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Monday, December 5, 2016

Iola Goulton Reviews FATAL FROST by Nancy Mehl

Iola Goulton Reviews FATAL FROST by Nancy Mehl

Amazon Description:

Mehl Ramps Up the Suspense in This Brand-New U.S. Marshals Series

Mercy Brennan followed in her father's footsteps in a law enforcement career, but she has no interest in any other connection to him. A U.S. Marshal in St. Louis, Missouri, she's assigned to a joint task force with the St. Louis PD that puts her back into contact with her father and in the sights of St. Louis's most powerful gang.

When the gang has reason to believe Mercy has possession of some highly sensitive and incriminating information, her boss assigns Mark St. Laurent--a Deputy U.S. Marshal and Mercy's ex-boyfriend--to get her out of town until they can guarantee her safety.

Initially unaware of the danger she's in and uncomfortable working with Mark, Mercy's frustration escalates when she discovers the extent her boss and Mark have been keeping her in the dark. It isn't until a freak ice storm hits, stranding them at a remote location and out of contact with the district office, that the full severity of their situation becomes clear. As the storm worsens, the forces of nature combine with a deadly enemy closing in to put their lives at imminent risk. Can they survive long enough for help to arrive--if help is even coming at all?

My Review:

Well, the book description promised suspense, and Fatal Frost delivered in spades and shovels and snow.

Lots of snow.

This illustrates my one possible complaint with Fatal Frost: the title and cover underplay the suspense. The cover reflects my picture of a frost: a little frozen ground which means you have to walk carefully. But the novel features a full-on snow storm, with ice that drives their car off the road, and snow so deep they can’t even consider going for help. My nails survived, but only just.

But FATAL FROST is more than nail-biting suspense. It’s also got strong characters, interesting characters, characters with history. Mercy and Mark used to date … until he became a Christian. Now they’re being forced to work together again, and she’s not happy about it, not least because of Mark’s faith. Working with them is Tally, Mercy’s next-door neighbour and childhood best friend, who is also reconsidering questions of faith.

This, I think, is one of the strengths of Fatal Frost: it’s not just suspense and romance. There is a strong Christian theme in that Mark is a Christian, and Tally is considering Christianity since his wife has started taking their children to church. Being forced into close confines—and danger—forces Mercy to consider God for herself … and reconsider Mark, and why she broke up with him.

I won’t say more—you need to read this for yourself. Recommended for Christian suspense fans, especially those looking for more than just romance and suspense in their Christian romantic suspense.

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free e-book for review.


About Reviewer Iola Goulton:



I am a freelance editor specializing in Christian fiction, and you can find out more about my services at my website, or follow me on FacebookTwitterPinterest or Tsu .

I love reading, and read and review around 150 Christian books each year on my blog. I'm a Top 25 Reviewer at Christian Book, in the Top 1% of reviewers at Goodreads, and have an Amazon US Reviewer Rank that floats around 2500 (and I'm in the Top 50 at Amazon Australia).

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Marji Laine Reviews DEATH OF A COUCH POTATO'S WIFE by Christy Barritt

Marji Laine reviews DEATH OF A COUCH POTATO'S WIFE by Christy Barritt


Short Version from Amazon:

Welcome to Boring, Indiana, home to patio cookouts, homeowner dues, carpeted lawns, and neighbors so welcoming they’re dying to meet you — literally.

City slicker turned suburbanite housewife Laura Berry isn’t taking well to life in her new neighborhood. She moved to follow her husband’s dream, and now she can’t tell if she’s clinically depressed or just bored half to death. But Boring becomes anything but when Laura discovers her neighbor Candace Flynn face up on a sofa with her hand buried in a snack bag. With a healthy dose of neighborly suspicion and street smarts, Laura sets out to find Flynn’s killer, but her curiosity becomes desperation when the killer targets Laura.

Someone is determined to stop her from digging deeper into the murder, but Laura is just as determined to figure out who’s behind the death-by-poisoned-pork-rinds.

My Take:

Death by poisoned pork rinds in Boring, Indiana is only the beginning of the humor with this story. And Laura Berry had more issues than her neighbor's strange murder.

I've enjoyed one other book by Christy Barritt, a riveting romantic suspense called DUBIOSITY. So I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this cozy, but the author proved to be as adept at humor as she is at action and the tension of a suspense. The characters in this town are vivid and more than a little quirky. From the sheriff who sounds like a broken record to the perfect housewife with perfect skin and teeth to the septuagenarian who perpetually abides in her teenage years (complete with attitude). They offered ample suspects for the crime as well as some hilarity in their normal interaction.

And the twists to this mystery are exquisite. I was sure about the culprit, then I wasn't sure. I can tell you I figured things out early on in the story, only to have the continuing battery of complications and viable suspects convince me of other culprits. What a plot weaver.

Fans of cozy mysteries and humorous stories will enjoy this clever book! And take advantage of it as an audio-book. The narrator was outstanding and listening to the story made many hours in the car sheer delight.

About the Senior Reviewer:

Suspense Sister, Marji Laine, loves books and writing. Her own Grime Fighter novella series, about a crime scene cleaner, involves mystery, romance, and a touch of suspense. She's also just released her first full novel, COUNTER POINT, for pre-order.

Living in a Dallas suburb with her hubby of almost 30 years and her twins - the youngest of four - she spends her days homeschooling and transporting her teenagers to various functions, especially volleyball games. She also directs the children's music, helps with the youth choir, and sings in the adult choir at her church, as well as coordinates the high school credit classes along with the website of a large home school co-op. In addition to all of that, she's just been named the Executive Director of Write Integrity Press.

Join her at MarjiLaine.com or follow her on FacebookTwitter, or visit her Amazon author page.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Lill Kohler reviews EVERYBODY'S BROKEN by Fay Lamb

Lill Kohler reviews EVERYBODY'S BROKEN by Fay Lamb

Short Version from Amazon:

The walls have ears … and voices. Voices that threaten …

Abra Carmichael's husband, Beau, has been murdered. She begins to realize that the man she loved was never who he seemed. Beau's secrets endanger Abra, their twin sons, and everyone who loved him. When Abra's life and the lives of their boys are threatened, she flees to Amazing Grace, North Carolina, and to Beau's family—people she never knew existed until the day of Beau's funeral.

For six years Shane Browne, an award-winning songwriter had both wished for and dreaded the return of his cousin. Beau's departure from their small hometown left behind his family and his inheritance, a grand Victorian with its legend of secret passages, which lay empty. Empty until Abra moves to Amazing Grace, into the house Beau willed to her only weeks before his death.

Shane finds himself deeply drawn to Abra and her sons, desiring a future with them and his daughter. But the danger follows Abra to the peacefulness of the North Carolina mountains. Abra and Shane are both threatened, and Abra claims to hear noises deep within the walls of the old home.

Shane will do everything possible to keep Abra and her boys safe, even if that means revealing secrets of his own that will completely shatter Abra's already broken heart and destroy his relationship with everyone he loves.

My Take:

This is my first time to read a novel by Faye Lamb. I must say she has a flare for twists and turns in a story that even when I figured out who is the villain was, I kept turning the pages. In Everyone’s Broken Fay Lamb shows how we see ourselves may not necessarily be how others see us.

As the main character, Abra, struggles to piece life together while hiding out from the man who killed her husband, she discovers this truth. Her eyes are opened and she’s faced with dealing with who she really is and what these new revelations mean to her future. And as her world seems to be turned upside down she rediscovers her relationship with God and His presence in her life.

The male lead in this novel is Shane. As I turned the pages I discovered a faithful man who withholds truth in order to protect those he loves. He too learns the importance of honesty and how painful lies, even when told to protect, can hurt. But, he also learns about forgiveness and its power of healing.

As family and friends work to solve the mysteries surrounding deaths and attacks their stories and hidden truths also emerge. Together and united, they figure out all the mysteries that need solving. It was a pleasure to see each character grow and each story come to a satisfactory conclusion. I highly recommend Fay Lamb’s book to anyone who has a passion for romantic-suspense.

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review.

About the Reviewer:

Lill Kohler wears many hats…mother, grandmother, nurse, writer, blogger, housekeeper, and aspiring gardener. Each holds importance in her heart, but none as great as following the leading of God. She is published in Guidepost’s book Heavenly Company: Entertaining Angels Unaware and OakTara’s Falling In Love With You. You can follow her posts on her blog sites: www.rocking-myworld.blogspot.com, www.AbueSpeaks.wordpress.com, lillkohler.wordpress.com.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Sandra Ardoin Reviews COUNTER POINT by Marji Laine

Sandra Ardoin Reviews COUNTER POINT by Marji Laine

Amazon Short Version:

Someone wants to complete the final assignment of a murdered hit man. 

Her dad's gone, her diner's closing, and her car's in the lake. Cat McPherson has nothing left to lose ... except her life. And a madman, bent on revenge, is determined to take that, as well. Her former boyfriend, Ray Alexander, returns as a hero from his foreign mission, bringing back souvenirs in the form of death-threats. When several attempts are made on Cat’s life, she must find a way to trust Ray, the man who broke her heart.

Keeping Cat safe from a fallen cartel leader might prove impossible for Ray, but after seeing his mission destroyed and hearing of the deaths of several godly people, he knows better than to ignore the man’s threats. Cat’s resistance to his protection and the stirring of his long-denied feelings for her complicate his intentions, placing them both in a fight for their lives. How can a small-town girl survive when ultimate power wants her dead?

My Thoughts:

This one starts off creepy (in a good way) and keeps on charging with suspense and yummy twists. Poor Cat is dealing with the recent death of her father and the future loss of his restaurant—his legacy. Throw in the return of the man with whom she once thought she’d spend her life, along with someone trying to kill her, and… Well, her days get a little hairy, like this:

A loud explosion rocked the car. The wheel jerked out of her hand. The right side reeled. […] Screeching tires silenced when the car shot over the edge of a steep embankment. Another loud pop. The world went white. She lost her breath as the airbag pressed her against the seat. […] The car contacted solid mass and glass shattered.

[…] The airbag drained with puffs of white powder and she found herself in the upper branches of a cottonwood tree overlooking Lake Grayson.

Ray deals with a sense of failure. He’s hailed a hero when he returns home, but people don’t know the truth of the situation, and he’s trying to find a way to tell them, especially Cat. This plot line was built up quite a bit—as it should have been—but I would have liked to have seen a bit more reaction from Cat and others. I liked Ray, though. He’s an everyday guy, dedicated to telling people of the gospel and someone who wants to do the right thing, but doesn’t always succeed. In other words, he’s human.

While I had an idea of the “whodunit” (won’t say if I was right or not), I have to tell you Marji Laine threw in various twists, but came up with one at the end that took me by complete surprise. And she doesn’t play nice with her characters. She makes them earn their place in the story.

Bottom line: If plenty of action and danger gets your reading juices flowing, you’ll want to read Counter Point, the first book in the Heath Point Mystery series. As for me, I’m looking forward to meeting Daisy, Grady, Dell and others in Book Two.

About the Reviewer:

Sandra Ardoin writes inspirational historical romance. She’s the author of The Yuletide Angel and A Reluctant Melody. A wife and mom, she’s also a reader, football fan, NASCAR watcher, garden planter, country music listener, and antique store prowler.


Visit her at www.sandraardoin.com and on the Seriously Write blog. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Pinterest. Join her email community to receive occasional updates and a free short story.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Iola Goulton reviews POINTE AND SHOOT by Alison Stone

Iola Goulton reviews Pointe and Shoot by Alison Stone

Amazon Description:

Jayne Murphy has always put family first. That’s why she abandoned her dream of joining the police force to run her ailing mother’s dance studio.

When one of the studio’s most talented instructors dies in a car crash, Jayne isn’t convinced it was just an accident. Relentlessly pursuing her hunch, she teams up with Officer Danny Nolan, the best friend and partner of her brother Patrick, who died in the line of duty. Haunted by Patrick’s death, Danny has begun to question whether he should still be a cop at all.

As Jayne digs deeper, suspects emerge, including the victim’s clingy ex-boyfriend and a jealous foe from the cutthroat dance world. Her evolving insights into the case rekindle Jayne’s passion for police work. Danny, too, feels a renewed sense of purpose…and a definite attraction to his unofficial partner, which seems to be mutual. Now, if Jayne can only keep herself out of harm’s way, she and Danny both might get a second chance—with their careers and each other.

My Review:

Pointe and Shoot … it’s a great title, and one that had me hooked from the opening line. I just knew something bad was going to happen, and sure enough, it did.

Everyone thinks Miss Melinda’s death is an unfortunate accident, but her boss, Jayne, isn’t so sure. But no one wants to listen when she says she believes Miss Melinda was lured onto the dark lakeside road. Not the police chief, not her policeman brothers, and not even Danny, her dead brother’s patrol partner.

This is where it got clever. Most of the novel is written in third person from Jayne’s point of view. But some chapters are written in first person, from the point of view of the unknown assailant, which means the reader knows it was murder. Kind of … I thought the use of first person here was inspired, because it meant we knew nothing about the assailant, not even their gender. Clever!

Miss Natalie, the owner of the ballet school and Jayne’s mother, has Alzheimer’s. It’s a horrible affliction, and I was impressed with the sensitive way it was portrayed, and with Jayne’s unfailing patience with her mother—on her good days, and her not-so-good days. I did, however, have less charitable thoughts towards Jayne’s brothers for some of their attitudes …

There were a few annoying writing niggles—overuse of words like “noticed” (I always figure if I notice a word, it’s been used enough that I notice the word over the writing). And I would have liked a little more of the developing romance between Jayne and Danny—it did feel like this got left behind in the suspense plot. Hey, I like my romantic suspense to have a little more romance than suspense!

But don’t let that put you off. Pointe and Shoot was an excellent suspense (with romantic overtones), set in a ballet school run by a non-ballerina who once wanted to be a police officer. And which ended with a tantalizing hint that this might be the first book in a series. If so, I’ll be back for more.

Thanks to Waterfall Press and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Reviewer Iola Goulton:


I am a freelance editor specializing in Christian fiction, and you can find out more about my services at my website, or follow me on FacebookTwitterPinterest or Tsu .

I love reading, and read and review around 150 Christian books each year on my blog. I'm a Top 25 Reviewer at Christian Book, in the Top 1% of reviewers at Goodreads, and have an Amazon US Reviewer Rank that floats around 2500 (and I'm in the Top 50 at Amazon Australia).

Monday, October 31, 2016

Beth Ann Ziarnik Reviews SARATOGA LETTERS by Elaine Marie Cooper

Beth Ann Ziarnik reviews SARATOGA LETTERS by Elaine Marie Cooper

Amazon Short Version:                                                        
It is 1777. The Battle of Saratoga, a turning point of the Revolutionary War, encourages the American Continental Army with their first great victory. But there seemed little to celebrate for one patriotic woman forced to nurse wounded British soldiers right in their war camp. Thrust into deception by a cruel Loyalist uncle, Abigail is forced to lie in order to survive, all the while dealing with fears that challenge her faith. Danger stalks her everywhere, yet her salvation springs from an unexpected source.

Then…

 Two hundred years later, on the anniversary of the Battle of Saratoga, thousands arrive from Europe and the United States to celebrate the event—including descendants from the war. One young American, Abby, meets another offspring of a British soldier. When her life is threatened, Abby turns to the only person she knows at the event—her British ally. Can she trust him with her life? Or will he betray her in the same way Loyalist spies betrayed her ancestors? Perhaps letters from long ago will reveal the truth.

My Take:

When I first realized that Saratoga Letters was a two-part novel with two separate stories—one in the 1777 and the other in more modern times—I wondered how author Elaine Marie Cooper could pull it off successfully. A fan of her earlier novels, I should have known she was up to the challenge. The result is a riveting Christian historical romantic suspense,

As with her other novels, Elaine brings to this one an astonishingly rich and authentic knowledge of Revolutionary War times. In this case, the use of the herbs, medicines, and other medical care which Abigail had learned from her father. Her talent thrust her into great danger as a hidden patriot in a Loyalist field hospital. The author is also adept at using the mores and customs of the times to steep her heroine in even greater danger.

Two hundred years later, within the second part of the story, the author fascinates with the many facets of holding a reenactment of the original battle. Costumes, parts to be played, and so much more, along with danger that comes from that past to the descendants of the first story. I was fascinated by the many cords that connected the two stories, knitting them together as one. Yet each story has its own challenges to the romance and suspense elements.

I heartily recommend Saratoga Letters to avid readers of romantic suspense, lovers of Revolutionary War times, and historical reenactment fans. What a pleasure it was to read this novel given to me for an honest review.

About the Reviewer:

Beth Ann Ziarnik realized her long-time dream of becoming an inspirational romantic suspense author when HER DEADLY INHERITANCE released in January this year. She loves writing stories with all the twists, turns, cliffhangers, and romantic tension she and readers of romantic suspense love.

Co-founder of Word & Pen Christian Writers in Northeast Wisconsin and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, she also teaches a women’s Bible study. Married 47 years to her sweetheart, she is the blessed mother of two sons, grandmother of five, and great-grandmother of one.
Connect with Beth at her blog, and on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Therese Heckenkamp Reviews REDZONE by Kelli Hughett


Therese Heckenkamp Reviews REDZONE by Kelli Hughett

Synopsis from Amazon:

When Marcy Farris comes face to face with a murder victim at a high school football game, she's plunged into a game no one wants to play. Despite police assurances, she knows this wasn't a random murder. But to prove otherwise she'll have to tackle the painful memories of her husband's suicide.

Struck down by an injury in his prime, former NFL linebacker, Jack Briggs, wonders if there's life after football. His perspective changes when he meets Marcy. Though she's out of his league, Jack finds himself drawn to Marcy's "go-for-it" demeanor. Now, as the killer stalks Marcy, Jack has to prove he still has moves before the killer has a chance to exact his revenge on Marcy.

There is no overtime in the game of murder—only sudden death.

My Review:
You don’t have to be a football fan to enjoy this novel. I’ll admit I’m not even very knowledgeable about the sport, but that didn’t hinder my interest in this story at all, and I appreciated the unique theme and settings. The characters and plot are engaging and keep the story moving with plenty of suspense, romance, and emotion.

Marcy Farris is a mother of two and weighed down with heavy personal baggage. Believing she drove her NFL agent husband to suicide, she harbors guilt and regret and is haunted by memories. Struggling with issues of self-worth, she has good reason to want to keep her distance from professional football players—especially ex-football players. So when ex-NFL linebacker Jack Briggs enters her life, things get complicated.

Forced into a very early retirement due to his football injury, Jack misses the game immensely and there’s a huge emptiness inside him. Football was his world. What else could life possibly have to offer? When he meets Marcy, he feels a spark of life for the first time in a long time, but there are plenty of challenges to their budding relationship—not the least being the threat of a killer closing in.

Marcy is drawn to Jack, yet she’s extremely wary. She wonders why this charming man, a former NFL star, could possibly be interested in her. But loneliness and longing propel her closer to him. Their relationship has plenty of give-and-take, misunderstandings, character development, and faith growth.

When Marcy literally fumbles across a body before a state championship game, the plot thickens. Authorities label it a random murder, but Jack and Marcy don’t buy it. And in different ways, they both feel responsible for the tragedy. Will one of them uncover the truth before it’s too late?

Meanwhile, as the reader learns things the characters don’t, suspense builds. The villain fears what certain people might piece together, so he calculates his moves carefully to protect himself and his secrets. Some viewpoint scenes provide strong clues to the villain’s identity, yet still keep the reader unsure till near the end, when we do discover the truth—but since Marcy hasn’t, she may walk right into disaster.

Red Zone is definitely a satisfying Christian suspense novel, and I think it’s particularly fitting for this football season time of year.

About the Reviewer:


Therese Heckenkamp loves to read and write and read about writing. She’s thrilled to be living her childhood dream as an author and has published three Christian suspense novels so far: Past Suspicion, Frozen Footprints, and After the Thaw. A busy wife and mother of three, Therese fits in writing time whenever she can manage (and sometimes when she can’t). Visit her at ThereseHeckenkamp.com and follow her on Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, and Twitter.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Brittany McEuen reviews THE WITNESSES by Robert Whitlow

Brittany McEuen reviews THE WITNESSES by Robert Whitlow

About the book (from Goodreads):

Young lawyer Parker House is on the rise—until his grandfather’s mysterious past puts both of their lives in danger.

Parker House’s secret inheritance is either his greatest blessing . . . or his deadliest curse. The fresh-faced North Carolina attorney shares his German grandfather’s uncanny ability to see future events in his mind’s eye—a gift that has haunted 82-year-old Frank House through decades of trying to erase a murderous wartime past.

While Parker navigates the intrigue and politics of small-town courtroom law, Frank is forced to face his darkest regrets. Then, a big career break for Parker collides with a new love he longs to nurture and the nightmares his grandfather can no longer escape. Sudden peril threatens to shatter not only Parker’s legal prospects but also his life and the lives of those dearest to him.

Two witnesses, two paths, an uncertain future.

My review:

I enjoyed this legal drama. It was not a fast-moving ride, rather a slow and steady progression throughout the novel. I liked that there was a dual timeline that involved the present (or recent present of 2003) as well as frequent treks into the past. In this way, I was able to see what happened through the eyes of Franz Haus, a German soldier with an uncanny ability. I enjoyed both timelines, but found the portions in the past to be very interesting.

The Witnesses was not a story with a lot of action and heavy suspense. Instead, there was a general feeling of concern that threaded its way through the novel as events began to unfold that made it clear that someone was looking into Franz Haus and his past. Although I felt that the resolution of this possible threat was a bit quick, I still was ultimately satisfied with the outcome. The salvation message and the truth of God’s forgiveness were clear in the story and both were woven in very nicely. The Witnesses would be good reading for those who enjoy legal dramas and a bit of World War II history.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

About Reviewer Brittany McEuen:

I am a busy homeschooling mom to four children, ranging from kindergarten to high school. I’m happily married to my high school sweetheart and am an avid reader and book reviewer. I feature book reviews, giveaways, and occasional author interviews on my blog, Britt Reads Fiction. You can also connect with me on Pinterest and Goodreads.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Marji Laine Reviews TARGETED FOR MURDER by Elizabeth Goddard

Marji Laine Reviews TARGETED FOR MURDER by Elizabeth Goddard

Amazon Short Version: 

With his dying breath, Hadley Mason's fatally shot father reveals he's a CIA agent…and a bounty has been placed on both their heads. Heeding his urgent warning to disappear and trust no one, Hadley flees into the Oregon wilderness, but she can't shake the string of hired killers on her trail. So when a fearless and too-handsome wilderness guide comes to her rescue, Hadley has no choice but to put her life in Cooper Wilde's hands. The former Green Beret vows to protect her, but beyond steep gorges and treacherous terrain, a ruthless man will stop at nothing to see her dead. 

My Take:

When you pick up this book for the first time, make sure you're caught up on sleep and can hold your breath for a while. Elizabeth Goddard is a master at adding layers of suspense, and TARGETED FOR MURDER is no exception. Hadley Mason doesn't have a chance to live. If the first assassin fails, a steady march of new ones will take his place until the job is complete and Hadley is dead. 

I got exhausted by the time I'd reached Chapter Three. 

The book doesn't stop with doses of suspense. It matches equal parts of romance with the entrance of  Cooper Wilde, a wilderness survival trainer. Bigger than life heroes, especially when they're broken by their past and make mistakes throughout the plot, rivet me to the story. Coop is made especially vulnerable by Hadley. Though she's in desperate need of help, she's far from waif-like. Her strength draws him as much as her circumstances. 

As much as the suspense and romance kept me turning the pages, the action in this book propelled me to keep reading. From the second page, the intensity grew with on life-threatening event after another. The attacks came on without allowing the characters or me to stop and rest, breathe. I found myself flipping the pages instead of turning them. Turning them just wasn't fast enough!

Love Inspired Suspense and Elizabeth Goddard are a perfect match! May they continue to put out these incredible stories together! I'm so blessed to have been given a copy of TARGETED FOR MURDER by the author in return for an honest review. It was a true pleasure to read this book!

About the Senior Reviewer:

Suspense Sister, Marji Laine, loves books and writing. Her own Grime Fighter novella series, about a crime scene cleaner, involves mystery, romance, and a touch of suspense. She's also just released her first full novel, COUNTER POINT, for pre-order.

Living in a Dallas suburb with her hubby of almost 30 years and her twins - the youngest of four - she spends her days homeschooling and transporting her teenagers to various functions, especially volleyball games. She also directs the children's music, helps with the youth choir, and sings in the adult choir at her church, as well as coordinates the high school credit classes along with the website of a large home school co-op. In addition to all of that, she's just been named the Executive Director of Write Integrity Press.

Join her at MarjiLaine.com or follow her on FacebookTwitter, or visit her Amazon author page.


Monday, October 3, 2016

Iola Goulton Reviews THE SENATOR'S YOUNGEST DAUGHTER by Kelley Rose Waller

Iola Goulton Reviews THE SENATOR'S YOUNGEST DAUGHTER by Kelley Rose Waller

Book Description:

Senator A.C. McFerren has been missing for more than six months. The obvious prime suspect in his disappearance is the homegrown terrorist group known as the Army of Social Justice.

Searching for her kidnapped father leads Brenna McFerren Jefferson to the terrorists’ elusive “Death of Government” headquarters, known as The Doghouse. But nosing around where the federal government won’t investigate puts a target on her family and sets in motion a rebellion she isn’t prepared to lead.

Dreams of liberty cause the Senator’s daughter to disguise herself for undercover recon, recruit a high-ranking defector, and partner with a subversive news agency that combats government propaganda. As Brenna’s strength and family ties are tested, she unites a political party that commands the power to transform the United States.

My Review:

The Senator’s Youngest Daughter gets off to a powerful start, introducing us to the ‘new’ USA, and to Brenna being chased by a gang of unknown assailants. It then gets a little shaky—there are a lot of characters and a lot of back story to introduce, and that did get a little confusing. But once I sorted out who was who among the government, the Army of Social Justice, the Versives and the Litants, it got a lot easier to read.

I could also have found the start a little shaky because the novel is written in first person (which I usually enjoy) present tense (which, while I usually enjoy it, I also always find it takes me a while to get into it). There were also a few odd phrases, like “I think” which didn’t seem necessary given the first person viewpoint.

No matter.

Once I found my way into the story, it was rip-roaring good suspense as Brenna and her family attempt to rescue first their kidnapped father, then rescue their country from the hands of a power-crazed dictator (who proves a dictator is a dictator. Left, right, centre. The politics don’t matter. What matters is the power, and their willingness not to allow law or civil liberties to get in their way).

The novel explores a USA where much of the battle is being fought in the media, both official and underground. It’s also a USA where religion has been effectively banned, although this isn’t explored as much as the political differences, were right becomes wrong and everyone who opposes the President is labelled a terrorist (and made to look like one in the official media).

Brenna is an interesting narrator. She’s bright, beautiful and talented, but doesn’t necessarily know her own value. Fortunately, her husband is there to reinforce her strong points and make up for her weak points (great example of a marriage, although I’m sure we’re all happy not to be in the situation Brenna is in!).

Overall, an enjoyable suspense read—and it’s well worth the effort of persevering even if you get a little confused in the beginning.

Thanks to the author for providing a free ebook for review.
About Reviewer Iola Goulton:


I am a freelance editor specializing in Christian fiction, and you can find out more about my services at my website, or follow me on FacebookTwitterPinterest or Tsu .

I love reading, and read and review around 150 Christian books each year on my blog. I'm a Top 25 Reviewer at Christian Book, in the Top 1% of reviewers at Goodreads, and have an Amazon US Reviewer Rank that floats around 2500 (and I'm in the Top 50 at Amazon Australia).

Monday, September 26, 2016

Sybil Bates McCormack reviews AGAINST THE TIDE by Melody Carlson.

Sybil Bates McCormack reviews AGAINST THE TIDE by Melody Carlson.

The Publisher’s Summary: 

Returning home for her father's funeral, big-city reporter Megan McCallister is brutally attacked—confirming her suspicions that her father's mysterious death was no accident. But only her childhood friend, Garret Larsson, believes her theory. The teenager she once knew has grown into a brave, honorable man…but can he keep her alive long enough to find the truth? Garret needs Megan to leave town, but he wants her to stay. He knows about the secrets her newspaperman father uncovered and the dangerous exposĂ© he was writing. And now Megan has vowed to finish her father's final article. Someone's determined to kill the story—and Megan along with it—but he'll have to go through Garret first.

 My Take: 

Author Melody Carlson—the award-winning writer of more than 200 inspirational and teen fiction books—has got a way with story. That statement will come as no surprise to the legions of readers who have purchased, devoured and ruminated over tales transcribed by that prolific pen of hers. And here’s what’s even more astonishing: Mrs. Carlson continues to create and deliver books that intrigue, that entertain, that inform and that delight her most ardent fans. “Against the Tide” proves no exception.

Though set in fictional Cape Perpetua on the picturesque Oregon coast, there’s nothing sleepy or tranquil about this novel. From the moment bereaved journalist Megan McAllister sets foot in the seaside tourist town, she’s in for the challenge of her life. One moment, she’s wondering into her father’s old-fashioned newspaper operation, and the next she’s fighting off a would-be killer. The attacks quickly escalate, and Megan adapts. She outwits home invaders, dodges gunfire and even engages in a high-speed car chase fit for a Hollywood spy thriller—all the while planning a bittersweet memorial service for dear old Dad.

Fortunately for Megan, she’s got the perfect companion at her side throughout the two-day series of jarring twists and turns that populate the story. Garret Larrson is an old acquaintance from high school who’s managed to turn into Mr. Small-Town Wonderful during the 10 years Megan’s been away making a name for herself in the Big City. When Megan’s in trouble, Garret’s there on the double. It just works out that way—in the beginning. By the time it’s become clear the attacks on Megan’s life are neither random nor likely to abate, Garrett’s in deep. He’s sincerely concerned about her safety, of course, but he’s also found himself increasingly attracted to her. With all the craziness swirling around them, is there any hope for a stab at romance? The reader can’t help but root for these two as the author engineers a not-so-subtle shift in the narrative. “Against the Tide” isn’t the story of one woman’s fight against a nefarious, cold-blooded villain. It’s the heartwarming, gut-clenching tale of two against the world, and the masterful Melody Carlson makes it well worth the read.

Hope you’ll share your thoughts below. Until next time …

About the Reviewer:

A licensed Georgia attorney since 1998, Sybil Bates McCormack now writes responses to state and Federal contract solicitations during the day while lurching haltingly toward a career as an inspirational romantic suspense author at night. She's also the crazed wife of a bi-vocational pastor and mom to two bright, talented kids. They don't call her BizzySyb for nothing! You can visit Sybil at her blog, Christian Romance/Pulsating Suspense, follow her on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter, friend her on Goodreads, connect with her on LinkedIn, and add her to your circles on Google+.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Brittany McEuen reviews GRIME FAMILY by Marji Laine

Brittany McEuen reviews GRIME FAMILY by Marji Laine

The Short Version:

Meeting the parents can be murder. For Dani Foster that’s a literal statement, and there’s little chance her boyfriend’s parents will ever warm up to her. Not after what she uncovers. 

After dating for several months, it’s only natural that Jay Hunter should want his girlfriend to meet his family. But Dani’s curious nature and extraordinary observation skills can’t be turned off. Not even for his parents. Their secrets aren’t her doing, and the fact that she unearths them aren’t her intentions, so why is she openly hated? 

His parents’ obvious dislike for the lady he loves leaves Jay with a terrible decision. Does he accept their counsel and give up this woman who has meant so much to him, or does he return to Dallas with Dani and never look back? Or is there some way the problems can be resolved without destroying either relationship? 

My Review: 

I really enjoyed this continuation of the Grime Fighter series. Although the small town setting was slower paced and different than the earlier books, which are set in the Dallas area, there was still a mystery to be solved and danger always seems to find Dani Foster. 

I liked visiting Jay Hunter’s small town and meeting the people he grew up with. It was painful to watch as Dani was continually treated badly by Jay’s family for things that weren’t her responsibility. However, the reasons behind their actions become clear as the story unfolds. I was extremely impressed with both Jay and Dani in the way that they dealt with Jay’s family and their treatment of Dani. 

Each of the previous Grime Fighter mysteries have revealed a bit more about Dani and her past. This novella did not truly add much new information, however, the reader will continue to see Dani struggle with hiding who she really is from Jay. I’m looking forward to reading more in this series and finding out the full extent of Dani’s backstory. This has been a fun series to read. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

About Reviewer Brittany McEuen:

I am a busy homeschooling mom to four children, ranging from kindergarten to high school. I’m happily married to my high school sweetheart and am an avid reader and book reviewer. I feature book reviews, giveaways, and occasional author interviews on my blog, Britt Reads Fiction. You can also connect with me on Pinterest and Goodreads.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Marji Laine reviews WITHOUT WARNING by Lynette Eason

Marji Laine reviews WITHOUT WARNING by Lynette Eason

Short version on Amazon:

Katie Singleton, a partner with the Elite Guardians Protection Agency, stumbles upon her next assignment quite by accident. Spotting blue lights at a familiar restaurant, she stops to investigate, only to discover that owner Daniel Matthews has become the target of someone who will go to any lengths to put him out of business.

Daniel might be concerned, but he's not convinced that a bodyguard—and a female one at that—is necessary. A new attack and his niece's urgings are enough to make him reconsider. He and Katie must figure out who's behind the intimidation and threats—before a would-be killer strikes again.

My Take:

I love the way Lynette Eason loosely connects her novels, in this case, through the Elite Guardians Protection Agency. Each stands alone, but compliments the ones that were published before. So is the case with Without Warning. The characters from Always Watching, and from the next installment, Moving Target, were prominent throughout this story.

And her characters are so deep. Katie Singleton has deep issues that she'd rather stuff into the unreachable places within her than address. I can't say that I blame her. As her nightmare is revealed bit by bit, she drew me right into her pain and the horror she faced when circumstances resembled those she'd experienced in her past. 

I also liked Daniel Matthews. What an excellent uncle. He has issues as well, but he is made even more complicated with his background in the armed services. A soldier doesn't need a protector. A soldier is a protector. I'm a big fan of seeing the sincere humility or even brokenness of a strong hero. (Oh, that sounds so mean!) But there's a genuineness about situations that leave a mighty man feeling helpless or hopeless. Especially when there's a love interest involved.

And the romance here is so sweet. Lynette Eason always injects her stories with a good balance of respect, admiration, and chemistry. 

But the show-stealer in this book is a attitude-filled teenager named Riley. While determined to stay cool and keep the things around her under control, including her uncle, she shows a vulnerability that is truly enchanting. Having lost so much already, she clings to her uncle with both arms, and her sensitive wisdom and childlike faith make her true-to-life.

My own teenagers loved the story right along with me. We listened to it during several road trips last month. The prospect of hearing more from Without Warning actually helped us look forward to the long drives. This is a masterfully written book that any lover of romantic suspense would enjoy!

About the Senior Reviewer:

Suspense Sister, Marji Laine, loves books and writing. Her own Grime Fighter novella series, about a crime scene cleaner, involves mystery, romance, and a touch of suspense.

Living in a Dallas suburb with her hubby of almost 30 years and her twins - the youngest of four - she spends her days homeschooling and transporting her teenagers to various functions, especially volleyball games. She also directs the children's music, helps with the youth choir, and sings in the adult choir at her church, as well as coordinates the high school credit classes along with the website of a large home school co-op.

Join her at MarjiLaine.com or follow her on FacebookTwitter, or visit her Amazon author page.



Monday, September 5, 2016

Iola Goulton reviews AFTER THE THAW by Therese Heckenkamp

Iola Goulton reviews AFTER THE THAW by Therese Heckenkamp

Amazon Description:

Some wounds heal. Others leave scars.
Four years ago, Charlene Perigard survived a brutal kidnapping. Now at twenty-two, she's put that trauma behind her for a promising future with handsome firefighter Ben Jorgensen. But when new trauma strikes, a new nightmare begins.

Sinister threats, a midnight attack, and a deathbed promise drive Charlene to the little town of Creekside, where she encounters a man from her past whom she has long struggled to forget: Clay Morrow--ex-convict and brother of her kidnapper. He's also the man who once helped save her life.

Despite the odds, Charlene and Clay forge a tentative friendship, unaware of a brooding, mounting danger that seeks to destroy them both. Charlene's wounded heart must choose between her fiancé and the man whose past is more scarred than her own. But in choosing, she may just lose everything.

My Review:

After the Thaw is the sequel to Frozen Footprints—which I hadn’t read, and I certainly didn’t feel I was missing information. There were several flashbacks early in the story, which did make the start feel a little jerky in places. However, they did provide me with plenty of opportunity to catch up on what I’d missed without becoming an overwhelming rehash of what went before.

For those who did read Frozen Footprints, After the Thaw starts over three years later, after Clay has finished his prison sentence. Charlene is now a librarian, and almost engaged to firefighter Ben Jorgensen. She’s escaped from her grandfather’s influence and hasn’t seen Clay in years. But she still has a letter to deliver to him, from his dead mother.

The story starts with a bang (no, I’m not going to tell you what that is, even though it sets the scene and pace for the entire novel), and it doesn’t let up. She’s approached by a strange man with an uncomfortable reminder of her earlier kidnapping. Then she’s arrested for possessing drugs … which makes no sense. And events continue to get stranger and stranger until she doesn’t know where to turn. Although she knows where not to turn: her grandfather.

It’s an excellent story, full of twists and turns which kept me guessing right until the end (especially the Ben/Clay love triangle—I always enjoy a little romance in my suspense). The writing was excellent, and the characters well-developed and realistic.

One thing which is unusual about After the Thaw is that the characters are Roman Catholic. Most Christian fiction shies away from mentioning specific denominations, preferring merely to identify the characters as Christian. (The exception is Amish romance, which seems to dominate the shelves of Christian bookstores to a degree that is far out of proportion with their actual numbers or their influence on world history.) It was refreshing to see an actual denomination … especially one which more often appears to represent the antagonist or the fool.

Overall, I thought After the Thaw was excellent, and recommend it to all Christian suspense fans.

Thanks to Therese Heckenkamp for providing a free ebook for review … especially as she’s now a fellow Suspense Sisters reviewer (which in no way affected my review).

About Reviewer Iola Goulton:

I am a freelance editor specializing in Christian fiction, and you can find out more about my services at my website, or follow me on FacebookTwitterPinterest or Tsu .

I love reading, and read and review around 150 Christian books each year on my blog. I'm a Top 25 Reviewer at Christian Book, in the Top 1% of reviewers at Goodreads, and have an Amazon US Reviewer Rank that floats around 2500 (and I'm in the Top 50 at Amazon Australia).

Monday, August 29, 2016

Therese Heckenkamp reviews SHADOW OF THE STORM by Candle Sutton

Therese Heckenkamp reviews SHADOW OF THE STORM by Candle Sutton

Short Synopsis from Amazon:

Who am I? That’s a good question. If you figure it out, be sure to let me know.

For today, I’m Stormy. The answer might be different if you ask me tomorrow. Because the truth of the matter is, I don’t know who I am.

You might be wondering how that can be. Join the club. I have no idea.

My memories begin with overhearing two men planning my murder. You heard me, my murder. I get away from them, but just barely. The only things in my possession are a duffel bag with obscene amounts of cash and a wallet with four driver’s licenses. All with my picture. Don’t ask me how or why I have them--or even if any of them are real--because I don’t know.

I don’t know much of anything.

All I know is those men want me dead. For reasons still unknown to me. So I’ll run. And I’ll keep running. Because it’s all I can do.

Honestly though, I can’t run forever. I have to piece my fractured mind back together. Somehow. But how do you go about remembering the things that most people already know?

My Review:

“You’re gonna dump her off the bridge?” This opening line hooked me and reeled me into a high-suspense situation without wasting a second. But could the rest of the story deliver? When it had me reading late into the night, I had my answer.

Stormy is in a bad way. A very bad way. She doesn’t even know her real name. On the run, confused, and bearing bruises, she can’t stop to figure anything out—even if she had a clue how, which she doesn’t. She’s in possession of items she’s unsure she should have. Is she innocent? Or a criminal? Who wants her dead? And what about this odd fear of the police that she can’t shake?

Candle Sutton writes with a delightfully fast-paced, crisp writing style. I’d never read this author before, but she didn’t disappoint. Each chapter left me eager to begin the next. I wanted answers to countless tantalizing questions: Who is this main character really, and why are people after her? Where is her home and does she have any family? Who can be trusted?

Apart from a few third person scenes from the villain’s point of view, the entire novel is told in first person present tense. I found it unusual, but effective. It takes no more than a moment to orientate to, and it serves the suspense of the story well, bringing a strong sense of immediacy to each scene.

The story contains plenty of elements that will set readers’ hearts pounding, complete with chases, dark alleys, and gunfire. The well-drawn characters had me musing about their lives and motives. Humor and wit and growing friendships keep the story from descending too darkly. Though minimal, there’s even a romance aspect with several potential love interests.

As bits and pieces of memory gradually return, Stormy must sift reality from dreams and nightmares. Strong as she is, she becomes weary of struggling to survive on her own. Does religion have a place in her life? Because she’s not sure what she believes about faith and God. The novel’s religious elements are well-done, and a strong faith thread intensifies as the story proceeds.

When all seems lost, Stormy just may learn how to find peace. “Not the ‘life’s perfect’ kind of peace, but the kind of peace that lasts through any circumstance.” And in an unexpected way, she learns about an unconditional love that might save her after all.

Shadow of the Storm delivers plenty of suspense while the main character battles the storms of life on
an exciting journey of self-discovery. For fans of inspirational suspense, this book is a must-read.

About the Reviewer:

Therese Heckenkamp loves to read and write and read about writing. She’s thrilled to be living her childhood dream as an author and has published three Christian suspense novels so far: Past Suspicion, Frozen Footprints, and After the Thaw. A busy wife and mother of three, Therese fits in writing time whenever she can manage (and sometimes when she can’t). Visit her at ThereseHeckenkamp.com and follow her on Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, and Twitter.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Sandra Ardoin Reviews WHEN NIGHT COMES by Dan Walsh

Sandra Ardoin Reviews WHEN NIGHT COMES by Dan Walsh

Back Cover Teaser:

Jack Turner comes back to Culpepper to give a series of lectures for his old history professor. Within days, he starts having bizarre experiences at night. Like he’s traveling back in time, experiencing the epic events in his lectures firsthand. He has no control over these experiences and can’t make them stop.

Joe Boyd thought he’d left big city crime back in Pittsburgh when he took a detective job in Culpepper, Georgia, a sleepy southern college town. His peaceful life ends when two students turn up dead in two weeks. The coroner is saying natural causes, but something doesn’t add up.

Rachel Cook, a teaching assistant at Culpepper, can’t believe Jack is back in her life again. She’s had a crush on him since she was fourteen, but Jack never knew. He instantly seems attracted to her, but she can tell…something is deeply troubling him.

Watching all this from a distance is Nigel Avery. He’s certain this experiment’s about to unravel. It’ll be his job to tie up all the loose ends when it does.

My Thoughts:

A noted historian and writer, Jack returns to his old college campus to deliver a series of lectures and write a book with an interesting premise in itself: What if modern technology was available during World War II? Before he arrives, a student is found dead for no apparent reason other than what is evident by the look on his face. He’s been scared to death.

This is my first read of a Dan Walsh novel. While it involves finding the solution to a series of murders, through Jack’s dreams and the premise, it has sci-fi tendencies that would be, frankly, scary if they were true. It’s also a story of blackmail and betrayal that leaves the reader feeling sorry for those involved. The bad guys (and they are bad) are given early on, so there’s no real mystery there.

I understand the first two chapters being in Joe’s POV, but as he was listed in the blurb, I anticipated his role would be larger. Maybe in the second book we’ll again meet this hardworking city cop who tries to adjust to less experienced and capable co-workers.

Jack’s relationship with Rachel develops quickly, though not unrealistically. (After all, they have a whole series in which to fall in love.) However, an incident occurred in the plot where I expected more depth of emotional response from both characters, especially Rachel, so I was a little disappointed there.

Otherwise, the story reads like an action movie and runs at a high-speed and exciting clip. The World War II scenes were especially gripping. I felt as though I had been transported back in time along with Jack.

So if you’re looking for a fast-paced, action-oriented novel, I recommend When Night Comes as an entertaining read that snatched my interest with the first scene and took off!

Book Two in the Jack Turner Suspense series, Remembering Dresden, released in May. I’ll soon be digging into my copy to once again follow Jack’s experiences and his on-going romance with Rachel.

About the Reviewer:

Sandra Ardoin writes inspirational historical romance. She’s the author of The Yuletide Angel and A Reluctant Melody. A wife and mom, she’s also a reader, football fan, NASCAR watcher, garden planter, country music listener, antique store prowler. Visit her at www.sandraardoin.com and on the Seriously Write blog. Connect with her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+Goodreads, and Pinterest. Become a part of her newsletter community and receive a free short story.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Sybil Bates McCormack reviews DISILLUSIONED by Christy Barritt

Sybil Bates McCormack reviews DISILLUSIONED by Christy Barritt

The Publisher's Summary:

Nikki Wright is desperate to help her brother, Bobby, who hasn’t been the same since escaping from a detainment camp run by terrorists in Colombia. Rumor has it that he betrayed his Navy brothers and conspired with those who held him hostage, and both the press and the military are hounding him for answers. All Nikki wants is to shield her brother so he has time to recover and heal.

But soon they realize the paparazzi are the least of their worries. When a group of men try to abduct Nikki and her brother, Bobby insists that Kade Wheaton, another former SEAL, can keep them out of harm’s way. But can Nikki trust Kade? After all, the man who broke her heart eight years ago is anything but safe…

Hiding out in a farmhouse on the Chesapeake Bay, Nikki finds her loyalties—and the remnants of her long-held faith—tested as she and Kade put aside their differences to keep Bobby’s increasingly erratic behavior under wraps. But when Bobby disappears, Nikki will have to trust Kade completely if she wants to uncover the truth about a rumored conspiracy. Nikki’s life—and the fate of the nation—depends on it.

My Take:

Author Christy Barritt’s gem-of-a-novel, Disillusioned, left me anything but. The work opens with a telling glimpse into heroine Nikki Wright’s frailties and strengths. Her Navy SEAL brother, Bobby Wright, has just been released from a two-week stay in a D.C. area hospital following a daring escape from captivity at the hands of a ruthless group of Colombian terrorists. Though unused to the glare and intrusiveness of the national limelight, Nikki and Bobby are thrust into it front and center by their circumstances. Not only does Bobby claim to have fled the custody of foreign, cold-blooded captors, his fundraising specialist sister, Nikki, claims to have facilitated his subsequent rescue.

It’s an account many consider suspect.

Reporters surround them, determined to ferret out the truth, rabid for the real story. Though fraught with anxiety and concern, Nikki has quickly assumed the role of protector to a brother hobbled by a crippling case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She’s arranged for Bobby’s immediate transfer to an undisclosed location while he continues to recover from his trying ordeal. Nikki has even hired a top-notch security detail tasked with ensuring their safe delivery to the private location.

Too bad nothing goes exactly as it should.

Minutes into the trip, the siblings are running for their lives with nowhere to turn. Nikki’s unsure there’s anyone they can trust. Despite his frail condition, however, Bobby contacts an old friend for help—a decision that will have a profound effect on both their lives.

Former Navy SEAL Kade Wheaton left military life behind to help those in need at home—brother military personnel tormented by the myriad difficulties associated with the return to civilian life. So when Bobby Wright issues a plea for help unlike any Kade’s received in the past, he dashes to his aide. That being said, Kade’s actions aren’t entirely selfless. After all, Bobby’s not the only one in trouble.

Nikki Wright, Bobby’s beautiful, God-fearing sister, was the one that got away. Since helping them
out of dire circumstances might prove the only way to get her back, Kade’s more than ready to assist. It soon becomes clear to him, however, that the road to reconciliation might prove more difficult than he’d imagined. The bad guys are closing in, Bobby’s not at all what he appears, and Nikki has changed. A lot. Life has thrown a few curve balls her way (pun intended—read the book!) since they last met eight years ago, and she’s clearly less than eager to trust again.

In Disillusioned, author Christy Barritt delivers a measured, intriguing build to a fulfilling, well-considered climax and resolution. The twists and turns prove plausible, if unpredictable. Both the main and secondary characters are finely drawn, and the plot is so cleverly conceived the reader won’t be certain who to trust, if anyone, until the end. (What a great selection of potential bad guys.) There are even subtle touches of humor surrounding one character throughout, and his/her intermittent appearances prove endearing—if a mite unsettling.

This one’s a winner. Don’t miss it!


Hope you’ll share your thoughts about the book in the comments section below. Until next time …

About the Reviewer:

A licensed Georgia attorney since 1998, Sybil Bates McCormack now writes responses to state and Federal contract solicitations during the day while lurching haltingly toward a career as an inspirational romantic suspense author at night. She's also the crazed wife of a bi-vocational pastor and mom to two bright, talented kids. They don't call her BizzySyb for nothing! You can visit Sybil at her blog, Christian Romance/Pulsating Suspense, follow her on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter, friend her on Goodreads, connect with her on LinkedIn, and add her to your circles on Google+.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Marji Laine Reviews DUMPSTER DICING by Julie B. Cosgrove

Marji Laine reviews Dumpster Dicing by Julie B. Cosgrove

Short Version from Goodreads:

As Janie and Betsy Ann go for their morning jog, the city sanitation vehicle follows its normal five-mile Tuesday morning route through their retirement community of Sunset Acres. The two Bunco-playing biddies spot a leg dangling out of the dumpster when the truck lifts the trash container high in the air. Someone diced up one of their newest residents—a grouchy loner named Edwin Newman. Did he unpack too much of his dicey past when he moved in last weekend?

My Take:

Julie Cosgrove had the huge challenge of peopling a full retirement community. The very nature of the environment requires a plethora of characters. The author accomplishes this through a variety of personalities and voices. That's so refreshing! So often I have to get halfway or more in a book before I can remember who is who. 

Such is not the case with this story. The main trio of sleuths each have unique qualities and backgrounds. Janie, the widow of a detective, has enough knowledge of investigating crimes to make her dangerous. Her son-in-law, high up in the local police force, cringes and fusses with every episode of her snooping. 

I want to be just like her when I grow up! :)

Her cohort in finding the parts of the body (gruesome!) is Betsy Ann. She reminds me of Bess from the old Nancy Drew series. But this gal is smart, well-connected, highly educated. I'd go for having a wing-"man" with her abilities!

The final member of the trio is Ethel. I swear, I can almost see this woman. She's not nearly as smart or experienced as Betsy Ann, but she considers herself to be quite the investigator since she's seen every "Murder, She Wrote" episode ever created. LOL! I like her already. If she adds Perry Mason to her list, she's practically me! Okay, an older version of me. 

The characters make this story, but the mystery is delightfully twisted. As a reader, I was along for the ride, seeing and understanding everything right along with the characters. I would like to say that I saw the ending coming, but I seriously had no idea this time. Kudos to the author!

This is a great cozy mystery, just the thing for some relaxing down time and the perfect story for my weekend break! I'm so delighted that the author graced me with a copy in return for my review! Thanks!

About the Senior Reviewer:

Suspense Sister, Marji Laine, loves books and writing. Her own Grime Fighter novella series, about a crime scene cleaner, involves mystery, romance, and a touch of suspense.

Living in a Dallas suburb with her hubby of almost 30 years and her twins - the youngest of four - she spends her days homeschooling and transporting her teenagers to various functions, especially volleyball games. She also directs the children's music, helps with the youth choir, and sings in the adult choir at her church, as well as coordinates the high school credit classes along with the website of a large home school co-op.

Join her at MarjiLaine.com or follow her on FacebookTwitter, or visit her Amazon author page.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Iola Goulton reviews: WHEN DEATH DRAWS NEAR by Carrie Stuart Parks

Iola Goulton reviews When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks.

Short Version:

Forensic artist Gwen Marcey is in Pikeville, Kentucky, a long way from her Montana home, working on a serial rapist case with local police. Except something weird is happening: all the victims leave town soon after the crimes, including this latest victim—which makes it impossible for Gwen to interview her and get the sketch she needs to help find the rapist.

But things get stranger when she is asked to help identify a snakebite victim, and she finds herself in the middle of an investigation into a local snake-handling cult, and then finds herself under attack. Things go from bad to worse when her ex sends their teenage daughter into the middle of what is turning out to be a lot more complex—and dangerous—than a straightforward interview and sketch.

My Thoughts:

I found the beginning a bit shaky, with a Prologue that didn’t immediately relate to the novel (I realised when I re-read it to write this review that the Prologue actually takes place twenty years before the start of the novel—this could have been made clearer). We were also thrown right into the middle of the investigation, which helped give the novel a bumpy start. However, that could have been intentional, to mimic Gwen’s own confusion. The other aspect which might be of concern to some readers is that it’s written in first person. I find this added to the suspense, but I know some readers find first person difficult to read.

But apart from those small issues, the novel was excellent—as I’ve come to expect from Carrie Stuart Parks. She has chosen a difficult topic with When Death Draws Near, yet manages to tread the line between different branches of the Christian faith with care and consideration (I would point out that most Pentecostals don’t believe in snake handling or drinking poison. Just because the Bible says we can doesn’t mean we should. Also, while the American Pentecostal movement began in 1906 with the Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles, there was a corresponding revival in Wales which instigated the British version. In both cases, God chose the maligned minorities—African Americans and Welsh miners—to lead the way).

Her writing is excellent (no surprise—the book is dedicated to “Frank, the master storyteller”, referring to Frank Peretti, her writing coach). The plot is nailbiting, and the characters feel like real people, with all the accompanying faults. I recently read a blog post which described fictional conflict as characters doing what they know is wrong. I won’t give details (as that would be giving spoilers), but that is definitely a feature of When Death Draws Near, and adds to the tension. Is that character the evildoer, or the character he is protecting? Or someone else? The author continues the suspense until almost the last page.
This is the third Gwen Marcey thriller, following A Cry from the Dust and The Bones Will Speak (both of which I have reviewed). However, it can easily be read as a standalone novel as the series elements are more about Gwen’s relationship with her ex-husband (shaky) and her teenage daughter (improving, which gives hope to all of us with teenage daughters).

Recommended for thriller fans, especially those who enjoy TV shows like CSI, or novels by Tim Downs.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Carrie Stuart Parks (herself a well-known forensic artist) and the fascinating story of how she came to be an author at her website: CarrieStuartParks.com.

About Reviewer Iola Goulton:


I am a freelance editor specializing in Christian fiction, and you can find out more about my services at my website, or follow me on FacebookTwitterPinterest or Tsu .

I love reading, and read and review around 150 Christian books each year on my blog. I'm a Top 25 Reviewer at Christian Book, in the Top 1% of reviewers at Goodreads, and have an Amazon US Reviewer Rank that floats around 2500 (and I'm in the Top 50 at Amazon Australia).