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!