Friday, April 30, 2021

The Silver Shadow by Liz Tolsma

I have enjoyed the True Color series, novels based on crimes from decades ago. This one is about attacks on women in Denver in 1900. The heroine is a female newspaper reporter. Polly writes about society events but thrives on excitement and wants to write a big story. Edwin is the hero, a Denver police detective. The two cross paths as more women are attacked and some die. Polly calls the attacker The Silver Shadow in an article. Can she and Edwin find the man before Polly becomes a victim herself?

Tolsma has written three others in this series and says this is the most fictionalized of the four. She had little information to go on but does identify the factual elements of the novel in her Author's Notes.

The role of women in general was a major theme of the novel. It was a time when women were not thought to have the kind of character needed to write serious newspaper articles. Tolsma built up the animosity to women by creating a reporter who disliked Polly's attempt to be a serious reporter. Tolsma also fictionalized the motives of the attacker. He misconstrued Scripture, claiming that women should be in the home and not walking alone on Denver's streets at night, even if returning home from church services or errand of mercy. And Polly's father was another male who felt she should get married and settle as a housewife and mother. Another issue in the novel was guilt. Edwin struggled with guilt over a deadly event that happened when he was eleven years old.

Tolsma is an accomplished author but I felt this story was drawn out. Perhaps that was because she had little to go on. The action seemed repetitive although a budding romance between Polly and Edwin did spice it up a bit. I do appreciate the factual elements Tolsma added to the plot.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Liz Tolsma is the author of several novels of World War II, romantic suspense, and Amish romance. She is a popular speaker and editor. She and her husband live on a Wisconsin farm with their youngest daughter. Their son is a US Marine and their older daughter is a college student. You can find out more at

Barbour, 256 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.)

The Most Beautiful Disaster by Hope Carpenter

I am impressed with this book. Carpenter writes with heartfelt honesty about her disastrous affairs and the long road to recovery and restoration. Her story is a testament to how God can take something devastating and make something beautiful out of it. Her book is not some objective teaching on the subject. She writes from her own painful experience, sharing the lessons she learned.    

This book is not an easy fix nor a substitute for necessary counseling by any means. Carpenter shares her long journey after coming clean about her marriage failure. She spent eight months away from her family in a residential counseling facility where she received counseling and insight into her actions. She spent years working with counselors and mentors to come to a place of healing and flourishing. She came to understand how experiences in childhood, like unresolved emotional issues and being raped at age fifteen, drove her recent immoral actions. She is quick to remind us that she still bore responsibility for her immorality. Knowledge of driving factors were informative and led to healing but did not excuse her behavior.

Carpenter gives good insights into the hard work of understanding behavior and steps to restoration. She helps us identify emotional issues from childhood that emerge in adulthood. She helps us understand what to watch for in straying away and getting off track. She shares her experiences of the hard work of seeking forgiveness and the long journey of rebuilding trust. It is not an easy path, she says. We must be willing to give up whatever it takes to find wholeness. It's a good book for sufferers and for those wanting to help, such as pastors and counselors.

This is a very good book for anyone who feels they have done something so wrong God has given up on them. Carpenter writes from the other side of healing and is a testimony that God can turn a mess into something better, something beautiful. Her husband agrees in a touching Afterword.

Food for thought: “God loves you, sin, brokenness, mess-ups, and all.” (101)

You can watch the book trailer here.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Hope Carpenter is the cofounder of Redemption Church in Greenville, South Carolina. Through Hope Carpenter Ministries, she travels to minister to women all over the world. She and her husband live in San Jose, California, and Greenville, South Carolina. You can find out more at

FaithWords, 240 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an honest and independent 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, April 29, 2021

Until I Find You by Rea Frey Blog Tour

Until I Find You

by Rea Frey

April 26 - May 21, 2021 Tour


The Set-Up

Soon, Rebecca Gray won’t be able to see. Diagnosed in her twenties with a degenerative eye disease, each day her world grows a little darker. She’s moved to the suburbs to raise her son, Jackson. In the wake of her husband\'s death, it should be a quieter, easier way of life. It won’t be.

The Moment That Changes Everything

When Bec awakes after fainting in the park, she makes promises to start taking better care of herself. When her son begins to cry, she approaches the crib. Reaches in. Picks him up. But he’s not her son.

The Search

There’s nothing Bec won’t do to find Jackson. But she’s a blind woman in a world where seeing is believing. The police think she’s confused. Her friends don’t see any differences. Relying on the conviction of her instinct and the power of a mother’s love, Bec must push the limits of her world to uncover what happened to her baby boy…and bring him home for good.

My Review:

This novel got off to a slow start for me. There is some psychological suspense early on but nothing actually happens until nearly a third of the way into the book. I have to admit I started skimming about a quarter of the way in. The psychological suspense is built on Bec being blind. There is no other suspense as her life is never in danger.

I did not feel empathy for Bec because she was such a stubborn and prideful woman most of the time. But at one point, when Jake was leaving for a police assignment, she says she can't do this without him. I felt there was some inconsistency in the characterization of Bec. She is portrayed as always refusing help before and after that one scene.

The plot was certainly complex. Just before the denouement, as facts become clear, Bec says, “That doesn't make sense.” (3885/4309) I kind of felt the same way. I had to suspend some belief to think that the events could have worked out as described.

The best part of this novel is Frey's writing style. It is actually captivating. Once I got about half way through the book, I didn't want to put it down, even with the complex plot and the character inconsistencies.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Book Details:

Genre: Domestic Suspense
Published by: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: August 11th 2020
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 1250241588 (ISBN13: 9781250241580)
Series: Until I Find You is not a part of a series.
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:


Someone’s coming.

I push the stroller. My feet expertly navigate the familiar path toward the park without my cane. Footsteps advance behind me. The swish of fabric between hurried thighs. The clop of a shoe on pavement. Measured, but gaining with every step. Blood whooshes through my ears, a distraction.

One more block until the park’s entrance. My world blots behind my sunglasses, smeared and dreamy. A few errant hairs whip across my face. My toe catches a crack, and my ankle painfully twists.

No time to stop.

My thighs burn. A few more steps. Finally, I make a sharp left into the park’s entrance. Jackson’s anklet jingles from the blistering pace.

“Hang on, sweet boy. Almost there. Almost.” The relentless August sun sizzles in the sky, and I adjust my ball cap with a trembling hand. Uncertain, I stop and wait for either the rush of footsteps to pass, or to approach and attack. Instead, nothing.

I lick my dry lips and half turn, one hand still securely fastened on my son’s stroller. “Hello?” The wind stalls. The hairs bristle on the back of my neck. My world goes unnaturally still, until I choke on my own warped breath.

I waver on the sidewalk and then lunge toward the entrance toWilder. The stroller is my guide as I half walk, half jog, knowing precisely how many steps I must take to reach the other side of the gate.


My heart thumps, a manic metronome. Jackson squeals and kicks his foot. The bells again.


The footsteps echo in my ears. The stroller rams an obstacle in the way and flattens it. I swerve and cry out in surprise.


I reach the gate, hurtle through to a din of voices. Somewhere in the distance, a lawn mower stutters then chugs to life.


I slide toward the ground and drop my head between my knees. My ears prick for the stranger behind me, but all is lost. A plane roars overhead, probably heading for Chicago. Birds aggressively chirp as the sun continues to crisp my already pink shoulders. A car horn honks on the parallel street. Someone blows a whistle. My body shudders from the surge of adrenaline. I sit until I regain my composure and then push to shaky legs.

I check Jackson, dragging my hands over the length of his body— his strong little fingers, his plump thighs, and perpetually kicking feet—and blot my face with his spit-up blanket. Just when I think I’m safe, a hand encircles my wrist.


I jerk back and suck a surprised breath.

The hand drops. “I’m sorry,” a woman’s voice says. “I didn’t mean to scare you. You dropped this.” Something jingles and lands in my upturned palm: Jackson’s anklet.

I smooth my fingers over the bells. “Thanks.” I bend over the stroller, grip his ankle, and reattach them. I tickle the bottom of his foot, and he murmurs.

“Are the bells so you can hear him?” the woman asks. “Are you . . . ?”

“Blind? Yes.” I straighten. “I am.”

“That’s cool. I’ve never seen that before.”

I assume she means the bells. I almost make a joke—neither have I!—but instead, I smile. “It’s a little early for him to wear them,” I explain.

“They’re more for when he becomes mobile, but I want him to get used to them.”

“That’s smart.”

I’m not sure if she’s waiting for me to say something else. “Thanks again,” I offer.

“No problem. Have a good day.”

She leaves. My hands clamp around the stroller’s handle. Was she the one behind me? I stall at the gate and wonder if I should just go back home. I remind myself where I am—in one of the safest suburbs outside of Chicago—not in some sketchy place. I’m not being followed.

It’s fine.

To prove it, I remove my cane, unfold it, and brace it on the path. I maneuver Jackson’s stroller behind and sweep my cane in front, searching for more obstacles or unsuspecting feet.

I weave toward Cottage Hill and pass the wedding garden, the Wilder Mansion, and the art museum. Finally, I wind around the arboretum. I leave the conservatory for last, pulling Jackson through colorful flower breeds, active butterflies, and rows of green. My heart still betrays my calm exterior, but whoever was there is gone.

I whisk my T-shirt from my body. Jackson babbles and then lets out a sharp cry. I adjust the brim of his stroller so his eyes aren’t directly hit by the sun. I lower my baseball cap and head toward the play-ground. The rubber flooring shifts beneath my cane.

Wilder Park is packed with last-minute late-summer activity. I do a lap around the playground and then angle my cane toward a bench to check for occupants. Once I confirm it’s empty, I settle and park the stroller beside me. I keep my ears alert for Jess or Beth. I think about calling Crystal to join us, but then remember she has an interior design job today.

I place my hand on Jackson’s leg, the small jingle of his anklet a comfort. Suddenly, I am overcome with hunger. I rummage in the diaper bag for a banana, peel it, and reach again for Jackson, who is playing with his pacifier. He furiously sucks then knocks it out of his mouth. He giggles every time I hand it back to him.

I replay what just happened. If someone had attacked me, I wouldn’t have been able to defend myself or identify the perpetrator. A shiver courses the length of my spine. Though Jackson is technically easy—healthy, no colic, a decent sleeper—this stage of life is not. Chris died a year ago, and though it’s been twelve months since the accident, sometimes it feels like it’s been twelve days.

Jackson’s life flashes before me. Not the happy baby playing in his stroller, but the other parts. The first time he gets really sick. The first time he has to go to the emergency room, and I’m all alone. The first time I don’t know what to do when something is wrong. The first time he runs away from me in public and isn’t wearing bells to alert me to his location.

Will I be able to keep him safe, to protect him?

I will the dark cloud away, but uneasiness pierces my skin like a warning. I fan my shirt, swallow, close my eyes behind my sunglasses, and adjust my ball cap.

The world shrinks. I try to swallow, but my throat constricts. I claw air.

I can’t breathe. I’m drowning. My heart is going to explode. I’m going to die.

I lurch off the bench and walk a few paces, churning my arms toward my chest to produce air. I gasp, tell myself to breathe, tell myself to do something.

When I think I’m going to faint, I exhale completely, then sip in a shallow breath. I veer toward a tree, fingers grasping, and reach its chalky bark. In, out. In, out. Breathe, Rebecca. Breathe.

Concerned whispers crescendo around me while I remember how to breathe. I mentally force my limbs to relax, soften my jaw, and count to ten. After a few toxic moments, I retrace my steps back to the bench.

I just left my baby alone.

Jackson’s right foot twitches and jingles from the stroller; he’s bliss- fully unaware that his mother just had a panic attack. I calm myself, but my heart continues to knock around my chest like a pinball. I open a bottle of water and lift it to my lips with trembling hands. I exhale and massage my chest. The footsteps. The panic attack. These recurring fears . . .

“Hey, lady. Fancy meeting you here.” Jess leans down and delivers a kiss to my cheek. Her scent—sweet, like honey crisp apples—does little to dissuade my terrified mood.

“Hi. Sit, sit.” I rearrange my voice to neutral and move the diaper bag to make room.

Jess positions her stroller beside mine. Beth sits next to her, her three-month-old baby, Trevor, always in a ring sling or strapped to her chest.

“How’s the morning?” Beth asks.

I tell them both about the footsteps and the woman who returned the bells, but conveniently leave out the part about the panic attack.

Beth leans closer. “Scary. Who do you think was following you?”

“I’m not sure,” I say.

“You should have called,” Jess says. “I’m always happy to walk with you.”

“That’s not exactly on your way.”

“Oh, please. I could use the extra exercise.”

I roll my eyes at her disparaging comment, because Beth and I both know she loves her curves.

“Anyway, it’s sleep deprivation,” Jess continues. “Makes you hallucinate. I remember when Baxter was Jackson’s age and waking up every two hours, I literally thought I was going to lose my mind. I would put things in odd places. I was even convinced Rob was cheating.”

I laugh. “Rob would never cheat on you.”

“Exactly my point.” She turns to me. “Have you thought about hiring a nanny?”

“Yeah,” Beth adds. “Especially with everything you’ve been through.”

My stomach clenches at those words: everything you’ve been through.

After Chris died, I moved in with my mother so she could essentially become Jackson’s nanny. And then, just two months ago, she died too. Though her death wasn’t a surprise due to her lifelong heart condition, no one is ever prepared to lose a parent. “I can’t afford it.”

“Like I’ve said before, Rob and I are happy to pitch in—”

I lift my hand to stop her. “And I appreciate it. I really do. But I’m not ready to have someone in my space when I’m just getting used to it being empty. I need to get comfortable taking care of Jackson on my own.”

“That makes sense,” Beth assures me.

“It does.” Jess pats my thigh. “But you’re not a martyr, okay? Everyone needs help.”

“I know.” I adjust my sunglasses and rearrange my face in hopes of hiding the real emotions I feel. “What’s new with both of you?”

“Can I vent for a second?” Beth asks. She situates closer to us on the bench. Thanks to the visual Jess supplied, I know Beth is blond, petite, and impossibly fit—and is perpetually in a state of crisis. She’s practicing attachment parenting, which, in her mind, keeps her glued to her son twenty-four hours a day. I’ve never even held him.

“Vent away,” I say.

“Okay.” She drops her voice. “Like, I love this little guy, truly. But sometimes, when it’s just the two of us in the house all day, I fantasize about just running away somewhere. Or going out to take a walk. I’d never do it, of course,” she rushes to add. “But I just have this feeling like . . . I’m never going to be alone again.”

“Nanny,” Jess trills. “I’m telling you. Quit this attachment parenting crap and get yourself a nanny. And if she’s hot, she can even occupy your husband so you don’t have to.”

I slap Jess’s arm. “Don’t say that. You’d be totally devastated if Rob ever did cheat.”


Excerpt from Until I Find You by Rea Frey. Copyright 2020 by Rea Frey. Reproduced with permission from Rea Frey. All rights reserved.


Author Bio:

REA FREY is the multi-published, award-winning bestselling author of three suspense novels and four nonfiction books. She’s been featured in US Weekly, Entertainment Weekly, Glamour, Popsugar, Hello Sunshine, Marie Claire, Parade, Shape, Hello Giggles, CrimeReads, Writer’s Digest, WGN, Fox News, Today in Nashville, Talk of the Town, and more. She is also the CEO and Founder of Writeway, where aspiring writers become published authors.

To learn more, visit or

Catch Up With Rea Frey:
BookBub - @ReaFreyAuthor
Instagram - @reafrey
Twitter - #ReaFrey
Facebook - @reafrey


Tour Participants:

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

Click here to view Until I Find You by Rea Frey Participants.


I received a complimentary egalley 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.)

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Inspired by Murder by Audrey J Cole

This is the second book I have read in Cole's Emerald City thriller series. It starts out very different in style from the first book in the series. It almost seemed as though it was a novel of dark comedy rather than a mystery/thriller.

Dr. Leroy, a psychiatrist, wants to write a best selling murder mystery. He decides he must murder someone to get his novel right and decides his most irritating patient will be the victim. He plans meticulously but everything goes horribly, or humorously wrong. His first attempt finds him at the wrong house. On his second attempt he gets the house right but terribly bungles the murder.

The plot does get a bit more serious as Leroy kills more people but there is just a different flavor to this novel. There is an odd sense of light heartedness popping up from time to time in a novel about a serial murderer.

I didn't feel this novel was as good as the first in the series, The Recipient. (You can ready my review of it here.) But I am into this series set in Seattle so will read the next soon.

My rating: 4/5 stars

Audrey J Cole is a registered nurse and a USA Today bestselling author of thrillers set in Seattle. A Sequim native, Cole lived in Australia for five years before returning to the U.S. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two children. You can find out more at

Rainier Publishing, 330 pages

(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.)

Reignite by Jack Graham

Graham had surgery for prostate cancer and then experienced a year of depression. He is open and honest about seeing a therapist and being prescribed the necessary medication. His depression and professional care was hard for him to admit publicly since he grew up in a time when therapists were not used by Christians.

While the therapy and medication helped, Graham says the habit that sustained him was his time in God's Word. When nothing else seemed to be working, making God's Word a priority carried him through. The experience reignited his faith and he hopes this book will help reignite our faith too.

Graham starts out with reflections on his personal experience, but the book quickly becomes just another one on Christian living. He encourages us to be in the Word, be in prayer, commit to attending church, etc. He writes how we will be affected by being in small groups, for example, but never how being in a small group helped him personally in his time of healing depression. He writes about the fear of death but does not communicate from his own feelings when the surgeon said he was not sure he got all the cancer. (197) Graham did share some of his feelings from time to time, but I felt most of the book was oddly impersonal. He writes as if he is preaching from the pulpit (he is a preacher) rather than as a friend sharing his heart, sitting across a coffee table from you. He writes his teaching mostly using illustrations from the Bible or the lives of others, not using his own life transforming experiences as examples.

Graham is sometimes so objective and simplistic, her forgets his own experience. “I'm telling you, anytime you have trouble persevering in life, simply look up and remember Christ, the author and finisher of our faith.” (216) This from the man who battled depression for a year and sought professional counseling and medication on his journey to spiritual well being.

If you are looking for a rather impersonal book on Christian living, such as suggested habits and the benefits from doing them, this is the book for you. If you are looking for how the experience of depression transformed the pastor of a mega-church, developed humility and compassion and empathy for others in a similar situation, resulting in heartfelt insights from that personal experience, you may need to look elsewhere.

You can read an excerpt here.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Jack Graham is pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church of more than 47,000 members. He is the author of several previous books. His teaching is viewed and heard around the world via PowerPoint Ministries. He has twice served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention. He has a doctor of ministry degree in church and proclamation from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife have three grown children and eight grandchildren. You can find out more at

Bethany House, 256 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.)

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Condition Black by Jones and Worthington Blog Tour and Giveaway

Condition Black

by Stu Jones & Gareth Worthington

April 26 - May 21, 2021 Tour


EVAN WEYLAND, a brilliant research scientist tasked with developing new technologies to fight cancer, sees the world differently through the lens of Autism Spectrum Disorder. His guiding light is his wife, Marie—a globally recognized war correspondent. When she returns home from Syria deathly ill with an unknown disease, Evan believes his research may be the key to unlocking the cure. However, when his superiors refuse his request for help, Evan’s single-minded love for Marie drives him to take matters into his own hands—a decision with far greater consequences than he could possibly fathom.

BILLY VICK, a Captain in the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, is a combat veteran unable to leave the horrors of war behind. Only the love of his family and a sense of absolute justice keeps him grounded. When Billy’s unit becomes aware of a US-sanctioned airstrike on a civilian settlement in Syria and an eye-witness reporter comatose with an unknown illness, he fears the worst. An unethical military project thought mothballed has resurfaced, and a civilian, Evan Weyland, may be about to inadvertently unleash it upon the world. It’s a mistake that could cost the lives of millions.

Pitted against each other in a game of chess-like deception and intrigue, with time running out, both men must come to terms with the magnitude of what’s at stake—and what each is willing to sacrifice to win.

Praise for Condition Black:

"This solid sci-fi thriller [is] a well-balanced thrill ride. Well-shaded characters keep the pages turning. Fans of high-tech medical and military thrillers should check this out." ~ Publishers Weekly.

Like Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, this book is revolutionary. Incredible." ~ Jonas Saul, author of the best-selling Sarah Roberts series.

"Condition Black provides such an exceptional read. It's highly recommended for fans of technothrillers who want a firm marriage between psychological depth and unpredictable action, all grounded by ethical concerns that challenge each character to reach beyond his skill set and comfort zone." ~ Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review.

My Review:

This is an action packed novel with a plot centered on cutting edge medical research, using nanobots within the human body. The future setting is scary with restricted freedoms imposed by the government because the public is filled with fear of terrorist attacks. The most suspenseful part of the plot centers around warfare inside a human body, on a cellular level. (I appreciated the nod to the 1966 film, Fantastic Voyage.) But the rest of the plot contains lots of action too as a couple of good guys try to save humanity from nefarious villains.

The novel contains a good balance of thrilling action and personal life concern. I did feel like I had missed an earlier novel as there were many references to a Project Omega that the hero had thwarted. It wasn't until just over halfway through the book we readers get the back story on that project and its relevance to this story. I would have preferred that information earlier in the plot structure. Nevertheless, the writing style and subject matter make this novel an engaging one.

This is a good action packed novel revolving around one man saving humanity from powerful and evil men. You'll read about advanced biological warfare, both on a large and very small scale. You may conclude, as I did, that this future horror is all too possible.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


Book Details:

Genre: Thriller / Medical Thriller
Published by: Dropship Publishing
Publication Date: 27 April 2021
Number of Pages: 334
ISBN: 9781954386006
Series: Condition Black is a stand alone thriller.
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Through the lens of her SLR, Marie Wayland couldn’t pry her gaze from the morbid scene as it unfolded some two hundred feet away. Another twist of the objective and the image in her ultralight mirrorless camera became crystal clear, even in the fading evening light of the Syrian sun: a man, his hands bound secure with coarse rope, sucking with erratic breaths at the cloth bag over his head. The fabric molded to the shape of his quivering lips and stuck there for an instant before being blown out again. He cried out as two masked assailants forced him to his knees. A whimper emerged from beneath his hood, followed by a muffled plea for mercy. Unwavering, the men stood in a line behind the captive, their AK-47 rifles pointed to the sky. Above them all, a black flag, inset with white Arabic script, fluttered like a pirate banner in the desert wind.

A young man carrying a beat-up camcorder scurried onto the scene and set up his tripod. He fiddled with his equipment, then gave a thumbs up. One of the soldiers stepped forward and pulled a curved blade from his belt. He called out and pointed to the camera, stabbing the air with the long knife. For a moment, he seemed to look right at Marie. Her heart faltered and the hot prickle of perspiration dampened her forehead.

Marie lowered her camera and eased further into a small depression in the side of the hill, perfect for both observation and concealment. “Don’t be tree cancer,” she whispered to herself. A strange phrase, but one that had proved invaluable during her long and storied career as a war correspondent. A Marine Corps scout sniper had offered her this golden nugget of advice during a stint in Afghanistan. Master of short-range reconnaissance, he’d spotted her crouched in a ball, peering out from behind a twisted stone pine tree. After approaching undetected, he’d whispered in her ear: Don’t be tree cancer. Marie had nearly jumped out of her skin. She later discovered the phrase referred to an observer drawing attention to themselves by standing out from the world around them.

The voice of the knife-wielding man rose in pitch. Marie shuffled for a better view and raised her camera once again.

The knifeman jerked the hood from the captive’s head.

A chill crawled down Marie’s spine.

Glen Bertrum, the American relief worker kidnapped three months ago from the outskirts of Aleppo, shifted on his knees. With a brutal shove from his captors, the terrified relief worker flopped to his side, squirming. The knifeman descended on Glen, then sawed at his relief worker’s neck with the blade. Blood sprayed against the sand. Glen screamed for what seemed an eternity, the sound morphing into a horrible sucking wheeze.

His gore-drenched knife dripping, the murderer yanked Glen’s head free and held it aloft.

The men shouted in victory, thrusting their weapons into the air.

“Shit,” Marie said, lowering the camera.

The cruelty and barbarism of humankind knew no end, and these zealots had a way of making it even uglier, spreading their jihad across the globe like a pestilence. Without raising the SLR again, she watched the terrorists conclude the recording and march away, leaving Glen’s decapitated body to rot.

Marie’s stomach knotted, and she tried to swallow away the tingle of nausea in her throat. This isn’t why you’re here, she thought. A beheaded aid worker wasn’t news, even if she had met the man before. Such things hadn’t been news for a long time. The war had escalated, far beyond Syria and the Middle East, beyond single hostages and beheadings. Terrorist cells were now a pandemic, spread across the globe, and embedded in every country. There was no central faction anymore. No IS or al-Qaeda, or Allah’s Blade. The war against the west was now an idea, a disease infesting the world. Anyone, anywhere could be an enemy—the core vision metastasizing, traveling to every corner of the Earth and there propagating.

Major cities now operated under war-time policy; curfews and rationing to prevent too many people congregating in any one place, such as a supermarket or a major sporting event. Aerial surveillance and street-level military patrols did their best to keep people safe, but a cage was a cage. In some ways, Marie felt free out in the world, even if it was in the enemy’s backyard. Yet while hate for terrorists was justified, as in all wars the enemy wasn’t the only one capable of terrible things. So too were the allied forces—the people who stood against terror and extremism—and that was why she was in Syria.

The little jaunt Marie had undertaken was unofficial. Her boss would kill her if he knew she’d conducted this op. After flying into Istanbul and crossing the border south of Daruca, she’d spent the better part of the past three days moving from checkpoint to checkpoint, working her way along Highway 7 through northeastern Syria. With dark features and perfect Arabic, Marie hid with ease among the local population.

Marie pulled a tablet from her backpack and keyed up the map she’d gotten from her contact. The coordinates were correct. A tiny civilian village in Northeastern Syria. This ramshackle settlement was little more than a speck on the map, and from what she was told by her contact, this place was of zero military significance. No base, no known weapons caches, no landing strips. The small cell of terrorists she’d just found was likely that: a small cell. Little more than a coincidence, and by no means justification for this village to be firebombed back to the stone age.

Unless they’d found something of significance.


Excerpt from Condition Black by Gareth Worthington & Stu Jones. Copyright 2021 by Gareth Worthington & Stu Jones. Reproduced with permission from Gareth Worthington & Stu Jones. All rights reserved.


Author Bios:

Gareth Worthington

Gareth Worthington holds a degree in marine biology, a PhD in Endocrinology, an executive MBA, is Board Certified in Medical Affairs, and currently works for the Pharmaceutical industry educating the World's doctors on new cancer therapies.

Gareth Worthington is an authority in ancient history, has hand-tagged sharks in California, and trained in various martial arts, including Jeet Kune Do and Muay Thai at the EVOLVE MMA gym in Singapore and 2FIGHT Switzerland.

He is an award-winning author and member of the International Thriller Writers Association, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and the British Science Fiction Association.

Born in England, Gareth has lived around the world from Asia, to Europe to the USA. Wherever he goes, he endeavors to continue his philanthropic work with various charities.

Gareth is represented by Renee Fountain and Italia Gandolfo at Gandolfo Helin Fountain Literary, New York.

Catch Up With Gareth Worthington:
BookBub - @GarethWorthington
Instagram - @garethworthington
Twitter - @DrGWorthington
Facebook - @garethworthingtonauthor


Stu Jones

Stu Jones. SWAT Sniper. Adventurer. Award-Winning Author of Epic Genre-Bending Fiction.

A veteran law enforcement officer, Stu has served as a beat cop, narcotics, criminal investigations, as an instructor of firearms and police defensive tactics and as a team leader of a multi-jurisdictional SWAT team. He is trained and qualified as a law enforcement SWAT sniper, as well as in hostage rescue and high-risk entry tactics. Recently, Stu served for three years with a U.S. Marshal's Regional Fugitive Task Force – hunting the worst of the worst.

He is the author of multiple sci-fi/action/thriller novels, including the multi-award-winning It Takes Death To Reach A Star duology, written with co-author Gareth Worthington (Children of the Fifth Sun).

Known for his character-driven stories and blistering action sequences, Stu strives to create thought-provoking reading experiences that challenge the status quo. When he's not chasing bad guys or writing epic stories, he can be found planning his next adventure to some remote or exotic place.

Stu is represented by Italia Gandolfo of Gandolfo-Helin-Fountain literary

Catch Up With Stu Jones:
BookBub - @stujonesfiction
Instagram - @stujonesfiction
Facebook - @stujonesfiction


Tour Participants:

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

Click here to view Condition Black by Stu Jones and Gareth Worthington Participants.


Enter to Win:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Stu Jones & Gareth Worthington. There will be two (2) winners who will each receive one (1) Gift Card. The giveaway begins on April 26, 2021 and ends on May 22, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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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 my 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.)

Monday, April 26, 2021

Rendezvous with God by Bill Myers

This is a very imaginative and thought provoking novel. Imagine having visions, meeting Jesus as a child and then in His later years. Imagine each of those visions creating the opportunity for insights into life and relationships, especially the relationship with the Father. Imagine reviewing life's events with observations from Jesus's perspective. Imagine the lessons on acceptance, forgiveness and the disappointment and pain we feel when God does not do what we want Him to.

This novel is a good parable about how we can be transformed by experiences, by problems. The novel is a good illustration of how much God loves us and the pain He feels when we reject Him.

Myers' writing style is a pleasure to experience. He has good dialogue and fun quips. I felt he did a good job imagining what Jesus would say and how He would respond to the questions we have. It is a bold task to put words in the mouth of Jesus but I was not offended by anything Myers imagined.

There is a very good collection of discussion questions at the end of the novel. Myers adds informative comments along with the questions. This would be a good novel for a book discussion group. And there is going to be a sequel. I'll be watching for it.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Bill Myers is a best-selling author and award-winning film maker. His books and videos have sold over 8 million copies. He grew up in Washington State and attended the University of Washington. He has written, directed, and done voice work for Focus on the Family's Adventures in Odyssey radio series and is the voice of Jesus in Zondervan's NIV Audio Bible. You can find out more at

Fidelis Publishing, 240 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.)

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Night Fall by Nancy Mehl Blog Tour

Night Fall

by Nancy Mehl

April 19-30, 2021 Tour


Now that Alexandra “Alex” Donavan is finally free of her troubled upbringing, she's able to live out her childhood dream of working for the FBI. But soon after she becomes a member of the FBI's elite Behavioral Analysis Unit, authorities in Kansas and Missouri contact them about bodies found on freight trains traveling across the country–all killed in the same way.

Alex never expected to be forced to confront her past in this new job, but she immediately recognizes the graffiti messages the killer is leaving on the train cars. When the BAU sends her to gather information about the messages from her aunt in Wichita, Kansas, Alex is haunted by the struggles she thought she'd left behind forever.

In a race against time to solve the case while battling her own weaknesses, Alex must face how far she'll go–and what she's willing to risk–to put a stop to the Train Killer.

My Review:

This FBI suspense novel revolves around several psychological issues. The main characters, Alex and Logan, are with the behavioral unit of the FBI. They would generally provide a profile of the villain. In this novel, the identity of the villain is soon known so they work on understanding his actions and character with a view to preventing further murders. Another area of psychological exploration is cult involvement. Alex had been exposed to a weird cult as a teen. While she had escaped that situation, it all comes back on her when she realizes their villain is a member of that same cult. Alex also has PTSD from teen experiences she is still trying to manage.

Another deeply explored issue is the relationship between Christianity and cult belief. We find out how cults can begin and generate associated literature. Cult beliefs are frequently contrasted to beliefs of Christianity in this novel. There is a very clear Christian message included. It is not subtle as the gospel is explained several times.

Another interesting aspect of the plot is the possibility of killing many with an airborne virus. That is a timely subject as the world is still in the midst of fighting a pandemic.

While most of the novel deals with psychological issues, there is some suspense. I was a bit disappointed when the suspense was prefaced by a thought of Alex. “This might be the dumbest thing she'd ever done.” ((3332/3990) No surprise suspense followed. There are some good twists near the end and a revelation that was not surprising.

This is a good novel for readers who like an FBI plot centering on profiling and other psychological issues. I liked it and will be looking for the next in the series.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


Book Details:

Genre: Suspense
Published by: Bethany House Publishers
Publication Date: March 30th 2021
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 0764238183 (ISBN13: 9780764238185)
Series:The Quantico Files, #1
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Four murders. Only a week or two between each one, and they all look random. Nothing about the victims is similar—as if our UNSUB is selecting whoever is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Three men, one woman. Two Caucasian, one Black, and one Hispanic. Three of them younger, one in his seventies. All the bodies were discovered on trains and were stabbed multiple times.”

They could hear him take a deep breath before going on. “Unusual tags on the outside of the boxcars. Something like Bible verses, but we’ve searched several Bible apps to find them, and they’re not in any version we could locate. We’re not sure what the UNSUB is trying to tell us. He signed his work, but we have no idea what the initials TM mean. His name? Or something else?”

There was a slight pause. “I’m sending you some photos of the tags right now, along with everything else we’ve got, which isn’t much. We don’t have any real evidence. This guy is careful . . . and smart. At this point, we’re not in charge. He is. Have your team look over this information before they get here, okay? I’ll expect them at the command post in the morning. We’re setting it up now. Does that work for you?”

“They’ll be there, Stephen. Talk to you soon.”

The call done, Jeff turned on his laptop and pulled up the information Barstow had just emailed. He sent the file to a large screen on the wall and began slowly clicking through the photos.

In mere seconds, Alex felt like all the blood in her body had frozen, as if time itself had come to a halt. Her mind couldn’t seem to process what she was seeing.

How could this be happening?


Excerpt from Night Fall by Nancy Mehl. Copyright 2021 by Bethany House Publishers. Reproduced with permission from Bethany House Publishers. All rights reserved.


Author Bio:

Nancy Mehl is the author of more than 40 books and a Christy Award and Carol Award finalist as well as the winner of an ACFW Book of the Year award. Her short story, Chasing Shadows, was in the USA Today bestselling Summer of Suspense anthology. Nancy writes from her home in Missouri, where she lives with her husband, Norman, and their puggle, Watson.

Catch Up With Nancy Mehl:
BookBub: @NancyMehl

& Follow her Instagram hashtag: #nancymehl  


Tour Participants:

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

Click here to view Night Fall by Nancy Mehl Tour Participants.


Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

I received a complimentary egalley 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.)

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Promises to Keep by Nan Rossiter

Have your box of tissues nearby when you finish this touching novel of family relationships. The character development is great as we see a son deal with the alienation from his family and a woman come to grips with an event from her past. There are many lessons included in this novel about resentment and pride and forgiveness and reconciliation.

Rossiter writes novels about events in lives that culminate in a way we want life to be. Yes, there are obstacles on the journey but characters survive the better for them. Like the old novels ending where the couple rides off in the sunset to live happily ever after, you'll give a contented sigh when finishing this one.

A prominent issue in the novel is an exploration of the old school, strict rules Christianity and the newer Christianity, accepting behavior that would have been considered immoral by the old school. This is definitely a novel for the more accepting Christians as we see no qualms about an unmarried couple living together and the affirming of alternative lifestyles.

There is one aspect of the novel I did not like at all, the pretty descriptive sex scenes. They did not have an essential place in the plot and seemed totally unnecessary to me.

This is the second novel in a series. While it read pretty well on its own, do read Promises of the Heart first to get the full emotional impact of this book. You can read my review of it here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Nan Rossiter is the award-winning and bestselling author of eight novels. Her seventh novel, Summer Dance, was the 2018 winner of the Nancy Pearl Book Award. Rossiter and her husband are the parents of two adult sons. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and a black Lab. When not writing she enjoys hiking and curling up with a good book. You can find out more at

HarperCollins, 320 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.)

Friday, April 23, 2021

Emerald Secrets by Dawn V Cahill

This is the third novel in the Seattle Trilogy and it would be best to read the previous ones to appreciate the resolutions of relationship issues that happen in this one. There are two aspects to the plot. One aspect is the current blackmail attempt on Howard based on the past actions of his wife who died years ago. The blackmail attempt arises from bitterness over a supposed wrong in the past. The other aspect of the plot centers around the welfare of unborn babies.

The character development in this novel is not extensive, except for Howard who experiences a welcome transformation. The plot seemed a bit convoluted to me, especially the part about the pregnancy tea. The plot does reflect the importance of forgiveness, however. Cahill's writing style is pleasant and I liked the setting of the novel in Seattle.

The strongest aspect of this novel is the clear presentation of the gospel and the exploration of its transforming power in individuals.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Dawn V Cahill writes stories of victorious faith for the 21st century, dealing with situations unthinkable for previous generations. She created Hot Topics Fiction, an intensive four day writers conference, helping writers create stories of ordinary Christians following hard after Christ in an upside-down world. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Her novel Sapphire Secrets was a finalist in the 2015 First Impressions Contest. You can find out more about her and read her blog at

Spring Mountain Publishing, 284 pages.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from the author. 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, April 22, 2021

Table for Two by David and Krista Dunham

I am impressed with the information in this book.

Krista shares her insights from her experience of an eating disorder. She writes about her motives, her drive for perfection, control, and her self-medicating. How she felt about her body defined her worth. There was the isolation from others. And then she faced the hardest thing – telling someone else about her condition. Krista takes us through the hard decisions and the internal and spiritual work that followed.

David, Krista's husband, shares insights about helping those with eating disorders. He writes about knowing the difference between forcing change and encouraging it. He admits there is no silver bullet. He gives great insight into building trust and loving well.

The authors remind us that the decision to change must come from the person with the disorder. It is so important others provide support in that process. Eating disorders thrive in isolation so the involvement of community is very important.

This is a great book for those who have an eating disorder and those who desire to support them. There are thoughtful exercises for the sufferer and the helper. Krista and David share their good decisions and their mistakes so we get a idea of the bumpy road the path to recovery might be. Krista had a team of specialists help her. This book will not provide that level of help but it will get you in the right direction for your journey with valuable insights and practical suggestions.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

David Dunham, MDiv (The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), is a pastor and biblical counselor at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Roseville, MI.

Krista Dunham has served as a women's mentor, biblical counselor, and curriculum developer for various women's and children's ministries. She has a degree in early childhood education from Ohio University.

New Growth Press, 144 pages.

I received a complimentary digital 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.)

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

The Secret of the 14th Room by Rebecca Hemlock Blog Tour

About the Book

Book:  The Secret of the 14th Room

Author: Rebecca Hemlock

Publisher: Bluecap Publishing

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Release date: March 16th

Memories can be a killer.

When Levi Corbin returns to Granton, Tennessee after the death of his beloved grandmother, it sets off a chain of events he’d rather have avoided. Claiming his inheritance should have been a piece of cake, but a cousin appears, threatening to steal it all.

Even worse (and better, too), he’s falling for the girl he just met and now must team up with her to try to stop his cousin. Their quest for his inheritance uncovers secrets frozen in time—and one might just be the answer to save his grandmother’s home.

Things go from worse to completely out of hand when a freak fire threatens it all. Add to that a nosy old woman and a battered runaway, and Levi can’t help but wonder what is going on!

As circumstances rekindle his faith and new love spurs him onward, Levi races against time and odds to save Grandma’s house from certain destruction, but the result might just mean saving himself as well.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

This is a fun mystery that explores themes of forgiveness and reconciliation. Levi and Silas are cousins and the two inherit their grandmother's house. But the will states they have to get along and that is the problem. They'd been feuding since their youth and God needs to do some character transformation in both of them before reconciliation could be possible.

The animosity between the cousins goes back to perceived treatment in childhood. I like that Hemlock explores how current feelings were planted in events years ago. There is a bit of romance included in the novel too as Levi struggles with his affectionate feelings toward the lawyer managing the will.

There is a mystery too as someone wants to prevent the cousins from getting the house. There are nefarious actions going on and some people are not who they claim to be. A good mystery for readers who like one exploring relationship issues of forgiveness and reconciliation. And we are left with some loose ends so I will be watching for the sequel.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


About the Author 

Rebecca lives in Eastern Kentucky with her husband and children. She absolutely loves mysteries. Rebecca has been writing stories for many years and enjoys reading, painting and spending time with her family. Her favorite times to write are early in the morning when the sun is coming up and at sunset. She has worked as a freelance journalist for 4 years and is a member of Sisters in Crime and American Christian Fiction Writers. Rebecca has earned a degree in English and an Appalachian Studies certificate in Creative Writing.\

More from Rebecca

Looking for new ideas is my favorite part of writing because it comes with talking to interesting people and exploring antique shops all over the country.

This book not only captures my love for American history and riveting romantic suspense, but it also captures how old wounds of the heart can be healed.

Levi Corbin in The Secret of the 14th Room learns this the hard way after carrying his broken heart for most of his adult life. He has to discover the real meaning of family and family pride. Levi must face the past so that he can move on to a brighter future.

Granton, Tennessee, is a town I hope you fall in love with, just as I did when I created it. There are so many delightful characters, some with a dark secret or two. This story has been brewing for a while, and I am glad that I finally have the opportunity to share it with you.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, April 21

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, April 21

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, April 22

Genesis 5020, April 22

Debbie's Dusty Deliberations, April 23

A Novel Pursuit, April 23

Texas Book-aholic, April 24

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, April 24 (Author Interview)

Inklings and notions, April 25

Blogging With Carol, April 25

Betti Mace, April 26

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, April 26

For Him and My Family, April 27

Godly Book Reviews, April 27

deb's Book Review, April 28

CarpeDiem, April 28

Older & Smarter?, April 29

Locks, Hooks and Books, April 29

Because I said so -- and other adventures in Parenting, April 30

Simple Harvest Reads, April 30 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Tell Tale Book Reviews, May 1

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, May 1

KarenSueHadley, May 2

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, May 2

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, May 3

Mary Hake, May 3

Through the Fire Blogs, May 4

Adventures Of A Travelers Wife, May 4

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.)