lives with her husband and three children in Georgia. Find her online at http://www.kristiannhunter.com.

 

My Impressions:

A Defense of Honor is my first novel by Kristi Ann Hunter, and as the saying goes, it will not be my last! 🙂 I had heard all the buzz about her books, and the genre, Regency romance, is one I enjoy . . .  so what was stopping me? A limited amount of reading time, unfortunately. But I was determined to find a way to finally read one of her books. That’s why audiobooks are so great. I listen to them on my morning walks and whenever I have chores that don’t require a lot of my attention, like ironing (ugh). Hunter’s book was just the thing. It whisked me off to another time and place and set me right down in a lovely story. Although set in Regency England, there wasn’t a lot of society manners present. In fact, the book shines a light on the hidden side of the society doings of London — the children that are better off forgotten.

Main character Kit tries her best to make up for a decade-old mistake, one that cost a friend dearly. She, along with three other women, take in the children who don’t fit into society — the illegitimate children of the aristocracy. I loved the premise of this story, and found it certainly relevant for today. Inconvenience could have swept these children (and their mothers) into the poor houses of the day and into an early death or something perhaps worse. Kit is a strong woman who faces down any opposition or threat, but her weakness is the unforgiveness she places on herself. Graham, a man who at the beginning of the story is bored and looking for a diversion, finds that Kit is anything but boring. Of course the secrecy surrounding Kit’s endeavors places obstacles and walls between the two, but you will love how everything works out in the end. I listened to the audiobook and found the narration charming, especially in the voices of the children residing at Haven Manor.

If you like your romances set in the Regency period, plus love a story with a great message and spiritual truths relevant for today, then I recommend A Defense of Honor. Two more books are in the Haven Manor series. I am very much looking forward to traveling back in time to revisit Haven Manor.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(I purchased the audio version from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Reading Road Trip — Missouri

11 Dec

Today I am headed to the Show Me State on a Reading Road Trip! I visited Missouri many, many years ago when I was a child. I don’t remember much about the time spent there, but fortunately there are plenty of books to fire up my imagination! Acquired through the Louisiana Purchase, Missouri has been a state since 1821 and its culture is a of its midwest and southern roots. Are you a native or resident of Missouri? Show me what you love about your home state!

 

Reading Road Trip — Missouri

Unwilling Warrior by Andrea Boeshaar

Amid the dangers of the Civil War, Valerie Fontaine longs to know she is loved and saved. Her father, however, is cold and withdrawn. And their Christian houseguest, the photographer Benjamin McCabe, seems arrogant and judgmental. When Valerie commits her own life to Christ she finds herself drawn to Ben. But her father, against her wishes, is prepared to sell her into a loveless marriage with someone else. Will Valerie be forced to abandon her newfound love? Or will she and Ben, against the backdrop of this country’s most ruthless war, become in their own way, unwilling warriors?

Home to Chicory Lane by Deborah Raney

Audrey Whitman’s dreams are coming true. Now that their five kids are grown, she and her husband Grant are turning their beloved family home into a cozy bed and breakfast, just a mile outside of Langhorne, Missouri.

Opening weekend makes Audrey anxious, with family and friends coming from all over to help celebrate the occasion. But when Audrey’s daughter, Landyn, arrives, the U-Haul she’s pulling makes it clear she’s not just here for a few days. Audrey immediately has questions. What happened in New York that sent Landyn running home? Where was Landyn’s husband, Chase? And what else was her daughter not telling her? One thing was for sure, the Chicory Inn was off to a rocky start. Can Audrey still realize her dream and at the same time provide the comfort of home her daughter so desperately needs?

Reason to Breathe by Deborah Raney

At twenty-nine, Phylicia Chandler put her life on hold to care for her dying mother with her sisters, Joanna and Britt. Now Mom is gone and their father stuns them all by running off with a woman young enough to be their sister. Life is moving forward all around her, but Phylicia feels stuck—until her father’s protégé, Quinn Mitchell, presents the sisters with an intriguing business opportunity to purchase a trio of cottages just outside of Langhorne, Missouri. Joanna and Britt are convinced the three of them should launch a vacation rental venture, but Phylicia remains skeptical.

To complicate matters, Quinn soon finds himself falling hard for Phylicia. But how can he pursue this beautiful, talented woman twelve years his junior when she’s still reeling over her father’s hasty engagement to a younger woman? Quinn is determined to give Phylicia her happily-ever-after. But first, he must help her come to terms with her discovery of long-held family secrets and persuade her that true love can transcend their differences.

No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert

When an impoverished school district loses its accreditation and the affluent community of Crystal Ridge has no choice but to open their school doors, the lives of three very different women converge: Camille Gray — the wife of an executive, mother of three, long-standing PTA chairwoman and champion fundraiser — faced with a shocking discovery that threatens to tear her picture-perfect world apart at the seams. Jen Covington, the career nurse whose long, painful journey to motherhood finally resulted in adoption but she is struggling with a happily-ever-after so much harder than she anticipated. Twenty-two-year-old Anaya Jones–the first woman in her family to graduate college and a brand new teacher at Crystal Ridge’s top elementary school, unprepared for the powder-keg situation she’s stepped into. Tensions rise within and without, culminating in an unforeseen event that impacts them all. This story explores the implicit biases impacting American society, and asks the ultimate question: What does it mean to be human? Why are we so quick to put labels on each other and categorize people as “this” or “that”, when such complexity exists in each person?

Mind Games by Nancy Mehl

FBI Behavioral Analyst Kaely Quinn’s methods may be highly unorthodox, but her talent is undeniable. She’s done her best to establish a new life for herself after being demoted and transferred to St. Louis when a reporter revealed she’s the daughter of an infamous serial killer. But when that same reporter claims to have received an anonymous poem predicting a string of murders, ending with Kaely’s, it seems her old life has followed her.

When a body is found that fits the poem’s morbid predictions, Kaely and her new partner, Special Agent Noah Hunter, are forced to move past his skepticism of her approach and work together to unravel the deadly riddle.

With a brazen serial killer who breaks all the normal patterns on the loose, Noah and Kaely are tested to their limits to catch the murderer before anyone else, including Kaely, is killed.

Vanished by Irene Hannon

Reporter Moira Harrison is lost. In the dark. In a thunderstorm. When a confusing detour places her on a rural, wooded road, she’s startled by the sudden appearance of a lone figure caught in the beam of her headlights. Though Moira jams on her brakes, the car careens across the wet pavement–and the solid thump against the side of the vehicle tells her she hit the person before she crashes into a tree on the far side of the road.

A dazed Moira is relieved when a man opens her door, tells her he saw everything, and promises to call 911. Then everything fades to black. When she comes to an hour later, she is alone. No man. No 911. No injured person lying on the side of the road. But she can’t forget the look of terror she saw on the person’s face in the instant before her headlights swung away. The person she hit had been in trouble. She’s sure of it. But she can’t get anyone to believe her story–except a handsome former police detective, now a private eye, who agrees to take on the case

 

Book Review: The Secrets of Paper And Ink

10 Dec

Brought together across time by a love of story, three women in England fight to defy expectations, dream new dreams, and welcome love into their lives.  

As a counselor, Sophia Barrett is trained to help people cope with their burdens. But when she meets a new patient whose troubles mirror her own, she realizes she hasn’t dealt with the pain of her recent past. After making a snap decision to get away for the summer, Sophia moves overseas to an apartment above a charming bookstore in Cornwall, England. She is hopeful she will find peace there surrounded by her favorite thing: great literature. 

Bookstore owner Ginny Rose is desperate to save her business without asking for help from a husband who’s decided to take a break from their marriage. Ginny never imagined she’d be solely responsible for keeping afloat her husband’s dream, but the unexpected friendship with her new renter has her feeling more optimistic. Between the two of them—and Ginny’s brother-in-law, William—the bookstore might stand a chance. 

Then Sophia finds a notebook in the bookstore that contains journal entries from Emily Fairfax, a governess who lived in Cornwall more than 150 years ago. Sophia learns that Emily harbored a secret passion for becoming an authoress—as well as a deep love for her childhood friend, Edward, whose station she dared not dream to touch. 

Eager to know more of Emily’s story, Sophia goes on a quest—dragging Ginny and William with her—to discover the heart of the woman behind the beautiful entries. Soon Ginny’s need to save the bookstore becomes more than a way to save her marriage, and Sophia finds new purpose of her own. Together they find that sometimes both heartache and hope can reach across the centuries.

Lindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd with a B.A. in journalism and M.A. in English. She lives in Arizona with her young family and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. Lindsay has held a variety of jobs, including curriculum editor for two universities, medical and business writer, and copywriter for a digital marketing agency. Now she juggles stay-at-home mommyhood with working freelance jobs, teaching college English courses online, and — of course — writing novels.

When she actually has time to do other things, she loves to sing, read, and sip passion iced teas from Starbucks. She loves to watch God work in ordinary lives to create something extraordinary, and she writes to bring hope to those who may have lost it along the way. Connect with her at http://www.LindsayHarrel.com and any other place she hangs out online, including Facebook and Twitter.

 

My Impressions: 

I read Lindsay Harrel‘s debut novel, The Heart Between Us, and thought it was fabulous. So, of course, I wanted to read Secrets of Paper And Ink. The problem was that I let it languish in the TBR pile much too long. What in the world was I waiting on? If you love books about books, you need to read this novel. If you love quality women’s fiction, you need to read this novel. If you love a book that gets to the heart of what is truly important in life, you MUST read this book! It is a very highly recommended read!

Secrets of Paper And Ink tells the story of three women — two contemporary Americans lost and found in Cornwall and a 19th century woman bound by her society. Harrel takes each woman’s story and knits them together in a beautiful narrative about finding self and the hand of the Savior. Sophia and Ginny came to Cornwall for different reasons. Sophia is hoping to heal from an abusive relationship, and Ginny followed a man to find her purpose. They meet up in the bookshop Ginny owns and become more than temporary landlord/employer and tenant. They also discover Emily’s story, although they don’t know if it is real or fiction. The novel is told through the 3rd person perspective of Ginny and Sophia and the first person account of Emily — and it really works! I loved each woman’s hard fought struggles and revelations of who they are in spite of others’ expectations. Emily’s story is especially intriguing and is the catalyst for the changes that Sophia and Ginny take to become who they are meant to be. The faith message is subtle throughout the novel until the very end. I loved that, because it followed the women’s lives as they first wrestled and then surrendered. Never preachy or overtly religious, the novel portrays a natural coming to God and faith.

For those who love story, The Secrets of Paper And Ink will be a joy to read. How could you not love a book that includes writers and bookshops!? 😉 I loved this book, and believe you will too.

Very Highly Recommended.

Audience: Adults.

(Thanks to the author and NetGalley for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Top Ten Tuesday — Reading Challenges

10 Dec

Back in the day when I didn’t schedule the books I read, I participated in a number of reading challenges. It was a good way to get out of my rut, check out new genres and authors, and clean out the TBR universe 😉 .  A Novel Challenge is a good site to find links to a number of fun challenges. Although I probably won’t participate in any of the ones I am listing 😦 , I thought it would be fun to highlight the ones that piqued my interest. I have only listed 5 of the 2020 challenges posted so far — there are many more. Also be sure to check back; new challenges are continually added.

Today’s Top 10 Tuesday is a Freebie. To find out what other bloggers are talking about, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

Top Reading Challenges

 

2020 Alphabet Soup  hosted by Escape with Dollycas

Crusin’ Thru The Cozies hosted by Socrates Book Reviews

Monthly Key Word hosted by GirlXOXO

Mount TBR  hosted by My Reader’s Block

Vintage Mystery Extravaganza hosted by My Reader’s Block

 

Do you participate in reading challenges?

Which one would you choose?

 

 

Book Review: Wings Like A Dove

9 Dec

Can the invisible walls that separate people ever come down?

In 1933, Anna Leibowicz is convinced that the American dream that brought her Jewish family here from Poland is nothing but an illusion. Her father has vanished. Her dreams of college can’t make it past the sweat-shop door. And when she discovers to her shame and horror that she’s with child, her mother gives her little choice but to leave her family. Deciding her best course of action is to try to find her father, she strikes out…hoping against hope to somehow redeem them both.

When Anna stumbles upon a house full of orphan boys in rural Indiana who are in desperate need of a tutor, she agrees to postpone her journey. But she knows from the moment she meets their contemplative, deep-hearted caretaker, Thomas Chandler, that she doesn’t dare risk staying too long. She can’t afford to open her heart to them, to him. She can’t risk letting her secrets out.

All too soon, the townspeople realize she’s not like them and treat her with the same disdain they give the Sisters of Mercy — the nuns who help Thomas and the boys — and Samuel, the quiet colored boy Thomas has taken in. With the Klan presence in the town growing ever stronger and the danger to this family increasing the longer she stays, Anna is torn between fleeing to keep them safe . . . and staying to fight beside them.

Oh, that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest . . .

Camille Eide writes more than a romance with her tender tales of love, faith, and family for those who enjoy inspirational romance and women’s fiction. Her novel, The Memoir of Johnny Devine, was awarded 5 Gold Stars/Top Pick, Best Inspirational Romance, & the December Seal of Excellence from RT Book Reviews, and Oregon Christian Writers’ Best Historical Fiction.

Please visit Camille’s website at http://www.camilleeide.com.

 

My Impressions:

When I learned that Camille Eide had a new book coming out, I knew I would have to read it. I read The Memoir of Johnny Devine, and loved it! It was a book that I kept thinking about long after it was finished. Well, I now have another book to ponder and to recommend to anyone who will listen. Wings Like A Dove is an historical/romance novel set in the 1930s. Eide captures the era perfectly with its hoboes on the move, tough economic times, and the persistent bigotry and suspicion that met anyone who was different. This was an America I didn’t know much about, revealing not only the evils within, but the heroic spirit that can overcome that evil. And in case you are wondering, its message is very relevant for us today. Wings Like A Dove earns a highly recommended rating.

Anna Leibowicz has many things against her — she’s an immigrant, Jewish, and an unwed mother. Facing shame and hopelessness she embarks on a journey to find her missing father. But a wrong turn lands her in small town Indiana where she finds purpose in teaching 6 children in need of mothering. But while Anna finds a home in the unusual household, she also faces extreme prejudice, intimidation, and threats. The small town of Corbin doesn’t welcome anyone who is different from them.

The 1933 setting of a small farming community in Indiana was an eye-opener to me. I am from the South where history can be a very painful thing to face. Yet, I didn’t know that extreme prejudice against others — black, immigrant, Jew, Catholic — existed across America. Ignorant or naive, I am not sure which I was, but I am glad that I read Wings Like A Dove to begin to understand the history of bigotry that existed in other regions of America. And while that aspect of the book was difficult to read, its strong message of forgiveness and redemption covers all the ugliness portrayed. Characterization is strong in the novel. The story is told in a third person narrative, and through letters from Anna to her sister back in New York. The two combined created a whole picture of what Anna felt and faced. She, along with the other characters — Thomas, young Samuel, neighbor Sarah, and the Sisters Mary — were wonderfully written. I appreciated Eide’s depiction of the antagonists as well. They were not faceless, but became real to this reader. Shame is a strong theme within the novel. Anna’s view of God and herself slowly changes as she faces grace and acceptance. And I loved the coming together of people from different faith backgrounds — Jewish, Catholic, and Baptist — in standing up for each other and what was right.

Wings Like A Dove is an emotionally charged novel, not easily read. It is, however, one you will be so happy you did. Eide provided great historical detail in the afterword and insightful discussion questions. You will be glad of that, because you will want to share your reading experience. Grab some reading friends or your book club and dig in!

Highly Recommended.

Great for Book Clubs.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to the author for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

 

Book Spotlight — Love Is Not Arrogant Or Rude

6 Dec

If you like contemporary romance, especially one that focuses on Christian principles in dating, then consider Love is Not Arrogant Or Rude by Lila Diller, book 1 in the Love Is series. Good for both YA and adults, this novel focuses on humility and choice. (Please note: this is a book spotlight only. I did not read this book and the post does not serve as a recommendation or endorsement.)

Is True Love for Everyone?

That’s what Morgan wonders, an introverted secretary whose feelings for her boss Jason secretly bloom. When he shows interest in her, too, she hopes that true love has sprouted. Just as a relationship with Jason Scott blooms, her old flame Tony Brown bursts back into her life and tries to woo her away. After spending time with both men, Morgan thinks her heart has chosen Jason, when tragedy strikes Tony’s family. She must choose to help or abandon Tony, but if she helps, she may lose Jason.

Which man shows her true love? Who will she choose?

Love is Not Arrogant or Rude is the first installment of Lila Diller’s “Love is…” Series, based on the Bible’s definition of true agape love in 1 Corinthians 13, a contemporary Christian Romance introducing Morgan’s saga and set in a fictional, college town in North Carolina. 

Lila Diller was born in 1978 in Caldwell, Idaho, grew up in the tiny farming community of Notus, Idaho, and currently resides in North Carolina. She is at present outnumbered as the only female in a household of males: her husband of 16 years, two energetic boys ages 7 & 12, and a hyper dog named Copper. Growing up in church, Lila accepted the Lord at a young age, and graduated from a Bible college with a 4-year Humanities degree. She has published three short Christian Romance novels, all in the “Love is…” series, based on 1 Corinthians 13, the Love Chapter.

When not homeschooling her boys, you can find her studying the Bible, singing, scrapbooking, or binge-watching Netflix. She can also be found reading at any chance. You will only find her cooking or cleaning when she can’t put it off any longer. She loves to help readers not only escape from stress in an entertaining and believable story but also to create romance in their marriages based on hope in Jesus.

Please connect with Lila at her blog at liladiller.com.