Sunday, April 30, 2023

Man on the Run by Charles Salzberg Blog Tour Book Review


Man on the Run

by Charles Salzberg

April 17 - May 12, 2023 Virtual Book Tour


Master burglar Francis Hoyt is on the run.

After walking away from his arraignment in a Connecticut courtroom, he’s now a fugitive who has to figure out what he’s going to do with the rest of his life. And so, he heads west, to Los Angeles, where he meets Dakota, a young true crime podcaster who happens to be doing a series on Hoyt. At the same time, he’s approached by a mysterious attorney who makes Hoyt an offer he can’t refuse: break into a “mob bank,” and liberate the contents.

Praise for Man on the Run:

"The stakes couldn’t be higher as the cat and mouse game moves to the Left Coast in Salzberg’s compelling Man on the Run. A superb mix of action, suspense, psychopathology."

"One part heist movie, one part psychological thriller, three parts great character and blend. Salzberg’s superb Man on the Run will keep your head spinning from the first page to the last."
~ Reed Farrel Coleman

"Man on the Run grips you from the opening page and doesn’t let go. The plot will leave you breathless with anticipation as a master burglar and a crime podcaster try to outwit and outmaneuver each other before an outrageous heist. There’s nothing better than smart characters, with smart dialogue, going head to head. You won’t want to miss a twist or turn."
~ Michael Wiley, Shamus Award-winning writer of the Sam Kelson mysteries

"Francis Hoyt, Charles Salzberg's brilliant burglar anti-hero from SECOND STORY MAN, is back on the prowl in Man on the Run. Old-school crime meets the podcast age as Hoyt tangles with a true-crime reporter as well as fellow felons and the law. Like his hero, Salzberg is a total pro who always brings it home."
~ Wallace Stroby, author of HEAVEN’S A LIE

"Charles Salzberg is a genius at not only crafting a helluva page-turner of a heist novel, but he also manages to make the reader care about Francis Hoyt, master burglar and pathological narcissist. Hoyt is the man on the run, and the story of how he eludes the law, the mob, and a retired cop who has become his personal nemesis packs a solid punch and leaves you rooting for the guy who’d steal your family jewels without breaking a sweat."
~ James R. Benn, author of the Billy Boyle WWII mystery series

"When it comes to Charles Salzberg’s work, you can expect a hard-edged story, crisp dialogue, and memorable characters. This is certainly true --- and then some! – in his latest, Man on the Run. Featuring master burglar Francis Hoyt, a tough and intelligent criminal who can’t seem to turn down tempting criminal scores despite the inherent danger, Man on the Run features a true-crime podcast host, a criminal fence, and an investigator hot on the trail of Francis Hoyt as his most challenging and dangerous burglary comes into play. Very much recommended."
~ Brendan DuBois, award-winning and New York Times bestselling author

"It’s a battle of wits and nerves as a cop, a robber, and a journalist dance around each other weaving a tapestry of deceit and suspense. Salzberg’s dialogue flows like water until it finds truth in this most entertaining read."
~ Matt Goldman, New York Times bestselling author

"Smart, sly and compelling, with a fascinating main character - the very definition of intelligent suspense."
~ Lee Child

My Review:

This is a different kind of mystery. It is mostly character thought with very little action. It is an in depth exploration of the personality of an expert thief. He is the best there is and we are privy to all his planning. He was a difficult character to like. He is not a Robin Hood kind of thief. He has no qualms with setting up a patsy to take the fall for his work. He really doesn't think very highly of anyone but himself. Besides, he calls himself a dedicated vegetarian when he eats an egg white omelet and fish tacos.

There are two other main characters in the novel and, interestingly enough, we get the thoughts of all three in first person narratives. One is a journalist with a crime podcast and the third is a retired detective who still has catching the master thief on his back burner. I am not a fan of alternating first person accounts but they were clearly identified and easily understood.

Salzberg is a good writer. Even though I prefer action and dialogue over lots of character thought, this novel kept my interest. I really wanted to know how the whole gig worked out. I have to admit, I was disappointed by the ending.

This is a novel for readers who would like an intense character study of an accomplished thief and an inconclusive ending that begs for a sequel.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Book Details:

Genre: Crime
Published by: Down & Out Books
Publication Date: April 2023
Number of Pages: 340
ISBN: 978-1-64396-307-5
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | Down & Out Books

Read an excerpt:



I ambush her as she’s coming out of Starbucks, a mega-size coffee cup in one hand, her phone in the other.

“Know who I am?” I say.

She’s confused. Or embarrassed. Like when you have no idea who someone is but you don’t admit it because you think you should.

“Noooo. I don’t think so,” she says, wrinkling her brow and cocking her head, like she’s giving it serious thought. “Should I? Have we met before?” she adds, shifting her weight to her back foot in an unconscious move to put a little distance between us.

This chick doesn’t know me yet, but she will.

It’s early Sunday morning. A typical late spring day in L.A. West Hollywood. The temp’s hovering in the mid-70s. This won’t hold for long. We’re in the middle of a heatwave and they’re predicting the low 90s by mid-afternoon. Above us, there’s that familiar low-hanging ceiling of grey cloud-cover they say will burn off by noon. They swear it always does. They even have a name for it. The June Gloom. Maybe all months should come with a warning label. I mean, life’s already full of enough surprises, right?

Other than a few people out for an early run, or picking up breakfast, the sidewalk is empty. Except for the two of us.

She looks like she’s in her mid to late twenties. But I know she’s older than that. Closer to thirty-five. She isn’t as pretty as I’d imagined. It’s probably the voice that throws me off. Soft. Sweet. Seductive. A sexy, midnight radio voice. Or one of those sex line phone voices. The kind of voice that makes promises without actually promising anything. And any promises made she has no intention of keeping. Not that she’s a dog. Not by a long shot. It’s just that she isn’t going to win any beauty contests. Not here. Not in L.A. where good-looking chicks fall from palm trees like coconuts. Third, fourth runner-up, maybe. First place? Not a chance. Her looks don’t quite fit with her voice. Still, there’s something very sexy about her. Not hard-on sexy. But sexy enough so you can’t help but wonder what she looks like on the beach, in a bikini.

But it’s more than just the voice. Maybe it’s the short, blonde hair which gives her a pixie look. Maybe it’s the face. A mishmash of sharp angles. A nose that looks like it’s been broken—if she were a guy you might guess in a barroom brawl—tilting slightly to one side. Like that Ellen Barkin chick. Her skin is lightly tanned and smooth. She has a slight overbite. High cheekbones. Makes me think of those Picasso paintings. But in a good way. Maybe it’s the tight, faded black jeans, stylishly frayed just below the knees. Or the sky-blue Rolling Stones T-shirt with the image of a giant red tongue unfurled. Maybe it’s because she isn’t wearing a bra. Maybe it’s because she’s confident enough to wear no make-up to cover up the freckles scattered haphazardly across her cheeks and nose. Do not, under any circumstances, underestimate confidence. It’s a definite turn-on.

Whatever it is, it works.

This isn’t a pick-up. Or a stick-up. This is business. More than business, actually. Curiosity. No. More than that. Self-preservation. But there’s always that promise, like her voice, that it might turn into something else.

She doesn’t recognize me because we’ve never met. But recently our lives have unexpectedly intertwined. Her doing, not mine.

“Trust me. If you’d have met me, you wouldn’t forget me.”

“Really? Why’s that?” she asks, cocking her head to the other side, as she slowly turns her coffee cup away from me. I know why she’s doing it and I’m impressed. She’s got a quick mind. The barista has scribbled her name on it in black magic marker. This is the kind of information, assuming I don’t already have it, she would not want me to have.

I’m starting to make her nervous. I can see it in her eyes. They swivel wildly in their sockets like she’s some kind of whacky cartoon figure. She’s a couple, three inches taller than me, but that doesn’t give her the kind of advantage height sometimes offers. I should know. I’m small of stature. I claim five-four, but I might be lying. Or exaggerating. Take your pick. It’s not a handicap. Never has been. It works for me. Always has. It’s been a long time since anyone’s tried to take advantage of me because of my size. A long, fucking time.

“Maybe it’s the baseball cap. It kinda of hides your face,” she says, straining to figure me out. Am I harmless? Is she in danger? Should she dial 9-1-1? Should she turn tail and head back into the relative safety of Starbucks?

I take it off in one swift, flowing motion and wave it across my body. The only thing missing is me bending forward in a bow. Like the Japs do.


She shakes her head. I put the hat back on.

“Maybe the sunglasses?” she says.

“Let’s see,” I say, as I slip them off.

I know what she’s doing. Making sure she gets a good look at me. Taking a mental snapshot of my face. Just in case later she has to describe me to the cops. It should make me feel like a specimen under glass, but it doesn’t. Actually, I’m enjoying the attention. Besides, by the time we’re finished she’ll know who I am and then she won’t have to describe me to anyone.

Even after all this she’s still baffled. I put my sunglasses back on and adjust my cap so it angles down slightly over my forehead.

It’s almost imperceptible, but she’s slowly inching away from me. Like she’s getting ready to bolt. She has that thin, athletic build of a runner. We have that in common. Maybe, if we get to know each other, we’ll run together. But no matter how fast she might be, I’ll leave her in the dust. Maybe it’s because you might say I run for a living. Maybe it’s because I’m always in excellent shape. Especially for someone flirting with his mid-forties. But it’s not just that. It’s more like I don’t take losing very well. I never hold back. That’s the real reason I never lose. Ever.

Her eyes dart back and forth as she slowly dips her right hand, the one holding her cell, into the black leather satchel dangling from her shoulder. Maybe she thinks I can’t see what she’s doing. She’d be wrong. I’ve trained myself to note every detail, every nuance. When I walk into a room, any room, I immediately know two things: where the exit is and exactly where everyone is standing. I’m a fucking living, breathing motion detector. It’s one of the things that makes me as good as I am at what I do. I doubt she has a serious weapon in there. Maybe pepper spray. Maybe a set of keys she’s been taught to use as a weapon in one of those self-defense classes for women. The key chain held tight in your fist. The keys poking out between your index and forefinger. A sudden thrust to an eye. If your aim is good, you can do some serious damage.

But neither of these things will do her any good. I’m much too quick. I’ll have hold of her wrist before she gets her hand out of her bag.

I smile, hoping this will lighten the mood. I don’t want her to think I’m a predator and she’s the prey.

Maybe she is. Maybe I am. But I don’t want her to think so. Not yet.

“I’m a memorable guy,” I say, smiling. I’ve been told I’ve got a killer smile. They say it makes me look very approachable. This can be a good thing. A very good thing. I inject a dramatic pause. “What’s that expression? The Most Unforgettable Character You’ve Ever Met? That would be me.”

“You’re starting to frighten me a little,” she says, glancing over my left shoulder, then my right. Looking to see if anyone else is around. In case she needs help. She even looks back into Starbucks to see if anyone might be coming out. Someone who might rescue her. Though she can’t possibly know from what. Not yet.

Her right hand is frozen inside her purse. She isn’t quite ready to commit herself. There’s still time to defuse the situation.

“I’m not going to hurt you, if that’s what you’re afraid of,” I say, raising my hands, palms out, midway to my chest.

“I’m not afraid,” she says. Not very convincingly.

“Good. Because you haven’t seen my scary face yet.”

She starts to laugh, then realizes maybe I’m not trying to be funny. Hollywood is the land of weirdos and crackpots. She has no way of knowing I am not one of those.

“Then why are you acting so creepy?”

I shrug. “This is me, darlin’. It’s just the way I am. But I swear, I really am harmless. You sure you don’t know me?”

“Pretty sure,” she says, hesitatingly, like she thinks maybe she should know me but still can’t quite figure out why.

“Don’t worry,” I say, with a wink. “You will.”


Excerpt from Man on the Run by Charles Salzberg. Copyright 2023 by Charles Salzberg. Reproduced with permission from Charles Salzberg. All rights reserved.


Author Bio:

Charles Salzberg, a former magazine journalist (New York magazine, Esquire, Redbook, New York Times and others) and nonfiction book writer (From Set Shot to Slam Dunk, an oral history of the NBA, and Soupy Sez; My Zany Life and Times with Soupy Sales), has been nominated twice for the Shamus Award for Swann's Last Song and Second Story Man, which also won the Beverly Hills Book Award. His novel Devil in the Hole was named one of the Best Crime Novels of 2013 by Suspense magazine. He is the author of Canary in the Coal Mine and his short stories have appeared in Mystery Tribune, Down to the River, Lawyers, and Guns and Money. He's been a Visiting Professor Magazine at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and he teaches writing in New York City for the New York Writers Workshop, where he is a Founding Member. He's also on the Board of PrisonWrites and is a former Board Member of MWA-NY.

Catch Up With Charles:
Instagram - @charlessalzberg
Twitter - @CharlesSalzberg
Facebook - @charles.salzberg.3
YouTube - @CharlesSalzberg


Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaway entries!
Click here to view Man on the Run by Charles Salzberg Tour Hosts.


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Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Tours

I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Partners in Crime Book Tours. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Partners in Crime 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 29, 2023

Standing in the Shadows by Peter Robinson Book Review

About the Book:

In November 1980, Nick Hartley returns home from a university lecture to find his house crawling with police. His ex-girlfriend, Alice Poole, has been found murdered, and her new boyfriend Mark Woodcroft is missing. Nick is the prime suspect. The case quickly goes cold, but Nick cannot let it go. He embarks on a career in investigative journalism, determined to find Alice’s murderer—but his obsession leads him down a dangerous path.

Decades later, in November 2019, an archaeologist unearths a skeleton that turns out to be far more contemporary than the Roman remains she is seeking. Detective Superintendent Alan Banks and his team are called in to investigate, but there is little to be gleaned from the remains themselves. Left with few clues, Banks and his team must rely on their wits to hunt down a killer.

As the two cases unfurl, the investigations twist and turn to an explosive conclusion.

My Review:

This is a good police procedural and a fitting end to the Inspector Banks series. (Peter Robinson passed away.) There are two narratives and for most of the book, they do not intersect. I do wish there had been some hints along the way as to how the two would come together in the end.

The attractive feature of this novel and the series in general was getting to know Inspector Banks. He is a capable detective and a sensitive boss. Robinson was good at developing characters and that is the case here. I have enjoyed reading several of this series and will miss it.

This is part of a series and some of Banks' actions, such as his love for music and LPs from Ray do come from previous novels. Nonetheless, it does read pretty well on its own.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author:

One of the world’s most popular and acclaimed writers, Peter Robinson is the best-selling, award-winning author of the DCI Banks series; he has also written two short-story collections and three stand-alone novels, which combined have sold more than ten million copies around the world. Among his many honors and prizes are the Edgar Award, the CWA (UK) Dagger in the Library Award, and the Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy Martin Beck Award.

William Morrow, 368 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 28, 2023

A Troll Falls by Marji Laine Blog Tour Book Review

About the Book

Book: A Troll Falls

Author: Marji Laine

Genre: ChristianHistorical Mystery, Fairytale retelling

Release date: March 7, 2023

Murder. Even the word sounds ugly. Almost as ugly as the corpse on the shore.

Dallas, Texas, 1948

Opal Stedman enjoys caring for old Mrs. Farnesworth. But keeping her sister Ruby out of trouble, well that is another issue entirely. Especially now that Ruby has stepped into high society with her new beau. A dubious man. Maybe even duplicitous.

Even the handsome security guard warns her sister about him.

When a body is dragged onto the shore of the lake that borders their home, rumors and worries over the new man become assurances. But why has he involved her household in these gruesome shenanigans?

And why are Opal’s loved ones suddenly having “accidents”?

Loosely based on the little-known fairy tale of “Snow White and Rose Red” this mystery twists its way all along the banks of White Rock Lake during its heyday.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

This is a fun mystery loosely based on a little known fairy tale. If you do not know the story of “Snow White and Rose Red”, you may want to find out about it before your read this one. Even if you don't, however, it is a good historical mystery that will keep your interest. I liked the characters. The sisters make good heroines. While not naturally bold, they rise to the occasion, gathering information to get to the bottom of the murder and other odd happenings. I liked the fellows who are involved in protecting the women and investigating the case. My favorite character was Old Miss. She was a feisty grandmother. The villain was not a surprise as Laine gave us many clues to the individual's identity.

While it took me a while at the beginning to figure out how the sisters were involved in the family of Old Miss, the mystery and the budding romances kept me interested to the end. There is a good amount of action but only that suitable to a cozy mystery. It is an enjoyable read.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


About the Author

Marji Laine is a graduated home-schooling mom of four with two college students staying in the nest for a little longer. She and her hubby of 34 years also share their North Texas home with a rescue pup named Rosie. When Marji isn’t editing or publishing the books for her authors at Write Integrity Press, she indulges in penning her own mystery, suspense, and romance novels. She loves acting in musical comedy, has directed many stage productions, leads a high school Bible study and sings in her church choir. She prefers mountains to beaches, dogs to cats, NASCAR to football, Magnolia pie, white roses, green, and Hallmark Movies and Mysteries. You can find her at her website:

More from Marji

A Troll Falls is set in my hometown of Dallas, Texas around the time that my grandfather served as one of the fire captains in the area. I have pictures of my mom and my aunt posing near the spillway of White Rock Lake.

Yep, White Rock Lake is a real place less than ten miles from the central district of Dallas. I remember doing a Walk-a-Thon around the lake and playing softball on Saturday mornings at Winfrey Point, overlooking the lake with a view all the way to downtown. Swimming in the lake was never an option in my lifetime, but my mom remembered swimming there. Because the lake was a major reservoir for Dallas, they had to close it to swimming in the early 1950s due to a drought. By the mid-1950s, boating had made the lake dirty and crowded, so the city of Dallas closed it to motor boats that traveled faster than ten miles per hour. Aside from little fishing boats here and there, White Rock Lake is primarily a sail-boat lake now, and a beautiful sight on a clear day with a light breeze.

The Bonnie Barge is a real thing as well. The double-decker party and dance boat sailed around White Rock Lake from 1945-1956. Fraternities, church groups, reunions, and all types used the Bonnie Barge. Even such famous people as Gypsy Rose Lee and Billy Graham are rumored to have sailed on it, though not at the same time! Johnny Williams, Jr. grew up on the barge that his father built, often steering it even though he was underage. The young man who has the “find” in the Prologue is fashioned after him. Johnny actually did find a body once when he was sixteen, in a similar manner to what I described, except the deceased was a woman who had fallen into the lake and drowned after a night of drinking. The Bonnie Barge was a mainstay on White Rock Lake, but it relied on speed boats to come help in case of trouble. When the speed boats were ousted in 1956, the Bonnie Barge floated her last party as well. You can learn more about the Bonnie Barge here:

On the shores of that lake lies the Dallas Arboretum, a beautiful collection of gardens that I visited often, field trips for my homeschooled kids. The focal point of the Arboretum is the DeGolyer House. Built in the 1930s, the house is fashioned after a Spanish Hacienda. I heard rumors about the house and the rare book collection that Mr. DeGolyer kept locked away in his library, and it became the inspiration for the Halling Estate in my book. You can learn more about the Dallas Arboretum (well worth the visit!) and the DeGolyer House here:

My fictional Halling Estate is situated on the lake about where the DeGolyer House still stands, but my imaginary house is a two-story hacienda instead of a single story. I also created a covered drive (called a dog-trot) that separates the kitchen from the garage and the servant apartments above the garage.

While I took some liberties with my 1948 Dallas, the Adolphus Hotel is the real deal. (I shared about it in my first book, A GIANT MURDER, too.) They really did have ice skating shows in their Century Ballroom in the 1940s and 50s. And the dance floor really did glide back over the ice for dancing after the shows were over. You can learn more about it here:

I’ve always loved writing mysteries. I love the unexpected twists, and I usually have an idea of who the murderer will be before I start the story. Adding the element of history to the mix has been sheer pleasure. I love setting my stories in and around real places, events, and people. I hope you enjoy A TROLL FALLS as well!

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, April 27

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, April 28

Denise L. Barela, April 29 (Author Interview)

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, April 29

Texas Book-aholic, April 30

Locks, Hooks and Books, May 1

For the Love of Literature, May 2 (Author Interview)

Lily’s Book Reviews, May 3

Connie’s History Classroom, May 4

Guild Master, May 5 (Author Interview)

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, May 6

Blogging With Carol, May 7

Through the Fire Blogs, May 8 (Author Interview)

For Him and My Family, May 9

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, May 10


To celebrate her tour, Marji is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

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 egalley 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, April 27, 2023

A Biblical Case for Women Pastors, Elders and Deacons by Seth Knorr Book Review

I am impressed with this book. If Christians were to read only one book to understand the egalitarian position, this would be at the top of my list. Knorr reminds us that just because a doctrine has been held for a long time does not mean it is true (think slavery).

He thoroughly explores the two biblical passages most debated on the issue of women in ministry (1 Timothy 2:12 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-35). Knorr studied the earliest manuscripts of these passages, the highly valued P46 and the Codex Vaticanus. He shows how the passages have often been mistranslated. He appeals to the writings of early church fathers as they quote Scripture. He reveals the gender bias of modern translations, inserting male pronouns where none exist in the Greek.

I really like how Knorr gives much evidence from early church writings that women in ministry were accepted at the time. His documentation is extensive. Early church fathers accepted that Junia was a female apostle, for example. (97) He shows how there were female leaders in both Judaism and secular religions at the time so female leaders in Christianity would not be a huge cultural change.

Knorr appeals a great deal to the original Greek. While some laypeople may be overwhelmed by his extensive arguments, if one works through this book thoroughly, the evidence is convincing. His conclusion is that Scripture shows women can hold the role of deacon, elder, apostle, prophet, and by extension, pastor. (119)

I highly recommend this book to any Christian desiring to really investigate the egalitarian position.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Along with a career in computer programming, Seth Knorr is also an elder, Sunday school teacher, and small group leader in his church. He also served as a youth pastor for ten years and created the biblical search engine, which offers Google-like features. All of which led to a passion for studying the Bible in its original languages along with church history and the early church fathers. You can go to and to use the search engines Knorr has created.

Eleutheros Publishing, 196 pages.

While I initially received a complimentary digital copy of this book from the author, I have since purchased copies myself. 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 26, 2023

The Bark of Zorro by Kathleen Y'Barbo Blog Tour Book Review

About the Book

Book: The Bark of Zorro

Author: Kathleen Y’Barbo

Genre: Christian/Cozy Mystery/Romance Fiction

Release date: April, 2023

Who Is Spray Painting the Dogs in Brenham, Texas?

Strange happenings are afoot in Brenham, Texas, as dogs start showing up at the Lone Star Veterinary Clinic with a Z spray painted on them. The cops blame pranksters, while pet owners are blaming each other. Receptionist Cassidy Carter uses her social media expertise to try to get the culprit caught on camera, but Texas game warden, Jason Cameron, thinks online media attention is the last thing this case needs. When Cassidy’s post goes viral, more dogs are found painted and the clinic gets marked with a big Z too. How could her good intentions have backfired so badly?

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

This is a sweet cozy mystery. No violence, just an easy and delightful mystery to solve. There is a little romance included between Jason, the game warden and Cassidy. It's a bit testy. Cassidy says Jason is black and white and she is a rainbow. What a great comparison. I have to admit, Jason was a bit controlling for me. Kudos for Cassidy showing at least some patience with him.

There is some humor too. I laughed at the beauty shop scene. And since it is about dogs with mysterious symbols painted on them, it is a fun novel for dog lovers. The mystery is solved pretty quickly near the end with information added at that point so we didn't get a chance to figure it out ourselves. Nonetheless, a delightful and fun cozy mystery.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

This is the fourth novel in a series and you can read my reviews of earlier books in the series: Off the Chain, Dog Days of Summer, and Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

About the Author

Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee and bestselling author of more than one hundred books with over two million copies of her books in print in the US and abroad. A tenth-generation Texan and certified paralegal, she is a member of the Texas Bar Association Paralegal Division, Texas A&M Association of Former Students and the Texas A&M Women Former Students (Aggie Women), Texas Historical Society, Novelists Inc., and American Christian Fiction Writers. She would also be a member of the Daughters of the American Republic, Daughters of the Republic of Texas and a few others if she would just remember to fill out the paperwork that Great Aunt Mary Beth has sent her more than once.

When she’s not spinning modern day tales about her wacky Southern relatives, Kathleen inserts an ancestor or two into her historical and mystery novels as well. Recent book releases include bestselling The Pirate Bride set in 1700s New Orleans and Galveston, its sequel The Alamo Bride set in 1836 Texas, which feature a few well-placed folks from history and a family tale of adventure on the high seas and on the coast of Texas. She also writes (mostly) relative-free cozy mystery novels for Guideposts Books.

Kathleen and her hero in combat boots husband have their own surprise love story that unfolded on social media a few years back. They make their home just north of Houston, Texas and are the parents and in-laws of a blended family of Texans, Okies, and one very adorable Londoner.

More from Kathleen


Recently I’ve been working on a series of cozy mystery novels set in a veterinary clinic in Brenham, Texas. I love Brenham. It’s one of my favorite cities and I’m thankful that it’s very near to me. Without Brenham, there would be no Blue Bell ice cream.

But I digress.

While preparing for the release of the fourth book in the series, The Bark of Zorro, I thought about what drew me to writing this series, other than ice cream, of course. It didn’t take me long to realize it was the dogs. During the course of the series there are fancy pets and sassy strays, but they all have one thing in common: they steal our hearts.

Let me tell you about a pup that stole my heart.

Meet Baxter.

Baxter has very little stress beyond whether his water bowl stays full, his food bowl is consistently replenished, and his trips outside are not withheld. In short–which he is–Baxter is a low maintenance guy, er dog.

He makes our house a home and gives us ears to scratch and a built-in vacuum cleaner to handle any kitchen messes that reach the floor.

Unfortunately, this fellow has one rather annoying habit. He likes to walk a half-step ahead of me while looking back to be sure I am following. Not the best way to make progress of any kind. In fact, life would be much less complicated if Baxter would just let me do the leading while he does the following.

I said this recently. Aloud. Yes, to a Miniature Schnauzer. And as the words left my mouth, I was struck with the thought that maybe I am guilty of the same thing.

How many times have I gotten ahead of God only to realize He wasn’t having any of it? How many more times did I think I knew exactly where God was going–or what He was going to do–only to realize I was nowhere near close in my guess? Just as Baxter –who has appointed himself guardian of our home– sometimes barks when there’s nothing there, I too, let nothing (in the form of fear, worry, angst, or just plain imagination) grab my attention and hold it.

Here’s something else about Baxter: he’s small. Eleven pounds soaking wet small, to be precise. So small, my husband has to be careful where he steps lest he accidentally squash the poor pup with his size 13 shoes.

Though we’re physical much larger than my Baxter, I cam certainly relate to that feeling of being easily overlooked. Have you ever felt small? Really, really small? The kind of small where someone could walk right past and not even notice you?

Maybe it’s the people in your world who just don’t seem to know you’re there. Or it’s a goal you’ve long since given up accomplishing because it seems there are so many others doing it already.

Life can be that way. It’s all enough to make a person want to fade into the wallpaper or hide behind a potted plant. To make us feel as though we’re not at home, even when we are home.

I know that feeling. As a writer of Christian fiction for twenty years, I have been blessed to have sold more than two million copies of my more than one hundred novels, novellas, and nonfiction books. That’s anything but small. And yet when I look at all the amazing things that others have done, compare myself to others, well…small is exactly how I sometimes feel.

There’s just one remedy for that. Stop comparing! I’m a work in progress on this issue, but Baxter has this skill mastered. There are no comparisons in the Miniature Schnauzer world—something I could definitely learn.

Baxter has another side to him, a loyal and faithful side that I adore. Where I am, Baxter wants to be. My return from a brief trip away sends him into a crazy dance of joy that requires several rooms of the house to adequately perform. My presence is his source of joy and comfort.

So, the thought struck me: what if I looked at my relationship with God like that? What if I found contentment and joy merely in resting in his presence? What if I followed Him rather than leading?  What if my home was filled with the evidence that God was not just welcome here but adored. What if…

I learned something years ago about this journey called the Christian life. The more I learn about the Lord, the more I realize how much I do not know and how very far away from any sort of perfection I am. That knowledge is sobering. Humbling.

And yet it is encouraging.

I wish you could all meet Baxter. But since you can’t check out The Bark of Zorro and the other books in the Gone to the Dogs series to meet our cast of fancy pets and sassy strays. I think you’ll like them and their humans. But then what’s not to like about a handsome game warden, a red-haired office manager with a penchant for her word-of-the-day calendar and the rest of the Lone Star Vet Clinic crew? Check them out and you’ll see!

Blog Stops

Babbling Becky’s Book Impressions, April 26

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, April 26

Locks, Hooks and Books, April 27

Cover Lover Book Review, April 28

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, April 28

Vicky Sluiter, April 29

Lily’s Book Reviews, April 30

Tell Tale Book Reviews, April 30

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, May 1

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, May 1

Texas Book-aholic, May 2

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, May 3

The Book Club Network, May 3

Remembrancy, May 4

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, May 5

Blogging With Carol, May 6

Debs book review, May 6

For Him and My Family, May 7

Mary Hake, May 7

Holly’s Book Corner, May 8

Splashes of Joy, May 8

Pause for Tales, May 9

Labor Not in Vain, May 9


To celebrate her tour, Kathleen is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon e-gift card and a print copy of the book!!

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 egalley 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.)

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Take Every Thought Captive by Kelly Balarie Book Review

About the Book:

Is the battle in your mind raging? Here is how to win it.

Your thought life determines your whole life. The enemy wants you chained to hopeless, powerless, and worthless thoughts so you don't trust your victorious God. Do you ever think, I can't do this . . . I'll never be . . . I'm not good enough . . . There is no way . . . ?

The enemy lies, but what supersedes those lies is truth. Truth, when seized, has the power to speak louder than fear, insecurity, and worry. Only by exchanging the lies of the enemy for the mind of Christ will your mind become truly rewired, renewed, and transformed.

In Take Every Thought Captive, Kelly Balarie shows you how to
· immediately recognize the lies of the enemy
· effectively replace those lies with God's truth
· continually connect with the mind of Christ
· proactively recognize schemes of the enemy before they start

Your mind doesn't have to hold you back any longer; God's truth has all power to set you free.

You can read an excerpt here.

My Review:

As Christians, we know we have the mind of Christ. We know we are to renew our minds. I have read many books encouraging me in those areas. This is the first book I have read that actually has a practical plan to really work on controlling my thoughts and renewing my mind. And if we don't quite get the teaching, Balarie gives several examples of how the process works.

She has a stop/start strategy. She helps us learn how to capture the thought and identify the underlying belief. She then helps identify the speaker, God, the enemy, or our flesh. We think about what maintaining this thought would ultimately produce. Then we start doing something new, submitting to the mind of Christ, see what door we opened to lead to this thought, repent, renounce, and pray. Then she helps us go a new way and shows us how to guard our heart and mind for the future. She provides a worksheet at her website to help us specifically work through this process.

This is a great book. I highly recommend it. It is the most enlightening and practical one I have read on renewing our mind.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

About the Author:

Kelly Balarie is the author of Fear Fighting, Battle Ready, and Rest Now. When speaking at women's conferences around the nation, Kelly delights in joining hands with women as they go through life's ups and downs. To see marriages restored, hope recovered, and prayers of faith lifted up to a God on the move are some of her greatest joys. Beyond this, Kelly has led spiritual growth Bible study groups and has been seen on TODAY, The 700 Club,,, and (in)courage. Her work has also been featured by Relevant and Today's Christian Woman. She lives with her husband and two kiddos on the East Coast. Photo Credit: Becca Hofmann Photography

Baker Books, 256 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.)

Monday, April 24, 2023

Disobedient God by Albert Tate Book Review

About the Book:

In this powerful guidebook, the lead pastor of Fellowship Church demonstrates how the moments that test our faith are the moments God uses to direct our hearts to the one thing we truly desire most: a relationship with Christ.

When the people of Israel, those who had witnessed the most abundant and inexplicable acts of God, grew tired of waiting for Moses to come off the mountain, they made a calf of gold. It was easier for them to make a new god than to continue serving a God that didn’t conform to their schedule and expectations.

Just like the Israelites in the desert, we are all fundamentally longing for God… but who and what are we actually reaching for and serving? Disobedient God addresses the things we do when we feel ignored, inconvenienced and frustrated by God. What things are we reaching for in our life? Are we reaching for porn when we long for intimacy? Reaching for success when we long for security? We would never say that we have replaced God, but our actions tell a different story. Whether we are trying to replace God, trying to run away or trying to perform for Him, we have no mindset to deal with a disobedient God. Disobedient God is a book for people dealing with this disappointment and interested in properly understanding and loving the God they’ve misunderstood.

This is not a step-by-step instruction manual for how to react when things are difficult; rather, it is a way of understanding God that leads people to discover the relationship with God that they were always meant for.

My Review:

We hear testimonies at church when God has done something wonderful. But what about when He does not do what we had prayed for? When we needed Him to act and He did nothing? How do we deal with the disappointment when God goes off script?

Tate gives us permission to journey through grief and doubt. He encourages us to learn about God even when we feel He is being inconsistent, when we feel He has let us down. He helps us learn how to sit with God in suffering and loss. He helps us identify the wrong ways we cope, such as running from God or engaging our favorite idols. He uses stories from the Bible and his own experiences to illustrate his teaching.

I like that Tate says it is okay to have questions and doubts. He encourages us to realign our perspective to God's. Even when God goes off script and does not do what we expect, He is still God and still trustworthy, Tate says. He encourages to trust God no matter the circumstances and rest in His sovereign care for us.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author:

Albert Tate is the founding and lead pastor of Fellowship Church in Los Angeles County California. He began his ministry pastoring just a few families at Sweet Home Church in Mississippi before serving the historic Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena, California. Hearing the call from God to plant a church, Albert and his wife, LaRosa, launched Fellowship Church in January 2012. In its short history, this gospel-centered, multiethnic, intergenerational church has already established a solid foothold in the region to the glory, honor, and transformational power of Christ. As a dynamic communicator, Albert is passionate about sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ both locally and globally. He serves on the Board of Trustees at Azusa Pacific University, the Global Leadership Network, and Global Church Planting Organization, Stadia. Albert is the Founder and CEO of The Greatest Story, Inc, and President of Harambee Ministries. He recently published his first book entitled, "How We Love Matters: A Call to Practice Relentless Racial Reconciliation". Albert is the proud father of four children: Zoe, Bethany, Isaac, and Micah. 

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.)