Tag Archives: Heather Day Gilbert

Top 10 Tuesday — Single Word Titles

3 Mar

Book titles are very important in attracting a potential reader’s interest. Catchy, funny, and punny titles often catch my eye. But there is something about those one word titles — succinct, decisive, powerful. My list consists of the last 10 books I read with one word titles (just one word; no defining articles). They cover a variety of genres — mystery, historical, suspense, speculative, romance — something for everyone!

For more Top 10 Tuesday fun, make sure to head over to That Artsy Reader Girl.



Top 10 One Word Titles


Convergence by Ginny Yttrup (suspense)

Keturah by Lisa T. Bergren (historical romance)

Miriam by Mesu Andrews (Biblical)

Prophet by R J Larson (fantasy)

Reign by Ginger Garrett (Biblical)

Sabotaged by Dani Pettrey (romantic suspense)

Silenced by Dani Pettrey (romantic suspense)

Stratagem by Robin Caroll (suspense)

Synapse by Steven James (speculative)

Undercut by Heather Day Gilbert (mystery)

Top 10 Tuesday — 10 Years of Reading Changes

19 Nov

I am celebrating 10 years of book blogging this month. Woo hoo! (You can find my 10 Year Blogiversary Giveaway HERE.) Over the last 10 years a lot has changed — 3 children out of the house and well into successful adulthood (through with college/grad school/law school), a new daughter-in-law, and a first grand baby on the way — some very great changes! With the increased time on my hands, my reading life took off at a greater pace and back to the pre-kid levels I once enjoyed. And book blogging has influenced my reading choices even more so.

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday theme — Changes in My Reading Life — fits in well with my month long blogiversary celebration as I reflect on all the benefits blogging has brought to my life. So here are some of the changes that have occurred in the past 10 years.


10 Years of Reading Changes

Reading on a schedule. Book blogging requires a good bit of organization, and reading according to a schedule keeps me from being too behind in my reading commitments.  Where once I picked up any old book that caught my fancy, I now have a list I follow pretty faithfully.

Reading new-to-me authors. I have been introduced to some great new favorite authors because I was introduced to them through blogging opportunities. Of course, this just makes the TBR pile bigger and bigger.

Reading small press and indie-published authors. One big benefit to blogging is coming into contact with authors who are independently published or from smaller houses. Again, I have new favorites I may have missed because of limited exposure. I hope my blog has introduced you to some great authors you may have missed otherwise.

No more binge-reading. In the past when I found an author I liked, I read ALL the books! I can remember reading Mindy Starns Clark’s Million Dollar Mysteries straight through. Now due to that pesky schedule, I have to wait to fit in books to read.

Less and less just because books. Again the reading schedule keeps me from reading on a whim. I am trying to allow for more gaps in the schedule to accomodate books that catch my eye and my fancy.

Reading the book first. This is one great perk to book blogging. I often receive books before release dates, making me very smug around my reading friends.  😉

Being in the know 😉 . Being in contact with authors, publicists, and publishers has increased my awareness of new books coming up in the future. It has also increased my book-bullying tendencies and my street cred with my book club. (Insert eye-rolls and raucous laughter here.)

Expanding genres. While I have always been very eclectic in my reading, I have added more books from less favored genres. Contemporary romance and Amish fiction were low on my preferred list, but because of blogging I have must-read authors from those genres now.

All the books — all the time. My reading time has increased with every book that makes its way into my house. It is not unusual for me to be reading 3 books at a time — one hard copy, one on Kindle, and one audiobook.

So there you have it — 10 years of book blogging has filled my shelves and my life with wonderful stories, authors, and experiences. I highly recommend it!


Guest Post — Heather Day Gilbert, Author of An Exotic Pet Sitter Mystery Series

8 Nov

If Heather Day Gilbert confined her writing to the back copy of cereal boxes, I would be the first in line to get those Wheaties! Thankfully, this talented author is still writing novels. The first book I read of Heather’s was Miranda Warning, the first book in her Murder in The Mountains series (review HERE). I am a big mystery fan, and I knew I had found a new favorite author. Then I read God’s Daughter, a Viking-era novel (review HERE). Oh my! It is fantastic too. Is there anything she cannot write? I don’t think so.

Today Heather is sharing about her writing journey and the decision to focus on cozy mysteries. Yay! I love those too! Thanks so much for sharing with us today, Heather!

(Be sure to check out the 10 Year Blogiversary Giveaway link at the bottom of this post.)


Why I Write Mysteries By Heather Day Gilbert

If you’ve read any of my books (I know Beckie has!), you’ll understand that I’ve basically run the gamut as far as genres I’ve written. From historical Vikings to contemporary romantic suspense/mystery to a nonfiction how-to book for independent authors, I’ve “been there, done that.” 

But there comes a time in almost every author’s life when they have to decide which genre they really enjoy writing most. Although I loved researching and writing my Viking historicals, I felt my writing voice fit most naturally with contemporary mysteries, so I decided to pursue that path when I began proposing books to general market editors.

It’s a comfortable fit, because mystery is what I’ve read most in my life. Starting with Encyclopedia Brown, Trixie Belden, and Nancy Drew, I moved on to Daphne du Maurier, Agatha Christie, and Phyllis Whitney in my teen years. To be honest, Agatha is the one author I can reread a hundred times and never get tired of. Although the mysteries I mentioned above are now considered older, they were all “contemporary” in their own time, when you think about it.

I also love writing in first person point of view, and although it’s unusual to do that in historical circles, it’s commonly done in mystery circles.

But I narrowed my genre down even more — I wanted to write cozy mysteries. There are many online articles about what constitutes a true cozy mystery, but I think it’s easiest to explain by pointing to the Murder, She Wrote TV series. The general setup is that an amateur sleuth who lives in a small town gets involved in solving murders that are not graphic/gross, with no sex scenes or heavy cursing. So cozy mysteries are usually clean reads (some more than others, but mine definitely are) that have cozy (not horror) overtones. 

I’ve always loved exploring family relationships in my books, not to mention the psychological motivations for things, and I don’t write gore, language, or sex scenes, so you can see why cozy mysteries are an attractive genre to me. Plus, there’s room to inject humor/wit, which I love in Agatha’s mysteries and I hope to replicate in my own.

Not to mention, I love constructing a plot that twists and fools the reader — and since I’ve read so many mysteries, I try to fool myself as I’m writing, as well. I’ve written mysteries where I’ve switched whodunit as I wrote, just to make it more difficult to figure out. 

I figure you’ve found your niche in writing when it’s not hard to come up with ideas for an entire series based around characters you’ve created because they make you laugh and cry and wonder what they’re going to get up to next. When your readers say that your characters feel like friends and they can’t wait for the next-in-series books.

So for the foreseeable future, you can find me writing cozy mysteries. I hope you can try one and see if it’s a genre you enjoy, as well!

Heather Day Gilbert, an ECPA Christy award finalist and Grace award winner, is the author of the bestselling Exotic Pet-Sitter mystery series. Her novels feature small towns, family relationships, and women who aren’t afraid to protect those they love. Like her amateur sleuth Belinda Blake, Heather plays video games, although so far she hasn’t done any exotic pet-sitting or hunted any murderers. Find out more on HeatherDayGilbert.com.







10 Year Blogiversary Giveaway

To enter, click HERE!

10 Year Blogiversary Celebration!

1 Nov

I can hardly believe it has been 10 years since I started blogging! 10 years of books, authors, bloggers, and all the bookish goodness I could find. November is going to be one long party! I have lined up some friends to help me celebrate with guest posts about their publishing journeys, books they love, the blogging life, and much, much more. See the schedule below.


Of course you can’t have a party without gifts, so I am gifting one of my readers a big box of books and bookish swag. The box includes nonfiction, a variety of fiction genres, and even a cookbook! Some of the books are brand new, others are ARCs, and some are gently read. To enter the giveaway, just leave me a comment. (Please US residents only.)


I have to give a big thank you to all those who have read my blog over the years. Your encouragement to me is very appreciated. I have loved every minute of the blogging journey, and I count you all as great fellow travelers. 


Guest Post Schedule

11/4  Sarah Sundin, author of Sunrise at Normandy series

11/5  Carrie Booth Schmidt, blogger, Reading Is My SuperPower

11/6  Rachel Dylan, author of the Atlanta Justice series

11/7  Amy Green, fiction publicist Bethany House Publishers

11/8  Heather Day Gilbert, author of Belinda Blake And The Snake in The Grass

11/11  Lindsey Bracket, author of The Bridge Between

11/13 Courtney Clark, blogger, The Green Mockingbird

11/15  Rachel McMillan, author of the Herringford And Watts Mysteries

11/18  Janet Ferguson, author of the Coastal Hearts series

11/20  Iola Goulton, blogger

11/22  Susie Finkbeiner, author of All Manner of Things

11/25  Kimberly Woodhouse, author Daughters of The Mayflower series

11/26  Carole Jarvis, blogger, The Power of Words

11/27  Rebecca Maney, reviewer, Inkwell Inspirations

11/28  Olivia Newport, author of the Tree of Life series



Top 10 Tuesday — What’s Your Name?

15 Oct

This week That Artsy Reader Girl is challenging bloggers to compile lists of extraordinary book titles. There are some brilliant Top Ten Tuesday lists out there, so make sure to visit her site to find them.

I decided to go with titles that contain a person’s name. The descriptor attached made me want to know more — what was her love, or promise, or curse? The titles of the books on my list are great indicators of the goodness found inside.

What about you? What book title do you find extraordinary?


Top Titles with Names

Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan

Belinda Blake And The Snake in The Grass by Heather Day Gilbert

The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright

Darcy By Any Other Name by Laura Hile

Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano

The Memoir of Johnny Devine by Camille Eide

Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse

My Dearest Dietrich by Amanda Barratt

The One True Love of Alice-Ann by Eva Marie Everson

The Promise of Jesse Woods by Chris Fabry

Top 10 Tuesday — Baby Names Inspired by Favorite Characters

9 Jul

Today’s Top 10 Tuesday is a character freebie. My husband and I will be first time grandparents in early 2020 *woo hoo*, so it is time to bring out baby name suggestions. I am listing boy and girl names inspired by recent novels I’ve read. What do you think? (And no, I don’t really think any of the names on my list will be chosen by the parents! 😉 )


Top Baby Names from Recent Reads


Annie from All Manner of Things by Susie Finkbeiner

Belinda from Belinda Blake And The Snake in The Grass by Heather Day Gilbert

Camden from On A Summer Tide by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Cecile from The Pink Bonnet by Liz Tolsma

Elsie from Ever Faithful by Karen Barnett

Joanna from The King’s Mercy by Lori Benton

Kayden from Silenced by Dani Pettrey

Kiera from Sabotaged by Dani Pettrey

Rosa from The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke

Sophie from The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke



Alex from The King’s Mercy by Lori Benton

Itzhak from The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke

Kjell from Dawn’s Prelude by Tracie Peterson

Nate from Ever Faithful by Karen Barnett

Reef from Sabotaged by Dani Pettrey

Seth from On A Summer Tide by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Stone from Belinda Blake And The Snake in The Grass by Heather Day Gilbert

Tank from Alaska Twilight by Colleen Coble

Zach from More Than Words Can Say by Karen Witemeyer

Zander from Sweet on You by Becky Wade

What’s your favorite character name?



Book Review + Interview — Belinda Blake And The Snake in The Grass by Heather Day Gilbert

1 Jul

When exotic pet-sitter Belinda Blake moves into a carriage house in tony Greenwich, Connecticut, she’s hoping to find some new clients. Instead she discovers a corpse in the garden — and a knack for solving murders . . .

Pet-sitter Belinda Blake doesn’t rattle easily, but move-in day has been eventful, to say the least. The python in her care tried to slither to freedom — just as she met Stone Carrington V, her landlords’ disarmingly handsome son. With the constrictor back in its cage, she heads out to the garden, only to discover a designer shoe poking out of the boxwood hedge — attached to a woman’s dead body.

The victim, Margo Fenton, was a Carrington family friend, and no one in their circle seems above suspicion. Between client trips to Manhattan and visits to her family in upstate New York, Belinda begins to put the pieces together. But though she’s falling for Stone’s numerous charms, Belinda wonders if she’s cozying up to a killer. And soon, daily contact with a deadly reptile might be the least dangerous part of her life.

My Impressions:

I am a big fan of Heather Day Gilbert’s mysteries. Her Murder in The Mountains series is one of my all-time favorites in the genre. Her newest endeavor is sure to become another fan favorite. Belinda Blake And The Snake in The Grass, book 1 in the Exotic Pet-Sitter Mystery series, introduces the reader to a wonderful character who manages to insert herself into all the murderous goings-on around her. Belinda is a fun character, independent, with a unique style, who has chosen unconventional pathways to a career. She freelances reviews of video games while being the go-to caretaker for very unusual pets. In this first novel, she is pet-sitting a python — clearly not a cuddly creature — which takes some stamina and grit to attend to. Belinda’s earnest and sometimes naive view on the world is endearing. I loved Belinda’s first person insights of the wealthy of Greenwich, Connecticut. She is mostly spot on in her estimation of the other characters. But, she can be fooled! The mystery takes off from the start as Belinda finds a body in her flower bed and continues as she joins the heir of the manor in finding out whodunit. When Belinda finds herself all on her own, the reader discovers the depths of her intuition and ingenuity. I didn’t quite have the mystery solved; Gilbert managed to surprise me with several twists and turns. I loved that! The mystery is resolved in the first book, but there is much more to come for Belinda, including a possible love interest or two. I am looking forward to joining Belinda on more adventures.

If you are looking for a great cozy mystery, get in on the ground floor of the Belinda Blake series. A fun puzzler, Belinda Blake And The Snake in The Grass gets a recommended rating from me.


Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

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

I am excited to welcome Heather Day Gilbert to By The Book today. I am a big favorite of her mysteries and Viking sagas. Yes, Vikings! Thanks so much, Heather for visiting with us.

I read in your dedication of Belinda Blake And The Snake in The Grass that your father first came up with the stories featuring Belinda and Katrina when you were a child. How did you expand on those to get to the current all grown up Belinda? 

I’m so glad you read that dedication — it was a very special one to me, because my dad had a widow maker heart attack last April that was out of nowhere. Thankfully, they were able to get four stents in and he’s doing well now, but it made me think about how grateful I was for those stories he made up for my two brothers and me on long car trips! Belinda and Katrina and their dog, Blitz, got into many childish adventures in Dad’s stories, and I wanted to use those characters and their sense of adventure for this series. Belinda and Katrina sort of came to life in front of me—their haircolor, their personalities (which are sort of opposite), and more.

Snakes send shivers up my spine. Do you have personal experience with slithery reptiles or did you have to do research for the snake, Rasputin, featured in the book? 

I’m not a snake person, either, but I did get much more comfy with the idea of touching one as I watched YouTube videos of ball python owners. Ball pythons are actually shorter than boas, and they come in many different colors. The ball python Belinda’s pet-sitting is black and gold (you can see pictures and even a link to one of the YouTube ball python videos I watched on my Pinterest board here). And this particular python, Rasputin, really did grow on me as I wrote the book — as it grew on Belinda.

Cozy mysteries involve quirky characters, a bit of fun, and often murder. How difficult is it to balance all the elements in that genre? 

I kind of think of myself as an author who likes to delve into characters and make them 3D, so the quirky character part kind of comes naturally. We ALL have some kinds of quirks, no matter how normal we appear at first blush. The humor has to come from my amateur sleuths themselves, and luckily, Belinda has a cute mix of naiveté and wry humor that comes out in what she thinks and says. She’s also more of an optimist than her sister, Katrina (who’s a psychologist and has seen the darker sides of human nature). 

And murder…well, I do love plotting a good murder and landing on the villain I don’t think readers will guess. I think growing up reading Agatha Christie helped me merge those three elements—if you read her books, sometimes they’ll have you laughing out loud, while sometimes, you’re on the edge of your seat because the creep factor is high!

What awaits Belinda in upcoming books in the series?

Ooh, I’m so glad you asked! I already have the preorder/cover up for Book 2, Belinda Blake and the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, and that one was even MORE of a blast to write, because I love wolves and it’s set at a wolf preserve. 😉 Book 3 is titled Belinda Blake and the Birds of a Feather, and it’ll feature homing pigeons, so that also required quite a bit of research. And Belinda will run into some interesting murderers in both books. 

Find out more about Heather Day Gilbert:


Heather Day Gilbert, an ECPA Christy award finalist and Grace award winner, writes contemporary mysteries and Viking historicals. Her novels feature small towns, family relationships, and women who aren’t afraid to protect those they love. Publisher’s Weekly gave Heather’s Viking historical Forest Child a starred review, saying it is “an engaging story depicting timeless human struggles with faith, love, loyalty, and leadership.”

Find Heather on Pinterest (heatherdgilbert), Instagram (@heatherdaygilbert), Twitter (@heatherdgilbert), and Facebook (heatherdaygilbert). You can find all her books at heatherdaygilbert.com.