Louisa: A Modern Faith Story by Beth Troy (review)

Book cover image of stained glass.

What happens after the heroine finds her faith and is saved? Does true love then prevail with a happily ever after for all? Christian or Inspirational fiction lends itself easily to this narrative, but Beth Troy’s Lu. was not standard fare and neither is its sequel. 

Continue reading “Louisa: A Modern Faith Story by Beth Troy (review)”

Multiverse by Robert Mercer Nairne (excerpt)

I always enjoying being able to share a book excerpt, and I also like to support local authors when I can (though in this case, the author is formerly local to Seattle). Today’s selection is courtesy of Smith Publicity, for the blog tour they are hosting with Miracle, and it features some interesting character names along with storyline developments that are both plausible and somehow familiar.

Continue reading “Multiverse by Robert Mercer Nairne (excerpt)”

These Nameless Things by Shawn Smucker (review)

In a village in the shadow of a mountain that boasts a warning sign straight out of Dante’s Inferno, a small group of traumatized people are waiting with no memory of their lives before the horror that each has escaped from across that mountain. As the story unfolds and memories begin to return, this mystery thriller holds the reader on that uneasy line between suspecting and knowing.

Continue reading “These Nameless Things by Shawn Smucker (review)”

No Filter by Heather Day Gilbert (blog tour review)

First of three books in Heather Day Gilbert’s new Barks & Beans Cozy Mystery series, No Filter opens with Macy Hatfield joining her brother Bo’s new Cafe/Dog petting venture in their West Virginia hometown. With both siblings still reeling from the end of their relationships, their cafe and it isn’t long before Macy is a bit distracted by a local murder and Bo is joining in on the investigation.

Continue reading “No Filter by Heather Day Gilbert (blog tour review)”

The Story Hunter by Lindsay A. Franklin (review)

Navigating in increasingly treacherous waters, both in the capital city and abroad, The Story Hunter finds Tannie faced with challenges complicated by a misguided revolt and friends who have been misled. Told from three points of view, Brac’s first person narration was an unexpected and added more dimension to his character.

Continue reading “The Story Hunter by Lindsay A. Franklin (review)”

Spotlight: Of Darkness and Light by Heidi Eljarbo with a giveaway!

Of Darkness and Light
by Heidi Eljarbo

Publication Date: May 12, 2020

Series: Soli Hansen Mysteries, #1
Genre: Historical Mystery



In this first book of a new historical mystery series, a young art historian faces a tough choice in German-occupied Norway.

“Artful prose and at a pace that makes for a can’t-put-down, first-class literary voyage.”–Melissa Dalton-Bradford, bestselling author of Global Mom

Oslo, 1944. Soli Hansen’s passion for art history is and always has been a way of life for her. While she spends her days working in an art shop, WWII is taking its toll on everyone. Apprehensive of the consequences, Soli avoids becoming entangled in the war resistance efforts. She closes her eyes in hopes the enemy will retreat and leave her beautiful country for good.

But when a woman is found dead in the alley alongside the art shop and a painting from the last auction goes missing, Soli is thrown into the thickest of the fray involving both Nazi art theft and the Norwegian resistance.

Once Soli finds her courage, there’s no turning back. Her personal life is turned upside-down with danger, lies, spying, and an incredible discovery.

In this dual timeline novel, Heidi Eljarbo paints a vivid picture of what people are willing to do in desperate times. With unforgettable characters and rich historical details, Of Darkness and Light will keep the reader mesmerized until the last satisfying page.

Perfect for fans of Kate Morton, Lucinda Riley, Katherine Neville, and Kate Mosse.

Available on Amazon

~Praise for Of Darkness and Light~

“Interspersing love, hope, and courage, the participants are drawn together in mysterious paths.”–Pauline Isaksen, bestselling author of Dying for Justice

“Of Darkness and Light will reel you in and keep you hooked until the end.”–Mette Barfelt, bestselling author of The Solvik Series

           ~About the Author~

Heidi Eljarbo is the bestselling author of Catching a Witch. 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 an author, 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.

~Blog Tour Schedule~

Tuesday, May 12
Review at Passages to the Past

Thursday, May 14
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Friday, May 15
Feature at What Is That Book About

Monday, May 18
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Tuesday, May 19
Feature at Reading is My Remedy

Thursday, May 21
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Friday, May 22
Feature at Hopewell’s Public Library of Life

Monday, May 25
Review at Foals, Fiction, and Filligree

Tuesday, May 26
Feature at Books and Backroads

Thursday, May 28
Feature at Bookworlder

Monday, June 1
Review at History + Fiction + Adirondack Spirit

Tuesday, June 2
Interview at Jorie Loves A Story

Wednesday, June 3
Review at Jessica Belmont
Review at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away one copy of Of Darkness and Light in paperback! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on June 3rd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Of Darkness and Light


Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree by Lillah Lawson (Review with Excerpt + Giveaway)

Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree
by Lillah Lawson

Publication Date: September 20, 2019
Regal House Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 384 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction/Southern



It’s an unusually warm autumn, 1929, and O.T. Lawrence is about as content as a cotton farmer can be in Five Forks, Georgia. Nothing – not poverty, drought, or even the boll weevil – can spoil the idyllic life he shares with his doting wife and children and his beloved twin brother Walt. Until illness and Black Tuesday take everything O.T. ever held dear in one fell swoop. Grieving, drinking, and careening toward homelessness, O.T. is on the brink of ending it all when he receives an odd letter from a teenage acquaintance, the enigmatic Sivvy Hargrove, who is locked away in Milledgeville’s asylum for the insane. Traveling through desperate antebellum towns, O.T. and his daughter Ginny are determined to find Sivvy and discover her story. Set against the backdrop of the Great Depression, Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree is a love story to Georgia and the spirit of its peopleóa story of family, unconditional love, poverty, injustice, and finding the strength inside to keep on going when all is lost.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound


“Lillah Lawson spins a yarn that ís wonderful in its knottiness. Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree is a historical Southern fable about butterflies, biscuits and the healing power of family, both biological and chosen. The images are evocative, the dialogue rough and realistic, the emotions achingly real. A must-read.”  Lauren Emily Whalen, author of Satellite

“A hauntingly beautiful story, full of twists and tragedy, rich in detail and told with gorgeous lyrical flair. A deeply moving, unforgettable read.”  Alice Hayes, author of The Thread that Binds

“An exquisite read, with the tender yet gritty undertones of Steinback, Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree is a solemn walk through the deep south during one of the most difficult eras in American history: the early twentieth century. Lawson captures the southern gothic through the often fragile, yet always hopeful hearts of her characters as they try to cope with the hard knocks of life. This book will touch your heart in the beautifully tragic way that only southern gothic can, slowly at first, and then all at once.”  Melanie Cossey, author of A Peculiar Curiosity

~My Thoughts~

From the first line, Lillah Lawson immerses the reader into the hard scrabble life of cotton farmers in rural Five Forks, Georgia and the life and loves of Owen “O.T.” Lawrence and his twin brother Walt. From the fateful meeting with Sivvy Hargrove as teenagers during a tent revival in 1916, through struggles, hardships, and devastating losses during the Great Depression, this is a wonderfully written portrait of grit and humanity set against ever present hunger, social divides, and the constant, underlying menace of a predatory traveling evangelist.

Sassafras tea and moonshine, side meat, boll weevils, red dirt, and the distinctive colloquial language of early 20th Century small town and Appalachian Georgia all lend themselves to what is ultimately the story of O.T. and Sivvy’s long journey to awakening from the numbness of debilitating grief to finding each other.

Full of all the heartache and resilience that I crave in fiction set in the 1930’s, in the rough and tumble way that so evokes that era, Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree is a story of healing and redemption.  This is a work of Southern fiction to slowly savor, with characters that will linger.


Mrs. Pittman sat in the driver’s seat, her dainty white gloves gripping the wheel, her mouth pursed grimly. Betty Lou sat in the passenger seat, her own face flushed and distressed. O.T. glanced in the back of the cab and instantly forgot his embarrassment at looking so bedraggled. Walt was sitting in the backseat, leaning on Hosey Brown, his face streaked with tears.

O.T. ran to the car, to his brother, forgetting all about Betty Lou. “What’s happened?” he asked. “What in the hell has happened?”

“Let’s get us inside and we’ll tell you, son,” Mrs. Pittman said, her mouth still pursed. O.T. began to panic—-had he been found out, somehow?  Had Walt had come clean and told everyone that it had been O.T. with Sivvy after all? Had Betty Lou and her mother had driven here to give him the hosing down he deserved? Betty Lou’s face was grim. Even Hosey, usually a blabbermouth, was quiet and gray-faced. O.T. had no choice but to lead them all inside, his insides quivering, as Walt trailed behind him, sniffling.

Inside, Hazel sat out coffee, teacakes, and dried apples. O.T. furiously wiped his dirty hands on his coveralls and threw on his old pair of shoes, inwardly cussing at how filthy he looked. Mrs. Pittman bit daintily into a teacake and accepted a cup of coffee silently.

“Walter, hon, tell us what’s happened,” Hazel said finally,  placing a gentle hand over Walt’s.

“I didn’t do what he said I did,” Walt protested sullenly, through his tears. Dropping his head into his hands, he started to beat at his face. “I. Did. Not. Do. It.”

“He’s doing it again,” Mrs. Pittman said helplessly to Betty Lou, who looked stricken. “He was doing that in the car.”

“He’s awright,” Hosey said, gently guiding Walt’s hands back down to his lap.

“Would somebody tell me what in the sam hell has got my brother so worked up—” O.T. interjected impatiently.

“O.T., calm down. I’ll tell you,” Betty Lou said quickly, touching his hand. “We were leavin’ the diner after lunch, and we happened upon Walt and Billy Rev. Walt was crying and carrying on. Doing like he’s doing now, with his hands. Billy Rev was screamin’ at him.”

“He shore was,” Mrs. Pittman agreed. “Bellowin’ like a bull, right in that poor boy’s face. And to think—a man of the Lord!”

O.T.’s heart begin to sink. “Sivvy warn’t there?”

“No, she wasn’t,” Betty Lou replied, “just Billy Rev. And he was yelling to beat the band. Sayin’ all kinds of things, and Walt just standing there, crying, saying he didn’t do it. We thought we might be of help, so we went up to ’em, asked if everything was awright. Billy Rev took no notice of us. He was plum red in the face. Yellin’ at Walt, accusing him of things.”

“What things?” Hazel’s face had gone a little white.

There was a long silence. “Of…of tarnishing his niece,” Mrs. Pittman said, after a pause. “Accused him of meeting her in secret last night. Said he’d taken her girlhood from right under his nose. Accused him of being a—” She blushed, her cheeks turning a pretty pink. “Of…meddling with her.” She looked down at her lap, her lips pressed together so tight they all but disappeared.

“But Walt wasn’t even out last night!” Hazel exclaimed. “O.T. was out with Hosey, but Walt was here!”Hosey looked at O.T. sharply, and O.T. thanked the good Lord that Hosey was the best friend he had in the world, knowing that Hosey would die before exposing O.T.’s lie.

“That’s just what we told him,” Mrs. Pittman said firmly. “We told the reverend that hemust be mistaken. That Walt’s the sweetest, most God-fearing boy in town and that he’d never, ever—”

“I told him,” Walt interjected, his face ashen. “I told him I never.”

“We all told him,” Betty Lou said angrily. “But he was raving like the dickens and wouldn’t listen. That skinny, chicken-necked old codger.”

“Betty Lou!” Mrs. Pittman exclaimed, feigning shock.

“The reverend talked like he was going to get the sheriff have Walt locked up,” Betty Lou went on. “We told him no he wasn’t.And we wanted to know where he’d even got such an idea that Walt had taken advantage of his niece.”

“What did he say?” O.T. asked, straining to keep his face calm.

“Said he just knew. Said a little bird told him. I like to spit in his face.”

Betty Lou,” Mrs. Pittman warned again, but with a smile.

“That’s when Hosey come up, and by then there was a crowd of folks watchin’ us. A couple spoke up for Walt. And then Miss Sivvy come out herself. She’d been cryin’, too, poor thing. You could tell. She told the Rev that Walt had never laid a finger on her, had never even clapped eyes on her more’n twice. I felt right bad for her.”

“So what happened?”

“Oh, he puffed and ranted a little bit more, and then put his big ol’ fat finger in Walt’s face and told him to stay the devil away from his niece. Said he’d lock him up if he so much as looked in her direction. A bunch of dumb threats,” Hosey said with a grin. “Said he’d never come back to this one-horse town to spread the word of the Lord again. He was gon’ leave us to our sin. Then he stomped his ass back down to the motel, ’’bout wrenchin’ that poor girl’s arm out of the socket the whole way. Her just a cryin’. That sumbitch.”

“Language,” Hazel warned, before Walt had a chance, and Hosey winked at her. She pretended not to notice.

“He hurt Miss Sivvy,” Walt moaned, dropping his head into his hands again. “She was crying so hard!”

“It’s okay,” O.T. said softly, placing a protective arm around his brother’s shoulders.

“No, it ain’t,” Walt cried, his voice muffled. “I never did give her my address. How we gon’ write to each other now?”

O.T couldn’t answer, the shame bubbling up deep in his belly. Somehow the reverend had found out what had happened. He thought Walt had ruined his niece, but it had been O.T. all along.


The road was in ill repair. Every time the wagon hit a bump or a pothole, Sivvy was thrown into Harvey’s shoulder, rigid and tense beside her. She could feel the fear and anger coming off him in waves, but his face, when she caught a glimpse of it, was blank.

Billy Rev drove erratically down Highway 29, out of Five Forks, and towards Athens. The moon was visible from Sivvy’s window, high in the sky and round and as white as a breast. Sivvy thought of her mother, whom she missed but would never admit it. She and her mother had never really found each other’s threads. Sivvy’s six brothers and sister, who came before her, had sapped up the best parts of Mama before Sivvy had had a chance. Even after all this time, she could not bring herself to forgive her parents; the door to her heart was shut to them, even though she knew it wasn’t fair.

But there was no use dwelling on that now.

Her face felt crusty and tight with her tears dried on her cheeks, tears she hadn’t bothered to wipe away.  She had wanted Billy Rev to see those tears and feel bad, unaware, then, that it would only spur him on, that any evidence of her pain was a thrill to him.

Hours before, Sivvy had been giddy with excitement at the thought of meeting the boy. She’d wanted only to feel young, free—just for a minute. How could she have ever thought she could get away with it? And she’d gone and gotten that sweet boy in a heap of trouble.

For a brief moment, as she gazed at the moon, Sivvy wished she were lying with her head on her mama’s chest, a child again, warm and safe in the grove of crooked trees back on the ridge.She dropped her eyes to her lap, to her hands, which were streaked with grime, the skin around her fingernails ragged, ugly, and torn. They trembled a little as she brought them up to her face and wiped off the old salt of her tears.

Harvey’s shoulder twitched beside her, then was still. The wagon rumbled on.

~About the Author~

Lillah Lawson has been writing since she was 8 years old, when she won a short story contest at her elementary school. The story was about a Princess who gets tired of waiting for the Prince to show up and saves herself. Once she saw her words printed in the local newspaper, she knew she wanted to be a writer.

Having written professionally as well as dabbling in poetry, children’s books and blogging, Lillah finally completed her first novel, Aroha, as part of a NaNoWriMo challenge in 2012.

She lives in Georgia, in the United States, with her partner and son and three rambunctious animals. She is currently working on another novel.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

~Blog Tour Schedule~

Monday, May 18
Review at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, May 19
Interview at Jorie Loves A Story
Feature at Books in their Natural Habitat

Wednesday, May 20
Interview at The Book Junkie Reads

Thursday, May 21
Review & Excerpt at Bookworlder

Friday, May 22
Review at Nursebookie
Feature at View from the Birdhouse


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a paperback copy of Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

  • Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on May 22nd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • Paperback giveaway is open to the US only.
  • Only one entry per household.
  • All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
  • The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Sassafras Tree

The review above refers to a digital copy I voluntarily received through #HFVBTBlogTours. A positive review was not required and all opinions expressed are my own.

Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree is Historical Fiction written for the general market and contains adult language and content.

The Outlaw’s Daughter by Margaret Brownley (review)

theoutlawsbride_brownley_sourcebooksMargaret Brownley’s Haywire Brides books are delightful, sweet Historical Romance reads that include a mystery and humor. While The Outlaw’s Daughter is no exception, it also has a new depth to the story. The plot and the circumstances of the characters carry more sober gravity than the previous entries in the series.
Continue reading “The Outlaw’s Daughter by Margaret Brownley (review)”

Lost Down Deep by Sara Davison (review)

LostDownDeep_Reviewer_JR copySara Davison has quickly become one of my go-to authors for Christian Romantic Suspense, so I jumped at the chance to read her newest book, Lost Down Deep. Particularly because I do enjoy a good amnesia storyline.

Waking from a coma with retrograde amnesia, Summer Velazquez has no memory of the last five years of her life, but she retains a strong sense for self-preservation. After learning that she had been attacked in her own home, she flees Toronto for the safety of a randomly picked small town where she assumes a new name and begins to acquire a bit of a found family and, with the encouragement of her new boss, begins a relationship with another newcomer, who she promptly tries to friend-zone.

With the danger of an unknown assailant and more than one person keeping their eye on Summer, the suspense builds as the mystery surrounding her attack and the last five years of her life slowly build toward a dangerous climactic scene.

Beyond the suspense plot, there are quite a few things to like about this story filled themes of faith, second chances, forgiveness, and familial love. Among them, Summer’s realization that a faith she had somehow found within those forgotten five years is so deeply felt that she instinctively turns to God, the way her Mexican heritage is imbedded into the narrative, and the addition of a bit of humor with her rumination on Hallmark movies.

Lost Down Deep is a riveting suspense read with quite a bit of heart.  Highly recommended.

Lost Down Deep by Sara Davison (The Rose Tattoo Trilogy #1) | The Mosaic Collection, April 2020 | e-book, 308 pages

This review refers to a digital review copy I voluntarily received courtesy of the publisher. A positive review was not required and all opinions expressed are my own.


About the Book

She is the only one who can tell the police who attacked her in her home. If only she could remember …

Summer Velasquez is on the run from a man she has no recollection of after an attack she can’t recall. Every face in the crowd is a potential suspect, so how is Summer supposed to know who is a threat to her and who isn’t? After fleeing her assailant and the parents who lied to her about what happened, she changes her name and seeks refuge in Elora, Ontario. The small town feels familiar, although she has no memory of ever having been here. Even in what should be a safe place, she can’t shake the feeling that she is being watched. When Ryan Taylor strolls into the Taste of Heaven Café where she works, Summer is immediately drawn to him. However, he may not be who he says he is either. As her suspicions grow, Summer prepares to run again. But at least one person is determined to stop her. Permanently. And if she can’t remember who he is, this time he may succeed.

Lu by Beth Troy blog tour review + giveaway

Lu Blog + Review Tour
Welcome to the Blog Tour & Giveaway for Lu by Beth Troy, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!


Lu by Beth TroyTitle: Lu
Author: Beth Troy
Publisher: Kingsbury Publishing
Release Date: June 21, 2017
Genre: Women’s Fiction

Are we the sum of our circumstances or is there … more?

In a debut novel readers are calling “true to life,” “captivating,” and “cleverly written,” author Beth Troy takes on the story of Lu Sokolowski and her life upended. Lu’s plans have turned sideways, taking her back to the family and town she always planned to leave.

Lu is a modern woman’s honest journey to faith, that unapologetically addresses:
•The big questions women ask about their beliefs.
•The struggles women face in creating a fulfilling life.
•The complexity of family relationships.
•The tension between hope and reality.

Lu is a story for readers looking for real growth in relatable characters who aren’t afraid to ask real questions. It’s for women who want to experience the full spectrum of who they are and what they believe. It’s for women who want a story about how faith integrates into the whole life of a woman. You will want to share this story with a friend – after you read it again yourself.

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository


Beth Troy

Beth Troy is a writer and educator who teaches courses in Creativity & Innovation and Women & Entrepreneurship at Miami University. Her first novel, Lu, is a modern woman’s journey back to her family, her faith, and herself. Beth will be publishing the sequel in Summer 2020.

Beth lives in Ohio with her husband and three sons. Go to her site or follow her on Instagram to read more about her life and writing.

CONNECT WITH BETH: Website | Instagram


Lu is the story of a woman’s journey to faith that begins in betrayal and heartbreak, and leads to even more brokenness before it is through. For Christian and non-Christian alike, this is a story that will resonate as Lu returns to her family home, begins to heal, and considers new possibilities.

Told in Lu’s voice, this is an impressive debut novel that evokes a gamut of emotions. From her family relationships – her Polish grandmother in particular – to her romantic choices, Lu is a complex and engaging character – even with her habit of running away from problems.

This novel is unexpected and revelatory, an example of what Christian fiction can be and do. Highly and warmly recommended, this is a book to share with friends.

Note: Lu includes a few curse words and implied intimacy, but is definitely Christian fiction.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. A positive review is not required and all opinions expressed are my own.


(1) winner will receive a bookish library card mug!

Lu JustRead Tour Giveaway

Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway will begin at midnight May 12, 2020 and last through 11:59 PM EST on May 19, 2020. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!


*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.