Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Abiding Conviction by Stephen M Murphy

About the Book:

Lawyer Dutch Francis faces an impossible situation—search for your missing wife or defend your high-profile client

Dutch Francis is a defense attorney in the case of a judge accused of killing his wife. Just as the trial is about to begin, Ginnie Turner, Dutch's wife and TV news broadcaster, goes missing.

Under extreme duress, Dutch tries to extricate himself as the judge's attorney—or at least postpone the trial. The judge insists that the trial proceed without delay and that Dutch remain his attorney.

Exhausted by the murder trial, Dutch confronts an ineffectual police department, suspicious that he is involved in his wife's disappearance. He takes matters into his own hands as he struggles to balance both responsibilities—the trial and finding his wife—pushing him to the brink of losing everything he holds dear.

At first Dutch suspects that Ginnie was kidnapped in retaliation for her recent stories about sex scandals. But after receiving bits of her in the mail—fingernails, hair—he realizes the kidnapper's intent may be to punish him.

Could his defense of the judge be the reason?

My Review:

This is an interesting novel about an attorney trying to survive under the pressure of a high profile case while attempting to find his kidnapped wife. Because he was preoccupied with his wife's condition, the courtroom scenes were not as compelling as in other novels I have read. Dutch was reluctantly invested in the case and did not give it his all.

He's an attorney and knows the law yet he trespasses and does other acts that jeopardizes the investigation. I did like his tenacious attitude, however, as it seems the police are moving ever so slowly. I sometimes wondered if it was realistic for a person such as Dutch would do some of the things he did in his attempt to find his wife.

In the end there was an interesting parallel of husband wife relationships between the attorney and his wife and the accused and his wife. I liked this novel, a combination of legal procedure and suspense. While it is the third in a series, it is the first I've read and I felt it was fine on its own.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author:

Former trial lawyer Stephen M. Murphy is the author of the Dutch Francis thriller series. A Boston native, he is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, and the University of San Francisco School of Law. He served as a law clerk to the justices of the New Hampshire Superior Court, and while in New Hampshire, he worked on a murder trial that inspired his first Dutch Francis novel, Alibi, which was followed by About Power, and now, Abiding Conviction. He currently lives in the San Francisco area.

Oceanview Publishing, 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.)

Monday, August 29, 2022

Inventions of the Heart by Mary Connealy

About the Book:

Her heart seeks safety. But will trouble find her even here?

After her sister's marriage, Michelle Stiles is left hiding at Two Harts Ranch with the handsome but stubborn Zane Hart. She's managed to stay one step ahead of her stepfather and his devious plans, but if he finds her, she will no longer be safe.

Zane has problems of his own. Having discovered a gold mine on his property, he must figure out how to harvest it without kicking off a gold rush. Michelle, educated and trained to run her father's business, wants to manage all aspects of the mine, but Zane thinks for a person so smart she can have some misguided ideas. Running the mining operation will be a dangerous job, and he can't risk putting her in harm's way.

But danger finds Michelle anyway when she's suddenly attacked. If they go to the sheriff, they'll reveal her location, but if they do nothing . . . their troubles have only just begun.

You can read an excerpt here.

My Review:

This novel is the second in The Lumber Baron's Daughters series and is a good addition to the family story. There are three daughters so three stories to be told. It is the characters that make these books so good. The daughters are brave and strong women. In an era when women were not thought to be capable of men's job, they are each superior in design or engineering or blowing up things. It was interesting to see how inventions came to their minds and how they were created.

In addition to strong female characters, there is a good deal of suspense and a smattering of humor. The suspense is based on conditions revealed in the first novel in the series so that one should be read first to fully grasp this one.

I like that Connealy has written this novel so that Michelle's story is complete. There is one sister yet to fulfill her destiny so I'll be watching for the final book in this series. This is a good novel for readers who like historical romantic suspense with humor and a good faith message too.

You can read my review of the first in the series, The Element of Love.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


About the Author:

Mary Connealy (www.maryconnealy.com) writes "romantic comedies with cowboys" and is celebrated for her fun, zany, action-packed style. She has sold more than one and a half million books. She is the author of the popular series Brothers in Arms, Brides of Hope Mountain, High Sierra Sweethearts, Kincaid Brides, Trouble in Texas, Lassoed in Texas, Sophie's Daughters, and many other books. Mary lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her very own romantic cowboy hero.

Bethany House Publishers, 304 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, August 28, 2022

Reorganized Religion by Bob Smietana

Over the past decades, millions of Americans have left their churches, disappointed. While most Americans still believe in God, fewer and fewer are participating in organized Christianity. (170/3490) Smietana knows the world without organized religion would not be a better place. His book is one that suggests organized religion can continue to exist, though in a reorganized manner.

Smietana has divided his book into three informative sections. First, he looks at where organized religion is today, its decline. Next, he takes a deep look into why people are leaving, often relating personal stories. Finally, he relates stories of churches who have adapted to the changing religious landscape. Business as usual for the organized church will no longer work. White churches will need to be more diverse to be sustainable in the future, for example. (1920/3490) Some churches may need to merge.

Smietana concludes his book by reminding church leaders of decisions that will need to be made. Will a church seek serving the community or will it seek power in that community, for example. Things cannot continue the way they are. Churches will need to seriously think about survival and the work it will take to accomplish it.

I highly recommend this book. I think every pastor and church leader serious about the survival of their church would do well to read it.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Bob Smietana is an award-winning reporter and Pulitzer grantee who has become a well respected and well-known religion reporter with over two decades of experience. He has served as a senior writer for Facts and Trends, senior editor of Christianity Today, and the religion writer at the Tennessean. He is currently a national reporter for Religion News Service.

Worthy Publishers, 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.)

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Twin Murder Mix-Up by Sami Abrams Blog Tour

About the Book

Book: Twin Murder Mix-Up

Author: Sami A. Abrams

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Release date: August 23, 2022

A case of mistaken identity…

has lethal results

After capturing a murder on her camera, photographer Amy Baker becomes the next target—but her identical twin is killed instead. Now on the run with her sister’s newborn, Amy has only one person to turn to—Detective Keith Young, her childhood crush. But when they discover Keith is the baby’s father, can he regain Amy’s trust to keep them safe…before the killer strikes again?

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

This novel starts with an exciting scene. Abrams then adds enough back story we know someone is after Amy. There is a good deal of suspense as the novel continues but the emphasis in Abrams' writing style is on character relationships. Important scenes are permeated with character thought and relationship interaction. There is much character rumination after each event.

I found Amy a difficult character to like. She repeatedly acted in such a way that got her into a suspenseful situation. She even self describes her actions as stupid. (2096/2979) The same happens when Keith and Amy act together. After being shot at one more time, Keith admits he hadn't been thinking and they'd blown it. (1285/2979) I prefer suspense because the villain outwits the heroes, not because the heroes do stupid things. Except for that, I liked this novel.

This is a romantic suspense for readers who like an emphasis on character thought and interaction and don't mind the heroes repeatedly getting themselves into trouble through their own actions.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author

Sami A. Abrams lives in Northern California, but she’ll always be a Kansas girl at heart. She loves to travel and watch sports. However, most evenings, you’ll find her engrossed in a romantic suspense novel. She thinks a crime plus a little romance is the recipe for a great story.

More from Sami

#Authorproblems   That’s what the excitement around Keith Young was…a problem—Kinda. Lol!

When I started to hear request for his story, I panicked. Authors don’t want to disappoint their readers. And being new to the published scene…Well, you get the picture. 😊

After the release of Buried Cold Case Secrets, many readers told me they wanted Keith’s story. In fact, the overwhelming response puzzled me. What had I done to create such a buzz about Jason’s partner? And of course, I had to ask why?

The general answer I received…Keith’s a nice guy and the perfect partner.

I have to admit, I got a little nervous since I had already written his story. And I worried if I’d done his character justice?

However, after writing Buried Cold Case Secrets, I knew Keith had to have his own story. He’s such a great guy and needed his happily ever after. So, I dove in and asked, what would happen if he made a huge mistake? Not just a physical one, but a heart one.

By the time I finished, I loved seeing Keith and Amy move past their poor choices and hurt to find acceptance and love. The perfect ending to Keith’s struggles.

All that to say, I hope you love Keith and Amy’s story as much as I do.  #TeamKeith

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, August 27

Bizwings Blog, August 27

The Avid Reader, August 27

Debbie's Dusty Deliberations, August 28

Christina's Corner, August 28

Genesis 5020, August 29

Texas Book-aholic, August 29

Inklings and notions, August 30

Through the Fire Blogs, August 30

EmpowerMoms, August 30

Betti Mace, August 31

deb's Book Review, August 31

For Him and My Family, September 1

Pause for Tales, September 1

The Sacred Line, September 1

She Lives To Read, September 2

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 2

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 3

Britt Reads Fiction, September 3

For the Love of Literature, September 4

Lights in a Dark World, September 4

Paula's Persuasion, September 4

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 5

Book Looks by Lisa, September 5

Because I said so -- and other adventures in Parenting, September 6

Vicarious Living , September 6

Mary Hake, September 6

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, September 7

Bigreadersite , September 7

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 8

Blogging With Carol, September 8

Simple Harvest Reads, September 9 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Labor Not in Vain, September 9

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

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

Friday, August 26, 2022

Connecting With Christ Blog Tour

About the Book

Book: Connecting With Christ

Editor: Yolonda Tonette Sanders

Genre: Nonfiction, Inspirational

Release date: November 30, 2021

Self-care is a buzzword often mentioned when people seek to optimize their health. Suggested self-care practices tend to include activities such as exercising, getting a massage, or eating a healthy diet. While all of these actions have their place, none of them are sufficient enough to provide the soul-care we need to maximize our self-care. Self-care without soul-care equates to temporary solutions that leave us searching for the next new thing. However, when Christ becomes the center of our holistic health journey, we not only find fulfillment in Him but also a dependency on and trust in Him to truly live our best lives-emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

This is a nice collection of devotionals on a variety of themes. Each devotional is about two pages long followed by at least one lined page for personal journaling. I liked the variety of authors providing a number of writing styles and viewpoints. The encouraging devotions are created from personal experience. They contain wisdom learned from life and faith.

This is a good devotional for when things are not going the way you had expected. Many contributors share their own stories of adversity with how they continued on. It is a good book for Christians who need encouragement and like to journal their reflections.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Editor

Yolonda Tonette Sanders is the CEO of Yo Productions, LLC and co-founder of the Faith & Fellowship Book Festival. Her writing portfolio includes academic papers, novels, short stories, poems, and other creative works. She is an editor for a national publication, a professor, and serves on several boards and associations. Yolonda holds two bachelor’s degrees, a master’s degree, and is currently completing her Ph.D. in organizational leadership. She treasures her relationships with family and close friends. Yolonda is blessed to be the wife of David; mother of two adults, Tre and Tia; “Nini” to her grandchildren, Khari and Khia; daughter of Eddie; sister to Milton; and dog mom to Paco.

More from Yolonda

Have you ever started a daily devotional but didn’t finish because you found yourself getting behind schedule and frustrated? One missed day turns into two, then the missed days pile on until we often do one of two things: a) have a marathon session to “make-up” the missed days’ readings; or b) abandon the devotional altogether. Neither of these options help with our spiritual growth. When we have marathon sessions to catch up, reading the devotional becomes a checklist item instead of us taking the time to glean the spiritual message or lesson to be learned. When we abandon reading the devotional, we miss everything still. Those great books end up collecting dust until we try again the next year only to repeat the same process.

Yep, I’ve been there! Having had such experiences, I sought to create a devotional that people could actually finish. Plus, let’s face it . . . we should read our Bibles every day, but devotionals are optional. Yet, sometimes people replace devotionals with reading the Bible. I didn’t want that either! So, Connecting with Christ is a 52-week devotional with just one reading each week. Not only was this a practical approach, but it was also purposeful. The desire behind this technique is for readers to have time to meditate on Scripture! Connecting with Christ is a devotional that readers can and will complete that will inspire them to dig more into the Word!

Blog Stops

Library Lady's Kid Lit, August 25

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, August 26

Mary Hake, August 26

Texas Book-aholic, August 27

Inklings and notions, August 28

Debbie's Dusty Deliberations, August 29

For Him and My Family, August 30

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, August 31

deb's Book Review, September 1

Because I said so -- and other adventures in Parenting, September 2

Older & Smarter?, September 2

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 3

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 4

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 5

Cats in the Cradle Blog, September 6

Divine Perspective, September 6

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 7

I received a complimentary 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.)

Thursday, August 25, 2022

The Hidden One by Linda Castillo

About the Book:

The discovery of an Amish bishop's remains leads chief of police Kate Burkholder to unearth a chilling secret in The Hidden One, a new thriller from bestselling author Linda Castillo.

Over a decade ago, beloved Amish bishop Ananias Stoltzfus disappeared without a trace. When skeletal remains showing evidence of foul play are unearthed, his disappearance becomes even more sinister.

The town’s elders arrive in Painters Mill to ask chief of police Kate Burkholder for help, but she quickly realizes she has a personal connection to the crime. The handsome Amish man who stands accused of the murder, Jonas Bowman, was Kate’s first love. Forced to confront a painful episode from her past, Kate travels to Pennsylvania’s Kishacoquillas Valley, where the Amish culture differs dramatically from the traditions she knows. Though Bishop Stoltzfus was highly respected, she soon hears about a dark side to this complex man. What was he hiding that resulted in his own brutal death?

Someone doesn’t want Kate asking questions. But even after being accosted and threatened in the dead of night, she refuses to back down. Is she too close to the case—and to Jonas—to see clearly? There’s a killer in the Valley who will stop at nothing to keep the past buried. Will they get to Kate before she can expose the truth? Or will the bishop’s secrets remain hidden forever?

My Review:

This is the first novel I have read by Castillo and I liked it. I usually stay away from the saturated Amish genre but this novel showed a different side of the sect. It is not all smiles and roses. There are deceiving characters and ones willing to murder to protect secrets. I like Chief Burkholder as a heroine. She's strong and tenacious in solving an old murder that has caused an old friend to be charged with murder. But she also needs support, finding it in her stable and encouraging boyfriend.

I liked the plot with secrets from decades ago being uncovered layer by layer. There is a good dose of suspense as Burkholder faces opposition in her investigation. And there is a nice and unexpected twist near the end just when we think everything is wrapped up.

Even though this is part of a series and way down the line, it read very well on its own. I will certainly be looking for more from this author.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author:

Linda Castillo
is the author of the
 New York Times and USA Today bestselling Kate Burkholder series, set in the world of the Amish. The first book, Sworn to Silence, was adapted into a Lifetime original movie titled An Amish Murder starring Neve Campbell as Kate Burkholder. Castillo is the recipient of numerous industry awards including a nomination by the International Thriller Writers for Best Hardcover, the Mystery Writers of America’s Sue Grafton Memorial Award, and an appearance on the Boston Globe’s shortlist for best crime novel. In addition to writing, Castillo’s other passion is horses. She lives in Texas with her husband and is currently at work on her next book. Photo credit: © Pam Lary.   

Minotaur Books, Macmillan Publishers, 320 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent aand 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.)

Everyday MAGIC by Mattie James

About the Book:

Find the motivation you need to feel good about your life with the help of this inspiring guidebook.

Today we are all stretching ourselves more than ever to live up to life’s seemingly endless demands, so why do we still feel we are less than enough? Mattie James— mother, influencer, and CEO—believes that living a beautiful life amidst the chaos and pressures is possible. All it takes is a little everyday MAGIC.
In this book, Mattie shows you how, helping you to evaluate the tasks and decisions you face in your daily life to make sure everything in your life is MAGIC: 
  • Meaningful
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Goal-oriented
  • Intentional
  • Consistent
This honest and practical guide offers tools, insights, and encouragement to help you center yourself within the minutiae of everyday life and evaluate tasks to become intentional about everything you do. Mattie shows readers how to be more efficient by making big decisions in the morning, batching household chores for maximum effectiveness, and deciding which tasks to tackle yourself and which to hire out. She also shows you how to provide healthy meals for your family with minimum hassle, eliminate clutter and stress in your home to make space for the heart, and ultimately make your life, career, home, and family a reflection of what makes you whole. 

The work required to change your life has been inside you all along. It’s not deep, just deliberate. This book begins your journey to connect with yourself so that you can prioritize your own reasons for everything you do.

My Review:

James is an influencer. She influences people to buy her products or those from companies with which she partners. This is a new profession to me, a septuagenarian who grew up with radio and televisions advertisements.

I appreciate that James desires to help women thrive in their everyday lives, living well. There is lots of practical advice in this book. James writes about skin care, clothing, possessions, meal planning, family time, health, and much more. At times I felt there was too much information such as her detailed description of how she empties her dishwasher. I found it interesting that she did not hesitate to recommend outsourcing daily tasks, such as laundry.

The strength of this book for me was the section on creating a personal mission statement. I appreciated the many questions she asked to stimulate thought about thinking through the MAGIC principles in the various areas of life.

This is a good book for career and family age readers who want lots of practical suggestions for living each day well. You'll learn how to arrange your closets, create meaningful events for your family members, and much more.

You can watch a video here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author:

Mattie James is a full-time content creator, lifestyle influencer and owner of MattieJames.com. She creates lifestyle content for her blog, podcast and YouTube channel while working with brands like Samsung, T.J. MAXX and J. Crew. After being crowned Miss Liberia USA in 2009, Mattie started her blog as a hobby and grew it into the seven-figure business it is today. She’s taught thousands of content creators and influencers how to grow their following, pitch brands and create content for profit with her online courses and masterclasses. She currently lives in Atlanta with her husband and three beautiful children. You can find out more at https://mattiejames.com/

Worthy Publishing, 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.) 

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

A Sojourner's Solace by Jennifer Sienes Blog Tour

About the Book

Book: A Sojourner’s Solace

Author: Jennifer Sienes

Genre: Women’s Christian Fiction/ Romance

Release date: July 12, 2022

Is an old love letter the key to her past… and her future?

When Kate Mallory’s mother is killed in a tragic car accident, she’s left with nothing but dead-end jobs, an on-again, off-again boyfriend, and a craving for something… more.

Despondent, she clears out her mom’s apartment and discovers an old love letter from a William Wheaton of Bell Buckle, Tennessee. Could this be the father her mom refused to discuss? With nothing left to lose, she decides to find out.

Noah Wheaton honed the gift of discernment the hard way—through a twenty-year military career and an unfaithful ex-fiancé. So, when gutsy Kate Mallory shows up at the family restaurant and applies for a waitressing job, his internal lie-detector flies off the charts. Why would a native New Yorker seek out a job in small-town Tennessee? Whatever she’s up to, messing with his family is not an option.

Kate could never have imagined that a spontaneous journey to search out an absentee dad was not spontaneous after all. A force bigger than both Kate and Noah is at work, and they may get more than they bargained for. 

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

I enjoyed this novella. It is a good story of Kate pursuing the identity of her father. There is an important theme of acceptance and the challenge of honesty. There is a very clear presentation of the gospel. The possibility of romance runs throughout.

The story is told from the alternating first person points of view of Kate and Noah. While each character is well identified at the beginning of the section, I did find that particular style of writing a bit distracting. Well into a section, as the character was thinking in first person, I would have to pause and remind myself which character it was.

This is an enjoyable novella that can be read of an evening. It offers a satisfying story yet provides potential for a sequel.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


About the Author

Jennifer Sienes holds a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in education, but discovered life-experience is the best teacher. She loves Jesus, romance and writing—and puts it altogether in inspirational contemporary fiction. Her daughter’s TBI and brother’s suicide inspired two of her three novels. Although fiction writing is her real love, she’s had several non-fiction pieces published in anthologies including several in Chicken Soup for the Soul. She has two grown children and one very spoiled Maltese. California born and raised, she recently took a step of faith with her real-life hero and relocated to Tennessee.

More from Jennifer

I grew up with three sisters and a brother, and although life could be chaotic and a little crowded, I can’t imagine any other childhood. We spent summers camping with my grandparents and great uncles, and holidays with lots of cousins, aunts, and uncles. Being part of a large family was central to my life. I thought about this as I created the Wheaton family for my Bedford County summer novella. Four siblings—two sons and two daughters—who often rub each other the wrong way, but at the same time, would lay down their lives for one another.

Noah is the oldest sibling in the Wheaton clan—retired military who’s been badly burned by a woman in the past. Trust doesn’t come easy, and he’s as loyal to his family as they come. Born and raised in the small Middle Tennessee town of Bell Buckle, he’s not a fan of the big city—or of people from the big city. His family owns and operates a restaurant in a nearby town where everybody knows everybody. He’s suspicious of outsiders, especially those of the female persuasion.

And that’s where our heroine, Kate Mallory, comes in. A native New Yorker, raised by a single mother, she never knew who her father was. She arrives in Bell Buckle on a quest to find what she’s missed all her life—family. What she discovers is far more than she bargained for, and her mother’s words come back to haunt her—“Be careful what you wish for.”

You may wonder why I chose New York City for Kate’s upbringing. My son lived in Tokyo for five years—a city of almost 14 million people. He told me on several occasions that living there, he never felt more alone or isolated. I wanted Kate in A Sojourner’s Solace to experience the same thing. Plopped into Middle Tennessee, she discovers a world as foreign to her as Tokyo was to my son—just in the opposite way.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, August 24

Christina's Corner, August 24

Debbie's Dusty Deliberations, August 25

Texas Book-aholic, August 26

Books, Books, and More Books., August 26

Inklings and notions, August 27

For Him and My Family, August 28

Genesis 5020, August 29

Book Looks by Lisa, August 29

deb's Book Review, August 30

lakesidelivingsite, August 31

Sylvan Musings, August 31

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 1

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 2

Because I said so -- and other adventures in Parenting, September 3

Back Porch Reads, September 3

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 4

Splashes of Joy, September 5

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 6

I received a complimentary digital copy of this novella 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.)