Friday, August 23, 2019

Take Back Your Time by Morgan Tyree

Another time management book? Yes, but this one comes at the issue with some fresh considerations. Tyree emphasizes choice. Since we all have 24 hours each day, what we choose to do in those hours makes the difference. She helps us determine our purposes, those areas we feel God is calling us to focus on, then establish priorities. She also writes about recognizing our strengths and unique abilities, personality styles and energy levels. She helps us evaluate our commitments. Knowing our purpose and priorities helps us to say no to requests.

Another new aspect of time management for me was to determine my daily cycles of productivity. Using her method, we can establish our best times to focus on tasks, our times we should be flexible, and the hours we can fill with what we want (and perhaps need for our own well being). She has a different way of writing out goals. She uses the acronym LIGHT rather than the familiar SMART.

Tyree includes time management tips too. We are reminded we need to say no sometimes. Finding cheerleaders was new to me. She offers free printable charts, such as time logs and calendars at her website to help in the discovery tasks.

Tyree tells lots of her own stories so the book is entertaining as well as informative. It's a good book for people who want to figure out how to organize their days considering their callings and their personalities.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Morgan Tyree has a BS in business administration with an emphasis in small business and entrepreneurship from the University of Oregon, and has worked in the fields of marketing, management, and human resources. She blogs weekly at Morganize with Me (www.morganizewithme.com), and contributes monthly to Organizing Junkie (www.organizingjunkie.com). She and her husband have three children and live in Fort Collins, Colorado. Photo Credit: Kristen Rush

Revell, 192 pages.

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

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Fire Storm by Nancy Mehl

This is a good thriller but not Mehl's best. This is also the first novel I've read featuring Kaely Quinn. I found her conjuring up characters to talk to a little disconcerting. I know some of us had imaginary friends in childhood but to have one as an adult is quite odd. I would rather that Quinn talk to the Holy Spirit to obtain information about villains.

I also had some trouble in the end believing the final points of the plot and the people involved. Some of the characters were not who we readers thought them to be and it seemed a bit unrealistic that so many were fooled by them. Also, the very end, well, I felt the set-up was just too unrealistic.

Mehl's character development of Quinn is done well. She is a good FBI agent because of events in her childhood. Her character is a good model of one currently being driven by events from the past. Readers will find other characters with the same motivation. That part of the plot would be good for discussion.

While I don't think this is Mehl's best novel, I do like her writing style and will look for more from her. I may skip any more in the Kaely Quinn series as I personally don't like the character.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Nancy Mehl is the author of more than thirty books. She received the ACFW Mystery Book of the Year Award in 2009. She and her husband live in Missouri. You can find out more at www.nancymehl.comPhoto by: Ginger Murray Photography

Bethany House Publishers, 336 pages.

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

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Back Roads to Belonging by Kristen Strong

You've probably been in a setting where you felt you just didn't belong. I know I have. Perhaps it was church or a small group or some other gathering. You feel on the outside. Maybe you are unsure of where and how you belong at all.

Strong wants us to be attentive to the back roads God uses, those wandering journeys where God is bringing us to an environment of connection. Often there are detours, uncomfortable places, dark places and lonely places. God's ways are often mysterious and, as Strong writes, often just plain odd. (571/3128) She reminds us that God moves “in a way that maximizes the consequences for good.” (2164/3128)

I appreciate the many insights Strong shares. Writing about the dark times, she encourages us to be available to bless others. Don't berate yourself for not belonging where God never intended you to belong, she says. (929/3128) Perhaps the most surprising insight for me was that God may be keeping us from belonging because of the people involved. He may be guarding our heart, protecting us from hurt. (2164/3128) I like Strong's encouragement: “I will be where Christ wants me to be in this moment.” (341/3128) We can rest in that and not force our way into some place God doesn't want us to be.

This is a good book for women who struggle with feelings of being an outsider. You'll find good wisdom and some serious encouragement in this book. You'll read many of Strong's own stories as well as those of others and some from the Bible. You'll be encouraged to be the one to reach out and be one who brings others to belonging. But most of all, you'll be encouraged to trust that God is taking you on the back roads to His best for you.

Food for thought: “Remember, there is always room at the table God picks out for you.” (2173/3128)

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Kristen Strong is the author of Girl Meets Change. She and her US Air Force veteran husband have three children. After several moves across the country and one ocean, they settled in Colorado Springs, Colorado. You can find out more at https://kristenstrong.com/ .

Revell, 208 pages.

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

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

State of Lies by Siri Mitchell Blog Tour


About the Book


Book: State of Lies
Author: Siri Mitchell
Genre: Suspense
Release Date: August 13, 2019

Months after her husband, Sean, is killed by a hit-and-run driver, physicist Georgie Brennan discovers he lied to her about where he had been going that day. A cryptic notebook, a missing computer, and strange noises under her house soon have her questioning everything she thought she knew.

With her job hanging by a thread, her son struggling to cope with his father’s death, and her four-star general father up for confirmation as the next Secretary of Defense, Georgie quickly finds herself tangled in a political intrigue that has no clear agenda and dozens of likely villains. Only one thing is clear: someone wants her dead too. The more she digs for the truth, the fewer people she can trust. Not her friends. Not her parents. Maybe not even herself.

Click here to grab your copy.

My Review

This novel could be right out of today's headlines. Conspiracy theorists will love the plot centered on political intrigue. It made me really think about how an adversary country might blackmail some political leaders and gain an influence in our government.

I liked that the heroine, Georgie, is a physicist. Mitchell included some information about quantum physics, relativity, and other topics in physics and related it to the developing plot. I like to learn something when I read fiction and there was quite a bit about the U. S. involvement in Bosnia as well as the bits about physics.

I could have done without the initial bedroom scene. Although PG rated, it was an odd way to start a novel like this. It didn't add anything to the story and I would have preferred it not be there. Also, while this is a very good political thriller, there was no Christian influence or message in it, even though it is published by a “Christian” publisher.

This is a good novel for readers who like political thrillers where the future of the nation hangs on the work of an amateur uncovering the truth. It is well written and very interesting to think about with respect to current events.

My rating: 4/5 stars.
 

About the Author


Siri Mitchell is the author of 14 novels. She has also written 2 novels under the pseudonym of Iris Anthony. She graduated from the University of Washington with a business degree and has worked in various levels of government. As a military spouse, she lived all over the world, including Paris and Tokyo. Siri is a big fan of the semi-colon but thinks the Oxford comma is irritatingly redundant. Visit her online at http://www.sirimitchell.com/; Facebook: SiriMitchell; Twitter: @SiriMitchell.
 

More from Siri


A Sense of Place I’m so excited about the release of State of Lies! Among the many reasons for my excitement is the fact that I set the story in my own home town: Arlington, VA. Here are some things you might not know about Arlington:  
  1. Arlington was originally included within the borders of Washington, DC.
  2. Arlington isn’t actually a city – it’s a county. We’re the smallest self-governing county in the nation.
  3. Arlington regularly takes the top spot as the most educated place in the country.
  4. Arlington LOVES books. I count at least a dozen different little libraries in my neighborhood alone.
  5. Our region often has a hurricane warning or two every hurricane season. Can you guess where I’ve seen the longest lines when people start to make last-minute preparations? It’s not the grocery store; it’s not the hardware store. It’s the library! (Why wouldn’t you stock up on books too?)
  6. We host Arlington National Cemetery, the Iwo Jima Marine Corps War Memorial, and the Pentagon.
  7. We are home to the very first Five Guys hamburger joint location.
  8. We are also home to the headquarters of over a dozen national agencies as well as organizations like Rosetta Stone and Nestlé.
  9. People who attended our high schools include Sandra Bullock, Warren Beatty, Shirley MacLaine, Katie Couric, and Patch Adams.
  10. The thing I love most about Arlington? Its people. Countless government contractors members of the federal workforce live here. I number them among my friends and neighbors. I’ve never met a group more dedicated, more informed, or more determined to put their expertise to good use. And guess what? My heroine, Georgie Brennan, is one of them!


The Pentagon and Washington, DC



Blog Stops

Among the Reads, August 20
CarpeDiem, August 21
Fiction Aficionado, August 22
All-of-a-kind Mom, August 22
Genesis 5020, August 22
Andrea Christenson, August 23
Pause for Tales, August 23
Rebekah Jones, August 26
Betti Mace, August 26
As He Leads is Joy, August 27
Wishful Endings, August 27
Moments, August 28
Mary Hake, August 28
Remembrancy, August 28
Hallie Reads, August 30
Bigreadersite , August 30
Connect in Fiction, August 31
Texas Book-aholic, August 31
janicesbookreviews, September 1
A Reader's Brain, September 1
Life of Literature, September 2
Henry Happens, September 2
I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Celebrate Lit. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Celebrate Lit.

Monday, August 19, 2019

What She Never Said by Catharine Riggs Blog Tour and Giveaway

What She Never Said

by Catharine Riggs

on Tour August 19 - September 20, 2019

Synopsis:


How much would you pay to keep a secret? Ruth Mosby is the VP of operations at Serenity Acres, where the privileged elite go to die. For a hefty fee, wealthy retirees can live the good life in this posh Santa Barbara community—even after they outlive their money. But the savvy new boss has a new rule: if you can’t pay, you can’t stay.

Guests whisper about an “Angel” who assists with suicides. Ruth has another word for it: murder.

Ruth enlists her neighbor, an ex-detective named Zach, to discover the Angel’s secret identity. However, the two have a painful history, and Ruth has dark secrets all her own. To solve the mystery, Ruth must descend her golden tower—but can she bear the consequences of revealing her own sinister truths?

Why Readers LOVE What She Never Said:

“Riggs keeps the tension high to the dramatic climax.”
Publishers Weekly

"What She Never Said is a fast-paced, compulsive read—and I speak as a slow-paced, easily distracted reader."
—Ashley Dyer, award-winning author of the Lake & Carver series.

“A compelling read that will keep you awake well into the night.”
—T.R. Ragan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author

Beneath the weight of metastasizing secrets, idyllic veneers buckle to reveal shocking truths that will haunt readers long after the final page.
—P. J. Vernon, acclaimed author of the debut thriller, When You Find Me 


My Review:


This is a captivating novel. The combination of solving a mystery and the revelation of secrets is interwoven well. The character development is great. Within the first few pages I knew Ruth was a cold, driven person lacking compassion. All of the major characters have flaws and I am impressed with how Riggs uses those flaws to propel the plot. Many of them are plagued with guilt driving them to actions they had not anticipated. And the suspense at the end is good too.

I like the secondary plot, the framework for the whole mystery. A high class care facility for the elderly is being taken over by a corporation and that gives the basis for much of the action. There is the issue of assisted suicide as some of the elderly are ready to pass on. Increasing profits means those destitute residents need to be evicted . . . or killed, and someone seems to be involved in causing their demise.

This is the first novel I have read by Riggs. I really enjoyed her writing style, the structure of the plot, the mystery, and the revelation of character secrets. I'll be watching for more from her.

My rating: 5/5 stars.


Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Suspense
Published by: Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date: September 10, 2019
Number of Pages: 377
ISBN: 1542042135 (ISBN13: 9781542042130)
Series: Santa Barbara Suspense #2
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

RUTH MOSBY

ONE

Monday, May 6

My goal each day is ten thousand steps. A Fitbit monitors my progress. One. Two. Three. Four. This morning I’ll reach six thousand steps. Only four thousand left after that. It’s nice the days have grown longer. I’ll walk the harbor loop after work. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. I speed up the slope of Orpet Park through the grove of moth-eaten oaks.
At the summit of the steepest hill, I catch a peek of ocean gray. The islands are invisible today, shrouded in waves of lowering fog. June gloom. That’s what the locals call it, although we’ve barely stepped into May. Locals? I am a local. Or should be after thirty-some years. But oh no. Not in Santa Barbara. You can’t be a local unless you’re born here. Ridiculous but true. Sometimes I wonder why I stay. But at my age, where would I go?
Cresting the final hill, I catch my first glimpse of the mission bells. They’re a sad reminder of my walks with Carlyn and the chats we had every day. She thought the Queen of the Missions was a sign of God’s blessing on our tony beachside town. I wonder what she thinks of God now. I wonder what she thinks of me.
I continue past the mission lawn, verging on parched and dry. The agaves look weathered and dusty; they’re wilted at the tips. A handful of elderly tourists snap photos of the iconic scene. Their foreign chatter disrupts the calm, so I cross the street to the rose garden and follow the rutted trail. A lone dog shoots into view, and I slow my rapid gait. The golden Lab jumps, twists, and barks, nabbing a Frisbee in his mouth.
“Morning,” his master calls to me, a smile gracing his youthful face.
“Morning.” I lock my gaze on my running shoes. How did he miss the DOGS ON LEASH signs staggered every twenty feet? Or maybe he didn’t but somehow believes he’s above the city’s rules. I make a mental note to call animal control and continue on my way.
I pick up my pace for the final ten blocks, feeling better than I have in weeks. Turning down my narrow driveway, I cringe at the sight of my neighbor standing on his porch.
“Morning, Ruth,” he calls.
“Morning, Zach.”
Zach limps down his steps and through his drought-stricken garden, a frown rumpling his grizzled face. He’s dressed in board shorts and a tattered T-shirt, mended flip-flops shielding his feet. “You hear those kids partying last night?” he asks.
“No,” I lie. “Was it loud?”
“Hell yeah. I can’t believe they allow short-term rentals in our neighborhood. We’ve got to put a stop to that.”
“Well, kids will be kids.” I fail to mention I called the police at ten sharp. That’s when the noise ordinance kicks in.
“I’m going to complain at today’s city council meeting. Want to come along?” The breeze shifts, and I catch a whiff of spoiled milk. Zach has taken to strategic bathing, which results in an occasional stench.
“I would, but I have to work.”
“Bummer. There’s a better chance if we complain together.”
I nod, thinking he’d have a better chance if he made an effort to clean himself up. When we moved into the neighborhood decades ago, Zach had been a handsome man with an easy smile and a mop of thick black hair. A homicide detective whose pretty wife, Tina, taught art at the nearby elementary school. The perfect neighbors on a perfect street of tiny Craftsman homes. Then their son died in a tragic accident, and Tina passed soon after that. A broken man, Zach took early retirement and nearly drank himself to death. He’s in recovery now and has replaced the booze with an obsession for neighborhood affairs. “What about my petition?” he asks. “You plan on signing that?”
I bite my lower lip. “I’m not sure.”
“Construction begins next week.”
“I wish I could, but . . .”
Mumbling under his breath, he eyes me with a frown. He’s also taken to talking to himself. Is dementia creeping up? “But what?” he asks.
“I don’t think it’s wise for someone in my position to take a political stance.”
“Your position?” He rolls his eyes. “You work at an old folks’ home.”
“I work in a life-care community.”
“Same thing.”
“No, it’s not.”
His frown deepens into a crevasse. “So, you’re okay with those homes coming down?” He nods at the four vacant bungalows located directly across the street. They’re slated for demolition, to be replaced by a ten-thousand-square-foot mansion with an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Our future neighbors are a flashy young couple with toddler twins and an army of well-groomed staff. Seems our former middle-class neighborhood is attracting the fashionable Hollywood types.
“I’m not okay with it,” I say, “but what can we do? The planning commission has made their decision. We’re not going to change their minds.”
“But if we don’t take action, it won’t be long before people like us can’t live in this town.”
“At least we’ll make a mint when we sell.”
“You’re not thinking of moving, are you?”
“Of course not.” Although I might if the price is right.
Zach sniffs and takes a swipe at his nose. “I just wish we could stop these assholes. They even complained about my new picket fence.”
I hold my voice steady. “They did?” Last month, Zach replaced his aging fence with a synthetic version that lists from side to side.
“Hell yes. City says my fence is four inches too tall, and I’ve got one month to replace the thing.
Where the hell am I going to get that kind of money? My pension only goes so far.” He searches my face with his electric-blue eyes. They’re the only part of him that haven’t aged.
“That’s terrible,” I say, dropping my gaze and backpedaling down the driveway. “Got to get to work. Have a nice day.” I hurry through the gate, swimming through waves of guilt. What if Zach finds out I turned him in? He’ll be angrier than a cornered wasp. But by the time I step out of the shower, I’ve pushed away all my self-doubt. Is it my fault his fence is too tall? For God’s sake, rules are rules.
***
Excerpt from What She Never Said by Catharine Riggs. Copyright © 2019 by Catharine Riggs. Reproduced with permission from Catharine Riggs. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:


Catharine Riggs lives and writes on California’s central coast. Before her dive into thrillers, Riggs worked as a business banker, adjunct college instructor, and a nonprofit executive. What She Never Said is the second novel in her loosely linked Santa Barbara Suspense series. The first, What She Gave Away, was published by Thomas & Mercer in September of 2018.

Catch Up With Catharine Riggs On:
www.CatharineRiggs.com, Goodreads, & BookBub, Twitter!



Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!
Click here to view the What She Never Said by Catharine Riggs Participants.

Enter To Win!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Catharine Riggs. There will be 4 winners. Two (2) winners will each receive one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card and Two (2) winners will each receive one (1) print copy of What She Never Said by Catharine Riggs. The giveaway begins on August 18, 2019 and runs through September 22, 2019. Open to U.S. 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.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Silent Meridian by Elizabeth Crowens Blog Tour and Giveaway

 

The Time Traveler Professor, Book One:

Silent Meridian

by Elizabeth Crowens

on Tour August 18 - September 21, 2019

Synopsis:


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is obsessed with a legendary red book. Its peculiar stories have come to life, and rumors claim that it has rewritten its own endings. Convinced that possessing this book will help him write his ever-popular Sherlock Holmes stories, he takes on an unlikely partner, John Patrick Scott, known to most as a concert pianist, but a paranormal investigator and a time traveler professor to a select few.

Like Holmes and Watson trying to solve a mystery, together they explore lost worlds and their friendship is tested to the limits when they go back in time to find it. Both discover that karmic ties and unconscionable crimes have followed them like ghosts from the past, wreaking havoc on the present and possibly the future.

The Time Traveler Professor, Book One: SILENT MERIDIAN reveals the alternate histories of Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, Houdini, Jung and other luminaries in the secret diaries of John Patrick Scott, in an X Files for the 19th century. First Prize winner of Chanticleer Review's Goethe Award for Turn-of-the-Century Historical Fiction and First Prize for Steampunk in the Independent Press Awards. Stay tuned for A POCKETFUL OF LODESTONES; Book Two in the Time Traveler Professor series by Elizabeth Crowens.

My Review:


This is a very unusual novel. It is part alternative historical fiction, part science fiction time travel and perhaps even part fantasy dream world. This is not a genre combination I usually read so I was not surprised that I found it a bit confusing. John, the main character, does time travel but also has dreams in which he goes to different places and times. I was sometimes unclear as to how those adventures related to John's current life. I also found some repetition of information being told as if it was for the first time.

Crowens certainly has am amazing imagination. To include so many historical characters in alternative history scenes and present them in a way that agrees with or as an extension of what is known about them is quite a feat. Readers who enjoy alternative history novels will want to take a look at this one.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Book Details:

Genre: Alternate History, Mystery, Fantasy Noir
Published by: Atomic Alchemist Productions LLC
Publication Date: June 12th 2019
Number of Pages: 384
ISBN: 9781950384 (ISBN13: 9781950384044)
Series: The Time Traveler Professor #1
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Edinburgh, 1898

Scotland was just barely crawling its way out of the nineteenth century. I was a naïve, but ambitious student studying music at the University of Edinburgh hurrying over to meet Arthur Conan Doyle, the man who would change my life forever.
“John Patrick Scott, sir,” I said and approached Mr. Doyle, who was already seated at a back corner table of the Deacon Brodie, the pub that inspired the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
I extended my hand to greet him and removed my rain-soaked hat, while my overcoat slipped out of my hands and fell on the floor by accident. It was still hard to believe that good fortune finally brought us together, but we were both nervous. “Mr. Conan Doyle, or should I call you Doctor Doyle?” I was unsure how to address him.
Doyle scrutinized me from top to bottom as he signaled the waiter. “John, call me Arthur.”
“Sir, I’m so honored that you agreed to discuss this matter. Perhaps you can enlighten me in a way that I’ve failed to comprehend.”
I wanted to ask him about my unusual turn of events straight away but he caught me off guard and was dead set on pulling me into the swift current of an unexpected conversation.
“Can I assume you believe in the transmigration of souls?” he asked.
“Until now, I haven’t given it a lot of thought,” I said, unsure as to which direction he was leading.
“Did you ever read those books about that Swiss doctor who felt his body and soul had been taken over by a Benedictine monk? That presented a curious case. He claims that he was approached by the spirit of an elderly monk before he died, and that the monk needed to rent his body to continue his spiritual mission.”
“Rent?” I choked in disbelief.
“We truly don’t take anything with us when we pass on, do we? This monk knew he was dying and therefore needed to replace his physical body with something more youthful and vital.”
“That’s incredible. It debunks the theory that you need to die and be reborn as an infant to carry on your spirit.”
Mr. Doyle had the tinge of excitement in his voice.
“John, here’s another instance. I’ve had my suspicions about a famous musician who had an obsession about a notorious and controversial mystic. You’d surmise by his overwhelming attraction to that person he might’ve been him in a previous lifetime, but facts were clear he was born three years before the mystic died. My understanding is the mystic was aware he didn’t have long in his present incarnation. Therefore he made plans for some sort of partial soul transference while he was still alive to imprint his essence upon the child. That would’ve allowed him to carry on and accomplish unfinished business, which couldn’t have been executed otherwise. Essentially he had the ability of being two places at once.”
“Sounds more like Spiritualism,” I replied.
“Honestly, John, I don’t think there are any steadfast rules when it comes to this matter. That’s what makes it so intriguing.”
I sensed he had a secret agenda.
Doyle reloaded his churchwarden pipe with fresh tobacco and continued, “This is not at all like anything you’ve ever read from H.G. Wells or Jules Verne. We’re poking holes in every treatise written on the subject — the idea of being able to reincarnate a part of yourself while you are still alive into another soul.”
Our conversation was quickly becoming like a speeding train ready to jump the tracks. Realizing this, Doyle slowed down the pace and took a deep breath. He carefully composed his next statement.
“Fiction it may seem to be but it’s not hocus pocus. Don’t you also find it strange that you somehow found yourself initiated into a mystical order on a commuter train bound from London to Edinburgh when the instigators kept on mistaking you for me? There are no accidents.”
I became silent for a moment, stalling for time as I slowly raised my glass of ale to my lips. As soon as I fished a small red book out of my coat pocket and placed it on the table in front of us Arthur eyed it intently. It had been the source of intrigue, which led me to Doyle in the first place and piqued his curiosity as much as it did mine.
“Could I have done something terrible in my youth that caused this to happen?”
“You have no recollections, John?”
“I remember so little of my childhood. I wish I could.”
“You’re a smart young man. I’m sure you’ll come up with a clever deduction.”
Mr. Doyle paused to relight his pipe. He had an unnerving look in his eye, which I vainly tried to read into, but he took me for a spin when he brought up the next topic.
“On another note, John, have you ever considered that people are capable of communicating without speech, and I’m not talking about writing letters?”
“Pardon me?”
“Imagine communicating by mere thoughts. I’ve always wanted to experiment with someone open to these concepts. God knows — my brothers at the Society for Psychical Research certainly talk enough about it. My wife, Touie, has been an unwilling subject and is not the most objective choice.”
I looked at him, somewhat perplexed. “Are you asking me to accurately guess what you’re thinking?”
“Come now. We’ll play a game. I’ll form an image in my mind, and for the next minute I will try to project it into yours. Clear your thoughts of any distractions and be as receptive as possible,” he explained.
As much as I tried, I couldn’t have been more preoccupied. Images of that fateful event flashed through my brain. My recollections revealed my rain-soaked train ticket. I kept arguing with the steward about putting me in the wrong cabin. An erroneous judgment had been made when three strangers insisted I was Arthur. We were so different in physical appearance. He was a large, athletic man with a distinguished moustache. On the other hand, I had baby smooth skin and couldn’t grow facial hair to save my life. I was nearly twenty years younger and much shorter with wild auburn hair that resembled Maestro Beethoven’s with the exception of premature strands of gray.
So why was I singled out? Was there laudanum in my brandy? Details spun like a whirlwind. I must’ve been in a drug-induced stupor but I was initiated into some secret Masonic-like society, and when it was all over those mysterious men were gone. What remained were an engraved silver ring on my finger and an ominous red book on the seat beside me.
“Looks like you’ve seen a ghost.” Arthur broke my trance and realized my thoughts had been elsewhere.
“I felt like I had.” Barely able to articulate, I tried to tame my wild mane in place. Visions faded in and out. Timelines jumped. So I gulped down another swig of ale to focus on the present.
Arthur leaned in closer. “I can see you’re still worried about that event on the train. Those men have been after me for some time. Why? It’s hard to fathom. I’ll dilly dally with notions here and there about Sherlock Holmes and his partner, Watson, who fancy themselves as detectives. Me? I’m just a simple doctor and writer with interests in Spiritualism trying to find scientific explanations for the unknown.”
“Arthur, what would anyone want with an unassuming music student like me?”
“Personally, I don’t think this was A Case of Identity,” Arthur replied with a smile.
Obviously he meant to say my dilemma was not a case of mistaken identity, not the name of one of his famous Sherlock stories. He was pleased I caught the humor of his play on words.
“Perhaps it has something to do with that book,” he said pointing to the one I brought.
“I’m concerned it’s dangerous, that it’s a curse. I wish I had never found it.” I shoved it back into my pocket and drained my glass.
* * *
One week later as I was returning home from school, my landlady, Lydia Campbell, yelled from the kitchen as I trudged my muddied shoes through the front door of her boarding house. “John, a letter from Undershaw arrived for you today! I wonder whom it could be from? You don’t know anyone from Undershaw, do you?”
Oh, yes I did. I grabbed the letter and ran upstairs so fast I nearly tripped on my muffler and fell on my face. I poured myself a glass of port to calm my nerves, doffed my wet garments and sank into my most comfortable brass-studded leather chair I affectionately named my thinking chair, where I created many a melody in my head, could think deep thoughts, and drift off to dreamland.
* * *
Dear John,
I wholeheartedly enjoyed our conversation at the Deacon Brodie and kept my promise of a prompt reply. By now, you are well aware of my passion to explore the realms of Spiritualism and related paranormal phenomena far surpasses any personal interests involved with Sherlock Holmes. Public demand for my writing, however, exerts a strain on how much I can overtly reveal to even my most trusted colleagues. Whenever I indulge in any activity, be it a simple séance, investigating a revered medium or attending a meeting of the British Society for Psychical Research, it never fails to raise the eyebrows of my wary publishers and critics. It’s God’s honest truth that I believe in many of these inexplicable accounts. Even my father painted beautiful renditions of fairies, which I trust he witnessed with his own eyes. The betterment of mankind rests on embracing such theories once they are proven to exist by the scientific community. Thus, I’ll have to continue more controversial and debatable endeavors in utmost secrecy, or at least for the time being until more evidence can be brought to light.
Since you seem to be an open-minded young man who has already experienced some effects of the preternatural, this is my proposal: At midnight every night, we should conduct a variety of remote operations with the primary purpose of communicating through means of telepathy. Since I have a tendency to travel, we’ll have to make some sort of adjustment to take into account the different time zones. Of course, you must share this secret with nobody. Besides us, only my wife will know, although she will not participate.
When you shared the account of the strange commuter train incident that was enough to convince me that you would be the perfect partner for this private undertaking. Most assuredly, there was something you did in the past in the realm of the arcane to warrant such a chain of events. That was not mere happenstance, and now since you possess that enigmatic red book, I’m sure it will affect your life in ways you’ve never imagined.
My intentions have been to perform similar trial and error enterprises with Harry Houdini, a rising star whose stage performances have been astounding audiences, but his busy schedule has made it nearly impossible to coordinate such engagements with any sort of regularity. One of these days we’ll catch up. Meanwhile, I collect whatever news comes from across the herring-pond. At one point, he and I will develop a special relationship based on mutual interests.
Regarding the two of us, however, we’ll back up our observations with letters or telegrams as often as possible as proof of results, but those must be destroyed as soon as they are read. Once again, I cannot over emphasize the importance of confidentiality. Regardless, we must keep a faithful agreement, as skill will come with practice.
If you are willing to put aside any apprehensions regarding trains, I’ll pay for you to travel down to Undershaw and visit me on weekends whenever possible. My driver can meet you in London at a pre-arranged time. You’ll stay in one of our guest bedrooms, and as long as you don’t mind the children and can tolerate what our kitchen staff provides, you’ll be well taken care of. That’ll give us the opportunity to expand our repertoire and commence further psychical experimentation with ectoplasm, spirit photography and astral projection. And bring the red book. I’d like a chance to look at it.
I’ve also desired a partner to accompany me for ghost sightings and occult investigations. For all we know with the knowledge gained, we might even break through the barriers of time. That would certainly give Bertie (H.G. Wells) a shock to the senses, proving his imagination does not merely dwell in the realm of fiction. We’ve been at odds on this topic for years.
Regarding telepathic technique, I can only suggest you conduct yourself in a way as you see fit. Personally, I don’t give credence to things like magical amulets, but if it helps to have an etheric link, use this letter you hold in your hand, as it contains my heart, soul and signature with a drop of blood, which I added to the ink. You might wish to reciprocate.
Let’s raise our glasses to honor the quest of conquering the unknown.
Arthur Conan Doyle
* * *
So, Arthur was serious when he first brought up the subject. When he and I left the pub, I really didn’t know what to think. After all, he was a famous author, and I was merely a student. What possessed him to choose me for such an engagement?
I shuffled through my schoolwork to find my pen and ink and a fresh sheet of paper. Blood, I needed blood. Ah, my razor! That would work. I fetched my shaving kit and winced as I drew a few drops. I scribbled a swift, affirmative reply with the blood-tainted ink, mailed the letter the following day and looked forward to our first otherworldly encounter.
***
Excerpt from The Time Traveler Professor, Book One: Silent Meridian by Elizabeth Crowens. Copyright © 2019 by Elizabeth Crowens. Reproduced with permission from Elizabeth Crowens. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:


Crowens has worked in the film and television for over twenty years and as a journalist and a photographer. She’s a regular contributor of author interviews to an award-winning online speculative fiction magazine, Black Gate. Short stories of hers have been published in the Bram Stoker Awards nominated anthology, A New York State of Fright and Hell’s Heart. She’s a member of Mystery Writers of America, The Horror Writers Association, the Authors Guild, Broad Universe, Sisters in Crime and a member of several Sherlockian societies. She is also writing a Hollywood suspense series.

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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.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Gangster Prayer by Autumn Miles

If you are a Christian and feel your prayer life is stale or weak or none existent, read this book. Miles will light a fire under you, infusing passion for prayer into your very being.

The title might seem odd but is comes from the dedication a gangster has to evil. Miles wants to see that same kind of dedication in Christians toward prayer. I like her definition of gangster prayer: “intentional, tenacious, relentless communication with God that focuses on His might as the source for the answers we seek and on the gospel of Jesus Christ, which gives us access to 'that power.'” (Loc 109/2348)

I have read a ton of books on prayer but this one inspired me like no others have. Rather than an emphasis on technique, Miles writes of prayer as our means of communication with God. If we neglect it, the Holy Spirit may be present in us but we lose His “presence” in us. (243/2348) His power and influence in us will be reduced.

Her encouragement in prayer is great. Her chapter on persistence was awesome. I like her explanation of why, even though we assume God is willing to answer our prayers, He does not answer the way we expected. “Your character is more important than your request.” (1848/2348)

Miles advocates aggressive prayer. None of this “if it be Your will” attitude. We are to pray in faith, believing God will act. That was hard for this Christian with a high view of God's sovereignty. I also had a little trouble distinguishing between Miles' encouragement to be specific in our requests (not pray something general like “bless Martha today”), yet later saying we are not to be so specific (such as praying for a future husband with particular characteristics).

Nonetheless, a very good book on prayer. You'll not find specific techniques but you will certainly be set on fire to communicate with God more.

Food for thought: “The results of prayer are up to God, but abiding by the principles of prayer are up to us.” (101/2348)

You can read chapter one here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Autumn Miles is the founder of Autumn Miles Ministries, an organization devoted to spiritually challenging the way women think. She produces regular inspirational content for her over 120,000 Facebook followers in addition to speaking at conferences nationwide. She is also the host of The Autumn Miles Show, a radio talk show and podcast. As a survivor of domestic abuse, she has shared her story in many media outlets including major newspapers, magazines, and television programs. She is the author of two previous books. She and her husband have four children and live in Dallas, Texas. You can find out more at http://www.autumnmiles.com/ .

Worthy Books, 224 pages.

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

Friday, August 16, 2019

Vow of Justice by Lynette Eason


This novel is a suspense filled addition to the St. John family series. This story centers on Linc, an FBI agent. He's sweet on Allie, another agent, and trouble comes to them both as they pursue a very bad guy.

There was lots of suspense in this plot but I felt that some of it was repetitive. I would hope that the FBI is smarter than some of the action in this novel, causing some of the suspense. I suspected who the bad guy was early on and was proven right in the end. The plot itself is complex, particularly the aspect involving Allie's life. We readers get information revealed to us as Allie gives it to Linc. I liked that. I did think her family story was a bit convoluted, especially as it ultimately gave reason for the current FBI investigation.

My favorite character was Daria, daughter of the very bad guy but on his hit list. She's a smart and savvy teen and I'd like to see her in a future novel. Allie was a woman on a mission. Yet when it came time to meet out vengeance, her relationship with God won out. I liked that. Linc was a bit of a disappointment, I felt. I would have liked a smarter agent. It was a good thing his family often had his back.

I like to learn something when I read a novel or at least be exposed to something new. That was not the case here. This is just a good suspense story with a little romance in it as well as mention of a relationship with God.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of several Christian romantic suspense series. She is the winner of three ACFW Carol Awards, the Selah Award, and the Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, among others. She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and has a master's degree in education from Converse College. She lives in South Carolina with her husband and two children. You can find out more at www.lynetteeason.comPhoto Credit: © Mary Denman

Revell, 336 pages.

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