Monday, August 3, 2020

Tortured With Love Blog Tour and Giveaway

   

Tortured With Love

The True Crime Romance of the Lonely Hearts Killers

by JT Hunter

on Tour August 1 - September 30, 2020




Synopsis:


What is the price of passion? What is the power of love?

Meet Martha Beck, a young nurse dedicated to healing others, until her own hurting heart lured her down a darker path. Loneliness led her to Raymond Fernandez, but love led her all the way to the electric chair.

This is the tragic story of the Lonely Heart Killers.


My Review:


We wonder why people become murderers. How does that happen? Hunter gives a good account of the couple who came to be known as the Lonely Hearts Killers.

Whether you remember the headlines from the early 1950s or not, Hunter's book is an interesting account of how Ray and Martha meet through a service advertised in magazines. That reminded me of online dating sites today. First correspondence by mail, then meeting. Ray convincing women to give him their money. Martha becoming obsessed with love for Ray. Hunter gives us some background on Ray and Martha, helping us understand, perhaps, how lovers became killers.

This is a good book for readers who like true crime accounts. Hunter's writing style is good and he gives readers essential information through the trial and the executions.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Book Details:

Genre: True Crime
Published by: JT Hunter
Publication Date: May 15th 2020
Number of Pages: 210
ISBN: 9798646112720
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

ONE
On an otherwise mundane March day, a peculiar piece of paper arrived in Martha Beck’s office mailbox. It came with the usual medical correspondence and junk mail, giving no indication of its importance. Yet, this one particular envelope would change Martha’s life forever.
The envelope arrived on a cool afternoon, the temperature hovering just below 60, the highest it had climbed all day in the Pensacola area of the Florida Panhandle. But Martha was not in the mood to enjoy the weather. She was still down in the dumps about her recently finalized divorce from Alfred Beck, a Pensacola bus driver who had married her when she was six months pregnant with another man’s child. Although she had been separated from Alfred since May 1945, nearly two years earlier, the formal entry of their divorce had the nearly 27-year-old Martha feeling like an old maid doomed to live out the rest of her life alone.
Martha was not unique in that respect in post-World War II America. With well over a million more women than men, the United States population of the mid and late 1940’s left many lonely women in its wake.
A visit from Elizabeth Swanson, one of the nurses she supervised at the Crippled Children’s Home, temporarily distracted Martha from feeling sorry for herself. She considered Elizabeth her closest friend. When Elizabeth knocked on her office door, Martha had just started going through the mail. As the two engaged in the latest gossip and friendly chit-chat, Martha resumed sorting through the assortment of envelopes. The first was an advertisement from a Jacksonville company selling medical equipment. She quickly flipped past it as well as a few other pieces of junk mail until a mysterious envelope caught her eye. It was made of thin, pale-brown paper with the name, Mrs. Martha Jule Beck, typed prominently on the front.
“What’s this?” she asked, the question directed more to herself than her friend.
“What is what?” Elizabeth replied, sipping from a mug of coffee.
“This . . . this odd envelope,” Martha said, holding it up to show her.
“Beat’s me,” Elizabeth remarked coyly. “I wonder who sent you that.”
“I’m sure I don’t know,” Martha remarked, her curiosity now piqued. She turned the envelope over to inspect it further, and seeing nothing hinting at its contents, opened it to find a thin, paper pamphlet inside. It was a promotional mailing and application for the Standard Correspondence Club, one of many “lonely hearts clubs” operating across the country. The return address gave Standard’s location as Grave Lake, Illinois.
LONELY?, the pamphlet asked in large, bold letters, Let us help you find that certain someone. Join old reliable Club, 50 years of dependable, confidential service. Correspondents most everywhere seeking congenial mates, proven results. Interesting photos, descriptions FREE. There were several pictures of women spaced throughout the page, each next to a testimonial about a happy marriage brought about by contacts made through the club.
“Now why on earth would they send this to me?” Martha wondered aloud, taking a little offense that such a “lovelorn club” would be contacting her.
Elizabeth’s coyness now morphed into a broad grin that spread across her face.
“Now why on earth would they send this to me?” Martha wondered aloud, “I have a confession to make,” Elizabeth said as she started giggling. “I wrote the club and asked them to send you information and an application.”
Martha studied her friend’s face, deciding whether she was serious.
“Whatever for?” she asked in a tone matching the astonishment in her eyes.
Still giggling, Elizabeth moved to a chair closer to Martha and sat down beside her.
“I originally did it as a joke,” she explained, “but the more I thought about it, the more I decided that you should give it a try. Three of my daughters are writing to me that they have met men through this correspondence club, and this is the very same club that I met my husband through thirty years ago. And after all, what do you have to lose?”
Martha rolled her eyes.
“I may be a little lonely,” she acknowledged, “but I’m not THAT desperate.”
She glared with some annoyance at Elizabeth. “I swear, sometimes I really wonder what’s going on in that head of yours.”
Martha tossed the pamphlet onto a pile of papers stacked on the side of her desk and made no more mention of it for the rest of their time together. But the seeds of intrigue had already been planted in her mind.
Later, after Elizabeth had left, Martha retrieved the discarded pamphlet and read it more closely. Part of the pamphlet contained a form asking her to fill out information about herself and write a letter detailing what kind of men she would like to meet. Sitting down at her desk, she carefully completed the form and took her time crafting the letter, being sure to mention how people often commented that she was witty, vivacious, and oozed personality. She also emphasized that she was a trained nurse with her own pleasant apartment. When she was satisfied with what she had written, Martha carefully folded the papers, enclosed $5.00 for the required membership fee, and licked the envelope to seal it. That evening, she dropped it in a mailbox on her way home from work.
*****
Years later, when asked whether she had experienced any misgivings about joining a lonely hearts club, Martha candidly replied, “Yes, as soon as I’d put the letter in the mailbox, I began thinking I’d made a mistake.”
Questioned about what kind of man she hoped to meet through the club, Martha took a little more time before answering.
“Well, I don’t know,” she confessed. “I guess I hadn’t thought about it much.
But I sure didn’t think I’d ever meet anyone like Ray.”
***
Excerpt from Tortured With Love by J.T. Hunter. Copyright 2020 by J.T. Hunter. Reproduced with permission from J.T. Hunter. All rights reserved.


Author Bio:


JT Hunter is a true crime writer with over fifteen years of experience as a lawyer, including criminal law and appeals. He also has significant training in criminal investigation techniques. He enjoys being a college professor teaching fiction and nonfiction to his creative writing students.


Catch Up With J.T. Hunter:
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Tour Participants:

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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for JT Hunter. There will be 2 winners of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card each. The giveaway begins on August 1, 2020 and runs through October 2, 2020. Void where prohibited.
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I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Partners in Crime Virtual 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.)

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Dear Durwood Blog Tour and Giveaway

Dear Durwood

by Jeff Bond

on Tour August 1 - September 30, 2020

Synopsis:


Book two in the epic Third Chance Enterprises series, Dear Durwood is a standalone mystery pitting uncompromising principle against big city greed.

Durwood Oak Jones is a man of few indulgences. One he does allow is a standing ad in Soldier of Fortune magazine soliciting “injustices in need of attention.”

This month’s bundle of letters includes one from Carol Bridges, mayor of the dusty, blue-collar town of Chickasaw, Texas. For nearly a century, Chickasaw has relied on the jobs and goodwill of Hogan Consolidated, a family-run manufacturer of industrial parts. Now East Coast lawyers and investment bankers have taken aim at the company. The citizens of Chickasaw fear it may be acquired or bankrupted, leading to massive layoffs — effectively destroying the town.

Durwood and his trusty bluetick coonhound, Sue-Ann, fly to Texas to see what can be done. They find a young CEO born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Factory workers with hammers. A good woman, Carol Bridges, who knows her town is being cheated but can’t get to the bottom of how. And lawyers.

Dirty, good-for-nothing lawyers.

My Review:


When I start a Bond novel, I never know what I am going to get. I do know it will be crazy entertaining. This one is exactly that.

Durwood is like a bull in a china shop when he stands up against savvy financial wizards and ruthless corporate lawyers. But he has something those thieving specialists don't – his dog. Really. Durwood may be the star of the show but his arthritic Sue-Ann saves the day.

This is a fun, fast paced entertaining short novel. It's great for readers who like to see injustice made right. There is plenty of action. You'll even learn a bit about how corporations prey on failing businesses and make money doing it. Durwood sets out to stop predatory corporate scum and finds a gal in the process.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Book Details:

Genre: Action-Adventure / Western Romance
Published by: Jeff Bond Books
Publication Date: June 15, 2020
Number of Pages: 215
ISBN: 1732255296 (ISBN13: 9781732255296)
Series: Third Chance Enterprises
Purchase Links: Amazon | Third Chance Stories | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Dear Mr. Oak Jones:
I am Carol Bridges, mayor of Chickasaw, Texas. We are located in the western part of the state, Big Bend Country if you know it. I thank you in advance for considering my injustice.
Chickasaw is the home of Hogan Consolidated, a family-run manufacturer of industrial parts. Hogan employs 70 percent of able-bodied adults in Chickasaw, and its philanthropy has sustained the town for ninety years. It’s due to the Hogan family we have an arts center and turf field for youth football.
Recently, East Coast lawyers and investment bankers have taken aim at the company. Multi-million dollar claims have been filed, accusing Hogan of putting out defective parts. It’s rumored the company will be acquired or liquidated outright. Massive layoffs are feared.
My constituents work hard, Mr. Jones. They have mortgages and children to feed. I have tried to find answers about the Hogan family’s intentions, to see whether I or the town can do anything to influence the course of events. Jay Hogan, the current CEO, does not return my phone calls—and is seen dining at sushi restaurants in El Paso (85 miles away) more often than in Chickasaw. I have gotten the runaround from our state and federal representatives. I believe it’s their fundraising season.
As mayor, I have a duty to explore every possible solution to the challenges we face. I do not read Soldier of Fortune regularly, but my deputy police chief showed me your ad soliciting “injustices in need of attention.” I feel certain injustice is being done to Chickasaw, though I can’t as yet name its perpetrator and exact nature.
Alonso (our deputy chief) knows you by reputation, and assures me these details won’t trouble you.
Thank you sincerely for your time,
Carol BridgesMayor of Chickasaw, TX
Chapter One
Durwood got to the Chickasaw letter halfway through the sorghum field. He was flipping through the stack from the mailbox, passing between sweet-smelling stalks. Leaves brushed his bluejeans. Dust coated his boots. He scanned for clumps of johnsongrass as he read, picking what he saw. The first five letters he’d tucked into his back pocket.
The Chickasaw letter he considered longer. Steel-colored eyes scanned left to right. He forgot about the johnsongrass. An ugliness started in his gut.
Lawyers.
He put the letter in his front pocket, then read the rest. The magazine forwarded him a bundle every month. In September, he’d only gotten three. At Christmas time, it seemed like he got thirty or forty. Folks felt gypped around the holidays.
Today, he read about two brothers who didn’t steal a car. About a principal who got fired for being too aggressive fighting drugs in his school. About a bum call in the Oregon state Little League championship twenty years ago. About a furnace warranty that wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on.
Durwood chuckled at the Oregon letter. This one had been writing in for years. Maybe he figured Durwood didn’t read them, figured some screener only put a couple through each go-round and one of these days they’d sneak his through.
But Durwood did read them. Every last one.
He put the letter about the principal in his front pocket with the Chickasaw letter.
Off his right side, Sue-Ann whimpered. Durwood turned to find the bluetick coonhound pointing the south fenceline.
“I see,” Durwood said, of the white-tail doe nosing around the spruces. “Left my gun back at the house, though.”
Sue-Ann kept her point. Her bad hip quivered from the effort. Old as she was, she still got fired up about game.
Durwood released her with a gesture. “What do you say to some bluegill tonight instead? See what Crole’s up to.”
Durwood called Crole from the house. Crole, his fishing buddy who lived on the adjacent sixty acres, said he was good for a dozen casts. They agreed to meet at the river dividing their properties. Durwood had a shorter walk and used the extra time to clean his M9 semiautomatic.
Leaving, he noticed the red maple that shaded the house was leafing out slow. He examined the trunk and found a pattern of fine holes encircling the bark.
That yellow-bellied sapsucker.
Durwood wondered if the holes were related to the tree’s poor vigor.
Out by the river, Crole limped up with his jug of moonshine, vile stuff he made from Jolly Ranchers.
They fished.
Sue-Ann laid in the mud, snoring, her stiff coat bristling against Durwood’s boot. The afternoon stretched out, a dozen casts becoming two dozen. Then three. In the distance, the hazy West Virginia sky rolled through the Smokies. Mosquitoes weren’t too bad, just a nip here and there at the collar.
Durwood thought about Chickasaw, Texas. He thought about East Coast lawyers. About the hardworking men and women who’d elected Carol Bridges to be mayor and stick up for them.
He thought about that CEO picking up raw fish with chopsticks in El Paso.
He thought, too, about the principal who’d been fired for doing right.
Crole said, “Got some letters today?”
Durwood said he had.
Crole grinned, showing his top teeth—just two, both nearly black. “Still running that ad in Soldier of Fortune?”
Durwood lowered the brim of his hat against the sun. “Don’t cost much.”
“They give a military discount?”
Durwood raised a shoulder. He’d been discharged from the Marines a decade ago. He didn’t accept handouts for his service.
Crole nodded to the bulge in his pocket—the letters. “Anything interesting?”
“Sure,” Durwood said. “Plenty.”
They fished into twilight. Durwood caught just five bluegill. Crole, twenty years his senior and luckier with fish, reeled in a dozen, plus a decent-size channel cat despite using the wrong bait. The men strung their catches on a chain. The chain rippled in the cool, clear water.
The Chickasaw job appealed to Durwood. The opportunity to fight crooked lawyers, do something about these Wall Street outfits that made their buck slicing up American companies, putting craftsmen out of work until every last doodad was made in some knockoff plant in China.
Still, Durwood had trouble imagining the case. What would he do, flip through documents? Sit across a folding table from men in suits and ask questions?
Then he thought about the principal. About those gangs the letter had mentioned, how you could look out the windows of the dang school and see drug dealers on street corners. Intimidators. Armed thugs.
Durwood had an easy time imagining that case.
The sky had just gotten its first purple tinge when Durwood lost his bait a third time running.
“These fish.” He held his empty hook out of the water, shaking his head.
Crole said, “There’s catfish down there older than you.”
“Smarter, too,” Durwood said.
Still, the five bluegill would be enough for him and Sue-Ann. Durwood unclipped the fishes’ cheeks from the chain and dropped them in a bucket.
Back at the house, Durwood spotted the yellow-bellied sapsucker climbing the red maple. Not only was he pecking the tree, the ornery creature kept pulling twigs from the gray squirrels’ nest, the one they’d built with care and sheltered in the last four winters.
“Git down!” Durwood called.
The sapsucker zipped away to other antics.
Inside, Durwood scaled and beheaded the bluegill. Then he fried them in grease and cornmeal. Sue-Ann ate only half a fish.
Durwood moved the crispy tail under her nose. “Another bite?”
The dog sneezed, rattly in her chest.
Durwood rinsed his dishes and switched on a desktop computer. He looked up Chickasaw. There was plenty of information online. Population, land area. Nearly every mention of the town made reference to Hogan Consolidated. It looked like Hogan Consolidated was Chickasaw, Texas, and vice versa.
On the official municipal website, he found a picture of Carol Bridges. She wore a hardhat, smiling among construction workers.
Handsome woman. Warm, lively eyes.
Next, Durwood looked up the fired principal. The man lived and worked in upstate New York. For a few weeks, his case had been all over the local news there. A city councilman believed he’d been railroaded. Nineteen years he’d served the school district without prior incident. The only blemish Durwood found was a college DUI.
Durwood hadn’t started with computers until his thirties. His calloused fingers regularly struck the keys wrong, but he managed. This one he’d gotten from the Walmart in Barboursville, forty-nine bucks on Black Friday. It had its uses. A tool like any other.
“Well?” he said aloud, even though Sue was out on the porch. “Looks like a tossup.”
Durwood changed computer windows to look again at Carol Bridges. Then changed back to the principal.
At the bottom of the news story about the principal, he noticed a bubble with “47 comments” inside. He knew people who spouted off online were unreliable and often foolish. He clicked anyway.
“Good riddance, got what he deserved!”
“TOTAL RACIST WINDBAG, glad they fired him.”
Durwood read all forty-seven comments. Some defended the man, but most were negative.
It was impossible to know how much was legitimate. Durwood left judging to Him, and Him alone.
But Durwood did know that the petitioner, the one who’d written the letter to Soldier of Fortune, was the principal himself. Not some third party. Not an objective observer.
What had seemed like a case of obvious bureaucratic overreach suddenly looked less obvious.
Now Sue-Ann loped in from the porch. Appalachian air followed her inside, nice as perfume. Sue settled at Durwood’s feet, wheezing, rheumy eyes aimed up at her master.
He said, “What do you say, girl. Up for seeing the Lone Star State?”
The dog sat up straight, responding to the action in his voice. The effort made her mew. That hip.
Durwood laid his thumb down the ridge of the dog’s skull. He felt pained himself, thinking of documents, folding tables, and men in suits.
Chapter Two
It was a healthy drive, nearly two thousand miles, to see this Carol Bridges. Doubts remained in Durwood’s mind. Petitioners he met through the Soldier of Fortune ad fell through sometimes. It would turn out their letter was misleading or flat false. Other times the injustice had taken care of itself by the time Durwood arrived.
Once he’d driven clear to Nebraska to help a man whose pride and joy, a 1917 Ford Bucket T he’d restored from salvage by hand, had been denied roadworthiness by some city councilman with a grudge. When Durwood knocked on his door and asked about the hot rod, the man said, “The Ford? Guy made me an offer, I sold her a few weeks back.”
Durwood decided it was worth the trip to hear Carol Bridges out. If he didn’t like what she said, he’d tip his hat, get back in the Vanagon, and drive home.
Crole observed, “You could call.”
Durwood was humping supplies into the van. “Folks can say anything on the phone.”
The older man looked to the horizon, where the sun would rise soon. His pajamas dragged the dirt, and he held his jug by two fingers. “They can say anything to your face, too.”
Durwood whistled to Sue-Ann.
“It’s different,” he said as the dog climbed in. “Lay off that shine, hm?”
Crole looked down at his jug as though surprised by its presence.
He answered, “Don’t kill anyone you don’t have to.”
With a wave, Durwood took out. The van wheezed over mountain switchbacks and chugged steadily along interstates. By afternoon, Sue was wincing on the bare metal floor. Durwood bought her a mat next time he stopped for gas.
They reached Chickasaw the following morning. Crossing the city limit, they saw fields of wheat and corn, and grain elevators, and dry dusty homesteads. Factories burped smoke farther on. Billboards shilled for some dentist, somebody else who wanted to be sheriff.
Downtown Chickasaw was a grid, eight blocks square. Durwood saw the turf field mentioned in the letter and smiled. A boarded-up building with a sign reading, Lyles Community Outreach Center. A fancy hotel that looked out of place.
Next door to City Hall, Durwood’s destination, was a coffee shop called Peaceful Beans. The logo showed the name written along the stems of the peace sign. The light bulbs inside had those squiggly vintage filaments.
Durwood knew that these towns, rural or not, had all types. You got your vegan yoga instructors living next to redneck truckers—sometimes married to each other.
City Hall itself was a stone structure, two stories high. A sign indicated the municipal jail was located in the basement.
Durwood parked. His bones creaked as he stepped from the van and stretched.
The woman working reception cooed at Sue, who’d rolled over on her back. The big ham. Durwood stated their business, declared his M9, and passed through a metal detector before being shown to the mayor’s office.
Carol Bridges stood from her desk with a humble smile. “Mr. Oak Jones, thank you for traveling all this way for our town.”
“You’re welcome,” he said. “Call me Durwood, please.”
She said she would and handed him a business card with her personal number circled. Durwood placed the card in his bluejeans pocket. The mayor gestured to an armchair whose upholstery had worn thin. Durwood, removing his hat, sat.
“My dog goes where I go, generally,” he explained. “She can sit outside if need be.”
“Don’t be silly.” The mayor reached into a drawer of her desk for a biscuit. “If I’d known, I’d have brought in my German Shepherd.”
She didn’t just toss the biscuit at Sue, as some will. Carol Bridges commanded the dog to sit first.
Sue sat.
The mayor squatted and offered the treat, palm up, her knees pinching below a dark skirt. Sue wolfed it down.
Durwood said, “We saw the factories on the way in. How many employees?”
“Forty-four hundred on the floors themselves,” she said. “Plus another eight thousand in support roles.”
“And it’s all going away? Vamoose?”
Carol Bridges crossed one leg over the other. “That’s how the winds are blowing.”
She expanded upon what the letter had said. For the better part of a century, Hogan Consolidated had produced parts for various household products. Brackets. Pot handles. Stepladder hinges. Nothing sexy, Carol Bridges said, but quality components that filled a need higher up the supply chain.
Five or six years back, Wall Street began taking an interest in the company. They believed Hogan was underleveraged and growing too slowly.
Durwood stopped her. “What does underleveraged mean?”
“As I understand”—the mayor fluffed her dark red hair dubiously—“it means you aren’t taking enough risks. Your balance sheet is too conservative.”
“Too conservative?”
“Right. You’re not expanding into new markets. You’re not inventing new products.”
Durwood rolled her words around his head. “Suppose you’re good at what you do, and that’s it.”
Carol Bridges looked out her window toward a pair of smokestacks. “Not good enough for Wall Street.”
Thoughts of finance or economics usually gave Durwood a headache, but he made himself consider the particulars of the case now.
“But Hogan’s a family-owned company,” he said. “Can’t they tell Wall Street to go to hell? Pardon my French.”
“They were family-owned up until 1972, when they sold out.”
Durwood sat up in his chair, recalling her letter.
She seemed to read his thoughts. “They’re a family-run company. The CEO’s always been a Hogan, but the equity is publicly traded.”
“Hm.” Durwood’s head wasn’t aching, but it didn’t feel quite right either. “I read your letter different.”
“I apologize, I didn’t mean to be unclear.” The mayor took a step out from behind her desk. “I hope you don’t feel I brought you here on false pretenses.”
They looked at each other. The woman’s face tipped sympathetically and flushed, her eyes wide with concern. On the wall behind her hung the Iraq Campaign Medal and the striped ribbon indicating combat action.
“It’s fine,” Durwood said. “And they’re facing lawsuits, you said?”
“Correct,” the mayor said. “A class-action suit has been filed by customers claiming injury as a result of faulty Hogan parts.”
“What happened?”
“A woman in New Jersey’s toaster exploded. They’ve got two people in California saying a bad Hogan hinge caused them to fall. One broke her wrist.”
“Her wrist.”
Carol Bridges nodded.
“Falling off a stepladder?”
She nodded again.
“What’re the Hogans doing?” Durwood asked. “They have a strategy to stomp out this nonsense?”
“No idea. I hear, just scuttlebutt from the cafe, that the company’s going bankrupt.” The mayor flung out an arm. “Somebody else says they’re selling out to a private equity firm—one of these outfits that buys distressed companies for peanuts and parts ’em out, auctions off the assets and fires all the workers.”
Durwood leaned over the thighs of his bluejeans. “You mentioned the CEO in your letter. Eats sushi.”
The woman smiled. “Jay Hogan, yes. He’s only twenty-eight, and I don’t think he likes living in Chickasaw much. He went to college at Dartmouth.”
“Whereabouts is that?”
“Dartmouth?”
Durwood nodded. He’d once met an arms supplier in Dortmund, Germany, the time he and Quaid Rafferty had stopped a band of disgruntled sausage vendors from bombing ten soccer stadiums simultaneously. He’d never heard of Dartmouth.
Carol Bridges said, “New Hampshire.”
“If he doesn’t like the place,” Durwood said, “why didn’t he stay east? Work a city job?”
She crossed her legs again. “I doubt he could get one. Around here, he was a screw-up. They got him for drunk driving regularly. I was with the prosecutor’s office back then. The police winched him out of the same gully four different times in his dad’s Hummer.”
“Why’d they pick him for CEO?”
“He’s an only child. When the father had his stroke, Jay was next in line. Only pitcher left in the bullpen.”
Durwood drew in a long breath. “Now the fate of the whole town rests on his shoulders. Fella couldn’t keep a five-thousand-pound vehicle on the road.”
Carol Bridges nodded.
Durwood felt comfortable talking to this woman. As comfortable as he’d felt with a woman since Maybelle, his wife and soulmate, had passed in Tikrit. Carol Bridges didn’t embellish. She didn’t say one thing but mean another—leaving aside the misunderstanding over “family-run,” which might well have been Durwood’s fault.
Still, comfort didn’t make a case.
“I sympathize, Miss Bridges,” Durwood said. “I do. But I’m a simple man. The sort of business I’m trained for is combat. Apprehending suspects. Pursuing retribution that can’t be pursued within the confines of the law. This situation calls for expertise I don’t have.”
He’d delivered bad news, but Carol Bridges didn’t seem upset. She was smiling again.
“I have to disagree,” she said.
“You need somebody knows their way around corporate law. Knows how to—”
“You’re not a simple man. There’s a lot up there”—her warm eyes rose to his head—“that doesn’t translate into words.”
Durwood held her gaze a moment. Then he looked down to Sue-Ann.
The dog was sleeping.
He said, “America is changing. For better or worse. A town like Chickasaw doesn’t get the better end of it, I understand. There’s injustice in that. But it’s not the sort I can stop.”
“Of course. I wouldn’t dream of suggesting you can deliver us back to the 1970s.”
Carol Bridges laced her fingers over her dark red hair. A funny thing was happening with her mouth. Was she chewing gum? No, that wasn’t it. Using her tongue to work a piece of food out from between her teeth? Durwood didn’t think so either.
She was smirking.
“All I’m asking,” she said, “on behalf of my town, is this: talk to Jay Hogan. Get a straight answer out of him. I can’t, I’ve tried. The rest of the Hogans live in Vail or Tuscany. We need somebody who can cut through the bull and find out the truth.”
Durwood repeated, “The truth.”
“Yes. If the jobs are going away, if I need to retrain my citizenry to…” She searched around her desktop for some example—pencils, folders, a stapler. “Heck, answer customer-service calls? I will. But we want to know.”
Sue-Ann snored and resettled against Durwood’s boot.
He said, “Talk to Jay Hogan.”
The mayor clasped her hands hopefully over her chest. “That’s all I’m asking. Find out where we stand.”
Durwood thought about the crop fields he’d seen riding into town. The dusty homesteads. The billboards—the dentist, man who wanted to be sheriff. He thought of the factories still putting out smoke. For now.
The stakes were lower than what he fought for alongside Quaid and Molly McGill with Third Chance Enterprises. The planet itself was not imperiled. He wasn’t likely to face exotic technologies or need to jump from moving aircraft. So it went with these injustice cases—with injustice in general. Ordinary folks suffering ordinary hardship.
“We did drive a couple thousand miles,” he said. “I suppose it makes sense to stay and have a word with Mr. Hogan.”
Carol Bridges rushed forward and pressed his calloused hands in her smooth ones. She gave him the address of Hogan Consolidated from memory.
Chapter Three
Hogan’s main factory and corporate headquarters were in the same building. Durwood parked in a Visitors spot, and he and Sue walked up to the fifth floor where the executive offices were—over the factory. Stairs were murder on the dog’s hip, but she persevered. Durwood stopped every few steps for her.
Through the stairwell’s glass wall, he watched the assembly line. Men and women in hardhats leaned into machine handles. A foreman frowned at a clipboard. Belts and treads and rotors turned. Even behind glass, Durwood could smell grease.
Nothing amiss here.
On the fifth floor, Durwood consulted a directory to find Jay Hogan’s office.
His secretary wore nicer clothes than Carol Bridges. Looking at her neat painted fingernails, Durwood doubted she kept dog biscuits in her desk.
“You—you honestly thought bringing a dog to see the chief executive of Hogan Consolidated was acceptable?” the woman said, looking at Sue’s spots like they were open sores. “OSHA would have a field day if they showed up now.”
Sue-Ann laid her chin on her paws.
Durwood said, “She can stay here while I see Mr. Hogan.”
The woman’s nameplate read Priscilla Baird. Durwood suspected she’d be taller than him if she stood. Her lips were tight, trembling like she was about to eject Durwood and Sue—or flee herself.
“I don’t know that you will see Mr. Hogan today,” she said. “You’re not on his schedule. Jones, did you say?”
She checked her screen.
“Won’t find me in your computer,” Durwood said. “Is he here?”
Priscilla Baird glanced at her boss’s door, which was closed.
“He is…on site. But I’m not at liberty to say when he’d be available to speak with arbitrary members of the public.”
“I’m not arbitrary. I’m here on authority of the mayor.”
“The mayor?”
“Of Chickasaw, yes ma’am. Carol Bridges.”
Priscilla Baird rolled her eyes at this. Durwood thought he heard, “Getting desperate” under the woman’s breath.
Durwood waited. After thirty minutes, he tired of Priscilla Baird’s dirty looks and took Sue-Ann out to the van. She didn’t like dogs, fine. He wouldn’t be difficult just for the sake of it.
He returned to wait more. The lobby had an exposed beam running down its center—pimpled, showy. Folks built like that nowadays. Slate walls displayed oil paintings of the company’s executives. Sitting out on tables were US Weekly and Field and Stream. Durwood read neither. He spent the time thinking what questions to ask Jay Hogan.
All told, he waited an hour and a half. Others entered and were admitted to see Hogan. Men wearing pinstripes. A made-up woman in her late forties with a couple minions hustling after her. Some kid in a ballcap and shorts carrying two plastic bags.
The kid left Hogan’s office without his bags.
Durwood caught him at the door. “Pardon, youngster. What did you drop off?”
The kid ducked so Durwood could read his hat.
Crepes-a-Go-Go.
An involuntary growl escaped Durwood’s mouth. He crossed to Jay Hogan’s door.
“Excuse me,” Priscilla Baird said. “Mr. Hogan’s schedule today is terribly tight, you’ll need to be patient if—”
“It just opened up,” Durwood said.
He jerked the knob and blew inside. Jay Hogan was stuffing a crepe into his face with a plastic fork. Ham and some cheese that stank. The corner of his mouth had a red smear, either ketchup or raspberry jam.
Probably jam.
“The hell is this?” Hogan said. “You—what…Priscilla…” He placed a hand over his scrawny chest and finished swallowing. “Who is this person?”
Priscilla Baird rushed to the door. “I never admitted him, he went himself. He forced his way in!”
Durwood stood in the center of the office. He said to Hogan, “Let’s talk, the two of us.”
The young CEO considered the proposal. He was holding his crepe one-handed and didn’t seem to know where to set it down. He looked at his secretary. He looked at Durwood. His hair was slicked back with Pennzoil, skin alabaster white—a shade you’d have to stay inside to keep in southwest Texas.
Durwood extended his hand. “I can hold your pancake.”
Jay Hogan stiffened at the remark. “Who are you?”
“Name’s Durwood Oak Jones.”
Hogan tried saying it himself. “Duuurwood, is it?”
“Correct.” Durwood assumed Jay Hogan, like the mayor, wasn’t a Soldier of Fortune subscriber. “I’m a concerned party.”
“What does that mean?” Hogan said. “Concerned about what?”
“About this town. About the financial standing of your company.”
As Priscilla Baird excused herself, Durwood explained his contact to date with Carol Bridges and the capacity in which he’d come: to investigate and combat injustice. There was no reason he and Jay Hogan shouldn’t be on the same side. If the lawyers were fleecing Hogan Consolidated or Wall Street sharks were sabotaging it, Durwood’s help should be appreciated.
But Jay Hogan wasn’t rolling out the welcome wagon.
Injustice?” he sneered. “The company’s in a crap situation, a real hole. Not my fault. I didn’t build those hinges. I didn’t, you know, invent P/E ratios or whatever other metrics we aren’t hitting.”
Durwood glared across the desk. Every not and didn’t stuck in his craw.
He said, “What do you do, then?”
“I chart the course,” Hogan said. “I set the top-line strategy.”
“Top-line?”
“Yes. Top-line.”
Durwood resettled his hat on his head. “Thought the bottom line was the important one.”
Jay Hogan made a sound between flatulence and a pig’s snort. “Look—we’ve held the line on wages, kept the unions out. Done everything in our power to stay competitive.”
Durwood asked what his strategy was on those lawsuits.
“Chester handles legal matters,” Hogan said.
“Who’s that?”
“Chester is the COO.”
Durwood raised a finger, counting out letters. “Now what’s the difference between CEO and COO?”
Jay Hogan made impatient motions with his hands. “The COO is the operating officer. He’s more involved in day-to-day business.”
“Who deals with Wall Street? The money men?”
“Chester.”
“Who handles communication? Getting word out to the citizens of Chickasaw about what’s going on?”
Hogan picked up his crepe again. “Chester.”
He said the name—which was prissy to begin with—in a nasal, superior tone.
Durwood’s fist balled at his side. “Fella must be sharp, you trust him with all that.”
“Chester’s extremely smart,” Hogan said. “I’ve known him forever—our families go back generations. We attended all the same boarding schools.”
“Boyhood chums?”
Hogan frowned at the question. “Something like that.”
“He’s about your age, then?”
Hogan nodded.
“Couple twenty-eight-year-olds running a company that dictates the fate of a whole town.” Durwood folded his arms. “Sound fair to you?”
The CEO’s pale cheeks colored. “They’re lucky to have us. Two Ivy League graduates blessed with business instincts. Chester Lyles was president of our fraternity, graduated magna cum laude. We could be founding startups in Seattle or San Francisco where you don’t have to drive a hundred miles for decent food.”
That name rung a bell somewhere for Durwood.
Lyles.
Recalling what Carol Bridges had said about the gully, he said, “You graduate magna cum laude?”
“I don’t need to defend my qualifications to you or anyone.”
Durwood nodded. “Must’ve just missed.”
Jay Hogan stood up a snit. He looked at his crepe again in its tissue-paper sleeve and couldn’t resist. He took a quick bite and thrust a finger at the door, mouth full.
“I’m done answering your questions,” he said. “As CEO, I’m accountable to a shareholder-elected board of directors, which includes presidents of other corporations, a former Treasury Secretary of the United States, and several other prominent executives. They’re satisfied with my performance.”
“How many of them live in Chickasaw?”
Hogan barked a laugh. “They understand the financial headwinds I’m up against.”
“How about those bad hinges? From what I hear, Hogan used to make quality parts.”
“Another Chester question. I don’t deal with quality control.”
That’s for sure.
Durwood saw he would get nowhere with Jay Hogan. This Chester was who he needed to find. Asking this one how the town of Chickasaw was going to shake out was like inspecting your John Deere’s hood ornament to judge if you needed a new tractor.
Hogan was still pointing at the door. Finally, Durwood obliged him.
On the way out, he said, “You got families counting on this company. Families with children, mortgages, sick grandmas. They’re counting on you. Hogans before you did their part. Now be a man, do yours. Rise to your duty.”
Hogan didn’t answer. He had more crepe in his mouth.
Walking down to the parking lot, Durwood passed the factory again. It was dark—the shift had ended while he’d been waiting for Hogan. His boots clacked around the stairwell in solitude.
He considered what ailed Hogan Consolidated and whether he could fix it. He wasn’t optimistic. Oh, he could poke around and get the scoop on Chester Lyles. He could do his best working around the lies and evasions he’d surely encounter. Maybe he would find Chester’s or Jay Hogan’s hand in the cookie jar.
The likeliest culprit, though, was plain old incompetence. Jay Hogan belonged in an insurance office someplace—preferably far from the scissors. Instead, he sat in a corner office of a multi-million dollar company.
Did that rise to the level of injustice? Maybe. Maybe, with so many lives and livelihoods at stake.
Durwood didn’t like cases he had to talk himself into.
He was just imagining how he’d break the news to Carol Bridges if nothing much came of Chester when four men burst from the shadows and tackled him.
***
Excerpt from Dear Durwood by Jeff Bond. Copyright 2020 by Jeff Bond. Reproduced with permission from Jeff Bond. All rights reserved.


Author Bio:


Jeff Bond is an American author of popular fiction. His books have been featured in The New York Review of Books, and his 2020 release, The Pinebox Vendetta, received the gold medal (top prize) in the 2020 Independent Publisher Book Awards. A Kansas native and Yale graduate, he now lives in Michigan with his wife and two daughters.

Catch Up With Jeff Bond On:
JeffBondBooks.com
BookBub
Goodreads
Instagram
Twitter
Facebook!


Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!
Click here to view Dear Durwood by Jeff Bond Participants.


Enter To Win!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Jeff Bond. There will be 2 winners of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card each. The giveaway begins on August 1, 2020 and runs through October 2, 2020. Void where prohibited.
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Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

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

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Spent Identity Blog Tour and Giveaway

 

Spent Identity

by Marlene M. Bell

on Tour August 1-31, 2020

Synopsis:


Farm For Sale. 360-acre lot with ranch-style home. Refurbished barn. Corpse not included.

To find her missing aunt, she has to unearth the secrets of the past. But lies and deceit run through the very heart of their town…

What started out as a promising relationship with adventurer and tycoon Alec Zavos has fizzled into an uncertain future for antiquities expert Annalisse Drury. Returning to Walker Farm in Upstate New York to see her Aunt Kate should have been a welcome homecoming and distraction. Instead, she finds the childhood home she expected to inherit is for sale, without her permission. What’s worse, Kate’s ranch manager makes a gruesome discovery in the barn: the body of an unidentified man, dead by foul play.

Annalisse turns to Alec for help. She and her aunt shelter on his estate in the Catskills while the authorities canvass the scene. But when Kate herself disappears without a trace, Annalisse fears the worst: that one of the many secrets of her hometown has ensnared her family—a secret someone is willing to kill for to keep hidden.


My Review:


I have mixed feeling about this novel. It's a decent mystery although the plot was very complex and bordered on being unbelievable. A missing person, how she went missing and where she was found, well, that was unbelievable. The going back and forth between the farm and Alec's compound was just too frequent. Annalisse seemed an inconsistent character in this novel. She was brave and resourceful sometimes and incompetent other times. The relationship between Annalisse and Alec was not consistent and seemed way too sexually intense some times, especially while Annalisse's aunt was missing.

I found Bell's writing style a bit difficult to appreciate. I think an additional edit is in order. An example is, “She nodded to Alec and left the room.” (Loc 1359/5551) The previous “she” in this scene referred to Annalisse. Granted, an orderly had entered the room but the gender was not specified. I assumed Annalisse was the “she” who had left the room. It was the orderly, however, as was indicated by subsequent text. Ah, trouble with antecedent pronouns.

Another issue with Bell's writing style is illustrated with, “She sprang against the cushion.” (Loc 1424/5551) She suddenly moved up, forward or outward, against the pillow? Sentences like that stopped the flow for me. And sometimes the dialogue just did not make sense to me, even reading it through a couple of times.

While this novel could stand on its own, the characters would be best understood by reading the first in the series, Stolen Obsession. You can read my review of that book here.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Ewephoric Publishing
Publication Date: December 11th 2019
Number of Pages: 378
ISBN: 0999539426 (ISBN13: 9780999539422)
Series: Annalisse Series #2 || This is a Stand-Alone novel but the reader may gain more about the character’s past if they pick up the first book.
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

...from chapter fifteen

She caught a glimpse of Bill’s scarred neck and considered prying. “May I ask a personal question?”
“Sure.” He steered the next turn. “I’ll answer if I can.”
“Did you get burned?”
He rubbed the side of his neck as if to soothe a haunting memory. “I used to be a fireman. Got caught in a seven-story roof collapse. Almost bought it.” He tapped cruise control and slid his shoe off the accelerator.
An injured fireman with a near-death experience turned private investigator made more sense to her now. Bill didn’t fit the cookie-cutter-investigator type.
They hit smooth asphalt in the cross into Sullivan County. Annalisse relished the soothing hum from the roadway. At the county border, they passed a renovated eighteenth-century church refurbished into a modern brick farmhouse. The original belfry and bell sat atop the gable roof at the midpoint, with a new masonry chimney erected on one side near the redwood decking. She hadn’t noticed it the first time with Woody.
“What a horrible experience for you, Bill. I’m sorry. Alec didn’t mention it.”
“We don’t talk about it much. For a bunch of reasons.” Bill fiddled with a tabloid-size newspaper wedged next to the console. “My hours are better now anyway.” He chuckled, rolling the newsprint into a tube and blowing into it.
“A gossip rag? Haven’t read any juicy dirt in a while. I could use a laugh.” She reached for the paper, expecting him to hand it to her.
“Boring issue.” Bill tossed the roll over the headrest, wiping newsprint from his fingers to the seat.
That was strange.
She tried to grab it, but it landed just out of her reach.
Annalisse unbuckled and twisted for a closer look at the huge headline, reading aloud, “THE HOUND CHASES ANOTHER FOX. Please people. Such original journalism. Who this time?” She laughed as she lunged for the paper.
Bill’s arm moved in like a slingshot and bumped her sore cheek, blocking her.
“Ow. Watch the road,” she exclaimed and bounced backward. “Walking wounded here. Just drive, Bill. Allow me to revel in someone else’s grief for a while.”
He touched her elbow. “Please don’t.”
Bill wasn’t smiling, and his skin had morphed to ashen of the dead. He had the look of a man who’d just lost his best friend and was about to lose his faithful dog too.
It clicked. “What don’t you want me to see what thousands of other people have already seen?”
“Wait till we get to Brookehaven so he can—”
“Who can?” Annalisse hung over the seat and stretched her sore body far enough to snag the tabloid with her fingertips. She braced herself—the photo had to be disturbing.
“The timing is bad. Really bad.” Bill stared at the road and in a low voice added, “I’m so sorry.”
The pang of the unknown boomeranged through her heart, and she looked down at the front page of Reveal Reality.
A couple with their backs to the camera, overlooking an ocean at sunset at some kind of event. She wasn’t sure where but expected the piece would say. The paparazzi photographer had zoomed in on a brunette in a skimpy, backless sundress leaning into a man with his elegant hand cupping her barely covered butt cheek. His chiseled profile and windblown curls were unmistakable.
Say bye-bye to the mysterious, green-eyed Annalisse! Italian starlet Monica Corsetti on Italy’s Riviera with Greek magnate, Alec Zavos of the Signorile Corporation. They were…
She covered her mouth.
“Pull over, Bill. I’m gonna throw up.”
***
Excerpt from Spent Identity by Marlene M. Bell. Copyright 2020 by Marlene M. Bell. Reproduced with permission from Marlene M. Bell. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:


Marlene M. Bell is an award-winning writer and acclaimed artist as well as a photographer. Her sheep landscapes grace the covers of Sheep!, The Shepherd, Ranch & Rural Living, and Sheep Industry News, to name a few.
Her catalog venture, Ewephoric, began in 1985 out of her desire to locate personalized sheep stationery. She rarely found sheep products through catalogs and set out to design them herself. Order Ewephoric gifts online or request a catalog at TexasSheep.com.
Marlene and her husband, Gregg, reside in beautiful East Texas on a wooded ranch with their dreadfully spoiled horned Dorset sheep, a large Maremma guard dog named Tia, along with Hollywood, Leo, and Squeaks, the cats that believe they rule the household—and do.

Catch Up With Marlene M. Bell:
MarleneMBell.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Twitter, & Facebook!


Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!
Click here to view the Spent Identity by Marlene M. Bell Participants.


Enter To Win!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Marlene M. Bell. There will be 4 winners. Two (2) winners will each win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. Two (2) winners will each win a set of autographed books, a notebook, and silver jewelry. The giveaway begins on August 1, 2020 and runs through September 2, 2020. Open to U.S. and Canada addresses only. Void where prohibited.

  

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours


I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Partners in Crime Virtual 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, July 31, 2020

The Black Midnight by Kathleen Y'Barbo

I enjoyed this latest addition to the True Colors series, novels based on historical mysteries. Each novel is written by a different author so the quality and style of writing differs. I have read them all and this one is one of my favorites.

I am impressed at how Y'Barbo wove the known facts of the two 1880s serial murder cases, the first ones in Houston and the ones following in London, into a very readable story. I liked the fictional introduction of the two genuine Pinkerton detectives into the mix. I liked Alice Ann. I like how Y'Barbo crafted her as in the royal British line. She is a bright young woman with an investigative mind. While her father prevented her from pursuing her abilities in London, a friend gets her the Pinkerton job in Chicago. On assignment in Houston, she is paired with the handsome Isaiah. I liked that Alice kept her royal lineage secret. She wanted to be respected for what she could do, not for her royal identity. And the budding romance between Alice and Isaiah is done well and reminds me of the recent royal family experiences of marrying for love.

Y'Barbo includes information at the back of the book so we readers know exactly which parts of the book are fiction and which are factual.

I really enjoyed the novel. It was well crafted with a style of writing that kept me reading. There is suspense only at the very end but the pace of the investigation kept me interested in the unfolding details of the Houston and London murders. I'll be watching for the next novel by Y'Barbo.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Kathleen Y'Barbo is the author of more than 100 books with over two million copies in print in the U.S. and abroad. She is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee. She is a paralegal and tenth generation Texan. She and her husband live just north of Houston. You can find out more at https://kathleenybarbo.com/

Barbour Books, 256 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.
(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Well, Girl by Jami Amerine

Wow. This gal has an attitude. She wants readers to be who God created us to be, irrespective of size and shape. We belong to Jesus and there is no one to accuse us, to shame us.

Amerine is honest about her own experiences. She's blunt on a number of subjects. She freely shares her opinions. She doesn't hide the scars and encourages us not to hide them too.

This is a book about being well, spiritually and physically. Amerine shares her struggles with weight, appearance, and exercise but also shares the freedom she has found in her relationship with Jesus. The bottom line she calls Beloved Living: Seek Jesus in all things, discern thoughts about ourselves and where they come from, and make peace with ourselves including who we are in Jesus.

My favorite chapter was the one on creativity. Amerine found that her painting and writing allowed her joy to come out. She was no longer trying to stuff down feelings or trying to make herself feel better with food.

And speaking of food, Amerine encourages us to get in tune with our Creator. She prays about it all, from food to medications to exercise. What freedom we can find when we listen to the One who designed us.

This is a good book for women who want to get off the diet and exercise treadmill and get on the path of living in relationship with Jesus, letting Him guide your lives. You'll be entertained with great stories and an honest writing style that is a breath of fresh air. And you'll be encouraged to pursue “the grand adventure He intended just for you.” (115)

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Jami Amerine has a Master's Degree in Education, Counseling, and Human Development. She is a popular blogger and speaker. She lives in North Houston with her family. You can find out more at https://sacredgroundstickyfloors.com/

Barbour, 256 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, July 29, 2020

The Silent Wife by Karin Slaughter

Every once and a while I read a mystery that has everything I like and think, this is how mysteries should be written. The characters are captivating with believable issues. The plot is engaging, alternating between a current murder investigation and an unfinished investigation from years ago. The original investigation is revealed in flash back chapters as the current investigation covers similar territory but with new evidence and insights. Then, about ten percent from the end comes the clue that blows the whole investigation wide open.

I've read a few of Slaughter's novels and have been impressed each time. This one is a long one at nearly 500 pages but I was never bored and the pace never lagged. It contains a good balance of character development and investigative procedure. I will be looking for the next novel from Slaughter.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Karin Slaughter is a New York Times bestselling author with 35 million copies of her nineteen novels in print, in 37 languages. She is a native of Georgia and currently lives in Atlanta.

William Morrow, 498 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.)

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Back to God Blog Tour and Giveaway


About the Book


Book:  Back to God
Author: Tim Witte
Genre:  Nonfiction
Release Date: January 27, 2020

Back to God: The Journey of Hope through a Broken World is a timeless, grace-filled message from the Bible to bring us back to God.

Sometimes we long not for escape but to find our way in the midst of the questions burning in our minds. Who can I trust? Do I have meaning? What hope do I have?

In a society where nothing is permanent, technological advances increase our sense of vulnerability, and relationships come and go, we long for one unchanging element in which we can trust and rest in wholeheartedly without fear. We long for hope. Author Tim Witte conveys just that with Back to God, offering foundational principles from the timeless truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ:
  • the message of unfailing hope that meets us in our broken world
  • a promise from the only one who cannot lie and who will not fail
  • a powerful word from God to bring us back to God
Back to God is neither academic nor profoundly apologetic but is a truthful, down-to-earth dialogue filled with illustrations that will resonate with readers who long for true answers from the Bible for life’s biggest problems.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

This is a good introduction to the gospel and apologetic for this generation. Witte combines his own experiences and those of others with insights from the Bible to show the need for God in our culture. He shows that true meaning in life only comes when God is recognized and trusted with believing faith. This is a good book to give to those who understand that something is not right in the world. It will help them find what they are longing for, the grace of God and salvation in Jesus Christ. It is also a good book for believers to read, being refreshed in the truths of the gospel.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author


Writer and veteran Bible teacher Tim Witte holds a bachelor’s in Bible and Greek from Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee, and studied computer science at Austin Peay State University. He lives in northern Indiana with his wife of thirty years. They have three daughters, two sons-in-law, and two grandsons. Tim enjoys teaching Bible classes at his church, woodworking, barbecuing, and spending time with family.


More from Tim

If I Should Die Before I Wake

Next to a chainsaw, the most dangerous tool you could find in my hand is a rhyming dictionary. The good news is I have not touched a chainsaw for months. The bad news is I recently dusted off New Rhyming Dictionary and Poetry Handbook. My subject is prayer so maybe, with much prayer, I can do more good than harm.

A Child’s Prayer


Writing Back To God made me reflect on the people and events God used in preserving my life and leading me to faith in Christ. Though I did not have a clear understanding of the gospel as a child, my parents laid a good foundation with biblical truths about God and myself. One of my earliest memories is of my Mom stooping beside my bed and having me repeat this prayer:
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep;
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
That nightly routine and the words of that little prayer helped establish a Godward orientation to my life. Not every child receives that. I learned some vital truths at a very young age:

  • I learned I could pray to God. What a concept! Many PhDs have not figured that out.
  • I learned I was not ready to go to sleep until I had said my prayers. I don’t speak of praying in that way now; it sounds more ritualistic than personal. Yet, it conveyed the priority of praying to God.
  • I learned that God could protect me, but I should not presume upon that protection. I should ask for it.
  • The third line presents the possibility of death. It would have been bizarre and borderline cruel if, night after night, my mother had said, “Now remember Timmy, you might die in your sleep. Good night!” However, prayer is serious business, and I can talk to God about the scariest stuff.
  • Additionally, I learned my eternal destiny was not to be taken for granted; it was to be a matter of prayer. Ultimately, God would decide where I ended up.

As one would expect, my prayers became more varied and improvised as I matured. For most of my adolescence, I continued a somewhat sporadic pattern of prayer at night.

Gospel-ignited Prayer


However, the time came while in the Army when I ceased to pray. I recount some of this in Back to God. My life was a sinful mess. The last thing I wanted to think about was what happens “if I should die before I wake.” For prayer to be possible one has to have hope, but I was hopeless. Prayer would only be reawakened in me when another soldier brought me God’s message of hope.
Interestingly, my evangelist started the conversation by asking, “Tim, do you know where you would go if you died tonight?” From there, he proceeded to share the gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. That prompted me to read the Bible, and particularly the book of Romans. I was overwhelmed by the astonishing message of God’s grace. Then the flame of prayer was reignited when I read, “For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved'” (Rom. 10:13). God heard my cry that day, and now I have the Holy Spirit dwelling in me and teaching me to cry, “Abba! Father!” (Rom. 8:15).
So recited prayers can be powerful tools for instructing small children about themselves and God. Such prayers may help them form a daily habit of praying. However, only the gospel has power to kindle the eternal flame of prayer in our hearts.

A Responsive Prayer


You may want to take cover now as I am about to wax poetic. Understanding the role that prayers can have in teaching important theological truths and the necessity of the gospel to ignite prayer in the heart, I recently composed a responsive bedtime prayer for my daughter and son-in-law to use with their young sons. I patterned it after the prayer my mother taught me, but I filled it with gospel hope.
Child:
As I lay me down, I pray,
Thank you Jesus for this day.
By your grace forgive my sin,
Make me true and clean within.
Parent:
Holy Jesus guard your sheep,
For you died our souls to keep.
Keep us trusting in your grace,
Till we see you face to face.

Blog Stops

Artistic Nobody, July 29 (Author Interview)
Simple Harvest Reads, August 1 (Author Interview)
My Devotional Thoughts, August 3 (Author Interview)
Library Lady's Kid Lit, August 6 (Author Interview)
Mary Hake, August 8
Blossoms and Blessings, August 9 (Author Interview)
God is Love, August 9

Giveaway


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


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.)