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Thursday, September 19, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Strands of Truth by Colleen Coble (Romantic Suspense)



Colleen Coble

on Tour September 9 - October 4, 2019

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Date of Publication:  September 10, 2019
Number of Pages: 336
Purchase Links:  Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Goodreads

Strands of Harper Taylor’s childhood are resurfacing—but will the truth save her...or pull her under? Harper Taylor is used to being alone— after all, she grew up in one foster home after another. Oliver Jackson finally took her under his wing when she was a runaway teenager, and now Harper pours her marine biology knowledge into Oliver’s pen shell research. But she’s never stopped wishing for a family of her own. So when a DNA test reveals a half-sister living just two hours away, Harper is both hopeful and nervous. Over warm cinnamon rolls, Harper and Annabelle find striking similarities in their stories. Is it just a coincidence that both their mothers died tragically, without revealing Harper and Annabelle’s father’s name? Oliver’s son Ridge still sees Harper as a troubled teen even all these years later. But when Oliver is attacked, Ridge and Harper find themselves working together to uncover dangerous secrets that threaten to destroy them all. They must unravel her past before they can have any hope for the future.

January 1990
St. Petersburg, Florida
Lisa ran to her Datsun Bluebird and jerked open the yellow door. Her pulse strummed in her neck, and she glanced behind her to make sure she wasn’t being followed. She’d tried not to show fear during the confrontation, but it was all she could do not to cry. She couldn’t face life without him.
She’d been on edge ever since yesterday.
Twilight backlit the treetops and highlighted the hanging moss. Instead of finding it beautiful, she saw frightening shadows and shuddered. She slid under the wheel and started the engine, then pulled out of her driveway onto the road.
She turned toward the Gulf. The water always calmed her when she was upset—and she had crossed upset moments ago and swerved into the scared zone.
Her belly barely fit under the wheel, but this baby would be born soon, then she’d have her figure back. She accelerated away from her home, a dilapidated one-story house with peeling white paint, and switched on her headlights.
The radio blared full of the news about the Berlin Wall coming down, but Lisa didn’t care about that, not now. She switched channels until she found Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’ ”playing, but even her favorite tune failed to sooth her shattered nerves. Could she seriously be murdered over this? She’d glimpsed madness in those eyes.
She pressed the brakes as she came to a four-way stop, but the brake pedal went clear to the floor. She gasped and pumped the pedal again. No response. The car shot through the intersection, barely missing the tail end of another vehicle that had entered it before her.
Hands gripping the steering wheel, she struggled to keep the car on the road as she frantically thought of a way to bring it to a stop that didn’t involve hitting another car or a tree. The baby in her belly kicked as if he or she knew their lives hung suspended in time.
“We’re going to make it, little one. We have to. I can’t leave you alone.” No one would love her baby if she died. Her mother couldn’t care for her child. She cared more about her drugs than anything else.
Lisa tried to tamp down her rising emotions, but she’d never been so frightened. The car fishtailed on the sandy road as she forced it back from the shoulder. Huge trees lined the pavement in a dense formation. Where could she drive off into relative safety? A field sprawled over on the right, just past the four-way stop ahead. If she made it through, it seemed the only place where they might survive.
Had the brakes been cut? What else could it be? She’d just had the car serviced.
Lisa approached the stop sign much too fast. The slight downhill slope had only accelerated the speed that hovered at nearly seventy. Her mouth went bone dry.
Taken from “Strands of Truth” by Colleen Coble. Copyright © 2019 by Colleen Coble. Used by permission of http://www.thomasnelson.com/.

I received a copy of this book for free. This is my honest and thoughtful review.

What an impressive introduction into the work of a hugely popular and well loved author! While I am familiar with the author's books, I had never read one before, so I was incredibly delighted at how much I really enjoyed this story. Now, I'm looking forward to taking a look at her vast repertoire to discover more!

This story opens with a powerful bang, thrusting readers back to 1990, and lays the foundation for the mysteries that follow. The characters are richly developed and woven together to create a masterful storytelling experience. With a unique premise and complex plot that spans three time periods, the author's writing style is amazing in making the connections with no confusion. Intertwining mysteries in both the past and present kept the twists coming until the shocking and absolutely stunning truth is finally revealed. While I had my suspicions about what would ultimately be revealed, I did not expect nor anticipate how it all came together. The author was able to brilliantly sprinkle out the clues across the story that will keep you thinking until the final moments. The pacing was fantastic and reinforced the mounting tension all the way to the very end, which is so hopeful and inspiring given the amount of turmoil wrecking havoc throughout the entire story.

"The right time for the truth is every minute of every day."

We all know that the truth will set us free, and this was a fascinating exploration of just how devastating secrets and lies can be even for generations to come. Every one seemed to have something to hide, which certainly came back to haunt them as time went on. Despite the overwhelming sense of family dysfunction surrounding these characters, the conclusion sparks support for acceptance, forgiveness, and grace.

The story's romance is incredibly clean and tender almost to the point that the classification of romantic suspense is somewhat misleading. I am a huge fan of the hate-to-love trope and really wanted to see that play out more as characters discovered their true feelings. I was slightly disconnected from the passion that was trying to play out on the page and would have appreciated more emotion on both ends of the spectrum. 

Overall, an immensely entertaining and highly recommended read that will be hard to forget!

Colleen Coble is a USA TODAY bestselling author and RITA finalist best known for her coastal romantic suspense novels, including The Inn at Ocean’s Edge, Twilight at Blueberry Barrens, and the Lavender Tides, Sunset Cove, Hope Beach, and Rock Harbor series.

Connect with Colleen online!


Tour Participants:

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

Many thanks to Partners in Crime Book Tours and Colleen Coble! It was an absolute pleasure reading, reviewing, and hosting! And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions and extras!

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

GUEST POST: Buried in the Stacks by Allison Brook (Cozy Mystery)


A Haunted Library Mystery #3

Allison Brook

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books 
Date of Publication:  September 10, 2019
Number of Pages: 320

Scroll down for the giveaway!

Librarian Carrie Singleton is building a haven, but one of her neighbors is misbehavin’. Can resident spirit Evelyn help Carrie catch the culprit who made her a ghost? In winter, the Haunted Library is a refuge for homeless townspeople. When a group purchases a vacant house to establish a daytime haven for the homeless, Carrie offers the library as a meeting place for the Haven House committee, but quickly learns that it may be used for illegal activities. As the new Sunshine Delegate, Carrie heads to the hospital to visit her cantankerous colleague, Dorothy, who had fallen outside the local supermarket. She tells Carrie that her husband tried to kill her–and that he murdered her Aunt Evelyn, the library’s resident ghost, six years earlier. And then Dorothy is murdered–run off the road as soon as she returns to work. Evelyn implores Carrie to find her niece’s killer, but that’s no easy task: Dorothy had made a hobby of blackmailing her neighbors and colleagues. Carrie, Evelyn, and Smoky Joe the cat are on the case, but are the library cards stacked against them?

Why I Write Cozies
by Marilyn Levinson

Like many novelists who have been writing for several years, I have written in several genres—mysteries, romantic suspense and books for kids. Recently, I find myself drawn to writing cozies. Here's why:

1. I enjoy writing mysteries and prefer leaving the CSI end of it to others. I’m interested in the puzzle aspect. The human factor. How my characters relate to one another. Why was a person or persons murdered? How does my sleuth track him or her down and prove his or her guilt?

2. I love writing a mystery from an amateur sleuth’s perspective. Not a homicide detective armed and trained to solve murders, but a so-called “average” citizen with enough intelligence, drive, and curiosity to solve a mystery. Like Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, cozy sleuths observe suspects. They ask questions. They eavesdrop. They do research. They befriend the police investigating the murder. In my Haunted Library mystery series written as Allison Brook, Carrie Singleton is the head of Programs and Events of the Clover Ridge Library in Connecticut. Sleuths in my other mystery series are a high school English teacher, a retired CEO, and a college professor who leads a Golden Age of Mystery book club.

3. While I enjoy plotting, my characters are my priority. What makes each of them tick? How do they relate to one another? Why do they behave the way they do? Some of my characters are quirky. Others are likable. They are very real to me. They have to be since they appear in one book after another.

4. I love writing cozies because they’re written in series. I love writing series because with each new book, readers get a chance to learn more about my sleuth and her friends, family, love interests and enemies. My characters evolve and mature. In the Haunted Library series, Carrie Singleton starts out as an unhappy loner who dyes her hair purple and wears Goth-style clothing. Over time she develops friendships, a romantic relationship, and a growing concern for the town where she lives.  

5. I ADORE secrets. Many of my characters have secrets that impact their current behavior. Secrets can make a character look guilty when she isn’t. Secrets can drive a character to murder.

6. Cozies are set in small towns where everyone knows everyone else. A cozy’s setting is another character of the story because it affects all the characters. My Haunted Library mystery series takes place in Clover Ridge, CT, a small town with centuries-old homes, restaurants, and shops built around a village green. The library where my sleuth, Carrie Singleton, works is housed in one of these large former residences. 

7. Romance winds its way in many cozies. In DEATH OVERDUE, the first book in my Haunted Library series, Carrie finds herself attracting the attention of two very different men.

8. Animals and cozies go hand-in-hand. In DEATH OVERDUE, a stray half-grown cat attaches himself to Carrie and she ends up bringing him to work with her. Smoky Joe proves to be very sociable and becomes the Library Cat. In one book in the series he helps solve a mystery.

9. Cozies are resolved on a happy note. The murderer is caught. Future books in the series give one’s sleuth an opportunity to forge more adventures and solve more mysteries.

Allison Brook is the pseudonym for Marilyn Levinson, who writes mysteries, romantic suspense, and novels for kids. She lives on Long Island and enjoys traveling, reading, watching foreign films, doing Sudoku and dining out. She especially loves to visit with her grandchildren on FaceTime.



a Rafflecopter giveaway  Best of luck! 

Many thanks to Great Escapes Book Tours and Allison Brook! It was a pleasure hosting! And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions and extras!

September 10 – I’m All About Books – CHARACTER GUEST POST
September 10 – Babs Book Bistro – GUEST POST – Sapphyria’s Books
September 11 – The Power of Words – REVIEW
September 11 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW
September 12 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW
September 12 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW
September 12 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
September 12 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW
September 13 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW
September 13 – Carla Loves To Read – REVIEW
September 14 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST
September 14 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
September 15 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW
September 15 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW
September 16 – Nadaness In Motion – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW
September 16 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW
September 17 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
September 17 – That’s What She’s Reading – GUEST POST
September 18 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
September 18 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT
September 19 – eBook addicts – REVIEW
September 19 – MJB Reviewers – REVIEW
September 20 – Teresa Trent Author Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
September 20 – View from the Birdhouse – REVIEW

Friday, September 13, 2019

BOOK REVIEW + FREE MINI MYSTERY: Who Shot the Serif? by Jessa Archer (Cozy Mystery)


A Hand Lettering Mystery #1

Jessa Archer

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Independently Published
Date of Publication:  July 7. 2019
Number of Pages: 218

When Jamie Lang finds one of her hand lettered quotes on the window of her shop, Flourish, with a hole shot through a serif, she knows someone's trying to drive her business into red ink. Jamie confronts Earleen Culp, the ruthless owner of the local stationery shop, in front of the most popular breakfast spot in the small town of Cedar Valley. Of course, Earleen professes shock and innocence, so when she’s found dead in front of Jamie's home the next morning, Jamie becomes the prime suspect. Jamie's one cross-stroke short of acquittal, and even her best friend has her doubts. But Jamie's not the only one in town with a motive for wanting Earleen silenced for good. To clear her name, Jamie's going to need every last drop of ink in her quill. With the hot police chief Ridge, and her makeup artist friend Nora on her side, she’s prepared to go out with a flourish if that's what it takes to catch the real murderer. She’s desperate to save her hand lettering business, but will her quest lead her right into a killer’s snare?


I received a free copy of this book. This is my honest and thoughtful review.

I love coming across a new cozy series, especially one with a title like this! And while I don't actually do any hand lettering myself, I do love finding interesting objects or pieces with a great font for use as decor or gifts. While obviously, the primary focus of the story is on the crime, I loved the balance the author created in showcasing the inner workings of running a business, while also crafting an intriguing and puzzling murder mystery. I loved following Jamie through the story and learning more about her work and the art she creates. 

"My goal is to bring sunshine into people's worlds one quote at a time, if that's what it takes."

The dialogue and interactions between characters truly captures the story and was witty, humorous, and realistic, moving the plot along at break neck speed! At just over two hundred pages, this isn't a very long book, but the author's casual and friendly writing style brings this quaint yet quirky community to life, making you feel at home in Cedar Valley right away. I really enjoyed that the characters never seemed like caricatures, which is quite the norm within the genre itself. They were well developed with believable motives that made just about everyone suspicious! The story's pacing created the right amount of tension and suspense to keep the pages turning in an effort to figure out who the murderer ultimately was, and with quite a few twists and turns along the way, the whodunit is as much as mystery to the reader as it is to Jamie. 

"Unless the murderer is some vagrant who was passing through town, whoever the murderer is won't seem like the person we know them to be."

Aren't those the famous last words?

Jamie's style of amateur sleuthing was both engaging and entertaining. She was confident in her abilities when she needed to be, but also knew when to back off and let the authorities play their part as well. This was made all the more easier with a best friend like Nora as well as being the potential love interest of the police chief, Ridge. 

Overall, this was a delightful gem of a mystery that was short, sweet, satisfying and really set some high expectations for the rest of the series. If you've been looking for a place to start in the cozy world, this is an excellent place to begin! Or if you're like me and you've read quite a few, this one hits all the notes for a highly enjoyable and entertaining cozy that will leave you wondering why you haven't heard of this series before! 

Jessa Archer writes sweet, funny, warm-hearted cozy mysteries because she loves a good puzzle and can't stand the sight of blood. Her characters are witty, adventurous, and crafty in the nicest way. You'll find her sleuths hand lettering inspirational quotes, trying to lower golf handicaps, enjoying a scone at a favorite teashop, knitting a sweater, or showing off a dramatic side in local theater.

Jessa's done many things in her long career, including a stint as a journalist and practicing law. But her favorite job is spinning mysteries. She loves playing small town sleuth and transporting readers to a world where the scones are delicious, wine pairs with hand lettering, and justice always prevails.



Many thanks to Great Escapes Book Tours and Jessa Archer! It was a pleasure reading, reviewing, and hosting! And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions and extras!

September 4 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW, Hand Lettering Practice Sheet
September 4 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT
September 4 – Laura’s Interests – SPOTLIGHT
September 5 – The Avid Reader  – REVIEW
September 5 – Cozy Up With Kathy – SPOTLIGHT
September 6 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT
September 6 – I Read What You Write – SPOTLIGHT
September 7 – A Blue Million Books – CHARACTER GUEST POST
September 7 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
September 7 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW
September 8 – Cassidy’s Bookshelves – REVIEW
September 8 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW
September 9 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – CHARACTER GUEST POST
September 9 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT
September 9 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW
September 10 – Here’s How It Happened – REVIEW
September 10 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT
September 11 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW
September 11 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW
September 12 – ebook addicts – REVIEW
September 12 – The Book Decoder – REVIEW
September 13 – That’s What She’s Reading – REVIEW
September 13 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT
September 13 – LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW


Sunday, September 8, 2019

BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: Fatal Strike by DiAnn Mills (Romantic Suspense)

DiAnn Mills

Genre: Romantic Suspense / Clean Romance / Christian
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Date of Publication: September 3, 2019
Number of Pages: 400

Scroll down for giveaway!

There’s a killer on the loose in Galveston, targeting law enforcement officials and using a fatal injection of snake venom to take them down.

Authorities have reasons to believe the Veneno gang is behind the hits, and FBI Agents Leah Riesel and Jon Colbert team up to track down those responsible. Their best lead is an eyewitness who identifies a young man dumping the third body on a church doorstep. But their suspect has gone into hiding, and those closest to him are reluctant to reveal anything that might help investigators find him. As Leah and Jon check connections among the victims and dig deeper into motives, they discover appearances may be deceiving. Someone is desperate to keep their secrets hidden, and Leah and Jon must face their greatest fears in order to stop the next fatal strike.

AmazonBarnes & Noble  ◆  Books-A-MillionIndieboundChristianbook.com  ◆  Google Play
  ◆  Apple iBooks  ◆   Kobo  ◆ Murder by the Book ◆  Tyndale

I received a copy of this book for free. This is my honest and thoughtful review.

Following a string of recent and prominent murders using snake venom that has the calling card of a local gang infiltration, a team of FBI agents, led by a highly trained sniper duo, descend on Galveston to deescalate the threat and bring justice to the victims. Tensely woven from the opening sequence, the story was incredibly fast-paced and set a desperate tone to find the answers to what has set a community on edge. 

"Her faith will be her strength or weakness."

As Jon and Leah set out to seek the truth behind these horrible crimes, their detective work picks up the pace and so too does the mutual attraction felt between them. Despite their tough exteriors, both are fragile individuals, yet it is through their weaknesses that their strengths can shine. Each carries quite a bit of baggage, making them reluctant to get too close, yet as the circumstances unfold it becomes harder and harder to deny the feelings developing between them. I appreciate the light romance aspects of the story that take backstage to the importance of professionalism. Additionally, I am such a fan of how the author is able to balance the very real human characteristics of grit and grace in such a gentle and admirable way. Leah's job as a sniper doesn't make her any less feminine than her best friend who has a house full of children. Jon's questioning of faith doesn't make him a hypocrite. The author is able to masterfully showcase both spiritual and social messages throughout the story while also using them to make connections to the plot.

"People aren't perfect. Just because they have faith doesn't mean they don't make mistakes."

I love that these characters are so well developed and relatable. From the criminals committing the crimes to the high ranking officials within law enforcement seeking justice, everyone has something to hide. These secrets not only draw out the investigation, but also make it quite difficult to know who to actually trust! And as with any good mystery, you'll be led astray by the fantastically placed red herrings a few times along the way before the shocking truth is discovered. 

This suspenseful crime drama is action-packed with very little down time! Even the dialogue is short, sweet, and to the point! Insightful storytelling makes this an entertaining and engaging read that should not be missed! I can't wait for the next one!

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She weaves memorable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. DiAnn believes every breath of life is someone’s story, so why not capture those moments and create a thrilling adventure?

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol Award contests.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is the director of the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, Mountainside Marketing Retreat, and the Mountainside Novelist Retreat with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. She’s very active online and loves to connect with readers.

FOUR WINNERS: Personalized Hard Copies of Fatal Strike + $25 Starbucks Gift Cards
September 3-13, 2019
(US Only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway  Best of luck! 

Many thanks to Lone Star Book Blog Tours and DiAnn Mills! It was a pleasure reading, reviewing, and hosting! And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions and extras!

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