Monday, December 4, 2023

Within These Gilded Halls by Abigail Wilson

 Within These Gilded Halls is the first book by Abigail Wilson that I have read. I enjoyed the Regency era setting with all of the rules, most of which Phoebe ignored. I found the treasure hunt to be quite enjoyable, and I was kept guessing as to who was the good guys and who wasn't. Phoebe and Graham were both intriguing characters. I was not quite as fond of the first person narrative, but that was only a minor issue. I was a bit surprised at the ending which makes for a good book! 

If you have a free afternoon, grab a copy of this book, your favorite beverage and curl up for a treasure hunt!

I was given a copy of this book with no expectations. All thought's are my own.


Hidden treasure and betrayal mingle with unexpected love within the walls of Avonthorpe Hall.

After studying art under Miss Drake, a renowned painter, Phoebe Radcliff is certain she can finally move beyond the childish mistake that’s kept her away from home. She is thrilled when Miss Drake employs her to complete a complicated ballroom renovation.

Everything changes, however, the moment Miss Drake is murdered. With her last breath she imparts the location of a clue to Phoebe. Can the biggest secret of Avonthorpe Hall be true—the rumored treasure real? Phoebe is tasked to finish her work in the ballroom by Miss Drake’s infuriatingly regimented yet all-too-handsome nephew, Lt. Graham Burke. Determined to fulfill the promise she made to her beloved teacher to find the treasure, Phoebe also works to uncover the truth about Miss Drake’s death—and she must do so before Lt. Burke leases the house.

But dark shadows line the gilded halls of Avonthorpe, and soon enough Phoebe realizes she’s not the only person who knows about the clues. What’s worse, she needs Lt. Burke’s help to stay ahead of whoever is hard on her heels. If only she weren’t so attracted to him.

Caught up in a deadly race for answers, Phoebe must find a way to breach the shroud of lies that surrounds every last resident in the house and, more importantly, face a past she’s been running away from for far too long.

  • Regency romance and mystery
  • Stand-alone novel
  • Book length: approximately 95,000 words
  • Includes discussion questions for book clubs
  • Also by author: Twilight at Moorington CrossMasquerade at Middlecrest Abbey, and The Vanishing at Loxby Manor

About the author:

Abigail Wilson combines her passion for Regency England with intrigue and adventure to pen historical mysteries with a heart. A Registered Nurse, chai tea addict, and mother of two crazy kids, Abigail fills her spare time hiking the National Parks, attending her daughter’s gymnastic meets, and curling up with a great book. In 2017, Abigail won WisRWA’s Fab Five contest and in 2016, ACFW’s First Impressions contest as well as placing as a 2017 finalist in the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. She is a cum laude graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and currently lives in Dripping Springs, Texas, with her husband and children.

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Dawnlight: A Novel of Matthew 27:52-53 by Kacy Barnett-Gramckow


Dawnlight is a novel inspired by the events of Matthew 27:52-53. It follows the lives of some of Jesus' followers during the last year of Jesus' life here on Earth. I found the descriptions of women's lives during this time to be very interesting. I feel that Kacy Barnett-Gramckow invested quite a bit of time in researching this time period. I highly recommend this book.

So settle in with a cup of tea and a cozy blanket to enjoy a great eye opening read.

I purchased a copy of this book and all thoughts are my own.

From Amazon:

Inspired by the mysterious events of Matthew 27:52-53: Amid first-century Jerusalem's political and religious unrest, Elisheba loses her beloved husband, Joseph. Though she is mourning, Elisheba must fight to protect herself and her young son from the schemes and deceptions of others who wish to control her fortune and her future. While Elisheba defies her enemies, her husband's closest friends must decide what they believe—and risk death. When another tragedy strikes, an impossible miracle shakes their lives—and their world is forever Dawnlight.

About the author:

Kacy Barnett-Gramckow is the author of Dawnlight, a Biblical Novel inspired by Matthew 27:52-53, as well as Moody Publisher's THE GENESIS TRILOGY: The Heavens Before, He Who Lifts the Skies, and A Crown in the Stars. Kacy also writes Christian Fantasy Fiction as R. J. Larson.

Kacy finds research almost as interesting as writing, and she brings a lively knowledge of history to bear on her settings and characters. She and her husband, Jerry, have been married for more than thirty years, and they live in Colorado.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Rain by Dana McNeely

 I really enjoyed reading Rain by Dana McNeely. I feel that Ms. McNeely did a fantastic job of creating a backstory for  what life may have been like in the time of Elijah. I admit it was tough reading in a few places, but the best books bring out emotions in their readers. I will definitely look forward to reading more books by Dana McNeely in the future.

So pour up your favorite beverage and settle in for a great  read.

I was given a copy of this book with no expectations. All thoughts are my own.

From Amazon:

He is destined to be high priest—but at what cost to those he loves?

In ancient Samaria, Aban anticipates his rites of passage with excitement and dread. He yearns to join the priesthood of Ba’al Melqart, unlock the power of the rain god, and hear the deity’s voice. He’s been warned the licentious ceremony can take a dangerous turn, but as eldest son of the high priestess, he holds a privileged position. If he can make it through the ceremony, one day he’ll rise to high priest.

On the eve of the rituals, Aban’s mother confesses a dark secret about the bloody sacrifice demanded by Melqart. Aban may have escaped the flames, but if he is to save his brother, Aban must take his destined position of power as soon as possible.

When the mysterious prophet Elijah interrupts the rites, overturns the idol, and curses the land with drought, Aban’s world is shaken. The current high priest and the king appear powerless, but even more confusing is the fact that the rain god does nothing.

Against his better judgment, Aban conceals the strange prophet’s whereabouts, forfeiting the high priesthood. Now an enemy of the relentless Queen Jezebel, Aban has little time to question his fading commitment to Ba’al Melqart as he and his loved ones flee. But the conflict in Samaria is much larger than just a high priestess and her sons. Soon, Aban will have to choose a side in Yahweh’s war against the Ba’als—and it may cost him his life.

About the author:

Dana McNeely dreamed of living in a world teeming with adventure, danger, and romance, but she had a problem—she also needed a lot of peace and quiet. She learned to visit that dream world by stepping into a book. Better yet, hundreds of books. Soon, she began writing her own stories, fact and fiction.

Inspired by the Bible stories of Elijah, Dana wondered why the prophet came to stay with the widow of Zarephath and her son. Who were they? What was their life, before? How did the boy change after he died, saw the other world—and came back?

Those questions led to Dana writing RAIN, in which she built her dream world of adventure, danger, and romance. Peace and quiet, however, have remained elusive.

No stranger to drought, Dana lives in an Arizona oasis with her hubby the constant gardener, two good dogs, an antisocial cat, and myriads of migrating butterflies.

Her debut novel RAIN weaves the story of a mysterious prophet, a desperate youth, and a relentless queen. RAIN and a second novel are contracted by Mountain Brook Ink. Sign up for Dana’s newsletter to get her book updates, garden exploits, butterfly effusions, and writerly fiascos.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

The Italian Ballerina by Kristi Cambron

The Italian Ballerina by Kristy Cambron is a beautiful, well researched dual time novel. this book was based on actual events that took place during WW2 in Italy. I loved the story once I figured out the various time lines and places. I highly recommend The Italian Ballerina.

So brew up some coffee and maybe grab a few biscotti, and a box of Kleenex and settle in for a great read.

I was given a copy of this book with no expectations. All thoughts are my own.

From Amazon:

At the height of the Nazi occupation of Rome, an unlikely band of heroes comes together to save innocent lives in this breathtaking World War II novel based on real historical events.

Rome, 1943. With the fall of Italy’s Fascist government and the Nazi regime occupying the streets of Rome, British ballerina Julia Bradbury is stranded and forced to take refuge at a hospital on Tiber Island. But when she learns of a deadly sickness sweeping through the quarantine wards—a fake disease known only as Syndrome K—she is drawn into one of the greatest cons in history. Alongside hospital staff, friars of the adjoining church, and two Allied medics, Julia risks everything to rescue Jewish Italians from the deadly clutches of the Holocaust. Soon a little girl who dreams of becoming a ballerina arrives at their door, and Julia is determined to reunite the young dancer with her family—if only she would reveal one crucial secret: her name.

Present Day. Delaney Coleman recently lost her grandfather—a beloved small-town doctor and World War II veteran, so she returns home to help her aging parents. When a mysterious Italian woman reaches out claiming to own one of the family’s precious heirlooms, Delaney is compelled to travel to Italy and uncover the truth of her grandfather’s hidden past. With the help of the woman’s skeptical but charming grandson, Delaney learns of a Roman hospital that saved hundreds of Jewish people during the war. Soon, everything Delaney thought she knew about her grandfather comes into question.

Based on true accounts of the invented Syndrome K sickness, The Italian Ballerina journeys from the Allied storming of the beaches at Salerno to the London ballet stage and the war-torn streets of World War II Rome, exploring the sometimes heart-wrenching choices we must make to find faith and forgiveness, and how saving a single life can impact countless others.

  • Split timeline: WWII and present day
  • Stand-alone novel
  • Book length: approximately 107,000 words
  • Includes discussion questions for book clubs

About the author:

 KRISTY CAMBRON is a vintage-inspired storyteller writing from the space where beauty, art, and history intersect. She's a Christy Award-winning author of historical fiction, including her bestselling novels, THE BUTTERFLY AND THE VIOLIN and THE PARIS DRESSMAKER, as well as nonfiction titles. She also serves as a literary agent with Gardner Literary.

Her work has been named to: Cosmopolitan Best Historical Fiction Novels of 2021, Publishers Weekly Religion & Spirituality TOP 10, Library Journal Reviews’ Best Books, RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards, a Carol Award final, and received a 2020 Christy Award for her novel, THE PAINTED CASTLE. She's also been featured at: Cosmopolitan, Publishers Weekly, Once Upon a Book Club Box, Frolic, Book Club Girl, BookBub, Country Woman Magazine, and (in)Courage.

Kristy holds a degree in Art History/Research Writing and spent 15 yrs in education and leadership development for a Fortune 100 corporation, partnering with such companies as the Disney Institute, IBM/Kenexa, and Gallup before stepping away to pursue her passion for storytelling. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three basketball-loving sons, where she can probably be bribed with a peppermint mocha latte and a good read.

You can connect with Kristy at:

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Star Of Persia by Jill Eileen Smith

 Jill Eileen Smith's Star of Persia is a fantastic retelling of Queen Esther's story from the Bible. From Mordechai's house near the Jewish section to Xerxes's palace in  Susa, Star Of Persia follows Esther's life. Smith has done a wonderful job of describing Esther's humble beginnings to life in the opulent palace and the danger and intrigue that lurk in the harem. I love the theme of God's faithfulness that carries throughout the book. 

I highly recommend The Star Of Persia. So grab a tray of Hamantaschen, a pot of tea and find a comfortable nook in which to curl up and savor this book.

I was given a copy of Star Of Persia with no expectations. All thoughts are my own.

From Amazon:

In an effort to complete a war his father had planned to win, King Xerxes calls every governor, satrap, and official in his vast kingdom to his palace in Susa to strategize and feast. When they finally leave, he decides on one more week of frivolity, which ends in the banishment of his favorite wife, something he never intended to do. But when he discovers Esther, Xerxes is sure he has a second chance at happiness.

In her wildest dreams, Esther could never have imagined that she would end up as queen of Persia. Yet she knows better than to become complacent. Another of Xerxes's wives is vying for position, and his closest advisor has a deep and dangerous grudge against Esther's adoptive father. Caught in the middle of palace politics, Esther will find herself in an impossible position: risk her life or consign her people to annihilation.

With her impeccable research and her imaginative flair, Jill Eileen Smith brings to life the romantic, suspenseful, and beloved story of Esther, queen of Persia.

About the author:

Jill Eileen Smith is the bestselling, award-winning author of the Wives of King David series, Wives of the Patriarchs, Daughters of the Promised Land, The Heart of a King, Star of Persia, Miriam's Song, and the nonfiction When Life Doesn't Match Your Dreams, and She Walked Before Us. Her research has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times.

When she isn’t writing, she loves to spend time with her family and friends, read stories that take her away, ride her bike to the park, snag date nights with her hubby, try out new restaurants, or play with her lovable, “helpful” cat Tiger. Jill lives with her family in southeast Michigan.

Contact Jill through email (, her website (, Facebook (, or Twitter (

Hamantaschen cookie recipe:

Easy Hamantaschen Cookies

Hamantaschen, a delicious, triangular-shaped cookie often served for Purim, is easy to make and melt-in-your-mouth delicious!
Prep Time10minutes 
Cook Time12minutes 
Chilling Time2hours 
Total Time2hours  22minutes 
Servings: 35 servings


Calories: 90kcal


Author: Stephanie Wilson


  • 12 tablespoons butter at room temperature (3/4 cup)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 orange zested (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  • In the bowl of a stand mixer or with an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  • Add the egg, vanilla and orange zest to the butter mixture and beat together until fully combined and creamy.
  • Mix in the flour and salt until the dough just comes together. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and shape into a flat disc, wrap and chill; for about 2 hours.
  • While the dough is chilling assemble your fillings. I like to use preserves, spreads, and Nutella for beautiful colors and a range of flavors. You can make your own or buy ready made at the market.

Rolling and shaping dough

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • Once the dough is chilled, it will be stiff. I like to let it sit out for a few minutes which helps with the rolling process. Transfer to a lightly floured surface.
  • Using a heavy rolling pin, roll the dough until it's quite thin; about 1/4 to 1/8 inch thickness. The thinner you roll the dough the more delicate the cookies will be. The guys in my house love the cookie so much, I make a few thicker ones for them :).
  • Using a 3-inch cookie cutter or the rim of a 3-inch diameter glass, cut circles from the rolled dough and transfer to the baking sheet. Gather scraps and re-roll the dough. If you're using a thin dough, you should be able to make about 35 circles. A thicker dough will yield less cookies.
  • Place 1 teaspoon of filling into the center of each circle. Be careful not to overfill as the it will seep out during baking.

Assembling the cookies

  • Fold the left side of the circle toward the center. Then fold the right side of the circle toward the center and overlap the upper part of the left side.
  • Finally, fold up the bottom part of the circle to form a triangle. Tuck the left side of the bottom flap underneath the left side corner of the triangle, and the right side of the bottom flap over the right side corner of the triangle. This folding technique helps keep the filling inside the cookie during baking.
  • Pinch each corner to secure the triangular shape. If any cracks have formed in the cookie dough, smooth them with your fingers until they disappear. Repeat for all cookies.

Baking the cookies

  • Bake for 10 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown on the corners and the filling is bubbling. The time difference will depend on your oven and the thickness of your cookies. I begin checking them at 10 minutes and usually bake for about 12 minutes, using a thinner dough.


Calories: 90kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 16mg | Sodium: 66mg | Potassium: 19mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 136IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 0.4mg

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

The Juliet Code, A Freddie and Grace Mystery, by Pepper Basham

The Juliet Code contains the further adventures of Lord and Lady Astley that began with the Mistletoe Countess. I am going to date myself by saying they remind me of the the old Hart to Hart tv series, the beginning monologue stated that "When they met, it was murder."  

I love Grace's enthusiasm for life. She has certainly turned Lord Astley's life upside down, but somehow I think he is happy that she has stirred things up. I really enjoy reading all of Grace and Freddie's adventures, even if they continually stumble into rough situations. 

So brew up a pot of tea, grab a cozy blanket, and settle in for a great adventure!

I was given a copy of The Juliet Code with no expectations. All thoughts are my own. 

From Amazon:

Newlyweds Lord and Lady Astley Finally Reach Their Honeymoon Destination Only to Encounter a New Mystery in Need of Solving
Frederick and Grace Percy finally make it to Italy to enjoy a delayed honeymoon and explore the beauties of the historic city of Venice. To their surprise, their friend, Detective Jack Miracle, is also in the city, investigating a series of art heists starting at the house of eccentric millionaire, Laraby Covington. Drawn into a world of boat races, mysterious houses, and parties of the rich and unusual in Venice, Frederick and Grace learn of the existence of the Juliet paintings, (Renaissance paintings feature Shakespeare’s tragic heroine) rumored to hold a secret code to an underground vault of similarly treasured artwork assumed lost over the centuries. As Freddie and Grace are pulled deeper into the mystery and their beloved Detective Jack disappears, can they use their wits and work as a team to find the thieves and Jack before it’s too late. 
The Juliet Code is a Freddie and Grace Mystery, sequel to The Mistletoe Countess and The Cairo Curse.

About the author:

 Pepper Basham is a best-selling author who writes romance “peppered” with grace and humor. Writing both historical and contemporary novels, she loves to incorporate her native Appalachian culture and/or her unabashed adoration of the UK into her stories. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the wife of a fantastic pastor, mom of five great kids, a speech-language pathologist, and a lover of chocolate, jazz, hats, and Jesus. Her twentieth book, The Cairo Curse, came out in February. Next up is Positively, Penelope, the sequel to her bestselling novel, Authentically, Izzy. She loves connecting with readers and other authors through social media outlets like Facebook & Instagram.

You can learn more about Pepper and her books on her website at


Monday, October 16, 2023

A Royal Christmas by Melody Carlson


Melody Carlson's A Royal Christmas is a delightful tale, perfect for curling up with on a cold, dreary day. The story is fresh and I loved the characters. The country of Montovia is charming and full of delightful characters...and some not so nice ones. This book is filled with romance and a hint of suspense. I highly recommend A Royal Christmas to anyone who love royal stories.

So brew up a pot of tea, curl up in your favorite chair and settle in for a fun read.

I was given a copy of this book with no expectations. All thoughts are my own.

From Amazon:

Adelaide Smith is too busy for fairy tales. She's been working hard to put herself through law school and now that the end is in sight, she's determined to stay focused on her goals. Then she receives a letter notifying her that she has been found through a DNA registry to be a direct descendant of King Maximillian V, the ruler of a small Eastern European principality called Montovia. She's understandably skeptical. This is the stuff of cheesy made-for-TV movies, not real life.

Although the pieces of this surprising family puzzle seem too good to be true, curiosity gets the best of her. At the king's invitation, Adelaide embarks on a Christmas break trip that is chock-full of surprises, including a charming village, an opulent palace, family mysteries, royal jealousies, a handsome young member of Parliament--and the chance at a real fairy tale romance with a happily-ever-after ending.

Spend this Christmas with bestselling author Melody Carlson as she whisks you away to a royal holiday you'll never forget!

About the author:

Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books (with sales around 6.5 million) for teens, women and children. That's a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a "storyteller." Her novels range from serious issues like schizophrenia (Finding Alice) to lighter topics like house-flipping (A Mile in My Flip-Flops) but most of the inspiration behind her fiction comes right out of real life. Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, TrueColors etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She's won a number of awards (including Romantic Time's Career Achievement Award, the Rita and the Gold Medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog. To find out more about Melody Carlson, visit her website at