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review 2020-03-29 07:00
The Blue Cloak Review and GIVEAWAY!

About the Book


Book:  The Blue  Cloak

Author: Shannon McNear

Genre:  Christian Historical/Suspense

Release Date: March, 2020

Evil Incarnate Leaves a Trail of Destruction across the Frontier

Book 5 in the True Colors series—Fiction Based on Strange-But True History

Rachel Taylor lives a rather mundane existence in 1797 at the way station her family runs along the Wilderness Road in Tennessee. She attends her friend Sally Rice’s wedding only to watch the marriage dissolve into horror has the groom, Wiley Harpe, and his cousin Micajah become murderers on the run, who drag their families along. Declaring a “war on all humanity,” the Harpes won’t be stopped, and Ben Langford is on their trail to see if his own cousin was one of their latest victims.

How many will die before peace can return to the frontier?

Click HERE for your copy.

About the Author


Transplanted to North Dakota after more than two decades in Charleston, South Carolina, Shannon McNear loves losing herself in local history. She’s a military wife, mom of eight, mother-in-law of three, grammie of two, and a member of ACFW and RWA. Her first novella, Defending Truth in A Pioneer Christmas Collection, was a 2014 RITA® finalist. When she’s not sewing, researching, or leaking story from her fingertips, she enjoys being outdoors, basking in the beauty of the northern prairies. Connect with her at www.shannonmcnear.com, or on Facebook and Goodreads.


More from Shannon


How dark is too dark for a Christian to write?

That was the question I wrestled with when deciding whether or not to take on the story of the Harpes. The histories in Scripture itself aren’t rated G, but writing fiction requires a level of detail and depth of emotion I wasn’t sure would be wise, or helpful, to explore in this case. But as I prayed and sought the counsel of those whose discernment I trust, the answer came back, overwhelmingly …

Is God stronger than the darkness, or not?

Well, of course He is. And nothing in human history has ever escaped His notice, or taken Him by surprise.

So, was there something redeeming to be found in the tale of the Harpes?

For the first few weeks of research, I walked around in a state of shock at the horror of the historical accounts, but details surfaced that helped me shape my fictional characters Rachel and Ben. With Rachel working in her family’s trading post near the wild frontier town of Knoxville, Tennessee, and Ben a lawyer who recently passed the bar, the real-life Hugh Lawson White provided a handy connection point between them. Many other details fell together in ways I had not foreseen when I began developing the story. Sally Rice Harpe, however, rose to the forefront. This was more her story than anyone’s, but realizing I couldn’t properly write the book without using her point of view? That was scary. I knew the moments I’d have to visit, some of them in real-time.

Despite the tragedy, however, I could see an overarching story of spiritual warfare. Felt a growing conviction that prayer must have played a vital role in bringing the Harpes’ reign of terror to an end. So it is my hope that against the backdrop of one of the most chilling episodes of our country’s early history, the hand of God shows clearly, and that yes, the reader finds it redemptive.

My Review


Barbour’s True Colors series always has me anticipating the release of the next installment, and each story seems more intriguing than the last. True crime is a genre that I have watched on television as well as read about, and although I can’t remember exactly which medium provided the information, I’m sure that I’ve heard of the Harpes before, although the details are extremely hazy. Due to having some medical background and chronic illnesses, descriptions of bodies tend not to bother me as much as the next person, so in my case that is not a deterrent. This book does include content that some readers may find disturbing insomuch as to make them want to avoid reading it, but these passages are few and far between and are handled tactfully, without sensationalized graphic details. As usual, the pop of color (blue, in this case) on the otherwise monochromatic background infuses life and dimensionality into the cover.

A horrifying look at the two brothers who are considered by many to be America’s first serial killers, Shannon McNear’s “The Blue Cloak” is a book that will stay with you after turning the last page. The first third of the story is, in my opinion, a bit more slow-paced, with exposition and character development, but that is certainly not to say that it is lacking in activity, which becomes apparent later on. From the beginning, Sally Rice’s wedding to Wiley Harpe felt wrong, but unfortunately in the late eighteenth century along the Wilderness Road in Tennessee, the threat can remain hidden for a long time. Rachel Turner is a godly heroine, relying on prayer and trusting God to work in all situations. As an employee of her family’s trading post business along the Wilderness Road, she also represents a working woman who does everything that she can for those she loves. Her work, and that of lawyer Ben Langford, serves to not only seek out justice but also to bring the hope and love of God to even the most desolate. In times such as these, this message is all the more important; may we be lighthouses guiding the lost to the safe shores of the Savior’s arms.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.


Blog Stops


Just the Write Escape, March 24

Texas Book-aholic, March 24

Inklings and notions, March 25

Girls in White Dresses, March 25

Emily Yager, March 25

Godly Book Reviews, March 26

Genesis 5020, March 26

Remembrancy, March 26

Among the Reads, March 27

Through the Fire Blogs, March 27

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, March 28

Christian Bookaholic, March 28

Inside the Wong Mind, March 28

For the Love of Literature, March 29

For Him and My Family, March 29

Betti Mace, March 30

Older & Smarter?, March 30

deb’s Book Review, March 30

Robin’s Nest, March 31

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, March 31

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, April 1


Stories By Gina, April 1

By The Book, April 2

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, April 2

Blossoms and Blessings, April 2

A Reader’s Brain, April 3

Connie’s History Classroom, April 3

Artistic Nobody, April 3 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Tell Tale Book Reviews, April 4

Back Porch Reads, April 4

Daysong Reflections, April 4

Locks, Hooks and Books, April 5

Pause for Tales, April 5

Britt Reads Fiction, April 5

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, April 6

Hallie Reads, April 6

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, April 6




To celebrate her tour, Shannon is giving away the grand prize package of a copy of The Blue Cloak and a $25 Amazon gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.


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text 2020-03-28 19:24
Reading progress update: I've listened to 44%.
The Case Is Closed - Patricia Wentworth,Diana Bishop

Just under the halfway mark, and Miss Silver is being called in AT LAST.  (By the odious Henry and very much against his conviction, not least, which means that the first thing he'll llikely be in for is having the rug pulled out from under his feet and landing on his bottom.  Good -- I hope it will be a hard landing.)  And the person recommending Miss Silver is ... our old friend Charles Moray from The Gray Mask.  I'm not sure I want him to make another appearance here, either ...

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review 2020-03-28 17:47
"Smoke Bitten - Mercy Thompson #12" by Patricia Briggs
Smoke Bitten - Patricia Briggs

I had the audiobook version of this on pre-order. I dived into it the morning it was released and, by the time I'd reached the end of the first chapter, I was already impressed. 


One of the challenges in a series like this is how you do the "previously on Mercy Thompson" bit to remind me of what happened in the last book, which I read almost a year ago, without making me want to go "I KNOW all this. Get on with it already." Patricia Briggs managed it expertly, weaving the references in to support the current story, making them an integral part of the telling rather than a preface or an interruption.


The other challenge in a book like this is to get the reader hooked in the first chapter. Patricia Briggs is good at this. She often starts by focusing in on the chaotic but happy domestic life of the pack, getting you comfortable, reminding you why you like these people, making you care again and then ends the chapter with the sudden emergence of something that puts Mercy and or the pack under threat. In "Smoke Bitten" she's given this formula a new twist. Within the first few minutes, you know that something is wrong in Mercy's marriage: something that's making her sad; something she doesn't understand. Then you get a demonstration of the problem and only when you're getting immersed in that does something truly weird happen that only Mercy sees.


I loved the elegance of this, the care that goes into the structure, the stumble-free prose. the fast, effective characterisation, the connection of these supernatural creatures to issues and emotions we can all relate to and an apparently endless ability to think up new bad guys.


"Smoke Bitten" lived up to the promise of the first chapter. The focus stayed firmly on the problem with Mercy's marriage but we still got a new, very scary, bad guy, the return of a well-known bad guy in full stalker mode, and the re-emergence of Underhill, who may or may not be a bad guy but is definitely scary, even when she's being friendly.


What I admired most was the way in which Mercy's marriage problems, even when manifesting in their supernatural mating bond and corrupting, nasty magic, remains something real about the nature of trust, in yourself and each other and the need constantly to renew and demonstrate the trust, even in times of trauma. 


Patricia Briggs manages to do that without it becoming corny or clichéd and while maintaining the pace of a pressure-filled plot. I really liked the way the magic was visualised this time. It reminded me a little of how Jane Yellowrock sees her soul home but Patricia Briggs gave the concept a twist that made it unique to Mercy. 



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text 2020-03-28 17:07
Reading progress update: I've read 414 out of 704 pages.
Seven Pillars of Wisdom (Wordsworth Classics of World Literature) - T.E. Lawrence,Angus Calder

Camels do not do well when pushed to haste across rain-storm generated muddy terrain. Inexperienced riders are lucky not to hurt themselves during falls.

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review 2020-03-28 16:28
Wonderful look into Jyn's background
Star Wars Rebel Rising - Beth Revis

I'm a huge fan of Rogue One and loved the novelization by Alexander Freed, so I was wary of picking this up and wanting it to meet the same standard of the movie and novelization. 


But thankfully, I was not disappointed. This is a highly readable book that works really well in YA form to explain how Jyn Erso came to be who she is.


I really appreciated the development of Jyn's character and her motivations. Her psychology makes so much sense, and Beth Revis did an amazing job of portraying Jyn's relationship with Saw and adding all this wonderful detail that fleshes out the world of Star Wars even more.


Highly recommend! Well worth the read. 

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