Tag: Heather Day Gilbert

Book Review | Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass

I don’t like snakes—something my Australian friends mock me for. Naming no names, but one of my editing clients wrote a snake into her book especially because she knew I didn’t like snakes. That’s what friends are for, right?

Anyway, about Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass.

I hoped the title was a metaphor, but that hope was dashed with the very first line …

"The first time I saw Stone Carrington the fifth, I had a snake wrapped around my neck."

Yes, the snake is a major feature. But he (I assume it was a he) is also a great character who sets the tone of the novel and provides some much-needed comic relief.

Belinda Blake is an exotic pet sitter and videogame reviewer who’s just moved into the carriage house on the Carrington estate. She’s settling in well … until she finds a dead woman in the garden. As she says:

"I didn't know the ... protocol ... for finding a dead body outside my rental house."

Well, who does?

Belinda starts investigating but soon finds that someone or someones don’t want her sticking her nose in. That—and encouragement from Stone Carrington the fifth—only strengthens her desire to find out what happened and why. And before something happens to her …

This is Heather Day Gilbert’s first Belinda Blake novel, and her first novel for the general market.

I’ve previously read her historical fiction and contemporary Christian mysteries, but I think this is her best yet. The plot is tight, the characters are well portrayed, and the writing is top notch. Most of all, Belinda Blake is a clever and witty heroine (albeit one with strange taste in pets). She’s everything I look for in a contemporary mystery heroine.

Recommended for fans of mystery and romantic comedy who like strong heroines and novels written in first person point of view.

Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Heather Day Gilbert

Heather Day Gilbert, an ECPA Christy award finalist and Grace award winner, writes contemporary mysteries and Viking historicals. Her novels feature small towns, family relationships, and women who aren’t afraid to protect those they love.

Publisher’s Weekly gave Heather’s Viking historical Forest Child a starred review, saying it is “an engaging story depicting timeless human struggles with faith, love, loyalty, and leadership.”

Find Heather Day Gilbert online at:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter | YouTube

About Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass:

When exotic pet-sitter Belinda Blake moves into a carriage house in tony Greenwich, Connecticut, she’s hoping to find some new clients. Instead she discovers a corpse in the garden—and a knack for solving murders . . .


Pet-sitter Belinda Blake doesn’t rattle easily, but move-in day has been eventful, to say the least. The python in her care tried to slither to freedom—just as she met Stone Carrington V, her landlords’ disarmingly handsome son. With the constrictor back in its cage, she heads out to the garden, only to discover a designer shoe poking out of the boxwood hedge—attached to a woman’s dead body.

The victim, Margo Fenton, was a Carrington family friend, and no one in their circle seems above suspicion. Between client trips to Manhattan and visits to her family in upstate New York, Belinda begins to put the pieces together. But though she’s falling for Stone’s numerous charms, Belinda wonders if she’s cozying up to a killer. And soon, daily contact with a deadly reptile might be the least dangerous part of her life . . .

You can find Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass online at:

Amazon US | Amazon AU | Goodreads

 

First Line Friday

First Line Friday | Week 92 | Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass by Heather Day Gilbert

It’s First Line Friday! That means it’s time to pick up the nearest book and quote the first line. Today I’m sharing from Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass by Heather Day Gilbert:

The first time I saw Stone Carrington the fifth, I had a snake wrapped around my neck.

I’m not a fan of snakes, but this opening line certainly kept me reading!

What’s the book nearest you, and what’s the first line?

About Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass:

When exotic pet-sitter Belinda Blake moves into a carriage house in tony Greenwich, Connecticut, she’s hoping to find some new clients. Instead she discovers a corpse in the garden—and a knack for solving murders . . .

Pet-sitter Belinda Blake doesn’t rattle easily, but move-in day has been eventful, to say the least. The python in her care tried to slither to freedom—just as she met Stone Carrington V, her landlords’ disarmingly handsome son. With the constrictor back in its cage, she heads out to the garden, only to discover a designer shoe poking out of the boxwood hedge—attached to a woman’s dead body.

The victim, Margo Fenton, was a Carrington family friend, and no one in their circle seems above suspicion. Between client trips to Manhattan and visits to her family in upstate New York, Belinda begins to put the pieces together. But though she’s falling for Stone’s numerous charms, Belinda wonders if she’s cozying up to a killer. And soon, daily contact with a deadly reptile might be the least dangerous part of her life . . .

You can find Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass online at:

Amazon US | Amazon AU | Goodreads

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Book Review: God’s Daughter by Heather Day Gilbert

If you’ve signed up for my monthly Newsletter, you’ll already have receive my entirely biased list of 50 novels from my favourite Christian authors. If you haven’t, sign up on the right!

Today I’m reviewing God’s Daughter by debut author Heather Day Gilbert. This review was previously published on my blog, Iola’s Christian Reads.

4.5 Stars for a Unique Historical Novel

It is 1000 AD, and Gudrid is one of the few women on a Viking expedition to upper North America, to rediscover Vineland and bring great wealth back to Leif Eiriksson, their chieftain. She is the wife of Thorfinn Karlsefni, the expedition leader, mother to Snorri, the unofficial leader of the small band of women on the expedition—and the unwilling object of the affections of several of the men.

Gudrid stopped worshipping Thor when she was a child and the capricious god demanded her mother as a sacrifice to guarantee a good harvest. As an adult in Iceland, she learned of the one true God from the monks, and she now follows Him.

God’s Daughter is a character-driven family saga, told entirely in first person from Gudrid’s point of view, and in the present tense—an interesting choice for a story set 1,000 years in the past, but one that’s strangely effective. Her voice is understated, deliberately downplaying the everyday struggles for survival in Viking society, a culture that still worships Thor and where life includes many pagan rituals.

It is obvious that a huge amount of research has gone into God’s Daughter, and while that research comes out in the depth of the narrative around the people, culture and lifestyle, it’s never overbearing and it never gets in the way of the story (although the names were a little difficult at times, because they were so unfamiliar).

The distance of time makes it impossible for us to really know what life was like in the Viking camp of Straumsfjord or the village of Brattahlid in Greenland, but the majesty and the savagery both come alive in the excellent writing. I came away feeling I had a real understanding of Viking life (certainly more than enough to be thankful I live now!).

God’s Daughter is recommended for readers who enjoy well-researched historical fiction set in less well-known times and places, from author such as Iris Anthony (aka Siri Mitchell) or Sharon Penman.

Thanks to the author for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Heather Day Gilbert at her website, and can read the opening of God’s Daughter below: