Review: In Search of the Magic Theatre, by Karla Huebner

About the book, In Search of the Magic TheaterIn-Search-of-the-Magic-Theater-cover

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Regal House Publishing (June 1, 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 254 pages

Why, the rather staid young cellist Sarah wonders, should her aunt rent their spare room to the perhaps unstable Kari Zilke? Like the nephew in Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf, Sarah finds herself taking an unexpected interest in the lodger, but she is unable to stop at providing a mere introduction to Kari’s narrative of mid-life crisis and self-discovery, and develops her own more troubled tale of personal angst and growth, entwined with the account Kari herself purportedly left behind. Generational tensions, artistic collaborations, and even a romance steeped in Greek myth follow as Kari and Sarah pursue their very different creative paths in theater and music. And while Kari seems to blossom post-divorce, Sarah must grapple with the question of what the role of mothers, fathers, aunts, mentors, and male collaborators should be in her life as a young musician.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


About the author, Karla Huebner

Karla Huebner has lived on a boat and worked in factories, offices, theater, publishing, oil refineries, private investigation, and drug rehab. Her fiction has appeared in many literary and genre magazines and her collection Heartwood was a finalist for the 2020 Raz-Shumaker award. She teaches Art History at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio and her book Magnetic Woman: Toyen and the Surrealist Erotic is available from University of Pittsburgh Press.

Connect with Karla:

Twitter


My Thoughts

MissMelissIn Search of the Magic Theater is a sort of left-handed coming of age story in which Sarah’s young adulthood is influenced by her observations of  her aunt’s boarder, Kari, and older woman who arrives with a box of LPs (odd when almost all of us switched to CD’s decades ago) and a record player to listen to them with.

Told in alternate POVs we see Sarah, who “plays the cello and reads books like Jane Eyre,” broaden her own world view as she watches the older woman, Kari’s, interactions with a younger man and experimental theater change her as well.

Sarah’s story really resonated with me, as I was once a young woman who read classic novels (I still do) and played the cello (I only noodle at home now). I didn’t have a Kari in my life, but my mother, only twenty years older than I am, has always been freer and bolder than me.

I enjoyed the author’s writing voice a lot, and appreciated the contrast between both women.

This is a fast read, but a surprisingly meaty one, with lots of details about Greek mythology and art history.

Goes well with: baked brie and hard cider.


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Monday, June 6th: Instagram: @imbookedtonight

Tuesday, June 7th: Instagram: @wovenfromwords

Wednesday, June 8th: Instagram: @audreyoaksreadseverything

Thursday, June 9th: Instagram: @whatlizziereads

Thursday, June 9th: Stacy’s Books

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Monday, June 13th: Instagram: @everything.is.words

Wednesday, June 15th: Instagram: @bookish_and_cookish

Thursday, June 16th: Instagram: @hillysreads

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Friday, June 17th: Instagram: @thereadinggargoyle

Monday, June 20th: Bibliotica

Wednesday, June 22nd: Instagram: @literaryladyreviews

Friday, June 24th: Instagram: @mamabookwormreads

Monday, June 27th: Instagram: @erynereads

Tuesday, June 28th: Instagram: @pocketsized_pageturner

 

Book Spotlight and Giveaway: Deadly Keepsakes, by Anita Dickason

BNR Deadly Keepsakes Blitz

 

About the book, Deadly KeepsakesCover Deadly Keepsakes

  • A Tori Winters Mystery
  • Now available for Pre-order – Coming July 10th
  • Publisher: Mystic Circle Books
  • Number of Pages: 360 pages
  • Scroll down for giveaway

The past becomes the future. Secrets that can kill! 

After someone tries to kill her, Tori Winters is on the run. Looking for a place to hide, a mysterious phone call about a vague inheritance seems to be the answer. After all, who would think of looking for her in Granbury, a small quaint Texas town. Instead, her life is about to spin into an existence where nothing is as it seems. The historic house she inherits has secrets. Ones she’s been warned can kill. A stranger in a strange town, who can she trust? There is the kindly lawyer and his son, or the disinherited step-grandson. What secrets do they hide? Tori’s newfound fortune may not be a blessing. It could become her death warrant.

Pre-order from Amazon | Add to Goodreads

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About the author, Anita Dickason

Author Photo DickasonAward-winning Author Anita Dickason is a twenty-two-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department. She served as a patrol officer, undercover narcotics detective, advanced accident investigator, tactical officer, and first female sniper on the Dallas SWAT team.

Anita writes about what she knows, cops and crime. Her police background provides an unending source of inspiration for her plots and characters. Many incidents and characters portrayed in her books are based on personal experience. For her, the characters are the fun part of writing as she never knows where they will take her. There is always something out of the ordinary in her stories.

In Anita’s debut novel, Sentinels of the Night, she created an elite FBI Unit, the Trackers. Since then, she has added three more Tracker crime thrillers, Going Gone!, A u 7 9, and Operation Navajo, which are not a series and can be read in any order, and Deadly Business, a crime thriller.

As a Texas author, many of Anita’s books are based in Texas, or there is a link to Texas. When she stepped outside of the Tracker novels and wrote, Not Dead, she selected Meridian, a small community in central Texas for the location.

Connect with Anita:

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Receive Deadly Keepsakes tote bags
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Review: Remember Whose Little Girl You Are, by Ellen Nichols

Remember Whose Little Girl You AreAbout the book, Remember Whose Little Girl You Are

• Koehler Books: May 3, 2022
• Paperback: 128 pages

Remember Whose Little Girl You Are captures the flavor of the Deep South like no author since Eudora Welty or Flannery O’Connor. Ellen Nichols captures the tenor of small-town Southern life in the fifties and sixties, with its vicissitudes and hilarity. One is captured with her openness and drawn deeply into the dialogue-so much as to, according to one reader, sometimes feel guilty of spying.

Read it and see if you want those times back-or are just relieved they’re gone.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


nana-headshot-1About the author, Ellen Nichols

Ellen grew up in the American Deep South, but with a spirit of adventure, she went up to Toronto, Canada, to go to graduate school, and stayed 50 years.

No, she wasn’t a slow student, she just ended up getting married, raising a family, and building a successful career in charitable fundraising. She has been writing for a living for years, but was always writing for someone else. Her grant proposals, direct marketing letters, and especially her thank you letters, are legend. Her persuasive writing skills raised millions of dollars.

Those Canadians loved her tales about her southern life so much, she decided to write them down and they became Remember Whose Little Girl You Are.

Recently, she moved back down south where she lives on Santa Rosa Sound near Pensacola. And yes, she is now writing about all her Canadian adventures.

You can learn more about Ellen on her website.


My Thoughts

MissMelissAt only 112 pages Remember Whose Little Girl You Are, with it’s cute cover of a girl in knee-socks, is deceptive. It seems like a light, fluffy read – and parts of it are light (though none of it is fluffy) but it’s really a very rich collection of memories and anecdotes, mostly from the author’s childhood, and early adulthood.

Born a preacher’s daughter in America’s deep South, Nichols grew up during the Civil Rights movement, and was a supporter. Her stories from that time are the strongest in this collection – which really reads more like a an anthology of essays than a single cohesive piece. That’s not a bad thing, but the structure feels a little bit unintentional.

What really sings is the author’s writing voice. The conceit of her book is that she’s sharing memories of her life after losing a parent, and you can hear her Southern identity and her Canadian one in the language she uses, in her phrasing, and in her descriptions, which are vivid and compelling.

I look forward to more from Ms. Nichols.

Goes well with sweet tea and poutine.


00-tlc-tour-hostVisit the Other Great Participants on This Tour

Monday, May 30th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Tuesday, May 31st: The Bookish Dilettante

Wednesday, June 1st: Books, Cooks, and Looks

Friday, June 3rd: Stranded in Chaos

Monday, June 6th: Instagram: @megsbookclub

Wednesday, June 8th: Instagram: @jenniaahava

Friday, June 10th: Helen’s Book Blog

Monday, June 13th: 5 Minutes For Books

Tuesday, June 14th: Instagram: @americanlitteacher

Wednesday, June 15th: Instagram: @shook_sbooks

Thursday, June 16th: Bibliotica

Friday, June 17th: Instagram: @bookworm.susanc

Monday, June 20th: Stacy’s Books

Thursday, June 23rd: What Is That Book About

Friday, June 24th: View from the Birdhouse

TBD: Thursday, June 2nd: 100 Pages a Day…Stephanie’s Book Reviews

TBD: Monday, June 6th: Laura’s Reviews

 

Review and Giveaway: The Stealing Time Series, by KJ Waters

Banner: Stealing Time Series

 

About the Stealing Time series

  1. Stealing Time

  2. Shattering Time

  3. Killing Time

  • Genre: Time Travel / Suspense / Romance / Alt History / Mystery
  • Publisher: Blondie Books
  • Scroll down for Giveaway

Stealing Time, December 20, 2014, 319 pages

Cover 1 Stealing TimeA devastating hurricane. A time travel betrayal. Will Ronnie survive the witch hunt or forever be lost in time?

Stealing Time is the first book in the “breathtakingly original” Stealing Time Series of time travel wrapped in a hurricane. If you like strong-willed modern women and gripping stories that transport you back in time, then you’ll love KJ Water’s Books.

As Hurricane Charley churns a path of destruction towards Orlando, Florida, Ronnie Andrews scrambles to prepare for the storm and seeks shelter at her boyfriend’s weather lab. What she finds there is more terrifying than Mother Nature’s destruction.

During the peak of the hurricane, Ronnie is hurtled back in time to eighteenth-century London where she is caught in a web of superstition, deception, and lies in a life and death struggle to return to her own time.

Her best friend Steph is thrust into the middle of the hurricane, where it quickly turns into a living nightmare as she is faced with losing everything.

Buy, read, and discuss this book: Amazon | Goodreads

Shattering Time: June 27, 2017, 336 pages

Cover 2 Shattering TimeA hurricane the size of Texas. Another time travel betrayal. Will Ronnie figure out how to return home or die trying?

Shattering Time is the second book in the best-selling “Breathtakingly original” time travel series that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Ronnie Andrews returns from 18th-century London shell-shocked from her first terrifying time travel encounter. Her boyfriend, Jeffrey Brennan, casts doubt on her sanity leaving Ronnie wondering if she went back in time or is having a mental breakdown. To add to the tension, Hurricane Francis, a storm the size of Texas, is barreling towards Florida and her fears of a repeat time travel experience mount. Ronnie’s best friend Steph, along with her friend Nick and Steph’s younger brother Ian, shield Ronnie from the dangers of Francis but cannot save her from traveling back in time. Unfortunately, their meddling brings Ronnie to the brink of destruction as they are caught in the throes of the hurricane’s wrath.

Once again, Ronnie is transported to dangerous places and desperate situations, while experiencing perilous cultures including one of America’s first mysteries — the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island. A stunning conclusion brings Ronnie face to face with a dangerous ally who may hold the key to her past while offering salvation for her future.

Buy, read, and discuss this book: Amazon | Goodreads

Killing Time: August 27, 2021, 437 pages

Cover 3 Killing TimeWhen the Strongest Hurricane in Decades Takes Aim at Florida, Ronnie Tries to Escape its Wrath. Will she Die in the Storm or Be Lost in Time Forever?

Ronnie Andrews is lucky to be alive after a time travel glitch nearly took her life during Hurricane Frances. When Hurricane Ivan, one of the strongest storms in decades, sets its sights on Florida, Ronnie jumps at the chance to join Mike, her mysterious new boss, on a business trip to Puerto Rico.

Sparks fly, but when a newspaper article surfaces with horrific pictures of a woman who may have died at Mike’s hands, Ronnie regrets the decision. Before she can confront Mike about what she knows, Hurricane Jeanne forms off the coast, trapping them on the island. Her doctors warned that another time-travel-induced illness may kill her. Mike may be her only salvation.

The storm strikes and Ronnie time travels to Texas in 1872 where she is taken by Comanches. A rescue party saves her life led by Jesse and Frank James, hiding under assumed names.

Will Ronnie find a way to make the time-traveling episodes stop before the dangers of the past, and the damage from the journey destroy her?

Buy, read, and discuss this book: Amazon | Goodreads


About the author, KJ Waters

Author Pic KJ WatersKJ Waters is the international best-selling author of Stealing Time, Shattering Time, and short story Blow. She is currently working on book four, Fracturing Time.

In addition to her writing, she runs KJ Waters Consultancy and is the co-host of the popular podcast Blondie and the Brit, and she provides author consulting services covering branding, social media, and publishing.

She has a master’s degree in business and over eighteen years of experience in the marketing field. Before quitting her job to raise a family and work on writing, she was the Director of Marketing and Communications for a national behavioral healthcare company.

Connect with KJ:

WEBSITE  ◆  FACEBOOK  ◆  TWITTER ◆ TWITTER (Blondie&theBrit) ◆ AMAZON  ◆  GOODREADS ◆ BOOKBUBINSTAGRAMBLOGPINTERESTKJW CONSULTING LINKEDINYOUTUBETIKTOK


Stealing Time Series

 

My Thoughts

This review spans all three books in the Stealing Time series.

MissMelissThere are some series where you can pick up any volume and the overall story will make sense. KJ Waters’ Stealing Time series is not one of them. Written for an audience clearly accustomed to binge-watching, this trilogy (so far) is a gripping story where each sequel expands the universe, adding characters and details.

Time travel, in general, is not a new concept in fiction, and these novels seem to be descendants of both Quantum Leap and Somewhere in Time, although in this case, there is no specific villain being tracked through history, but rather, the main character’s sense of self and self-worth. What is unique is the mechanism behind the time travel: the use of storms – specifically hurricanes – to generate power.

That main character is Veronica “Ronnie” Andrews, recently relocated to central Florida, partly to take a new job, but also to be near her fiancé, the brilliant but conniving Jeffrey, and her best friend Steph. All seems to be progressing in a typical love-story direction, when a hurricane hits the Orlando area on Ronnie’s birthday, and Jeffrey whisks her off to his weather lab, wines and dines her, and presents her with a gift, a replica (he claims) of a rose-gold watch Ronnie admired on a trip to London with Steph.

And then Ronnie travels to London, in 1752, just in time for the great time-shift which has nothing to do with moving through centuries, and everything to do with England finally joining the rest of the western world in using the Gregorian calendar (and subsequently eliminating eleven days of September from existence).

To be honest, there’s not that much time travel for a series centered upon the concept. In Stealing Time, it’s 1752 London, in Shattering Time, it’s the lost Roanoke colony, and in Killing Time, it’s the Old West, though in each of these trips, Ronnie is not quite in the place we know, but rather a similar parallel universe (the multi-verse theory is mentioned in the novels). In each time, Ronnie encounters people who help her, and people who wish her harm, and in each she must take drastic measures to return home.

Author KJ Waters has created, in this series, a group of compelling, if not always likeable, characters. Ronnie, at the heart, is a mixture of intelligence, intellectual curiosity, and low self-esteem. At times, I wanted to grab her by the shoulders and shake some sense into her. Jeffrey is a manipulator and a gaslighter, and it’s a credit to the author’s writing skills that my dislike of him is so visceral that I wanted to commit violence to his person.

Steph and her eventual partner Nick are good support characters, with development that grows throughout the series, but while they are integral to the main story, providing Ronnie with a support system, the subplot following their romance felt weak to me, and took time away from the main story. When Steph’s raunchy brother Ian joins the action in the latter two books and the b-team turns more toward detective work with smatterings of romance, the entire series becomes both more interesting and more cohesive.

Also important to the story, in books two and three (especially three) is Ronnie’s boss Mike, and the nearly instant connection they seem to have. Mike comes off a stock hero at first, but as his story unwinds, he becomes dimensional and interesting, and I’d happily read a novel focused entirely on him.

Overall, KJ Waters does three things very well in this series:

  • Pacing, which more than makes up for the few minor plot- and character inconsistencies (spellings of names, and chronology errors) – each book feels both complete and one act in a greater whole, and that balance is tricky to navigate.
  • Attention to Detail, including little details of historical accuracy like how people cleaned themselves after using the toilet, or what sorts of oral hygiene were practiced, as well as her obvious research into quantum physics and weather systems.
  • Description: I felt and heard every moment of each storm, saw each flash of lightning, experienced the confusion of stumbling around in the damp, dark after a power outage. Similarly, the depictions of each time period Ronnie visited were cinematic in the way they were described on the page.

There is one thing, though, that should be addressed. I am not a prudish reader. I like a well-written sex scene as much as anyone. Much of the sex in these novels, however, while depicted with a good sense of space and how anatomy fits into it, is not healthy or loving, but used to manipulate and abuse, and, in some cases, assault. It’s not gratuitous, as it shows who certain characters really are, and how they perceive the world, but sensitive readers should be warned. I found some of the scenes distasteful, but I also understood that they were meant to be.

The Stealing Time trilogy is a refreshing take on time travel and a compelling blend of science, fantasy, mystery, romance, and intrigue. The author has said that book four is due next year, and I cannot wait to see how this story continues.

Goes well with cold beer and a sandwich de mezcla (a Puerto Rican sandwich made with a spam/cheese dip spread and roasted red peppers).


GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!

 FOUR WINNERS! 

Grand Prize: $25 Amazon Card & signed copies of three novels in a swag bag

Three Winners: eBooks of novella Blow
US only for print copies & swag bags; international winners: eBooks

Ends midnight, CDT, 6/10/2022

Giveaway Stealing Time

 

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5/31/22 Review Book 1 The Plain-Spoken Pen
5/31/22 BONUS Promo Hall Ways Blog
6/1/22 Review Book 1 Carpe Diem Chronicles
6/1/22 BONUS Promo LSBBT Blog
6/2/22 Excerpt Book 1 The Page Unbound
6/3/22 Review Books 2 The Book’s Delight
6/4/22 Review Book 2 Reading by Moonlight
6/5/22 Playlist All the Ups and Downs
6/6/22 Excerpt Book 3 It’s Not All Gravy
6/7/22 Review Book 3 Chapter Break Book Blog
6/8/22 Review Book 3 Forgotten Winds
6/9/22 Sneak Peek Book 4 StoreyBook Reviews

 

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Book Spotlight and Giveaway: It’s a Mad, Mad Murder by Cindy Vincent

BNR Mad, Mad Murder

 

About the book, It’s a Mad, Mad Murder

  • Series: Maddie Montgomery
  • Cozy Culinary Mystery / Women Sleuths / Amateur Sleuths
  • Publisher: Whodunit Press
  • Date of Publication: November 15, 2021
  • Number of Pages: 303 pages
  • Scroll down for Giveaway

Cover Mad Mad Murder Things are a little too hot to handle for famous culinary-mystery author, Maddie Montgomery, in her normally quiet neighborhood set in the Houston suburb of Abbott Cove. Especially after her neighbor, Randall Rathburn, has a heart attack and rams his vintage car into a light pole. Though his death is ruled an accident, another of Maddie’s neighbors insists that Randall was murdered, and he implores her to investigate. But Maddie isn’t on board with the half-baked idea, not until she attends the over-the-top funeral where she develops some suspicions of her own. That’s when she decides to take the leap from crime writing to crime solving. After all, she doesn’t exactly want a killer running around her cul-de-sac . . .

But the murder of her neighbor isn’t the only mystery she’s got cooking. When her publisher goes belly-up and her agent happily dumps her in favor of younger, dystopian authors, Maddie boils over into a full-blown career crisis. And while she tries to simmer down, her new role as amateur sleuth only stirs the pot even more. Then from car chases to stakeouts, and from a neighbor who owns a suspicious amount of spy gadgetry to a widow who seems a little too merry, Maddie’s first case has her head spinning like the beaters on her handheld mixer. And soon Maddie finds that solving a crime in “real life” is a lot more difficult . . . and a lot more dangerous . . .

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


About the author, Cindy Vincent

AuthorPhotoCindy copy_1Cindy Vincent is the award-winning author of the Buckley and Bogey Cat Detective Capers, and the Tracy Truworth, Apprentice P.I., 1940s Homefront Mysteries. She is also the creator of the Mysteries by Vincent murder mystery party games and the Daisy Diamond Detective Series games for girls. She lives in Houston, Texas with her husband and an assortment of fantastic felines.  Cindy is a self-professed “Christmas-a-holic,” and she starts the planning for her ever-expanding, “extreme” Christmas lights display sometime in the early spring.

Connect with Cindy:

WEBSITE  ◆ BUCKLEY AND BOGEYFACEBOOK  ◆ AMAZON  ◆  GOODREADS


Giveaway

THREE WINNERS! 

1ST PRIZE:

Signed copy of It’s a Mad, Mad Murder, a sweetheart-neckline apron, a set of multicolored, Farberware measuring cups, and a set of stainless steel, oblong measuring spoons.
2ND & 3RD PRIZES:

Signed copies of It’s a Mad, Mad Murder and novella, Yes, Carol . . . It’s Christmas!, which features a heroine trying to get back home to Texas.
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 5/26/2022)

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Review and Giveaway: Fatal Code by Natalie Walters

Fatal Code Blog Tour

 

About the book, Fatal Code

  • Series: The Snap Agency (Book 2)
  • Fiction / Christian / Suspense / Romance
  • Publisher: Revell
  • Date of Publication: May 1, 2022
  • Number of Pages: 320 pages
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

Cover Hi Res Fatal CodeIn 1964, a group of scientists called the Los Alamos Five came close to finishing a nuclear energy project for the United States government when they were abruptly disbanded. Now the granddaughter of one of those five scientists, aerospace engineer Elinor Mitchell, discovers that she has highly sensitive information on the project in her possession–and a target on her back.

SNAP agent and former Navy cryptologist Kekoa Young is tasked with monitoring Elinor. This is both convenient since she’s his neighbor in Washington, DC, and decidedly inconvenient because . . . well, he kind of likes her.

Natalie Walters sucks you into the global race for space domination in this perfectly paced second installment of her SNAP Agency romantic suspense series.

Praise for this book:

Fatal Code is reminiscent of cold war spy thrillers and riveted me to the page as I rooted for Kekoa and Elinor to expose secrets, survive danger, and fall in love.” — Elizabeth Goddard, bestselling author of the Rocky Mountain Courage series

“Warning: once you pick it up, you won’t be able to put it down!” — Andrew Huff, author of the Shepherd Suspense series

“Enough suspense to make you need warm milk and a cozy blanket to calm you down.” — Jaime Jo Wright, author of The Souls of Lost Lake and the Christy award-winning novel The House on Foster Hill

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

AmazonBaker Book House | Christianbooks.com | Barnes and Noble|Other Revell Affiliates | Goodreads


Author Pic WaltersAbout the author, Natalie Walters

Natalie Walters is the author of Lights Out, as well as the Harbored Secrets series. A military wife, she currently resides in Texas with her soldier husband and is the proud mom of three. She loves traveling, spending time with her family, and connecting with readers.

Connect with Natalie:

WEBSITE  ◆  FACEBOOK  ◆  TWITTER  ◆ AMAZON  ◆  GOODREADS ◆ BOOKBUB ◆ INSTAGRAMPINTEREST


My Thoughts

MissMelissLeaping into a series at book two is always a little bit risky. There’s the worry about whether or not the characters and situations will make sense without the back story of the first book.

Well, readers who are leaping into the world of The Snap Agency with Natalie Walker’s second book in the series, Fatal Code, need not worry. All the necessary information comes out in this well-paced story that combines the suspense of the race for aerospace dominance with enough romance to keep things interesting and a really witty overall voice.

Not that this is a comedy. It’s not. But Natalie Walters wonderfully captures the gentle humor of every-day situations. An example of this is when the vibrant and dimensional lead character Kekoa Young muses that he’s just finished a deadly-dangerous assignment but is dreading speaking to his father on the phone.

XTRA Praise 1

His concern over the fact that he’s got to “babysit” his neighbor Elinor, whom he is attracted to is also very plausible. It’s this human factor that makes Fatal Code so enjoyable.

In fact, it’s the byplay between the characters that really grabbed me. The scenes where Kekoa and his colleagues are bantering about food choices while also going over mission notes is the perfect depiction of workplace relationships, and really sold me on the whole premise.

I’m a sucker for anything to do with aerospace, and I love character-driven stories. This novel checked both of those boxes. I also enjoyed the audiobook version, which I’ve been listening to all week (the narrator is great, and has a little bit of an Asian lilt in her voice that really sells the Kekoa’s Hawaiian origin.) because the story is just delightful.

Intriguing, entertaining, romantic, and suspenseful, Natalie Walters’ second The Snap Agency novel, Fatal Code has it all.

Goes well with: A hamburger with eggs and gravy.


Giveaway

TWO WINNERS! 

Each receive copies of Lights Out and Fatal Code!
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 5/20/2022)

Giveaway Fatal Code

 

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Visit the Other Great Blogs on This Tour

CLICK TO VISIT THE LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE

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5/10/22 BONUS Series Spotlight Hall Ways Blog
5/10/22 Review Jennifer Silverwood
5/11/22 Review StoreyBook Reviews
5/11/22 BONUS Promo LSBBT Blog
5/12/22 Excerpt Chapter Break Book Blog
5/13/22 Review The Plain-Spoken Pen
5/14/22 Deleted Scene 1 All the Ups and Downs
5/15/22 Deleted Scene 2 KayBee’s Book Shelf
5/16/22 Author Interview The Page Unbound
5/17/22 Review Shelf Life Blog
5/18/22 Top 9 List Boys’ Mom Reads
5/19/22 Review Bibliotica

 

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Review: The Storm Girl, by Kathleen McGurl

The Storm Girl

 

About the Book, The Storm Girl

Cover: The Storm GirlThe gripping new historical novel from the USA Today bestselling author of The Girl from Bletchley Park and The Forgotten Secret.

A heartbreaking choice. A secret kept for centuries.

1784. When Esther Harris’s father hurts his back, she takes over his role helping smugglers hide contraband in the secret cellar in their pub. But when the free traders’ ships are trapped in the harbour, a battle between the smugglers and the revenue officers leads to murder and betrayal – and Esther is forced to choose between the love of her life and protecting her family…

Present day. Fresh from her divorce, Millie Galton moves into a former inn overlooking the harbour in Mudeford and plans to create her dream home. When a chance discovery behind an old fireplace reveals the house’s secret history as a haven for smugglers and the devastating story of its former residents, could the mystery of a disappearance from centuries ago finally be solved?

Sweeping historical fiction perfect for fans of Lucinda Riley, Kathryn Hughes and Tracy Rees.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (UK) | Amazon (US) | Goodreads


About the author, Kathleen McGurl

Kathleen McGurlKathleen McGurl lives near the coast in Christchurch, England. She writes dual timeline novels in which a historical mystery is uncovered and resolved in the present day. She is married to an Irishman and has two adult sons. She enjoys travelling, especially in her motorhome around Europe but home is Mudeford, where this novel is set.

Connect with Kathleen:

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

MissMelissThe Storm Girl is my first Kathleen McGurl nsovel, but it won’t be my last.

A dual-timeline story, this book follows Esther, in 1784, beginning with an opening faintly reminiscent of Alfred Noyes’s “The Highwayman,” though it quickly moves beyond that trope. Our historical heroine is no lovestruck maiden idly braiding her hair in moonlit windows; rather she is a vibrant and dimensional young woman, acting with her own agency.

Similarly, recent divorcee Millie, our present day heroine, is bright and curious, and game for minor adventures. We first meet her as she is rescuing kittens (and a mama cat) from a blocked off fireplace, and her helper Nick, sparks her love of a good mystery when he suggests that said fireplace would be worth restoring (something she was already considering.)

Both women end up tangled in a mystery involving smuggling, which we modern audiences think of as a romantic form of crime, but is really very violent and dangerous, still, the puzzle that begins in the past is resolved in the present in a gripping story that is well plotted and perfectly paced.

What I especially loved about this book was that the author captures the language and tone of each period with great accuracy. You really don’t need to be told the date of each chapter; rather the writing makes it obvious where the story is in time.

I also loved that there were equal parts suspense and romance. Nothing ever got TOO tense or TOO fluffy; instead there was balance, and that made for a delightful read.

I’ve long been a fan of parallel narratives. Now I’m a fan of Kathleen McGurl and The Storm Girl as well.

Goes well with: hot tea and blueberry cobbler with a dash of firelight.

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Spotlight and Giveaway: Turn To Me, by Becky Wade

BNR Turn to Me

 

About the book, Turn to Me (a Misty River romance)

  • Series: A Misty River Romance
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
  • Date of Publication: May 3, 2022
  • Number of Pages: 416 pages
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

Cover Turn to MeHis promise will cost him far more than he imagined. 

Guilt has defined Luke Dempsey’s life, but it was self-destructiveness that landed him in prison. When his friend and fellow inmate lay dying shortly before Luke’s release, the older man revealed he left a string of clues for his daughter, Finley, that will lead her to the treasure he’s hidden. Worried that she won’t be the only one pursuing the treasure, he gains Luke’s promise to protect her until the end of her search.

Spunky and idealistic, Finley Sutherland is the owner of an animal rescue center and a defender of lost causes. She accepts Luke’s help on the treasure hunt while secretly planning to help him in return–by coaxing him to embrace the forgiveness he’s long denied himself.

As they draw closer to the final clue, their reasons for resisting each other begin to crumble, and Luke realizes his promise will push him to the limit in more ways than one. He’ll do his best to shield Finley from unseen threats, but who’s going to shield him from losing his heart?

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

AmazonBaker Book House | BookBub | Goodreads


About the author, Becky Wade

Author Photo Wade © Emilie Hendryx of E.A. Creative PhotographyBecky Wade is the 2018 Christy Award Book of the Year winner for True to You. She is a native of California who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and moved to Dallas. She published historical romances for the general market, then put her career on hold for several years to care for her children. When God called her back to writing, Becky knew He meant for her to turn her attention to Christian fiction. Her humorous, heart-pounding contemporary romance novels have won three Christy Awards, the Carol Award, the INSPY Award, and the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award for Romance. Becky lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband and three children.

Connect with Becky

WEBSITE  |  FACEBOOK  | BECKY’S CHEER SQUAD  | TWITTER  |  AMAZON  |  GOODREADS  | BOOKBUB | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST

Connect with Bethany House Publishers

WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | TIKTOK | GOODREADS


Giveaway

 TWO WINNERS! 

AUTOGRAPHED COPIES OF TURN TO ME!
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 5/12/2022)

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Book Spotlight: Dear Dana, by Amy Weinland Daughters

About the book: Dear Dana: That time I went crazy and wrote all 580 of my Facebook friends a handwritten letter

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ She Writes Press (May 17, 2022)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ May 17, 2022
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English

DearDanaWhen Amy Daughters reconnected with her old pal Dana on Facebook, she had no idea how it would change her life. Though the two women hadn’t had any contact in thirty years, it didn’t take them long to catch up—and when Amy learned that Dana’s son Parker was doing a second stint at St. Jude battling cancer, she was suddenly inspired to begin writing the pair weekly letters.

When Parker died, Amy—not knowing what else to do—continued to write Dana. Eventually, Dana wrote back, and the two became pen pals, sharing things through the mail that they had never shared before. The richness of the experience left Amy wondering something: If my life could be so changed by someone I considered “just a Facebook friend,” what would happen if I wrote all my Facebook friends a letter?

A whopping 580 handwritten letters later Amy’s life, and most of all her heart, would never, ever, be the same again. As it turned out, there were actual individuals living very real lives behind each social media profile, and she was beautifully connected to each of those extraordinary, flawed people for a specific reason. They loved her, and she loved them. And nothing—not politics, beliefs, or lifestyle—could separate them.

Praise for Dear Dana

“This is a book for anyone who wonders about the differences between a Facebook friend and a Real-Life friend and who yearns to see a person’s real life behind their Facebook image. It is also about the power of prayer and the abundance of kindness in our world. But ultimately, it’s about connection and how we are all connected when we come from love.” Rivvy Neshama, author of “Recipes for a Sacred Life: True Stories and a Few Miracles”

“Amy shows us how something as simple as a letter — let alone 580 of them! — can change a life. Who else would decide to write a personal letter to every one of their Facebook friends? The stories from these letters provide insights into how we can help people through difficult times and connect with others—and, of course, plenty of good laughs.” Brad Aronson, bestselling author of “HumanKind: Changing the World One Small Act At a Time”

“An intriguing and inspiring exploration of different forms of communication.” Kirkus Reviews

“Dear Dana is an inspirational memoir about caring for friends near and far by reviving a lost art.” Foreword Reviews

Pre-Order Dear Dana

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About the author, Amy Weinland Daughters

AMY DAUGHTERS has spent the past 10 years freelancing on topics from college football to emotions. She is the author of “You Cannot Mess This Up: A True Story That Never Happened” (2019), for which she received recognition at the 2019 Foreword INDIES and the 2020 Next Generation Indie Awards. When she’s not writing, Daughters can be found researching history, golfing, or ribbon dancing. She lives in Tomball, Texas with her husband Willie and two sons, Will and Matthew.

Connect with Amy:

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

DearDana2

 

Review and Giveaway: Comfort Zone, by Kimberly Fish

BNR Comfort Zone

 

About the book Comfort Zone

  • Genre: Contemporary / Second Chance Romance / Women’s Fiction
  • Publisher: Fish Tales Publishing
  • Date of Publication: November 1, 2021
  • Number of Pages: 289 pages
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

Cover Comfort ZoneThe award-winning author of Comfort Songs, Comfort Plans, and Comfort Foods digs into the life of single-mom Anna Weber, an appraiser who gives value to other people’s found treasures. On assignment to research a handwritten sheet of music, Anna helps a stranded motorist, only to discover she’s rescued retired NFL quarterback Jack Moses. His confidence and fascination for solving problems makes him impossible for Anna to ignore even as they both dart along separate deadlines to save the finances at an inner-city school. Little does Anna know that as she wrestles with secrets from her past and a suspicious approach to people, Jack is running too—dodging women, pro athletes, and a future with no definable end zone.

As a nemesis threatens Anna’s young daughters, these two unlikely partners discover that it’s in stepping back from years of self-sufficiency that Anna and Jack can find the best treasure of all: a series of sweet, second chances.

Praise and Awards for this book:

“Kimberly Fish’s Comfort books are wonderful, charming stories set in the Texas Hill Country. Fans of small towns family relationships will enjoy these feel-good books. Two thumbs up!” – Jan Moran, USA Today bestselling author of Seabreeze Inn. 

Comfort Zone is a Literary Titan Gold Award winner and a Reader Views Bronze Award winner in romance. It was also a runner-up in the regional fiction category of the New England Book Festival awards.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


About the author, Kimberly Fish

Author Photo FishKimberly Fish has been a professional writer in marketing and media for over thirty years, with regular contributions to area newspapers and magazines. As an accidental historian, she wrote two novels, The Big Inch and Harmon General, both based on factual events  in Longview, Texas that changed world history. Kimberly also offers a set of contemporary women’s fiction, based in the Texas Hill Country, that reveal her fascination with characters discovering their grit and sweet, second chances; all four of these novels have won distinguished awards

Connect with Kimberly:

Website | Facebook  |  Twitter I  Amazon  |  Goodreads | YouTube | Instagram | Pinterest | BookBub


XTRA Comfort Zone series graphic

My Thoughts

MissMelissOpening a new Kimberly Fish novel – especially a Comfort Stories novel – is more than just the beginning of a good read. It’s a road trip back to the fictional home town we all wish we were from. It is, as described in this latest installment, Comfort Zone, “a town of free-thinkers,” full of entrepreneurial spirit, a love of art and nature, and kind hearts.

In this visit to Comfort, TX, we meet Anna, an appraiser of relics and treasures, and Jack, a retired NFL football player. It would be easy to predict that a gift to the local school brings them together and things progress from there, but that would be a gross simplification of this story,  which is more than a second-chance romance, but a nuanced character study of two people who have been banged about a bit by life and circumstance.

I really loved getting to know Jack and Anna (and her two daughters). Anna’s job, especially, fascinated me. Part detective, part storyteller… I’d love to spend an hour or two just hearing the tales she might tell. All four of these new characters were as real and dimensional, with plausible flaws and anxieties, as anyone you might meet at a local coffee shop (or taco truck, or lavender farm), and I especially appreciated the way Anna observed her friend Lacy’s romance with local celebrity chef Rudy, which relationship was the focus of the previous entry into the Comfort Stories collection, Comfort Foods.

My favorite character, however, has got to be Comfort itself. It’s a slightly idealized small town, and it’s not difficult to imagine the various women (and men) in Anna’s friend-circle getting together to share their overlapping lives and businesses. Comfort is one of those places you just know has wide sidewalks, friendly dogs, excellent coffee, a decent bookstore, and real mail in the mailboxes.

If you enjoy romances between working adults, stories where there’s enough mystery to keep the plot going without being a whodunnit – mysteries of discovery and self-discovery – and a cup or two of cozy life, then the Comfort series as a whole, and this novel, Comfort Zone, specifically, will satisfy your heart and mind. More than that, you’ll feel like you’ve visited the hometown you were never actually born in.

Goes well with: a farmhouse breakfast – dark roast coffee, toast, eggs, and bacon.


Giveaway

 ONE WINNER!

Autographed copy of Comfort Zone,
hand-painted note card from artist Elaine McMillan,
and NFL official Silver Series football signed by Jack Moses.
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 4/29/2022)

 

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