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5.29.2017

Cancelled Vows ~ Review with Giveaway and Author Guest Post

Cancelled Vows
A Mac Faraday Mystery #11
By Lauren Carr
Narrated by James C. Lewis

With six days until their wedding, David O'Callaghan and Chelsa Adams are finally getting their wedding license. At least that was the plan until a small bump threw off their plans. David is already married. And the worst part is he was and is completely in the dark about it.

But as they say, the wedding must go on. He just has to divorce his first wife before the marriage can take place. So it is off to the Big Apple for David, Mac Faraday, and Gnarly (a K-9 with military duty in his resume). With 5 days to get a divorce, the clock is against them.

But time is the least of their worries once they find David's wife - murder is. And David soon finds himself caught in a dangerous game with some who are no longer New York's finest and his life, along with that of research assistant Ali Harding, is on the line.

As the story progresses, one has to wonder will David make it back to Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. And if he does can he heal the hurt that he has caused Chelsa? And more than one person is hiding  a secret that could have a bearing on this case.

This is an action packed book that opens with the moment of peak action before delving into the back story that found David in an unexpected situation that makes him public enemy #1 in New York City and on the run. But with Mac and Gnarly on his side, the odds are in his favor that he may actually make it out of New York alive. And this is about to be a wedding not to be forgotten in Deep Creek Lake anytime soon. And with Gnarly around it is never boring.

The writing style is steady with no drag and the narration is well suited to the story. The narrator's voice is not grating and he does a fairly good Gnarly growl - not that my dogs felt threatened but one can believe that it is a growl.

At 10 hours and 14 minutes, this is an audiobook that is a good length perfect for long commutes or not even not so long (mine is normally 15 minutes) It is also a good listen for an easy on the eyes book. If you are looking for a mystery that will keep you in suspense give this one a try.

I was provided a free copy of this book by the author with no expectation of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book:

Police Chief David O'Callaghan and Chelsea Adams' wedding day is fast approaching. Unfortunately, at the last minute, David discovers that there is one small problem to be taken care of before he can walk down the aisle - divorce his first wife!

Lauren Carr takes fans of the Mac Faraday mysteries to the Big Apple in this nail-biting adventure. In Cancelled Vows, David, Mac, and Gnarly, too, rush to New York City to dissolve David's marriage to an old girlfriend - and he's got five days to get it done. When murder throws up a road block, it is up to David's best man, Mac Faraday, and Gnarly, K9-in-waiting, to sort through the clues to get David to the church in time!


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Guest post by Lauren Carr

Gnarly: When Fiction Comes to Life
By Lauren Carr

From the beginning, I have known and been told by multiple sources, that I am not realistic. Used to be, people would tell me that in the form of “Let me tell you what your problem is.” Now that my books have been selling, I’m told that in the tone of “You have a wonderful imagination. What else do you have in that pretty little head of yours?”

When it comes to writing, I prefer to substitute my own reality. When writing a newspaper article,
substituting your own reality doesn’t work. Feature editors frown on you telling readers that the giant
pond the landscaper installed in the golf course around the time that his wife disappeared would be the perfect place to hide her body—at least not without any actual proof.

That’s not to say that reality can’t be entertaining. I have found that reality can be amusing when looked at in the right light or with the right twist.
Gnarly

Which is where Mac Faraday’s Gnarly, the kleptomaniac German shepherd, came from.

Gnarly was not in first draft of It’s Murder, My Son. Between drafts, my son was given a puppy during half-time at a football game. No, Ziggy was not a door-prize. A woman came up to my then seven-year-old son and asked, “Would you like to hold my puppy?” I thought, what harm can come from holding a puppy. As soon as he had it, she said, “He’s free. You can keep him.” Then, she was gone.

We named him Ziggy. Tristan wanted to call him Cutie-Pie. But then I envisioned telling a sixty-pound Australian Shepherd to let go of a burglar’s leg. “Down, Cutie-Pie.” It’s hard to say that with a straight face. So, we settled on Ziggy.

Ziggy was a kleptomaniac. Things would disappear around the house. Shoes, towels, articles of clothing, some of my underwear, would disappear only to be found under our bed, where Ziggy made his den. As with Gnarly, a dog trainer explained that Ziggy’s kleptomania was out of boredom.

In researching this, I found various sources of similar incidents. Bonnie, a bassett hound in my mother’s neighborhood, was a known thief. My mother learned to never leave shoes, books, or articles of clothing on her patio because Bonnie would steal it. Once, my mother looked out the window to spot Bonnie running off into the woods behind her house with her rake. She couldn’t believe that that dog, with its short little legs, was able to carry off a rake with its long handle, but she saw it with her own eyes.

In Old Loves Die Hard, my editor questioned the possibility of Gnarly walking into a store, shoplifting a bone, and leaving without anyone stopping him—until I sent her the video of the news report, complete with security footage. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anDvU530g2o)

She had a similar reaction to the opening of Shades of Murder, when Gnarly held up the package
delivery truck for dog biscuits. For this, I didn’t have film footage. I only had witness statements about a husky name Sarge in our own neighborhood who blocked the road until the drivers pay the toll.

After featuring Gnarly in several mysteries, I found myself yearning to have a German Shepherd named Gnarly. I had made Gnarly a German Shepherd, instead of Australian, out of memory for Winston, a German Shepherd my husband and I had when we were first married. As happens with all dogs eventually, Winston grew old and passed away.

The real life Gnarly was born November 30, 2012.

Gnarly had proven to be as strong-willed as his namesake. Gnarly believed it is best to start the day at
six o’clock in the morning by leaping up onto the bed, and clawing the covers off of me until I’d get up to let him outside to patrol the perimeter. Then I’d stumble to the coffeemaker to push the button and start my day.

Smart: Yep, the real Gnarly was just as smart as the fictional one. At three months he could sit, stay,
wait, down, walk on a leash, and steal socks and underwear out of the laundry and hide it just like his
namesake.

Like Gnarly in Candidate for Murder, my Gnarly ran for elected office. Last year, he ran for President of the United States in a local mock election—and won! There was some tough campaigning, but I am proud to say that Gnarly and his opponents (Oliver the Cat and Squirt the Goldfish) were dignified and respectful on the campaign-trail.

Like Mac and Gnarly, we were inseparable partners. Sadly, it was only for four years. On Thursday,
December 8, 2016, my heart was broken when Gnarly passed away from canine cancer.

For two months, my handsome guy and best canine friend had battled a brave good fight. Stroking his
tall ears, I had prayed that God would bless this beautiful dog with a miracle to save him. It wasn’t like I was asking for a big miracle. Gnarly was just a dog—but he was my best friend—my muse. God, can’t You bless me with this one little miracle?

Sterling
The next day, December 9, I called the breeder from whom I had gotten Gnarly to give her the sad news. Kindly, I declined her offer for a free puppy, explaining that we did not want to go through the puppy training.

“Well,” Deb said, “if you don’t want a puppy, maybe you’ll be interested in Gnarly’s nephew.”

Gnarly’s nephew!

On Thursday, December 8, the very same day that Gnarly had passed away—his nephew had landed in an animal shelter.

Gnarly’s sister, Morgan, had been adopted by another dog breeder, Vicki. One of her puppies, Sterling had been adopted by a family who lived one state away. In the midst of a nasty divorce, neither parent wanted the responsibility of the German shepherd, so the wife surrendered him to the county animal shelter. During check-in, the animal control officer discovered that Sterling had been microchipped, which was still registered to the breeder, and called Vicki to notify her that they had one of her dogs.

Luckily, one of Vicki’s calls to vent her outrage was to fellow breeder Deb, who told me the news:
Gnarly’s nephew is in jail!

Yes, I know I was emotional, but immediately I saw the love connection that God had in mind for us. I lost Gnarly—my best friend—on the same day that his nephew lost his family and his home. I had to save Sterling. For eleven days, the breeders and I battled the system for Sterling’s release.

On the day Sterling became available for adoption, I was at the animal shelter one hour before they
opened. After all of my phone calls to them, they knew I would be making the hour and a half drive to secure his release, so they let me in.

After completing the dozens of forms and paying all of the necessary fees, the animal control officer
asked, “Do you have any questions?”

“Can I meet him?”

The animal control officer’s eyes got big. “You haven’t met him?”

That’s right. I was so set on adopting Gnarly’s nephew that I had just signed dozens of adoption forms and paid fees for the German shepherd sight unseen. All I knew about Sterling was that he was Gnarly’s nephew and he lost his family and home on the same day that I lost my Gnarly. We were meant to save each other.

So, I waited in the reception area for them to bring out the jail bird who I had just agreed to take home to my family. Sure, there were a dozen things that could be wrong with him. Sterling could be a vicious dog who didn’t like people. Maybe he didn’t get along with other dogs, which would create chaos with Storm, our other German shepherd. Whatever the case, I was prepared to do what I had to deal with it. We were now stuck with each other.

A few minutes later, I heard this loud deep bark as the animal control officer was dragged into the
reception area by Canine Inmate #227.

After eleven days of living in a cage, Sterling was bouncing off the walls, overturning water dishes,
jumping all over anyone who came near him. This good looking guy clawed his way toward me and I
knelt down to meet him eye to eye. As our eyes met, Sterling drop down onto the floor and laid his head in my lap—just like those last moments that I had with Gnarly.

The bond between us was instant.

Since his release from jail, Sterling has fit into our family like a glove. Of course, it is impossible to not compare him to Gnarly (the fictional and real one), who had a lot of bad boy ways that endeared him to me—like landing in jail and ending up in a book.


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Welcome to Lauren Carr's Audiobook-a-palooza Blog Tour! To celebrate the release of Lauren Carr's mysteries in audiobook format, we have 14 books from her three series on tour!



To follow the tour and to read reviews, please visit Lauren Carr's page on iRead Book Tours.


The Mac Faraday Mystery Series:


Buy the Audiobook ~ Book
Book Description:

Old loves die hard...and in the worst places.

In Old Loves Die Hard, Lauren Carr continues the rags-to-riches story of Mac Faraday, an underpaid homicide detective who inherits 270 million dollars and an estate on Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, from his birth mother on the day his divorce becomes final.

Mac is settling nicely into his new life at Spencer Manor when his ex-wife Christine shows up-and she wants him back! Before Mac can send her packing, Christine and her estranged lover are murdered in Mac's private penthouse suite at the Spencer Inn, the five-star resort built by his ancestors.

The investigation leads to the discovery of cases files for some of Mac's murder cases in the room of the man responsible for destroying his marriage. Why would his ex-wife's lover come to Spencer to dig into Mac's old cases?

With the help of his new friends on Deep Creek Lake, Mac must use all of his detective skills to clear his name and the Spencer Inn's reputation, before its five-stars - and more bodies - start dropping!

Buy the Audiobook ~ Book
Book Description:

Question: what do you get the man with everything?

Answer: when that man is the heir of the late mystery writer Robin Spencer, retired homicide detective Mac Faraday, you get him a cold case to solve.

In Shades of Murder, Mac Faraday is once again the heir to an unbelievable fortune. This time the benefactor is a collector of stolen art. But this isn't just any stolen work of art - it's a masterpiece with a murder attached to it.

Ilysa Ramsay was in the midst of taking the art world by storm with her artistic genius. Hours after unveiling her latest masterpiece, she is found dead in her Deep Creek Lake studio, and her painting is nowhere to be found.

Almost a decade later, the long lost Ilysa Ramsay masterpiece has found its way into Mac Faraday's hands and he can't resist the urge to delve into the case.

A world away, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, former JAG lawyer Joshua Thornton agrees to do a favor for the last person he would ever expect - a convicted serial killer.

The favor: solve the one murder wrongly attributed to him.

Joshua finds an unexpected ally in Cameron Gates, a spunky detective who has reason to believe the young woman known to the media only as Jane Doe, victim number four, was the victim of a copycat. Together, Joshua and Cameron set out to light a flame under the cold case only to find that someone behind the scenes wants the case to remain cold, and is willing to kill to keep it that way.

Little do these detectives know that the paths of their respective cases are on a collision course when they follow the clues to bring them together in a showdown with a killer who's got a talent for murder!



Buy the Audiobook ~ Book


Book Description:


In this fourth mystery on Deep Creek Lake, Mac Faraday finds himself up to his eyeballs in mobsters and federal agents.

After an attempted hit ends badly with two of his men dead, mobster Tommy Cruze arrives in Spencer, Maryland, to personally supervise the execution of the witness responsible for putting him behind bars - Archie Monday!

Mac Faraday believes he has his work cut out for him in protecting his lady love from one of the most dangerous leaders in organized crime; but when bodies start dropping in his lakeshore resort town, things may be hotter than even he can handle.




Buy the Audiobook ~ Book


Book Description:


Never tell Mac Faraday not to do something.

Spencer's police chief, David O'Callaghan, learns this lesson the hard way when he orders Mac Faraday to stay away from the south end of Spencer's mountaintop - even though he owns the property. It doesn't take long for Mac to find out what lies on the other side of the stone wall and locked gate, on which hangs a sign warning visitors to Keep Out!

Topping the list of the 10 top haunted places in America, Astaire Castle is associated with two suicides, three mysterious disappearances, and four murders since it was built almost a century ago - and Mac Faraday owns it!

In spite of David's warning, Mac can't resist unlocking the gate to see the castle that supposedly hasn't seen a living soul since his late mother had ordered it closed up after the double homicide and disappearance of Damian Wagner, a world-famous master of horror novels.

What starts out as a quick tour of a dusty old castle turns into another Mac Faraday adventure when Astaire Castle becomes the scene of even more murders. Mac is going to need to put all of his investigative talents to work to sort out this case that involves the strangest characters he has run into yet - including a wolf man. No, we're not talking about Gnarly.



Buy the Audiobook ~ Book


Book Description:

Fame comes at a price. Some pay with their privacy. Others pay with their pride. Khloe Everest paid with her life.

Determined to get her pretty face in front of the cameras, Khloe Everest fakes an abduction only to make a grand entrance in the midst of a press conference held by Spencer's Police Chief David O'Callaghan.

Three years later, after failing to catapult her notoriety into a long-lasting celebrity, Khloe Everest returns to Spencer upon her mother's sudden death and seemingly finds another weapon to propel herself into the spotlight. Unfortunately, someone kills her before she can make this entrance.

In Lauren Carr's sixth Mac Faraday Mystery, Mac and his friends come up against reality stars, politicians, has-beens, and wannabes. Mac also finds himself face-to-face with an old foe from his past who had managed to escape arrest during their last encounter. Now, Mac sees that his adversary has only become more powerful, and dangerous, with the passage of time.

Intent to not let this killer escape again, Mac and his friends need to put all of their talents together to put a stop to a cold-blooded lady killer.



Buy the Audiobook ~ Book

Book Description:



Two people are brutally murdered in their summer place on Deep Creek Lake. Suspected of the murders, former child star and one-time teenybopper idol Lenny Frost takes innocent bystanders hostage in a local pub and demands that Mac Faraday find the killer. Can Mac save the hostages and himself from the wrath of the enraged has-been by piecing together the clues in less than twelve hours, or will it be a fatal last call at the stroke of midnight?


Buy the Audiobook ~ Book
Book Description:

With three days left to the year, Deep Creek Lake is hopping with holiday vacationers and wedding guests pouring into the Spencer Inn for Mac Faraday and Archie Monday's huge wedding ceremony which is being touted as the social event of the year.

But droopy flowers and guests who failed to RSVP are the least of Mac's and Archie's problems when a professional hit squad hits Spencer Manor to send the groom, Joshua Thornton, Archie's mother, and Gnarly running for their lives.

With time running out before the big day, Mac Faraday and Spencer's small police force have to sort through the clues to figure out not only who has been targeted for assassination, but also who is determined to stop everything...forever!



Buy the Audiobook ~ Book
Book Description:

Spring is in the air. In Deep Creek Lake, the burst of blossoms on the trees has the effect of a starting pistol in the race to get the resort area ready in time for the seasonal residents return to Spencer, Maryland.

This year, the Spencer Inn, Mac Faraday's five-star resort, has the added duty of preparing for the Diablo Ball, an annual benefit event that used to kick off Deep Creek Lake's summer season. The exclusive gala has drawn in A-listers from across the country, including suspects and witnesses connected to Ashton Piedmont, a young woman who had disappeared while skinny dipping in Deep Creek Lake five years earlier, days after the last Diablo Ball.

Intrigued by a mysterious phone call from a young woman claiming to be Ashton, retired homicide detective Mac Faraday can't resist diving head first into the cold case. But he's not the only one. Someone behind the scenes has gone to a lot of trouble to bring Ashton Piedmont's friends and enemies to the Diablo Ball, which promises to be a gala event to die for!



Buy the Audiobook ~ Book
Book Description:

Police Chief David O'Callaghan and Chelsea Adams' wedding day is fast approaching. Unfortunately, at the last minute, David discovers that there is one small problem to be taken care of before he can walk down the aisle - divorce his first wife!

Lauren Carr takes fans of the Mac Faraday mysteries to the Big Apple in this nail-biting adventure. In Cancelled Vows, David, Mac, and Gnarly, too, rush to New York City to dissolve David's marriage to an old girlfriend - and he's got five days to get it done. When murder throws up a road block, it is up to David's best man, Mac Faraday, and Gnarly, K9-in-waiting, to sort through the clues to get David to the church in time!

The Lovers in Crime Mystery Series:


Buy the Audiobook ~ Book
Book Description:

Spunky Cameron Gates is tasked with solving the murder of Cherry Pickens, a legendary star of pornographic films, whose body turns up in an abandoned freezer. The case has a personal connection to her lover, Joshua Thornton, because the freezer was located in his cousin's basement. It doesn't take long for their investigation to reveal that the risqué star's roots were buried in their rural Ohio Valley community, something that Cherry had kept off her show business bio. She should have kept her hometown off her road map, too - because when this starlet came running home from the mob, it proved to be a fatal homecoming.



Buy the Audiobook ~ Book
Book Description:

When Homicide Detective Cameron Gates befriends Dolly, the little old lady who lives across the street, she is warned not to get lured into helping the elderly woman by investigating the unsolved murder of one of her girls. "She's senile," Cameron is warned. "It's not a real murder."

Such is not the case. After Dolly is brutally murdered, Cameron discovers that the sweet blue-haired lady's "girl" was a call girl who had been killed in a mysterious double homicide.

Meanwhile, Prosecuting Attorney Joshua Thornton is looking for answers to the murder of a childhood friend, a sheriff deputy whose cruiser is found at the bottom of a lake. The deputy had disappeared almost 20 years ago while privately investigating the murder of a local prostitute.

It doesn't take long for the Lovers in Crime to put their cases together to reveal a long-kept secret that some believe is worth killing to keep undercover.



Buy the Audiobook ~ Book
Book Description:

Joshua's eldest son, Joshua Thornton Jr. (J.J.) has graduated at the top of his class from law school and returns home to spend the summer studying for the bar exam. However, to Joshua's and Cameron's shock and dismay, J.J. moves into the main house at Russell Ridge Farm and Orchards, the largest dairy farm in the Ohio Valley, in order to rekindle a romance with Suellen Russell, the one-time leader of a rock band who is twice his age. Quickly, they learn that she has a deep dark secret.

The move brings long buried tensions between the father and son to the surface - not the least of which being J.J.'s inexplicable dislike for his stepmother Cameron. But when a brutal killer strikes, the Lovers in Crime must set all differences with Joshua's son aside to solve the crime before J.J. ends up in the cross-hairs of a murderer.


The Thorny Rose Mystery Series:



Buy the Audiobook ~ Book
Book Description:

Five women with seemingly nothing in common are found brutally murdered in a townhome outside Washington, DC. Among the many questions surrounding the massacre is what had brought these apparent strangers together only to be killed.

Taking on his first official murder case, Lieutenant Murphy Thornton, USN, believes that if he can uncover the thread connecting the victims, then he can find their murderer.

Before long, the case takes an unexpected turn when Murphy discovers that one of the victims has a connection to his stepmother, Homicide Detective Cameron Gates. One wintry night, over a dozen years before, her first husband, a Pennsylvania State trooper, had been run down while working a night shift on the turnpike.

In this first installment of the Thorny Rose Mysteries, Lieutenant Murphy Thornton and Jessica Faraday sift through a web of lies and cover-ups. Together, can the detectives uncover the truth without falling victim to a cunning killer?



Buy the Audiobook ~ Book
Book Description:

After 10 months of marital bliss, Jessica Faraday and Murphy Thornton are still discovering and adjusting to their life together. Settled in their new home, everything appears to be perfect...except in the middle of the night when, in the darkest shadows of her subconscious, a deep secret from Jessica's past creeps to the surface to make her strike out at Murphy.

When investigative journalist Dallas Walker tells the couple about her latest case, known as the Pine Bridge Massacre, they realize Jessica may have witnessed the murder of a family while visiting family at the winery near-by, and suppressed the memory.

Determined to uncover the truth and find justice for the murder victims, Jessica and Murphy return to the scene of the crime with Dallas Walker, a spunky bull-headed Texan. Can this family reunion bring closure for a community touched by tragedy or will this prickly get-together bring an end to the Thorny Rose couple?


Content Rating:


All of Lauren Carr's books are rated PG-13 because they are murder mysteries and will contains murder scenes. Some of the books contain violence associated with military assignments. There are some books that contain sex scenes which are not explicit. There is little profanity, no f-words.


Meet the Author:


Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband and three dogs (including the real Gnarly’s klutzy nephew Sterling) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.


Connect with Lauren: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook




Meet the Narrators:


Over the past several years Dan Lawson has appeared in numerous spots for radio, television and the internet. He has worked with All-State, Sprint PCS, Mountain Dew and many more. His unique ability to mimic existing characters and celebrities has landed him diverse voice match work ranging from Charlie Sheen to Morgan Freeman.

In 2008 Dan was cast as the first American voice actor for the Korean video game company, Nexon. Over the next several years Dan was the flagship voice of the company, appearing in such titles as Mabinogi, Maple Story, Vindictus, Dragon Nest, Dungeon Fighter Online and Atlantica. In total he has voiced nearly 100 characters for Nexon.

In late 2012 Dan’s voice over career took an unexpected turn into book narration. His first audition landed him the job of narrating The Psychology of Twilight, a psychological look at the wide-spread obsession of the Twilight saga created by Stephanie Meyer. Eighteen more audiobook narrations have followed and show no signs of slowing down.




C.J. McAllister is an Audible Approved Producer -- "Audible Approved producers are the best audiobook producers in the business." Only a small number are awarded this honor.

C.J. has produced best-selling audiobooks in multiple genres/styles, TV commercials/promo teasers, animation projects, interviews (TV and radio), corporate presentations.





Another Audible Approved narrator, voice actor James Lewis has established a solid reputation in fiction as well as non-ficton audiobooks. At latest count, he's narrated nearly 50.

Although his specialty is noir fiction, James has done several non-fiction books as well on a range of people and subjects: Butch and Sundance, General Custer, Revolutionary War, psychic development, taxes.

James Lewis has been awarded the AudioFile Earphone Award for narration, "The Last Outlaws". It's about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.




A broadcast veteran of over 30 years, Mike Alger is best known as the award-winning Chief Meteorologist for KTVN-TV in Reno, NV. He is also a successful author, having penned the Mystery-Thriller novel "Snow Storm," and is the narrator of the audiobook of the same name.









Enter the Giveaway!
Ends July 22
Prize:
One winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card
(Open internationally)


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5.28.2017

Love Letters from God ~ Review

Love Letter from God
Bible Stories for a Girl's Heart
Written by Glenys Nellist
Illustrated by Rachel Clowes

This book is a picture book that is perfect for reading with your young daughter/granddaughter or for an older young reader to read aloud.  Each of these 14 stories covers 2 pages. Illustrations accompany each story that focuses on a specific Biblical figure.

Stories are taken from both the Old and New Testaments and focus on a specific girl/woman. The stories look at Eve, Mariam, Rahab, Deborah, Hannah, Esther, Mary, Martha, Mary of Bethany, Mary Magdalene, and 4 other women who were unnamed. Each story is accompanied by a letter "from God" that is written to the reader. The last page is a large heart that when flipped open is lined for the reader to write her own love letter to God with her thoughts and feelings.

This is a book that is intended for the 4-8-year-old and in my opinion, this is an appropriate audience with a little wiggle room if you want to share on either end of the age range. The stories are not long so short attention spans will not be taxed. But if one is so inclined the referenced Scripture verses could be read as well adding to the story for older children as each story is a synopsis of the whole.

I was provided a review copy of this book by the publisher through Handlebar with no expectation of a positive review. All expressed opinions are my own.  

About the Book:
In this heart-warming picture book designed for girls, author Glenys Nellist tells the inspiring stories of incredible women in the Bible. With beautiful illustrations by Rachel Clowes and sweet lift-the-flap envelopes, each story delivers a special message for children to open as they read their own personal love letters from God. Full of warmth and love, this picture book will fill girls’ hearts with the wonder of the Lord. The stories of Eve, Miriam, Esther, Mary, and many more will delight children and remind them of the bond they can share with God, just like the women of the Bible.

5.24.2017

The Illusionist's Apprentice ~ Review

The Illusionist's Apprentice
By Kristy Cambron

Wren Lockhart is hiding a secret, and not just the secrets as to her illusions and how she performs them. Rather her secret is one that goes back to the moment her childhood ended 20 years prior and she'll do anything to protect what is hers...

But when a publicly touted illusion goes very wrong Wren becomes a person of interest to the FBI just because she witnessed the illusion from the outer fringes. But working with the FBI could hurt her reputation as an illusionist and bring the scorn of those within the profession upon her. But lives and reputations are at stake including Wren's and the FBI agents who are seeking the truth.

The Illusionist's Apprentice takes the reader back in time. The main focus of the book is set in 1927 with backstory reveals throughout that that take the reader to 1907, 1910 and 1916 as key moments from Wren's past are revealed. This is an intricate and complex illusion that will take all of Wren's efforts to discover who is behind this illusion. But she can't do it alone and must rely on the unwanted and, yet, appreciated help of the FBI - specifically Agent Elliot Matthews and his partner Agent Connor Finegan.  

Take a step back in time to the 1920's when life was not so technically tethered and enjoy a mystery that is wrapped in the deceptive and alluring power of illusion. The book is as entertaining as the cover hints at it being. Historical fiction, romance, and mystery this book will captivate you from the opening page. 

I was provided a review copy of this book by the Fiction Guild with no expectations of a positive review.  All opinions expressed are my own. 

About the Book:
Not all illusions happen on the stage...

Harry Houdini’s one-time apprentice holds fantastic secrets about the greatest illusionist in the world. But someone wants to claim them . . . or silence her before she can reveal them on her own.

Boston, 1926. Jenny “Wren” Lockhart is a bold eccentric—even for a female vaudevillian. As notorious for her inherited wealth and gentleman’s dress as she is for her unsavory upbringing in the back halls of a vaudeville theater, Wren lives in a world that challenges all manner of conventions.

In the months following Houdini’s death, Wren is drawn into a web of mystery surrounding a spiritualist by the name of Horace Stapleton, a man defamed by Houdini’s ardent debunking of fraudulent mystics in the years leading up to his death. But in a public illusion that goes terribly wrong, one man is dead and another stands charged with his murder. Though he’s known as one of her teacher’s greatest critics, Wren must decide to become the one thing she never wanted to be: Stapleton’s defender.

Forced to team up with the newly formed FBI, Wren races against time and an unknown enemy, all to prove the innocence of a hated man. In a world of illusion, of the vaudeville halls that showcase the flamboyant and the strange, Wren’s carefully constructed world threatens to collapse around her. Layered with mystery, illusion, and the artistry of the Jazz Age’s bygone vaudeville era, The Illusionist’s Apprentice is a journey through love and loss and the underpinnings of faith on each life’s stage.

5.23.2017

My Heart Belongs in the Superstition Mountains ~ Review

My Heart Belongs in the Superstition Mountains
Carmela's Quandry
By Susan Page Davis

Carmela Wade has been forced to live a lie perpetrated by her Uncle Silas. And she knows no one can help her escape it. Though orphaned she has never been the Indian captive her uncle has promoted her as. Carmela's entertaining and sensationalized lies have lined her uncle's pockets.

But when the stagecoach she and her uncle are traveling on is attacked, she finds herself in a completely unexpected situation. She's stranded in the middle of the Arizona Territory handcuffed to Deputy US Marshall Freeland McKay. Could this provide Carmela with the opportunity she has hoped for over the years? Or will she all too soon find herself again under her uncle's control?

This is a mildly entertaining book about second chances and redemption. The setting is the Arizona Territory in the 1860's following the Civil War. I was expecting more with the Superstition Mountains as it was so prominent in the title, so I was a little disappointed that they were just mentioned a few times and not even approached. This book is classified as a romance - which is very slight (a plus in my opinion) but if you are expecting more courting you may be disappointed.  If you are looking for a light read that will provide a few hours of reading escape you'll enjoy this book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review. All opinions expressed are my own.


About the Book:
Since being orphaned at age twelve, Carmela Wade has lived a lie, a lie orchestrated by her uncle, pretending to be a survivor of an Indian kidnapping and profiting from telling her made-up story on the speaker circuit. But as she matures into adulthood, Carmela hates the lies and longs to be free. On a stagecoach in Arizona Territory, Carmela and her uncle are fellow passengers with US Marshal Freeland McKay and his handcuffed prisoner.

The stage is attacked. Now a chance to make a new life may suddenly be within Carmela’s reach, if she can survive the harsh terrain and being handcuffed to an unconscious man.
 
Will Carmela’s wish come true, or will she forever be branded by her past?

5.22.2017

Catching the Wind ~ Review

Catching the Wind 
By Melanie Dobson

Catching the Wind is a beautiful story about the power of keeping a promise. This promise was one made nearly 80 years before and for Daniel Knight, time is running out. He is determined to keep Brigette, his childhood friend, safe and to see her again as he promised all those years ago before circumstance and war separated them.

This story takes the reader between the past and the present day as the search for Brigitte Berthold unfolds. Daniel and Brigitte escaped from the Gestapo who took their parents. But that is just the beginning of their journey as they make their way to England and safety. But the safety they hoped for was was not to be. And since the day Daniel last saw Brigitte he has wondered what became of her...

Seventy-seven years have passed and all Daniel's efforts to find his childhood friend have hit dead ends.  When Quenby Vaughn comes to Daniel's attention he is convinced that this young woman may be just who he needs. Quenby has a heart as her journalistic endeavors have shown and Daniel needs someone who will invest their heart in his search of a lifetime.

But convincing Quenby to take the job may be a tad difficult. And unfortunately for Lucas Hough he has been tasked with trying to get Quenby to accept the challenge. But Brigitte's story has a powerful pull and Quenby can't help but find herself intrigued by the mystery.

The mystery of Brigitte is about to coincide with a story that Quenby has been working on. A story that could very well expose a hidden secret, a secret that someone wants to keep hidden. And they are willing to do anything to stop Quenby and Lucas as they join forces in their search.

I have never read Melanie Dobson's work before and was thrilled to discover her work. She brings her characters to life. The back and forth between the past and the present is not detracting and just adds to the story's pull.  This book will appeal to those who love historical fiction with a very obvious thread of mystery that runs throughout. Also appealing is the gradual unveiling of Quenby's own story.

I was provided a complimentary review copy of this book by Tyndale House Publishers with no expectations of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own


About the Book:
What happened to Brigitte Berthold?

That question has haunted Daniel Knight since he was thirteen, when he and ten-year-old Brigitte escaped the Gestapo agents who arrested both their parents. They survived a harrowing journey from Germany to England, only to be separated upon their arrival. Daniel vowed to find Brigitte after the war, a promise he has fought to fulfill for more than seventy years.

Now a wealthy old man, Daniel’s final hope in finding Brigitte rests with Quenby Vaughn, an American journalist working in London. He believes Quenby’s tenacity to find missing people and her personal investment in a related WWII espionage story will help her succeed where previous investigators have failed. Though Quenby is wrestling her own demons—and wary at the idea of teaming up with Daniel’s lawyer, Lucas Hough—the lure of Brigitte’s story is too much to resist. Together, Quenby and Lucas delve deep into the past, following a trail of deception, sacrifice, and healing that could change all of their futures.

5.21.2017

Peace in the Valley ~ Review

Peace in the Valley
Double S Ranch #3
By Ruth Logan Herne

Trey Walker Stafford is coming home to the Double S Ranch, hoping to repair Sam Stafford for rescuing him after his parents' death.  Trey's the best match for providing Sam with the liver donation he needs to live and he has to do this for Sam even if the potential risks have him scared as to the outcome.

Unfortunately, Trey's return home is less than peaceful when he's involved in an incident that results in his neighbor's car being damaged. Lucy Carlton has yet another grievance to add to her list of wrongs the Stafford's have committed. But when Trey makes good on his promise to repair the damage he's caused no one is more surprised than Lucy. But she's suspicious of just what Trey's intentions are. Is she a charity case that he can chalk up on his good deeds list or is his concern genuine? Lucy and her kids are about to find out just who Trey is and Lucy is prepared for yet another disappointment in her life.

Peace in the Valley is the third book in the Double S Ranch series that focuses on the Stafford family and Gray's Glen.  This series follows family patriarch Sam Stafford and his change of heart. His life was spent trying to make the Double S Ranch a name to be reckoned with at the cost of his sons, his marriages, and the neighbors around him. Now with his health in a marked decline, Sam is trying to repair the years of damage he has done.  Each book in the series focuses on a different son and this book focuses on his third son Trey, who isn't his son by birth but rather his adopted nephew.

This is a book that focuses on family, faith and the power of redemption. Peace in the Valley is Trey's search for peace in his life - the peace he knows is possible but which has escaped him due to the losses he has experienced.  And this is a story of second chances and that everyone deserves this chance.

Readers who haven't read the first two books in this series can easily read and follow this story and later go back to read the previous books. For those who are interested in genre placement, this is a contemporary Christian romance fiction. This would be a good vacation read to take with you.

I was provided a review copy of this book by the publisher through Blogging for Books with no expectation of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.


About the Book:
In spite of their differences, Trey Walker Stafford knows he owes his life to cowboy and legendary rancher Sam Stafford—the uncle who rescued him after his parents’ death. Trey had left the Double S Ranch to pursue music against Sam’s wishes, but returns to central Washington when he learns he’s the best match for a procedure that could save Sam’s life. Although Trey’s found country music fame and success, he’s also endured the tragic loss of his wife. He croons about love, but struggles with a yawning emptiness he can’t explain.

Overwhelmed by a growing list of challenges, but mistrustful of Stafford men, single mother Lucy Carlton reluctantly accepts Trey’s help to revive her crumbling farm when Sam instructs him to repay the overdue debt to her family.

As the two grow closer, Trey slowly begins to open his heart to this beautiful woman and strives to let go of the grief he’s held for years. Lucy has a complicated history of her own. Can Trey accept her as she is, learn to forgive the past, and find the elusive peace he's sought for so long?


About the Author:
Ruth Logan Herne has more than a million books in print, including eighteen Love Inspired contemporary novels and Back in the Saddle, Book 1 in the Double S Ranch series. Ruth is a founding member of Seekerville, a popular writing-collective blog. A country girl who loves the big city, Ruth and her husband live on a farm in upstate New York.

Shatter ~ Review with Excerpt and Giveaway

Shatter
By Nikki Trionfo

It is Salem's junior year in high school, but nothing is as it should be. Her sister is dead and Salem is convinced that Carrie's death was no accident. But how do you prove something when no one believes it is possible?

Set in the heart of California's farming community of Verona a clash is about to take place one that will pit growers against pickers. And Salem finds herself in the middle with her father, a grower, and Carrie's legacy as a union supporter. Who could have wanted to hurt Carrie? And even more disturbing who buried a murdered worker in their orchard and is it related to Carrie's death?

Determined to learn the truth about Carrie and her death, Salem enters into a dangerous quest for the truth. One that brings to light a secret that Carrie was keeping, one that could explain why she was targeted. But without knowing the why of Carrie's actions a very large question still remains who. And finding the answer just may cost Salem her life.

The deeper she delves the more questions she raises and she questions who she can truly trust.  Time is running out as the area threatens to erupt over workers' rights.

This book will open the reader's eyes to the plight of migrant/immigrant workers and the fears that they face as the attempt to support their families. The power and draw of gangs is also explored throughout this book.

The book moves forward from the first day of school with flashbacks to key moments in Salem's life that play a role in explaining what lead to Carrie's death.  This is a powerful and moving story that teens will be drawn into. This is a realistic read that will expose readers to a world that they may know little about other than an occasional news snippet they hear.

I highly recommend this book for tween and teen readers and it would make an excellent choice for a book club reading selection. This will be a book to keep them reading all night - which with summer just around the corner would be an excellent all nighter.

I was provided a review copy of this book by the publisher with no expectation of a positive review.



About the Book:

“We never knew there could be people in the orchard. 
Dangerous people.”


When a mysterious explosion kills her sister, Salem becomes convinced the death was no accident--it was a conspiracy. But no one else at her high school believes her, and all she has so far are theories and clues. With Carrie's killers still out there, Salem's not sure who she can trust. If she can't she prove she’s right before it’s too late, the conspiracy might take another life—hers.


Excerpt:


The class is dead silent. Mr. White’s lips tighten. He swallows. There’s something
dangerous about the new guy. The teacher leans over AddyDay’s desk and spins her packet so he
can read the list of partnerships. “Fine. We’ll break up the threesome. You’ll pair with . . . Salem
Jefferson.”

At the sound of my name, I turn to look at my new partner.

The guy near the door is tall. He has the kind of incredible good looks that invite stares,
but that’s not the only reason he’s getting them now. The cursive lettering of a tattoo rises from
the opening of the guy’s worn flannel shirt. Two gold chains hang from his brown neck. A guy
accessorized in gang paraphernalia, not caked with it. His only completely visible marking is an
upside down V inked onto his right cheekbone, black and distinct. The tattoo calls my attention
for some reason, even though I’m sure I’ve never seen a symbol like that before. An upside
down V . . . it seems so familiar.

His expressionless, dark eyes dart to meet my gaze from under a stiff, backward-facing
ball cap. My classmates watch him stare at me.

“Salem Jefferson,” he says slowly, putting a slight emphasis on my last name. He waits
for my response.

I realize he knows exactly who Salem Jefferson is. Exactly who I am. I’m Carrie’s sister.

Terrified, I whirl back around to face forward. Gang members targeted Carrie, made her
frightened. Was he one of them? The skin between my shoulder blades tightens. Why were gang
guys after Carrie?

Giveaway:
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Author Bio:

Nikki Trionfo lives in Riverton, Utah with five kids, a CrossFit-training husband who writes computer code, and lots of hip hop background music. Her teen murder mystery, SHATTER (May '17 from Cedar Fort), won the grand prize in LDStorymakers’ First Chapter Alongside Heather Clark, she hosts free writing webinars on YouTube at #50FirstChapters.

A committed party-girl, Nikki serves as the social coordinator of LDStorymakers Conference and chair of Storymakers Tribe. Other notable stuff includes an honorable mention in Writers of the Future and a spot in Utah Horror Writer's shorty-story anthology. This all sounds really serious, but if you run into her, she gets down. Truly.

Learn more:
Dig into the Shatter World. Books about unions and reformed gang members. Blogs about my experiences writing with diversity. Some of the posts are League of Utah Writers award-winning essays. http://www.nikkitrionfo.com/shatterworld/