Outstanding Debut Novel from an Author to Watch
Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious death fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather's Wisconsin hometown. But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house's dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide.
A century earlier, the house on Foster Hill holds nothing but painful memories for Ivy Thorpe. When an unidentified woman is found dead on the property, Ivy is compelled to discover her identity. Ivy's search leads her into dangerous waters and, even as she works together with a man from her past, can she unravel the mystery before any other lives--including her own--are lost?
My Review of The House on Foster Hill
Full of twists and turns, the House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright is a suspenseful, knuckle biting read that will keep you turning the pages till the wee hours of the morning. In my opinion one of the best Christian Fiction books of the year.
Kaine Prescott is leaving California behind and all the nightmares that went with it. Since the death of her husband Danny two years ago, Kaine’s appeal to the police to investigate his death as a murder has fallen on deaf ears. She also believes that the man who took her husband’s life is now stalking and toying with her. Unable to convince the current authorities that her husband was murdered, Kaine decides to leave San Diego and move to Oakwood, WI to start a new life. That new life involves buying and renovating her great-great grandmother Ivy’s old house on Foster Hill. Unfortunately, upon her arrival in Oakwood and the house on Foster Hill, she realizes her mistake at buying the house sight unseen. Everything is in shambles and in desperate need of a major restoration. With no other options for her, Kaine is determined to succeed and regain a sense of independence and sets about the rehabilitation of her new home.
Once in town, the friendly residents of Oakwood are more than happy to greet Kaine and provide her with a none too appealing history of her great-great grandmother’s house. It would appear an unsolved murder of a young girl named Gabriella still haunts the property to date. The old house, the mystery of Gabriella’s murder and her great-great grandmother Ivy’s infamous preoccupation with death provides the background for the town’s rumors of the old home’s ghosts and hauntings. Determined to finish what she started despite all the rumors and hard work, Kaine is resolute on restoring the old house on Foster Hill. She returns each day adamant on getting the project done. It is during one of her visits to the old house that she uncovers what she believes are the writings of the young girl named Gabriella hidden under some floor boards on the second floor. But when she also discovers a picture of her late husband Danny in one of the upstairs bedrooms, Kaine is convinced her stalker has returned and followed her to her new home in Oakwood, WI. Kaine knows she will never be free unless she makes a stand once and for all and fights for her life. With her new friends from Oakwood in tow to protect her, Kaine is resolved to confront her stalker and solve the mysteries of Gabriella and her great-great grandmother’s past.
There was never a dull moment in The House on Foster Hill. A page turner from the very start, this suspenseful book was a roller-coaster ride and I didn’t want to get off. Cleverly written from the perspective of both Kaine in the present and Ivy from the past, I couldn’t wait to get to the next chapter. Just when I thought I had it figured out, something new would happen to send me off in a new direction. Not only was the story-line full of mystery, but the tension between the characters was palpable. I loved Joel’s and Grant’s characters the best. They were strong, chivalrous and determined to help the women they loved. Kaine and her great-great grandmother Ivy were more alike than even Kaine knew. Fighting for the rights of women and the injustices they endured, Ivy was a woman before her time. I was also happy that Grant was able to help Kaine find the strength to live a full and faith filled life once again. And last but not least, I thank the author for resolving all the mysteries surrounding the old house and the women who lived there. Like all good reads, The House on Foster Hill will be a book that will stay with me for quite a while.
For those who like great fiction filled with suspense and a plot that keeps you guessing Jaime Jo Wright’s, The House on Foster Hill, is for you. A book with strong characters and a story-line that is a sure hit, this is one book you won’t put down once you pick it up. Do yourself a favor and treat yourself to an early Christmas present with The House on Foster Hill.
I want to thank Bethany House Publishers via NetGalley for an advanced reader copy of The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright for a fair and honest review.
BOOK TWO IN THE SOUND OF SILENCE SERIES IS NOW AVAILABLE!!!
TAYLOR DEANMy hometown decided to rename me Jailbird. Every day I silently scream out, “My name is Mia Faraday!” My time in jail does not define me. I am so much more than one heated mistake. And yet, my slip-up weighs on me. There’s so much more to the story than anyone realizes. I must face Stony, my ex, and confess everything. I don’t want to. I’d rather have five teeth pulled. While I’m awake. Without anesthesia. But this is something I have to do, something I need to do. Not just for Stony. I need to do it for me. Especially for me. I can’t move forward with my life until I gain closure from the past. When I meet Grayson Elliott, I am easily pulled into his orbit and it’s exactly where I’d love to stay. He makes me laugh and not take life so seriously. He makes me want to live again. But I don’t love me right now, and that healing needs to come first. I’m not relationship-ready or marriage material. My mind is focused on redemption. I want it. I need it. Besides, when Grayson hears about my colorful past, I’m sure he’ll be gone before I have time to utter the word goodbye. After all, who could ever love a jailbird?
The Sound of Silence Series is a three book series.
Book One: Stone Silence, Spencer’s Story
Book Two: Jailbird, Mia’s Story
Book Three: Hothouse Flower, Shay’s Story
Each book has a happy ending and there are no cliffhangers.
They are not standalones and should be read in order.
Did you miss Book One, STONE SILENCE?
Grab it on AMAZONGreat big beautiful love. Does it really exist? Everyone tells me it does. They say, “Spencer Elliott, don’t worry, you’ll find it one day. You just have to find the right man and when you do, it will surprise the heck out of you.” I’m still waiting for that heck of a surprise to hit. It has proven to be elusive thus far. I’m pretty sure the entire world is lying about love and the joke is on me. I know I want a man in my heart and in my life. Unfortunately, most men immediately push my OFF button and I lose interest quickly. Feeling pressure to prove I’m trying to find my soulmate, I finally give in and agree to a date. Huge mistake. Afterward I find myself abandoned in the middle of nowhere, in desperate need of help. That’s when I meet Stony by chance. He’s a silent and unsmiling man who intrigues me with his ability to keep going after life has knocked him down. Suddenly the abstract notion of love becomes tangible and within my reach. Once I experience it, I wonder how I ever lived without it. That’s when I stay with Stony by choice. But when Stony’s hidden past and present-day reality collide, his silence is broken. And the truth about his life nearly brings me to my knees. I can’t compete with ghosts from the past. I refuse to fight for a man’s love. He either loves me or he doesn’t. It’s as simple and as complicated as that. My only hope is . . . he does. Praise for STONE SILENCE: Oh. My. Gosh! I absolutely LOVE Stone Silence! Talk about swoony! This book is AMAZING! I was sucked in from the very beginning and found myself lost in the journey of Spencer and Stony. I laughed out loud, got teary eyed, let out little dreamy sighs and refused to put this book down until I finished it! I devoured it! -KJ's Book Nook Oh man. I will always read everything Taylor Dean writes with no hesitation. I LOVE Taylor Dean books. If you have never read anything by her, you really must. -Aimee, Getting Your Read On
Hothouse Flower, Book Three will be released on January 1st, 2018Read an excerpt from Jailbird: Excerpt #1:
Stony and Spencer’s Place.
Ugh. It’s magical inside the fenced-in property, as if I just walked into a secret garden. Stony always said he was going to build himself an oasis in the middle of the prairie land, and he did it. I didn’t expect it to be quite this beautiful. Green grass covers small rolling hills. Sidewalks meander the property. Flower beds bloom madly with all the colors of the rainbow. It’s almost like being inside of a Thomas Kinkade painting.
I want to run. I want to turn around and erase this serene picture from my mind. I’m not sure I want to witness Stony’s happily-ever-after. The consolation is that now I know I didn’t ruin his life. I should feel grateful for that knowledge. I kind of do and I kind of don’t. My emotions are a tangled mess when it comes to Stony. I’ve had two years in jail and a little over a year in Galveston to think about this moment, to anticipate exactly what I want to say to him. Now that it’s upon me, I can feel my mind going blank.
But I’m doing it anyway.
I march forward with determination in every step and I push on the doorbell before I can change my mind. I hear a Windsor chime echo through the house in a majestic sort of way. A little more cringing goes on inside of me at the perfection of it all.
The seconds before the door is answered seem interminable. I’m a hot mess.
Lock me in a tank with hungry—no—starving sharks. Put me in a lion’s den and let them have me for dinner. Make me appear on that dumb TV show, Naked and Afraid.
Anything but this. I don’t want to face Stony. I don’t, I don’t.
Excerpt #2:THE DOOR OPENS and there he is, looking just as handsome as I remembered. He’s wearing shorts and I can see his prosthetic leg. He’s wearing a short-sleeved shirt and I can see his mottled skin plain as day.
I did that to him. And I hate myself for it.
Hate. Hate. Hate.
I ignore my negative thoughts and concentrate on Stony. He looks confident and fit. His hair is longer, combed back on his head in a stylish sort of way. He’s sporting the unshaven look with a slight beard that only adds to his masculinity. His tanned skin proves he spends a lot of time outdoors. There’s still a deep line between his eyebrows that speaks to the intensity of his personality. In spite of everything, he’s the vision of health and vitality. I know how hard he’s worked to achieve it and I’m impressed with his tenacity. He’s the poster child of someone who refuses to give up no matter how many times life knocks him down. I wish I had his strength.
Standing this close, I want to fall into his arms and let him hold me. It seems the natural thing to do, but things have changed.
His eyebrows furrow even deeper—and the action is not lost on me—then he says, “Mia?”
I swallow. He doesn’t seem happy to see me, but then the constant lack of a smile makes him hard to read. “Hi, Stony.”
I’ve surprised him, that’s obvious. And not in a good way.
He doesn’t say anything, he just stares at me. So I say, “Can I talk to you?”
He hesitates and says, “Uh . . .”
I hate his hesitation, the way he looks so unsure.
“Please,” I say. I’m not above begging. I need to do this. “I’m not here to cause problems for you, I swear. I know you’re a married man now. I would never do anything to jeopardize your relationship. I’m not trying to come between you and your wife.”
“Stop it, I know that,” he says and he means it. At least he knows me well enough to know I would never do something like that. Now that he’s married, Stony is off-limits to me.
But we do have some unfinished business.
He seems to think things over for a moment, then he comes to a decision. He nods and says, “Sure. Come on in.”
Author Taylor Dean Taylor Dean lives in Texas and is the mother of four grown children. Upon finding herself with an empty nest, she began to write the stories that were always wandering around in her head, quickly finding she had a passion for writing, specifically romance. Whether it’s paranormal, contemporary, or suspense—you’ll find all sub-genres of clean romance in her line-up.Blast Giveaway Details $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 12/22/17 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway
“This tender love story between two wounded people whom God brings together for healing is a book readers will enjoy anytime—but especially at Christmas!” --Francine Rivers, New York Times bestselling author of Redeeming Love and A Voice in the Wind
Amid war and the fading dream of the Confederacy, a wounded soldier and a destitute widow discover the true meaning of Christmas—and sacrificial love.
Recently widowed, Aletta Prescott struggles to hold life together for herself and her six-year-old son. With the bank threatening to evict them, she discovers an advertisement for the Women’s Relief Society auction and applies for a position—only to discover it’s been filled. Then a chance meeting with a wounded soldier offers another opportunity—and friendship. But can Aletta trust this man?
Captain Jake Winston, a revered Confederate sharpshooter, suffered a head wound at the Battle of Chickamauga. When doctors deliver their diagnosis, Jake fears losing not only his greatest skill but his very identity. As he heals, Jake is ordered to assist with a local Women’s Relief Society auction. He respectfully objects. Kowtowing to a bunch of “crinolines” isn’t his idea of soldiering. But orders are orders, and he soon discovers this group of ladies—one, in particular—is far more than he bargained for.
Set against the backdrop and history of the Carnton Plantation in Franklin, Tennessee, Christmas at Carnton is a story of hope renewed and faith restored at Christmas.
My Review of Christmas at Carnton
Tamera Alexander gives us a beautiful novella sure to steal your heart and lighten your spirits with Christmas at Carnton.
Aletta Prescott is trying to hold her little family together. Since the death of her husband, a soldier fighting for the Confederacy, Aletta is doing what she can to provide for her, her six year old son and the baby she carries. When Aletta loses her job as a seamstress and her home is foreclosed by the bank, she has only 2 weeks to procure other employment. Knowing God never close a door without opening a window, Aletta discovers an advertisement for a pastry chef at Carnton Plantation. The pastry chef is to lead the Women’s Relief Society in a fund raiser for the hospital and wounded soldiers and Aletta is determined to win the temporary position.
When arriving at the beautiful Carnton Plantation, Aletta discovers she is a day late and the position already filled. But through Providence and a poor attitude by the new pastry chef, Mrs. McGavock takes her on despite her worries of her delicate condition. In addition, Aletta promises to build the life-size Nativity set when a local artisan is unable to do the job. Mrs. McGavock’s misgivings about her carpentry abilities are alleviated when Captain Jake Winston, a wounded veteran arrives under orders from General Bragg to aid in the fund-raiser for the cause. With Jake’s strength and Aletta’s skills the two become a perfect team.
As time goes on and the preparations for the fund-raiser and Christmas are coming to a head, Aletta and Jake discover they have feelings for one another. Jake is completely smitten with Aletta and has grown fond of her son, but is afraid to push so soon after her husband’s death. Aletta is drawn to Jake and can picture a life with him, but her feelings of guilt over the loss of her husband and her appending arrive of her baby keep her at arm’s length. As the fund-raiser comes to a close and Christmas arrives, Aletta and Jake’s time at Carnton is coming to an end. Jake and Aletta must spend the last few days overcoming their fears and trusting that God will provide them a future together.
Christmas at Carnton is a feel good novella that leaves you contented with a smile on your face. The story-line is delicate and the characters are easy to love. Aletta is a strong determined women with courage to face an uncertain future. Mrs. McGavock is a dynamic woman and independent with a giving heart. Jake is the perfect hero. Strong, handsome and fiercely loyal to those he loves. Watching the relationship between Jake and Aletta unfold was a delight. But my favorite character was Tempy. She was so giving and loving to everyone despite the life she lived as a slave. Tempy was always looking out for everyone else, always putting their needs ahead of hers. I especially loved the relationship Tempy and Aletta developed as they worked side by side in the Carnton kitchen. In addition, I also appreciated the beautiful friendship between Aletta’s son Andrew and Mrs. McGavock’s son Winder. They were a delight and added joviality and lightness to the book. The bond that grew between Jake and Andrew was almost like father and son and did not go unnoticed by a grateful Aletta.
On a side note, the author gave some interesting historical background on Carnton and some of the characters in her story. She also included some delicious recipes that Tempy and Aletta prepared in the kitchen they shared. I plan to try the shortbread and pumpkin bread recipes, but truth be told they all sound delicious. And I was delighted to hear there will be more novels coming surrounding Carton. This is one reader who will be anxiously awaiting their publication.
Christmas at Carnton is a must-read for the holidays. It is a delightful novella with everything you could want – history, romance, faith and Christmas. A beautiful piece of Historical Christian Fiction sure to please everyone.
I want to thank Thomas Nelson-Fiction via NetGalley for an advanced reader copy of Christmas at Carnton by Tamara Alexander for a fair and honest review.
Thankful for Cash $250 Giveaway
November 15th to December 15th
Could you use an extra $250 this holiday season? Here is your chance!!
The winner of this giveaway will receive $250 in Paypal Cash or a $250 Amazon.com Gift Card.Thanks to this amazing group of authors, bloggers and publisher for making this giveaway possible! Sponsor List I Am A Reader Auggie @ AuggieTalk Cynthia Luhrs Author Author Laurie Treacy Helen Smith Author S.T. Bende The Lovely Books Donna, My Life. One Story at a Time. Laurisa White Reyes, Author Simple Wyrdings Author Melissa Wright Bookworm Lisa Rockin' Book Reviews Krysten Lindsay Hager author Glistering: B's Blog Geybie's Book Blog Lori's Reading Corner Author Al Stone D.S. Venetta Book Reviews and Giveaways JeanBookNerd Coupons and Freebies Mom Taylor Dean Books Author Crystal Marcos Readers Realm Dorine White- Author Literary Winner Liana Gardner Dawn Malone, author Pretty Little Reader Author Tia Souders
Giveaway Details$250 in Paypal Cash or a $250 Amazon.com eGift Card Ends 12/15/17 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use money sent via Paypal or gift codes via Amazon.com. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the authors, bloggers and publishers on the sponsor list. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway
Can the secrets of the past be forgiven this Christmas?
Christmas is approaching on the island of Jersey, but Libby is feeling far from festive. Her police work and duties as vicar’s wife weigh heavily on her, she’s anxious about her troubled children, and now her best friend, Stella, has suddenly turned against her, citing a mysterious family grudge.
Libby is devastated by Stella’s unexpected coldness. But then her father shows her a diary written by her great-aunt Queenie, which sheds light on a long-hidden secret—one rooted in love, loyalty and betrayal. Writing during the Nazi occupation of Jersey in the winter of 1941, Queenie reveals a community torn apart by illicit romance, heartbreak and revenge—and by dark acts of fear and desperation.
The more Libby immerses herself in Queenie’s journal, the more she understands why its secrets still haunt her family and Stella’s. Christmas is a time of forgiveness, but is the treachery of their shared past too shameful to be forgotten?
My review of Rebecca Boxall's Christmas on the Coast
Christmas on the Coast by Rebecca Boxall is the delightful holiday read sure to bring a smile to your face and warmth to your heart.
Libby is feeling a little frazzled these days. With the holidays approaching her duties as a Vicar’s wife and a financial crime investigator is leaving her with little time for anything else. Add the pressure of three grown children who constantly need mum and dad to solve their problems and Libby is about to burst. Her one bright spot is her BFF Stella. Since childhood the two have shared everything including their friendship anniversary every year. But when Stella gets a startling phone call concerning the health of her mother, a secret is revealed upon her deathbed that changes everything for these two women. Stella, now refuses to talk with Libby, leaving her best friend bereft and confused. How will the two ever solve their divide if Stella refuses to talk?
When a minor accident leaves Libby’s mother with a sprained wrist, Libby decides to travel to Canterbury to spend time with her parents. As the days go by, Libby realizes this visit is what she needed to put everything in perspective. When she decides to share all her worries and concerns about her family, as well as her relationship with Stella, her father doesn’t seem surprised at the news. Instead he offers her a diary that her great-aunt Queenie kept when the island of Jersey was under Nazi occupation during WWII. This diary holds the key to the grudge that Stella’s mother has held against Libby’s family for many years. Armed with the diary, Libby travels back to Jersey and her family where the answers she craves and the love she deserves awaits her. Can Libby’s family put aside their needs for once to show Libby their appreciation and help with holiday preparations? Can Stella find it in her heart to let go of her mother’s past and animosity toward Libby and her family? You’ll have to read the book to find out!!
Personally speaking, Christmas on the Coast was not only a sweet Christmas book, but also a very clever and insightful read. I had all the drama of Libby’s children and their problems, while the mystery of Stella’s anger left me hanging on every page hoping for a clue. I especially enjoyed Queenie’s character and the vivid descriptions of Jersey during the German occupation. I also liked Libby and Libby’s parents. It was easy to see where Libby inherited her nurturing nature. The author alternating chapters between Libby and Queenie was pure genius. It kept me reading and turning the pages anxious to get to the next chapter. I didn’t want to put it down. And as all good Christmas novels promise, the ending was both satisfying and delightful.
For an enjoyable Christmas read to welcome in the holidays consider Christmas on the Coast by Rebecca Boxall. It will sweep you away to a small channel island where you will get a taste of England’s coast, holiday traditions and two families past and present. Light your tree, sit back with a good cuppa tea and be prepared to be entertained.
I want to thank Lake Union Publishing via NetGalley for an advanced reader copy of Christmas on the Coast by Rebecca Boxall for a fair and honest review.
A former professor descends into darkness in this provocative story of a Nazi soldier torn between duty and conscience.
East Prussia, Nazi Germany, 1939. History professor Erik Mueller is a model citizen and a family man. He’s also a decorated sergeant in the Gestapo. Proving his courage on the battlefields of Poland and the Soviet Union, and proud of the German army’s victories across Europe, he embraces what he thinks is the righteousness of the Third Reich’s cause.
But his loyalties are soon tested when he crosses paths with his old university friend Trude Bensheim. Forced into unemployment for being Jewish, Trude and her husband start a secret organization to help Jews escape Germany. But when they are betrayed by someone they thought they could trust, their lives hang in the balance.
Erik feels responsible for Trude’s capture, and he knows he’s in a position to help them. But when everything he holds dear is at stake, will he save his friends…or himself?
My Review of A Bitter Rain
James D. Shipman gives us a powerful and memorable WWII novel in A Bitter Rain. It’s 1939 and Erik Mueller, an unemployed historian, is now a member of the SS thanks to his wife’s connections to Karl Schmidt, an up and coming officer stationed at SS headquarters in Konigsberg. While Erik is grateful for the job and income, he is less than enthusiastic about going to war. Corina, his wife, is hungry to move up in the world and constantly prods Erik to do whatever he can to make that happen.
While Corina is fully indoctrinated and in line with all of the Nazi propaganda, Erik is skeptical and leery of the misleading nature and brainwashing of his countrymen against the Jewish population. Never does their differences of opinion become clearer than when Erik runs into his former friend Trude Bensheim from his university days. Erik is surprised and happy to see Trude, but Corina is livid. She wants nothing to do with his former Jewish friend and denounces his former friendship with her. Trude has only one thing in mind, to advance Erik through the ranks and to live by all the Nazi’s proclamations.
As war is declared and Germany attempts to take over Europe, Erik is forced into battle. Afraid, but determined, Erik displays stoicism in leading his men onto the frontlines of battle. His fortitude and bravery does not go unnoticed. His remaining men show him respect and loyalty and his superiors advance him quickly through the ranks. At home, Corina is happy with her rising star and sees herself climbing the social ladder. Unfortunately, for Trude and her family, Konigsberg, the war and the political ramifications of the Nazi party have become a terrifying ordeal. Borders are closed and passports are denied. Food is scarce and deportation is now a reality for her Jewish friends and neighbors. Trude knows it’s only a matter of time till they are caught and thus begins their personal nightmare.
While Erik enjoys the camaraderie of his commanding officer and the men he leads, a battle in a small Russian town seals his fate. Although he leads his men to victory, he disobeys an order from his commanding officer to kill a group of unarmed Russian prisoners. Knowing he will lose everything he has gained, Erik refuses the command. He is immediately arrested and taken back to Germany. Awaiting trial, he is beaten and humiliated by the high officers and the Nazi guards. Karl, for the sake of Corina, comes to his rescue again and gives him another chance. If he fails this time, it will cost him his life and possibly that of his family. Now stripped of his rank with a wife who refuses to acknowledge him, Erik leaves for Soldau, a concentration camp for Jewish prisoners where the vast majority are starved or worked to death. Erik’s new job is to confiscate Jewish prisoners’ property and turn it over to the government. As time goes by, Erik settles in trying to ignore what goes on behind the prison walls until he sees Trude. Now Erik must decide once again to stand his moral ground and help Trude escape and risk losing everything, even his very life.
I had a hard time putting this book down. Beautifully written with characters you’ll either love or hate, A Bitter Rain is a winner, especially for those who love a great WWII novel. I loved Trude and the lengths she was willing to go to protect her daughter. I liked Erik and his ability to put aside his own safety to take the high ground no matter what it cost. I disliked Gunther and Corina. Both of these characters were self-serving, greedy and desperately in need of a conscience. My favorite characters however, were minor characters. Captain Dutt, Friedrich, Schaefer and Frau Werner. These four showed kindness and empathy at a time when doing so could get you killed or worse. They were beautiful souls that enriched the story-line and added so much to the book. As all good books do I was reluctant to let these characters go.
On a side note, I greatly appreciated the historical commentary the author gave us on Konigsberg, East Prussia, the SS, Soldau Concentration Camp and Germany and the Nazi’s at the close of the book. Even though the characters in the book were fictitious, it was a stark reminder that the events were not.
A Bitter Rain is a must read for those who like drama, historical fiction or a good WWII novel. Filled with strong characters and an equally strong story-line, A Bitter Rain is a winner that will stay with you long after you turn the last page.
I want to thank Lake Union Publishing via NetGalley for an advanced copy of A Bitter Rain for a fair and honest review.
Stone Silence by Taylor Dean Great big beautiful love. Does it really exist? Everyone tells me it does. They say, “Spencer Elliott, don’t worry, you’ll find it one day. You just have to find the right man and when you do, it will surprise the heck out of you.” I’m still waiting for that heck of a surprise to hit. It has proven to be elusive thus far. I’m pretty sure the entire world is lying about love and the joke is on me. I know I want a man in my heart and in my life. Unfortunately, most men immediately push my OFF button and I lose interest quickly. Feeling pressure to prove I’m trying to find my soulmate, I finally give in and agree to a date. Huge mistake. Afterward I find myself abandoned in the middle of nowhere, in desperate need of help. That’s when I meet Stony by chance. He’s a silent and unsmiling man who intrigues me with his ability to keep going after life has knocked him down. Suddenly the abstract notion of love becomes tangible and within my reach. Once I experience it, I wonder how I ever lived without it. That’s when I stay with Stony by choice. But when Stony’s hidden past and present-day reality collide, his silence is broken. And the truth about his life nearly brings me to my knees. I can’t compete with ghosts from the past. I refuse to fight for a man’s love. He either loves me or he doesn’t. It’s as simple and as complicated as that. My only hope is . . . he does.
The Sound of Silence Series is a three book series.
Book One: Stone Silence, Spencer’s Story Book Two: Jailbird, Mia’s Story Book Three: Hothouse Flower, Shay’s Story
Each book has a happy ending and there are no cliffhangers. They are not standalones and should be read in order.
Hate waiting for the next book in a series?
You won't have to wait long!
Jailbird, Book Two will be released on December 1st, 2017
Hothouse Flower, Book Three will be released on January 1st, 2018
What readers are saying about STONE SILENCE:This story just wrapped me in its arms and held me tight. I adored the characters and never wanted the book to end. Dean weaves a heart-tugging romance like nobody else's business. Her books are always a feast to my literary mind and always go on my To-Read-Again pile once I finish.
-Charissa Stastny, Author
Once again Dean takes the raw pain and hurt many of us can relate to, and creates a perfectly romantic tale for readers to escape into, giving us hope, love, second chances and ultimately that believable happily ever after we all seek for as true romance lovers.
-Mylissa's Reviews and Book Thoughts
READ AN EXCERPT FROM STONE SILENCE:
“You like home improvement?” he asks.
“I love it. But let’s pick something we both like.”
“Let’s rock, paper, scissors it.”
“Excuse me?” I say, surprised at his suggestion. Again, the levity feels a little odd without an accompanying smile.
He holds out his hand. “Ready? If I win, it’s the baseball game, if you win, it’s home improvement.”
I’m still a little stunned and stare at him open-mouthed.
“You do know how to play rock, paper, scissors, right?”
Flustered, I say, “Yes, of course.”
“Okay then, let’s do this.”
I hold out my hand and he counts, “1, 2, 3 . . .”
He does paper and I do scissors. I win.
“Home improvement it is,” he says.
He flips to HGTV where an episode of House Hunters is playing. He settles into the recliner and seems content.
“You like this?” I ask. “I mean, really, we can watch whatever you’d like.”
“Used to be in the business. Now I just own several rentals.”
“What was your business?”
“Flipping houses. Selling them.”
Okay, that explains why he’s fine with watching HGTV. “You don’t mind watching this?”
“Don’t make me admit it.”
I laugh aloud at this funny man. His deadpan expression makes everything seem funnier than it really is. I can’t hide my smile as I stare at the TV. He’s an enigma and I want to solve the mystery. “Can I ask you a question?”
“Might not answer.”
“Can I ask anyway?” I say.
“How much time do you save in your life by never speaking in full sentences?”
He looks over at me with narrowed eyes, but I don’t back down.
“Eons,” he retorts. Then he mumbles, “Smart aleck.”
I laugh, but he remains . . . well, Stony.
I have to believe help will be in Roby.
But I can’t make it without water.
Now would be a good time for someone to ask me for a ride again. I contemplate finding a shady place to sit and wait for the rain that’s supposed to arrive this afternoon. The thought leads to a mental vision of me shivering in the bushes, drenched and stranded. I’m not sure which is the lesser of two evils. Plus, I can’t sit around and wait for rain water to quench my thirst. I know I don’t have that kind of time. All I know is Finn felt determined to get home early today so he could dodge the rain. Reportedly, torrential downfalls are headed this way. The news predicts flooding is going to be a problem again.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure that one out.
Even though I feel utterly alone, the most alone I’ve ever felt in my life, I realize that I’m not really alone. When people love you, are you ever really alone? They’re always behind the scenes, thinking of you and hoping for your safety. I have people in my life who love me. I matter to them. If something happens to me, they will mourn my loss from their life. This buoys me. They are with me, strengthening me. I feel them with me now, coaxing me to not give up. I hear my mom’s voice in my head; I love you, Spencer, my precious daughter. I hear my dad’s voice; My baby girl, my beautiful baby girl. I hear my brother’s voice; Don’t you dare give up, Spencer. Don’t you do it.
He’s right. I can’t quit now. I’ve come too far.
I’ve been sitting for too long. I have to keep going. I can’t give in to delirium. I pull myself up to a standing position and fight the dizziness that overcomes me.
Even though I’m still standing in the harsh sunlight, I can now see angry storm clouds in the distance. The horizon holds that blurry, slanted look, the one that tells me it’s pouring rain in that neck of the woods. I wonder how soon it will arrive here. The humidity level has risen in the past half hour and I’m sweating profusely. My skin feels cool and moist, yet I’m burning up and goosebumps are covering my arms. An odd combination. My pulse is racing and the muscles in my legs are cramping.
I need help now. I can’t wait any longer. I’m no longer fighting for just my current safety, I’m fighting for my life.
Suddenly, I hear a strange sound. A low buzz, the trill of electric machinery. It wafts over the airwaves and calls to me.
Someone is out here working. At last, I’ve found someone I can ask for help. Whoever it is, they are my only hope. My situation is dire and I don’t have a choice.
There’s a small gravel road to the right of me. The sound is coming from that direction. The rise and fall of the land doesn’t allow me to see where I’m headed. I follow the sound as if it’s the call of the Pied Piper. Wherever it takes me, that’s where I’m going.
I have no other option.
My feet propel me forward like they have a will of their own and I feel helpless. I’m no longer in control; the situation has taken control of me.
“He kicked me out of the car. I’ve been walking for hours. Please, if you could just . . .”
“No,” he says emphatically with a raised voice. Then again it’s as if he’s quietly speaking to himself. “I can’t do this. I’m not ready.”
“No?” I ask, feeling unbelief. If he’ll just let me finish a sentence, I’ll ask him for water and be on my way. “I just want a . . .”
“Roby’s just up the road,” he interrupts.
“Please, just a . . .”
“Someone will help you there,” he says with finality.
There’s a reason this guy lives all by himself in the boondocks. He’s about as friendly as a rabid dog. I doubt there’s a prince hiding underneath his stern demeanor. Only a beast.
Our eyes lock for a few moments. I implore him for help and I’m met with an unyielding gaze. I feel like I just ran into a rock wall. Hard.
Help is not here. Help is not anywhere. Despair engulfs me and I feel utterly defeated. I war between begging and my pride. My pride wins and that’s my downfall. “Never mind,” I whisper as my voice cracks. The impending rain will save me. I’ll cup my hands and drink to my heart’s content. I’ll find someone else to help me. Surely there’s another house down the road.
If there isn’t, it doesn’t matter. If I’m going to survive, I have to save myself.
There’s no sign of compassion in this man. I cast a longing-filled glance at his motorhome and wonder if I can make a run for it and attack his faucet before Mr. Unfriendly even has the chance to get down from his ladder.
I know I don’t have the strength, so I turn to leave.
My gait is wobbly and I falter. The buzzing in my head increases in volume. My head feels as though it has turned into one huge pulsing heartbeat. I don’t want to die out here. It strikes me as odd that I might die in the middle of the heartland because I couldn’t find anyone to help me. So much for friendship being the Texas state motto. Maybe they should remind their residents to act accordingly.
I hear a deep sigh from behind me. I don’t know how I hear it above the roar in my head. It sounds as though it’s miles away and yet whispered in my ear. Then the man says something unintelligible under his breath as his conscience gets the best of him. I hear that loud and clear.
“Wait,” he says. “I’m sorry. Of course I’ll help you. Please come back.”
Slowly, I turn to face him, ready to express my gratitude. The clouds roll in at that very moment and the sky darkens. A few raindrops land on my face and I instinctively turn my head toward the heavens, hoping moisture will inadvertently land in my waiting mouth.
Instead, the simple act of moving my head leaves me reeling and the lights go out as I fall to the ground in a crumpled heap.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Taylor Dean lives in Texas and is the mother of four grown children. Upon finding herself with an empty nest, she began to write the stories that were always wandering around in her head, quickly finding she had a passion for writing, specifically romance. Whether it’s paranormal, contemporary, or suspense—you’ll find all sub-genres of clean romance in her line-up.
When two estranged sisters reunite for their parents’ 50th anniversary, a family tragedy brings unexpected lessons of hope and healing amid the flowers of their mother’s perennial garden.
Eva—known to all as Lovey—grew up in Oxford, MS, surrounded by literary history and her mother's stunning perennial gardens. But a garden shed fire and the burns suffered by one of her best friends seemed to change everything. Her older sister Bitsy blamed her for the fire—and no one spoke up on Lovey’s behalf. Bitsy the cheerleader, Bitsy the homecoming queen, Bitsy married to a wealthy investor. And all the while, Lovey bears the brunt of everything that goes wrong.
At eighteen, Lovey turns down a marriage proposal and flees to Arizona—the farthest thing from the South she can imagine. She becomes a successful advertising executive and a weekend yoga instructor, and she seems to have it all together. But she's alone. And on her 45th birthday, she can't help but wonder what's wrong.
When she gets a call from her father insisting that she come home three weeks early for her parents' 50th wedding anniversary celebration, she's at wits end. She's about to close the biggest contract of her career, but his words, "Family First," hit too close to home.
Eva's journey home to the memory garden her father has planned as an anniversary surprise for her mother becomes one of discovering roots, and truth, and love, and what living perennially in spite of disappointments and tragedy really means.
Eva thought she wanted to leave her family and the South far behind . . . but she's realizing she hasn't truly been herself the whole time she's been gone.
My Review of Perennials
Julie Cantrell’s Perennials is the powerful novel of The Sutherland Family and their ability to love, forgive and find their way home again.
Bitsy and Lovey Sutherland were inseparable as children growing up in rural Oxford, Mississippi. Spending time outdoors with companions Finn and Fisher, the sister’s days were filled with flower gardens, playing games and catching fireflies. But as Bitsy enters her teenage years things begin to change for the sisters. Feeling peer pressure to fit in and be popular, Bitsy no longer enjoys the carefree days of playing outdoors and getting dirty. In time her carefree spirit turns spiteful and angry and Lovey finds she is the target of her older sister’s venom. When a tragic accident occurs involving Finn and Fisher, Bitsy points the guilty finger at Lovey and thus begins years of bitter feuding. As the years go by and the sisters grow further apart Lovey decides to leave rural Mississippi for Arizona despite the pleas of her parents and a marriage proposal from Fisher.
As time goes by Lovey settles into her new life at Apogee, a successful advertising firm in Phoenix. Her love life however, is another matter. Having been through an ugly breakup, Lovey is determined to put love and relationships behind her and concentrate on nothing but work. With a new campaign that could bring huge profits to her advertising firm and a large bonus to fund an early retirement for her, Lovey throws herself into her work. With her parents 50th Wedding Anniversary around the corner Lovey has to slay this project and meet her milestones in order to make it home for the party. As she has not been home in years she knows her parents are looking forward to their reunion. But an urgent phone call from her parents asking her to return weeks before the party without explanation has her in a bind. Although the Jansana account is critical, her parents Laurel and Chief, have always come first. Determined to make it all work, Lovey reluctantly leaves for Oxford hoping to return to Arizona as soon as possible.
Once home it’s clear to Lovey not much has changed. She finds she has missed Mississippi more than ever. Being with her parents evoke memories of childhood, both sweet and bitter, but regardless she is glad she has made the journey home. Seeing Fisher once again ignites a spark she thought long ago extinguished and her feud with Bitsy escalates despite the years and distance apart. As The Sutherlands 50th Wedding Anniversary draws near and feelings intensify between Fisher and Lovey, Bitsy's verbal attacks on Lovey redouble. As emotions come to a head and Lovey decides to run back to Arizona to avoid conflict and a work crisis, her parents disclose the truth behind her real call home. Lovey must decide to make a stand for her parents and Fisher, while trying to close the emotional gap between herself and Bisty before it’s too late.
I loved Perennials. This is the kind of book I like to sink my teeth into. It has beautiful, well developed characters and a storyline that tugs at your heart. The author skillfully builds the tension and plot throughout the book, until the turning point where everything breaks loose and all the pieces fall into place. I also love when an author gives us a great Prologue and an Epilogue. It sets the stage for what will happen throughout the book and gives us closure at the end of the story. I loved Lovey and Fisher’s characters. They are true and human in the face of all they have endured. Bitsy, on the other hand, was much harder to like. Even when the author gave the story closure and you see why she operates as she does, I still had a hard time trusting her. The damage she had done to Lovey and Fisher all those years was surreal. And last, but not least we have Laurel and Chief. They were a beautiful and unique couple and the legacy they left behind will live on in their children and grandchildren for a lifetime.
If you want a great read that will keep you turning the pages and your emotions flowing then Perennials is the book for you. A beautiful story that is hard to put down with characters that will make you smile and make you cry.
I want to thank Thomas Nelson-Fiction via NetGalley for an advanced copy of Perennials by Julie Cantrell for a fair and honest review.
We are entering that time of year when we begin to think about our Christmas gift list, baking our favorite cookies and dusting off our time worn, but best-loved holiday decorations. Cold weather and the first hint of snow make us dive into our favorite chair to enjoy a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie or a heartwarming Christmas novel that we have been saving to enjoy with a glass of wine or some warm apple cider. As always, these holiday movies and novels tug at our hearts and make us feel nostalgic and sentimental.
This year will not be different from any other previous year for me. I will dust off some books I have been saving or peruse a local bookstore or the web for some new additional reads. If you are like me and you enjoy a heartwarming, evocative or romantic Christmas read perhaps some of the books I have listed below might just be the one you are looking for this coming holiday season. With all the holiday shopping, decorating and food preparations you deserve to take a break and relax in your favorite spot and let a good book take you away, even if it’s just for a little while. So cheers to you all and happy reading!!
Colors of Christmas by Olivia Newport
Christmas at Carnton: A Novella by Tamera Alexander
The Christmas Blessing by Melody Carlson
Finding Noel by Richard Paul Evans
Dashing Through The Snow by Paige Rion
The Christmas Room by Catherine Anderson
Christmas in London by Anita Hughes
The Beautiful Word for Christmas by Mary E DeMuth
Silver Bells by LuAnne Rice
Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber
We'll Always Have Christmas by Jenny Hale
Christmas at Hope Cottage by lily Graham
The Christmas Shoes by Donna VanLiere
Free Christmas Tree Clip Art #54802 courtesy of Clipart Library
A warm, wry, sharply observed debut novel about what happens when a family is forced to spend a week together in quarantine over the holidays...
It’s Christmas, and for the first time in years the entire Birch family will be under one roof. Even Emma and Andrew’s elder daughter—who is usually off saving the world—will be joining them at Weyfield Hall, their aging country estate. But Olivia, a doctor, is only coming home because she has to. Having just returned from treating an epidemic abroad, she’s been told she must stay in quarantine for a week…and so too should her family.
For the next seven days, the Birches are locked down, cut off from the rest of humanity—and even decent Wi-Fi—and forced into each other’s orbits. Younger, unabashedly frivolous daughter Phoebe is fixated on her upcoming wedding, while her older sister, Olivia, deals with the culture shock of being immersed in first-world problems.
Their father, Andrew, sequesters himself in his study writing scathing restaurant reviews and remembering his glory days as a war correspondent. But his wife, Emma, is hiding a secret that will turn the whole family upside down.
In close proximity, not much can stay hidden for long, and as revelations and long-held tensions come to light, nothing is more shocking than the unexpected guest who’s about to arrive…
My Review of Seven Days of Us
Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak is the intricate story of the Birch Family forced together for a week at Christmas under medical quarantine.
The Birch family has not been together under one roof for quite a while. Their oldest daughter Olivia is coming home from Liberia where she has been treating an epidemic of Haag Virus along with another doctor Sean Coughlan. Unfortunately, Olivia must stay in enforced medical confinement at home, leaving her family with little choice but to join her in isolation at their old county manor in Norfolk. But Olivia’s dreading the week she must spend with her family over the holidays. She has felt disconnected from her mother and father for quite a number of years and the closeness she once felt with her sister is gone as they now have nothing in common. As the days progress Olivia begins to feel trapped. She misses Sean and the day to day intensity of living in the worst of conditions, treating the worst of diseases. Phoebe, her sister, does nothing but prattle on about her upcoming nuptials while dad makes himself scarce and mom bustles about the decaying manor cooking and wrapping gifts as if everything is hunky dory. But the serene family Christmas the Birch family is trying so hard to manufacture is about to come unraveled at the arrival of two unexpected guests, George, Phoebe’s fiancé and Jesse, a son Andrew Birch has never met. As secrets of the family are revealed, and everybody has one, the tension within the house comes to a head with explosive results. But the outcome is for the better as the Birch family find they will emerge from their medical seclusion a more caring and tight-knit family. One they’ve always wanted to be, one they always needed to be.
I liked the way Francesca Hornak weaved complex characters into an ever evolving storyline. As the holiday week wore on, you could feel the tension building in the house. When George and Jesse finally arrive on the scene, things really begin to take a turn in an unexpected way and there was never a dull moment in the Birch residence again. Secrets are laid bare leaving the family to deal with them in the aftermath. Things will never be the same again, but the family will be the better for it.
All the characters in Seven Days of Us were unique and well written. Each had a distinct part to play in this book, but my favorites were Jesse and Emma. I liked Emma because despite all the problems she was quietly dealing with, her priority was always and foremost her family. She tried to bring lightness to all the tension and when all else failed she reverted to the kitchen to feed her loved ones. She tried to constantly keep everyone happy even in the most awkward of situations and when she finally had enough of her husband’s behavior she let lose a lifetime of pent-up frustration. It was a great scene in the book, one I could read again and again.
I also liked Jesse. Jesse liked to get to the heart of the matter, in other words he wore his proverbial heart on his sleeve. This made him extremely endearing to the reader, but not necessarily to his new found family. Jesse also had a kind side to him and was willing to go the extra mile, even at the expense of himself. I believe it was Jesse and Emma that were instrumental in resolving the conflicts that held the Birch family hostage for so long. All in all, they were charming characters amid the others who were often reserved and seemingly detached. Unfortunately, George was my least favorite character. Selfish and often self-serving, he only had his own interests at heart.
Seven Days of Us is the unique story of The Birch Family trying to get through the holidays with secrets intact and with little emotion expended as possible. Instead, secrets are revealed, feelings expressed and a family long void of emotion manages to find themselves seeing each other in an all new light. The family that entered the holidays will not be the same family that enters the New Year.
I want to thank Berkley Publishing via NetGalley for an advanced copy of Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak for a fair and honest review.
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