Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Book Review with a Giveaway: Phoebe's Secret by Sydney Tooman Betts


About the Book

Book: Phoebe’s Secret

Author: Sydney Tooman Betts

Genre: Christian Fiction, Historical Mystery

Release Date: June 20, 2020

In April of 1843, Phoebe’s family hears about a murder while they are traveling to their new home in the Shenandoah Valley. They arrive to learn the victim attended the church her father has agreed to pastor and the crime took place on a leading church member’s plantation.

Eager to make new friends, Phoebe forms a unique relationship that propels her into the middle of the mystery, and she begins to question several acquaintances’ motives. Will she uncover their secrets before the plantation owner’s charming son discovers hers?

Click here to get your copy today!

My Review

This story hooked me from the very beginning, because I live in the area where it takes place.  But as the story progressed, my attention was held by all the things Phoebe had to deal with at one time-moving to a new area, caring for her family in her mother's absence, the strange sounds in her new home, meeting new people, and so much more!  Phoebe, becoming a young woman, was not only pretty and accomplished, but she was also bright and well-spoken.

She and her family were immediately pulled into a murder investigation and multiple conversations about slavery.  There were many lessons to be learned from Phoebe's father, Reverend Farrell, as he guided his family with wisdom.

The mystery was solved, and the story ended well, but there is more to come, so I am looking forward to reading more about Phoebe and her family.  Fans of historical fiction and mystery will be sure to enjoy this story.

I received an ARC of this book from the author, through Celebrate Lit, for review purposes.  The thoughts expressed here are my own.

About the Author

Sydney Tooman Betts resides with her husband near the extensive cavern system that inspired the setting for several chapters in her series The People of the Book.

While single, Ms. Betts (B.S. Bible/Missiology, M.Ed) took part in a variety of cross-cultural adventures in North and Central America. After marrying, she and her husband lived in Europe and the Middle East where he served in various mission-support capacities. Her teaching experiences span preschool to guest lecturing at the graduate level.

Before penning her first novel, A River too Deep, she ghost-wrote several stories for an adult literacy program.

More from Sydney

Proverbs 25:11 says, “Words spoken fitly are like apples of gold in settings of silver.” I was not a great reader as a child, but I loved stories. We remember stories, whether told through movies, good sermon illustrations, parables, or simple  novels.

Think of something you’ve read in the Bible. Did an instructional verse, a narrative, or a parable leap to mind? Stories have power because we can relate to them. We see ourselves in the shoes of the main character and ask what we might do in the situation. Mysteries, a new genre for me to write, are a little different. You are in the puzzle with the main character, working out the solution as you both come across the clues. I hope you will enjoy joining Phoebe in her first mystery as much as I enjoyed writing it.


Sally Lunn Bread

1 cup water
1 cup milk
¼ pound unsalted butter
8 cups of high-gluten or bread flour
⅔ cup sugar
2 tablespoons salt
¼ cup yeast
6 eggs

In a saucepan, combine water, milk and butter. Heat until the butter is very soft.

In a mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients with half the flour. Add the warm liquid, and mix well to form a smooth batter.

Add 3 eggs, one at a time, and mix well. Add another cup of the flour, and mix well. Add the second 3 eggs, one at a time. Add the remaining flour, and mix until the flour has been incorporated and the batter has formed a smooth ball. The dough should be less firm than bread and more firm than a batter.

Put the dough in a clear bowl with a little oil and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Proof until double in volume. Divide the dough between two bundt pans or two loaf pans, or one of each. Proof again until risen and doubled in volume.  Bake at 350° for about 20 minutes. Makes 20 servings.

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, September 29
deb’s Book Review, September 30
Inklings and notions, October 1
For the Love of Literature, October 2
Blogging With Carol, October 2
For Him and My Family, October 3
Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, October 4
Mary Hake, October 4
Locks, Hooks and Books, October 5
Artistic Nobody, October 6 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)
Pause for Tales, October 6
Ashley’s Bookshelf, October 7
Connie’s History Classroom, October 8
Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, October 8
Sara Jane Jacobs, October 9
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 9
Splashes of Joy, October 10
Lighthouse Academy Blog, October 10 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)
Betti Mace, October 11
Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, October 11
Happily Managing a Household of Boys, October 12
Maureen’s Musings, October 12


To celebrate her tour, Sydney is giving away the grand prize package of $25 Amazon gift card and a softback copy of Phoebe’s Secret!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.


  1. Thank you for the review. The book sounds good.

  2. I encourage reading so having a family who loves to read I sure support. Thanks for sharing your terrific read with us.