Monday, March 20, 2017

Patch Town: Up From The Ashes by Robert Parlante

Someone is trying to harm Martin Gilmore. First a white jalopy with a missing tailgate tries to run him down. He encounters road rage involving a dark blue van. Then an oversized black truck stalks him for the final kill. As Martin follows clues leading to the suspected killer, he receives startling news. His young daughter Ruthie faces a diagnosis of breast cancer. Martin’s world collapses, having lost his wife three years earlier to cancer. And now will Ruthie face a similar nightmare? Employed by a real estate development company, Martin is drawn into a web of corporate deceit as Ruthie’s illness overwhelms him, and the killer zeroes in on him. Martin must confront hard choices: be a supportive dad to Ruthie, try to live as an ethical believer, and deal with his feelings for his friend Linda. In the end, Martin faces an inferno of hatred where his life hangs in balance and his trust in God is challenged.

Patch Town: Up From the Ashes is the second book in a series, but it's the first in the series I read. It reads as a standalone novel and at only one hundred and five pages, a relatively quick read.  Martin has had his share of troubles. He had troubles growing up, then he lost his wife to breast cancer. He's now trying to get his life together, going to church, talking to God and doing the right thing.  However, the past has a way of catching up.

Someone is trying to kill him. He's nearly been hit by a speeding vehicle several times, and it's never the same vehicle. It happens so fast that he can't see who is behind the wheel.  Not only is this bearing heavily upon his mind, but he's not sure how the relationship with his friend Linda is going.  He thinks he is ready to move things to the next level but he's still unsure. And to make matters even worse, one of his worst nightmares is rising. His daughter Ruth may have breast cancer; the same cancer that took his wife.  Martin will need to get on his knees and put all of his faith into God if he hopes to get himself and Ruth out of their current predictaments alive or have peace with the results.

A quick read that has elements of suspense, family dynamics and a splash of romance mesh together into a solid and sharp read.  Parlante's talent with words draws vivid images in the reader's mind that really bring it all together.  Solid writing and a great novel.

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

Friday, March 17, 2017

Luminous Spirits (Shadow Eyes, #2) by Dusty Crabtree Review & Giveaway

Old habits die hard. Old enemies, even harder.

Iris must now perfect her newfound abilities in order to help her shadow-oppressed family and friends, but more importantly, she must prepare for an impending fight with her most hated adversary. After the arrival of a new mean girl who seems to have history with Iris’s boyfriend, Iris quickly figures out that she is anything but the typical mean girl. She not only creates havoc and conflict among Iris and her friends, but her presence also means that Iris’s inevitable confrontation with her enemy may, in fact, be closer than she thought.

If Iris can figure out why the new girl is there and what her enemy is planning, she’ll at least be one step ahead of their game. But will she be ready when the time comes to face her biggest challenge yet? Or will they succeed in tearing Iris apart before she even has the chance?

My review of Shadows Eyes in 2012 is here


I've waited patiently for five years for the sequel to Shadow Eyes. I can honestly say it was worth the wait. Dusty's writing is even sharper and more compelling than her first foray into the world of light and shadows.  The age-worn tale of good versus evil, dark vs light, angels vs demons rises once again with Luminous Spirits. But it's not a worn tale as Dusty puts her own unique spin on this gritty young adult tale that is layered with more than just fighting.

Iris has had time to to learn and practice her talents but she still has room for growth. She and her friends are still kicking butt and taking names, but Iris figures she has plenty of time to figure out her enemies next move.  Lucas and Donovan are evil incarnate and they need to be taken out but Iris has to figure out what the new girl in school has to do with it first. While she and the rest of the team continue to shadow hunt, Iris hones her skills as well as as do some internal soul searching and thinking.

Luminous Spirits is classified as a young adult novel but as an adult, I quite enjoyed it.  Also, you don't need to read Shadow Eyes to read Luminous Spirits. It reads well as a standalone.  Plenty of action, romance, supernatural elements and striking writing. There are certain scenarios and elements sown throughout that bring about a myriad of emotions, including but not limited to  triumphant, forlorn and empathic. The character building and how they interact with one another are the solid foundation for this series, in my opinion. Dusty has portrayed some growth with them but leaves plenty of room for more development. If you are looking for a new series or author to try, definitely pick up Dusty's Shadow Eyes or Luminous Spirits. She has a  knack for drawing you into her world and it's well worth the ride! 

Dusty Crabtree loves a good story, but she also loves young people. These two loves are evident in all parts of her life. She has been a high school English teacher since 2006 and a creative writing teacher since 2014. She's also been a youth sponsor at her local church for as long as she’s been teaching. She feels very blessed with the amazing opportunities she has to develop meaningful relationships with teens on a daily basis. With her love of reading in the mix, becoming an author of young adult books was just a natural development of those two passions in her life. She lives with her husband, Clayton, in Yukon, Oklahoma, where they often serve their community as foster parents.

Check out Dusty’s blog at
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Win a paperback copy of Shadow Eyes or Luminous Spirits (USA Only)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Limited Engagement by Bethany Michaels Book Blast & $25 Amazon GC Giveaway!

Meet the Author:

Bethany Michaels is the author of over a dozen contemporary novels and novellas as well as a handful of Regency-set historicals and light paranormal romances. The first book in her Nashville country music series, Nashville Heat, was an RT Book Reviews Reviewers' Choice Award nominee. When not working on her next book, Bethany enjoys movies, traveling, camping, hiking, and volunteering with her kids' scout troops. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and four teens.
Connect: Site | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

About the Book:

Derek Sawyer, sexiest bad boy on the racing circuit, is about to land a huge sponsor. The only problem is the oil baron’s daughter wants to make Derek part of the deal. Worried he’ll offend the old billionaire if he rejects his daughter, Derek comes up with the perfect plan—pretend he’s already engaged to his friend Lilly.
Lilly Harmon used to daydream about her childhood crush Derek proposing to her…but not like this. Of course, she just lost her boyfriend and her job, so her five-year plan is already smashed to hell. Pretending to be with Derek might help her get her PR career back on track.
But the oil baron’s daughter won’t give up that easily, and Derek’s parents believe the engagement proves he’s become the son they always wanted.
Money. Family. Love. The truth could destroy everything. And to think this engagement was supposed to be the easy way out.
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo

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  • $25 Amazon Gift Card

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Hog's Back Mystery (Inspector French #10) by Freeman Wills Crofts

Dr James Earle and his wife live in comfortable seclusion near the Hog’s Back, a ridge in the North Downs in the beautiful Surrey countryside. When Dr Earle disappears from his cottage, Inspector French is called in to investigate. At first he suspects a simple domestic intrigue – and begins to uncover a web of romantic entanglements beneath the couple’s peaceful rural life.
The case soon takes a more complex turn. Other people vanish mysteriously, one of Dr Earle’s house guests among them. What is the explanation for the disappearances? If the missing people have been murdered, what can be the motive? 

This is my second journey into reading Crofts, and I was pleasantly surprised.  Antidote to Venom was written from the perspective of the murderer.  We had all of the information, except for how the crime was actually pulled off.  Most of the book is spent trailing after Inspector French while he figures it all out.  It was a fabulous read!

In this book, Crofts takes an entirely different approach.  We don't even know if a crime has been committed throughout most of the book.  We have suspiciously missing people.  We're given theory after theory for what could have happened.  We follow French around while he questions people and gains facts.  All the while, we're formulating our own theories from the information we're given.  Amidst the second half of the book, things start to fall together.  It's not until the last chapter that we're given any answers though.

The most interesting part of this book, from a writing aspect, is the fact that our point of view changes.  We start off hearing the tale from Ursula, who is an innocent bystander.  She's visiting friends in Hog's Back for two weeks.  It's only when Inspector French arrives on the scene that we switch over and begin to see the story from his point of view.  In most books, I would be really annoyed by this.  It can create a distraction when your world is disrupted like that.  In this book, Crofts has pulled it off seamlessly and it's brilliant.  You realize the perspective has changed, but it only piques your curiosity further.  Instead of distracting you from what's going on, it pulls you in deeper.  

I was impressed by Crofts ability to engage me so deeply and stump me.  I was partially right on the conclusion that I drew, but not fully.  There were so many clues that I had missed!  I was right there in Hog's Back, trudging through a misty thicket at sundown, trying to figure out what on earth was going on.  The further the story goes, the more confused you become.

Crofts is a master.  He can take a mystery and twist it, bend it, leave it gasping for air.  What I'm learning is that he can do that from every angle, not just the front.  No matter which part of the story we're given to work with (means, motive, opportunity, suspects), we're left feeling like amateurs in French's wake. 

Though I was a fan of his writing before, I'm now a die-hard fan.  Give me more!

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

Friday, March 3, 2017

Zero to Sixty (Body Shop Bad Boys #3) by Marie Harte

Bad boy Sam + Good girl Ivy + Stray puppy = Damaged hearts learning to love again

After her last relationship bombed, Ivy Stephens is doing her best to put her life back together. She's enjoying her job, her apartment-and the cute little puppy she's seen hanging around. When she goes looking for him, she finds the stray in the arms of a big, burly, devastatingly handsome man.

Sam Hamilton is lonelier than he's ever been after his best friend's engagement. To give himself a sense of purpose, he takes in a puppy that keeps showing up around the garage where he works. The puppy has another suitor though-one who happens to be blond and beautiful. 

Zero to Sixty is the third book in the smoking hot, Bad Boy Body Shop series by Marie Harte. I absolutely love all three of the books in this series so far. Zero to Sixty focuses mostly on Sam which I have already become familiar with in the previous two books. Sam's best friend was the star of the last book finding his perfect match, so of course I was super excited for Sam to find his as well. I knew coming in I was going to love reading more about him, but I was really blown away by all of the things I did not know and the multi-faceted layers he hides beneath that tough exterior.

 I am blown away by how perfectly Harte can make her characters vulnerable but strong, guarded yet with their heart on their sleeve. The addition of the cute pup that brings Sam and Ivy together just makes their story all that much more endearing. I love how much he cares about the dogs he rescues and it makes me just adore him so much. You just know he has such a good heart. The things Sam has been through and the way he feels about himself really tugged at my heartstrings. I was so invested in him finding love with Ivy you wouldn't even believe. She was so good for him and vise versa. I love it when the right people find each other to help to heal each others wounds and build each other up. 

 Funny and sexy yet with real heart and depth, Zero to Sixty is a must read. If you haven't checked out the Bad Boy Body Shop series yet, I highly recommend it. Marie Harte is a romance genius! Please note that this series is also a spin off of Harte's McCauley Brothers series which I would also highly recommend. That's where my love for her books began. All of them would work great as standalones but of course I think you enjoy them better by reading them all! 

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. April K

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Spilled Milk by K.L. Randis

Brooke Nolan is a battered child who makes an anonymous phone call about the escalating brutality in her home. 

When social services jeopardize her safety condemning her to keep her father’s secret, it’s a glass of spilled milk at the dinner table that forces her to speak about the cruelty she’s been hiding. In her pursuit for safety and justice Brooke battles a broken system that pushes to keep her father in the home. 

When jury members and a love interest congregate to inspire her to fight, she risks losing the support of family and comes to the realization that some people simply do not want to be saved. 

Spilled Milk is a novel of shocking narrative, triumph and resiliency.

Imagine physical, mental, and sexual abuse growing up. Imagine your mother is disabled and you are terrified of your father. You have siblings that you must protect at all costs. There is not always food in the home and a beating is not unusual. This is the life that Brooke lived.
Things at home were really bad, but how does a child know that this is not the life everyone has? Brooke always thought something was not right, but she never knew until there was a glass of spilled milk.

Brooke keeps a secret for her father. She contacts social services and tries to get her secret out. But Social Services failed her. Then a close friend listens and watches Brooke she helps Brooke get the help she needs and an opportunity to let the truth out.

When Brooke finally tells the secret and gets the help that she needs she chances losing the ones she loves the most. Then another secret is revealed that can break Brooke even more.
Personally I felt like I was with Brooke on this journey. I could feel her emotions and frustration.

There were so many times as I read I wondered how nobody knew what was happening. Or is it that someone knew and did not help? Social Services, that were supposed to help Brooke, actually put her in more danger than she was already in. The school system should have taken more measures to help Brooke in this situation.

The book was a page turner for me. I felt I was there with Brooke and I would find myself saying one more page. I had a hard time putting the book down because I was so engrossed in it. When I reached the end I found myself thinking about the book and how the system failed a child who needed help.
This book is based on a true story. There is discussion Guide Questions located in the back of the book. This book was the #1 child abuse book on Amazon for 8 months consecutively. There are 266 pages in this book.

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

Monday, February 27, 2017

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

It's hard to put into words the journey I took reading A Man Called Ove.  I went through a myriad of emotions reading Ove's journey after his wife, Sonya, passed away. All he wanted to do was die so he could join her, not knowing that there was still so much life left for him to enjoy and to give.  

The characters are ecletric and the flashes into the past really give you a solid foundation for the type of man Ove is. Backman, with just a few short, simple words, had me crying, laughing, hopeful, pensive and more on so many levels that I will definitely be reading more from him. 

A Man Called Ove is one of the best books I've read and is definitely on my top 20 list of all time.  It's one you don't want to miss!

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.  Wendy