Wednesday, January 26, 2022

West Country Murder by Derek Thompson

This is a British police procedure mystery with a different kind of hero. Wild is a police officer with a past and an attitude. This is the first novel I have read in this series by Thompson so I missed Wild's tainted activities in the first novel. But the past comes back to bite him and he is frequently trying to keep people from using his past misdeeds against him. The other aspect of his unusual character is that he is so determined to get what he wants he frequently steps over the line of what is appropriate for law enforcement. I was amazed at how he managed to get out of trouble with his superiors.

There is quite a bit of colloquial language in this novel American readers may not know. When a youth was said to be in borstal, I had no idea, as was the case with schtum. There is also police slang, such as misper.

I did enjoy the mystery. I felt transported into Wild's world of getting along with other officers, investigating a murder and running down the villain. He is not a squeaky clean policeman but he managed to get the task done.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Derek Thompson grew up in London and started writing fiction in his teens. He writes freelance and his short fiction has appeared in both British and American anthologies. He has also written comedy material for live performance and radio. He has written several thrillers.

Joffe Books, 278 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.)

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

The Prisoner of Paradise by Rob Samborn Blog Tour


The Prisoner of Paradise

by Rob Samborn

January 24 - February 18, 2022 Virtual Book Tour


The world's largest oil painting. A 400-year-old murder. A disembodied whisper: "Amore mio." My love.

Nick and Julia O'Connor's dream trip to Venice collapses when a haunting voice reaches out to Nick from Tintoretto's Paradise, a monumental depiction of Heaven. Convinced his delusions are the result of a concussion, Julia insists her husband see a doctor, though Nick is adamant the voice was real.

Blacking out in the museum, Nick flashes back to a life as a 16th century Venetian peasant swordsman. He recalls precisely who the voice belongs to: Isabella Scalfini, a married aristocrat he was tasked to seduce but with whom he instead found true love. A love stolen from them hundreds of years prior.

She implores Nick to liberate her from a powerful order of religious vigilantes who judge and sentence souls to the canvas for eternity. Releasing Isabella also means unleashing thousands of other imprisoned souls, all of which the order claims are evil.

As infatuation with a possible hallucination clouds his commitment to a present-day wife, Nick's past self takes over. Wracked with guilt, he can no longer allow Isabella to remain tormented, despite the consequences. He must right an age-old wrong - destroy the painting and free his soul mate. But the order will eradicate anyone who threatens their ethereal prison and their control over Venice.

My Review:

This novel is quite a debut fiction effort. It plunges readers into a world of a powerful secret order, an over the top hero, connections to past lives, and a good deal of action and suspense. The novel seems a combination of fantasy, magical realism and intrigue. The central aspect of the plot is a painting by Tintoretto called Paradise. The painting and how people got onto the canvas is certainly an imaginative idea.

Potential readers should know that part of the plot involves actions of characters in past lives. Not a believer in reincarnation or anything like that, I was not captivated by the concept. There is also an innovative view of death and the afterlife and how one is judged for wrongs. While imaginative, those concepts did not capture me either.

I thought Nick, the hero, was portrayed with abilities beyond normal. He could outwit and outfight even the best trained warriors. The descriptions of Nick's activities were odd sometimes as Nick dashed away after being hurt and elsewhere chortled. I'm not sure I've read of a character who chortled in decades.

The narrative jumps back and forth from the present to 1588 and 1589. The historical scenes are not in chronological order as I wish they would have been. Also, this novel is really only the beginning of the story. A sequel is required as the book ends with Continua....

This is a good debut effort. The over dramatization of Nick and the near constant action is evidence of Samborn's screenwriting experience, I think. Samborn has great novel writing potential and it will be interesting to see what imaginative fiction he will write in the future.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: TouchPoint Press
Publication Date: November 30th 2021
Number of Pages: 333
ISBN: 1952816890 (ISBN-13: 9781952816895)
Series: The Paradise Series, #1
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

The flood of questions never left Nick’s lips. Large hands wrenched him up by his armpits.

A hushed voice spoke in his ear. “Come with us. Quietly.”

The grip tightened.

Nick twisted his head to his sides. Bernardo led him away, staring straight ahead. Another security guard in a navy-blue suit flanked him. The man was about Nick’s age, with a close-cropped beard and light brown hair pulled into a tight ponytail—and considerably heftier than Bernardo.

“Dante,” said Bernardo to the guard, “please notify—”

Nick whipped his arms from Bernardo’s hold. Twisting, he whacked Dante’s earpiece, jamming the device into the large man’s head. Then he shouldered him into the nearest wall. Appalled gasps rose from the remaining tourists.

Bernardo grabbed Nick from behind. Nick’s elbow blasted backward, landing with a shattering blow in the man’s ribs. Dante dug his finger into his ear and pulled the piece out. He flicked it at Nick, poised to attack.

Confident he was quicker, Nick ducked, popped up, and discharged a quick snap of his fist.

Blood from the brawny guard’s nose sprayed across the polished marble wall.

Museum patrons, many holding cell phones, cameras, and tablets, backed up, giving the fight a wide berth. Nick clocked Bernardo. His wide tungsten wedding ring connected with the man’s jaw.

Bernardo stumbled, falling to the floor.

Nick sprinted for the exit and down the hall, tossing the hat and scarf as he ran.

Bursting through the Palazzo doors, he descended the Giants’ Staircase three steps at a time but slipped on the courtyard’s stone surface and crashed on his back. A jolt to his tailbone rang up his spine. He rolled onto his side and checked the staircase.

Bernardo and Dante loomed at the top. The two men hustled down, their dark jackets flowing behind them.

Tiny gravel pebbles burrowed into Nick’s palms as he scrambled up. He darted for the main entrance, disregarding what felt like a sledgehammer pounding his lower back with every step.

“Arrestatelo!” Bernardo called out.

Two uniformed guards rushed to block the front gate.

Nick stormed ahead.

The guards braced themselves. Nick plowed into the larger one, his speed and weight bowling the man over.

The smaller guard dove for Nick, wrapping a firm hold around his ankle. He pitched forward and fell to the ground.

“Fuck.” Nick kicked his free foot out. It hit the man’s cheek with a sickening crunch. A bloody tooth flew out and skipped across the ground. The guard’s grip loosened.

Nick clambered to his feet and bolted for the entrance. He dodged a college-aged tourist, jumped the turnstile, and sprinted for St. Mark’s Square.

A large woman in a neon pink shirt with a matching visor shouted at him. She pulled her young daughter to her as Nick ran by, almost knocking them down. He regretted the bedlam he was causing, but what choice did he have?

Pigeons flew upward in alarm as he made his way through the golden, late afternoon light of the square. He glanced over his shoulder.

Bernardo and Dante closed in, thirty feet away.

Nick’s throbbing back screamed for attention, but he upped his speed and crossed into an alley in the corner of the piazza. He reached the other side, raced through the passageway between buildings, and entered a narrow street. He shuffled into a group of revelers who had overflowed from a crowded wine bar. Shimmying through the people, he spotted a small bridge over the next canal. Nick dashed across it and made another right, which led him to yet another alley.

Stagnant, rank air engulfed him.

“Son of a bitch.”

A dead-end. Illegible graffiti covered the walls. Even in the moment, the vandalism pissed Nick off.

A steel door was the only possible exit. The rusty knob didn’t budge. Nick pivoted back toward the alley entrance.

His pursuers cast long shadows that extended to Nick’s sneakers. Despite their broken posture as they fought to catch their breath, their expressions championed triumph. Dante wiped the blood from his nose with a grin.

“You were warned more than once.” Bernardo’s voice echoed off the walls.

Unsure how he’d escape, Nick retreated until he bumped against the door.

The men advanced. Each pulled a silver short sword from a concealed holster beneath their suit jackets.

Fear and desperation caused Nick’s heart to pound so violently, he thought he heard it. But the blood churning through him generated a stronger urge: revenge. And he could only do right by Isabella if he survived this mess.

Bernardo lunged. Though burly and one-armed, his movements were lithe.

Nick dropped low as the sword whizzed over his head.

Dante positioned his weapon high and brought it down, slicing through Nick’s shirt and into his forearm.

Nick hollered as the pain seared through him.

He charged Dante, who raised his sword again. Nick caught his hand and body-checked him into the brick wall. Nick sensed Bernardo behind him and rotated, barely avoiding the blade slicing for his back.

Planting his foot, Nick went for the sword. His hands clenched around Bernardo’s, and they struggled for control of the hilt. Nick spat in his eyes and wrested the weapon away. With the last of his wavering strength, he slipped behind Bernardo and brought the sword to the man’s armpit under his one arm.

“Drop it,” he said to Dante, who had his back to the alley’s end.

Dante scowled but let his weapon fall with an echoing clang.

“Now kick it over here and lay down. On your stomach. Arms out.”

Dante did as instructed.

“Get next to him,” Nick ordered Bernardo with a shove. “Flat.”

Bernardo followed suit.

Retrieving Dante’s weapon, Nick kept watch on their forms. His opponents counterbalanced the stare, studying his every move. Nick wrapped his fingers around the hilts. Holding swords felt good. Natural. He flourished them simultaneously and grinned, unaware he had that skill.

Nick had a peculiar sensation, not that of anger but distinct determination. His mind played through potential outcomes, and one came into focus: he imagined rushing the men, and with raised blades, he hacked their bodies—first their faces, then their necks and torsos. Their warm blood drenched his skin.

The scene gave him a surge of foul power. He teetered from the unfamiliarity of it and shook his head to clear the image.

No. Nick wasn’t a murderer.

Instead, he turned and raced for the alley entrance, tossing the swords away in disgust. His heart sank as he heard the two men getting to their feet. Rounding the corner, Nick ran under an archway connecting two buildings. He angled for the building wall, stepped on a brick edge, and jumped up, catching an exposed pipe ten feet up.

As footsteps approached, he swung and kicked, striking a direct hit into Bernardo’s face. Bernardo toppled into Dante, the two landing hard on the ground. Nick dropped from the pipe and sprinted in the other direction, his torn shirtsleeve flapping off his bloodied arm. 


Excerpt from The Prisoner of Paradise by Rob Samborn. Copyright 2021 by Rob Samborn. Reproduced with permission from Rob Samborn. All rights reserved.


Author Bio:

In addition to being a novelist, Rob Samborn is a screenwriter, entrepreneur and avid traveler. He’s been to forty countries, lived in five of them (including Italy) and studied nine languages. As a restless spirit who can’t remember the last time he was bored, Rob is on a quest to explore the intricacies of our world and try his hand at a multitude of crafts; he’s also an accomplished artist and musician, as well as a budding furniture maker. A native New Yorker who lived in Los Angeles for twenty years, he now makes his home in Denver with his wife, daughter and dog.

Catch Up With Rob Samborn:
BookBub - @rsamborn
Instagram - @robsamborn
Twitter - @RobSamborn
Facebook - @RobSambornAuthor
TikTok - @robsamborn


Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!
Click here to view The Prisoner of Paradise by Rob Samborn Tour Hosts.


Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Tours

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. My comments are an independent and Honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours.

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

Monday, January 24, 2022

To Disguise the Truth by Jen Turano

This is the third novel in the Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency series and features Eunice. She has a past and when Arthur wants to employ the agency to find a missing woman, Eunice realizes her past has caught up with her.

Turano writes with humor and there is a good deal of it in this novel. Eunice tries to hide her identity by wearing widow clothing. She even takes another case, requiring her to go under cover. There are some funny scenes and laugh out loud exchanges. I didn't find this novel as humorous as previous ones in the series but it is still good.

Characters are what make this story and Eunice is a capable one. She is feisty and has a witty tongue. I like the other women of the inquiry agency as they each have strong personalities and add to the drama and humor. I thought Arthur the weakest of the characters. It felt like he was sort of a foil for Eunice. There is, of course, a potential romance involved that seemed impossible. In the end, it seemed unrealistic too.

The novel got off to a bit of a puzzling start with a scene that seems a bit unrelated to the present. About thirty pages in we find out how that scene relates. I always like to learn about something when I read a novel, specially a historical one and in this case it was about insane asylums of the era.

This was a fun novel to read with a feisty heroine, a complex and nearly unbelievable romantic aspect and an old murder mystery for the inquiry women to solve.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

You can read my reviews of the earlier books in the series: To Steal a Heart and To Write a Wrong.

Named one of the funniest voices is inspirational romance by BooklistJen Turano is a USA Today bestselling author, known for penning quirky historical romances set in the Gilded Age. Her books have earned starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and Booklist and top picks from Romantic Times. She's been a finalist twice for the RT Reviewers' Choice Awards. She and her family live outside of Denver, Colorado. You can find out more at Rey Laureano, Jr.

Bethany House, 352 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.)

Food Triggers by Amber Lia

It seems like I have battled weight all my life. Like many Christians, I thought maturity, submission, consecration, etc. would be sufficient to win the battle. One of the struggles was around triggers, however, and they seemed to sabotage my dedication.

Lia's book is a welcome one in the weight struggle. I was happy to see her write that even mature Christians can still have issues with food triggers. Her strategy is to replace unhealthy patterns with God honoring habits. She addresses 31 common food triggers, applying biblical principles to each one.

She explores external and internal triggers. She encourages us to renew our minds rather than succumb to the world's mindless eating advertisements promoting indulgence. She helps us when eating out, when others intimidate us, when we attend church potlucks, when we travel, and several more external issues. I received the most encouragement from her writing on internal triggers. She helps us deal with stress, negative self talk, being lonely, feeling defeated or angry or shamed, and much more.

I appreciate Lia reminding us the stewardship of our bodies is a spiritual discipline. “There is a connection between spiritual growth and what we put in our mouth.” (132) That may be hard for some Christians to swallow. (Pun intended.) But, Lia says of herself, “I am still a work in progress...” (100) We all are on this journey. I now see food triggers are an opportunity for personal development, seeking God rather than food.

This book gives many practical strategies to conquer those pesky food triggers, helping us traverse farther on our journey to God glorifying well being.

You can read an excerpt here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Amber Lia is an independent certified health coach who has been on her own transformative health journey. She has written several books and is a former high school English teacher. She is a mentor for women and a regular contributing writer for The Better Mom. She and her husband co-run the faith-friendly production company Storehouse Media Group, and they live in Southern California with their four boys. You can find out more at

Bethany House, 240 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.)

Sunday, January 23, 2022

The Power of Thank You by Joyce Meyer

We know it is God's will we be thankful at all times in everything (1 Thess. 5:18). We may not realize how important thankfulness is or even know how to consistently be thankful. Meyer to the rescue. She has written this book to help us understand the power of being thankful and to encourage us to make a firm commitment to be more thankful than we have ever been before.

Being thankful will change our lives, Meyer writes. It will release joy, affect our prayers, and keep us focused on the positive, on our blessing instead of our problems. In case we think Meyer writes in theory only, she shares many of her experiences, giving readers realistic insight into her own life of trials and struggles to be thankful.

There were some surprises in this book. One was Meyer identifying thankfulness as a sign of spiritual maturity. Another was the revelation that Paul never prayed that peoples' problems would go away but that they would bear them with a good attitude.

Meyer covers many topics, giving practical suggestions on being content, understanding the purpose of trials, being positive without ignoring reality, being generous, the necessity of humility, and much more. In case we are at a loss as to maintaining a consistent attitude of thankfulness to God, she has included an Appendix with thirty specific suggestions.

This is another inspiring yet practical book by Meyer. If you have trouble being thankful, reading this book will definitely get you on the journey.

You can watch the book trailer here.

Meyer has also created a journal to help us get in the daily habit of being thankful by journaling our thankful thoughts. You can read my review of that book here.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Joyce Meyer is one of the world's leading Bible teachers. A New York Times bestselling author, her books have helped millions find hope and restoration through Jesus Christ. Her program, Enjoying Everyday Life, airs around the world on television, radio and the internet. She has authored more than 130 books, which have been translated into 155 languages, with over 65 million of her books distributed worldwide. The mission arm of her ministry, Hand of Hope, provides humanitarian outreach through out the world.

FaithWords, 208 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.)

My Thank You Journal by Joyce Meyer

I know from reading behavior studies that journaling is a powerful tool. It causes us to stop and reflect and it also provides memories we can come back to later.

Having read The Power of Thank You by Joyce Meyer, I was glad to see that she has also created a journal to help us in our commitment to be thankful every day. She encourages us to start by writing down just one thing each day for which we are thankful. In a month we'll have thirty things for which we are grateful. On a discouraging day we can go back and read our record of God's blessings. Meyer suggests we can also record prayer requests in this journal, then note when God answers. Soon we'll have a record of answered prayers to encourage our faith on down days.

The layout of the journal is simple with just a quote by Meyer or a Bible verse on each page. There is plenty of space to write our thoughts. It's a great companion to use with Meyer's book on being thankful or to use all by itself.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Joyce Meyer is one of the world's leading Bible teachers. A New York Times bestselling author, her books have helped millions find hope and restoration through Jesus Christ. Her program, Enjoying Everyday Life, airs around the world on television, radio and the internet. She has authored more than 130 books, which have been translated into 155 languages, with over 65 million of her books distributed worldwide. The mission arm of her ministry, Hand of Hope, provides humanitarian outreach through out the world.

Ellie Claire, a division of Hachette Book Group, 160 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.)

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Driven by Valerie Webster Blog Tour


Driven: A Rita Mars Thriller

by Valerie Webster

January 17 - February 11, 2022 Virtual Book Tour


Ex-investigative journalist, Rita Mars loses an old friend to what looks like suicide. She’s convinced he was murdered to cover unethical maneuvers and save reputations in the abyss that is Congress. Back stabbings inside the beltway sometimes extend beyond metaphorical. She’s going to butt heads with the local good ole boy authorities and navigate the deliberately stoked smoke screens of the duly elected, but she is never going to give up.

My Review:

The heroine in this novel, Rita, was a surprise for me as she is gay. Thoughts about her past relationship and a potential one were prominent. I felt too much text was given to the romantic tension. I don't think I have seen such an emphasis placed on the romantic tension when the heroine is a heterosexual. I felt the two cases Rita works on are really enough to carry the plot through so that only a hint of the romantic aspect would have been required.

Rita was a hard character for me to like. She irritates people, is forceful and often rude. I trust future novels featuring her will see her character level out a bit and become more confident in her abilities. Rita has some quirky friends, such as her trans secretary. The characters were well developed though I did think the trans character was a bit overdone.

I like the two thriller plot lines. I like the political aspect with underhanded financial activities being investigated. I like the suspenseful end although we were set up for it. I think this debut effort shows Webster has great potential as a thriller author.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Ignited Ink Writing
Publication Date: May 25th 2021
Number of Pages: 396
ISBN: 1952347033 (ISBN13: ‎978-1952347030)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

“Rita Mars, this is a voice from your past.”

“Who the hell is this?” Rita demanded.

It was eleven o’clock, and the dreary end of a long day. A miserable October rain tapped on the office windows. Through the water slashed glass, Baltimore’s Mitchell Court House next door was a smear of grey and black.

“I first met you devouring Hershey bars in the newsroom at midnight.” The man was gleeful.

“That narrows it down.”

Great clue. Hell, she’d been a reporter for seventeen years before she started the agency. Rita cradled her chin. The police department snitch who gave up the narcs ripping off drug dealers? The accountant with the guilty conscience who squealed on the HUD housing contracts?

“We were a pair and then again we were not.”

“Look, pal, I don’t know –”

“I was the snow king and you were the fire breather.”

Rita started to hang up, but there was something eerily familiar about that line.

“You never know when you’ve had your last chance,” the man said.

“Bobby Ellis.” Instinctively, Rita touched the worn chrome Zippo in her pocket that bore those very words. Chills ran along her arms and the hair bristled at her neck.

“Bingo,” Ellis said.

“God, I’m so glad to hear from you. Where are you? When can I see you?



“The Overlook Inn in Harper’s Ferry. Breakfast at ten. I’ll have a lot to tell you. A story for above the fold.”

Rita scribbled his instructions on a blank notepad. “Tell me now.” Above the fold on a newspaper’s front page was reserved for big time news.

“Just be there.”

Rita thought he was hanging up.

“By the way—ever think you’d see me alive again?” Ellis asked softly.

“No,” Rita said. “I never thought I would.”

Chapter 2

Rita Mars sang along with the Shirelles. She glanced at the Jeep’s speedometer and then at the rearview mirror to check for approaching troopers.

The West Virginia countryside blazed with yellow and scarlet. Sunlight sprinkled the rock-strewn pastures with brilliance and made the car’s white hood shimmer like a snowfield. Even the black and white Holsteins seemed brighter than usual as they ripped up the last shreds of yellowed pasture grass.

Though it was late October, Rita had the top down on the Jeep. It was good to ride on this open road alone with the sun and wind. She couldn’t really be forty-five this year. She ran thirty miles a week and could still get into jeans the size she’d worn in college. Rita peered over the top of her Raybans and took another look in the mirror. Ok, so her dark hair was shot through with silver.

She smiled. It made her look more interesting. After all, how many older women had she fallen madly in love with in her younger years?

Rita flipped the radio off and concentrated on her meeting with Bobby Ellis. She hadn’t seen him in forever. Yes, she had thought he might be dead. A superior journalist, he’d thrown it all away with a coke habit that he paid for with a career and a marriage. No one had seen or heard of him now for more than two years.

After he disappeared, a malaise had set. Rita abandoned investigative reporting and spend her time working on a detective’s license. She was going to right wrongs instead of writing about wrongs as she described her abrupt life change.

She sighed. She wanted to return to the happier thoughts that had so recently danced in her head.

A red truck with a rainbow sticker on the front bumper appeared the in oncoming lane. Rita’s smile came back and she waved as they raced each other.

“We’re everywhere. We’re everywhere,” she hummed to herself.

She returned to her former mood of excited anticipation. She was seeing Bobby again.

They had been reporters together on the Washington Star. More like brother and sister than co-workers, they had fought over editorial recognition, wept on each other’s shoulders, and held each other’s hand during their respective long, dark nights of the soul.

Rita tried sweet talk at first when his habit began to devour him. Then she got tough. They fought bitterly. In the end, he surrendered everything to the white powder.

She’d been as angry with herself as with him. She couldn’t make him stop. Like a flashback, the feelings were the same when she thought about her childhood. She hadn’t been able to stop the runaway train her father rode either. Alcohol carried him far and fast. In the end, he stuck his police revolver into his mouth and killed his pain.

Bad memories again. Rita shook her head and switched the radio back on.

“There she was, just a walkin’ down the street . . . “ Rita sang along at the top of her lungs and pushed the accelerator just a little farther with her docksider.

Five miles and three oldies but goodies later, she slowed as the road narrowed to the twisting mountainside lanes that led to Harper’s Ferry. Down the sheer embankment on the passenger’s side, she could see canoes below on this rocky segment of the Potomac. She took a deep breath. The cobwebs of leftover memory cleared. It was a gorgeous day. At the top of a steep winding hill, Rita spied the flagpole that stood in the center of the Overlook Inn’s circular drive. Old Glory ruffled its red stripes in a soft October breeze that seemed more spring than autumn.

The parking areas along the drive were jammed with American made pickups and SUVs. Lots of military bumper stickers and window decals. Families just out of church hopped out of cars and headed for the Inn’s dining room and Sunday brunch buffet.

As she reached the crest, she had to slam on the brakes. The drive was blocked by two Harper’s Ferry sheriffs’ cars, a West Virginia trooper vehicle—blue gumball lights twirling—an ambulance from nearby Ransom, a fire truck and a dented beige Crown Vic with county plates.

Guests and townies milled around the west annex. A tall, grim-faced sheriff’s deputy held them at bay.

“What the heck is this?” Rita jumped out of the Jeep.

Inside, the interior of the Overlook lobby was cool and dark. The desk clerk was a woman with long red nails and a plunging neckline to her sundress. Her blue eye shadow made her look like an alien. Oblivious to Rita, she leaned across the far end of the registration counter to stare out the front door toward the commotion outside. Rita pulled off her Raybans.

“What happened?” Rita asked.

“Man killed hisself.” The woman continued to lean and stare over the counter.

The taste of metal rose in Rita’s throat. “Killed himself?”

“Room 107. Maid found him.” The clerk’s sense of duty returned and she walked toward the center of the counter where Rita stood. “Can I help you with something?”

Rita felt icy from the inside out. She dug her hand into her pocket to touch that Zippo talisman she always carried.

“I came here to meet someone.” The words jumbled in her mouth.

“Name?” The clerk absently flipped the registration book behind the counter.

Rita said nothing.

The clerk looked up then and said once more. “Name?”

“Bobby Ellis,” Rita whispered.

The two women stared at one another.


Excerpt from Driven: A Rita Mars Thriller by Valerie Webster. Copyright 2021 by Valerie Webster. Reproduced with permission from Valerie Webster. All rights reserved.


Author Bio:

Valerie Webster spent a career developing law enforcement applications for surveillance, security and forensics. She has also been a triathlete and a crime reporter. She honed her writing skills through "Sisters in Crime" and "Mystery Writers of America's" mentoring program. In DRIVEN: A RITA MARS THRILLER, she weaves professional experiences into a high tension plot that sweeps the reader into the action from Page 1 to the breath-taking conclusion.

Valerie makes her home near Boulder, CO.

Catch Up With Valerie Webster:
Instagram - @rmarsauthor
Twitter - @RMars4Hire
Facebook - @RMars4Hire


Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews!

Click here to view Driven by Valerie Webster Tour Hosts.


Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours.

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

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

A Three Book Problem by Vicki Delany

This is the seventh novel in a series and the first I've read. I thought it read well on its own. Gemma, manager of the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium, and Jayne, owner of Mrs. Hudson's Tea Room, are chosen as caterers of weekend Sherlockian get together. Ryan, local police detective and Gemma's romantic partner, is roped into assisting in the kitchen.

The host of the weekend, David Masterson, is a wealthy man and a prominent Sherlock fan and authority. It becomes evident that the people he has invited to the weekend at the Suffolk Gardens House don't like him and some know nothing about Sherlock. When a murder occurs in Gemma's presence, she is on the case, often to the dismay of detective Ryan.

I liked this cozy mystery. I thought the characters were done well although I did have trouble liking Gemma. I liked learning from the people who knew much about Doyle and were really into the Sherlock works. It was interesting that they were knowledgeable of the movies produced and actors involved, debating who was best. The pace of the book is not fast as much of the narrative centered on relationships rather than investigative technique. The murderer reveal came almost by accident although there were many clues to the identity. While Gemma claimed deductive reasoning in the end, she didn't share it with readers until after the reveal.

I do wish more had been said somewhere about the title of the book and the play on the three pipe problem, an allusion to the length of time it would take Sherlock to figure out a complex mystery.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Vicki Delany
is one of Canada's most prolific cozy mystery writers. She
 writes under her own name and her pen name, Eva Gates, for a total of more than forty novels. She is a past president of the Crime Writers of Canada and co-founder and organizer of the Women Killing It Crime Writing Festival. You can find out more at by Iden Ford Photography.

Crooked Lane Books, 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.)

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Live the Impossible by Jenny Smith Blog Tour

About the Book

Book: Live the Impossible

Author: Jenny Smith

Genre: Memoir

Release date: July, 2021

Jenny Smith was a typical teenager—a gymnast and athlete who loved hair and makeup, played in a band, and was active in her church youth group.

Then one bright summer morning, a spinal cord injury left her paralyzed from the chest down and dependent on others for her most basic needs. Privacy and independence seemed like things of the past.

But Jenny refused to give up or give in to her disability, and over time she discovered that a wheelchair could take her places she’d never dared to imagine. She’s traveled multiple times to Afghanistan and Mexico for wheelchair distributions and sports camps, and even rolled the New York City runway as a model during Fashion Week.

Today, Jenny Smith is a spokesperson for independent and vibrant living with a disability. Her speeches, articles, and social media presence have touched thousands of lives.

In Live the Impossible, Smith shares what it looks like to live with paralysis, from the everyday details most people never think about, to the countless people who have impacted her life along the way. With honesty and humor, faith and fortitude, Jenny shows us how we can all live the impossible, even when life doesn’t go as planned.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

Jenny's is an amazing story. The book is well written and very encouraging and informative. Jenny is very honest in her account too. She shares about the changes in her friendships because they had been based on mutual activities. There was the agony of prayers for healing. She shares how she navigated school, endured muscle spasms, must be watchful of skin conditions, had tendon transfers and more. She even shares some of those details we often wonder about concerning bodily functions.

This is a great book of inspiration for anyone with a disability and even for those without a disability. Jenny's account shows what can be done with perseverance and trust in God. I am amazed at the ministry Jenny has accomplished and the activities she has experienced. Her life is truly an inspiration to all of us.

Food for thought: “You never know what you might find as you stretch beyond the familiar and into the impossible.” (2468/2894)

My rating: 5/5 stars.


About the Author

Jenny Smith is an advocate, peer mentor, and encourager for those living with spinal cord injuries, and anyone who has faced unexpected or seemingly impossible challenges. Her popular blog and YouTube channel, Jenny Smith Rolls On, explore the practical aspects of life as a quadriplegic. She also speaks to associations and businesses, schools and universities, and faith-based groups. Jenny works full-time supporting and encouraging cross-cultural workers. She lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where she rows on the Ohio River with the Louisville Adaptive Rowing program.

You can find out more at

More from Jenny

“I will never write a book.”

I can’t tell you how many times I said those words. How and why did I publish a book after saying I will never so many times?

For several years, I was writing as a side job for a medical supply company. To learn more about the craft of writing, I signed up for an online class. The instructor invited me to take her next class on writing your life story.

That’s when it happened. I felt a little tap on my shoulder and heard—or felt—the words, “It’s time.”

I groaned.

Since my spinal cord injury at the age of 16, I said never and that’s impossible innumerable times. I had said the words before traveling to Mexico and Afghanistan. As I dreamed of living independently as a quadriplegic. I’d said never to playing wheelchair tennis, rugby, and para-rowing. My words that’s impossible and never were proved wrong time and again.

So I started writing.

It turns out I’ve lived what I believed was impossible.

In July 2021, on the 32nd anniversary of my spinal cord injury, my family, friends, and community celebrated with me at the launch party for my memoir Live the Impossible.

Although the book centers on my story of becoming a quadriplegic at 16 and the trials and adventures that followed, the lessons I learned in the years to come are universal:

  • How I found my identity
  • The importance of taking a risk
  • How I became comfortable in my own body
  • Acknowledging I have little to offer and yet seeing God do things I could never imagine

We all have unexpected circumstances in life. But I believe we can all live the impossible, even when life doesn’t go as planned.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, January 18

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 18

Texas Book-aholic, January 19

An Author's Take, January 20

Inklings and notions, January 21

Stephanie's Life of Determination, January 21

deb's Book Review, January 22

Debbie's Dusty Deliberations, January 23

Because I said so -- and other adventures in Parenting, January 24

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, January 25 (Spotlight)

For Him and My Family, January 26

Lots of Helpers, January 27

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, January 27

Library Lady's Kid Lit, January 28

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, January 29

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 30

Spoken from the Heart, January 30

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 31

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.)

Sunday, January 16, 2022

How Civil Wars Start by Barbara F Walter

While Walter was shocked by the events of January 6, it was, she says, deeply familiar. She has studied civil wars and their origins, hundreds of which have happened in the last seventy-five years. Many started in ways similar to what she was seeing in the U.S. The same elements, the same warning signs she had identified in other countries are now present in the U.S.

Walter helps readers understand how civil wars start by reviewing many that have recently happened. She looks at the patterns and the changes. One change is the transition to wars fought by ethnic and religious groups rather than political entities. Rather than government soldiers, the warriors are now vigilantes and armed militias attacking government leaders. She shows how social media has been used as a catalyst and cohesive force.

We in the U.S. may have thought we were immune. Not so, says Walter. “I have seen how civil wars start, and I know the signs that people miss. And I can see those signs emerging here at a surprisingly fast rate.” (111/4020) The U.S. has entered a dangerous place. She details how, in the last five years, the situation has become precarious. The democracy score for the U.S. has dropped to its lowest point since 1801. (1837/4020) We cannot ignore what happened nor the speed at which it happened, Walter says. “...[W]e are closer to civil war than any of us would like to believe.” (2103/4020)

There are actions that can be taken to protect our democracy, such as restoring the quality of governance. I hope our leaders will rise in their responsibility to our country. I have read a number of books about recent political events in the U.S. and this one is definitely the most chilling.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Barbara F Walter is a professor of political science and Rohr Chair in Pacific International Relations and an adjunct professor in the UC San Diego Department of Political Science. Her current research is on the behavior of rebel groups in civil wars. She received her Ph.D. In political science from the University of Chicago and completed postdoctoral research at the Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University and at the Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University. She is on the editorial board of several political journals and publications. She is a permanent member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She is co-founder of the blog Political Violence At a Glance. You can find out more at

Crown, 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.)

Saturday, January 15, 2022

God the Father, Jesus the Big Brother, Holy Spirit the Best Friend by Sunshine Rodgers Blog Tour and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: God the Father, Jesus the Big Brother, Holy Spirit the Best Friend

Author: Sunshine Rodgers

Genre: Christian Nonfiction

Release date: February 25, 2015

Ever confused about the Trinity? Are there three Gods or One? And how is the Trinity important to my life? Take a deep look inside this book for the answers. There is so much more to your life when you allow God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit to be inseparable parts of your existence. With your Heavenly Father, Big Brother and Best Friend by your side, you can reach the impossible and do the unthinkable. Learn about Heaven’s family and the Divine resources offered to you to succeed in life. Learn from the real testimonies from people who have been touched by this glorious revelation. Take one step closer to the three greatest loves of your life and have an experience of your own with this great Fellowship.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

This book is good encouragement to make God the most important being in our lives, living to please Him. Rodgers assures us that God loves us and wants the best for us. We are encouraged to live with  Jesus as our example. We are also to have an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit. Rodgers shares her own charismatic experience and encourages us to listen to the Spirit and follow His direction.

Christians who hold a seriously respectful view of God, His sovereignty, holiness and otherness, may experience some discomfort with Rodgers' attitude toward God. Rather than seeing God as totally sufficient in Himself, Rodgers writes, “His life isn't complete until He has you with Him.” (65/1715) Rather than seeing God as a being very different from humans, Rodgers says, “God is just like any other person on this planet.” (95/1715) Rodgers also writes, “The Holy Spirit is just like you or me, He doesn't like being ignored or made fun of or disobeyed.” (1257/1715) In creating humankind, Rodgers says, “God wanted someone with His looks, His genes, and His bloodline.” (95/1715) Of the very God of the entire universe, Rodgers writes, “You are God's main priority.” (218/1715)

This is a very encouraging book but I would caution readers to compare some of what Rodgers says about God with what is known from Scripture about God's majesty and uniqueness as the eternal creator and ruler of the universe.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


About the Author

Sunshine Rodgers is an International Best-Selling Author on Amazon and she has attended 31 book signings and 4 Book Tours. Her books have landed on 21 different Amazon Best Seller lists in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada including #1 in the U.K. for Bible Study and #2 in the U.S. for Bible Commentaries. She has been promoted in various newspapers, newsletters and magazines and she has been a guest on podcasts and radio. Check out all 10 of Sunshine’s books and feel the love and passion for life on her pages! Sunshine is married to her best friend, Travis and they live in sunny Florida.

Excerpt from the Book

I pray Colossians 1:9-11 over you as the reader. I pray that you will not cease to make your requests known to God, and that you may be filled with the deep and clear knowledge of God’s will operating in spiritual wisdom. I pray that you will have comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God, and that you will be able to understand and discern spiritual things during the day and during your life (vs. 9). I pray that you will live and conduct yourself in a way that pleases the Lord, and that you will desire to make Him smile in everything that you do. I pray that you will bear much fruit walking with God and continue to do good works as well as growing and increasing in your knowledge (vs. 10). I pray that you will be invigorated and strengthened with His power to bring out His glory in your life. I pray that when life gets too tough, you will always choose to get closer to God, and exercise endurance and patience with joy. Know that throughout it all, you are surrounded by your Father, your Big Brother and your Best Friend every step of
the way. excerpt from page 202-203 (Book: God the Father, Jesus the Big Brother, Holy Spirit the Best Friend)

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, January 15

For the Love of Literature, January 16 (Author Interview)

Debbie's Dusty Deliberations, January 16

Texas Book-aholic, January 17

Inklings and notions, January 18

For Him and My Family, January 19

deb's Book Review, January 20

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 21

Through the Fire Blogs, January 22 (Author Interview)

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, January 22

Because I said so -- and other adventures in Parenting, January 23

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, January 24 (Spotlight)

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, January 25

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 26

Cats in the Cradle Blog , January 27

Mary Hake, January 28


To celebrate her tour, Sunshine is giving away the grand prize of a $40 Visa card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

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

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