Sunday, October 31, 2021

Where the Light Fell by Philip Yancey

This memoir is, I think, a cathartic exercise for Yancey. It often seems to be a healing experience to recount the toxic events from youth and that is what Yancey does. He takes us up to the last of his elementary school years in the first half of the book. His father died of polio when Yancey was still a toddler so he was raised by a single mom. His memories include having pets, going to the dentist, sticking a raisin up his nose, sibling rivalry, antics during long sermons at a fundamental church, skipping a grade in elementary school, the Cold War, changing schools, southern stories, racist relatives, odd cousins, his mother unraveling, Bible camps and more.

Yancey then writes about high school, his fascination with science, breaking his bones repeatedly, self awareness and personality, attending a Bible college, having his first authentic spiritual experience, his older bother's spiritual crisis and later mental breakdown and drug habit, and graduate school and entering a career in writing.

Yancey does share a few thoughts on his life near the end of the book. He writes about suffering and grace. But the thrust of the book is Yancey's history alone. He writes in the Author's Note, “Looking back, I wanted to understand myself, as well as the environment that helped form me.” (4430/4463) He did so, he says, the only way he knows how, by writing.

I am not sure of the benefit of this book to the readers. It is a good example of how one one man made it through toxic experiences with a mature faith while his brother did not. What is missing, however, is how Yancey did make it through to being the Christian he is today. Perhaps he has shared that in other books he has written but he does not do so here. So, if you want to read an engaging account of Yancey's experiences, this is your book. If you want insights into surviving similar toxic experiences, you will have to look elsewhere.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Philip Yancey has authored more than two dozen books. His books have been given thirteen Gold Medallion Book Awards from Christian publishers and booksellers. He has more than seventeen million books in print and has been published in over fifty languages. He worked as a journalist in Chicago for some twenty years, editing the youth magazine Campus Life while writing for a variety of other publication. He and his wife moved to Colorado in 1992 where they live now.

Convergent Books, 320 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Saturday, October 30, 2021

The Weather Girls: Stormy by Jennifer Lynn Cary Blog Tour

About the Book

Book: The Weather Girls: Stormy

Author: Jennifer Lynn Cary

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Release date: October 4, 2021

She doesn’t want to talk about it…

…He has no idea what he said.

Will these two ever learn to communicate?

Stormy is usually a people person but when her temper flares, it’s obvious she was aptly named. And now her ire has been piqued. Watch out world.

All but the cardinal are giving her space.

Rob is usually the smartest guy in the room, but when he forgot to think about his words, he turned loose a tornado. Now he’s dealing with the aftermath and praying there’s still enough love to save amidst the debris.

How can he convince Stormy they belong together? Could this be the perfect moment for another person to step in?

Or will the cardinal in the sycamore tree prove Rob’s case?

Return to 1970 Indiana with Stormy, the second book in The Weather Girls series for Women’s Lib, drive-ins, and Christian family values.

You will enjoy Stormy because everyone knows that sometimes you’ve just got to shake things up a bit.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review 

Stormy is aptly named. She has a temper. It erupts when she thinks she is mistreated but even more so when someone attacks her younger sister. Her husband, estranged in this novel, describes living with her as living with a whirlwind. Her character is a good study in quick action before thinking over the ramifications or even knowing all the information.

Since Stormy is the main character in this second novel in The Weather Girls series, and she and her husband are living apart, there is much about marital strife and the tough road to reconciliation. Throw in a jealous woman trying to ruin Stormy's marriage and snag her husband and you have more excitement.

There are many relationship issues explored in this novel, such as judging before allowing the other person to explain fully. Another issue relates to siblings and spouses and God and relationship priorities. There is the big issue of forgiveness. There is a good deal about the most important relationship of all, with God.

This is the second novel in The Weather Girl series. (You can read my review of the first one about Sunny here.) This novel would be best enjoyed by reading the one about Sunny first.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


About the Author

Jennifer Lynn Cary likes to say you can take the girl out of Indiana, but you can’t take the Hoosier out of the girl. Now transplanted to the Arizona desert, this direct descendant of Davy Crockett and her husband of forty years enjoy time with family where she shares tales of her small town heritage and family legacies with their grandchildren. She is the author of The Crockett Chronicles series and The Relentless series as well as the stand-alone novella Tales of the Hob Nob Annex Café and her recent split-time novel The Traveling Prayer Shawl.

More from Jennifer

What were you doing in 1970? Were you even around? It’s funny how for some that year is crystal clear in their memory and for some it’s chapter out of a history book.

I remember having lunch with a literary agent who’d been a guest speaker for a writer’s conference I attended. He mentioned that it was strange to him that now 1974 was considered historical. Worse, for me, it was the year I was graduated from high school! Talk about making one feel old.

And yet there’s so many wonderful things about setting a story in the late 60s- to early 70s.

The research is amazing—TV broadcasts, the music, fashions, events—all that is easily assessable on the internet. Plus, want some firsthand anecdotes? Plenty of people around to share their memories.

Unlike going back to Colonial, or Victorian, or Civil War eras, this was easy. Sort of. Or overwhelming with so much to choose from. Ha!

So, with Stormy, the second book in The Weather Girls trilogy, I touched on how the Women’s Movement of the day might have and an effect. There was a lot of rethinking of the male and female roles, a shifting of the paradigm. Should he open her door? Should she let him? When was it okay to think traditionally and when did you need to consider your partner might not like a traditional role? The ERA movement was a BIG deal back then.

So, even if you don’t remember it, I hope you will have fun going back to 1970 Kokomo with Stormy and me. I look forward to seeing you there. 😉

Abundant blessings!

Blog Stops

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 29

Blogging With Carol, October 29

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, October 30

The Author Reads, October 30

Pause for Tales, October 31

Vicky Sluiter, November 1

Connect in Fiction, November 2

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, November 3

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, November 3

Debbie's Dusty Deliberations, November 4

Texas Book-aholic, November 5

Inklings and notions, November 6

Connie's History Classroom, November 7

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, November 7

deb's Book Review, November 8

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 9

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, November 9

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, November 10

 Batya's Bits, November 11

For Him and My Family, November 11

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Celebrate Lit.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Friday, October 29, 2021

A Deep Divide by Kimberley Woodhouse

I liked this historical novel. While the plot is good, I liked most the information contained in it. This is a good book for readers planning to visit the south rim of the Grand Canyon. When I visited several years ago, I stayed at the El Tovar. I wish I had read this book before my stay. It contains history and insights into the hotel and its origin as well as the surrounding buildings. Reading it would have made my visit much more interesting.

I like how the characters were portrayed. While Emma Grace's father had been rich, she escaped his planning a lucrative contracted marriage. Now she found a rewarding life as a waitress and Harvey Girl. And Ray's father was wealthy but he would rather be taking photos. Both characters had to face their heritage and how it related to their futures.

I really liked the setting and felt there were pretty good descriptions of such an amazing place. The plot was good, including romance in a story about revealing past secrets that could be dangerous. There was some suspense at the end but it seemed to be resolved without our knowing how. And Woodhouse twice does a pet peeve of mine, starting a chapter with a suspenseful scene that turns out to be a dream.

There were several issues explored in this novel, all revolving around money. El Tovar was such a new hotel and in quite a remote location that only the wealthy could visit there. We see from Emma Grace's and Ray's fathers how wealth could taint a person. At one point Emma Grace laments, “Why does money do such awful things to people?” (277)

This is a good novel to read before a visit to the south rim. You'll get some good historical information, a romance, and a very clear presentation of the gospel.

You can read an excerpt here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Kimberely Woodhouse is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than twenty-five fiction and nonfiction books. She and her husband have two adult children. You can find out more at

Bethany House, 320 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Thursday, October 28, 2021

A Picture of Hope by Liz Tolsma Blog Tour

About the Book

Book: A Picture of Hope

Author: Liz Tolsma

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

Release date: October, 2021

A Photojournalist Risks Her Life to Save Children

Full of intrigue, adventure, and romance, this new series celebrates the unsung heroes—the heroines of WWII.

Journalist Nellie Wilkerson has spent the bulk of the war in London, photographing pilots taking off and landing—and she’s bored. She jumps at the chance to go to France, where the Allied forces recently landed. She enlists Jean-Paul Breslau of the French underground to take her to the frontlines. On the journey, they come upon an orphanage where nuns shelter children with disabilities. Can they help save them before the Nazis come to liquidate it?

Click here to get your copy!

My Review 

There were many unspoken female heroes during WW II and I like how Tolsma has drawn from their experiences to create an engaging story. The story is full of suspense and highlights the role of women in the war effort. I like the emphasis on the importance of photography in documenting the tragedy so many were experiencing in Europe. The horrors of war in all its gruesomeness is well portrayed in this novel.

Nellie was a hard heroine for me to like. She was headstrong and often got into danger because she made unwise choices. At times it made sense to me, getting that particularly telling photo. At other times I thought her a bit foolish, just needing to get out and check on things, not trusting those in charge. Nonetheless, she represents those daring to face danger and death to help others.

This is another engaging and informative historical novel from Tolsma. I really like her note at the end detailing which parts of the novel are factual or based on the combined experiences of a number of people active in the war effort. I'll be watching for the next from her and the next in this historical series.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


About the Author

Liz Tolsma is the author of several WWII novels, romantic suspense novels, prairie romance novellas, and an Amish romance. She is a popular speaker and an editor and resides next to a Wisconsin farm field with her husband and their youngest daughter. Her son is a US Marine, and her oldest daughter is a college student. Liz enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping. Please visit her website at and follow her on Facebook, Twitter (@LizTolsma), Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. She is also the host of the Christian Historical Fiction Talk podcast.

More from Liz

Why Another WWII Novel Set in France

You may well read the back cover of my latest release, A Picture of Hope, and wonder why on earth we need another WWII novel set in France. After all, Kristy Cambron just had one. Melanie Dobson and Sarah Sundin will be coming out with theirs in 2022. So why did I feel the need to write my novel with the same setting?

First of all, I’m a Francophile. I love all things French. It started when I took French in high school. Everyone else was learning Spanish, but I wasn’t into being part of the crowd. There were only a few of us in the class, and it was great fun. We had a wonderful teacher. Being able to pull out some of that French, refine it a bit, and use it in the book was a blast. But I also love French food (who doesn’t?) and everything else.

Secondly, I hadn’t written about France before. When I wrote this proposal at least five or six years ago, I didn’t know France would be so hot. God did, and the book came about in His perfect timing. I’d explored the Netherlands, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and the Philippines. Such a shame that I was leaving out France, so I set about to write a novel located in that country.

Thirdly, there was so much good material to pull from. The French resistance, while small, did good work and sacrificed a great deal to get Jews out of the country and into Switzerland or Spain. The books that Kristy, Melanie, Sarah, and I write are all so different. Only the setting is the same. And when I found out that the famous mime Marcel Marceau was part of the resistance, I couldn’t help but giving him a cameo. Be on the lookout!

Along the way, I discovered some truly heartrending incidents that took place in France. They also compelled me to write this book. I long for the world to remember what happened so that we will never forget. And so that the atrocities committed there will never be repeated.

Fourthly, this was originally the third book in a series. Don’t worry – it’s a stand-alone. Maybe someday I’ll get to publish the other two. The women in the series are all American journalists in Europe. One is a reporter, the other is a broadcaster, and so I decided to make Nellie, the heroine in A Picture of Hope, a photojournalist. And where better to take pictures than on Omaha Beach soon after D-day. How she gets there is based on a very interesting true story, so be sure to read to the end for that one.

There are so many stories about WWII to be told and so many countries that participated in the conflict in one way or the other. The ground is so rich that we aren’t plowing the same parcel. You’ll find all of these books to be very different from each other, each with its own message, its own voice, and its own plot.

The focus in my book is on children with Down syndrome. I have a background in special education, and my husband and I adopted a child from the Philippines with an intellectual disability, so I’ve always had a heart for people with special needs. My daughter brings us so much joy that I wanted to share a glimpse into what these remarkable people are truly capable of.

So that is why I wrote a WWII novel set in France. Make yourself a cup of café au lait, butter up a croissant, and enjoy A Picture of Hope!

Blog Stops

A Baker's Perspective, October 28

Life of Literature, October 28

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, October 28

Genesis 5020, October 28

Debbie's Dusty Deliberations, October 29

The Book Chic Blog, October 29

Blogging With Carol, October 29

Texas Book-aholic, October 30

Sodbuster Living, October 30

Spoken from the Heart, October 30

Elly Gilbert, October 30

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 31

Inklings and notions, October 31

Labor Not in Vain, October 31

CarpeDiem, October 31

Splashes of Joy, November 1

Reviewingbooksplusmore, November 1

Life, love, writing, November 1

For Him and My Family, November 1

deb's Book Review, November 2

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, November 2

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, November 2

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, November 3

Betti Mace, November 3

Worthy2Read, November 3

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, November 3

Daysong Reflections, November 4

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 4

Vicky Sluiter, November 4

Southern Gal Loves to Read, November 4

Older & Smarter?, November 5

By the Book, November 5

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, November 5

Connie's History Classroom, November 6

For the Love of Literature, November 6

Bigreadersite, November 6

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, November 6

Rebecca Tews, November 7

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, November 7

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, November 7

She Lives To Read, November 8

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, November 8

Where Faith and Books Meet, November 8

Pause for Tales, November 9

Christian Bookaholic, November 9

Through the Fire Blogs, November 9

To Everything There Is A Season , November 9

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, November 10

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, November 10

Mary Hake, November 10

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Celebrate Lit.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

To the Moon and Back by Sydney Scrogham

About the Book:

Once a year, blood-thirsty astrorses land on Earth's farming moon to raise their young. Jedediah Easton never thought twice about competing in the Astrorse Races until his daughter Sage enters to try and save his farm. The only problem is Sage is a paraplegic rider, and Jedediah will do anything to protect his daughter.

Drawn to him for safety and financial problems of her own, Jedediah's estranged wife steps back into the life they tried to build together. A warrant for her arrest hangs over their heads. They race time to train a wild astrorse to compete for the winner's purse while dodging the dangers of an uncivilized universe.

Together, they must fight for what matters to them most – a chance that the Astrorse Race prize money will redeem their debts and grow them back together as a family. To The Moon And Back is a fast-paced story of hard work, reconciliation, and second chances.


My Review:

This is the first book I have read by Scrogham and I enjoyed it. It is a surprising combination of science fiction and western. It took me a little while to understand the future setting of old fashioned cattle farming on an earth moon crafted for that purpose (I think). The rough life of ranching is contrasted with the elegant life of many in the futuristic world.

I have mixed feelings about the characters. Jed is a tough farmer and seemed to be harsh in his expectations when his estranged wife returns to him. I was amazed that his wife, Elizabeth, put up with him and I could see why she left him before. The relationship between the two certainly highlighted the difficulty of spousal relationships.

Several issues are explored in this novel. The prominent one is the ability of a paraplegic young woman to ride an astrorse, evidence perhaps of Scrogham working with teaching riding to those with special needs. Another issue was the treatment of animals, seen as Sage loves the wild astrorse and treats him with compassion. There are other issues in the novel such as what success really means and employee honesty and commitment.

This is a good novel for readers who like science fiction wrapped in a plot revolving around family relationship issues and a dangerous race. You will also find a very clear presentation of the gospel in this interesting and engaging novel.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


About the Author:

Sydney Scrogham was born and raised in Virginia and has always loved books. She grew up in the Shenandoah Valley and printed her first chapter book at home when she was 11 (and illustrated it herself). She moved to Indiana with her husband,  the love of her life, and has been a horse owner for 14 years. She is a CTRI horse instructor, teaching horseback riding lessons to individuals with special needs. She now lives in northern Alabama. You can find out more at

Independently published, 290 pages.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from the author. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Strength for Each Day by Joyce Meyer

After the past couple of years we've had, a daily dose of encouragement from the Bible is a much needed blessing. In Meyer's characteristic style, she helps us maintain a positive attitude as we face daily challenges.

I like Meyer's consistent message of encouragement. Each day's reading contains a Scripture passage, a teaching and a prayer. The daily readings are short and can be completed in a few minutes. Each one is like a positive spiritual shot in the arm. She writes about a variety of topics, from stress to minimizing our complex lives. All of her devotions ultimately lead readers to a joyful trust in the Lord resulting in a positive attitude toward each new day.

Readers familiar with Meyer's writing may find some repetition here. Nonetheless, this book is a good source of daily spiritual strength.

You can watch the book trailer here.

My rating: 4/5

Joyce Meyer is one of the world's leading practical Bible teachers. Her New York Times bestselling books have helped millions of people find hope and restoration through Jesus Christ. Her programs air around the world on television, radio, and the Internet. She has authored more than one hundred books, which have been translated into more than one hundred languages. The missions arm of Joyce Meyer Ministries, Hand of Hope, provides worldwide humanitarian outreach. She and her husband live in St. Louis, MO.

FaithWords, 464 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Monday, October 25, 2021

Beautiful Country by Qian Julie Wang

Wang has crafted an engaging memoir of living as an undocumented child in New York City. Her father had traveled to America first with his wife and child arriving later on a visitor visa. They never left and lived in fear of deportation. It was heartbreaking to read of the manual sweatshop labor her mother had to do after having been a published professor in China. Qian started school without speaking English and suffered childhood forms of discrimination. Life was hard for this family.

This is a well written memoir highlighting the experiences of those coming to America for a better life. Qian's father, while a child, had seen tragedy at the hands of Communists. America was to be a land of opportunity yet their being undocumented limited their options for employment. Qian's experiences are heartbreaking.

Her story pretty much ends at sixth grade. I would have liked to know more about how she came to go through the long process of citizenship. While her memoir gives us a good feeling of the experience of being undocumented, it failed to help explain how she made her way to success in the legal world. Perhaps a sequel is needed.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Qian Julie Wang was born in Shijiazhuang, China. At age 7, she moved to Brooklyn, New York, with her parents. For the next five years, the three lives in the shadows of undocumented life in New York City. She is a graduate of Swarthmore College and Yale Law School. She is now managing partner of Gottlieb & Wang, LLP, a firm dedicated to advocating for education and civil rights. Her writing has appeared in major publications and she regularly speaks on issues such as immigration, education, discrimination, and economic disparity. She and her husband live in Brooklyn. You can find out more at Photo © Ryan Muir

Doubleday, 320 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

100 Prayers Every Christian Should Know

Our experience with prayer is not something that happens in a vacuum. Millions of people are praying now. Sometimes we are with them as we attend prayer meetings and join our voices with theirs. Millions of people have prayed throughout history but we often are unaware of their words and their potential influence on our own prayer life.

Sometimes we just don't know how to pray. This book offers a collection of prayers organized in topics so we can find and read prayers to inspire us in our area of need. A bit of biographical information is given about the person who prayed the prayer. After the prayer is given, there are a few thoughts on why this prayer was included in the collection.

Some of the prayers and people who prayed them were no surprise. There is a prayer about not letting anything frighten or disturb us from St. Teresa of Avila. There is the often quoted prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. There are prayers for the nation by various presidents and political figures. There are prayers from people we recognize, like Dwight L. Moody, Billy Sunday, John Newton, and Susanna Wesley. I found some surprises like the one line prayer from Mister Rogers and a very lengthy prayer from Jane Austen. I was also surprised to find the overly promoted and often misused Prayer of Jabez in the collection.

This is a good book for Christians looking for encouragement and inspiration in their prayer life. You will find how Christians have communicated with God through the centuries. You will see how some have confessed and pleaded and praised. You will find prayers that will help you form your own prayer life with new insight and energy.

You can read an excerpt here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Bethany House, 272 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Beneath the Marigolds by Emily C Whitson Blog Tour


Beneath the Marigolds

by Emily C. Whitson

October 1-31, 2021 Virtual Book Tour


Playing on our universal fascination with reality TV, Emily C. Whitson’s Beneath the Marigolds is The Bachelor(ette) gone terribly wrong.

When her best friend, Reese Marigold, goes missing after attending Last Chance, an exclusive singles' retreat on a remote island off the coast of Hawaii, no-nonsense lawyer Ann Stone infiltrates the retreat.

Ann quickly realizes there's more to Last Chance than meets the eye. The extravagant clothes, never-ending interviews, and bizarre dates hint that the retreat is a front for a reality dating show. Could Reese be safe, keeping a low profile until the premier, or did something sinister occur after all?

Torn between the need to uncover the truth and her desperate desire to get off the island, Ann partakes in the unusual routines of the "journey to true love" and investigates the other attendees who all have something to hide. In a final attempt to find Reese on the compound, she realizes that she herself may never get off the island alive.

Praise for Beneath the Marigolds:

"Cleverly plotted...Whitson's debut novel is an intriguing new entry in the women's suspense genre, driven by dual first-person narrators and tension-filled parallel timelines."— Carmen Amato, Silver Falchion Award Finalist and author of The Detective Emilia Cruz Mystery Series

"Exhilarating twists and turns...a fast-paced psychological thriller that mashes up the reality series The Bachelor with Gone Girl." — Helen Power, author of The Ghosts of Thorwald Place

"A fun, propulsive read...this book cleverly combines the archetypes of "reality TV" and the "trapped-on-a-remote-island" mystery that will perpetually keep you guessing." — Marcy McCreary, author of The Disappearance of Trudy Solomon 

My Review:

This is a suspenseful novel exploring what people will do to find the love of their life. It is also a good exploration of authenticity in developing relationships as opposed to forcing them in arranged situations.

The narrative alternates between Ann's current experience and Reese's prior one. Both are given from the first person viewpoint. Some of the people who had been at the retreat when Reese was there were also there with Ann. Because both accounts are in first person and many of the same people are referenced, keeping straight which character I was currently following became a chore.

There were lots of hook-ups between the men and women at the retreat. There seemed to be more of an emphasis on sexual encounters than really establishing long lasting relationships.

That being said, this is a good debut effort. There is subtle psychological suspense throughout. There are several surprise twists near the end of the novel. Whitson has a good writing style that kept me reading. I'll be looking for more from her.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


Book Details:

Genre: Thriller/Psychological
Published by: CamCat Books
Publication Date: September 21st 2021
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 0744304202 (ISBN13: 9780744304206)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | CamCat Books

Read an excerpt:


I knew too much. On that island, on that godforsaken singles’ retreat. I knew too much.

I ruminated on that thought, chewing it carefully, repeatedly, while Magda, the makeup artist, transformed me into a life-size nightmarish porcelain doll. Ghastly white face, penciled-in eyebrows, blood-red lips. I’d look beautiful from a distance, she had told me, leaving the other part of the sentence unspoken: up close, it’s frightening. She tsked as she dabbed my damp forehead for the fourth time, her Russian accent thickening with frustration.

“Vhy you sveating so much?”

I worried my voice would come out haggard, so I shrugged, a little too forcefully. Magda shook her head, her pink bob sashaying in the grand all-white bathroom as she muttered something foreign under her breath. My gaze danced across the various makeup brushes on the

vanity until it landed on one in particular. I shifted my weight in the silk- cushioned chair, toyed with my watch.

“Magda, what do you want out of this retreat?” No response.

Did she not hear me, or did she choose not to respond? In the silence, I was able to hear Christina’s high-heeled feet outside the bathroom.

Click, clack. Click, click.

When I first met the host of the singles’ retreat, I was in awe of her presence, her unflappable poise. Shoulders back, she walked with a purpose, one foot in front of another, and though she was a couple inches shorter than I was, she seemed larger than life. Her icy eyes, colored only the faintest shade of blue, seemed to hold the secrets of the world—secrets she intended to keep. But I had stumbled upon them just a few short hours before, and I was now afraid her gait represented something more sinister: the march of an executioner.

Click, clack. Click, clack.

Her stride matched the even tick of my watch, and a drop of sweat trickled down my back. Was I being ridiculous? Surely Christina wouldn’t hurt me. She had been reasonable with me earlier, hadn’t she? “One meenute,” Magda shouted at the retreat’s host. She doused

my fire-red curls in hairspray one last time before asking me if I was ready to go.

“I just need to use the bathroom.” I wheezed through shallow breaths. “I’ll be right out.”

Magda exaggerated her sigh before shuffling out of the white-marble immurement, closing the doors behind her with a huff. My last remnants of safety and rational thinking left with her.

I shoved the vanity chair underneath the door handle. I grabbed the makeup brush with the flattest head and hurried to the bathroom. I gingerly closed the lid of the toilet and slipped off my heels before tip-

toeing on top so I could face the window. After removing the beading, I inserted the head of the makeup brush between the frame and glass. The brush’s handle cracked under the pressure, but it was enough to lever the glass out of its mounting. I placed the glass on the floor as gently as I’ve ever handled any object, trying not to make even the slightest sound, before hoisting myself up and through the window. I jumped into the black night, only partially illuminated by the full moon and the artificial lights of the mansion. I allowed my eyes to adjust.

And then I ran.

The loose branches of the island forest whipped at my cheeks, my limbs, my mouth. The soles of my feet split open from fallen twigs and other debris, but the adrenaline kept the pain at bay. I tripped over something unseen, and my hands broke my fall. Just a few cuts, and a little blood. I couldn’t see it, but I could feel it.

I jumped up, forcing myself to keep moving. The near darkness was blinding, so I held my bloody hands up, trying to block my face. The farther I ran, the more similar the trunks of the trees became. How long had I been running? I gauged about a mile. I slowed down to gather my bearings. Behind me, the lights of the mansion brightened the sky, but they were only the size of my palm from that distance.

I heard the hum of a moving car come and go. I must have been near the road. I was about to start moving again when I heard the snap of twigs. Footsteps. I stopped breathing. I swiveled to my left and right, but nothing. I exhaled. It was just my imagination. I continued away from the lights. Away from the retreat.

And then someone stepped toward me: Christina. Her face was partially obscured by darkness, but her pale eyes stood out like fireflies. “It doesn’t have to be like this,” she said. Her expression remained

a mystery in the darkness.

I turned around, but one of her handlers was blocking that path.

Christina took another step forward, and I jerked away, tripping over the gnarled roots of the forest in the process. My head broke the fall this time, and my ears rang from the pain.

Her handler reached for my left hand, and for a moment, I thought he was going to help me stand. Instead, he twisted my ring finger into an unnatural position. As my bone cracked, my screams reverberated through the woods.

It was showtime.


Excerpt from Beneath the Marigolds by Emily C. Whitson. Copyright 2021 by Emily C. Whitson. Reproduced with permission from CamCat Books. All rights reserved.


Author Bio:

Emily Whitson received a B.A. in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She worked as a marketing copywriter for six years before pursuing a career in fiction and education. She is currently getting her M.Ed. at Vanderbilt University, where she writes between classes. She is particularly passionate about women’s education and female stories. This interest stems from her time at Harpeth Hall, an all-girls college preparatory school in Nashville, Tennessee. When she isn’t volunteering, writing, or in the classroom, Emily can usually be found with her dog, Hoss, in one of Nashville’s various parks. Beneath the Marigolds is her debut novel.

Catch Up With Emily C. Whitson:
BookBub - @emilycwhitson_author
Instagram - @emilycwhitson
Facebook - @emilycwhitson


Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

Click here to view Beneath the Marigolds by Emily C. Whitson Tour Hosts.


Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)