Saturday, December 24, 2022

Book Review: Suncoast Empire by Frank A. Cassell

About the Book:

Silver Medal Florida Book Awards Nonfiction

In the early 20th century, Bertha Palmer was one of the best-known and wealthiest women in America. She was an art collector, women's rights advocate, businesswoman, owner of Chicago's Palmer House Hotel, and had elegant homes in Chicago, Paris, and London.

In 1910 she traveled to the small and rough settlement called Sarasota on the west coast of Florida. For some reason, she decided to spend much of each year for the rest of her life on one of America's last frontiers, investing in cattle and farming, creating communities out of marshlands, pine forests, and tropical jungles. The society queen and social reform advocate excelled as a frontier entrepreneur, just as she had in every other endeavor in her life. She managed to make a good deal of money and to change Sarasota forever.

My Thoughts:

I loved reading Suncoast Empire: Bertha Honore Palmer, Her Family, and the Rise of Sarasota by Frank A. Cassell. I have a substantial bias as I spent much of my childhood in Sarasota and still live near the beautiful city. Though I’ve been in the area all my life, I found much history that I never knew prior to reading Suncoast Empire.

Frank A. Cassell, author of Suncoast Empire, is a retired professor and the narrative demonstrates his skill in conveying detailed historical information while interesting the reader/audience. My favorite part of the book was the biography of Bertha Palmer. This portion occupied substantial page space but felt just right for the book – not too long, not too short.

Following the biography, Suncoast Empire focuses mainly on the last few years of Bertha’s life and explores how her presence and business affected the small community of 1910’s Sarasota. Given her age and the short years she had in Sarasota, her accomplishments amazed me. Over 100 years later, Sarasota is greatly changed from Bertha’s time, but her imprints are still here in the streets named after her family, the areas of the county that she labeled, and the reputation she promoted of Sarasota as a beautiful, tropical playground for the wealthy.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Author Interview: Forever Home by Hope Toler Dougherty

About the Book

Book: Forever Home

Author: Hope Toler Dougherty

Genre: Sweet Romance/Christian Fiction

Release Date: August 16, 2022

With a fulfilling job and a home of her own, former foster child, Merritt Hastings, relishes her stable, respectable life. Dreaming for more is a sure way for heartache. When a contested will turns her world upside down, she must reevaluate what’s important to her, what’s worth fighting for, and what’s worth sacrificing.

Patience has never been Sam Daniels’ strong suit with his history of acting quickly and asking questions later, and he’s ready for changes in his life…now. Too bad the plans for acquiring a radio station didn’t include a contract. Now he’s out of a job, out of a radio station, and out of prospects.

While his life is in flux, at least he can help Merritt steady hers, or will he rush in and overstep …again?

Will the sparks flying between these two opposites lead to a happily-ever-after or heartbreak for both?

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Hope Toler Dougherty holds a master’s degree in English and taught at East Carolina University and York Technical College. Her novels include Irish EncounterMars…With Venus Rising, Rescued Hearts, Forever Music, and Forever Home. Her recent novella, “A Hatteras Surprise,” appears in Candy Cane Wishes and Saltwater Dreams and is also available as a standalone novel. She and her husband delight in visits with their two daughters and twin sons.

Interview with Hope

Q: What surprised you while researching and writing this novel?

Hope: When I interviewed radio people for this novel, I was surprised to learn that overnight radio programs are usually recorded and played later. Using these programs is cheaper than paying employees to work the nighttime shift. I had to rewrite two scenes when I discovered this sad fact.

Q: Do you have a favorite quote from this novel?

Hope: Here are two lines I enjoy in the novel: In response to an offer of club soda, Sam says, “I’m not a fan of bubbly water.” Merritt says, “But it’s like a party in a glass.”

When Merritt tells Sam her teenage male student needs to see a regular man, not someone on TV enjoying the piano, Sam says, “Just so you know, I’m no regular man.” Sam is one of my favorite characters, and I love when he shows up in a scene.

Q: In what setting do you enjoy writing the most?

Hope: The best place for me to write is at my house. I can throw in a load of laundry if I need to and not have to pack up laptop when I need to visit the ladies’ room. I love watching people, but I’m too nosy to write at coffee shops or other public places. I need quiet so that I can hear my characters!

Q: Would you share something about yourself that most readers wouldn’t know?

Hope: When I was single, I took flying lessons. I never earned my pilot’s license, but I soloed a Cessna 150 several times. I lived to tell about it and didn’t wreck the plane either! People may also be surprised to know that I’m an introvert who enjoys public speaking.

Q: What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

Hope: I like to laugh out loud, listen to live music, cook, read, travel, play euchre and board games with my family, play the piano, and crochet…not all at the same time, but I have been known to crochet at high school ball games and town hall meetings. I like to multitask when I can.

More from Hope

When I introduced the Daniels family in Forever Music, the first story in the Forever Series, I wrote about Josie, the little sister. I wanted to write about her brother Sam next, but after about eight chapters, the words stopped flowing and then the pandemic struck. Instead of writing during lockdown, I cleaned out closets, crocheted mask bands, and perfected a killer sourdough loaf.

I wanted to write. I tried to write. I loved Sam and wanted to discover his story, but…nothing.

When my publisher offered a slot in a novella collection, I pushed Sam to the back of my mind and wrote about his older brother, Ben. Ben’s story is set on the beautiful Hatteras Island on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Check out his romance in A Hatteras Surprise.

Sharing Ben’s courtship with Ginny Stowe freed me to get back to Sam and Merritt in Forever Home. Their story highlights foster care, music, friendship, and radio stations.

Impatient Sam usually acts first and thinks second. His happy-go-lucky personality chafes Merritt’s stick-with-a-plan attitude. Too bad she needs his help with her livelihood.  They don’t hit it off at first, but both are definitely intrigued with each other.

Readers can find subtle Italian references throughout the story. Here’s a favorite recipe friends might find in Merritt’s kitchen. I hope you like it and the story, too!

Orange Pistachio Biscotti

2 C plain flour                         1 egg white
1 t baking powder                   2 T orange zest
¼ t salt                                    ½-1 C chopped pistachios
1 C sugar                                 1/2 C candied orange bits
2 eggs                                      orange juice, if needed

Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar into a mixing bowl. In another bowl, beat eggs and egg white together, then add to flour mixture. Stir in orange zest, nuts, and orange bits. Mix until dough is smooth. If the dough is too dry, add orange juice a tablespoon at a time.

Flour hands and scoop half the dough onto one side of the cookie sheet prepared with cooking spray. Shape the dough into a 15×3-inch log. Repeat with remaining dough. The logs should be several inches apart.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Tops of the logs should be firm.

Remove to wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Cut logs on a diagonal into ½-inch-thick slices. Place the slices, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake for 15 minutes.

Allow the cookies to cool completely on a wire rack. They will harden as they cool. Yields about 48 cookies depending on size

Blog Stops

Pause for Tales, December 14

For Him and My Family, December 14

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 15

Inklings and notions, December 16

Texas Book-aholic, December 17

Cover Lover Book Review, December 18

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 19

Beauty in the Binding, December 20 (Author Interview)

deb’s Book Review, December 20

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, December 21

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, December 22

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 23

For the Love of Literature, December 24 (Author Interview)

Susan K. Beatty, Author, December 25 (Author Interview)

Blogging With Carol, December 26

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 27


To celebrate her tour, Hope is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card, one signed copy of Forever Home, and book swag!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Monday, December 19, 2022

Book Review: In Love's Time by Kate Breslin

About the Book:

At the height of World War I, two sweethearts face impossible odds in this powerful tale of courage, duty, and heartbreak.

In the summer of 1918, Captain Marcus Weatherford arrives in Russia on a secret mission, with a beautiful ballerina posing as his fiancée. He's there to find the Romanov tsarina and her son and glean information about a plot to assassinate Lenin. As the danger intensifies, Marcus's sense of duty battles with his desire to return home to Clare, the woman he truly loves, before it's too late.

Military hospital orderly Clare Danner still suffers from Marcus's betrayal after learning he's engaged to another woman. Clare also fears losing her daughter, Daisy, to the heartless family who took her away once before. Only Marcus can provide the critical proof needed to save Daisy, but when an injury leaves him powerless to help, Clare's fate--and the fate of the top-secret mission--hangs in the balance.

Read an excerpt from In Love's Time on the publisher's website.

My Thoughts:

In Love’s Time by Kate Breslin is a sequel-of-sorts to the author’s earlier novel Not by Sight featuring Jack and Grace Benningham. This couple appears in supporting roles throughout In Love’s Time while Clare and Marcus (side characters in Not by Sight) become the focus couple. From what I gather, the initial love story of Clare and Marcus is told in Not by Sight.

In Love’s Time continues Clare and Marcus’ romantic relationship by pulling from both the love triangle and second-chance romance tropes. My favorite portion of the novel resides in the middle where betrayal and yearning tangle to create great romantic tension between Marcus and Clare. I liked the reunification of these wonderful characters, but often felt I was missing pieces of their story as I haven’t read Not by Sight.

In Love’s Time by Kate Breslin held my attention throughout. I noted the narrative’s historical detail and learned a bit of Britain’s history during the WW1 time. The author’s note supplied some interesting historical information as well as references. Readers who have enjoyed Breslin’s previous novels, especially Not by Sight, will find In Love’s Time a lovely story of secrets, resilience, and romance. I look forward to rereading this novel after I’ve had a chance to read Not by Sight.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this book by the author or publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Book Review: Giving Your Words by Sally and Clay Clarkson

About the Book:

Shaping the hearts, minds, and souls of your children starts with your words.

As a parent, your heart's desire is to guide your children to love and follow God. Yet so many voices are offering help and advice. Whose voice should shape your children?

Sally and Clay Clarkson suggest the answer is as simple as it is powerful: yours. They will show you how to use your own words to shape your child's life for Christ.

The biblical principles and wisdom they offer, drawn from their years of raising four children and mentoring parents worldwide, will equip you as a word-giving parent.

Start here to gain confidence to personally and intentionally cultivate a verbal home, one filled with words of faith formation and spiritual nurture.

Then, when your children "take your words for it," they will hear God's voice.

Read an excerpt from Giving Your Words on the publisher's website.

My Thoughts:

I rarely read parenting books, but I love reading Sally Clarkson’s books and thoughts on parenting. Having enjoyed The Lifegiving Home and Awaking Wonder, I had high expectations for Sally and Clay’s new book, Giving Your Words: The Lifegiving Power of a Verbal Home for Family Faith Formation. I felt less engaged with this book than Sally’s prior books, but I still found it inspirational. I love that her mothering style is based on loving well and serving her children, rather than simple behavior modification and heavy-handed parental discipline.

Giving Your Words encourages parents to use their words in affirmative ways that create a healthy environment for personal and spiritual growth. The Clarksons go beyond positive speaking to explicate how creating a verbal home can lay the foundation for a child’s faith. While I did get a bit of the “do this and your child will turn out right” vibe, Sally and Clay have four well-rounded, accomplished children that bear witness to their methods.

My upbringing was vastly different from the ethos that Sally and Clay created for their children, but the Clarksons make creating a verbal home seem possible even for someone raised in a less ideal environment. The book’s guidance relies heavily on a traditional family of father, mother, and children. It needed another chapter addressing alternative situations such a spouse that doesn’t share the same family vision or co-parenting with an ex-spouse. Overall, Giving Your Words inspires and encourages parents to mindfully create a home atmosphere that nurtures spiritual growth for children. Four stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this book by the author or publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Book Review: Entertaining Angels by Anne Neilson

About the Book:

Have you ever had a moment when you were certain angels were protecting you? Or perhaps in a time of need, you've longed for a reminder that God's angels are nearby.

Experience amazing stories of the angels among us in Entertaining Angels, alongside breathtaking art that will remind you clearly of the words of Scripture: "Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!"

Popular fine artist and writer Anne Neilson has personally experienced the presence of God's angels. In her newest book, Entertaining Angels, Anne and several guest contributors share thought-provoking, moving, and inspiring stories of their own angel encounters. Each entry recounts a story of an angel among us—accompanied by Scripture, reminders of God's love in the promise of the angels around us, and gorgeous original angel paintings by Anne.

Inside, read personal stories from notable guest contributors including:
  • Kathie Lee Gifford, actress, author, and singer
  • New York Times bestselling author Ron Hall
  • Singer-songwriter Sheila Walsh
  • Award-winning country music artist Jimmy Wayne
  • Cheryl Scruggs, author and host of Thriving Beyond Belief podcast
  • And many more
Known for painting with both passion and purpose, Anne is committed to donating to those experiencing homelessness and poverty in our world, ensuring that Entertaining Angels will continue to give back for years to come.

Let the compelling heartfelt stories and the beauty of Entertaining Angels inspire you to become more present to the divine encounters in your own life.

My Thoughts:

Entertaining Angels: True Stories and Art Inspired by Divine Encounters by Anne Neilson is a beautiful, hardcover (with dust jacket), gift book. Prior to ordering this book, I had never heard of Anne Neilson, but her angel art is beautiful. I loved how the angels were drawn. Some of the poses repeated throughout the book, but the vibrant colors differentiated the paintings. The art photos capture the paintings’ textures and essences as well as possible, but I would love to view these in person.

The stories of divine encounters in Entertaining Angels were less angelic than I expected. Though some entries contain miraculous elements, many of the stories are people (aka everyday angels) that help others, sometimes based on divine instruction, but often just to show kindness. I enjoyed reading the uplifting stories even though the book wasn’t quite what I had anticipated.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this product via the Amazon Vine program. All opinions in this review are my own.

Friday, December 16, 2022

Book Spotlight: The Last Cottage on Pinewood Lane

The Last Cottage On Pinewood Lane JustRead Blog + Review Blitz 

Welcome to the Blog + Review Blitz for The Last Cottage on Pinewood Lane by Melissa McClone, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!


The Last Cottage on Pinewood Lane Title: The Last Cottage on Pinewood Lane 
Series: Hope Crossing #2 
Author: Melissa McClone 
Publisher: Independently Published 
Release Date: December 14, 2022
Genre: Sweet/Clean Contemporary Romance (Christmas/Holiday)

She’s his Christmas miracle. Now all he has to do is convince her of that…

Figure skater Tasha Ramson used to love the holidays. But with her career on the skids, she needs a break from the festive season—and Berry Lake is the perfect place to take it. Organizing a Christmas fundraiser was not on her agenda. Neither was falling for the small town’s handsome lawyer. But…she did… 

Elias Carpenter needs a break, too. Between the demands of his family firm and managing the ice show fundraiser, he’s at the end of his rope. Tasha showing up is the best thing that could’ve happened for him professionally and personally. Now, if only he could convince her to move him out of the friendzone… 

When a pesky ghost from Tasha’s past arrives to wreck her present, will she hang onto Elias when it matters most? Or will she let her happily ever after skate away forever?

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon


Elias placed his arm around Tasha, doing his best bodyguard impression to push his way through the crowd and lead her off the rink.

“How do you want to handle this?” he whispered.

“A few photos.” She spoke so quietly he strained to hear her. “There aren’t that many people.”

For now.

News traveled wildfire-fast in Berry Lake. And with one member of the Volcanoes part of this town via his wife, people following the team would know about Tasha’s all-pro hockey-playing brother. Elias did, but he’d failed to make Tasha’s connection to Alek.

“Shoes?” Elias asked.

“Let’s get this over with first.” Her resigned tone contradicted the smile frozen on her face.

He wanted to whisk her out of there, give her a hot chocolate, and kiss the worry from her eyes.

Whoa. Where had that come from?


Melissa McClone

USA TODAY bestselling, award winning author Melissa McClone writes heartwarming women’s fiction and sweet contemporary romance novels for Tule Publishing Group, Harlequin Books, and Cardinal Press. She has also optioned two screenplays. When she’s not writing relatable characters and sigh-worthy happy endings, she spends her time in the rainy Pacific Northwest reading from her Kindle’s ever-growing TBR, napping with her Norwegian Elkhound and two mini panthers, and decorating her Happy Planner. Melissa graduated from Stanford University with a mechanical engineering degree, but discovered she prefers writing happily ever afters to jet engine testing and analysis.

Connect with Melissa by visiting to follow her on social media or subscribe to email newsletter updates.


(1) winner will receive a Christmas Mystery Prize Pack including a $10 Amazon card, a $10 Starbucks card, and Christmas items!

The Last Cottage on Pinewood Lane JustRead Giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight December 14, 2022 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on December 21, 2022. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. No shipping restrictions. 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!

JustRead Publicity Tours

Monday, December 12, 2022

Movie Review: 5000 Blankets

About the Movie:

Inspired by a remarkable true story, 5000 BLANKETS, is filled with hope and highlights the power of family and faith. When her husband has a mental break down and goes missing, a woman and her young son set out to find him on the streets, sparking a movement of compassion towards those in need and inspiring a city.

Buy tickets today to see 5,000 BLANKETS exclusively in theaters December 12 &13 only!

Watch the Trailer:

My Thoughts:

I’m glad I took the time to watch 5000 Blankets, a family drama about mental health. Around the holidays it’s easy to become busy and focused on the seasonal hustle, but this movie challenges the viewer to look beyond his or her comfort zone to see those we sometimes try to avoid – the homeless, the broken, the lost, the needy. The movie was heartbreaking from start to finish with some heavy and dark moments, but it also held hope, love, and an inspirational message about finding purpose.

It’s important to note that 5000 Blankets received a PG-13 rating for thematic material involving mental illness. Bobby’s mental health issues included a suicide attempt and what appeared to be schizophrenia (though an official diagnosis wasn’t given in the movie). At times, the camera showed Bobby’s perception. It’s possible those scenes could trigger viewers struggling with similar symptoms.

5000 Blankets draws inspiration from a true story and the end shows the actors/actresses meeting with some of the family. I immediately visited the Phillip’s Wish Foundation online to learn more about its mission. While 5000 Blankets was not a “fun” movie to watch, it is a meaningful movie that brings awareness to the needs of the homeless and shows that anyone can make a positive difference.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Many thanks to Sony Pictures for providing a sample of the product for this review. Opinions are 100% my own.

More about 5000 Blankets

  • "Mommy,” he said. “Are you warm?” “Yes, baby, I'm warm.” “Is Daddy warm?” he asked. And then the then 7-year-old son asked about everyone else – the people on the street and in the shelters. His mom told him the truth: “No, not everyone is warm.”
  • Phillip’s Wish is an organization that was founded by a little boy who saw a need in the world and decided to do something about it.


One reader of this post will receive a $10 Amazon gift card. US only. Giveaway ends 12/13/2022 at 11:59 P. M. EST.

Enter by leaving a comment on this post that includes your name and email address.

Friday, December 9, 2022

November 2022 Reading Recap and December 2022 TBR

My November 2022 Reads: 
  1. The Lost Melody by Joanna Davidson Politano - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.

  2. A Quilt for Christmas by Melody Carlson - ⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.

  3. The Brilliance of Stars by J'nell Ciesielski - ⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.

  4. The Sisters of Sea View by Julie Klassen - ⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.

Expected December 2022 Reads:

Since I'm a bit late posting this reading recap, it turns out I've already finished two books on this list, but I'm putting them here anyway. Can you guess which ones? 😉
  1. In Love's Time by Kate Breslin. - My first novel by an author that's been on my radar for a long time.

  2. All the Lost Places by Amanda Dykes. 

  3. Giving Your Words by Sally and Clay Clarkson - Currently reading!

  4. Walking with my Angel by Adam Scott Campbell.

  5. Suncoast Empire: Bertha Honore Palmer, Her Family, and the Rise of Sarasota by Frank A. Cassell - Still on my TBR after several months! 🤣

  6.  Entertaining Angels: True Stories and Art Inspired by Divine Encounters by Anne Neilson.

What will you read this month?

Book Spotlight: Meriden Park by Julie Daines

Meriden Park JustRead Blog + Review Tour 

Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour for Meriden Park by Julie Daines, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!


Meriden Park Title: Meriden Park 
Author: Julie Daines 
Publisher: Covenant Communications 
Release Date: December 5, 2022 
Genre: Clean & Wholesome Romance/Historical/Regency/Suspense

Following her childhood rescue from the gutters of Calcutta, Mary Grace’s life has been an astonishing rags-to-riches tale. The Wellings raised the half-Indian orphan with all the love and care the childless couple possessed, allowing her to grow into a beautiful and refined woman. But upon Mr. Welling’s death, it is time for Mrs. Welling to take Mary home to England―home to Meriden Park.

Despite her genial nature, Mary is received with suspicion by the villagers. For his part, however, Mr. Robert Markham is intrigued by the curious new beauty in town. Determined to make her acquaintance, he offers Mary a bargain she can’t refuse: a hot cross bun for a kiss. That seemingly innocent exchange is the first of many encounters between Robert and Mary, whose friendship blossoms into love during long walks in the privacy of Sherwood Forest. But the shadows of the forest hide a sinister secret, one Mary fears Robert might be a part of. As the mystery of the recent string of murders creeps closer and closer, Robert and Mary are drawn into a dangerous game, and unless she can unearth the truth, the couple risks losing one another forever.

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Mary lowered her eyes as she walked along the great hall filled with portraits of stern-looking men all frowning down upon her. Angrezi sahib—English gentlemen. She need not see their scowls to know she did not belong here. That she was an impostor was written clearly upon her face, upon the color of her skin.

Had they known the truth about her beginnings, they would understand that the source of her shame had nothing whatsoever to do with her skin. But still, they looked down on her, these Angrezi sahib, along with everyone else, not caring one whit about the person behind. This was why she’d lowered her eyes. It was easier to keep her head down and avoid the whole mess.

She was tired of it all. So very tired. Why should their opinions matter to her? They were not so high and mighty now. Their glorious lives reduced to nothing but brush strokes on canvas nailed to ancient walls. She paused at the top of the stairs and glanced back. None of the portraits had ceased their glowering looks. She lifted her eyes and gave each of those stodgy men her most defiant glare before turning to descend the grand stairs.


Julie Daines

Julie Daines is an award-winning and best-selling author. She was born in Concord, Massachusetts, and was raised in Utah. She spent eighteen months living in London, where she studied and fell in love with English literature, sticky toffee pudding, and the mysterious guy who ran the kebab store around the corner.

She loves reading, writing, and watching movies—anything that transports her to another world. She picks Captain Wentworth over Mr. Darcy, firmly believes in second breakfast, and never leaves home without her vervain.

Connect with Julie by visiting to follow her on social media or subscribe to email newsletter updates.


(1) winner will receive a signed copy of book, $25 Amazon gift card, bookmark, stickers, and button.

Meriden Park JustRead Giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight December 5, 2022 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on December 12, 2022. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. 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!

JustRead Publicity Tours

Monday, December 5, 2022

Book Review: All the Lost Places by Amanda Dykes


Title: All the Lost Places
Author: Amanda Dykes
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Inspirational Fiction
Publisher: ‎Bethany House Publishers (December 13, 2022)
Length: (400) pages
Format: Hardcover, Trade paperback, & eBook
ISBN: 978-0764239502
Tour Dates: December 5 – December 19, 2022


When all of Venice is unmasked, one man's identity remains a mystery . . .

When a baby is discovered floating in a basket along the quiet canals of Venice, a guild of artisans takes him in and raises him as a son, skilled in each of their trades. Although the boy, Sebastien Trovato, has wrestled with questions of his origins, it isn't until a woman washes ashore on his lagoon island that answers begin to emerge. In hunting down his story, Sebastien must make a choice that could alter not just his own future, but also that of the beloved floating city.

Daniel Goodman is given a fresh start in life as the century turns. Hoping to redeem a past laden with regrets, he is sent on an assignment from California to Venice to procure and translate a rare book. There, he discovers a city of colliding hope and decay, much like his own life, and a mystery wrapped in the pages of that filigree-covered volume. With the help of Vittoria, a bookshop keeper, Daniel finds himself in a web of shadows, secrets, and discoveries carefully kept within the stones and canals of the ancient city . . . and in the mystery of the man whose story the book does not finish: Sebastien Trovato.


All the Lost Places by Amanda Dykes exceeded my expectations and rates as one of the best novels I’ve read in 2022. My favorite books feature characters that I connect to in some way, and I immediately identified with Daniel. This fallen son’s emotions felt real and raw as he grappled with shame and a need to atone for his past. The story dove deep into the darkness of condemnation and searched for life-giving truth while avoiding platitudes. Daniel's redemption journey takes time but has a wonderful ending.

All the Lost Places is a book for those who ask hard, but worthy questions: Who am I? How can I atone for past wrongs? Where can I find peace? The themes of the novel call out truth to any Christian believer, but especially for the broken and the searching. I marked more than thirty quotes as I read, and I appreciated that the story held themes less commonly explored in Christian fiction.

In addition to the above, Amanda Dykes’ poetic prose and clever writing style made All the Lost Places a delight to read. This character-driven novel had a smartly paced plot that held my attention from beginning to end. The author freshened the popular dual timeline format by using the translation of a book to create the earlier timeline.

I recommend All the Lost Places by Amanda Dykes to readers who enjoy historical Christian fiction with great depth and poignant themes. This novel lingers with me, and I know I’ll return to it in the future.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this book by the author or publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.


“This lyrical dual-narrative historical from Dykes (Set the Stars Alight) dives into the histories of Venice, Italy, and Venice Beach, California.”— Publisher’s Weekly

"Introspective, surprising, and achingly beautiful."— Booklist starred review

"Dykes's pen is fused with magic and poetry. Every word's a gentle wave building into the splendor that is All the Lost Places, where struggles for identity and a place to belong find hope between the pages of a timeless story."— J'Nell Ciesielski, bestselling author of The Socialite

"Luscious writing, authentic characters, and an ending that satisfies to the core of the spirit, this novel is another winner from Amanda Dykes."— Heidi Chiavaroli, Carol Award-winning author of Freedom's Ring and Hope Beyond the Waves



Amanda Dykes's debut novel, Whose Waves These Are, is the winner of the prestigious 2020 Christy Award Book of the Year, a Booklist 2019 Top Ten Romance debut, and the winner of an INSPY Award. She's also the author of Yours Is the Night and Set the Stars Alight, a 2021 Christy Award finalist.

What I Would Tell You Epic Book Launch

About the Book

Book: What I Would Tell You
Author: Liz Tolsma
Genre: Christian Fiction / Romance / Historical Fiction
Release date: January 1, 2023

DNA Test Unlocks a Family Mystery

Sephardic Jew Mathilda Nissim watches in horror as the Germans invade her beloved city of Salonika, Greece. What angers her most is the lack of resistance her people put up to their captors. In secret and at great risk to her life, she continues to publish her newspaper, calling her people to action. She doesn’t trust God to help them. When she and her husband find out they are expecting a child, Mathilda may have to resort to desperate measures to ensure her daughter’s survival.

Three generations later, college student Riley Payson and her cousin take a popular DNA test only to discover they don’t share any common ancestors. In fact, the test shows Riley is a Sephardic Jew from Greece. This revelation shakes Riley’s tenuous faith and sends her on a journey to discover what happened to her great-grandmother and how all this relates to her faith and her life today.

Book Excerpt #4

“The Germans will see it as such. They will only allow their own propaganda to be printed. Especially nothing Jewish. Jews in other countries have lost their businesses, their homes, their very lives.”

“Now you understand why I have to keep writing and publishing. So that we don’t lose our voices. There is so much I have to tell.” 

“At what cost?” Asher stared at her, his eyes dark and stormy.

“At whatever cost it might be.” Too many Jews had already died. If she could prevent one more death or ten or a hundred, it would be worth whatever Dio demanded of her.

He shook his head. “No. Mi corasón, I couldn’t stand to lose you. I can’t allow you to put yourself in so much danger.”

“No matter whether I stop writing or not, I fear we are all in danger. You have heard the stories from Germany and Poland and the other occupied countries. No Jew is safe in a Nazi-controlled land. Any moment, any one of us could be taken—”

With a touch to her lips, he shushed her. “Put those thoughts out of your mind.”

She kept her words soft, almost whispering in his ear. “We have to think about such things.”

He hugged her hard, trembling from head to toe.

“I’m scared too. So afraid. What will become of us? But the entirety of Europe’s Jews may well be wiped out if we stand aside and remain spectators to own destruction. I am more afraid of what will happen if we do nothing than of what will happen if we do something.”

Links to All Excerpts

Excerpt One:

Excerpt Two:

Excerpt Three:

Excerpt Four:

Excerpt Five:

Excerpt Six:

Excerpt Seven:

About the Author

Liz Tolsma is the author of several WWII novels, romantic suspense novels, prairie romance novellas, and an Amish romance. She is a popular speaker and an editor and resides next to a Wisconsin farm field with her husband and their youngest daughter. Her son is a US Marine, and her oldest daughter is a college student. Liz enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping. 

Please visit her website at and follow her on Facebook, Twitter (@LizTolsma), Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. She is also the host of the Christian Historical Fiction Talk podcast.

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Book Review: A Quilt for Christmas by Melody Carlson

About the Book:

Cuddle up with this cozy story of giving and forgiving--with a little bit of romance.

Christmas should be celebrated with family, but for Vera Swanson, that's not an option this year. Widowed and recently relocated, she is lonely in her condo-for-one--until little Fiona Albright knocks on her door needing help.

With her mother seriously ill and her father out of town, Fiona enlists Vera's aid, and when she finds out her new neighbor is a quilter, she has a special request--a Christmas quilt for Mama.

Vera will have to get a ragtag group of women together to fulfill the request. Between free-spirited artist Tasha, chatty empty nester Beverly, retired therapist Eleanor, and herself, Vera has hopes that Christmas for the Albright family will be merry, after all. And she may even find herself a new family of friends along the way.

Read an excerpt from A Quilt for Christmas on the publisher's website.

My Thoughts:

A Quilt for Christmas by Melody Carlson showcases the joy of giving and offers a beautiful story of intergenerational friendship. Set against the backdrop of the Christmas season, the narrative is peppered with feel-good Christmas activities that charmed me. I sometimes avoid novellas because the shorter length can hinder story and character development. However, because this story focuses on a condensed time period, the story expands within the pages and feels very well-rounded. 

My favorite aspect of A Quilt for Christmas was the intergenerational relationships between the women. From Fiona (age 4) to Tasha (mid-30s) to Vera (late 60s), the story demonstrates how all can benefit from having friends of different generations. I loved that it was Fiona who drew all these women together and instigated one character’s change of heart. The story reminded me of the older women in my life whose company I treasure.

I read A Quilt for Christmas by Melody Carlson with my local book club, and it was a perfect Christmas selection for our gathering of ladies. Four stars.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this book by the author or publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.

Friday, December 2, 2022

Book Spotlight: The Best intentions by Sarah M. Eden

The Best Intentions JustRead Blog + Review Tour 

Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour for The Best Intentions by Sarah M. Eden, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!


The Best Intentions Title: The Best Intentions 
Series: The Huntresses #1 
Author: Sarah M. Eden 
Publisher: Covenant Communications 
Release Date: November 21, 2022 
Genre: Clean & Wholesome Romance/Historical/Regency

In the eyes of London Society, Gillian Phelps is suitable enough. Though the ton whispers about her change of residence, any speculation remains just that: ballroom gossip. No one—not even the other Huntresses, the group of ladies she calls her dearest friends—knows that she is harboring a devastating family secret. Gillian has become adept at hiding the reality of her circumstances, but the close quarters of a house party will test her ability to conceal the crushing truth. And with so many people to deceive, the late arrival of another guest is a most unwelcome surprise.

Despite his standing as a gentleman of the ton, in truth, Scott Sarvol possesses little more than two debt-riddled estates. When an opportunity arises to survey one of his properties, he travels north, only to find himself an unwitting guest at Artemis Jonquil’s house party. He is warmly welcomed by all—except the aloof Miss Gillian Phelps. But when Scott proves himself unexpectedly helpful in a crisis, his acquaintance with Gillian shifts from wariness to something warmer. As both her charade and her feelings for Scott deepen, Gillian realizes that the truth could spell not only a devastating fall from Society but also a shattered heart.

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


“You are plotting,” Gillian whispered.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He spoke far too innocently to be believed.

He wasn’t angry with her. She was so relieved she could have cried. Instead, she smiled back at him.

“It is good to see you smiling, Gillian.” Mrs. Brownlow sounded stronger than she had all day. “When she was . . . a little girl, she had such a love of . . . laughing and silliness.”

“Most little children indulge in such things,” Gillian said. “One can hardly expect someone of my age—”

“Yes. We must remember how incredibly old Gillian is,” Scott said in serious tones. “I have heard the word ancient used. Antiquated. Decrepit.


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.

Connect with Sarah by visiting to follow her on social media or subscribe to email newsletter updates.


(1) winner will receive a signed copy of book, $25 Amazon gift card, bookmark, stickers, and button.

The Best Intentions JustRead Giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight November 28, 2022 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on December 5, 2022. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. 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!

JustRead Publicity Tours

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Book Review: The Sisters of Sea View by Julie Klassen


  • Title: The Sisters of Sea View
  • Series: On Devonshire Shores (Book 1)
  • Author: Julie Klassen
  • Genre: Historical Romance, Regency Romance, Inspirational Fiction
  • Publisher: ‎Bethany House Publishers (December 6, 2022)
  • Length: (448) pages
  • Format: hardcover, trade paperback, & eBook
  • ISBN: 978-0764234262
  • Tour Dates: November 28 – December 12, 2022


Some guests have come for a holiday, others for hidden reasons of their own . . .

When their father's death leaves them impoverished, Sarah Summers and her genteel sisters fear they will be forced to sell the house and separate to earn livelihoods as governesses or companions. Determined to stay together, Sarah convinces them to open their seaside home to guests to make ends meet and provide for their ailing mother. Instead of the elderly invalids they expect to receive, however, they find themselves hosting eligible gentlemen. Sarah is soon torn between a growing attraction to a mysterious Scottish widower and duty to her family.

Viola Summers wears a veil to cover her scar. When forced to choose between helping in her family's new guest house and earning money to hire a maid to do her share, she chooses the latter. She reluctantly agrees to read to some of Sidmouth's many invalids, preferring the company of a few elders with failing eyesight to the fashionable guests staying in their home. But when her first client turns out to be a wounded officer in his thirties, Viola soon wishes she had chosen differently. Her new situation exposes her scars--both visible and those hidden deep within--and her cloistered heart will never be the same.

Join the Summers sisters on the Devonshire coast, where they discover the power of friendship, loyalty, love, and new beginnings.




The Sisters of Sea View by Julie Klassen started off slow and unhurried, not hard to put down when necessary. Later, I realized that the relaxed pace allowed the author to spend substantial page time building the three main characters (Sarah, Emily, and Viola) and their world. Taking the time to dig into each woman’s mind and secrets created a solid foundation for this story and the subsequent novels in the series. Viola ranked as my favorite sister, and I was very pleased with the way her storyline unfolded.

In The Sisters of Sea View, several characters have scars, emotional or physical. A strong theme that felt spiritual, but not preachy, emerged as the author used different characters to show how people respond to injuries and scars. Will the person choose bitterness or contentment? Will the scars cause a person to withdraw, or will the person be unhindered? This theme undergirded the character development of multiple characters and added depth to the story.

The Sisters of Sea View by Julie Klassen commences the On Devonshire Shores series. While I would not consider the ending a cliffhanger, certain relationships and circumstances are open-ended. Christian fiction readers who enjoy historical fiction with bonds of sisterhood and a relaxed pace will likely enjoy The Sisters of Sea View. As Julie Klassen wrote in the author’s note, the story also offers “fond nods of honor to the great Jane Austen.”

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this book by the author or publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.



“Jane Austen fans will delight in this nimble series launch…Klassen excels at weaving her various story lines, each emphasizing the colorful qualities of her characters and allowing them the space to shine. Readers will be eager for the next installment.” —Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)


“Julie Klassen delights with a winsome love story…” —Publisher’s Weekly, on A Castaway in Cornwall

“I couldn’t put it down! It you are a historical fiction fan you need this one on your radar! It was a spooky delight full of heart. ”—Anne Mendez, The Lit Bitch, on Shadows of Swanford Abbey

“…a wonderfully engaging novel full of intriguing characters and storylines. I highly recommend it and can’t wait for more in the series.” —Laura Gerold, Laura’s Reviews, on The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill



Julie Klassen loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. Her books have sold over a million copies, and she is a three-time recipient of the Christy Award for Historical Romance. The Secret of Pembrooke Park was honored with the Minnesota Book Award for Genre Fiction. Julie has also won the Midwest Book Award and Christian Retailing’s BEST Award and has been a finalist in the RITA and Carol Awards. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. She and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.