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Book Review: The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus

23 Sep

The Bonaventure Circus is a refuge for many, but Pippa Ripley was rejected from its inner circle as a baby. When she receives mysterious messages from someone called the “Watchman,” she is determined to find him and the connection to her birth. As Pippa’s search leads her to a man seeking justice for his murdered sister and evidence that a serial killer has been haunting the circus train, she must decide if uncovering her roots is worth putting herself directly in the path of the killer.

Present Day
The old circus train depot will either be torn down or preserved for historical importance, and its future rests on real estate project manager Chandler Faulk’s shoulders. As she dives deep into the depot’s history, she’s also balancing a newly diagnosed autoimmune disease and the pressures of single motherhood. When she discovers clues to the unsolved murders of the past, Chandler is pulled into a story far darker and more haunting than even an abandoned train depot could portend.


Jaime Jo Wright loves to read — and write — fiction with elements of mystery, faith, and romance from her home in Wisconsin. She’s a coffee drinker by day and night, lives in dreamland, and exists in reality.


My Impressions:

Sometimes writing a review is effortless — you easily check off the boxes of plot, setting, characterization, theme, etc. But other times a book is one that defies simple description. The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus by Jaime Jo Wright is one of those. This dual timeline novel is complex and multilayered and deserves a slow and thoughtful reading to glean all of its goodness. It took me a while to read this book — it is definitely not a quick and easy read. But it is one that is highly recommended!

The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus has two storylines: one set in the present day, and the other in the late 1920s, both in Bluff River, Wisconsin. The mysteries of both time periods are intertwined and call out to be uncovered. Main characters Pippa and Chandler appear to have little in common, until the reader gets into their heads. Insecurity, doubts, and the tendency to run away from hard things plague both characters, yet their desire to discover what is true in their worlds urges them on. Setting plays a large part in the novel, and Wright creates a town and its circus that capture the imagination. The mystery builds slowly, gaining momentum as the book heads toward its ending — I could not keep the pages turning fast enough as more and more is revealed. The ghostly aspect created some delicious little shivers. And the twists? Let’s just say I was surprised numerous times. Wright also kept me engaged in both stories, leaving me eager to visit both periods as the narrative shifted. There are a number of themes and spiritual truths expressed in Haunting. All speak to the reader’s heart. I have followed Wright on social media for a while now, and I appreciate how much she poured her own story into this book’s pages. Many things are disclosed at the end of the book, but the rest of Pippa and Chandler’s stories are left up to the reader’s imagination. I chose to create very happily-ever-afters for both. 😉

I have read all of Wright’s novels, and I think The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus is my favorite. A great book for discussion, I urge you to gather some book-loving friends to read this one. I promise you will have a long, meaningful, and fun conversation.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to Bethany House Publishers for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)



Book Review: To Love A Prince

21 Sep

About The Book


Book: To Love a Prince

Author: Rachel Hauck

Genre: Royal Romance

Release Date: August 11, 2020

An enchanting new royal romance from NYT bestselling author Rachel Hauck

Daffodil Caron is not a princess, even though she once dreamed of being one. After all, she grew up as a playmate to royal princes, running through the halls of Perrigwynn Palace and dining with the queen. But the day she stumbled upon a royal secret, everything changed.

Flash forward eighteen years, and Daffy’s living a sweet, non-royal life. A skilled art curator for the Royal Trust, she has friends, a flat in the heart of the city, and a handsome, successful fiancée. The last person on her mind is Gus, a prince she once called her best mate.

HRH Prince Augustus is no longer “Prince Pudgy,” as caricaturized by the press, he’s charming and gorgeous, possessing a world-famous smile. But when he’s jilted at the altar by an American heiress as millions of people around the world watched, the spare heir to Lauchtenland’s ancient House of Blue escapes, finding solace on a Florida beach.

A year as a regular bloke allows him to rethink his purpose. He’s half decided his calling is to pour pints at a tiki bar, rather than serving his country and the Family.

Until an accident on the beach with a Frisbee changes his course.

Despite his long hair and beard, Daffy recognizes her prince, and their childhood friendship is renewed. She assures Gus Lauchtenland needs him, giving him the courage to return home.

When Daffy and Gus find themselves on assignment to Hadsby Castle in preparation for his brother’s wedding, their friendship blooms into affection.

But Gus cannot, will not, trust his heart again. Daffy’s engaged. And she also remains a royal family outcast because she knows the Queen’s secret.

When affection grows into love and secrets are exposed, trust is destroyed. Gus must choose which is stronger: the lies of his past or the hope of his future. And Daffy must face every fear to prove she will forever love a prince.

“Another compelling royal story by the master of princely tales!” Susan May Warren, USA Today bestselling, RITA award-winning novelist


Click here to get your copy!


My Impressions:

If you are looking for a romantic escape, then To Love A Prince by Rachel Hauck is the book for you. I just loved this royal romance complete with fairy tale elements. You can also describe this novel as divine! Set in the fictional North Sea kingdom of Lauchentland, the story follows Daffodil Daffy Caron and her friend Gus, spare heir of the country. The two were great friends as children, but an inadvertant misstep by Daffy as a child led to their separation. An errant frisbee brings them back together, although there are lots of obstacles to their relationship. I loved the friends to more vibe that this book has. Hauck creates a wonderful world in Lauchtenland with fun regional idioms and speech patterns, gorgeous scenery, and a modern tech economy. The spiritual themes of God’s love and one’s place in His plans and purposes are strong and naturally developed, never preachy.

For fans of Hauck’s other books, To Love A Prince has connections to The Fifth Avenue Story Society and to her Royal Wedding series. There is also an unfinished story line that connects the book to the setting of Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, featured in her Wedding Collection series — I can’t wait to see where that leads. Fun and fresh, this contemporary romance is definitely a highly recommended read!

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to Celebrate Lit for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)



About The Author


Rachel Hauck is an award winning, New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author.

Her book The Wedding Dress was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times Book Reviews. She is a double RITA finalist, and a Christy and Carol Award Winner.

Her book, Once Upon A Prince, first in the Royal Wedding Series, was filmed for an Original Hallmark movie.

Rachel has been awarded the prestigious Career Achievement Award for her body of original work by Romantic Times Book Reviews.

A member of the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers, she teaches workshops and leads worship at the annual conference. She is a past Mentor of The Year.

At home, she’s a wife, writer, worship leader and works out at the gym semi-enthusiastically.

A graduate of Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) with a degree in Journalism, she’s a former sorority girl and a devoted Ohio State football fan. Her bucket list is to stand on the sidelines with Ryan Day.

She lives in sunny central Florida with her husband and ornery cat.


More from Rachel


Hello Royal Rockstar Readers!

I’m thrilled to share To Love A Prince with you. So many of you who loved the Royal Wedding Series have asked for more royals so as I noodled over new story ideas, my thoughts drifted toward princes and princesses. What’s more romantic than a royal wedding?

This royal story, the first book in a new series, True Blue Royal, is set in a new fictional country, Lauchtenland, in the North Sea. I’m really squeezing all those oil wells currently occupying that body of water.

The beauty of royal stories is they remind us of who we really are: princes and princesses. There is always a point in the story where the royal character, as well as the commoner, must come to grips with his and her true identity! Who God says we are!

Stories are a powerful reflection of life and it’s fun to insert ourselves into the tale. While fiction employs a lot of hyperbole we can find ourselves on the page somewhere, somehow.

Thanks for going on this little tour with me and To Love A Prince. You are so vital to my story as an author. Thank you!



Blog Stops

Worthy2Read, September 10

Captive Dreams Windows, September 10

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, September 10

Genesis 5020, September 10

Novels Corner, September 10

Connect in Fiction, September 11

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 11

deb’s Book Review, September 11

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 11

Remembrancy, September 12

Breny and books, September 12

Texas Book-aholic, September 12

Inklings and notions, September 12

For Him and My Family, September 13

Artistic Nobody, September 13 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 13

The Book Chic Blog, September 13

Among the Reads, September 14

Soulfully Romantic, September 14

Ashley’s Bookshelf, September 14

Sara Jane Jacobs, September 14

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, September 15

lakesidelivingsite, September 15

All-of-a-kind Mom, September 15

Reflections From My Bookshelves, September 15

Betti Mace, September 16

Where Faith and Books Meet, September 16

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, September 16

Blossoms and Blesssings, September 16

She Lives To Read, September 17

Wishful Endings, September 17

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, September 17

Life of Literature, September 17

Life, Love, Writing, September 17

Book Love, September 18 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Maureen Timerman, September 18

Batya’s Bits, September 18

Labor Not in Vain, September 18

Bigreadersite, September 19

Hallie Reads, September 19

Jeanette’s Thoughts, September 19

Splashes of Joy, September 19

Christian Bookaholic, September 20

Musings of A Sassy Bookish Mama, September 20

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, September 20

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 20

Inside the Wong Mind, September 21

By The Book, September 21

Mary Hake, September 21

Godly Book Reviews, September 21

Hebrews 12 Endurance, September 22

Melissa Wardwell’s Back Porch Reads, September 22

Livin’ Lit, September 22

Writing from the Heart Land, September 22

Simple Harvest Reads, September 23 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Mamma Loves Books, September 23

Daysong Reflections, September 23

Black ‘n’ Gold Girl’s Book Spot, September 23



To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away a royal gift box of Pampering Princess items that includes bath balms, tea, tiara and other surprises!!

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


Book Review: The Christmas Swap

17 Sep

All Emma Daley wants this holiday season is a white Christmas. But the young teacher and struggling musician sure can’t find that in sunny Arizona. Luckily, there’s someone living in a perfect mountain home in the Colorado Rockies looking to make a vacation trade this year.

Tyler Prescott is an in-demand songwriter and talented musician who put his own singing career on hold to write songs for celebrity acts to perform. When his mother convinces him to do a vacation trade for Christmas, he never imagined one of the houseguests would be so sweet–or so strikingly pretty. Naturally, he decides to stick around, and, to get better acquainted, he poses as the house’s caretaker. But when Emma’s friend Gillian discovers his true identity and sets her sights on him, things
get . . . messy.


Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books (with sales around 6.5 million) for teens, women and children. That’s a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a “storyteller.” Her novels range from serious issues like schizophrenia (Finding Alice) to lighter topics like house-flipping (A Mile in My Flip-Flops) but most of the inspiration behind her fiction comes right out of real life. Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, TrueColors etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She’s won a number of awards (including Romantic Time’s Career Achievement Award, the Rita and the Gold Medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog. To find out more about Melody Carlson, visit her website at


My Impressions:

After a long hot summer, I was definitely in the mood for a little snow, cheery fires, and romance — even if (or especially) they are found in the pages of a book! I look forward every year to a Christmas romance novella from Melody Carlson. The short form is perfect for busy holiday schedules, and she always delivers a fun book filled with heart. The Christmas Swap features Emma Daley, an Arizona girl looking to get away from the warm temps and find some snow. Little does she know that the lodge-style home her friends have chosen to swap with their own is full of Colorado-charm and a hunky caretaker. There are some obstacles in the way of the early romance of Emma and West, not least a very unlikable and conniving character who Emma calls friend. I liked the easy style, the very engaging main characters, the plot twists, and the fact that as the book ends the reader can come up with their own happily-ever-after for Emma and West.

If you are in need of a little Hallmark-style reading, I recommend The Christmas Swap. Get it to chase away the lingering summer haze or save it for snuggly reading in front of a fire. Either way, this book will satisfy.


Audience: adults.

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


Audiobook Mini-Review: The Secret Keeper

2 Sep

The author of To Die For returns to the court of Henry VIII, as a young woman is caught between love and honor. 

Juliana St. John is the daughter of a prosperous knight in Marlborough. Though her family wants her to marry the son of her father’s business partner, circumstances set her on a course toward the court of Henry VIII and his last wife, Kateryn, or Katherine Parr.

Sir Thomas Seymour, uncle of the current heir, Prince Edward, returns to Wiltshire to tie up his business with Juliana’s father’s estate and sees instantly that she would fit into the household of the woman he loves, Kateryn Parr. Her mother agrees to have her placed in the Parr household for “finishing” and Juliana goes, though perhaps reluctantly. For she knows a secret. She has been given the gift of prophecy, and in one of her visions she has seen Sir Thomas shredding the dress of the king’s daughter, the lady Elizabeth, to perilous consequence.

As Juliana learns the secrets of King Henry VIII’s court, she faces threats and opposition, learning truths about her own life that will upset everything she thought she once held dear.


Sandra Byrd‘s first series of historically sound Gothic romances launched with the best-selling Mist of Midnight, which earned a coveted Editor’s Choice Award from the Historical Novel Society. The second book, Bride of a Distant Isle, has been selected by Romantic Times as a Top Pick. The third in the series, A Lady in Disguise, was named by the American Library Association’s Booklist as one of the Top Ten Inspirational Fiction Books of the year.

Her contemporary adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake, was a Christy Award finalist, as was her first historical novel, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. To Die For was also named a Library Journal Best Books of the Year Pick, as was The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr.

Victorian Ladies, a new series, offered its first title, Lady of a Thousand Treasures, in 2018.

Sandra has also authored many books for teens, tweens, and devotionals for both adults and children.

Connect with Sandra at, or through any of these social media platforms:


My Impressions:

I am woefully behind on some series, including Sandra Byrd’s Ladies in Waiting series that focuses on the Tudors. So I downloaded the audiobook of The Secret Keeper, put on my tennis shoes, and walked my way through the halls of intrigue in the last days of Henry VIII. This novel tells the story of Kateryn Parr, Henry’s sixth and final wife. The book is rich in historical detail — the author really did her research to bring the world of Tudor England to life. Besides the attention to furnishings, language, and clothing, Byrd explores all of the political and religious intrigues of the day. Kateryn is portrayed as a well-read and intelligent woman, who unfortunately must stay within the boundaries of her class and gender. She wrote a number of insightful books, yet had to bow to men in all things. Her life with Henry, her third husband, was not easy, nor was it free of danger. She outlived him and was married to Thomas Seymour (her true love), brother of Queen Jane (Henry’s third wife) and uncle to now King Edward VI. But a happily-ever-after is denied her.

Kateryn’s story is told through the first person voice of a fictional lady-in-waiting, Juliana St. John. Juliana comes to Kateryn’s household as a naive young country girl. Juliana also faces trouble as she becomes indispensable to the Queen before, during, and after her marriage to Henry. I came to love Juliana — trustworthy, loyal, and undeserving of the harsh treatment she encounters throughout her life. You will love how her story ends.

Byrd weaves a tale that brings a fresh perspective on the Tudor era. I loved how she explored the what-ifs of Kateryn’s life — you will too. Specific to the audiobook: the narrator does a wonderful job of presenting Juliana’s voice. It was perfect for the subject and characters.


Audience: adults.

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


Book Review: Stay with Me

20 Aug

A mysterious letter alluding to a secret in her parents’ past brings Genevieve Woodward back to her Blue Ridge Mountains hometown, but she’s also in need of a break from a high-profile career that has left her dangerously burned out and concealing a powerful secret of her own. When she wakes inside an unfamiliar cottage to find the confused owner staring down at her, she can no longer ignore the fact that she needs help.  

Sam Turner has embraced his sorrow and his identity as an outsider. The solitary, disciplined life he lives on his historic farm is the life he’s chosen for himself. The last thing he wants is to rent his cottage to a woman as troubled as she is talkative. Yet, he can’t force himself to turn her away right when she needs him most. 

As Genevieve researches her family’s history and her and Sam’s emotions deepen, they will have to let go of the facades and loneliness they’ve clung to and allow light to illuminate every hidden truth.

Becky Wade is the Carol and Christy award winning author of heartwarming, humorous, and swoon-worthy contemporary inspirational romances.

During her childhood in California, Becky frequently produced homemade plays starring her sisters, friends, and cousins. These plays almost always featured a heroine, a prince, and a love story with a happy ending. She’s been a fan of all things romantic ever since.

These days, you’ll find Becky in Dallas, Texas failing to keep up with her housework, trying her best in yoga class, carting her three kids around town, watching TV with her Cavalier spaniel on her lap, hunched over her computer writing, or eating chocolate.

She loves to connect with readers via her web site,, and via her Facebook author page,


My Impressions:

I have never met a book written by Becky Wade that I didn’t like. Stay with Me, book 1 in her newest series, did not disappoint. It is now my favorite by this talented contemporary romance author. With characters that ring true just as they touch your heart and a light style that does doesn’t shy away from tough issues, this novel is truly a Becky Wade Romance. If you are a fan of hers you know what I mean. 😉 I loved it and give it a highly recommended rating.

Stay with Me drew me in with its north Georgia setting. I have a mountain cabin in the woods there, and Wade captured the down-home, easy living that embodies that part of the state. But it was the main characters, Genevieve and Sam, that kept me reading, sometimes way past my bedtime. Stay with Me is told in a 3rd person narrative, but includes unique 1st person flashbacks of a time when Genevieve, her sister, and three others experienced a huge trauma. These recollections go a long way to understanding Genevieve’s present day motivations, as well as setting the stage for more books to come. I probably didn’t explain that well, but trust me, it really works. The main storyline involves opioid addiction in an honest manner. I loved how Genevieve and Sam tackled the pitfalls that could beset their relationship. A past mystery involving Genevieve’s parents is the secondary story and it resolves in a surprising manner. Honestly, I am not sure how I feel about how it all ended up. That’s one of the reasons why Stay with Me would make a great choice for your book club. As always faith is the foundation of this novel — but Wade never comes across preachy. Each character’s faith journey is natural and genuine. For those who love all things romance, let me just say kissing scenes! 😉

Stay with Me cemented Becky Wade as a must-read author. It’s a good choice for your weekend or staycation getaway!

Highly Recommended.

Great for Book Clubs.

Audience: Adults.

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






Children’s Corner — Grandma Snuggles

19 Aug

Grandma, this one’s especially for you! Cuddle your grandchildren close with this adorable book. Written by bestselling author Glenys Nellist, this board book celebrates the loving relationship between a grandma and her little ones with sweet animal rhymes and charming illustrations.

Grandma Snuggles is an engaging, board book that celebrates the love between a grandma and her little ones. Whether it’s Grandma Mouse who shares her cheese or Grandma Duck who splashes in the lake, this book shows special cuddles and love, relaying a message that all grandmas are special in their own ways.

So, hop, skip, and run with Grandma Rabbit and roll into a ball with Grandma Hedgehog. Most of all, celebrate Grandma who’s as sweet as pie!

Through the fields and gardens,
We hop, and skip, and run.
God made the world’s best Grandma —
She’s really lots of fun.

Glenys Nellist was born and raised in a little village in northern England. The author of multiple children’s books, including the bestselling ‘Twas the Evening of Christmas, The Wonder That is You, and the popular series Love Letters from God and Snuggle Time, her writing reflects a deep passion for helping children discover joy in the world. Glenys lives in Michigan with her husband, David.


My Impressions:

I cannot wait to share Grandma Snuggles with my grand baby! The perfect choice for grandma/mimi/nanna time, this book features rhyming verse about a variety of grandma and grandchild relationships. Besides showing the animals in their unique habitats, the book reinforces the wonderful bond within extended families. The illustrations are cute and will keep your child interested as you turn the pages. In fact, talking about each animal will lengthen the fun read together time. This beefy board book will become a favorite.


Audience: babies to Pre-K

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



Book Review: The Last Year of The War

13 Aug

From the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life and As Bright as Heaven comes a novel about a German American teenager whose life changes forever when her immigrant family is sent to an internment camp during World War II.
In 1943, Elise Sontag is a typical American teenager from Iowa — aware of the war but distanced from its reach. Then her father, a legal U.S. resident for nearly two decades, is suddenly arrested on suspicion of being a Nazi sympathizer. The family is sent to an internment camp in Texas, where, behind the armed guards and barbed wire, Elise feels stripped of everything beloved and familiar, including her own identity.
The only thing that makes the camp bearable is meeting fellow internee Mariko Inoue, a Japanese-American teen from Los Angeles, whose friendship empowers Elise to believe the life she knew before the war will again be hers. Together in the desert wilderness, Elise and Mariko hold tight the dream of being young American women with a future beyond the fences.
But when the Sontag family is exchanged for American prisoners behind enemy lines in Germany, Elise will face head-on the person the war desires to make of her. In that devastating crucible she must discover if she has the will to rise above prejudice and hatred and re-claim her own destiny, or disappear into the image others have cast upon her.
The Last Year of the War tells a little-known story of World War II with great resonance for our own times and challenges the very notion of who we are when who we’ve always been is called into question.

Susan Meissner is the USA Today bestselling author of historical fiction with more than half a million books in print in fifteen languages. Her novels include The Last Year of the War, a Library Reads and Real Simple top pick; As Bright as Heaven, which received a starred review from Library Journal; Secrets of a Charmed Life, a 2015 Goodreads Choice award finalist; and A Fall of Marigolds, named to Booklist’s Top Ten women’s fiction titles for 2014. She is also RITA finalist and Christy Award and Carol Award winner. A California native, she attended Point Loma Nazarene University and is also a writing workshop volunteer for Words Alive, a San Diego non-profit dedicated to helping at-risk youth foster a love for reading and writing.

Visit Susan at her website: and on Twitter at @SusanMeissner or at


My Impressions:

I had a copy of The Last Year of The War on my TBR shelf for well over a year before I opened its pages. Life and other reading obligations kept me from beginning, but once I did I could not put it down! This WWII-era novel opened up a world I knew little about — the internment of German and Japanese-Americans deemed enemy aliens. Susan Meissner chose well to tell their story through the innocent eyes of a very American teenager from Davenport, Iowa. Elise Sontag tells of her bewildering upheaval giving the novel a first person perspective informed by all she has learned in her life. This is a novel not to be missed. It is very highly recommended.

The history surrounding The Last Year of The War is fascinating. Viewed from the 21st century, the round-up of people who had lived in the US for decades, including their American-born children, seems unbelievable. But as I read, I could see parallels in today’s society that gave me pause. Those who found themselves in the dry, hot, and very brown south Texas camp would never have conceived of such a thing just months before. Elise’s family finds themselves in Crystal City awaiting the end of the war so they can resume their very ordinary lives. But they and the reader soon learn that nothing will ever be the same. Meissner’s detailed descriptions took me from the dusty streets of the camp to a bombed and beaten Germany. I felt just like Elise, unbelieving that Americans could have endured such things. Identity and belonging are recurring themes throughout the novel, and not just for Elise. WWII brought new perspectives for many.

The Last Year of The War is a complex novel with well-drawn characters that isn’t easily left behind after the last page is turned. This is a must-read for anyone who is interested in this little known aspect of WWII, but more so for those who want a book they can become a part of. For avid readers, you know what I mean. 😉 It is also a great book for discussion — your book club will thank you for the suggestion.

Very Highly Recommended.

Great for Book Clubs.

Audience: adults.

(I received a complimentary copy from the publisher. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)


Book Review: The Woman in The Green Dress

6 Aug

A cursed opal, a gnarled family tree, and a sinister woman in a green dress emerge in the aftermath of World War I.

After a whirlwind romance, London teashop waitress Fleur Richards can’t wait for her new husband, Hugh, to return from the Great War. But when word of his death arrives on Armistice Day, Fleur learns he has left her a sizable family fortune. Refusing to accept the inheritance, she heads to his beloved home country of Australia in search of the relatives who deserve it more.

In spite of her reluctance, she soon finds herself the sole owner of a remote farm and a dilapidated curio shop full of long-forgotten artifacts, remarkable preserved creatures, and a mystery that began more than sixty-five years ago. With the help of Kip, a repatriated soldier dealing with the sobering aftereffects of war, Fleur finds herself unable to resist pulling on the threads of the past. What she finds is a shocking story surrounding an opal and a woman in a green dress. . . a story that, nevertheless, offers hope and healing for the future.

Tea Cooper is an Australian author of historical and contemporary fiction. In a past life she was a teacher, a journalist and a farmer. These days she haunts museums and indulges her passion for storytelling.

Twitter: @TeaCooper1
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My Impressions:

I chose The Woman in The Green Dress as my book club’s surprise selection for a number of reasons. We read a lot of contemporary suspense because my group likes a puzzling mystery, but we rarely read historical fiction because of the first statement. 😉 So I decided to find a book that would combine history with mystery plus had something a bit different. Hence Tea Cooper’s Australian-set, dual timeline, history/mystery. I usually have a good idea going into our discussions how my group will like a book — we have been meeting for years and years. But I am unsure what their reaction will be to this complex and sometimes weird book. It has a great gothic vibe going on, the characters are well-drawn, the setting cannot be better, and the two plots are tangled in creative ways.

Australia is a place I would love to visit, but probably won’t because of the distance and expense. The Woman in The Green Dress brings the reader to a past Australia with its natural beauty, yet ugly social structure. I found a lot of parallels with the policies and prejudices of the US during the same time periods. Cooper’s detailed descriptions helped me envision the flora and fauna and the plight of the Darkinjung people. Main characters Della and Stefan from 1853 and Fleur from 1919 are complexly written, but I have to say that Bert, a supporting character that spans both story lines is perfect in his portrayal. The story revolves around the death of Fleur’s husband in WWI and a missing opal in 1853, but there really is so much more to the book. I found the mysteries interesting, but the characters were what kept me reading.

I listened to the audiobook of The Woman in The Green Dress. The narrator does a wonderful job of making the setting and characters come to life. The novel is published by Thomas Nelson, however, there is some language that traditional readers of Christian fiction may find offensive. I didn’t like it, but it didn’t make me stop reading either. Overall, I would recommend this novel, but perhaps not to every reader.

Recommended with some caveats. (Language)

Audience: adults.

(I purchased the paperback and audiobook from Amazon/Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)


Book Review: Pugtato Finds A Thing

5 Aug

Enchanting illustrations. Giggle-inducing text. Unique and loveable characters. Join Pugtato and his cute and quirky pack of pals in this heartwarming picture book that celebrates the power of friendship, compassion, and believing in your own unique gifts. 

When Pugtato’s simple, quiet life is disrupted after he digs up a strange object in his garden, he enlists his best “spuddies” to help (they are more clever than he is, after all). Tweetroot is certain it’s a new egg for her nest. Tomatoad is quite sure it’s a toy just for him. And Purrsnip simply won’t stop scratching it! Luckily, Pugtato has another very special spuddy to ask . . . .

Sophie Corrigan is a freelance illustrator and authour from Lancashire, UK. She graduated from University of Central Lancashire in 2013 with a first class degree in Illustration, and recieved a Distinction in her Masters degree in Children’s Book Illustration from the same university. In 2017, her children’s picture book I’m a Little Monkey was Highly Commended in the Macmillan Prize for Children’s Book Illustration, and she has since worked with publishers such as Bloomsbury, Chronicle Books and Wicked Cow.

Sophie has produced illustration work for Hallmark Cards, Papier, Moonpig, Ohh Deer, Jellycat and Boomf, and her work has been stocked by John Lewis, Paperchase, Urban Outfitters, Sainsbury’s, Clinton Cards, Hot Topic, Topshop, Tesco, The Range, Ryman Stationery, Calendar Club, SOMA Gallery, Yard Gallery, ASOS and the RSPCA shop.

When not illustrating and maintaining her online art shops, Sophie spends the spare time she has going to shows, watching nature programmes, eating vegtarian food, hanging out with her pet cockatiels, and occasionally crafting cute things from wool and clay.


My Impressions:

Pugtato Finds A Thing is a quirky and cute book — a delight for kids of all ages. The rhyming story follows Pugato, a charming character that is part pug dog and potato, as he searches for the answer to the mysterious thing he has dug from his garden. He asks all his friends, including Purrsnip, Colliflower, and Croccoli, to help him puzzle out what he has found. I thought the combination of vegetables and animals was very original, and I can’t help but imagine a child’s eager turning of the pages to discover what fantastical creature awaits them and probably coming up with combos of their own! The whimsical illustrations complete the fun. Each character’s individuality is emphasized, and in the end Pugtato discovers the key to who his newest friend is. I have a young niece who is going to love this book. Cannot wait to share it with her.


Audience: preschoolers to young elementary-aged children.

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


Book Review: Don’t Keep Silent

26 Jul

Investigative reporter Rae Burke will do anything to find her missing sister-in-law, even if it means facing Liam McKade, a man who almost lost his life saving hers. A former DEA agent, Liam thought he could find peace at his Wyoming ranch, but he just doesn’t feel at home anywhere anymore. When the reporter who blew his cover on an important investigation inserts herself back into his life, he’s less than thrilled. But Rae’s keen investigative skills have led her down the right path–and directly into the dragon’s mouth–leaving Liam no choice but to protect her. As the danger increases, the past they both tried to flee catches up to them, along with the feelings they once had for each other.

Bestselling and award-winning author Elizabeth Goddard plunges you into a fast-paced, high-stakes story of honor, forgiveness, and justice.

With over one million books sold, Elizabeth Goddard is the bestselling, award-winning author of over forty romance novels and counting. A 7th generation Texan, Elizabeth graduated from North Texas State University with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and worked in high-level software sales for several years before retiring to home school her children and fulfill her dreams of writing full-time.

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My Impressions:

If you are looking for a romantic suspense that is chock full of high intensity action, then Don’t Keep Silent by Elizabeth Goddard is a great choice. The third book in her Uncommon Justice series features another McKade brother, Liam, and Rae Burke. The two have some history that includes very unpleasant memories. Their attraction not withstanding, they face some big hurdles to renewing a relationship — feelings of betrayal, guilt, and a murderous foe.

I really liked the setting for Don’t Keep Silent. All the books in this series are set in the Jackson Hole area of Wyoming, but this book is set during the winter season. I needed those cool scenes to combat my sweltering reality. 😉 The icy and snowy conditions went a long way to advance the plot and ramp up the danger facing the characters. It was also fun to go along with Liam and Rae as they were snowmobiling, skiing, and heli-skiing towards a solution to their investigation. The missing persons case is very personal to Rae, and her determinations to save her sister-in-law was very credible. The mystery kept Liam and Rae and the reader on their toes. It was hard to trust anyone. I did have trouble with Rae’s brother Alan. His character came across to me as very weak, and in my opinion whiny. I just didn’t like how he reacted to his wife’s disappearance. But since that was not a large part of the story, it didn’t keep me from enjoying this fast-paced novel.

Romantic sparks and danger around every corner make Don’t Keep Silent a recommended read. While this book can be read as a standalone, if you haven’t read the other two in the series, now is your chance to get in some great binge-reading.


Audience: adults.

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