Tag Archives: clean reads

Interviewed at Fiction Finder!

I missed sharing this interview back in May. Pop by and have a read. Fellow Canadian writer Pearl Fredericksen asked some fun questions, including “If I were not an author, I would be __).”

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Review: The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip, by Sara Brunsvold

The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip, by Sara Brunsvold (Revell, 2022)

Life-affirming, inspiring, and heartwarming, this novel pairs a young female reporter with an elderly woman at the end of her days. Clara Kip may be dying, and she may claim to be ordinary, but the “simple” acts of love and friendship that unfold from her past have changed hearts, impacted her city’s history, and saved lives. All because she dared to hold onto her Saviour and love those He allowed to cross her path.

What begins as a disciplinary assignment for Aidyn Kelley will upend and reshape her life and goals. What she discovers in Clara’s words will challenge readers as well.

Clara is the star of the story: feisty, faithful, fierce, and not at all prepared to lie down and let the cancer take her quietly. Instead, arriving at the hospice that she knows will be her final earthly home, she believes the Lord has work for her to do even in this place. [Spoiler: He does!]

This beautifully-crafted novel celebrates friendship, faith, sacrifice, love, endurance, laughter, human kindness, care for refugees, and much more. Definitely life-changing fiction and well worth the read. Expect to see it showing up in lots of “favourites” lists and literary awards.

The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip is Sara Brunsvold’s debut novel. For more about the author, and to download a copy of “Mrs. Kip’s 8 Rules to Live By” (limited time offer) visit sarabrunsvold.com.

[Review copy from the public library via Hoopla.]

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Review: The Last Piece, by Terrie Todd

book cover: The Last Piece, by Terrie Todd

The Last Piece, by Terrie Todd (2021)

If you love stories with interconnected threads drawing characters’ lives together at the end, this one’s for you. Especially if you love strong, evocative description and characters with heart.

The Last Piece begins in 1937 with a talented young artist forced to sell the portrait of his dead sweetheart to a jigsaw puzzle company. He does so with a prayer of sorts that the one-of-a-kind puzzle not be completed until he’s reunited with her.

What follow are a string of short stories from that date until 2017 where various people attempt the puzzle at key moments in their lives. If they don’t finish the puzzle, they do experience situations that shape their lives and memories. And in 2017 the mystery of the artist’s identity and the threads that join the characters find conclusion.

Terrie Todd writes settings so real you can taste the dust and feel the sun and the breeze. She’s an award-winning Canadian author of historical fiction, plays and short works as well as the nonfiction book, Out of My Mind: A Decade of Faith and Humour. For more about the author, visit her blog  terrietodd.blogspot.com or her Goodreads page.

[Review copy from the public library.]

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New Releases in Christian Fiction (August 2022)

August 2022 New Releases from Members of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW):

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

 


Action/Adventure/Biblical:

 

The Wanderer Scorned by Natasha Woodcraft — The Wanderer is a man shrouded in legend. Moving from place to place in the land of Nod, he is known primarily for the curse that hangs over his life. When that curse is invoked during the celebration of a murderous rampage, The Wanderer is summoned to tell his story. Few know the truth of the tale encompassing life, death, love, hate, faith and doubt, for it has been obscured by centuries of rumour. Now, it will be told by the one who lived it—the man who became The Wanderer. (Action/Adventure, Independently Published)

 


Contemporary Romance:

 

The Cowgirl’s Redemption by Mindy Obenhaus — She came home to make things right. Will she be given a second chance? Gloriana Prescott has returned to her Texas hometown to make amends—even if the townsfolk she left behind aren’t ready to forgive. But when her mother’s ranch manager, Justin Broussard, is tasked with saving the struggling rodeo so his teen daughter can compete, Gloriana sees a chance to prove she’s really changed. But can she prove to Justin, and the town, that she’s trustworthy? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))

 


Historical:


A Fallen Sparrow by Lynne Basham Tagawa — Three very different people, a printer’s daughter, a Shenandoah valley farmer, and a British spy, must deal with questions relating to the time of the Revolution: when is it biblical to resist tyranny? The story takes place over the entire war, from 1770 to 1782. (General Historical, Independently Published)

 

Escape from Amsterdam by Lauralee Bliss — Helen Smit believed she was called by God to become a teacher. Little does she know that her care for kids will take a drastic turn for survival when the Germans occupy Amsterdam and Jewish children and parents begin to be deported. Now all she can think of is helping children escape before it’s too late. Erik Misman’s newfound love for Helen is tested when he joins a plot to help move Jewish children to a safe place in the countryside. If danger can foster a closer bond with Helen and save the lives of the little ones, he will do it all. But a German patrol that stumbles upon the farm where they are hiding with three children and a soldier who takes an unexpected interest in Helen, could well destroy their plans for safety and love. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Finding of Miss Fairfield by Grace Hitchcock — When an engagement of convenience becomes anything but convenient . . .Forced into a betrothal with a widower twice her age, Charleston socialite, Sophia Fairfield is desperate for an escape. But, while her fiancé is away on business, he assigns his handsome stepson, Carver, the task of looking after his bride-to-be. Much to her dismay, Sophia finds herself falling in love with the wrong gentleman—a man society would never allow her to marry, given Sophia was supposed to be his new stepmother. The only way to save Carver from scandal and financial ruin is to run away, leaving him and all else behind to become a Harvey Girl waitress at the Castañeda Hotel in New Mexico. Carver Ashton has had his life planned out for him since birth, but when he encounters Sophia Fairfield, he glimpses a new life—apart from his overbearing stepfather’s business. But, when the woman he loves disappears before he can express his devotion, Carver abandons all to find her. However, his stepfather has other intentions for Sophia and will stop at nothing until she is his bride . . . even if it is against her will. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

The Sugar Baron’s Governess by Elva Cobb Martin — Banished from Charleston for his misdeeds years earlier, Joshua Becket built a new life on both sides of the law in Jamaica. As sugar plantation owner and member of the governing British Assembly, he’s known and respected on the island. But he guards a secret identity. As swashbuckling Captain Jay, he leads daredevil privateering exploits on his ship, the Eagle, when the mood suits him. Currently, he needs a governess for his young daughter whose mother has passed. Widowed gentlewoman Abigail Welch accepted the governess position, leaving behind her disintegrated life in Charleston. This new start in Jamaica might finally help her find healing for her broken heart after losing her husband in the Revolution and their infant son to yellow fever. Joshua’s precocious, undisciplined daughter is the drawing card that brings him and Abigail together like clashing cymbals of disagreement…and fiery attraction. Can love and the miracle power of God give them a new beginning and a happily ever after? (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)

 


Literary Historical:

 

By Way of the Moonlight by Elizabeth Musser — Two courageous young women, tied together by blood and shared passion, will risk everything to save what they love most. For as long as she can remember, Allie Massey, a gifted physical therapist, has dreamed of making her grandparents’ ten-acre estate into a trauma recovery center using equine therapy—a dream her grandmother, Nana Dale, embraced wholeheartedly. But when her grandmother’s will is read, Allie is shocked to learn the property has been sold to a developer. Decades earlier, after losing her prized filly to the Great Depression, headstrong Dale Butler sets out to bring her horse home again. In the years that follow, she finds friendship and love in a congenial new riding partner, until tragedy strikes in the midst of World War II. As Allie searches her grandmother’s estate for a way to keep her dream alive, she uncovers bits and pieces of Nana Dale’s past with her champion filly, a young man named Tommy, and one fateful night in 1943 during the Battle of the Atlantic. (Literary Historical from Bethany House (Baker) Publishing)

Land that I Love by Gail Kittleson — Set in the German Hill Country of Texas during World War II, this is more than a love story. It is about the racism and bigotry that still exist in our world. As these characters struggle with the problems of everyday life, they teach us that we survive hard times by being good neighbors despite our differences and that hatred can be conquered by love, understanding and forgiveness. (Literary Historical from WordCrafts Press)

 


Thriller/Suspense/Romance:

 

Tracking the Truth by Sharee Stover — Temporarily working in the cold case division was supposed to mean less danger for state trooper Trey Jackson and his injured K-9 partner, Magnum—until they thwart an abduction. Now he must protect profiler Justine Stark, even as she blames him for her friend’s death ten years ago. Can he right past wrongs by finally solving the murder…and making sure Justine lives to find closure?
(Thriller/Suspense/Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))

Twin Murder Mix-Up by Sami A. Abrams — A case of mistaken identity… has lethal results.
(Thriller/Suspense/Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))


Winter Deceptions: A Collection of Christian Suspense Novels by Dan Walsh, et. al — A collection of nine riveting wintry suspense novellas with whispers of romance by ten-award winning Christian suspense authors. (Thriller/Suspense/Romance, Independently Published)

Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:

 
Grace on the Mountain Trail by Misty M. Beller, This epic journey is her last hope to find her lost brother—the only family she has left. (Historical Romance)
 
Jacob’s Hope by Sylvia Anne Nash, In the 1960s, racial prejudice and hatred resulted in a throw-away child. Can that child, now a grown man, forgive the unforgiveable? (Mystery)
 
More than Grit by Gretchen Carlson, When do secrets become lies? When is grit not enough?
(Young Adult)
 
Redemption’s Hope by Kathleen D. Bailey, A man without a country and a woman with too much past. (Western Romance)
 
Settlers’ Hope by Kathleen D. Bailey, He was the West, and she was the East. Could they make a place for themselves in the wet, wild Oregon Country? (Historical Romance)
 
The Help of a Cowboy by Elsie Davis , Once a cowboy…always a cowboy. But when life delivers Chad a chance to hang up his boots and spurs, he’s all in. (Contemporary Romance)

 

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New Releases in Christian Fiction (July 2022)

July 2022 New Releases from Members of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW):

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.


Contemporary Romance:

Leaving the Past Behind by Sandra Ardoin — The joy Danni Barnett found in her job as a travel writer and photographer faded around the same time her husband walked out on her. When her late sister-in-law’s will brings the couple together to care for her children, Danni must face her fear of motherhood or lose a second chance with Brooks. Brooks Barnett’s life has spun out of his control. A crumbled marriage. A career on hold. The loss of his sister. Brooks determines to keep Danni at arm’s length, but it’s a daunting task when his niece and nephew love her as much as he does. How will Brooks protect two grieving children from more loss when he can’t even protect his heart from Danni’s pull? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Muskoka Blue by Carolyn Miller — For Sarah Maguire, spending the summer at Lake Muskoka was supposed to be about finding the courage to put back the pieces of her shattered life—not falling in love with the charming yet unsophisticated hockey player from next door. Daniel Walton may have been praying for Miss Right to appear, but Sarah’s ice princess act just cries Miss Wrong. Dan’s summer plans hadn’t included befriending a redhead with a sassy tongue and cute accent, but as Muskoka works its magic he soon discovers that underneath the frost and prickles is the funny, feisty, loving woman he’s waited all his life to meet. As their friendship deepens, Sarah comes to appreciate Dan’s patience and kindness yet struggles to let go of the past and embrace the future, while Dan, only too conscious of the personal history he wants to forget, questions the wisdom of pursuing a girl whose heart may never be wholly his – who may soon return to live on the opposite side of the world. Will past regrets lead to further heartbreak? Or can Sarah and Dan learn to leave the past in the past and embrace God’s promises for the future? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Seaside Proposal by Narelle Atkins — Billie Radcliffe has a secret. And she isn’t sharing it with anyone, including Zach Montford. Even though she feels an instant connection with the good-looking banker and youth leader, she’s wary of rejection. Besides she’s only in the close-knit beach community until she meets the one man who can fill in the blanks about her history. Zach hopes his temporary stint with the church will help him decide whether to go into full-time ministry. Though his career plans are uncertain, he’s sure about his growing feelings for Billie. When a shocking revelation throws everything into question, Zach and Billie have a chance to put the past to rest … and walk into the future together. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

To Begin Again by Emily Conrad — Michaela Vandehey’s reality show win transformed her from the girl whose own father ignored her into a pop singer loved by the masses. But fame has proven hard to keep. To bolster her floundering career, she heads to Wisconsin to snag a collaboration with the iconic rock band Awestruck. There, she meets bass guitarist Philip, a dad whose devotion challenges her skepticism about love and family. Whatever faith Philip Miller had died with his wife. Now, “Amazing Grace” is nothing but a lullaby to sing to his children in her memory. Thanks to Awestruck, he can provide privileged lives for his kids, but he has no intention of finding love again. If only he weren’t so drawn to Michaela. When he falls for her despite himself, Michaela learns the dark secret that threatens his family’s future. The grace they’ve heard so much about might grant them the fresh start they need, but to begin again, they’ll first have to sacrifice what they hold most dear. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)


General Contemporary:

The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip by Sara Brunsvold — Frustrated reporter Aidyn Kelley begrudgingly agrees to help a hospice patient prepare her obituary. But old Clara Kip has some incredible stories–and some surprises up her sleeve–that promise to make this seemingly throwaway assignment a life-changing one. (General Contemporary, from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

More Than Sparrows by Claire SpencerChristensen — Kate is at a crossroads. A lapse in judgement has her clashing with management at Westbrook Community Justice Service, her offer to accommodate a client in her own home breaching department regulations. Not only does this infuriate her team leader, but it provides the clever, charismatic department psychologist, Dr Paul Leeuwin, yet another opportunity to heap scorn on her world view and rubbish her belief in God. The pressure increases when she dares to question a church leadership decision to fund an extension, seemingly ignoring needy families in the surrounding suburbs. Her concerns dismissed, she falls out with friends when she suggests the community could be better served if the money was spent on a parachurch organisation. In conflict at work and at odds with fellow believers, what is God trying to tell her? (General Contemporary, Independently Published)

Perfectly Placed by Liana George — Six weeks after leaving China, Nicki Mayfield returns to complete two critical tasks: restore order at New Hope Orphanage and re-connect with the little girl who stole her heart. However, between a stubbornly stone walling supervisor, missing documents, and personal tragedy, Nicki faces challenges at every turn. Is she the best person to bring order – and longevity – to the place these children call home? Then, with the help of an unexpected ally, Nicki makes a life-altering decision that upends her well-planned life and the lives of those around her. Will she lose it all, or has she found the way to save what matters most?
(General Contemporary, from Scrivenings Press)


Historical Romance:

A Feeling of Home by Susan Ann Mason — Isabelle Wardrop’s well-to-do life has completely unraveled. Within months, she’s lost both her parents, her fortune, and her home. With nowhere else to turn, she and her younger sister move in with a trusted former servant in an impoverished area of the city. Desperate for work but having no qualifications, Isabelle is forced to accept help from Dr. Mark Henshaw, the very man she blames for her mother’s death. (Historical Romance from Bethany House (Baker) Publishing)

Byway to Danger by Sandra Merville Hart — Everyone in Richmond has secrets. Especially the spies. Meg Brooks, widow, didn’t stop spying for the Union when her job at the Pinkerton National Detective Agency ended, especially now that she lives in the Confederate capital. Her job at the Yancey bakery provides many opportunities to discover vital information about the Confederacy to pass on to her Union contact. She prefers to work alone, yet the strong, silent baker earns her respect and tugs at her heart. Cade Yancey knows the beautiful widow is a spy when he hires her only because his fellow Unionist spies know of her activities. Meg sure didn’t tell him. He’s glad she knows how to keep her mouth shut, for he has hidden his dangerous activities from even his closest friends. The more his feelings for the courageous woman grow, the greater his determination to protect her by guarding his secrets. Her own investigations place her in enough peril. As danger escalates, Meg realizes her choice to work alone isn’t a wise one. Can she trust Cade with details from her past not even her family knows? (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)

Inventions of the Heart by Mary Conneally — Her heart seeks safety. But will trouble find her even here? After her sister’s marriage, Michelle Stiles is left hiding at Two Harts Ranch with the handsome but stubborn Zane Hart. She’s managed to stay one step ahead of her stepfather and his devious plans, but if he finds her, she will no longer be safe. Zane has problems of his own. Having discovered a gold mine on his property, he must figure out how to harvest it without kicking off a gold rush. Michelle, educated and trained to run her father’s business, wants to manage all aspects of the mine, but Zane thinks for a person so smart she can have some misguided ideas. Running the mining operation will be a dangerous job, and he can’t risk putting her in harm’s way. But danger finds Michelle anyway when she’s suddenly attacked. If they go to the sheriff, they’ll reveal her location, but if they do nothing . . . their troubles have only just begun. (Historical Romance, from Bethany House (Baker) Publishing)

Matters of the Heart by Heidi Gray McGill — Katie is an unconventional and impatient Irish immigrant with a determination to champion the needs of Civil War orphans and widows, no matter the fallout. Hans served his time and has no desire to join another cause to help the needy unless he’s the one in question. Stubbornness and demons of their past may keep them from their goals and each other, yet in the end, they realize the answer isn’t always in the one you seek. (Historical Romance, ACFW QIP (Qualified Independently Published))


Speculative Fiction:

Aivan: The One Truth by Kayla E. Green — Rune has grown up all of her life in the mountainous northern nation of Kansanai. As granddaughter of the Senior Elder, she has been a devout believer of the Vihishki gods her whole life. Yet, when a prophet challenges the Vihishki gods against his Aivan, the One Truth, everything she thought she knew is turned upside down. Will she be able to let go of the life she thought she deserved for something far greater than what she could have ever imagined? (Speculative Fiction from Ambassador International)

When Legends Rise by Daphne Self — He is now one of them. Genetically altered… Designed to kill… Trained to eradicate…Until he became more. Juliet 7-A was the top elite assassin for the Global Federated Territories until an ambush deemed him unsalvageable. He was scheduled for decommission. His only recourse for survival is a new identity and his search for the one friend he had–a friend who deserted him. Those he once hunted will save him. Yet it comes with a price. A price that demands much of him. What happens when an assassin awakens? (Speculative Fiction from Ambassador International)


Thriller/Suspense/Romance:

Sabotaged Mission by Tina Radcliffe — When a failed mission leaves CIA operative MacKenzie “Mac” Sharp injured and her partner presumed dead, going off-grid is the only way to survive. But her old flame, CIA officer Gabe Denton, has tracked her down and led a well-connected enemy right to her door. Now with someone trying to frame and kill her, working with Gabe is the only way to clear her name…and stay alive. (Thriller/Suspense/Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))


Western:

The Sister’s Search by Susan Page Davis — Molly Weaver and her widowed mother embark on an arduous journey at the end of the Civil War. They hope to join Molly’s brother Andrew on his ranch in Texas. When they arrive, Andrew is missing and squatters threaten the ranch. Can they trust Joe, the stranger who claims to be Andrew’s friend? Joe’s offer to help may be a godsend—or a snare. And who is the man claiming to be Molly’s father? If he’s telling the truth, Molly’s past is a sham, and she must learn where she really belongs. (Western from Scrivenings Press)

Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:

Anchored at Mackinac by Carrie Fancett Pagels, Will hearts be broken when choices are made—or will all hoped-for wishes be fulfilled? (Historical Romance)
 
A Place to Heal by Allie Pleiter, Dana’s found the perfect place for her camp–but will Mason agree to her terms? (Contemporary Romance)
 
A Thousand Lies by Kathy Cassel, Will uncovering her true identity bring the closure and purpose Bailey seeks—or turn out to be the worst mistake of her life? (General Contemporary)
 
Ben in Trouble by Luana Ehrlich, Can Titus get them out of the mess they’re in, or will Ben salvage the operation and bring it to a successful conclusion? (Thriller/Suspense)
 
Close Encounters of the Mysterious Kind by Marissa Shrock, Bobbi Sue knows she can’t stay quiet, and the problem is, the person behind the murder is intent on her doing exactly that, no matter what it takes. (Mystery: Cozy)
 
Love at the Garden Tomb by R. F. Whong, Love—one plus one can’t be two. Longline: Chance meetings at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem force ex-lovers to journey through betrayal, guilt, redemption, and reconciliation. (Contemporary Romance) 
 
Shadow of Honor by Ronnie Kendig, Faced with her true identity, Eija sees her purpose snap into focus, and she realizes the war Marco fears may be the very one he has been called to start. (Speculative Fiction)
 
Wages of Sin by Urcelia Teixeira, To find her future, she must embrace her past.
(Thriller/Suspense)
 
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Review: Boughs of Folly, by Sandra Orchard

Boughs of Folly, by Sandra Orchard (Annie’s Fiction, 2022)

Cover art for Boughs of Folly. Christmas tree, gingerbread village, cat.

After 20 years away from her Georgia hometown, Jillian Green is back: living with her grandmother and great aunt in an antebellum mansion and slowly improving her baking skills at her grandmother’s Chocolate Shoppe bakery.

Christmas is approaching and she’s excited to decorate the mansion for the upcoming Merry Mansions tour. When one of the decorating team is found dead on the grounds, Jillian’s great aunt cries murder. Since the elderly woman is convinced her dead husband communicates with her through her cat, nobody takes the claim seriously—until handsome coroner Hunter Greyson agrees.

Jillian’s curiosity draws her into the murder investigation and also into a stranger’s quest to locate his long-lost high school sweetheart. As clues and complications multiply, she discovers the two mysteries may have a common thread.

Boughs of Folly is a feel-good Christmas cozy mystery that fits into a collection of books set in the same town, which means it comes with a well-established set of characters. This is a bonus for fans of the other books who get to see their fictional friends again. Not having read the other books didn’t affect me in terms of understanding the story although I did feel like there were a lot of people to keep track of.

Most fun thing about the book: the mansion’s decorations include an outdoor manger scene with lifelike sheep that Jillian remembers her grandfather regularly moving around so people would think they were real. Another good thing would be all the bakery goods references.

The mystery is satisfyingly tangled but it all comes out in the end. In traditional cozy fashion, readers will find a clean story with appealing characters and setting, a bit of humour, food, friendship, hints of romance, and a quirky pet.

Boughs of Folly is part of a three-book set called Jingle Bell Mysteries (with Klaus for Suspicion and Deck the Hearse) from Annie’s Fiction. Annie’s is a subscription book club delivering members a new read every 4-6 weeks. The Jingle Bell Mysteries set is available for purchase through Annie’s site without taking a subscription, so it’s a great way to check out the types of books they offer. For more about the book bundle or to order, click here: Jingle Bell Mysteries.

Believe it or not, this is Sandra Orchard’s 25th book. For more about the author and her mystery and romantic suspense books, visit sandraorchard.com.

[Review copy provided by the author. I wasn’t required to write a review, and my opinions are my own.]

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99-cent Ebook Sale: Unknown Enemy

Come to the Green Dory Inn for the mysteries, stay for the characters.

Book 1, Unknown Enemy, is 99 cents for Kindle, Kobo, Nook, Apple, and Google Play until July 5. Great time to discover a new-to-you Christian fiction series set in beautiful Nova Scotia!

Buy your copy here: https://www.books2read.com/unknownenemy

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Review: Crossed by Death, by A.C.F. Bookens

Crossed by Death, by ACF Bookens, Stitches in Crime series book 1

Crossed by Death, by A.C.F. Bookens (Andilit, 2021)

Paisley Sutton’s historical writing career went out the window when she became a single mom of a toddler too active to allow the necessary research time. Now she provides for herself and two-year-old Sawyer by salvaging vintage items from abandoned buildings and reselling them online.

Exploring a long-closed rural gas station was not supposed to end with her finding a dead body. Nor was meeting the town sheriff supposed to unfold into a potential for romance.

I enjoyed following Paisley’s research as she tries to untangle generational secrets that might explain not only the present-day murder but the long-ago one that closed the gas station.

Cozy mystery fans will find a few familiar staples: a well-stocked yarn store is a key setting (although Paisley herself prefers cross-stitch), there’s an interesting pet (a Maine Coon cat) and plenty of food references, along with the law enforcement romantic hero. Her salvage career is interesting, and the mystery is an engaging puzzle to follow.

I like Paisley’s accepting way with people and her desire to contribute to their lives. Her mama-bear determination to provide for and protect her son create a strong reader connection. The book does a great job of showing white characters (including Paisley) interacting with Black characters with no prejudice but also with no sense of “hey, look at us being non-racist.” It’s just natural, as it should be, with a few regretful references to past segregation.

Crossed by Death is book 1 in the Stitches in Crime mystery series. A.C.F. Bookens has a few other cozy mystery series as well, one of which is a free download on her site: acfbookens.com. Fans of Karin Kaufman’s Juniper Grove series will want to give this author a try, and vice versa.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

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Review: Gossip and Grace, by Janice L. Dick

Gossip and Grace, The Happenstance Chronicles Book 3, by Janice L. Dick

Gossip and Grace, by Janice L. Dick (Tansy & Thistle Press, 2022)

When you mess up in a small town, everybody knows it. Which is why 19-year-old Sol Wuppertal does not want to return to Happenstance when he gets out of prison. No matter his claims of innocence—all the townsfolk will remember is that he hung around with bad characters and has done time.

Readers of the Happenstance Chronicles series will recognize Sol’s large, energetic family: his dad owns the general store. Other fan favourites are back as well: Matt and the Misses Grayce and Emmaline, Bear, the crotchety Morris Craddock, and more. If you’re new to the series, you’ll fit right in and quickly develop a fondness for these folks.

In this book, Sol is lured home by his sister Rachel who’s running the new bistro and needs a helper. Sol needs a job but doesn’t want to work in the family store—his father hasn’t forgiven him for shaming the family name. But working at the bistro puts Sol in regular contact with Mr. Craddock. Words will fly and tempers will flare.

As if conflict with his father, the local gossip columnist, Mr. Craddock, and his parole officer isn’t enough, Sol also finds himself in the middle of a mystery. Someone’s been stealing rare books from the library attached to the bistro.

Gossip and Grace is a blend of contemporary fiction and cozy mystery, with a dash of whimsy. The mystery is clearly secondary to the challenges and changes in the characters’ lives.

Sol has a lot of negative mental baggage and as he tries to learn to reframe his perspective I appreciate the realistic ups and downs in the process. Too many books make it look easy or like a one time choice. Negative self-talk and false beliefs about others are things that affect so many of us in the real world, and I think Sol’s journey can point to real-life change. Not that it’s preachy in any way—his growth is an organic result of his struggle.

Gossip and Grace is the newest feel-good mystery in the Happenstance Chronicles, with delightful characters, amusing banter, and a whimsical small town you’ll wish was real. As well as this contemporary series, Janice L. Dick has also written historical fiction. For more about the author and her books, visit janicedick.com.

[Review copy provided by the author. I wasn’t required to write a review, and my opinions are my own.]

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New Releases in Christian Fiction (June 2022)

June 2022 New Releases from Members of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW):

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.


Contemporary Romance:

 

A Time for Singing by Carol James — Charlee Bennett is running from her past. Once deserted by her musician ex-fiancé, she’s vowed to avoid anything that reminds her of the pain of his betrayal. Chance Jackson is starting over. Hoping to redeem the mistakes of his earlier life, he wants to become the music and worship pastor of the largest church in Crescent Bluff. Charlee tries to convince herself she should not be attracted to Chance. But then she discovers an old letter hidden in the secret drawer of an antique desk. The pain expressed by its author resonates deep within her. Can the words of long ago soften Charlee’s heart and help her to discover that there is a time for singing? (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing (Pelican))

An Unlikely Alliance by Toni Shiloh — To save her animal shelter, she’ll have to work with her biggest foe. With her emotional support dog at her side, Jalissa Tucker will do whatever it takes to ensure the survival of the local animal rescue—even ally herself with her nemesis, firefighter Jeremy Rider. As working together dredges up old hurts, putting the past aside could be the key to their future joy. But can Jalissa resist falling for the man she’s always considered the enemy. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))

Destination: Romance by Amy R. Anguish — It’s not every day you bring a boyfriend back as a souvenir. Katie Wilhite is ready to settle into her new job as a librarian now that college is through, but friends Bree and Skye want one more girls’ trip, and when Bree insists this is her bachelorette fling, Katie agrees. What she didn’t agree to was allowing fun and flighty Skye to dictate the itinerary or for her anxiety to kick in harder than ever … right in front of a cute guy. Camden Malone had no idea when he agreed to be the voice of reason on his cousin Ryan’s vacation that the trip wouldn’t stay in New Orleans as planned. But when Ryan plots with Skye so that the guys can tag along with the girls all week, he isn’t nearly as upset as he should be. Not with Katie’s fiery temper and flashing eyes intriguing him more by the minute. (Contemporary Romance from Scrivenings Press)

Finding her Amish Home by Pamela Desmond Wright — What she wants more than anything could also be the most dangerous. After her twin sister’s death, Maddie Baum flees to Wisconsin Amish country with her nephew in tow in the hopes of protecting him from his criminal father. Befriending Amish shopkeeper Abram Mueller gives her a glimpse of the happiness she’s been yearning for all along. Can she find a fresh start with Abram—or will old sins tear them apart? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))

Rebuilding Hearts by Carolyn Miller — Who knew a bank robbery could show a girl that good guys still exist? Tim Franklin. Quiet, shy, almost incapable of speaking to a girl, and a budding horticulturist. Oh, and he survived a bank robbery five years ago, not to mention its resulting trauma. Bookworm Bella Dwyer just wants to feel safe, and Tim’s actions during the robbery made her believe there might be guys who live up to her fictional heroes. Trouble is, a chance with Tim seems as remote as this year’s celebrity heartthrob. Instead, she settled for a relationship with a guy who’s commitment-phobic. (Contemporary Romance from Celebrate Lit)

The Help of a Cowboy by Elsie Davis — Once a cowboy…always a cowboy. But when life delivers Chad a chance to hang up his boots and spurs, he’s all in. He’s newly single, bored, and ready to move to the city to shake things up. She’s recently divorced, tired of the fast pace, and looking to settle in the country. When their paths cross, the two must work together if they have any hope of following their dreams. The ranch is an albatross around Chad’s neck. Hard work and little time for fun. When his sister gets married and moves into town, the timing is perfect to sell the ranch and move on with his life. Diana is on the road to nowhere, looking to escape her past and find a special place to call home for her and her daughter. When she spots a ranch for sale just outside of Crossroads Creek, she knows in her heart it’s perfect. There’s only one problem…she doesn’t know the first thing about ranching. (Contemporary Romance from Sweet Romance Publishing)

When the Ice Melts by Ashlyn McKayla Ohm — After her dearest dreams are shattered, competitive figure skater Addisyn Miles embarks on a quest to discover who she really is. But the answers seem to lead to a mysterious man, a Canadian mountain town, and the sister she left behind three years ago. (Contemporary, Independently Published)

Winning Julia’s Heart by Narelle Atkins — Can a former bad boy be redeemed? Sean Mitchell has left his past behind, but his new boss, Julia Radcliffe, isn’t so sure. A year ago, Sean walked out on his brother’s wedding and her. Now the bad boy with the surfer good looks is back and determined to make a new life with Julia. She wonders whether she can truly trust that he’s a changed man. It took time and faith, but Sean is finally on the right path. And his feelings for Julia have only grown stronger. But when Sean’s past threatens to jeopardize their future, can he convince Julia they both want the same thing; a love that can overcome every mistake? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

 


General Historical:

 

Hope Beyond the Waves by Heidi Chiavaroli — Massachusetts, 1993: After making a grievous mistake that will change her life forever, Emily Robertson is sent away to live with her grandmother on Cape Cod. When Emily finds a timeworn photograph buried in a drawer, she realizes her grandmother has concealed a secret even bigger than her own. Will convincing Gram to reveal their family history help Emily make the most important decision of her life or will it prove her parents right—that family scandal is better off buried and forgotten? Massachusetts, 1916: Atta Schaeffer plans to marry the man of her dreams and whisk her little sister away from their abusive father. But when she is diagnosed with a dreaded malady, Atta is forced into a life of exile, leaving her sister in harm’s way. On Penikese Island, Atta’s best hope lies with Harry Mayhew, a doctor who seeks a cure for his patients at any cost. But when experiments fail, Atta runs from Harry—and from God. Can she return to her sister before it’s too late? Or will her illness consume both her body and soul? (General Historical, Independently Published)

 


Historical Romance:

 

Coming Home to Truth by Michelle De Bruin — Lacy Jones, a graduate of her small high school, knows her whole world is about to change. She dreams of freedom from the struggles with her health, and of the independence that comes with a steady job. When her friend invites her to share the journey to visit the teacher from their country school days, Lacy finally gets the chance to chase her dreams. But when the girls get separated along the way, Lacy is left to make the trip alone. Arriving in a strange town, Lacy is reunited with old friends who introduce her to a new life, new relationships, and a new way of seeing herself. (Historical Romance from Scrivenings Press)

For a Noble Purpose by Kelsey Gietl — Anxious to be free from a family legacy he would rather not claim and a slave-built society he doesn’t support, Tobias Lark believes the only way to find his perfect town is to create it himself. Joined by his three brothers, he sets out for the Washington Territory with a collection of carefully curated supporters, all determined to build a new life in the West. When a young plantation widow unexpectedly joins their party, he fears the curse she carries will crack the solid foundation upon which all his plans are built. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Season of My Enemy by Naomi Musch — The realities of WWII come to a Wisconsin farm bringing hope and danger. Only last year Fannie O’Brien’s future shone bright, despite the war pounding Europe. Since her father’s sudden death and her brothers fighting overseas, Fannie must now do the work of three men on their 200-acre farm–until eight German prisoners arrive as laborers and, just as Fannie feared, trouble comes too. Captain Wolfgang Klonginger is relieved that his boys are off the warfront, keeping busy working the O’Brien farm until they can go home again and he can return to his teaching position in Germany. Crops take precedence, even as “accidents” happen around the farm. Could a saboteur be among them? Fannie is especially leery of the handsome German captain who seems intent on cracking her defenses. Can she manage the farm and hold her family together through these turbulent times, all while keeping the prisoners—and her heart—in line? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Burning Sands by Carole Lehr Johnson — After a year, Olivia Griffin still drowns in grief from losing her beloved husband in a tragic accident. To cope with his death, she loses herself in her art and genealogy research that follows her grandmother’s lineage to Trerose, a small fishing village on the Cornish coast of England. In a bid to start fresh, she travels to Cornwall to discover more about her grandmother’s past, where she is captivated by an old tavern and the story of a young woman who lived there in the seventeenth century. In the autumn of 1671, Grace Atwood and her brother still mourn the loss of their childhood friend while they struggle to protect their mother and siblings from their abusive father, who operates The Burning Sands Tavern. Grace’s life sinks further into turmoil after her father arranges her marriage to a local merchant with secrets of his own. When two strangers arrive in the harbor and the village is set alight with rumors, Grace finds herself caught between her family’s secrets and a romantic interest in Rig, a mysterious young man who is determined to help save her family. (Historical Romance from Ink Map Press)

 


Mystery/Cozy:

 

Boughs of Folly by Sandra Orchard — After spending two decades of Christmas seasons in California, Jillian Green celebrates returning to her family’s antebellum mansion in Georgia by joyfully decking the halls for the upcoming Moss Hollow Merry Mansions Tour. However, Jillian’s holiday cheer takes a nosedive when she discovers her great aunt’s new friend Herbert dead at the base of a tree while he’s helping them string lights. Although his death appears to be a tragic accident, her great aunt insistently blames foul play, and handsome local coroner Hunter Greyson confirms her suspicions. Needled into action by her aunt, Jillian quickly realizes this case is more tangled than a strand of twinkle lights, and lead after lead winds up in a dead end. (Mystery Cozy from Annie’s Fiction)

 


Thriller/Suspense/Romance:

 

Among the Innocent by Mary Alford — When Leah Miller’s entire Amish family was murdered ten years ago, the person believed responsible took his own life. Since then, Leah left the Amish and joined the police force. Now, after another Amish woman is found murdered with the same MO, it becomes clear that the wrong man may have been blamed for her family’s deaths. As Leah and the new police chief, Dalton Cooper, work long hours struggling to fit the pieces together in order to catch the killer, they can’t help but grow closer. When secrets from both of their pasts begin to surface, an unexpected connection between them is revealed. But this is only the beginning. Could it be that the former police chief framed an innocent man to keep the biggest secret of all buried? And what will it mean for Leah–and Dalton–when the full truth comes to light? (Thriller/Suspense/Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Cold Case Killer Profile by Jessica R. Patch — The desert can hide many secrets…including murder. Searching for the perfect morning landscape to paint leads forensic artist Brigitte Linsey straight to a dead body—and a narrow escape from the Sunrise Serial Killer still on the scene. Now she’s become unfinished business and new prey. Working with FBI special agent Duke Jericho could mean putting the murderer away for good. However, it’s just a matter of time before this diabolically clever predator turns his hunters into the hunted… (Thriller/Suspense/Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))

Fatal Forensic Investigation by Darlene L. Turner — Remembering a serial killer’s face…could be deadly. While interviewing the Coastline Strangler’s only surviving victim, forensic artist Scarlet Wells is attacked and left with amnesia. Now she’s his next mark and has no choice but to work with constable Jace Allen to unlock the criminal’s true identity trapped in her mind. Will they be able to recover the hidden memory and hunt down the killer before he strikes again? (Thriller/Suspense/Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))

Vanished Without a Trace by Sarah Hamaker — After nine years searching for his missing sister, attorney Henderson Parker uncovers a clue that leads him to Twin Oaks, Virginia—and podcaster Elle Updike investigating the case. Partnering with the journalist is the last thing Henderson wants, until mysterious thugs make multiple attacks on both their lives. Now they’ll have to trust each other…before the suspected kidnappers make them disappear for good. (Thriller/Suspense/Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))

 


Young Adult:

 

Collapse: The Death of Honor by Angela D. Shelton — Caleb already lost his dreams when the variant ended life as he knew it, but when blackmailers threaten to destroy his life permanently, he must learn to trust others to forgive or lose the only family he has. (Young Adult Fiction from Two Oaks Publishing, LLC)

 

Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:

A Mother for His Son by Betty Woods, A little boy’s love changes everything. (Contemporary Romance)
 
Boulevard of Confusion by Sandra Merville Hart, In times of war, is anything as it seems? (Historical Romance)
 
Midnight’s Budding Morrow by Carolyn Miller, Can real love grow between a wallflower and an unrepentant rogue? (General Historical)
 
Peyton’s Promise by Susan G. Mathis, Can she ignore the prejudices and persevere or lose her job, forfeit his love, and forever become the talk of local gossips. (Historical Romance)
 
Secret Guilt by Lynne Waite Chapman, Some secrets are meant to be kept. Buried. Unfortunately, if you dig too hard, they resurface. (Mystery: Cozy)
 
The Dark Guest by Sarah Hamaker, Can Violet and Henry uncover the secrets of the past before one of them ends up as The Wolf’s next victim? (Thriller/Suspense/Romance)
 
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