Announcing: The 2022 Short Story Challenge!

2022 Short Story Challenge from A Virginia Writer’s Diary. Write one short story a month this year. The theme is Folklore. I’m going to try it.

A Virginia Writer's Diary

Last year, I challenged myself to write twelve short stories – one story each month – around a central theme. A few other wonderful writers joined me, and it became a really fun and interesting creative project. So, of course, I’m doing it again.

The rules are the same: Write and post one story each month of 2022. Posted whenever you/I want to (for me, that’s usually the end of the month), and written around one theme. And the theme this year is:


I thought about several options, but this one wouldn’t let me go. How does a story become folklore? What are the necessary elements of a folk tale? What drives us to share folklore? How long does it last? Why does it last, and why, sometimes, does it fade away? Folk tales and folk traditions tie us to our ancestors. They connect us to our cultures…

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Book Review: Shiloh

North Carolina, 1795. Over a year ago, Ian Cameron sent Seona and their son Gabriel to live with his family in Boston. Seona was formerly enslaved to Ian’s uncle but has now been freed.  Ian is wed to Judith due to cruel manipulation, but has vowed to make their marriage work. Then tragedy strikes, and Ian finds himself alone with their daughter Mandy. He decides to head north and has a chance to obtain land in Shiloh, New York. Seona is in Boston, trying to decide whether to stay with Ian’s family or go out on her own with her mother. Then Ian arrives, promising a future in Shiloh.  But is that what Seona wants? When evil creeps into their midst, will their faith see them through? This is the second book in the Kindred series.

Benton has taken on the daunting task of creating a sequel to two of her books at once. Shiloh is the sequel to Mountain Laurel but also brings in characters from her first published novel, Burning Sky. The characters are interwoven seamlessly, and the story is filled with historical details, adventure, love, doubt, and fear. As Ian embarks on a journey back to Seona, he is also on a spiritual journey of learning to trust God and become a better man. Seona and her mother, Lily, are each experiencing the ranging emotions of an enslaved person who has been freed, and both think of choosing a different path. The Christian themes of trusting God and each other abound in this book, but the results of greed are also explored through the character of Aram Crane. Shiloh, above all, is a journey of faith and a lesson that as faith grows, love grows along with it.

I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale House via Historical Novels Review Magazine. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

See my review of Book One, Mountain Laurel, here.


Lori Benton was born and raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early American and family history going back to the 1600s. Her novels transport readers to the 18th century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history, creating a melting pot of characters drawn from both sides of a turbulent and shifting frontier, brought together in the bonds of God’s transforming grace.

Lori’s debut novel, Burning Sky, earned the 2014 Christy Award for First Novel, Historical, and Book of the Year.




My Top 10 Historical Fiction Novels Reviewed in 2021, With One Extra Special Mention #Top10of2021

Historical Fiction and its sub-genres are my favorite books to read. Below are 11 of my favorites (one special mention) that I reviewed this year. The book did not have to be published in 2021, but had to have been reviewed by me in 2021. My review is included. You can find the links to buy the books by clicking on the covers.


After the death of her uncle, Cornelius Vanderbilt, in 1899, Emma Cross is in mourning and has no desire to accompany her cousin Neily (Cornelius Vanderbilt III) to a decadent and rousing party. The party will be held in Newport, Rhode Island, at the home of a member of one of America’s richest and most powerful families. But Neily had been estranged from his late father, and his wife Grace implores Emma to attend to help keep him out of trouble. Then, during an elaborate jousting ceremony, a distinguished judge is murdered, and Emma finds the body. Police detective Jesse Whyte does not seem to be on the case as usual. There is a new detective, and he wants no help from Emma. Emma, a reporter, continues to investigate the crime anyway, with the help of Derrick Andrews, heir to a Providence newspaper fortune. This is the ninth book in the Gilded Newport series.

This fantastic series continues with another installment, and plenty of twists, turns, and red herrings. The life of opulence lived by the Gilded Age’s privileged families is richly described. As a Vanderbilt cousin, Emma has access to elegant parties and mansions, but she is also looked down upon by some as a poor relation who has to work for a living. While sometimes hanging with the high-flyers, Emma keeps her feet firmly on the ground. Her position as an outsider with connections is an intriguing one, as she can hold her own amongst the elite, but is also accepted in the staff kitchens. This is another gripping and clever mystery about a sleuth who inhabits two worlds at once, and it will transport you to a time of luxury, greed, and the quest for power. Highly recommended.

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


The Siege of An Loc is the story of the defense of An Loc in 1972 during the Vietnam War. It is also a love story between a South Vietnamese soldier, Trung, and Ly, a student, daughter of a rubber plantation owner. As Trung struggles to defend his country, he finds himself falling for the beautiful Ly, but do they have a chance for happiness in the midst of war? We also see the evil of communism especially personified in one of the characters, and two brothers are reunited, one from North Vietnam and one from South Vietnam.

I learned so much about the Vietnam War from this book. When I was in grade school and high school in the U.S. in the 70s and 80s, they didn’t teach us much about it. I just knew my uncle died in this war at the age of 20, and I really didn’t even know why he was there. When we would ask in the mid-70s, we were told nobody liked to talk about it. But now the author, Nguyen Trong Hien, has answered a lot of the questions. I love the fact that we see inside the war from the perspective of a South Vietnamese soldier instead of the American perspective. And we learn of the atrocities of Communism and how it takes over and annihilates a culture.

This is both a romance and a history book, and sometimes it felt as if we left the romance and entered a very detailed history book with little transition. However, the history is important for the reader to know, and the characters were interesting and well developed. The ending of the book was left open for our characters, and I wasn’t sure what happened to them after South Vietnam fell. I hope there will be a sequel. 

I received a free paperback copy of this book from the author. I also downloaded a digital copy on Kindle Unlimited, where members can read books at no additional cost. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.


Scotland, present day. Reporter Ava is working on a story about Overtoun Bridge, outside Overtoun House in West Dunbartonshire, Scotland. Over the years, at least fifty dogs have jumped to their deaths from the bridge. Legends describe Overtoun Bridge as a “thin place,” where the boundary between Heaven and Earth is very thin. The locals will not cooperate, so Ava, pregnant with her first child, begins to investigate. Ava is also trying to get medical history from her mother, who was adopted, but she is uncooperative.

In 1929 England, Marion meets Hamish at a tea dance at the Savoy Hotel. She is swept quickly into marriage and is soon living in the huge and mostly unused Overtoun House in Scotland, sometimes visited by a very absent husband who has little love to share with her.

In 1949 in Scotland, Constance is confined to her room by her mother because she is very ill. Her mother and the doctor are the only people she sees, and she longs for contact with the outside world. When her mother brings her a puppy, some joy comes into her life.

This is a captivating but chilling historical mystery which combines the very real Overtoun house with fictional characters to create an intriguing story. The reports of dogs jumping to their deaths from Overtoun Bridge are heartbreaking but true facts that are spun into this fascinating mystery. The characters are well developed, and their connections begin to come alive. Overtoun House itself becomes a character, alternating between telling secrets and refusing to give them up. The bridge seems to live and breathe, hoping to lure captors to their deaths. This is a spellbinding novel that I highly recommend to those who enjoy historical mysteries with a touch of the paranormal.

I received a free copy of this book from the publishers via Historical Novels Review. My review is voluntary.

NOTE: The mystery of dogs jumping off of the Overtoun Bridge is very real. At least 300, if not more, dogs have inexplicably jumped off the bridge. At least 50 of them have died. If you would like to read more about this mystery, check out this link.


Faby Gauthier lives in a small town in Vermont in the 1920’s. She is bored with small town living and fascinated by Vaudeville and the showbiz life. When she meets Slim White, a dancer in a traveling Vaudeville show, she quickly gets pregnant and caught up in a marriage that happens before she knows it. We follow Faby on the Vaudeville circuit, travel with her on uncomfortable train trips, and stay with her in cheap hotels as we learn about the less glamorous side of showbiz. 

This is a beautifully written novel by Elizabeth Gaffreau that starts in small-town Vermont and takes us all over the Vaudeville circuit in the Eastern United States in the 1920’s. We learn a lot about Vaudeville life, sacrifice, and the loss of innocence. We are shown through Faby’s sister the life she could have had. We are also reminded of the priceless gift of family and the care of those who love us.

Gaffreau has an amazing ability to show us the reality of life behind the facade. For example, her descriptions of 1920’s telephone operators: “…where, inside, pale young women plugged and unplugged the telephone conversations of the village with bony fingers while they waited for someone to marry them.”

I would recommend this well-crafted novel to everyone who enjoys historical novels or anyone who wants to read a moving family story.


In Windsor, England, 2019, Amelia is completely without family, having lost her daughter and then her parents to serious illness.  Without any surviving relatives, she is adrift and contemplates selling the family home in Windsor.  When fulfilling the last request of her mother to clear out the attic, she finds some intriguing photographs of a large estate in Pembrokeshire featuring the Attwater family.  When Amelia uncovers the diary of Osyth Attwater, she realizes she may have discovered some family secrets.  

In Pembrokeshire, Wales, 1883, young Osyth Attwater is a dreamer and writer who awaits the gathering of the Attwaters, her storytelling family, at their oceanside mansion each year.  There is a wind chime in the garden that signals the arrival of relatives, and she greatly looks forward to the tales they will tell.  But then she overhears a conversation that will shatter her world.

This dual timeline novel of family secrets, fairy tales, missing pieces, and a special wind chime is both enchanting and compelling.  In their separate timelines, Osyth and Amelia both search for answers.  The theme of mental health, and how it was managed in 1883 versus the present, is explored.  The secrets that families keep and the reasons they keep them is examined in heartbreaking detail. The pace and flow of this book are gorgeous, and we are caught up in the beauty of Wales, the magic of fairy tales, and the mystery of family secrets.  With Amelia, we piece together puzzling bits of family history and try to see the whole picture. The Wind Chime will engage all of your senses as you see the gorgeous Victorian mansion, feel the heartbreak, smell the ocean air,  taste the tears of grief, and hear the wind chime calling you home.  This is a soul-touching and captivating read.  Highly recommend.

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


n France in 1939, Soline is working with her mother in their dress shop preparing wedding dresses with “happy endings.” Her mother, who is known as “The Dress Witch,” stitches happiness into the gowns with family spells and a little magic. Soline is a talented designer who does not feel she has the family’s magical gift. She dreams of leaving the dress shop and becoming famous for designs of her own. Then the Nazis arrive. While working as a volunteer in the hospital, Soline meets Anson, an American ambulance driver.

In 1985, Rory is barely existing. Her life has been on hold for months while she waits for word of her fiancé, who has been kidnapped while working for Doctors Without Borders. Then she awakens a little as she sees a building that speaks to her, and begins to plan the art gallery that she has long dreamed of. Soline is also living in Boston in 1985. Her dress shop has been destroyed in a fire, and she has injuries that will not allow her to sew again. She spends her time dreaming of a lost love and an unused wedding dress.

This is a beautiful story of two heartbroken women whose worlds meet at a crucial time. The main characters, Soline and Rory, will reach out from the page and touch your heart. The romance between Soline and Anson in Nazi- occupied France is touching and real. The description of their work for the French resistance is thrilling and mesmerizing. In 1985, it is a joy to watch as the cautious friendship between Rory and Soline blossoms and grows. This intriguing novel is magically woven together with sorrow, surprises, and happiness, just like the wedding gowns of “The Dress Witch.”


A Peculiar Combination by Ashley Weaver is the first book in the new Electra McDonnell series, which is set in World War II England. Electra (Ellie) belongs to a family of thieves.   Her Uncle Mick is a master safecracker, and she and her cousins, Toby and Colm, have learned everything they know from him. With Toby and Colm off fighting in the war, it is up to Ellie and Uncle Mick to keep supporting the family. When a house robbery goes bad, Ellie finds herself working for a government official, Major Ramsey, in order to keep herself and Uncle Mick out of jail. Their first mission leads to more as it becomes clear a traitor is at work and German spies are involved.

This is an engaging and addictive historical thriller with a touch of romance. I immediately connected with these characters, especially Ellie and Uncle Mick. Ellie is an intriguing and complex individual. She is a thief and safecracker, but has also been to finishing school. She can operate in any level of society, which makes her a perfect thief and a perfect spy. Uncle Mick is a locksmith by day and safecracker by night, but he has a moral code, even as a thief, that he will not break. He has passed that code onto Ellie.    Ellie’s missions into high society with the Major are thrilling and fun to watch. They are a reminder that World War II was also fought silently by spies on both sides.   Fans of historical thrillers and strong female characters are going to love this World War II spy adventure.  Highly recommend.

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


Gail Meath brings a legend to life in this beautiful historical romance/thriller based on the life of Agustina Raimunda Maria Saragossa, or Agustina de Aragón, also known as “The Spanish Joan of Arc.” We learn the true story of Agustina’s heroic acts during the First Siege of Zaragosa, her life as a soldier and prisoner, and her romance with her beloved Juan Roca. Set in Barcelona and then Zaragosa, and other points in Spain, we meet Agustina as a girl and then follow her into womanhood, motherhood, and war.

The author’s meticulous research into the life and customs of early 1800s Spain is obvious, as Agustina’s world comes alive. The reader will feel as if they are there, visiting the marketplace and working alongside Agustina in her father’s bladesmith shop. The love story between Agustina and Roca is very well done, and their passion and dedication to each other are painted across every page. 

When danger arrives in the form of the Napoleon-led French Army, we can see the bloody battles and the savagery of the enemy, as well as the bravery of the Spanish people, as they fight off onslaught after onslaught. The terrible price of war is shown again and again, and the reader will weep along with Agustina as she faces unspeakable loss. The author’s knowledge of the topic is impressive, and I learned so much about Napoleon’s attacks on and eventual takeover of Spain. Although Agustina is famous for her acts during the First Siege of Zaragosa, she was also a mother, soldier, and prisoner of war, and it all comes alive in this novel. The ending is absolutely intriguing, and not to be missed.

I require two things from historical fiction. The first is that I be transported to the time and place being described. There is no question I felt transported to marketplaces, battlefields, and even prison in this fantastic novel. The second is that I learn something, and this book introduced me to Agustina herself, and then taught me much about the Napoleonic wars.

Agustina De Aragón introduces us to a compelling real-life legend, takes us into her world, and shows us the realities of war. It is a must read for fans of strong female characters. If you have never heard of Agustina, this book will introduce you in an unforgettable way.


n 1976, five-year-old Rita is ripped away from the only family she has ever known and is taken to Georgetown, Guyana, to live with her father, Jitty Miraj. A wild child, she surrounds herself with animals and   books,   and   shares   everything   with   her   diary,   a   gift   from   her   father.   Her    father becomes    her world,    and   she     forgets   her     past.      When     Doomsday     comes,     and     she    meets Jitty’s   new   wife Chandra,   Rita    is    told   that   she is not good   enough.    Chandra   is   embarrassed   of Rita’s African and Amerindian roots, her curly hair, and the fact that her parents weren’t married. Rita is quickly set off to the side.   Then a chance to visit her mother’s family presents itself.    Will Rita finally learn the truth her father will never tell? How did her mother die? This is the coming of age story of Rita Miraj, from five years old to adulthood.

This is an absolutely gorgeous, soul-touching book that I could not put down. We are immediately drawn into Rita’s life and grow up with her as she learns to cope with a weak but manipulative father and his empty promises. Words are her gift, and we are gifted with her poems and diary entries. Music, movies, and   political/historical   events   of   the   1970s   and    1980s    are relayed    through Rita,    Jitty,    and flashbacks   to   Rita’s   mother   Cassie.   The   lush   beauty, diverse wildlife,   and   rich   history    of the Pomeroon River area   are   described    in   vivid   detail.    Rita    has    a    deeply    moving     and     soul- changing moment on Shell   Beach   watching   a   turtle   lay   her   eggs,   and   I was drawn in to her overwhelming wonder and joy. The evolution of Rita’s heart, mind, and goals as she grows and learns is so well captured here. This book was an unforgettable, magical joy to read.  Highly recommend.

I received a free copy from Bookouture for Historical Novels Review. I also purchased a copy to support this amazing book. My opinions are my own.


After leaving her home in Alabama, Ellie Fields arrives in Bernadette, Louisiana, in 1949 for her new teaching job. The people of this town do not trust outsiders, who have threatened both their language and their culture. But as Ellie settles into her job, she is accepted by almost everyone, except for the school board and a greedy politician. When Ellie meets Raphe, he   introduces her to the legendary white alligator who inhabits the waters, and he and Ellie soon begin a relationship. When a huge bounty is offered for the gator and an evil man tries to destroy the town, Raphe and Ellie will find their courage tested.

This is a gorgeous tale that draws the reader in with almost musical writing. The lonely character of Raphe, the loyal and determined Ellie, and the beautiful town with its rich history are all so well described. The threat to the white alligator, “L’Esprit Blanc,” mirrors the threat to the entire town and its culture from outsiders only interested in conformity and money. The characters, whether endearing, challenging, or infuriating, are beautifully composed. Through the weaving together of violin music, tall tales, chirping crickets, and the beauty and culture of the Bayou, Valerie Fraser Luesse has created a lyrical and masterful literary composition that you won’t want to put down.

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


Since I’m the editor of this book, I thought it might be biased to put it in the top 10, but I wanted everyone to know that this is an awesome book! Songbird has it all–A mystery, New York City history, and a German Shepherd! Be sure and check it out by clicking on the cover. See my review below:

This is a fantasically fun cozy mystery set in 1923 New York. The characters don’t just jump off the page, they pull you into their world. Jax’s sidekick, Ace, the wonderfully charming German Shepherd, will make his way into your heart in no time. The setting in 1923 New York City is well described and transports us back to that place and time. The portrayal of Coney Island makes you feel as if you are there, hanging on for dear life in the Steeplechase or winning a prize in the baseball toss. The mystery is so well done, with puzzles and red herrings that will keep you guessing. The main characters are complex and interesting. Jax, private investigator and former cop, has his own secrets to keep, and Laura’s talents are revealed to expand way beyond singing.

There is a sweet romance, but the complex and fascinating mystery is the star of the show, along with the lovable Ace. I highly recommend this book, the first in the Jax Diamond Mysteries series, to all mystery fans and to anyone who loves reading about our canine friends.

I received a free copy of this book from the author. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

Blog Tour and Book Promo: Tempted by the Runes

*Not a book review


Tempted by the Runes

Born centuries apart. Bound by a love that defied time.

She couldn’t believe her eyes. The runes were normally so reliable and she had never doubted them before.

Madison Berger is visiting Dublin with her family for a Viking re-enactment festival, when she chances upon a small knife embedded in the banks of the Liffey. Maddie recognises what the runes on the knife’s handle signify: the chance to have her own adventures in the past.

Maddie only intends to travel back in time briefly, but a skirmish in 9th century Dublin results in her waking up on a ship bound for Iceland, with the man who saved her from attack.

Geir Eskilsson has left his family in Sweden to boldly carve out a life of his own. He is immediately drawn to Maddie, but when he learns of her connection to his sisters-in-law, he begins to believe that Fate has played a partin bringing them together. Amidst the perils that await on their journey to a new land, the truest battle will be to win Maddie’s heart and convince her that the runes never lie…


Amazon UK

Amazon US


Christina Courtenay

Christina Courtenay writes historical romance, time slip and time travel stories, and lives in Herefordshire (near the Welsh border) in the UK. Although born in England, she has a Swedish mother and was brought up in Sweden – hence her abiding interest in the Vikings. Christina is a former chairman of the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association and has won several awards, including the RoNA for Best Historical Romantic Novel twice with Highland Storms (2012) and The Gilded Fan (2014), and the RNA Fantasy Romantic Novel of the year 2021 with Echoes of the RunesTempted by the Runes (time travel published by Headline 9th December 2021) is her latest novel. Christina is a keen amateur genealogist and loves history and archaeology (the armchair variety).

Social Media Links –





Giveaway to Win a signed paperback copy of Tempted By The Runes, a pair of silver Thor’s hammer earrings and a Thor’s hammer Christmas tree bauble (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for dispatch or delivery of the prize.



Blog Tour and Book Review: Shadows of Swanford Abbey

*Book review at the bottom of the page


Agatha Christie meets Jane Austenin this atmospheric Regency tale brimming with mystery, intrigue, and romance.

When Miss Rebecca Lane returns to her home village after a few years away, her brother begs for a favor: go to nearby Swanford Abbey and deliver his manuscript to an author staying there who could help him get published. Feeling responsible for her brother’s desperate state, she reluctantly agrees.

The medieval monastery turned grand hotel is rumored to be haunted. Once there, Rebecca begins noticing strange things, including a figure in a hooded black gown gliding silently through the abbey’s cloisters. For all its renovations and veneer of luxury, the ancient foundations seem to echo with whispers of the past–including her own. For there she encounters Sir Frederick–magistrate, widower, and former neighbor–who long ago broke her heart.

When the famous author is found murdered in the abbey, Sir Frederick begins questioning staff and guests and quickly discovers that several people held grudges against the man, including Miss Lane and her brother. Haunted by a painful betrayal in his past, Sir Frederick searches for answers but is torn between his growing feelings for Rebecca and his pursuit of the truth. For Miss Lane is clearly hiding something.

The increase in popularity in the historical suspense genre is well-deserved. I have long enjoyed Gothic romances from classic authors such as Emily Bronte, Daphne du Maurier and Victoria Holt. There is something thrilling about being transported to a gloomy atmospheric country estate filled with secrets and mystery.

In the tradition of her predecessors, award-winning and bestselling author Julie Klassen’s highly anticipated new historical suspense novel, Shadows of Swanford Abbey, is releasing on December 7, 2021, from Bethany House Publishers.


Julie Klassen

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

The increase in popularity in the historical suspense genre is well-deserved. I have long enjoyed Gothic romances from classic authors such as Emily Bronte, Daphne du Maurier and Victoria Holt. There is something thrilling about being transported to a gloomy atmospheric country estate filled with secrets and mystery.

In the tradition of her predecessors, award-winning and bestselling author Julie Klassen’s highly anticipated new historical suspense novel, Shadows of Swanford Abbey, is releasing on December 7, 2021, from Bethany House Publishers.


Author Julie Klassen shares her inspiration for Shadows of Swanford Abbey


“A brilliant Agatha Christie-esque whodunit by reader favorite Julie Klassen. Set in the creepy atmosphere of an old abbey, Shadows of Swanford Abbey will keep you guessing until the very end. There’s plenty of danger, intrigue, and—yes—romance to delight Regency-era lovers of all ages. Truly a don’t-miss read!”—Michelle Griep, Christy Award-winning author of Once Upon a Dickens Christmas

“If you enjoy historical fiction with equal blends MYSTERY (suspense) and ROMANCE, then I recommend Shadows of Swanford Abbey with you wholeheartedly without any reservations. This may just be my FAVORITE Klassen novel yet.”—Becky Laney, Becky’s Book Reviews

“Once again Julie Klassen has delivered an intriguing book with all kinds of mystery and a few ghosts added in made it all worth the midnight oil I burned because I didn’t want to put it down!”—Lori Parrish, Red Headed Book Lady




Julie Klassen has done it again. As the book description says, this is an ode to both Jane Austen and Agatha Christie, and it is a work of art. The characters are well developed, and the mystery is full of twists and intrigue. The setting in an old abbey turned hotel makes this novel even more fascinating. The cast of characters is superb. The hotel guests add even more suspense and intrigue. As you are navigating this historical romantic mystery, you might even see a ghost. Mystery, history, and romance are all woven together masterfully. Fans of all of these genres will love this compelling read. Fans of Julie Klassen will not be surprised that she’s produced another winner.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

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Self-Published Saturday: Amulet of Scion

Self-Published Saturday is my effort to help self-published/indie authors with the huge task of marketing their books. Self-Published/Indie authors have to do it all, from editing to cover design to marketing and more. If I can help even a little bit with the marketing, I’m glad to do it. If you would also like to help, please share this post with your followers. If you are interested in this book, I have buy links below. If you decide to read it, be sure and leave a review. Our first feature today is a wonderful young adult fantasy adventure, Amulet of Scion.


When Bailee Paxton is given a locket by her dying mother, it comes with four warnings. “Keep it secret,” “Keep it safe,” “Never take it off,” and “Never give it to anyone.” Bailee, however, decides to have it appraised in order to help raise money for her friend Asher. Then the professor she has taken it to is found in a trance, and his collection of ancient artifacts is missing. Is Bailee a suspect? And why does she feel that she’s being watched?

This clever tale set in South Africa will keep you spellbound. It is a captivating adventure that follows the secrets of a magical amulet and a town with a fascinating past. It is a fantastical but dangerous ride into the world of magic. The characters are so well crafted and the mystery is complex and deep-seated. The author also has a wonderful descriptive ability. Her depiction of the aftermath of a rainstorm is a beauty to behold…”The rain had stopped. Scores of tortoises sipped moisture from leaves, seagulls screeched, swarms of white butterflies fluttered across Martha’s herb garden, and children’s chatter drifted from the shore.” This is just one example of the way Grobler makes the beauty of South Africa come alive under her pen. Over and over, her vivid word pictures make us feel as if we are there. The history and mystery of the amulet will captivate the reader, and the story moves splendidly along, surrounded by magic and nature. Amulet of Scion takes you on a magical and perilous mystery adventure in a country glittering with beauty and natural riches. Fans of young adult/middle grade fantasy, mystery, and paranormal fiction will want to check this one out.

NOTE: If you’re American, as I am, and pause over some of the spelling and expressions, it is because British spelling and South African expressions are used.

Although I originally received a free copy, I also purchased a copy of this book because this is a talented author that I’d like to support.


J.T. Grobler

J.T. GROBLER lives with her husband and daughter. She shares her space with two formidable Staffordshire terriers. Her dog of choice, but honestly, anything four-legged that lets her hug it surely has a kind soul. 

When she isn’t writing, she’s probably strolling with her furry friends through the local farmer’s vineyards or dawdling along the beach. She adores boat rides, watching an active slipway and the wind on her face. 

She also has a pair of African Grey parrots who love to jabber about what she said yesterday. 

Her first writing job came from a third-grade teacher – 100 lines of “I must not eat in class”.

Thank you for reading!







Amazon US

Amazon UK

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Self-Published Saturday: Sincere Thoughts by Karen A. White

Self-Published Saturday is my effort to help Indie/Self-Published authors with the daunting task of marketing. Self-Published/Indie authors have so much on their plate–editing, cover design, and marketing among them. If I can help even a little with marketing, I’m happy to do so. Today we are featuring a collection of Christian poems, Sincere Thoughts by Karen A. White.


Sincere Thoughts is a lovely book of Christian poetry done in free verse by Karen A. White. The poems cover spiritual struggles, including pain, loss, grief, and separation from God, but joy and hope are also woven throughout. The poem RETURN is about the journey of finding your way back to God. ONE STEP AT A TIME tells how each step forward makes God’s purpose in your life become more clear. MOONBEAM tells us that even in the stress and struggles of life, God is always there. GOODBYE and REGRETS are deeply personal poems about death, love, and loss. Grief and pain surrounding the death of White’s husband and other family members can be found throughout this book, and her thoughts and insight will help others who have lost loved ones. 

Sincere Thoughts by Karen A. White conveys powerful emotions and shares with us life lessons the author has learned. I felt the author’s pain, rejection, renewed hope, and even joy as I traveled through this poetry collection. It is a personal reflection on God, family, and new beginnings, but also speaks of divorce, despair, and grief, with which many readers can relate. In this book the author starts at the bottom of the stairs and finds new hope, healing, and trust in God while climbing up again. These reflections, thoughts, and memories will give you renewed strength during your own spiritual journey. Overall, this is a moving ode to life’s struggles and God’s presence in our lives. It will be a great help to those who are struggling. I would recommend this poetry book to anyone dealing with grief, pain, and loss, or anyone looking for God’s purpose in their lives. 

I received a free copy of this book and reviewed this book for Reader’s Favorite.


In 2019 Karen A. White withstood the illness and death of her loving spouse, Evangelist Edmond White. These events tested her love for and faith in God. She is sure that without Christ in her life she would have been lost and without hope. Through her life, walk, trust and faith in God she is reassured that all things are possible: Hope, Love, Completeness, Joy, Peace, Stability. Karen’s poems come from her heart, life’s experiences and her journey. She wants the reader to know they are not alone in their struggles, there is a positive side to everything as in “I Can”, and that each of us has the power to inspire; but we must “Lead by Example” knowing that there still will be times when we will shed a few “Tears”. 




*If you buy the book(s), please leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, as well as anywhere else you review books.  Some people feel very daunted by writing a review. Don’t worry. You do not have to write a masterpiece. Just a couple of lines about how the book made you feel will make the author’s day and help the book succeed. The more reviews a book has, the more Amazon will promote it.

*Please click on the “share” buttons below and share these books with your Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress followers. A little bit of help from all of us will help self-published authors go a long way!

SP Saturday is Running Late but Still on the Way

I apologize for missing Saturday. I watched my three grandkids, ages 6, almost 3, and almost 3 (twins), all weekend. I thought I could find some time to post, but I didn’t find even a moment, which won’t be a surprise to other parents and grandparents! So, Saturday is coming tomorrow. Better late than never.

Here’s a tanka about the joys of being a Granny (There’s some tiring times too but that’s for another tanka)


Giggles, Kisses, Hugs
Piggy Goes to the Market
Chocolate Covered Grins

Memories that touch the heart
And keep their Granny smiling

Check back tomorrow and I’ll have a belated SP Saturday ready!

Blog Tour and Book Review: To Save My Child

*Book Review at Bottom of Page


‘I would do anything for you to get well again, baby girl.’ It’s a promise. Even though it means asking her father for help, going back there, risking everything. Whatever the cost, there’s no hesitation in my mind. Because that’s what you do when you’re a mother.

Single mother Anna’s six-year-old daughter Libby is her whole world. Having escaped a marriage that was threatening to destroy her, Anna has managed to get their lives back on track. Looking at Libby’s sweet, heart-shaped face, Anna is filled with hope for the future. They have each other and nothing else matters.

But then Libby gets ill, with a rare disorder that means she needs a transplant from a relative if she’s going to survive. And when Anna discovers she herself isn’t a match, there’s only one person she can turn to.

So she picks up the phone, and dials a number she hoped she’d never have to call again. The man she once ran from. Her daughter’s father. She’s scared he’ll want them to come back home, scared he’ll be able to break her all over again. But Anna knows what she has to do, what any mother would.

Because if there’s a chance to save your daughter’s life, wouldn’t you do whatever it takes?


Emma Robinson

Emma Robinson is the author of several women’s fiction novels. She also blogs about the funny side of parenting and has contributed to podcasts such as Funny Women. Whilst her early novels are humorous, her recent work focuses on emotional themes and these novels are both heart-breaking and life affirming. Emma enjoys writing stories which explore the power of family and friendship in the most challenging circumstances.

Emma currently lives in Essex with a husband, two children and a small black dog.


This is a compelling and heart-touching novel about a woman forced to contact her estranged and abusive husband in order to try and get a life-saving kidney for her daughter. What would you do to save your daughter’s life? The main character Anna faces that challenge and answers that question over and over in this book. The characters are well written, and I feel the author captured the mindset and mind games that an abuser plays very well. Anna’s desperation and love for her child ring through every page. This is a captivating read that parents will understand and enjoy.

I received a free copy of this book via the publisher, Bookouture. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

Who Knew You Could Do This With PowerPoint

Self-published/Indie authors: This is a great article on how to make Powerpoint a marketing tool. reblogged from Jacqui Murray’s Worddreams.

During my promo for my latest prehistoric fiction, Laws of Nature. one of my wonderful hosts posted this article  I wrote about how I use a venerable favorite PowerPoint in my book marketing. In case you missed it, here’s a revisit:


As an Indie author, I not only write my own books but do all the marketing. For most of you, I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. I’m always looking for ways to make it easier and faster. The old standby PowerPoint has come to my rescue more often than I expected. I’ve used PowerPoint for a score of years so am entirely comfortable with it and appreciate not having to learn new buttons and widgets. As a result, if PowerPoint can make me look like a pro, I’m using it.

Here are a few ideas on how PowerPoint can spiff up your marketing:



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