Monday, January 29, 2024

The Committee Will Kill You Now by J L Lycette Blog Tour Book Review


The Committee Will Kill You Now

by JL Lycette

January 22 - February 16, 2024 Virtual Book Tour


The gripping new book from the author of The Algorithm Will See You Now. Based on the true-life rationing of kidney dialysis in 1960s America, a medical intern in 1992 Seattle tries to leave his painful past behind, only to uncover a shocking truth of thirty years prior and the lasting, generational harm of hidden secrets…

After a co-intern dies by suicide, a grieving Noah Meier commits an accidental error. In a desperate move to save his patient's life, he covertly seeks help from audacious surgical resident Marah Maddox, igniting a bond between them.

When the hospital is suspiciously quick to sweep everything under the rug, Noah turns to his late father's journal for guidance and makes a chilling discovery, all while trying to stay out of the crosshairs of abusive Dr. Rankel, keen to make an example of Noah. Worse, Rankel clearly has it out for Marah as the only woman in her program.

As the hospital's patriarchal power structures, and the truth about his father's past, threaten Noah and Marah's burgeoning relationship, Noah will have to choose: shoulder his father's devastating legacy or create his own daring future.

The latest sensational page-turner from physician-author JL Lycette, The Committee Will Kill You Now is a riveting historical suspense about the inner workings of the medical world and the personal struggles of those within it.

A thrilling near-historical drama that exposes the dark side of the medical establishment and a must-read for anyone interested in medicine, ethics, and the human struggle for justice.

Praise for The Committee Will Kill You Now:

"A page-turner with heart, The Committee Will Kill You Now will appeal to both doctors and non-doctors alike, and to anyone who’s ever needed to find the courage to stand up for what’s right."
~ Hadley Leggett, MD, author of All They Ask Is Everything

The Committee Will Kill You Now Trailer:

My Review:

This is an entertaining and disturbingly informative novel. I had no idea of the pressure people endured going through residency programs. Sleep deprivation was a problem and could cause errors in decision making. Lycette herself went through the program partially before changes were made so she writes from experience. In this novel she also includes the pressure to protect the system, even if at the potential cost of human life.

Another major issue in this novel concerns experimental life saving techniques. There were times when decisions had be made as to who would be accepted into programs and have life and who would be left out, assuring death soon. I appreciate Lycette's end notes so much, verifying the historical facts upon which she has constructed her novel.

I recommend this novel, especially to those who enjoy medical thrillers. While there is not suspense as such, there is certainly an intensity to the plot. Lycette's writing style is captivating as she relates the dangers of the way residency programs historically functioned.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

You can read my review of Lycette's first novel, The Algorithm Will See You Now.

Book Details:

Genre: Medical Fiction, Medical Suspense
Published by: Black Rose Writing Press
Publication Date: November 2023
Number of Pages: 300
ISBN: 9781685133122 (ISBN10: 1685133126)
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | | Goodreads | Black Rose Writing Press

Read an excerpt:


April 27, 1992
Seattle, WA

The hospital had a saying—you came to work unless you were dead.

Apparently, being dead on the inside didn’t count.

The latter, which Noah had quipped months ago at intern orientation, hadn’t earned him any points with Dr. Artie Andrews, the Program Director. Although his peers had laughed, and he supposed that mattered most.

Humor, his stalwart companion, was nowhere to be found these days. His pre-med-school self, who’d studied literature and philosophy and naively believed medicine a noble art, had become a distant memory. For interns, the drudgery of bodies had become their entire existence—how much their patients pissed, shit, vomited, or bled. Plato could wax all he liked about the separation of body and soul, but most days, Noah had to struggle to even remember his patients had souls, let alone find time to doctor them. Hell, most days, he was pretty sure his own soul had shriveled up and died a few months ago. It had been somewhere around the halfway point of his internship year, when a patient had died and he’d felt nothing when he’d crossed their name off his list. Only another body.

But he had no time for such thoughts this morning. Noah mentally shoved the memory back into its compartment, physically shoved his notes into the pocket of his short white coat, and headed off the Gen Med ward to make his way to Monday morning Resident Report. It didn’t matter he’d been up all night, mandatory was mandatory.

Before he got two steps from the nurses’ station, the sharp voice of Kathy, the ward secretary, rang out from behind her desk. “Dr. Meier, wait. Sign this before you go.”

Noah suppressed the urge to glance over his shoulder, where he instinctively expected to see Dr. Thomas Meier, gifted surgeon, renowned academic—and his late father. Accepting the chart Kathy shoved under his nose, he signed off on the orders he’d missed on his 6:00 A.M. admission. That’s what sleep deprivation did to you.

Behind him, the never-ending rain of the Seattle winter clattered on the windows, fraying his already heightened nerves. He scribbled his name and the time and date—7:50 A.M., 4/27/92.

He handed the chart back, his body already angling away, but Kathy’s voice stopped him in his tracks. “Any update on when Dr. Doherty will be back?”

Noah’s sleep-fogged brain was slow to process her words. “Jasmine Doherty?”

Kathy bobbed her head, the chain attached to her reading glasses glinting as it looped around her neck beneath her permed hair.

Noah squinted at her. A part of his overtaxed brain urged him to catch up with his team or risk being late, something heavily frowned upon, but his curiosity won. “Jasmine’s out?”

Interns didn’t take sick days.

Kathy finished transcribing Noah’s signed orders from the chart and deftly shelved the heavy plastic binder back on the rack before answering with a shrug.

Did this have something to do with the free HIV testing for the homeless project that Noah, Jasmine, and a few of the other interns had been trying to start? The project Dr. Andrews had warned would risk distracting them from their required hospital duties? Had Jasmine gone down to the homeless camp and been delayed? Noah dismissed the uneasy feeling in his gut and said something to appease Kathy. “Maybe she had a family emergency.”

The ward secretary gave him a skeptical glance.

Noah countered with a conspiratorial grin, wielding his familiar shield, humor. “If you don’t already know what’s going on, Kathy, I’m sure you will by noon.”

She rolled her eyes and made a shooing motion with her hands, but he didn’t miss the pleased expression that flashed across her face.

His grin, a shallow thing that didn’t penetrate his hollow core, lingered as he grabbed his coffee and jogged off toward the elevators to catch up with his team, comprising his senior resident, Harper Li, and his co-intern, Colleen Peterson.

Noah found them both outside the University hospital’s east-wing elevators. The early morning light filtered through the stained-glass windows beneath the lobby atrium’s vaulted ceiling, bestowing a halo around them. The sight of his colleagues buoyed his spirits. All he had to do was get through these last few months of internship. Then he’d be able to start practicing more of the medicine he wanted to practice, like bringing free HIV testing to the homeless population. Once they got through internship, they’d become people again instead of indentured servants of the hospital.

From her rumpled scrubs and frizzier-than-usual red hair, Colleen’s call night had been no better than his. They’d been so swamped with admissions he’d hardly seen his co-intern all night. She mumbled to herself, shuffling her index cards. Her freckles stood out on her paler-than-usual face, making her appear even younger than her age, which was somewhere in her mid-twenties. Internship had given the opposite gift to Noah—premature aging. At twenty-eight, gray hairs already sprouted at his temples. Perhaps the only thing he’d inherited from his father, according to his mom, at least.

He closed his eyes and pressed his fingers to them. His father had been too much on his mind of late. The staff calling him “doctor” only spiked his lifelong anxiety about not measuring up. After all, Noah hadn’t yet earned the long white coat of a second-year resident.

It was those damn boxes his mom had asked him to help move last weekend out of the attic of her historic, steep-gabled home on Queen Anne hill. The boxes where he’d discovered his father’s old journal. The journal he’d never known existed and had spontaneously grabbed, tossing it in his car even though he told himself he’d never read it. It would be a waste of time —

“You ready?”

Noah dropped his hand from his eyes.

Harper didn’t wait for an answer before pressing the elevator button. By unspoken agreement, they only allowed themselves the luxury of passive motion in the depths of post-call morning exhaustion—when they’d been on duty over twenty-four hours straight and still had twelve hours to go.

While they waited, Noah had to stop himself from attempting to smooth down some of Colleen’s wild hair. Instead, he held up his coffee, and they touched their paper cups together in a silent toast that acknowledged their mutual suffering. The last time he’d tried to touch Colleen’s hair had earned him the outrage of both the women on his team. He’d meant nothing by it, only he’d come to think of Colleen as the younger sister he’d never had and always wanted. He imagined the close bonds he and his co-interns had formed in the pressure-cooker of residency to be similar to siblings.

This past month on Harper’s service had been one of Noah’s most rewarding of the year. He’d found a mentor, instructor, big sister, and friend in her, all wrapped up in one. He didn’t want the month to end, as it would mean moving on to be assigned to a different R3.

Harper leaned close to speak in his ear in a low voice. “The announcements should come any day.”

Noah shot a glance toward Colleen, but she was fretting over her notes and didn’t appear to have heard. His heart rate sped up. Did everyone know how much he wanted an invitation to the prestigious Osler Society? Or only Harper, the first female member and arguably the most brilliant. Did her words mean he had a shot?

There was the national medical honor society, Alpha Omega Alpha, and then there was Dr. Artie Andrews’ Osler Society, or as it was known around the hospital, “the Society.”

Andrews had started it two decades ago, and it had attained near-mythical status at their university teaching hospital. Any intern or junior resident inducted into the Society would get their top fellowship or faculty placement choice. It had been no surprise to anyone when they’d inducted Harper as an intern.

But no one on the outside knew what actually transpired at their meetings. Noah had asked Harper once, but she’d only muttered, “Primum non nocere.”

“First do no harm?” Noah had asked. “But isn’t that what all of Medicine is about?”

“Yeah, but with Artie, it’s… different,” she had said and shrugged. “It’s hard to explain.”

Noah envisioned them all sitting around Andrews’ office, pontificating about the art of medicine and quoting Latin to each other. Pretentious academics. He’d rather let an E.R. nurse shove a 14-gauge I.V. in the back of his hand. But he wasn’t fooling himself. He wanted to be a part of it, more than anything. To belong. To prove it to the one person he never could. His father.


Excerpt from The Committee Will Kill You Now by JL Lycette. Copyright 2023 by JL Lycette. Reproduced with permission from JL Lycette. All rights reserved.


Author Bio:

Jennifer / JL Lycette is a novelist, award-winning essayist, rural physician, wife, and mom. Mid-career, she discovered narrative medicine on her path back from physician burnout and has been writing ever since. She is an alumna of the 2019 Pitch Wars Novel Mentoring program. Her first novel, The Algorithm Will See You Now, was a 2023 SCREENCRAFT CINEMATIC BOOK COMPETITION FINALIST, 2023 READER'S FAVORITE BRONZE MEDAL WINNER in the Medical Thriller category, 2023 MAXY AWARD'S FINALIST - Thriller category, and 2023 PAGE TURNER AWARD'S FINALIST - Best Debut Novel category. The Committee Will Kill You Now is her second novel.

Catch Up With Jennifer:
BookBub - @JL_Lycette
Instagram - @jl_lycette


Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, author features, and opportunities to WIN in the giveaway!
Click here to view The Committee Will Kill You Now 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, January 28, 2024

Exiles by Preston Sprinkle Book Review

About the Book:

A thoughtful exploration of the intersection of faith and politics, Exiles asks: What if we considered ourselves “exiles in Babylon” and turned to Scripture, not political parties, to shape our most passionate values?
Politics are dividing our churches like never before. New York Times–bestselling author Dr. Preston M. Sprinkle reminds us that the first-century church was not an apolitical gathering, where Christians left their Roman politics at the door. It also wasn’t a place where Christians mounted a Roman flag next to—or above—a Christian one. Church was a place where God’s plan for governing the world was revealed, where one could witness what it means to follow the Creator’s design for human flourishing.
In this timely book, Preston explores why:

  • Israel’s exile to Babylon profoundly shaped the political identity of God’s people—and still does today.

  • Christians should see themselves as foreigners in the country where they live.

  • The gospel of Jesus’ kingdom was politically subversive.

  • The church today should view its political identity as fundamentally separate from the empire.

Total allegiance to a political party dilutes the church’s witness. Discover a more biblical, powerful way to live in a secular world. Discover what it means to live in exile.

You can watch the book trailer here. This book releases March 5, 2024.

My Review:

How does the church engage the world? Sprinkle argues the exile in Babylon is an example of how Christians are to be in this world. He gives us much to think about in living under God's rule in a Babylonian world, exiles in a foreign empire. He explores three approaches: detachment, transformation, and prophetic witness.

We are encouraged to soak ourselves in Scripture and let it be the lens as to how we view earthly politics. Our views are to be formed by what God says on matters rather than trying to put a Christian-ish rational on already formed political opinions. “Whatever involvement Christians have with the kingdoms of this world, we must live as people who belong to a different kingdom empowered by sacrifice, forgiveness, reconciliation and enemy love.” (143)

We don't see the church resisting empire by collaborating with who they think are the best rulers of the empire.” (149) Sprinkle notes that when the church has become too enmeshed with the state's power, it has not gone well. (158) Also, Christians should be nauseated when we hear one political party dehumanizing another. (176)

I highly recommend this book. Sprinkle gives Christians much to think about in how we engage our world, especially politics. This would be a good book for a church adult education class. It would stimulate much personal reflection and lively discussion. He left me with the hope that this November, whoever gets elected in the USA, Christ is still king.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

About the Author:

New York Timesbestselling author Dr. Preston M. Sprinkle has written more than a dozen books. He serves as the president of the Center for Faith, Sexuality & Gender and the host of the Theology in the Raw podcast.

David C Cook, 225 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

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

Saturday, January 27, 2024

When the Waters Came by Candice Sue Patterson Blog Tour Book Review

About the Book

Book: When the Waters Came

Author: Candice Sue Patterson

Genre: Christian/Historical/Romance

Release Date: January, 2024

An act of greed or an act of God?

Introducing a new series of 6 exciting novels featuring historic American disasters that transformed landscapes and multiple lives. Whether by nature or by man, these disasters changed history and were a day to be remembered.

Pastor Montgomery Childs has tended his flock in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, for two years. While his pews are full every Sunday, he most desires to see a reckoning between God and the kings of industry who recreate on Lake Conemaugh. The pleasure grounds, flowing alcohol, and business dealings of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club taunts Monty as he works to heal the wounds inflicted from his own privileged childhood among Pittsburgh society. Like Noah, Monty prays against the evil surrounding him, but he never expects God to send a flood.

It takes five days for the Red Cross to respond to the Johnstown flood disaster, but when it does, Annamae Worthington is ready to help. Apprenticing under Clara Barton has prepared her for the job, but nothing can prepare her for the death and destruction that awaits. As if the survivors haven’t suffered enough, typhoid fever ravages the town, resurfacing suppressed emotions regarding her father’s death.

Narrowly surviving the flood and the horrifying things he’s witnessed, Monty’s faith is floundering. Then a Red Cross nurse puts him to work helping with the typhoid fever victims arriving at the hospital tents every hour. Monty and Annamae work together distributing disinfectants and supplies, housing orphans, and serving those left behind. Slowly, his faith resurfaces. A kinship forms between them neither can ignore. But when an investigation into the collapsed dam points to the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club, secrets emerge that may tear them apart.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

Patterson gives readers a look at the days after the dam breaking, creating several personal stories. The tragedy of the event is shown by the loss of loved ones so many suffered. Many volunteers came to help, including Clara Barton and several medical people, despite the very real threat of typhoid from the contaminated water. In contrast to the volunteers were others who came trying to find trinkets in the mud, souvenirs of the tragedy.

As is often the case after a disaster like this one, people tried to assign blame. Some suggested it was a natural result of the torrential rains, rains that came frequently. Others wanted to blame dam construction and lack of repair diligence by the sporting club that benefited from the dam. Yet others firmly declared the disaster to be a judgmental act of God.

The resilience of people is shown by the determination to live on, focusing on what could be done each day to rise above the tragedy. There is also an emphasis placed on romance. This new series of novels highlighting natural disasters is off to a good start and I'll be watching for the next one

My rating: 4/5 stars.


About the Author

Candice Sue Patterson studied at The Institute of Children’s Literature and is an elementary librarian. 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, snuggling with her Great Pyrenees, or helping children discover books they love, she’s working on a new story. Candice writes Modern Vintage Romance–where the past and present collide with faith. For more on Candice and her books, visit

More from Candace

On May 30, 1889, the industrious residents of Johnstown, Pennsylvania fell into slumber to the sound of rain pattering their rooftops, unaware that, for many, it would be their last night on earth. This was the thought I carried with me through the entire journey of writing When the Waters Came. Every survivor’s account of that day, every loss, every miracle, every emotion will stick with me for years to come.

My first knowledge of the Johnstown Flood came several years ago when I watched The Men Who Built America in its first airing on the History Channel. The idea that so great a loss of life could’ve easily been prevented by some of the richest men in the world strummed an invisible chord inside me. I remember looking at my husband and saying, “I’m going to write a book about it someday.”

A few more years went by and each time I sat down to plot a new story idea, Johnstown whispered across my heart, but the timing wasn’t right. Then, in 2021, I was shopping at our local community book fair and stumbled upon a first edition of History of the Johnstown Flood, Illustrated by Willis Fletcher Johnson, published in 1889, months after the disaster. Not meaning to sound hokey, I felt as if God handed me the book Himself and confirmed He wanted me to write this story. The next year, at the same book fair, I found a first edition of The Life of Clara Barton by Percy H. Epler, published in 1919. It contained transcripts of her journals and correspondence, some specifically mentioning the Red Cross and her role in aiding the survivors of the Johnstown flood. Once again, I felt that God had provided all the material I would need to tell my tale. Then, in 2022, when my publisher reached out looking for proposals for a new series centered on disasters, I knew the time had come to remind folks of that tragic day.

I’ll be honest, I shed a lot of tears during my research. The accounts are heartbreaking. But the faith and determination in some of those accounts are inspiring as well. Many of the characters in When the Waters Came are real survivors of the flood, and Clara Barton, herself, walks on and off the pages throughout the story.

In May 2023, a month before I turned the manuscript in to my publisher, my husband and I traveled nine hours to Johnstown to experience what we could for ourselves and to make sure my historical facts were correct. I stood where the South Fork Dam once did. I imagined the roar of the water as the dam crumbled. I toured the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club clubhouse, where America’s elite once recreated. I stood at Colonel Unger’s homestead where he’d stood that fateful day, powerless to reinforce the dam and save the folks in Johnstown below. I walked the rows of 777 graves in Grandview Cemetery honoring the unidentified bodies that were rescued. I thought of all the lost loved ones never found.

Where the retelling of the Johnstown Flood is hard and tragic, I also packed the story with plenty of faith, hope, and love to give readers a well-balanced experience. For on-site videos, behind-the-writing-scenes info, and more details about the Johnstown Flood, subscribe to my newsletter and follow me on Facebook and Instagram.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, January 27

Devoted To Hope, January 27

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 28

Tell Tale Book Reviews, January 29

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 30

Mary Hake, January 30

Texas Book-aholic, January 31

Locks, Hooks and Books, February 1

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, February 2

She Lives To Read, February 3

Blossoms and Blessings, February 3

Simple Harvest Reads, February 4 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Cover Lover Book Review, February 5

Book Looks by Lisa, February 5

Life on Chickadee Lane, February 6

Pause for Tales, February 6

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, February 7

For Him and My Family, February 8

Connie’s History Classroom, February 9

To Everything There Is A Season , February 9

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.)

Friday, January 26, 2024

Cold Threat by Nancy Mehl Blog Tour Book Review

Cold Threat

by Nancy Mehl

January 22 - February 2, 2024 Virtual Book Tour


Twenty years ago, several people were murdered in Des Moines, and the only evidence left behind was a snowman ornament hanging ominously on a tree in the victims' front lawns. With a suspect behind bars, the killings have come to an end--or so everyone thought. But now crimes with a similar MO are happening in a small Iowa town, and a local detective believes the killer is back and ready to strike again.

With little time left on the clock before they have another murder on their hands, private investigators River Ryland and Tony St. Clair must work alongside Tony's detective father to find evidence that will uncover an evil that has survived far too long. As the danger mounts and the suspect closes in, it will take all they have to catch a killer--before he catches one of them.

My Review:

This is the second novel in a series and like the first one, has as much about the characters and personal lives of the investigators as it does solving a murder. The novel includes quite a bit of character thought and dialogue about previous events in their lives and how they are dealing with them. This novel also includes a very clear and prominent Christian message of faith.

Mehl covers several issues in this novel including whether Christians should be in law enforcement and how God might give us information through dreams. Forgiveness is also an important topic.

While there are hints of danger included, there is little suspense until the very end. Most of the investigative part of the story deals with River and Tony creating a profile while visiting his parents and helping his father solve an old murder. The murderer may again be active so the investigative duo is under pressure to identify the villain before more die.

This is a good novel for readers who like one focusing on the characters as much or more than the investigative work involved. I am invested in the ongoing story of River and Tony and the possibility of a budding romance so will be looking for the next in the series.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

You can read my review of the first book in this series, Cold Pursuit. 

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense
Published by: Bethany House Publishers
Publication Date: January 2024
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 978-0764240461 (ISBN10: 0764240463)
Series: Ryland & St. Clair, 2
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | | Goodreads | Baker Book House

Read an excerpt:



I watched as fire devoured the house as if it were a living, breathing monster, ravenous for death and destruction. It took effort not to smile as I observed the fire department desperately trying to quench the ferocious flames, the firefighters slipping and sliding on the snow and ice. But winter is no match for me. They would lose this fight. The nightmare has just begun. Inside they will find my Christmas offering. Those whom I’d judged and executed. The beast was at my command and would destroy any evidence that could lead to me.

“It’s perfect,” she whispered. “I love it.”

I smiled at her. “It was a long time coming.”

“But you did it. I’m so proud of you.”

I had to blink away the sudden tears that filled my eyes.

“Shouldn’t we leave?”

I nodded. She was right. At some point, the police would arrive and would most certainly look through the people gathered across the street since many times those who set fires like to watch their creations dance and light up the night. They might even take pictures. This was the only time I felt comfortable hanging around for a few minutes—­before anyone had time to scan the crowd. This was important. The first. My debut performance.

I’d just turned to leave when a couple of police cars pulled up, lights flashing, their blue-and-red beams cutting through the night and the falling snow. I walked down the street, hidden behind a curtain of white. I stopped to watch as they exited their vehicles. The sight only added to my excitement. Two officers approached the fire department chief. As they talked, another officer stood on the sidewalk, staring at the structure that was being consumed. Suddenly, he shouted and pointed up toward the second floor. I had to walk back to see why. I stood behind a tree, trying not to look suspicious. That was when I saw it. A face peering through one of the windows.

“Oh no,” she said, her voice breaking. “How did you miss her?”

The officer who’d spotted the unthinkable began to run toward the front door, but two firefighters grabbed him and held him back while another one grabbed a ladder and put it up against the house. It was clearly a child staring at them, her eyes wide with fear. They tried to climb toward her, but it was impossible. The flames from the first floor blocked their way. I felt a wave of anger. She had defiled my righteous mission. I fought to push back my rage. I had no desire to hurt a child. She shouldn’t have hidden from me. I would have kept her safe. I sighed in frustration. This was her fault. Now all of us would have to watch as she died. There wasn’t anything I could do. I felt the urge to leave, but the police were concentrating on her. No one was focused on the crowd, so I risked staying a minute or two longer.

Suddenly I heard a shout and saw the police officer who’d tried to enter earlier suddenly run toward the compromised house and through the front door before anyone could stop him. What a fool. The monster I’d created was too strong. Now there would be two additional lives sacrificed. This wasn’t my mission. Only the guilty were supposed to die. I consoled myself with the knowledge that the blame was theirs. Not mine.

“Maybe he’ll get her out,” she said quietly.

I didn’t respond. I knew she was upset. I couldn’t find the words to tell her that it was too late for both of them.

Part of the house collapsed on the other side, away from the window where the child still stood. Everyone watched in horror. Two firefighters started to follow the officer into the house, but their chief called them back. It was clear they were frustrated, yet the chief obviously thought it was too dangerous for them to enter. He’d probably already written off the officer and the child.

“It’s not your fault.”

“I know,” I said.

I waited for the rest of the structure to fall, but as we all watched, the unbelievable happened. The police officer ran out of the house, something in his arms wrapped up in a blanket. A firefighter ran over to take the bundle from him as the rest of the building collapsed. The officer fell to the ground. I could see his burns from here. It looked as if the cloth from his shirt had melted to his skin and part of his dark hair had burned away. Now he would always remember this night. I felt no anger toward him. Truthfully, I was relieved that the child had a chance. I’d still accomplished my mission. This was a lesson learned. I had checked out the couple carefully, and I’d watched the house. Hadn’t seen any evidence of a child. Still, I’d missed something important. I would never make this mistake again.

She sighed with relief. “I’m so glad she’s okay.”

A thought suddenly struck me. I hadn’t seen the child, but had she seen me? Was she now a liability to my mission? As soon as the thought came, I dismissed it. She’d been hiding. Trying to make sure I couldn’t find her. She would have been too afraid to look at me knowing I might see her too. Besides, she was so young no one would take her seriously anyway. Even if she had caught a glimpse of me, soon I would look very different. I breathed a deep sigh of relief. I was safe.

The firefighters began treating the girl and the officer until an ambulance roared up. It was time to leave. I pulled my jacket tighter and let the darkness and the dancing flakes shroud me as I slipped away, but not before I glanced at the snowman ornament hanging on the tree planted near the sidewalk.

As I walked away, I couldn’t help but sing softly, “Frosty the snowman . . .”



River Ryland stared at her phone, willing it to ring. Unfortunately, it seemed it didn’t respond well to mental telepathy. The pastor at the church she’d started attending with Tony had taught on faith yesterday. He’d brought up Mark 11:24 and Philippians 4:6. From what she could understand, faith was something you needed before your prayers were answered. As a child, she’d listened to her father preach, but he’d never mentioned anything like that. His sermons had been about sin and judgment. How to stay pure. Which was laughable since he ran off with the church’s secretary and left his daughter, son, and wife behind, humiliated and without any way to survive financially.

As she continued to eye her phone, she wondered if she should start believing that God would bring more clients to Watson Investigations. Was it okay to have faith for something like that? It was clear that faith was important to God, but she didn’t want to treat Him like some kind of genie in a lamp who would bring her whatever she asked for. What was His will, and what was selfishness? She sighed quietly. Life with God was proving to be interesting.

She glanced over at her partner, Tony St. Clair, and asked herself the question she’d posed so many times. What was he doing here? She’d had to leave the FBI. Severe PTSD had made it impossible for her to continue working as a behavioral analyst. Tony had been shot by the Salt River Strangler, the serial killer who’d tried to kill her, and was still dealing with some of the aftereffects. Even so, he could have gone back to work. Instead, he talked her into starting this detective agency. They’d only had two cases so far. The results had been positive. One case had to do with teachers at a local high school selling drugs—­something they stumbled across. The teachers were arrested, and the drug trade shut down. No paying client with that one. The other case had been pro bono. They’d solved that too. Thankfully, someone connected with the case—­not their client—­had given them a generous stipend. But how long would that last without some new cases? Was asking herself that question a lack of faith? She really didn’t know the answer.

Tony’s long legs were crossed, his feet up on his desk. He was leaning back in his chair, writing in a notebook. He reminded her of Benedict Cumberbatch. His curly dark hair was longer than most FBI agents had worn their hair. His long eyelashes sheltered eyes that sometimes looked blue and other times appeared to be gray. Tony was an enigma. A handsome man who never dated. He used to. Before the shooting. There were definitely some women at church who had him in their sights, but he clearly wasn’t interested. Of course, she wasn’t dating either. Didn’t want to. Right now, she just wanted to figure out who God wanted her to be. It was hard to believe He needed a private investigator. She didn’t see that among the gifts listed in the Bible.

“Okay, God,” River whispered. “I’m asking You to make this agency successful. I thank You for hearing me. And . . .” She gulped. “And I thank You for our new cases.” There. She shook her head. Weird, but Pastor Mason would be proud of her. She jumped when Tony’s phone rang.

River listened closely. If this was a case . . . Well, Pastor Mason also said something about patience. Surely answers to prayer didn’t happen this quickly. If so, she should have started praying this way a long time ago.

“Slow down, Dad,” Tony said. “I’m not sure I understand.”

River was almost relieved that it was Tony’s father. If it actually had been a new case . . . well, it would have freaked her out a little. She began to straighten her desk again, only slightly listening to Tony’s conversation. It seemed to be a little one-­sided.

Finally, Tony said, “I’ve got to call you back, Dad. Let me talk to River and see what she thinks. You know her mother is ill.” Pause. “All in all, doing pretty good. She has full-­time help now.” Another pause. “Okay. I’ll phone you in a bit.”

After he hung up, he pulled his feet off his desk and sat up straight in his chair. His blue sweater was the same color as his eyes . . . when they were blue. Why was she paying attention to his eyes? She gave herself a virtual kick in the pants and realized that Tony looked upset.

“Everything okay?” she asked.

“No, not really.”

“Is your dad all right? Your mom?”

“No,” he said, cutting her off. “They’re fine. And before you ask, my sister’s good too.” He looked away and cleared his throat. Something he did when he was troubled or thinking. Finally, his eyes met hers. “I told you that when my dad was a rookie police officer, before he was promoted to detective, he was badly burned in a fire?”

She nodded. She remembered the story. It was hard to forget. “He saved a little girl’s life.”

“Yes. Well, they found two bodies in the house after the fire was put out. The little girl was the granddaughter of the couple. Thank God, Dad got her out in time.”

“Yeah. Your father’s a hero.”

Tony smiled. “Don’t say that to him. He won’t put up with it. I also told you that they never found the person responsible?”

She nodded again, then waited for him to finish. It was obvious what was coming next. She swallowed. Was this just coincidence? Of course, this was Tony’s dad. They couldn’t charge him anything for their services. River should have mentioned in her prayer that they needed a paying case. She didn’t realize God was so literal.

Trust Me.

Although she hadn’t heard an audible voice, it was so clear it made her jump.

Trust Me.

She swallowed hard. “Uh, he wants us to help him solve a twenty-­year-­old crime?” she said. Why was her voice squeaky? “Why now? I mean, I assume he tried to close this case himself. From what you told me, he’s an excellent detective.”

“He is, but he’s retiring.”

“And he wants this solved before he leaves?”

Tony nodded. “In a way. You see, there were two other similar murders with the same MOs in Des Moines not long after that one. The police arrested someone. Charged him with all three. Dad was never sure they got the right person.”

“You never told me that.”

“I never went into details because I thought it was a closed case.”

“So, your father wants to make certain the case is truly closed before he leaves? It’s still a really cold case. You know how tough they are to solve after so long.”

“Well, except he says it’s happened again.”

“In Des Moines?”

Tony shook his head. “No, up in Burlington, Iowa, where they are now. They moved there years ago because Dad felt it was a better place to live. He was convinced that Des Moines was getting too big. Too dangerous. He wanted a slower-­paced life. A safer place for Mom. Truthfully, I think he had a tough time working in Des Moines. He couldn’t get anyone he worked with to believe they’d arrested the wrong person for those murders.”

“Wait a minute. So, your dad thinks the killer followed him?”

He shrugged. “He doesn’t know, although I agree that it seems strange. Look, I know you have questions. I do too. Can you come to Burlington with me so we can write a profile? He wants to see if we can add something to what he has so far.”

River hesitated a moment.

“I know you’re thinking about your mom. Sorry. Maybe I shouldn’t have asked. I can go alone. I shouldn’t have put you on the spot.”

River shook her head. “You’re not. Now that we have Mrs. Weyland, I may be able to come with you.”

Hannah, the young woman who had come in to help River’s mother during the day, had quit after finding out she was pregnant. She’d recommended her aunt, who had recently lost her husband. Agatha Weyland was sixty-­three years old and had nursed her husband through Alzheimer’s. When Hannah told her she was pregnant and had to leave her job, Mrs. Weyland had begged her to set up an interview with River. At first, she wasn’t sure if it would work since Mrs. Weyland wanted to move in.

“I just can’t stay in my house anymore,” she’d told River when they talked. “Too many ghosts. Hannah and her husband love the house and they’ve offered to buy it. I was goin’ to move into an apartment, but if you have a spare room . . .” Her hazel eyes had filled with tears, and River had been touched by her. But would she change her mind and quit once she was stronger? She didn’t want Rose to get used to someone and then have her leave. River’s mother was still dealing with Hannah’s quitting. She had loved and trusted the young woman.

“I’m not lookin’ for anything temporary,” Mrs. Weyland had said as if reading River’s mind. “I intend to take care of your mother until . . . well, until she no longer needs me.”

This time it was River’s turn for tears.

“Oh, honey,” the older woman had said, taking River’s hand. “I know what Alzheimer’s is like. I know how to take care of your precious mama. My Harold was a happy man until the day he died. I learned how to go with him wherever he was . . . and how to be whoever he needed me to be. We were happy, and your mother will be happy too. You have my word.”

River had really wanted to hire Mrs. Weyland, but she was certain Rose wouldn’t give up another one of her rooms. She’d gotten upset when River and Tony had moved her original sewing space to another room even though they set it up exactly the same. They’d moved things around so River could be closer to her mother in case she needed help during the night. Now she’d have to give up her sewing room completely, even though she never used it. River was prepared for a meltdown. But after spending a couple of hours getting to know Mrs. Weyland, Rose had said, “Can’t we just move the things in the sewing room down to the basement, River? Either Agatha could move in there, or you could move into that room, and Agatha could be right next to me.”

Although she was more than surprised by her mother’s request, she quickly agreed. River moved into the old sewing room, and Mrs. Weyland set herself up next to Rose.

“Let me talk to Mrs. Weyland,” she told Tony. “She’s barely had time to get to know my mother. She might feel uncomfortable with me leaving town so soon. How long do you think we’ll be gone?”

“Why don’t we say the rest of the week?” he said. “I think that’s enough time to create a profile. My father’s already put together a murder book, although I’m not sure how much information he’s been able to get his hands on. Hopefully, we’ll at least have some pictures and reports.”

“Okay, but if Mrs. Weyland or my mother is uncomfortable . . .”

“I’ll go alone and bring everything back with me.” He frowned. “I’d really like you to talk to my dad. See if he can convince you the cases are related. I know that’s not what we do when we write a profile, so we’ll be using our ace deductive skills as well.”

River laughed. “I’ll call Mom now, but you might as well plan on going alone. My mother will probably have a conniption fit.”

“A conniption fit? Where do you get these expressions? I truly think an old lady lives somewhere down deep inside you.”

River picked up her phone, stuck her tongue out at Tony, and dialed Mrs. Weyland.


Excerpt from Cold Threat by Nancy Mehl. Copyright 2024 by Nancy Mehl. Reproduced with permission from Bethany House Publishers. All rights reserved.


Author Bio:

Nancy Mehl is the author of more than fifty books, a Parable and ECPA bestseller, and the winner of an ACFW Book of the Year Award, a Carol Award, and the Daphne du Maurier Award. She has also been a finalist for the Christy Award. Nancy writes from her home in Missouri, where she lives with her husband, Norman, and their puggle, Watson.

Catch Up With Nancy Mehl:
BookBub - @NancyMehl
Twitter/X - @NancyMehl1
Facebook - @nancy.mehl


Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews and opportunities to WIN in the giveaway!

Click here to view Cold Threat by Nancy Mehl 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 Tours.

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

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

LaDelle & Jubilant by Cathy McIlvoy Blog Tour Book Review

About the Book

Book: LaDelle & Jubilant

Author: Cathy McIlvoy

Genre: Historical Fiction/Christian Fiction/Southern Fiction/Black/African American Historical Fiction

Release Date: August 14, 2023

Set in the 1930s, this Southern feel-good novel about a controlling widow and the troubled nephew she’s asked to care for invites you on a journey of faith and surrender while weaving in the amazing true-life character, George Washington Carver.

LaDelle Harris, a fiery 51-year-old widow and head librarian at the Tuskegee Institute, likes things her way: orderly and predictable. So, the last thing she wants is to take care of her 12-year-old nephew, Jubilant, for the summer— or maybe forever. But when her estranged brother, the Reverend Ashton Bartley, suffers a heart attack and she’s asked to look after his son, she can’t say no.

While LaDelle focuses on doing all she can to keep Jubilant from creating chaos in her well-ordered life, it seems Abel Fisher, the manager of the Piggly Wiggly, is taking an interest in her. Amid all that’s happening, Jubilant is bent on returning to Huntsville to be with his daddy.

Can a menopausal woman with a need for control and a troubled pre-teen boy make peace with God and each other as they struggle with their fears and issues? Some gracious neighbors and Professor George Washington Carver may be able to help.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

This is a delightful novel and very good debut fiction from McIlvoy. The writing style was a pleasure to read. I enjoyed the way the plot was crafted and the clever dialogue. I really liked the way LaDelle's character and history was revealed in an engaging way.

I liked how the characters grew and were transformed over the summer. Jubilant grew into his young, responsible self. And LaDelle! LaDelle learned so much taking care of Jubilant. Perhaps her greatest learning experience was being forced to surrender to God when she couldn't control the situation nor other people.

This is an enjoyable novel of family, friends and community.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author

LaDelle & Jubilant is Cathy McIlvoy’s first published work of fiction and was initially inspired by her admiration for George Washington Carver. Her interest in him and Tuskegee grew as she taught her sons about this genuine man of faith. She especially wanted her two youngest, bi-racial sons to know about this scientist with his impressive accomplishments and commendable character, who looked like them.

Cathy’s desire to learn more about Professor Carver put her on a plane from California to Alabama, where she soaked up all she could and enjoyed more than one unforgettable meal of catfish, grits, and sweet tea. Her time spent on campus at Tuskegee University, including several visits to the George Washington Carver Museum located on campus, fueled ideas for LaDelle & Jubilant and continues to be a highlight in her life. Cathy was also fortunate to receive an endorsement for her book from Dana Chandler, Archivist at Tuskegee University.

Today, Cathy and her husband make their home near one of their sons in Louisville, Kentucky where she writes, and they minister to pastors, leaders, and missionaries through Standing Stone Ministry. In addition to having four grown sons, Cathy and her husband are blessed with amazing daughters-in-law, a growing brood of grandchildren, and—though calling them a blessing is a matter of debate between her and family members—two persnickety cats.

More from Cathy

“A personal relationship with the Great Creator of all things is the only foundation for the abundant life. The farther we get away from self, the greater life will be.”

-George Washington Carver.

A Note About George and My Journey With Him

Although Professor Carver doesn’t appear in LaDelle & Jubilant until chapter nine, he’s not only an important character, but the impetus for writing the book in the first place!

The truth is, I am fascinated by George Washington Carver and want everyone to know about him. Due to his accomplishments, he was often referred to as “The Wizard of Tuskegee,” “The Peanut Man,” and, my personal favorite, “The Black Leonardo.” An agricultural chemist, professor, artist and more, George was a renaissance man in many ways. Though born into slavery and sickly as a child, God had big plans for him, and George was faithful. He viewed his work as worship to the Lord and service to his community and beyond.

After doing much research about George, the South, and the history of Tuskegee University, it felt surreal to travel to Alabama and spend time where Professor Carver had lived and worked for 47 years. For several days, I soaked up all I could—the George Washington Carver Museum, Booker T. Washington’s home, called The Oaks, the stately brick buildings on campus, and the thriving agricultural area which is still used for instruction. As a middle-aged Caucasian woman, I’m sure I stood out at this historically Black university as I ate in the student cafeteria and roamed the grounds, poking my head into buildings and snapping photos.

After engaging all my senses and imagination while exploring the place George called home for most of his life, I flew back to California with a belly full of sweet tea and my mind full of fresh insight and inspiration. Years after that trip, I finally finished LaDelle & Jubilant!

I hope you are entertained and inspired by my historical, character-driven novel. I also hope it compels you to look further into the life of George Washington Carver.

Happy reading!

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, January 24

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, January 25 (Author Interview)

The Lit Lady, January 25

Lighthouse Academy Blog, January 26 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 27

Texas Book-aholic, January 28

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 29

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, January 30

Books I’ve Read, January 31

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 1

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, February 2

Simple Harvest Reads, February 3 (Author Interview)

For Him and My Family, February 4

An Author’s Take, February 5

Artistic Nobody, February 6 (Author Interview)

Mary Hake, February 6


To celebrate her tour, Cathy is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 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.)