Enjoy my content?

Follow by Email

Thursday, February 21, 2019

BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: Vortex by Kimberly Packard (Fiction)


Genre: Women's Fiction / Psychological
Publisher: Abalos Publishing
Publication Date: January 31, 2019
Number of Pages: 308 pages


Constant spinning, round and round and round, temperatures rise and fall from stifling heat to chilling cold, emotions run high in anticipation of what will happen next…there’s a fine line between surviving a tornado and falling in love. A close encounter with a tornado, during the final months of her doctoral studies, jogs a lost memory to the surface. Desperate to relive the vision and find answers, storm chaser Elaina Adams continually puts her safety at risk by placing herself in the path of dangerous storms. When betrayal strikes, Elaina is forced to pair up with Robert Tucker. “Tuck” owns a storm chasing tour group and only cares about two things: chasing tornadoes and making his next buck. Seth Maddux was climbing his way to the top as the star meteorologist for the Forecast channel, but an embarrassing outburst on camera sent his career on a downward spiral. Hoping to reignite his career with a promising field assignment, he meets Elaina and a different kind of flame sparks. Family secrets surface and passions explode in this twister of a tale. VORTEX is a story of family, love, identity and determination set against the thrilling backdrop of Tornado Alley.


I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review.

"To tornadoes, may they dance across the sky but never across a man's body."

From the book's evocative cover and intriguing synopsis, I was immediately captivated and had to know more. Ultimately, this was an absolute gem that BLEW me away, but thankfully not in the literal sense! 

Following a talented and eclectic group of storm chasers, it was utterly fascinating to read about various aspects within the field of meteorology. Elaina and her academic partner, Heath, are doctoral candidates studying tornadogenesis, the process by which a tornado forms, and its implications towards increased response time. She has always felt a kindred tie to the weather, especially when she experiences a close encounter that awakens a memory from her past. Seth is a TV meteorologist, attempting a second chance at getting his career back on track after an on-air fallout. Tuck runs a "tour" business shuttling people to storms so they can witness the awe of Mother Nature firsthand. Each converges in unexpected and emotional ways that makes this story so much more layered and unique than the synopsis could ever ultimately convey. 

"The rotation scooted back, but still churned overhead, not yet birthing a tornado, but definitely in labor."

Nothing is ever as it appears to be and I absolutely loved the use of storms as a metaphor to communicate not just the actual weather itself, but the emotional and personal struggles facing each character. There are a lot of conflicts churning largely centered on relationship dynamics, so batten down the hatches for an amazingly graceful and touching ride.  

Everything from the masterfully relatable character development to the author's meticulous and atmospheric descriptions made this story come alive! The pacing and suspense work so well together to truly drive the high speed intensity and energy of the work involved. In much the same way that a tornado suddenly touches down and leaves an impact, I was left breathless as it all swept into my life when I opened the book and out again when the final page was read. 

The story's use of memory rewriting was one of the most compelling and interesting features I have read within the psychological genre. It was such a refreshing departure from all the amnesiacs, alcoholics, and adultering gaslighters! This concept crafts a heart-breaking, yet heartwarming tale that is deeply moving, entirely unforgettable, and hard to put down.

A completely immersive experience that should not be missed!


"Set in the heart of America’s Tornado Alley, Kimberly Packard’s latest psychological fiction swirls with discovery and betrayal. VORTEX may make you question who among those closest to you are really your friends." -- Addison Brae, author of Becker Circle 

"Vortex is a fast-paced story with a strong woman at its center. Readers will be in for a wild ride full of secrets, the labyrinth of memory, and the spark of romance. Definitely one to add to your reading list." -- Christine Brodersen, author of Lip Gloss, Shame and Murdered Tomatoes

"Kimberly Packard is an accomplished author who writes strong women characters. She blew me away with her Phoenix series (three books you don’t want to miss) and now in Vortex, we meet Elaina Adams, who, like all of us, struggles with her past, her career, and her family secrets. Action, and emotion-packed, this page-turner is a different kind of love story." -- Vanessa Foster, author of More than Everything 

Kimberly Packard is an award-winning author of edgy women’s fiction. She began visiting her spot on the shelves at libraries and bookstores at a young age, gazing between the Os and the Qs. When she isn’t writing, she can be found running, doing a poor imitation of yoga or curled up with a book. She resides in Texas with her husband Colby, a clever cat named Oliver and a yellow lab named Charlie. Her debut novel, Phoenix, was awarded as Best General Fiction of 2013 by the Texas Association of Authors. She is also the author of a Christmas novella, The Crazy Yates, and the sequels to Phoenix, Pardon Falls and Prospera Pass



FIRST PRIZE: Signed Copy  +  $5 Amazon gift card + Bookmark
SECOND PRIZE: Signed Copy + Bookmark
TWO WINNERS: eBook copies
FEBRUARY 19-28, 2019
(USA only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway  Best of luck! 

Many thanks to Lone Star Book Blog Tours and Kimberly Packard! 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!

Notable Quotable
Notable Quotable
BONUS post
Author Interview
Top Ten List
Deleted Scene
Scrapbook Page

   blog tour services provided by

Sunday, February 17, 2019

BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: Trigger by David Swinson (Suspense)

A Frank Marr Novel #3
David Swinson

Genre: Suspense
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Publication Date: February 12, 2019
Number of Pages: 352 pages


Frank Marr was a good cop, until his burgeoning addictions to alcohol and cocaine forced him into retirement from the D.C. Metro police. Now, he’s barely eking out a living as a private investigator for a defense attorney–also Frank’s ex-girlfriend. Ostracized by his family after a botched case that led to the death of his baby cousin, Jeffrey, Frank was on a collision course with rock bottom. Now clean and clinging hard to sobriety, Frank passes the time–and tests himself–by robbing the houses of local dealers, taking their cash and flushing their drugs down the toilet. When an old friend from his police days needs Frank’s help to prove he didn’t shoot an unarmed civilian, Frank is drawn back into the world of dirty cops and suspicious drug busts, running in the same circles that enabled his addiction those years ago. Never one to play by the rules, Frank recruits a young man he nearly executed years before. Together–a good man trying not to go bad and a bad man trying to do good–detective and criminal charge headfirst into the D.C. drug wars. Neither may make it out.

I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review.

This was an edgy and intense police thriller that follows Frank Marr, newly retired from the Washington D.C. police department, who now works as an investigator for a defense attorney's office. His former partner, Al, is involved in the shooting of a black teenager and Frank begins investigating the surrounding circumstances. The story is told from Frank's perspective in his voice as he works through the process of determining whether Al killed a seemingly unarmed teen, making this incredibly gripping and gritty. Frank doesn't shy away from graphic content, which creates such a realistic story with authentic content, especially given the author's own police background. Short chapters driven by quick, focused, and earnest dialogue kept the pacing swift, the tension high, and the pages turning, while also expressing the almost exact frenetic energy Frank seemed to embody as he tried to figure out what happened with his friend. 

We aren't privy to the information that the police are gathering to determine what charges Al may or may not face other than what Frank can gather, which ultimately made me feel as though I was missing the complete procedural element of the investigation. But personal preference aside, Frank is an incredibly driven and dedicated investigator whose skills by far make up for the lack of details from any coinciding investigation occurring off page. 

Although this was the third book in the series, I never felt that I was missing anything; however, considering the inner demons Frank battles at all moments of the day just to do his job, I do look forward to finding out more about his backstory from the prior books. His past drug use and resulting attempts to remain clean set him up as an unreliable narrator to blur the truth, yet surprisingly, he's the one that garners the most trust and respect. Additionally, a burgeoning and quite unexpected connection with a previous character provides him with the opportunity to become a mentor/father figure that I am highly intrigued to read more of. 

Overall, this well written plot was fascinating to read and really set some high expectations for the series as I read from the beginning and wait for future releases.       

David Swinson is a retired police detective, having served 16 years with the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department. He is the author of two previous novels featuring Frank Marr: The Second Girl and Crime Song. Swinson currently lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, daughter, bull mastiff, and bearded dragon.


a Rafflecopter giveaway   Best of luck!

Many thanks to Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours and David Swinson! 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!

February 11 – I’m Into Books – SPOTLIGHT
February 11 – Laura`s Interests – SPOTLIGHT
February 12 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
February 12 – Mysteries with Character – SPOTLIGHT
February 13 – Mallory Heart’s Cozies – REVIEW
February 14 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT
February 15 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW
February 16 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT
February 17 – That’s What She’s Reading – REVIEW
February 18 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
February 19 – A Blue Million Books – SPOTLIGHT
February 20 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
February 20 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT

Saturday, February 16, 2019

BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: Past Due for Murder by Victoria Gilbert (Cozy Mystery)

A Blue Ridge Library Mystery #3
Victoria Gilbert

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: February 12, 2019
Number of Pages: 304 pages


Has a curse fallen on the small town of Taylorsford, Virginia? After a young woman goes missing during a spring bonfire, library director Amy Webber must wade through the web of lies only to find a truth that she may not want to untangle.

Spring has sprung in quaint Taylorsford, Virginia, and the mayor has revived the town’s long-defunct May Day celebration to boost tourism. As part of the festivities, library director Amy Webber is helping to organize a research project and presentation by a local folklore expert. All seems well at first—but spring takes on a sudden chill when a university student inexplicably vanishes during a bonfire. The local police cast a wide net to find the missing woman, but in a shocking turn of events, Amy’s swoon-worthy neighbor Richard Muir becomes a person of interest in the case. Not only is Richard the woman’s dance instructor, he also doesn’t have an alibi for the night the student vanished—or at least not one he’ll divulge, even to Amy. When the missing student is finally discovered lost in the mountains, with no memory of recent events—and a dead body lying nearby—an already disturbing mystery takes on a sinister new hue. Blessed with her innate curiosity and a librarian’s gift for research, Amy may be the only one who can learn the truth.

I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review.

This is a series that I have had the opportunity to read from the beginning and I have really come to enjoy my time in Taylorsford, which is far from a quiet little town! Murder, mayhem, and mischief abound; however, the town's folklore was on full display in this installment and really made things even more interesting! 

While I was initially drawn to the series because it featured a librarian and the library she works at, the focus is actually on the town and its various myths, legends, or tall tales. Amy's innate curiosity and interest in historical preservation not only creates the perfect means for finding answers, but to also putting her right in the middle of it all. Secrets continue to run deep in this small town and I absolutely love how Amy is the vehicle for getting to the truth. Her confidence shines brilliantly through her work both on and off duty; however, her ability to trust in love remains shaky at best if not slightly annoying at worst. 

The pacing was quite remarkable this time around as the suspense built gradually to such an unpredictable and satisfying conclusion. As always, the mystery continues to be quite elaborate, while the additional story lines and well developed  and diverse secondary characters add those subtle red herrings and fun twists needed to keep readers guessing until the very end. 

This series continues to build the layers of a fascinating community that I look forward to returning to each time. While definitely a solid selection for fans of bookish cozies, the more mature and thought-provoking mystery elements, plot points, and themes add dimension and appeal that makes this series a cut above the standard cozy and highly recommended!

Raised in a historic small town in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Victoria Gilbert turned her early obsession with books into a dual career as an author and librarian.
Victoria’s first cozy mystery series, the Blue Ridge Library Mystery series, garnered her a three-book deal with Crooked Lane Books, which has since been expanded to five books. The first two books in the series have been optioned by Sony Pictures Television, and the first three were or will be produced in audiobook by Tantor Media.
Victoria also just inked a 2-book deal with Crooked Lane for a new cozy series, the Booklovers B & B series, set in historic Beaufort, NC.
A member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and Sisters in Crime, Victoria is represented by Frances Black at Literary Counsel.


a Rafflecopter giveaway Best of luck!

Many thanks to Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours and Victoria Gilbert! 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!

February 11 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW
February 11 – Jane Reads – GUEST POST
February 11 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT  
February 12 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW
February 12 – Mallory Heart’s Cozies – REVIEW
February 13 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW
February 13 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT
February 13 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
February 14 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW
February 14 – Rae’s Books and Recipes – SPOTLIGHT
February 14 – The Montana Bookaholic – SPOTLIGHT
February 15 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT
February 15 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW
February 15 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT
February 16 – Laura`s Interests – REVIEW
February 16 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
February 16 – That’s What She’s Reading – REVIEW
February 17 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
February 17 – Curling Up by the Fire – REVIEW
February 18 – The Bookwyrm’s Hoard – REVIEW, GUEST POST
February 18 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
February 19 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW
February 19 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
February 20 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST
February 20 – Here’s How It Happened – SPOTLIGHT
February 21 – View from the Birdhouse – REVIEW
February 21 – The Book Diva’s Reads – CHARACTER GUEST POST
February 22 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW
February 22 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT