Wednesday, May 31, 2023

The Torching by Kerry Peresta Blog Tour Book Review

The Torching

by Kerry Peresta

May 8 - June 2, 2023 Virtual Book Tour


Mysterious fires. A haunting past. A secret file.

Three years ago, Olivia Callahan endured an assault that resulted in a devastating brain injury. She survived, but she couldn't remember anything about her life or who she was. Now, she's determined to build a bridge between the past she lost and the life she must reclaim.

When Olivia crosses paths with PI Tom Stark, she is drawn to the investigative field, and becomes his intern. She finds a heavily redacted, forty-five-year-old file locked in his desk drawer that mentions her mother as a young woman. Why had her mentor hidden the file from her, and why had he never mentioned a case involving her mother?

As Olivia moves forward with her fledgling career, a string of mysterious fires moves through the community, puzzling the Baltimore Arson Investigative Unit. One of the fires strikes Olivia's beloved farmhouse in rural Maryland. Now, in addition to uncovering the secrets bound within the redacted file, she becomes convinced that the fires happening around the area are disturbing calling cards…and they're meant for her.

The Torching Trailer:


My Review:

While this is the third in a series, it reads pretty well on its own. Peresta provides good back story early on to help understand the ongoing story. The only aspect of the novel that might be puzzling is the somewhat erratic behavior of Olivia, especially with respect to her boyfriend. She is a flawed person but with good reason. She has lots of baggage and some empty bags, parts of her past missing.

The mystery is this novel is good but a little complex, involving arson, political corruption, a past agreement as well as a present infatuation. Add to that Olivia's determination to clear up a big mystery in her past and it makes for lots going on.

Peresta's writing style is good and the plot moves along at a good pace. I would recommend reading the prior novels to fully appreciate this one.

You can read my reviews of the earlier books: The Deadening and The Rising.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Book Details:

Genre: Traditional mystery or Suspense
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: March 2023
Number of Pages: 323
ISBN: 978-1-68512-323-9
Series: The Olivia Callahan Suspense series, 3 | Each is a Stand Alone Novel
Book Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Smoke assailed us halfway up my long, winding, driveway. A dingy, gray film coated my windshield. I jabbed the brake to slow down, but my trembling foot slipped off the brake. Lilly gave me a look that broke my heart.

The surging, ballooning smoke hurled itself at us like angry fog. Visibility fell to near-zero the longer I drove. I slowed to a crawl. We inched along the lane until the strobing white-and-red lights cut through the smoke. I counted two fire engines and one black SUV on the lane as I approached. A couple of firefighters raced into my house. My door lay on the porch in three pieces, and an axe was propped against the wall. Each firefighter wore oxygen tanks attached to large, anteater-shaped masks. With their cumbersome, reflective-striped protective gear and masks, they looked more suited to step on the moon than inside my beloved Maryland farmhouse.

I brought my car to a shuddering halt.

We stepped out. I put my arm around Lilly.

Vaporous clouds of smoke cloaked my house. A couple of firefighters worked with giant, yellow firehoses. The men had divided themselves into teams, and the muted shouts told me some of them were behind the house. Flames leapt toward the sky from the backside of the roof. I counted six firefighters working on the house that I could see—plus the ones in the back. Tears trickled down my cheeks, and a terrifying thought struck—what about my cat?

“Lilly,” I said, my voice shaky, “Where was Riot when you last saw him?”

Lily’s face went white. “Mom…”

I grabbed her by the shoulders. “No, no…Riot’s smart. He will have found safety. I’ll find him. Stay here.”

I ran across the yard to a woman dressed in navy slacks and a white shirt with metal glinting on the front and official-looking patches on the arms. “I’m the owner,” I yelled over the whump of igniting flames, batting my way through smoke.

She shook my hand and identified herself as the public information officer. “Sorry to meet under these circumstances, but glad you were out of the home. We have it controlled. The team inside is checking to make sure it was contained. As far as we can tell, the seat of the fire is in the attic. Give us thirty minutes, okay? But ma’am, I’ll need you to stay back. Our investigator will be here soon. She’ll let you know when it’s safe to go inside.”

“My cat’s in there,” I yelled. “Can you have someone look for him?”

She spoke into a radio.

The smoke started to let up. Three hoses trained on the roof gushed out torrents of water. The huge flames stretching into the sky began to shrink. Radio chatter stuttered around the space. The firefighters stayed in constant contact, radios slung across their chests with a strap that held a mic.

These guys would not know where to look for Riot.

With an apologetic glance at Lilly, I skirted around the trucks, avoided the PIO, and dashed across the yard, up the front porch stairs, and into the house.

“MOM,” Lilly wailed through the billowy smoke.

Coughing, I ran inside. “Riot,” I screamed. “Riot, I’m here, buddy.”

I looked behind the couch. Underneath the dining room table. On top of his cat tree. Underneath the wingback chair. He wasn't in any of his favorite spots. I plowed through the murkiness and melting sheetrock.

A bullhorn blared, “Ma’am. We need you to exit the building.” “Now!”

My throat was closing. My eyes stung like crazy. I needed to find him and get the heck out.

I scrambled into the kitchen and opened the lower cupboards, then the uppers. Searched the seats of the barstools, underneath the kitchen table. My heart thrashed like a wrecking ball in my chest. “Riot? I’m here, boy. Come on out,” I begged. A timid sound reached my ears. I waited. I heard it again, louder.

A shaggy, orange head appeared on top of the cabinets. I climbed up, grabbed him, and raced out the back door. The backyard firefighter team made group gestures that I interpreted as ‘get the hell out of here and let us do our job, ma’am’.

I zigzagged through the first responder obstacle course to my car, blinded by the strobing lights. Lilly spurted fresh tears and held out her arms for Riot. We watched in silence as the flames soared into the sky.


Excerpt from The Torching by Kerry Peresta. Copyright 2023 by Kerry Peresta. Reproduced with permission from Kerry Peresta. All rights reserved.


Author Bio:

Kerry Peresta is the author of the Olivia Callahan Suspense series. "The Torching," book three, releases March, 2023, and books four and five in 2024 and 2025. Her standalone suspense thriller, "Back Before Dawn," releases May, 2023. Additional writing credits include a popular newspaper and e-zine humor column, “The Lighter Side,” (2009—2011); the short story “The Day the Migraine Died,” published in Rock, Roll, and Ruin: A Triangle Sisters in Crime Anthology, articles published in Local Life Magazine, The Bluffton Breeze, Lady Lowcountry, and Island Events Magazine. She is past chapter president of the Maryland Writers’ Association and a current member and presenter of the Pat Conroy Literary Center, Hilton Head Island Writers’ Network, South Carolina Writers Association, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. Kerry is the mother of four adult children, and spent thirty years in advertising as an account manager, creative director, copywriter, and editor. When she's not writing, you'll find her working out, riding her bike or kayaking, enjoying the beaches of Hilton Head Island, or cuddling her two cats, Agnes and Felix. She and her husband moved to Hilton Head Island in 2015.

Catch Up With Kerry Peresta:
BookBub - @kerryperesta
Instagram - @kerryperesta
Twitter - @kerryperesta
Facebook - @klperesta


Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaway entries!
Click here to view The Torching by Kerry Peresta Tour Hosts.


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.)

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Disruptive Thinking by T D Jakes with Nick Chiles Book Review

About the Book:

Think differently and find the courage to challenge the status quo with this mindset-shifting guide to meaningful change. 

For most of our lives, we are encouraged to trudge along the well-worn paths of those who have come before us. We learn the rules – in our families, in our schools, in our workplaces, in our churches – and most of the messages we receive tell us that following the rules will allow us to arrive at the lives we desire. 
But when change becomes not only desirable but also urgently necessary, this way of being no longer serves us. In fact, in every human endeavor, every major leap forward, has involved a cataclysmic challenge to existing ways of thinking and being. Breakthroughs, by definition, run against the grain and almost always encounter skepticism and opposition. 
In this book for leaders, thinkers, doers, and creators, Bishop T.D. Jakes illuminates the pathway to encouraging and unleashing disruptive thinking and provides the wisdom and practical skills we need to evolve our most original and potentially transformational ideas from vision to reality. Through his insight into how our minds and emotions work and through his experiences as a pastor, entrepreneur, and creator, Bishop Jakes leads us into a new way of relating to and transforming the world around us for good. Disruptive Thinking will show you the mindset and the tools you need to create groundbreaking and meaningful change in your own life and in the world around you.

My Review:

Jakes gives encouragement to become a change agent, to get beyond past hurts and pain, to grasp opportunities and turn them into change. If you are miserable, he writes, change your life. Don't stay where you are. Make choices.

In addition to encouragement, Jakes gives some helpful advice. He writes about developing a vision and getting all the information you need to create a business or nonprofit organization. Be flexible, he says. Be willing to move out of your comfort zone. Find partners to bring your vision to life. It may not be an easy path. “Disruptive thinking has to climb over the hurdles of unlikely alliances, initial discomfort, and possible misunderstandings, and find solutions that work.” (684/3019) He give tips on being a leader and ends his book with stories of people who have made a difference in the world through disruptive thinking.

If you are ready to change your thinking, this book is good encouragement. Jakes will help you discover what is holding you back and encourage you to move forward.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Authors:

Bishop T. D. Jakes
 is one of the world’s most widely recognized pastors and a New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books. Named by Time magazine as “America’s Best Preacher,” his message of healing and restoration is unparalleled, transcending cultural and denominational barriers. Jakes is the founder and senior pastor of The Potter’s House, which has a congregation of more than 30,000. His weekly television outreach, The Potter’s House, and his daily television program, The Potter’s Touch, have become favorites throughout America, Africa, Australia, Europe, and the Caribbean. Jakes lives in Dallas, Texas, with his wife, Serita. Learn more about Bishop Jakes at and

Nick Chiles has distinguished himself as both a bestselling author and an award-winning journalist. He has had four books on the New York Times bestsellers list. He has won over a dozen major journalism awards, including a 1992 Pulitzer Prize as part of a New York Newsday team covering a fatal subway crash. Chiles has a B.A. from Yale University and an MFA from the University of Georgia, where he is a professor of journalism. He currently resides in Athens, GA, with his wife, Sadiqa Chiles.

FaithWords, 272 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Partners in Crime Book Tours. 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, May 27, 2023

How to Read a Tree by Tristan Gooley Book Review

About the Book:

New York Times
–bestselling author Tristan Gooley opens our eyes to the secret language of trees—and the natural wonders they reveal all around us

Trees are keen to tell us so much. They’ll tell us about the land, the water, the people, the animals, the weather, and time. And they will tell us about their lives, the good bits and bad. Trees tell a story, but only to those who know how to read it.

How to Read a Tree, Gooley uncovers the clues hiding in plain sight: in a tree’s branches and leaves; its bark, buds, and flowers; even its stump. Leaves with a pale, central streak mean that water is nearby. Young, low-growing branches show that a tree is struggling. And reddish or purple bark signals new growth.

Like snowflakes, no two trees are exactly the same. Every difference reveals the epic story 
this tree has lived—if we stop to look closely.

My Review:

Just about everything you would ever want to know about trees is in this book. Gooley emphasizes what you can learn about your environment from trees. Noting their growth patter, you can use them as a compass, for example. Location and kind of trees will tell you where to find water.

There is also a great deal about trees in general. One can look for marks on the bark that look like “eyes” to see where a tree has self pruned, branches dying and falling off, generally on the southern side of the tree. There is information about how the wind affects trees, how a tree controls an infection, what the shape of the tree means, and more. I was surprised to find out roots can spread out two and a half times the width of the tree's canopy and are generally shallow.

This is not a book to identify or understand specific trees. It is about trees in general with information about bark, branches, leaves and more. I do wish there had been more illustrations and some photos. Gooley's writing style is good as he includes personal experiences and observations.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author:

Tristan Gooley
is a writer and natural navigator. His passion for the subject of natural navigation stems from his hands-on experience. He has led expeditions in five continents, climbed mountains in Europe, Africa and Asia, sailed small boats across oceans and piloted small aircraft to Africa and the Arctic. He is the only living person to have both flown solo and sailed singlehandedly across the Atlantic, and he is a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Navigation and the Royal Geographical Society. He and his school can be found online at

The Experiment (Hachette Book Group), 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.)

Friday, May 26, 2023

The Keys to Gramercy Park by Candice Sue Patterson Blog Tour Book Review

About the Book

Book: The Keys to Gramercy Park

Author: Candice Sue Patterson

Genre: Christian / Historical / Romance

Release date: April, 2023

Secrets Sealed Within a Wall Come to Light in Lower Manhattan

Walk through Doors to the Past via a new series of historical stories of romance and adventure.

Investigative historical journalist Andrea Andrews is tired of waiting tables to make ends meet. If she could find and write the next breakout story, she could secure a promotion with Smithsonian Magazine as their writer-at-large. But not much happens in lower Manhattan out of the ordinary until she discovers post-Civil War counterfeit bills hidden in the wall of her historic district apartment.

Politics have always been Beau Davidson-Quincy’s passion, despite his family’s real estate empire. His clean image and single status make him a target in the media as he prepares to build his campaign for New York governor. He has nothing to hide until a cute waitress unravels a mystery that could destroy his family’s reputation.

Two centuries earlier, wounded Civil War veteran Franklin Davidson lost everything—his house, his wife, his standing in society. In his darkest moment, he’s awarded a position with the newly formed Secret Service to combat the spread of counterfeit U.S. currency. His life and new home in Gramercy Park are the envy of his peers, but nothing is as it seems. Secrets are meant to be kept, and Franklin will take his to his grave.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

I enjoyed this entertaining and informative dual time novel. The contemporary story is a good romance. The historical story is quite informative about the Secret Service investigating counterfeiters. I had no idea the Secret Service was initially formed for that purpose as there was a great deal of counterfeit money circulating after the Civil War. It was not until after the assassination of President McKinley that the Service began concentrating on protecting the President.

Patterson's writing style is good. I appreciate how she related the historical events to the current day story. I also appreciated the exploration of journalists who investigate historical mysteries and how their stories help us not only understand the past but the present too. I did feel the political aspect of the contemporary story was a bit unrealistic.

This is a fine novel for readers who like a good romance that includes interesting historical information and a good faith message.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


About the Author

Candice Sue Patterson studied at the Institute of Children’s Literature and is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three sons in a restored farmhouse overtaken by books. When she’s not tending to her chickens, splitting wood, or decorating cakes, she’s working on a new story. Candice writes Modern Vintage Romance—where the past and present collide with faith. Her debut novel How to Charm a Beekeeper’s Heart was a 2012 ACFW First Impressions finalist and made INSPYs Longlist for 2016.

More from Candice

A locked secret garden in Manhattan with historical significance and the only ones privileged to step inside are the wealthy residents who purchase a key—count me in! The plot for The Keys to Gramercy Park was born at our dining room table when my husband looked up from the book he was reading and asked if I knew about Gramercy Park. I hadn’t, so we started Googling and discovered it was a real garden in Manhattan built in 1841 for the cream of society. The fact that it’s been off-limits to the public for one hundred and eight-two years instantly brought all kinds of story ideas to my mind.

Not long after, I discovered that Barbour Publishing Inc. was looking for dual-time stories to fill their Doors to the Past series. I love reading dual-time novels but I’d never written one. I love a good challenge, so I began plotting and before I knew it, I had another first—creating a villain.

I’ve only ever seen the New York City skyline from the New Jersey ferry that travels to and from the Statue of Liberty, so after the story was contracted, I spent several weeks researching Manhattan and Gramercy Park. New York is full of rich history and it was so fun to stumble across the historical details of The Player’s, Edwin Booth, and the stories behind each home along Gramercy Square.

One of my favorite things about writing this story was the juxtaposition of the timelines. We don’t have the present without the past, and what happens in the past affects the future, but the future can also determine how we view, feel, and learn about the past. That’s essentially what The Keys to Gramercy Park is about—the butterfly effect of past events reaching ahead two centuries with dire consequences. I love how in one scene the characters are sending telegraphs and in the next scene, they’re sending text messages.

What’s your favorite thing about dual-time novels? Make sure to check out the other books in the Doors to the Past series!

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, May 26

lakesidelivingsite, May 26

Melissa’s Bookshelf, May 27

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, May 27

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 28

Blogging With Carol, May 28

Book Looks by Lisa, May 29

Connie’s History Classroom, May 29

Texas Book-aholic, May 30

For Him and My Family, May 30

Cover Lover Book Review, May 31

Where Faith and Books Meet, May 31

Locks, Hooks and Books, June 1

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 2

Blossoms and Blessings, June 2

Remembrancy, June 3

Holly’s Book Corner, June 3

Tell Tale Book Reviews, June 4

Pause for Tales, June 4

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, June 5 (Author Interview)

Mary Hake, June 5

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, June 6

Inklings and Notions, June 6

Simple Harvest Reads, June 7 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Labor Not in Vain, June 7

She Lives To Read, June 8

Books I’ve Read, June 8

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.)