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Thursday, June 30, 2022

The Nurse's Secret by Amanda Skenandore (Review and Giveaway!)

The Nurse's Secret by Amanda Skenandore

I love it when I find a new author that captivates me, that knows how to spin a good story with flawed realistic characters and a good historical setting. This is the first book I read by Amanda Skenandore and it won't be the last.

Book Details:

Title: The Nurse's Secret by Amanda Skenandore
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: Kensington Books
Release date: June 28, 2022
Content rating: PG-13 + M (for a few religious expletives and graphic medical procedures) 

Book Description:

From acclaimed author and registered nurse Amanda Skenandore, The Alienist meets The Light of Luna Park in a fascinating historical novel based on the little-known story of America’s first nursing school, as a young female grifter in 1880s New York evades the police by conning her way into Bellevue Hospital’s training school for nurses…

In the slums of 1880s New York, Una Kelly has grown up to be a rough-and-tumble grifter, able to filch a pocketbook in five seconds flat. But when another con-woman pins her for a murder she didn’t commit, Una is forced to flee. Running from the police, Una lies her way into an unlikely refuge: the nursing school at Bellevue Hospital.

Based on Florence Nightingale’s nursing principles, Bellevue is the first school of its kind in the country. Where once nurses were assumed to be ignorant and unskilled, Bellevue prizes discipline, intellect, and moral character, and only young women of good breeding need apply. At first, Una balks at her prim classmates and the doctors’ endless commands. Yet life on the streets has prepared her for the horrors of injury and disease found on the wards, and she slowly gains friendship and self-respect.

Just as she finds her footing, Una’s suspicions about a patient’s death put her at risk of exposure and will force her to choose between her instinct for self-preservation, and exposing her identity in order to save others.

Amanda Skenandore brings her medical expertise to a page-turning story that explores the evolution of modern nursing—including the grisly realities of nineteenth-century medicine—as seen through the eyes of an intriguing and dynamic heroine.

A spellbinding story, a vividly drawn setting, and characters that leap off the pages. This is historical fiction at its finest!” – Sara Ackerman, USA Today bestselling author of The Codebreaker’s Secret

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

I love it when I find a new author that captivates me, that knows how to spin a good story with flawed realistic characters and a good historical setting. This is the first book I read by Amanda Skenandore and it won't be the last.

Una Kelly is a young woman who had a rough childhood and who now survives as a con woman, pickpocketing and selling the stolen goods as a means of living. But one night, an encounter goes terribly wrong and she partially witnesses a murder that later she is accused of having committed. Una manages to escape and hide. Using all the skills and knowledge she acquired from the years of studying people and conning them, she succeeds in passing the interview to get into the nursing school at Bellevue Hospital. Although she never dreamed of being a nurse, the slums of New York City in the late 1800s became the school of hard knocks, that in some way paved the way and led her to a vocation that would build her character and heal the pain from her past.

I was captivated from the first page down to the last. Una was a multi-layered character, hardened by life's brutal lessons that she carried like a shield. She was quick-witted, resourceful, and a survivor. This made her partly selfish and able to spring back from failed attempts. But it also made for a lonesome life without honesty, love and altruism. Nursing helped Una understand responsibility, teamwork, and discipline. I loved how friendship and love were the positive forces for change in Una's life.

The Nurse's Secret had a good plot, great secondary characters, a bit of romance, a murder mystery, an excellent setting of a nursing school in 1880 NYC with its limited understanding of medicine, and a spunky heroine. I was engaged and entertained throughout. As a woman, I bristled at the disrespectful and insulting manner of doctors toward women's intellect. The pandemic has made my respect for the nursing profession increase a hundredfold. This book seamlessly exposes the beginnings of nursing as a respected profession, and how difficult it was to practice it among a dominant male-only mentality in the world of medicine. Kudos to the women who trumped these men!

Fans of historical fiction will be very pleased with this latest novel from Amanda Skenandore.

Disclosure: Thanks to the publisher for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

Buy the Book:
About the Author:

Amanda is the author of Between Earth and Sky, winner of the American Library Association’s 2019 Reading List Award for Best Historical Fiction, and The Undertaker’s Assistant, released from Kensington in July 2019.

She grew up in the mountains of Colorado and sang and danced her way through 68 cities on both sides of the Atlantic with the service organization Up with People before starting college. Her love of historical fiction started early with the stories of Kenneth Thomasma, Mark Twain, and Laura Ingalls Wilder.

When she’s not writing, Amanda works as an infection prevention nurse. She lives in Las Vegas with her husband and their pet turtle Lenore.

Amanda Skenandore is a historical fiction writer and registered nurse. Between Earth and Sky was her first novel. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. Readers can visit her website at You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, BookBub, and Goodreads.

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The Nurse's Secret

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

The Art of Revenge by Joe Giordano (Review)

The Art of Revenge

Fans of crime fiction, Italian mob stories, and well-written thrillers will certainly enjoy the Anthony Provati thrillers including this one.

Book Details:

Title: The Art of Revenge (An Anthony Provati Thriller Book 3) by Joe Giordano
Category: Adult Fiction,  pages
Genre: Thriller, Crime Fiction
Publisher: Rogue Phoenix Press
Release date: June 1, 2022
Content rating: PG-13 + M (for a few graphic violent scenes associated with organized crime, no sex, no f-words.)

Book Description:

The Art of Revenge is a riveting, action-packed, suspenseful and at times terrifying chase around the world that will have gritty thriller lovers salivating for more - a must-read for those who like hanging on the edge of the cliff by only their fingers.

The Art of Revenge features two unlikely heroes. Anthony Provati is a jazz pianist, art gallery owner, and sailor, who has a mob boss uncle. Valentina Esposito was orphaned at birth but is rewriting her destiny by becoming a brilliant computer programmer. They undertake a global pursuit of murderous Russian and North Korean operatives to foil a terrorist plot funded by forgeries and the ransom of stolen paintings.

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

I was eagerly anticipating the third book in the Anthony Provati thriller series after having read the first two books. I enjoy Giordano's writing style and the way he can so easily create flawed characters we care about. With a few bold phrases, crisp descriptions, and smart dialogue, he can seamlessly transport us into another country and easily shift the mood from one scene to the next.

In this third novel, Anthony's story continues from where it left off in the previous novel, Drone Strike. His baby daughter Angelica and his former girlfriend Nori are in Portugal. Nori needed some space after her accident and Anthony is still trying to adjust to her fall into depression and the fact that he is now a father. Typical of Anthony, he gets mixed up in unsavory business in Greece and ends up running to New York, where his Uncle Frank, a Mafia underboss, resides. But trouble always follows Anthony, and he once again gets in over his head. Fortunately, he has help from newcomer Valentina, a kickass and whip-smart female protagonist.

One of the things Giordano does best is characterization. Each character is distinct and jumps off the page. He knows how to create memorable characters, both good and bad. I could very well see this novel as a movie. Interspersed throughout the narrative are moments of humor, and for me who understands the Italian culture, I couldn't help but smile at some of the expressions. I never know what to expect when it comes to the plot because it's unpredictable with great twists, except that it will be satisfying with a very good ending and no loose plot threads. And if you are an art aficionado, this particular plot will satisfy all the more.

Fans of crime fiction, Italian mob stories, and well-written thrillers with lots of action will certainly enjoy the Anthony Provati thrillers including this one. Although this is a stand-alone novel, I suggest starting with the first book Appointment with ISIL to increase your enjoyment of the core characters who show up in all three books.

If you want to know more about the first two books in the Anthony Provati thrillers, here are my reviews: Appointment with ISIL and Drone Strike

Note:  Thanks to the author for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

Buy the Book:

About the Author:

Joe Giordano was born in Brooklyn. His father and grandparents immigrated to New York from Italy. He and his wife Jane now live in Texas.

As a former 3M International Executive Vice President, Joe experienced the global cultures and locations he writes about.

Joe’s stories have appeared in more than one hundred magazines including The Saturday Evening Post, and Shenandoah. His novel, Birds of Passage: An Italian Immigrant Coming of Age Story (2015), and Appointment with ISIL: an Anthony Provati Thriller (2017) were published by Harvard Square Editions. Rogue Phoenix Press published Drone Strike in 2019 and his short story collection, Stories and Places I Remember, in 2020.

Joe was among one hundred Italian American authors honored by Barnes & Noble to march in the 2017 Manhattan, Columbus Day Parade.

Visit Joe’s website at

Monday, June 20, 2022

Midnight's Budding Morrow by Carolyn Miller (Review and Giveaway!)

Midnight's Budding Morrow

A well-written Christian novel focusing on the themes of belonging, loss, forgiveness, and redemption.

Book Details:

Title: Midnight's Budding Morrow by Carolyn Miller
Category: Adult Fiction, 312 pages
Genre: Historical Christian Fiction 
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Release date: May 31, 2022
Content rating: PG - 13 (for serious subject matter, attempted suicide)

Book Description:

Can real love grow between a wallflower and an unrepentant rogue?

Sarah Drayton is eager to spend time with her best friend at her crumbling Northumberland castle estate. Matrimony is the last thing on her mind and the last thing she expects to be faced with on a holiday. Yet she finds herself being inveigled into a marriage of convenience with her friend's rakish brother.

When James Langley returns to his family's estate, he can't be bothered to pay attention to his responsibilities as the heir. War is raging and he wants only distraction, not serious tethers. But his roguish ways have backed him into a corner, and he has little choice but to obey his father's stunning decree: marry before returning to war, or else. Suddenly he finds himself wedded to a clever and capable woman he does not love.

Sarah craves love and a place to belong, neither of which James offered before returning to the battlefront. Now everyone around her thinks she married above her station, and they have no intention of rewarding her for such impertinence. It isn't until her husband returns from war seemingly changed that she begins to hope they may find real happiness. But can she trust that this rake has truly reformed?

When tragedy strikes, this pair must learn to trust God and his plans. Will they be destroyed . . . or will they discover that even in the darkest depths of night, the morning still holds hope?

Click here to read an excerpt.

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

Midnight's Budding Morrow is part of the Regency Wallflower series. It is well-written and focuses on the themes of belonging, loss, forgiveness, and redemption. I enjoyed it, for the most part, however, this story may be difficult to read for readers dealing with depression and grief.

Sarah Drayton is invited to stay with her former schoolgirl friend Beatrice, who lives in the impressive dark run-down Langly castle by the sea. One thing leads to another, and Sarah gets duped into marrying Beatrice's brother James Langley, an irresponsible, hard-drinking, rake who runs back to the army the day after his wedding. He returns ten months later, seemingly a changed man because he has learned the ways of God from a captain friend in the army.

Sarah was an interesting character. She was an orphan who was kind and humble and longed for a place to belong. She was clever, but at the same time naive. She was bold, yet lacked confidence in herself. She was hard-working, yet paralyzed by those who thought less of her. She loved deeply and suffered deeply too. I truly felt her pain. James on the other hand was unlikable and his sudden change a little unrealistic. He had a lot of changes to make in his life and these changes were not easy, and they would take time. I struggled with his character, and I thought Sarah's recovery and trust came too quickly when her despair had been directly linked to his actions. 

Although it had a Gothic setting, I did not feel this atmosphere in the novel as fully as I had expected. It had the potential for it, however, with unsavory secondary characters, a crumbling castle, the mysterious death of its former mistress, etc. What's more, those unsavory characters were an unresolved plot point in the novel, without any consequences for their bad behavior.

Apart from these issues, I was invested in this novel because the author succeeded in hooking my emotions, particularly through Sarah. I was also very curious to see how it would all turn out, with one bad event after another happening at the castle. 

For fans of historical Christian fiction who like emotional stories with broken characters who heal together.

Disclosure: Thanks to the publisher for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

Buy The Book:

About the Author:

Carolyn Miller is an inspirational romance author who lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children.

A longtime lover of romance, especially that of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer’s Regency era, Carolyn holds a BA in English literature and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives. She enjoys music, films, gardens, art, travel, and food.

Miller’s novels have won a number of RWA and ACFW contests. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Australasian Christian Writers.

Learn more about Carolyn at, or find her on Facebook (Carolyn Miller Author), Instagram (@CarolynMillerAuthor), and Twitter (@CarolynMAuthor).

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Monday, May 30, 2022

Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner (Review)

The Bloombury Girls by Nathalie Jenner

Fans of women's fiction who love stories that take place in bookstores, and post-war London will have much to love about this one. 

Book Details:

Title: Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner 
Category: Adult Fiction, 368 pages
Genre: Women's Fiction, 20th Century Historical Fiction
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release date: May 17, 2022
Content rating: PG 

Book Description:

Natalie Jenner, the internationally bestselling author of The Jane Austen Society, returns with a compelling and heartwarming story of post-war London, a century-old bookstore, and three women determined to find their way in a fast-changing world in Bloomsbury Girls.

Bloomsbury Books is an old-fashioned new and rare bookstore that has persisted and resisted change for a hundred years, run by men and guided by the general manager's unbreakable fifty-one rules. But in 1950, the world is changing, especially the world of books and publishing, and at Bloomsbury Books, the girls in the shop have plans:

Vivien Lowry: Single since her aristocratic fiancé was killed in action during World War II, the brilliant and stylish Vivien has a long list of grievances--most of them well justified and the biggest of which is Alec McDonough, the Head of Fiction.

Grace Perkins: Married with two sons, she's been working to support the family following her husband's breakdown in the aftermath of the war. Torn between duty to her family and dreams of her own.

Evie Stone: In the first class of female students from Cambridge permitted to earn a degree, Evie was denied an academic position in favor of her less accomplished male rival. Now she's working at Bloomsbury Books while she plans to remake her own future.

As they interact with various literary figures of the time--Daphne Du Maurier, Ellen Doubleday, Sonia Blair (widow of George Orwell), Samuel Beckett, Peggy Guggenheim, and others--these three women with their complex web of relationships, goals, and dreams are all working to plot out a future that is richer and more rewarding than anything society will allow.

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

Bloomsbury Girls is a spin-off of the author's first novel The Jane Austen Society since it continues the story of Evie Stone from where she left off in the first book. There are enough references and explanations that I did not have to read the first book to enjoy Bloomsbury Girls. However, fans of the first book will certainly love this one too.

This book starts slowly, building its characters and its momentum like a train. It then picks up speed and comes to a very satisfying end. So many themes run through this book: post-war effects on men and women and their roles in society, friendships, feminism, racism, gender equality, love of literature, books, and bookstores. 

All three women who work at the bookstore, Vivien, Grace, and Evie, have dreams of their own thwarted by circumstance and the very fact that they are women pushing for change after their country has survived WWII. I thought Vivien was confident, self-assured, and stuck; Grace was stoic, wise, and long-suffering, while Evie was brilliant, motivated, and awkward. Together, they discover their strengths and the real possibility of accomplishing their dreams.

I thoroughly enjoyed their stories, their individuality, and their tenacity. Post-war London was a great setting. The bookstore, too, which was almost a character in itself, undergoing change along with the arc of the characters. I couldn't help but root for these women, whose talents were undermined and overlooked simply because they were women.

Fans of women's fiction who love stories that take place in bookstores, and post-war London will have much to love about this one. Well researched and including real historical figures, this novel is entertaining and a testament to the power of female friendships.

About the Author:

Natalie Jenner is the author of the instant international bestseller The Jane Austen Society and Bloomsbury Girls. A Goodreads Choice Award runner-up for historical fiction and finalist for best debut novel, The Jane Austen Society was a USA Today and #1 national bestseller and has been sold for translation in twenty countries. Born in England and raised in Canada, Natalie has been a corporate lawyer, career coach, and, most recently, an independent bookstore owner in Oakville, Ontario, where she lives with her family and two rescue dogs. Visit her website to learn more.


Monday, May 23, 2022

Old Loves Die Hard by Lauren Carr (Review and Giveaway!)

Old Loves Die Hard

This was a good murder mystery and a great sequel to the first book!

Book Details:

Book Title: Old Loves Die Hard by Lauren Carr
Series: A Mac Faraday Mystery (Volume 2)
Category: Adult fiction, 318 pages
Genre: Murder Mystery
Publisher: Acorn Book Services
Release date: April 23, 2011
Tour dates: March 28 to June 24, 2022
Content Rating: PG-13 - Lauren Carr's mysteries are murder mysteries. Sometimes, the murder does happen on stage. There is no graphic violence or explicit sex. There is some very mild language (hell or damn, very few and far between) No F-Bombs!

Book Description:

In Old Loves Die Hard, Carr picks up where she left off in It’s Murder, My Son. Mac Faraday is settling nicely into his new life at Spencer Manor when his ex-wife Christine shows up—and she wants him back! Before Mac can send her packing, Christine and her estranged lover are murdered in Mac’s private penthouse suite at the Spencer Inn, the five-star resort built by his ancestors.

The investigation leads to the discovery of case files for some of Mac’s murder cases in the room of the man responsible for destroying his marriage. Why would his ex-wife’s lover come to Spencer to dig into Mac’s old cases?

With the help of his new friends on Deep Creek Lake, Mac must use all of his detective skills to clear his name and the Spencer Inn’s reputation, before its five stars—and more bodies—start dropping.

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

This is the second book in the Mac Faraday Mystery series. I've read 7 of the 14 volumes in this series, having read all of the latest ones but slowly catching up on the earlier novels. In Old Loves Die Hard, we learn more about Mac's past life when his ex-wife shows up. The story centers on her murder and touches on how this affects Mac, a hard-boiled private investigator who now becomes the prime suspect.

Mac is still adjusting to his changed lifestyle, having gone from a struggling PI to the heir of a large fortune left to him by his famous mother. He has fallen in love with Archie and has finally found a measure of happiness after his first wife cheated on him and kicked him out of their home. But old loves die hard, as they say, especially when they come creeping back into your life unexpectedly.

It never ceases to amaze me how Carr can create a diverse cast of characters, throw clues in every scene, lead the reader on twists and turns, and tie every loose end nicely with a bow by the end. And of course, there is Gnarly, the infamous German Shepherd kleptomaniac too smart for his own good. His antics always crack me up. Dog lovers will be delighted with the scenes involving Gnarly.

This was a good murder mystery and a great sequel to the first book. For me, it was fun to go back to the roots of the Mac Faraday mystery novels and I plan on reading more of the earlier volumes. They are entertaining and get the reader thinking hard to try to solve the murder mystery. Fans of this genre can look forward to seeing fresh covers of earlier novels that are now also available in various formats, including audiobook.

About the Author:

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, Thorny Rose, Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries, and Nikki Bryant Cozy Mysteries—over twenty-five titles across five fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, crime fiction, police procedurals, romance, and humor.

The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, and virtual book tour coordinator for independent authors.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions.

She lives with her husband, and two spoiled rotten German shepherds on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Connect with the author: 

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Thursday, May 12, 2022

Every Summer After by Carley Fortune (Review)

Every Summer After by Carley Fortune

If you love stories of first love, missed opportunities, second chances, and redemption with an atmospheric summer setting, this one is sure to please.

Book Details:

Title: Every Summer After by Carley Fortune
Category: Adult Fiction, 320 pages
Genre: Women's Fiction, Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Berkley
Release date: May 10, 2022
Content rating: R for explicit sex scenes and language

Book Description:

"A radiant debut."—Emily Henry,#1 New York Times bestselling author of People We Meet on Vacation


Six summers to fall in love. One moment to fall apart. A weekend to get it right.

They say you can never go home again, and for Persephone Fraser, ever since she made the biggest mistake of her life a decade ago, that has felt too true. Instead of glittering summers on the lakeshore of her childhood, she spends them in a stylish apartment in the city, going out with friends, and keeping everyone a safe distance from her heart.

Until she receives the call that sends her racing back to Barry’s Bay and into the orbit of Sam Florek—the man she never thought she’d have to live without.

For six summers, through hazy afternoons on the water and warm summer nights working in his family’s restaurant and curling up together with books—medical textbooks for him and work-in-progress horror short stories for her—Percy and Sam had been inseparable. Eventually, that friendship turned into something breathtakingly more, before it fell spectacularly apart.

When Percy returns to the lake for Sam’s mother’s funeral, their connection is as undeniable as it had always been. But until Percy can confront the decisions she made and the years she’s spent punishing herself for them, they’ll never know whether their love might be bigger than the biggest mistakes of their past.

Told over the course of six years and one weekend, Every Summer After is a big, sweeping nostalgic story of love and the people and choices that mark us forever.

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

It's been a while since I read a coming-of-age story that was so emotional, nostalgic, and full of love angst. Every Summer After is a great beach read. I read it in the sun, sitting on my porch, with summer just around the corner and it made me long for hot summer days. The summer cottage setting had me reminiscing of summer days spent at rented summer cottages next to Quebec lakes.

Percy Fraser finally returns to Barry's Bay where she used to spend her teenage summers at the cottage by the lake next door to Sam and his brother Charlie. Sam and Percy had been best friends; they grew up together, swimming and frolicking in the lake, watching scary movies, and sharing each other's dreams. They ended up falling in love, but eventually, distance, school, and life insecurities got the better of them. More devastating, though, was that Percy makes a life-altering mistake that keeps her away from Sam for twelve long years.

The story is told from Percy's point of view and it alternates between her teen years at the summer cottage and her life in the present at age 30. This is well done as the stories from the past meet up to finally merge with the present and help us to understand the emotional baggage both Percy and Sam carry. Stories of first love, missed opportunities, second chances and redemption always appeal to me. I had a hard time putting this book down. I was so caught up in their story!

Percy was a great character because we saw her through her own narrative as she grew up, experiencing true friendship, the first flush of love, accomplishing her swimming feats, discovering her writing talent, and navigating her insecurities. She was relatable. I have to admit my heart ached for Sam and Percy for their missed years together. One mistake can cost years of pain.
It's hard to believe this is Fortune's debut novel. The book's pacing was spot on without any dull moments, and she succeeds in creating believable and memorable characters. Regarding content, there are a few explicit sex scenes and some f-bombs. These happened three quarters into the book when I was heavily invested in the book.

If you like small-town coming-of-age stories set during hot summer days with a good romance story, you won't want to miss this one.

Disclosure: Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

Buy the Book:

About the Author:

Photo: © Jenna Marie Wakani

Carley Fortune is an award-winning Canadian journalist who’s worked as an editor for Refinery29, The Globe and Mail, Chatelaine, and Toronto Life. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two sons. Every Summer After is her first novel. Connect with her:

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Shadows in the Mind's Eye by Janyre Tromp (Review and Giveaway!)

Shadows in the Mind's Eye

Janyre Tromp has written an atmospheric, suspenseful novel set in the 1940s in the town of Hot Springs in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas.

Book Details:

Title: Shadows in the Mind's Eye by Janyre Tromp
Category: Adult Fiction, 288 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Release date: April 19, 2022
Content rating: PG + M (Crime mobs and mature themes of PTSD, war)

Book Description:

Charlotte Anne Mattas longs to turn back the clock. Before her husband, Sam, went to serve his country in the war, he was the man everyone could rely on—responsible, intelligent, and loving. But the person who’s come back to their family farm is very different from the protector Annie remembers. Sam’s experience in the Pacific theater has left him broken in ways no one can understand—but that everyone is learning to fear.

Tongues start wagging after Sam nearly kills his own brother. Now when he claims to have seen men on the mountain when no one else has seen them, Annie isn’t the only one questioning his sanity and her safety. If there were criminals haunting the hills, there should be evidence beyond his claims. Is he really seeing what he says, or is his war-tortured mind conjuring ghosts?

Annie desperately wants to believe her husband. But between his irrational choices and his nightmares leaking into the daytime, she’s terrified he’s going mad. Can she trust God to heal Sam’s mental wounds—or will sticking by him mean keeping her marriage at the cost of her own life?

Debut novelist Janyre Tromp delivers a deliciously eerie, Hitchcockian story filled with love and suspense. Readers of psychological thrillers and historical fiction by Jaime Jo Wright and Sarah Sundin will add Tromp to their favorite authors' list.

To read an excerpt of Shadows in the Mind’s Eye, click here.

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

Janyre Tromp has written an atmospheric, suspenseful novel set in the 1940s, in the town of Hot Springs in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas. From the very first scene of Sam riding on a bus toward home, returning from the war after three years of being away, bone-tired, and battling with horrific memories of his life as a navy soldier, the story quickly caught my attention.

Once home, we become acquainted with his wife Annie and his sweet little girl Rosie who is a little over two years old. His best friend Doc and his brother Peter, along with his mother Dovie May have all worked along with Annie to keep the farm alive and to make ends meet. Sam is broken and does not know where he fits in this new version of his family. With backstory, we get to see that Annie too has a harrowing past, with a father in the Mob, and that all the characters are battling their own weaknesses and trials.

This book had a great premise and a good cast of characters, but I wouldn't have labeled it a psychological thriller nor an eerie Hitchcockian story. It was a story about a family working together to heal and adapt to change, post-war and with a backdrop of mob crime. It touched on mental illness, which I applaud the author for taking on since this is not an easy topic to write about. I feel that the book description, though, is not quite accurate. In my opinion, Annie seemed more broken than Sam, and I couldn't understand why after experiencing post-war reactions from Peter and her father-in-law, she still seemed naive about what to expect from Sam. She kept wanting Sam to be her hero, and her damsel-in-distress, hot and cold reactions were frustrating to read.

Annie kept making references to devils coming for her and initially I thought she may have experienced occult practices, but then it slowly became clear that this was her perception of how she experienced traumatic memories. It was off-putting for me. I think the word devil appeared more than references to God in this book.

I really liked Doc's character and I felt he was under-developed. His weakness was brushed off even as he performs a great act of redemption at the end that is barely acknowledged. My favorite character was Dovie May and her wise sayings. 

Overall, this was a strong debut for Janyre Tromp. It had several good themes threaded throughout the narrative with interesting characters and post-war tension. If you enjoy mystery, suspense, and a Southern setting, this one makes for good reading.

Buy the Book:

About the Author:

Janyre Tromp (pronounced Jan-ear) is a historical suspense novelist who loves spinning tales that, at their core, hunt for beauty, even when it isn’t pretty. She’s the author of Shadows in the Mind’s Eye and coauthor of It’s a Wonderful Christmas.

A firm believer in the power of an entertaining story, Tromp is also a book editor and published children’s book author. She lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her husband, two kids, two crazy cats, and a slightly eccentric Shetland Sheepdog.

You can find her on Facebook (@JanyreTromp), Instagram (@JaynreTromp), Twitter (@JanyreTromp), and her website, where you can download a free copy of her novella, Wide Open.

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Thursday, April 28, 2022

Secrets of Rosenli Manor by Heidi Eljarbo (Review and Giveaway!)

Secrets of Rosenli Manor

A warm and light-hearted story with a little bit of mystery, intrigue, and just a smidgen of romance.

Book Details:

Title: Secrets of Rosenli Manor by Heidi Eljarbo
Series: Mysteries of the Modern Ladies’ Society #1
Category: Adult Fiction, 212 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Independently published
Release date: March 29, 2022
Content rating: G

Book Description: 

Betrayal and trust go hand in hand in the first book of Heidi Eljarbo’s new turn-of-the-century series.

It’s 1898, and Lilly has spent most of her life motherless and living with a father who never looks for a silver lining. When her great-aunt Agatha passes, Lilly’s existence takes a drastic turn. She packs her few belongings and moves into the old lady’s magnificent estate, Rosenli Manor.

In the days that follow, Lilly tries to understand who Agatha really was, and hidden secrets slowly rise to the surface. Her great-aunt’s glamorous legacy is not quite what Lilly had imagined. She must trust in newly forged friendships, and to her surprise, she discovers what it means to truly fall in love. But not everyone is happy about the new mistress of Rosenli.

Intrigue, mystery, and a touch of romance in the Norwegian countryside fill the pages of Secrets of Rosenli Manor.

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

Lilly is a young woman who is a feminist at heart. She is an accountant in an era when women were not considered to be capable of entering the workforce reserved primarily for men. Much to her surprise and that of all the other family members, Lilly is the sole heiress of her great-aunt's beautiful estate and logging business. But along with the property, Lilly gains her aunt's friends as she accepts her position and discovers secrets of her aunt Agatha's past.

This is a warm and light-hearted read with a little bit of mystery, intrigue, and just a smidgen of romance. It's the first book in a series and it introduces the characters and how the Modern Ladies’ Society begins. I like that it is historical fiction set in Norway.

I liked Lilly as a character. She is smart, kind, and courageous. Some of the characters were a little too villainous without the balance of other traits. It seemed characters fell into two characters: good or bad.

Apart from this, Secrets of Rosenli Manor is entertaining and a pleasure to read. However, I did not find it as exciting as Of Darkness and Light, a book by the same author. You can read my review of that book here.

Buy the Book:

About the Author

Heidi Eljarbo writes historical fiction. She grew up in a home filled with books and artwork and she never truly imagined she would do anything other than write and paint. She studied art, languages, and history, all of which have come in handy when working as a freelance writer, magazine journalist, and painter.

After living in Canada, six US states, Japan, Switzerland, and Austria, Heidi now calls Norway home. She and her husband have a total of nine children, thirteen grandchildren—so far—in addition to a bouncy Wheaten Terrier.

Their favorite retreat is a mountain cabin, where they hike in the summertime and ski the vast, white terrain during winter.

Heidi’s favorites are family, God’s beautiful nature, and the word whimsical.

If you would like to know more, please visit Heidi’s website. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

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Ends April 29, 2022

Monday, April 18, 2022

Shadow of Murder: A Mac Faraday Mystery by Lauren Carr

Shadow of Murder by Lauren Carr

If you're a Lauren Carr fan this is another good addition to her series, with a theme not previously explored in any of the past books I've read by her.
Book Details:

Title: Shadow of Murder: A Mac Faraday Mystery by Lauren Carr
Category: Adult Fiction, 496 pages
Genre: Murder mystery
Publisher: Acorn Book Services
Release date: March 30, 2022
Content rating: PG-13 For murder scenes and occult themes. There is no graphic violence or explicit sex. There is some very mild language (hell or damn, very few and far between) No F-Bombs!

Book Description:

You can't move to the next chapter of your life, without tying up loose ends in the previous.

True crime blogger, Erica Hart starts a new chapter in her life with a bang when a dark shadow darts into the mountain road to send her SUV off a cliff and to the bottom of Deep Creek Lake. Spencer’s newest addition to the police force, Dusty O’Meara assumes it was a bear. Erica is not so sure.

Soon afterward, contractors discover Konnor Langston’s body at the bottom of an abandoned swimming pool at the new summer home of Mac Faraday’s son.

With Police Chief David O’Callaghan away on paternity leave, Deputy Chief Dusty O’Meara must lead the investigation in his first murder case since moving to Spencer. Not only does Dusty have to work under the shadow of the legendary Mac Faraday, but he also has to match his wits with Erica, who is determined to find justice for Konnor, her childhood friend.

Mac isn’t so difficult. Even Gnarly, the town’s canine mayor, is manageable if his authority is well-respected and he is kept entertained.

Erica Hart, Dusty finds, is more of a challenge. It wouldn’t be so difficult if she wasn’t so irresistible.

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura

I'm a fan of Lauren Carr's mysteries and I've loved all her series. Shadow of Murder is the 14th volume in the Mac Faraday series and I was excited to read it. All Lauren Carr's books are stand-alone novels and she includes a character list at the front of the book. This one took a turn into the unexpected, and at first, I wasn't sure how I felt about the paranormal element.

But let me start with what gets me turning the pages of Carr's murder mysteries every time: her fun memorable characters and her skill at creating intricate plot twists that are all neatly solved by the end. I love Gnarly, Mac's German Shepherd and mayor of Spencer town in this series. Yep! They voted a dog for mayor which cracked me up in Candidate for Murder. And he is back in this book. It took a while to get the story moving along as Carr sets up all the new characters and the clues that make the reader have aha moments as the mystery becomes clearer. Dusty and Erica played central roles in this book so I'm wondering if Carr will end up creating a new series with this new couple? 

I had a bit of a hard time following all the characters because there are many! Thank goodness for that list at the beginning of the book. It took a while for me to warm up to some of the new characters, but Carr always includes a senior character that I love, and in this book, it turned out to be Gramps. I think for some characters a better intro was needed so that I would not have to be checking the list so often. Or perhaps having fewer characters and more of Mac and Gnarly since this is their series...

In this story, Carr incorporated witchcraft and demonology into her plot. I usually don't read books with paranormal elements, so this was unexpected, although it's not uncommon for these themes to come up in crime fiction. Of course, none of Carr's "good" characters practice the occult. Thank goodness or I would have dropped this book like a hot potato. Rather, this became very much a story about how good conquers evil, not only in the human world but also in the spiritual realm. Gnarly is as funny as ever, and he provides comedic relief. The other beloved pets in the story also add to the narrative, as is characteristic of Carr's stories.

If you're a Lauren Carr fan this is another good addition to her series, with a theme not previously explored in any of the past books I've read by her. If you're new to this series, I suggest you also read It's Murder My Son, the first book in the series.

Disclosure: Thanks to the author for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.


Meet the Author:

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, Thorny Rose, Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries, and Nikki Bryant Cozy Mysteries—over twenty-five titles across five fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, crime fiction, police procedurals, romance, and humor.

The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, and virtual book tour coordinator for independent authors.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions.

She lives with her husband, and two spoiled rotten German shepherds on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Connect with the author: 

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SHADOW OF MURDER (Mac Faraday Mysteries) Tour Giveaway

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

The No-Show by Beth O'Leary (Review)

The No-Show by Beth O'Leary

If you're looking for a different kind of romantic read, with a good twist ending, this one could be it! 

Book Details:

Title: The No-Show by Beth O'Leary
Category: Adult Fiction, 352 pages
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Berkley
Release date: April 12, 2022
Content rating: PG-13 (sexual content, language)

Book Description:

Three women who seemingly have nothing in common find that they're involved with the same man in this smart new rom-com by Beth O'Leary, bestselling author of The Flatshare.

Siobhan is a quick-tempered life coach with way too much on her plate. Miranda is a tree surgeon used to being treated as just one of the guys on the job. Jane is a soft-spoken volunteer for the local charity shop with zero sense of self-worth.

These three women are strangers who have only one thing in common: they’ve all been stood up on the same day, the very worst day to be stood up—Valentine’s Day. And, unbeknownst to them, they’ve all been stood up by the same man.

Once they've each forgiven him for standing them up, they are all in serious danger of falling in love with a man who may have not just one or two but three women on the go....

Is there more to him than meets the eye? Where was he on Valentine’s Day? And will they each untangle the truth before they all get their hearts broken?

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

So far I've read all of O'Leary's books and I wondered what interesting situation she would come up with next. So when I saw her latest, I knew I wanted to read it, however, I was a little hesitant about the subject: one man dating three women...  But, having read her other books where her male main characters have never been two-timers, but men worthy of their heroines, I decided to put my reservations aside and gave this one a go.

Well, this book turned out to be quite a surprise, deeply affecting and with some good unexpected twists. If you're basing the plot on the book description, it's not what it seems even though it's accurate. The plot is quite brilliant and O'Leary pulls it off. It kept me turning the pages because I wanted to solve the mystery of Joseph and his three women. But I won't discuss the plot because it's one of those books where you have to savor the Oh! moment as you are reading it.

I liked Joseph from the very beginning even if I was trying to figure out if he was a cheater. The three women, Siobhan, Miranda, and Jane are all different and unique. They each learn about themselves and grow in character through their relationship with Joseph. Character development is strong, a trademark of O'Leary's books. However, I wouldn't categorize this as a rom-com. It reads more like contemporary romance or women's fiction. As in all of O'Leary's books, she tackles mental health issues, toxic relationships, and strong friendships.

There are many swoony romantic scenes in this book, not too explicit. And there is some language (some f-bombs) but not as many as in her last book The Road Trip (thank goodness). If you're looking for a different kind of romantic read, with a good twist ending, this one could be it. 

Buy the Book:

About the Author:

Beth O'Leary is a Sunday Times bestselling author whose novels have been translated into more than thirty languages. Her debut, The Flatshare, sold over half a million copies and changed her life completely. Her second novel, The Switch, has been optioned for film by Amblin Partners, Steven Spielberg's production company. Beth writes her books in the English countryside with a very badly behaved golden retriever for company. If she's not at her desk, you'll usually find her curled up somewhere with a book, a cup of tea, and several woolly jumpers (whatever the weather)

Connect with her here:

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Her Country Gentleman (Audiobook Review)

A historical romance collection featuring three novellas that are fun, quick to read (or listen to) and clean. The audiobook version is very entertaining and I highly recommend it!

Audiobook Details:

Title: Her Country Gentleman
Series: Timeless Georgian Collection (Book 1)
Authors: Sian Ann Bessey, Sarah M. Eden, & Rebecca Connolly
Genre: Historical Romance, Georgian Romance, Inspirational Fiction
Publisher: Mirror Press (Feb 15, 2022)
Narrated by Kim Bretton
    Length: 7 hours 31 minutes

    Book Description:

    Her Country Gentleman is the first book in the Timeless Georgian Collection, a new anthology series from Mirror Press. The book features three novellas from bestselling historical romance authors whose stories reveal that not all love is found in London...

    Spring at Tribbley Hall by Sian Ann Bessey

    When Charlotte's grandmother invites her to accompany her to Norfolk, Charlotte jumps at the chance to visit the sea and escape the fuss surrounding her sister's wedding preparations in London. Lord William Cheston, on the other hand, is most unhappy when his mother informs him that her old friend and a granddaughter are coming to stay. Not only is it lambing season, but he's also dealing with the mysterious loss of several sheep. The last thing he needs is a child underfoot. When Charlotte and William first meet, he does not realize that the lovely young lady is the granddaughter in question, and she assumes that the man dressed in work clothes in the barn is a servant. Soon afterward, however, Charlotte stumbles upon a clue to William's sheep's disappearance, and when her life is placed in jeopardy, William is forced to choose between saving his unwanted houseguest and catching the thief.

    Love of My Heart by Sarah M. Eden

    Cordelia Wakefield has never lived anywhere but London and is not overly happy when her family is forced to retrench to a small estate near Teviotbrae, Scotland. An ill-fated game of battledore and shuttlecock brings her face-to-racquet with Sebastian, who runs the home farm at nearby Teviot Castle. What begins as a clash of personalities, expectations, and preferences, soon leads to a friendship neither had expected. As the magic of Teviotbrae weaves its spell, the possibility of something more than friendship begins to blossom. But what future is there for a lowly farmer and a London lady?

    Miss Smith Goes to Wiltshire by Rebecca Connolly

    Martha Smith wants to marry for love, and will not be persuaded otherwise. She is highly sought after in Society for her beauty and status but refuses to consider any suitor whose only claim is that his prospects meet with her mother's approval. Her widowed mother has had enough of Martha's romantic sensibilities and is sending her to stay with unfortunate cousins in Wiltshire to show her that marrying for love is a risk that is too great. Benjamin Steele, Lord Hillier, is working on his new and dilapidated estate when he first catches sight of the striking Martha Smith. Becoming Lord Hillier has only brought him a house that needs significant repairs, tenant farms that had been abandoned, and only the money he'd already possessed. He wants meaning in his life, and he's more than willing to work for it. Though worlds apart in all else, on this point they can agree: a life of meaning would change everything.

    My Review:
    Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

    The three novellas in Her Country Gentleman were a delight to listen to. I enjoyed all three stories. Although short, each had well-developed characters, a good plot, and an enjoyable storyline that featured heroines who each became enamored with a country gentleman.

    Spring at Tribbley Hall by Sian Ann Bessey features Charlotte, a spunky heroine who escapes with her grandmother to the country and has a heart-pounding adventure when a sheep thief goes a little too far. Love of My Heart by Sarah M. Eden features Cordelia, forced to relocate with her family to the country where she discovers lovely vistas that inspire her artistic soul and draw her to a kind gentleman farmer. And finally, Miss Smith Goes to Wiltshire by Rebecca Connolly features a young woman who wishes to marry for love, and so is temporarily banished by her mother to the country to visit her aunt. Martha is charmed by the country life and a certain gentleman, and the reader is regaled with humorous scenes between the two. 

    The narrator Kim Bretton does an excellent job with all the character accents and she brings each story to life, with its lovely heroines and comedic scenes. Very entertaining. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this first collection book and I eagerly look forward to the next one.




    Sian Ann Bessey

    Born in Cambridge, England, but grew up on the island of Anglesey off the coast of North Wales, Sian left her homeland to attend university in the U.S. and earned a bachelor's degree in communications with a minor in English.

    She began her writing career as a student, publishing several magazine articles while still in college. Since then, she has published historical romance and romantic suspense novels, along with a variety of children's books. She is a USA Today bestselling author, a Foreward Reviews Book of the Year finalist, and a Whitney Award finalist.

    She loves to travel and experience other cultures, but when she's home, her favorite activities are spending time with her family, cooking, and reading.


    Sarah M. Eden

    Sarah M. Eden is a USA Today bestselling author of multiple historical romances, including AML's "2013 Novel of the Year" and Foreword Review’s 2013 “IndieFab Book of the Year” gold medal winner for Best Romance, Longing for Home, and the Whitney Award's "2014 Novel of the Year," Longing for Home: Hope Springs. 

    Combining her obsession with history and affinity for tender love stories, Sarah loves crafting witty characters and heartfelt romances set against rich historical backdrops. She holds a bachelor’s degree in research and happily spends hours perusing the reference shelves of her local library. Sarah lives with her husband, kids, and mischievous dog in the shadow of a snow-capped mountain she has never attempted to ski.


    Rebecca Connolly

    Rebecca Connolly is the author of more than two dozen novels. She calls herself a Midwest girl, having lived in Ohio and Indiana. She's always been a bookworm, and her grandma would send her books almost every month so she would never run out. Book Fairs were her carnival, and libraries are her happy place. 

    She has been creating stories since childhood, and there are home videos to prove it! She received a master's degree from West Virginia University, spends every spare moment away from her day job absorbed in her writing, and is a hot cocoa addict.


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