Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Devil Walks in Mattingly by Billy Coffey

For the three people tortured by their secret complicity in a young man's untimely death, redemption is what they most long for . . . and the last thing they expect to receive.

It has been twenty years since Philip McBride's body was found along the riverbank in the dark woods known as Happy Hollow. His death was ruled a suicide. But three people have carried the truth ever since—Philip didn't kill himself that day. He was murdered.

Each of the three have wilted in the shadow of their sins. Jake Barnett is Mattingly's sheriff, where he spends his days polishing the fragile shell of the man he pretends to be. His wife, Kate, has convinced herself the good she does for the poor will someday wash the blood from her hands. And high in the mountains, Taylor Hathcock lives in seclusion and fear, fueled by madness and hatred.

Yet what cannot be laid to rest is bound to rise again. Philip McBride has haunted Jake's dreams for weeks, warning that he is coming back for them all. When Taylor finds mysterious footprints leading from the Hollow, he believes his redemption has come. His actions will plunge the quiet town of Mattingly into darkness. These three will be drawn together for a final confrontation between life and death . . . between truth and lies.

Do you remember the time you picked up a book by an author that you hadn’t read?  The queasiness and unease that you felt?  Should you spend the money on the unknown author, or pick up the book by an author that you already know that you’ll enjoy the book?  Those were the feelings that I had after I requested this book.  Come with me and let’s peel the cover back together and find out if I made the right choice or not.

Three lives forever changed by the death of one young man.  Three lives searching for redemption but not expecting it to ever be extended to them.  As they all struggle with the guilt that comes from this single event, things begin to take on a strange life of their own.  Jake know what was happening but did nothing, his wife, Kate, shares his guilt over what has happened and Taylor is starting to come apart.  As super-natural occurrences continue in Happy Hollow, the three of them have increasingly hard times figuring truth from fiction.  Did one of them really kill Phillip?  Will forgiveness be extended to any of them, do them even deserve it?  Is the happenings real or is it just their guilt manifesting itself into reality?  Don’t keep your head up in the holler, go BUY THIS BOOK!!

I will admit that this book was tough to get into and tough to follow.  The writing style of the author is more poetic and rhythmic than I’m normally used to reading.  The characters and descriptions provided are very detailed and specific.  This tends to bog down my enjoyment as sometimes I think authors can provide too much information as they are establishing their story.  The plot of “Thin Places” is a new one to me, so this book was interesting and not something that I have read before, so from that aspect this was new and kept me coming back for more.  The mystery and supernatural elements are pretty obvious, but the Christian element is left in the background.

Is this a "guy's book"?  This book does not provide you with all of the normal mind-blowing, car-chasing suspense novels that I normally review on here.  This is more of an allegory, but one that tells a great story if you can slow your pace down to fully enjoy what the author is trying to share with you.

About The Author

I’m a writer of four novels, Snow Day (2010) Paper Angels (2011), When Mockingbirds Sing (2013) and The Devil Walks in Mattingly (2014) with one more on the way by Thomas Nelson. That may make me sound smart and/or wise. Neither is particularly applicable. I count that as a blessing, because the great thing about wandering around in the fog is you never know what you might run into 

You can connect with Billy Coffey at the following locations:

Billy Coffey's Website

Billy Coffey is celebrating his new book, The Devil Walks in Mattingly, with a Kindle Fire HDX giveaway.
  One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • The Devil Walks in Mattingly by Billy Coffey
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 5th. Winner will be announced April  7th on Billy's blog. Watch Billy give the backstory of the book here.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by Billy's blog on April 7th to see if you won.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group, as part of their Book Review Blogger Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Lip Reading by Harry Kraus

Dr. Rebecca Jackson, a medical researcher, stands on the verge of a breakthrough that will transform medicine. But she soon discovers the reason behind the miraculous progress in her research, and it leaves her with a nearly impossible choice . . . and little time to decide. More than her research is at stake. And more threatens it than this latest revelation. Something she's tried hard to cover up. There is a high cost to some things in medicine and it's not always the patient who pays. Can Rebecca find the faith and wisdom she needs to make the right call? The clock is ticking and the pressure is on.

So here’s a little known fact about me.  Many years ago, in a galaxy far, no wait, that’s not right.  Many years ago, I was introduced to my first Christian Fiction novel.  Up until then, my readings had consisted of Stephen King, Dean Koontz and John Saul, just to name a few.  I’ve been a Christian since my early child years and I’ve always had a book in my hand.  I never was quite satisfied, though, by what I was reading.  On that day, I had a book recommended to me called “The Chairman” by Harry Lee Kraus.  I couldn’t put it down, it embodied the essence of a great work of Fiction AND provided me with a clean, faith based novel.  I was hooked.  I have read nothing but Christian Fiction from that point and I’ve been thrilled since that time to read more and more by Harry Kraus. 

The business of medical breakthroughs in the Pharmaceutical world is cutthroat to say the least.  When Dr. Rebecca Jackson is visiting Africa on a PR tour for Jackson Pharmaceuticals, she’s kidnapped and taken to show the underbelly of what the test trials on their HIV drug has done.  She’s released when she promises to get her company to provide additional resources to all that were affected by the drug trials.  Noah Linebrink is at the edge of finalizing a new blood replacement.  No longer will patients need to rely on blood donations, his discovery will make that a thing of the past.  Noah’s boss wants Dr. Jackson on their side to finalize the product and he has sent Noah to win her over.  Their past, though, may not be one that would make a healthy partnership.  As Noah and Rebecca begin to work through their past and their current path, she finds out that she has a brain tumor.  Unexplainingly, though, she is also getting moments of clarity that is allowing her to work through the roadblocks on her project and push it closer to completion.  Will Rebecca remain well enough to complete the project?  Does Noah get her to agree to the partnership? Can they see through their past and agree to work towards a solution that will benefit so many people?  Don’t wait for the drug trials, go BUY THIS BOOK!

To me, the point that an author has written a book that has reached the level where I want to share it with everyone I see is when I get so caught up in the characters that I forget that they are just that, characters from somebody’s imagination.  The main characters in “Lip Reading” were two such characters.  I do not believe in ever physically striking a woman, but in the case of Rebecca, I thought she was ready for a good smack of realization.  The same can be said of Noah.  I didn’t like him at all, he seemed to be the type of individual who was going to hid behind his past and never move out its shadow for this rest of his life.  Boy was I wrong.  Harry has character development down to a science, in my opinion (and since this IS my review, I guess my opinion IS important).  The story was very easy to follow, the plot was driven along with intrigue and suspense, right up until the very end.

Is this a "guy's book"?  This is not an action-packed, blow everything up, military shoot’em up thriller.  This is, though, a very thought-provoking look at the pharmaceutical business and what’s at stake when they bring a new drug to production.  There is suspense a nice little mystery that is wrapped up tightly at the end.

About The Author

My experience as a writer is far from typical. Having received my formal training in biology and chemistry and medicine, my only preparation for a writing career was a love for reading. The longest thing I'd written before my first novel was a term paper in undergraduate school. My first novel was accepted by Crossway Books and published in 1994, and it wasn't until after I had FOUR published novels that I even opened a book of instruction about the craft of writing fiction. This is not what I recommend to others! Yes, I was successful, but I was bending the "rules" without knowing it. I had a natural talent for plotting, but I realize my initial success may have stunted my growth as a writer. I'd have made faster progress if I'd have gone to the fiction teachers sooner. “The Chairman”, the first novel I wrote after actually studying what professional novelists teach, was a finalist for the Catherine Marshall Award for Excellence in Inspirational Fiction (A Christy Award) in the suspense category in 2000.  I have three sons: Joel, Evan, and Samuel. Look closely in all of my books and you'll see them there. My lovely wife, Kris, provides the basic composition for all those beautiful, athletic, dedicated women in my novels. 

 You can connect with Dr. Kraus at the following locations:

Harry Kraus' Website

I received this book from the cashier when I paid money for it.  Nobody asked me to write this review, I just enjoyed the book so much that I wanted to do it so that you all will read the book!  

Friday, March 21, 2014

With Autumn's Return by Amanda Cabot

Elizabeth Harding arrives in Cheyenne, Wyoming, to establish her medical practice thanks to the wooing of her two older sisters who extolled the beauty of the land. She's certain she'll have a line of patients eager for her expertise and gentle bedside manner. However, she soon discovers the town and its older doctor may not welcome a new physician. Even more frustrating, the handsome young attorney next door may not be ready for the idea of a woman doctor. For his part, Jason Nordling has nothing against women, but he's promised himself that the woman he marries will be a full-time mother.

Despite their firm principles, Elizabeth and Jason find that mutual attraction--and disdain from the community--is drawing them ever closer. And when the two find themselves working to save the life and tattered reputation of a local woman, they'll have to decide how far they're willing to go to find justice--and true love

This is the final book in a grouping that, while they aren’t my normal genre to read, I thought I would read in an attempt to broaden my reading lists.  So if you like to visit my page to get some insight into what men enjoy reading, hang onto your thoughts as some of these books may surprise even me.  This book is book 3 in the “Westward Winds” series by Amanda Cabot.  While it may be the 2nd in the series, this book can be read as a stand-alone, but I would recommend reading the first 2 in the series as some of the details may make more sense if you do that.

After some pushing and prodding by her sisters, Elizabeth Harding has agreed to come to Cheyenne and open up her medical office.  After hearing all of the virtues from her sisters, she is sure that as soon as she shows up she’ll have patients lining the streets waiting for her.  Jason Nordling, Attorney-At-Law, isn’t too keen on the idea of having a new doctor in town, much less a LADY doctor.  It’s beginning to look like no one in town will welcome her to town.  Is there room in the town for two doctors?  Will there be any patients that step up to her door or will she have to remove her shingle and come up with a new plan? Will there be more between her and Jason?  Great questions and you’ll know while you read this book in the waiting room after you BUY THIS BOOK!!

I’m trying to judge these books (no, not by their cover) by their content.  This story is well written, has great character development and provides enough description that it makes you feel as if you have been transported back in time.  I love that Elizabeth is written as a strong, independent woman, especially with this being set in the old west.  It was refreshing to see the part where Elizabeth was treating the ladies from the local brothel, it took me back to Bible and where it showed that Jesus would frequent.  I guess you can see true applications of the Bible even when reading Fiction.

Is this a "guy's book"?  I won’t kid you and say that it is.  Did I enjoy it?  Sure, but now that I’m opening my reading genre up a little, this wasn’t a hard stretch for me to enjoy it.  This is your regular “Girl Meets and Falls in love with Guy” book.  There is a little mystery and intrigue, more thrown in to keep the story arch going than it is to fall back on as part of the main plot, though.  A good clean straightforward romance novel if that’s what you are looking for.

About The Author

I agree with Thomas Jefferson when he said, "I cannot live without books." Some of my earliest memories are of my parents reading books to me or -- in the case of my father -- telling stories he made up. And even when they weren't reading to me, my parents could often be found, book in hand. Is it any wonder I decided to teach myself to read? Once I did learn, it was hard to find me without a book. My husband will tell you that that's still the case.

Along the way, I've had a chance to do a lot of writing, including four technical books and what I describe as "enough technical articles to cure insomnia in a medium-sized city." (My budgets were also considered to be works of fiction.) Now, though, I'm able to write full time, and for the first time, all I'm writing is fiction.

When people ask why I write, the answer is simple: it's part of who I am and who I was meant to be. I truly believe this is God's plan for me, and that's why it is my fervent prayer that my books will touch my readers' hearts and strengthen their faith in Him.

 You can connect with Ms. Cabot at the following locations:

I received this book from the Book Fun Network ( in exchange for my honest opinion.  

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Simple Faith by Anna Schmidt

     After losing her beloved husband and daughter and surviving Hitler's Sobibor death camp, Quaker widow Anja Steinberg dedicates her life to helping others and keeping her son safe. As a member of the resistance, she helps displaced Allied airmen get back to their units in England. The journey is rigorous and filled with danger and there is no time for romance. Then American Peter Trent parachutes into her life. She must face facts-her heart did not die with her late husband and true love could be hers again. But will a romance hurt Peter's chance of escape from the Nazis-and endanger her life as well?

This is the next book in a grouping that, while they aren’t my normal genre to read, I thought I would read in an attempt to broaden my reading lists.  So if you like to visit my page to get some insight into what men enjoy reading, hang onto your thoughts as some of these books may surprise even me.  This book is book 2 in the “Peacemaker’s” series by Anna Schmidt.  While it may be the 2nd in the series, this book can be read as a stand-alone. 

Peter Trent is on his first mission and like most guys flying into enemy territory, he is scared of what the outcome may be.  When the plane is shot down, he finds himself hurt and being rescued by a young boy who helped him hide in the ditch away from the Nazis.  His mother, Anja, already part of the movement to help soldiers, is busy defending off a group of Nazis that have ransacked her grandparent’s house looking for any Americans that were on the plane that went down.  When she finds out that Daniel has helped hide the soldier, she is both angry and impressed.  As the process begins to reunite Peter with his country, so begins the journey of these two strangers.  Across enemy lands, being pursued by Nazis, danger around every mountain passage, can Anja deliver Peter to safety?  Will this be the rescue that puts Anja and her son’s life in danger?  Get on board for the answers to these questions and many others when you BUY THE BOOK!!!

Ok, so maybe these books are beginning to grow on me, and not just because I’m just an old softie at heart.  Having not read the first in the series, I was a little concerned that I may be lost in picking this up instead of the first one.  No worries though, this is a solid stand alone read.  This is also my first book by Anna Schmidt.  I enjoyed her writing style, I liked the way that the story flowed, each piece of action building upon the one before it.  I could picture this book as a movie, I could even see where the producers or directors would break for a commercial.  I like that, I like that there were times that I was holding my breath, then the author would allow me to breath, then I was holding it again.  All of this taking you to the final crescendo where…… Well, that wouldn’t be right if I gave it away, now would it?  J

Is this a "guy's book"?  It could be.  This had action, suspense and danger.  The perils that the characters face as they make their way towards freedom would keep any guy interested.  The romance angle was there, but it was made to be a part of the story, not an addition to the story.

About The Author

The author of over twenty historical and contemporary novels, including two series set in Florida’s unique Amish/Mennonite Gulf Coast community, Anna Schmidt is a three-time finalist for the coveted Romance Writers of America RITA award and a two-time winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award.
When not writing, she tends to her garden, knits prayer shawls for hospice patients—she recently lost her husband to an eight-year battle with pulmonary hypertension, and says she has hauled so many seashells home from Florida beaches that somewhere in the future archeologists may believe there was an ocean in Wisconsin!
You can connect with Ms. Schmidt at the following locations:

I received this book from the Book Fun Network ( in exchange for my honest opinion.  

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Love's Sweet Beginning by Ann Shorey

It wasn't Cassie Haddon's fault that she had managed to reach the age of twenty-five without possessing any useful skills. Until the war, she had always had servants to wait on her. Since then, she and her widowed mother had moved from place to place, relying on family to care for them. Now she's forced to find work to support them both. What isn't in her plans is falling for Jacob West, a local restaurateur and grocer. She needs a job and he needs help. But what they both need is love.

This is the second book in a grouping that, while they aren’t my normal genre to read, I thought I would read in an attempt to broaden my reading lists.  So if you like to visit my page to get some insight into what men enjoy reading, hang onto your thoughts as some of these books may surprise even me.  This book is book 3 in the “Sisters of Heart” series by Ann Shorey.  While it may be the 3rd in the series, this book can be read as a stand-alone.  You do see some of the characters from the first 2 books, but you are provided enough back story to not be lost.

Now that the war is over, Cassie and her mother have traveled from family to family as they try to make ends meet.  As they are nearing the end of any support, Cassie finds a job working for a local grocery store when the owner, Jacob, gives her a chance even though she has no work experience at all.  Cassie tries to honor her mother’s wishes of not working at the store, but she knows this job is her only chance to provide for them.  As she continues to balance work and obeying her mother, Cassie grows into a strong independent woman.  Jacob knows that offering Cassie the job is a stretch, but she does need the work and he does need the help.  Patient and kind-hearted, Jacob is there to help Cassie and her mother through their tough times.  Will this job be enough to help Cassie provide support for her mother?  Will Jacob regret giving Cassie the chance at the job?  Will there be more to their relationship than just boss/employee?  Stand in line if you want to know the answers to these and other questions and BUY THE BOOK!

This is a typical “Girl meets Guy”, “Girl and Guy like each other” and “It all ends Happily Ever After”.  There’s not much intrigue, it’s a pretty straight forward romance novel.  The characters and the dilemmas they face are realistic.  You get to see a lot of growth in the character of Cassie as the author progresses her from a young lady that gets everything served to her to one that is independent and strong-willed.  There were times that I thought Cassie could have been more outspoken, at least early in the book, but then I realized that during the era that the book was written, women didn’t really speak out on things.  All in all, it is a very solid plot, with some interesting characters.  The kind of story that allows you to feel complete once you finish.

Is this a "guy's book"?  Quite honestly, no.  The setting of the book is post-civil war, which might bring images of dead bodies, attacks and gore.  But with this book, you won’t find any of those sights.  Although I know that this book will be well received by the women in my church library, this is one book that the men will steer clear of.

About The Author

One of the best things Ann learned about fiction is that it’s okay to make stuff up! Thus, although these novels are inspired by her courageous female ancestors, the largest percentage of their adventures are fictional. Ann leaves it to her readers to separate truth from “it could have happened like this.”  
Ann is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency, and is an active member of several writer’s organizations, among them  American Christian Fiction Writers,Oregon Christian Writers, and Willamette Writers. As such, she is enthusiastic about the benefits of attending workshops and conferences. Ann is available to teach workshops on research, story arc, and other fiction fundamentals to writer’s groups.
In addition to writing, Ann has won many prizes for her culinary skills. Her recipes have appeared in Country Woman magazine, and in several national cookbooks, including Taste of Country and Taste of Home. Recently author Patti Hill included one of Ann’s recipes in her Garden Gates Cookbook, available on Patti’s web site. Ann has been privileged to present cooking demonstrations to young women from her church as part of the Apples of Gold mentoring program.

You can connect with Ms. Shorey at the following locations:

I received this book from the Book Fun Network in exchange for my honest opinion.  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Wildwood Creek by Lisa Wingate

Allie Kirkland has never been one to take wild risks. But when she's offered a costuming assistant's job on a docudrama in the hills near Moses Lake, she jumps at the chance. She's always dreamed of following in her director-father's footsteps, and the reenactment of the legendary frontier settlement of Wildwood is a first step. The family expectations will have to wait.

But in 1861, the real Wildwood held dangerous realities. Town founder Harland Delevan held helpless residents, including young Irish schoolteacher Bonnie Rose, in an iron grip. Mysterious disappearances led to myths and legends still retold in the folk songs of Chinquapin Peaks. Eventually, the entire site was found abandoned.

This is the first in a series of books that I’m going to be reviewing to try to stretch my reading habits from mainly suspense, intrigue novels to some contemporary novels.  I’ve read several in the past that, while maybe not a typical “guy’s book”, are books that should be read by guys none the less.

Allie is finally being offered a job that will allow her to do what she’s always wanted and follow her father into the film making business.  When she agrees to do the job, she heads out to the hills near Moses Lake.  The movie is a reenactment, docudrama, of the town of Wildwood and the mysteries surrounding the disappearance of some of the residents of this town.  As the film unfolds, Allie begins to dig into the actual people from the town to see how much of the “film” is true and how much is fiction.  With the actors and crew living the part during filming, things for Allie take a dangerous turn.  What happened to those that disappeared from the town? Does Allie ever find any answers to her questions? Is what is happening now related to what happened back then?  Head down to your local box office if you want to watch the movie, but if you want to find the answers to these questions you will need to BUY THE BOOK!!

So maybe this book wasn’t as big of a stretch to my reading habits as I had thought.  This books would definitely be labeled as a “mystery” book to me as there are clues, red herrings and shady characters just like in any good mystery book.  I will admit, though, the I am not a fan of this writing style.  For this book, the author has basically chosen to tell you two stories at once.  The story of Allie who is helping to make the film and then the story of Bonnie Rose, the young lady from the real town.  The author uses alternating chapters to give you their coinciding stories.  I tend to get confused at times when I have to switch my brain back and forth, especially between two different time periods.  I didn’t see a lot of character development as the story progressed and I’m thinking it’s because there was so much of the back story that had to be told. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t like the characters, I just felt like I could have got to know them more.

Is this a "guy's book"?  There are some elements of this book that would appeal to men.  There is a lot of historical information shared when the book is through the eyes of Bonnie Rose, it almost makes you feel like you’ve switched to the History Channel on a lazy Sunday afternoon.  And what man wouldn’t look forward to that.

About The Author

Selected among BOOKLIST'S Top 10 of 2012 and Top 10 of 2013, Lisa Wingate skillfully weaves lyrical writing and unforgettable Southern settings with elements of women's fiction, history, and mystery to create stories that Publisher's Weekly calls "Masterful" and ForeWord Magazine refers to as "Filled with lyrical prose, hope, and healing.” Lisa is a journalist, an inspirational speaker, a reviewer for the New York Journal of Books, and the author of over over twenty novels and countless magazine pieces. 

Her books have held positions on many bestseller lists, both in the U.S. and internationally. She is a seven-time ACFW Carol award nominee, a Christy Award nominee, an Oklahoma Book Award finalist, a Christianity Today Book Award nominee, an Inspy Award nominee, a two-time Carol Award winner, a LORIES Best Fiction Award winner, and a Utah Library Award winner. Recently, the group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with Bill Ford, Camille Cosby, and six others, as recipients of the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life.  Visit Lisa at her website:

I received this book from the Book Fun Network in exchange for my honest opinion.  

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Down & Dead in Dixie by Vicki Hinze

To live, sometimes ya gotta die! Daisy Grant is in a heap of trouble. She stumbles into a mob turf war and now somebody wants her dead. Daisy may be small-town to the bone, not at all the kind of woman to deal with the Southern Mafia, but she knows how to get creative fast! 

Enters the way-too-attractive Mark Jensen... He didn't mean to rescue anybody, and he certainly didn't mean to go on the run because of a stubborn, sassy woman. Soon they are up to their ears in so many wacky characters they don't know who's on their side. Daisy and Mark decide that to live, sometimes ya gotta die. And sometimes to die right takes . . . practice. 

There aren’t many times that I’m at a loss for words, but this is definitely going to be one of those times.  How do you write a review about a book that changed every idea that you have ever had about how a mystery book performs?  Each time you think you’ve “figured it out”, “knew what would happen next” and “saw where this was going” the book twists and turns you in a different direction.

So you’ve just witnessed a murder and you’ve found out that not only was the victim a member of a notorious mob family, but you’ve also found out that the assassins were members of another notorious mob family.  What to do, what to do?  Enter witness protection of course!  Except their track record for keeping people safe from these mob families isn’t reassuring.  The last option, then, is to “kill” yourself.  When that doesn’t work to perfection, you run as far away as you can with a newly created identity.  Will this help Daisy stay ahead of the mob families and the authorities looking for her?  Where can she run and feel like she can ever be safe? Is there anyone that she can trust?  It be easier to answer these questions if you would BUY THE BOOK!!!

As I mentioned earlier, as I read through this book, I was always priming myself for “what was going to happen next” or “I know where this is heading”.  When the going got rough for the main character, I knew the path the author would take her down, already knew what she was going to encounter and knew the outcome.  Boy was I wrong.  This author does not allow you to take a confident stroll through her book, she wants you right beside her, holding her hand for comfort the whole way.  Her characters, while strong and independent in their own ways, form a bond as they learn that they have to rely on one another to make it to the end of the book.  The writing is unique and is sure to please even the strongest critics out there with humor thrown in along the way to keep everyone interested.

Is this a "guy's book"?  This book takes you from the beginning and never lets you go as it twists and turns down a very intriguing story.  Murder, mayhem, mobs and malarkey (it’s the only other “m” word I could think of) will keep you turning page after page in this book.

About The Author

Vicki’s first published novel, a romantic suspense, was a bestseller that sold in nearly a dozen foreign countries. Since then, she’s shifted writing focus several times. After co-creating the first single-title open-ended continuity series, she turned to military life and has been credited with a Career Achievement Award for being one of the first to write military romantic suspense, military romantic intrigue, and military romantic thrillers. Recently, she has shifted focus to Christian fiction. Her willingness to take risks and blaze trails has won her many prestigious nominations and awards.

Connect with Vicki!

I received this book from the Book Fun Network in exchange for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Distortion by Terri Blackstock

A husband's lies can have deadly consequences.  When Juliet Cole's husband of fifteen years is murdered before her eyes, she thinks it was a random shooting. Devastated and traumatized, she answers hours of questioning, then returns home to break the tragic news to her boys. But a threatening voicemail takes this from a random shooting to a planned, deliberate attack.  Juliet realizes that she and her children are in danger too, unless she meets the killers' demands. But as she and her sisters untangle the clues, her husband's dark secrets come to light. The more she learns, the more of her life is dismantled. Was her husband an innocent victim or a hardened criminal?

Think about it.  Just for a minute.  Go back in time to that one book, that one author that has made the most impact in your reading life.  For me, that’s Terri Blackstock.  I can’t remember any book that she has written that I haven’t devoured.  And after reading Distortion, there still isn’t one.  This is the second in her “Moonlighters” series of books.

Helping her sister, Holly, move into a new home wasn’t Juliet’s idea of a great way to spend the day, but it was done and she was family.  All that was left was to drive with her husband to drop off the rental truck and call it a day.  After pulling into the lot and watching him lock up the truck, she’s horrified to see someone drive up and shoot him.  As she frantically tries to stop the bleeding, the killer takes off.  As Juliet deals with the death of her husband, a different side of him begins to emerge.  Secret bank accounts, other houses, unknown vacations, drugs, another woman!  None of this makes sense and she is set to find out the truth.  With her family again by her side, can Juliet uncover the truth without getting herself or her family killed?  Was her husband the man she always thought he was or did he have a dark side she didn’t know about? Was this a random killing or was there more involved?  Gotcha!  Now go BUY YOUR OWN COPY!

As much as I would love to gloat about always figuring things out from the start, I will confess this one had me going.  The plot line was such that it kept you thinking, “Ok, this couldn’t get much worse” and then it did.  The strength of character that Ms. Blackstock pours into her characters is what always fascinates me, and this one doesn’t disappoint.  Her main character, Juliet, has been through it all but continues to take more.  And as she takes more, it appears that he character continues to build rather than weaken.  The message to me on that is that when we lean on His strength, there isn’t anything that we can’t endure.  That’s one of the traits of her characters that always connects with me, in all of her books.  The outcome of this book is nowhere near predictable, but it is one that will melt your heart.

Is this a "guy's book"?  From the start, this book has suspense that doesn’t end.  As the characters search towards a solution, there are all kinds of obstacles in their way.  Drugs, intrigue, police interaction, all fine hallmarks of what any guy would enjoy in a book.

A Moment with Terri Blackstock

What is your favorite bible verse and why?
Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV): For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 

What has been the most important thing you hope your readers will get from your books and why?
I want them to realize that their faith shouldn’t rest in their circumstances—because Jesus promised that in this world we would have trouble—but it should rest in the God who created them. He has an eternal perspective, and the problems of this life are just temporary. Sometimes our crises turn out to be our greatest blessings, and sometimes they deepen our faith and make us stronger and more able to comfort others. Some are just difficult to make sense of … but what if God is building up muscles to prepare us for some greater work in heaven? All these are recurring themes in my novels.

Besides writing, what are some of your favorite hobbies? 
I love being with my grandchildren. We had three 2013 babies born, plus a precious two year old. They bring me tremendous joy and are a huge distraction. I also love going to movies. There’s a real shortage of great, clean movies, but if there were more, we’d be at the movies every weekend.

What advice would you give to a beginning writer?
With all the new options for self publishing, I would advise them not to rush to publication before their work has been vetted and edited by professionals. Self-publishing can be a great thing, but it does skip some of the steps that authors have traditionally taken before getting their work into print. Those steps often helped us learn our craft and make our books the best they could be. You can still get that in self-publishing if you hire editors to be honest with you, and if you don’t go for instant gratification. Anyone can publish a book these days, but only those with patience and perseverance can publish great
books. I still think the traditional publishing process is the best way for a first-time author to know for sure that their book is ready for print. I personally like getting an advance up front and knowing that my book is available in physical stores, but I may not always feel this way.

Favorite memory from childhood?
Coming back to the US at the age of nine, after living in the Netherlands for four years. I liked it there and had made good Dutch friends, but it was wonderful coming back to my home country. I remember being fascinated with American TV and all the commercials. (We hadn’t had those in Holland.) Remember the Alka Seltzer commercials? “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.” That just cracked us up.

Favorite comfort food?
French fries or almost any form of potatoes. I think I must have some Irish in me.

About The Author
Terri Blackstock has sold over six million books worldwide and is a New York Times 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.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and testimonials in Advertising."

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Visible Threat by Janice Cantore

Officer Brinna Caruso wants perfection—perfect justice and a perfect world. She wants to save and protect all the innocents in the world, no matter the cost.

Orphaned and struggling to get by, Ivana and her sister left Bulgaria for America with dreams of a better life. But since they arrived in Long Beach, everything they were promised has turned out to be a lie.

After a dead girl is found in the river with a mysterious tattoo on her hip, homicide detective Jack O’Reilly asks for Brinna’s help. Unaware of the depths of evil that will be uncovered, Brinna finds herself flung into a dangerous frontier—an organized human trafficking ring.

Nothing says “Woo-Hoo!  I’m going out of town and will have time on my hands!” then to pick up a copy of the newest book in the “Heart of Justice” series by Janice Cantore.

After leaving Brinna with her K9 dog, Hero in “Critical Pursuit”, she is back and still working to save lost children.  After a floater is found down by the river, Brinna is called in with Hero to see if they can track down where she came from.  With no new leads, Brinna goes back to the daily routines of police work and being notified that her days with Hero may be numbered due to a cut in the Federal Grant that was paying for the program.  As the weather turns violent with torrential rains, a call comes in of another body in the same river, but this time she’s still alive.  Putting her life and another officer’s on the line, they go in the water to get the young girl before she’s swept away.  But their heroics come at a price as both Brinna and the other officer are pulled under themselves.  Are they able to snag the girl?  Will they survive the attempt?  Who is she and what is her connection to the other body they found?  Hang onto the edge of your seat and GO BUY THE BOOK!

In reality, I don’t have many close friends.  In my head, though, I get to have dozens of friends as I read some great books all of the time.  A sign of a great writer, to me, is one that creates characters that you enjoy reading about and miss them when you close the book.  Brinna and her friend Jack are two such characters that have been created by Janice Cantore.  Brinna has such a drive and determination to be the best at her job and to make sure that no other children are abducted like she was as a child.  Jack has lost his wife and still struggles with the day-to-day living of going on without her, but is finally on the road to allowing others to get close to him again.  Both of these characters are ones that I will miss when this series comes to an end.  This book did not disappoint as it continues with the smooth plotlines and character developments that I have seen in all of her earlier books. 

Is this a "guy's book"?  This book has chase scenes, daring rescues and complete police procedures.  I can’t imagine any guy not looking forward to picking up this book and the first book in the series as well.

About The Author
A retired Long Beach California police officer of 22 years (16 in uniform and 6 as a non-career officer), Janice Cantore worked a variety of assignments, patrol, administration, juvenile investigations and training. During the course of her career in uniform Janice found that faith was indispensable to every aspect of the job and published articles on faith at work, one for a quarterly newspaper called “Cop and Christ”, and another for the monthly magazine “Today’s Christian Woman”.
With retirement Janice began to write longer pieces and several novels were born. Janice is excited and honored to be a part of the Tyndale Publishing House family. Accused, Abducted and Avenged,  comprise The Pacific Coast Justice Series, a trilogy that kicked off a brand new chapter in her writing career. September 2013 saw the release of Critical Pursuit, featuring Brinna Caruso, a K-nine officer with a heart to find abducted and missing children. Visible Threat is the next installment in this series and will be released in 2014.  In addition to suspense and action, her books feature strong female leads. Janice writes suspense novels designed to keep you engrossed and leave you inspired.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and testimonials in Advertising."