Saturday, August 31, 2019

THE SPICE KING by Elizabeth Camden, Reviewed by Nicole Cook

“At the end of her life, she wanted to know that she had made a difference for the better.”
In The Spice King, the first installment of her Hope and Glory series, award winning author Elizabeth Camden has created an intriguing historical fiction novel filled with faith, romance, betrayal, and treason. Elizabeth Camden is a master at taking relatively unknown parts of history, such as the lack of regulation in the U.S. food industry and the use of adulterated food in the early 1900s, and weaving a fascinating tale of politics, sabotage, and sacrifice.
The story begins in Washington D.C. at the Smithsonian as botanist Annabelle Larkin is tasked with obtaining extremely rare plant specimens from Gray Delacroix, the owner of Delacroix Global Spice. Annabelle suddenly gains the attention of government officials and finds herself in a dangerous position in which she has to choose between loyalty to her country and the opportunity for true love.

Elizabeth Camden consistently creates intelligent, strong-willed heroines, and Annabelle Larkin is no exception. From the desire to have a successful career and overcome her regrets from the past, Annabelle becomes stronger and realizes what is truly important in life. The author authentically weaves the characters’ faith into the novel and educates the readers about the rich history of the Department of Agriculture, food regulation in the early 1900s, the American occupation in Cuba, and the presidency of William McKinley.

The Spice King is highly recommended for readers of historical fiction, especially those who enjoy books by authors such as Jody Hedlund, Rachel Fordham, and Carrie Turansky. Readers will eagerly look forward to the rest of the Hope and Glory series, in which Gray’s siblings will hopefully get their own stories told.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine.

Additional Quotes:

“God was sending her a message. The world was a good place. She needed to look for it, even when life was full of pain.”

“They lived in a huge and expansive country, filled with choices and opportunities. Not all of them were easy, but she had found a man of character who would step into that world with her, and nothing had ever felt so right.”

“This country had been built on a foundation laid down by farmers and stalwart farmer’s wives. It was made great by college professors, inventors, gamblers, industrialists, and dreamers. The politicians at the helm would change every four years, but the heartbeat of America would stay strong.”

Back Cover Blurb:
Gray Delacroix has dedicated his life to building his very successful global spice empire, but it has come at a cost. Resolved to salvage his family before it spirals out of control, he returns to his ancestral home to save his brother and sister before it's too late.

As a junior botanist for the Smithsonian, Annabelle Larkin has been charged with the impossible task of gaining access to the notoriously private Delacroix plant collection. If she fails, she will be out of a job and the family farm in Kansas will go under. She has no idea that in gaining entrance to the Delacroix world, she will unwittingly step into a web of dangerous political intrigue far beyond her experience.

Unable to deny her attraction to the reclusive business tycoon, Annabelle will be forced to choose between her heart and loyalty to her country. Can Gray and Annabelle find a way through the storm of scandal without destroying the family Gray is fighting to save?

Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover and audiobook: PREORDER for Sept 3 release
Buy The Spice King at Amazon
Buy The Spice King at

Author Bio:
Elizabeth Camden ( is best known for her historical novels set in Gilded-Age America, featuring clever heroines and richly layered storylines. Before she was a writer, she was an academic librarian at some of the largest and smallest libraries in America, but her favorite is the continually growing library in her own home. Her novels have won the RITA and Christy Award, and she lives in Florida with her husband, who graciously tolerates her intimidating stockpile of books.

Friday, August 30, 2019

VOW OF JUSTICE by Lynette Eason, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise

Vow of Justice by Lynette Eason is the final book in the Blue Justice series. This one is about brother Lincoln St. John, a special agent with the FBI and his partner Allison Radcliffe.

“Playing dead might just get her killed”

Undercover, in order to find evidence to put away a major player in the Russian Mafia, Allison is very much in danger. After an explosion, she is convinced by her boss to play dead. When her partner, Linc, finds out she is still alive, they work together to make sense of all the diverse clues. Allison’s past comes back to haunt her. There is so much intrigue in this story.

Linc gives her advice or a word of warning: “Just remember. Justice and revenge are two very different things.”

After an incident, Allie says: ”In my head I kept hearing you saying that justice and revenge are two very different things. And then that Bible verse popped into my head. The one about vengeance is the Lord’s.” Linc replies: “God has a way of doing that. Of sticking with you and speaking to you when you need it. Or least expect it.”

The action is fast and the bad guys abound. This suspenseful book will have you turning pages quickly and on the edge of your seat frequently throughout this carefully honed story. The author showcases the closeness of the St. John family and their steadfast faith shines. They are always ready to help one another.

Brother Derek seems to have been left out of these stories. But never fear, Ms. Eason has plans for him in a novella collection: Protecting Tanner Hollow.

I enjoyed this series immensely and look forward to more from one of my favorite authors.
*I purchased a copy of this book from a local bookstore. All opinions are my own.*

BackCover Blurb:
FBI Special Agent Lincoln St. John is living his own personal nightmare. When the woman he loves, Allison Radcliffe, is killed, he devotes his life to tracking down the killers and making them pay for their crimes. He expected it to be a challenge. What he never expected was to find Allison very much alive shortly after her "murder." As his anger and hurt mix with relief, Linc isn't sure how he's supposed to feel. One thing he does know for sure: he and Allison will have to work together to stop a killer before she dies a second time--this time for good.

Bestselling and award-winning author Lynette Eason closes out her
Blue Justice series with a story that will have you tearing through the pages to get to the stunning conclusion.

See Paula's reviews for the rest of the Blue Justice Series.

Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook:
Buy Vow of Justice at Amazon
Buy Vow of Justice at

Thursday, August 29, 2019

MEMORIES OF GLASS by Melanie Dobson, Reviewed by Nicole Cook

“The past often has a way of creeping into our present.”

With a powerful and compelling style, award-winning author Melanie Dobson creates an extraordinary time-slip novel that demonstrates the strength and determination of the human spirit. In Memories of Glass, Melanie Dobson shares the courageous story of the heroic men and women who risked their lives during World War II to rescue countless Jewish children from the Nazis. During this time of extreme evil in the world, countless lives were lost as the Nazis began to carry out Hitler’s Final Solution, while many brave Dutch citizens joined together in the resistance. Memories of Glass weaves the historical and contemporary storylines together as Ava Drake’s present-day work as director of the Kingston Family Foundation leads her to a coffee plantation in Uganda and, ultimately, the dangerous search for answers about her family’s history during World War II in Holland. The stunning conclusion to this novel leaves the readers filled with compassion and hope for the future.

Memories of Glass is a story of forgiveness, resilience, and the silent heroes who fought against the Nazis. The author shares the message of God’s forgiveness and grace and the “reminder of God’s love no matter the wickedness of man.” Melanie Dobson is a favorite author of many World War II historical fiction readers because of the incredible way she ties her contemporary and historical storylines together, her strong and courageous heroes and heroines, and her ability to weave the characters’ faith seamlessly into her novels. Memories of Glass is highly recommended for fans of World War II fiction, and readers who enjoy time-slip novels by authors such as Heidi Chiavaroli, Rachel Hauck, and Sarah Monzon.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers and was not required to write a review. All opinions expressed are mine.

Additional Quotes:

“Books, she once said, are the best legacy. They outlast one’s life and shed light on the past when truth is hard to find.”

“God is going to use you to bring people together instead of tear them apart.”

“He desires redemption, not pain, for His children.”

Back Cover Blurb:
Reminiscent of Diane Ackerman’s The Zookeeper’s Wife, this stunning novel draws from true accounts to shine a light on a period of Holland’s darkest history and bravest heroes.

1942. As war rips through the heart of Holland, childhood friends Josie van Rees and Eliese Linden partner with a few daring citizens to rescue Eliese’s son and hundreds of other Jewish children who await deportation in a converted theater in Amsterdam. But amid their resistance work, Josie and Eliese’s dangerous secrets could derail their friendship and their entire mission. When the enemy finds these women, only one will escape.

Seventy-five years later, Ava Drake begins to suspect that her great-grandfather William Kingston was not the World War II hero he claimed to be. Her work as director of the prestigious Kingston Family Foundation leads her to Landon West’s Ugandan coffee plantation, and Ava and Landon soon discover a connection between their families. As Landon’s great-grandmother shares the broken pieces of her story, Ava must confront the greatest loss in her own life—and powerful members of the Kingston family who will do anything to keep the truth buried.

Illuminating the story and strength of these women, award-winning author Melanie Dobson transports readers through time and place, from World War II Holland to contemporary Uganda, in this rich and inspiring novel.

Author Bio:
Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of nearly twenty historical romance, suspense, and time-slip novels. Four of her novels have won Carol Awards; Catching the Wind was nominated for a Christy Award in the historical fiction category and won an Audie Award in the inspirational fiction category; and The Black Cloister won the Foreword Magazine Religious Fiction Book of the Year. Melanie is the former corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family and owner of the publicity firm Dobson Media Group. When she isn't writing, Melanie enjoys teaching both writing and public relations classes at George Fox University. Melanie and her husband, Jon, have two daughters. After moving numerous times with work, the Dobson family has settled near Portland, Oregon, and they love to hike and camp in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest and along the Pacific Coast. Melanie also enjoys exploring ghost towns and abandoned homes, helping care for kids in her community, and reading stories with her girls. Visit Melanie online at

Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover and audiobook:

Buy Memories of Glass at Amazon
Buy Memories of Glass at

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

OATH OF HONOR and CODE OF VALOR by Lynette Eason, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise

Two books today from Lynette Eason's series BLUE JUSTICE!
Book #1 Oath of Honor
I have been a fan of Lynette Eason since her first book. I often say that I will read anything that she writes! This one is a real nail biter.

Ms. Eason has crafted a fantastic, suspenseful book full of the heroes whose job it is to protect and serve. The St. John and Marshall families have grown up next door and each are peopled with policemen, doctors, lawyers, and others of the law enforcement community. I can see the research that went into this book. They seem really authentic.

I commend Ms. Eason on the great job she did to shine the light on the brave men and women of the police force and all those whose job it is to protect the citizens of our country. I love that she included the actual Law Enforcement Oath of Honor at the beginning of the book.

Ms. Eason writes competent heroes and heroines who are Christians and aren’t afraid to show it. They are vulnerable and at the same time are strong and rely on God. The tense scenes were easy to follow— they played like a movie in my head.

I look forward to reading the whole series and getting to know the St. John and Marshall families better.
*I borrowed this book from the public library. All opinions are my own. *


Oath of Honor Back Cover Blurb:
Police officer Isabelle St. John loves her crazy, loud, law-enforcement family. With three brothers and two sisters, she's never without someone to hang out with--or fight with. And she knows they'll be there for her when things get tough. Like when her partner is murdered and she barely escapes with her own life.

Determined to discover exactly what happened, Izzy's investigation sends her headfirst into a criminal organization, possibly with cops on the payroll--including someone from her own family. With her dead partner's handsome homicide detective brother Ryan shadowing her every move, Izzy's head is spinning. How can she secure justice for her partner when doing so could mean sending someone she loves to prison? And how will she guard her heart when the man she's had a secret crush on for years won't leave her side?

With her signature fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat action, Lynette Eason invites readers into a captivating new series where justice is a family affair.

See Paula's Review of Book #2 Called to Protect 

Book #3 Code of Valor is another thrilling episode concerning the St. John family.
The first time Emily Chastain sets eyes on Brady St. John it is definitely not a “cute meet”! Brady is trying to take much needed time off at a cabin near a river when he hears a scream and a splash and come to Emily’s aid as someone is trying to kill her.

Our heroine is a strong woman with a bit of a self-esteem problem due to her background. What’s more, she doesn’t like her body image. With God’s and Brady’s help she’s beginning to see her worth as a child of God. She, in turn, helps Brady overcome his anger toward God.

There are determined people after Emily. However, she can’t figure out why they are after her. Brady continues to help her as she is pursued by the villains.

Ms. Eason is quite adept at coming up with confounding scenarios and she has built a fantastic work support system for Brady and his family. Brady is a rescue diver, so the diving scenes were very interesting and informative. They added variety and significance to the plot.

I am ready to see what is in store for the St. John family in the final book of the series.

*I purchased a copy of this book. I was under no obligation to post a review. All opinions are my own.*

CODE OF VALOR BACK COVER BLURB:What Detective Brady St. John really needs is a relaxing vacation. Unfortunately, just as the sun is setting on his second day at a friend's cabin on Lake Henley, he hears a scream and races to rescue a woman from her would-be killer. When the killer escapes only to return to finish the job, Brady vows to utilize all of his many resources to keep her safe--and catch those who would see her dead.

Financial crimes investigator Emily Chastain doesn't trust many people. And even though she let the detective who saved her life in on a few pertinent facts about why she was being attacked, there are some things you just don't share with a stranger. Little does she suspect that the secret she is keeping just might get them both killed.

Bestselling and award-winning author Lynette Eason sends readers on a race for the truth in this heart-stopping story of risk, regret, and redemption.

Paula's review of Book #4 Vow of Justice is coming on August 30th!

VISIT LYNETTE EASON'S AMAZON PAGE for all of her fiction
Buy The Blue Justice Series at Amazon
Buy The Blue Justice Series at

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

DEAD RINGER by Susan Sleeman, Reviewed by Winnie Thomas

I can always count on Susan Sleeman for riveting, nail-biting romantic suspense. Her impeccable research and plot development, along with realistic, well-developed, and endearing characters never fail to satisfy. I was immediately intrigued by the premise of Dead Ringer with twin sisters who were unaware of each other’s presence. The story is well-crafted and unfolded layer by layer while leaving me guessing the entire time. The main characters, Emory Steele and Blake Jenkins, each had some emotional baggage to work through, and I enjoyed seeing their relationship grow and develop as they worked toward finding Emory’s twin sister Caitlyn.
This is the first book in a new series, The Truth Seekers, which promises to be another hit series by Sleeman. I’m looking forward to the stories behind some of the other characters in this book. If you enjoy heart-pounding suspense with some romance and inspiration thrown in for good measure, give this book and series a try!
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.

BackCover Blurb:
She was hiding from her past…
When a local woman goes missing and Sheriff Blake Jenkins delivers her blood sample to DNA expert Emory Steele for analysis, Blake discovers Emory is a dead ringer for the missing woman. Blake’s gut says the woman is related to Emory. But Emory rejects the notion, requiring a DNA test before she’ll concede that she does indeed have a twin sister she never knew about.

Now she’ll do anything to see it come to light.
Emory joins Blake in a search for her missing sister, but when an attempt is made to abduct Emory as well, they begin to think the abduction is related to Emory’s birth parents. Blake vows to keep her under his watch until they discover what this maniac is looking for and bring him to justice. But Emory balks at him wanting to keep her under constant surveillance as she’s struggling to come to grips with a former brutal attack, and she wants nothing to do with a man who might want to get close to her. When it becomes clear that Blake is the only one who can keep her safe, will she let him get close enough to do so?

Available in digital ebook and paperback:
Buy Dead Ringer at Amazon


Monday, August 26, 2019


Living Lies by Natalie Walters was chosen as the August book club selection for the Avid Readers of Christian Fiction Facebook Group. Natalie Walters recently led a live Facebook chat in the Avid Readers Group to discuss her debut romantic suspense novel with the members of the group. Five members of the Avid Readers Group have joined us today to share their thoughts on Living Lies.

Natalie also joined us back in May at Inkwell Inspirations to celebrate the release of Living LiesRead Nicole's interview with Natalie Walters


What Avid Readers are Saying about Living Lies:

Kailey Bechtel

I really loved Living Lies.  Natalie Walters did an excellent job tackling the subject of mental health and depression.  Most people don’t want to talk about it, but this book was able to shine a light on those darker topics.  I loved that she made it okay to talk about our issues.  This book is a must read!
--Kailey Bechtel


Alysha Worthen

I want to applaud Natalie for tackling the subject matters she did in this book. Heavier topics such as depression, anxiety and suicide. She shined a light on topics that no one wants to talk about, but need to.

I am excited to see this author grow and perfect her writing style.

    -- Alysha Worthen

Visit Alysha at the following links:
Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, For The Love of Christian Fiction Blog, Goodreads, and her YouTube channel!


This book had all of the great elements – well written prose, excellent story-line, fabulous and real-to-life characters, suspense, mystery, drama, romance…and though that sounds “busy,” this author made it all work together fantastically in this package.  Had I not known this was a debut, I would have never suspected as Natalie Walters writes with the style of a pro.  This book also tackled some difficult issues, focusing mainly on mental health issues and the stigma that accompanies those.  Ms. Walters does not shy away from that at all, but handles the struggles of those battling depression and PTSD with grace and care.  I absolutely adored Ms. Byrdie and her care for those struggling and her strength in her faith.  The faith element came through strongly at the end as God’s purpose for our characters shone through.  All in all, this was a great story and had me guessing until the very end.  I would strongly recommend to fans of romantic suspense and any who’d like to learn more about depression.

--Erin Laramore

With stunning realism and nail-biting suspense, Natalie Walters has penned the next masterpiece in romantic suspense!  Held captive from the very first chapter, this was no easy book to put down even when life demanded.  One thing that really stuck out to me in this novel was just how damaging mental illness can be to a person’s whole life and being.  The internal struggles that Lane dealt with during all of the upheaval in the community affected not only how she viewed herself, but others as well.   
Becca-Rae Weidel
What’s unexpected is that her level of compassion actually helped her to see more clearly because it prevented her from jumping to conclusions with people.  She saw the heart while others saw the diagnosis.  It was sad that she couldn’t seem to see herself in that same light.  I loved that while some of the pieces of the puzzle were easier to put together, others continued to hold you in suspense.  I won’t spoil with detail, but I never would have fathomed the inner workings of certain crimes contained within.  This was an easy book to get into, but not an easy one to get over.  Natalie Walters has penned an incredible debut.  I can’t wait to see where she takes this series in the next release!
--Becca-Rae Weidel

Find her Facebook and Visit Becca’s Blog at The Becca Files


“The scream stopped Charlie Lynch in his tracks even as his pulse jackhammered in his ears.”
How about that for an opening chapter to a suspense novel?

Perrianne Askew
This is Natalie Walters’ debut, and it’s so riveting that It’s really hard to believe that it’s her first novel. It is both gripping and warm, making it so easy to keep you up reading much too late at night. I truly enjoyed all of the suspense as well as the variety and diversity of characters, who are very easy to keep straight. Harbored Secrets series. Natalie Walter’s second book in the Harbored Secrets series, releases on November 5th, and I look forward to my return to Walton, Georgia and the interesting assortment of characters in the Walton County community!
--Perrianne Askew
*Kailey, Alysha, and Erin received complimentary copies from Revell, Becca-Rae received her copy from JustRead Tours, and Perrianne from a giveaway


Back Cover Blurb:

In the little town of Walton, Georgia, everybody knows your name--but no one knows your secret.

At least that's what Lane Kent is counting on when she returns to her hometown with her five-year-old son. Dangerously depressed after the death of her husband, Lane is looking for hope. What she finds instead is a dead body.

Lane must work with Walton's newest deputy, Charlie Lynch, to uncover the truth behind the murder. But when that truth hits too close to home, she'll have to decide if saving the life of another is worth the cost of revealing her darkest secret.
Buy Living Lies at Amazon or

Author Bio:

Natalie Walters is the author of Living Lies and Deadly Deceit. A military wife of 22 years, she currently resides in Hawaii with her soldier husband and their three kids. She writes full-time and has been published in Proverbs 31 magazine and has blogged for Guideposts online. In addition to balancing life as a military spouse, mom, and writer, she loves connecting on social media, sharing her love of books, cooking, and traveling. Natalie comes from a long line of military and law enforcement veterans and is passionate about supporting them through volunteer work, races, and writing stories that affirm no one is defined by their past. Learn more at

Our Hostess -- Nicole Cook

The Avid Readers of Christian Fiction Facebook Group is a wonderful discussion group for book enthusiasts to talk about what Christian fiction books they are reading. Participation in the group is the perfect way to discover many new Christian fiction authors and books. Members can also choose to participate in the book club within the group. The group is comprised of numerous Christian fiction authors and readers and is very well moderated. Any readers or authors interested in joining the group can click on the following link and answer a few questions to be added. The questions are easy and are meant to keep out spammers. 


The September book club selection for the Avid Readers of Christian Fiction Facebook Group is How the Light Gets In by Jolina Petersheim.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

FINDING LADY ENDERLY by Joanna Davidson Politano, Reviewed by Nicole Cook and Trixi Oberembt

“Here awaits the carriage that will carry you into the grandest adventure of your life.”

Finding Lady Enderly by Joanna Davidson Politano takes readers on a journey back to 1871 in London’s East End where poor Raina Bretton peddles rags as her only way to survive the hardships of her life. When Raina is presented with an extraordinary opportunity to leave London’s East End for a new life filled with luxury and splendor, she finds herself on a train with a mysterious stranger headed to Rothburne Abbey where her life will change forever.

Joanna Davidson Politano creates a captivating historical novel filled with deception, mystery, and intrigue. Raina quickly discovers that her Cinderella fairytale may not have a happily ever after ending. The clues from a mystifying painting, the threats Raina faces, and the secrets that Rothburne Abbey hold all bring readers to the following question: Where is Lady Enderly? The author shares the powerful message of God’s grace and mercy and that “our identity is one of the few things in life that truly belongs to us, whether or not we accept what it is.” Readers will be surprised at the stunning conclusion as Raina tries to uncover the mystery of Lady Enderly before it is too late.

Finding Lady Enderly is recommended for readers of inspirational historical fiction, especially those who enjoy books by authors such as Jody Hedlund, Carrie Turansky, Elizabeth Camden, and Rachel Fordham.

Additional Quotes:
“Never be ashamed of who you are, your ladyship, for you have something powerful in you.”

“Never judge a man’s identity by the outside. That can all be changed in an instant. One wrong step around a muddy puddle, and –"

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine.

“Many people who go out looking for themselves will become lost, for they look outside themselves or inward, rather than up the the God we reflect. ~Diary of a Substitute Countess”

Politano draws the reader in with her achingly beautiful, poignant prose in “Finding Lady Enderly”. I found myself quickly involved in the life of Raina Bretton, seller of rags. When given the opportunity to trade rags for fine silks and want for nothing, I followed her to Rothburne Abbey. There she discovers the secrets within its walls and must untangle the mystery hidden within.

I loved this rags to riches story, and it goes deeper than just surface. Raina must face herself and know she is much more than a destitute woman. She is highly regarded by God who has loved her and calls her worthy. Her Cinderella fairy tale isn't always what it seems, just as the Abbey isn't always what it seems for it hides a truth that must eventually come to light. Definite Gothic undertones to this one and I loved it! It had a depth that surpassed my expectations and the spiritual truths overpowered like waves once they took hold in my heart, as well as Rainas.

“That's what we all were, wasn't it? Created beings who bore traces of their Creator, each with a different piece of his nature augmented in order to show the world who he was.”

A powerful story of restoration in all manner, a love story that spans the most difficult circumstances and an overall theme of knowing who we are in Christ! 

Additional Quotes:
“Being created in God's image means we bear traces of him. He is our truest identity.”

*I received a complimentary copy from Revell publishers and was under no obligation to leave a favorable review. All opinions are my own. *

Back Cover Blurb:
Raina Bretton is a rag woman in London's east end when a handsome stranger appears in a dank alley and offers her a glittering smile and a chance for adventure. Rothburne Abbey has a unique position for her, one that will take her away from her hardscrabble life and give her a chance to be a lady. Things she could only dream of might be coming true. But some dreams turn out to be nightmares.

Though Raina has traded squalor for silk and satin, something about the abbey is deeply unsettling. As she wrestles with her true identity, the ruin, decay, and secrets she finds at the heart of the old mansion tear at her confidence and threaten to reveal her for who she really is. Only one man stands between her and the danger that lurks within--and only if he decides to keep her biggest secret hidden.

Author Bio:
Joanna Davidson Politano is the award-winning author of Lady Jayne Disappears and A Rumored Fortune. She freelances for a small nonfiction publisher but spends much of her time spinning tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives. She is always on the hunt for random acts of kindness, people willing to share their deepest secrets with a stranger, and hidden stashes of sweets. She lives with her husband and their two babies in a house in the woods near Lake Michigan and shares stories that move her at

Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover and audiobook:
Buy Finding Lady Enderly at Amazon
Buy Finding Lady Enderly at

Saturday, August 24, 2019

MY HEART BELONGS IN THE BLUERIDGE, Laurel’s Dream by Pepper Basham, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise

My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge, Laurel’s Dream by Pepper Basham is set in 1918 in Maple Springs, North Carolina.
Although I have loved every book that I have read by Pepper Basham, this story was so achingly beautiful I could have given it 10 stars! Her descriptions of the mountain vistas was breathtaking. See a sunset through Jonathan Taylor’s eyes:

“ Sunrise had been beautiful, but the benediction of the day, purplish-blue hues spliced with fading amber, stole his breath. A sea of mountains reached to touch the tawny sky, the peaks veiled in intermittent clouds in an unearthly and mesmerizing beauty.”

She captures life in the Blue Ridge Mountains so wonderfully that I was caught up from the first page. Ms. Basham conveys the hardships, faith and ingrained lifestyle of the mountain people.

Laurel McAdam’s mother imparts some wisdom: “Regret don’t do nothin’ but steal your joy and cloud your eyes from seein’ the blessings.....A hopeful heart never stops dreamin’, God made dreamin’ and imaginin’ because without those, how could we even believe in all He’s brought and done and made. How could we even have a mind’s eye for heaven?”

Ms. Basham is a proficient storyteller. She comes by it honestly from her upbringing in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. She dedicated this book to the storytellers in her family, notably her Granny Spencer, who inspired her writing.

Laurel McAdams’ life is in the backward mountains but she has big dreams of becoming a teacher and returning to her people. Jonathan Taylor is trying to prove himself to his father by teaching in this backward hamlet. He has trouble being accepted into the culture. Laurel helps Jonathan by teaching him the customs and warning of the dangers in her world.

The author has revealed her own heart for her mountain people through the character of Laurel. There is humor but also heartache. As a book lover, I especially mourned at someone’s disrespect of books.

There are lessons to glean from this touching story. Among them that God is with all kinds of people and can use the humblest of us to His glory. We may have dreams but He can fulfill our dreams as He sees fit or change our dreams to fit His purpose.

Ms. Basham has proven that she is an accomplished writer in any time period.

*I purchased this book from a local bookstore. All opinions are my own.*

BackCover Blurb:
Journey into the Blue Ridge Mountains of 1918 where Laurel McAdams endures the challenges of a hard life while dreaming things can eventually improve. But trouble arrives in the form of an outsider. Having failed his British father again, Jonathan Taylor joins is uncle’s missionary endeavors as a teacher in a two-room schoolhouse. Laurel feels compelled to protect the tenderhearted teacher from the harsh realities of Appalachian life, even while his stories of life outside the mountains pull at Laurel’s imagination. Faced with angry parents over teaching methods, Laurel’s father’s drunken rages, and bad news from England, will Jonathan leave and never return, or will he stay and let love bloom?

Available in Digital ebook, paperback, and library binding:
Buy My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge at Amazon
Buy My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge at

Friday, August 23, 2019


Deb: how long have you been reviewing and how did you decide on the theme for your blog?

Lis: I have been reviewing for almost 3 years. Starting a blog featuring my love of books just progressed naturally after I started reviewing on a regular basis. I have always loved reading, and sharing my love of reading with others brings true joy to my heart.

Deb: We're so glad you did! What’s the best part of being a reviewer?

Lis: As a reviewer, I absolutely love that I will never run out of new books to read! I thoroughly enjoy opening my mailbox and finding an advanced reader copy (ARC) of a new book for me to review. My bookshelves are overflowing with books I have reviewed and books waiting to be reviewed. There’s nothing better than crowded bookshelves!

Lis' current tower!
Deb: What’s the most difficult part of the ‘the job’? (Maybe the danger from falling TBR piles?)

Lis: I find it hard to decline review opportunities. I want to read and review everything! Unfortunately, I just don’t have the time. Staying ahead of review deadlines can be quite difficult when the responsibilities of life make it easy to fall behind on my reading schedule.

Deb: I hear that a lot! What was the last book you read that you couldn’t put down?

Lis: I couldn’t put down The Medallion, by Cathy Gohlke. That book is very emotionally gripping. Ms. Gohlke’s writing is always so beautiful and her novels are extremely rich in history and profound themes.

Author Cathy Gohlke and Lis Espinoza

Deb: The Medallion is a favorite around here and Cathy is so wonderful. I tell people she's just as warm and fun and interesting as you'd expect from her fiction. What keeps you busy or entertained (beyond reading and reviewing!)?

Lis: Beyond reading and reviewing books, I also enjoy staging books in unique photos for my blog and social media. When not reading, I always find happiness in baking sweet, homemade treats to share with others. And during the autumn months, I watch a lot of NFL football games on television.

Lis' Apple Pie - perfect for Sunday afternoons!
Deb:  Your book photos are just lovely! I think that's so much fun to do and yet something I struggle to do. It really takes time to get the setting just right!

Here's an example of Lis's lovely literary photo shoots, or what I call 'Bookstagram' work!  (I LOVE seeing all the creative ways bloggers and reviewers create these kind of images!)
Deb: What is your fiction favorite…setting? Place and time? Genre’?

Lis: My absolute favorite genre is historical fiction, especially novels set in the western United States in the mid to late 1800’s. However, I read and enjoy many other fiction genres including contemporary, Amish, suspense, and YA. I read and review nonfiction too!

Deb: And if that category was all you read, you'd still have a huge number of stories to catch up on!

Which famous person would you most like to text with (contemporary or historical figure!)?

Lis: I would like to text Benjamin Franklin! From all that I’ve studied about him, he was an amazing writer with a tremendous sense of humor and insatiable curiosity. With all of his travels and diverse experiences, his texts would probably be amazing! He was also an avid reader, so we could always text about books!

Deb: What a great thought. I think he'd be a whiz with texting and create his own emoticons. (insert electrical zap of lightning here...)

If you had a rainy afternoon alone to watch a movie what would it be? And what meal would you have delivered if that afternoon included a quiet evening as well? I’m paying with my virtual bank account!

Lis: I would enjoy spending a rainy afternoon watching the 1934 classic film “It Happened One Night” directed by Frank Capra and staring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. I was introduced to that movie in college during a film critique class, and it has remained one of my all-time favorites. If I could watch the movie while eating a big plate of fluffy, buttermilk pancakes topped with butter and real maple syrup, then I would truly be in bliss.

Deb: Oh. My. Yes. It's really hard to top this one. I love it and own it. 

Deb: If you could wiggle your nose and be in your dream career, what would it be? Or are you already living it?

Lis: I aspire to be a published author myself someday. In the meantime, reading, reviewing, blogging, and connecting with authors is truly a dream come true for me. 

Deb: Great! And pushing yourself to keep on a reading and blogging schedule is training for keeping on that writing schedule too. Imagine all the 'training' you've gotten just by reading! I wish you all the best with this and you'll have a lot of people cheering for you!

What piece of advice would you offer reviewers who are just starting out?
Lis brought snacks, so I didn't bother with the pancake photo!
Lis: There are a lot of reviewers out there, and it’s easy to feel insignificant in comparison. So avoid comparing your reviews to others. Just be true to your own style and goals as a reviewer. There’s plenty of space for your voice and your thoughts, especially if you are genuine and relatable.

Deb: Absolutely!! And the Inkwell blog is a great example. Our reviewers have different voices and styles, just like authors, and that's why we love them! 
THANK YOU SO MUCH for being our guest today!

Lis with Author Connilyn Cossette!
For more ways to follow Lis...

Instagram: @lislovesreading

Goodreads: E. Espinoza

Bookbub: LisLovesReading

Pinterest: E. Espinoza

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