Thursday, May 19, 2022

Dead Against Her by Melinda Leigh

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

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

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

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

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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

Montlake, 303 pages.

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

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

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Run With the Wind by Judy DuCharme Blog Tour and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Run With the Wind

Author: Judy DuCharme

Genre: Christian fiction

Release date: 2016

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

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

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

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

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

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author

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

More from Judy

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

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, May 18

Texas Book-aholic, May 19

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

Debbie's Dusty Deliberations, May 20

Locks, Hooks and Books, May 21

deb's Book Review, May 22

Inklings and notions, May 23

For Him and My Family, May 24

Vicky Sluiter, May 25 (Author Interview)

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, May 26

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

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

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, May 29

Tell Tale Book Reviews, May 30 (Author Interview)

Mary Hake, May 30

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, May 31


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

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

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Celebrate Lit.

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

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The Rising by Kerry Peresta Blog Tour and Giveaway


The Rising

by Kerry L Peresta

May 1-31, 2022 Virtual Book Tour


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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

My rating: 4/5 stars.


Book Details:

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

Read an excerpt:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remember, they’re only feelings.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He clamped his lips together.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I frowned. “What was I scared of?”

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

I thought for a few seconds. Nothing came.

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

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

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

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

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

Monty’s jaw muscles flexed. “Next?”

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

I tried to rein in my disgust.

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

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

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

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

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

A vein pulsed in his neck.

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

“It is for me,” I said, brightly.

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

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

His eyes found a spot on the wall.

“So you do remember. What happened?”

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

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

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

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

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


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


Author Bio:

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

Catch Up With Kerry L Peresta:
BookBub - @kerryperesta
Instagram - @kerryperesta
Twitter - @kerryperesta
Facebook - @klperesta


Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!
Click here to view The Rising by Kerry L Peresta Tour Hosts.



This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for The Rising by Kerry L Peresta. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.



Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Tours

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

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

Monday, May 16, 2022

Don't Scroll by Brian Barcelona

I have mixed feelings about this book. On the positive side, Barcelona sees this digital age as perhaps the greatest opportunity for spreading the gospel. He has a different perspective on social media. For him, it is not something that leads one away from God but is rather “something that gives my relationship with God purpose and worth.” (102) He sees it as a place to give the opportunity of salvation every day. He came to this conclusion when COVID precluded his traveling. At home, he realized (after encouragement from his wife) that the mission had not changed but the method had. “The age of digital missions has arrived.” (54)

Barcelona writes of his encouragement to use social media to spread the gospel in the context of telling his own story. We read much about his experiences. He tells many stories, giving good examples of young people living out the gospel using digital technology to spread the Good News. “Gen Z,” he writes, “is and will be the greatest proclaimers of the gospel.” (69)

There are a couple of aspects of the book that puzzled me. One was Barcelona relating he “loved” Kanye West coming out with an album in 2019 he called Jesus Is King. Barcelona admits West “had no lifestyle of living for Christ.” (76) That admiration for West making such a bold statement, even though his lifestyle does not agree, is countered by what Barcelona follows with in identifying what this generation wants. Not living the gospel validates “the hypocrisy that has driven so many away from God.” (78) “Gen Z is not interested in flashy lights or a well-known speaker.” (83) “Gen Z sees past the big screens, fog machines and over-rehearsed worship sets.” (86) They want authenticity. Why in the world world would Barcelona voice his admiration for an entertainer who, by his own admission, makes a statement but does not live a Christian lifestyle, when those to whom he hopes to share salvation want authenticity?

I was appalled at Barcelona's use of the concept of a shotgun wedding. “A shotgun wedding is when two people get married in the spur of the moment. The reason they call it a shotgun wedding is because the man has to fear the father of the woman coming out with a shotgun.” (96) That is so wrong! Even a quick Google search would have clarified that a shotgun wedding is a forced one when the woman is pregnant, the father holding the shotgun to make sure the man does right by his daughter. I just shook my head at the wrong use of that phrase.

I was a bit disappointed there was not more practical help for people who might be challenged in the use of digital technology. “Let me give you instructions on how to use these platforms,” Barcelona writes. (118) Download the app and watch examples from his ministry. “See what we do and do the same.” (119) No information on which apps are best for certain types of gospel presentation. No information on how to set up a profile. No information on search engine optimization or how to increase the number of followers. While he says censorship is a given, he has no suggestions on how to avoid using triggering language. Although he encourages readers to go to for more resources, “Coming Soon” was all I saw as of this writing.

You'll find lots of encouragement in this book for churches in general and young people in particular to use digital opportunities as additional resources to share the gospel. You'll also find lots of stories showing the fruit of digital ministry. It looks like you are on your own as to practical ideas on how to get the ministry going.

You can read an excerpt here.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Brian Barcelona ( is an author, a speaker and the founder of One Voice Student Missions and The Jesus Clubs. He ministers to millions each month through digital media, including Instagram, TikTok, Zoom and YouTube. Brian lives with his wife, Marcela, and their three children in Dallas, Texas. Photo credit: Manny Gaitan 

Chosen, 176 pages.

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

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

Sunday, May 15, 2022

A Book of Murder by Victoria Dowd

This is the first book I've read, the fourth in this series. While the mystery read well on its own, there were many references to events from previous novels having great impact on characters. There was much about the earlier death of Mirabelle. It was mentioned often, so often I wondered why Dowd did not do a better job of reviewing that death for readers of this novel. Something of such impact should have been clearly presented again for new readers and old readers who have lived life since the previous novel.

I liked the mystery plot. It's a kind of locked room murder where all the evidence points to a certain outcome and how could it possibly be any different? I liked how the murder technique was figured out but I am not so sure the essential clue had been given to us earlier. I did feel the outcome of the final suspenseful scene was a bit realistic. What happened every time in similar cases in the novel miraculously did not happen this time.

What I liked most in the novel was the interaction of the Smart women. There was snappy dialogue and good comebacks. The mother is something else. I also liked learning more about a poisonous fish and preparation techniques.

What I didn't like about the book is mostly because I came into the series late and did not feel there was enough background information. That is overshadowed by all I liked, the plot, the characters and the writing style. I'll be looking for more from this author.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

After graduating from Cambridge, Victoria was a criminal law barrister on the London circuit for many years, where many of her cases were much stranger than fiction.

Victoria is now an award winning writer, having won the Go Gothic Short Story Award for 2019. She has had short fiction published in places such as Aesthetica: A Review of Contemporary Artists and was chosen as the runner up in The New Writer’s writer of the year award. Her work was Highly Commended by The Writers’ Forum and long-listed for The Willesden Herald International Short Story Competition. She has had short stories published in the BTS Literary and Arts Annual, Dream Catcher arts journal and Gold Dust Literary Magazine.

Victoria lives with her husband and two children. She writes full time, splitting her time between London and Devon, where she can indulge her passion for all things Agatha Christie. You can find out more at

Joffe Books, 342 pages.

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

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

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Presence - The Story of Adel by Lana Wetzel Blog Tour and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Presence-The Story of Adel

Author: Lana Wetzel

Genre: Inspirational Fiction/Women’s Fiction/Religious Romance

Release date: April 27, 2021

Adel Davis knows something has to change. Living with her parents after her husband left isn’t working out, especially where her son Noah is concerned. Ever since he arrived eight months earlier, Adel has been longing for space and independence. She longs for the family that God has written on her heart.

When Adel learns that she has inherited her grandparents’ old apple orchard in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia, she knows exactly what she wants to do. She and Noah leave her parents’ home in San Francisco to discover a new life at Sweet Valley Farms.

What will she find when she gets there? Will living alone on a rural apple farm be more than Adel can bear? What about the attention she begins to receive from a few local men? As Adel learns what it means to run the orchard, she also discovers what it means to have a people, a place, and a home. A girl can start a new life; she just can’t do it alone.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

This novel is an adult coming of age story combined with finding true love. We experience leaving her parental home and venturing out to a new life through the eyes of Adel. We are along with her in the challenge of making new friends, facing unexpected disasters, and exploring potential romance (hoping she falls for the right guy). We get a good sense of the spirituality and culture of North Georgia, reading about snake handlers and areas of extreme poverty. We also get to experience the new friendships and joyful family celebrations along with Adel. But there is also the struggle of reconciling with the parents she left behind while setting a new path for life.

The writing style is very clear cut and straight forward. Sometimes I felt like I was reading a daily journal rather than a novel. The dialogue is precise, relating every single word said in a conversation. It seemed awkward sometimes as fiction usually abbreviates such dialogue for readability. Also, we have precise descriptions, sometimes with more information than we need. For example, we read Adel is given a paper with “information handwritten on it in blue ink.” (268) Does the color of the ink really matter?

This is a novel for readers who would like a fictionalized adult coming of age memoir. Although it is written a little too precisely for my taste, it is a good story.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


About the Author

As a writer of inspirational fiction and singer/songwriter, Lana offers a unique gift in service to her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Characterized by her experiences growing up in rural Northeast Georgia and now as a wife and homeschool mother of four, her works reflect an honesty and a gentle natural beauty that is often missed and sorely needed in a culture saturated with transient entertainment and consumerism. Whether making meals, lesson plans, story arcs, or song lyrics, Lana is listening for the still quiet Voice to draw her nearer to where even messiness and failure can become a redeemed work of art.

More from Lana

When the pace of life is set at break-neck speed and the pressure is on to sacrifice self and family for the sake of achievement, I find joy in writing stories that show a hint of something else: something simpler, something slower. A world where people stop and get to know one another (and themselves). A world where people literally “stop to smell the roses”. Where they hear the birds sing and notice the flowers bloom in the springtime. A world where family and friends and place matter. Where traditions yield comfort and joy. Where home means more than just a house you return to at the end of a long day. Where delight and wonder can be found in the commonplace of everyday life. Where friendships flourish and love blossoms. A place where life happens, and it’s never boring!

In “Presence – The Story of Adel”, Doris Jones takes Adel under her wing and teaches her about life. One of the special memories they share is making blueberry muffins together. Here’s the recipe:


Doris’ Blueberry Muffins:

½ cup butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

½ cup milk

2 cups flour

2 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 ½ cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

2 Tbsp. sugar (for sprinkling on top)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Gently blend in the milk. In a separate bowl: mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add blueberries and stir only until well dusted. Fold the flour mixture into the sugar mixture with a spoon and place into muffin cups or a well-greased muffin tin. Bake 10 minutes then sprinkle extra sugar over the tops. Bake 10 more minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy!

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, May 14

Debbie's Dusty Deliberations, May 15

Texas Book-aholic, May 16

Inklings and notions, May 17

lakesidelivingsite, May 18

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, May 19

Pause for Tales, May 20

For Him and My Family, May 20

deb's Book Review, May 21

Locks, Hooks and Books, May 22

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, May 23

Because I said so -- and other adventures in Parenting, May 24

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, May 25

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, May 26

Guild Master, May 27 (Author Interview)

Miriam Jacob, May 27


To celebrate her tour, Lana is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 amazon gift card with a hard 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.

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

Friday, May 13, 2022

What They Don't Know by Susan Furlong Blog Tour and Giveaway


What They Don't Know

by Susan Furlong

May 9 - June 3, 2022 Virtual Book Tour


A picture-perfect suburban life fractures. . . and a darker reality bubbles beneath the surface.

Mona Ellison's life is as perfect as the porcelain dolls lined up on her shelves. She has a successful husband, a loving son, a beautiful home, and a supportive group of girlfriends ever ready for their weekly wine night.

But when Mona’s son gets entangled with the wrong crowd and runs away from home, her blissful suburban world begins to unravel. She tells her friends that boys will be boys, that he’ll be back as soon as his money runs dry . . . but deep down she knows there’s something else going on.

Then the police show up at Mona’s door. A young girl has turned up dead in their quiet town, and her missing son is the prime suspect.

Determined to reunite with her son and prove his innocence, Mona follows an increasingly cryptic trail of clues on social media, uncovering a sinister side of suburbia and unveiling lies and betrayal from those she trusted most. And as Mona spirals further from her once cozy reality, a devastating revelation shatters everything she thought she knew. Now the only thing she’s sure of is that she can’t trust anyone . . . not even herself.

With unrelenting psychological suspense and a wicked twist, What They Don’t Know marries small-town thriller and domestic mystery—suburban paranoia at its best.

What They Don’t Know Book Love:

"Part domestic thriller, part small-town mystery, What They Don’t Know is everything suspense fans want: characters who'll make you think twice, a subversive plot, and pages that seemingly turn themselves the deeper you get into the story. In this portrait of suburban life tinged with malice and intrigue, paranoia lurks just around the corner. Read it at night. Don’t plan on sleep." (Tosca Lee, NYT bestselling author of The Line Between)

My Review:

This is quite an adventure into the mind of a crazy woman. We live in her head and we see reality through her eyes and interpret it through her mind. We become aware of events as she does. The narrative is written in such a way that we know there is a mystery but frequently we only know what Mona thinks about what's happening. Her obsession with dolls is creepy. It is also revealing as she describes herself in childhood as like a broken doll.

This is a good psychological thriller. We get immersed in the character of Mona like nothing I have read before. The plot is a tricky one that requires a great deal of detailed planning and execution and convincing. Now that I know the outcome, I wonder if it all works. The meds, for example. The end is a bit abrupt so we do not get a sufficient denouement, explaining how the details fit together in the end, how our perceptions of reality fit with reality itself. It leaves a haunting feeling after turning the last page.

This is a good novel for readers who like a psychological thriller. Be prepared to live in the mind of a mentally unwell woman.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


Book Details:

Genre: Suspense
Published by: Seventh Street Books
Publication Date: May 17th, 2022
Number of Pages: 286
ISBN: 1645060403 (ISBN13: 9781645060406)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

It was the last Tuesday of the month, our normal book club night, and we were gathered at my house—Selma, Alice, Tara, and me—settled in the living room, Moroccan rug plush beneath us, immersed in the decor’s eclectic mix of whimsy and Old-World aesthetic. This would be our last book club meeting, but it was more than that, really. It was a pulled thread in the carefully woven tapestry of our friendships that had begun in college and endured careers, weddings, our first-borns, and remained constant through affairs, divorces, and much worse …


Excerpt from What They Don’t Know by Susan Furlong. Copyright 2022 by Susan Furlong. Reproduced with permission from Susan Furlong. All rights reserved.


Author Bio:

Susan Furlong is the author of eleven novels including SHATTERED JUSTICE, a New York Times Best Crime Novel of the Year. She also contributes, under a pen name, to the New York Times bestselling Novel Idea series. Her most recent novel, WHAT THEY DON'T KNOW, has been praised by reviewers as an engrossing and delightfully creepy read. She resides in Illinois with her husband and children.

Catch Up With Susan Furlong:
BookBub - @SusanFurlongAuthor
Instagram - @susanfurlong
Twitter - @Furlong_Sue
Facebook - @SusanFurlongAuthor


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

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

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Dreaming of Flight by Catherine Ryan Hyde

This is a touching novel but it starts out very slowly and methodically laying the ground work for the engaging second half of the book. I had to force myself to read through the first half but found the second half captivating. I could not discern the plot in the first half but found a number of life lessons in the second half. Had I edited this book, I would have suggested cutting down the foundation laying part, the first half, and expanding the life lesson part, the second half.

The story revolved around Stewie, an eleven year old boy, meeting Marilyn, a grouchy woman who reminds Stewie of the grandmother who had recently died. They form an unusual relationship. That relationship doesn't move much in the first half of the book but blossoms into life lessons in the second half. Stewie puzzled me. Though a very nice and polite boy, he acted much younger than is age. I would have thought him on the spectrum but we are never told that. Marilyn hides a secret. We get hints as to this secret and when the truth bursts on the scene half way through the book, that's when the book became interesting to me.

There are a number of good life lessons explored in the second half of the book. Stewie has to learn that he cannot fix everyone's problem, for example. We also get good examples of what is possible when people are encouraged to see if they can get along just a little bit better. The lessons culminate at the end of the novel, an expected ending, one you just knew was coming, yet emotionally rewarding.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of more than forty books. She is an avid hiker, traveler, equestrian, and amateur photographer. Her novel, Pay It Forward, was adapted into a major motion picture. You can find out more at

Lake Union Publishing, 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.)