Saturday, June 15, 2024

Forever Lovely by Linore Rose Burkard Book Review

About the Book:


1819, England
Miss Margaret Andrews' sister disappeared into the future three years ago and Margaret hasn't seen her since. Julian St. John brings her to visit, but only for a day, since his wife Claire is about to give birth to their first child. He doesn't know Margaret's real desire is to find a modern invention to bring back with her. A bluestocking by nature and lacking her sister's famous beauty, Margaret knows she must make her way in society by becoming an inventress. But when the tallit, the magical time-travel shawl goes awry, she finds herself alone and stranded in 21st century New York City!
Present Day, Manhattan
Stewart Russell is a grad student studying early British female writers when he meets Margaret at a Jane Austen Society Conference in New York. Margaret is mistaken for an attendee but fits right in. Stewart is thrilled by her knowledge of the writers he's studying, almost as much as her effortless acting with the speech and manners of Jane's day. Until she claims to be from Jane's day! Worse, he is a wanted man due to a mix-up, and time is running out.
Margaret longs to keep him safe from the blackguards pursuing him, but first she must convince him she really is from the past. But when she can't even get herself back to 1819, how can she hope to bring Stewart too? It's a race against time and she must find a way before the unthinkable happens!

My Review:

I enjoyed this fun time travel novel. Burkard has done a good job of placing readers in the contemporary world and the Regency period. I like how Margaret, a young woman who fears being a spinster in her era, reacts to modern technology when transported to the present day. I also like how her present day romantic counterpart, Stewart, reacts to the Regency era. There is a little bit of suspense and a mild romance with a happy ending. There is a bit of a Christian faith message as the way time transport is possible is because God exists outside of time.

While this novel is a sequel, it reads well on its own. It does not contain sensitive issues other than the possibility of sisters having an antagonistic relationship. It is a nice, light novel and an enjoyable read.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


About the Author:


Linore Rose Burkard is a serious watcher of period films, a Janeite and hopeless romantic. An award-winning author best known for Inspirational Regency Romance, her first book with Harvest House (Before the Season Ends) opened the genre for the CBA. Linore is a magna cum laude English Lit. grad from CUNY, but now resides in Ohio with her husband and family, two cats, and a Shorkie. Active in church and in two monthly writers’ groups, (one of which she is president of), Linore loves to craft stories that fill a sweet spot for readers who, like herself, savor a happy ending. Influenced by Georgette Heyer, Linore's historical romances, steeped in Regency authenticity, provide the light-hearted, comedic effects that first sparked her love for the genre. Besides romance, Linore writes young adult apocalyptic suspense. (The Pulse Effex Series, as L.R. Burkard, her alter-ego!) You can find out more at https://www.linoreburkard.com/ 

Lilliput Press, 245 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley 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.)

Friday, June 14, 2024

Adult-O-Nomics by Tez Brooks Blog Tour Book Review

About the Book

Book: Adult-o-Nomics: How To Nail It On Your Own

Author: Tez Brooks

Genre: Nonfiction (self-help)

Release date: April 30, 2024

Launching out and making your way in life can be hard. But it doesn’t have to be.

One study revealed that over fifty percent of young adults boomeranged home in the first five years. Often, this is caused by underestimating how many curveballs life throws. You may not want to return home, and helicopter parents don’t help as they sympathetically offer to cushion you in the name of “setting you up for success.” But you know there’s nothing more rewarding than making it on your own.

Mom and Dad couldn’t teach you everything. Your peers can’t offer the wisdom of experience. Even mentors don’t often know what you need guidance for. You need preventive counsel; information obtained before a crisis hits. Well, you found it! Within these pages is experience and know-how collected from famous personalities and others who’ve forged the path ahead of you; from all different ages and walks of life.

This mix of ancient wisdom (adapted from God’s Word) and modern advice from contemporaries will place you ahead of the curve as you increase in know-how and understanding for more effective adulting.

Adult-o-Nomics is a gift book to yourself or others. It’s a collection of 500 short quotes, scriptures, and suggestions for those leaving home for the first time. Topics cover everything from practical housekeeping, automotive maintenance, and career advice, to romance and spiritual living.

If consumers in the target market read Adult-o-Nomics, they will:

  • Discover practical tips for becoming independent.
  • Handle setbacks and trials with know-how, confidence and courage.
  • Understand societal norms for more effective life skills.
  • Learn how to walk closer to God.

Because the book will:

  • Inspire readers to step out and take risks.
  • Encourage young adults to mature and grow a thick skin.
  • Produce a growing dependence on God rather than others.
  • Offer peace in the midst of turmoil and stress
Click here to get your copy!

My Review

This book contains a ton of wisdom. The insights are short and to the point, easily digested. Some are practical ideas, such as on finances, dating and other relationships. There is even a list of essentials to buy when getting your first apartment. My favorite practical one was learning how to turn off the water to the toilet before finding that task necessary. Been there! There is some humor included, like tip 165: Always give your all., except when giving blood. Many of the tips are wise words but lack a strategy to do it. An example is tip 178: Know your strengths and weaknesses. That's a great idea but how does one do that?

There are many good ideas in this book. Every young person would benefit from reading it. Many adults too!

My rating: 4/5 stars.

 

About the Author

Whether he’s working as a missionary journalist, coaching aspiring writers, or writing devotions, Tez’s passion for walking with God is evident. His book, The Single Dad Detour won Book of the Decade with Serious Writer Academy and recently, Christianity.com featured him in “50 Authors You Should Know.”

As a multiple award-winning author, filmmaker, and international speaker, Brooks was recently named one of the Top Writing Coaches by the Coach Foundation. His work appears in Guideposts, Power for Living, The Upper Room, CBN.com, Clubhouse, Focus on the Family, and more. Tez is a member of Colorado Authors League and president for two chapters of Word Weavers Intl. He and his wife serve as full-time missionaries based out of Colorado Springs. They have four children.

More from Tez

AN INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR TEZ BROOKS

Q: Adult-o-Nomics shares insights and encouragement from high school and college students, parents and your own experience as a youth pastor and father of four. What led you to write it?

I wrote it because I see so many young adults struggling with anxiety after moving out on their own. By asking around, I realized it that anxiety comes from a lack of know-how. It’s so stressful to attempt something with little to no information. Google makes it so easy to avoid asking real people by just looking it up online. The trouble is, that alienates us and it doesn’t give us everything we need. People don’t know what they need to learn. I thought it would be nice to have an easy-to-read gift book filled with one-liners and tips – something you could pick up when you have a free minute just to learn something new. Many don’t have time to invest in reading a complete “How-To” book but 30 seconds of advice is easier to digest….bite-sized pieces. So I wrote it!

Q: Would you be willing to share a little bit about your observations from watching young people launch from home?

I have observed a lot of young adults boomerang back home after a few years because they underestimated the cost of living or they forgot to plan for unexpected expenses. But we’ve all had stuff happen that caught us off guard, right? It’s impossible to anticipate everything. But parents who want to be a safety net to rescue their kids don’t really help. Helicopter parents cause their adult kids to lack confidence and become overly dependent upon them. Im not saying parents shouldn’t help in time of need. Im saying help by all means, but with clear expectations and specific end dates. One parent I know bought their daughter a security camera for her apartment so they could watch her sleep and wake her if she overslept for work. Ugh! Another dad insisted on talking to his son’s professor about his grades. It’s my hope this generation will find the peace that comes from total dependence on God and total independence from Mom and Dad. Anxiety doesn’t have to be the norm for those launching out for the first time. Adulting should be a rewarding right of passage, not a dread.

Q: Many young people think living on their own is going to be either really difficult or super easy. You had a difficult event that affected your launch. Can you share with us, what was your experience as a young college student? 

Soon after I graduated high school, my mom died unexpectedly after a minor surgery. I went off to college five states away with little to no experience living on my own. My mom prepared me a little bit before she died. I knew how to do laundry and clean a bathroom but not much more. I experienced a lot of trial and error as I adapted to life away from home. When I returned home after that first semester, my dad had already re-married and started a new life that I was not a part of. My step-mom was not the nurturing type like Mom, and it was clear I needed to take care of myself. It wasn’t easy but I made it. So I have an understanding of young adults trying to adapt to adulthood. It’s way harder for them now than it was for me. Anxiety doesn’t have to rule us though. It’s my hope they will find comfort from some of the tips others have provided in this book.

Q: Adult-o-Nomics is filled with practical advice on topics like romantic relationships, employment, car maintenance, housekeeping, what food to keep in your fridge, and even financial tips. But you also include physical, emotional and spiritual advice? Why are these important?

In the end, our spiritual condition is all that matters. If we get that correct, all the other areas of our life will fall into place. But yes, I do address physical, emotional, and other aspects because these things are vital to our success. Let’s face it, if we know how to get hired for a job but don’t know how to respond in a healthy way to criticism from our employer, we’re not going to have that job very long. Many of the tips in the book are connected and play off each other.

Q: Anxiety is a common issue for this generation. They deal with it more than other generations have. This causes some young adults to delay, avoid, or even abandon their launch. Do you have any advice?

Yes, there’s no need to avoid your launch when God is in your corner. If you have large financial debt and you’re delaying the launch temporarily, that makes sense. I’d pray about how you might trust God to be your Provider. God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. He’s in your corner, cheering you on!

Q: What’s the most important thing a young adult needs to know before they move out? If you could pick one thing to tell them, what would it be?

I’ve said it before, learn total dependence on God. Seek his face. Be sold out to Him…all the rest will work itself out.

Q: What is your next book?

It’s a book based on the pre-marital counseling I have done. It’s called “Is Calling Us to Marry?: 100 Questions for the Well-Prepared Couple”

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, June 14

Guild Master, June 15 (Author Interview)

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 16

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, June 17 (Author Interview)

Texas Book-aholic, June 18

Jodie Wolfe – Stories Where Hope and Quirky Meet, June 19 (Author Interview)

Mary Hake, June 19

Locks, Hooks and Books, June 20

Beauty in the Binding, June 21 (Author Interview)

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 22

Back Porch Reads, June 23 (Author Interview)

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, June 24

Artistic Nobody, June 25

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, June 26 (Author Interview)

Lots of Helpers, June 26

Little Homeschool on the Prairie , June 27

Giveaway

To celebrate his tour, Tez is giving away the grand prize of a $75 Amazon gift card!!

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/2be3a/adult-o-nomics-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.)

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Dangerous Games by Susan Hunter Book Review

About the Book:


When a good man with a troubled past perishes in a fire, only Leah Nash can unravel the tangled mystery behind his death.

In the quiet town of Himmel, the sudden blaze that engulfs the local library is only the beginning. Among the smoldering ashes, a lifeless body is found-it's Luke Granger, a hardworking young man striving to escape his family's criminal past. His tragic death shocks the community, and although she is initially hesitant, intrepid journalist Leah can't help but investigate.

As Leah delves into the case, she untangles a twisted web of lies, deceit, and dark secrets that threaten to destroy the reputations of the town's most affluent citizens. Luke's death is just the tip of the iceberg in a chilling tale of greed, love, and thwarted ambition. As she races against time to uncover the truth, Leah finds herself caught in a perilous game where one wrong move could be her last.

Can Leah expose the hidden truth before it's too late, or will she become the next victim in a dangerous game of cat and mouse?

My Review:


This is another good novel in the Leah Nash series. Hunter continues to provide a good balance of Leah's personal life and an amateur sleuth investigation. Leah's love life is settled so there is less romantic drama than in previous novels. Leah has been asked by a family member of a murdered man to find out who the killer is. That means this time Leah is not aggressively barging in to a police investigation. She has made peace with the antagonistic Ross but manages to alienate another member of the sheriff department. I like the positive aspects of the character development of Leah. She is not a static character but is growing.

The plot moves along well as Leah comes up with many suspects and plausible villains. Her investigation is not so much identifying the villain as much as eliminating various suspects. I like how she uses her contacts to gather information. There is a bit of suspense near the end and a twist that finally gave Leah the answers she needed. There is a bit of humor too. (I'll never look at a pineapple again without laughing.)

This is a good addition to the Leah Nash series. While it is quite a ways down the line, it reads well on its own.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

You can read my reviews of some of the earlier books in the series: Dangerous Habits, Dangerous Mistakes, Dangerous Places, Dangerous Secrets, and Dangerous Waters.


About the Author:

Susan Hunter is a happy introvert who lives with her husband Gary, an extreme extrovert, in rural Michigan.

She spent some years as a reporter and then as the managing editor of a small daily newspaper. From there Susan went on to work at a university in publications and marketing where she honed her skills at appearing engaged in academic meetings, while internally composing her grocery list. She also taught a few classes as well—in English composition, that is, not in faking your way through meetings.

In addition to writing the Leah Nash series, Susan enjoys reading other people’s writing, watching classic films, occasional walks and snarky conversation with old friends and family, eating chocolate chip cookies, and answering emails from her readers.


Severn River Publishing, 340 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley 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.)

Monday, June 10, 2024

Dangerous Waters by Susan Hunter

About the Book:


Bryan Crawford's murder is the perfect crime: no witness, no weapon, no indication that his death is anything other than the result of diabetes complications.

That's what the medical examiner says.
That's what the autopsy proves.
And that's what the killer is counting on.

But when new evidence surfaces, crime writer Leah Nash is pulled into the investigation, and all bets are off.

Leah quickly zeroes in on the dysfunctional dynamics of the Crawford family. Beneath the happy fable they tell the world lies a dark tale of jealousy, greed, and revenge.

Bryan's wife, his daughter, his sister, and his stepson each have secrets to hide. Every one of them have reasons to want Bryan dead. And they are all going to great lengths to keep Leah from the truth.

Then Leah makes a shocking discovery, and is propelled into a confrontation with the killer. It's a fight she must win to save someone she loves. But time is running out. As raging flood waters surge forward, Leah acts. The consequences will change her life forever...and you will never guess how.

My Review:

This is another good mystery in the Leah Nash series. While Leah is no longer a journalist and is actually considering writing mystery novels, she does investigate a murder. A major aspect of Hunter's novels is the human aspect. There is a good balance of Nash's investigation and her personal life. There is also a continuation of Nash's troubled romantic life. There is an interesting turn of events in her relationship with Ross, the testy sheriff detective.

The plot is a bit complex but Nash perseveres in trying to identify the murderer. The more she investigates, the more suspects are identified. There is a good bit of suspense at the end as Leah's life is in danger.

This is another good novel in the Leah Nash series furthering her personal life in the context of another murder mystery.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


About the Author:

Susan Hunter is a happy introvert who lives with her husband Gary, an extreme extrovert, in rural Michigan.

She spent some years as a reporter and then as the managing editor of a small daily newspaper. From there Susan went on to work at a university in publications and marketing where she honed her skills at appearing engaged in academic meetings, while internally composing her grocery list. She also taught a few classes as well—in English composition, that is, not in faking your way through meetings.

In addition to writing the Leah Nash series, Susan enjoys reading other people’s writing, watching classic films, occasional walks and snarky conversation with old friends and family, eating chocolate chip cookies, and answering emails from her readers.


Severn River Publishing, 350 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, June 9, 2024

Don't Ask Don't Follow by Mary Keliikoa Book Review

About the Book:


Beth Ralston, a paralegal in Portland, Oregon, would rather be racking up billable hours than mingling at an office party—especially when her sister Lindsay, aka her plus one, is a no-show.

After making her obligatory rounds, Beth returns to her office to find that her boss, who she’d talked with moments before, has been murdered. She sees a woman fleeing the scene. Wait—was that Lindsay? Unable to catch up to her in time, Beth waits for the police to arrive and notices that Lindsay has left her phone behind with an unsent text message to Beth displayed on the screen: “Don’t ask. Don’t follow.”

Lindsay is unreachable for days, and when Beth starts to come under suspicion for the crime, she decides that waiting is impossible. While retracing Lindsay’s steps, determined to bring her home, Beth uncovers what her sister, an investigative reporter bent on changing the world, was trying to expose—corruption, secrets, and betrayal on an unimaginable level. Revealing the truth might bring back the one person she’s desperate to find—but it could also destroy the only life and family Beth’s ever known.

My Review:

The novel starts with good action including a murder early on. The murder is in a high power legal firm but the legal aspect is not the major thrust of the novel. That murder sets the stage for uncovering truth layer by layer.

Beth is a capable amateur sleuth. She is tenacious because her missing sister, Lindsay, is the focus of her investigation. Lindsay is an investigative reporter and Beth tries to figure out what story she was working on, hoping that will help her understand where Lindsay might be now. There is suspense from time to time as someone is trying to stop Beth. I was a bit surprised the police let her get away with her actions.

This novel deals with some serious issues regarding birth, adoption, and DNA tests. Also part of the plot is the influence of powerful people and discord in family relationships. There are secrets in Beth's family that come to light, much to the dismay of her father who is running for mayor of Portland. There was a good twist at the end and a hint of romance along the way.

I have read several of Keliikoa's novel and really like her writing style. Other than beginning a chapter with a dream not identified as such, a pet peeve of mine, I liked this novel and recommend it.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


About the Author:


Eighteen years in the legal field, and an over-active imagination, led Pacific NW native Mary Keliikoa to start writing mystery and suspense. She is the author of the award-winning HIDDEN PIECES, A Misty Pines mystery series, the upcoming DEADLY TIDES, the PI Kelly Pruett mystery series including the multi-award nominated DERAILED for best debut. 

Oceanview Publishing, 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.)

The Justice and Goodness of God by Thomas Schreiner Book Review

About the Book:

Understanding God’s Righteousness through His Final Judgment of Sin

The reality of God’s ultimate punishment is central to the gospel. Only by facing sin’s devastation can believers fully grasp the beauty of their salvation and help unbelievers confront their need for forgiveness. Unfortunately, many Christians and Bible scholars neglect God’s final judgment.

In his book The Justice and Goodness of God, theologian Thomas Schreiner offers a comprehensive, biblical analysis of eternal destruction. Explaining that “final judgment doesn’t contradict God’s goodness but verifies and displays it,” he examines themes of sin, death, and redemption in the New Testament and other passages of Scripture. With helpful personal and theological application, this brief guide helps readers see how God’s judgment is anchored in his holiness, justice, and righteousness. Readers will see that God’s judgment isn’t bad news but good news. Life doesn’t make sense without it, and salvation shines brighter against the backdrop of God’s judgment. 

  • Brief yet Insightful: Examines themes of sin, death, mercy, and holiness, with helpful Scripture references and summaries in each chapter
  • Rich Biblical Analysis: Studies eternal destruction as described in the Gospels, the Pauline Epistles, and throughout Scripture
  • Ideal for College and Seminary Students

You can read chapter one here.

My Review:

Judgment by God makes many Christians uncomfortable. Some reject all together the concept of the final judgment. But Schreiner reminds Christians that judgment is prominent in Scripture. He helps us understand the nature of God and that His holiness, righteousness and justice requires judgment. We also see that God is not vindictive nor is His judgment always immediate. God longs to show mercy and invites people to repent. We are also reminded of the ugliness of sin. Schreiner explores the nature of judgment (that it is eternal). Finally, we are given encouragement as how to live in the reality of judgment.

This is a good book for Christians to read to be reminded of the reality of judgment as revealed in Scripture.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


About the Author:


Thomas R. Schreiner (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is the James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and associate dean of the School of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Crossway, 160 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, June 8, 2024

Rogues & Patriots by Patrick H Moore Blog Tour Book Review

 

ROGUES & PATRIOTS

by Patrick H. Moore

May 20 - June 14, 2024 Virtual Book Tour


Synopsis:


A Nick Crane Thriller

 

Patrick H. Moore’s new novel Rogues & Patriots is Book Two of Moore’s taut and topical three-volume series in which veteran LA PI Nick Crane finds himself locked in a life or death struggle with Miles Amsterdam and “the Principals,” a powerful but soulless group of aristocratic, right wing “super patriots” who are bent on turning the United States into a police state.

Eight years after he and his team liquidated Frank Constantine, a murderous military shrink and close personal friend of Miles Amsterdam, Nick Crane finds himself abducted, beaten and threatened with rendition to a black site in Egypt if he refuses to join the Principals’ cause, which includes attempting to incite anti-Muslim violence in every major American city. Crane, however, is rescued by his close friend and business partner, Vietnam War vet Bobby Moore, and the war is on.

With its well-drawn characters, non-stop action, and sharp, first person narration, Rogues & Patriots will leave the reader breathless. Itis a scintillating sequel to 27 Days, Book One in this series as, once again, Nick Crane stands tall as a world-weary PI everyman who takes on all comers in his drive to make America safe again for everyone.

Praise for Rogues & Patriots:

"Nick Crane is the kind of guy you can count on. He's smart, tough, and persistent, a throwback to the classic American PI, in the mold of Marlowe and Spade, the kind of guy who runs into the burning building rather than hit the fire alarm. So, be prepared to buckle up for this wild ride."
~ Charles Salzberg, Three-Time Shamus Award nominee, author of Man on the Run, and winner of the Beverly Hills Book Award

"In Rogues and Patriots, LA PI Nick Crane’s courage and cunning are put to the test as he battles sinister super patriots. A heart-pounding tale of espionage, friendship, and one man's unwavering resolve against dark forces."
~ Michael D. Sellers, award winning writer and director of Eye of the Dolphin

"Patrick H. Moore has written a book to savor––vivid characters and crackling, high-voltage dialogue... Moore is a master of poetic detail that captures the era's howling rage while creating a dark and menacing mood."
~ John Nardizzi, PI of the year and Shamus award finalist for The Burden of Innocence

"Moore has produced a thought-provoking and suspenseful thriller as PI Nick Crane squares off against a creepy cabal of paramilitarists intent on taking power. Set against the intensifying political divides of our time, Rogues and Patriots builds the action and plot twists with masterful, page-turning precision while offering an insider's portrayal of the investigator's world and the desperate, colorful characters who inhabit it."
~ John Brown, Los Angeles private investigator

My Review:

 Nick is some hero. Nothing stops him from getting through the task he has agreed to complete. His opposition is eerily like some of the current right wing extremists.

This thriller contains a very complex set of characters. Some claimed to be federal agents but were not. I got lost a couple of times not understanding the distinction between the good guys and the bad ones. The plot was complex too. There were plots within plots and I really had to pay attention to what was happening. This is not a novel for lazy readers.

Moore is a capable writer immersing readers in the current murky world of patriots who are more than willing to break the law to create the political world they desire. This is definitely a novel for readers who like gritty characters and a plot with many layers, twists and turns.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Book Details:

Genre: PI Thriller
Published by: Down & Out Books
Publication Date: April 22, 2024
Number of Pages: 361
ASIN: B0CVG42JRY
Series: A Nick Crane Thriller, 2
Book Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

PART ONE

CHAPTER ONE

The frowning corpse of Roberto Diaz was found by a jogger on Friday morning at six a.m. on a windswept hillside in East Los Angeles. Cause of death still unknown. Time of death according to the ME, around two a.m. Not an accident, not according to my LAPD friend, narcotics detective Tony Bott. Roberto had been Tony’s best informant, and my friend was beside himself with anguish and rage.

Twelve hours before the body was discovered, Tony had charged into my office on the third floor of the Poseidon Building, near Third and Alameda. All wound up. First, he told me he’d been called down to the old Spring Street Courthouse by a federal prosecutor named Sam Blaylock, who’d told him that henceforth his best informant, Roberto Diaz, would be off-limits. Starting today, Diaz would report to one of Blaylock’s DEA agents. He would work for a new DEA-ICE task force dedicated to combating drug trafficking, sex trafficking, and human smuggling. Not to mention narco-terrorism and murder-for-hire. The whole nine yards.

“It was strange,” said Tony. “Blaylock was all casual and dismissive. Like jumping a man’s informant was no big deal. He never even apologized. But I controlled myself. Got out of there fast. I figured I had to talk to Roberto, see how he felt about this, but when I called him, his voicemail was full. So I paged him. That was three hours ago. He still hasn’t gotten back to me. That’s not like Roberto. I’m worried.” Tony paused. Took a deep breath. “So listen, Nick, listen to what happened next. Either I’m crazy or something weird is going on.”

Tony stopped, pulled a bandana out of the pocket of his Tommy Bahama walking shorts and mopped his forehead. He was wearing his casual designer clothes: Izod pullover and Polo deck shoes to go with the shorts. And the mirrored Ray-Bans pushed up on his forehead. Why this instead of his usual dirty white boy riding-in-the-Mexican-car undercover look—black jeans, colored tee-shirt, and blue bandana? Or his basic go-to-court look—Dockers, bland polo shirt, casual shoes?

Simple. He had a date right across the street from my office at the Third Street Korean Bar & Grill. At seven p.m. Or as Tony explained:

“This woman came up to me in the parking lot outside the courthouse. Right after my meeting with Blaylock. I was steaming. And plenty worried too. ‘Cause Roberto is kind of a simple guy. Those sharks are the last people he needs to be working with. That’s when I felt her breathing on the back of my neck. I turned around, and she gave me a big smile. She looked about forty. Stylish enough, I guess, but a bit wizened in that clubwoman kind of way. Wrinkles around her mouth and eyes. She says, ‘Hey, Tony, got a sec? I need your help with your old informant Roberto Diaz. That prick Blaylock wants me to shadow him. He thinks Diaz won’t suspect anything ‘cause I’m a woman. Says he wants to know what Diaz is really doing. Yeah, right. How the hell should I know? I’m in over my head. Maybe we can catch a drink later, and you can give me some tips?’ She acted like we were pals. It made no sense. And why in hell would Blaylock want his own informant followed? I deadpanned, and she said, ‘Look, I’m Tami Wheat. I’m a new investigator with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. And I need your help. C’mon, Tony, be a sport. I would so appreciate it.’”

He paused for breath while I mulled it over. Tony was right. It made no sense.

“Then,” said Tony, “I was about to ask her why she thought I could help, but I stopped myself. ‘Cause I figured if I helped her out, it might help me stay connected to Roberto, when and if he surfaces. So what I said was, ‘Sure. I can meet you for an hour or so. Around seven. But I’ll have to bring a friend ‘cause we already have something planned for the evening.’ She didn’t like it, and I told her to take it or leave it. I guess she decided to take it.”

I rubbed the back of my neck. Thinking. Spoke. “It does seem weird. Why in hell would she come up to you five minutes after Blaylock gave you the black spot? It makes no sense. I never told you this, but three years ago Blaylock was the AUSA on a twenty-pound federal meth case where my lawyer friend Jack Snow got the client a year and a day. A year and a day! With no cooperation. Outrageous! I remember thinking at the time that it seemed kind of sketchy.”

“Something’s up with that Blaylock fool. I can feel it.” Tony nodded firmly. “And Roberto’s been spooked for a while now. He was approached by some undercover guys about a week ago in a North Hollywood bar. He managed to shake them, but he was freaked out. Said he was going to disappear for a while. Which was fine up until today, when I learned what the Feds have planned for him. He’s not here legally. They’ll hold that over his head.”

“Does Roberto have a local case?”

Tony grinned. A bit sheepishly.

“I know. He’s working off a case that’s never even been filed. Jack Snow says that’s pretty much taboo among the Feds, but that you local boys do it all the time.”

“He’s right,” said Tony. “Those federal bastards have no mercy. They put you to work setting people up, and then they still send you to prison. Whereas we local boys have heart.”

CHAPTER TWO

At seven o’clock we walked across the street to the Korean Bar & Grill. A smiling Tami Wheat greeted us halfway down the bar. “Gentlemen. How nice of you to be on time!”

“Always,” said Tony. I stepped forward and introduced myself as Nick. Perfunctory handshake.

Tami was about what I expected—on the petite side, toned and tan with a determined look in her close-set blue eyes. She was wearing expensive jeans, a frilly white blouse, and a brown leather bomber jacket.

“It’s too noisy in here for conversation,” I said, nearly shouting. “Let’s sit on the patio.” Outside, we sat in swinging chairs suspended on chains under a bamboo awning. A moment of awkward silence, waiting for the drinks to arrive. I stepped into the breach. “Nice place, huh? Whenever I get the chance, I sit out here with a Pellegrino while I write up my case notes.”

Our drinks arrived. More chit-chat. Then Tony got down to business. “So, what can I do for you, Ms. Wheat? You said something about needing pointers on how to shadow Roberto Diaz.”

“That’s right,” said Tami. “But please call me Tami. I’m pretty new to this game, and although they trained me, I’ve never done surveillance on my own before. And because Diaz has disappeared, I’ve got to figure out how to find him.”

Tony and I exchanged a quick glance. Was it possible Blaylock and his team had not yet located Roberto? This would help explain why Tami had appeared out of nowhere, asking Tony for help.

“Just so you know,” said Tony slowly, “I can’t find him either. The damned guy has disappeared. And this can be a slow game. I’ve had informants disappear for months at a time and then reappear with a new target.” He paused and shook his head, his lips set in a hard line. “But more to the point, why on earth should I throw you a bone when your people have made it crystal clear you’re stealing my prize informant?”

“Wow!” said Tami. “You’re angry. I would be too, I suppose.” A moment of silence. Then she plunged ahead. “But there’s no need to be defensive. We’re all on the same side here, aren’t we? I mean, we all want to indict these drug trafficking bastards and lock ‘em up. Protect our borders and all that good stuff.”

“I wonder,” said Tony, cracking a half-smile, which, given his mood, dripped more menace than mirth, “if we are on the same side? The way I see it, your people want to fuck me and use Roberto. Then when he runs out of information, you’ll indict him for trafficking and lock him up. Then, when he’s done his time, you’ll deport him. A bad deal all around.”

Tami was shocked by Tony’s vitriol. At least she looked shocked. My friend’s cell phone pinged, and he punched in his code. Stared at his screen, worry lines erupting across his forehead.

I stepped in. “Here’s what you need to understand, Tami. Detective Bott has every reason to be angry. The standard procedure here in LA is for our federal colleagues to share informants with local law enforcement. It’s been that way for decades. And here you and your team go and break the rules. Without any reasonable explanation.”

Tami shrugged, a casual lifting and falling of her shoulders. Almost too casual. “I understand. And just so you know, like any good conservative, I have great respect for precedent. But this situation is different. We are a brand-new state-of-the-art task force, and we are taking all due precautions to keep everything in house. In order to avoid any possible slip-ups.”

Tony looked up from his phone. Treated Tami to his best scowl. Went back to his readout.

“That’s completely out of line,” I said. “You’re implying Detective Bott would screw things up unless he’s cut out completely. That’s downright insulting. Not to mention ironic, considering here you are trying to persuade my friend to help you out with Roberto when, according to your boss, Sam Blaylock, he’s not even supposed to go near the damned guy.”

Tami looked at Tony, who was ignoring her. Looked at me and smiled. Broad, friendly, and phony as hell. “Why should you be insulted? It’s no skin off your back. You’re not law enforcement. In fact, Mr. Crane, unless I’m mistaken, you’re one of those rare PIs who never even was a cop.”

Hit me like a gut punch. This woman, notwithstanding her green and helpless act, knew exactly who I was and what I did for a living. Which made no sense. Unless…I took a long pull from my Heineken.

At that moment, Tony’s phone pinged again. This time, he swiped up, glanced at the number, frowned, and held the phone to his ear. “Holy shit.” The blood drained from his face. “Gotta roll.” He stood up, flung down some bills, and was gone within seconds. I had a bad feeling. Diaz.

And I had problems of my own. Here I was, alone with this peculiar woman, who seemed to know more about me than she had any business knowing. I decided to probe. “Sorry my friend had to leave. I didn’t see that coming. But I’m curious. How did you know I’m Nick Crane? We’ve never met before.”

She looked at me. No smile this time. Instead, a measured, thoughtful look, like a hunter surveying her prey. “Well, if you really want to know, we know all about you, Mr. Crane. We know you’ve almost lost your investigator’s license countless times for breaking the rules. It’s amazing you still have a license to carry. Suffice to say, you’re not too popular in certain circles.”

She was baiting me. Much as I wanted to, I decided not to bite. I stood up, nodded shortly, and walked away, leaving her there on the patio, one hand wrapped around the waist of her St. Pauli Girl, the other reaching for her phone.

***

Excerpt from Rogues & Patriots by Patrick H. Moore. Copyright 2024 by Patrick H. Moore. Reproduced with permission from Patrick H. Moore. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Patrick H. Moore is a Los Angeles based Private Investigator, Sentencing Mitigation Specialist, and crime writer. He has been working in this field since 2003 and has worked in virtually all areas including drug trafficking, sex crimes, crimes of violence, and white-collar fraud.

“There’s no feeling quite like walking into a prison to consult with a client knowing that he or she is facing many long years behind bars, unless you can thread the needle and convince a skeptical Federal judge to give your guy or gal a second chance. Criminals are not known for putting a high priority on telling the truth; neither are cops and prosecutors.”

This is no easy task but mastering this job, which combines art, science and intuition, has given Patrick the tools to write realistic crime fiction that depicts the unpredictable and violent world of cops, convicts, prosecutors and defense attorneys.

27 Days, Patrick's first traditionally published thriller, was published on February 6, 2023 by Down & Out Books. It is the first in a three-part series in which veteran Los Angeles Private Investigator Nick Crane battles a group of aristocratic domestic terrorists known as the "principals." 27 Days was recently named a finalist in the General Fiction category of the 2023 American Fiction Awards.

The second book in Patrick's three-part series is entitled Rogues and Patriots. It was published by Down & Out Books on April 22, 2023.

Catch Up With Patrick H. Moore:
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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.)

Friday, June 7, 2024

Life After Doom by Brian McLaren Book Review

About the Book:


A deeply insightful exploration of how to live with wisdom, resilience and love in our turbulent times.

For the last quarter-century, author and activist Brian D. McLaren has been writing at the intersection of religious faith and contemporary culture. In Life After Doom, he engages with the catastrophic failure of both our religious and political leaders to address the dominant realities of our time: ecological overshoot, economic injustice, and the increasing likelihood of civilizational collapse. McLaren defines doom as the “un-peaceful, uneasy, unwanted feeling” that “we humans have made a mess of our civilization and our planet, and not enough of us seem to care enough to change deeply enough or quickly enough to save ourselves.”

Blending insights from philosophers, poets, scientists, and theologians, Life After Doom explores the complexity of hope, the necessity of grief, and the need for new ways of thinking, becoming, and belonging in turbulent times. If you want to help yourself, your family, and the communities to which you belong to find courage and resilience for the deeply challenging times that are upon us — this is the book you need right now.

My Review:

This book from McLaren answered some of my questions why Christians have not been very concerned about climate change. One insight was the rise of dispensationalism. It taught that the world has to get destroyed so there is really no motivation to save the earth. Another insight was the merging of Christianity and capitalism. He also reminds us of the world we were taught to believe exists – one with unlimited resources to fuel economic prosperity.

My father was a logger and I really like McLaren's analogy of cutting down a big tree. You might saw and saw, moving several inches in. Nothing happens. Perhaps you come back later and saw some more. Still nothing happens. You saw a little more and suddenly you hear a crack. Perhaps the tree falls then. Perhaps it stays upright for a day or two until a wind causes the tree to go past the tipping point and it crashes to the ground. We have been sawing on the tree for some time, thinking nothing bad was happening. Now we are beginning to hear the wood cracking.

McLaren draws from a number of spiritual disciplines. His theology does not correspond to evangelical Christianity so evangelicals will probably ignore this book. That is unfortunate as McLaren encourages us, among other things, to develop critical thinking. That is a skill that would benefit us all. He also encourages us to live with wisdom and courage in the coming years.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


About the Author:


A former college English teacher, Brian D. McLaren was a pastor for twenty-four years. Now he’s an author, activist, public theologian, and frequent guest lecturer for gatherings in the U.S. and internationally. His work has been covered in TIME MagazineNewsweekUSA TodayThe New York TimesWashington PostCNN, and many other media outlets. The author of more than 15 books, including Faith After DoubtDo I Stay Christian?, and A New Kind of Christian, he is a faculty member of The Living School at the Center for Action and Contemplation. McLaren lives in Florida. Photo by Ken O'Renik.

St. Martin's Essentials, 304 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.)