Friday, July 19, 2024

Shades of Mercy by Bruce Borgos Book Review

About the Book:


Porter Beck is the sheriff in the high desert of Nevada, doing the same lawman's job his father once did now that he's returned home after decades away. With his twelve person department, they cover a large area that is usually very quiet, but not of late. One childhood friend is the latest to succumb to a new wave of particularly strong illegal opioids, another childhood friend—now an enormously successful rancher—is targeted by a military drone, hacked and commandeered by an unknown source. The hacker is apparently local—local enough to call out Beck by name—and that means they are Beck's problem.

Beck's investigation leads him to Mercy Vaughn, the one known hacker in the area. The problem is that she's a teenager, locked up with no computer access at the secure juvenile detention center. But there's something Mercy that doesn't sit quite right with Beck. But when Mercy disappears, Beck understands that she's in danger and time is running out for all of them.

My Review:

Wow, this is an action packed novel that gives new meaning to nearly continuous action, conspiracy ideas, double agents, and unforeseen twists. Beck is a tenacious lawman. I found him an engaging character. Rough and tough, he will battle any enemy to get the job done, even in the face of government interference. I like the new character, Mercy. What an intelligent and spirited young woman. The action in the book does not let up. There are a number of suspenseful scenes where it looks like Beck cannot survive.

The plot has some interesting aspects including hacking government vehicles and financial institutions. That means the government is pressuring Beck. Other aspects involve running drugs and arms. That means a powerful cartel is involved too. The setting is well constructed, taking us through the wilds of Nevada including old mining sites.

This is a great novel for readers who love suspense and are not bothered by a rising number of killed people. While a sequel, it reads well on its own. You can read my review of the first book in the series, The Bitter Past.

My rating: 5/5 stars.


About the Author:


Bruce Borgos
lives and writes from the Nevada desert where he works hard every day to prove his high school guidance counselor had good instincts when he said “You’ll never be an astronaut.” He has a degree in political science which mostly served to dissuade him from a career in law while at the same time tormenting his wife with endless questions about how telephones work. When not writing, you can usually find him at the local wine store. He is the author of 
The Bitter Past. Photo credit: Pam Borgos.

Minotaur Books, 344 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.)

Thursday, July 18, 2024

We'll Always Have Poison by B J Magnani Blog Tour Book Review


WE'LL ALWAYS HAVE POISON

by BJ Magnani

July 15 - 26, 2024 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

A Dr. Lily Robinson Novel

 

In this series finale, pathologist Dr. Lily Robinson races around the globe to hunt an assassin who, like her, finds poison the weapon of choice.

A world-renowned climatologist is found dead off the Great Barrier Reef of northern Australia weeks before he’s set to deliver his earth-shattering findings at the international Climate Council conference. Was it greed to maintain the status quo of fossil fuels—or revolutionary new science—that motivated his murder? Can Lily Robinson stop the killer before another climate scientist dies?

With operative and lover JP Marchand at her side, Lily uncovers a cunning plot that endangers world order, and changes the trajectory of her life—forever.

Praise for We'll Always Have Poison:

"We'll Always Have Poison is a grand tutelage in the use of toxins as weapons in this captivating fourth book of the Lily Robinson international thriller series. Dr. Lily Robinson, expert pathologist and undercover assassin, is summoned once again when a key speaker at the International Climate Council is mysteriously murdered. When more lives and the world as we know it are in grave danger, Robinson and her cohort (and lover) Agent JP Marchand are charged with exposing and eradicating the new - and global - environmental threats. Trust is hard to come by as a large cast of brilliant scientists and political operatives jockey for dominance and revenge.
Author Magnani's latest book is for readers who love deep and specific details, intricate relationships with tangled pasts and presents, nefarious intentions, criminal masterminds and, of course, poisons."
~ Jule Selbo, screenwriter and award-winning author of the DEE ROMMEL MYSTERY NOVELS

"We'll Always Have Poison is an emotional international adventure of epic proportions. Set on the poisonous points of a right triangle, South Africa, Australia, and Belgium, Magnani takes us on a thrill ride in pursuit of whoever is murdering climate activists in unique ways. Lily Robinson, the Queen of all Poisons, is back with her team of mentor and lover, JP, and his partner, Parker, in a global clash with a mysterious villain who might just be the tip of the iceberg for an ominous and sinister organization. For Lily, it is more than business as usual—a trip down memory lane and a peek at a future of potential peace, serenity, and happiness. In pursuit of the baddie, Magnani weaves in scintillating marine biology tidbits, fascinating historical and cultural detail, and the savoring of delicious food. We'll Always Have Poison is a fabulous read on multiple levels and one not to be missed."
~ Matt Cost, award-winning author of histories and mysteries

"Meet Dr. Lily Robinson. She’s smart and sophisticated and a little bit vulnerable, too. She’s also very dangerous. Why? Because she knows everything about poisons and how they work and how to use them in clandestine service to the U.S. government. She’s no superhero, but she’s unique in the male-dominated world of thriller fiction, and she’s back in We’ll Always Have Poison—a big, new adventure, a globe-hopping page-turner that will sweep you up, then surprise you, then leave you completely satisfied. Don’t miss it."
~ William Martin, New York Times Bestselling Author of Back Bay and December ’41

Praise for the Dr. Lily Robinson series:

"A breathtaking puzzle of beautifully written words that provide vivid pictures. A terrifying account of our world today."
~ Dr. Charles Steinberg, Longtime Executive Vice President, Boston Red Sox on The Queen of All Poisons

"A refreshingly unconventional hero in a fitfully effective thriller."
~ Kirkus Reviews on The Power of Poison

"…fast-paced action juxtaposes nicely with the personal dilemmas… The result is another engrossing tale that is highly recommended for political thriller readers."
~ Midwest Book Reviews on A Message in Poison

My Review:

This is a bit different thriller with an assassin using poison as the heroine. Of course, she only assassinates those who are a threat to our world. Magnani provides a balance of the heroine's personal life with action. Lily is recuperating so she is not as involved as are JP and Parker. But she is still at risk when it becomes clear someone wants her taken out.

It was interesting to read about discoveries and advances in technology from marine studies. I was fascinated learning about the cookiecutter shark. I had no idea there was potential for stealth technology in studying its skin.

I liked this novel. It is part of a series and while there are references to previous events, it reads well on its own.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense Thrillers
Published by: Encircle Publications, LLC
Publication Date: July 17, 2024
Number of Pages: 284
ISBN: 9781645995241 (ISBN10: 1645995240)
Series: A Dr. Lily Robinson Novel, #4
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop.org | Goodreads | Encircle Publications

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER 1

The Northeast Coast of Australia

Mountainous clumps of staghorn coral littered the seafloor like remnants of an exposed grave. The diver edged along the reef. He remained focused. Determined to capture the growing destruction, staccato flashes from his underwater camera reflected off the remaining bright purple sea fans. Delicate air bubbles floated above while he photographed the masses of stark white ‘bones.’ Closer to the shore, waves crashed over adjacent brain coral without effect. The coral sat unmoved; their pale fissures lifeless, devoid of thriving soft polyps.

Diving off this isolated stretch of beach had once been wondrous—all varieties of colorful aquatic life captured by the camera lens. Gone were the majestic manta rays that swam at his side, their broad wings flapping as they searched for zooplankton. Only a few remaining ornate butterflyfish, glorious in their brilliant orange-yellow stripes, darted in and out of the coral in search of polyps.

The change was undeniable. Bleaching had progressed. How could the Great Barrier Reef come back from this latest insult? The diverse ecosystem he had documented over the last fifteen years continued to collapse. He stopped. His fins fanned through the water, stirring the sand below. The ocean gasped for breath.

Tiny coral polyps had taken fifty million years to build the reefs. By comparison, human impact took less than two hundred years to unravel Mother Nature’s work. If these bastions of marine life died, the world would lose fifty to eighty percent of its oxygen emitted via plankton and photosynthesizing bacteria. A quarter of the planet’s marine life would lose their habitat, as coral reefs provide food, shelter, and protection for spawning. And, as lower organisms disappeared, those higher up the food chain, too, would be threatened.

The discouraged diver headed back to shore, lost in thought, believing the Great Barrier Reef was on the precipice of death. Only the sounds of his breathing filled his ears. Soon, he planned to meet with the Climate Council and deliver his report. What he would say would turn the world upside down. He made a mental note to call the Council Chair and request the presence of a security service at the conference.

Another diver hid, and watched, within the mounds of bleached coral. Her mask and snorkel allowed her to see the seafloor yet stay undetected—no bubbles to give her away. Strapped to her left leg, a diving knife remained ready. She took a few shallow breaths and waited. When her target stopped to remove his fins so he could step the remaining yards through the shallows, she made her move. The pouch at her side writhed in undulations. Using a set of snake tongs, she pulled the sea serpent from the bag, and with her own fins beating like a dolphin’s tail, she swam silently to the unaware diver and positioned the head of the snake at his exposed ankle. The bite was swift. The snake, agitated from its journey in a blind pouch, squirmed and lunged with a second bite. The man stumbled. Gravity pulled him face-first into the water, his mask slipping off the top of his head.

The woman returned the snake to the pouch, grabbed her victim’s camera, and swam along the shore with the deftness of a water ballerina. When she reached a dense cluster of orange mangroves, she rose from the ocean like a sea creature adapted to land. Hidden behind a tree, she dropped the writhing bag onto the sand and loosened its opening. In one swift gesture, she sliced off the serpent’s head. A spurt of dark fluid missed splashing her face—the turn of her head, too quick. Picking up the still wriggling pieces, the lithe diver cast them into the ocean, knowing the fish would finish off what she had started.

Damp, blond tresses curled in ringlets spilled from under her diving cap as she prepared to change. She took a deep breath and, with some difficulty, stripped off her dive skin to expose a royal blue print bikini. Gathering her things, the shapely diver waited for her contact’s arrival and thought, one down.

Back down the beach, gentle waves pushed the man’s body toward the sandy shore, nudging curious ghost crabs in its path. Their scurrying etched tiny trails in the sand, defining their movements. Overhead, squawks from silver gulls filled the quiet as they eyed the lifeless form below. Circling blowflies landed on the salt-soaked corpse, depositing eggs in the eyes, nose, and mouth. By now, the sky was a glorious red with streaks of purple, blue, and gold. Polluted air created a spectacular sunset as particles of smoke and dust reflected beams of brilliant light. And when the bright was replaced with the dark, only a ribbon of stars lit the heavens.

CHAPTER 2

Boston

My name is Lily Robinson, and I’m on the upside of my recovery from a gunshot wound suffered at the hands of a terrorist. Remnants of my past stay with me, plague me, tangled in what’s to come. It’s the past I now hear knocking at my door. And maybe the future, too…

***

Excerpt from We'll Always Have Poison by BJ Magnani. Copyright 2024 by BJ Magnani. Reproduced with permission from BJ Magnani. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

BJ Magnani’s fascination with toxicology led her to a career in pathology and laboratory medicine. She is Professor of Anatomic and Clinical Pathology Emerita at Tufts University School of Medicine and the author of the Dr. Lily Robinson suspense thriller series (The Queen of All Poisons, The Power of Poison, A Message in Poison, We'll Always Have Poison and the short story collection Lily Robinson and the Art of Secret Poisoning) about a Boston physician recruited by the U.S. government as a covert assassin. A portion of the proceeds from her novels helps women receive free breast and cervical cancer screening through the College of American Pathologists Foundation.

You can learn more about Dr. Magnani, her work, and her Poison Blog at:
www.BJMagnani.com
Goodreads
BookBub - @bjmagnani
Instagram - @bj_magnani
Twitter/X - @bjmagnani
Facebook - @bjmagnaniauthor

 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews and opportunities to WIN in the giveaway!

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

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Another Gospel? by Alisa Childers Book Review

About the Book:


A Movement Seeks to Redefine Christianity. Some Think that It Is a Much-Needed Progressive Reformation. Others Believe that It Is an Attack on Historic Christianity.
Alisa Childers never thought she would question her Christian faith. She was raised in a Christian home, where she had seen her mom and dad feed the hungry, clothe the homeless, and love the outcast. She had witnessed God at work and then had dedicated her own life to leading worship, as part of the popular Christian band ZOEgirl. All that was deeply challenged when she met a progressive pastor, who called himself a hopeful agnostic.

Another Gospel? describes the intellectual journey Alisa took over several years as she wrestled with a series of questions that struck at the core of the Christian faith. After everything she had ever believed about God, Jesus, and the Bible had been picked apart, she found herself at the brink of despair . . . until God rescued her, helping her to rebuild her faith, one solid brick at a time.

In a culture of endless questions, you need solid answers. If you or someone you love has encountered the ideas of progressive Christianity and aren’t sure how to respond, Alisa’s journey will show you how to determine—and rest in—what’s unmistakably true.

My Review:

I am impressed with this book. Childers took a class from a progressive pastor and was shaken when her beliefs were questioned. Though she had grown up in the Christian faith, she was unprepared for the experience. She shares here how she investigated the evidence for her beliefs in the face of the questions she had been asked. She now has a reconstructed faith, one not exactly like before but of which she is assured. 

She does a great job of explaining what Progressive Christianity is, reviewing some of the authors and the ideas they promote. She goes through their claims, step by step. She reviews manuscript evidence to support her belief in the Bible, for example. She also investigates the meaning of the atonement and more.

This is a very readable book showing how one young woman came to be challenged in her Christian beliefs and then reassured of that faith. She includes a list of resources for those looking for answers to the questions about the truth of Christianity. She does remind us that rebuilding her own faith took time and effort. With eternity in the balance, being assured of Christian faith is certainly worth the effort.

My rating: 5/5 stars.


About the Author:


Alisa Childers
is a wife, a mom, an author, a blogger, a speaker, and a worship leader. She was a member of the award-winning CCM recording group ZOEgirl. She is a popular speaker at apologetics and Christian worldview conferences, including reThink. She has been published at The Gospel Coalition, Crosswalk, the Stream, For Every Mom, Decision magazine, and The Christian Post. Her blog post “Girl, Wash Your Face? What Rachel Hollis Gets Right . . . and Wrong” received more than one million views. You can connect with Alisa online at alisachilders.com.

Tyndale Momentum, 288 pages.

(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, July 14, 2024

One Big Happy Family by Jamie Day Book Review

About the Book:


The Precipice is a legendary, family-owned hotel on the rocky coast of Maine. With the recent passing of their father, the Bishop sisters--Iris, Vicki, and Faith--have come for the weekend to claim it. But with a hurricane looming and each of the Bishop sisters harboring dangerous secrets, there's murder in the air-- and not everyone who checks into the Precipice will be checking out.

Each sister wants what is rightfully hers, and in the mix is the Precipe's nineteen-year-old chambermaid Charley Kelley: smart, resilient, older than her years, and in desperate straits.

The arrival of the Bishop sisters could spell disaster for Charley. Will they close the hotel? Fire her? Discover her habit of pilfering from guests? Or even worse, learn that she's using a guest room to hide a woman on the run.

My Review:

This is a bit of a locked room mystery as people are all in a hotel cut off from the outside world by a hurricane. Murder happens. The suspects are many. As time passes during the storm, family secrets come out. And there are many of them.

The plot is a bit typical. I was not surprised at all at the truth of the automobile accident and had figured that out earlier. There was a good twist regarding identity near the end. Other than that, a relatively predictable plot.

I had difficulty finding any of the characters engaging. Even the heroine Charlie was a flawed character I found hard to like. Perhaps the most interesting one was Oliver, speaking in rhyme.

This is a good mystery that is entertaining but not as engaging as I would have liked.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


About the Author:


Jamie Day lives in one of those picture-perfect, coastal New England towns you see in the movies. And just like the movies, Jamie has two children and an adorable dog to fawn over. When not writing or reading, Jamie enjoys yoga, the ocean, cooking, and long walks on the beach with the dog, or the kids, or sometimes both.

St Martin's Press, 368 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, July 13, 2024

The Narrow Path by Rich Villodas Book Review

About the Book:


We live in a culture that wants it all. More is seen as better—whether it’s more money, social media fame, choices, or power. For those chasing this way of life, “narrow” seems negative. Who wants to narrow their options . . . or be seen as narrow-minded?

Which is why the most well-known talk in the history of the world—the Sermon on the Mount—is also the most paradoxical one. In it, Jesus holds up the narrow path as the most spacious . . . and the broader path as the more confining one.

Rich Villodas, bestselling author of 
The Deeply Formed Life, explores what today’s broad and narrow paths look like so you can discern which one you’re on. The answer may surprise you—and will help you pursue the way of Jesus more deeply when it comes to loving God and others, prayer, sexual desire, conflict, money, anxiety, and more.

The Narrow Path reintroduces the counterintuitive wonder of Jesus’s timeless wisdom for this age, one fraught with anxiety, depression, polarizing politics, and online vitriol. The path of Jesus is most certainly narrow, but it is the only one filled with the ever-expanding life of God . . . and it is available now for all who want it!

You can watch the book trailer here.

My Review:

Villodas points out that, even though Jesus said the way is narrow, it is not a restriction. Rather, it is getting to the core of what it means to be human and live life as God designed. Villodas gives us encouragement to be on this path and stay on it.

Life on this path is upside down compared to how the world wants us to live. His teaching on being hidden is one I really appreciated. Jesus lived in obscurity with regard to the rest of the world. We are not to be announcing out good works on social media, for example. Another important aspect of this book is Villodas reminding us we can only do this through God's empowerment so prayer is essential.

A surprise for me was Villodas saying we do not do the life described in the Sermon on the Mount so that we will be blessed. (I'd been taught we would be blessed if we do these things or show that character trait.) He says we do them because we are already blessed and it is an outworking of our character.

This book is a good teaching on the Sermon on the Mount, especially on topics like money and anxiety. New and seasoned Christians will benefit from reading it.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


About the Author:


Rich Villodas is the Brooklyn-born lead pastor of New Life Fellowship, a large, multiracial church with more than seventy-five countries represented in Elmhurst, Queens. He is also a key speaker for Emotionally Healthy Discipleship—a movement that has touched hundreds of thousands of people. Rich graduated with a BA in pastoral ministry and theology from Nyack College. He went on to complete his master of divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary. His award-winning book, The Deeply Formed Life, was released in September 2020. He and his wife, Rosie, have two beautiful children and reside in Queens.

WaterBrook, 224 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.)

Friday, July 12, 2024

Elephant Safari by Peter Riva Blog Tour Book Review

ELEPHANT SAFARI

by Peter Riva

June 24 - July 19, 2024 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

A MBUNO & PERO THRILLER

 

A documentary team hiking through East Africa collides with a gang of deadly poachers, in this gripping adventure by the author of Kidnapped on Safari.

Years of filming, extreme dangers, and daring rescues have taken their toll on documentary producer Pero Baltazar and his team. To relax and reconnect with the East African wildlife they love, Pero organizes a walking safari for him, his camerawoman Nancy Breiton, and their elite guide Mbuno Waliangulu. Still, Pero has trouble truly disconnecting from work. When the team comes across a herd of elephants making their annual migration north of Lake Rudolf, Pero decides the team will film their journey from Kenya into Ethiopia along the Omo River.

What begins as a peaceful trip quickly turns into a chaotic nightmare as the trio crosses paths with a crew of poachers whose ivory sales are financing terrorists. The three are determined to protect the endangered herd from slaughter, and Mbuno enlists the help of local tribesmen. But the corruption of ivory poachers has deep roots that stretch to UN refugee camps, Chinese gangs, and the Iranian elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard. Faced with overwhelming odds, the trio must now rely on Pero’s contacts in the CIA, as well as Mbuno’s skills in the bush, if they hope to ever return from this excursion alive . . .

Praise for Elephant Safari:

"If you’re in the mood for an African thriller series to add to your summer reading pile, Peter Riva has got you covered. Riva’s impressive career has provided him with plenty of inspiration for his novels, which he writes as a form of relaxation."
~ The Lakeville Journal and The Millerton News

"Many readers will enjoy this story for its fast pace, engaging characters, and insights into world politic. I particularly loved the depth of knowledge about the natural history and ecology of the East African landscape. This may be a thriller but it’s also an important book about the killing of elephants for their ivory tusks."
~ Sharman Apt Russel- John Burroughs Medal winner

ELEPHANT SAFARI Trailer:

 

My Review:

 This is a different kind of thriller as it is mostly a walking journey in Africa, following elephants. The pace is fitting for a walking journey. The text is mostly prose. While there is some suspense, the strength of the novel by far is Riva's knowledge of Africa, it's cultures and the threat of poachers harvesting ivory. He has captured the danger and the beauty as well as the difficulty of working with authorities as they are often tainted by bribes. This is a novel for readers who want to experience the atmosphere of Africa more than be entertained by engaging suspense. There is a great deal of information on the illicit ivory trade too. It is the fourth novel in the series. While it reads relatively well on its own, reading the prior novel will help to understand relationships, such as Pero's influence with powerful U.S. government people.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Book Details:

Genre: Action and Adventure Thriller
Published by: Open Road Media
Publication Date: January 30, 2024
Number of Pages: 302
ISBN: 9781504085335 (ISBN10: 1504085337)
Series: The Mbuno & Pero Thrillers, 4 | Each is a Stand-Alone Novel
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop.org | BookaMillion | Goodreads | Open Road Media

Read an excerpt:

In modern Kenya and most of East Africa, elephant were dying out, Mbuno knew this and lamented. His chest ached for them. Gone were the innumerable small herds of his youth, mostly replaced by farms, settlements, human sprawl, and tourist attractions. What elephant remained had their age-old pathways and migration routes blocked, stopped, fenced, and constantly monitored. White men came and collared them, watched them on scopes, darted them, sampled them, and even shot them when they became a nuisance to farmers with cash. What elephants modern man did not manage in parks were easy prey for poachers. The days of the Liangulu hunter were over. Mbuno knew this, accepted this, and did not mind even half as much as he mourned the passing of the realm of the elephant.

All of Africa had once been the realm of the elephant. As the largest beast, immune to the normal prey and hunter battles going on all around, the elephant set the pace of the land, fertilized the forests, cropped the prairies, and paved the migration routes that all the migratory species followed. In times of drought, their superior intelligence showed where water could be found and even taught man to dig in dry riverbeds for a boundary layer of precious liquid. They created mud holes for mud baths to keep the insects at bay, used also by Cape buffalo and rhino. Over the millennia, they brushed aside acacia thorns and baobab saplings with equal ease creating the open plains. And, in time, Africa's rhythm resounded to the beat of their feet and their migratory timekeeping. Without the elephant ruling the land, the land fell into the discordant rhythm of the upright apes and began to fracture. Mbuno had known the last best years of the elephant's realm and, sadly, was now witnessing the fall of Africa's harnessing stability. Without the elephant to freely roam, the balance of nature would be broken, herds would grow to enormous size in protected parks and, outside that protection, devoid of traditional hunters, herds could be led by weak leaders who would fail to protect them from ivory hunters. Mbuno had heard this had happened before. At the end of the slave and ivory trade, in 1911 there were fewer elephants than now and the herds were only brought back from extinction by White Hunters—led by Teddy Roosevelt—using farm and ranch husbandry methods – culling every senile cow and bull. Young, vibrant, herds repopulated the migration routes. But now the elephant and Mbuno's tribal way of life were both threatened once again.

Mbuno looked back to make sure Pero and Nancy were crouched, waiting a few hundred yards away as he instructed. He then inched closer to the worrying herd, prone again, a sharp stone rolling under his hip painfully. He dared not move quickly, the bush above him would vibrate. He stopped any forward movement as he spotted feet, the small grey feet of a baby elephant, a mtoto.

One foot had an encircling, red, puss-oozing sore. Behind the mtoto's feet stood the mother. Mbuno could see the way the weight was shifting on both mother and child that the mother was soothing the young one who would be in pain. Silent pain, the sign of a strong herd leader. Or a very frightened herd, one that is being hunted. The mtoto's sore had been caused by a wire snare that had probably dropped off. Mbuno had seen this far too often. Now Mbuno felt compelled to do something, not just observe. It was now a matter of honor, duty, and common ancestry, not to mention his responsibility for the safety of his safari charges.

Mbuno's mind made decisions quickly. In the bush, life and death were often just moments apart. Soundlessly, moving no bush or twig, he retreated the way he had come, donned his pants only, and set himself into a running crouch. It was his usual hunter's pace, swift, determined, and ready for a change in direction. Circling the place where he knew the herd to be, he stayed four hundred yards away at least. Starting downwind and determinedly coming full half circle until he announced his presence to their sensitive noses, he tested their resolve. When he was sure they had smelled him, he knew there was real danger here because there was no charge, no bellowing threat, no foot stomp. The elephants could smell that he was only one man and also that he was a man of the bush. As Mbuno had feared, they clearly had a more dangerous enemy threat nearby, for they did not give themselves away. He continued his crouching circling run, sweating from adrenaline and the jini of the hunt. For he was hunting, but not elephant.

When he was three-quarters the way around his circle, he sensed, and then diving behind a fallen log on his stomach, he saw the men just outside the forest's edge. One was sitting on a pickup truck's hood and two stood in the flatbed. They wore no uniform. The man sitting was dressed as an Arab with a face scarf and camouflage trousers and bush shirt. He had binoculars but no gun. And two standing tribesmen looked like Pokot, Mbuno thought--northern, violent Maasai cousins. Hunters, not cattlemen. The two tribesmen had black rifles with yellow wood stocks and foregrips. Mbuno knew AK-47s when he saw them. Mbuno had seen these types of poachers before. They snared a baby and, in its squeals, it attracted the herd; close and closer until the slaughter would be efficient, deadly, machine gun rapid.

Standing behind a tree trunk on tiptoe, peeking out, Mbuno saw the panga (machete) on the flatbed tailgate, unsheathed, its 12-inch blade glistening, freshly sharpened. The back of the truck held two freshly drawn tusks; the brown blood still not yet black. The herd had been running and not just because of the mtoto.

Mbuno did not hesitate, did not reason, did not moralize. In the bush, the law of the land was kill or be killed. These men had killed, wasted the life of elephant, wanted to slaughter the rest, and were dishonorable. He saw them as little more than wanyama—vermin—to be stopped. Without altering his run, he circled behind the pickup and approached them from behind, soundlessly, before the men could even know he was coming.

***

Excerpt from Elephant Safari by Peter Riva. Copyright 2024 by Peter Riva. Reproduced with permission from Peter Riva. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Peter Riva has traveled extensively throughout Africa, Asia, and Europe, spending many months spanning thirty years with legendary guides for East African adventurers. He created the Wild Things television series in 1995 and has worked for more than forty years as a literary agent. Riva writes science fiction and African adventure books, including the Mbuno & Pero thrillers. He lives in Gila, New Mexico.

Catch Up With Peter Riva:
www.PeterRiva.com
Goodreads
BookBub
Instagram - @peterriva_author
Facebook - @peter.riva

 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and opportunities to WIN in the giveaway!

Click here to view Elephant Safari by Peter Riva Tour Hosts

 

Win Big! Enter Now for Your Chance to Win!

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for Peter Riva. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

 

 

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

Thursday, July 11, 2024

The Blind Devotion of Imogene by David Putnam Book Review

About the Book:


In 1973, Imogene Taylor is seventy-five years old, on parole for murder, and works at a store that sells dented canned goods. Twelve years earlier, she went to prison for killing her love-of-her-life-husband, Wayne. She called it an accident. The judge and jury called it murder. Imogene’s parole agent is constantly on her case, looking to send her back to prison.
During her time in prison, Imogene had to vent her angst at someone and sent the sitting Presidents (during the ten years in prison) threatening letters bringing her to the attention of the Secret Service. She does extensive research and writes a novel, Peekaboo POTUS, about the assassination of a US President. She sends the book "over the transom" to one publisher. The publisher, after being unable to contact Imogene, comes looking for her.

The Cigar, an organized crime gangster, walks into Dentco, where Imogene works, and extorts the store for protection money. Pay up or get firebombed. The entire strip center is under this threat.

At the same time, Imogene’s neighbor dies of natural causes and leaves a hoarder’s mess to his daughter, Suzanne. Imogene helps Suz clear out a pyramid of boxes filled with junk in the garage. At the bottom of the pile, they find a box with a dead woman who has been hidden for many years.

Imogene must dodge an overzealous parole agent while dealing with a dead woman in the neighbor’s garage. She’s on parole for murder, so she can’t report it to the police. No one would believe her. Imogene and Suz think the woman in the box is Suz’s long-estranged mother. Rather than reveal Suz’s father as the probable killer, Imogene convinces Suz to bury her mom under the avocado tree in the backyard. Until Thelma, Suz’s mother, appears after reading the obituary.
It's a race to uncover the real killer as Imogene dodges gangsters, family members, and a publisher on her quest to find the truth.

My Review:

I have read some of Putnam's Bruno Johnson series, intense mysteries, so this novel was a complete surprise. While Putnam excels in retired police adventures this time he has a paroled convict as a heroine. And what a heroine she is. The character development is superb in this novel. I was soon rooting for Imogene and the troubles she faced. Beer drinking and two pack a day, she became a woman I really admired. The supporting characters were well presented too, from a mean parole officer to a gossipy neighbor. They added depth to the narrative. There is a bit of humor included to lightened the atmosphere of the story.

The plot was enjoyable. I like how Putnam makes us wait to find out why Imogene was convicted of murder. I liked the clever way a potential murder next door to Imogene turned out to be something entirely different than she expected. I liked the extra pressure on Imogene by the gangster fellow. The final scene, though suspenseful, might have been a bit convenient. Nonetheless, I was greatly entertained by this novel and will be watching for the next in the series with more adventures for Imogene.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


About the Author:


During his career in law enforcement, best-selling author David Putnam has worked in narcotics, violent crimes, criminal intelligence, hostage rescue, SWAT, and internal affairs, to name just a few. He is the recipient of many awards and commendations for heroism. A Lonesome Blood-Red Sun is the second novel in the Dave Beckett, Bone Detective series. Putnam is also the author of the very popular Bruno Johnson series. The Sinister is the ninth novel in the best-selling Bruno Johnson Crime Series, following The Disposables, The Replacements, The Squandered, The Vanquished, The Innocents, The Reckless, The Heartless, and The Ruthless. Putnam lives in the Los Angeles area with his wife, Mary. Find out more at DavidPutnamBooks.com. 

Level Best Books, 282 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Swell Media. 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, July 8, 2024

Ransomed Peace by Kathleen Robison Blog Tour Book Review

About the Book

Book: Ransomed Peace

Author: Kathleen J. Robison

Genre: Christian Romantic Suspense

Release date: June 11, 2024

When romance fails the romance writer…

After being terrorized in an abusive relationship, Roxanne Cook finally feels like she’s starting to heal. Even though her mother is ill, her return to Bay Town and the arrest of her ex-boyfriend has allowed anxieties to slip away and has renewed her faith in God. Even her faith in romance seems to be restored as she develops a school-girl crush on a certain Max Tippet.

Everything comes crashing down, however, when Roxanne finds out her ex-boyfriend is released from jail. As her new-found peace unravels, Roxanne realizes that shedding her fears isn’t the same as facing them.

How will she trust in God to provide her the courage to escape the cycle that almost killed her?

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

Robison has written an engaging novel of a young woman caught in an abusive relationship. Her writing is descriptive and a trigger warning is in order. Her scenes are intense and emotion packed. Robison delves into the mind of the abuser too, giving insights into what might drive a person to inflicting abuse. Robison creates realistic scenes so be ready for some intense trauma.

The story includes a strong faith message. Forgiveness and returning to a relationship with the Lord are prominent as Roxanne struggles to find her way. While it is the fourth book in the series, it reads very well on its own.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

You can read my reviews of the earlier books in the series: Shattered Guilt, Restored Grace, and Shadowed Doubt.

About the Author

Kathleen is an Okinawan-American. Born in Okinawa, raised in California, Florida, Mississippi, and Singapore. Her travels lend themselves to the settings in her books, and her large family provides fun fodder for her characters. She and her Pastor husband have eight adult children. Seven are married, blessing them with sixteen grandchildren, and more on the way! Her ethnically diverse family of 33 plus personalities presents many opportunities to write about God’s amazing love amid trials, tragedies, and blessings. He is the one true inspiration and hope for us all.

More from Kathleen

For some, Ransomed Peace may be a hard story to read. It was a hard story to write. But rest assured, it’s a romance, and I guarantee a happily ever after! One of my favorite passages in the bible teaches that beauty from ashes lends hope that rises from hardships. Ransomed Peace begins with domestic violence. By God’s grace, I’ve never been a victim of it, but someone very close to me was. It was long ago, and unfortunately, at the time, I had no idea how to help her other than to aid in her rescue and give her refuge from the situation. But even then, that wasn’t the solution. Fortunately, today, many programs, housing, and counseling are available for those who suffer this horrible crime, but it continues and can happen to anyone. I encourage victims to seek professional help. It is as close as the internet or your local church body. Here’s the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 800-799-7233.

In Ransomed Peace, the main character, Roxanne, is a victim. As in all my books, God is the ultimate answer to any problem. But just as Roxanne was urged to seek help, I urge all victims to take action. Especially preventative action. Drawing and staying close to the Lord through His Word, prayer, and relationship with other God-fearing believers will aid in avoiding toxic people. Together, we can learn to follow and obey God’s guidance, allowing us to make the right choices in relationships. Sometimes, such as in the case of children, a choice is not possible, but God’s help always is. As we step in and walk alongside victims, we have the opportunity to help them to seek Jesus. His solution is eternal.

In my Romantic Suspense books, I choose to write about difficult real-life situations because, as a Pastor’s wife, I’ve prayed and walked with many women. Nobody’s life is perfect or ideal, and everyone suffers something. A reader wrote to me once, sharing how my book had encouraged her to walk with the Lord in areas of her life she hadn’t thought about before. She was secure in her salvation, yet she said it wasn’t until she read one of my books that she realized that living a life of purpose in all areas was possible. And it is! That’s the non-fiction part of my books. Whether our difficulties are past or present, we always need to be pointed to God’s Word in everything, not just for bliss on earth, which is never going to happen, but for the hope of our future with Him in heaven one day.

Sometimes, we are victims of circumstance and are blindsided by a force we can’t seem to contend with. Sometimes, we suffer the consequences of violence because of a bad decision we’ve made, yet it is still unjustly deserved. Whatever the cause, God loves us, and Jesus knows and feels our plight. He lived it, and there is a way out. God’s plan is for us to live for His glory.

I pray my books will inspire all to seek Him and follow Him in every phase of life. “To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;” Isaiah 61:3. Giving Him the ashes from our tragedies so He can restore joy for His praise is to live with joy over the blessings, and to find joy in Him through our sufferings.

The Lord uses people to help us live a life worthy of Him, in good times and bad. But we can’t do it alone. That’s why I created Bay Town. A community that represents real life in some way. As you read the Bay Town Series, I hope you’ll be inspired and encouraged by the characters that help one another. Trustworthy authority figures like Chief Bert and Pastor Desmond and good role models like Melanie Thompson Brooks and Max Tippet. And you’ll love the little comic relief provided through Tina, Lyla, and Bethie Cook. At some point, you’ll meet the same people in each book and hopefully come to love them as I have. Each story is unique, and each stands alone, championing themes of hope! As you read the series, you’ll become a part of Bay Town. A community that lives to watch out for one another and purposes to love and serve God.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, July 8

Artistic Nobody, July 9 (Author Interview)

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, July 10

Stories By Gina, July 11 (Author Interview)

Locks, Hooks and Books, July 12

For the Love of Literature, July 13 (Author Interview)

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 13

lakesidelivingsite, July 14

Tell Tale Book Reviews, July 15 (Author Interview)

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, July 16

Beauty in the Binding, July 17 (Author Interview)

For Him and My Family, July 18

Guild Master, July 19 (Author Interview)

Texas Book-aholic, July 19

An Author’s Take, July 20

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, July 21 (Author Interview)

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Kathleen is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and copy of the book!!

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

https://promosimple.com/ps/2cd01/ransomed-peace-celebration-tour-giveaway

I received a complimentary egalley 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.)