First Line Friday: Deadly Isle

Happy Friday, friends! It’s time for First Line Friday, hosted by Hoarding Books. Grab the book nearest to you and share the first line! Today I’m sharing the first line of Deadly Isle by Dani Pettrey, which is an awesome romantic suspense novella. The hero, Callen Frost has Native-American heritage.


And the first line is…

“He waited, lurking against the buoy’s cold, rusty body, awaiting her.”


About the Book

Tennyson Kent is trapped on the isolated island of her childhood by a storm surge, and she is shocked when the typically idyllic community turns into the hunting grounds of a murderer. Cut off from any help from the mainland, will she and first love Callen Frost be able to identify and stop a killer bent on revenge before they become the next victims?

Deadly Isle is available as an ebook from Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Amazon Barnes & Noble Goodreads

Deadly Isle is also available in paperback, and ebook, and on Audible as part of The Cost of Betrayal, a collection of standalone novellas that each feature the theme of betrayal.

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Amazon Barnes & Noble Goodreads


About the Author

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Praised by New York Times best-selling author Dee Henderson as “a name to look for in romantic suspense,” Dani Pettrey has sold more than half a million copies of her novels to readers eagerly awaiting the next release. Dani combines the page-turning adrenaline of a thriller with the chemistry and happy-ever-after of a romance. Her novels stand out for their “wicked pace, snappy dialogue, and likable characters” (Publishers Weekly), “gripping storyline[s],” (RT Book Reviews), and “sizzling undercurrent of romance” (USA Today).

Her Alaskan Courage series and Chesapeake Valor series have received praise from readers and critics alike and spent multiple months topping the CBA bestseller lists. Dani has also been honored with multiple awards, including the Daphne du Maurier Award, two HOLT Medallions, a Christy Award finalist, two National Readers’ Choice Awards, the Gail Wilson Award of Excellence, and Christian Retailing’s Best Award.

From her early years eagerly reading Nancy Drew mysteries, to paging through Agatha Christie novels or watching on-the-edge-of-her-seat adventure movies, Dani has always enjoyed mystery and suspense. She considers herself blessed to be able to write the kind of stories she loves—full of plot twists and peril, love, and longing for hope and redemption. Her greatest joy as an author is sharing the stories God lays on her heart. She researches murder and mayhem from her home in Maryland, where she lives with her husband. Their two daughters, a son-in-law, and two adorable grandsons also reside in Maryland.

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Post by contributor Caitlyn Santi


Let us know the first line of the book closest to you & then head over to Hoarding Books to see who else is participating!

Throwback Thursday — Dash

Welcome to Throwback Thursday this final Thursday of May, 2020. In recognition of Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I would like to share a poignant middle-grade historical novel about the Japanese American internment camps in the United States during World War II.

About the Book

What happens when a war comes between a girl and her dog?

New from Newbery Honor author Kirby Larson, the moving story of a Japanese-American girl who is separated from her dog upon being sent to an incarceration camp during WWII.

Although Mitsi Kashino and her family are swept up in the wave of anti-Japanese sentiment following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Mitsi never expects to lose her home—or her beloved dog, Dash. But, as World War II rages and people of Japanese descent are forced into incarceration camps, Mitsi is separated from Dash, her classmates, and life as she knows it.

The camp is a crowded and unfamiliar place, whose dusty floors, seemingly endless lines, and barbed wire fences begin to unravel the strong Kashino family ties. With the help of a friendly neighbor back home, Mitsi remains connected to Dash in spite of the hard times, holding on to the hope that the war will end soon and life will return to normal. Though they’ve lost their home, will the Kashino family also lose their sense of family? And will Mitsi and Dash ever be reunited?

Amazon



My Thoughts About This Book:

I am a huge fan of Kirby Larson’s historical fiction. Her books are well-written and well-researched. Her characters are multi-dimensional and her settings are so well-developed they become like characters in and of themselves.

A couple of summers ago I read her Young Adult historical series, ‘Hattie Big Sky’ and ‘Hattie Ever After’. Those stories are set in 1917 in Montana. I read and reviewed her fourth book in this ‘Dogs of World War II’ series, ‘Code Word Courage’.

One of the things I enjoyed about each of these books, including ‘Dash’, is the author’s ability to capture a reader’s attention and interest right from the start! In this book, we are introduced to the main character, Mitsi Kashino, and her beloved dog, Dash, in the first paragraph of the book. The story opens in Washington state right after Christmas, 1941.

Upon returning to school after the Christmas break Mitsi and the other students of Japanese descent are met with anger, resentment, and hatred from the majority of their classmates. The bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, fueled these negative feelings about the Japanese in the United States.

I believe this theme is an important historical issue to introduce to and discuss with middle-grade readers because we live in a diverse culture. Respect and acceptance are keys to thriving in our society.  I feel fiction can reach out to youngsters and touch their hearts in ways merely telling them to show ‘respect’ or ‘be kind’ cannot.

Throughout this moving story Mitsi navigates the serious issues of shame, prejudice, loss of friends, evacuation from her home, and internment in two Japanese relocation camps. She meets many cruel and insensitive people along the way. I found the author’s portrayal of these unkind individuals to be realistic and frankly, heart-wrenching.

The depiction of the depolorable conditions at the internment camps is accurate as far as my research into and knowledge of this subject matter. Family life at the camps was not easy for the internees because of the rustic/crude living conditions, lack of privacy, unfamiliar food, and severe weather conditions. I could almost taste the grit from the dust blowing around everywhere and smell the horrible odors in the latrines as described by this author.

A theme in this book which I especially appreciated was the kindness and understanding of several of the surrounding characters who were not internees.

Miss Wyatt, Mitsi’s school teacher, is a lovely person who does whatever she can to make Mitsi’s situation a little more bearable for the eleven-year-old. Mrs. Bowker, the Kashina family’s widowed neighbor, is loving and compassionate toward Mitsi and models what being a good neighbor and friend is all about. Some of the workers at the camps go out of their way to smile at and treat the internees with kindness. And then there is Dash, Mitsi’s loyal best friend! The two shared a deep bond and were both heartbroken when they were separated when the Kashina’s were evacuated.

Highly recommended for teachers, librarians, and parents/grandparents. Fans of World War II/American/California history and stories with diverse characters will appreciate this richly-layered story, too.

To learn more about this subject, follow this link to the United states national parks service website: 

Japanese American Confinement


Kirby Larson

About the Author

Kirby Larson went from history-phobe to history fanatic while writing the 2007 Newbery Honor Book, HATTIE BIG SKY. Her passion for historical fiction is reflected in titles such as THE FENCES BETWEEN US, THE FRIENDSHIP DOLL, as well as the sequel to HATTIE BIG SKY, HATTIE EVER AFTER, and her two latest titles, DUKE–which was nominated for 5 state Young Reader Choice awards as well as being a finalist for the Washington State Book Award– and DASH–which has garnered two starred reviews, a NAPPA Gold Award and a Capitol Choices nomination.

In 2006, Kirby began a collaboration with her good friend Mary Nethery resulting in two award-winning nonfiction picture books: TWO BOBBIES: A TRUE STORY OF HURRICANE KATRINA, FRIENDSHIP AND SURVIVAL, and NUBS: THE TRUE STORY OF A MUTT, A MARINE AND A MIRACLE.

Kirby lives in Kenmore, Washington with her husband, Neil, and Winston the Wonder Dog. When she’s not reading or writing Kirby enjoys beach combing, bird watching, and traveling. She owns a tiara and is not afraid to use it.

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Book Review: The Perks of Meddling

Happy Wednesday!

Today I wanted to share my thoughts on Christy Barritt’s The Perks of Meddling. Be sure to add it to you TBR pile if you haven’t yet.

About the Book

She’s determined to work this case—with or without permission . . .

Investigator-wannabe Elliot Ransom doesn’t have much clout with the PI firm that recently hired her. When she meets a woman whose “riffraff” sister has gone missing, Elliot can’t resist the urge to help—despite her boss’s stern warning to stay away. But her snooping may prove as dangerous as the jungle she left behind.

As Elliot digs deeper, the underbelly of wealthy Storm River bubbles to the surface. Following the advice found in her father’s old journal, Elliot tracks the killer. But the more she uncovers, the more of a target she becomes. Could a little meddling lead to a vast amount of trouble?

Amazon | GoodReads

My Thoughts

The Perks of Meddling continues with Elliot Ransom getting herself involved in another mystery but this time with the disappearance of a woman.  The book was filled with twists and turns and the ending at the book was a surprise. I cannot wait to find out what Eliot’s going to get into next in book 3 and which guy she’s going to end up with: Michael or Detective Hunter.  

About the Author

Christy Barritt

USA Today has called Christy Barritt’s books “scary, funny, passionate, and quirky.”

Christy, a Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author, writes both mystery and romantic suspense novels that are clean with underlying messages of faith. Her books have won the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Suspense and Mystery, have been twice nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, and have finaled for both a Carol Award and Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year.

She’s married to her prince charming, a man who thinks she’s hilarious–but only when she’s not trying to be. Christy’s a self-proclaimed klutz, an avid music lover who’s known for spontaneously bursting into song, and a road trip aficionado.

Christy currently splits her time between the Virginia suburbs and Hatteras Island, North Carolina. She has more than seventy books published with nearly two million copies sold.

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Post by Contributor Allyson Anthony

Book Review: Puppy Dog Tales by Liwen Y. Ho

Happy Monday, friends! Today, on Diversity Between the Pages we’re featuring a review of Puppy Dog Tales by Liwen Y. Ho! Check out this fun romantic comedy!


About the Book

An animal hater’s and an animal lover’s paths collide the week leading up to Valentine’s Day.

Melvin Lai inherited the last thing he ever wanted from his favorite uncle: a cocker spaniel. Now he’s on the verge of losing his home to the unruly puppy and, much to his surprise, his heart when he meets Dr. Chu, Sparkle’s vet.

Vivian Chu loves caring for her furry friends, so she can’t fathom how anyone could think poorly of her new patient, especially his owner. To her, first impressions are everything, and the one Melvin left has her feeling disheartened and bruised—literally.

He longs to make her his Valentine; she can’t wait to escape him. It’s going to take a miracle for Melvin to win Vivian’s heart, but nothing’s impossible when four-legged conspirators are involved.

Amazon Goodreads


My Review:

This story is such fun to read! It’s a great romantic comedy that is sure to put a smile on your face! 


The characters are both great, Vivian is so sweet, but also spunky (my favorite kind of heroine!) and I could totally relate to her heart for animals. Melvin is fun, thoughtful, and caring, and he’s also flawed, but aren’t we all? I loved seeing him work past his aversion to all things furry!


And of course Melvin’s dog Sparkle stole the show with his sweet spirit and loving heart. I kept wishing Sparkle was real so I could give him a hug and a head rub! 


Liwen Y. Ho has a lovely writing style that drew me into the story and held me captivated throughout! 


I highly recommend Puppy Dog Tales! I listened to the audiobook version and the narrator does a fantastic job, so if you’re an audiobook person I would definitely recommend the audio as well, though this book would be every bit as fun in any format! 

*Note: this is a clean read.


About the Author

Liwen Y. Ho works as a chauffeur and referee by day (AKA being a stay at home mom) and a writer by night. She writes sweet and inspirational romance infused with heart, humor, and a taste of home (her Asian roots).

In her pre-author life, she received a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Western Seminary. She loves makeovers of all kinds, especially those of the heart and mind. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her techie husband and their two children.

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Post by contributor Caitlyn Santi

First Line Friday: The Trouble with Love

Happy Friday everyone! You know what that means…it’s time for First Line Friday, hosted by Hoarding Books. Grab the book nearest to you and share the first line! 

On Diversity Between the Pages, we are featuring the first line of The Trouble with Love by Toni Shiloh. This is the first book in her new Christian Chick Lit series: Faith & Fortune, which releases on May 26, 2020. Let me tell you…this book is fabulous!!

and the first line is….

“I strolled down the path through Central Park and exhaled.”

ABOUT THE BOOK

I, Holiday Brown, have it all. A platinum record. Multi-million dollar home in Manhattan that I share with my two best friends. Life is looking fantastic until my roommate’s brother decides to bunk in our guestroom while his house gets renovated.

W. Emmett Bell has always been the bane of my existence. He’s annoying, stubborn, a know it all, and just might be the most gorgeous man I’ve ever laid eyes on. But I refuse to fall for him. But when his sister’s threatened by a stalker, dynamics change. His unwavering faith isn’t quite as self-righteous as I’d always thought, and maybe he has a good side I’ve overlooked all these years.

Or maybe it’s all too much trouble.

The Trouble With Love is the first book in the Christian Chick Lit series: Faith & Fortune.

AMAZON | GOODREADS


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and multi-published Christian contemporary romance author. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness. Her novel, Grace Restored, was a 2019 Holt Medallion finalist and Risking Love is a 2020 Selah Award finalist.

A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and of the Virginia Chapter, Toni seeks to help readers find authors. She loves connecting with readers and authors alike via social media. You can learn more about her writing at http://tonishiloh.com.

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Let us know the first line of the book closest to you & then head over to Hoarding Books to see who else is participating!

Throwback Thursday: Beneath the Surface

Happy Thursday! Today I am featuring a book written by one of my favorite romantic suspense authors, Lynn H. Blackburn. I’m throwing it back to 2018 with Beneath the Surface, the first book in Lynn H. Blackburn’s Dive Team Investigations series. Leigh Weston, the heroine of Beneath the Surface, is a nurse practitioner who was adopted from a Chinese orphanage as a young child.

There is a fabulous cast of characters in this series, and just wait until you meet the handsome and charming Investigator Gabe Chavez, who is a supporting character in this novel. He completely stole my heart in Beneath the Surface, and I was thrilled when he finally had his own story told in the third book in the series.

One Final Breath, the third and final book of the series released in September 2019, so if you haven’t had a chance to read this wonderful series, here is the perfect chance to get some binge reading done!

Photo courtesy of Lynn H. Blackburn’s Facebook page

Have you read any books by Lynn H. Blackburn yet?


ABOUT THE BOOK

After a harrowing experience with an obsessed patient, oncology nurse practitioner Leigh Weston needed a change. She thought she’d left her troubles behind when she moved home to Carrington, North Carolina, and took a job in the emergency department of the local hospital. But when someone tampers with her brakes, she fears the past has chased her into the present. She reaches out to her high school friend turned homicide investigator, Ryan Parker, for help.

Ryan finds satisfaction in his career, but his favorite way to use his skills is as a volunteer underwater investigator with the Carrington County Sheriff’s Office dive team. When the body of a wealthy businessman is discovered in Lake Porter, the investigation uncovers a possible serial killer–one with a terrifying connection to Leigh Weston and deadly implications for them all.

Dive into the depths of fear with an exciting new voice in romantic suspense. Award-winning author Lynn H. Blackburn grabs readers by the throat and doesn’t let go until the final heart-pounding page.

AMAZON | GOODREADS


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lynn H. Blackburn is the author of Beneath the SurfaceIn Too Deep, Hidden Legacy, and Covert Justice. Winner of the 2016 Selah Award for Mystery and Suspense, and the 2016 Carol Award for Short Novel, Blackburn believes in the power of stories, especially those that remind us that true love exists, a gift from the Truest Love. She’s passionate about CrossFit, coffee, and chocolate (don’t make her choose) and experimenting with recipes that feed both body and soul. She lives in Simpsonville, South Carolina, with her true love, Brian, and their three children.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS | BOOKBUB

Book Revew: Her Cowboy Sweetheart by Cathy McDavid

Happy Monday!

Today I’m pleased to bring you a review of Her Cowboy Sweetheart by Cathy McDavid, the 4th book in the author’s Sweetheart Ranch series and part of the Harlequin Heartwarming imprint of ‘clean, wholesome romances’.

ABOUT THE BOOK

her cowboy sweetheartSERIES: The Sweetheart Ranch #4
GENRE: Contemporary Romance (Clean)
PUBLISHER: Harlequin Heartwarming
RELEASE DATE: May 1, 2020

He’s been a good friend

But can he be her sweetheart?

At Sweetheart Ranch, single mom Carly Leighton finds a fresh start, and a friendly neighbor in former bull rider JD Moreno. Neither are looking for love—Carly must think first of her son, Rickie, while JD is recovering from a career-ending balance disorder. But when her former in-laws demand access to Rickie, Carly turns to JD for support and finds he is becoming more than a friend in need…

Goodreads| Amazon | B&N | Book Depository |IndieBound


MY THOUGHTS

First of all – don’t you just love the cover? That little cowboy is stinkin’ adorable! And both he and the dog steal every scene they’re in at some point. So cute!

Her Cowboy Sweetheart continues the Sweetheart Ranch series with another enjoyable installment. I’ve loved each book so far and this one was a perfect fit with the rest. The sweet friendship between JD and Carly makes a believable foundation for their romance. JD’s Latino roots make him one swoony cowboy, while Carly’s genuine heart makes her instantly likable for readers. Add in her super cute son and JD’s energetic puppy, and you have a feel-good story that will leave you smiling. Of course, we have to deal with some pesky people who aren’t as likable, but this just gives JD and Carly more ways to be protective of each other. Win-win. 🙂

JD’s struggles with Ménière’s disease and Carly’s custody battle with her former in-laws (and parents of her abusive ex-husband) add emotional layers to the plot that give the story further depth and dimension. The author does a great job of increasing awareness for both of these issues through Her Cowboy Sweetheart while also not bogging down or overpowering the story.

Bottom Line: Cathy McDavid delivers another sweet & swoony romance set at the Sweetheart Ranch. Engaging characters and compelling subplots immediately draw readers’ interest and keep it for the duration of the novel. Hombre the dog and toddler Rickie add notes of comedy and warmth to break up the more serious undertones that threaten JD and Carly’s budding romance, and you’ll quickly fall in love with both of them. Another great visit to the Sweetheart Ranch – ready for the next!

Reviewer’s Note:
Readers may want to be aware that there are several casual uses of ‘God’ throughout this novel.
This book is otherwise clean.
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.
Review originally appeared on Reading Is My SuperPower.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cathy McDavidAs a sophomore in high school, NY TimesUSA Today, and Amazon bestselling author Cathy McDavid won a local writing competition with her self-illustrated children’s book. Who knew that small triumph would eventually lead to a career writing contemporary romances with over 1.3 million books sold? With forty-seven titles to date, Cathy is also a member of the prestigious Romance Writers of America’s Honor Roll. This “almost” Arizona native and mother of grown twins recently married her own real-life sweetheart. After leaving the corporate world four years ago, she now spends her days penning stories about good looking men who ride the range or fight fires or hunt creatures all while sweeping the girl off her feet. It’s a tough job but she’s willing to make the sacrifice.

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What about you?
What makes you want to read Her Cowboy Sweetheart?

Throwback Thursday — Indian Shoes

throwbackthursday

Welcome to Throwback Thursday, Reader Friends! Today we’re featuring a story collection by Native American Author, Cynthia Leitich Smith. Indian Shoes was originally released in 2002 by Harper Collins. The book is recommended for children ages 7 and older.


 

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About the Book

What do Indian shoes look like, anyway? Like beautiful beaded moccasins…or hightops with bright orange shoelaces?

Ray Halfmoon prefers hightops, but he gladly trades them for a nice pair of moccasins for his Grampa. After all, it’s Grampa Halfmoon who’s always there to help Ray get in and out of scrapes — like the time they are forced to get creative after a homemade haircut makes Ray’s head look like a lawn-mowing accident.

This collection of interrelated stories is heartwarming and laugh-out-loud funny. Cynthia Leitich Smith writes with wit and candor about what it’s like to grow up as a Seminole-Cherokee boy who is just as happy pounding the pavement in windy Chicago as rowing on a take in rural Oklahoma.

Kirkus declared: “A very pleasing first-chapter book from its funny and tender opening salvo to its heartwarming closer. An excellent choice for younger readers.” School Library Journal hailed: “a good book for any elementary-aged reluctant reader and a necessity for indigenous children everywhere.” INDIAN SHOES has been named a Notable Children’s Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, a finalist for the Texas Institute of Letters Award, to the 2003 Best Children’s Books of the Year, Bank Street College of Education; and to Choices 2003, Cooperative Children’s Book Center. It also was named to the NEA Native American Book List and the 2004-2005 Crown List. Most recently, INDIAN SHOES was chosen as the featured intermediate title for “Read On, Wisconsin!” (an online book club for students sponsored by the state’s First Lady) in March, 2005.

Amazon


My Thoughts About This Book:

Have you ever read a story collection where you told yourself as you finished reading each story, ‘That story was my favorite!’, only to read the next story to find yourself saying, ‘No, that one was definitely my favorite!’?

This is exactly what happened to me when I read this delightful collection of six short stories featuring young Ray Halfmoon and his grandfather, Grampa Halfmoon.

The pair currently live in Chicago, far from their relatives in Oklahoma. They are of Seminole and Cherokee descent. Grampa is raising Ray after Ray’s parents were tragically killed in a tornado.

Each story features incidents that happen in and around Chicago or in Oklahoma. Many of the stories have humorous scenes or humorous themes. Grampa’s feelings about life and his memories of the past are the underlying theme of each story. He enjoys sharing his family stories and cultural gems with Ray.

Grampa’s love and affection for Ray are evident in their daily activities and in the wisdom he exhibits for his grandson’s ups and downs and the challenges Ray faces in his young life. I admired the rapport between and the depth of their bond with each other and to their heritage.

The author’s use of higher-level vocabulary and her respect for the reader’s intelligence make this a great read for readers of all ages! I believe this would be an excellent read-aloud for families, classrooms, libraries, and youth/scout/church groups.
 
This collection was heartwarming and touching. I will be seeking out more of this author’s work to read in the future.
 

Highly-recommended to fans of Native American literature, diverse character fiction, family heritage fiction, historical fiction, and fiction where the main character is a male.

I borrowed this book from the New Book shelf in the children’s section of the local public library.
 

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About the Author

Cynthia’s fiction is noted for its diversity, humor, lyricism, and mid-to-southwestern settings. Still early in her career, she has shown tremendous range and loves to experiment.

Cynthia lives in Austin, Texas and is a citizen of the Muscogee Creek Nation. The Austin chapter of SCBWI has instituted the Cynthia Leitich Smith Mentor Award in her honor. She also serves on the faculty of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults and leads the annual We Need Diverse Books Native Writing Intensive.

Cynthia holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and a J.D. from The University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor. She studied law abroad at Paris-Sorbonne University.

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Book Spotlight: The Melody of the Mulberries

Happy Wednesday!

Just thought I’d drop in with a book spotlight on Tonya Jewel Blessing’s The Melody of the Mulberries. Check out the excerpt below!


About the Book

This Appalachian Big Creek sequel is set in West Virginia, during the 1920s, where granny witches and spiritualism often show the path for wanderers to take, especially in matters of the heart. Emerald Ashby’s younger sister, Coral, determines to visit the family’s nemesis, Charlie, now stewing in prison.

When Mercy returns to the holler of Big Creek, she comes well-armed to re-enter Ernst’s life, but he has already found a new romantic attraction. No matter, Mercy has brought along her own spiritual tools and a special friend who guides her way around this inconvenience.

“Coral sat in contemplation under a mulberry tree. It was spring, and the fragrant female blossoms promised the mid-summer arrival of first white, then pink, then crimson, and finally deep purple berries. The white berries were hard and tart and enjoyed by the quail, wild turkeys, mocking birds, and blue jays. The blackish-purple berries were soft and sweet – perfect for pies and jams.

“When the berries turned white, Coral would thank the good Lord for providing food for the birds, and when the berries ripened she would thank the good Lord for the sweetness savored in her mouth and curse the birds for wanting more than their share.”

Where Emerald Ashby’s story leaves us in the last pages of The Whispering of the Willows, her pure and innocent sixteen-year-old sister Coral Ashby’s story begins. Like the changing mulberries, the Appalachian siblings Coral and Ernest Ashby, navigate their lives and love interests through the Spanish Flu epidemic, poverty, and various as sundry prejudices.

Accompanied by friends and foes, matters of the heart complicate life for Coral and Ernest. Relationships must be journeyed carefully.

Clean reading romance, a cozy mystery tucked in at the tails, and a fun, but realistic history of the people and cultures of the Appalachian trail make this story uplifting to many varied audiences.

Amazon | Goodreads


Excerpt

Charlie and Charley were coming to Big Creek. Charlie was a man. He had a spirit, soul, and body. He had grown up in the hills and been sent away because of the harm he had done to others. Coral had invited Charlie back to the holler. He wasn’t physically present, but, according to Emie, Coral might as well have sat him down at the table to enjoy Sunday family dinner.

The other Charley was an evil spirit. He was ancient and from a faraway land but traveled with others when invited. His ways were frightening and mysterious. He was best left alone, but, had also been invited to Appalachia. Mercy, a returning resident, considered him a friend.

He heard rustling in the school yard and spotted, next to the log where he and Rudy had sat earlier, a black bear and her two cubs. The female was larger than most. Ernest, trying to stay still and assess the situation, estimated her weight to be 300 pounds or more. She was blue black. The cubs, which were busy wrestling, were cinnamon colored.

Ernest grew concerned when the mama put her nose in the air and began to sniff loudly. The bear then slapped the ground with her large clawed paw and started to shake her head. In general, black bears were usually shy. Mostly when seeing a human, they grunted and bluffed aggression, but with cubs close-by Ernest was troubled. He knew not to run and to remain submissive in his posture.

His heart seemed to quit beating when he heard Lottie approaching. She had entered the back door of the schoolhouse. He could hear her brisk steps on the worn wooden floor. The mama bear began a slow approach and started to growl. He yelled a warning to Lottie, but within seconds the front door opened to the porch where he was standing. She had her bow and arrow in hand and was preparing to shoot.

“Where do I aim?”

“Upper chest, but wait,” Ernest cautioned. “She’s movin’ slow. I think she’s bluffing.”

True to his words, the bear turned tail and headed back to her cubs. Eruptive gas escaped from her backside which signaled her cubs that it was time to move on.

When the odor reached Charlotte, she began to gag. “What is that?”

Ernest couldn’t help but laugh. “Bear fog.”

When Charlotte joined in his laughter, it seemed natural and right to place his arm around her. She lowered her bow and snuggled next to him.

One of the older boys described the mystical Yahoo and another Dwayyo. Snarly Yow was also mentioned. Ernest did his best to expose the fear filled stories as Indian legends and wild imaginings of the early Appalachian settlers, but the learners couldn’t be dissuaded. Thoughts of giant hairy creatures; wolves that walked like humans and had fangs; and snarling monsters who appeared after dark had the students in a fearful state.

In order to redirect their attention, he thought about telling the story of Goldilocks and the three bears but remembered in one of the earlier versions of the fairy tale that Goldilocks was an old woman who ended up impaled on a steeple. He shuddered at the thought.

“Students start pushin’ the tables and chairs to the sides. I’m gonna teach you a rollick called the dancing bear.”

The supposed talking bird was medium-sized. It had a long-tail with green and blue plumage. Its neck was yellow, and its head was red. The bird looked at her, held its head upside down, and then when right-sided again spoke plainly, “Hot damn.” Then added in a husky voice, “Hello, beautiful lady.”

What kind of creature is this? Charlotte thought.

Next, the bird flew from its perch, landed on her shoulder, and started singing.

Every mornin’, every evenin’, ain’t we got fun? Not much money, oh, but honey, ain’t we got fun?

The granny witches in the holler believed that snakes visited in pairs, and if one snake was killed that the other would return for vengeance. Ernest knew it was nonsense. He wondered what the grannies would have to say if they knew that male snakes had two penises.

The sow’s teats were full. It was obvious that she was miserable. Ernest approached her cautiously. His hand was filled with grain and his voice filled with song.

Wake up and end the day thinking of you. Oh, why does it do this to me. Is it such bliss to be thinking of you. And when I fall asleep at night, it seems you just tiptoe into all my dreams. So, I think of no other one ever since I’ve begun thinking of you…

He knew that Rudy was trying his best not to laugh. Ernest also knew that some sows appreciated a good love song. When he was a boy, raising hogs with his father and brother, he had learned that a gentle touch and soft voice accomplished more than a hickory stick and harsh words.

The mama took the grain from his hand. Ernest began to rub the pig’s back. His hand traveled lower toward her side. The sow then laid down, and Ernest gently patted her belly.  As the piglets drew near, he placed them each on a teat. As he continued to sing his love song the mama relaxed, and her babies nosed and nursed.


About the Author

Tonya grew up in rural Ohio. She currently lives in South Africa with her husband of 35 years. Tonya decided to trust Jesus for the destination of her young soul at the age of four.  As a young adult, she worked for a well known television evangelist, and traveled with a Christian drama group throughout the Midwest.

Tonya attended Arapahoe Community College and Akron University, and has enjoyed a trusted position in formal and informal ministry settings and training opportunities. Tonya also worked as a children’s pastor, youth pastor, and women’s pastor. She served on staff at Praise Church in Littleton, Colorado for a number of years, and also worked as the Director of Women’s Ministries for Journey Church in Strasburg, Colorado. She has served on a number of ministry boards that support concerns for women.

Tonya and her husband operated Strong Cross Ranch Colorado for over eleven years, a place of respite for missionaries and ministers. They had the honor of hosting over 2,000 guests during that time frame. The Blessings relocated their ministry to South Africa in June of 2012. The ministry continues to serve and partner with local pastors and missionaries through a variety of creative and responsible means.  The Blessings oversee building projects, feeding programs, educational services, interventions, and church planting.

Tonya is a well-known national and international speaker, often serving women in areas of the world which cannot be publicized.  She writes articles and devotionals for missions’ magazines and women’s groups and is also a published author.  She is the author of two historical fiction books The Whispering of the Willows and The Melody of the Mulberries. Both novels are set in Big Creek, West Virginia, during the late 1920’s. Tonya has also co-authored a devotional called Soothing Rain – Living Water to Refresh Your Soul. All three of Tonya’s books have received literary awards.

Tonya enjoys speaking and sharing her life with women at retreats and events.  She thinks that women are amazing, and appreciates that the female gender is multifaceted yet fragile creations of God. In her personal life and as a speaker, Tonya believes that God’s Word is powerful, and needs to be read and written on her heart and on the hearts of women everywhere. For additional information, please review her author and ministry webpage: www.TonyaJewelBlessing.com

She was ordained in 2011 and is currently pursuing further pastoral and biblical studies.  For additional information regarding Strong Cross Ministries South Africa, please visit the ministry web page – www.strongcrossministries.org.


Post by contributor Toni Shiloh