SNEAK PEAK: Upcoming Books I’m Reviewing #HistoricalNovelSociety

*No book reviews included.

I’ve been busy reading and reviewing books for Historical Novels Review, the magazine of the Historical Novel Society, and while I can’t post the reviews until August, I am sharing the covers and descriptions of some of the books I have been reviewing for them this time around. I can’t give a star rating or any impressions of them yet, but they are coming after August 1st.


A ravishing young mind reader stalks the streets at night in kitten heels, prowling for men to murder.

A soft-spoken genius toils away in the city morgue, desperate to unearth the science behind his gift for shapeshifting.

It’s a match made in 1928 Chicago, where gangsters run City Hall, jazz fills the air, and every good girl’s purse conceals a flask.

Until now, eighteen-year-old Ruby’s penchant for poison has been a secret. No one knows that she uses her mind-reading abilities to target men who prey on vulnerable women, men who escape the clutches of Chicago “justice.” When she meets a brilliant boy working at the morgue, his knack for forensic detail threatens to uncover her dark hobby. Even more unfortunately: sharp, independent Ruby has fallen in love with him.
Waltzing between a supernaturally enhanced romance, the battle to take down a gentleman’s club, and loyal friendships worth their weight in diamonds, Ruby brings defiant charm to every page of Murder for the Modern Girl—not to mention killer fashion. An irresistible caper perfect for fans of The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, in an exquisite hardcover package with rose-gold foil.


It’s 1954. The place is Prosperity, North Carolina, a small farming community in Bliss County. Three teenagers, the 1953 championship-winning offensive backfield for Prosperity High, and lifelong friends, are unwilling participants in a horrific event that results in a young man’s death.

One of the friends harbors a tragic secret that could have prevented the crime. Divulging it would ruin his life, so he stays quiet, fully aware he will carry a stain of guilt for the rest of his life. The three buddies go their separate ways for almost a decade, before another tragedy brings them back to Prosperity in 1968. Now in their thirties, it is a time of civil and racial unrest in America.

They discover the man who committed murder back in ’54 is now the mayor. Worse, now he’s set his sights on Congress.

A Kind and Savage Place spans half a century from 1942 to 1989 and examines the dramatic racial and societal turmoil of that period through the microcosmic lens of a flyspeck North Carolina agricultural community.


Peggy Serrano couldn’t wait for her best friend to come home from the war. But the Jimmy Barnett who returns is much different from the Jimmy who left, changed so drastically by his experience as a medic in Europe that he can barely function. When he attempts the unthinkable, his parents check him into the VA hospital. Peggy determines to help the Barnetts unravel what might have happened to send their son over the edge. She starts by contacting Jimmy’s war buddies, trying to identify the mysterious woman in the photo they find in Jimmy’s belongings.

Seven years earlier, sensing the rising tide against her people, Gisela Wolff and her family flee Germany aboard the passenger ship St. Louis, bound for Havana, Cuba. Gisela meets Sam Shapiro on board and the two fall quickly in love. But the ship is denied safe harbor and sent back to Europe. Thus begins Gisela’s perilous journey of exile and survival, made possible only by the kindness and courage of a series of strangers she meets along the way, including one man who will change the course of her life.

Book Review: The Eleventh Commandment #JohnSingerSargent #VernonLee

This is the fourth book in the John Singer Sargent/Violet Paget mystery series. The amateur sleuthing pair of artist John and writer Violet, who wrote under the name Vernon Lee, make a great combination. These lifelong friends are drawn into an archaeological mystery when John receives a package from an acquaintance, Moses Shapira. Shapira had recently been accused of promoting a fake manuscript of the ten commandments, with an eleventh commandment added! Is the package of leather strips that John received an original, or is it a fake? Not long after receiving the package, John and Violet learn of a suicide that could actually be a murder. In alternating chapters, we follow Moses Shapira as he discovers and tries to verify the manuscripts, and Violet and John as they investigate a possible murder and the origin of those same artifacts. This book can be read as a standalone.

The duo of John and Violet as amateur investigators is delightful. Their friendship and Violet’s insight make for an entertaining read. Their travels revolve around the arts and their investigation. Violet is an excellent narrator, and the book includes snippets about her work and John’s paintings. The fact that they were real-life friends who traveled extensively makes the books even more authentic. The mystery is intriguing and multi-layered. With Moses, we travel with Bedouin guides into the deserts of the Middle East, searching for treasures. With Violet and John, we visit Rotterdam and search for clues into a mysterious death. This is a captivating and multi-layered mystery with absolutely endearing main characters.

I received a free copy of this book from Word by Word Press via The Historical Novel Society. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.


Mary Burns’ varied writing experience includes more than twenty years in business and agency public relations and communications, including video scripts, radio commercials, annual reports, newsletters and executive speeches.  She managed the media coverage of the 1987 visit of Pope John Paul II to San Francisco, and was the producer of a local television morning talk show, Body and Soul.  She has run her own consulting business twice, alternating with corporate positions, and is currently pursuing several writing projects.

Mary’s creative fiction writing began with a short story that won a prize at the 2000 Mendocino (California) Coast Writers Conference.  Two other short stories garnered first places (see them at and She was an invited participant at the 2004 Squaw Valley Community of Writers conference in Lake Tahoe, California. Her first historical novel titled J-THE WOMAN WHO WROTE THE BIBLE, was published in July 2010 by O-Books Publishers, UK. She has just completed her fourth book in the JOHN SINGER SARGENT/VIOLET PAGENT MYSTERY SERIES.

For more information please visit Mary’s website.



Book Review: Drawn By The Current #SSEastland #Chicago

In Chicago in 1915, Olive is an insurance agent for MetLife, an unusual occupation for a woman at that time, and she is facing prejudice as she tries to get promoted and gain more responsibility.  She also soon discovers that her friend Claire needs her help.  She invites Claire to travel on the SS Eastland from Chicago to a picnic in Michigan City, Indiana, as a temporary respite and a chance to talk.  When tragedy strikes, Claire makes an impossible request which places Olive in a position in which any choice she makes will compromise her values. Olive then volunteers for an opportunity to be an insurance investigator in the aftermath of the tragedy.  Facing discrimination from her boss and threats from others, she tries to help families who have lost loved ones while still keeping secrets herself. Although part of a series, this book can be read as a standalone.

This is a well-put-together story revolving around the 1915 capsizing of the SS Eastland, in which over 800 people were killed.  The description of the disaster as it occurs is well done.  There is another storyline involving abuse, and the fact that women in that time had little recourse for protection or escape.  The bias against women in business in the early 20th century is also addressed, and all these storylines are woven together skillfully.  The characters are all well developed, and the plot ranges from captivating to suspenseful to heartbreaking.  Drawn by the Current takes us back to one of the worst maritime disasters in U.S. history and also reminds us of the plight of women in those days.  Multi-layered and well-researched, this third book in the Windy City Saga series is not to be missed.

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House via The Historical Novel Society. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.


Jocelyn Green is a former journalist who puts her investigative skills to work in writing both nonfiction and historical fiction to inspire faith and courage.

The honors her books have received include the Christy Award in historical fiction, and gold medals from the Military Writers Society of America and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association.

Complex and nuanced characters, rich historical detail and twisting plots make her novels immersive experiences. Her fiction has been praised by Historical Novel Society, Romantic Times, Library Journal, historians specializing in her novels’ time periods, as well as popular and acclaimed authors Laura Frantz, Lori Benton, Jody Hedlund, Sarah Sundin, Joanne Bischof, Julie Lessman, and more.

Jocelyn loves Broadway musicals, the color red, strawberry-rhubarb pie, Mexican food, and well-done documentaries. She lives in Iowa with her husband, two children, and two cats she should have named Catticus Finch and Purrman Meowville. Visit her at her website,


Book Review: The Commandant’s Daughter #HistoricalNovelSociety #WorldWar2

Germany, 1933.  Hannelore (Hanni) Foss is a young girl living in Berlin as the Nazis rise to power.  Her father is a prominent figure in the Nazi party, and she lives the life that he dictates, attending Nazi functions and doing what she’s told.  Then she meets Ezra Stein, a photographer, and he shows her the art of looking at her surroundings through the lens of a camera.  She soon begins to see behind the façade of her father’s world.  In 1946 Berlin, after the fall of the Nazis, Hanni Winter has reinvented her life, working in the studio of Ezra’s son and hoping to one day bring her father to justice. With a new name and a new purpose, she keeps her past well hidden.  When she meets Detective Freddy Schlüssel, she becomes his crime scene photographer, and they begin to investigate a string of murders.

This is a compelling story that does not hold back on the descriptions of Nazi atrocities, making for an authentic and heartbreaking read. We learn a little about the history of the Nuremberg trials and the many Nazis who managed to avoid prosecution. Hanni is a purposeful and driven main character who is wracked with guilt and desperate for forgiveness. Her quest for justice is never-ending.  Through Ezra’s son Natan, and through Freddy Schlüssel we get the viewpoint of Jews who are still in Berlin and are trying to begin again after horrific persecution and loss. The evil manipulations and vile acts of the Nazis are shown through Hanni’s father. The author’s expert knowledge of and research into photography are evident throughout the story. The Commandant’s Daughter gives us a candid view of Berlin, both during and after unspeakable atrocities, uniquely conveyed through the lens of a camera.

I received a free copy of this book from Bookouture via The Historical Novel Society. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.


(In her own words) I seem to have followed a rather meandering career, including marketing and teaching and politics (don’t try and join the dots), to get where I have always wanted to be, which is writing historical fiction. I am a story lover as well as a story writer and nothing fascinates me more than a strong female protagonist and a quest. Hopefully those are what you will encounter when you pick up my books.

I am from the North of England but now live very happily in Glasgow with my American husband. Both my children have left home (one to London and one to Berlin) which may explain why I am finally writing. If I’m not at my desk you’ll most probably find me in the cinema, or just follow the sound of very loud music.

I’d love to hear from you and there are lots of ways you can find me, so jump in via my website or on my Cat Hokin FB page or on twitter @cathokin




Book Review: The Salt Fields by Stacy D. Flood

This is such a powerful and amazing book. I had to use two quotes from the book itself in order to do this author’s work justice. This is an Editor’s Choice for the May edition of Historical Novels Review.

It is 1947, and Minister Peters is getting ready to board a train called The Dawn Lightning in South Carolina. Despite his name, he is not a minister. He is headed out of the South and towards a new life. Minister’s family was once enslaved and has experienced generations of loss. This continues in Minister’s life. Having lost his wife to unfaithfulness and murder, and then his daughter to drowning, Minister wants to take that train to the end of the line and leave the South behind for good. He meets three other passengers on the train. Carvall is a soldier who has just gotten out of the Army. Divinion and Lanah are a couple with questionable motives. These four lives interact in such a way that Minister will never be the same again.

Stacy D. Flood has a rare talent for writing scenes that stay with you and a unique ability to create lasting pictures in your mind. Even something many people have done, like leaving home, becomes extraordinary: “For those I’d left behind I knew my voice was only a memory, and I knew that this place, my home, would forget about the rest of me as soon as my shoes left the pebbles beneath them.” His description of nature brings it alive. “Further out in the water appeared the silhouettes of two children, a boy and a girl, holding hands, but as I passed by, gaping, I recognized them as simple tree trunks. Not ghosts, not observers or judges or the abandoned or the lost.” The scenes from this book vividly explode in your mind, and the writing evokes powerful emotion. This work is special. I highly recommend this novella to anyone who wants to read the work of a talented author.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, Lanternfish Press, via The Historical Novel Society. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.


Originally from Buffalo, and currently living in Seattle, Stacy D. Flood’s work has been published nationally and performed on stages nationwide as well as in the Puget Sound Area. He has been a DISQUIET scholar in Lisbon, an artist-in-residence at The Millay Colony of the Arts, and the recipient of a Getty Fellowship to the Squaw Valley Community of Writers




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Book Review: A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice #HistoricalNovelSociety

This is another review I did for The Historical Novel Society and another Editor’s Choice! It is the sinking of the Titanic from the perspective of the Captain of the Carpathia.

On April 15, 1912, Arthur Rostron, the captain of the Carpathia, is awakened and notified of a distress call from the Titanic, which has struck an iceberg and is in grave trouble. Rostron immediately begins to strategize the response of his ship, which is over four hours away. Although he is not sure of the amount of damage, he is determined to get the Carpathia to the aid of the Titanic’s passengers. Braving icebergs himself, he pushes the Carpathia to the limit in order to assist.

On the Titanic, Kate Connolly is enjoying her time in third class with newfound friends. But in the middle of the night, strange sounds lead her out into the corridor looking for answers. She eventually finds the ship is in trouble, and she has very little time to escape. Although third-class passengers are not warned or helped in any way, she manages to make it to a lifeboat, from which she watches the Titanic sink. Will rescue come in time?

In alternating chapters, we follow Captain Rostron as the Carpathia attempts a heroic rescue, and Kate Connolly as the survivors try to stay alive, praying for help. We learn of heroes like the captain, and then of others who did little or nothing to help. We suffer with the freezing and cry with the bereaved. But we also salute a man who did what he could to bring others to safety. Although there is much historical fiction out there about the sinking of the Titanic, this is a unique and inspiring look at the rescuers from the Carpathia, who managed to bring over 700 people to safety. It is also a tragic and heartbreaking look back at that terrible night. Highly recommended.

I received a free copy of this book from the publishers via the Historical Novel Society. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.


(In her own words) I was born once upon a time, and I started making up stories right away. Eventually, I started writing them down, and never stopped! I have a day job, which gets in the way of my writing, but it pays the bills so I CAN write, so I guess that’s okay! I am a bookworm, which I think is key to being a writer, and I am always looking for inspiration! I live in Indiana, am obsessed with hot chocolate, and I am on track to be the best aunt in the world.



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Book Review: The Twist and Shout Murder #HistoricalNovelSociety

Here is the first of seven reviews I did for the May issue of Historical Novels Review, the magazine of the Historical Novel Society. This is a fun, cozy mystery set in the 60s.


First in the Swinging Sixties mystery series, this is a light cozy murder mystery set in the small town of Camden, Texas, in 1962. Dot Morgan’s career choices as a young woman seem to be nurse, teacher, or secretary. Dot wants to go to business school, but it’s difficult for women to get admitted, so she opts for secretarial school. While attending classes, she encourages her father to run for city council. He ends up running against Anson Manning, the wayward son of the town’s wealthiest family. Dot decides to join the Camden Ladies’ Club to try and gain political support for her father’s campaign. Unfortunately, she gets everything but help and is faced with a murder mystery when one of the town’s elite is found dead.

This is an entertaining read full of small-town politics, gossip, and scandal. Dot is a strong character who dreams of a career in business, a tough goal for women in the 1960s. The supporting cast is engaging and fun. While some of the characters are over the top, anyone who has lived in a small town knows that this is pretty close to reality. The mystery has some twists and turns, and I felt transported to the 1960s through music, movies, and social references. For example, Dot eats at a hamburger stand with golden arches for the first time and sees The Music Man in the theater. The ‘60s are just beginning, and so is this series. I look forward to more installments.

I received a free copy of this book from Historia via The Historical Novel Society. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.



Teresa Trent writes the Piney Woods and the Pecan Bayou mystery series from Houston, Texas where she loves the people and even the weather. Teresa includes Danny, a character with Down Syndrome in her Pecan Bayou family and in real life is the mother of an adult son with Down Syndrome/PDD. Creating the character of Danny and all of the other inhabitants of Pecan Bayou has been a joy for her. Even though she lives in the big city, her writing is influenced by all of the interesting people she finds in small towns and the sense of family that is woven through them all.


Self-Published Saturday: The Heart of the Run #Review #Q&A

Self-Published Saturday is my effort to help Independent/Self-Published authors promote their books. Self-Published authors have to do it all, from editing to cover design to marketing, and if I can help even a little bit with the marketing side of things I’m happy to do it. I also ask you all to help out too by sharing these posts on social media. Today I am sharing a review that I did for Historical Novels Review, the magazine of the Historical Novel Society. The book is called The Heart of the Run by Craig Pennington. Craig also graciously agreed to do a Q&A, which is below. Be sure and check out his bio, too. He’s led an exciting life!


This is the fictionalized history of the Muirhead family (later Moorhead), in Scotland and Ireland from 1648 to 1764. The novel begins with Alexander Moorhead, who is on a ship with his mother, crossing the sea from Ireland to the Americas in 1764. During the voyage, Alexander tells stories of his ancestors to his new friend Peter, a young ship’s officer. Through Alexander, we learn of John James Muirhead, who fought in the Scottish Civil War and then later became Captain of the Guard for the Marquess of Argyll. Then we meet John and Donald Muirhead, and through them experience the horrific Massacre of Glencoe. Alexander’s stories of other relatives also describe important periods of history. As Alexander tells his friends the story of his family, the story of three countries is also told, and it is often a bloody tale.

I enjoyed this meticulously researched novel. The characters are well-written, and I connected with them right away. Through the stories of this family, we are transported to important events in Scottish, English, and Irish history. We learn of the Jacobite rebellion, the Smallpox Epidemic of 1720, and the Irish famine, as well as many other events in history. We are also steeped along the way in the knowledge of whisky making, printing, horticulture, and sailing. We learn of language and literature as well. The amount of history and knowledge contained in this book is impressive.

While we are learning so much, we are also experiencing a well-written novel full of suspense, heartache, romance, and intrigue. Readers will be swept away to other times and places by these stories within a story. Those interested in European history will enjoy this captivating novel.

I received a free copy of this book via Historical Novels Review Magazine, the magazine of the Historical Novel Society. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.


Craig Pennington

Craig Pennington met his wife, Claudia, in Key West while working for a salvage company looking for Spanish shipwrecks. Together they continued their nautical lives in Montserrat and Dominica. After getting married, Craig managed offshore construction projects for the Navy, while Claudia became the director of major maritime museums in Washington DC, Newport News VA, and Key West. Craig always had an extra job as ‘museum husband.’ Today they enjoy retirement, book collecting, and horses in Sarasota, FL.


Let’s go beyond the bio. Tell us something we might not know about you from reading your bio.

I still find it hard to think of myself as a writer. I wasn’t in the school newspaper club, I didn’t write in college, I have never submitted a manuscript for publication. Yet, I now find myself at the computer for hours every day, researching, writing, and re-writing. I love it, and I have become addicted to it. When I settle down at night and pick up the novel I am reading, my mind starts going back to what I am working on. Suddenly, another idea pops into my head, and I reach for the notepad. My bio talks about my past; writing is my present. I think friends from school or my earlier life are surprised to see what I am doing now.

Speaking of your bio, it says you used to work in Key West searching for Spanish shipwrecks, which sounds like a fascinating job. Can you share with us some of things you found? What was most rewarding about that job and what do you consider your greatest discovery?

I graduated from college in 1977 and moved to Key West with the dream of working for Mel Fisher, who was searching for the Atocha, a Spanish galleon that sank in a hurricane in 1622. At the time, Mel had a new salvage master who was a retired Navy captain. I started working for him as a deckhand and diver and eventually became captain of one of the salvage boats. From this man, I learned how to drive a boat, execute search grids, and, most importantly, lead a crew of young men and women. It sounds romantic, but it is hard work. We uncovered bronze cannon, gold bars, silver coins, and amazing artifacts. I only treasure hunted for about 5 years, but it was one of the most exciting and rewarding times of my life.

Your books span important periods in Irish, Scottish, and American history and are obviously well researched. Do you enjoy the research aspect of writing? Could you take us through your research process? 

Thank goodness for the Internet and Google Earth! With the help of those platforms, I ‘visited’ places Covid kept me from going to in person. I traveled the roads, viewed the towns, and made wonderful contacts in Ballymena, Inveraray Castle, and Campbeltown. The historical society in Campbeltown directed me to Angus Martin, the local historian. He has published dozens of books on the region, and we became penpals. One day soon, my wife and I plan to visit Scotland and take Angus and his wife out to lunch.

I use Wikipedia, but I don’t rely on it. It is a tool I find helpful to launch my research. Still, it is amazing what you can find. Many archival texts are now fully scanned and available, and you can search within them for specifics. I collect important websites in my Favorites folder. Once the storyline is established, I go back to them repeatedly for choice details. In The Heart of the Run, the challenge was deciding what historical tidbit to include and what to abandon.

You also say in your bio that your wife has had a career in museums. Was that helpful when you were writing/researching your book?

I met my wife, Claudia, while working for Mel Fisher in Key West. She was an Art Historian working as an underwater archaeologist. We have been married for 40 years, during which time I essentially followed her career. Maritime history was always part of our lives. We returned to Key West after 20 years when she became director of the Art and Historical Society. Together, we wrote very successful state and federal grants. Claudia always said that she provided the ‘steak’ and I added the ‘sizzle’ – she came up with amazing ideas for exhibits and programs, and I put it into words. When a dinner party guest asks if I ever found any treasure, I always smile and point to her.

To continue with the topic of research, The Heart of the Run is set during a shipboard voyage. Obviously, you have had a lot of experience on the ocean, but what was the best way for you to research conditions that would exist on a ship at that time?

I could almost say that I didn’t have to do any research other than looking up specific details. While treasure hunting, the Hornblower stories were essential reading. I loved them and could identify with the young officer while I was learning to be a captain myself. Since then, I have read hundreds of seafaring novels and non-fiction accounts of life at sea. My library has several shelves devoted to the subject. So, between my own experience working at sea, whether searching for shipwrecks or managing ocean construction projects for the Navy, and reading about the Age of Sail, I absorbed the feel of shipboard life. My first novel, Dead Reckoning, primarily takes place on a small cargo ship in the Caribbean. It fictionalizes many events I am happy to say I survived.

The Moorheads series was inspired by family history that was originally published in 1901 by your great-great grandfather. What was the name of that publication, and was it widely available at that time or just available for the family?

It is a small book called History of the Moorhead Family from the Sixteenth Century to the Present Time, independently published by Alexander Thompson Moorhead. Like his father and grandfather, he was a newspaper publisher in Indiana, PA. I believe he sent copies to all the Moorheads in the book, but I doubt it reached much of an audience beyond that. The book is just over 80 pages long and available on Amazon with a few missing pages. Both Heart of the Run and my new story are based on the first few pages of his history.

The first book in this series, called West of The Alleghenies, was published in 2020, has sold over 900 copies, and has 67 reviews on Amazon. This is not easy to do for a self-published book. Since marketing is the most daunting task for any self-published/indie author, do you have any marketing tips to share with other authors here?

I finished West of the Alleghenies as the Covid epidemic struck. Plans to do book signings and travel ended abruptly. Additionally, all historical societies, my primary marketing target, closed. I had to do everything from home.

First, I contacted the editor of my hometown newspaper (the hero, Fergus Moorhead, is famous there), and they did a front-page article on the Sunday edition. I could not have asked for a better launch. Then, I created a colorful announcement with links to my Amazon page and sent it to every historical and genealogical society in Western Pennsylvania and New York I could find. Although closed to visitors, some responded and added a link in their newsletters.

I contacted Muzzleloader Magazine, whose readership I thought would enjoy the story, and they gave me a very favorable review. I added my book to Bernard Cornwell’s Booklist, sent announcements to every person I knew, and put it on Facebook. With the encouragement of a friend, I submitted my novel to the Florida Writer’s Association Royal Palm Literary Awards contest. The book was awarded the Silver Medal for Best Published Historical Fiction in 2021! That significantly boosted my confidence as a writer.

Finally, the importance of my novels being selected for review by the Historical Novel Society cannot be understated. Two great reviews will help introduce new audiences to the struggles our ancestors had to overcome to live in this country.

You have mentioned that there will be a third book in this series. If you can, would you tell us the title and a little bit about it? When do you expect it to come out?

In The Heart of the Run, we watch love grow between young Alexander and Mary Morrow. Their son, James Moorhead, becomes a newspaper publisher in Indiana, PA. In 1843, he established the first antislavery newspaper in that part of the country.

My new story, tentatively called Murder in the Promised Land, is a historical thriller set in 1826 when James investigates the brutal murder of two runaway slaves. This story dovetails with the saga of a young boy forever changed by the Philadelphia Yellow Fever epidemic of 1793. Are the murders an effort to discourage the fledgling Underground Railroad, a twisted plot involving Freemasons, or are they linked to an act of insane vengeance reaching back more than thirty years?

I hope the story will show the moral growth of this man from a staunch Scots-Irish, law-abiding newspaperman to one of the most outspoken abolitionists of the day.

What advice can you give to new writers who are just starting their writing and publishing journey?

Write. It has been said by many experienced authors before, and I can tell you it is true. Just write. If you are stuck and nothing is flowing from your head, write a sentence. As someone who was never a ‘writer,’ I am often amazed at how a scene can write itself. Sometimes I outline the basics I want to address and then let my fingers fly. One of the most enjoyable things about writing is to be pleasantly surprised when your character takes you in a direction you did not anticipate.

Thanks so much, Craig, for your great answers. I look forward to your next book.








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Book Review: A Christmas Legacy #Christmas #VictorianMystery

Gracie Tellman, former maid to Charlotte and Thomas Pitt, is enjoying her home and family in Victorian-era London and looking forward to Christmas with her daughter, Charlie, when a knock sounds at the door. Millie, a young maid in the Harcourt household, has come with disturbing news. High-quality food is disappearing, and it won’t be long before the mistress of the house finds out. The servants are scared that somebody will be accused of theft, and nobody knows the culprit. Gracie decides to take Millie’s place for nine days leading up to Christmas in order to solve this mystery. Gracie soon learns that all is not as it seems, and reveals that sometimes evil can parade about in fancy clothes.

This satisfying Christmas novella combines mystery, suspicion, upheaval, acts of kindness, and a Christmas miracle together to create a captivating story. The perils of servant life in a Victorian household are well described, and the young age of some of the servants at the time is shocking. The rich also had the ability in those days to completely ruin the lives of their servants by sending them to the street, homeless, with no reference. The fact that some homeowners held this power over the heads of those in their employ in order to terrorize them is disturbing. But despite the tumult, a sense of truth, loyalty, and fairness is also woven into the story, and it ends with a miracle so wonderful that it could only happen at Christmas. Anne Perry has once again created a Christmas tale that will captivate the reader and transport them straight to Victorian London during the holidays.

I received a free copy of this book from Ballantine Books for Historical Novels Review Magazine. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.


Anne Perry is the bestselling author of two acclaimed series set in Victorian England: the William Monk novels, including Dark Assassin and The Shifting Tide, and the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novels, including The Cater Street Hangman, Calandar Square, Buckingham Palace Gardens and Long Spoon Lane. She is also the author of the World War I novels No Graves As Yet, Shoulder the Sky, Angels in the Gloom, At Some Disputed Barricade, and We Shall Not Sleep, as well as six holiday novels, most recently A Christmas Grace. Anne Perry lives in Scotla





Book Review: No Journey Too Far

In 1909, Grace McAlister, her brother Garth, and her sister Katie were sent from England to Canada, among the thousands of British Home Children taken from their families, often under suspicious circumstances. Grace was adopted by rich parents, the Hamiltons, but Garth and Katie, like many of the British Home Children, were forced into indentured servitude. Ten years later, Grace Hamilton is about to turn 18 and her parents are launching her into Toronto society, trying to find her a well-to-do husband. They stress that Grace is not to tell anyone she was a British Home Child, as there is stigma attached. Then she finds a trunk in the attic that could help her locate the McAlister family.

This is a gripping saga of a family torn apart. The second book in the McAlister Family series, it can be read as a standalone, but reading the first book, No Ocean Too Wide, is recommended in order to get the complete story. We learn the tragic and true history of the British Home Children, who were taken from their families and their country between 1869 and 1939. This is the story of a struggle against extreme injustices that were forced on young children against their will. It also depicts the determination of a family, fighting against odds and across the ocean in order to reunite. There is a gentle Christian message of trusting God during hard times, and there are also two romances that occur in the midst of turmoil. Similar in vein to Lisa Wingate’s Before We Were Yours, this is a heartrending novel that is not to be missed.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, Multnomah, for Historical Novels Review Magazine, the magazine of the Historical Novel Society.


Carrie Turansky

(In Her Own Words) I was born and raised in Oregon, so my heart longs for tall evergreens, the rugged Oregon Coast, and the pristine Cascade Mountains. But I presently live in beautiful central New Jersey.  This is the Garden State, so we enjoy shopping at our local farmers’ market for sweet corn and juicy tomatoes or picking strawberries, blueberries, and peaches at local farms. We are close to Princeton University, Philadelphia, and New York City, so we sometimes take day trips in and enjoy museums, plays, and touring around.

I am married to Scott and we have five adult children, two daughters-in-law, two sons-in-law, and seven beautiful grandchildren. Being a wife, mom, and grandma are fulfilling and rewarding roles for me. Scott and I partner in ministry at Calvary Chapel Living Hope, a church we helped plant along with a team of hardworking, Jesus-following friends in Robbinsville, New Jersey. We love our church and feel blessed to have the privilege of serving the Lord with these dear friends. Visit the Calvary Chapel Living Hope website to learn more about our church.

My husband is the author of several parenting books filled with practical insight and biblical wisdom. We invite you to visit our ministry website and sign up for free parenting tips, then check out the articles and helpful resources there. That web site is:

My first book was published in 2005, and I’ve had twenty novels and novellas published since then. Before that, I wrote several articles, short stories, devotions, and essays. Writing fiction is my passion, and I thank the Lord for the creative ideas and characters He puts in my mind and heart. I am very grateful for friends and family who believed in me and encouraged me on my writing journey.

When I’m not writing you will find me enjoying time with my family, working outside in my flower gardens, cooking healthy meals for family and friends, or walking around the lake near our home.