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Book Review + GIVEAWAY: Shadows in the Mind’s Eye

Image Curtesy of Read with Audra

Synopsis from Read with Audra:

Charlotte Anne Mattas longs to turn back the clock. Before her husband, Sam, went to serve his country in the war, he was the man everyone could rely on—responsible, intelligent, and loving. But the person who came back to their family farm is very different from the protector Annie remembers. Sam’s experience in the Pacific theater has left him broken in ways no one can understand—but that everyone is learning to fear.

Talk spreads quickly around town after Sam nearly kills his own brother. When he claims to have seen men on the mountain when no one else has, Annie isn’t the only one questioning his sanity and her safety. If there were criminals haunting the hills, there should be evidence beyond his claims. Is he really seeing what he says, or is his war-tortured mind conjuring ghosts?

“Sam’s reactions to ‘normal’ stimulus are off the charts. If he hears a sound or sees a shadow, he immediately jumps into fight/flight/freeze reactions. As is normal for people when they’re first dealing with PTSD, he has no tools to hide his responses and lacks a bit of impulse control,” Tromp explains. “He’s a good, good man with an enormous heart and his reactions cause a horrendous amount of guilt for him. The last thing he wants is to put the people he loves in danger. Imagine watching yourself become more and more unstable and wondering if there’s anything you can do to stop it.”

Annie desperately wants to believe her husband, but between his irrational choices and his nightmares leaking into the daytime, she’s terrified he’s going mad. Can she trust God to heal Sam’s mental wounds—or will sticking by him mean keeping her marriage at the cost of her own life?

“Fear is the great consumer. Sam is afraid he’s going crazy and that he can’t protect his family. Annie is afraid she won’t ever be able to cope and that the Sam she married is lost forever. And when they (or we) focus on fear, there are no solutions, no ways to move forward because they cannot solve fear on their own. We aren’t trustworthy enough or strong enough to fix it,” shares Tromp. “I’m a huge proponent of looking for and celebrating the beautiful even when it isn’t pretty. Gratitude isn’t a pretty bandage to slap on a hemorrhaging wound. It is a way to shift your attention while the master healer does his work. As Sam’s mother Dovie May says, ‘Sometimes God uses broken things to save us . . . Ain’t no light that can get through something solid. It sneaks through the broken places.’”

Tromp’s inspiration for Shadow’s in the Mind’s Eye was her own grandparents’ stories of adjusting to life when her grandfather returned home from World War II. Back then, soldiers returning home rarely talked about their experiences and the difficult adjustment of “getting back to normal.” In the process of writing the story, the author did extensive research on treatments for what was known as battle fatigue at the time. She also drew on personal experiences in dealing with PTSD herself.

Readers will also learn more about the sordid history of Hot Springs being home to the largest illegal gambling racket in the country where the town served as a sort of gangster retreat for members of the mob. The setting and illegal activity provide an excellent backdrop for a suspenseful story. After reading Shadows in the Mind’s Eye, fans of psychological thrillers and historical fiction by Jaime Jo Wright and Sarah Sundin are sure to add Tromp to their favorite authors list.

Publisher: Kregel Publications

Source: NetGalley, signed up via the Read with Audra Blog Tours

Leslie’s Review: 4.5 Stars/I more than loved it!

I really loved Shadows in the Mind’s Eye by Janyre Tromp! Shadows in the Mind’s Eye tells the story of Sam, a father and husband returning from World War Two to his hometown of Hot Springs, and Annie, his wife. Returning home is not exactly how either Sam or Annie pictured. Sam is battling severe PTSD when he gets home and Annie thought things would be exactly as they were before Sam went off to war. As Sam is battling PTSD, he often sees things that are either not there or comes in waves of flashbacks of what he experienced during the war. Annie is trying her best to navigate life with this new version of Sam and raising their daughter, Rosie. As Sam’s PTSD gets worse, people start to think something is wrong with Sam. That is, until some of the things Sam has seen start to have some merit and some of Hot Springs deepest, darkest secrets come into the light.

What drew me to Shadows in the Mind’s Eye by Janyre Tromp is the psychological component and how it was written. Ms. Tromp writes Shadows in the Mind’s Eye in the voices of both Sam and Annie alternating the narrative. As you’re reading, you fully understand where Sam is coming from and where Annie is coming from–that is how flawless Ms. Tromp’s writing is. I loved the topics that were covered in the book and how they weren’t brushed under the rug, but brought to the forefront in a Christian Fiction Book. While it is a darker read, in terms of the realities a person with PTSD faces as well as their love ones who endure along side them, Shadows in the Mind’s Eye shines Hope in the middle of the darkness. I especially loved the ending and how everything wasn’t wrapped up in a nice little package, because it mimicked the realities of life.

Despite the realities in the book’s darker moments, I could still read moments of Hope that were doing it’s best to shine through. Yes, sometimes it’s good to read a book for the sake of an escape. But sometimes (like for me right now), it’s good to read a book that deals with the real stuff of the world, albeit in the fictional sense, to let you know that you are not alone in the world or to remind you that you can go through what life has dealt you because it’s not so bad after all. Shadows in the Mind’s Eye, I believe, will challenge you in a good way. If you are looking for a Christian read that could be outside of your comfort zone and challenge you, then I highly recommend Shadows in the Mind’s Eye by Janyre Tromp.

Have you read Shadows in the Mind’s Eye? What did you think of the book? In what ways did it challenge you and/or what did you take away from the book?

I would like to thank NetGalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read Shadows in the Mind’s Eye. Special thanks to the Read with Audra Book Tour for giving me my first chance to be on a book-blogging tour and for the media information for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Learn More About:

Janyre Tromp

Image Curtesy of Read with Audra

Janyre Tromp (pronounced Jan-ear) is a historical suspense novelist who loves spinning tales that, at their core, hunt for beauty, even when it isn’t pretty. She’s the author of Shadows in the Mind’s Eye and coauthor of It’s a Wonderful Christmas.

A firm believer in the power of an entertaining story, Tromp is also a book editor and published children’s book author. She lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her husband, two kids, two crazy cats, and a slightly eccentric Shetland Sheepdog.

You can find her on Facebook (@JanyreTromp), Instagram (@JaynreTromp), Twitter (@JanyreTromp), and her website, www.JanyreTromp.com where you can download a free copy of her novella, Wide Open.

Giveaway:

Image Curtesy of Read with Audra

Click the following link for a chance to win a copy of Shadows in the Minds Eye!

https://www.audrajennings.com/2022/04/shadows-in-minds-eye-giveaway.html

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Book Review: Mrs. Witherspoon Goes to War

Image Curtesy of Amazon

Synopsis from Amazon:

A WASP Goes Above the Call of Duty to Free Captive American Soldiers
 
Full of intrigue, adventure, and romance, this new series celebrates the unsung heroes—the heroines of WWII.
 
Peggy Witherspoon, a widow, mother, and pilot flying for the Women’s Airforce Service in 1944 clashes with her new reporting officer. Army Air Corp Major Howie Berg was injured in combat and is now stationed at Bolling Field in Washington D.C. Most of Peggy’s jobs are safe, predictable, and she can be home each night with her three daughters—until a cargo run to Cuba alerts her to American soldiers being held captive there, despite Cuba being an “ally.” Will Peggy go against orders to help the men—even risk her own life?

Publisher: Barbour Publishing

Source: NetGalley

Leslie’s Review: 4 Stars/I really, really love it!

I absolutely loved reading Mrs. Witherspoon Goes to War by Mary Davis. Mrs. Witherspoon Goes to War is part of the Heroines of WWII series by Barbour Publishing. Mrs. Witherspoon Goes to War tells the story of Peggy Witherspoon, a Women’s Airforce Service Pilot (WASP), and her co-workers during World War Two. WASP Witherspoon lost her husband, also a pilot, fighting for the Allies over in Europe and is trying to raise her two daughters (with the help of her Mother). All the while, doing her best to serve her Country. At the the workplace, the WASPs feel as though they are often overlooked and treated less than fairly for all that they have done to help the United States during the War. At first the WASPs superior, Major Howie Berg (who gets the job because of an injury he sustained during the War), is not quite sure what to think of the WASPs and their abilities. As time progresses, Major Berg highly respects the WASPs and the work that they do. Peggy is also not sure of things since her husband died, especially when it comes to things of God. Peggy and her fellow WASPs are sent on secret missions they know nothing about. However, on one mission, Peggy figures out one of the secret missions and that, in turn, leads to another mission the US does not want to take–but Peggy and her fellow WASPs do. Peggy and her fellow WASPs decide to do this mission “under the radar” without anyone knowing. When Major Berg finds out about the mission, he agrees to help the WASPs because he would have done the same thing–no matter how dangerous the mission. Through their ups and downs at work, Peggy and Howie are able to form a bond and a respect that impacts both of their lives, as well as those of Peggy’s daughters.

I loved reading Mrs. Witherspoon Goes To War from beginning to end. I appreciated reading of Peggy’s struggles with her Faith after the loss of her husband and, as a reader, was sympathetic towards her. It was nice to see how Howie was also coping with his personal injuries and his Faith as well. Despite Peggy and Howie’s struggles, both personally and professionally, they were able to find and hold on to Hope in God.

I also loved the spit-fire and spunk of the WASP ladies. I loved how fearless they were in their missions and how they are true Patriots. I loved the intrigue in the missions and how they figured out codes and such to complete the missions. I really enjoyed reading a book based on a part of history that’s unfamiliar to me. If you are looking for an pleasant, suspenseful read that is full of Faith, then I highly recommend Mrs. Witherspoon Goes to War!

Have you read Mrs. Witherspoon Goes to War? What did you think of the book? Have you read any of the books in the Heroines of WWII series? What do you think of the series so far?

I would like to thank NetGalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Learn More About:

Mary Davis

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Book Review: Polly and the Screen Time Overload

Image Curtesy of Amazon

Synopsis from Amazon:

Introducing Kids to the Importance of Boundaries with Technology

Polly loves visiting her grandparents on their farm every year. She looks forward to seeing the animals, helping out in the barn, and playing with her cousins.

That’s until she gets a new tablet as a present. Suddenly, she spends all day inside playing games and watching cartoons. Staring at her tablet screen, Polly risks missing out on all the family fun happening around her on the farm.

With easy-to-understand language and engaging illustrations, Polly’s story will help families start an ongoing conversation about self- control and how to enjoy technology within boundaries.

TGC Kids illustrated storybooks engage the hearts and imaginations of kids aged 3–7 by teaching them biblical truths about how to live and grow as God’s children in today’s culture. Published in partnership with the Gospel Coalition.

Publisher: Crossway

Source: NetGalley

Leslie’s Review: 5 Stars/A favorite of 2022

I love Polly and the Screen Time Overload by Betsy Childs Howard! Polly and the Screen Time Overload tells the story of Polly. Polly is visiting her grandparents farm. Polly loves helping at the farm, helping out with the animals, being with her grandparents, and playing with her cousins. While at the farm, Polly’s birthday takes place. For her birthday, Polly’s Aunt gives Polly a tablet. Playing on her tablet is all that Polly wants to do. Polly does not want to help out with the animals, be with her grandparents, or playing with her cousins–just playing on her tablet. Once her tablet dies and needs charging, Polly realizes all she has missed. With her grandparents guidance, Polly figures out ways to set boundaries with her tablet in order to do all the things Polly loves.

I loved Polly and the Screen Time Overload from beginning to end. I was drawn to Polly and the Screen Time Overload because of it’s title and subject matter. I loved that Polly’s story was dealt with a Biblical approach and that it was written in such a way that young kids can understand and relate. The illustrations are adorable. There is also a “Note to Grownups” in the back that I believe has good tips and ideas on how to help the children in your life handle technology in a healthy manner. I believe Polly and the Screen Time Overload is a fantastic book for the whole family to read that teaches a timely lesson. If you are looking for a tool to help teach your child concerning technological boundaries with a Biblical perspective, then I highly recommend Polly and the Screen Time Overload!

Have you read Polly and the Screen Time Overload? What did you think of the book? What tips do you have for too much screen time?

I would like to thank NetGalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Learn More About:

Betsy Childs Howard | Samara Hardy

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Book Review: As Long As You Both Shall Live

Image Curtesy of Linda K. Rodante

Synopsis from Amazon:

Social worker Sharee Jones has enough to think about–anonymous phone calls, an attack on her life, and uneasiness about her relationship with missionary pilot John Jergenson. The last thing she wants is a marriage proposal.

Commitment to God was easy in the jungles of Indonesia, but when John Jergenson returns home, Sharee refuses his marriage proposal, someone tries to kill them, and a personal tragedy hits. As Easter approaches, will love prevail and his faith survive?

Publisher: Lone Mesa Publishing

Source: Linda K. Rodante

Leslie’s Review: 5 Stars/A favorite of 2022

I absolutely loved and enjoyed reading As Long As You Both Shall Live by Linda K. Rodante! As Long As You Both Shall Live is full of intrigue, suspense, and Biblical Truth that will leave you on the edge of your seat! As Long As You Both Shall Live tells the story of John Jergenson and his girlfriend Sharee Jones. The book opens up with John returning from a missionary trip and asking Sharee to marry him. Sharee refuses John’s proposal due to uncertainty and having someone who is essentially stalking her. As the story unfolds, John and Sharee try their best to hang onto their relationship at all costs regardless of the fact that their lives tend to be constantly in danger. As Long As You Both Shall Live tells the story of trying to hold on to your Faith despite insurmountable odds and standing up for what the Bible says no matter what.

I read a lot of Christian Suspense books (they are my go-to genre) and very rarely do they keep me on the edge of my seat the way Ms. Rodante’s As Long As You Both Shall Live did. Ms. Rodante has a way of writing Christian Suspense in such a way that the intrigue and keeping you on the edge does not detour or shy away from the Biblical Truth included within the mystery. I loved the characters of Sharee and John. I appreciated the realistic things that they struggled with as a couple and that they were approached and dealt with in a Biblical and Godly manner. I loved that As Long As You Both Shall Live had so many twists and turns that I was often surprised as the reader as to how things were actually going to turn out. I really appreciated how seamlessly the Biblical Truth and suspense were intertwined throughout the book.

As Long As You Both Shall Live is the second book in The Dangerous Series by Linda K. Rodante and the first Christian Suspense novel I have read from Ms. Rodante, but not the last. With As Long As You Both Shall Live being the second in The Dangerous Series, I was not lost like I get sometimes when I start in the middle of a series, because the books in The Dangerous Series can be read as stand alone books. If you are looking for an awesome, edge-of-your-seat read then I highly recommend As Long As You Both Shall Live by Linda K. Rodante!

Have you read As Long As You Both Shall Live? What did you think of the book? Have you read any of the other books in The Dangerous Series? What do you think of the series?

I would like to thank Linda K. Rodante for giving me a copy of As Long As You Both Shall Live to review and for help in obtaining media information for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Learn More About:

Linda K. Rodante

Image Curtesy of Linda K. Rodante

Linda is a Florida transplant now living in Tennessee. She loves sweet tea, apple butter and both the mountains and the oceans. Her work with crisis pregnancy centers and anti-trafficking groups gave her a heart for women struggling in today’s society, while still respecting the role God has given men.

She writes Christian romantic suspense novels. Her books wrap sweet romance in real-life issues women face today with an edge of mystery and suspense. She desires to entertain and encourage women in their walk with the Lord. Her books can be found on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Linda-K.-Rodante/e/B012OITZ2Y/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

She’s a past finalist of ACFW’s Genesis contest and a member of Word Weavers International.

Her two series, The Dangerous Series and The Spiritual Warfare Series, are each unique. Both are fun to read in order, but every book is also a stand-alone.

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Book Review: An Amish Quilting Bee: Three Stories

Image Curtesy of Amazon

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Three charming stories of cozy quilting circles and budding romance

 Patchwork Promises  by Amy Clipston 

When Colin Zook and his beloved grandmother lose everything in a fire, their greatest loss is a beloved family heirloom quilt that helped keep her dementia at bay. When Joanne Lapp hears about the loss, she decides to re-create the quilt. Colin soon feels himself developing feelings for her, but he’s held back by the knowledge that a future with him would involve care of his grandmother and his farm. Will Joanne look past his list of responsibilities and see him for who he truly is?

A Common Thread  by Kathleen Fuller 

Susie Glick returns from a shopping trip laden with beautiful fabric for her quilting group. On the bus ride, Alex Lehman—her crush from three years ago—sits next to her. Alex left Middlefield to explore the country, and now he’s back and ready to join the church. Susie was just a kid when he left, but now she’s a woman—and she definitely has his interest. The women in her quilting circle aren’t as excited about Alex’s return, assuming that he’ll leave again in search of adventure. Susie is convinced they’re wrong, but just as they start dating, Alex tells Susie he has to leave. He says he’ll return, but Susie must decide whether or not she can trust the man she fears has captured her heart.

Stitched Together by Shelley Shepard Gray 

Rosie’s joy is her yearly project for the Pinecraft Mennonite Quilt Sale, and she dreams of being the top earner. But she’s worried that she’s bitten off more than she can chew with her latest entry. To make things even more confusing, after coming to terms with her single state, she’s recently formed a friendship with Tim Christner. He’s only in town for a month, but he has Rosie wondering if she’s found love at last. Now all she has to do is figure out how to get the quilt done so she can concentrate on him. But with her once very organized life in total disarray, everything comes to a head just before the sale. Rosie is forced to reexamine her priorities before she loses not only her place in the quilt show but everything else she’s ever wanted.

Publisher: Zondervan Fiction

Source: NetGalley

Leslie’s Review: 4 Stars/I really, really love it!

Patchwork Promises

I absolutely loved Patchwork Promises by Amy Clipston! I have been a big fan of Ms. Clipston’s work for years and when I found out she wrote for the anthology, An Amish Quilting Bee, I knew I had to read the book! Patchwork Promises tells the story of Colin and Joanne. Colin has lost his parents during his growing up years and recently lost his house in a fire, all while taking care of his grandmother who has Dementia. After Colin’s house is rebuilt, he feels his Amish Community has abandoned him in his time of need. Most nights, since the fire happened, Colin’s grandmother has cried out for her favorite quilt that was lost in the fire and her Dementia seems to be getting worse. When Joanne finds out about Colin’s situation, she goes on a mission to recreate Colin’s grandmother’s quilt and to be there for Colin, encouraging him and letting him know the Amish community has not abandoned him. In the midst of everything, Colin and Joanne begin falling in love.

I loved Patchwork Promises from beginning to end. I loved Colin’s admiration and dedication to his grandmother. I could understand and feel the gravity of the weight he carried and could see how he felt abandoned by the Amish Community. I also loved Joanne’s dedication and perseverance in getting the quilt made as precisely as she could, in hopes to give Colin’s grandmother peace of mind and Colin some much needed rest. I love that Joanne never gave up in helping Colin’s grandmother and how Joanne’s family all pitched in to help Colin where they could. Patchwork Promises is a sweet story of love, dedication, and community.

A Common Thread

I loved A Common Thread by Kathleen Fuller from the first page. A Common Thread tells the story of Susie and Alex. Susie and Alex reunite on a bus home–Susie traveling back home from a trip to buy quilting supplies from the next town over, and Alex from traveling the US for a few years before committing to the Amish Church. As they are traveling home, both realize they are not the same people that they were when they last saw one another. Alex and Susie start to fall for each other (or in Susie’s case, the feelings never left to begin with). Alex and Susie face a lot of obstacles as their feelings start to blossom. Alex struggles with feeling that no one will accept him after taking a break from the Amish Community before committing to it. Susie struggles with her mother preventing Susie’s relationship with Alex.

I love the characters of Susie and Alex and their personalities! Susie and Alex made A Common Thread a sweet read by how they fought in their own way through growth and perseverance to not only have a relationship with each other, but to be the people God meant for them to be. I love how Alex fell for Susie’s sweet and quiet nature and saw Susie for who she is as a person when it seemed that very few did. I loved how Susie’s shyness came across the pages. I sympathized with Susie’s obligation of being a dutiful daughter and not always feeling like you have the freedom to do what you feel in your heart that you should do. I love the ending of the story (no spoilers) and how it matched up with the beginning of the story, bringing the story full circle and giving the story closure. A Common Thread is a sweet story of accepting people for who they are, forgiving their past, and seeing who they are and taking a chance on the future.

Stitched Together

Shelley Shepard Gray is one of my go-to Amish Fiction authors. When I found out that Ms. Gray also wrote a story for An Amish Quilting Bee, I couldn’t wait to read her story! Ms. Gray wrote the story Stitched Together for An Amish Quilting Bee. Stitched Together tells the story of Rosie and Tim in Pinecraft, Florida. (I love Amish stories set in Florida!) Tim is an Amish Missionary who has recently returned to the States, after being out of the country, to help out his brother’s family in Florida. Rosie is a single Amish woman, who runs a quilt shop and teaches quilting classes in the community. Rosie also competes in quilting competitions. Tim’s brother is married to Rosie’s sister. At the time of Tim’s visit, Rosie’s sister, Bethany, is pregnant with her third child. Bethany and her husband often call upon Rosie and Tim to help watch their twin daughters (who can be rowdy at times). If Rosie’s plate isn’t already full enough, she is also tasked with showing Tim around Pinecraft. In between helping with her nieces and showing Tim around town, she is trying her best to complete a quilt for a competition that she hopes to win. During all of life’s craziness, Tim and Rosie fall in love. (Un)fortunately, life comes to a head for Rosie when her quilt for the competition gets ruined, teaching everyone important lessons unique to them.

I love how Rosie and Tim seemed like night and day at times. Tim has an easy-going approach to life while Rosie seems to thrive on structure and organization. It was nice to see Rosie and Tim’s bond flow and strengthen. I loved how Ms. Gray described the nieces because they added a humorous and fun element to the story. I loved how Tim and Rosie went with whatever was put on their plate and the lessons they both learned from it–especially Rosie. Stitched Together is a sweet story of acceptance, being thankful, and finding a contentment about life that only comes from God.

An Amish Quilting Bee (as a whole)

I loved how the theme of quilting is threaded through the entire anthology of An Amish Quilting Bee. I loved how all three stories were a light read that brought out important lessons. I love how I was drawn into each story and how I was able to escape into it. If you are looking for a sweet read to escape into, then I highly recommend An Amish Quilting Bee by Amy Clipston, Kathleen Fuller, and Shelley Shepard Gray!

Have you read An Amish Quilting Bee? What did you think of the stories?

I would like to thank NetGalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read An Amish Quilting Bee. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Learn More About:

Amy Clipston | Kathleen Fuller | Shelley Shepard Gray

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Book Review: Crosshairs

Image Curtesy of Amazon

Synopsis from Amazon:

Investigative Services Branch (ISB) ranger Ainsley Beaumont arrives in her hometown of Natchez, Mississippi, to investigate the murder of a three-month-pregnant teenager. While she wishes the visit was under better circumstances, she never imagined that she would become the killer’s next target–nor that she’d have to work alongside an old flame.

After he almost killed a child, former FBI sniper Lincoln Steele couldn’t bring himself to fire a gun, which had deadly and unforeseen consequences for his best friend. Crushed beneath a load of guilt, Linc is working at Melrose Estate as an interpretive ranger. But as danger closes in on Ainsley during her murder investigation, Linc will have to find the courage to protect her. The only question is, will it be too little, too late?

Award-winning author Patricia Bradley continues her Natchez Trace Park Rangers series with a story about how good must prevail when evil just won’t quit.

Publisher: Revell

Source: NetGalley

Leslie’s Review: 5 Stars/A favorite of 2022

Every book I have read from Patricia Bradley I have loved and is a favorite, and Crosshairs is no exception–I love it and it’s a favorite! Crosshairs is the third installment of the Natchez Trace Park Rangers series. I have read every single book in the Natchez Trace Park Rangers series and love every book thus far.

Crosshairs tells the story of Ainsley and Linc. Linc (short for Lincoln) and Ainsley are former high school sweethearts and both have ties to law enforcement–Linc, a former FBI agent, is an interpretive ranger, and Ainsley is a part of the Investigative Services Branch (ISB). Ainsley and Linc are forced to work together to solve a murder involving a pregnant teen. Not only do they have to solve a murder, but they are also solving the mystery of what happened to Ainsley’s Aunt and trying to figure out who is trying to kill Ainsley. On top of all of this, Ansley is dealing with family issues regarding her relationship with her father and what she perceives to be a failed music career. Linc is still reeling from the death of his best friend and trying to ward off the best friend’s sister who has feelings for him, all the while dealing with the anxiety of his FBI career. Plus, Linc has regrets about the way he handled things in regards to Ainsley’s music career.

Crosshairs is full of twists and turns, that kept me on the edge of my seat. Not to mention, there were surprises over halfway through the book that kept me guessing. I love reading mystery and suspense and at times the books in this genre are sometimes predictable to me. Not in the case of Crosshairs. I enjoyed the intrigue of the story and how Ms. Bradley wrote about the characters and how they evolved, both personally and in their relationship with one another, throughout the book. If you are looking for a book that’s full of mystery and intrigue that has many layers to it, then I highly recommend Crosshairs by Patricia Bradley! I cannot wait to read the next book by Patricia Bradley!

Have you read Crosshairs? What did you like about the book? What other books have read in the Natchez Trace Park Rangers series? What do you think of the series?

I would like to thank NetGalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Learn More About:

Patricia Bradley

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Book Review: High-Wire Heartbreak

Image Curtesy of Amazon

Synopsis from Amazon:

In 1936–A party at the Ringling mansion Ca d’Zan in Sarasota, Florida, leads to a robbery–and possibly death.

A successful historical mystery writer, Chloe Whitfield comes to Ca’ d’Zan to research her next novel. Chloe’s fascination with the circus is rooted in family stories of her great-grandmother Lucinda Conroy, who reportedly was a trapeze artist of some renown. She’s heard hints of scandal—and perhaps larceny, but no details.

Chloe’s grandmother—rumored to be Lucinda’s only offspring—was raised in an orphanage and never knew her mother. Intrigued as she is, Chloe has no intent of writing about Lucinda until she sees a poster featuring Lucinda as the star performer for a 70th birthday gala for John Ringling in May of 1936. From there the trail goes cold.

Who was Lucinda and what happened to her?

Publisher: Barbour Publishing

Source: NetGalley

Leslie’s Review: 4 Stars/I really, really love it!

I love mysteries and I love books set with the circus as a main theme/topic, and Anna Schmidt’s High-Wire Heartbreak fits the bill! High-Wire Heartbreak is part of the Doors of the Past series curtesy of Barbour Publishing, which I also love. High-Wire Heartbreak is a spilt-time novel that takes place primarily in the 1930’s and present-day. The book opens in present-day with Best Selling Author Chloe Whitfield getting a chance to stay at the Cat d’Zan property, the home of John Ringling and his wife, Mable, owners of the Ringling Brothers Circus. Chloe’s purpose for staying at Cat d’Zan is two-fold: Chloe is researching for her latest mystery novel which takes place at Cat d’Zan and to do research into her family tree. Chloe’s great-grandmother, Lucinda, was a famous trapeze artist for the Ringling Brothers Circus and put Chloe’s grandmother up for adoption in the 1930s. The split-time story tells the story of what really happened to Chloe’s Grandmother and Great-Grandmother and helps bring closure to the her family.

Anna Schmidt did a great job with High-Wire Heartbreak! High-Wire Heartbreak is well written and well researched. I easily felt swept away into the backdrop of the 1930s circus world. The time-slip transitions flowed effortlessly throughout the book. I loved the mystery and how Chloe tried to figure out what happened in her great-grandmother Lucinda’s life and how she tied into the Ringling Brothers Circus. My heart broke for Lucinda’s side of the story. I found myself rooting for Lucinda to get the best out of her life and for Chloe to solve what really happened back then so that she could give her entire family closure. I also enjoyed the Author’s Note in the book and have been inspired to do further digging to look into the circus world during it’s heyday.

I highly recommend High-Wire Heartbreak for the way it transports and gives you an escape to another world. If you are a mystery lover or time-slip novels are your jam, then I believe you will enjoy this book. I am looking forward to reading more in the Doors of the Past series in the future!

Have you read High-Wire Heartbreak? What did you think? What other books have you read from the Doors of the Past series?

I would like to thank NetGalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Learn More About:

Anna Schmidt | Cat d’Zan | Doors of the Past series

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Book Review: Harmony on the Horizon

Image Curtesy of Kathleen Denly

Synopsis from Kathleen Denly

Her calling to change the world may be his downfall.

On the heels of the Great Rebellion, Margaret Foster, an abolitionist northerner, takes a teaching position in 1865 San Diego—a town dominated by Southern sympathizers. At thirty-seven years of age, Margaret has accepted spinsterhood and embraced her role as teacher. So, when Everett Thompson, the handsomest member of the School Board, reveals his interest in her, it’s a dream come true. Until her passionate ideals drive a wedge between them.

After two decades of hard work, Everett Thompson is on the verge of having everything he’s dreamed of. Even the beautiful new teacher has agreed to his courtship. Then two investments go south and a blackmailer threatens everything Everett has and dreams of.

As Everett scrambles to shore up the crumbling pieces of his life, Margaret unwittingly sets off a scandal that divides the small community and threatens her position as teacher. With the blackmailer still whispering threats, Everett must decide if he’s willing to risk everything for the woman still keeping him at arm’s length.

Publisher: Wild Heart Books

Source: Complementary copy from Kathleen Denly

Leslie’s Review: 3.5 Stars/I more than liked it!

Harmony on the Horizon by Kathleen Denly is a sweet, uplifting story about forgiveness and grace. Harmony on the Horizon is the third book in the Chaparral Hearts series. Harmony on the Horizon centers around Everett and Margaret as well as Fletcher and Katie. The story splits it’s time between San Francisco and San Diego in 1865.

Everett and Margaret’s story deals with a lot of misunderstanding, secrets, and standing up for one’s convictions. Everett is on the School Board in San Diego and has many business ventures in both San Diego and San Francisco that all seem to be having some kind of trouble at the same time. Margaret comes from the North, with the promise of a teaching position, to San Francisco, but the position falls through. After a God-ordained meeting, Everett offers Margaret a teaching job in San Diego without any references or recommendations. Margaret is thirty-seven and her teaching methods are unconventional to the townspeople, but effective. Margaret sees people for who they are and does not mind about the color of their skin, which a lot of the townspeople disagree with. Even though Everett shares the same convictions as Margaret, he fails to vocalize them like Margaret does. Regardless of his secrets, Everett and Margaret still fall for each other and Everett’s secrets almost cost him everything.

Fletcher and Katie’s story also mingles with misunderstanding, secrets, and standing up for one’s convictions. Fletcher has a passion to right the wrongs in society, and sometimes doing things that some would deem Un-Christlike. Katie is a sweet, easily distracted young lady that tries her best to honor Christ. Both try to stand up for what they believe is right. Throughout the book as Fletcher and Katie’s friendship blossoms, so do their feelings for one another. But like with Everett, Fletcher’s as well as Katie’s secrets almost cost them everything.

I liked the complexities of all the characters and the lessons of Forgiveness and Grace they all learned. I also loved how also the characters stories were intertwined with one another. I loved and appreciated how the author did not shy away from realities of the day regarding race, jobs, and society as a whole. Not only did Ms. Denly not shy away from the injustices of the time, she has elegantly sprinkled God’s Truth throughout the book.

This is the first book I read by Ms. Denly and it won’t be my last. The book is very detailed, well-researched, and well-written. While this is the third book in the Chaparral Hearts series and the first book I have read from the author, there were times while I was reading that I felt that I was missing something because I have not read the previous books yet. To me, this isn’t a bad thing necessarily. If anything, it spurs me on and makes me want to read the rest of series to find out what has happened previously–which I cannot wait to do! If you are looking for a sweet escape with Truth to get swept into, I highly recommend this book.

Have you read Harmony on the Horizon? What did you think of the book? What did you learn from the characters?

I would personally like to thank Ms. Denly for the opportunity to read this book and for giving a blogger a chance in the book review world to get started. All thoughts, opinions, and views are my own.

Learn More About:

Kathleen Denly

Photo Curtesy of Kathleen Denly

Kathleen Denly writes historical romance to entertain, encourage, and inspire readers toward a better understanding of our amazing God and how He sees us. Award winning author of the Chaparral Hearts series, she also shares history tidbits, thoughts on writing, books reviews and more at KathleenDenly.com.

Kathleen lives in sunny California with her loving husband, four young children, and two cats. As a member of the adoption and foster community, children in need are a cause dear to her heart and she finds they make frequent appearances in her stories. When she isn’t writing, researching, or caring for children, Kathleen spends her time reading, visiting historical sites, hiking, and crafting.

Connect with Kathleen:

Website | Newsletter| BookBub

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Book Review: Christmas at the Amish Bakeshop 

Image Curtesy of Amazon

Synopsis from Goodreads:

USA Today bestselling authors Shelley Shepard Gray, Rachel J. Good, and Loree Lough celebrate the spirit of the season, the warmth of simple traditions, and of course, the joy of holiday treats, with this faith-affirming collection of three connected holiday novellas about the Christmas surprises in store for those who work and shop at a charming Amish bakery.

As the most joyful holiday draws near, three couples discover the recipe for love includes faith, hope, and the sweetest blessings…

A CHRISTMAS CAKE FOR REBECCA by New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Shelley Shepard Gray
When carpenter Aden returns to Lancaster after twenty years away, bakeshop owner Rebecca is dismayed to find he’s still as handsome and kind as ever. He broke her heart when he left the community back then. Will a holiday emergency provide a second chance at love, this time forever?

BEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT EVER by USA Today Bestselling Author Rachel J. Good
When a lonely widower with a sick daughter and a new cake decorator meet at the bakeshop, they discover they were once childhood playmates. But as each of them helps the other care for family, their neighborly kindness inspires a gift that only love could make possible…

THE CHRISTMAS CUPCAKE by USA Today Bestselling Author Loree Lough
A builder who never learned to read believes he must hide his fond feelings for a kind schoolteacher. But after they run into each other at the bakeshop, she offers to teach him–and as Christmas approaches, each of them learns a lesson about the great gift of love…

Publisher: Kensington Books

Source: NetGalley

Leslie’s Review: 3.5 Stars/I more than liked it

A Christmas Cake for Rebecca

I am a big fan of Shelley Shephard Gray’s work and when I found out that she was a contributor to Christmas at the Amish Bakeshop I knew I had to read it! After being separated for many years, Aden and Rebecca are reunited through the circumstances of life. When Aden sees how hard Rebecca works at her shop, Rebecca’s Porch, he offers to help any way he can. Through Aden’s help, Aden and Rebecca’s relationship and the feelings they had for each other are rekindled.

Ms. Gray’s A Christmas Cake for Rebecca is sweet, while predictable at times. The predictableness is easy to overlook, because it is a Christmas story and Ms. Gray’s writing is so good. The description of Rebecca’s famous Christmas cake is mouthwatering. I loved the characters and reading A Christmas Cake for Rebecca.

Best Christmas Present Ever

Rachel J. Good is a new author to me. Ms. Good’s story Best Christmas Present Ever has made me a fan. Best Christmas Present Ever centers a round Christian, a widow taking care of his daughter, Johanna, who has cancer, and Lizzie, a young down-on-her-luck Amish woman who has moved back home to take care of her ailing Aunt. The primary setting for the story is Rebecca’s Porch, just like it was in the previous story, A Christmas Cake for Rebecca. While getting to know one another, Christian and Lizzie realize they were childhood best friends (which actually surprised me a bit).

I really liked Best Christmas Present Ever. Like the story before, it was predictable in some parts (but not the childhood best friend part–at least to me), but the story was sweet and Christmassy enough to overlook it. I enjoyed that the story had included characters from A Christmas Cake for Rebecca. I loved how caring, sweet, and understanding the characters were with one another and genuinely cared for the people around them. I love that Christian and Lizzie did not realize that they had grown up together until halfway through the story–it was a pleasant surprise as the reader.

The Christmas Cupcake

Loree Lough’s The Christmas Cupcake is a sweet story that centers around Asher and Tessa. Tessa is the school teacher for her Amish community and Asher is a furniture builder. Tessa has a rough home life that hardly anyone knows about and Asher has trouble reading and writing. After bumping into one another at Rebecca’s Porch, they start getting to know each other. As Asher does his best to protect Tessa and Tessa teaches Asher to read and write, their friendship and feelings deepen.

In The Christmas Cupcake, real life issues (abuse and illiteracy) are more center stage than the previous stories and Rebecca’s Porch is not a major part of the story like it had been in the previous stories, in my opinion. I appreciated how The Christmas Cupcake dealt with real life issues, in the midst of a seasonal story, and it was still able to have an uplifting ending. I enjoyed reading about Asher and Tessa and am happy with the story’s outcome.

Christmas at the Amish Bakeshop (as a whole):

I really enjoyed Christmas at the Amish Bakeshop as a whole. Each story was a really nice read that I could escape into. I know I said that it was predictable in some parts to me and that is true, but I don’t see that as a bad thing necessarily. When I read a Christmas read, I want to know that everything will be wrapped up in a tidy bow and will have a happy ending. I want to be able to escape into a Christmas read and destress. Christmas at the Amish Bakeshop did that for me.

Have you read Christmas at the Amish Bakeshop? What did you think of the stories?

I would like to thank NetGalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Learn More About:

Shelley Shepard Gray | Rachel J. Good | Loree Lough

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Book Review: The Wish Book Christmas

Image Curtesy of Amazon

Synopsis from Amazon:

Best friends Audrey Barrett and Eve Dawson are looking forward to celebrating Christmas in postwar America, thrilled at the prospect of starting new traditions with their five-year-old sons. But when the 1951 Sears Christmas Wish Book arrives and the boys start obsessing over every toy in it, Audrey and Eve realize they must first teach them the true significance of the holiday. They begin by helping Bobby and Harry plan gifts of encouragement and service for those in their community, starting by walking an elderly neighbor’s yellow Lab—since a dog topped the boys’ wish list for Santa. In the charming tale that follows, Audrey and Eve are surprised to find their own hearts healing from the tragedies of war and opening to the possibility of forgiveness and new love.

Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers

Source: NetGalley

Leslie’s Review: 5 Stars/A favorite of 2021

Lynn Austin’s The Wish Book Christmas is one of the best Christmas reads I have ever read. What drew me to the book was the historical setting and the Sears Christmas Wish Book itself. The book takes place in the 1950s and is a follow-up to Ms. Austin’s book, If I Were You. (If I Were You is still on my TBR list, but I did not feel entirely lost while reading The Wish Book Christmas.) The Wish Book Christmas center’s around Bobby and Harry, the young sons of Audrey and Eve.

Bobby and Harry are obsessed with the Sears Christmas Wish Book and want everything that’s in the Wish Book (for boys that is). I remember when I was a young girl myself, writing down everything in the girls section and giving the list to my family in the late 80s-early 90s. It was nice to be swept up in the nostalgia and memories of Christmas past while reading the book.

Besides the nostalgia and the time period, what I loved most about the book is the Message woven throughout. Audrey and Eve do not want their sons to become greedy and expect to get everything they have asked for. Inspired by the Christmas Story from the Bible and the boys’ role in the Christmas Play as Wise Men as reference, Audrey and Eve come up with plans of ways for them to give back to their community.

At first, it’s a rough go, but once the boys get the hang of it, they don’t want to stop giving! Bobby and Harry then understand what the True Meaning of Christmas is: Jesus. Audrey and Eve also learn lessons of God’s Forgiveness and Grace and His Giving Nature. The grownups in their circle of friends and family are blessed by Bobby and Harry’s giving and are impressed to give themselves.

The Wish Book Christmas is a sweet Christmas read that helps to remind us what the True Meaning of Christmas actually is and what Jesus gave us. I highly recommend The Wish Book Christmas. The Wish Book Christmas has definitely become one of my favorite reads that I wouldn’t mind reading again (which is rare for me) and is one of my favorites of 2021.

Have you read The Wish Book Christmas? How did you like the book? Do you have a special Sears Christmas Wish Book memory?

I would like to thank NetGalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Learn More About:

Lynn Austin