Monday, September 30, 2019

ALWAYS LOOK TWICE by Elizabeth Goddard, Reviewed by Nicole Cook and Trixi Oberembt

Always Look Twice, the second installment in author Elizabeth Goddard’s Uncommon Justice series, is an action-packed romantic suspense novel filled with unpredictable plot twists and well-written characters. Even though it is the second book in the series, Always Look Twice can easily be read as a stand-alone novel.

While photographing nature scenes in Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming, Harper Reynolds unexpectedly captures a murder on camera. She finds herself the killer’s next target while false accusations threaten to derail the investigation. Her childhood friend, deputy Heath McKade, is assigned to protect her, as they frantically search for the killer before he strikes again.

All the clues dropped throughout the novel came together for a satisfying ending. I was able to determine the culprit fairly quickly after the character was introduced, although I began to doubt myself several times as the storyline progressed and various clues seemed to point to another character. I was still shocked at the plot twist toward the end of the novel. That’s what I love about Elizabeth Goddard’s writing…even when I think I have everything figured out, she still manages to surprise me with her unexpected plot twists.

Readers will enjoy the return to the Emerald M Guest Ranch and the opportunity to meet Heath and Austin’s brother Liam McKade, who will have his story told in book 3 of the Uncommon Justice series.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine.

“You're a survivor Harper. That's nothing to feel guilty about.” Heath's words drifted back to her. He was right. She should stop feeling guilty and do something this time about the murder she witnessed.

Crippled by a fearful past that lead to her become a crime scene photographer, Harper Reynolds takes the advice of her therapist and travels with her sister to Bridger-Teton National Forest to photograph peaceful nature scenes. As the book description says, she inadvertently captures a murder taking place right in front of her. Running for her life and losing her camera, how can she prove to skeptical sheriff's department that she did indeed witness a crime? With the help of former childhood friend, Heath McKade as a reserve deputy, they set out to prove her right and devise to capture the real killer in his own trap.

A definite page turner for me! But then again, any story written by Elizabeth Goddard is one I know I won't be able to easily put down. Plenty of heart-pounding action and fast paced scenes in Always Look Twice! She certainly knows how to balance suspense and romance, culminating in a story that both keeps your interest, and keeps you guessing. I think the ending was my favorite out of the whole book, a surprising plot twist that I had no idea was coming! I also enjoyed meeting Liam, the elusive missing brother from book one. He's been a bit of a mystery character, and I certainly can't wait to read his story next! Both Heath and Harper have a common childhood tragedy that bonded them together and sealed their friendship years ago. Strong feelings are still alive, but much more mature as they fight the attraction sizzling under the surface. And until they can catch the killer after both Harper and her sister Emily, they don't have the freedom to explore those feelings. I enjoyed watching it play out in front of me and I loved all the twists and turns that kept me off balance until the highly explosive ending! Always Look Twice was the whole package deal for me, suspense to keep me on my toes, romance to warm my heart, faith to keep me grounded, and strong family ties to get through anything. Another definite winner in my book....pun intended!

QUOTE: That mountain is so big (Grand Teton), and as a kid anyway, it made me think of God. And I used to think that if I was that mountain, nothing could move me or scare me. Nothing could hurt me. Now I think I'm finally getting it. God is like that mountain for us and we can hold on to Him. ~Harper to Heath.
*I received a complimentary copy from Revell and Netgalley and was not obligated to leave a favorable review. All opinions are my own. *

Back Cover Blurb:
Justice lies just on the other side of fear.

At the advice of her therapist, Harper Reynolds has traded her job as a crime scene photographer for a more peaceful life taking photographs of the natural world. But her hopes for a life surrounded by the serenity of the outdoors are dashed when she inadvertently captures a murder being committed. She flees the scene in fear--and loses the camera.

Former Green Beret Heath McKade, a reserve deputy in an understaffed county, has been called in to protect Harper, a childhood friend he is surprised to see back in the area. When Harper learns that the sheriff's department can't find any evidence of the murder she witnessed, she is determined to do what she can to see that justice is done. What neither Harper nor Heath could know is how many explosive secrets from the past will be exposed--or how deeply they will fall for each other.

Available in digital ebook, paperback and hardcover:
Buy Always Look Twice at Amazon
Buy Always Look Twice at

Author Bio:
Elizabeth Goddard is the bestselling, award-winning author of forty novels and counting, including the romantic mystery, THE CAMERA NEVER LIES – a 2011 Carol Award winner. Four of her six Mountain Cove books have been contest finalists. Buried, Backfire and Deception are finalists in the Daphne Du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery and Suspense, and Submerged is a Carol Award finalist. A 7th generation Texan, Elizabeth graduated from North Texas State University with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and worked in high-level software sales for several years before retiring to fulfill her dreams of writing full-time.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN by Jolina Petersheim, #INTERVIEW and Review by Nicole Cook

Author Jolina Petersheim

Nicole Cook
Nicole: I am thrilled to have author Jolina Petersheim join us today at Inkwell Inspirations to discuss her latest contemporary novel, How the Light Gets In, which was chosen as the September book club selection for the Avid Readers of Christian Fiction Facebook Group. Jolina Petersheim recently led a live Facebook chat in the Avid Readers Group to discuss her book with the members of the group. Jolina, thank you so much for joining us today!

Jolina: Thank you for having me here, Nicole! I so love getting to connect with you and your readers!

Nicole: How the Light Gets In is the first book of yours that I have read, and it won’t be the last! This book is not the typical Amish or Mennonite novel that most readers are accustomed to find in this genre. Has your unique Amish and Mennonite heritage played a role in the storylines of this book and/or any of your other books?

Jolina: I spent my formative years (six years old to fourteen) living on a Christian camp. I saw firsthand the intricacies and complications of community, and I realize now that our desire for community juxtaposed by our need for independence is what I love to explore. Of course, my Mennonite heritage has greatly influenced my writing, but I like to think that it serves as the framework for the story rather than being the story itself.
Nicole: How the Light Gets In, is a fascinating story of loss, marital discord, redemption, and finding love. What message or inspiration do you hope that people will get from reading it?

CC BY 2.0 Shannon Kringen

Jolina: I hope How the Light Gets In allows readers to look closer at their dearest relationships and learn, through Ruth’s journey, how to focus on finding healing so those relationships can flourish from a place of growth rather than being squelched from a place of need.

Nicole: I truly enjoyed reading How the Light Gets In. Your incredible writing style and the twists and turns toward the end certainly made this book an extremely compelling and emotional read. I was even in tears several times throughout the book! Elam was my favorite character in the book…and I was completely shocked at the turn of events during the last few chapters of part 2 and part 3! I kept thinking to myself, “No, this can’t be happening!!” Without giving away any spoilers, how did you decide to write such a unique and shocking conclusion to How the Light Gets In, and how have your readers in general felt about the conclusion to the book?

CC BY-SA 2.0  B.D.s World

Jolina: Well, I didn’t know the twist inside of the twist until one afternoon when I was steam-mopping the floor (I get very inspired while cleaning because my mind wanders!). The ending struck me like a lightning bolt. Steam rose as the hair stood up on my arms. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to pull it off, and it did take a ten-page outline to rework some scenes, but the extra work was worth it. Most readers have loved that twist! And I am always up for evoking enough emotion to cause some reader to want to throw a book across the room, ha!

Nicole: I love being a member of the Avid Readers of Christian Fiction Facebook group and participating in so many wonderful discussions within the group. As a reader, I get to share my love of Christian fiction with the other members in the group, and I have discovered so many new-to-me authors who have become must-read authors. From an author’s perspective, what do you like best about participating in the Avid Readers of Christian Fiction Facebook Group, and what has been your favorite part of having How the Light Gets In as the book club selection this month?

Jolina: I have cherished the openness and vulnerability of this group! I believe that vulnerability builds community because it draws us closer when we realize we’re not alone. Getting to propose questions to evoke that vulnerability/closeness has been my favorite part of How the Light Gets In being selected for September. Thank you for having me!

Nicole: Can you share any information about any upcoming releases and/or what you are currently writing?

Jolina: I am currently hard at work on the second draft of my sixth novel, which has required more research and planning than my previous ones. However, I have absolutely adored this process, and each morning I awake at five with excitement pouring through my veins. I am passionate about this subject matter, and I am looking forward to the day when I can share more!

Nicole: Jolina, thank you again for joining us today! This has been a pleasure to chat with you!

Jolina: And a pleasure to chat with you!

Author Bio:
Jolina Petersheim is the bestselling author of How the Light Gets In, The Alliance series, The Midwife, and The Outcast, which Library Journal called "outstanding . . . fresh and inspirational" in a starred review and named one of the best books of 2013. That book also became an ECPA, CBA, and Amazon bestseller and was featured in Huffington Post's Fall Picks, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and the Tennessean. CBA Retailers + Resources called her second book, The Midwife, "an excellent read [that] will be hard to put down," and Romantic Times declared, "Petersheim is an amazing new author." Her third book, The Alliance, was selected as one of Booklist's Top 10 Inspirational Fiction titles of 2016. Jolina's nonfiction writing has been featured in Reader's Digest, Writer's Digest, and Today's Christian Woman. She and her husband share the same unique Amish and Mennonite heritage that originated in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, but they now live in the mountains of Tennessee with their two young daughters. Visit Jolina at

More Author links:
Jolina's Facebook page


With compelling realism and heart-wrenching emotional twists, Jolina Petersheim pens a unique present-day retelling of the Biblical story of Ruth. How the Light Gets In is not the typical Amish or Mennonite novel that readers are accustomed to find in this genre. How the Light Gets In is a fascinating story of loss, marital discord, redemption, and finding love, with a shocking conclusion that will generate thought-provoking discussions long after the final page. Readers will have varying thoughts on the twists and turns leading up to the conclusion of the story, but that is a true testament to the incredible writing style of Jolina Petersheim that she can evoke such strong emotional responses from the readers. Jolina Petersheim brought me to tears several times throughout the novel, and my heart broke for these characters during the painful situations they encountered, especially for Elam, who easily became a favorite character of mine. How the Light Gets In is recommended for readers of contemporary fiction who enjoy novels filled with powerful raw emotion and authenticity.
*I read a copy of this book from the library and was under no obligation to write a review. All opinions expressed are mine.

Back Cover Blurb:
From the highly acclaimed author of The Outcast and The Alliance comes an engrossing novel about marriage and motherhood, loss and moving on.

When Ruth Neufeld’s husband and father-in-law are killed working for a relief organization overseas, she travels to Wisconsin with her young daughters and mother-in-law Mabel to bury her husband. She hopes the Mennonite community will be a quiet place to grieve and piece together next steps.

Ruth and her family are welcomed by Elam, her husband’s cousin, who invites them to stay at his cranberry farm through the harvest. Sifting through fields of berries and memories of a marriage that was broken long before her husband died, Ruth finds solace in the beauty of the land and healing through hard work and budding friendship. She also encounters the possibility of new love with Elam, whose gentle encouragement awakens hopes and dreams she thought she’d lost forever.

But an unexpected twist threatens to unseat the happy ending Ruth is about to write for herself. On the precipice of a fresh start and a new marriage, Ruth must make an impossible decision: which path to choose if her husband isn’t dead after all.

Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, audiobook:
Buy How the Light Gets In at Amazon
Buy How the Light Gets In at

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 October book club selection for the Avid Readers of Christian Fiction Facebook Group is Yours Truly, Thomas by Rachel Fordham.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

CHRISTMAS IN WINTER HILL by Melody Carlson, Reviewed by Trixi Oberembt

Krista Gallaway is NOT a fan of Christmas. So why is she crazy enough to move from Phoenix, Arizona to Winter Hill, Washington accepting the job of City Manager? Especially when she finds out Chirstmasville is their biggest event of the year! And, to top that off, she’s expected to get behind the celebration 100%.
This was definitely a cutesy, Christmasy, warm-hearted story that will have you rooting for the magic of holiday miracles and the power of love. Krista and her daughter Emily are a delightful duo that dug into my heart as characters to come to care deeply about. Emily—with her little girl charm and enthusiasm for all things Christmas—has big dreams for her mom and starting over in a town that promises her first snowfall! She’s every mom’s dream for a perfect little girl. Though Krista is dead-set against Christmas due to her rough childhood, she at least tries to get into the spirit for the sake of the town. I think perhaps a certain young man named Connor softens her heart with his natural charm and the friendship of his daughter Anna. Watching the foursome become friends (perhaps more?) and the conspiring of two young girls was fun, while watching the town grow on Krista was my grown-up version of a Hallmark worthy Christmas story! 

I’d love to see this played out on TV; it would be one I’d watch every year. Last but not least, the spiritual theme was uplifting with reminders of the power of God’s love and care for each one of us.

If you’re looking for a inspiring Christmas-themed story full of charming characters and the promise of good things to come, look no farther than Christmas in Winter Hill!
*I received a complimentary copy from Revell and was under no obligation to leave a favorable review. All opinions are strictly my own. *

BackCover Blurb:
Krista Galloway is not a fan of Christmas. After her rough childhood in multiple foster homes, the holiday season just brings too many bad memories to the surface. But when she accepts a job as a city manager in the mountain town of Winter Hill, Washington, Christmas is part of the deal. The small town is famous for its Christmasville celebration, something that the city manager . . . well, manages.

As she tries to make her tiny new apartment feel like home for her and her eight-year-old daughter, Emily, Krista begins to wonder if this move was a mistake. She doesn't always feel welcomed in the close-knit town, and Emily continually wonders, "Where's the snow?" Can a friendly stranger and his family help restore Krista's Christmas spirit before the big day?

Bestselling author Melody Carlson invites you to spend this holiday season in a town you'll never forget--and never want to leave.

Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover and audiobook:
Buy Christmas in Winter Hill at Amazon
Buy Christmas in Winter Hill at


Friday, September 27, 2019

MIND OF MINE by C.F.E. Black, YA Fiction Reviewed by Kim

Mind of Mine, by debut author C.F.E. Black, is a YA science fiction story that is packed full of intrigue, action, a twist or two -ones I totally did not see coming - and a storyline that is truly creative! And, it’s a clean read, which I’m always looking for, for my daughter!
I really enjoyed this story. It was so different- I mean sharing your mind with 15 other people? 😳 I can’t imagine adding more thoughts to the ones that are already in my head! Especially ones that are not originally mine! Yikes! I really can’t go into a lot of the story because I want to stay away from spoilers, but I will say I really enjoyed the wonderfully unique storyline and the characters, especially V, Marcus, and Julius and their interactions with each other. I also enjoyed the many unexpected twists and turns this story took!

Even though this story doesn’t end in a cliffhanger, I really wanted an epilogue! I want to know more about Marcus and V and Julius and what happens to them in the future! I am hoping there will be a book 2! Great debut!!!
*I received a complimentary copy of this book. All thoughts are my own. 

BackCover Blurb:
She is a genius . . . who frequently forgets her own name.
Raised to put science over self, V must link her brain with fifteen other people, making her one of the world’s smartest humans. With this privilege comes a life dedicated to continual research inside a secluded facility, a life devoid of freedom.

But V is losing her identity and unable to predict which face will peer back at her from the nearest mirror. Escaping this life will mean freedom to think for herself—and abandoning everything and everyone she’s known and loved.

When your thoughts and speech are no longer private, freedom comes at a price. But for V the price may be her life.

Available in digital ebook and paperback:
Buy Mind of Mine at Amazon

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Meet Book Blogger Rosalyn Schlabach of All of a Kind Mom

Deb here, and today my blogger guest is Rosalyn from All of a Kind Mom! YAY! 
Thanks so much for joining us! Tell us, how long have you been reviewing and how did you decide on the theme for your blog?
Rosalyn: I first started blogging my book reviews in 2017, so just over 2 years ago. The theme for my blog…well, I ‘borrowed’ it from a really cute older series of books, called The All of a Kind Family”. This works for me because I’m a mom of four daughters. Originally, I intended to blog about a wide variety of things, but…then I discovered book blogging and reviewing, and the rest is history! 😊 I do still throw in the occasional post that is not about books, but sometimes it feels like all I have time for (on the blog) is getting the word out about all these awesome new books!!

Deb: What’s the best part of being a reviewer?

Rosalyn: Well, it’s the books, of course! There’s just nothing like getting the opportunity to read and review so many new books! I also absolutely love it that I’ve had the opportunity to meet (in person!!) several of my favorite authors, and I’m grateful that social media has made it possible to interact with others. And I also love the privilege of being able to tell friends and family members about new releases that I’m excited about.

Rosalyn's Roses!
Deb: What’s the most difficult part of the ‘the job’?

Rosalyn: Well, again, it’s the books! Because, well, I do have a life outside of reading….sigh. 😉 I tend to find myself overcommitting to reading and reviewing books, because there are just SO MANY talented authors writing absolutely amazing books these days!

Deb: That's what I hear most often. Saying no is tough! 
What was the last book you read that you couldn’t put down?

Rosalyn: This is a hard question. 😊 I think it would have to be Finding Lady Enderly by Joanna Davidson Politano. This book is definitely a five star book and is one of the best I’ve ever read! The story line was different, unique, and captivating. I also loved the setting, and the heroine. One of my favorite things, though, about this book was the way the author inserted nuggets of truth, little thoughts that made me really think, throughout the story.

Deb: I'm not surprised! So many are loving that story! I'm waiting for the audiobook (which is why I am often behind.)
What keeps you busy or entertained (beyond reading and reviewing!)?

Rosalyn: I mentioned it up there…I’m a mom of four daughters! And sometimes Mom life is absolutely crazy! Our daughters are ages 11 to 17, which means I stay busy just trying to keep up with all their schedules, school activities, etc.!
I’m not really employed, as such, my current job is working from home doing bookkeeping and various other side jobs.

In addition to these, my husband and I are also active at our church, with one of our responsibilities being youth leaders, and spending time with our youth group.

In my free time, I enjoy doing things with my daughters, including cooking, baking, gardening, and sewing. As a family, we enjoy camping and traveling.

Cinnamon buns.... melting in your mouth! Thanks Rosalyn!

Deb: It sounds wonderful. And crazy! 
What is your fiction favorite…setting? Place and time? Genre’? 

Rosalyn: Again, another hard question. I love a wide variety of settings. I love reading about small town USA, I love reading stories set in other countries. I like reading contemporary fiction, but I also really love spending time in the past. So, I guess I’ll have to say, I really don’t have a specific favorite. 

CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Cristiane Tondin

I do really enjoy Suspense, though, and would probably pick that as my favorite genre. But I also really enjoy reading contemporary/women’s fiction, those kinds of books that really make you think about life and the hard issues that we face.
Deb: Contemporary Suspense seems to be booming!
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!

Rosalyn: Give me something clean, a bit of action (but not too graphic), and some romance… But most of all, I'd just love the time to read!

Food? I enjoy eating sushi, but hardly ever get to have it, so I’ll go for that! And then, for dessert, I’d have something rich and chocolatey, probably cheesecake. Or ice cream. (One can never go wrong with ice cream… 😊 )

CC BY 2.0 Marco Verch Professional Photography, Creative Commons

Deb: We just had a 'seasonal flavor' ice cream called Cinnamon Bun. It was kryptonite for me!
If you could wiggle your nose and be in your dream career, what would it be? Or are you already living it?

Rosalyn: I’d love to be a published author of bestselling Christian fiction

Deb: Oh that does sound nice. (ahem!) What piece of advice would you offer authors who are just starting out?

Rosalyn: Wow. Not sure what to say. I guess, that’s partly because I am a wanna-be author myself. I have always dreamed of writing a book…I even have some really great story ideas rolling around in my head…but when I sit down to write, I just don’t know how to get the words out so that it makes sense, or how to make the storyline work. I don’t feel like I have any advice to offer in this department, but I am definitely all ears if someone does!!

Deb: Authors are always interested in what readers have to say, so that's a start. As for writing. Just write garbage or stuff or stream of consciousness from a character. You can't fix a blank page! Start and you might not be able to stop!

Now, advice for new reviewers?

Rosalyn: Put your heart into it! It’s much easier to give a heartfelt review when you read books that you love (obviously this won’t be true about every book). When you write reviews, write it with feeling, imagine yourself telling your friend about the book and why they should read it. Sometimes I feel like I run out of ideas on how to make reviews fresh and interesting, especially for people that visit my blog and see lots of book reviews…then I have to give myself that very pep talk. 😉 

Deb: I am a huge fan of reviewers because I find them very intimidating! (writing reviews, not reviewers! Ha!)
Thanks so much for visiting! I hope a lot of new readers find your blog (and follow you on their choice of social media)... and I look forward to your first novel one of these days!
Find Rosalyn on Facebook Allofakind Mom
Bookbub allofakindmom 

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

THE SPICE KING by ELIZABETH CAMDEN, Reviewed by Paula and Winnie

The Spice King is book number one in the series Hope and Glory by historical author Elizabeth Camden.

An avid fan of history, I relished this setting of 1900 in Washington D.C. and surrounding areas. I learned about the early days of regulating the food industry and the beginning of the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. The glimpse into the Smithsonian and The Department Of Agriculture was fascinating. The explanations of the process involved in spice making were especially interesting.

Ms. Camden has done a commendable job in her research. I love her writing style. Her characters were well drawn and you could see into their motivations.

Annabelle Larkin finds a way to approach reclusive Spice Magnate, Gray Delacroix, in search of a cutting of a rare vanilla orchid. This could be the answer to the quandary of how to keep her blind sister, Elaine, doing productive work at the Library of Congress. She gets much more than she bargained for.

Gray is a shrewd businessman and a man of integrity but he has strong political opinions. He is also dogged by Malaria and doesn’t know when the attacks will strike next. He has long taken care of his twin siblings, Caroline and Luke, who are twelve years his junior. They are adults now and have made their life choices.

There is much intrigue to follow in this story and some of it is left unresolved, making the reader want to see what happens in future books involving Caroline and Luke.

Don’t miss this wonderful story to find out what happens to Annabelle and Gray.

I give this book 5 stars!
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher on behalf of the author. I was not expected to write a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

With a captivating storyline and colorful, well-drawn characters, Elizabeth Camden starts her new series, Hope and Glory, off with a bang. The striking cover and title captured my interest before I even knew what the story was about. Impeccable historical detail and complex plots are some of Camden’s strengths, and they are evident in The Spice King.

Gray Delacroix and Annabelle Larkin seem to be opposites in many ways, but the chemistry between them is obvious and compelling. I liked Annabelle’s gutsy, optimistic courage and Gray’s love and care for his family. The outstanding cast of secondary characters added to my enjoyment of the story, and Camden’s clear, concise writing is a plus.

Uplifting messages of importance of family, courage, hope, and forgiveness give added dimension and depth to the story. “God had never promised them a life free of sorrow, only the tools to hold and keep them through stormy days.” There is a bit of a cliff-hanger at the end but not enough to detract from the tale. I’m looking forward to Caroline’s story in the next book.

*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Bethany House/NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

BackCover 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:
Buy The Spice King at Amazon
Buy The Spice King at

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

THE WORDS BETWEEN US by Erin Bartels. Reviewed by Rebecca Maney and Trixi Oberembt

"Who died?"

Who would believe that it could have begun with such a simple exchange of words; words that would flow between them as poetic payments for stories that lived and breathed, in contrast to those that "struggled for breath, forgotten on shelves and in basements". Robin Windsor's words; written by a soul hiding behind a world of hurt and misunderstanding, after her parents became infamous for doing the wrong thing, without leaving behind anything that was right.

After living under an assumed name, with a grandmother she had never met, Robin's freshman friendship with a senior named Peter cracks open a door of opportunity; first for trust and then for love. That all changes, and years later Robin's adult self still begs for the truth. Maybe there is hope after all, when the poems she wrote at fifteen begin showing up in her bookstore; book by book, as her past creeps comfortably close to her future.

"There is a day, that call us into life, . . . . . and brings us gasping to the light, bids us live again . . ."

In spite of its weighty, melancholy tenor through-out much of the "then" and "now", this author has written a beautiful expose on "calling out" when the waves roll and our feet begin to sink; "you of little faith".

*I received a copy of this book from Baker Publishing through Interviews and Reviews. The opinions stated are entirely my own.

First off, this was the kind of book that drew me in right away and kept me invested in the pages. Erin Bartels is a new-to-me author, so for her to completely immerse me in her world was amazing! Being an avid reader, the idea of this taking place in a bookstore and the passion her main character Robin has for books is something I can totally relate to. They are more than words on a page to me, they have life, and meaning and breathe that little something into my very being. It’s almost as if they grab me by the hand and make me live an adventure I would have never have had if I didn’t pick them up.

Her characters felt real with the kind of problems and past baggage that we might have in our own lives. With those kind of older childhood/young adult regrets that we have to face and deal with at one point or another. Robin also faces the reality that her father is in prison for committing heinous crimes with the possibility of execution and her mother in prison for being an accessory. Sent to live with her grandma who she never knew, I can understand why she would want to run away from her problems when they threaten to overwhelm her. She finds solace and contentment in her books and running her store. The only character that I really didn’t like was Sarah, her high school classmate. It seems like she took the tragedy that happened when she was a teen and used it as an excuse to live a very destructive lifestyle.

This is the part of my review I don’t like to write because I found some flaws that bothered me. Being published by Revell, I’ve never had to question what kind of book I’m reading. I know they will always be Christian fiction books containing a faith thread, which is a vital element to me as a Christian reader. I did not find it in here! That is a huge turn-off to me, especially when I am purposely looking for it. The only redeeming character in here was Dawt Pi, Robin’s employee and friend. There were a few things that pointed to the fact that she was a Christian, especially where she told Robin that she was praying for her and emphasized God loves her. But I feel like her influence on Robin was so insignificant and played such a minor role. The writer had a wonderful opportunity to develop Dawt Pi to be that Christian to shine the light of Christ in Robin’s life. So I was left feeling very let down and very disappointed in the lack of faith. Also, I felt Robin never really did deal with her past in a satisfactory manner. She ran and hid rather than face things head on. A person can’t realistically move on in life without dealing with the hard stuff of the past. Lastly, there was no real feeling of redemption, resolution, or forgiveness for me in this book. It left me with too many questions and not enough answers and I really hated the ending. I was left hanging and asking myself what I just read.

So while the writing was fantastic and I can agree with other reviews on this and other points, I have to take away a higher rating due to the lack of faith and no real resolution at the end of the book. I like to have hope, and when it didn’t come about, I was left disappointed. This is my personal taste and I won’t apologize for feeling that way. In conclusion, if you are looking for a book to completely immerse you with evocative prose; this is one that will do it! Just don’t expect faith to play a major role in it.

*This book was provided by Baker Publishing Group through Interviews and Reviews for my honest opinion. I was not obligated to leave a favorable review. * 

BackCover Blurb:
Robin Windsor has spent most of her life under an assumed name, running from her family's ignominious past. She thought she'd finally found sanctuary in her rather unremarkable used bookstore just up the street from the marina in River City, Michigan. But the store is struggling and the past is hot on her heels.

When she receives an eerily familiar book in the mail on the morning of her father's scheduled execution, Robin is thrown back to the long-lost summer she met Peter Flynt, the perfect boy who ruined everything. That book--a first edition Catcher in the Rye--is soon followed by the other books she shared with Peter nearly twenty years ago, with one arriving in the mail each day. But why would Peter be making contact after all these years? And why does she have a sinking feeling that she's about to be exposed all over again?

With evocative prose that recalls the classic novels we love, Erin Bartels pens a story that shows that words--the ones we say, the ones we read, and the ones we write--have more power than we imagine.

Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover and audiobook:
Buy The Words Between Us at Amazon
Buy The Words Between Us at


Monday, September 23, 2019

JOIN IN THE FUN: Paula's Interview with Author JEN TURANO! #Giveaway

Paula here, welcoming Jen Turano to the blog today!

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

Jen: Oddly enough, I really didn’t have any plans to become a writer. I majored in fashion in college and worked in that industry for years until I had my one and only son, Dominic. Knowing full well I wouldn’t win any mother-of-the-year awards if I continued traveling, I abandoned my career and settled into being a stay-at-home-mom. It wasn’t until my son was in third grade and we read this awful series together about this ridiculous bird that I began writing, but the first book I wrote was really only for Dominic. Interesting thing happened, though, after I wrote that book – I decided it was rather cool to use my brain again, so I experimented with a lot of different genres, learned everything I could about the publishing industry, and after I wrote seven books (and just to be clear, none of those will ever get published because, wow, I had no idea what I was doing) I finally found an agent, and then she very kindly procured a book contract for me. I’ve been writing ever since.

Paula: Are you funny in your day to day? Were you the class clown?

Jen: I was not the class clown, and in fact, I was somewhat shy back in the day, which I know is shocking, right? As for being funny…hmm…I do have a dry sense of humor and weird things happen to me on an almost daily basis, so I might be somewhat amusing, although that’s not always intentional.

Paula: Did you choose a word for the year (as is popular)?

Jen: Oh, that would be a lot of pressure for me to deal with, so no, I never choose a word for the year.

Paula: What is your favorite genre to read?

Jen: I love historical, but I don’t read that when I’m writing a first draft because it messes my writing up, which means I rarely get to read historical because I always seem to be drafting a new book. That’s why I read a lot of suspense as well as contemporary romance. I’ve learned I can’t read thrillers because my writing tends to turn really dark, and since I write romantic comedies, well, that can certainly be a problem. My editors don’t tend to like it when serial killers show up on my pages.

For future stories, Jen?
Paula: Do you choose a Bible verse for each book as a theme?

Jen: I never choose a faith theme before I begin writing. Those just show up as I write, and I’m convinced those are given to me by God, which is why I just go with whatever faith element suddenly shows up on my pages.

Paula: Is one of your characters a favorite? Or is that like asking if you have a favorite child?


Jen: I really love Gertrude Cadwallader from “Out of the Ordinary” as well as Miss Millie Longfellow from “In Good Company.” But, with that said, my very favorite character to date is Miss Poppy Garrison from “Diamond in the Rough” because she’s just out there and she was so easy to write. Most of my characters give me grief at some point, but Poppy was incredibly well-behaved, which puts her at the top of my list of favorites.
Paula: Has a real personal experience crept into one of your books?

There are too many to list – I’ve had unusual animal encounters over the years, and those are definitely written about on the pages of my stories. Many of my characters are also inspired by people I know, but I never tell which of my friends I’m using in a book because that could cause me all sorts of trouble.

Paula: Tell us something unusual you have come across in your research.

I think the most unusual thing I’ve run across is the story of A.T. Stewart, who owned one of the first department stores in NYC. His body was stolen after he died and held for ransom. That ransom was eventually paid by his wife, but all she received in return was a bag of old bones and no one knew if they were Mr. Stewart’s bones or not. The thief was never caught, but because of this horrible incident, Mr. Cornelius Vanderbilt put in his will that his body would be guarded twenty-four hours a day. His family hired guards to watch over the Vanderbilt mausoleum, and they stayed on the job for decades. To assure that these men weren’t sleeping on the job, they were expected to punch a time clock every fifteen minutes. Not a job I would have wanted to take on, especially at night.

By Staten Island post cards / Bridges -, Public Domain,

Paula: Thank you for joining us today, Jen. Your answers were so much fun! We always like to get to know the authors of our favorite books. 

See Paula and Winnie's Reviews for Diamond in the Rough

Blurb – Diamond in the Rough  CLICK TO PURCHASE
To save her family from financial ruin, Miss Poppy Garrison accepts an unusual proposition to participate in the New York social season in exchange for her grandmother settling a family loan that has unexpectedly come due. Ill-equipped to handle the intricacies of mingling within the New York Four Hundred, Poppy becomes embroiled in one hilarious fiasco after another, doomed to suffer a grand societal failure instead of being deemed the diamond of the first water her grandmother longs for her to become.

Reginald Blackburn, second son of a duke, has been forced to travel to America to help his cousin, Charles Wynn, Earl of Lonsdale, find an American heiress to wed in order to shore up his family estate that is in desperate need of funds. Reginald himself has no interest in finding an heiress to marry, but when Poppy's grandmother asks him to give etiquette lessons to Poppy, he swiftly discovers he may be in for much more than he bargained for.

a Rafflecopter giveaway  

Named One of the Funniest Voices in Inspirational Romance by Booklist, Jen Turano is a USA Today Best-Selling Author, known for penning quirky historical romances set in the Gilded Age. Her books have earned Publisher Weekly and Booklist starred reviews, top picks from Romantic Times, and praise from Library Journal. She’s been a finalist twice for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards and had two of her books listed in the top 100 romances of the past decade from Booklist. When she’s not writing, she spends her time outside of Denver, CO. Readers may find her at

Sunday, September 22, 2019

DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH by Jen Turano, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise and Winnie Thomas

Book #2 in the American Heiresses series, Diamond in the Rough is a delightful romp into New York high society in 1885.

Can a “Diamond in the Rough” be turned into a “Diamond of the first water”?

After her family has been estranged from her grandparents, Poppy Garrison finds herself under the tutelage of her grandmother Viola Van Rensselaer, one of the elite in New York society. She is to make her debut, where wealthy American fathers hope to marry their daughters to titled Englishmen. The problem is Poppy has no airs or experience. She is also somewhat clumsy. But our heroine has a heart of gold and when she sees the unfortunate in need, she wants to remedy it immediately. Can she be an original by prompting wealthy patrons into helping more personally than just donating money to a cause?

In order to be schooled in proper decorum and etiquette, Poppy meets Reginald Blackburn, who is a traveling companion of his cousin, Lord Charles Lonsdale.

Madcap comedy ensues. Ms. Turano is an expert in portraying floundering females and hilarious situations with a few twists thrown in. The supporting cast is well fleshed out in Murray Middleton and Adele Tooker. Look for an incident with a horse that has the same name as Murray’s mother and the battle of the clotted cream with Adele and Poppy.

This book is not without it’s spiritual elements. Poppy’s grandfather, George, explains his awakening to Poppy and a family reconciliation is the result. The other characters express their faith naturally.

I highly recommend Jen Turano’s books, especially this American Heiresses series to fans of Christian fiction who want a nice romantic comedy kind of story.

I give this book 5 stars. 
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher on behalf of the author. I was mot required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.*

Set in Gilded Age New York where it was important to be a “diamond of the first water,” Diamond in the Rough features Poppy Garrison who despairs of ever reaching that goal. Delightful, quirky, and prone to mishaps, Poppy seems to attract chaos and pandemonium wherever she goes. She meets each new disaster with aplomb and continues to be her endearing and entertaining self.

“You must have realized by now that I’m not always keen to follow rules.”

Despairing of ever seeing Poppy fit into society, her grandmother hires Reginald Blackburn to give her etiquette lessons. What follows is a hilarious, entertaining romp that left me giggling, chuckling, and laughing out loud (with maybe a snort or two for good measure)! And, yes, I realize that precludes me from being a diamond of the first water! I’ll have to settle for being a diamond in the rough like Poppy. I love Poppy and Reginald. They are both fantastic characters—some of my favorite Turano people. They aren’t perfect, but they’re perfect for each other. A stellar supporting cast adds to the enjoyment and fun of the tale. Filled with witty banter, humor, romance, intrigue, and a few life lessons, it’s a delight to read. I loved the message to be yourself and not who others want you to be.

Jen Turano is an incredibly gifted writer with an amazing sense of humor. Her characters come alive on the page and are so delightful and fun. The settings are all so richly painted, and the colorful imagery in her stories brings them to life. If you’ve never read any of her books, do yourself a favor and grab one. You can start with this one—it’s part of a series, but it can easily be read alone.
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Bethany House. All opinions are my own

COME BACK TOMORROW FOR PAULA'S INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR JEN TURANO and a chance to WIN a paperback of Diamond in the Rough!

BackCover Blurb:
To save her family from financial ruin, Miss Poppy Garrison accepts an unusual proposition to participate in the New York social season in exchange for her grandmother settling a family loan that has unexpectedly come due. Ill-equipped to handle the intricacies of mingling within the New York Four Hundred, Poppy becomes embroiled in one hilarious fiasco after another, doomed to suffer a grand societal failure instead of being deemed the diamond of the first water her grandmother longs for her to become.

Reginald Blackburn, second son of a duke, has been forced to travel to America to help his cousin, Charles Wynn, Earl of Lonsdale, find an American heiress to wed in order to shore up his family estate that is in desperate need of funds. Reginald himself has no interest in finding an heiress to marry, but when Poppy's grandmother asks him to give etiquette lessons to Poppy, he swiftly discovers he may be in for much more than he bargained for.

Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover and audiobook:
Buy Diamond in the Rough at Amazon
Buy Diamond in the Rough at

Share This Post

How Our Giveaways Work: The Official Rules

We, the ladies of Inkwell Inspirations, would love to give free stuff to everybody. Since we can't, we will often have a giveaway in conjunction with a specific post. Unless otherwise stated, one winner will be drawn from comments left on that post between the date it was published and the end of the giveaway as determined in the post. Entries must be accompanied by a valid email address. This address is used only to contact the commenter in the event that he/she is the winner, and will not be sold, distributed, or used in any other fashion. The odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. NO PURCHASE, PLEDGE, OR DONATION NECESSARY TO ENTER OR TO WIN. ALL FEDERAL, STATE, LOCAL AND MUNICIPAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS APPLY. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.