Mom’s Mystery Monday – #3

It’s a mystery week here at Kat’s Corner books. Today I bring you another installment from my awesome mom, and tomorrow’s review will also be a mystery, so be sure to come back if you’re a mystery lover. Thanks, mom, for guest reviewing!

And, here’s mom:

Christmas is Coming.

The temperatures have started getting cooler and leaves are starting to change which means only one thing….fall will soon be followed by Christmas.  Which means the wonderful Christmas movies hit TV and my reading turns to Christmas mysteries.

Candy Cane MurderLast year I picked up a mystery by Joanne Fluke, “Candy Cane Murder”.  Where a trail of candy canes leads to a dead Santa.  I have always enjoyed her writing and her character Hannah Swensen, who owns The Cookie Jar.  This time of year her inclusion of recipes is great for a new sweet baking tradition.

Unfortunately, I was just getting into the intrigue when the story hurriedly came to an end.  This seemed odd with so many pages left in the book.  It was then I realized this was a three story book.  Two more books followed, one by Laura Levine and the other by Leslie Meier.  So, on I plunged into “The Dangers of Candy Canes.”

The story starts with her trying to take a picture of her cat in a Santa hat.  It was, of course, unsuccessful.  I have two cats and could have told her it was a useless endeavor, so why it took a chapter to explain this dilemma confounds me.   After this, it does not improve.  The main character, Jaine Austen, talks to the readers and whines a lot which I find irritating.  At chapter seven I gave up.  By that point I simply didn’t care what happed.

Why these three books were put together I will never know, but at this moment all I can suggest is buy a cookie cook book instead and save yourself some disappointment.

Oh, and what about Leslie Meier’s last story?  Can’t tell you.  With Joanne’s abrupt ending of her story and Laura’s disappointing start to hers I didn’t bother to read the last.


 

Poor Leslie, not even getting a chance. Mom can be a tough critic sometimes; maybe I’ll be able to convince her to give Leslie a chance. It’s always tough when we don’t enjoy a book, especially when we like the author and have invested in them for just that reason. But, we all have down days, so as we head into fall, let’s give an author whose had a not-as-well-loved book another chance.

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Family Recommends

Whew! Boy am I happy to be home! Every Labor Day we make a whirlwind trip back to Ohio and stay at my husband’s eldest brother’s house. It’s a great time with tons of family, and I love them all, but my introverted self barely survives every year. This year I had some interesting bookish conversations with my three sisters-in-law sharing some of the things I love, memories from CFRR, and things they love. So, of course I asked them what Christian Fiction book they’ve read recently that they recommend; it sounded like a perfect blog post and I’m always looking for new reads. I hope that you can find something you’ll enjoy. Here is each of their top picks:

Veil of Fire by Marlo Schalesky Veil of Fire

“Replete with suspense. Very difficult to put down.” This recommendation comes from my youngest sister-in-law. While she couldn’t remember the title right off the bat, she was very animated telling me all about it and how awesome it was. It’s a fictional story woven into an actual historic event . Thank goodness for Google because I was intrigued.
In 1894, the worst firestorm in Minnesota history descended on the town of Hinckley, consuming 400 square miles and killing 418 people in just four hours.

Heat, flame, and darkness swept through the town, devouring lives, and consuming all hope. In the aftermath of the fire, the town of Hinckley rises from the ashes, its people determined to rebuild their lives.

But in the shadows, someone is watching, someone is waiting, someone who knows the secrets the fire lay bare. A rumor spreads of a mysterious figure that haunts the hills; monster, a ghost, or a memory?

Midnight on the Mississippi (Secrets of the South Mysteries #1) byMary Ellis

Midnight on the MissippiNext up is my oldest sister-in-law’s recommendation. She reads almost as much as I do and we often trade books we loved to add to our TBR piles. She was currently reading the third in this series and said she had been hooked from the start and was anxiously waiting for the third to come out. Thus, she recommended the first in the series so you can get hooked too. From what I understand, you’ll need to read all three as it’s an ongoing series; not always my cup of tea as I prefer stories to wrap up in one book, but some of you all love these cliffhangers.
Midnight on the Mississippi begins the new Secrets of the South Mysteries from bestselling author Mary Ellis. These complex crime dramas follow an investigator’s quest to make the world a better place…solving one case at a time.

New Orleans–Hunter Galen, a stock and securities broker, suspects his business partner, James Nowak, may be involved in embezzling their clients’ money, but he’s reluctant to jeopardize their friendship based on suspicion alone. After James turns up dead, Hunter realizes his unwillingness to confront a problem may have cost James his life.

Nicki Price, a newly minted PI, intends to solve the stockbroker’s murder, recover the missing millions from the client accounts, and establish herself in the career she adores. As she ferrets out fraud and deception at Galen Investments, Hunter’s fiancee, Ashley Menard, rubs Nicki the wrong way. Nicki doesn’t trust the ostentatious woman with an agenda longer than the Mississippi River. Ashley seems to be hiding something, but is Nicki’s growing attraction to Hunter–a suspected murderer–her true reason for disliking Ashley?

As they encounter sophisticated shell games, blackmail, and murder, Nicki and Hunter’s only option is to turn to God as they search for answers, elude lethal danger, and perhaps discover love along the way.

Just Look Up (Harbor Point #1) by Courtney Walsh

Just Look Up

Last, but not least, is my middle sister-in-law. We are the most alike and both outlaws in this crazy family and married to the two craziest brothers. We spent the weekend bonding over the fact that two seemingly intelligent women married such silly men, but we wouldn’t change them for the world. She’s in the throws of raising 5 kids, 4 of which are 5 and under, so she doesn’t get to read nearly as often as she would like. She remembers reading a great fiction book, but for the life of her can’t remember it; she’s more of a non-fiction reader. BUT, she really wanted to read Just Look Up, which I finished last week (it’s fantastic), I brought it to her this weekend and she was 6 chapters in before I left, even with the craziness of the weekend.
After tirelessly climbing the ranks of her Chicago-based interior design firm, Lane Kelley is about to land her dream promotion when devastating news about her brother draws her back home–a quaint tourist town full of memories she’d just as soon forget. With her cell phone and laptop always within reach, Lane aims to check on her brother while staying focused on work–something her eclectic family doesn’t understand.

Ryan Brooks never expected to settle down in Harbor Pointe, Michigan, but after his final tour of duty, it was the only place that felt like home. Now knee-deep in a renovation project that could boost tourism for the struggling town, he is thrilled to see Lane, the girl he secretly once loved, even if the circumstances of her homecoming aren’t ideal.

Their reunion gets off to a rocky start, however, when Ryan can’t find a trace of the girl he once knew in the woman she is today. As he slowly chips away at the walls Lane has built, secrets from his past collide with a terrible truth even he is reluctant to believe. Facing a crossroads that could define his future with Lane and jeopardize his relationship with the surrogate family he’s found in the Kelleys, Ryan hopes Lane can see that maybe what really matters has been right in front of her all along–if only she’d just look up.

A Name Unknown

UntitledA name unknown quoteLadies (and gentleman, if you’re out there) I am privileged to finally be able to post about Roseanna White’s newest, A Name Unknown. Some of you might remember when I geeked out a bit with the cover reveal a couple months ago. I helped with a very small tibit of research (which we both love and I do a good bit of in my day job) and was super excited to see if any of it got incorporated into the book. A tiny bit did as it had to do with some of the questions of citizenship and how to prove it 1914. Needless to say, it is my one claim to fame in life. I am very privileged to have been able to help in any way. One day, hopefully, I’ll be able to meet Roseanna in person as we only live a couple hours from each other. Until then, I shall content myself with gobbling up any new books.

The Story

A Name UnknownRosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins that helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they concentrate on stealing high-value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. But when Rosemary must determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany, she is in for the challenge of a lifetime. How does one steal a family’s history, their very name?

Peter Holstein, given his family’s German blood, writes his popular series of adventure novels under a pen name. With European politics boiling and his own neighbors suspicious of him, Peter debates whether it might be best to change his name for good. When Rosemary shows up at his door pretending to be a historian and offering to help him trace his family history, his question might be answered. 

But as the two work together and Rosemary sees his gracious reaction to his neighbors’ scornful attacks, she wonders if her assignment is going down the wrong path. Is it too late to help him prove that he’s more than his name?

My Review

Would it be cheating to just say “Read it, it’s awesome?” Yes? Ok, then. Let me start by saying I recieved a copy of this book from the publisher and am not required to write a positive review, but I am going to anyway because as Mikey always said “I really like!” Roseanna blends together two different world, classes, viewpoints, faith outlooks, etc. beautifully in a story that teaches both main characters that we’re never to old or young to learn and there is almost always a compromise if we allow ourselves an open mind and heart.

I could not put it down and was constantly drawn to the “what comes next?” That said, it broaches on war, and while it does get into some of those elements, it is not overwhelming to the story. You can feel the constant tension and the uncertain future, and I think just a little taste of what life would have felt like full time during that time period. I”m eager to see where Roseanna takes the family.

About the Author

Roseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna’s fiction ranges from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her new British series. She lives with her family in West Virginia. Learn more at www.roseannamwhite.com.

 

Top Ten Tuesday

I don’t often join in on the Top Ten Tuesday, though I think it’s an awesome feature since it’s my normal day to post a new review. But, today’s topic of top ten reads so far this year is one that’s been percolating in my brain anyway. So unlike my friend Carrie at Reading is my Super Power, I was excited! These are all books I’ve read this year, regardless of print date, and pulls from either print or audio books. Also to help narrow it down since I read a copious amount, these are all full-length novels (no novellas) and they are all ones I’ve either purchased or am on the street team for (as opposed to library or friend borrows).

  hearontheline   Behind The Scenes   LizzyJane  berry-on-top   stilllife   uncommoncourtshipcover   True to you   rescueme  chili slaw dogs   ever after

There you go! I hope you find some new reads. There are many more books I’m really looking forward to this year. Stay tuned!

Sprouts of Love with Author Valerie Comer

Romance Grows AVHappy Tuesday, ya’ll! Today we’re chatting with Valerie Comer. Valerie is known for her local fresh food focus and sweet romances. Her band new book, Sprouts of Love, is part of the A Garden Grown Romance series. It was kicked off with a fantastic collection of stories by six authors called Romance Grows in Arcadia Valley. There was a lot of collaboration by the authors to make a little fictional world in a corner of Idaho. I am amazes at how well all of the different series work so well together, even as each author continues dependently. Since cats are know for their curiosity, it only made sense to ask Valerie to join us here today!

Sprouts of Love:

Sprouts Of LoveCan love sprout amid a tsunami of vegetables?

Single mom Evelyn Felton takes on another part-time job managing a greenhouse and garden project for Grace Fellowship. Formerly homeless, she’s thrilled to offer truckloads of fresh produce to the Arcadia Valley food bank.

If only Ben Kujak weren’t running Corinna’s Cupboard singlehandedly, he’d be delighted to be on the receiving end. But Evelyn and her dynamo daughter, Maisie, won’t take no for an answer, even if it means restructuring Ben’s charity.

Soon Ben finds himself wishing they’d transform his personal life, too, but can true love sprout when their pasts collide with the present?

Interview

Valerie- Thanks for joining us here today! We like to ask all of our authors a couple fun questions to start off with:

  1. Open your text message app. What are the first 10 words that come up automatically?

Valerie: The girls in that evening are so cute I can’t…

Kat: You can tell you have grandgirls!

  1. Here’s at Kat’s Corner books, we’re fans of cats, but love all pets. Do you have a pet? If so, what and what’s their name?

Valerie: Three animals — a dog and two cats — currently share my husband and me. Brody is a black Lab cross (crossed with something unknown and large!) who’s nine years old and is not the smartest thing on four legs. Even hubby  says that, and he’s the dog person! Coonie and Moxie are tortoiseshell littermates who are seven and a half years old. They’re a good trio, between them. They get along well and keep us company.

And now on to the book!

  1. This series started off with a collaboration of a set of novellas. I imagine that an immense amount of coordination was required. I even saw one of the authors post that some of you have never met (at least until that trip). Can you tell us a little about the process?

Valerie: There’s a fair bit going on behind the scenes in our Facebook group and in our shared Dropbox folder, for sure. We started brainstorming early in 2016, creating our setting and divvying up the parts we each wanted to write about.

I’ve met two of the other authors in person, and the other three only online. The internet makes it so easy to work together and to become true friends with people we’ve never met!

  1. As each of the authors continue forward in the series, how much do you all still collaborate or check-in? While all the series happen in the same town, they’re very different and kind of exist in their own world. Do you all try to refer to each other’s stories?

Valerie: We check into our Facebook group often. Someone is posting at least once or twice a week, perhaps with a timeline question or a “would your character say this” question. We are all reading each other’s work, so as things go along, I think you’ll find increased mixing from when the first few authors were working more in a vacuum.

We agreed early on to keep our smaller series focused on our own characters and themes, and only bring in someone else’s characters for flavor. At the same time, the characters may attend the same church (we’ve created three) or dine at the same restaurants or go to the same park or events. I love how the town of Arcadia Valley is filling out a little with each new story!

  1. I know that you have a passion for “real” food and that is an important aspect for all your stories. I know I’ve learned a lot from them. For those who may not understand the concept, can you describe it in a few sentences and tell us why/how it’s so important to you?

Valerie: As a culture, we’re quite selfish. We tend not to think about the results of our choices that often – the workers who harvest sprayed vegetables, the child slave labor that goes into much of today’s cocoa production, the big corporations that care more for their bottom dollar than any person’s health and welfare. We willingly gobble up empty chemical calories with little regard for our own bodies or the moral implications!

Am I perfect? Not by a long shot. Sometimes tiredness and thrift play a role in the food choices I make, too. But I truly believe that we who are residents of first world countries need to learn to think beyond ourselves for the betterment of our own bodies, our communities, people around the world, and the environment.

Yeah, I’ve got an entire soapbox, but I’ll get off now. 😉

  1. I also believe in the importance of real food, but struggle to implement it living the middle of the city (though I do cherish my three small community garden plots). For some, it seems far out of reach. If there were one or two things that they could implement today, what would they be?

Valerie: I think the first thing is just being aware. Look at the labels on your food… not just on the boxes and packages but even on your fruits and vegetables. What country did they come from? Are there other alternatives from closer to home? What’s actually in season?

I recommend frequenting your local farmers market or a food co-op if you can. Talk to your farmers and growers. Learn what actually grows in your area. Fresh produce picked at the peak of ripeness may turn your picky kids into fans of vegetables.

  1. Sprouts of Love deals with an issue that many try not to think about: homelessness, and even more so homeless women and children. What was the inspiration behind this theme?

Valerie: I honestly don’t know the answer to that. It’s the second time homelessness has been central to one of my novels — the other was Berry on Top, released in February 2016. I’ve never been homeless or close to it, and I’ve never worked at a shelter or anything like that.

All I can say is God probably wanted to teach me empathy. I don’t plot my story details out prior to writing, so sometimes what happens on the page is just as much a surprise to me as it is to the readers!

  1. If there’s one lesson you’d like readers to walk away with after reading this story, what is it?

Valerie: We’re so quick to judge other people for the way they are and the choices they make. In the story, characters are judged because they’ve been homeless… or because they have a beautiful home. There are other judgments, too, against parents who do literally anything for their children, and others who abandon their kids.

So maybe the takeaway is not to judge, not even the big things that are so obviously wrong. Each person makes decisions based on their history and current circumstances. We need to give grace and come alongside people who are hurting, not heap condemnation on their heads.

You know, I hadn’t really thought about that before with this book. Good question.

What an insightful interview. Thank you so much! I really look forward to following all of the Arcadia Valley series.

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Author Bio

Valerie-Comer-150x150Valerie Comer’s life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary Christian romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie grows much of her own food and is active in the local foods movement as well as her church. She only hopes her imaginary friends enjoy their happily-ever-afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.

Valerie is a USA Today bestselling author and a two-time Word Award winner. She writes engaging characters, strong communities, and deep faith laced with humor into her green clean romances.

Connect with Valerie! 

http://valeriecomer.com

http://arcadiavalleyromance.com

http://inspyromance.com

http://twitter.com/valeriecomer

https://www.pinterest.com/valeriecomer/garden-grown-romances-set-in-arcadia-valley-idaho/

https://www.pinterest.com/valeriecomer/arcadia-valley-romance/

 

Becky Wade’s ‘True to You’ Prize Pack and $100 Giveaway

Do opposites really attract? John and Nora might just be the perfect match. Find out in True to You, book one in Becky Wade’s new series! Genealogist and historical village owner Nora Bradford has decided that burying her nose in her work and her books is far safer than romance in the here and now. Former Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient John Lawson is a modern-day man, usually 100 percent focused on the present. But when he’s diagnosed with an inherited condition, he’s forced to dig into the secrets of his past and his adoption as an infant, enlisting Nora to help him uncover the identity of his birth mother. Finding the answers they’re seeking will test the limits of their identity, their faith, and their devotion to one another.

My Thoughts

I have long been a Becky Wade fan. That said, long time readers will notice that this is a very different style from our beloved Porter series. But, what is consistent is Becky’s trademark romance and solid story line. What is different in this story is how long the main characters fight their attraction. While sometimes this can be frustrating in a story,  Becky does a great job of progressing the romance and tension, as well as giving us a realistic perspective on two people falling in love but trying not to; they have real struggles, real problems, real feelings. I loved this aspect of the book as so often the feelings of attraction that we struggle with in real life relationships is glossed over in Christian romance. I wish I could visit Mayfair, but since it’s unfortunately make believe, I’ll have to settle with adding all of Washington to my travel list.

As a lover of history, frequent researcher, and adoption advocate, this story line contains many elements that I thoroughly enjoyed. I think many readers will be able to relate to John’s search for his birth parents or Nora’s introverted book loving, generous nature. There’s also a fun quiz that Bethany House has put together to see which Becky Wade heroine you are most like. I got Willow; I’ll take the supermodel!

I can’t wait to read Willow’s and Britt’s story.

I received a copy of True to You from Litfuse  for promotional purposes. All opinions expressed are purely my own.

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Celebrate the launch of Becky Wade’s new series by entering to win a fabulous prize pack and $100 cash card from Litfuse!

One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A copy of True to You
  • A $100 Visa cash card
  • A prize pack hand-picked by Becky

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on May 30. The winner will be announced May 31 on the Litfuse blog.