A ★★★★ Book Review of the Pink Bonnet by Liz Tolsma, Book Two in the True Colors series | Historical Stories of American Crime

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review. All thoughts below are my own.  Also, this blog post includes affiliate links which means I will receive a commission based on sales generated via these links.


A Desperate Young Mother Searches for Her Child
Step into True Colors -- a new series of Historical Stories of Romance and American Crime

Widowed in Memphis during 1932, Cecile Dowd is struggling to provide for her three-year-old daughter. Unwittingly trusting a neighbor puts little Millie Mae into the clutches of Georgia Tann, corrupt Memphis Tennessee Children’s Home Society director suspected of the disappearance of hundreds of children. With the help of a sympathetic lawyer, the search for Millie uncovers a deep level of corruption that threatens their very lives. How far will a mother go to find out what happened to her child?

Synopsis from The Pink Bonnet


A ★★★★ Book Review of the Pink Bonnet by Liz Tolsma, Book Two in the True Colors series | Historical Stories of American Crime

A ★★★★ Book Review of the Pink Bonnet by Liz Tolsma, Book Two in the True Colors series | Historical Stories of American Crime

★★★★ | The one thing no mother wants to face is the loss of her child. As a mother who’s experienced loss and as an adoptive mother, The Pink Bonnet yanked open doors and windows into my soul and brought me to tears.

Liz Tolsma took a true story of horrible tragedy and turned it into a beautiful tale of a mother’s love and how that love is a picture of the love God has for His own children.

The True Colors series is a series of books that highlights American crime. This particular story is that of Georgia Tann, the corrupt director of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society located in Memphis, TN. Miss Tann used highly unethical methods to secure and place children under the age of 7 into adoptive families from the 1920’s until the 1950’s. Her methods included deception, forcefulness, and kidnapping, which sets the plot for this fictional story.

Liz Tolsma does an excellent job of creating a suspenseful story line while keeping the details historically accurate. Cecile Dowd is a character that embodies every mother who’s ever lost a child and takes desperate measures to ensure that child’s safe return. As a mother, I identified with her desperation and determination. The cast of characters are all well developed and I felt a connection with each of them. Watching as each of their stories unfolds was a beautiful revelation of how God can use each one of us if only we allow it.

The only thing that kept my rating from five stars was the fact that Cecile’s plight wasn’t immediately taken to the police. I would think, if a child had been kidnapped, police would need to immediately notified. I was disturbed by this in the first half of the book. I did some research online at that point and discovered that oftentimes, these young mothers were considered poor and uneducated, making claims against what appeared to be a respected, licensed social worker. I also discovered the police officers even looked the other way because of affiliations Miss Tann had with high ranking politicians and offcials in the city. While these affiliations were made known in the book, the police aspect wasn’t truly revealed until the last chapters. I personally would have liked to have had that become known much earlier in the book and I would have found the storyline to be somewhat more believable. Regardless of that personal preference though, this novel is still worthy of all four stars.

The Pink Bonnet offers mild suspense, disturbingly accurate details, a heinous villain, a budding romance and a climatic conclusion. The underlying currents of desperation, hope, love and reunification are truly beautiful. I recommend it to readers who enjoy crime/suspense novels and even those who enjoy a historical romance.

While Georgia Tann will be forever known as a corrupt kidnapper and human trafficker who misused her license as a social worker for personal gain, God did use this horrible brokenness to create a more positive stigma surrounding adoptions. As a result we have better laws in place now, social workers who are routinely checked and adoptions are more open and public than they used to be. Our family, for one, is grateful for that as we enjoy an open adoption with our daughter’s birth family and celebrate them for their love and sacrifice. Adoption nearly always stems from brokenness, but there can be healing and beauty in the process if the parties involved choose love.


This mother, this child, loved each other with an overwhelming love, a love that knew no bounds, no limits, no ends. ...there was nothing like a mother’s love, other than God’s love for His own children.
— Liz Tolsma, The Pink Bonnet

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Author Liz Tolsma | Photo Courtesy of  www.truecolorscrime.com

Author Liz Tolsma | Photo Courtesy of www.truecolorscrime.com

Liz Tolsma is a popular speaker and an editor and the owner of the Write Direction Editing. An almost-native Wisconsinite, she resides in a quiet corner of the state with her husband and their two daughters. Her son proudly serves as a U.S. Marine. They adopted all of their children internationally, and one has special needs. When she gets a few spare minutes, she enjoys reading, relaxing on the front porch, walking, working in her large perennial garden, and camping with her family.

Visit Liz online at LizTolsma.com


Lastly, pick up your own copy of The Pink Bonnet or borrow it from your local library.  Then, I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts on the book in the comments below! 


 

A ★★★★★ Book Review of Convergence by Ginny L. Yttrup, a suspense novel published by Barbour Publishing

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Shiloh Run Press, an imprint of Barbour Publishing, Inc. and was under no obligation to post a review. All thoughts below are my own.  Also, this blog post includes affiliate links which means I will receive a commission based on sales generated via these links.



A psychologist paralyzed by fear.  
A mother propelled by love. 
A stalker bent on destruction.

 
Psychology professor Dr. Denilyn Rossi contends that the past is either a shadow that haunts us or a force that propels us. The choice is ours, she tells her students. What she doesn’t tell them is that her own past is a shadow she can’t seem to shake. Fear has immobilized her and is taking a costly toll.

Adelia Sanchez, however, has embraced Dr. Rossi’s teaching. She is ready to confront fear and render it powerless—using the trauma of her past to propel her to entrap the man who stalked and brutally attacked her.

As Denilyn’s past and Adelia’s present converge at the Kaweah River, a dangerous man bent on destruction threatens them both. Will he uncover the secret Deni and Adelia have fought so hard to protect?

-Synopsis from Convergence


A ★★★ Book Review of the White City by Grace Hitchcock, Book One in the True Colors series | Historical Stories of American Crime

A ★★★ Book Review of the White City by Grace Hitchcock, Book One in the True Colors series | Historical Stories of American Crime

★★★★★ | Hands down, this brand new thriller from Ginny L. Yttrup is a book I will recommend over and over. While this author is new to me, the suspense fiction genre isn’t. I was excited to read Convergence after glancing over the synopsis and happy to report it did not disappoint, but rather, far exceeded any expectations I had.

Readers will follow along, turning page after page as quickly as possible, while Yttrup weaves an intriguing, captivating story of suspense that keeps her readers engaged to the very end. Psychologist, Dr. Denilyn Rossi, is a brilliant character and I thoroughly enjoyed a look into her mind and heart as she struggles to battle a past that still haunts her and the fear that has presently immobilized.

Being cautious not to give too much of this novel away, I will say that I thought Convergence was very well written with an action packed plot. The characters were relatable, strong and solid. As Denilyn flashes between the story of her assault seven years ago and her current fearful situation, the story becomes riveting and truly had me on the edge of my seat. I believe the fear of the unknown is one of the strongest types of fear a human can encounter and Yttrup does a fantastic job of using that to her advantage. Adelia’s strong, faith driven character is beautiful in it’s own right and a great fit to this story. Around every turn, the knowledge of a psychopathic stalker who’s making deadly threats, drives these two women in their every step creating an exciting story of suspense and mystery for readers. The ending left me surprised, satisfied, and made me want to read the book again!

I loved the fact that Yttrup didn’t shy away from personal struggles including fear, control, and divorce but instead embraced them and used them to point to a deeper, more meaningful relationship with God. The faith based element of Convergence is perhaps my favorite part. It wasn’t over indulgent or forceful but rather encouraging and enriching. Because this novel is written in the first person, Yttrup uses her characters’ thoughts and feelings to expose readers to a wide range of thoughts and feelings… ones we’ve all had at one time or another. As the novel moves forward and the characters’ relinquish their fears and control to God, we see the beauty and redemption in surrendering ourselves to Him as He guides our steps.

I recommend Convergence to mature readers who enjoy Christian contemporary fiction, psychological thrillers, suspense and mysteries. Happy Reading!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Author Ginny Yttrup, Photo Courtesy of  www.ginnyyttrup.com

Author Ginny Yttrup, Photo Courtesy of www.ginnyyttrup.com

Ginny L. Yttrup is an award-winning author who writes contemporary, issue-driven fiction meant to engage the reader and encourage them to a deeper relationship with God. Ginny is a sought after retreat, even and writer’s conference speaker. Visit Ginny online at http://ginnyyttrup.com.

You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.


Lastly, pick up your own copy of Convergence or borrow it from your local library.  Then, I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts on the book in the comments below! 


 

A ★★★ Book Review of the White City by Grace Hitchcock, Book One in the True Colors series | Historical Stories of American Crime

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review. All thoughts below are my own.  Also, this blog post includes affiliate links which means I will receive a commission based on sales generated via these links.


1893 | Chicago’s World Fair, mysterious disappearances, romance, undercover adventures and the secrets of the infamous H.H. Holmes, rumored to be America’s first serial killer.


Mysterious Disappearances Taint the Chicago World’s Fair

Step into True Colors -- a new series of Historical Stories of Romance and American Crime

While attending the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, Winnifred Wylde believes she witnessed a woman being kidnapped. She tries to convince her father, an inspector with the Chicago police, to look into reports of mysterious disappearances around the White City. Inspector Wylde tries to dismiss her claims as exaggeration of an overactive imagination, but he eventually concedes to letting her go undercover as secretary to the man in question—if she takes her pistol for protection and Jude Thorpe, a policeman, for bodyguard.

Will she be able to expose H. H. Holmes’s illicit activity, or will Winnifred become his next victim?.

Synopsis from The White City


A ★★★ Book Review of the White City by Grace Hitchcock, Book One in the True Colors series | Historical Stories of American Crime

A ★★★ Book Review of the White City by Grace Hitchcock, Book One in the True Colors series | Historical Stories of American Crime

★★★ | Perhaps, you know of the infamous H.H. Holmes, a man rumored to be America’s first serial killer. And perhaps you do not. This newly released novel, The White City, by Grace Hitchcock delves into that fantastical story of a man who’s true story is still somewhat unknown.

Readers will join fictional character Winnifred Wylde as she seeks to uncover the truth about H.H. Holmes. As the daughter of Chicago’s inspector Wylde, Winnifred spends her days buried in romance novels until she finds herself captured up into the real life crimes of H.H. Holmes. Posing as his secretary, she works undercover for this dangerous man, under the protective eye of the dashing Jude Thorpe, a true life detective and one of New York’s finest. The budding romance between these two characters is the highlight of this novel!

I gave this book three stars and want to encourage others to read and discover the story for themselves because I’m certain there will be many readers who will enjoy it immensely!

When I first read about this series and the release of this book, I was excited and anticipating a truly suspenseful plot, rich with historical facts and fictional liberties . After all, we’re talking about a serial killer and a time in history when crime was rampant. I expected a serious tone to The White City but instead found more of a Christian romance than a true crime novel.

What I loved about this novel was the setting, the villain, and Miss Wylde and Detective Thorpe’s romance. Detective Thorpe, with his handsome and protective demeanor is the epitome of a romance novel’s hero. I also loved the backstory of H. H. Holmes and his underhanded swindling, insurance fraud and the mysterious killings that he committed in his “hotel” with hidden doors and rooms. Truly, if the author had focused on these three things solely, setting aside Miss Wylde’s personal life, aunt and suitors, this would have a top notch read and exactly what I was hoping for from The White City. More historical background on Chicago and the World’s Fair would have been icing on the cake. At times, I felt like I was expected to have prior knowledge of these things as a reader and unfortunately, I had only but a little. For instance, I never did discover why Chicago was called the White City and found myself Googling H. H. Holmes too.

In the first two thirds of the book, I struggled with the characters and their actions/decisions, the plot and the parts about Miss Wylde’s aunt and suitors which I found myself hurrying through. I desperately wanted more suspense and a deeper plot focused more on Holmes and his crimes. The climax of this novel near the end was my favorite part for this reason - suspense, crime, romance and heroism all rolled up into a few chapters! In the end, this was a solid three stars for me. A good book with a hint of crime, lots of romance and a tiny dash of suspense.

I encourage you to read this book for yourself. I think readers will find the characters to be likable, the story flows along fluidly and the author writes very well, even if it wasn’t the way I initially expected or wanted. This novel is a light read, a clean story for young adults and there’s a delightful romantic aspect to the book that romance readers will enjoy with just enough historical fiction to entice a historical fiction lover.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Author Grace Hitchcock, Photo Courtesy of  http://gracehitchcockbooks.com

Author Grace Hitchcock, Photo Courtesy of http://gracehitchcockbooks.com

Grace Hitchcock is the author of The White City
and The Gray Chamber from Barbour Publishing. She has written multiple novellas in The Second Chance Brides, The Southern Belle Brides, and the Thimbles and Threads collections with Barbour Publishing. She holds a Masters in Creative Writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in History. Grace lives in southern Louisiana with her husband, Dakota, and son. Visit Grace online at GraceHitchcock.com.

You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest!


Lastly, pick up your own copy of The White City or borrow it from your local library.  Then, I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts on the book in the comments below! 


 

A ★★★★ Book Review of My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge: Laurel's Dream by Pepper Basham | A Christian, historical fiction novel

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review. All thoughts below are my own.  Also, this blog post includes affiliate links which means I will receive a commission based on sales generated via these links.


This sweet novel opens the door to life in the heart of Appalachia during the early twentieth century. With endearing characters and a storyline so heartwarming, it’s a must-love story from start to finish!


A British Missionary Meets a Chilly Welcome in a Remote Appalachian Community
 
Laurel McAdams is well acquainted with trouble, but her dreams keep her hopeful that life can improve on her mountain in the Blue Ridge. Still, trouble does come in the form of an outsider.

Having failed his Bristish father again, Jonathan Taylor joins his uncle’s missionary endeavors as a teacher in a two-room schoolhouse. Laurel feels compelled to protect the tenderhearted teacher from the harsh realities of Appalachian life, even while his stories of life outside the mountains pull at Laurel’s imagination.

Faced with parents angry over his teaching methods, Laurel’s father’s drunken rages, and bad news from England, will Jonathan leave and never return, or will he stay and let love bloom?

Journey into North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains of 1918 where a young woman’s dreams are held captive by rugged landscape and long held traditions. - Synopsis from My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge: Laurel’s Dream


A ★★★★ Book Review of My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge: Laurel's Dream by Pepper Basham | A Christian, historical fiction novel

A ★★★★ Book Review of My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge: Laurel's Dream by Pepper Basham | A Christian, historical fiction novel

★★★★ || With a tender love story reminiscent of Catherine Marshall’s Christy, Pepper Basham shares a delightful tale of a young, British man who comes to the heart of the Appalachian mountains in 1918 at the behest of his uncle to teach at a mission school. There he meets Laurel, a young woman who’s colorful and upbeat outlook on her life in the mountains when it’s at its best, or its hardest, has him falling for the mountains, and her.

Having lived in the Appalachian mountains myself, I can attest to the tugging the beautiful mountain scenery and countryside can place on one’s heart. I found this sweet novel to be both familiar and endearing. Author Pepper Basham weaves in colorful mountain phrases, wit, humor and country charm while depicting what I believe to be an accurate look at life in the mountains around the early twentieth century. The characters are likable, while the story line moves along with both the highs and lows of life in a remote area. There are strong elements of faith woven throughout the story and a beautiful underlying message of God’s never-ending love for His children and the acceptance He gives regardless of our shortcomings.

In my opinion, this historical fiction novel is the perfect cozy, light read for perhaps a winter afternoon under a blanket with a cup of hot cocoa.. My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge: Laurel’s Dream is a wholesome read for teenagers and will charm adult readers as well.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She lives in North Carolina with her family. You can learn more about Pepper from her website, www.pepperdbasham.com, or by following her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.


Lastly, pick up your own copy of My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge: Laurel’s Dream or borrow it from your local library.  You can find more of the My Heart Belongs books on Amazon. Then, I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts on the book in the comments below! 


 

A ★★★ Book Review of Stratagem, A Contemporary Fiction Suspense Novel by Robin Caroll

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review. All thoughts below are my own.  Also, this blog post includes affiliate links which means I will receive a commission based on sales generated via these links.


Murder, suspense, betrayal and forgiveness…

This exciting new novel by Robin Caroll will not disappoint.  With mystery and intrigue wrapped up in a message of the beauty of forgiveness, this book proved to be a fast paced novel that readers will love. 


A ★★★ Book Review of Stratagem, A Contemporary Fiction Suspense Novel by Robin Caroll

A ★★★ Book Review of Stratagem, A Contemporary Fiction Suspense Novel by Robin Caroll

★★★ || There is nothing better than a good suspense novel! Stratagem, a new release by Robin Caroll, was just that. It was a refreshing read that kept me on my toes until the end. Set in modern day, this mystery carries readers along a mind bending journey as the main character, Grayson, becomes the prime suspect in his ex-wife, Anna Belle’s, murder when she suddenly dies while competing in a game he created for her company. Not only do readers enjoy this story from Grayson’s point of view, but they also discover interviews and learn pertinent information from the viewpoint of detective Brandon Gibbons, a friend of Grayson’s as he interviews those who were present when Anna Belle died.

I enjoyed the glimpses author Robin Caroll allowed into Anna Belle’s mind and from her perspective as well.

The story not only has a fast paced plot that thickens around every turn, but are there many characters that are introduced at relevant times making readers feel like they may have figured out the murderer, but Robin Caroll likes to keep you guessing until the very end. In the end, there is a sweet surrender to forgiveness that was so necessary from the beginning of the book. It is a beautiful display of faith and love.

I gave this story three stars because I did enjoy the story and the creativity behind it. The game that Grayson creates, how it works and the unique way the author weaves the characters together is fantastic. What kept me from a higher rating is Anna Belle’s character. She lacked so much… I was actually glad she’d passed away, she sounded like such a miserable person. I feel like readers might have been more concerned for her death and interested to find out “who’d done it” if she was a more likable character. However, in the same respect, had she been more likable, there wouldn’t have been the necessity for Grayson’s inclination toward forgiveness.

Over all, I would recommend this book to those who enjoy a good mystery! While this is classified as a suspense novel, Stratagem doesn’t involve over the top, descriptive violence or malice. It does however, deal with sensitive subjects such as divorce, abortion and addiction so if those are tender points for readers, they may want to proceed cautiously.


A High-Stakes Simulation Adventure Leaves Grayson Thibodeaux the

Prime Suspect . . . for Murder.
 
Deep in the gritty underbelly of New Orleans, psychologist Grayson Thibodeaux loses everything when his wife leaves him to climb her company’s corporate ladder. He buries himself in his job of creating mind-bending adventure games for businesses as team-building explorations. When his ex-wife’s company hires Grayson’s to create an elaborate game, he doesn’t see how things can get worse. Until she dies during the course of the game he created…making him the prime suspect for murder. - Synopsis from Stratagem


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Image courtesy of https://www.robincaroll.com

Image courtesy of https://www.robincaroll.com

Robin Caroll grew up in Louisiana with her nose in a book. She still has the complete Trixie Belden series, and her love for mysteries and suspense has only increased with her age.

Robin’s passion has always been to tell stories to entertain others and come alongside them on their faith journey—aspects Robin weaves into each of her published novels.

Best-selling author of thirty-plus novels, ROBIN CAROLL writes Southern stories of mystery and suspense, with a hint of romance to entertain readers. Her books have been recognized in several awards, including the Carol Award, HOLT Medallion, Daphne du Maurier, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, and more.

When she isn’t writing, Robin spends quality time with her husband of nearly three decades, her three beautiful daughters and two handsome grandsons, and their character-filled pets at home in the South. Robin serves the writing community as Executive/Conference Director for ACFW.

You can find Robin at her website, https://www.robincaroll.com, or on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.


Lastly, pick up your own copy of Stratagem or borrow it from your local library.  Then, I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts on the book in the comments below!