Friday, July 3, 2020

Intriguing Mystery -- The Green Dress

About the Book

Book:  The Green Dress
Author: Liz Tolsma
Genre: Christian Historical Suspense
Release Date: June 2020

Death Seems to Follow Harriet’s New Friend
Book 6 in the True Colors series—Fiction Based on Strange-But True History
When Harriet Peters came to Boston in 1882, the Robinson family took her in like one of their own, and Harriet became closer to Lizzie Robinson than her own siblings. Now, four years later, Lizzie is deathly sick, failing quickly just like several others in her family have done over the past few years. How can so many in one family die from the same mysterious illness? Harriet doesn’t have answers, but she is determined to help the family, bringing in a new-to-the-neighborhood doctor, Michael Wheaton. As Harriet and Michael close in on the answer, putting their own lives at risk, can the cause be found before anyone else dies?
Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts

The Green Dress is an intriguing mystery, especially so since it is a fictional account based on actual history. Liz Tolsma has taken the horrible true account of multiple deaths in the Robinson family and crafted it into a spine-tingling story. 

Many of the characters and events in this story were drawn directly from historical accounts from Boston in the 1800s, and others were added to flesh out the fictional story. All of the characters, though, were well-developed, and each added much to the story. Although there were clues along the way pointing to the final resolution of the mystery, I wasn't certain of the answer until the end. And the title "character" of the book -- the green dress -- was hinted at along the way, but its chilling meaning was not fully revealed until near the end of the story. 

Fans of historical fact-based fiction involving mystery should enjoy The Green Dress. And you just might find it hard to put the book down!

Thanks to Celebrate Lit for providing a copy of the book.  I am happy to share my own thoughts in this review.

About the Author

Liz Tolsma is a popular speaker and an editor and the owner of the Write Direction Editing. An almost-native Wisconsinite, she resides in a quiet corner of the state with her husband and is the mother of three. Her son proudly serves as a U.S. Marine. They adopted all of their children internationally, and one has special needs. When she gets a few spare minutes, she enjoys reading, relaxing on the front porch, walking, working in her large perennial garden, and camping with her family.

More from Liz
We’ve all been there—started a letter or an email or even a list, didn’t like what we had, crossed it out or hit the delete button, and tried again. Now imagine that happening when you’re writing a novel.
That’s what occurred with The Green Dress. Finding the perfect place to start a novel can be tricky, but when you’re trying to balance fact with fiction, it’s even harder. I needed the fictional heroine, Harriet Peters, to have a good reason to come into contact with and become close to the factual Robinson family. And I needed for the hero, Michael Wheaton, to meet Harriet early on. So I dove into the story. Five chapters later, the hero and heroine hadn’t yet met. The book wasn’t working.
I scrapped those chapters and started at a different point. At first, it seemed to be going better. I was happy. Until I got to the fifth chapter, when I realized again that the book wasn’t working. Frankly, it was boring. So those ended up in the virtual trash bin. Meanwhile, the clock was ticking on my deadline. I was desperate to find the right starting point, at a place with high tension. Finally, I had an “aha” moment, and the story flowed from there. That’s how the first five chapters (and the rest of The Green Dress) came to be.

—Liz Tolsma

Blog Stops

The Power of Words, June 26
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 26
deb’s Book Review, June 26
Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, June 26
A Reader’s Brain, June 27
Rebecca Tews, June 27
For Him and My Family, June 27
Texas Book-aholic, June 28
Back Porch Reads, June 28
Inklings and notions, June 28
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 28
Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, June 29
Genesis 5020, June 29
Emily Yager, June 29
Christian Bookaholic, June 30
Robin’s Nest, June 30
To Everything There is A Season, June 30
Tell Tale Book Reviews, June 30
Blogging With Carol, July 1
Bigreadersite, July 1
Read Review Rejoice, July 1
Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, July 2
Life of Literature, July 2
Connie’s History Classroom, July 2
Betti Mace, July 3
Southern Gal Loves to Read, July 3
Little Homeschool on the Prairie, July 3
Stories By Gina, July 3
For the Love of Literature, July 4
Remembrancy, July 4
Reviewingbooksplusmore, July 4
Godly Book Reviews, July 5
Splashes of Joy, July 5
Vicky Sluiter, July 5
Older & Smarter?, July 6
Through the Fire Blogs, July 6
Daysong Reflections, July 6
amandainpa, July 6
Locks, Hooks and Books, July 7
Pause for Tales , July 7
Just the Write Escape, July 7
Hallie Reads, July 8
Where Faith and Books Meet, July 8
Blossoms and Blessings, July 8
Spoken from the Heart, July 9
With a Joyful Noise, July 9
Artistic Nobody, July 9 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

To celebrate her tour, Liz is giving away the grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!!Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

More Great Romantic Suspense -- The Crushing Depths

The Crushing Depths is exactly what you would expect in a Dani Pettrey novel -- excitement, danger, mystery, romance, hope and redemption -- from the very first page to the last. This second book in the Coastal Guardians series is not for the faint of heart, with multiple deaths, lots of potential suspects, and even a tropical storm and a fisherman's curse thrown in for good measure. And unless you are extra good at solving mysteries, you might be surprised at some of the plot twists! This is definitely a book that you won't want to put down once you start reading.

The characters are all strongly developed and play well into the story. If you have read book one, The Killing Tide, you will recognize some of the characters in this story. Each of the books works fine as a stand-alone, and both are well worth your time if you are a fan of great romantic suspense.

Thanks to the author and her publisher, Bethany House, for providing a copy of The Crushing Depths. I am happy to share my own thoughts in this review.

About the Book

They know the power and peril of the ocean.
But as they get closer to the deadly truth . . .
An even greater danger lurks just beneath the surface.

When an accident claims the life of an oil-rig worker, Coast Guard Investigators Rissi Dawson and Mason Rogers are flown to the scene thirty-eight miles from shore. Tensions aboard the rig are high, and the death has everyone on edge. Environmental activists are threatening to do whatever it takes to stop the "plague on the environment" from continuing its work. Meanwhile, rumors are circulating on board about an ancient curse lurking in the depths below.

Mounting evidence shows the death might not have been an accident. Was the man killed by one of the activists or, more frighteningly, a member of his own crew? Rissi and Mason have to sort through not only numerous suspects, but also their own haunted pasts and their attraction to each other.

Just as the case seems about to break open, worse news arrives: a tropical storm has turned their way. Now they're cut off from any rescue--right where the killer wants them.

About the Author

Praised by New York Times bestselling author Dee Henderson as "a name to look for in romantic suspense," Dani Pettrey has sold more than half a million copies of her novels to readers eagerly awaiting the next release. Dani combines the page-turning adrenaline of a thriller with the chemistry and happy-ever-after of a romance. Her novels stand out for their "wicked pace, snappy dialogue, and likable characters" (Publishers Weekly), "gripping storyline[s]" (RT Book Reviews), and "sizzling undercurrent of romance" (USA Today).

Her Alaskan Courage series and Chesapeake Valor series have received praise from readers and critics alike and spent multiple months topping the CBA bestseller lists. Dani has also been honored with multiple awards, including the Daphne du Maurier Award, two HOLT Medallions, two National Readers' Choice Awards, the Gail Wilson Award of Excellence, and Christian Retailing's Best Award.

Dani considers herself blessed to be able to write the kind of stories she loves--full of plot twists, peril, love, and a longing for hope and redemption. Her greatest joy as an author is sharing the stories God lays on her heart. She researches murder and mayhem from her home in Maryland, where she lives with her husband. Their two daughters, a son-in-law, and two adorable grandsons also reside in Maryland. For more information about her novels, visit

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Complex Amish Story -- The Englisch Daughter

The Englisch Daughter is a complex Amish story by Cindy and Erin Woodsmall. While there are many elements common to the typical Amish story, it seems there are a few more complications than might be normal. With two relationships at stake, as well as long-term dreams and lots of secrets, there is plenty to keep you fully engaged from beginning to end. 

The characters are rich, with lots of personality. The situations they find themselves in don't always have simple solutions, leaving room for some interesting twists and turns along the way.

Fans of great Amish fiction should find The Englisch Daughter a fascinating read that is hard to put down.

Thanks to Waterbrook & Multnomah for providing a copy of the book. I am happy to share my own thoughts in this review.

About the Book

A marriage is tested in this Old Order Amish novel of longing for renewed love and a path for forgiveness from the best-selling author of Gathering the Threads.

Old Order Amish wife and mother Jemima has put her marriage and family ahead of herself for years. She's set herself aside. Raising four children, she's followed all the rules and has been patient in looking forward to her time to chase a dream of her own.

But when she finds out that her life savings for pursuing that dream is gone—and her husband, Roy, has been hiding a child with another woman—her entire world is shattered. Will she be able to listen to God and love Roy's child? With so much at stake, how can she and Roy fix their relationship before their lives come crashing down?

About the Authors

Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times and CBA bestselling author of numerous works of fiction and one of nonfiction. Her connection with the Amish community has been featured widely in national media. She lives in the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains with her family.

Erin Woodsmall is a writer, musician, wife, and mom of three. She has edited, brainstormed, and researched books with Cindy for almost a decade.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Awesome Series Conclusion -- Dead End

The Kaely Quinn Profiler series is my favorite of all I've read by Nancy Mehl, and the third book, Dead End, is a thrilling conclusion to the series. 

Kaely Quinn is one of the most fascinating characters I've run across. She is an FBI agent and profiler who uses some pretty unorthodox methods to find out "who-dun-it" in difficult cases. In response to a question about how she came up with Kaely and her quirky methods, author Nancy Mehl replied, "I actually dreamt about her." Well, I'm glad she had that dream because I very much enjoyed the stories that came about as a result. 

This is a series that definitely needs to be read in order:  Mind Games, Fire Storm, and Dead End. There are things that probably wouldn't make a lot of sense in the final book without the background from the others. But it is certainly worth reading all three to enjoy Kaely's journey and the awesome way things are wrapped up as the series concludes.

Thanks to the author and her publisher, Bethany House, for providing the book. I am happy to share my own thoughts in this review.

About the Book
When a body is discovered in a field in Iowa, the police uncover fourteen additional corpses, some from twenty years ago, others from the recent past. The remains point to a serial killer with an MO the authorities have seen before--Ed Oliphant, a man who has been in prison for more than twenty years . . . and is FBI Special Agent Kaely Quinn's father. After several failed attempts to discover if Ed has been training someone to be a copycat killer, the police turn to Kaely in St. Louis for help.

Kaely promised herself she would never step foot in her hometown or set eyes on her father again. She's always refused to confront her past, but if she wants to prevent any more deaths, she must come face-to-face with the man she's hated for years.

As more bodies are discovered, Kaely races against time and her own inner turmoil to uncover the killer. Will this most personal case yet cost Kaely her identity and perhaps even her life?

About the Author

Nancy Mehl ( is the author of more than thirty-five books and a Christy Award and Carol Award finalist as well as the winner of an ACFW Book of the Year award. Her short story, Chasing Shadows, was in the USA Today bestselling Summer of Suspense anthology. Nancy writes from her home in Missouri, where she lives with her husband, Norman, and their puggle, Watson.

Rich, Complex, Hemmed-in-Hope Story -- Afraid of the Light

I have read several books by Cynthia Ruchti, and they all have one very important element in common -- HOPE. Afraid of the Light is certainly no exception.

This is not a quick, light read. The narrative is very rich and complex, and details about the characters and their stories are revealed at a very careful pace. The major subject is one that may be fairly unfamiliar to some readers, as it was to me, and that is the anxiety disorder displayed through hoarding. It is obvious that the author has done extensive research on the topic, and she deals with it in a realistic and sensitive manner.

The main characters in the story have dealt with or are dealing with their own unique fears and resulting consequences, and each of them work toward finding healing for their own pains. A romantic thread is woven through the story in a gentle way and adds a beauty all its own. But no matter which characters and which events you look at, HOPE shines through and ultimately leads to the One and only true source of Light.

I highly recommend this book to any fans of great inspirational fiction.

Thanks to Cynthia Ruchti and Kregel Publications for providing a copy of Afraid of the Light. I am happy to share my own thoughts in this review.

About the Book

Clinical psychologist Camille Brooks isn’t put off by the lifestyle of her hoarder clients and the distress of their families. She lost her mother to the crippling anxiety disorder–so she’ll go a long way to help others avoid the same pain.

Despite Camille’s expertise, her growing audience for her Let In the Light podcast, and the recognition she’s gaining for her creative coaching methods, she’s not prepared for the pushback. A client who looks uncannily like her mom catches her off guard and raises long-dormant issues. And the revelation that Camille has her own hoarding problem sends her spinning.

With the help of a cadre of unexpected friends, an enigma of a man who refuses to be discouraged, and the God who created and loves her, can she face her fears, pull back the curtains, and let the light into her own life?

About the Author

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in Hope through her novels, novellas, devotions, and nonfiction, and through speaking for women’s events/retreats and writers’ conferences/workshops. She draws from 33 years of experience writing and producing the 15-minute daily radio broadcast, “The Heartbeat of the Home.” Her books have received recognition from RT Reviewers’ Choice, PW Starred Review, Selah Awards, Christian Retailing’s BEST Awards, CLASSeminars Award of Excellence, Golden Scroll Awards, and more. She serves as Professional Relations Liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers, is a board member of the Deliver Hope ministry, and is part of the worship team at her church. She’s also a literary agent with Books & Such Literary Management. She and her husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and six grandchildren.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Intriguing Story -- Grace Like a River Flows

Grace Like a River Flows by R. Marshall Wright is a very intriguing story. The title reflects well on the story, as you see and feel God's grace flowing through the little town and touching the lives of a wide range of its people. There are several tough topics that come up in the story, as many of the characters experience major difficulties in their lives. But the beauty that God's grace brings out of their real-life struggles makes for a captivating read.

The style is a little out of the ordinary. It gives you the feeling of a narrator telling a story more than the typical feel of many novels; the story teller even throws in his own comments about the town, people, and events from time to time. It took me a bit to become really engaged, but once I did I was very involved with the lives of the characters and cared a great deal about the turns their lives were taking. The book is self-published and has several noticeable editing errors but all in all is one I would definitely recommend to others.

I can't neglect to share a warning before you read this book. If you are one of those readers who likes to check out the end before you finish the story, I highly suggest you DO NOT do that with this book. There is an element of mystery that runs throughout the the story, and you DO NOT want to spoil it before the end. The twist was so big that I had to go back and read it a couple of times to be sure it said what I thought it did!

Thanks to the author for providing a copy of this book. I was happy to share my own thoughts in this review.

About the Book

Grace Like a River Flows is Christian fiction. Glencoe, by another name, is real and I pastored there for five years. Many characters are based on real people I knew. But the great story? It's all made up. Well, almost.

”The tracks have separated this town for a hundred years, but one day God's grace began flowing like River. And, like a mighty, raging river, you can't control it and you can't stop it. God's grace goes where He wants.

Grace Like a River Flows is about very flawed people who live on both sides of the tracks which run through Glencoe. Lives are changed. Families are transformed. And an old mainline church is renewed. Come meet the cast of characters who will be touched by God. Charlotte (featured on the cover) has seen the tracks. Will God’s grace touch her life? Look for the surprise ending! You’ll never see it coming.

About the Author (from the author)

I was a local church pastor for 35 years and for 23 of those years I was a U.S. Army Chaplain. I was born and reared in New England and graduated from the University Of Maine. My masters degree is from  Drew Theological Scool in Madison New Jersey.  My wife, Lynn, and I have traveled extensively in the U.S. and are enthralled by the beauty of this great country. We summer in southern Michigan and winter in N. Ft. Myers, FL.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Awesome Sequel -- Unveiling the Past

OK,  I say this every time, but I just can't help saying it again -- if a book has the name Kim Vogel Sawyer on it, I know it's going to be a great one. Unveiling the Past was a great read.

This book is a sequel to Bringing Maggie Home and continues the stories of Meghan, Sean, Diane and Hazel. You could read Unveiling the Past on its own, but it certainly makes it more interesting if you know the backstories of those characters.

As always, one of the strengths of Kim Vogel Sawyer's writing is her character development. The people in this story are far from perfect; they are struggling with various issues, some of them pretty big ones. But through hope, faith, forgiveness, and family, they keep moving. Deep hurts, fears, and unanswered questions from the past are faced, and relationships come together in unexpected ways. It is a beautiful story with friends I didn't want to leave after the last page.

This story also includes an element of mystery as detectives Sean and Meghan actively pursue cold cases that help direct Meghan into family secrets of her own.

Fans of great contemporary inspirational fiction should love Unveiling the Past.

Thanks to Waterbrook Multnomah for providing a digital copy of the book. I was happy to share my thoughts in this review.

About the Book

Mysteries, family secrets, and the love of a true Father are found at the heart of this g
ripping novel from the bestselling author of Bringing Maggie Home.

Newlyweds Sean Eagle and Meghan DeFord are no strangers to pain and loss. As cold-case detectives, they know intimately the anguish family members endure after the murder or disappearance of a loved one. But when a new case hits too close to home, it threatens to pull loose the fragile cords of their young marriage.

Sheila Menke was just a girl when her father left for work and never returned. An investigation revealed he had embezzled enough to start a new life elsewhere, but Sheila could never accept the court’s criminalization of her father. Meghan reluctantly takes the case, secretly fearing it will stir up buried feelings about her own biological father. And while Sean investigates the mysterious death of two young brothers, he longs to start a family. But Meghan worries that with a negligent mother and an absentee father as her parenting examples, she might never be fit for motherhood.

As they delve deeper into the past, both Meghan and Sheila must choose to either stumble along the road of bitterness and resentment or walk the difficult path toward forgiveness and healing. When the cases begin to break wide open, these young women are poised to discover that while earthly fathers may fail, there is one in heaven who is a father to the fatherless.

About the Author

Kim Vogel Sawyer is a highly acclaimed bestselling author with more than one million books in print in seven different languages. Her titles have earned numerous accolades including the ACFW Carol Award, the Inspirational Readers' Choice Award, and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Kim lives in central Kansas with her retired military husband, Don, where she continues to write gentle stories of hope. She enjoys spending time with her three daughters and her grandchildren.