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Monday, July 27, 2020

LSBBT BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: Landing in My Present by Mary Clark (Biography)

Mary Clark

Genre:  Biography / Aviation / Historical / WWII
Publisher: Hellgate Press
Date of Publication: June 15, 2020
Number of Pages: 218


Mary Walker Clark barely knew her father. When he died, he left not only the obvious void every teen would experience, but took with him scores of Indiana Jones-style tales about flying the Hump, a treacherous series of US missions that transported supplies over the Himalayas to China during World War II.

It would take a chance interview with a pilot who had flown with her father in the war to launch a series of extraordinary journeys—into a shrouded past and halfway around the globe to India and China—for Clark to finally come to know the father whose absence had haunted her for decades.

Landing in My Present chronicles the adventures of a daughter who chose to pry open a painful past while enlarging her view of an adventurous father long thought lost.


I always find it fascinating when stories enter our lives at the perfect time almost as though they know that we need them. I've been looking into my own family's genealogy and history, and while my mom and my husband's parents are still here to provide background on the information they know, there is still so much more to learn! During a recent visit with my mother-in-law, she showed me the actual handwritten letters from a great uncle of hers that he had written while in the trenches during World War I. As a veteran myself, it's incredibly awe-inspiring to see a firsthand account of someone's thoughts while in the moment. Given that this book details the author's own discoveries of her father's past, those feelings are obviously much more heightened. However, she captures such an astounding experience that is so relatable and will connect with many different readers on many levels.

Her father's mission of "Flying the Hump" was an airlift operation during World War II that brought supplies, primarily gasoline from India into western China. Not only was it dangerous due to simply having to potentially confront enemy forces, but the terrain and weather played also played prominent roles in making this a dangerous action that truly tested the training every skilled pilot received. This book provides a fascinating glimpse into a period of history that we can all still learn so much about. Alternating between historical references and personal anecdotes, this is a fast-paced read that will have readers feeling like they are coming home to a family that is quite possibly very much like their own. A colloquial tone emphasizes this feeling of being in the presence of family and sharing with each other conversations about the past. As a surrogate, the author tells the stories her father was unfortunately never able to, crafting a homage to his memory and a life that was tragically cut too short.

Because her father never told stories from his time in the war, there was so much that no one could possibly know about his life, and honestly, there are just some things that veterans will never talk about. My husband has served four combat tours in the Middle East, and there are still things he refuses to talk about even with me, who also served in combat. The author gracefully details the dilemma of learning about her father's missions in connection with the history of the Hump and feeling bad for how little they knew before and how proud they could of been of him had they known more. Ultimately, it's a precarious position - wanting to shield your loved ones from the dangers you knew, while also knowing how important those moments are within the story of a family's legacy. 

While it is certainly one thing to read about history, it is definitely a completely different experience to walk in the shoes of living history. Descriptions and photographs enhance the author's ability to convey her adventure towards connecting with her father in such an extraordinary way, and their story truly comes alive off the page! It won't be hard for readers to be just as overwhelmed with the realization of what a moment like this means.

This is a very compelling read full of human interest that will keep you riveted until the very end whether you're a history buff or not. And if you haven't already looked into your own family's history, it might be exactly what you need to spark an interest to do for yourself.

Mary Walker Clark is a retired attorney turned travel writer who loves taking readers with her to worldwide destinations. She has been traveling independently and internationally for over fifty years. Her essays may be found in the Paris News, at her blog, "Mary Clark, Traveler," and her podcasts at KETR 88.9, an NPR affiliate. Clark is an award-winning member of the North American Travel Journalists Association and a contributor to Still Me, … After All These Years, 24 Writers Reflect on Aging.

In 2016, Clark traveled to India and China to follow her father's WWII footsteps when he was a Hump pilot flying over the Himalayas. Her journey to connect with him fifty years after his death is told in her book, Landing in My Present. Clark is a fifth generation Texan living in Paris, Texas.

Website ║ Facebook  ║ Blog ║ Instagram ║ Amazon Author Page 

FIRST WINNER: $25 Amazon card
SECOND WINNER: Signed copy of Landing in My Present
THIRD WINNER: $15 Amazon card.
 July 21-July 31, 2020
(US only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway  BEST OF LUCK!

Many thanks again to Lone Star Book Blog Tours and the author! 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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Tuesday, July 21, 2020

PICT BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: The Crushing Depths by Dani Pettrey (Inspirational Romantic Suspense)



Coastal Guardians #2


Dani Pettrey

Genre:  Inspirational Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Bethany House
Date of Publication: June 30, 2020
Number of Pages: 320


When an accident claims the life of an oil-rig worker on the first drilling platform off the North Carolina coast, Coast Guard investigators Rissi Dawson and Mason Rogers are sent to take the case.

Tensions surrounding the oil rig are high and the death has everyone on edge. Environmental activists are threatening to do whatever it takes to stop the structure from being completed, while rumors are being whispered about ancient curses surrounding this part of the ocean. Mounting evidence shows the death may not have been an accident at all. Was he killed by one of the activists or, perhaps more frighteningly, a member of his own crew?

Rissi and Mason have to sort through not only a plethora of suspects, but also their own past and attraction to each other. Just as the case seems like it'll break open, worse news arrives. A tropical storm has turned their way and soon they're cut off from any rescue–and right where the killer wants them. It's a race to discover his identity before he eliminates the threat they pose.


Chapter One

Late September
Thirty-eight miles off North Carolina’s coast
Greg Barnes clinked along the grated metal steps, his boot heels rasping with each shuffle as he headed topside for a much-needed breath of smoke.
Thrusting the door open with a resounding creak, he stepped out into the night air.
A litany of protestors’ chants mimicked the shrill whining of cicadas.
He glanced at his watch. 1930. Didn’t those eco-nuts ever give it a rest?
As if the cursed rig wasn’t enough—they had the dang relentless protestors going practically day and night.
Exhaling, he rubbed his thumb along the smooth surface of the tarnished gold lighter in his pocket. His tight muscles seized, making his movements stiff. He shook his head. Those people needed to get a life.
Edging around the far corner of the main separator facility, he pressed his back against the structure’s cool outer wall. Generators whirred across from him, finally drowning out the clatter. He scanned his surroundings and exhaled in relief. Finally, alone.
His leg twitched. Just one drag . . . maybe two. It’d been an awful day, and that was the gentleman’s way of putting it.
With unsteady hands, he pulled the plastic-wrapped pack from his shirt pocket.
It crinkled beneath his hold and the sweet scent of tobacco wafted beneath his nose. He tamped the cigarette in his palm and slid it between his cracked lips. Just one drag.
Tugging the lighter from his pocket, he flipped it open, then rolled the pad of his thumb across the ignitor.
A spark flashed and fire roared, hissing over him in a sizzling cascade of torment.

Chapter Two

Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina
Rissi Dawson sat at the long table on Dockside’s waterfront deck, gaping at Mason Rogers. He turned to look at her, his green eyes illuminated in the bright pole lights lining the wooden structural beams. She averted her eyes as heat rushed up her throat, spreading across her cheeks. He’d caught her staring again. Embarrassment drenched her. It’d been three days since his arrival, and she still couldn’t wrap her mind around the fact he was actually sitting next to her.
The boy she’d had the biggest crush on as a teen was back in her life. And on her Coast Guard Investigative Service team.
He handed her the basket of hush puppies the restaurant served instead of bread to start everyone off. His hand brushed hers with the movement, and her heart fluttered. “Thanks,” she said, keeping her gaze fixed on the red basket as she pulled two balls of fried cornmeal from it. She plopped the still-warm puppies onto the round plate to the right of her Coke. Get it together, girl!
The whir of a boat’s motor dropping to an idle sounded over the deck’s edge. A teen jumped out of the white outboard and onto the pier, tying her up to the cleat. Rissi loved living in a place with a boat drive-thru.
Noah raised his glass of iced tea. “Everyone . . .” The team lifted their glasses in response to their boss’s prompting.
Noah dipped his chin. “Welcome, Mason. Happy to have you on board.”
The team clinked their glasses together, even Caleb who sat brooding to her left. Observant as he was, there was no chance he missed the way she looked at Mason. In recent months, he’d developed feelings for her, so it wasn’t surprising he’d bristled at Mason’s arrival—especially after learning she and Mason shared a past, though he didn’t know the half of it. Only that they spent time in a children’s home together for a handful of months as teens.
The opening riff of “Sweet Home Alabama” emanated from Noah’s jean pocket. He hitched up as he extracted his phone. “Rowley,” he answered. “Yes?” Standing, he headed down the ramp toward the restaurant’s pier.
“Rockfish tacos,” the waitress said, placing the plate in front of Rissi. The sweet, tropical scent of the mango slaw swirled in the air.
The waitress handed out plate after plate to each of them, setting Noah’s burger at his spot while he continued to pace the pier.
Caleb bit into his Carolina BBQ pork sandwich, the scent of vinegar wafting in the night’s gentle breeze.
Finn Walker did the same with his crab cake sandwich. He and Noah, who was from Maryland, had argued for months over which state had the best crab cake. Finn had been convinced it was North Carolina, right up until Noah had crab cakes flown in fresh from Jimmy’s Famous Seafood in Baltimore. It took two bites for Finn to concede the win.
“Sorry about that, folks,” Noah said, retaking his seat.
“Everything okay?” Emmy Thorton asked. Rissi looked forward to seeing the quirky angel every day at the station.
“Rissi, Mason.” Noah lifted his chin in their direction. “I’ve got an assignment for you.”
Her and Mason? They’d worked a case his first day on the team, but Finn had joined them for most of the investigation. This would be the two of them . . . alone. A mixture of elation and fear sifted through her.
“Great.” Mason set down his lemonade.
“We’ve got a death out on the Dauntless.”
“The offshore oil platform?” Mason asked, swiping a drop of lemonade from his bottom lip.
Stop staring, girl. So he’s jaw-dropping gorgeous. So you share a past. Still, staring is plain rude. Despite not having a mother to teach her, Rissi knew or, at least had come to learn, her manners.
Noah laid his napkin across his lap. “You two need to determine if the death was an accident or if foul play was involved. Helo is leaving from Textra Oil’s copter hub in forty-five. I need you both on it.”
Mason pushed back from the table. “No problem.”
“Great,” Noah said. “You’ll be joining the head of operations, a commercial diver, and the deceased’s replacement on the company copter.”
Rissi took one last bite of her taco before setting it down. She dabbed the corner of her lips with a napkin. “They aren’t wasting any time in replacing the deceased.”
“The deceased’s name is Greg Barnes. I talked to the head of operations, Bob Stanton, and he said they needed to replace him ASAP.”
“Must be an important position.” She reached for her glass and took a final sip.
“You’d think,” Noah said. “But Bob said the main reason they need to replace him fast is they’ve been working with a skeleton crew.”
Mason’s brows pinched as he stood. “Why?”
“Several guys didn’t show up for their three-week rotation transport out,” Noah said, popping a fry in his mouth.
“I know why they didn’t show up for that copter ride out there.” Tom Murphy leaned toward them from his table situated to their right.
“Why?” Mason asked, moving around to the back of Rissi’s chair. He held it out for her as she stood.
She glanced over her shoulder at him and smiled. “Thanks.”
He nodded.
Tom, one of Wrightsville’s most colorful fishermen, crooked his index finger, drawing them in. “That rig’s cursed.”
“Cursed?” Caleb chuckled. “You can’t be serious?”
Tom waggled his finger. “It’s no laughing matter, young man.”
“I’m sure it’s a good story, Tom,” Rissi said. No reason not to be polite. “But I’m afraid we’ve got to catch a copter ride.”
Tom shrugged and turned back to his food. “It’s your lives at stake.”
“What do you mean?” she asked before they passed his table, unable to stem her curiosity.
“You’ll see.” He smiled, his right incisor missing. “Henry’s curse is real.”
“Henry?” Why was she letting herself get sucked into this?
Tom let out a high-pitched chuckle. “Oh, you’ll learn all about Henry.”
“Shall we?” Mason said, gesturing to the wooden ramp leading down to the gravel parking lot.
Excusing themselves, they moved down the ramp. Mason leaned in. He smelled of the ocean and warm spice. He whispered, “Did that guy seriously just cackle?”
She nodded, strangely curious about the old man’s ghost story.
“I thought people only did that on Scooby-Doo.”
She let out a slip of laughter.
“I wouldn’t be laughing,” Tom called after them as they rounded the ramp on his side of the deck. “You two be careful out there, you hear? It’s a dangerous place to be. Just ask the men on board.”
Excerpt from The Crushing Depths by Dani Pettrey. Copyright 2020 by Dani Pettrey. Reproduced with permission from Dani Pettrey. All rights reserved.

From the book's alluring cover and intriguing synopsis, this was a story that I was immediately captivated by and had to know more about! Although the second in a series, this is very much a standalone, but I will definitely be checking out the first installment to spend more time with this fantastic group of people!

While the main mystery focuses on solving the death of an oil-rig worker, information obtained within the course of the investigation opens up a can of more murder and mayhem. The Coast Guard Investigative Services (CGIS) unit is comprised of highly professional and intensely driven individuals that embody a dedication to duty and service to others. These characters are so well-developed and completely relatable that it's difficult to not become invested in each of their individual stories as the novel unfolds. Their personal interactions and professional involvement with each other strongly demonstrates their respect and admiration for one another and showcases the cohesiveness of this team. The narrative shifts between a few main characters to provide readers with glimpses into their vulnerabilities, while also exploring their own emotional journeys. Christian messages are woven across the story, providing an inspirational and insightful guide all along the way. Readers will easily feel how strongly rooted in faith each character truly is. Their efforts to be a living example to the words of scripture challenge us all to be better people and spiritual stewards. 

Though I was surprised by the amount of relationships that were being formed, the romantic feelings that developed never seemed rushed or unrealistic. Each connection inspires support for one another as they work through their own personal hardships to build a future together. Subtle, sweet, and incredibly spellbinding, each romance will have your heart skipping a beat and cheering for second chances.

This story delivers non-stop thrilling suspense that keeps building until the very end. Driving action, hints of history, and lots of tension combine to make this a multi-faceted and engaging read that truly comes alive right off the page! 

Many thanks to Partners in Crime Virtual Book tours, the author, and the publisher for providing me with a copy of the book for free. This is my honest and thoughtful review.

Praised by New York Times best-selling author Dee Henderson as "a name to look for in romantic suspense," Dani Pettrey has sold more than half a million copies of her novels to readers eagerly awaiting the next release. Dani combines the page-turning adrenaline of a thriller with the chemistry and happy-ever-after of a romance.

Her novels stand out for their "wicked pace, snappy dialogue, and likable characters" (Publishers Weekly), "gripping storyline[s]," (RT Book Reviews), and "sizzling undercurrent of romance" (USA Today).

Her Alaskan Courage series and Chesapeake Valor series have received praise from readers and critics alike and have appeared on the CBA, ECPA, Publisher’s Weekly, and Amazon #1 bestseller lists. Dani has also been honored with multiple awards, including the Daphne du Maurier Award, two HOLT Medallions, a Christy Award finalist, two National Readers' Choice Awards, the Gail Wilson Award of Excellence, and Christian Retailing's Best Award.

Catch Up With Dani Pettrey:
DaniPettrey.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook!

Tour Participants:

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

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Dani Pettrey. There will be 4 winners. Two (2) winners will each receive an Amazon.com Gift Card and Two (2) winners will each win THE CRUSHING DEPTHS by Dani Pettrey (Print ~ Open to U.S. addresses only). The giveaway begins on July 1, 2020 and runs through August 2, 2020. Void where prohibited.
a Rafflecopter giveaway  BEST OF LUCK!

Many thanks again to Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours and the author! 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!

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

Friday, July 17, 2020

BOOK SPOTLIGHT + REVIEW: Disquieted: A Brief Horror Collection (Short Story Anthology)

A Brief Horror Collection
Sean Cochrane, Jack Wallen, Brent Abell, and Dillon Brown

Genre:  Horror / Short Story Anthology
Publisher: Independently published
Date of Publication: July 17, 2020
Number of Pages: 88

A diverse collection of short horror stories.

Restoring Balance by Sean Cochrane

Heather had never ventured outside familiarity and safety of the city until she joined her fiancé on a camping trip. She was overcome by the beauty nature had to offer. But then something changed.

Judas Mother F******g Priest by Jack Wallen 

Saturday, July 17, 1982. Three friends gather to worship at the altar of the metal gods’ newest album Screaming For Vengeance. After several playthroughs the subject of backmasking comes up, and the three teens have got another thing comin’.

Forgotten Things by Brent Abell

Mary makes the best of her days in the nursing home. Nurses and orderlies care for her and check in on her regularly. Her mind isn’t as sharp as it once was, and memories are often out of her reach. One thing she always remembers, though, is the dark thing that comes at night. 

Jack O’ by Dillon Brown

As children five friends formed a club called the Fearless Five and tasked themselves with anonymously fighting for good in their small town. They drifted apart by the time they entered high school. Can the town’s first serial killer bring them back together?

While short stories are a departure from my typical reading and generally not something that I immediately grab when choosing my next read, there is no denying how fantastic they are to get more reading into your life. I had been on a supernatural kick following my book club's most recent read as well as currently reading a few different true crime books, so when I was introduced to this collection, I was instantly intrigued.

Aptly titled, this anthology features a menagerie of twisted tales, ranging from the supernatural and monsters to body horror and slasher killers that will make readers anxious, perturbed, and even uncomfortable. While I personally never felt scared by any of them, the mood and atmosphere created within some of the stories definitely brings out the eerie or sinister vibes. There were moments of repulsion, and at other times, I was looking over my shoulder, but each story will certainly give you something to think about.

These stories also give readers a small, but balanced taste of what the horror genre has to offer, especially if you're looking for a place to start or what type is right for you. Each author has a distinct voice and writing style, allowing each story to stand on its own merits. My personal favorite was "Forgotten Things" with its much more understated and subtle creep factor. As a fan of Judas Priest myself, I enjoyed Jack Wallen's disturbing, yet comedic and richly satisfying look into Hell. And I doubt anyone will ever look at plants the same way after reading "Restoring Balance" and "Jack O'!"

The short length of each story makes the entire collection easily read in a sitting. I will always want to see more expansion, world-building, and layering hence my love of the novel; however, personal preference aside, these stories manage to horrify and unsettle in the small space they fill for a definite quick thrill!

Many thanks to the authors for providing me with a copy of the ebook for free. This is my honest and thoughtful review.

Sean Cochrane is a life-long fan of all things evil and macabre. He lives in Round Rock, Texas with his wife and three children. When not writing he subsists on a steady diet of horror, heavy metal, punk rock, and coffee.

Brent Abell resides in Southern Indiana with his wife and Drake the Puggle. Brent enjoys anything horror related. In his writing career, his stories have been featured in over 30 publications from multiple presses.

Jack Wallen is what happens when a Gen Xer mind-melds with present day snark. Jack is a seeker of truth and a writer of words with a quantum mechanical pencil and a disjointed beat of sound and soul. Although he currently resides in the unlikely city of Louisville, Kentucky, Jack likes to think of himself more as an interplanetary traveler on the lookout for the Satellite of Love and a perpetual movie sign...or so he tells the reflection in the mirror (sometimes in third person). He is the author of 80 numerous tales of dark, twisty fiction.


Dillon Brown is the owner and creator of Horror Nerd Productions, an independent film company that showcases local talent on tiny budgets. Along with writing and directing his own films, Dillon is also the author of three published novellas. He currently lives in Reno, Nevada with his wife and stepson.

Many thanks again to the authors for providing me with a copy of the ebook for free. It was a pleasure reading, reviewing, and hosting!