Review: The Crimson Thread, by Kate Forsyth

The Crimson Thread Blog Tour

 

About the book, The Crimson ThreadThe Crimson Thread

  • Publication Date: July 5, 2022
  • Blackstone Publishing
  • Genre: Historical Fiction

In Crete during World War II, Alenka, a young woman who fights with the resistance against the brutal Nazi occupation, finds herself caught between her traitor of a brother and the man she loves, an undercover agent working for the Allies.

May 1941. German paratroopers launch a blitzkrieg from the air against Crete. They are met with fierce defiance, the Greeks fighting back with daggers, pitchforks, and kitchen knives. During the bloody eleven-day battle, Alenka, a young Greek woman, saves the lives of two Australian soldiers.

Jack and Teddy are childhood friends who joined up together to see the world. Both men fall in love with Alenka. They are forced to retreat with the tattered remains of the Allied forces over the towering White Mountains. Both are among the seven thousand Allied soldiers left behind in the desperate evacuation from Crete’s storm-lashed southern coast. Alenka hides Jack and Teddy at great risk to herself. Her brother Axel is a Nazi sympathiser and collaborator and spies on her movements.

As Crete suffers under the Nazi jackboot, Alenka is drawn into an intense triangle of conflicting emotions with Jack and Teddy. Their friendship suffers under the strain of months of hiding and their rivalry for her love. Together, they join the resistance and fight to free the island, but all three will find themselves tested to their limits. Alenka must choose whom to trust and whom to love and, in the end, whom to save.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

AMAZON | AUDIBLE | BARNES AND NOBLE | INDIEBOUND  | GOODREADS


About the author, Kate ForsythAuthor: Kate Forsyth

Kate Forsyth wrote her first novel at the age of seven, and is now the internationally bestselling author of 40 books for both adults and children.

Her books for adults include ‘Beauty in Thorns’, the true love story behind a famous painting of ‘Sleeping Beauty’; ‘The Beast’s Garden’, a retelling of the Grimm version of ‘Beauty & the Beast’, set in the German underground resistance to Hitler in WWII; ‘The Wild Girl’, the love story of Wilhelm Grimm and Dortchen Wild, the young woman who told him many of the world’s most famous fairy tales; ‘Bitter Greens’, a retelling of the Rapunzel fairytale; and the bestselling fantasy series ‘Witches of Eileanan’ Her books for children include ‘The Impossible Quest’, ‘The Gypsy Crown’, ‘The Puzzle Ring’, and ‘The Starkin Crown’

Kate has a doctorate in fairytale studies, a Masters of Creative Writing, a Bachelor of Arts in Literature, and is an accredited master storyteller.

Connect with Kate:

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS


My Thoughts

MissMelissI received this book just as I was moving into a new house, read it in between unpacking boxes, and then listened to the audio book version to refresh myself since it had been so many weeks. Both in print and in audio, The Crimson Thread is a compelling story, well crafted and well paced.

There’s something especially intriguing about World War II  stories, I think. On the one hand, even if the brutality of war is not in the foreground, it is ever present. On the other, perhaps because we know who wins, there’s an element of romance to them is rarely associated with other periods. This novel is the perfect example of this. Two of the lead characters are soldiers, one eventually joins the Resistance, and while the reality of war, of the German army invading the Greek islands, is the impetus for the story, the love triangle between Jack, Teddy, and Alenka is as gripping as any of the battle strategy or espionage that is also in this book.

To be fair, I was team Jack from the start. Teddy is the playboy while Jack is the steadfast soldier, and I doubt that they would have become friends – or friendly – under normal circumstances. Author Forsyth wrote both men equally vividly, but where Teddy is brash, Jack is thoughtful, and creative. As a an amateur cellist, I loved that the cello was part of his story, but I also loved the concept of poem codes – something I’ve never encountered before in my reading. (I want to know more about this!)

Alenka is also a dynamic character, soft at times, but also resolute, and even fierce. I could see how either man would fall for her – I almost fell for her myself. Her strained relationship with her Nazi-sympathizer younger brother – a mere child when we first meet him – added depth to her character and his.

The audio book, I felt, really captured the tone of each of these three leads, and I loved that there was a female narrator for the chapters that were primarily Alenka’s point of view. But even the print version made each of them feel like real, living beings.

Author Kate Forsyth had a deft hand when crafting this novel. The pacing was perfect. The dates at the beginning of each section, and the shifting perspectives made the story more intense, especially in the last third when the jeopardy to all the characters increased. Her use of dialogue is also excellent – I never felt like these people were out of time or out of place.

If you want a riveting romantic drama set against a part of World War II that is less familiar than the typical England or France, The Crimson Thread is for you.

Goes well with: charbroiled squid and a cold beer.


Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of The Crimson Thread by Kate Forsyth! We have 10 copies up for grabs!

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on July 29th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

The Crimson Thread

The Crimson Thread

Direct Link: https://gleam.io/OAUjk/the-crimson-thread


Visit the Other Great Blogs on This Tour

Tuesday, June 28
Excerpt at Novels Alive

Wednesday, June 29
Review at Novels Alive
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books
Interview at Jathan & Heather

Thursday, June 30
Review at The Lit Bitch

Friday, July 1
Review at Books In Their Natural Habitat

Monday, July 4
Review at A Girl Reads Bookss

Tuesday, July 5
Review at My Reading Getaway

Wednesday, July 6
Review at Books, Writings, and More

Thursday, July 7
Review at Girls Just Reading

Friday, July 8
Review at Dive Into a Good Book

Sunday, July 10
Review at Carole’s Ramblings

Monday, July 11
Review at Jessica Belmont

Tuesday, July 12
Excerpt at Bonnie Reads and Writes

Wednesday, July 13
Review at The Page Ladies

Thursday, July 14
Review at Momma Doc Reads

Monday, July 18
Review at History from a Woman’s Perspective

Tuesday, July 19
Interview at History from a Woman’s Perspective

Wednesday, July 20
Review at Passages to the Past

Thursday, July 21
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Friday, July 22
Excerpt at CelticLady’s Reviews

Saturday, July 23
Review at Reading is My Remedy

Monday, July 25
Review at A Darn Good Read

Tuesday, July 26
Review at With a Book in Our Hands

Wednesday, July 27
Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Thursday, July 28
Review at Bibliotica

Friday, July 29
Review at Reading the Past

 

The Crimson Thread Blog Tour

Review: The House on the Hill, by Chris Penhall

 

About the book, The House on the Hill The House on the Hill by Chris Penhall

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Ruby Fiction (a Choc Lit imprint) (June 28, 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 247 pages

The House on the Hill: A Summer in the Algarve

Layla is calm, in control and is definitely not about to lose her serenity for the man next door!
Surely it can’t be hard to stay peaceful at one of the oldest yoga and mindfulness retreats in the Algarve, surrounded by sea, sun and serenity? Mostly, owner Layla Garcia manages it – with the help of meditation and plenty of camomile tea, of course.
But keeping her grandparents’ legacy alive is stressful, and Layla has become so shackled to the work that, for her, The House on the Hill is fast becoming ‘The Fortress on the Hill’.
Then writer Luke Mackie moves to the villa next door, bringing with him a healthy dose of chaos to disrupt Layla’s plans, plus a painful reminder of a time when she was less-than-serene. But could his influence be just what Layla needs to ‘dance like no-one’s watching’ and have the fun she’s been missing?

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Click to Purchase | Goodreads


About the author, Chris PenhallThe House on the Hill Author

Chris Penhall won the 2019 Choc-Lit Search for a Star competition, sponsored by Your Cat Magazine, for her debut novel, The House That Alice Built. The sequel, New Beginnings at the Little House in the Sun was published in August 2020. Both are available in paperback, e-book and audio and are part of the Portuguese Paradise series. Finding Summer Happiness, which is set in Pembrokeshire in South West Wales is available in e-book, audio and paperback, and The House on the Hill – A Summer in the Algarve, the third novel in the Portuguese Paradise series, is published in e-book on 28th June 2022.

Chris is an author and freelance radio producer for BBC Local Radio.

She also has her own podcast – The Talking to My Friends About Book Podcast in which she chats to her friends about books. Good title!

Born in Neath in South Wales, she has also lived in London and in Portugal, which is where The House That Alice Built is set. It was whilst living in Cascais near Lisbon that she began to dabble in writing fiction, but it was many years later that she was confident enough to start writing her first novel, and many years after that she finally finished it!

A lover of books, music and cats, she is also an enthusiastic salsa dancer, a keen cook, and loves to travel. She is never happier than when she is gazing at the sea.

Connect with Chris:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


My Thoughts

MissMelissWhenever I acquire a new Chris Penhall title, I know I’m in for a great read. The third installment in her Portuguese Paradise series, The House on the Hill did not disappoint.

This multi-generational novel focuses on Layla and her Aunt Minnie who run a yoga retreat in Lagos. Each is competent, vivacious, dimensional, but neither has a love interest who will stick – at least when we meet them. But this isn’t a book just about romantic love. It’s about the love we have for our true passion, whether it’s health food (Layla), dance (Minnie) or yoga and general wellness (both). It’s also about the familial love that exists between aunt and niece, and the strong friendships each forms in their community.

Okay, yes, there’s also romance.

What I love about all of Penhall’s books is that they’re never too fluffy. Yes, they exist in a somewhat heightened version of reality where the bougainvillea flowers are a bit bigger, the limoncello is a bit stronger, and the sun shines a bit brighter, but overall the events in The House on the Hill, as with the author’s previous works, are plausible. And that makes the reading so much better, because you can be an armchair tourist in Layla’s (or Minnie’s) life, and never have to expend energy on willful suspension of disbelief.

What really sells this book is the way the author differentiates these characters of such disparate ages. Layla is more focused, and uses more contemporary language, while Minnie is slightly scattered and uses slightly “vintage” syntax. It’s subtle, but it really makes each woman truly breathe.

I should mention that the actual house is also a character in a way, as it plays host to the bulk of the story, and is really the heart of the family  – both blood and chosen – that Layla and Minnie have created in Portugal.

I recommend this book for anyone who wants a summer read that feels like a summer vacation. It’s well written, perfectly paced, and leaves the reader truly satisfied (but not so much so that a fourth book in this series wouldn’t be welcome).

Goes well with: a fruit plate that includes pinapples, passion fruit, and plums. Or a green smoothie.


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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

FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY, 

or visit the blogs directly:

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)

Giveaway Turn to Me

 

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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)

 

Giveaway Comfort Zone

 

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Visit the Other Great Blogs on This Tour

or Visit the tour page at Lone Star Literary Life.

4/19/22 Review Jennie Reads
4/19/22 BONUS Promo Hall Ways Blog
4/20/22 Review Bibliotica
4/20/22 BONUS Promo LSBBT Blog
4/21/22 Review Carpe Diem Chronicles
4/22/22 Review StoreyBook Reviews
4/23/22 Review Reading by Moonlight
4/24/22 Review Rox Burkey Blog
4/25/22 Review Book Fidelity
4/25/22 BONUS Promo All the Ups and Downs
4/26/22 Review The Plain-Spoken Pen
4/27/22 Review It’s Not All Gravy
4/28/22 Review Forgotten Winds

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Review & Giveaway – Scattered Legacy: Murder in Southern Italy, by Marlene M. Bell

Scattered Legacy

 

About the book, Scattered Legacy: Murder in Southern Italy

  • Genre: Mystery / Romance
  • Publisher: Ewephoric Publishing
  • Date of Publication: November 4, 2021
  • Number of Pages: 352 pages
  • Series: Annalisse (Book 3)
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

Scattered LegacyTo outsiders, the relationship between Manhattan antiquities assessor Annalisse Drury and sports car magnate Alec Zavos must look carefree and glamorous. In reality, it’s a love affair regularly punctuated by treasure hunting, high adventure, and the occasional dead body.

When Alec schedules a getaway trip to show Annalisse his mother’s Italian birthplace, he squeezes in the high-stakes business of divesting his family’s corporation. But things go terribly wrong as murder makes its familiar reappearance in their lives – and this time it’s Alec’s disgraced former CFO who’s the main suspect.

Accompanied by friend and detective Bill Drake, Annalisse and Alec find themselves embroiled in a behind-closed-doors conspiracy that threatens the reputation and legacy of Alec’s late father – linking him to embezzlement, extortion, and the dirty business of the Sicilian Mafia. The key to it all might be a gifted set of rosary beads where Annalisse can use her skills for appraising artifacts to uncover the truth. She leads Alec toward answers that are unthinkable—and events that will change their futures forever.

Scattered Legacy is the third in Marlene M. Bell’s thrilling Annalisse series, which weaves romance, crime, and historical mystery into addictive tales to instantly captivate fans of TV show Bones or Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.

Watch the trailer for this book:

 

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Purchase | Goodreads


About the author, Marlene M. Bell

Marlene M. BellMarlene M. Bell is an award-winning writer and acclaimed artist as well as a photographer. Her sheep landscapes grace the covers of Sheep!, The Shepherd, Ranch & Rural Living and Sheep Industry News, to name a few.

Marlene and her husband, Gregg reside in beautiful East Texas on a wooded ranch with their dreadfully spoiled horned Dorset sheep, a large Maremma guard dog named, Tia, along with Hollywood, Leo and Squeaks, the cats that believe they rule the household—and do.

Connect with Marlene:

WEBSITE  ◆  BLOG ◆ FACEBOOK  ◆  TWITTER ◆ AMAZON  ◆  GOODREADS  ◆ BOOKBUB


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellMurder. Intrigue. Scandal. Romance. Scattered Legacy: Murder in Southern Italy has it all.

While this is the third book in Marlene M. Bell’s Annalisse series, it’s my introduction to the series (though I did feature a guest post from the author when book one was published several years ago). Nevertheless, I had no trouble recognizing the relationships between Anna and Alec, and Anna and Gen (both of which are central to the story) or following any of the through-plots that were obviously set up in previous installments. Rather, I found this to be a richly developed, if slightly heightened, version of reality. Bell’s opening scene captured my attention from the first paragraph. The juxtaposition of impending doom, family drama, and a shoplifting attempt (that clearly meant something more) was instantly intriguing.

As a second-generation Italian-American myself, I really appreciated the way Italian words and slang were dropped into the dialogue by some of the characters (Gen, especially) and how naturally ALL the dialogue sounded. I loved the way the family drama was both sweeping, involving an antique rosary, and intimate at the same time. The interactions between all the core characters felt believable. In many ways, I felt as if I’d met them before.

I also appreciated the pacing of the novel, which had a contemporary feel complimented by a neo-noire undertone that worked perfectly. Exposition unrolled organically, and I never felt like any scene was just a gratuitous info-dump. Of course, when the action moved to Italy, everything became even more heightened. The Italian characters really stood out here, but Anna and the rest of the non-Italians, Bill Drake most prominently, were equally dynamic. (In truth, I’d read a whole series about Bill.)

But it was the story that stayed front-and-center, and Bell did not let me down. Passion, scandal, blackmail, murder, intrigue, and even history are woven into a intricate plot with just enough twists and turns to keep the reader guessing without causing confusion. I’m definitely going to go back and read the first two novels – I’m hooked on Anna and her story. This book was a satisfying read as a stand-alone, but I want more.

Goes well with: Sicilian blood oranges and a glass of chilled Prosecco.

Scattered Legacy


Giveaway

 THREE WINNERS (US ONLY):

1st SUPER GRANDPRIZE ($425 VALUE):
Patricia Nash leather bag; Extra Virgin Olive Oil from the Puglia Region of Italy; Orecchiette Pasta from the Puglia Region; Weekly 2022 Engagement Spiral Calendar; Silver/Gold Italy Coin necklace on 18” silver chain; autographed copy of Scattered Legacy; $50 VISA gift card.

2ND PRIZE & 3rd PRIZE – Signed copies of Scattered Legacy.

(US only; ends midnight, CST, 12/10/21)

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12/2/21 Review The Book’s Delight
12/3/21 Review Forgotten Winds
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12/4/21 Review Momma on the Rocks
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12/6/21 Review Rainy Days with Amanda
12/6/21 Review Book Fidelity
12/7/21 Review Bibliotica
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Review & Giveaway: The Yes Dare, a Pies, Books, & Jesus Book Club Novel by Kathleen Y’Barbo

The Yes Dare

 

About the book, The Yes Dare

The Yes Dare

  • Genre: Romance / Clean Romance
  • Date of Publication: July 15, 2021
  • Number of Pages: 246 pages
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

Have you ever wished for a second chance to fix something you’ve messed up or for the courage to say yes to something that just may change your life? Sometimes saying yes to the last thing you want can mean saying yes to exactly what you need.

Ryan “The Rocket” Sutton’s winning streak is legendary makes him the undisputed best quarterback in the NFL. However, thanks to one dumb mistake, he’s a failure as a husband to Coco, the only woman he’s ever loved. When a judge’s mistake in divorce paperwork means Coco is still his wife, Ryan makes up his mind to fix what he ruined. Ryan’s game plan doesn’t count on an internationally famous movie director’s camera crew following him as he competes for Coco’s love.

After spending most of her adult life as a football wife and mother to twin sons, fashionista Coco Sutton is learning how to be single and fabulous. Emphasis on Fabulous. The sports trophies, memorabilia, and heavy masculine wood furniture in the home she used to share with Ryan have been banished to the attic, and her home is now a cozy haven of plush candle-scented comfort. She’s got big plans that include owning a boutique or maybe an art gallery, but she never planned to take on the biggest challenge of her life: staying single. Then her best friend gives her a copy of a book called The Yes Dare, and all her plans are turned upside down.

From a Hollywood movie to the local spring event formerly known as the Cow Chip Toss Festival and a country crooner with a crush on Coco, will Ryan dodge the obstacles to win back the only woman he ever loved?

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


About the Author, Kathleen Y’Barbo

Author Pic Y'BarboPublishers Weekly bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee and bestselling author of more than one hundred books with over two million copies of her books in print in the US and abroad. A tenth-generation Texan and certified paralegal, she is a member of the Texas Bar Association Paralegal Division, Texas A&M Association of Former Students and the Texas A&M Women Former Students (Aggie Women), Texas Historical Society, Sisters in Crime, Faith Hope and Love Christian Writers, and American Christian Fiction Writers. She would also be a member of the Daughters of the American Republic, Daughters of the Republic of Texas and a few others if she would just remember to fill out the paperwork that Great Aunt Mary Beth has sent her more than once.

Kathleen and her hero in combat boots husband have their own surprise love story that unfolded on social media a few years back. They make their home just north of Houston, Texas, and are the parents, grandparents, and in-laws of a blended family of Texans, Okies, and a trio of adorable Londoners.

Connect with Kathleen:

Website | BookBub | Facebook | Instagram | Amazon | Goodreads | Pinterest


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellI was a little trepidatious about starting The Yes Dare, because I’m not really a sports person. (Well, I like the froufrou expensive sports like figure skating), but even though the main character, Ryan, is a professional athlete I found him to be so engaging that the sports stuff wasn’t bogging me down at all. In fact, I was enchanted by the entire story.

So many romances focus on first love or love at first sight. This novel is a refreshing change, because the love story at the heart of the novel, that of Ryan and Coco, is a return to love, with adult characters who have real life experience. As someone who is old enough to be an empty-nester (except that we never had children) I really appreciated seeing mature characters at the center of a really good story.

As engaging as I found the character of Ryan, I found Coco to be even more so, because she’s really discovering who she is both in and out of the roles of wife and mother. I’ve always believed that you cannot be happy in any role unless you’re happy being just yourself, and this woman’s arc really proves that to be true.

Some people may feel that a title billed as a “clean” romance is going to be insipid, but The Yes Dare is absolutely wonderful. The leads are smart, interesting people, the supporting characters are dimensional, and there’s as much humor – the organic “comes from life” kind – as there is personal and family drama.

One thing I really appreciated was the way the author, Kathleen Y’Barbo allowed both Ryan and Coco to acknowledge their own flaws and foibles. It’s often said that the only people who know the truth of a relationship are the people in it. In The Yes Dare we got to peek at the truth of a complicated marriage – one where both parties have made mistakes, and both parties are eager to grow.

Personal growth is a key element of this novel. Every character finishes the story in a better place than where they started, though some of the changes are more subtle than others.

If you’re looking for a sensational romance with heightened emotions and starry-eyed naifs, this is NOT the book for you. If, however, you want a really satisfying read with grown-up characters and heartfelt feelings, you will love The Yes Dare. I certainly did.

Goes well with: Coffee and pie. Definitely pie.


Giveaway

GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!

 FOUR WINNERS:
Grand Prize:
Full PB&J series, autographed by Kathleen Y’Barbo

and the real Bonnie Sue.
Three Winners:
Autographed copy of The Yes Dare
(US only; ends midnight, CST, 11/12/21)

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11/6/21 Review Carpe Diem Chronicles
11/7/21 Author Interview The Page Unbound
11/8/21 Review StoreyBook Reviews
11/9/21 Series Spotlight The Book’s Delight
11/10/21 Review Librariel Book Adventures
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Review & Giveaway: Since You’ve Been Gone, by Tari Faris

BNR Since You've Been Gone

 

About the book, Since You’ve Been Gone

  • Genre: Fiction / Christian / Contemporary Romance
  • Publisher: Revell
  • Date of Publication: September 7, 2021
  • Number of Pages: 336 pages
  • Series: Restoring Heritage
  • Scroll down for giveaway!

Cover Hi Res Since You've Been GoneWith her vision and his know-how, this thing just might work . . .

Leah Williams is back in the quaint town of Heritage, Michigan, and ready to try again to make her business a success. But blank slates are hard to come by, and a piece of her past is waiting for her there. Heir to the Heritage Fruits company, Jonathan Kensington is the guy who not only made Leah’s past difficult, but he also seems determined to complicate her present as well.

In order to avoid forcing a buyout of Leah’s building, Jon will have to strike a compromise. Can the two of them work together? Or will their troubled past set the tone for their future?

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | ChristianBook.com | Other Affiliates | Goodreads


About the author, Tari Faris

Author pic FarisTari Faris is the author of You Belong with Me and Until I Met You. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers and My Book Therapy, she is the projects manager for My Book Therapy, writes for learnhowtowriteanovel.com, and is a 2017 Genesis Award winner. She has an MDiv from Asbury Theological Seminary and lives in the Phoenix, Arizona, area with her husband and their three children. Although she lives in the Southwest now, she lived in a small town in Michigan for 25 years.

Connect with Tari:

WEBSITE FACEBOOK  TWITTER   AMAZONGOODREADS◆  INSTAGRAM BOOKBUB


My Thoughts

MissMeliss2021Love abounds in Heritage, MI, in Since You’ve Been Gone, the latest addition to Tari Faris’s engaging “Restoring Heritage” series of romances.  There’s love between old friends, new friends, a treasured family business, and even love for the town itself, and it’s all wrapped in a package that manages to be sincere without being sickly-sweet.

What I really appreciated about this novel was that every one of the main characters had some kind of flaw or vulnerability. Leah isn’t great at ordered thinking and logical planning, Jon is standing in the shadows of his deceased father, Colby is coming from a professional scandal while Madison dealing with an intense personal situation. This was a refreshing change from the formula romances where everyone is model-perfect and equally plastic. In this novel the characters are believable and dimensional and it’s easy to become invested in their stories and outcomes.

I also liked that there were married couples who were friends of the four single characters. Nate (a pastor) and Olivia along with Hannah and Luke (and less so Leah’s sister Caroline and her husband) offer support and wisdom to the others, but the friendships mix and match and it’s never only married folks or only single folks when there are gatherings.

I haven’t read the previous two novels in this series, but  something notable about this book that I suspect runs through the whole series is that the town of Heritage is, itself, a character. The connections to the town run deep, and many of the characters are passionate about their love for their home. I’ve lived in towns like that, and I hope to live in one again. Sure, the neighbors know everything that’s going on, but there’s something really lovely about it as well.

Well paced and rich in detail, Since You’ve Been Gone is a satisfying treat of a novel.

Goes well with: hot tea and homemade pastries.


Giveaway

ONE WINNER:
A copy of the whole Restoring Heritage series,
a $10 Starbucks gift card,
and a bookish sticker pack!
(
US only. Ends 10/22/21.)

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10/13/21 Author Video Missus Gonzo
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10/14/21 BONUS Promo LSBBT Blog
10/15/21 Character Spotlight Book Bustle
10/16/21 Review Chapter Break Book Blog
10/17/21 Author Interview Forgotten Winds
10/18/21 Review StoreyBook Reviews
10/19/21 Top 5 List All the Ups and Downs
10/20/21 Deleted Scene It’s Not All Gravy
10/21/21 Review Reading by Moonlight
10/22/21 Review Carpe Diem Chronicles

 

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Review: Finding Summer Happiness, by Chris Penhall

Finding Summer Happiness

 

About the book, Finding Summer Happiness

Finding Summer Happiness by Chris PenhallYou won’t find happiness without breaking a few eggs …
Miriam Ryan was the MD of a successful events and catering company, but these days even the thought of chopping an onion sends her stress levels sky rocketing. A retreat to the Welsh village of her childhood holidays seems to offer the escape she’s craving – just peace, quiet, no people, a generous supply of ready meals … did she mention no people?

Enter a cheery pub landlord, a lovesick letting agent, a grumpy astronomer with a fridge raiding habit – not to mention a surprise supper club that requires the chopping of many onions – and Miriam realizes her escape has turned into exactly what she was trying to get away from, but could that be just the thing she needs to allow a little bit of summer happiness into her life?

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (USA) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


About the author, Chris Penhall

Chris PenhallChris Penhall won the 2019 Choc-Lit Search for a Star competition, sponsored by Your Cat Magazine, for her debut novel, The House That Alice Built. The sequel, New Beginnings at the Little House in the Sun was published in August 2020. Her short story, Lily McKee’s Seven Days of Christmas appears in Choc Lit and Ruby Fiction’s Cosy Christmas Treats anthology.

Her new novel, Finding Summer Happiness, which is set in Pembrokeshire in South West Wales was published in May 2021.

Chris is an author and freelance radio producer for BBC Local Radio.
She also has her own podcast – The Talking to My Friends About Book Podcast in which she chats to her friends about books. Good title!

Born in Neath in South Wales, she has also lived in London and in Portugal, which is where The House That Alice Built is set. It was whilst living in Cascais near Lisbon that she began to dabble in writing fiction, but it was many years later that she was confident enough to start writing her first novel, and many years after that she finally finished it!

A lover of books, music and cats, she is also an enthusiastic salsa dancer, a keen cook, and loves to travel. She is never happier than when she is gazing at the sea.

Connect with Chris:

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellSomething I’ve learned in the last few years is that if a book has Chris Penhall as the author, it’s going to be a fabulous read. Finding Summer Happiness, the author’s most recent title completely supports my initial statement. Charming, with a bit of romance and a bit of intrigue, it came into my life when I really needed it, and put a smile on my face.

Protagonist Miriam is quite possibly my favorite Penhall lead so far. Savvy and smart, she’s burnt out with her business, and finally agrees to have her personal assistant arrange a break for her. Six months in a cottage by the sea. When she learns the actual terms of said break, I felt her disappointment, displeasure, and confusion, and wanted to rush in and help her out. Her work ethic and sense of honor merge with her attorney’s advice, and the story really takes off

A former business-owner myself, although not professionally, I really resonated with Miriam, especially since I’ve been through the experience of leaving the corporate world, but I enjoyed the characters of Jim the pub owner, Rhiannon the realtor (sorry, letting agent) and Alan the unwanted sort-of guest, and the largely offscreen Justin. These characters were all funny and interesting and felt the like odd assortment of friends and cohorts many of us tend to collect.

I also appreciated the various guests and villagers who rounded out the story. Penhall has a knack for creating vivid and dimensional characters and communities, and in this book she excels at both. I wanted to knock on the door of Miriam’s rented cottage and demand a seat in her supper club.

This is a light read that is grounded in serious topics, like how to change your life and when to make the leap and follow your dreams.

Goes well with: A rainy day, a glass of wine, and a bowl of onion soup.

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