Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The Traitor's Pawn by Lisa Harris

About the Book:

When FBI agent Jack Shannon arrives in Corpus Christi, Texas, he is focused on one thing: find the man who has been selling encrypted government secrets to the Chinese. But when a senator is shot during a hunting trip and the woman he was with is abducted, Jack agrees to join the search – especially when he discovers that the kidnapping victim is Aubrey Grayson, a woman he was once in love with.

As the search continues, it becomes clear the senator may not have been the intended victim – and Aubrey may be connected to the other case Jack is supposed to be working on. Can Jack untangle the knots before it's too late? And when he learns the truth, will it be too painful to get past?

You can read an excerpt here.

You can watch the book trailer here.

My Review:

I like that this novel gets going right away with action and suspense as Aubrey is kidnapped. The suspense is well distributed through the novel and balanced with character ruminations and development. Aubrey is a heroine struggling with inner battles, especially toward her father. Those struggles come to be very important as the plot develops.

And that plot is a bit complex. We readers are not sure who abducted Aubrey or why. There's a traitor selling secrets to foreign governments that Jack is investigating but there were so many red herrings and conflicting evidence that I was unsure of who it really was until the end. Unfortunately, there were some areas in the book that did not seem to be realistic, such as Aubrey and Jack out driving on their own when there had been two attempts on her life. That Aubrey would even be allowed to work on the case seemed odd.

I liked the novel in general. It is a good exploration of relationships in the context of suspense. Aubrey loved the senator like a father as he had taken her in when her own father had abandoned her. Now she must face her real father and find out if he is who he says or who the FBI says he is. And Aubrey must come to grips with her feelings for Jack. All in all, a good suspenseful novel with action and character thought in good balance.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author:

Lisa Harris is a bestselling author, a Christy Award winner, and the winner of the Best Inspirational Suspense Novel from Romantic Times for her novels Blood Covenant and Vendetta. The author of more than forty books, including the Nikki Boyd Files and the Southern Crime series, as well as Vanishing Point, A Secret to Die For, and Deadly Intentions, Harris and her family have spent over sixteen years living as missionaries in southern Africa. Learn more at www.lisaharriswrites.com.

Revell, 336 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by the publisher.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Dead End by Nancy Mehl

About the Book:

When a body is discovered in a field in Iowa, the police uncover fourteen additional corpses, some from twenty years ago, others from the recent past. The remains point to a serial killer with an MO the authorities have seen before – Ed Oliphant, a man who has been in prison for more than twenty years . . . and is FBI Special Agent Kaely Quinn's father. After several failed attempts to discover if Ed has been training someone to be a copycat killer, the police turn to Kaely in St. Louis for help.

Kaely promised herself she would never step foot in her hometown or set eyes on her father again. She's always refused to confront her past, but if she wants to prevent any more deaths, she must come face-to-face with the man she's hated for years.

As more bodies are discovered, Kaely races against time and her own inner turmoil to uncover the killer. Will this most personal case yet cost Kaely her identity and perhaps even her life?

My Review:

Mehl's novel has a definite emphasis on character growth. There is really no suspense until near the end. Much of the book deals with Kaely's inner battles about her killer father, such as guilt. She also battles a feeling she will die young, something from childhood combined with a threat from an evil man she confronted in her FBI work. She also struggles with her faith, wondering if it is enough to get her through the hard experiences she anticipates coming.

There are several other psychological themes explored. What makes a serial killer, a psychopath? How do childhood experiences play a part? What part does the devil have in it? How does one handle anger toward God because of personal tragedy?

This is an interesting book for readers who like to get in the minds of main characters since suspense appears only near the end. There are good explorations of many themes involving evil behavior, its causes and cures and healing from its effects. While the edition I read contained no discussion questions, I think this book contains much to think about and discuss.

You can read an excerpt here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author:

Nancy Mehl is the author of more than 35 books and a Christy Award and Carol Award finalist as well as the winner of an ACFW Book of the Year award. She and her husband make their home in Missouri. You can find out more at www.nancymehl.com. Photo by Ginger Murray Photography.

Bethany House Publishers, 320 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by the publisher.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Secrets of the Happy Soul by Katie Orr

We want to be happy don't we? Really happy with that joy springing up from the inside. After all, Jesus promised an abundant life, a thriving existence. Yet there seems to be a chasm between what Jesus promised and how many Christians live. What's going on?

Orr makes sure readers are born again believers. That is essential because her book “is about working out the incredible, life-changing, happy realities that are true of us because of Christ.” (13) She gives insights on six areas where we need to understand the life change that has happened to us and then live it out.

She points out that experiencing and enjoying God does not automatically happen. It takes cultivating. She helps us understand the kinds of actions necessary to bring us to full maturity in Christ.

My favorite part of the book is her teaching on the essential nature of valuing God's Word. We must understand that only the Word can fulfill our deepest longing and satisfy us like nothing else can. We might have some barriers that hinder us from enjoying God's Word. She tackles them, one by one, calling us to fight for the inclinations of our hearts.

This is a good book for young Christians as it clarifies the path to being all we can be in Christ. It's a good book for older Christians too, especially if we have become a little lazy in our Christian walk. Orr's enthusiasm for going after the delight we can experience in God is contagious.

Food for thought: "Happiness in not something we pursue. It is something we are." (40)

You can read an excerpt here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Katie Orr is passionate about helping women enjoy God daily. As a conference speaker, prolific author, and online Bible coach, she provides biblical teaching and relevant resources to help women jump-start their journey toward walking with Jesus. Katie and her pastor-husband have three children and serve together in the local church. Learn more at www.katieorr.me.

Bethany House, 256 pages.

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

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Capsized by Death Blog Tour

About the Book

Book:  Capsized by Death
Author: Catherine Finger
Genre:  Christian Mystery/Thriller
Release Date: December 2019

As Police Chief Jo Oliver prepares for her dream wedding in Maui, she and her team must keep a serial killer with ties to her past from derailing her plans for the future.

Click here for your copy!

My Review

This is the fourth book in a series and unfortunately, the first I have read. Since much of the plot deals with previously established relationships, it was difficult for me to completely appreciate the story. The novel is mostly about those relationships, preparing for marriage, and the wedding. Oliver's involvement in a murder case does not come until midway through the book.

Finger does some head hopping in that the point of view changes from Chief Oliver to the killer within a chapter. There was a decorative dividing line but that line also appeared when the preceding and following scenes were from the same point of view. I found the inconsistency disconcerting.

I did not find Chief Oliver an engaging heroine. For being the police chief of a small town, she was frequently over reactive to imagined harm, such as someone's hard blue eyes looking at her. That she was heroic in the end seemed inconsistent.

Reading this novel would be best if you are already engaged with the characters by having read the previous books in the series.

My rating: 4/5 stars. 

About the Author

Catherine Finger loves to dream, write, and tell stories. Retired from a wonderful career in public education, she celebrates the ability to choose how to spend her time in a new way during the second half of life. So far, she chooses to write books, ride horses, serve others, and generally find her way into and out of trouble both on the road and at home.  She lives in the Midwest with a warm and wonderful combination of family and friends.
Capsized by Death, the fourth novel in her Jo Oliver Thriller series, will be released by Elk Lake Publishing in December, 2019. Anchored by Death, the third novel in her Jo Oliver Thriller series, received the Bronze Medal for the 2018 Independent Publisher Book Awards, was a finalist for the National Indie Excellence Awards, and  Her second Jo Oliver Thriller, Shattered by Death, was a finalist in the International Book Awards and the National Indie Excellence Awards. Catherine and her novels have been featured on radio stations, blogs, and in numerous articles—all posted at www.CatherineFinger.com.
Catherine loves to interact with her readers at www.CatherineFinger.com. Follow her on Facebook at Catherine Finger, Author, and on Twitter at CatherineFinger@BeJoOliver.

More from Catherine

In writing my Jo Oliver Thriller series, I find myself driven by passion. The genesis of the series—Cleansed By Death—was fueled by a passion to create a story about strong women embedded in a male-dominated profession, facing difficulties they could only solve through faith and community. I was vacuuming when I was hit by the idea of pitting two strong women against each other and seeing which one would win, the theme of book 2, Shattered by Death. Information gleaned during an FBI writers workshop on techniques for tracking criminals, superimposed over the mitten map of Wisconsin formed the bones for Anchored By Death, the third book in the series.
My latest novel, Capsized By Death, contains all of my favorite elements. The astute series reader will note that the foundation for the killer’s appearance in this book was introduced years ago in Cleansed By Death. But he first appeared to me during one of my many solo writing vacations on an island.
At the end of a fairytale day spent kayaking, snorkeling and listening to the sound of whales singing under water in Maui, the gorgeous male host of my day trip stood silhouetted in the setting sun. This man was beautiful in every way, and had the sort of personality that describes the essence of attractive—he pulled you into his beautiful ocean world. At that moment, I knew I had found my perfect killer for my next book! It became my goal to create a killer who was beautiful on the outside and evil on the inside. I used the New Testament book of Jude as my guide for the internal workings of my killer and thus the skeletal framework for Jude, my killer in Capsized By Death—book 4 of the Jo Oliver Thriller series—was born.

Blog Stops

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

Friday, March 27, 2020

Joy Express Blog Tour

About the Book

Book:  Joy Express
Author: Jody Day
Genre:  Christian Women’s Fiction
Release Date: Nov 8, 2019

Nearly a year has passed since Scott and Bailey’s Christmas wedding. Now they are expecting joy in the form of twins!

The day arrives for the opening of Barkley House, a missionary retreat provided by Bailey’s inheritance, but an unspeakable evil descends upon Bailey as she awaits her ride to the opening ceremony. Scott can’t find her.

Shocking revelations accompany Bailey’s ordeal. Will she ever find joy again?

Click here to get your copy.

My Review

I liked this emotion packed novella. While there is intense drama early in the story, most of it concentrates on how Bailey handles the trauma she experienced and her new circumstances as mother of twins. The character development is done well as Bailey deals with other issues too, such as self imposed guilt from her parents breaking up when she was young.

The aspect of the story I liked the best was how friends and neighbors came together to help Bailey and her husband during this traumatic time. I liked also that there is a very clear Christian message presented.

This is the third book in the Express Series and I would recommend the earlier ones be read to get the full enjoyment out of this one. While some back story was included in this book, I was often conscious of having missed the complete story in the other books. The character relationships and the support they provide are an essential part of the story and are not quite understood without the previous stories.

I recommend this engaging story of trauma and healing, all in the context of loved ones coming near for support. It would make a heart warming read of an evening.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author

Jody Bailey Day writes inspirational fiction, poetry, Bible studies, and articles from her home in West Texas. She is a member of Faithwriters.com, American Christian Fiction Writers, and is the president of Critique Café, West Texas area writers group. She mentors young writers, and is a musician and music teacher. She and her husband love silent and black and white movies, and the chaos that comes with fifteen grandchildren. She crochets blankets for her ministry called Wrapped in Prayer Blanket ministry. Jody considers herself a professional nerd, and loves every minute of it.

More from Jody

I’m so excited about the release of Joy Express. It’s the culmination of a series that began in my heart on the way home from the first writer’s conference I ever attended. The East Texas Writer’s Conference was held at my alma mater, East Texas Baptist College, which is now University. I was incredibly inspired, and on I20 toward Dallas I saw a sign that said Washout Express, Exit 477. Turns out that was giant truck wash. My thought was, “What would it be like to be totally washed out, washed up, and at the end of your rope?” I’d been there and was on the other side, but I wanted to write a story about the process. Bailey Brown was born. Joy Express is Book 3 in the series and follows Bailey and Scott through a series of tremendous obstacles, and how their faith and family got them to the other side. It’s not tied up with a nice little bow, life is rarely like that, but it does come to a redemptive pause in their story. I hope you’ll pick it up and read the message of faith. You can come back from anything.

Blog Stops

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.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Colossians by Joyce Meyer

Colossians is my favorite book in the Bible. It contains my life verse. It has so much good teaching in it and Meyer does a good job of helping us comprehend all that's there. This book is a good introduction to the epistle and is very readable. It is not really a verse by verse exposition but rather emphasizes thoughts, sometimes one verse, some times an entire paragraph of Scripture. There is no exploration of the Greek.

In classic Meyer style, she emphasizes the lordship of Jesus, the dangers of Gnosticism, the importance of putting God first, how to live as a Christian in this world, who we are in Christ, the importance of our thoughts, and much more. My favorite section was the one on being “in Christ.” She even notes there is more information on this topic on her website.

Meyer reminds readers that God wants us to thrive in life. (John 10:10) That requires living by God's Word. We need to study the Bible and dig deep into its truth so it will transform us. This is a good book to lay a foundation for that deeper study.

This study on Colossians is divided into short chapters and would make a good daily devotional kind of reading. Meyer has added reflective questions from time to time but the style is not that of a workbook. I recommend it to lay people looking for a good devotional reading on Colossians.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Joyce Meyer is one of the world's leading practical Bible teachers. Her show, Enjoying Everyday Life, airs on hundreds of television networks and radio stations worldwide. Joyce has written over a hundred inspiring books. Her sales successes include: Power Thoughts; Confident Woman; Look Great, Feel Great; Starting Your Day Right; Ending Your Day Right; Approval Addiction; How to Hear from God; Beauty for Ashes; and Battlefield of the Mind. Joyce travels extensively, holding conferences throughout the year, speaking to thousands around the world. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

FaithWords, 208 pages.

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

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Death and Betrayal by Seeley James Blog Tour

Death and Betrayal

by Seeley James

on Tour February 17 - March 20, 2020


Jacob Stearne, ex Army Ranger and current Sabel Security operative, is about to propose to his girl when he discovers that "next generation" weapons are being shipped to our enemies. Some factions in the US government ask him to find the perpetrators while others work to make sure he fails. His intended fiancé does not understand his disappearance and he can’t give an explanation. When Jacob sets out to expose the billionaire intending to auction off national secrets, he is fired, expelled, and hunted by the government that once awarded him medals. If he ever wants to return to his homeland, he must insert himself into the dangerous world of technology smugglers. It’s a place where only the aggressive and ruthless survive. In the cutthroat world of modern-day pirates, every breath he takes may be his last. He must ask himself, can he outsmart the most corrupt billionaires in history before democracy is destroyed? Can he lose the woman he loves to save the nation?

My Review:

This action packed novel is full of twists and turns and surprises. Stearne is out to save the world again but this time in the most convoluted way. His being fired by Pia seemed a set up job to me and I was surprised Stearne didn't think the same. His feelings of betrayal provide a dark element to the plot. We are taken into the dark world of arms sales, to exotic locations and luxurious yachts and self absorbed billionaires.

James' writing style often left me a little confused, especially with dialogue. I frequently had to reread sections to make sure I understood the verbal exchanges.

This is a novel for readers who like plenty of action set in the context of keeping the bad guys from getting sophisticated weapons. The plot includes lots of mayhem, plenty of dead bodies and a great deal of complex strategy by Stearne to outsmart the bad guys.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Machined Media
Publication Date: February 18th 2020
Number of Pages: 300
ISBN: 978-1-7333467-2-6
Series: Sabel Security Thriller #8
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

The man they called Ra stood on the Savannah’s main deck, staring hatred into the eyes of the general’s emissary. The smug bastard needed to learn a hard lesson about respect. Ra took several deep breaths, tamping down his growing agitation without betraying his emotions. The general had a good deal of money to spend. Ra held the emissary’s gaze as he cooled off. He said, “We’re talking about an auction for the most advanced weapon system the world has ever seen. An auction the general could easily win. What concerns could he possibly have?”
Ra resisted the urge to glance over the sea toward Monaco’s harbor. He was dying to see if his darling’s tender was on its way back from town, but he wouldn’t allow himself to be distracted.
“The general does not believe you have what you claim.” The emissary said in his heavily accented English. He gestured with his arms wide, encompassing Ra’s superyacht. “I do not see it here on your little skiff.”
Behind his left shoulder, the emissary’s sycophantic lieutenant made an insolent face to match his boss.
The dig was childish. Ra had the biggest yacht in Monaco, a present to himself after making billions in commodities. Too big to dock in the harbor. Sure, it was post-season, and the Numina would drop anchor due east of him in a few weeks. Until then, the Savannah reigned supreme. He felt like gutting the slimy emissary for his rudeness. Instead, he smoothed his Kiton sport coat and puffed up his thin frame.
“Don’t be a fool,” Ra sneered. “If I kept Alvaria onboard, sleezy generals from around the world would send commandos to take it from me. In case that’s what you’re thinking, rest assured, I have security. We call them ‘the dogs.’ You’ve met two of them.” He gestured to two bulky men in black suits standing close by. “Fido and Rover. Spot keeps watch with a rifle in case someone approaches uninvited. There are more. I have a whole kennel.”
Ra turned his back on his guests and checked the harbor. He couldn’t wait for his darling to return but he needed to conclude this delicate business before then. He didn’t want her to see the kind of men he dealt with. The emissary wore a ludicrous uniform without insignia yet festooned with medals. His black hair was greased straight back with what might’ve been motor oil. The lieutenant dressed and groomed himself to match. The very definition of a toady.
“The general does not believe the system can do what you claim,” the emissary said.
“Oh, my misguided friend. Alvaria is the stuff of autocrats’ dreams.” Ra laid his hands on the railing, keeping his focus out to sea. “Imagine what it can do. At the push of a button, a hundred drones leap into the air, locate their target, and annihilate whoever you choose. Each drone on a single-purpose mission, never stopping until one of them achieves the objective.” He straightened up and turned to face the emissary. “No more political rivals. No more annoying reporters asking inconvenient questions. No more adversaries across your western border. Everyone doing as they’re told, all under the general’s control. As it should be. It’s science fiction—and it’s here today. If your general doesn’t want to bid on it, he won’t get to see the show we have scheduled.”
“The general is skeptical you can obtain this system.” The emissary crossed his arms and widened his stance. “The Americans have impenetrable security.”
“I stand on my reputation. Many times your poor general has failed to pay me in a timely manner, yet I have never failed to deliver what he needs. From rocket launchers to automatic rifles, they arrived on time and under budget. He would still be a lieutenant were it not for me making good on my promises. He knows damn well my word is gold. My plan has been in the works for years. I have all the right people in all the right places. Alvaria will fall into my hands at exactly the right moment. If he does not believe me, he won’t see the demonstration.” Ra paused before making a sympathetic face. “Until his rival uses it to target him.”
To his credit, the emissary didn’t flinch.
“Think about this,” Ra said. “If Iran acquires Alvaria, they could destroy the ruling classes of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in an afternoon. The next morning, they could annihilate Iraq’s parliament. Then, they invade. The price of oil skyrockets because they would control 24% of the world’s production. Sanctions are lifted under threat of an oil embargo. And just like that, the Persian Empire is reborn.”
The emissary thought while he took a long, deep breath. He pressed a finger to his lips and looked at the deck. After a long moment, he lifted his finger and shook it at Ra. “The general does not like the glimpses of the future you have illuminated. He does not want to participate in your auction. Instead of bidding for it, he will report you to the Americans. That way, no one will have this system.” He paused and smiled. “There will be no resurgent Persian Empire.”
Ra flicked a quick glance at Fido, who sprang into action. To the emissary, Ra said, “I am most disappointed to hear you say that. On a different subject, do you recall meeting my man Bonham in a café last month? Bonham is my second-in-command. He offered you money to turn against the general. Ah, I see from your surprise that you do recall the encounter vividly. Well, sport, the problem for you is that when you turned him down, your lieutenant did not.”
As the emissary’s surprise turned to shock, his gaze swiveled to his lieutenant. At that moment, Fido knelt at the emissary’s feet and clamped leg irons on his ankles. In disbelief, the emissary looked down at his shackles, then followed the attached chain to find Rover standing at the railing, holding a very large, very heavy stone. “Do you think you can scare—”
“You’ve been paid,” Ra said to the emissary’s lieutenant. He held out an old, razor-sharp dagger. “Slit his throat.”
The lieutenant stared at Ra in disbelief. “Now?”
“Yes, now. Or die with him. Your choice. Ah. You’ve seen the light. Good man. Right here, above the collar. Stand behind him so you don’t get blood on yourself.”
As the young man weighed the knife in his hand and moved behind his former boss, Ra took out his phone, set it to video, and pressed record. The knife slashed through the stunned and wordless emissary’s neck. Blood sprayed forward. Rover dropped the rock overboard. The chain’s slack disappeared and yanked the emissary’s body with it, over the railing and into the deep.
The young man looked up at Ra, who kept the video rolling. The psychological weight of his first murder began to contort the young lieutenant’s expression. As he pondered his rapidly changing allegiances, he looked down to find Rover placing leg irons on his ankles. Behind him, Fido stood at the railing with another rock. He looked back at Ra and squeaked, “Why? I did what—”
“I think it’s obvious, isn’t it?” Ra asked. “You can’t be trusted.”
Over his shoulder he saw the tender bearing his darling returning from shore. She would be onboard in five minutes. No time for long goodbyes.
He turned back to face the lieutenant as Rover slit the young man’s throat. “There are four more of your kind in the general’s private guard. He’ll be dead by morning, so you’ll be in good company.”
The stone dropped. The chain tightened. The lieutenant’s body flew over the railing into the deep.
Ra looked at the pool of blood covering the deck. He snapped his fingers. A steward appeared. “You see this ugly mess? Scrub it clean.”
Excerpt from Death and Betrayal by Seeley James. Copyright 2020 by Seeley James. Reproduced with permission from Machined Media. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Seeley James' near-death experiences range from talking a jealous husband into putting the gun down to spinning out on an icy freeway in heavy traffic without touching anything. His resume ranges from washing dishes to global technology management. His personal life ranges from homeless at 17, adopting a 3-year-old at 19, getting married at 37, fathering his last child at 43, hiking the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim at 59, and taking the occasional nap.
Seeley's writing career began with humble beginnings including publishing short stories in The Battered Suitcase leading to being awarded a Medallion from the Book Readers Appreciation Group. Seeley is best known for his Sabel Security series of thrillers featuring athlete and heiress Pia Sabel and her bodyguard and operative, veteran Jacob Stearne. One of them kicks ass and the other talks to the wrong god.
Seeley's love of creativity began at an early age, growing up at Frank Lloyd Wright’s School of Architecture in Arizona and Wisconsin. He carried his imagination first into a successful career in computer technology sales and marketing, and then to his real love: fiction.

Catch Up With Seeley James On:
SeeleyJames.com, Instagram,Twitter, Goodreads, BookBub, & Facebook!

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!
Click here to view the Death and Betrayal by Seeley James Participants.

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 Promotions. My comments are an honest and independent review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

A Bad Day for Sunshine by Darynda Jones

This is the best novel I've read in a long time, maybe years. It's hard to say which I liked better, the plot or the characters.

First the plot. Is very well crafted. It is a good combination of mystery and family relationships and police work. The plot framework is Sunshine Vicram returning to the New Mexico town where she had grown up. The town where she had recently been elected sheriff in an election she never entered. The town where she had been kidnapped and raped fifteen years ago, her abductor never found. The town to which she has returned with her fourteen old daughter.

And the characters. Sunshine and her daughter are very well crafted. I loved the relationship the two had, the love, the quips, the devotion, the patience. It was amazing to experience the interaction between the two. And there are plenty of other interesting characters too, all serving well to flesh out the story with entertaining color.

Other areas of the novel I really liked include the dialogue. It was well designed, sometimes snarky, sometime dramatic, sometimes informative, always well crafted. I liked how actions and attitudes were revealed. Here is an example: “...his gaze locked on to her as though he were contemplating inviting her to dinner. Or cooking her for it.” (Loc 1900/5662) I like how the large amount of backstory was seamlessly woven into the plot.

I really liked this book. This is how I think a novel should be written. I was captivated by the plot and characters. There were times I laughed and times I fought tears. While the plot in this novel is complete in itself, we are set up at the end of the book for a sequel. Bring it on soon, please, as I'm waiting for it.

You can watch the book trailer here.
You can read an excerpt here.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Winner of the 2009 Golden Heart® for Best Paranormal Romance for her manuscript First Grave on the Right, Darynda can't remember a time when she wasn't putting pen to paper. Darynda Jones lives in the Land of Enchantment, also known as New Mexico, with her husband of more than 25 years and two beautiful sons, aka the Mighty, Mighty Jones Boys. Photo by Donita Massey.

St Martin's Press, 400 pages.

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

Monday, March 23, 2020

The Blue Cloak by Shannon McNear

McNear warns readers in the Introduction to her book that this is a darker novel than one usually sees in the Christian genre. But then, it is a novel based on the acts of America's first serial killers, the Harpes. The two men, brothers or first cousins, went on a killing rampage for several years in the late 1790s along the frontier in Tennessee. They killed men, women, children, burned homes, and more. They had with them three women. Two they had kidnapped. One, Sally, had legally married one of the Harpes, a marriage performed by her pastor father. She had no idea what she was getting into but found out all too soon.

This is a good historical novel. I am amazed how McNear wove together a fictional account around historical facts, facts she clarifies in a Historical Note at the end of the novel. She mentions how she had to separate fact from legend surrounding the Harpes. Records so old are often conflicting but I think she did a great job of creating an engaging narrative from the information she had.

Like McNear's warning at the beginning of the book, I'll warn sensitive readers. While there is nothing more gruesome than one sees on tv or in movies now, the murders and dismembering and other acts may be a surprise to readers of Christian historical fiction. Nothing is described in gruesome detail as McNear notes. She tried to portray the killings with as little detail as possible. But the evil deeds are there, nonetheless.

There is a strong Christian message permeating the plot. There are also many issues covered, such as Sally's misplaced loyalty to her husband, a loyalty firmly planted into women's heads during the time. This may not be the most pleasant novel of The True Color series I have read, but it is a good one.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Shannon McNear is a military wife, mom of eight, grandma of two and is a member of ACFW and RWA. Her first novella, Defending Truth in A Pioneer Christmas Collection, was a 2015 RITA finalist. She lives in North Dakota. You can find out more at www.shannonmcnear.com.

Barbour, 256 pages.

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