Thursday, March 4, 2021

Facing the Dawn by Cynthia Ruchti Blog Tour and Giveaway

About the Book

Book:  Facing the Dawn

Author: Cynthia Ruchti

Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction

Release date: March 2, 2021

Mara Jacobs has been struggling. While her humanitarian husband is digging wells in Africa and caring for widows and orphans, Mara has been battling the home front—working a demanding yet unrewarding job, trying to manage three detention-prone kids, and suffering from exhaustion and depression. Even her own marriage is deteriorating after a three-year separation.

Then Liam’s absence turns into something more, changing everything and plunging her into a sunless grief. As Mara leans on those around her to find her way to healing and renewed faith, she discovers that even when hope is tenuous and the future is unknown, we can be sure we are not forgotten . . . or unloved.

Facing the Dawn is an emotionally evocative novel that will resonate with readers’ lives and their life challenges. Hemmed in hope, this tender story will be one readers will not soon forget.

Click here to get your copy!

 My Review

Ruchti has crafted an engaging novel that takes readers along the winding path of grief. She is a word smith and I like the humor and witty dialogue and great scene construction. The narrative soon turns dark yet remains a compelling read. We experience the ache of grief and the attempts to carry on and the unexpected setbacks. I like the inclusion of a secondary issue of thinking our actions have caused harm and the accompanying feelings of guilt.

Potential readers need to understand that this novel is an excursion through grief. For those who have been successful in traversing the painful path of the death of a loved one, this novel will reaffirm the process of healing and the value of supportive friends. For those who still feel the painful emotions of loss, especially those of the loss of a spouse or child, this book may trigger more painful emotions or it may inspire a bold step in addressing continuing grief.

Ruchti's novel is a good one for the reader unencumbered with emotions of loss or the reader ready to boldly move forward in the grief journey.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

 

About the Author

Cynthia Ruchti is the award-winning author of more than 30 books, including the novels Afraid of the Light, Miles from Where We Started, As Waters Gone By, Song of Silence, A Fragile Hope, and They Almost Always Come Home. Her books have been honored with more than 40 readers’, reviewers’, and retailers’ awards, including Romantic Times’s Inspirational Novel of the Year, four Selah Awards, and five Christian Retailing’s BEST Awards, and has been a finalist for many others, including the Carol and the Christy. Former president of and current professional relations liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), Cynthia lives in Wisconsin and can be found online at www.cynthiaruchti.com.

More from Cynthia

When I sit down to write a novel, I sometimes have little more than a title or a single scene in my head. For Facing the Dawn, I had a mental picture of a woman who felt like circumstances had drained all the “color” out of her life, as if she were a piece of fabric that had been left out in the sun too long. Faded. Threadbare. Bleached out.

Where was I supposed to go from there? What would have made her feel like that? (Oh, I could imagine, but I needed to know THIS character’s story.) I visualized her called in the principal’s office at her kids’ school, not knowing which of the three was in trouble this time. But it was her. The ridiculousness of it all was almost enough to push her over the edge. Ever been there?

For Mara in the story, a long string of disappointments clogged her life like a backed-up sink (which she also had). Then true tragedy struck. And again. But I couldn’t leave her in that place.

When I wrote the last few words of the story, my heart was full. Tears fell on the pages—or the keyboard. And I reflected back on all the symbolism in the story that actually revealed bits of hope embedded in its fabric.

I’m excited to see how readers respond when they discover those little bits—a cardinal in a stand of birch trees, an oil painting with unusual brushstrokes, a papered wall, a cup of soup, a long-forgotten song, an envelope of ashes…

A story comes to life when readers dive in. I’m looking forward to hearing what they find when they do.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, March 4

lakesidelivingsite, March 4

Through the Fire Blogs, March 4

Rebecca Tews, March 5

Debbie's Dusty Deliberations , March 5

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, March 6 (Author Interview)

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, March 6

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, March 6

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, March 7

Reviewingbooksplusmore, March 7

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, March 8

Kathleen's Blog, March 8

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, March 8

Texas Book-aholic, March 9

Cats in the Cradle Blog, March 9

Locks, Hooks and Books, March 10

Simple Harvest Reads, March 10 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, March 10

Because I said so -- and other adventures in Parenting, March 11

Artistic Nobody, March 11 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Older & Smarter?, March 12

deb's Book Review, March 12

The Christian Fiction Girl, March 13

Inklings and notions, March 13

Pause for Tales, March 13

For Him and My Family, March 14

Mary Hake, March 14

By The Book, March 15

Christian Bookaholic, March 15

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 16

Spoken from the Heart, March 16

Southern Gal Loves to Read, March 16

A Baker's Perspective, March 17

Writing from the Heart Land, March 17

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Cynthia is giving away the grand prize package of a DrinkCo Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated BPA-free beverage container (keeps drinks cold for up to 24 hours/hot up to 12 hours), two Sunprint Notecards (Cynanotype art by Anna Atkins), an autographed copy of the novel Facing the Dawn, two Hemmed in Hope magnets/notecard inserts to encourage you or a friend, a Hemmed in Hope flash drive, and Facing the Dawn bookmarks (not shown in picture above)!!

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 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.

(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, March 3, 2021

Methuselah Project S.O.S. Blog Tour and Giveaway


About the Book

Book:  Methuselah Project S.O.S.

Author: Rick Barry

Genre: Christian suspense

Release date: October 20, 2020

Born in the final days of Nazi Germany, an underground organization is alive, growing, and manipulating events in our world today …

The survivor of a secret German experiment in 1943, Roger Greene possesses a unique physiology. To this day, his body remains youthful and heals quickly. In exchange for information about the mysterious Heritage Organization that Roger once escaped, the CIA has given him a new identity and pulled strings to get him into the modern U.S. Air Force.

Now, Roger’s main thrills are serving his country in an F-35 and spending time with Katherine, the love of his life. Suddenly, the CIA shows up and drops a bombshell—evidence that Sophie, the woman who Roger believed had died helping him escape, is alive. The Heritage Organization is holding her and others prisoner in an unknown location.

Honor-bound to rescue the woman who risked her life for him, Roger accepts temporary duties with the CIA. But just when the mission is already straining his relationship with Katherine, Roger becomes a murder suspect. A fugitive, he continues alone the mission to find Sophie. What he discovers lands this pilot deep inside a shadowy network intent on world domination.

Will Roger’s faith carry him through this quest—or will those tracking him succeed in snuffing out his long life once and for all?

A sensational standalone story, Rick Barry’s sequel to The Methuselah Project launches you into an unforgettable journey through danger, suspense, hope, and love—an experience that will keep you turning pages well into the night! 

Click here to get your copy!

 My Review

This is the second novel in a series and, while it reads rather well on its own, the earlier book should be read first to fully appreciate this one. Back story is provided along the way so I did understand what happened in the first novel by the time I finished this one.

The plot is one where a devious group wants to control the world. With origins in WW II, advanced biological experiments on humans are being done. And only one man, it seems, can save the world from evil domination.

There is plenty of action in this novel. I like the hero's innovative spirit, managing to outwit the bad guys with everyday objects and ingenuity. There is also good character development with introspective sections given in between suspenseful scenes. I like that there is a clear Christian message included. This is a good book for readers who like a somewhat common man pitted against evil forces to save mankind.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


About the Author

Rick Barry has authored 4 novels: The Methuselah Project, Methuselah Project S.O.S., Gunner’s Run, and a young adult fantasy called Kiriath’s Quest. In addition, he has hundreds of published articles and short stories to his credit. He speaks Russian and has visited Eastern Europe over 50 times. Experiences that have provided fuel for his fiction include skydiving, mountain climbing, rappelling, serving in Christian camping ministries in Russia, kayaking, wilderness hiking, white-water rafting, visiting World War II battlegrounds, and prowling deserted buildings in the evacuated Chernobyl zone in Ukraine.

More from Rick

More than once, I’ve told friends that if I could write only one novel in my life, The Methuselah Project is the one I’d choose. After all, that inspirational suspense story has equal appeal for men and women readers. Plus, its hero—Captain Roger Greene—is such a fun character. He’s patriotic, handsome, humble, conscientious, and he possesses a sense of humor that carries him through tough times. Sure, it’s a suspense story, but it also includes a satisfying touch of romance.

However, with the publication of its standalone follow-up, Methuselah Project S.O.S., I might have to revise my statement. In this second book I worked hard to raise the stakes, to increase the danger, and to ramp up the tension. Also, in this book we get much better acquainted with the main characters, and the romance deepens. (Sorry, no spoilers!) Even though Roger Greene and his girlfriend Katherine are my own inventions, I’ve really grown to love these two. Judging by reviews, readers have, too!

I confess that S.O.S. was harder to write than the first book. My brain insists on details and believability. For me to write it, the plot of S.O.S. compelled me to research a variety of subjects—the CIA, the Air Force, escape and evasion techniques, functional booby traps, and more. The resulting story is a roller coaster ride of action and emotions.

So, what gives me as author the most joy from these books? Probably the reviews where readers begin, “I don’t usually read this kind of book”—but then tell why they absolutely loved it. Who knows, maybe you’ll be the next one to say so!

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, March 3

Where Faith and Books Meet, March 3

Texas Book-aholic, March 4

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, March 5

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, March 6

Becka Jiménez, March 6

Debbie's Dusty Deliberations, March 7

Inklings and notions, March 8

Betti Mace, March 9

Blogging With Carol, March 9

For Him and My Family, March 10

deb's Book Review, March 11

Lights in a Darkness World, March 11

Locks, Hooks and Books, March 12

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, March 13

Pause for Tales, March 13

Because I said so -- and other adventures in Parenting, March 14

CarpeDiem, March 15

Mary Hake, March 15

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 16

Bizwings Blog, March 16

Giveaway

To celebrate his tour, Rick is giving away  the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a paper copy of Methuselah Project S.O.S.!!

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, March 2, 2021

Hide in Place by Emilya Naymark Blog Tour and Giveaway

Hide In Place

by Emilya Naymark

March 1-31, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

She left the NYPD in the firestorm of a high-profile case gone horribly wrong. Three years later, the ghosts of her past roar back to terrifying life.

When NYPD undercover cop Laney Bird's cover is blown in a racketeering case against the Russian mob, she flees the city with her troubled son, Alfie. Now, three years later, she's found the perfect haven in Sylvan, a charming town in upstate New York. But then the unthinkable happens: her boy vanishes.

Local law enforcement dismisses the thirteen-year-old as a runaway, but Laney knows better. Alfie would never abandon his special routines and the sanctuary of their home. Could he have been kidnapped–or worse? As a February snowstorm rips through the region, Laney is forced to launch her own investigation, using every trick she learned in her years undercover.

As she digs deeper into the disappearance, Laney learns that Alfie and a friend had been meeting with an older man who himself vanished, but not before leaving a corpse in his garage. With dawning horror, Laney discovers that the man was a confidential informant from a high-profile case she had handled in the past. Although he had never known her real identity, he knows it now. Which means several other enemies do, too. Time is running out, and as Laney's search for her son grows more desperate, everything depends on how good a detective she really is–badge or no.

My Review:

While Naymark has had many short stories published, this is her first novel. It is a good debut effort. I had a little difficulty liking Laney, the heroine, at the beginning. Her internal battle between being the mother of the missing child and being an ex-cop came out with her alienating those she needed to help her. I wanted her to be more savvy when it came to handling others, regardless of her intense motherly emotions. Alfie, her son, develops into a great character and I certainly appreciate his efforts to rise above the detrimental influences on his life.

The novel has a good balance of character revelation, backstory, and investigation. I like how Naymark revealed Laney's history as it became necessary to understand the current situation. The narrative frequently switches from Laney in current time to her history as a cop and to Alfie's situation. The changes were well done and progressed the plot well.

I liked this novel dealing with present character issues compounded by revenge from past events. It's a good book for readers who like exploring the influence of character on the outcome of a crime. I like Naymark's writing style and will be looking for more from her.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: February 9, 2020
Number of Pages: 278
ISBN: 1643856375 (ISBN13: 9781643856377)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

Laney Bird’s son vanished the night she drove a busload of high school seniors to see Wicked on Broadway. He left home before she did, loping down their driveway toward marching band practice, his saxophone case swinging in his hand.

“Stew in the Crock-Pot!” she yelled at his retreating back. “I’ll be home by eleven!”

He waved without turning around, a shimmy of raised fingers in the raw February wind.

The bus smelled like bologna sandwiches, fruity body sprays, and old soda and sounded like a monkey house. But she was used to it. And she needed the extra money.

Once the students erupted into the glittery Manhattan night, she parked and texted him but heard nothing back. This concerned her, though not overwhelmingly so. She figured he’d stayed late for practice or left his phone in his backpack on vibrate. She tried to nap. Listened to the radio. Played a game on her phone.

As icy rain turned to snow, the students clambered back on the bus, collapsing against green seats and smudged windows, and she carted them homeward through tortuous, storm-soured traffic toward upstate New York and their waiting families.

She wasn’t home by eleven.

Laney walked into her empty, dark house a few minutes past midnight and dumped her keys onto the key dish by the front door. Alfie’s saxophone did not trip her as it usually did, but she barely noticed, the long day hitting her hard.

After wriggling out of her bra (through her sleeves, blessed relief) and toeing off her shoes, she tipped the lid from the Crock-Pot and paused, unease needling her.

The beef and potatoes had gone cold, congealed. Untouched. She dropped her bra to a chair and walked over to Alfie’s room. His door was open and, when she flipped the light switch, his bed neat, empty.

With shaking fingers, she called his phone, then again, and again. Again. The line rang through to voicemail every time. The GPS Phone Tracker showed him a block from school at five pm, then nothing. He had either disabled the app or powered off his phone, both of which she had forbidden him to ever do.
Between the frantic phone calls, she glanced in every room and closet, climbed into the drafty attic, then into the dank basement, calling his name as if he were a toddler playing hide-and-seek and not a mercurial thirteen-year-old.

He was still not home by one am, when Laney rang and woke the few parents whose sons bothered with Alfie. They answered their phones with voices groggy or scared, turning quickly to irritation. He wasn’t with any of them. But she’d known that before she called and made the calls anyway out of some dim, crazed hope. He never visited other kids, never texted, wasn’t, as far as she knew, active on any social media.

At one thirty am she screeched into the Sylvan PD’s parking lot, knocking over a garbage can as she slammed on the brakes. Sylvan, a sedate hamlet in Rockland County, population less than nine thousand, slumbered under a cloud-swept sky, and the station house in the middle of the night on a Tuesday was quiet.

Laney burst into the building, then hesitated as the doors clanged shut behind her. Ed Boswell was the desk officer on duty, and if he was not exactly the last person she wanted to see, he was right up there in the top five candidates.

“Laney,” said Ed, turning his eyes from the screen, where, no doubt, he’d been watching the latest episode of CSI. He’d told Laney once it was his favorite show, and the midnight shift in Sylvan was so slow he usually spent at least half of it bingeing on some TV series or other.

It’s not that she thought he was a bad police officer. He was all right, calm and steady, with a slow way of looking at every problem even when the problem required immediate, ten-alarm action. Laney had been a cop herself before her personal life imploded. In her deplorably short career with the NYPD, Laney had risen to detective and worked three years as an undercover, first in the Bronx, then in Brighton Beach.

As Ed Boswell clicked something on his computer, tsked in irritation, clicked again, then looked at her, she wished, not for the first time, she could call her ex-partner. But he didn’t work in Sylvan. Ed did. Ed, who knew nothing of her past, nothing of the shield she’d earned by doing countless buy-and-busts, of her skills, her extensive knowledge of police procedures. Ed, who saw only what everyone else in Sylvan saw when they looked at her—a bus-driving single mom of an odd boy—and treated her problems with her child accordingly.

“It’s Alfie,” she said, her voice coming shrill and taut from her throat, hurting her. “He’s not home. Hasn’t come home.”

“Again?” asked Ed.

His eyes settled on her (with pity? condescension?), and she realized she’d run out of the house in her slippers, her coat still hanging on its hook in the hall and her bra on a kitchen chair.

Ed glanced at the window, where a wet sleet had started to slap against the glass. The storm had traveled north and was just beginning to hit their town.

“Did you check the high school?” he asked, just as Laney knew he would, because he’d been on desk duty the last time Alfie decided to disappear.

“The school is locked,” Laney said, thinking this should have been obvious, schools were like fortresses nowadays, hermetically sealed after hours. But she was not the cop, she reminded herself. Not anymore.

She said, “He’s not answering phone calls or texts. He’s disabled the phone tracker. I called three families who have sons he’s friends with”—to describe them as friends was a stretch, and she knew Ed knew this and her face colored—“and he’s with none of them. I left a message for his band teacher. Alfie was scheduled for band practice this afternoon. Prior to that he came home from school as usual at two fifteen, had a snack”—she paused, swallowed; that was the last time she’d spoken with him—“a PBJ sandwich, did his homework, then left for practice at four fifty. He was supposed to be home before seven.”

She closed her eyes, running through anything else she might have done, anything else she should say, but all she could envision was Alfie’s back in his maroon parka as he strode down the slippery driveway, saxophone case in hand, blond hair escaping from under his black knit cap. She hadn’t even hugged him, just waved as he stepped past her for the three-block walk to the high school.

Ed sighed and typed something. “I’m sure he’s fine, Laney. He’s done this before. We’ll have a patrol car out to the school.”

But it wasn’t the same, Laney wanted to scream. That last time, a month ago, she and Alfie had had an argument—a real, honest-to-God shouting and crying fest. She had (had she really?) slapped him and ransacked his room for the drugs she was sure he’d hidden there. His blown-out pupils, his clammy skin, his overly cautious movements, as if he didn’t trust his own limbs, terrified her, reminded her of the lost souls she’d had to lock up in the past. He cried, bawled, his face red and swollen, a child, even though he was thirteen and would be fourteen soon, in two more months. He denied everything, and by morning she had to admit she might have overreacted—the years buying drugs on the street as an undercover had skewed her vision, darkened her interpretations of the most normal behaviors. He might have simply been fighting off a cold. Mightn’t he?

By morning it was too late to make amends. Alfie had left and didn’t come home until the next day.

Afterward, after the missing-child reports had been filed and alerts issued to local police, after hours of searching, Alfie simply walked up the driveway and into their living room. He’d spent the night in the school theater’s backstage, among the dress forms and discarded curtains. In the morning he’d washed in the gym locker room, ate in the cafeteria, and walked to the frozen lake a mile away, where he spent a few hours sliding along the thick ice until he grew cold and hungry, at which point he came home.

Laney wanted to ground him, punish him, take away screen privileges for running away, because didn’t he know what he meant to her, didn’t he know he was all the family she had in the world? But the sight of him, tall, pale, thin, worried about her reaction, destroyed any disciplinarian instincts, and she clung to him wordlessly. She then cooked them a big pasta dinner.

And after she put away the dishes and Tupperwared the leftovers, she installed the GPS Phone Tracker on his phone.

“Look,” Ed said, “I’m sending the patrol car out now. We’ll start at the school. How about you go home and get warm. We’ll call you as soon as we find him. What’s the band teacher’s name? Is that Mr. Andersen?”

So placid. So sure. Laney ground the heels of her hands into her eyes. It’s possible she was overreacting again. But what did Ed know of her and Alfie? Certainly she hadn’t told him—or anybody—the reason Alfie skedaddled the last time, of that god-awful argument. Most depressingly, nobody who knew her had asked why he might have disappeared then, not even Ed Boswell, who had taken the report and should have.

Alfie was strange, a loner, prone to both inappropriate outbursts and intense shyness, and never mind his near expulsion following the fall talent show. Consequently, any strange behavior from him was not surprising. Certainly not to Ed, whose son was also a Boy Scout in Alfie’s troop. That’s how Laney and Ed knew each other, through their children, even though Ed’s son ignored Alfie at best and sometimes, when he thought no parents were in hearing distance, ridiculed him with the sharp, callous cleverness of the smart and popular.

“So,” she said, trying to keep her voice neutral, “should I tell you what he was wearing?”

“Oh.” Ed peered at the paperwork in front of him. “Yes, let’s do that. What was he wearing?”

She pictured Alfie, her stomach clenching with fear. Where was he? Things had improved lately. A lot.

He’d been sweet, even-tempered, talkative with her, had even been mentioning a friend.

“Blue-and-gray-striped sweater, horizontal stripes. Dark-blue jeans”—skinny cut, Christmas present and already floods on him two months later—“white socks, black sneakers, maroon parka, black watch cap.

He had his sax with him when he left.”

Ed sat back and sighed. “Got it. He’s fine, Laney, really. It’s Sylvan, not the inner city. Go home. I’ll call you as soon as we find him.”

She nodded, her eyes welling, then gestured to the hallway. “Gonna use the ladies’,” she said, already walking toward the bathroom.

It wasn’t so much that she minded crying in front of people—she really didn’t. Feelings were feelings and everyone had them. But being inside the station brought back her old ways. Cops didn’t blubber, and if you were a female cop, you better keep yourself zipped shut or you’d never hear the end of it. She splashed cold water on her face and dried off with a paper towel, kneading it into a tight, brown ball before shoving it into the metal bin.

A little of Ed’s sureness had penetrated her swooping panic, and she felt a touch easier now. He was right about one thing— Sylvan was not the inner city. The nearly nonexistent crime rate and country setting were why she had moved here in the first place. Alfie was being his difficult self. That was all.

She walked out of the bathroom tired but composed, willing to let the situation take its course, if only until morning.

On her way out, she passed an office and would have kept walking except she heard Alfie’s name. She stopped just behind the doorway, keeping out of sight.

“That kid’s got problems,” said a man’s voice. “Listen, I had to come out five times last fall to the high school because of him. Five times! What’s he even doing in a normal school? Shouldn’t he be up in Pinelane?”

“Apparently not,” another man answered. “I know what you mean, though.” He sighed. “That boy is overtime waiting to happen. And it doesn’t make me happy to say it.”

“What? You not happy about overtime?” the first man said.

“You know what I mean. What if your kid was like that?”

“Nope, not me. That’s why I ain’t having kids. I got snipped.”

Laney looked up to see Ed coming toward her, his lips a line across his face. Without saying anything to her, he marched into the office and said, “I’m happy to hear you won’t be reproducing, Raguzzi. Now get the hell to work and shut the fuck up.”

She turned and ran out into the spewing snow, her slippers instantly soaked and her face burning with shame and guilt and worry.

***

Excerpt from Hide in Place by Emilya Naymark. Copyright 2021 by Emilya Naymark. Reproduced with permission from Emilya Naymark. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Emilya Naymark's short stories appear in Secrets in the Water, After Midnight: Tales from the Graveyard Shift, River River Journal, Snowbound: Best New England Crime Stories 2017, 1+30: THE BEST OF MY STORY, and in the upcoming Harper Collins anthology A Stranger Comes to Town.

She has a degree in fine art, and her artworks have been published in numerous magazines and books, earning her a reputation as a creator of dark, psychological pieces.

When not writing, Emilya works as a visual artist and reads massive quantities of thrillers and crime fiction. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her family.

Catch Up With Emilya Naymark:
www.EmilyaNaymark.com/author/
Goodreads
BookBub
Instagram
Twitter
Facebook

 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!


Click here to view Hide In Place by Emilya Naymark Participants.

 

Giveaway!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Emilya Naymark. There will be THREE winners. ONE winner will receive (1) physical copy of Hide In Place by Emilya Naymark (U.S. addresses only). The giveaway begins on March 1, 2021 and runs through April 2, 2021. Void where prohibited

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 
I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours.
(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Thunder in the Soul by Abraham Joshua Heschel

Abraham Heschel was a Jewish theologian and religious philosopher. As a Christian, why would I read Heschel? He wrote for people encountering God and his thoughts were not confined to one faith. As his daughter notes in the forward, many say, “A Jew has brought them closer to God, deeper in their prayer, strengthened in their faith,” (180/1248) There is a long forward in this book, explaining much of Heschel's life and work. That makes this book a good introductory one for readers not familiar with him or his work.

There were several areas in this book I found particularly insightful. One was Heschel's thoughts on piety. A pious person's main interest is God. This concern for God, “becomes the driving force controlling the course of his actions and decisions, molding his aspirations and behavior.” (357/1248) That is thought provoking. I liked Heschel reminding us that our concern is not for more knowledge but to open our lives to God. I appreciate Heschel's emphasis on transcendence, the reality of God beyond all things.

I appreciate Heschel's exploration of God's character. “No single attribute can convey the nature of God's relationship to man.” (548/1248) Justice is God's nature, as is love and mercy, as is divine anger. “It is divine anger that gives strength to God's truth and justice.” (548/1248) He has very insightful thoughts on prayer. He explores the call and message of prophets as they reveal humanity's indifference to evil. (634/1248)

Some of Heschel's writing in this book requires reflection to comprehend. This is not a book a reader will breeze through. Nonetheless, there are thought provoking insights for all those who desire to understand more of how God interacts with man and how man encounters God.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972) was born in Warsaw, Poland and studied at the University of Berlin. He received orthodox rabbinical ordination but was at home in all Jewish communities. He wrote on the philosophical and theological issues of his day. He began teaching at the Judische Lehrhause, an educational institute for adults, in 1937. He was deported to Poland in 1938, went to London and arrived in the U.S. in 1940. He taught at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati and in 1945 joined the faculty at The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.

Plough Publishing House, 168 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, February 27, 2021

The Turncoat's Widow by Mally Becker Blog Tour and Giveaway

The Turncoat's Widow

by Mally Becker

February 22 - March 19, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:


Recently widowed, Rebecca Parcell is too busy struggling to maintain her farm in Morristown to care who wins the War for Independence. But rumors are spreading in 1780 that she’s a Loyalist sympathizer who betrayed her husband to the British—quite a tidy way to end her disastrous marriage, the village gossips whisper.

Everyone knows that her husband was a Patriot, a hero who died aboard a British prison ship moored in New York Harbor. But “everyone” is wrong. Parcell was a British spy, and General Washington – who spent two winters in Morristown – can prove it. He swears he’ll safeguard Becca’s farm if she unravels her husband’s secrets. With a mob ready to exile her or worse in the winter of 1780, it’s an offer she can’t refuse.

Escaped British prisoner of war Daniel Alloway was the last person to see Becca’s husband alive, and Washington throws this unlikely couple together on an espionage mission to British-occupied New York City. Moving from glittering balls to an underworld of brothels and prisons, Becca and Daniel uncover a plot that threatens the new country’s future. But will they move quickly enough to warn General Washington? And can Becca, who’s lost almost everyone she loves, fight her growing attraction to Daniel, a man who always moves on?

Praise for The Turncoat’s Widow

The Turncoat’s Widow has it all. A sizzling romance, meticulous research, and an exhilarating adventure. Becca Parcell is too independent for both 18th-century Morristown and her feckless English husband. Her individual plight when she is pressed into service as an unwilling spy after her husband’s death reflects the larger situation of colonists during the American Revolution, whose lives were upended by a political fight they cared nothing about. Becker balances the ruthlessness of George Washington and the underhanded charm of Alexander Hamilton with the excesses of the British, as part of a detailed picture of how the colonies were governed during a war that was far from a simple fight between two opposing nations. But historical exactitude is balanced by dashing romance between Becca and Daniel Alloway, the escaped prisoner charged with protecting her, and plot full of bold escapes and twists. A great series debut. I can’t wait for the next installment.
- Erica Obey, author, Dazzle Paint (coming 02/2021), The Curse of the Braddock Brides, and The Horseman’s Word.

An exciting Revolutionary-era thriller with a twisty mystery, great characters, and historical accuracy to boot.
- Eleanor Kuhns,author of the Will Rees mysteries

The Turncoat’s Widow reminds readers that treachery from within and without to our republic were real, and those early days for American independence from the British were fragile, the patriot cause, unpopular. This is a rousing debut novel with insights into the hardships of colonial life, the precarious place of women in society, while giving fans of historical fiction a tale with suspense, surprises, and anoutspoken and admirable heroine in Becca Parcell. Mally Becker is an author to watch.
- Gabriel Valjan, Agatha and Anthony-nominated author of The Naming Game 

My Review:

This novel highlights the turmoil during the Revolutionary War. Becker does a good job of showing the condition for soldiers in the colonies. They were not being paid and the continental paper money had lost its value. People were willing to do what needed to be done to get money, blurring the lines of loyalty. Some were just out to profit from the war, regardless of loyalty. There are so many betrayers in this novel, I couldn't keep them straight.

I liked Rebecca as the heroine, needing to prove herself loyal to General Washington in order to save her farm. It was an era where properties could be confiscated if the owner was thought to be disloyal. She's my kind of woman as she'd rather be mucking out a stall than sitting in a drawing room.

I found Becker's writing style a little hard to follow. Actions and conversations often seemed cryptic and sometimes didn't make sense to me. A person would appear in a scene when I was sure they were some place else. Nonetheless, this novel gave me a good sense of the strain on loyalties during the drawn out war and what might have been actions by loyalists to save the independence effort.

My rating: 4/5 stars. 


Book Details:

Genre: Historical Suspense / Mystery
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: February 16, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-953789-27-3
Purchase Links: Amazon || Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Chapter One

Morristown – January 1780

There was a nervous rustling in the white-washed meeting house, a disturbance of air like the sound of sparrows taking wing.

Becca Parcell peered over the balcony’s rough, wood railing, blinking away the fog of half-sleep. She had been dreaming of the figures in her account book and wondering whether there would be enough money for seed this spring.

“I didn’t hear what ….” she whispered to Philip’s mother.

Lady Augusta Georgiana Stokes Parcell, known simply as Lady Augusta, covered Becca’s hand with her own. “Philip. They’re speaking of Philip.”

Becca couldn’t tell whether it was her hand or Augusta’s that trembled.

“The Bible says, if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee, does it not?” The preacher’s voice was soft, yet it carried to every corner of the congregation. “They’re here. Amongst us. Neighbors who toast the King behind closed doors. Neighbors with no love of liberty.”

Philip was a Patriot. He had died a hero. Everyone knew. Minister Townsend couldn’t be talking about him.

The minister raised his eyes to hers. With his long thin arms and legs and round belly, he reminded her of a spider. She twisted her lips into the semblance of a smile as if to say “you don’t scare me.” But he did.

“Which of your neighbors celebrates each time a Patriot dies?” Townsend’s voice rose like smoke to the rafters, took on strength and caught fire. “Their presence here is an abomination.” He rapped the podium with a flat palm, the sound bruising in the quiet church. “Then cast them out. Now.”

Men pounded the floor with their feet.

Becca flinched. It wouldn’t take much to tip the congregation into violence. Everyone had lost someone or something to this endless war. It had been going on for almost five years.

Townsend’s thin arm rose, pointing to her.

Becca’s breath caught.

“And what of widows like Mrs. Parcell? Left alone, no longer guided by the wise direction of their husbands.”

Guided? Becca pulled her hand from Augusta’s. She rubbed her thumb along the palm of her hand, feeling the rough calluses stamped there. She had learned the rhythm of the scythe at the end of the summer, how to twist and swing low until her hands were so stiff that she’d struggle to free them from the handle. She’d fallen into a dreamless sleep each night during the harvest too exhausted even to dream of Philip. She, Augusta and their servant Annie were doing just fine.

“He hardly slept at home, as I hear it,” a woman behind her sniffed to a neighbor.

Becca’s spine straightened.

“No wonder there were no babes,” the second woman murmured.

Becca twisted and nodded a smile to Mrs. Huber and Mrs. Harrington. Their mouths pursed into surprised tight circles. She’d heard them murmur, their mouths hidden by fluttering fans: About her lack of social graces; her friendship with servants; her awkward silence in company. “What else could you expect from her?” they would say, snapping shut their fans.

Relief washed through Becca, nonetheless. This was merely the old gossip, not the new rumors.

“Some of you thought Mr. Parcell was just another smuggler.” The pastor’s voice boomed.

A few in the congregation chuckled. It was illegal to sell food to the British in New York – the “London Trade” some called it — but most turned a blind eye. Even Patriots need hard currency to live, Becca recalled Philip saying.

“He only married her for the dowry,” Mrs. Huber hissed.

Becca’s hand curved into a fist.

Augusta cleared her throat, and Becca forced herself to relax.

“Perhaps some of you thought Mr. Parcell was still a Tory,” the minister said.

The chuckling died.

“He came to his senses, though. He was, after all, one of us,” Minister Townsend continued.

One of us. Invitations from the finer families had trickled away after Philip’s death.

“We all know his story,” Townsend continued. “He smuggled whiskey into New York City. And what a perfect disguise his aristocratic roots provided.” The minister lifted his nose in the air as if mimicking a dandy.
“The British thought he was one of them, at least until the end.” The minister’s voice swooped as if telling a story around a campfire. “He brought home information about the British troops in the City.”

Becca shifted on the bench. She hadn’t known about her husband’s bravery until after his death. It had baffled her. Philip never spoke of politics.

Townsend lifted one finger to his chin as if he had a new thought. “But who told the British where Mr. Parcell would be on the day he was captured? Who told the Redcoats that Mr. Parcell was a spy for independence?”

Becca forgot to breathe. He wouldn’t dare.

“It must have been someone who knew him well.” The minister’s gaze moved slowly through the congregation and came to rest on Becca. His eyes were the color of creosote, dark and burning. “Very, very well.”
Mrs. Coddington, who sat to Becca’s left, pulled the hem of her black silk gown close to avoid contact. Men in the front pews swiveled and stared.

“I would never. I didn’t.” Becca’s corset gouged her ribcage.

“Speak up, Mrs. Parcell. We can’t hear you,” the minister said in a singsong voice.

Townsend might as well strip her naked before the entire town. Respectable women didn’t speak in public. He means to humiliate me.

“Stand up, Mrs. Parcell.” His voice boomed. “We all want to hear.”

She didn’t remember standing. But there she was, the fingers of her right hand curled as it held the hunting bow she’d used since she was a child. Becca turned back to the minister. “Hogwash.” If they didn’t think she was a lady, she need not act like one. “Your independence is a wickedly unfair thing if it lets you accuse me without proof.”

Gasps cascaded throughout the darkening church.

From the balcony, where slaves and servants sat, she heard two coughs, explosive as gun fire. She twisted. Carl scowled down at her in warning. His white halo of hair, fine as duckling feathers, seemed to stand on end. He had worked for her father and helped to raise her. He had taught her numbers and mathematics. She couldn’t remember life without him.

“Accuse? Accuse you of what, Mrs. Parcell?” The minister opened his arms to the congregation. “What have we accused you of?”

Becca didn’t feel the chill now. “Of killing my husband. If this is what your new nation stands for – neighbors accusing neighbors, dividing us with lies – I'll have none of it. “Five years into this endless war, is anyone better off for Congress’ Declaration of Independence? Independence won’t pay for food. It won’t bring my husband home.”

It was as if she’d burst into flames. “What has the war brought any of us? Heartache, is all. Curse your independence. Curse you for ….”

Augusta yanked on Becca’s gown with such force that she teetered, then rocked back onto the bench.

The church erupted in shouts, a crashing wave of sound meant to crush her.

Becca’s breath came in short puffs. What had she done?

“Now that’s just grief speaking, gentlemen. Mrs. Parcell is still mourning her husband. No need to get worked up.” The voice rose from the front row. She recognized Thomas Lockwood’s slow, confident drawl.
She craned her neck to watch Thomas, with his wheat-colored hair and wide shoulders. His broad stance reminded her of a captain at the wheel. He was a gentleman, a friend of General Washington. They’ll listen to him, she thought.

“Our minister doesn’t mean to accuse Mrs. Parcell of anything, now do you, sir?”

The two men stared at each other. A minister depended on the good will of gentlemen like Thomas Lockwood.
The pastor blinked first. He shook his head.

Becca’s breathing slowed.

“There now. As I said.” Lockwood’s voice calmed the room.

Then Mr. Baldwin stood slowly. Wrinkles crisscrossed his cheeks. He’d sent his three boys to fight with the Continental Army in ’75. Only one body came home to be buried. The other two were never found. He pointed at Becca with fingers twisted by arthritis. “Mrs. Parcell didn’t help when the women raised money for the soldiers last month.”

A woman at the end of Becca’s pew sobbed quietly. It was Mrs. Baldwin.

“You didn’t invite me.” Becca searched the closed faces for proof that someone believed her.

“Is she on our side or theirs?” another woman called.

The congregation quieted again. But it was the charged silence between two claps of thunder, and the Assembly waited for a fresh explosion in the dim light of the tired winter afternoon.

With that, Augusta’s imperious voice sliced through the silence: “Someone help my daughter-in-law. She’s not well. I believe she’s about to faint.”

Becca might be rash, but she wasn’t stupid, and she knew a command when she heard one. She shut her eyes and fell gracelessly into the aisle. Her head and shoulder thumped against the rough pine floorboards.

Mrs. Coddington gasped. So did Becca, from the sharp pain in her cheek and shoulder.

Women in the surrounding rows scooted back in surprise, their boots shuffling with a shh-shh sound.

“Lady Augusta,” Mrs. Coddington huffed.

Independence be damned. All of Morristown seemed to enjoy using Augusta’s family title, her former title, as often as possible.

“Lady Augusta,” she repeated. “I’ve had my suspicions about that girl since the day she married your son. I don’t know why you haven’t sent her back to her people.”

“She has no ‘people,’ Mrs. Coddington. She has me,” Augusta’s voice was as frosty as the air in the church. “And if I had doubts about Rebecca, do you think I’d live with her?”

Becca imagined Augusta’s raised eyebrows, her delicate lifted chin. She couldn’t have borne it if her mother-in-law believed the minister’s lies.

Augusta’s featherlight touch stroked her forehead. “Well done,” she murmured. “Now rise slowly. And don’t lean on me. I might just topple over.”

“We are eager to hear the rest of the service on this Sabbath day, Minister Townsend. Do continue,” Thomas Lockwood called.

Becca stood, her petite mother-in-law’s arm around her waist. The parishioners at the edges of the aisles averted their eyes as the two women passed.

As they stepped into the stark, brittle daylight, one last question shred the silence they left behind: “Do you think she turned her husband over to the British?”

Someone else answered. “It must be true. Everyone says so.

***

Excerpt from The Turncoat's Widow by Mally Becker. Copyright 2021 by Mally Becker. Reproduced with permission from Mally Becker. All rights reserved.

  

Author Bio:

Mally Becker is a writer whose historical suspense novel, The Turncoat’s Widow, will be published in February 2021 by Level Best Books. She was born in Brooklyn and began her professional career in New York City as a publicist and freelance magazine writer, then moved on, becoming an attorney and, later, an advocate for children in foster care.

As a volunteer, she used her legal background to create a digest of letters from US Supreme Court Justices owned by the Morristown National Park. That’s where she found a copy of an indictment for the Revolutionary War crime of traveling from New Jersey to New York City “without permission or passport.” It led her to the idea for her story.

​A winner of the Leon B. Burstein/MWA-NY Scholarship for Mystery Writing, Mally lives with her husband in the wilds of New Jersey where they hike, kayak, look forward to visits from their son, and poke around the region’s historical sites.

Catch Up With Mally Becker On:
www.MallyBecker.com
Goodreads
Instagram - @mallybeckerwrites
Twitter - @mally_becker
Facebook - Mally Baumel Becker

 

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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Mally Becker. There will be Five (5) winners for this tour. One winner will receive a $20. Amazon.com Gift Card, Two (2) winners will each win a physical copy of The Turncoat's Widow by Mally Becker (U.S. addresses only), and Two (2) winners will each win an eBook copy of The Turncoat's Widow by Mally Becker. The giveaway begins on February 22, 2021 and runs through March 21, 2021.
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I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Partner in Crime Virtual Book Tours. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours.

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