Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Crystal Witness Blog Tour

About the Book

Book:  Crystal Witness
Author: Kathy Tyers
Genre:  Christian fiction, science fiction, futuristic
Release Date: June 16, 2020

Her memories are blocked. Her freedom is gone. Her crime is a mystery.

When Ming Dalamani awakens from twenty years of suspended animation, she recalls only fragments of her former life: the life she led before she was arrested by the governing interplanetary corporation, Renasco, for a now unremembered crime.

Relocated to an alien world far from the only home she has ever known, Ming serves a powerful Renasco representative to repay her debt. But daily she lives with deadly threats from two men—the hideous mutant Zardir Huekk and the handsome, secretive musician Tieg Innig—who both want the same thing: information. Renasco-trained as a calligrapher in three dimensions, Ming begins to remember more: a clan, a mission, and interstellar piracy.

Ming must decide where her loyalties lie: with her powerful new employer, with a budding resistance movement… or elsewhere.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

Having grown up reading lots of science fiction, I enjoyed this novel. I felt it got off to a bit of a rough start as the action in Part 1 did not connect to the next part for while. After the novel got going, however I really liked it, especially the suspense near the end.

I like the plot of one society being oppressed by another. I liked the characters and their development for the most part. As is the case with sci-fi, there were some weird characters, like the one with eyes that blink sideways. There is some advanced science but we are not overwhelmed with it. The characters form the majority of the plot framework and that was good. There is no particular spiritual emphasis but good and evil are well defined in the end.

I recommend this novel to sci-fi readers. I'll be reading more of this author.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author

Kathy Tyers is widely published in speculative fiction, including her award-winning Firebird series and two licensed Star Wars “Legends” novels, as well as a travel book, a writing reference book, and a memoir co-written for classical guitarist Christopher Parkening. Her messiah-in-space novel Daystar, fifth in the Firebird series, won a 2013 Carol Award, and her terraforming/genetic engineering science fiction novel Shivering World won the 2019 Christy Award for Visionary Fiction. At home in southwest Montana with her husband William Gillin, Kathy focuses on writing, teaching music, and freelance editing.

More from Kathy

In 1988, after the initial release of Firebird and Fusion Fire by Bantam Books of New York, my then-editor asked for a stand-alone novel, and my then-agent presented me with a contract to write that book in just over half the time that I actually needed. So my third novel, Crystal Witness, appeared in 1989—and while the plot had strong bones, I wished I’d had several more months to polish it. Much to my delight, Enclave Publishing is re-issuing Crystal Witness in June 2020 with the layers of polishing added. While I was adding those layers, I found myself wondering what would happen next. Maybe … oh, yes … hmmm … Aha!
Now that Crystal Witness is ready to stand up and sing, I am delighted to be working on a multi-book sequel series, The Sunstone Saga, also to be released by Enclave Publishing. Book 1 of the saga, The Long Silence, is well underway. It introduces a new cast of characters and asks a powerful question: Where has God been, while humankind went to the stars?
Crystal Witness is the story of young Ming Dalamani, who wakens from twenty years of suspended animation to find herself “company property” on a distant world, with no memory of the crime she must have committed. She only knows that a powerful corporate monopoly rules interstellar space, and she has been assigned to serve a company representative. Immediately, powerful (and opposing) individuals offer threats and bribes, trying to enlist her to spy for both sides of a deadly intrigue. How long can Ming play both sides of the plot against her urgent wish to find out who she is … and what was her crime?
My background in music and the arts always manages to show up in my books. I made Ming a calligrapher in three dimensions, wielding a set of injection pens to create elegant designs in clear slabs. Another character is a court musician with futuristic technology at his fingertips. My entire family was musical; my mother played in 20thCentury Fox’s prestigious sound stage orchestra in the 1950s, and my father grew up in a family band that toured the U.S. every summer. When I was widowed in 2004 and needed to make a fresh start, I discovered that Regent College in Vancouver BC had a program in which I could study toward a Master’s degree in Christianity and the Arts—and write a science fiction novel as part of my thesis project. That book, Wind and Shadow, picked up the Firebird series at Book 4 and led to its completion in Daystar, Book 5. That series is conclusively finished—as you know, if you have read Daystar!


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.)

Monday, June 29, 2020

Don't Keep Silent by Elizabeth Goddard

About the Book:

Justice comes easy for these two. But forgiveness? That's another matter altogether.

Investigative reporter Rae Burke will do anything to find her missing sister-in-law, even if it means facing Liam McKade, a man who almost lost his life saving hers. A former DEA agent, Liam thought he could find peace at his Wyoming ranch, but he doesn't feel at home anywhere anymore. When the reporter who blew his cover on an important investigation inserts herself back into his life, he's less than thrilled. But Rae's keen investigative skills have led her down the right path – and directly into the dragon's mouth – leaving Liam no choice but to protect her.

As the danger increases, the past they both tried to flee catches up to them, along with the feelings they once had for each other . . .

My Review:

I enjoyed this romantic suspense. The setting of a winter ski resort was engaging. There was a good deal of suspense so the pace of the plot moved well. I felt the characters were developed well and there was a good balance of character thought and action.

I appreciated the red herrings sprinkled throughout the plot. I have to admit, I had my eye on the wrong guy as the villain more than once. The restoration of the relationship between Liam and Rae was done well. The initial tension between them is based on previous actions. I thought perhaps I had missed a novel in the series but the previous actions are eventually revealed in the narrative.

This is a good romantic suspense for readers who enjoy characters who have a history they must work through to renew potential romance while they try to find a missing woman and stay alive too. While there is some mention of God, the faith message is not a strong one.

You can read my reviews of the earlier books in the series: Never Let Go, Always Look Twice.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author:

Elizabeth Goddard is the award-winning author of more than 40 romantic suspense novels, selling over one million copies. She was awarded the 2011 Carol Award and was a finalist for a Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery and Suspense. When she's not writing, she loves spending time with her family, traveling to find inspiration for her next book, and serving with her husband in ministry. She is a seventh generation Texan. You can find out more at www.ElizabethGoddard.com. Photo: Emilie Hendryx.

Revell, 368 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.

(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, June 28, 2020

The Impostors by Steve Benen

I read this book in my ongoing quest to understand the current political situation in the United States.

Benen says politics has evolved since 2008 to where the Republicans are now post-policy. They no longer care about evaluating evidence and then developing policy. He describes the post-policy thinking, “...what works, even during a crisis, is far less important than what's ideologically satisfying.” (Loc 541/7830) That means they'll vote for whatever promotes reelection rather than what is best for the American people.

Several examples are given where Republicans voted for a proposal when originated by a Republican but opposed essentially the same proposal when proposed by Democrats. Such was the case with the budget. During the Bush era, Republicans added trillions to the debt. During the Obama administration, “reducing the deficits they'd created was the only goal that mattered.” (Loc 4745/7830) With a Republican administration currently in power, we see the deficit again becoming larger.

One of the most telling events Benen recounts is one where Gingrich was discussing crime with a CNN host. Presented with statistics showing crime declining during the Obama administration, Gingrich said he would rather go with what people felt. Benen comments that false perceptions were more relevant than facts and reason. Statistics, Benen says, “are no match for what unprincipled politicians can get people to believe.” (Loc 5354/7830)

The Republican Party can become a governing entity again, Benen argues. It would require hiring policy staff, respecting intellectual arguments and statistical data, and becoming more invested in actual governing.

The book is very readable, even to this political novice. With many such insights, Benen has helped me understand the current political situation. I recommend this book to those who would like to understand how we Americans have come to the political situation we are in. Yes, the author particularly aims his critique at the Republican Party. Nonetheless, this book certainly shows how those governing today are failing our public interest.

Food for thought: “An approach to governance that rejects the value of independent evidence will inevitably fall.” (Loc 5687/7830)

You can read a sample here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Steve Benen is a producer on The Rachel Maddow Show and the author of The MaddowBlog. His articles and op-eds have appeared in The New York Times, Washington Monthly, The American Prospect, Salon.com and other publications. For his work on TRMA, he has received two Emmy Awards and has been nominated for three more. He lives in Vermont. Photo by Eve Benen.

William Morrow, 384 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.)

Healing Family Relationships by Rob Rienow

Certainly every family has relationship problems. That is the nature of humanity. Rienow has written a book full of practical strategies with a view to healing the relationships.

There were a few surprises in this book. One was a chapter on spiritual warfare. It is a neglected issue but one that is so necessary. “We need to stop fighting against our family and start fighting against the spiritual forces of evil.” (79) Another surprise was a chapter on boundaries. And yet another was a chapter on mediation. (He gives steps to implementing mediation.)

Yes, this book offers good strategic steps, such as for prayer and repentance. He gives steps for forgiveness, such as making a decision (act of the will), then asking God to work on the heart, then reconciliation. This takes time and Rienow says he himself was in this process for six years before seeing a breakthrough. He also includes the actions to take to have a conversation offering repentance.

I like Rienow reminding us that we cannot control the other person but we can change our own mind and behavior. Some of this is hard, like having patience and mercy.

Rienow uses stories from his own life and the lives of others, as well as stories from the Bible to illustrate his teaching. There are questions at the end of each chapter for personal reflection or group discussion.

This is a book full of practical instruction and anyone who would like to see relationships in a family healed would find reading it beneficial. Rienow includes a chapter on the most important relationship reconciliation, with God.

You can read an excerpt here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Rob Rienow (DMin, Gordon-Conwell) and his wife launched Visionary Family Ministries in 2011. Its mission is to build the church through a global reformation of family discipleship. He has served as a pastor and church planter and speaks a conferences around the world as well as on national radio. He and his wife have written several books. The Rienow family lives in the western suburbs of Chicago. You can find out more at www.visionaryfam.com.

Bethany House Publishers, 192 pages.

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

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

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Cleansed by Death Blog Tour

About the Book

Book:  Cleansed by Death
Author: Catherine Finger
Genre: Thriller/Suspense/Mystery
Release Date: June 2016

Haunted by an evil presence she can’t quite grasp, Police Chief Josie Oliver finds herself drawn into the crosshairs of a vicious serial killer. Fighting for her marriage, faith, and fate, Chief Josie is confronted by an Adversary that only God can conquer–if she decides to let Him in.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

Finger has a way of making scenes, emotions, reactions, etc., very intense. It is almost too much. Police Chief Jo was a difficult character for me to understand or find engaging. She is a very emotional woman which I found odd for being a police chief. She has not stood up to her abusive husband of four years. And when divorce finally looms, she seems willing to let the jerk take everything, including a house they bought with her inheritance money. She allows a man to live in her basement before the divorce court date. That just did not make sense to me.

Most of the novel is about Police Chief Jo being overwhelmed by emotional issues. There is some suspense at the end but that is all. There is little mystery. There is a serial killer but we, along with law enforcement, know who the fellow is way before the end.

This is a novel for readers who like much personal drama on the part of the heroine and don't mind a plot weak on mystery and suspense. There is a very good salvation message included in the book.

This is the first in a series and you can read my reviews of the other books: Shattered By Death, Anchored By Death, Capsized By Death.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

About the Author

Catherine Finger loves to dream, write, and tell stories. Recently 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, was released by Elk Lake Publishing in December, 2019. Anchored by Death, the third of her Jo Oliver novels, was a Bronze Medal winner at the 2018 Independent Publisher Book Awards; a 2018 Selah Awards finalist; and a finalist for the National Indie Excellence Awards. 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

Welcome to our Jo Oliver Thriller series Celebrate Lit Tour!

Cleansed by Death, the first book in the series of four novels, began with an idea to write a book about strong women struggling with life, love, and loss while embedded in traditional male roles. I wanted to show real women dealing with difficult internal and external struggles and create tension for my readers. Playing with the question of whether such challenges make our characters better—or bitter—added depth and twists to my story.
It took a long time to get this story to the point of releasing it into the world. I stopped writing it twice, shelving it for about a year each time. Every summer as I percolated over the story, I read it cover to cover and realized I still loved both the voice and the bones of the story. Adding the faith piece in a way that felt authentic and edgy was the frosting on the cake and it happened as a half vision, half spiritual warfare experience in Jo Oliver’s head and heart. This experience developed her unique brand of conversation with God as she understands Him and added a spiritual dimension to my stories.

My Midwestern roots showed themselves with reckless abandon in this debut—becoming a cornerstone of future installments. As I write this kick-off note to you, I sit in front of my computer facing a wilderness scene that features prominently in this story. Writing in the midst of the corona virus leads me back to some of my favorite places for comfort—the woods and lakes of Wisconsin.

Enjoy the read!

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

Friday, June 26, 2020

Hope When Life Unravels by Adam B Dooley

This is a very touching memoir and exploration of suffering and God's plan. Dooley's three year old son was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Three years of treatment followed and Dooley reflects on his experiences and the lessons he learned.

In a sense, there is nothing radically new in this book about God and suffering. Dooley writes about the growth and maturity that can only come through deep wounds. He helps readers try to understand the origin and results of suffering. He points out it is a false idea to think that, because a person is suffering, they have done something to deserve it.

He admits that he doesn't have all the answers but shares how he learned to trust God through it all. About such hard experiences, Dooley says God “meticulously places them for reasons beyond our comprehension.” (Loc 228/1874)

He suggests we have an attitude of enduring adversity with a view to growing as much as possible. It may take the experiences to transfer head knowledge to heart believing. “Because God is more concerned with our character than our comfort, sometimes He chooses to use calamity in order to sanctify us.” (Loc 699/1874) He also wants us to know “that intimacy with God is the fruit of heartache and pain.” (Loc 361/1874)

If you have read a number of books on suffering, there may be nothing new for you in this one. Dooley's account is touching, however, and deals well with the issues of God and suffering. There are questions for discussion at chapter ends so this would be a good book for a group study.

Food for thought: "Will you eagerly follow a God who is likely to break you in order to mature your commitment to Him?" (Loc 699/1874)

You can read an excerpt here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Adam B Dooley is the pastor of Englewood Baptist Church and the founder of A Better Way Ministries. He has degrees from Clear Creek Baptist College and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (MDiv; Ph.D). He and his wife, along with their three sons and two daughters, live in Jackson, TN. You can follow hiim @adambdooley.

Zondervan, 192 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.)

Thursday, June 25, 2020

The River Beautiful Blog Tour

About the Book

Book:  The River Beautiful
Author: Andrea Carmen
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: May 26, 2020

A difficult past. A strange letter. An unsolved mystery.

Someone is following Lena, mapping her every move.

Where strength can be weakness and vulnerability-an asset, the greatest danger that threatens Lena may just be herself.

After the death of her father years ago, Lena ran from the quiet community of Kennerdell, but she’s back, forced to face a past she’d rather forget.

To make things more difficult, awkward, and terrifying, her old friend, Will, is back in her life. Even worse, she needs him there if she hopes to figure out what the letter she found in her father’s study means. They’re on a mission to find answers before her stalker does.

The River Beautiful mingles history and legend in a fast-paced ride through the deceptively peaceful Allegheny Mountains on a quest for answers amid loss, strength in the face of love, a whirlwind of self-discovery, and learning to use faith to illuminate even the darkest places.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

This is a good debut effort. The plot is based in the mystery of the missing crown jewels upon the execution of Charles I. I do wish there had been an author's note at the end of the novel giving readers a little historical background. I had to do some research on my own to see if this was all fiction or perhaps based a bit on history.

There is a good dose of budding romance in the novel, a relationship troubled by Lena's insecurities. She went back and forth over her attraction to Will several times. I thought that aspect a bit repetitive. Lena's character was developed thoroughly as a young woman mentally haunted by her father's untimely death.

This novel has a good historical mystery, character development done rather well, some mystery and suspense. Carmen has great potential and I will be looking for her next work.

My rating: 4/5 stars. 

About the Author

Andrea Carmen enjoys writing Romantic Suspense and Sweet Romance from a Christian perspective. A lover of bygone times, her modern-day novels contain a spark of history, a hint of mystery, or a little bit of both. Andrea finds inspiration by getting outdoors every chance she gets to explore and enjoy nature, but her favorite pastime is spending time with her family and best canine friend, Zoey.

More from Andrea

The River Beautiful is my first novel. The story means so much to me, and I am so happy to finally share it with you all.
This book has been years in the making and covers so many topics that are important to me. Many of them were fun to write about, but a few were hard to deal with at times.
Three elements stand out to me when I think of Lena’s story:
Love, Loss, and Legend.
Love- Love is a beautiful gift. In fact, I would say it is the most precious gift God ever gave us. Love, in its correct form, is free, unconditional, and the basis our salvation. God’s love for us cannot be altered or blocked by darkness, not even the paralyzing darkness of grief. So, when love comes into play in this story, it comes from that perspective. Lena struggles to accept love, but I think that is a place many of us have been at one time or another.
Loss can be lifechanging and usually not for the better. To turn The River Beautiful into the story it is, I had to bring up emotions from my own experiences with grief. Churning up those feelings after I’d had them tucked away for so long resulted in many tearful typing sessions. But at the end of the day, I think it brought unexpected healing and a level of authenticity to the story that it would not have had otherwise.
Legend- Researching the legends of the Lenni Lenape people was enlightening. I have always felt a connection to history and the past intrigues me so that I could not help but bring in some element of mystery from the area’s indigenous inhabitants. My usual go-to when it comes to history tends to be Early American and European, but for this project I was able to bring in a blend of all three for a fictional retelling of key events—and that was exciting!
By combining the elements of Love, Loss, and Legend, I hope I have created a story that not only entertains but moves readers as well. And I hope you love it!

Blog Stops

For the Love of Literature, June 27 (Author Interview)
Mary Hake, June 27
A Baker’s Perspective, July 1 (Author Interview)
Vicky Sluiter, July 4 (Author Interview)
Betti Mace, July 6
Book Love, July 7 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

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

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Texas Twin Abduction Blog Tour

About the Book

Book:  Texas Twin Abduction
Author: Virginia Vaughan
Genre:  Inspirational Romantic Suspense
Release Date: June 2, 2020

This twin’s past is a blank…

And she might not have a future.

Waking up in a bullet-ridden car with a bag of cash and a deputy insisting she’s his ex-fiancée, Ashlee Taylor has no memory of what happened—or of Lawson Avery. But with her twin missing and someone hunting her down, she must trust him with her life. Can Lawson save her and her sister—even as Ashlee’s forgotten secrets become an inescapable trap?

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

This is an enjoyable start to a new Christian romantic suspense series. The characters were interesting as the heroine starts with amnesia and therefore has no beginning personality. It was interesting to see how Vaughan started with basically nothing and developed her character from the observations and stories of others. Lawson was an engaging hero. He had been hurt but was willing to give romance a chance again.

I had a couple of issues with the plot development. There had been several attempts on Ashlee's life. She was staying at a ranch where several of the family were law enforcement. She received a package and was allowed to go in her room and open it privately? This on the heels of several times Ashlee being shot at or abducted because the law enforcement family weren't on the ball. Suspense because of lack of wise behavior on the part of those watching her didn't set well with me. I like suspense because of the craftiness of the villain, not because of the lack of wise action on the part of the protagonists.

This is an entertaining novel of suspense if the minor plot flaws are overlooked.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author

Virginia Vaughan is a multi-published author of inspirational romantic suspense. Blessed to come from a large, southern family, her fondest memories include listening to stories recounted by family and friends around the large dinner table. She was a lover of books even from a young age, devouring gothic romance novels and stories of romance, danger, and love. She soon started writing them herself. A former investigator for the State of Mississippi, Virginia utilizes her criminal justice background with her love of writing to transform words into powerful stories of romance and danger.

More from Virginia

Thanks for joining me for a brand new adventure. TEXAS TWIN ABDUCTION is the first book in my new Cowboy Lawmen series and it’s a departure from what I normally write. I love writing about cops and serial killers so when my editor first suggested the cowboy/western theme, I was hesitant. I’m a city girl at heart so this was so far out of my comfort zone! But I couldn’t resist for long. After all, who doesn’t love a cowboy? Thankfully, I found a way to merge what I loved—law enforcement, FBI, US Marshals—with the cowboy/family themed books my editor wanted to see by making my group of hero brothers a family of law enforcement types with ties to the family ranch. The best of both words. Score!
Book one in this new series, TEXAS TWIN ABDUCTION, begins with my hero, little brother Lawson Avery, in a quandary. All he ever wanted out of life was to run his family’s Texas ranch, but his ex-fiancée Ashlee’s final words to him as she skipped out on their wedding was that his desire for the simple life made him unambitious and unworthy of her love. Her words broke him, sending him searching for something more meaningful to do with his life, eventually winding up as a deputy in the sheriff’s office. But, despite law enforcement being in his blood, Lawson finally realized that life wasn’t for him and made plans to return to the ranch. However, his plans are sidetracked when he finds Ashlee unconscious on the side of the road in a bullet-ridden car with no memory of him or their past together. When it becomes clear that someone wants her dead, Lawson steps in to act as her protector. But will digging into the mysteries of her past cost him the future he still longs to have with her?
I hope you enjoy this book and this brand new series! Look for the next book—older brother US Marshal Miles Avery’s story—coming in TEXAS HOLIDAY HIDEOUT this October.

Blog Stops

The Avid Reader, June 24
Bigreadersite, June 24
Simple Harvest Reads, June 28 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)
Betti Mace, June 29
Genesis 5020, June 29
Emily Yager, July 3
Hookmeinabook, July 4
EmpowerMoms, July 5
Mary Hake, July 5
Hallie Reads, July 6

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 book 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.)