Nov 152019
 


Hosted by McGruffy’s Reader and 15 and Meowing

This week’s Fill-Ins:

  1. I have been ______________________ for ____________________.
  2. Have you __________________?
  3. I always _________ this time of year.
  4. The world could use more _________.

My answers:

  1. I have been a book blogger/reviewer for 10 years.

  2. Have you traveled to other countries, and if so, where?

  3. I always make big batches of chicken soup this time of year.

  4. The world could use more love, patience and understanding.

Nov 132019
 

Smoke Screen

by Terri Blackstock

on Tour October 28 – November 30, 2019

Synopsis:

Smoke Screen by Terri Blackstock

One father was murdered, and another convicted of his death. All because their children fell in love.

Nate Beckett has spent his life fighting wildfires instead of the lies and rumors that drove him from his Colorado home town. His mother begs him to come to Carlisle now that his father has been released from prison, but it isn’t until he’s sidelined by an injury that he’s forced to return and face his past. But that means facing Brenna too.

Fourteen years ago, Nate was in love with the preacher’s daughter. When Pastor Strickland discovered Brenna had defied him to sneak out with Nate, the fight between Strickland and Nate’s drunken dad was loud—and very public. Strickland was found murdered later that night, and everyone accused Roy Beckett. When the church burned down, people assumed it was Nate getting even for his father’s conviction. He let the rumors fly and left Carlisle without looking back.

Now, Brenna is stunned to learn that the man convicted of murdering her father has been pardoned. The events of that night set her life on a bad course, and she’s dealing with a brutal custody battle with her ex and his new wife where he’s using lies and his family’s money to sway the judge. She’s barely hanging on, and she’s turned to alcohol to cope. Shame and fear consume her.

As they deal with the present—including new information about that fateful night and a wildfire that’s threatening their town—their past keeps igniting. Nate is the steady force Brenna has so desperately needed. But she’ll have to learn to trust him again first.

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense (Christian)
Published by: HarperCollins-Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: November 5th 2019
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN: 0310332591 (ISBN13: 9780310332596)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | Thomas Nelson

Read an excerpt:

I woke up in a blinding bright room, my clothes off and something clamped to my face. I tried to reach it, but I couldn’t bend my right arm, and my hand stung. An IV was taped to my other hand, but I moved carefully and touched the thing over my face.

An oxygen mask. I tried to sit up. “What happened?”

T-bird came to my bedside, a sheen of smoky sweat still soiling his face. “Nate, lie back, man.”

“The fire,” I said. “Need to get back. My men.”

“They’re still there. Making progress. But you’re not going anywhere near a fire for a month or so.”

I took the mask off and coughed a little, but managed to catch my breath. “A month?”

“Yep. Second degree burns on 20 percent of your body. Some of the burns are deep.”

It came back to me, the event that had gotten me here.

“The family. Were they injured?”

“Not a scratch or burn. Turns out it was a U.S. Senator from Kansas. He says you’re a hero.”

“You know I had no choice. They were in the path—”

“Take the praise where you can get it, man. We don’t get that much.”

I looked at my right side. My right arm was bandaged, and so was my side and down my right leg to the point where my boots had stopped the flames. Second degree wasn’t so bad, I told myself. Third degree would have been brutal. I’d be able to leave the hospital soon. I’d heal.

“I won’t need a month,” I said.

“Yes, you will. They can’t let you go back. Doctor’s orders. You’re grounded until he releases you.”

I managed to sit up, but it was a bad idea. The burns pulling on my skin reminded me why I shouldn’t. “I can’t be grounded during fire season. Are you crazy? I need to be there. You don’t have enough men as it is.”

“Sorry, Nate. It is what it is. Why don’t you go home to Carlisle for a while? Take it easy.”

Go home? Pop had just been pardoned, and he and my mom were trying to navigate the reunion. Though she would love to have me home, I didn’t know if I was up to it. My father could be challenging, and fourteen years of prison hadn’t done him any favors.

***

Excerpt taken from Smoke Screen by Terri Blackstock. Copyright 2019 by Terri Blackstock. Used by permission of http://www.thomasnelson.com/. All rights reserved.

 

 

Terri Blackstock

Author Bio:

Terri Blackstock has sold over seven million books worldwide and is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author. She is the award-winning author of Intervention, Vicious Cycle, and Downfall, as well as such series as Cape Refuge, Newpointe 911, the SunCoast Chronicles, and the Restoration Series.

Catch Up With Terri Blackstock On:
terriblackstock.com/
Goodreads
BookBub
Twitter
Facebook

 

 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!



 

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 

Nov 122019
 

The Poison Garden by A. J. Banner
Genre: Domestic Thriller
Published by Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: October 22, 2019
ASIN: B07MV8HLZ2
Pages: 203
Review Copy From: Lake Union via NetGalley
Edition: eBook
My Rating: 5

Synopsis (via GR)

A woman’s idyllic life becomes a deceptive hall of mirrors in a thriller of exquisitely constructed psychological suspense by A. J. Banner, bestselling author of The Good Neighbor.

Elise Watters seems to have it all—a blissful marriage, a gorgeous Victorian home surrounded by lush gardens, and a dream job running her late mother’s herbal boutique.

But on the eve of her first wedding anniversary, Elise makes a shocking discovery that turns her life upside down and casts doubt on everything she thought she knew—about her marriage, her friends, and even herself. As she treads into dangerous territory, Elise is forced to wonder: Is her whole future at stake? Or is paranoia getting the best of her?

If she is to believe what she sees, Elise has every reason to fear for her life…

My Thoughts

After reading After Nightfall, IMO a 5 star read, this author went on my radar. I was ecstatic to be approved via NetGalley and have the opportunity to read this title. However, as I have said on many occasions, I am always skeptical to read a follow-up book because will the latest book be as good as the first.

Elise Watters, returns home a day earlier, after meeting with her financial advisor, to surprise her husband, Kiernan, since the next day is their 1st wedding anniversary. Elise and Kiernan met when he was treating her mother for a brain tumor.

But what she finds is her husband in bed with another woman. Not only is it shocking but what she overhears is terrifying. It appears the two may be plotting for her demise.

Over the next few days, she finds her mother’s journals that she kept in her herbal shop. Recipes of different herbs for different ailments. But also in those journals, is a warning to Elise that Kiernan can’t be trusted and if she dies it isn’t from the tumor but she has been murdered. Another warning was about an herb, the Juliet.

She confides this to her best friend, Chantal, and even her ex-husband, Brandon, who has been doing construction on Chantal’s house and who is now helping Elise change the locks on her own house. Elise has a history of sleepwalking and one morning finds herself outside standing over her husband’s body. What has she done?

Each character has major flaws and one of them has a plot for revenge. I tried tenaciously to figure out which one it was but at every turn, my suspicions changed. Did I eventually figure it out? And then came a stone wall. At 80% read, it appeared that the mystery was solved, but how could that be, I still had 20% to read?

WOW…let me tell you, the last 20% was shocking! And no, I didn’t solve it, I didn’t even come close!!!

Kudos Ms. Banner!!!! Another 5 star review!!!!

Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

REVIEW DISCLAIMER

  • This blog was founded on the premise to write honest reviews, to the best of my ability, no matter who from, where from and/or how the book was obtained, and will continue to do so, even if it is through PICT or PBP.
  • I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review. No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.
  • I do not have any affiliation with Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.
Nov 112019
 

Death and Conspiracy by Seeley James Banner

 

 

Death and Conspiracy

by Seeley James

on Tour November 11 – December 6, 2019

Synopsis:

Death and Conspiracy by Seeley James

Is Jacob Stearne a terrorist or a hero?

After fabled Ranger Jacob Stearne kills two terrorists before they can shoot hundreds of worshippers, he’s sent undercover to disrupt their neo-Nazi group’s plans for a global religious war. But the CIA agent who sends him on his mission may not be who he claims.

In his search for the dangerous terrorists, Jacob finds himself manipulated by international agencies, used gods, potential lovers, and racists alike. Everyone wants him to believe something he doesn’t. While infiltrating a neo-Nazi gathering, he must handle both warring factions and authorities who believe he’s the real terrorist.

Death & Conspiracy poses the question: Could you befriend white supremacists to stop mass-shootings?

Book Details:

Genre: Action/Adventure
Published by: Machined Media
Publication Date: September 24th 2019
Number of Pages: 303
ISBN: 9781732238886
Series:Sabel Security Book 7
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

SOMETHING WENT WRONG WITH MY girlfriend.

I trudged along the stone-paved streets at dawn wearing my blue jeans and black leather jacket over a t-shirt that read, “That which does not kill me—should run.” I was thinking things over. There were no real indicators I could put my finger on, but when I said we should step out for coffee, she offered to join me “later.” Something in her tone of voice. Something in her distant gaze.

What happened? Last night we were thirsty for each other. I did my Julius Caesar impression, Vini, Vidi, Vici. She channeled the Whore of Babylon. Laughter and romping ensued.

This morning, she was different.

A shop lady dragged a stand filled with bouquets onto the sidewalk in front of her store. Figuring flowers might perk Jenny up, I picked one. The lady took one look at my face, smiled, and told me they were free for lovers. At least, I think that’s what she said. I studied Arabic and Pashto to get me through my eight tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. French never came up. I thanked her, sniffed the bouquet, and kept strolling.

We’d had a whirlwind romance, the kind you read about in books. If you read that kind of book. Which I don’t. So, I guess it was how I imagined a storybook romance goes. I’d saved her mother’s life, which led to Jenny getting a pardon. As soon as she got out of prison, she came to my house to say thank you in person. Come to think of it, that doesn’t sound like a storybook romance at all. Anyway. One thing led to another. Two weeks later, I invited her for a getaway weekend. I was thinking something like a bed-and-breakfast in the Shenandoah Valley. Cozy and affordable and nearby.

Then I made the mistake of telling my boss, Pia Sabel, about my plans. She thought Jenny Jenkins would prefer Paris. After all, Jenny’s the daughter of Bobby Jenkins, the billionaire drug lord—I mean, founder of Jenkins Pharmaceuticals. Since no one can say no to Ms. Sabel, especially when she insists on paying and providing a private jet, the next thing I knew we were in Paris, staying in the Hotel Lutetia on the Left Bank.

It turned out Jenny had been to Paris so many times it was like going to Walgreens. Her dad rented out Napoleon’s Tomb for her ninth birthday. For my ninth, Dad filled a barn bin with dried soybeans so we could jump in them. Things are different for farm boys in Iowa.

There was an upside. Instead of going to see the fire damage at Notre Dame or visiting the Louvre, she wanted to spend the entire trip in bed. I was fine with that.

Then this morning happened.

My brain came back to the street in front of me. Two men hauled tables and chairs out of a café and placed them on the sidewalk. I put my flowers on a table and dropped into a wicker chair. One of the men said something about not being open yet, but the other guy pulled him away.

I said, What did I do wrong? I made sure she was satisfied several times over. Wait. She wasn’t faking it, was she?

Mercury, winged messenger of the Roman gods, pulled up a chair next to me. If she be faking an orgasm when you’re going downtown like a Detroit rapper, who is she cheating?

Sometimes it’s nice to have a god you can chat with. Most of them are invisible and mute. I enjoy our little chats. Sometimes. But every now and then, the diagnosis of my Army psychiatrists rolls through my head like a thunderstorm. “PTSD-induced schizophrenia,” they said. Yeah. Well. What do they know? The guys who served with me in combat considered me divinely inspired.

Mercury first came to my aid in a battle where a company of Iraqi Republican Guards had pinned down a Marine platoon. I’d been separated from my Army Ranger unit and snuck through the combat zone lost, scared, and confused. With Mercury whispering in my ear, telling me where to aim, I took out half the Iraqis attacking the Marines and scattered the rest. The Marines loved me. I got medals. From then on, my heavenly powers on the battlefield made me the soldier’s soldier. Everybody wanted to transfer to my platoon.

All Mercury wanted was a return to his former glory. Just kick Christianity to the curb and reinstate the whole Roman pantheon. No problem. After fifteen hundred years, he and his buddies were done with living on food stamps and desperate for a reunion tour.

I said, Is it me? Too much of a socio-economic divide?

Mercury leaned in. You want a woman like that, brutha? Really want a woman like that? Then you gotta think like a Caesar.

I said, I’m her master and commander in the bedroom.

Sheeyit, dawg. Mercury rolled his eyes and leaned back. (Did I mention he’s black? He cites the Judeo-Christian Bible, where it says God made man in His image. Mercury points out that the Great Leap Forward happened in Southern Africa. There were no white people in Southern Africa in the days of Adam and Eve. Therefore, all gods are black. Yeah, took me a while too.) I’m talking real Caesar, not just another white dude whipping out some cheap leather gear in a hotel room. I’m talking invading nations, burning villages, raping, pillaging…

And that’s where I tune him out. Certain aspects of civilized behavior have changed a good deal since he whispered in the ears of the rich and powerful. I texted Jenny that I was waiting for her at the Café de la Mairie. She didn’t reply.

Ever listen to some old guy go on about winning the state championship back in high school? Try spending an hour listening to a used god talk about the good ol’ days when Julius Caesar defeated the official Roman Army under Pompey—not because he should but because he could.

Mercury said, And that’s how Julius Caesar became emperor. The lesson here is: Kill everyone who defies you.

I said, How’d that work out for ol’ Julius in the end?

The streets began to fill with enough vehicles to start the rhythmic honking cycles peculiar to big cities. It sounded a lot like that Broadway tune by George Gershwin. What was it called? “An American in …” somewhere.

There were no texts from Jenny on my phone when I checked for the three hundredth time. I sent her a picture of the menu and asked if she wanted me to order for her. No response.

Mercury said, There they go again. Those two clowns been circling the block all morning, dressed like Siberians.

I had a croissant with jam and a coffee. Alone.

Are you listening to me, homie?

Mercury’s supposed to be the god of eloquence, but tutoring William Shakespeare five hundred years ago didn’t work out for his resurrection, so he tried channeling inner-city kids. He thinks he sounds like Dr. Dre, but he comes off more like Eminem will in forty years. Desperately dated.

I’m telling you, Mercury said, those two are your ticket to fame. You kill them, and the press will love you. Glory will be ours!

Having lost track of which two people he wanted me to kill, I said, Jenny doesn’t care about glory.

The sun rose higher in the sky. The waiter brought more coffee. People going places began to fill the sidewalk. Singles, couples, families. It was Sunday, and many of them were filing into one big-ass church across the street.

Mercury said, What’s the big deal about this here girl has you so distracted, brutha?

I said, Remember when I rescued her mom from the assassins? Before her mom was VP, she was an admiral. And brass tends to expect a concierge rescue. But not Admiral Wilkes. She fought and ran and knocked out bad guys like a superhero. That woman was determined to get out of there. I was impressed. When Jenny showed up, I realized the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. She was just as determined and driven as her mom. A woman like that, you can build a life together. A real partnership. The two of us working out family, friends, and careers together. We could grow old without the flame dying out.

Mercury said, Determined? Driven? You really want a woman like that, dude? Nothing but trouble if you ask me. In my day, women didn’t read, they didn’t vote, they didn’t talk back. We had a good thing going and y’all messed it up.

My phone’s screen was blank. Still no word from Jenny.

I said, Maybe she needs something more than just sex?

Mercury said, What else is there?

I dunno, I said. Like therapy or something. She had a traumatic year. Maybe she needs help with her mental health.

Mercury said, What would you know about mental health?

The waiter brought a vase for my bouquet. It was wilting. I gave him a nod. “Merci.”

Pretty much the extent of my French vocabulary.

I was stuck. If I went back now, I’d look insecure, worried. If I kept my cool, acted unconcerned, maybe she’d come around. Maybe she’d text me back.

I hate playing games like that. Unless I win.

See here now, bro. You need to take down those terrorists with the two coats. Mercury nodded at the men he’d pointed out earlier. You can be a hero again.

I said, What makes you think they’re terrorists?

Mercury said, They radiate hate.

Across the lane was a large, open plaza. In the center stood a massive chunk of marble with statues of ancient Frenchmen in niches surrounded by water splashing from a central fountain. The Frenchmen were probably important at some point in the history of the area, but now they were just a backdrop for selfies.

Two guys stood next to the fountain. They stole glances at the cathedral doors. They had jet black hair and beards. One had a swarthy, Mediterranean look. The other looked distinctly American. They kept their heads down, their hands shoved in their coat pockets. Their overcoats were heavy enough for winter, but it was a sunny spring day.

Maybe Jenny was worried about the paparazzi. We’d been swarmed outside the hotel. Again later when we went out to dinner. Neither of us is a celebrity, but her divorced parents are minor tabloid material. Jenkins Pharma sold a questionable number of opiates, and her mom is the Vice President of the United States. Which is why there’d been plenty of controversy over Jenny’s pardon.

The paparazzi couldn’t be it. I’d shared Ms. Sabel’s advice for dealing with tabloid photographers with Jenny. Ms. Sabel told me to smile for the cameras because (a) they hate that, and (b) they’ll print it anyway so you may as well look good. Jenny still hated them.

I thought about going to church. I checked the name of the one across the street. Église Saint-Sulpice. I invited Jenny in a text. We hadn’t discussed religion, and she didn’t seem the type, but if she was mad at me, where better to work things out? She was the kind of woman worth working things out for. The kind worth having an intimate relationship with. Someone you could tell all your secrets to. Or is it, someone to whom you could tell all your secrets? I never get that stuff right. Maybe she didn’t like my grammar.

Mercury grabbed my hair and pulled my head up out of my phone. He pointed at the two guys. Quit thinking about getting laid and ask yourself the million-dollar question: why two coats?

Shoplifters wear overcoats. It gives them room for all their stolen merchandise. So do mass shooters. Coats cover weapons.

The shorter guy fiddled with a string of beads. Sweat dripped from his forehead. He mumbled to himself. The American looked calmer, yet significantly more agitated than your average churchgoer. My military training included a good deal about recognizing terrorists. They often say prayers. They’re often quite nervous. They often sulk to avoid notice.

Either these two were sinners in desperate need of redemption … or they were terrorists.

I found myself crossing the street, heading for the fountain. At the same time, the two men headed for the church. As he pushed off, the short guy tossed his beads into the water.

It was a wide plaza, and they had a shorter distance. I changed course to intercept them. Being unarmed put me at a disadvantage. But they had the terrorist’s tunnel vision. Their eyes remained glued to the entrance. Nothing around them mattered anymore.

A few people in nice clothes funneled up the steps and filed through the massive front door, each taking a bulletin from the greeters. None of them wore more than a light sport coat.

The overcoat guys slowed and hung back. When the funnel cleared, the greeters at the door waited. The overcoat guys trotted up the steps and entered without taking the offered bulletin. Without a bulletin, they would have no idea which hymns to sing. Definitely terrorists.

I bounded up the steps, full throttle.

***

Excerpt from Death and Conspiracy by Seeley James. Copyright 2019 by Seeley James. Reproduced with permission from Machined Media. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Seeley James

His near-death experiences range from talking a jealous husband into putting the gun down to spinning out on an icy freeway in heavy traffic without touching anything. His resume ranges from washing dishes to global technology management. His personal life ranges from homeless at 17, adopting a 3-year-old at 19, getting married at 37, fathering his last child at 43, hiking the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim at 59, and taking the occasional nap.

Seeley’s love of creativity began at an early age, growing up at Frank Lloyd Wright’s School of Architecture in Arizona and Wisconsin. He carried his imagination first into a successful career in sales and marketing, and then to his real love: fiction.

His writing career ranges from humble beginnings with short stories in The Battered Suitcase, to being awarded a Medallion from the Book Readers Appreciation Group. Seeley is best known for his Sabel Security series of thrillers featuring athlete and heiress Pia Sabel and her bodyguard, veteran Jacob Stearne. One of them kicks ass and the other talks to the wrong god.

Catch Up With Seeley James On:
SeeleyJames.com, Goodreads, BookBub, & Facebook!

 

 

Tour Participants:

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



 

 

Enter To Win!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Seeley James. There will be 2 winners of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card each. The giveaway begins on November 11, 2019 and runs through December 5, 2019. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 

Nov 112019
 

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Mailbox Monday

According to Marcia, “Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

Click on title for synopsis via GoodReads.

Wednesday:
Speak No Evil by Liana Gardner ~ Signed HC from Author
Home Truths by Tina Seskis ~ eBook from November Amazon Prime