29 Oct 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Chilling Reads, or suited to Chilly Weather

Welcome to another Top Ten Tuesday post, from the group hosted by the Artsy Reader Girl blog. 

The official title of today's post is Halloween Freebie, but I don't really do Halloween. I don't have really extreme views on it, its just not something we really did as kids, and all those sweets. Yeah I like candy but- eauch. Too many. 

So instead of Halloween books, I'm going to include some titles that are Mysteries, Thrillers, or spooky (sometimes a combination). These aren't necessarily ghost stories nor about the supernatural or paranormal, but they might send a shiver or two down your spine, or just have you on the edge of your proverbial seat *.

Left at an orphanage as a child, Thea Reed vowed to find her mother someday. Now grown, her search takes her to Pleasant Valley, Wisconsin, in 1908. When clues lead her to a mental asylum, Thea uses her experience as a post-mortem photographer to gain access and uncover the secrets within. However, she never expected her personal quest would reawaken the legend of Misty Wayfair, a murdered woman who allegedly haunts the area and whose appearance portends death.
A century later, Heidi Lane receives a troubling letter from her mother--who is battling dementia--compelling her to travel to Pleasant Valley for answers to her own questions of identity. When she catches sight of a ghostly woman who haunts the asylum ruins in the woods, the long-standing story of Misty Wayfair returns--and with it, Heidi's fear for her own life.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20665064 Abigail Foster fears she will end up a spinster. When financial problems force her family to sell their home, a strange solicitor arrives with an astounding offer: the use of a distant manor house abandoned for eighteen years. The Fosters journey to imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left: moth-eaten clothes in wardrobes, a doll's house left mid-play . . .

The local curate welcomes them, but though he and his family seem to know something about the manor's past, the only information they offer Abigail is a warning: Beware trespassers who may be drawn by rumors that Pembrooke contains a secret room filled with treasure.

Hoping to improve her family's financial situation, Abigail surreptitiously searches for the hidden room, but the arrival of anonymous letters addressed to her, with clues about the room and the past, bring discoveries even more startling. As secrets come to light, will Abigail
find the treasure and love she seeks...or very real danger?

Jessica Neale's faith is lost the day of her husband's death, and with it, her belief in love. In a journey to find peace, she encounters a gentle, green-eyed stranger who leads her to the ruins of the medieval castle, Gallimore. On his way to battle, Colwyn Haukswyrth, knight of Gallimore, comes face to face with a storm the likes of which he's never seen, and a woman in the midst of it who claims to live centuries in the future.

The Lady Jessica of Neale is an irksome, provoking bit of woman to be sure. And she's about to turn his beliefs on end. The product of a family rooted in pain and evil, Colwyn has focused on naught but himself-until Jessica. To a mysterious prophecy stitched on a tapestry, through the invasion of Gallimore itself, Colwyn and Jessica are bound together by a lesson in forgiveness and love-a bond that might be strong enough to survive the grave.

Alan, the beadle of the manor of Bampton, had gone out at dusk to seek those who might violate curfew. When, the following morning, he had stillnot returned home, his young wife Matilda sought out Master Hugh de Singleton, surgeon and bailiff of the manor.

Two days later Alan's corpse is discovered in the hedge, at the side of the track to St. Andrew's Chapel. His throat has been torn out, his head half-severed from his body and his face, hands, and forearms lacerated with deep scratches.

Master Hugh, meeting Hubert the coroner at the scene, listens carefully to the coroner surmise that a wolf had caused the great wound. And yet . . . if so, why is there so little blood?

In the autumn of 1140 the Benedictine monastery at Shrewsbury finds its new novice Meriet Aspley a bit disturbing. The younger son of a prominent family, Meriet is meek and biddable by day, but his sleep is rife with nightmares so violent that they earn him the name of "Devil's Novice". 

Shunned by the other monks, Aspley attracts the concern of Brother Cadfael. Then a body appears, that of a young priest last seen at the Aspley estate. Can Meriet be involved in the death? As events take a sinister turn, it falls to Brother Cadfael to detect the truth.


If you want something a little on the Lighter side, I would recommend Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen. Northanger Abbey was actually her first novel, but was not published until after her death. Some have described it as a parody of the Gothic Novels popular in the early 1800s: its certainly about a Young Woman who reads too many novels. 

I'm also going to push the boat out a little bit and include a couple of titles relating to Guy Fawkes Night, or Fireworks Night, the 5th of November. 

Guy Fawkes was originally the bigger deal in England, modern Halloween is more of a modern American import. Of course, it also commemorates a historical event, the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 when a group of Catholic conspirators planned to blow up the Scottish King James I and Parliament gunpowder, stored in a cellar under the Houses of Parliament. 

Traditionally, Guy Fawkes night was commemorated by children making a 'Guy', something like a scarecrow or human effigy, and then take it along the houses in their neighburhood asking for a penny. 
The culmination was the 'Guy' being burned on the seasonal bonfire, usually accompanied by a firework display.  

Some parts of Britain retained- interesting, if controversial traditions in which the Guy might be made to look like an unpopular political figure, and in one city, even burned small figures of the Pope.


Above all guys, have fun responsibly, and remember that our furry friends really don't like fireworks. 

* Content Warning: Gallimore by Michelle Griep does indeed contain some references to the supernatural with a character who practices Black Magic and Necromancy, but this is strictly presented in a religious context.

25 Oct 2019

Waltz in the Wilderness by Kathleen Denly: Cover Reveal and Giveaway

I’m so excited to bring you the cover reveal for Waltz in the Wilderness by Kathleen Denly!

About the Book

Title: Waltz in the Wilderness
Series: Chaparral Hearts
Genre: Historical Christian Romance
Length: 328 pages
Publisher: Wild Heart Books
Release Date: Feb. 4, 2020

She's desperate to find her missing father. His conscience demands he risk all to help.

Eliza Brooks is haunted by her role in her mother's death, so she'll do anything to find her missing pa—even if it means sneaking aboard a southbound ship. When those meant to protect her abandon and betray her instead, a family friend's unexpected assistance is a blessing she can't refuse.

Daniel Clarke came to California to make his fortune, and a stable job as a San Francisco carpenter has earned him more than most have scraped from the local goldfields. But it's been four years since he left Massachusetts and his fiancé is impatient for his return. Bound for home at last, Daniel Clarke finds his heart and plans challenged by a tenacious young woman with haunted eyes. Though every word he utters seems to offend her, he is determined to see her safely returned to her father. Even if that means risking his fragile engagement.

When disaster befalls them in the remote wilderness of the Southern California mountains, true feelings are revealed, and both must face heart-rending decisions. But how to decide when every choice before them leads to someone getting hurt?

Preorder available at:

Amazon | Barnes& Noble | Apple Books | Kobo 

About the Author

Kathleen Denly lives in sunny Southern California with her loving husband, four young children, and two cats. As a member of the adoption and foster community, children in need are a cause dear to her heart and she finds they make frequent appearances in her stories. When she isn’t writing, researching, or caring for children, Kathleen spends her time reading, visiting historical sites, hiking, and crafting. 

Waltz in the Wilderness is Kathleen’s debut novel and the first in a series of three stand-alone historical Christian romance novels connected by secondary characters and their beautiful Southern California setting.

Kathleen would love it if you visited her website at KathleenDenly.com. You can also connect with her on social media: 

To see some of the photos that inspired Waltz in the Wilderness, follow her on Pinterest.


Preorder your copy today!  

Amazon | Barnes& Noble | Apple Books | Kobo 

If you preorder Waltz in the Wilderness AND email Kathleen proof of purchase (screenshot) before 12:00am PT January 11, 2020, you will receive a free digital copy of Ribbons and Beaus, a Chaparral Hearts Novella on January 21, 2020! For complete details, click here.

Excerpt from Waltz in the Wilderness

October 1850
California gold fields

They were going to starve to death, if they didn’t freeze to death first. Sure, they had beans for dinner, but Eli had had to trade her spare shirt for them—the one she’d been wearing beneath her everyday shirt to keep the early-October frost from biting her skin. She shivered beside the fire. Not much left to trade for supper, but then, there wasn’t another miner in these diggings that had grub to spare even if she had something worth trading.
She studied each bean, careful not to burn a one. Her hollow stomach cramped as the sweet smell of the simmering meal mixed with the scent of wood smoke filling the air.
A pinch of rosemary would have added flavor. Would Mama have been disappointed Eli’d traded the last of their herbs for Pa’s new coat? She shook her head. If Eli couldn’t coax Pa from the creek, the least she could do was keep his shoulders warm. Mama would have understood.
A shift in the cold wind blew soot into Eli’s eyes as she lifted the pan from the fire. Brushing a grimy strand of hair from her face and blinking away the sting, she turned her back to the smoke and stirred the beans.
Time to get Pa.
She walked to where he squatted in the icy mountain creek.
He wouldn’t be happy she’d traded the spare shirt. He’d wanted it to hide her blossoming womanhood. Of course, he’d have to notice the shirt was gone first.
Standing beside the babbling water, she toed off her boots before yanking her tattered socks off. After stuffing them into a boot, she pulled up her trousers and, with a bracing breath, waded into the chilling water.
“Here, Pa.”
She held the spoon out handle first, but he shrugged her away. Afternoon sunlight bounced off his thin, greasy hair—brown like hers, but darkened by muck. His dirt-encrusted brown eyes continued squinting into the swirling pan of water. The gentle rotation of his wrists never ceased.
“Come on, Pa. You gotta eat.”
He cleared his throat and spat to the side opposite where she stood, never taking his eyes from the water. “I’m fine. You eat.”
Eli lifted the spoon higher. “But, Pa—”
“I’ll eat later.” He shifted in the calf-deep water so that her worried stare landed squarely between his broad shoulder blades.
Her fingers tightened around the spoon as she planted her fist on her hip. The rocks shifted beneath her feet. “That’s what you said this morning.”
“I’m busy, Eli. Now hush and leave me be.”
She stood there a moment longer, taking in the sight of him. That tall, too-thin frame draped in the now too-large, threadbare shirt. She’d mended that thing more times than she could count. The trousers he kept up with a rope at his waist needed mending in the right knee, but she doubted the fabric could endure another stitching. She peered down at her own trousers. The worn threads of the cuffs drifted and tugged with the current.
She frowned at the beans cooling in the pan. A body shouldn’t have to choose between clothes and food. But miners upstream caught any fish in the creek, and hunting around here was pointless. All the digging, rattling, and mining commotion scared the game away.
She’d tried to coax Pa to leave their claim long enough to hunt elsewhere to no avail.
Mama could’ve convinced him.
Mama isn’t here. Eli straightened her shoulders. “Pa, this is the last—”
“Hey, Eli!” The familiar voice cut her off.
She turned in time to see a small rock sail toward her head and managed to duck it, but the move upset her balance. She tipped backward.
The beans!
Contorting herself to right her balance without spilling their dinner, she wobbled back and forth as stones rocked beneath her. She shifted her footing, but the sloped face of a large, moss-covered rock hastened her descent. Holding the pan aloft as she fell backward, her body tilted sideways and she overcorrected—
Sending the beans spilling down her shirt and into the creek.
For a moment she sat still, the chill of the icy mountain runoff failing to cool her blood as gales of boyish laughter drifted toward her from the bank. She erupted from the creek, wielding her now-empty pan above her head. “Morgan Channing, I’m gonna have your hide for this!”
She sloshed three full steps to the edge of the creek before she froze.
The eleven-year-old had stopped laughing and was staring at her, mouth hanging open, eyes wide. “Y-you…! Y-you’re a…a…”

Eli followed his gaze to her chest, where a few beans still clung to her drenched, oversized shirt. She dropped the pan and covered herself. Oh, how brainless of her! Would Pa send her away?

Available now for preorder!  


To celebrate her tour, Kathleen is giving away a “Trust in the Lord” Journal & 80+ Journal Stickers Set, along with a $10 Amazon gift card. Be sure to comment on the blogs listed below for extra entries into the giveaway. 

21 Oct 2019

Sojourner by Janalyn Voigt: Prism Book Tours Post and Review

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

(Tales of Faeraven #3)
By Janalyn Voigt
Fantasy, Christian Fantasy
Paperback & ebook, 322 Pages
November 1st 2019 by Pelican Book Group

Mara didn't know her parents were living a lie.

After learning a secret that causes Mara to question her heritage, she runs to Torindan, the High Hold of Faeraven, to seek the truth. What the innkeeper’s daughter doesn't know is that Rand, the mysterious tracker she’s hired to guide her through the wilderness, has been sent on an errand that puts her life at risk.

Helping Mara furthers Rand's purposes, but he doesn't count on his emotions interfering.

With Faeraven on the brink of war, Rand is faced with a life-altering choice, Mara is torn between escape and learning the truth, and the future hangs in the balance.

Will Mara be heir to the Faeraven throne? Can Rand escape the terrors of the dungeon?

As Torindan and Pilaer prepare for battle, anything can happen.

(Affiliate link included.)

Other Books in the Series

My Review: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sojourner is the third novel in the speculative/fantasy series The Tales of Faeraven. I think that the world-building in this series is second to none, with the culture and customs of this fictional land being solid and credible. I do like it that some of the characters and evens (at least in the early books) are based on actual Medieval European History.

This novel is the long awaited 3rd installment of the series (by which I mean several years) and answers some of the questions left at the end of Wayfarer, such as what happened to Kai, and confirmed something I suspected in the last book, but won't go into any further because it might be a plot spoiler. 

So what did I enjoy about this book? Most of it really. I liked how alongside the political intrigue with a growing threat from an enemy army threatening the heroes, there was a hint of romance between Mara and the mysterious Rand.  It seems as though their love can never be, since they're on different sides, but you can't help rooting for them, and feeling for Mara as she struggles to find acceptance in her new life. 

I also loved 'meeting' some of the characters from the older books again, including Elcon, the ruler of the nation where the heroes live. We remember from the last books that he too struggled to find acceptance with his people, and of course Kai, who still struggles with the loss of Shae, the girl he loved. 

I think Rand's inner turmoil over his divided loyalties were portrayed realistically. He has to make difficult choices, all of which will come at some cost to him, and he's neither a cartoonish villain nor a perfect hero. 
Finally, I think the characters Faith journey is one that readers will find relatable. The religion of Rivenn, Elcon Kai and the others is clearly Christianity, although God comes under a different name. 

On the one hand, they seek the advice of Emmerich, the Christ like figure, but when his advice seems difficult or illogical they choose to ignore it. A choice that could prove disastrous. Their prayers are not always answered, nor is there an explanation for everything that happens, but the character still hold to their faith. 

Of course, I just really want to know what happens to them in the last novel, due to come out next year following the cliffhanger at the end. 

 I received a PDF review copy of this title from the author and/or their representative. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.  

About the Author

Janalyn Voigt is a writer and professional speaker with a photography habit and a passion for travel. Her unique blend of adventure, romance, suspense, and fantasy creates worlds of beauty and danger for readers. Tales of Faeraven, her epic fantasy series beginning with DawnSinger, carries readers into a land only imagined in dreams. She is represented by Sarah Joy Freese of Wordserve Literary.

Tour Schedule

Tour Giveaway

One winner will receive  a Tales of Faeraven bookmark and choice of ONE of the following items (US only):
Ends October 30th, 2019

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Grab Our Button!

4 Oct 2019

First Line Friday: The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright

Today I am sharing the First Line of a book I purchased a couple of months ago. The Curse of Misty Wayfair is a Thriller cum Dual Timeline novel. Not my usual fare, but I have a soft spot for Thriller/mystery novels. 

Left at an orphanage as a child, Thea Reed vowed to find her mother someday. Now grown, her search takes her to Pleasant Valley, Wisconsin, in 1908. When clues lead her to a mental asylum, Thea uses her experience as a post-mortem photographer to gain access and assist groundskeeper Simeon Coyle in photographing the patients and uncovering the secrets within. However, she never expected her personal quest would reawaken the legend of Misty Wayfair, a murdered woman who allegedly haunts the area and whose appearance portends death.

A century later, Heidi Lane receives a troubling letter from her mother--who is battling dementia--compelling her to travel to Pleasant Valley for answers to her own questions of identity. When she catches sight of a ghostly woman who haunts the asylum ruins in the woods, the long-standing story of Misty Wayfair returns--and with it, Heidi's fear for her own life.

As two women across time seek answers about their identities and heritage, can they overcome the threat of the mysterious curse that has them inextricably intertwined?

My First Line is From Chapter 18 (since I am currently reading the book). 

"The iron gate opened, soundless" 

 What's Your First Line? Don't Forget to click the Meme, and see what others in the group are reading.


2 Oct 2019

Without a Trace by Mel Starr Review

The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon #12
240 Pages, Lion Fiction, September 20th 2019 
Print, Ebook and Audio (Coming November)

 The wife of a knight disappears while traveling from her husband's manor to Bampton, on the way to another of the knight's properties. She and her maid are travelling in an enclosed wagon, whilst her husband and his grooms and a squire are mounted. When the party arrives at Bampton Castle neither the lady nor her maid are within the enclosed wagon: they have simply vanished. 

As the disappearance may have happened while the travellers were on Lord Gilbert's lands, his surgeon and bailiff, Hugh de Singleton, is assigned to discover what has happened to the lady. Has she been taken? Her has she fled her husband?

A few days later her husband receives a ransom demand, and Hugh is named to deliver the money. Why him? The ransom is paid, but the lady is not returned. Can Hugh help find her, or is it already too late?

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


An excellent latest installment in the continuing Hugh de Singleton series. This book focuses on the disappearance of a noblewoman rather than a murder, and I think there is more of an emphasis on procedure and investigation in this one.

The mystery has plenty of twists and turns, false starts and red herrings. Hugh- now Sir Hugh, follows a false trail and the wrong lead, which leads him to another potential mystery. In a sense, this proves he is only human and not everything is easy for him to solve.

As with the other novels in this series, there's usually an operation or two for Hugh to perform; this time he performs one on a horse as well. The details about Medieval life and society are also well done. In this case, they relate a lot to marriage and religion, as well as a moral dilemma towards the end.

There is a rather interesting scene in which Hugh sees some of his acquaintances using an early form a magnifying glass and decides he must have one (even though he does not struggle with his eyesight): the Medieval equivalent of needing the latest gadget or iPad.

Hugh's family also come into this one quite a lot, with his clever wife Kate, their children and her father. Readers should be warned, though, there are some tragic scenes that tug at the heart strings in this book as Hugh and his loved ones struggle with illness and a loss in the family.

It would probably have been possible for Hugh to solve this mystery quicker, and the book was rather more slow paced then some of the others, but it has everything that dedicated readers of this series have come to love. There's no political intrigue, sex or graphic violence, as you find in other mystery series, but some people appreciate that.
I thought it was a good installment, and look forward to the next one.

Although this book was released a week ago, I was sent a copy by the Publisher in August as I have reviewed titles for them in the past. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...