Sunday, May 22, 2022

Falling Apart, Falling For You by Chris Posti

I liked this “coming of age” novel about older women. Three women nearing sixty years of life will be reunited for the first time after leaving high school forty years before. While they were close friends their senior year, much life has happened since. What will their reunion be like? Will they still be friends or will past hurts and mistakes cause barriers? How will they relate their life failures and successes?

The women each have issues needing to be addressed. Suzanne has just lost her job yet may have just found the man for her. Rachel's husband has just died and she must make decisions about her future. Marla has just sold her business for millions but happiness eludes her because of her past actions.

Posti has provided us with a good novel exploring three very different women and how they face potential changes in life. One is controlling. Another holds grudges. They grow through these and other issues as they interact with each other. Part of their transformations come through helping the small town of their youth escape decline and death. Another part of the transformations is the women finding their spiritual basis for well being in their faith.

Posti has a good writing style. I found the story engaging. There is a good deal of exploring personalities and how they interact. We see the importance of forgiveness and of letting go of the past in order to venture toward the future. There is some humor and some welcome surprises. Conservative readers may be surprised at the amount of alcohol drunk by these women and their friends but other than that, a fine novel for older women. It is a good debut effort.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Chris Posti, born and raised in the Pittsburgh area, has moved more than a dozen times. She spent thirty years as a job search expert, executive coach, human resources consultant, newspaper columnist and public speak before trading in her high heals and leather briefcase to fulfill her dream of being a women's fiction author. You can find out more at ttps://chrisposti.com/.

Elk Lake Publishing, 346 pages.

I received a complimentary digital copy 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, May 21, 2022

A Sprinkle in Time by Dana Mentink Blog Tour and Giveaway


About the Book

Book: A Sprinkle in Time

Author: Dana Mentink

Genre: Cozy mystery (general market)

Release date: May 24, 2022

It’s Alpenfest in Upper Sprocket! Yodelers are congregating in the square, tourists flocking to the town, and Trinidad Jones is scooping up some fall flavors at her Shimmy and Shake Shop.

The cherry on the sundae is her upcoming feature in Go West magazine. She’s determined to serve up the perfect interview, but it won’t be easy, thanks in part to her meddling Cuban grandfather Papa Luis who has decided to make Sprocket his home for the foreseeable future. Papa Luis has set himself up as a taxi driver in his classic 1951 Buick.

But things take a turn when Papa Luis tells her he’s found a corpse in his trunk. Upon closer investigation, they realize the body has disappeared. With the assistance of Juliette and Bonnie (her sisterhood of exes) and the way too handsome nut farmer Quinn Logan, Trinidad must solve the mystery of the disappearing corpse, before her father is up to his neck in a murderous mess.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

I liked this entertaining cozy mystery that is a good reminder of the deadly nature of small town politics. Trinidad is a fun amateur sleuth and innovative creator of humongous ice cream shakes. She has to be especially observant to identify the clues leading to the villain. Her Papa Luis is quite the character and adds entertainment to the plot. Quinn is a good potential romantic partner for Trinidad, but, my goodness, he has some family relationship issues he needs to straighten out. The setting is fun. I've been to Joseph and seen the Wallowas. Upper Sprocket and the Alpenfest is a great way to highlight the area.

This is an enjoyable cozy mystery with good characters and a wonderful setting. And the ice cream! Make sure you don't read this mystery while even slightly hungry because you'll find the descriptions of the unique milkshakes will have you running to the freezer. There are some delicious recipes included too.

This novel is the second in a series but read well on its own. You can read my review of the first in the series, Pint of No Return, here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

 

About the Author

Dana Mentink is a USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author as well as a two-time American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award winner, and the recipient of a Holt Medallion. She’s written over fifty titles in the suspense, lighthearted romance and mystery genres. She is pleased to write for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense, and Poisoned Pen Press. You can connect with Dana via her website at danamentink.com, on Facebook, YouTube (Author Dana Mentink) and Instagram (dana_mentink.)

More from Dana

Who wouldn’t want to visit Upper Sprocket? Sure there’s the odd corpse that turns up, but it’s a charming place, complete with a rail riders excursion business and the Shimmy and Shake Shop, run by the determined Trinidad Jones. It’s fall in Sprocket and the locals are hosting a series of Alpenfest events with everything from yodeling performances to sausage cook offs. Papa Luis, Trinidad’s grandfather is happy to shuttle people around in his classic Chevy Bel Air until a body turns up in his truck. But other than that, Sprocket is an idyllic place with a newly opened train car inn operated by Bonnie, one of three women who were married at various times to the same rapscallion of a man. Oh, and then there’s Noodles, Trinidad’s senior Labrador retriever who has learned how to operate the windshield wipers which comes in handy as stormy weather approaches. Trinidad, Papa, Bonnie and Noodles along with other Sprocket residents are going to have their hands full as Alpenfest kicks off and gruesome items begin to pop up around town. Come along on the adventure as Trinidad wades knee deep into the sticky mess.

Railriding research with my sister!

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, May 21

The Write Escape, May 21

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, May 22

She Lives To Read, May 22

Daysong Reflections, May 23

Debbie's Dusty Deliberations, May 23

Texas Book-aholic, May 24

Pause for Tales, May 24

Inklings and notions, May 25

Blossoms and Blessings, May 25

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, May 26

For Him and My Family, May 26

deb's Book Review, May 27

Blogging With Carol, May 27

Locks, Hooks and Books, May 28

Christina's Corner, May 29

Tell Tale Book Reviews, May 29

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, May 30

Simple Harvest Reads, May 30 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Because I said so -- and other adventures in Parenting, May 31

Labor Not in Vain, May 31

Bigreadersite, June 1

Vicky Sluiter, June 1

Genesis 5020, June 2

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 2

Lighthouse-Academy, June 3

A Good Book and cup of Tea, June 3

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Dana is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a signed book!!

(If the winner is outside the U.S., then he or she will receive an eBook.)

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/1df1a/a-sprinkle-in-time-celebration-tour-giveaway


I received a complimentary digital copy 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.)

Friday, May 20, 2022

Exit Strategy by Linda Richards Blog Tour and Giveaway



Exit Strategy

by Linda L. Richards

May 16 - June 10, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

A shattered life. A killer for hire. Can she stop?

Her assignments were always to kill someone. That’s what a hitman—or hitwoman—is paid to do, and that is what she does. Then comes a surprise assignment—keep someone alive!

She is hired to protect Virginia Martin, the stunning and brilliant chief technology officer of a hot startup with an innovation that will change the world. This new job catches her at a time in her life when she’s hanging on by a thread. Despair and hopelessness—now more intense than she’d felt after the tragic loss of her family—led her to abruptly launch this career. But over time, the life of a hired killer is decimating her spirit and she keeps thinking of ending her life.

She’s confused about the “why” of her new assignment but she addresses her mission as she always does, with skill and stealth, determined to keep this young CTO alive in the midst of the twinned worlds of innovation and high finance.

Some people have to die as she discharges her responsibly to protect this superstar woman amid the crumbling worlds of money and future technical wonders.

The spirit of an assassin—and her nameless dog—permeates this struggle to help a young woman as powerful forces build to deny her.

Fans of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Dexter will love Exit Strategy

My Review:

I enjoyed this novel, the plot a change from the usual one featuring an assassin. Richards' writing style is a bit different from the typical thriller in that it is in the present tense and mostly prose. We readers experience the life of the heroine through her thoughts in first person narrative. There is some dialogue and not a great deal of action. Most of the novel's text is descriptive prose.

The character development is a bit different than I expected. Richards does not delve into the particular mental attitude the nameless heroine experiences as an assassin. This was covered, I think, in the first novel in this series where the heroine actually becomes an assassin. We do experience her thoughts about her remaining family members and an attempt to reconnect with her as well as her attachment to her dog.

I always like to learn something when reading a novel, in this one a bit about start up companies and financing. I also found out more about short selling stock and what it might take to make that work. Since the company in this novel is about energy production, I also learned about private generation of energy and selling it to the power company. And there was also some interesting information about nutrition.

For the assassin to protect the woman to whom she is assigned, she has to figure out who would want to kill her and why. That is a bit of a strange process and it is only by making mistakes and eliciting the help of others she gets even remotely close. There is an interesting twist at the end as to who killed who and why.

I liked the novel. I liked learning about energy and stocks. I would have liked less prose and more action but did enjoy the novel as written. I think I need to read the first in the series to satiate my desire to understand the mind of an assassin.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Oceanview Publishing
Publication Date: May 17th 2022
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 1608094227 (ISBN13: 9781608094226)
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE

Today

He proves to be a genial companion. I’d never doubted that he would. Across the table from him in a romantic restaurant, I can see his pale eyes are sparked with amber. Or is it gold? Maybe it depends on your perspective. A trick of the light.

So much of life, I’ve found, are those things: perspective and also light. Or maybe that’s saying exactly the same thing.

He tells me he’s in “finance,” a term that is vague enough to accommodate a whole range of activities. I’ve done some research, though, and I know he is a hedge fund manager; that his apartment in this town is a playpen: weekends only. I know he is based in the City and that he flies down here for the occasional weekend, especially since his divorce, which was messy. He doesn’t say that: “messy.” But when he briefly skates over that episode of his life—the period of time in which “we” became “me” —he makes a face that is unpleasant, like he’s got a bad taste in his mouth. I let it ride. Where we are going, it won’t make a difference.

He tells me funny, self-deprecating stories. I reflect that he is someone I would date—in another lifetime. If I dated. If I still had a heart.

“This is a fun first date,” he says in that moment, as though he has read my mind. His thick dark hair flops over his eye endearingly, and my heart gives a little flutter. I’d try to stop it, but I don’t hate the feeling. That flutter. It feels good, in this moment, to simply feel alive.

“Yesterday, Brett. Wasn’t that our first date?” I ask, more for interaction than anything real. Because, of course, the few moments on a rooftop we shared were not a date by any standard. Especially since I was trying to think how to kill him for part of that time. But he doesn’t know that, so maybe it doesn’t count?

“Nope,” he says firmly. “That was a meeting. This,” he indicates our wine and the delicate nibbles between us, “this is a date.”

“How does it end?” I ask pertly. Knowing the answer. Knowing he doesn’t. Wanting to know what he thinks.

He looks at me searchingly for a moment, then smiles raffishly, a certain boyish charm bubbling through. It’s a practiced look. He’s used that smile before, to good effect, I can tell. He’s probably done that his whole life. I don’t dislike him for any of that. It distresses me slightly that I don’t dislike him at all. It would be beneficial to me if I could find it in myself to dislike him.

“It ends well,” he says. A beat. And then: “It ends as it should.”

There is more conversation, just like that. An ancient dance.

After a while he excuses himself to go to the bathroom.

Once he’s out of sight, I slip a vial out of my purse. It contains a powder I made myself. Oleander flowers, dried, crushed and mixed with salt and a few strong spices, intended to cover the plant’s bitter taste. I don’t know how well those spices mask the taste. It’s not as though I can test it, and none of my customers have ever complained.

I quickly sprinkle some of this concoction judiciously on the food that remains. I do it using natural motions. Anyone watching would think I was eating. A little OCD, maybe, but it wouldn’t look anywhere close to what is true. I mix it quickly into the salsa, the guacamole. I salt the chips with it. Sprinkle it on what is left of the chicken wings. I don’t dust the calamari. I’d noted he hadn’t been eating that. It will give me a safe spot to nibble, not that I plan on needing much time to eat. All of this will happen quickly, my experience tells me that.

Before he returns, I have this moment of absolute indecision. I very nearly call out to a nearby server; have her clear the table. I’m not even super sure why I don’t. All of this is going well. Textbook. And yet, I have qualms. Why? He’s lovely of course, there’s that. But beyond the way he looks or how he looks at me. Not long ago, things had happened that had made me resolve to do my life in a different way. Then I’d gotten an assignment and instinct had more or less kicked in. And it was easy to reason around it and to rationalize: if not me, then someone else, right? There would always be some other person ready to do the job. Viewed in that light, there was no earthly reason for me not to do what I do.

But still.

I don’t call a server. And the moment passes.

He comes back looking refreshed, like he’s maybe splashed water on his face or combed his hair, which is behaving for now. Not, for the moment, flopping into his eyes. I figure he probably did both—splashed and combed. He looks good.

He smiles when his eyes meet mine. A 24-karat smile that lights his whole face. My heart gives a little bump. “Fuck,” I say. But it isn’t out loud.

He takes his seat and starts talking again, picking up where we left off. He is easy. Comfortable. But I’m having trouble tracking the conversation; my mind is elsewhere. I’m thinking about what my next steps will be. After. And does it matter what he says right now? Really? If it does, it won’t matter for long.

I try not to follow his actions. Try instead to listen to what he is saying. These words will be his last ones, I know that. And part of me thinks I should do him that courtesy. At least. The courtesy of attention. But it’s difficult to follow his words now. I watch one corn chip as he picks it up, dips it into salsa. I watch him consume it, and it feels like all of it is happening in slow motion. All the while I am listening to his words—I am! —participating in the conversation, not wanting to miss any cues. And wanting to honor the small amount of time he has left. It’s all I can do.

The chip is consumed. I detect no reaction to the bitterness, so that’s a plus. He picks up a chicken wing, swirls it in the blue cheese dip, which makes me realize that, in my haste, I’d missed an opportunity by skipping doctoring the dip. He consumes the wing while we talk; a slight sucking, the meat peeling gently off the bone, all the while, the words flow, though it doesn’t come off as rude. He seems adept at eating and talking so everything stays and sounds as it should.

I listen closely, interjecting as appropriate when I think it’s necessary, all the while watching for . . . signs. I detect nothing until another wing and several chips later. His eyes are suddenly glassy. Sweat stands on his forehead. His hands shake.

“Brett, are you all right?” I ask, but it is pure form. I know he is far from all right. All right no longer exists for him.

“I don’t know. I’ve never . . . never felt like this before.”

I give it another minute. A little less than that. I know it’s all we’ve got. I make the right sounds, the correct motions of my hand. Even when no one is watching, people are watching. Physically, I am unremarkable. A middle-aged woman, so some would say I am invisible, certainly there is nothing about my appearance that makes me stand out. But there will be a future, when questions are asked and people are perhaps looking for clues. I don’t want them to be looking for me.

When he collapses, face directly into salsa, I scream, as one does. Not bone chilling, but an alarmed scream. Our server trots over, clearly distressed. The manager is on her heels. All as expected: it’s pretty terrible for business when customers collapse into their food.

“My date . . . he’s . . . taken ill . . . I don’t know what to do” etcetera. All as one would expect. I don’t deviate from the script.

An ambulance is called. Paramedics arrive quickly. The manager has already pulled Brett from the salsa, but it’s clear he is not all right. They take him away, one of the paramedics offering to let me ride in the ambulance. I decline.

“I’ll follow you,” I say, heading for my rental. And I start out following, but a few blocks from the restaurant I make the turn I know will lead me to the freeway and then the airport. My bag is in the trunk and it’s all mapped out: I am ready to go.

With this moment in mind, I’d left a ballcap on the passenger seat before I entered the restaurant. It is emblazoned with the logo of a local team. While I drive, I push my hair into the cap and wiggle out of the jacket I know I’ll leave behind. These are simple changes—hat on, jacket off—but it will change my appearance enough. I don’t anticipate anyone will be looking for me, but I like to think forward. Just in case.

I have no way of knowing for sure what will happen to him, but I can guess. From the amount of food I watched him consume, I figure he’ll probably have a heart attack before he reaches the hospital and will likely arrive DOA. And at the age and heft of him, and with a high stress job, they will probably not test for poison. And the woman with him at the restaurant? I figure no one will be looking for a girl who doesn’t follow up on the date that ended in hell.

From there it all goes like it’s being managed by a metronome: tick tock, tick tock. Arrive at airport. Drop off rental car. Get through security. Get to plane while they’re boarding. Claim aisle seat at the back of the plane. Keep my eyes peeled for both watchers or people who might recognize me from the airport. But everything goes exactly as it should. No watchers this time. No one looking at me in ways I don’t understand. In fact, everything is perfect. Everything is exactly as it should be. Except.

CHAPTER TWO

Last week

I had not planned on killing again. That is, it wasn’t in the plan. That’s not to say it was an accident. You don’t arrive for a date with a poison in your pocket unless you’re preparing to do some bodily harm. But, as I said, that hadn’t been the plan. Not before.

When the call came, I had been eyeballing my gun again. A darkness of spirit. A feeling I can’t fight or name.

For a while I had spent a lot of time wondering why I kept bothering at all. In recent weeks, there had been darkness all around me. Times that, if it wasn’t for the dog, I wouldn’t bother hanging around.

At times I wonder why I am still showing up every morning. For life, I mean. What’s the big appeal? What is the motivating factor? Is there a mirror beyond the darkness? A pool; some reprieve. I don’t know. Here’s the thing, though: at this point, I’m less convinced that I need to hang around to find out. It’s a battle I wage every day.

Most days.

Before the call comes, there are times it takes me a while to get out of bed. This is new. And when I do get out of bed, it takes a while longer still to orient. Motivating factor, that’s the question. Is there one? What is supposed to be motivating me? I don’t know for sure. So I wait it out.

And the call doesn’t come right away. First, and for a long while, everything is very silent. And not a churchlike silence. The sort one dreads when pieces fly together. First there was this and this and it all made sense. Then we added that other thing and we’re done.

I don’t know. I can’t figure it out. I mostly don’t bother anymore.

Why would one even bother anymore?

It wasn’t always like this.

Let’s put it that way.

There was a time when I didn’t live alone.

There was a time when someone loved me.

Several people loved me.

I don’t remember that time anymore. Not exactly. I’m like a ghost looking back at her memories from a previous lifetime. They are my memories, but they might as well belong to someone else.

Let me tell you this as I try to bring you up to speed.

I live at the forest’s edge. My house is small and simple. It is all I need. My garden is incomplete, though it is occasionally vibrant. I am alone but for the company of a golden dog.

I am alone.

These are the things I think about. Vibrant gardens. Forest’s edge. Seasons in motion. The padding about of golden feet. I don’t dwell on the past. I try not to dwell on the past. For the most part, I have released everything that has happened. It no longer has a hold on me.

Mostly.

I have tried a lot of things to bring some sort of meaning to my life. Attempted. For instance, recently I have begun to keep a gratitude journal. It is a practice I read about somewhere. I try very hard to begin every day with that notebook, pen in hand. In gratitude. It changes the heart, I’m told. It changes the mind.

I have charged myself with finding five things every day for which I am grateful. It’s like an affirmation.

It is an affirmation.

Some days it is easy. Five things to affirm. How hard can that be? I have air. Sufficient food. There is a roof over my head. The beautiful golden dog. Some days there is rain. On others, sun. Both of those are things to be grateful for. The air is clean. The ground is firm. All reasons to give thanks. Most of the time.

On other days it is more difficult. On those days I sit there, stare at the blank page. Maybe a tear falls. Or more than one. Sometimes I begin to write and then stop; picking up and putting down my pen. The past is closer on those days, I guess. The past is nipping at my heels; my heart. On days like that I am filled with that unnamable darkness.

It is unnamed, but I recognize some of the contents. Guilt. Remorse. Regret. And variations on all of those things that incorporate measures of each. I don’t believe in regret, and yet there it is. Regret does not bother checking in with me about my beliefs.

***

Excerpt from Exit Strategy by Linda L. Richards. Copyright 2022 by Linda L. Richards. Reproduced with permission from Linda L. Richards. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Linda L. Richards is a journalist, photographer and the author of 15 books, including three series of novels featuring strong female protagonists. She is the former publisher of Self-Counsel Press and the founder and publisher of January Magazine. Linda’s 2021 novel, ENDINGS, was recently optioned by a major studio for series production.

Catch Up With Linda L. Richards:
LindaLRichards.com
Goodreads
BookBub - @linda1841
Instagram - @lindalrichards
Twitter - @lindalrichards
Facebook - @lindalrichardsauthor
TikTok - @lindalrichards

 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!
Click here to view Exit Strategy by Linda L Richards Tour Hosts.

 

ENTER TO WIN!

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for Exit Strategy by Linda L. Richards. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

 

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Tours

 
I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Partners in Crime Book Tours. My comments are an independent aand 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, May 19, 2022

Dead Against Her by Melinda Leigh

This is the first book I have read in this series and I liked it. There is enough background that I felt it read well on its own. I like the heroine, Bree, a gutsy sheriff. Appointed to her position, she has to frequently defend herself and her actions, especially when a previous corrupt deputy she forced to resign is found murdered.

In addition to solving a murder, Bree must deal with harassment in the form of fake pornographic photos let loose on the internet. Though easily proven fake, some gleefully promote them, hoping to force Bree to resign. That use of fake media could be right out of today's headlines.

I like Leigh's writing style. The action is nearly continuous as the plot moves along at a good speed. There is a bit of suspense near the end too. The character development is done well with a good balance of action in the plot and Bree's personal life.

I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of a novel from a prolific author. I will be looking for more from her.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Melinda Leigh is a fully recovered banker. A bestselling author, she began writing as a way to preserve her sanity while raising her kids. She found she enjoyed writing more than analyzing financial statements and decided to turn her hobby into a career. Her debut novel, She Can Run, was nominated for Best First Novel by the International Thriller Writers. She has received several awards, including two Silver Falchions and three Golden Leaf Awards. She is a two-time RITA Award finalist and has earned three Daphne du Maurier Award nominations. Her books have sold over 11 million copies. She lives near the beach with her family and a herd of spoiled rescue pets. You can find out more at https://melindaleigh.com/.

Montlake, 303 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.)

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Run With the Wind by Judy DuCharme Blog Tour and Giveaway


About the Book

Book: Run With the Wind

Author: Judy DuCharme

Genre: Christian fiction

Release date: 2016

Linney Merritt loves her life in the Florida scrub where she assists her Pa in raising and taking cattle to market. The new cowman, Cyrus John, appreciates the chance to start over. Marrying holds no interest for either, but they can’t help but be drawn to each other. And then, just before Christmas, they find themselves fighting together to save the life of a calf, all while discovering the One who can remove fears and provide forgiveness.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

I enjoyed this entertaining holiday novella. I liked being introduced to a totally new area of cattle ranching, the Florida scrub. That was a nice change from the usual cowboy stories in the west. We get a good sense of what it meant to drive the cattle to market with storms and wolves and birthing calves on the way. One thing they did not face was snow so the book cover is a misrepresentation.

There were several issues explored in the novella. One concerned the struggle anticipating marriage and children when your own mother died in childbirth. Another was letting past events prevent present happiness. There was a good dose of cowboy counseling included along with the healing power of trusting God for the future.

The characters were delightful, including the insightful cow hands. There is plenty of cowboy action and a touching romance. I recommend this entertaining and informative novella.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


About the Author

Judy DuCharme is a crazy Packer fan and would rather be walking near the water than at any shopping mall. She is smarter than a fifth grader, having taught them for 22 years, specializing in fun, hands-on, basic science. In case anyone wondered, the cutest grandson in the world belongs to her. And he’s smart, too. Judy descended from the family that founded the first Mennonite/Amish congregation in this country in the mid-1700s. So, with such a heritage, she loves the Lord, loves to worship, and loves to teach Bible studies

More from Judy

Have you ever watched You Tube videos of cows giving birth? Well, I have. And that’s because Linney Merritt helped birth the calves in the late 1800s in mid-Florida. And that’s why she had no interest in giving birth herself. So when the new hand arrived, it turned her plans topsy-turvy, but she was not going to budge. With humor and tenacity, Linney and Cy learn to work together on her pa’s ranch and consider other possibilities.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, May 18

Texas Book-aholic, May 19

Jodie Wolfe - Stories Where Hope and Quirky Meet, May 20 (Author Interview)

Debbie's Dusty Deliberations, May 20

Locks, Hooks and Books, May 21

deb's Book Review, May 22

Inklings and notions, May 23

For Him and My Family, May 24

Vicky Sluiter, May 25 (Author Interview)

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, May 26

Library Lady's Kid Lit, May 27 (Author Interview)

Because I said so -- and other adventures in Parenting, May 28

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, May 29

Tell Tale Book Reviews, May 30 (Author Interview)

Mary Hake, May 30

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, May 31

Giveaway

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

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

https://promosimple.com/ps/1df18/run-with-the-wind-celebration-tour-giveaway


I received a complimentary digital copy 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.)

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The Rising by Kerry Peresta Blog Tour and Giveaway

 

The Rising

by Kerry L Peresta

May 1-31, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

After an assault that landed her in a hospital as a Jane Doe two years earlier, Olivia Callahan has regained her speech, movement, and much of the memory she lost due to a traumatic brain injury. The media hype about the incident has faded away, and Olivia is ready to rebuild her life, but her therapist insists she must continue to look back in order to move forward. The only person that can help her recall specifics is her abusive ex-husband, Monty, who is in prison for murder. The thought of talking to Monty makes her skin crawl, but for her daughters’ sake and her own sanity, she must learn more about who she was before the attack.

Just as the pieces of her life start falling into place, she stumbles across the still-warm body of an old friend who has been gruesomely murdered. Her dream of pursuing a peaceful existence is shattered when she learns the killer left evidence behind to implicate her in the murder. The only person that would want to sabotage her is Monty—but he’s in prison! Something sinister is going on, and Olivia is desperate to uncover the truth before another senseless murder is committed.

My Review:

This novel is definitely a sequel. I have read the previous novel and this one is best appreciated if the earlier book is read first. You can read my review of The Deadening here. 

The narrative begins with fragmented information. Granted, Olivia is recovering from a traumatic brain injury and partial memory loss. I do wish there had been more of a review of events from the first book, however. As Olivia regains more memories, we do find out how she received her TBI but not until the last quarter of the book.

Perhaps because of her brain injury, I did not find Olivia such an engaging character. I did appreciate her attempts to put herself in situations where memories would be triggered. I didn't understand her attitude toward Hunter, often sabotaging a potential romance. And her planned change in profession at the end did not seem reasonable to me based on her earlier behavior in the book.

A pet peeve of mine is an author creating multiple characters beginning with the same letter. Here we have Hazel, Hunter, Hannah and Sophie, Serena, and Sherry. I like Jerry Jenkins' suggestion that, with twenty-six letters in the alphabet, there is no need to have characters with the same initial letters.

I liked the mystery. We readers may not have figured out all the details in a timely fashion as most of the needed information was reveled late in the book. The murderer was no surprise as I was leery of that character from the first appearance.

This is a pretty entertaining mystery but to fully appreciate it, I do recommend reading the first book in the series.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

 

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Suspense, Thriller, Crime Fiction, Suspense, Mystery
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: March 29, 2022
Number of Pages: 300
ISBN: 168512092X (ISBN-13: 978-1685120924)
Series: Olivia Callahan Suspense, Book 2
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

“How low you fall points to how high you’ll rise.”
~Matshona Dhliwayo

The stark buildings and barbed-wire-topped walls surrounding the correctional facility reminded me of a Hitchcock movie.

My fingers tightened on the steering wheel. I found a parking spot, and waited in the car a minute, taking in the starkness and finality of a prison compound. My heart did a little lurch when I thought about Monty—my ex-husband and the father of my two daughters—inside. Incarcerated. I guess since I hadn’t seen him since his indictment, it didn’t seem real.

However, I’d learned that having sympathy for Monty was like having sympathy for a snake just before it sank its fangs. “It’s been eighteen months. You can keep it together with this psycho,” I hissed to myself. I hiked my purse onto my shoulder and walked out into the buttery sunshine toward the visitors’ entrance.

I presented my driver’s license, endured a frisk, offered my hand for the fingerprint process, and walked through the metal detector, which of course, went off. With stoic resignation, I endured another frisk, a few hard glances from the guards, and eventually pulled the culprit from the pocket of my pants, an aluminum foil candy bar wrapper.

While I waited for Monty at one of the small, circular tables in the visitors’ room, I scanned the list of do’s and don’ts. Hands must be visible at all times. Vulgar language not allowed. No passing anything to the prisoner. No jewelry other than a wedding band or religious necklace.

I stared at my hands, sticky with sweat. My heart beat in my throat.

I lifted my curls off my forehead and fanned my face with one hand. Three other visitors sat at tables. One woman with graying hair piled like a crown on her head stared at the floor. When she noticed that I was looking at her, she raised her head and threw me a sad smile. A younger woman at another table struggled to keep two young children under control, and an older couple with stress-lined faces whispered to each other as they waited. The room had tan, cinder block walls, a drop-in ceiling with grid tiles that probably hid video cameras, and a single door. No windows. A scrawny, fake plant in one corner made a half-hearted attempt at civility.

The metal door opened. My thoughts were mush, a blender on high. Could I do this? After two years of physical therapy, occupational therapy, and every other kind of therapy the docs could throw at me, shouldn’t I react better than this?

Remember, they’re only feelings.

I squared my shoulders. Wiped my palms on my pants.

As Monty offered his cuffed wrists to the corrections officer, he scanned the room under lowered eyelids. When he saw me, he gave me a scorched- earth glare. After the guard removed his handcuffs, he shook out his arms and rubbed his wrists. The raven-black hair was longer, and brushed his shoulders. He’d been working out. A lot. He wore a loose-fitting top and pants. Orange. As usual, he was larger than life, and in the bright white of the visiting space, surrounded by matching plastic tables and chairs, he was a raven-haired Schwarzenegger in a room full of Danny DeVito’s. I’d once had hope for reconciliation. The thought gave me the shakes now.

He dropped into the chair across from me and plopped his hands on the table. “What do you want?”

I spent a few seconds examining his face—this man I’d spent twenty, long years trying to please, and the reason I’d been assaulted and left for dead by Niles Peterson, a wreck of a man whose life Monty had destroyed as well.

The man responsible for my convoluted recovery from a brain injury that stole my past. Even after two years, I still had huge gaps in my memory, and staring at him felt like staring at a stranger instead of an ex-husband. “My therapist says I need to look back to move forward. I wanted to ask you a few questions, that’s all.”

“Okay,” he grumbled. “I’ll give you a few minutes. Oh, and you’ll love this. I have to attend counseling sessions about how to keep my ‘darker dispositions’ under control, and I have one of those in thirty minutes.”

Resisting a smile, I quipped, “Are they helping?” He rolled his eyes. “What are the questions?”

“I still have problems remembering stuff. There are things I need to… figure out about who I was before—”

“Before you hooked up with my ole’ buddy Niles?” he interrupted, with a smirk. “Before you threw away everything we had? Before you got yourself in a situation that could’ve gotten you killed? Before you started treating me like a piece of shit?”

I was careful not to react. I’d had enough therapy to understand how to treat a control freak that tried to make me the reason he ended up in prison. That part of my life—the part where Monty had been in charge and his spouse had to obey or else—was over. “Are you done?” I asked.

He clamped his lips together.

I folded my hands on the table and leaned in. “I’ll get right to the point. What drew you to me in the first place? What was I like before the accident, from your perspective?”

Monty tried to get comfortable in the plastic chair. Beneath his immense bulk, it seemed like a child’s chair. “Is that how you’re dealing with it?” His lips twisted in disgust. “It was an assault, Olivia. He tried to rape you, for God’s sake.”

I looked away. “It’s over, and he’s in the ground, thanks to you.”

He crossed his arms and glared. A corrections officer lifted his hand. With a grunt, Monty slapped both hands on the small table where the officer could see them.

After a few beats, he sneered, “You mean besides the obvious attraction of an older guy to a high school girl?” “Give me a break, Monty.”

He chuckled. “You were kind of…I don’t know…scared. I was drawn to you in a protective way. You were shy.”

I frowned. “What was I scared of?”

“Your crazy mom had married some jerk that kept you off balance all the time. Don’t you remember him?”

I thought for a few seconds. Nothing came.

“That coma still messes with you, doesn’t it? Well…might be good not to remember. Maybe he did things to you that he shouldn’t have.” Monty raised his eyebrows up and down.

I wanted to slap him, but I kept my expression neutral.

“A brain injury recovery is unpredictable. I still lose memories, even if someone has drilled them into me. I’m trying to use visualization. I have this feeling…that if I can see it, the rest will be like dominos.”

“So you may not ever remember? Even the good things about our marriage?”

I laughed. “We must have very different perspectives about the word ‘good’, Monty.”

Monty’s jaw muscles flexed. “Next?”

“Was I a capable mother? Was I available and…loving to the kids?”

Maybe it was my imagination, but his lower lip quivered. Did the guy have a heart after all? I’d always believed he loved our daughters. I hoped this was true.

“Olivia, you were a good mother. We had our problems, but you made a good home, and took excellent care of the kids. You were at every freakin’ event, every school fundraiser, everything.” He scowled. “I took a big back seat to the kids.”

“What problems did we have? When did they start?”

He leaned in. “You don’t remember our sex life? How terrible it was? Nothing I could do would get you to….” He shook his head. “You couldn’t even fix a decent meal. You should have been grateful you married someone like me so I could…teach you things.”

CHAPTER ONE

“Keep your voice down!” I insisted, embarrassed.

He cocked his head and grinned. “You always had this…desperate need for my approval or whatever. And when you conveniently avoided telling me you weren’t taking birth control it caused a lot of issues that could’ve been avoided.” He snorted. “Like being in here.”

I tried to rein in my disgust.

“So, let me get this straight. Your priority in our marriage was sex and good food and to pin all our issues on your child bride?” My tone hardened. “A young woman who came from a single-parent home? Who had no understanding what a good and normal guy was like?”

He gave me a look that could peel the skin off my face.

“How did you react when I didn’t do things the way you wanted?” I continued.

“Like any man who’d been disrespected. I corrected the issue.”

“How? By yelling? Physical force? Kicking your pregnant wife in the stomach?” This was a memory I had recovered.

A vein pulsed in his neck.

“How often, Monty? Were these reactions a…a lifestyle in our marriage?” “Look,” he snarled, “I don’t know that this is productive.”

“It is for me,” I said, brightly.

I glanced at the closest officer. He had his hands full with an issue at one of the other tables.

“Mom told me that Serena and Lilly floated out to sea one time, on a rubber raft. Do you remember that?”

His eyes found a spot on the wall.

“So you do remember. What happened?”

“Look, they were, I don’t know, four and six or so. I didn’t think it would be a problem for me to run grab a drink from our bag, and come back. I was gone less than five minutes. How could I know they’d lose control of the raft?”

An earthquake of anger shot through me. “You turned your back on a four-year-old and a six-year-old and expected them to have control of a raft? They were babies!”

“Yeah. Well.” He rose. “Looks like this question thing of yours isn’t working for me.” He pushed his chair in with a bang. The correctional officer gave him a look. Monty strode to the officer’s station and held out his wrists. Adrenaline made me a little shaky after he’d gone, but it wasn’t from fear of the man. My therapist would call this real progress.

I left the room and gathered my things from the visitors’ processing center. As I walked out of the prison facility, all I could think about was…why? Why had I married this guy? And stayed for twenty years? I couldn’t even remember myself as a person who could do that.

At least I’d dragged more information out of him. I was determined to piece together the puzzle of the past I’d lost.

***

Excerpt from The Rising by Kerry L Peresta. Copyright 2022 by Kerry L Peresta. Reproduced with permission from Kerry L Peresta. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Kerry’s publishing credits include a popular newspaper column, “The Lighter Side,” (2009—2011), and magazine articles in Local Life Magazine, The Bluffton Breeze, Lady Lowcountry, and Island Events Magazine. She is the author of three published novels, The Hunting, women’s fiction, The Deadening, Book One of the Olivia Callahan Suspense Series, and The Rising, Book Two. Book Three in this series releases in 2023 by Level Best Books. She spent twenty-five years in advertising as an account manager, creative director, editor, and copywriter. She is past chapter president of the Maryland Writers’ Association and a current member and presenter of Hilton Head Island Writers’ Network, South Carolina Writers Association, and the Sisters in Crime organization. Kerry and her husband moved to Hilton Head Island, SC, in 2015. She is the mother of four adult children, and has a bunch of wonderful grandkids who remind her what life is all about.

Catch Up With Kerry L Peresta:
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I received a complimentary digital copy 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.)