Friday, March 5, 2021

The Lady in Residence

 


Can a Legacy of Sadness be Broken at the Menger Hotel?

Visit historic American landmarks through the Doors to the Past series. History and today collide in stories full of mystery, intrigue, faith, and romance.

Young widow Hedda Krause checks into the Menger Hotel in 1915 with a trunk full of dresses, a case full of jewels, and enough cash to pay for a two-month stay, which she hopes will be long enough to meet, charm, and attach herself to a new, rich husband. Her plans are derailed when a ghostly apparition lures her into a long, dark hallway, and Hedda returns to her room to find her precious jewelry has been stolen. She falls immediately under a cloud of suspicion with her haunting tale, but true ghost enthusiasts bring her expensive pieces of jewelry in an attempt to lure the ghost to appear again.

In 2017, Dini Blackstone is a fifth-generation magician, who performs at private parties, but she also gives ghost walk tours, narrating the more tragic historical events of San Antonio with familial affection. Above all, her favorite is the tale of Hedda Krause who, in Dini’s estimation, succeeded in perpetrating the world’s longest con, dying old and wealthy from her ghost story. But then Dini meets Quinn Carmichael, great-great-grandson of the detective who originally investigated Hedda’s case, who’s come to the Alamo City with a box full of clues that might lead to Hedda’s exoneration. Can Dini see another side of the story that is worthy of God’s grace?

 My thoughts: I love the mystery surrounding this story, as well as some of the historical details that are hidden in the story! The author does a great job of bringing the characters to life, though I found that I didn't always click with them on their journey throughout the story. That said, I still liked the very different view of a wealthy widow on her own in the early 1900's as well as the modern Dini (think Houdini) who has an eclectic assortment of jobs-from magician to ghost story teller. 

While the book has many twists and turns, and the ending what not what I was expecting or hoping for, the more I thought on it, the more I liked how the story ends. 

This is a fun and unique story. I look forward to reading the other books in the series!

I received this book from Celebrate Lit. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.

Purchase a copy here! This post contains affiliate links.

About the Author

Allison Pittman is the author of more than a dozen critically acclaimed novels and a four-time Christy finalist—twice for her Sister Wife series, once for All for a Story from her take on the Roaring Twenties and most recently for the critically acclaimed The Seamstress which takes a cameo character from the Dickens’ classic A Tale of Two Cities and flourishes her to life amidst the French Revolution. She lives in San Antonio, Texas, blissfully sharing an empty nest with her husband, Mike. Connect with her on Facebook (Allison Pittman Author), Twitter (@allisonkpittman) or her website, allisonkpittman.com.

 

More from Allison

From Haunting to Healing: How Stories Bring New Life to Old Ghosts

If you really think about it, every story is a ghost story. Not the floating spirits of the dearly departed kind, not bumps in the night or mysterious howling in the darkness—but the best stories come from examining a haunted heart. Memories that pursue the present.

A few years ago I took the walking tour of haunted San Antonio. It was a lark, a fun tourist-y thing to do with some visiting friends. I’m not a believer in ghosts, but I am a collector of stories. The tour opens at the Alamo—sacred ground of slain soldiers. The second stop is the Menger Hotel, listed as one of the most haunted hotels in the United States by those who measure and evaluate such things. And while the tour guide waxed on about the guests’ litany of haunted experiences (including Teddy Roosevelt raging through the lobby), my mind stuck with the story of Sallie White. Sallie White is the Menger Hotel’s most famous ghost—a chambermaid whose apparition is reported to be seen walking the halls, towels draped over her arm, or to be heard as an efficient two-rap knock on your door late at night. My mind, however, didn’t dwell on Sallie the ghost, but Sallie the woman—just a normal, hard-working, poor woman, murdered in the street by a man who claimed to love her. But for that, she would have passed into history unknown. Instead, her story is told every night as strangers gather on the very sidewalk where the crime took place.

Years after first hearing the story of Sallie white, I stayed in the Menger for a few days to gather details for The Lady in Residence. I booked what they call a “Petite” room—meaning it is a room that maintains its original structure. Read: tiny. Exposed pipes, creaky wooden floors, antique furniture—the only update, the bathroom fixtures. As it turned out, my room was directly above the place where Sallie White was murdered. One night I pressed my ear against the glass and listened to the ghost tour guide tell her story. The next morning, I stood in the exact spot with a fancy Starbucks drink, thinking about her. She lives on, not because people claim to see her walking and hear her knocking in the dead of night, but because she is a woman remembered.

So, is that beautiful? Is it ghoulish? Maybe it’s both, but when I was given the chance to write a story set in and around the Menger Hotel, I was determined to make Sallie White’s story a part of it. I didn’t want to write her story—that would have required embellishment beyond those few historic, factual tid-bits that such a woman left behind. Sallie White didn’t have correspondence to catalog or a journal to give us insight to her thoughts. Instead, I wanted to tell it to readers everywhere who might never make it to San Antonio to hear it for themselves. When you read The Lady in Residence, you are going to hear the true story of Sallie White, all of it taken from a newspaper account of the time. And then, I did what all historical writers do…I folded it into my own tale and folded that tale into another.

That’s really the joy of writing a split-time novel—being able to draw back and shoot a narrative-arrow straight through the hearts of two stories, threading them together, to bring a haunting to a place of healing.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, February 23

Artistic Nobody, February 23 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Fiction Aficionado, February 24

For the Love of Literature, February 24

Where Faith and Books Meet, February 24

Texas Book-aholic, February 25

Mia Reads Blog, February 25

Connie’s History Classroom, February 26

Inspiration Clothesline, February 26

Locks, Hooks and Books, February 27

Books I’ve Read, February 27

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, February 28

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, February 28

Remembrancy, March 1

Bigreadersite, March 1

For Him and My Family, March 2

Hallie Reads, March 2

deb’s Book Review, March 3

Blogging With Carol, March 3

By The Book, March 4

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 4

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 5

The Write Escape, March 5

Life of Literature, March 6

Inklings and notions, March 6

Godly Book Reviews, March 7

Vicky Sluiter, March 7

To Everything There is A Season, March 8

Pause for Tales, March 8

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Allison is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of The Lady in Residence!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/1086e/the-lady-in-residence-celebration-tour-giveaway

Thursday, March 4, 2021

 


When a freak storm uncovers the entrance to a mysterious underground chamber, Ivy and Martin expect to find treasure. But what they discover is even more valuable: a barrow full of sleeping spriggans, magically preserved for centuries. With the vengeful piskey queen Betony determined to capture Ivy and her followers, the secret hideaway could be key to both their peoples’ survival.

But the piskeys and spriggans are ancient enemies, and when Ivy tries to make peace her own followers threaten to turn against her. Plagued by treachery, betrayal and desertion on every side, Ivy must find a way to unite the magical folk of Cornwall–or doom herself, Martin and everyone she loves to death at Betony’s hand.

Yet without the legendary fire-wielding power that marks a true piskey queen, can Ivy convince her people to believe?

My thoughts: The story of Ivy continues in Torch that started in the previous two books (I would recommend reading the series in order, since they are not stand alone books). She really is put through the ringer as she seeks to do what is right and has grown up as the series progresses, having gone through some hard things. I enjoy the twists and turns that the story has taken. I also really appreciate that this is a YA series that is appropriate for middle school on up. I look forward to re-reading them with my daughter! 

I received this book from Celebrate Lit. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.

Purchase a copy here! This post contains affiliate links.

About the Author

Anderson-2876lowresBorn in Uganda to missionary parents, R.J. (Rebecca Joan) Anderson is a women’s Bible teacher, a wife and mother of three, and a bestselling fantasy author for older children and teens. Her debut novel Knife has sold more than 120,000 copies worldwide, while her other books have been shortlisted for the Nebula Award, the Christy Award, and the Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Science Fiction. Rebecca lives with her family in Stratford, Ontario, Canada.

 

More from R. J.

What does it take to be a good leader?
Looking at some of the religious, social and political leaders around us, it seems like a confident attitude, dramatic flair, and the ability to make stirring speeches are the keys to success. But is that the kind of leadership people really need, or is it only what we’ve grown used to?
Ivy, the heroine of my book Torch, never wanted to become a leader, or expected anyone to follow her. After being exiled from her underground home by her proud Aunt Betony, she’s been struggling to make sense of her own life, never mind anyone else’s. But when a ragtag band of old friends and former neighbours turn up on Ivy’s doorstep looking for a new home, she has no choice but to help her fellow Cornish piskeys as best she can.
What Ivy soon finds, however, is that her people’s hopes and expectations for her are much bigger than any she had for herself. They want a queen strong enough to defeat Betony and free their people — but how can Ivy stand up to her aunt’s ruthless tactics and magical fire-wielding powers, when she’s just a slight teenager with barely any magic at all?
As I wrote this book, the last in my Flight and Flame trilogy about Ivy of the Delve, I wanted to explore the difference between the popular idea of a great leader, and the humble servant leadership taught and exemplified by Christ. Unlike Betony, who has become so obsessed with her own power and reputation that she’s blind to her people’s suffering, Ivy only wants to help and encourage her fellow piskeys and keep them safe from harm. She’s willing to sacrifice her own comfort, put aside her own feelings, and do whatever it takes to make sure her followers survive. And though she makes some mistakes and faces some painful challenges along the way, she never forgets that her goal isn’t personal fame or glory, but the good of everyone around her.
Ivy’s personal journey also reflects some of my own recent experiences of caregiving, which can seem like an impossible task when the needs of our loved ones grow greater than our own strength and wisdom can bear. She has to learn, as I did, that the only solution is to ask for help and be willing to let others do it their own way, instead of trying to control everything ourselves.
Torch is the last book of the epic adventure that began with Swift and continued in Nomad, taking Ivy from the depths of obscurity to heights she never imagined, and from a life of loneliness to a love sweeter — and stranger — than she ever dreamed she’d find. It’s a story that’s close to my heart, and I hope it will find a place in yours and your family’s as well!
— R.J. Anderson

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, R.J. is giving away the grand prize package of a signed bookplate, bookmarks, notecards, and a copy of either SWIFT, NOMAD or TORCH!! (winner’s choice)

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/1089c/torch-celebration-tour-giveaway

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Sing in the Sunlight

 


Richard Stevens isn’t who he thinks he is. Neither is the woman who now claims his last name.

Disfiguring scars stole Clarinda Humphrey’s singing career, her home, and her family, but she refuses to let her appearance steal her future. While attending The Young Ladies Seminary in 1858 Benicia, California, she finds a man who promises to love and cherish her. Instead he betrays her, leaving her with child, and Clarinda must take drastic measures to ensure her child doesn’t suffer for her foolishness.

Richard Stevens’s life hasn’t turned out as he expected, and when a shocking letter turns even his past into a mystery, he travels to San Francisco in search of guidance. On the way, he encounters a mysterious young woman hiding beneath a veil. That night he experiences a dream that sends him on a quest to find the bride God has chosen for him. He never imagines she’s already told everyone they’re married.

Unwilling to lie, nor accept a marriage of mere convenience, Richard wants the real thing. Yet Clarinda’s not interested in love, only a chance to save her child. Can he help her rise above the pain that runs deeper than her scars to accept a love worth every risk?

 My thoughts: This is such a beautiful, historical fiction story about the gentle love of a good man. I enjoyed getting to know both Clarinda and Richard as circumstances threw them together in marriage. Due to facial scars from a young age, Clarinda is scared to show her true face to those around her. I love how Richard fell for her and sought to show her how beautiful she was to him. This a wonderful story to pick up and enjoy!

I received this book from Celebrate Lit. This is my honest review.

Purchase a copy here! This post contains affiliate links.

About the Author

Kathleen Denly Headshot 3Kathleen Denly lives in sunny Southern California with her loving husband, four young children, and two cats. As a member of the adoption and foster community, children in need are a cause dear to her heart and she finds they make frequent appearances in her stories. When she isn’t writing, researching, or caring for children, Kathleen spends her time reading, visiting historical sites, hiking, and crafting.

 

More from Kathleen

Hiding our Flaws

We all have things we’d like to change about our physical appearance. Personally, I’ve yet to lose the weight I gained with my last pregnancy and sitting behind a desk all day hasn’t helped things any. Despite this, I know that my husband, kids, family, friends, and most importantly, God, loves me just as much now as when I was my healthiest self. I want to lose the weight not because I need to earn someone’s approval but because I know I’ll feel better and be able to do more without tiring as quickly if I do. In the meantime, I’m okay with where I am because it’s the best I’ve been able to do so far.

This level of self-acceptance has come with maturity and the love of a godly man. When I was younger, I’d spend hours in front of the mirror trying to disguise my flaws beneath layers of makeup and stomach smoothers. In fact, one of the most memorable moments of my courtship with my now husband was the day I returned from a women’s retreat. I hadn’t gotten much sleep all weekend and we’d had to pack up and leave early, so I’d made the unusual decision to skip my makeup that morning. I was going to carpool back to the church, grab my car, and head home for a nap. What was the point in painting my face when the only people who’d see it were the women who’d seen me wake up bare-faced that morning anyway? Well, it turns out my now husband had missed me. So he was waiting in the church parking lot when we arrived, just to say hi before I went home. Sweet, right? Um yeah. At the time, part of me thought it was sweet, but more of me wanted to melt into the floor’s carpet and vanish from sight. I had ZERO makeup on, people! And I had bags under my eyes! *gasp* *shudder*

Needless to say, after almost nineteen years of marriage, he’s seen me a few times without my makeup on. Actually, these days, I only wear makeup for videos, photographs I intend to share online, special events, and (if the kids are nice to me that morning) church. Not that I don’t have my insecure moments or those photographs that friends share but I really wish they wouldn’t. (You know who you are.) But overall, I am okay with how I look because I know that I am loved and accepted.

However, in Sing in the Sunlight, my character, Clarinda, feels unloved, and unwanted by those closest to her. She describes parts of herself with words like hideous. She uses long sleeves, high necks, gloves, and veils to hide herself from a world that has rejected her. And she keeps almost everyone at arm’s length—especially God. So when she finally lets someone in, only to be betrayed, it sets off a series of desperate decisions that tangle her in a web from which she cannot find an escape. It’s my prayer that her story will touch readers’ hearts and show them how much they are loved—flaws and all.

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 2

Simple Harvest Reads, March 2 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Texas Book-aholic, March 3

lakesidelivingsite, March 3

Inklings and notions, March 4

Genesis 5020, March 4

For Him and My Family, March 5

A Novel Pursuit, March 5

Betti Mace, March 6

deb’s Book Review, March 6

Locks, Hooks and Books, March 7

Labor Not in Vain, March 7

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, March 8

Connie’s History Classroom, March 9

The Meaderings of a Bookworm, March 9

Older & Smarter?, March 10

Adventures Of a Travelers Wife, March 11

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, March 11

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, March 12

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, March 12 (Author Interview)

KarenSueHadley, March 13

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, March 13

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, March 14

Blossoms and Blessings, March 14

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 15

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Kathleen is giving away the grand prize package of a Kindle Paperwhite, one bookish scarf, one pair of bookish socks, one bookish necklace, one Chaparral Hearts Pen, and one custom bookmark made and signed by Kathleen Denly!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/1089f/sing-in-the-sunlight-celebration-tour-giveaway

Monday, March 1, 2021

The Widow and the Highlander

 


She needs to be protected. He'll take on the job...for a price.

Christina MacKinnon is secretly relieved to be a widow. She is equally desperate to distance herself from the clan of her dead husband, but as the heir to his estate—one she needs in order to support her siblings—she must first stave off both the advances and threats of the man next in line to inherit. It seems the only person she can turn to is a nearby stranger who seems inclined to help her. But he has a request….

Freshly returned from the war, Lachlan Kincaid has one aim: to see justice served to the MacKinnons for betraying his family years ago and depriving him of his inheritance. While biding his time at a nearby inn, he discovers the death of the MacKinnon laird—whose widow has inherited everything. The way to accomplish his goal is becoming more evident, but the path is murkier than he could have foreseen.

As Christina’s and Lachlan’s lives intersect, it becomes clear that their separate aims may well only be achievable if they join forces. But to do so is to court more danger, and it requires a sacrifice Christina isn’t sure she’s prepared to make.


My thoughts: This story is excellent! I have loved everything that I've read by Martha Keyes. The change in scenery with this story was delightful, since I have been to Scotland and loved the chance to "visit" again.
Wow, I probably tend to look at the olden days through rose colored glasses, though I know that a lot of the things that go on today happened back then as well. Christina has suffered at the hands of her deceased husband (which may be a trigger for some, though it is handled delicately), causing her to be thankful for the fact that the her husband's estate is now hers, since it affords her some independence. Unfortunately, her husband was from a family of ruffians, leaving her at the mercy of some of his clansmen.
I loved the characters and the setting, and look forward to Elizabeth's story coming next! I hope that it will also be a continuation of this story's characters.
I received a complimentary copy from the author. This is my honest review.


Purchase a copy here! This post contains affiliate links.

Catching Hope

 


Catching Hope—a pursuit fraught with danger.

Newly adopted Lexi Michaels is taking her first real vacation as she, twin brother Levi, adoptive brother Chad, and new cousin Jen head to Haiti where their dad, a pediatrician, will be volunteering in an island clinic. But who is the man who displays such hatred for the Michaels when they arrive at their resort? Is an attempted burglary as random as it appears? Will Jen ever accept the newcomers to the family? When the four teens set out to explore Haiti’s sights and history on their own, an unexpected encounter and natural disaster plunge them into adventure and danger. With their very survival at stake, can the four teens work together or will Lexi’s dream of a “forever family” end in tragedy?

My thoughts: While I haven't been involved in foster care personally, some of my good friends have been, and I see the joy and hope (as well as heartache) that can come from opening your home to those in the system. I loved the message of this book as Lexi, her brother, and new family go on a mission trip to Haiti. I can only imagine what it would be like for that to be your first vacation! The author does a wonderful job of bringing the sites to life, as well as the characters. I appreciated the message of hope and God's love woven throughout the story as the four teens went on an adventure of a lifetime.

I received this book from Celebrate Lit. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.

Purchase a copy here! This post contains affiliate links.

About the Author

Kathy Cassel lives in the Florida panhandle with her husband and four of their eight children, five of whom are adopted. She is a motorcycle rider, scuba diver, and loves spending time with her family. Her debut novel, Freerunner, was published by Elk Lake Publishing, Inc. in 2019.

 

 

More from Kathy

My Experience with Haiti

Prior to the 2010 catastrophic 7.0 magnitude earthquake that caused immense damage to the country of Haiti, many people would not have been able to tell you that Haiti and the Dominican Republic share the island of Hispaniola just a two hour flight from Miami.

I knew where it was because our family had adopted a child from Haiti in 1997. At the time the earthquake took place, my husband and I were in the process of adopting twins from a different orphanage in Port au Prince Haiti. It had been over three years and our adoption was not yet complete. During those three years I visited the twins at the orphanage five times. Other family members went with me on some of those trips, and at one point, all of our children still living at home went to visit the orphanage.

This was an eye opening experience for my family. In fact, I volunteered us to do the daily wash. That meant hand washing clothes and sheets for 135 orphans using large metal tubs and harsh soap, then rinsing the clothes in other tubs before hand wringing them and hanging them on clotheslines. Once home, my children no longer complained about unloading the dryer!

Cooking was done in large pots over open fires and mainly consisted of rice and beans, or red sauce over rice. The cooks originally prepared the food in a wooden shack, but more than once one of them would get so hot she’d pass out, so an outdoor area was set up for food preparation.

After the earthquake, there was a mountain of paperwork to be done to get refugee status for children in the orphanages who had families waiting for them. Finally the children were brought to the United States, although some of the orphans went to other countries too, to be united with their forever families. Sadly, many were held in the airport for days before being released. For our family, the long wait was over January 25, 2010. Now our family is complete with three birth children and five adopted children, three of whom are from Haiti.

Some of the places mentioned in the book resemble real places in Haiti, although they have been fictionalized. I hope you will not only read Catching Hope, but will also take time to learn more about the country of Haiti.

Blog Stops

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, February 25

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, February 26

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 27

For the Love of Literature, February 28 (Author Interview)

Texas Book-aholic, March 1

Inklings and notions, March 2

For Him and My Family, March 3

Wishful Endings, March 4 (Author Interview)

Mary Hake, March 4

Locks, Hooks and Books, March 5

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, March 6

Artistic Nobody, March 7 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 8

deb’s Book Review, March 9

Simple Harvest Reads, March 10 (Author Interview)

Lots of Helpers, March 10

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Kathy is giving away the grand prize of a $40 Books-A-Million Gift Card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/1089e/catching-hope-celebration-tour-giveaway