Saturday, June 16, 2018

Review: Resurrection of Hope by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Resurrection of Hope
By Tamera Lynn Kraft
Desert Breeze Publishing, 2016


She thought he was her knight in shining armor, but will a marriage of convenience prove her wrong?

After Vivian’s fiancé dies in the Great War, she thinks her life is over. But Henry, her fiancé’s best friend, comes to the rescue offering a marriage of convenience. He claims he promised his friend he would take care of her. She grows to love him, but she knows it will never work because he never shows any love for her.

Henry adores Vivian and has pledged to take care of her, but he won’t risk their friendship by letting her know. She’s still in love with the man who died in the Great War. He won’t risk heartache by revealing his true emotions.


My thoughts

Resurrection of Hope is the first book by Tamera Lynn Kraft that I’ve read, and I enjoyed this relationship story very much. It was good to see this story set in the 1919 World War I era, which I’m not all that familiar with.

I’m a fan of the marriage of convenience theme because I love to see a relationship grow once the initial commitment is made. For a story of novella length, Kraft writes with enough depth and complexity that Henry and Vivian felt real to me and I could understand their actions toward the other. Henry – “always in the background, not the kind of man you considered marrying” – wasn’t all that likeable at first, so the journey between these two was rewarding. However, I did want to shake some sense into him for his slowness to let go of the past, forgive, and help those in need!

I also enjoyed the spiritual feel of this story, gently woven throughout, and appreciated the message of a hope that trusts God and doesn’t depend on circumstances. The comfort conveyed by the title, Resurrection of Hope, speaks to readers through Henry and Vivian’s journey. I’d like to read more books by Tamera Lynn Kraft.


I received an electronic copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.


Tamera Lynn Kraft has always loved adventures. She loves to write historical fiction set in the United States because there are so many stories in American history. There are strong elements of faith, romance, suspense and adventure in her stories. She has received 2nd place in the NOCW contest, 3rd place TARA writer’s contest, and is a finalist in the Frasier Writing Contest and has other novels and novellas in print. She’s been married for 39 years to the love of her life, Rick, and has two married adult children and three grandchildren.

Tamera has been a children’s pastor for over 20 years. She is the leader of a ministry called Revival Fire for Kids where she mentors other children’s leaders, teaches workshops, and is a children’s ministry consultant and children’s evangelist and has written children’s church curriculum. She is a recipient of the 2007 National Children’s Leaders Association Shepherd’s Cup for lifetime achievement in children’s ministry.

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Friday, June 15, 2018

Review: Flowers and Foul Play by Amanda Flower

Flowers and Foul Play
By Amanda Flowers
Magic Garden Series #1
Crooked Lane, 2018


Fiona Knox lost her fiancé and her flower shop—but when she flies to Scotland to inherit her godfather’s cottage and possibly magical walled garden, she may lose her life as well when she’s swept into a murder investigation.

Florist Fiona Knox’s life isn’t smelling so sweet these days. Her fiancé left her for their cake decorator. Then, her flower shop wilted after a chain florist opened next door. So when her godfather, Ian MacCallister, leaves her a cottage in the Scottish Highlands, Fiona jumps on the next plane to Edinburgh. Ian, after all, is the one who taught her to love flowers. But when Ian’s elderly caretaker Hamish MacGregor shows her to the cottage upon her arrival, she finds the once resplendent grounds of Duncreigan in a dreadful shambles—with a dead body in the garden.

Minutes into her arrival, Fiona is already being questioned by the handsome Chief Inspector Neil Craig and getting her passport seized. But it’s Craig’s fixation on Uncle Ian’s loyal caretaker, Hamish, as a prime suspect, that really makes her worried. As Fiona strolls the town, she quickly realizes there are a whole bouquet of suspects much more likely to have killed Alastair Croft, the dead lawyer who seems to have had more enemies than friends.

Now it’s up to Fiona to clear Hamish’s name before it’s too late in Flowers and Foul Play, national bestselling author Amanda Flower’s enchanting first Magic Garden mystery.

AmazonBarnes & Noble

My thoughts

Flowers and Foul Play is atmospheric, whimsical, and absolutely enchanting … I loved this story and can’t say enough good things about it!

Dead ivy covering the garden wall that turns green as Fiona
walks by … mouth-watering Shepherd’s Pie from the village
Twisted Fox Pub … a chill in the air from the North Sea coast

As a rule, I don’t care for paranormal stories at all, but Flowers and Foul Play is that rare exception, and it works incredibly well in this story. I’ve been wanting to try one of Amanda Flower’s books for a good while, but the bottom line is that I’m drawn to British fiction and could not resist the Scottish setting and appealing storyline – and what an enjoyable time I had! The dictionary defines “whimsical” as being “playfully quaint or fanciful, especially in an appealing and amusing way,” and that perfectly describes this story. From a mysterious “magic” garden, to the cutest quirky animals, I was fascinated and really didn’t want the story to end.

Flowers died but always came back, be it through a bulb,
a cutting, or a seed. They always found a way to go on.
I wanted that kind of resilience in my own life.
- Fiona

Fiona Knox actually does have that resilience and her inner strength shines through in spite of all that recently happened in her life – a fiancée who dropped her for the cake decorator, the loss of her flower shop thanks to a chain store, and the death of her beloved godfather, Ian MacCallister. The story opens as Fiona arrives at the picturesque Scottish cottage bequeathed to her by Ian, where she is met by the caretaker, Hamish MacGregor, Duncan (a most fascinating pet squirrel) – and a dead body in the garden. There’s also the fascinating Chief Inspector Neil Craig, who I am inexplicably drawn to.

More characters are slowly introduced as Fiona visits the nearby village of Bellewick, intent upon discovering more about the deceased lawyer, Alastair Croft, and I loved how we’re given time to get to know each one. Amanda Flower is a gifted writer with quite an imagination, and I wavered between wanting to read quickly for the solution, but slowly so as to savor each word and nuance. There’s also a twist and conclusion that I never saw coming.

Amanda Flower has written several series, so if you’re a cozy mystery fan, I encourage you to pick up this book or one of her others and be prepared for a treat. Flowers and Foul Play gets 5 stars from me and goes on my “best of the best” list. Can’t wait to see what comes next!

Highly recommended.

I received a copy of this book through The Review Crew. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.


Amanda Flower, a USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award-winning mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth-grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words.

In addition to being an author, Amanda is librarian in Northeast Ohio.

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Review + Tour GIVEAWAY: Tremors of Doubt by Lael Harrelson

About the Book

Title: Tremors of Doubt  
Author: Lael Harrelson  
Genre: Contemporary Amish Alternative  
Release Date: March 19, 2018

Would the will of God ever lead a young woman against the counsel of family and church? 

For a young Mennonite woman who wants to make a difference in the world, growing up on the mission field in Haiti should be the perfect fit. But not for Callie Zimmerman. Raised by her aunt and uncle after the death of her parents, Callie works beside her aunt cooking, cleaning and sewing each day as the men head off to serve the community. She longs to do more to alleviate the poverty and sickness that surrounds her, but tradition and her uncle forbid it. 

On the eve of her twenty-third birthday, struggling with hopelessness as another year passes, Callie pleads with God to open a door for her. The prayer has barely left her mouth when she finds a stack of letters with secrets about her parents' deaths and their excommunication from the Mennonite church. Devastated, Callie cries herself to sleep, only to be awakened a few hours later by her uncle with the startling news the Noah Koehn has asked permission to court her. 

Is one of these the answer to her prayer? Would exploring her parents past mean losing a future with Noah? Is it worth the risk?

Barnes & NobleAmazon

My Thoughts

Inspired by personal experience, Lael Harrelson has written a hard-to-put-down story that tackles real-life issues in a realistic and meaningful way. At the same time, Tremors of Doubt is a refreshingly different story and there’s nothing predictable about it.

The setting – a Mennonite mission in Haiti – is so vividly conveyed with a sensory awareness that I could almost literally experience the villages and people. All that I’ve read about this country was fleshed out in a moving way as Harrelson takes us deeper into the culture of Haiti.

Callie, living with her Uncle Roman and Aunt Rhoda and serving at the mission, is a compelling young lady, so easy to connect with. The story becomes quite eye opening as Callie questions not only her place and mission in life, but the teachings of her conservative and legalistic faith as well, especially the role of women. And when the discovery of her parents’ journey of faith sends her to Colorado for a time, I eagerly journeyed with her.

Tremors of Doubt is one of my favorite books and I hope for many more stories from Lael Harrelson.

Highly recommended.

I received a copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

About the Author

Raised by a fun loving, atheist single mom who struggled with depression and mental illness I spent my childhood backpacking around Europe, visiting yoga communes, eating vegan, living on a houseboat, then an old pony express outpost in the backwoods of Montana. My teen years took a drastic turn when my mom got saved, got married, and joined an ultra-conservative Mennonite church. Faith, step parents and unquestioning obedience is a dangerous combination when mixed with mental illness, legalism, and heavy handed physical correction. 

I became a confused believer with a heart for Jesus but drowning under a sea of rules, regulations, and legalism. I became a missionary teacher and then a nurse and escaped to the mission field, the one avenue open to single women. I taught VBS on Indian reservations, led school for missionary children in Haiti and Africa. All around me was heartache and disease and glaring need. I longed to make a difference but was limited to working on the mission compound – teaching, cooking, cleaning. Work outside the walls of the compound was reserved for the men. 

On a furlough, I met my future husband – a new believer who wasn’t looking for a door mat in a wife but a partner. As he grew in his faith, I reexamined mine and what Biblical womanhood looked like. Timidly at first, but then eagerly, as I discovered a new relationship with Jesus Christ based on grace and not performance. I left the Mennonite church and married the love of my life twenty years ago. We have five beautiful teenagers, two by birth and three through adoption from Haiti. My husband is adopted and God used my time in Haiti to prepare me to understand my children’s culture and language and ease their transitions home. 

Two people in my family have mild Asperger’s and one has Reactive Attachment disorder, PTSD, and ODD. Our house is not a quiet, well greased machine but a chaotic, happy, crazy, nerve racking, love filled oasis where we all try to help each other grow and thrive. I am so thankful for my life – the good and the bad. I feel blessed to have experienced so many unique situations and to love and be loved by so many wonderful and eccentric people. It is from these experiences I draw the fiction stories I write. I like to think of them as fiction with grit – fast paced and entertaining stories that make you want to read till the very last page while at the same time tackling real life issues – legalism, abuse, divorce, adoption, Asperger syndrome, mental illness, etc.

Guest Post from Lael Harrelson

To the casual observer, Haiti is a magical island of swaying palms, laughing children, and azure blue oceans, but for one who takes the time to look deeper, a darker truth emerges. Starvation. Desperation. Darkness. Hopelessness. 

Callie’s church is a shining beacon of family values, sincere faith, and simple living but, again, for one who takes the time to dive deeper, there is a hidden trail of broken spirits, crushed dreams, and oppressed women and girls. 

Drawing inspiration from my experiences as a Haitian missionary and former Mennonite, I hope you will find Tremors of Doubt not only entertaining but life changing as you follow Callie’s journey through self-doubt, crushed dreams, love triangles, life changing secrets, and fragile hope as she navigates being the daughter of Haitian missionaries on an exotic Caribbean Island where danger is lurking just below the surface.

Blog Stops

Quiet Quilter, June 12
Among the Reads, June 12
Mommynificent, June 13
Bigreadersite, June 13
The Avid Reader, June 14
Carpe Diem, June 15
Mary Hake, June 17
margaret kazmierczak, June 17 (Interview)
ansel book blog, June 22
cherylbbookblog, June 23


To celebrate her tour, Lael is giving away a grand prize of an autographed copy of Tremors of Doubt, an adorable set of Amish dolls, a set of handwritten recipe cards with mouthwatering Amish recipes, a handmade Haitian bracelet made by Haitian students, a pound of nationally acclaimed Haitian coffee, a bar of rich Haitian chocolate, and a $25 Amazon gift card!!

Click the image above or the link below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Review + Tour GIVEAWAY: The Spook in the Stacks by Eva Gates

The Spook in the Stacks
By Eva Gates
A Lighthouse Library Mystery #4
Crooked Lane Books, 2018


Halloween in North Carolina’s Outer Banks becomes seriously tricky when librarian Lucy Richardson stumbles across something extra unusual in the rare books section: a dead body.

Wealthy businessman Jay Ruddle is considering donating his extensive collection of North Carolina historical documents to the Bodie Island Lighthouse Library, but the competition for the collection is fierce. Unfortunately, while the library is hosting a lecture on ghostly legends, Jay becomes one of the dearly departed in the rare books section. Now, it’s up to Lucy Richardson and her fellow librarians to bone up on their detective skills and discover who is responsible for this wicked Halloween homicide.

Meanwhile, very strange things are happening at the library―haunted horses are materializing in the marsh, the lights seem to have an eerie life of their own, and the tiny crew of a model ship appears to move around when no one is watching. Is Lucy at her wit’s end? Or can it be that the Bodie Island Lighthouse really is haunted?

With The Legend of Sleepy Hollow on everyone’s minds and ghoulish gossip on everyone’s lips, Lucy will need to separate the clues from the boos if she wants to crack this case without losing her head in The Spook in the Stacks, the delightful fourth in national bestseller Eva Gates’ Lighthouse Library mysteries.

My thoughts

There’s so much to love in this story! And how could any mystery fan resist that title? The Spook in the Stacks is everything that a cozy mystery should be; I was hooked from the first page and its steady pace never let up. I’m new to this series, but understand that it has found a new home with Crooked Lane Books – and I’m so glad! This fourth story can stand alone, but I’m eager to read the previous books.

Library/librarians, lighthouse, and North Carolina’s Outer Banks … what’s not to like here? The setting literally becomes a major character and is vividly conveyed by the author. Lucy is a likeable heroine, easy to connect with. Then there’s the Halloween theme, ghost stories related to the area – even the lighthouse library itself – and mysterious sightings of a gray horse and lights. Finally, add to that some political intrigue, historical artifacts, family inheritance, and a little romance between Lucy and Connor. Everything blends together and makes for a thoroughly enchanting read.

I’m also glad to say that The Spook in the Stacks is a clean read with no profanity. Discovering the writing of Eva Gates/Vicki Delany has been delightful and I will be looking for more of her stories.

Highly recommended.

I received a copy of this book through Great Escapes Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.


Vicki Delany is one of Canada’s most prolific and varied crime writers and a national bestseller in the U.S. She has written more than twenty-five books: clever cozies to Gothic thrillers to gritty police procedurals, to historical fiction and novellas for adult literacy. She is currently writing three cozy mystery series: the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series for Crooked Lane, the Year Round Christmas mysteries for Penguin Random House and, under the pen name of Eva Gates, the Lighthouse Library series, for Crooked Lane Books.

Vicki lives and writes in bucolic Prince Edward County, Ontario. She is the past president of the Crime Writers of Canada. Her work has been nominated for the Derringer, the Bony Blithe, the Ontario Library Association Golden Oak, and the Arthur Ellis Awards.


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Review + Tour GIVEAWAY: As the Christmas Cookie Crumbles by Leslie Budewitz

As the Christmas Cookie Crumbles
By Leslie Budewitz
Food Lovers’ Village Mystery #5
Midnight Ink, 2018


Erin is one smart cookie, but can she keep the holiday spirit—and herself—alive till Christmas?

In Jewel Bay, all is merry and bright. At Murphy’s Mercantile, AKA the Merc, manager Erin Murphy is ringing in the holiday season with food, drink, and a new friend: Merrily Thornton. A local girl gone wrong, Merrily has turned her life around. But her parents have publicly shunned her, and they nurse a bitterness that chills Erin.

When Merrily goes missing and her boss discovers he’s been robbed, fingers point to Merrily—until she’s found dead, a string of lights around her neck. The clues and danger snowball from there. Can Erin nab the killer—and keep herself in one piece—in time for a special Christmas Eve?

Includes delicious recipes!


My thoughts

As the Christmas Cookie Crumbles is an excellent cozy mystery that goes on my favorites list – well written, charming small-town setting, character depth, and well-plotted mystery. I enjoyed this story very much and am glad to have discovered the writing of Leslie Budewitz.

Beginning with #5 in an established series can sometimes be difficult, but I quickly connected with the setting and characters. Jewel Bay, Montana is a delightful setting – a lakeside resort community on the road to Glacier National Park. Jewel Bay is a reflection of its citizens, a town that creatively fought back and reinvented itself when modern changes threatened to destroy it. The successful result is a food lovers’ village, and it is during their Christmas Decoration Day that we first meet many of the characters.

Erin, with dual roles as manager of the family mercantile and amateur detective, has a likeableness and realistic complexity to her. In fact, all of Erin’s family and friends have a genuineness to them. I sometimes get tired of the quirky characters that cozy mysteries are noted for, and welcomed the fresh realism of this story, as well as the author’s subtle humor.

I loved how family relationships provide the framework of the story and that Erin cares for her family. There’s plenty of drama, but it is relegated to the murder and the victim’s dysfunctional family. There’s also an emotional hook because, rather than being someone we love to hate, the victim was a sympathetic figure that I wanted to get to know in life rather than after death.

As the Christmas Cookie Crumbles is a delightful read with more depth than the average cozy. And Leslie Budewitz showed that it is possible to write a highly entertaining story without the use of profanity. I hope there are many more books in this series and want to read the previous four books.

Highly recommended.

I received a copy of this book through Great Escapes Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.


Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction.

She lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician, and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model, and avid bird-watcher.



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Monday, June 11, 2018

Review + Tour GIVEAWAY: The Captured Bride by Michelle Griep

About the Book

Title: The Captured Bride  
Author: Michelle Griep  
Release Date: June 1, 2018  
Genre: Historical Romance

A war-torn countryside is no place for a lady—but Mercy Lytton is a lady like none other. Raised amongst the Mohawks, she straddles two cultures, yet each are united in one cause . . . to defeat the French. Born with a rare gift of unusually keen eyesight, she is chosen as a scout to accompany a team of men on a dangerous mission. Yet it is not her life that is threatened. It is her heart. 

Condemned as a traitor, Elias Dubois faces the gallows. At the last minute, he’s offered his freedom if he consents to accompany a stolen shipment of French gold to a nearby fort—but he’s the one they stole it from in the first place. It turns out that the real thief is the beguiling woman, Mercy Lytton, for she steals his every waking thought. 

Can love survive divided loyalties in a backcountry wilderness?


My thoughts

Michelle Griep is one of my favorite authors, and while I’ve enjoyed all that I’ve read by her, The Captured Bride is one of my favorites. All that Griep is known for is here – rich characterization, fascinating historical detail, romance, adventure, danger, and faith – but I think it is the 1759 American Colonial era setting that I especially enjoy. Griep shines at visually conveying a sense of the land, people, and what life was like during that period, easily drawing readers into every scene.

Mercy and Elias are wonderful characters, so realistically drawn. Raised by the Mohawk Indians and gifted with a rare keen sight, Mercy is the product of two cultures. Elias, presented initially as a condemned traitor, is never quite what he seems. The chemistry between these two is off the charts.

The faith element is gently woven throughout, contrasted between the commitment of Elias and Mercy’s doubt that God could be trusted. It was beautiful to see what she thought of as weakness in her mother grow into the realization that faith was a character strength.

Highly recommended.

I received a copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

About the Author

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the author of historical romances: The Innkeeper’s Daughter, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, The Captive Heart, Brentwood’s Ward, A Heart Deceived, Undercurrent and Gallimore, but also leaped the historical fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan

If you’d like to keep up with her escapades, find her at or stalk her on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Guest Post from Michelle

A Visit to Fort Niagara  
Whether you’re a history buff or don’t have a clue what the French and Indian War was about, there’s a destination in upstate New York that’s fun to visit for the whole family . . .

My husband and I made the trek to this living history site last summer. I had no idea what to expect, other than what was advertised as a “reenactment camp.” For those who don’t know, this is when volunteers who adore history come together to present a particular event, such as a battle. These people usually choose a real person from the era upon whom they fashion their modern day persona. They dress, speak, eat and live as that person might have. Here I am with some of my new friends:

Generally around the 4th of July, the 1759 Battle of Fort Niagara is recreated in a 3-day extravaganza of soldiers, muskets, canons and an entire market place to peruse selling period-related items.

Some of the things that surprised me about stepping back into the mid-eighteenth century were:
  • How much smoke muskets kick out
  • Once the battle begins, it’s hard to see who is your enemy or ally
  • Canons are really loud
  • Everything wasn’t as black and white as it seems in pictures—gowns and uniforms were very colorful
What makes this event so spectacular is that they take the entire 20 day siege and condense it into 3 days. If you visit every day, you’ll see and experience exactly what happened. You’ll be there to see the British, Colonial regulars and Iroquois allies sneak out of the tree line to shoot at some French soldiers who were pigeon hunting just outside the fort. You’ll hear the war whoops and barrage of angry French epithets roaring on the air. You’ll even get a chance to taste some of their food as you wander around inside the French Encampment set up inside the fort walls.

To experience a bit of the danger, sights and sounds of what Mercy and Elias lived through in The Captured Bride, Fort Niagara really is a fantastic place to visit.

Blog Stops

Vicky Sluiter, June 9
Genesis 5020, June 11
Bakerkella, June 11
Among the Reads, June 13
Book by Book, June 13
Splashes of Joy, June 14
Artistic Nobody, June 14 (Spotlight)
Pause for Tales, June 15
Mary Hake, June 15
Bigreadersite, June 15
Simple Harvest Reads, June 16 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)
Novels corner, June 17
Kathleen Denly, June 18
Remembrancy, June 18
Mommynificent, June 20
Carpe Diem, June 22


To celebrate her tour, Michelle is giving away a grand prize of
a signed copy of The Captured Bride and a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card!!

Click the image above or the link below to enter.