Thursday, December 8, 2022

Take My Hand by Kristen Hogrefe Parnell Book Review


About the Book

Book: Take My Hand

Author: Kristen Hogrefe Parnell

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Release date: December 5, 2022

Don’t find us. We’ll find you.

Trauma therapist Kaley Colbert needs a vacation from her job, and a ski trip with her church singles’ group seems like the perfect way to unplug. But while in the mountains, she learns that her last client was murdered hours after their meeting, and she wonders if the notes she’s receiving from a possible stalker hold a more sinister warning.

On the trip, ex-boyfriend and entrepreneur Reef Mitchell wants to give their relationship another chance, but Kaley questions if his past and priorities could ever mesh with her life. When her client’s underworld connections catch up with her, she has no choice but trust Reef to help her stay alive, solve her client’s mystery, and bring the killers to justice.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

This is an enjoyable inspirational romantic suspense. The romance is interesting as it is a tension filled reuniting of two people who had previously been a couple. That allowed for the reigniting of feelings during danger. I felt the characters were developed pretty well. Kaley is too nice, not suspecting a devious woman and that gets her into trouble. Reef is a nice guy and I felt as frustrated as he did when his rescue efforts were hampered by law enforcement. It might be a little unrealistic that Reef had more success than professionals but it made for a good story.

I liked the settings of Florida and then a snow skiing area. As a PNW person, it was fun to read of Floridians experiencing snow and learning to ski. It was also interesting to read about the boating event in Tampa, something I had not heard about. Parnell's writing style is good making this novel an easy read.

This is a good romantic suspense with a strong faith message for young career age readers. It seems like this might just be the beginning of adventures for Kaley so I will be looking for more from Parnell.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

 

About the Author

Kristen Hogrefe Parnell writes suspenseful fiction from a faith perspective for women and young adults. Her own suspense story involved waiting on God into her thirties to meet her husband, and she desires to keep embracing God’s plan for her life when it’s not what she expects. Kristen’s books have won the Selah Award and the Grace Award, among others. An educator at heart, she also teaches English online and enjoys being a podcast guest. Kristen lives in Florida with her husband and baby boy. Visit her online at KristenHogrefeParnell.com.

More from Kristen


Real-Life Inspiration for Fictional Suspense

Mark Twain said, “Write what you know.” I certainly took his advice with the setting of my romantic suspense novel, Take My Hand. Beech Mountain, North Carolina is part of my own story in a special way. While my husband James and I were dating, our church group planned a ski trip to Beech Mountain, much like the one Reef and Kaley embark on in my story. Born and raised in Florida, I had never seen fresh snow fall, let alone attempt to ski in it. Writing Kaley’s frustration with the learning curve is something I came by honestly.

James taught the other new skiers and me the basics, and I felt so special to be his girlfriend and have such a thoughtful date. Later, when my writing imagination kicked in, I began to wonder, “What if James and I hadn’t been dating but had broken up? How awkward would that experience have been?” Awkward on steroids. Then the suspense lover in me began to spin the story of Kaley and Reef as well as a celebrity villain that no one would suspect. And so, this story was born.

But my experience with Beech Mountain didn’t stop with a ski trip. After James and I had been dating for just over a year, he planned a surprise engagement trip to—you guessed it—Beech Mountain. Since my Sunshine State doesn’t offer fall foliage, James invited some friends and me on a fall hiking trip. Though I wondered if he might pop the big question, I wasn’t sure, and my best friend wasn’t budging with any clues. One of our late afternoon hikes took us to Wiseman’s View, a stunning overlook of the mountains and canyon below. I was cold, craving hot chocolate, and ready to head back to our cabin, but James wanted to show me one more vista and “get a picture.” With my best friend recording the moment, James dropped down on one knee, spoke the sweetest words, and asked me to marry him—to which I happily said yes!

Now, Beech Mountain is one of our favorite road trip destinations as a married couple. With the arrival of our baby boy this summer, we are anticipating future family trips which will no doubt provide new inspiration for writing material. I look forward to sharing more stories in this series that revolve around Beech Mountain and the friends who come together and grow in their faith as they face life’s dangers and adventures.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, December 8

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 9

Texas Book-aholic, December 10

deb’s Book Review, December 11

Inklings and notions, December 12

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, December 13

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 14

For Him and My Family, December 14

Betti Mace, December 15

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 16

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, December 17

Blogging With Carol, December 18

Lily’s Book Reviews, December 19

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 20

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, December 21 (Author Interview)

Mary Hake, December 21

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Kristen is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card with a copy of the book!!

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

https://promosimple.com/ps/23056/take-my-hand-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.)

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Hidden Pieces by Mary Keliikoa Book Review

About the Book:

He has nothing left to lose but this case. Can he rescue a young victim before there's another death on his conscience?

Sheriff Jax Turner is staring down the barrel of his broken past. On the brink of ending it all, he feels like a failure following his daughter's tragic passing and his subsequent divorce. But when a schoolgirl vanishes and her backpack is found in a sex offender's backseat, the weary lawman drags himself into action and vows to nail one last sociopath.

Shocked to discover the missing preteen's aunt had lost her life in an abduction years prior, the devastating outcome that he's taken personally, Jax believes the killer has returned with a vengeance. But as the desperate cop frantically hunts down a mysterious relative in search of a suspect, the girls' time keeps ticking away...

Can the jaded sheriff taken down the culprit and bring the poor youngster home alive?

Hidden Pieces is the gripping first book in the Misty Pines Mystery Series. If you like compelling characters, shocking plot twists, and atmospheric settings, you'll love this suspenseful new series.

My Review:


This is the first book I have read by Keliikoa and I really liked most of it. I became engaged right away with the opening scene of Sheriff Jax, despondent enough to contemplate suicide yet forced back into the responsibility of his job by a dispatch from his office. That scene was a great way to hook this reader.

The title of the book is apt given that, as the investigation by Jax continues, facts from the past as well as current relationships are reluctantly revealed. It is like hidden pieces of a puzzle coming together. I liked Jax's commitment to finding the lost girl, even when it meant alienating powerful people or irritating his ex-wife. He was not going to lose this girl, no matter what it took.

There were some good twists at the end. While I appreciated most of them, I did think the final identity of the abductor was stretching my ability to believe a bit. Except for that unreasonable aspect of the final resolution, I thought the novel was well written.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


About the Author:


Mary Keliikoa is the author of the Shamus Finalist and Lefty, Agatha and Anthony award nominated PI Kelly Pruett mystery series and the upcoming Misty Pines mystery series featuring Sheriff Jax Turner slated for release in September 2022. Her short stories have appeared in Woman's World and in the anthology Peace, Love and Crime: Crime Fiction Inspired by Music of the ‘60s. A Pacific NW native, she spent a part of her life working around lawyers. Combining her love of legal and books, she creates a twisting mystery where justice prevails.


When not in Washington, you can find Mary on the beach in Hawaii where she and her husband recharge. But even under the palm trees and blazing sun, she’s plotting her next murder—novel that is.

Level Best Books, 300 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.)

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

A Fearsome Moonlight Black by David Putnam Book Review

About the Book


Dave Beckett is a wide-eyed young man when he joins the police department in a small town in Southern California. His naivete allows him to believe in his world, a vision where the cops are the good guys championing the rights of the wronged. He learns quickly that crime is not black and white, and the bad guys aren't always the ones committing the crimes. This is the story of a victim turned predator, a young man who grows up too fast and becomes an apt pupil in the pursuit of criminals on both sides of the fence.

You can watch the book trailer here.

My Review


This is the first I've read by Putnam and I like it. His writing style is engaging. I liked Dave right off. Even though one might consider him naïve, he is a rookie at his job and gets plunged into its gruesome aspect right away with several deaths. One can tell the author has had experience in law enforcement. The feeling is one of reality, not made up situations. I cringed at the attitude and dialog between the officers but I think at that time (1979) it was very much the routine.

When the novel jumps to 1988, another kind of reality sets in. Dave is no longer naïve. A near decade of police work has taken its toll on his character and his life relationships. As Putnam says in his note, this novel reflects not so much what happened on the the street but more what the street did to the kid.

This is a good start to Dave's story. I'll be watching to see what happens in his life.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


About the Author


During his law enforcement career,
David Putnam worked primarily in California on teams for Patrol, Investigations, SWAT, Narcotics, Violent Crimes, Criminal Intelligence, Internal Affairs, Detective Bureau and as child protective services coordinator.

He rounded out his law enforcement career with a few years in the Hawaiian Islands as a Special Agent-part of a real-life "Hawaii-50″ team.

He's now retired from law enforcement and spends his time growing organic California avocados and writing, with his wife Mary and their dogs

 He is the recipient of many awards and commendations for heroism. A Fearsome Moonlight Black is the first book in a trilogy. Look for the second book, A Lonesome Blood-Red Sun coming out in 2023. 

Learn more a DavidPutnamBooks.com

Level Best Books, 330 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.)


Monday, December 5, 2022

The Unhiding of Elijah Campbell by Kelly Flanagan Book Review

About the Book


Elijah Campbell is on the verge of losing his writing career, his faith, and his marriage when a recurring childhood nightmare drives him back to his hometown, Bradford's Ferry. 

There, his encounters with loved ones both past and present shed light on the reason his wife left him―and the meaning of his nightmare. However, beyond the light he begins to glimpse something even more terrifying―a decision he must make either to continue hiding the secrets of his past or unhide the only thing that can save his marriage: himself.

In psychologist Kelly Flanagan's non-fiction works (LoveableTrue Companions), he drew from clinical insight to explore the spiritual depths of identity and relationships. Now, in this debut novel, he weaves a page-turning and plot-twisting tale that brings new life to those insights, along with fresh revelations about personal growth, spiritual transformation, and the dynamics of interpersonal relationships.

This visit to Bradford's Ferry will linger long after the final page has been turned, and a guide for group discussion invites further conversation about the story's themes of healing, grace, faith, forgiveness, and freedom.


You can read an excerpt here.

My Review


Unlike most readers, according to reviews, I had difficulty being engaged with this novel. It is mostly prose with lots of reminiscing, remembering, and dream experiences. Elijah comes across as a person who, even in adulthood, will not face his own weaknesses. He is not an honest man, hiding credit card debt from his soon to be and then new wife, for example. He is not honest with his therapist. The novel follows his long journey of self-discovery.

This is a novel for readers who like the slow path of working through memories to self awareness. It is a good book for those who would like to go through a similar inner journey or are perhaps experiencing a midlife crisis. There are many good lessons one can find in the story and the discussion questions are good for thinking about them.

My rating: 4/5 stars. 


About the Author


Kelly Flanagan
(PhD, Pennsylvania State University) is a clinical psychologist, popular speaker, and the author of 
The Marriage ManifestoLoveable, and True Companions. He has also written for publications such as Christianity TodayReader's Digest, and Huffington Post, and he has appeared on the TODAY Show with his daughter. He lives in Dixon, Illinois, with his wife who is also named Kelly, and their three children. You can find out more at https://drkellyflanagan.com/

IVP, 320 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Untrustworthy by Bonnie Kristian Book Review

I have mixed emotions about this book. I highly agree with Kristian that we are in the midst of a knowledge crisis. People accept statements without documentation and criticize those who want evidence for a proposed truth. We don't even agree on the method for finding the truth. And, as Kristian says, this problem has infiltrated the church.

Unfortunately, this book, while it is great in what Kristian says, it is not something my friend who reposts thoughtlessly would ever read. It is way too academic and not friendly to the common reader. This book may well be read by a pastor and then preached about. Otherwise I don't know how the people who really need the information included will get it.

Here are some of the highlights of the book. I appreciate Kristian reminding readers, “...Christian faithfulness does require sincere pursuit of truth in love.” (557/4336) She explores news sources, admitting that most have a bias. She covers the lure of “fake news.” She reminds us the explosive nature of words and that Christians are to put on kindness and respond with love. Christians should refuse to be part of the vindictiveness. She includes ideas on how to deal with conspiracy thinking. I like that she suggests we be intellectually honest people, asking ourselves whether we believe something because it is well-documents or because we just want it to be true. Further suggestions include eliminating social media apps and turning off cable news, rather choosing reliable sources. She also suggests reading about logical fallacies but offers no instruction herself.

I wanted this book to be something the average Christian could read and from it glean some practical ways to evaluate statements and claims. I wanted a strategy for how one would go about determine the truth of a media post. While Kristian has provided an excellent analysis of the problem, there is a lack of applicability for the average Christian.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Bonnie Kristian is a theological and political writer with a national following. She is the weekend editor at The Week and a foreign policy fellow at Defense Priorities, and her work has appeared at Time MagazineCNNPoliticoUSA TodayRelevant MagazineThe HillChristianity Today, and the American Conservative, among other outlets.

Brazos Press, 233 pages.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Canter with a Killer by Amber Camp Book Review

About the Book


Mallory Martin left her marriage and her unfulfilling job to move back to her hometown of Hillspring, Arkansas, and start a horse rescue. It’s everything she’s been missing, with paddocks of happy horses and one very quirky donkey. But when her cantankerous neighbor and longtime critic, Albert Cunningham, is found murdered in his fancy show barn, Mallory becomes suspect number one. Since Sheriff Grady Sullivan is ignoring all good sense and focusing only on Mallory, she decides to take matters into her own hands.

Aided by her best friend, Lanie, and rescue volunteer Tanner, Mallory races headlong into the investigation in search of the real killer. But horses and murder aren’t the only thing on her mind when she meets Albert’s handsome son, Braydon. Sparks fly, and soon she’s got a new boyfriend. But there’s a case to be solved, and she redoubles her efforts to learn the truth.

The suspects mount quickly. There’s Albert’s girlfriend, Kathleen, who was on the farm when he was murdered; organic farmer Heather Rogers, who accused Albert of contaminating her creek; and Philip Atwood, who’d been trying for a right-of-way across Albert’s farm. None of the evidence is holding up though, and Mallory learns that she’ll need to take the reins on this investigation if she’s going to clear her own name.

My Review


I was impressed with this debut mystery from Camp. The plotted mystery is pretty good as the murder seemed reasonable considering the circumstances. I usually do not like the heroine and amateur sleuth going off on her own, making mistakes and incriminating herself with evidence toward conviction. In this novel, however, Mallory is well characterized as desperate to prove herself innocent. And rightly so as it seems the sheriff, though a longtime friend, is by no means her advocate.

I liked this cozy mystery. There is the setting of horse farms, a well developed heroine, suspects galore, a suspenseful end and an unusual hero in the end. The villain might not be a surprise to some readers as there were clues but the mystery was well plotted. There is a hint of romance too, well done.

I liked this debut effort and will be watching for more from Camp.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


About the Author

Amber Camp has always had a love for mysteries and settings you can get lost in. She discovered cozy mysteries in college and fell in love with the genre.

She has lived in Northwest Arkansas for twenty years, working as an RN at a rural hospital in the area. She has a menagerie of animals that includes dogs, cats, horses, and what has been described as the Mule from Hell, which may or may not be a slight exaggeration.

Writing has always been a focus in her life, something she describes as “food for my soul.” An avid reader since grade school, she enjoys multiple genres and is always looking for new authors to add to her favorites. Find out more at https://www.ambercampauthor.com/   Photo credit: Madison Camp.


Crooked Land Books, 304 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

The Ghost in Your Christmas Present by L G Nixon Book Review

About the Book

There are perils in your Christmas carols; when you’re a Hornberger . . .

Lucy Hornberger’s Christmas is about to come unwrapped. Two ghosts are threatening her holiday joy. One ghost, with a brutal temper and unbelievable strength, is creating bedlam everywhere. The other ghost seems benign, but her methods leave Lucy’s mom empty, scared, and lonely. Lucy will do whatever it takes to defeat the forces menacing her loved ones and bring joy back to Christmas.

And you thought Santa was a jolly ol’ soul.


You can watch the book trailer here.


My Review


Nixon has given young readers another exciting adventure into the spirit realm. This is a story taking place near Christmas and is a novella so is good for readers who aren't quite ready for a full length novel.

Nixon's setting is one combining fantasy and Christian truth. Lucy uses magic stones, for example, but the stones are actually Bible promises. There are ghosts but they are actually beings from the spirit realm, angels and demons. The battles waged are very representative of the spiritual warfare Paul describes in the New Testament.

This novella highlights the battle waged in the spirit realm to see a person become a child of God. Lucy's mother finds freedom from her past in an exciting battle for her very soul. There are lessons learned too as Lucy comes to understand the difference between relying on her own strength and the strength and power of the High King.

Forces for good and evil exist in the spirit realm and this novella really brings out that reality. Nixon adds a note identifying the spiritual lesson to learn and the many Bible verses referenced in the novella. These are a great help to parents as they explain the truth behind the exciting adventure.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

You can read my reviews of the earlier books in the series: The Ghost of Darwin Stewart and The Ghost Writer


You can get an idea of Nixon's writing style and the Christian basis for her books by reading the Ascalon Chronicles.

About the Author

L. G. Nixon grew up hoping to be a writer. After a long career in office management, she began writing. Growing up in a creaky old house where relatives told ghost stories, she now shares stories God lays on her heart. She lives in Michigan with her husband and enjoys outdoor activities. You can find out more at www.lgnixon.com.


Fitting Words, 128 pages.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from the author. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Christmas Crime Cover-Up by Dana Mentink Book Review

About the Book

Book: Christmas Crime Cover-Up

Author: Dana Mentink

Genre:Inspy Suspense

Release date: November 29, 2022

From USA TODAY bestselling author Dana Mentink…

A violent attack

Isn’t the homecoming she expected.

When an ATV tries to run her down in Death Valley, animal rescuer Nora Duke knows it’s a sign she never should have returned. Now she’s stuck on Seth Castillo’s ranch until Christmas with a pregnant donkey—and a criminal desperate to silence her. Facing her past is as terrifying as uncovering a killer’s twisted plan. But can Seth convince her to stay…if they live through the holidays?

From Love Inspired Suspense: Courage. Danger. Faith.

Desert Justice

Book 1: Framed in Death Valley
Book 2: Missing in the Desert
Book 3: Death Valley Double Cross
Book 4: Death Valley Hideout
Book 5: Christmas Crime Cover-Up
Book 6: Targeted in the Desert

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

While this is part of a series and characters in this novel have appeared in previous ones, it reads well on its own. The plot provides a good deal of suspense as someone is out to kill Nora. There is a good deal of relationship tension as Nora returns to the area of her family from whom she has been alienated for years. It is good to see forgiveness and relationship restoration as part of the plot. There is also the possibility of romance with suitable tension and obstacles along the way. I did think the romance, in the end, went way too fast.

The setting continues to be the desert of Death Valley. I liked the idea of capturing wild burros and placing them in a rescue location. That was an interesting side to the main plot.

The characters are done well. The identity of the villain was not a surprise as we are set up for it. There is a twist at the end we were also set up for but it just did not seen reasonable to me.

This is a readable and entertaining mystery with some elements of faith and a quick romance.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

You can read my reviews of the earlier books in the series: Framed in Death Valley, Missing in the Desert, Death Valley Double Cross, and Death Valley Hideout.

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, Harlequin Heartwarming 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.) Her monthly newsletter features plenty of goodies, gab and giveaways. https://www.subscribepage.com/b8q0y5

More from Dana

Well here we go! Book five in the Desert Justice series features Nora (Chief Jude’s estranged sister), a wild donkey who needs rescuing, and a crime from the past that intrudes into the present. Twisty, right? I was inspired to write this story after visiting Death Valley and learning about the feral donkeys which inhabit the region. They’re cute, visitors love them, but the burros can encounter health problems and cause environmental damage if they aren’t settled into a safe area. It’s amazing to me that wild donkeys are adept at detecting underground water sources. They dig “wells” which can benefit many thirsty animals. Fascinating, right? Hope you’ll enjoy meeting Bubbles the donkey and the helpful humans who rescue her in this novel. God bless and thanks for reading!

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, December 3

deb’s Book Review, December 3

Through the Fire Blogs, December 3

Texas Book-aholic, December 4

Paula’s Pad of Inspiration, December 4

Betti Mace, December 5

Genesis 5020, December 5

Bizwings Blog, December 6

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 6

Bigreadersite, December 7

Inklings and notions, December 7

Daysong Reflections, December 8

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 8

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 9

Empowermoms, December 9

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, December 10

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 10

Pause for Tales, December 10

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, December 11

For Him and My Family, December 11

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, December 12

Holly’s Book Corner, December 12

Blogging With Carol, December 13

Vicky Sluiter, December 13

For the Love of Literature, December 14

Lily’s Book Reviews, December 14

Cover Lover Book Review, December 15

Simple Harvest Reads, December 15 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Blossoms and Blessings, December 16

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, December 16

Labor Not in Vain, December 16

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Dana is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the 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/22ec8/christmas-crime-cover-up-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.)