Tag Archives: historical mystery fiction

Book Review + Giveaway! — The Pink Bonnet

2 Jul

About The Book

Book: The Pink Bonnet

Author: Liz Tolsma

Genre: Christian Historical, Suspense

Release date: June, 2019

A Desperate Mother Searches for Her Child
Step into True Colors—a new series of Historical Stories of Romance and American Crime

Widowed in Memphis during 1932, Cecile Dowd is struggling to provide for her three-year-old daughter. Unwittingly trusting a neighbor puts little Millie Mae into the clutches of Georgia Tann, corrupt Memphis Tennessee Children’s Home Society director suspected of the disappearance of hundreds of children. With the help of a sympathetic lawyer, the search for Millie uncovers a deep level of corruption that threatens their very lives.

How far will a mother go to find out what happened to her child?

Click here to purchase your copy.

My Impressions:

The Pink Bonnet by Liz Tolsma continues the true crime series that really exemplifies that fact is stranger than fiction. In the second book of the True Colors series, Tolsma presents a very personal look at the corruption and pure evil that dominated the adoption scene in Memphis from the 1920s right up to the 1950s. The infamous Georgia Tann and her Tennessee Children’s Home Society are at the center of the novel. Greed and power are two motivators for those who stole and sold children. But it is an unrelenting love that wins the day in this fictional account. Tolmsa uses historical touches — dress, setting, culture — to set the stage of this mystery/suspense set in the 1930s. A child is stolen, and mother Cecile Dowd never gives up on finding her daughter. Swept into the drama is lawyer and assistant to Tann, Percy Vance. The two are great complimentary characters — dogged in determination and set on seeing that evil does not win. While The Pink Bonnet is pure fiction, it is a good representation of the subject matter. I had heard of Georgia Tann, but did not truly know how she preyed on the desperate and vulnerable, with seemingly no opposition. While primarily a mystery/suspense novel, this quick read also features a budding romance — it really offers something for everyone.

For a glimpse into an historical true crime story, The Pink Bonnet is a good choice and receives a recommended rating from me.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

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

 

About The Author

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

More from Liz

A Desperate Mother Searches for Her Child

True, riveting stories of American criminal activity are explored through 6 unique stories of historical romantic suspense in the exciting new True Colors series.

In book two, The Pink Bonnet, Widowed in Memphis during 1932, Cecile Dowd is struggling to provide for her three-year-old daughter. Unwittingly trusting a neighbor puts little Millie Mae into the clutches of Georgia Tann, corrupt Memphis Tennessee Children’s Home Society director suspected of the disappearance of hundreds of children. With the help of a sympathetic lawyer, the search for Millie uncovers a deep level of corruption that threatens their very lives.

How far will a mother go to find out what happened to her child? Find out in The Pink Bonnet by Liz Tolsma.

The True Crime Behind the Story

Georgia Tann was a woman who ran an adoption agency in Memphis, Tennessee, from 1924 until 1950. It is estimated that, in that time, she kidnapped over five thousand children and sold them to the highest bidder. She even advertised the children in the newspaper, especially around the holidays. Some of the nation’s biggest celebrities adopted through Miss Tann, including Joan Crawford, Dick Powell, and June Allyson. Learn more about Georgia Tann HERE and visit www.TrueColorsCrime.com for more exclusive content.

Blog Stops

Just the Write Escape, June 20

The Becca Files, June 20

Livin’ Lit, June 20

The Power of Words, June 21

Christian Bookaholic, June 21

Godly Book Reviews, June 21

Spoken from the Heart, June 22

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, June 22

For HIm and my Family, June 22

Blossoms and Blessings, June 23

Inspired by fiction, June 23

Mary Hake, June 23

Connie’s History Classroom, June 24

Moments, June 24

Simple Harvest Reads, June 24

Daysong Reflections, June 25

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 25

For the Love of Literature, June 25

Remembrancy, June 26

As He Leads is Joy, June 26

Emily Yager, June 26

Genesis 5020, June 27

Reader’s Cozy Corner, June 27

Carla Loves to Read, June 27

Inklings and notions, June 28

Changed by Him, June 28

Bigreadersite, June 28

Through the Fire Blogs, June 28

Inspiration Clothesline, June 29

Locks, Hooks and Books, June 29

Pause for Tales, June 29

Hallie Reads, June 30

Ashley’s Bookshelf, June 30

For the Love of Books, June 30

Southern Gal Loves to Read, July 1

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 1

Texas Book-aholic, July 1

janicesbookreviews, July 2

Older & Smarter?, July 2

By The Book, July 2

A Reader’s Brain, July 3

amandainpa, July 3

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, July 3

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Liz is giving away a grand prize that includes a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of The Pink Bonnet!!

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/e331/the-pink-bonnet-celebration-tour-giveaway

Book Review: Harbor Secrets

26 Jun

A Peaceful Coastal Town . . . Threatened by a Storm of Secrets

It’s 1916 when newspaper woman Anna McDowell learns her estranged father has suffered a stroke. Deciding it’s time to repair bridges, Anna packs up her precocious adolescent daughter and heads for her hometown in Sunset Cove, Oregon.

Although much has changed since the turn of the century, some things haven’t. Anna finds the staff of her father’s paper not exactly eager to welcome a woman into the editor-in-chief role, but her father insists he wants her at the helm. Anna is quickly pulled into the charming town and her new position…but just as quickly learns this seaside getaway harbors some dark and dangerous secrets.

With Oregon’s new statewide prohibition in effect, crime has crept along the seacoast and invaded even idyllic Sunset Cove. Anna only meant to get to know her father again over the summer, but instead she finds herself rooting out the biggest story the town has ever seen—and trying to keep her daughter safe from it all.

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 young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, True Colors 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 RT’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. 

https://www.facebook.com/melodycarlsonauthor/ 

https://twitter.com/AuthorCarlson

https://www.instagram.com/authormelodycarlson/

 

My Impressions:

Melody Carlson has been a long time favorite author of mine. Her Christmas novellas are special treats each year. Harbor Secrets, the first book in the Legacy of Sunset Cove series has many of the things I look forward to in a book by Carlson — easy style, detailed setting, and relatable characters — plus the inclusion of a mystery. The result is a fun read that was the perfect traveling companion. Recommended!

The year is 1916 and the place is the Oregon Coast. The nation is undergoing changes and facing a looming crisis. Women are making their way in the business world, but slowly, and the ripples of the war in Europe are reaching our nation. In small town Sunset Cove, times haven’t changed all that much, but when Anna McDowell returns, there is a definite shakeup of the status quo. Anna is a newswoman, a rarity in the male-dominated field. Her father’s illness places her right in the middle of his newspaper, a place she relishes. Whispers of sinister goings on and political corruption cause Anna to be on the case.

There is much to love about Harbor Secrets — the family drama, the historical context including women’s rights and Prohibition, the mystery that engulfs the small coastal town, and the promise of romantic developments. Characters are well-developed, and the narrative proves to be a light and quick read. This book accompanied me on my bucket list trip to Alaska. With a cozy mystery-vibe, I found this book easy to pick up among all my vacation-doings. Despite the distractions of travel and the days of not getting to read at all, I found it easy to slip back to Sunset Cove and Anna when I got the chance.

I really enjoyed my time with Harbor Secrets and look forward to traveling back in time to Sunset Cove in book 2, Riptide Rumors.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE

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

If You Liked The Sky Above Us …

30 Apr

My book club loved The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin. It has a unique perspective — the Army Air Force pilots who aided the Allied effort before and during D Day and the mission of the American Red Cross in England. So, for today’s If You Liked post I decided to recommend WWII novels also with a unique perspective. Two focus on incidents early in the war — Dunkirk and the Blitz. The other novel explores the end of the Reich from the perspective of an American caught in Nazi Germany. All three are great reads — enjoy!

Direct Hit by Mike Hollow

The jagged blast of high explosives rips through the evening air. In the sky over East London the searchlights criss-cross in search of the enemy.

On the first night of the Blitz, a corpse is discovered in a van in the back streets of West Ham. Detective Inspector John Jago recognizes the dead man as local Justice of the Peace Charles Villiers. But then a German bomb obliterates all evidence.

Villiers, not a popular man, was both powerful and feared. As the sirens wail, the detective must start matching motive to opportunity – and it doesn’t help when his boss foists an intrusive American journalist on him.

Jago soon discovers the dead man held many secrets, some reaching back to World War I. A lot of people wished Villiers dead – and an air raid is a good time to conceal a murder.

Maggie Bright by Tracy Groot

England, 1940. Clare Childs knew life would change when she unexpectedly inherited the Maggie Bright―a noble fifty-two-foot yacht. In fact, she’s counting on it. But the boat harbors secrets. When a stranger arrives, searching for documents hidden onboard, Clare is pulled into a Scotland Yard investigation that could shed light on Hitler’s darkest schemes and prompt America to action.

Across the Channel, Hitler’s Blitzkrieg has the entire British army in retreat with little hope for rescue at the shallow beaches of Dunkirk. With time running out, Churchill recruits civilian watercraft to help. Hitler is attacking from land, air, and sea, and any boat that goes might not return. Yet Clare knows Maggie Bright must answer the call―piloted by an American who has refused to join the war effort until now and a detective with a very personal motive for exposing the truth.

The fate of the war hinges on this rescue. While two men join the desperate fight, a nation prays for a miracle.

Daises Are Forever by Liz Tolsma

In the final days of Nazi Germany, the strength of one woman’s heart will determine the fate of a family.

Prussia, 1945

The fall of the Third Reich is imminent. As the merciless Red Army advances from the East, the German people of Prussia await the worst.
Among them is twenty-year-old Gisela Cramer, an American living in Heiligenbeil with her cousin Ella and their ailing grandfather. When word arrives that the Russians will invade overnight, Ella urges Gisela to escape to Berlin—and take Ella’s two small daughters with her.

The journey is miserable and relentless. But when Gisela hears the British accent of a phony SS officer, she poses as his wife to keep him safe among the indignant German refugees. In the blink of an eye, Mitch Edwards and Gisela are Herr and Frau Joseph Cramer.

Through their tragic and difficult journey, the fabricated couple strives to protect Ella’s daughters, hoping against hope for a reunion. But even as Gisela and Mitch develop feelings beyond the make–believe, the reality of war terrorizes their makeshift family.

 

 

Book Review (+Giveaway!): The White City

18 Mar

About the Book

Book: The White City

Author: Grace Hitchcock

Genre: Christian Historical/Suspense

Release Date: March, 2019

The white CityMysterious Disappearances Taint the Chicago World’s Fair

Step into True Colors —  a new series of Historical Stories of Romance and American Crime

While attending the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, Winnifred Wylde believes she witnessed a woman being kidnapped. She tries to convince her father, an inspector with the Chicago police, to look into reports of mysterious disappearances around the White City. Inspector Wylde tries to dismiss her claims as exaggeration of an overactive imagination, but he eventually concedes to letting her go undercover as secretary to the man in question—if she takes her pistol for protection and Jude Thorpe, a policeman, for bodyguard.

Will she be able to expose H. H. Holmes’s illicit activity, or will Winnifred become his next victim?

 

Click here to order your copy.

 

About the Author

grace hitchcockGrace Hitchcock is the author of three novellas in The Second Chance Brides, The Southern Belle Brides, and the Thimbles and Threads collections with Barbour Publishing. The White City is her debut novel and releases March 2019 with Barbour Publishing. She holds a Masters in Creative Writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in History. Grace lives in southern Louisiana with her husband, Dakota, and son. Visit Grace online at GraceHitchcock.com.

 

Guest Post from Grace

True Colors — Fiction Based on Strange, But True, American Crime Stories

True, riveting stories of American criminal activity are explored through 6 unique stories of historical romantic suspense in the exciting new True Colors series.

In book one, The White City, Winnifred Wylde believes she witnessed a woman being kidnapped while attending the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. She tries to convince her father, an inspector with the Chicago police, to look into reports of mysterious disappearances around the White City. Inspector Wylde tries to dismiss her claims as exaggeration of an overactive imagination, but he eventually concedes to letting her go undercover as secretary to the man in question—if she takes her pistol for protection and Jude Thorpe, a detective, for bodyguard.

Will she be able to expose H. H. Holmes’s illicit activity, or will Winnifred become his next victim?

The Real Criminal Behind the Story

While Winnifred Wylde is a fictional character, Doctor H. H. Holmes was very real and became infamously known as America’s first serial killer. Learn more about him HERE.

My Impressions:

The White City is the first in a new series from Barbour. The True Colors series presents fictional accounts of real American crime stories from the past. This first book in the series by debut author Grace Hitchcock promises readers who love history, mystery, and suspense a great reading experience. I loved how the book swept me back to another time. It is definitely a recommended read!

Engaging characters make The White City. Main character Winnifred Wylde is a society girl with a longing for adventure. Her novel reading may have influenced her a tiny bit as she sees mysterious doings all around her. I loved her spunk and tenacity. Her partner in the investigation of missing women is a hunky detective who fits the hero label very nicely. The two have great chemistry, and fans of romance will like the sweet relationship that develops. But societal expectations prove a major stumbling block for the two, as Winnie is expected to find a suitable husband from her own class. This point, as well as the fashions, transportation, and general description of the fair and Chicago of the time, captured the essence of the time period.  As for the mystery, the author kept me turning the pages. There was definitely something very fishy about Winnie’s boss and the building he is supposedly turning into a hotel. I loved that I got the rest of the story from the author’s afterword. That old cliche — truth is stranger than fiction — is alive and well in this chilling story. Although there is a good bit of danger awaiting Winnie and Jude, The White City also has a light side. It is just a fun read!

So if you are looking for a historical crime story with romance aplenty, The White City is the book for you.

Recommended.

Audience: older teens to adults.

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

 

 

Blog Stops

Just the Write Escape, March 14

A Baker’s Perspective, March 14

The Lit Addict, March 14

janicesbookreviews, March 14

The Power of Words, March 15

Multifarious, March 15

Back Porch Reads, March 15

Livin’ Lit, March 16

Lis Loves Reading, March 16

Just Your Average reviews, March 16

Rev. Rebecca Writes, March 17

For the Love of Literature, March 17

Bibliophile Reviews, March 17

Reflections From My Bookshelves, March 18

Through the Fire Blogs, March 18

By The Book, March 18

A Reader’s Brain, March 18

Girls in White Dresses, March 19

Stories By Gina , March 19

EmpowerMoms, March 19

Inklings and notions, March 19

All-of-a-kind Mom, March 20

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, March 20

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 20

Bigreadersite, March 21

Genesis 5020, March 21

Blossoms and Blessings, March 21

The Becca Files, March 21

Emily Yager, March 22

Where Crisis & Christ Collide, March 22

Pause for Tales, March 22

Inspired by fiction, March 23

Mary Hake, March 23

Book by Book, March 23

Real World Bible Study, March 23

Blogging With Carol, March 24

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, March 24

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, March 24

Maureen’s Musings, March 25

amandainpa, March 25

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 25

Older & Smarter?, March 26

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, March 26

Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner , March 26

Godly Book Reviews, March 27

For Him and my Family, March 27

Texas Book-aholic, March 27

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Grace is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of The White City!!

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/dd7d/the-white-city-celebration-tour-giveaway

Book Review: The Death Beat

25 Feb

Poppy looked up, her face pale, her hands shaking. What is it, Poppy? Oh my, Rollo, oh my. I think we’ve just struck gold. Poppy Denby is furious with Rollo, who has gambled away his position at the Daily Globe and is being banished to New York. That is, until she discovers he plans to take her with him to work at the New York Times! Poppy can’t wait to report on the Manhattan arts scene, but her hopes are crushed when she is allocated The Death Beat – writing obituaries. But Poppy has a nose for a story, and when a body is found in a luxury penthouse apartment she starts to investigate. She unravels a sordid trail of illegal immigrants, forced labour, sex scandals, and an unexpected ghost from her past. Poppy is determined to help the victims, but can she find the evidence to bring the perpetrators to justice without putting her own life in danger . . . .

 

Formerly a journalist, Fiona Veitch Smithis a writer of books, theatre plays and screenplays.

Her children’s picturebooks, the Young David series, are now published by SPCK Publishing. Her adult mystery series set in the 1920s, Poppy Denby Investigates, is published by Lion Fiction. The first book in the series, The Jazz Files, is available from September 2015.

She is a member of the British Society of Authors and the Association of Christian Writers. Fiona is also the editor of the popular writing advice website The Crafty Writer and her courses attract students from around the world.

She lives with her husband, daughter and two dogs in Newcastle upon Tyne where she lectures in media and scriptwriting at the local universities.

 

My Impressions:

The Death Beat is the third book in the Poppy Denby historical mystery series by Fiona Veitch Smith. Set in 1921, it brings to life the era very well — flappers, speakeasies, etc. And while Poppy hails from England, this newest adventure takes her to New York with her boss Rollo Rolandson. Poppy finds herself assigned to the unenviable job at the New York Times — the obituary writer. But as always, Poppy finds a much more exciting story to uncover.

I loved the references to the 1920s that Smith weaves throughout The Death Beat. The fashion, the night scene, the slang, all make this novel very authentic. And while the author may have taken a few liberties with dates and places, this fictional look at New York in the Roaring Twenties conveys the spirit of the time. America was struggling with immigration even then, and the mystery involves illegal immigrants that were used and abused. Human trafficking may not have bee a buzz word at the time, but it was a problem even then. Those two things are at the crux of the mystery. Poppy, a thoroughly modern young woman, is determined to uncover all the unsavory business that threatens to harm more disadvantaged women. There are many parallels in that era and what we now are discussing on the national stage, and I enjoyed the unique perspective. Clues are made known to both Poppy and the reader, but I managed to be clueless about just whodunit. I loved the many surprises.

While many characters from previous books in the series make appearances, The Death Beat can be read as standalone. However, if you like historical mysteries, you may just want to get the three that are currently available — great for binge-reading fun.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

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

Top 10 Tuesday — New to The TBR

29 Jan

Only a month into the new year, and I have already added lots of books to my TBR list. (You can read my Winter TBR HERE.) There are so many shiny new books out there it is hard not to be tempted to add thousands hundreds a few to the unending list. What about you, what books have you added so far this year?

Head over to That Artsy Reader Girl to discover other bloggers’ wish lists.

 

Top Books Recently Added to The Unending TBR List

 

Atoning for Ashes by Kaitlin Covel

Between Two Shores by Jocelyn Green

Convergence by Ginny Yttrup

Daughters of Northern Shores by Joanne Bischoff

The Memory House by Rachel Hauck

Never Let Go by Elizabeth Goddard

The Seamstress by Allison Pitman

The Secret of Willow Inn by Pat Nichols

The Watch on The Fencepost by Kay DiBianca

The White City by Grace Hitchcock

Book Review: Prince Edward’s Warrant

16 Jan

Master Hugh won the Black Prince’s favor when he helped to ease the Prince’s illness. Now, in the autumn of 1372, the prince is suffering a relapse and sends to Bampton for Master Hugh to attend him. While at dinner in Kennington Palace, Sir Giles, the knight who escorted Hugh to London, is stricken and dies. Poison! Sir Giles is not popular, and there are many who would gladly see the fellow done away with — except for Prince Edward. The Black Prince feels a debt to the slain man because of his heroic behavior at the Battle of Crecy, where the knight stood firm with the prince when the fight seemed of uncertain outcome. Despite caring little for Sir Giles, Master Hugh must once again place himself in jeopardy and seek to uncover the perpetrator of the crime.

 

Mel Starr was born and grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He graduated from Spring Arbor High School in 1960, and Greenville College (Illinois) in 1964. He received an MA in history from Western Michigan University in 1970. He taught history in Michigan public schools for thirty-nine years, thirty-five of those in Portage, MI, where he retired in 2003 as chairman of the social studies department of Portage Northern High School.

Mel married Susan Brock in 1965. They have two daughters, and seven grandchildren.

 

My Impressions:

Master Hugh de Singleton is back with a new chronicle of a mystery solved in Prince Edward’s Warrant. Hugh must leave the comfort of his hearth to minister to the Black Prince Edward. Having served him well in France, Hugh is called to treat and cure, if he can, the malady that afflicts the prince. But as always, Hugh soon finds himself in the midst of a mystery, this time the poisoning of one of Edward’s favorite knights. The bodies soon pile up as Hugh doggedly follows the clues.

Mel Starr’s historical mysteries are some of my favorites. Limited by his time and place, Hugh manages to use his intuition, limited scientific knowledge, and insight into the human psyche to solve complex crimes of passion and greed. The setting for the latest novel is Kennington Palace, a long gone favorite of Prince Edward. Life at court, with its protocol, amusements, and hierarchy, is shared with a detail that adds to the narrative. Hugh is a chronicler of more than murder and mayhem, and shares his thoughts on the fashions, customs, and politics of 14th century England. I especially love Hugh’s musings on the religious practices and dogma of the day. Hugh also has a dry wit that is spotlighted in his dealings with Edward’s personal physician. While Hugh may be a mere mechanic in his profession as surgeon, he is much more practical and methodical in his study of the common diseases of the day than the puffed up Dr. Blackwell. As both bailiff to Sir Gilbert and surgeon, Hugh brings a mix of expertise to his quest for the perpetrators. Fans of mysteries will love Hugh’s detecting prowess.

Another winner from the skilled pen of Starr, Prince Edward’s Warrant is a must-read for fans of historical mysteries and medieval fiction.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

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