Friday, November 30, 2018

First Chapter Review: The Treasure of Cedar Creek by Brenda Stanley

The author of this historical novel sent me the first chapter to review.

BLURB: In 1896, the isolated and vast state of Idaho is a haven for the polygamous splinter group called The Kingdom of Glory, which is hiding more than their outlawed practice of plural marriage.

At the compound called Cedar Creek, the prophet is hoping to increase his congregation, even if that means marrying off girls to men decades older. When Peri, who escaped the compound years earlier, returns to help rescue Grace, a girl betrothed to the prophet himself, she ends up also saving her own sister Emma. As the three women make a frantic and deadly escape from the compound, they take with them both the newborn heir to the church, and their dead mother's cryptic journal to the prophet's hidden treasure. Along their journey, the women realize to truly be free they must face what holds them captive, even if those answers are more horrifying than they ever imagined.

COVER: This cover art is beautiful and the color scheme catches the eye. The font in the title stands out nicely. The artwork captivates with the vastness of the untamed west.

FIRST CHAPTER: Emma Elizabeth Dixon opens by explaining she is sharing this story for a reason. Part of that story is how her strong-willed and confident sister, Peri, ended up with her own horse several years ago and a bit of what transpired to lead them to Idaho.

KEEP READING: I snuck over to Amazon to read a bit more from the sample, if that gives you any idea. There is a lot of emotion in this opening chapter, which draws you right to Emma. You feel the hurt that is evident in her words. I'm glad the author started with her character, since she was the most sympathetic character at that point in time. I'm eager to read more and want to make time for this one in my reading schedule.

Paperback: 262 pages
Publisher: Taylor and Seale Publishers (March 26, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1943789762
ISBN-13: 978-1943789764

Purchase here!

This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Book Review: Going for Broke by Shannon Medisky

Are you looking for a book that can help change your perspective? Then Going for Broke: How to Suffer Well by Shannon Medisky should be on your list.

Medisky has spent the last ten years learning a lot about suffering, but her book isn't going to be about how to get out of it or how to avoid it, because she knows that God allows us to suffer, but also "meets us in our mess." In those moments when life just "sucks," she encourages us to face suffering in "anticipation of meeting God personally in brand new ways."

Providing a fresh perspective on how God called Noah and Moses and what they suffered through, along with sharing her own journey, the reader is inspired to accept suffering, but not be defeated by it. She boils it down to three easy-to-remember steps to help you and guide you to intentionally lean on God in meaningful ways.

I loved everything about this book; especially because Medisky's style of writing makes the reader feel like she is speaking solely to her. I'll be on the lookout for more of the author's work, and have visited her website to check on additional resources.

Paperback: 134 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (September 14, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1986546292
ISBN-13: 978-1986546294

I received a digital copy of this book from the author through Pump Up Your Book. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way. 

Monday, November 26, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - Nov 26

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It's a great post to organize yourself. It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date.

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving. Our family was here and then the church held its annual Christmas bazaar on Saturday, so there was plenty to keep me occupied. I'm diving into two editing projects this week.

For reading, I'm knocking things off my list pretty well. I recently finished the following:

I just started the digital copy of this book:

I'm also working on these two:

There are a ton I still need to read for review, so these are coming up:

What is on your list right now?

Friday, November 23, 2018

Blog Tour: Too Far Gone By Allison Brennan

Things finally seem to be going well for FBI Agent Lucy Kincaid. She's just finished training for Hostage Rescue, her husband's relationship with his son is back on track, and her tense relationship with her boss, Rachel Vaughn, has become much more bearable. That is, until her first hostage case throws everything off track.

When a man who appears under the influence and mentally unstable holds a group of people hostage and dies in a shootout with the FBI, Lucy is assigned to investigate what happened. His descent doesn't make any sense - he was an upstanding citizen a year ago and only started declining after a series of blackouts and strange occurrences. Even his autopsy seems suspicious, and the body has been cremated without the proper approval. As Lucy investigates, she realizes that this story may be more complicated than she thinks, and that her own life might be in danger.



FBI Special Agent Lucy Kincaid geared up in the back of the SWAT van and followed team leader Leo Proc- tor to the staging area kitty-corner to the coffeehouse that was currently under control of a gunman. Lucy wasn’t part of the SWAT team. She was the newest trained hostage negotiator, though she would be second to Proctor for a minimum of six months. She wouldn’t be talking to the suspect today; she was tagging along on her first official outing after completing Hostage and Crisis Response Training at Quantico.
As soon as she stepped out of the air-conditioned van and into the hot Texas humidity, she began to sweat. Fortunately, she wasn’t decked out with an extra twenty- five pounds of SWAT gear; she was only required to wear her Kevlar vest and sidearm.
The FBI was here to back up the SAPD, who were taking lead in the hostage situation at Java Antonio, a small but popular independent coffee shop in downtown San Antonio.

Lucy followed Leo from the van while the rest of the team checked their weapons and gear.
“Lieutenant, sit-rep?” Leo said to the man clearly in charge who was directing personnel from the back of a police communications van. There were a dozen city and county vehicles filling all four streets that led to the intersection, which now held a tactical truck. Each street had been blocked off, and all businesses in a two-block radius evacuated or locked down.
“Proctor. Glad you’re here.” He glanced at Lucy. “Agent Kincaid, hostage negotiator. Kincaid, Lieu-
tenant Jordan Young.”
They shook hands. Young was forty and had the aura of former military officer, and it was clear by how his officers spoke to him that he garnered respect from his men and women.
“I need you to negotiate, Leo—I’ve already set up a command, I’m the highest-ranking officer here.”
“My people are your people,” Proctor said. “Kincaid’s my second.”
Being second essentially meant backing up the primary negotiator. Listening to all communication, taking notes, passing along information between the negotiator and command and vice versa.
Generally the individual in charge of the scene was not the same person negotiating with the suspect. That SAPD and the SA-FBI worked well together was a tes- tament to the men and women who led each department and the teams who cross-trained together.
“I have two snipers, one on each corner building,” Young said, gesturing. “Two men in the back. If you can

spare a pair I’d like to have them tag up with my team in the alley, and if you have a sniper we can use one back there. The rear is the only exit other than the front door.” Proctor said in his radio, “Dunning, take your team and secure the back with SAPD; Ramirez, find a roost with clear line of sight to the emergency exit. From here on out, Lieutenant Young is in command of this operation and you’ll take direction from him, primary
emergency channel.”
“Roger,” the team leader said over the radio. “Suspect?” Proctor asked.
Young shook his head. “Working on an ID. No cameras inside, but we have a description from one of the hostages who escaped during the initial confusion. In fact, a dozen people got out before the shooter locked down. From preliminary statements, the guy was talk- ing to himself and acting ‘off’—weird was the word most used. He was wearing a thick windbreaker and it’s over ninety degrees and humid as hell. When the man- ager confronted him, he snapped—per a witness. An- other witness said he acted like he was quote, ‘off his meds.’”
Unfortunately, Lucy knew that mental illness was one of the leading causes of spontaneous hostage situations. But generally, if the individual was mentally ill, they took people they knew hostage—family or friends—in a residence. This situation was distinctly different.
Young continued. “He fired two shots. Per witnesses, they both went into the ceiling. No one saw anyone in- jured inside. There are conflicting statements as to how many guns he has and what kind, though I’m going

with one of the witnesses who stated he’s a gun owner and identified a nine-millimeter in the shooter’s hand, standard-capacity magazine, and a second handgun in his waistband, also a semi-auto—either a nine-mil or a forty-five.”
“Number of hostages?”
“Best guess is fourteen. Do you have thermal imag- ing in your truck? Fire can set up as well, but they’re still en route.”
“We got it,” Proctor said. “My tech just needs a minute.”
“Good. We need to know where he is, get some sense as to what’s going on in there.”
“Is this personal?” Proctor asked. “Target an em- ployee? Customer?”
“Don’t know. We asked the witnesses for the basics, everyone said that he was alone and didn’t appear to know anyone. They are all sequestered down the street, my people are working to get more information. He hasn’t called out or made demands, but this whole thing started less than an hour ago. I need you to make con- tact, develop a rapport as we gather additional informa- tion. We need to de-escalate this as fast as possible.”
Proctor listened to his com then said, “Roger, hold positions.” He said to Young, “My team is in place, Ramirez has one hundred percent visual of the rear door.”
“Excellent.” Young handed him the bullhorn. “Work your magic, Leo. Godspeed.”
Proctor took a breath, visibly relaxed, then turned on the bullhorn.

“This is Leo Proctor of the FBI. I will be calling into the coffee shop. I’d like you to answer, just to talk. Just see how you’re doing, how the other people are doing.”
He then nodded to Young’s assistant, a uniform by the name of Jones, who handed him a phone already set to dial into the Java Antonio main number and rec- ord the conversation.
They let the phone ring more than thirty times. There was no answer and Proctor ended the call.
“Lieutenant,” Jones said after listening to his radio, “we have an ID. Charles James McMahon, forty-six, ad- dress in Helotes per DMV. Two deputies are on their way now.”
“Married? Kids? Employer?” “Unknown, we’re working on it.”
“Work faster. Something triggered him, we need to know what so no one gets hurt.”
“Yes, sir,” Jones said, already on his phone.
Proctor got on the bullhorn again. “Mr. McMahon— Charles—this is Leo Proctor. I really need you to pick up the phone. I know you don’t want to hurt anyone. We need to talk. You and me. We can work this out, but I’m sure you don’t like shouting through a bullhorn any more than I do.”
He dialed again, waited. No answer. He hung up. He didn’t show any frustration, any rush. “As long as he’s calm, we can get out of this,” he said almost to himself. “Lucy, get Yancey out here. We need eyes in.”
Lucy briskly walked to the tactical van. Tim Yancey was a technology analyst in their office and in charge

of the equipment during tactical operations. He was a bit high-strung, skinny, and sharp on his feet.
“I know, I know,” Tim said before Lucy could speak. “It’s almost calibrated. Okay, okay,” he said to himself and followed Lucy over to the staging area which had a direct line of sight to the coffee shop.
“I need to expand the range,” he said as he walked up and put the thermal imaging camera on a table next to the SAPD tactical van. “Okay, okay,” he mum- bled again and pressed a few buttons to expand the field.
A blob of orange quickly took on distinct human shapes. Most were on the floor. Young immediately pointed to one on the left that was moving and had an- other shape close to him. “That’s our guy. He’s holding a hostage. I count . . . fifteen plus the gunman?”
“I concur,” Proctor said.
Young asked Tim, “Why are these three shapes faded?”
“They’re in another room,” Tim said. “Probably the storage room, a bathroom—I don’t have the exact lay- out.”
Young motioned at one of his men. “Where are the blueprints I asked for?”
“I needed them five minutes ago.” “He didn’t plan this,” Lucy said.
Everyone looked at her. She didn’t realize she’d spoken out loud.
“If he did,” she continued, “he would have made sure that everyone was in the main room. Those three had

time to hide in the back and he didn’t notice? Others es- caped? A dozen people ran out before he locked the place down. I think he would notice if he had a room full of customers and no employees.”
“Point taken,” Young said. “Don’t know if that makes him more or less dangerous. Get him talking, Leo, I’m going to push my people to get us more intel.”
Leo used the bullhorn. “Charles, this is Leo Proctor again. I’m calling you now. Please pick up the phone.”
He hit redial.
Lucy adjusted her earpiece and heard the ringing phone. She watched Tim’s thermal imaging system and saw the suspect cross the room—with a hostage in tow—and stand next to what she presumed was the phone on the wall behind the counter.
“Answer it, buddy,” Leo mumbled. “Pick it up, you want to.”
The man put a hand on his head—more like he was banging the side of his head with his gun hand, as if flustered or frustrated. He walked away a couple of feet. Leo hung up. He counted to ten. Then he hit redial.
McMahon went back to the phone. He answered.


Allison Brennan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty novels and many short stories. A former consultant in the California State Legislature, she lives in Northern California with her husband Dan and their five children.

Visit Allison online at


Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving. Hope you get some reading time in.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Book Review: Timeless Tales by John Alexander

In this beautiful poetry collection, author John Alexander will touch your heart and brighten your day. These Timeless Tales will remind you of the freedom of childhood, of the lifting of burdens when we step out in faith, of the blessings of life, of favorite holiday memories and more.

What a wonderful collection of poems this is. The inside is just as lovely as in the outside cover art. There is peace and comfort and warmth found within the pages of Timeless Tales. One of my favorites is "Donkey Tale," which is the tale of a lonely, awkward donkey who is made fun of by others until he meets a man who lifts his burdens. The man ends up riding on his back into the city where palms are laid at their feet. "The Grand's Christmas" is another sweet poem about grandparents spending their holiday together, but without their family, and how the Bible brings them comfort. There are several Scripture passages within this collection's pages as well.

I'm so glad I sat down to read Timeless Tales. It's a definite treasure.

File Size: 4629 KB
Print Length: 102 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publication Date: August 12, 2018
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English

Also available in paperback and hardcover.

I received a free copy of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Book Review & Giveaway: The Secluded Village Murders by Shelly Frome

The Secluded Village Murders by Shelly Frome is a delightful cozy mystery that brings the reader from a small town B&B to the mist-sodden moors of England in a search for the truth.

On a rainy fall day in New England, Emily Ryder learns her mentor, Chris Cooper, has had an accident. After Chris's death, Emily starts digging into how he came to be where he was that day and unsettling things come to light that she wants to investigate. To complicate matters, she has this tour to England she is coordinating for Harriet Curtis and her siblings, and she's almost certain Harriet is involved in what happened to Chris. Across the pond they travel for the annual moorland fete, but Harriet's erratic behavior and the siblings' rivalry keep Emily on edge. Will she be able to uncover the truth before someone decides she knows too much and must be eliminated?

The Secluded Village Murders is a fun read. It takes readers into the worlds of small town politics and big developers and then through the beauty of England. It explores family relationships, secrets, and the possibility of romance. There were moments when I was a bit confused as to what was going on, but overall it was a satisfying read. The characters are believable and create emotional responses from the reader throughout. Can't say I saw the end coming, but it all made sense once it was wrapped up and lends itself to a sequel. I'm glad I read this one.

Paperback: 338 pages
Publisher: Boutique of Quality Books (September 1, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1945448202
ISBN-13: 978-1945448201

I received a copy of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Shelly Frome. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Gift Card. The giveaway begins on November 1, 2018 and runs through November 16, 2018. Void where prohibited.

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Monday, November 12, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - Nov 12

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It's a great post to organize yourself. It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date.

Happy Monday! I am slowly catching up on things here. Did a bit of Christmas shopping over the weekend, which is always fun for me. Though we celebrated yesterday by taking my father-in-law out to lunch at Applebees, I wanted to be sure to wish all our military men and women a happy Veteran's Day. We will never forget all you have done for us, for this country, and in the name of freedom across the world.

My reading world included finishing off this book (look for my review tomorrow)....

I've been knee deep in research using this book...

And ordered this one since I felt it would be a good resource to have on hand...

Now that real estate is slowing down a bit (thankfully), I hope to be able to read more often. Next in line are the following:

What are you reading right now?

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Book Spotlight & Contest: Willow Bloom and The Dream Keepers by E.V. Farrell

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. E.V. Farrell will be awarding the use of the winner's name in the sequel to Willow Bloom and the Dream Keepers to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Willow Bloom’s biggest challenge is to organise her thirteenth birthday party. However, a walk in the woods near her home provides some big surprises – a mystical guardian from another world, a magical forest, and the discovery that her parents are part of a secret order that protects dreams. With the discovery comes a calling. A prophecy tells of a young one who can push back the dark forces that threaten to corrupt our hopes and dreams. Is Willow that young one? Can she take on the forces of evil, the Underlord Maliceius, and win?

Read an Exerpt

“Isn’t that normal? How else are you meant to make things happen?”

“Willow, let me put it another way. Imagine that you are following a chocolate cake recipe to bake a birthday cake. This recipe has been developed and tested by others over and over so that you can make it too. It’s a ‘normal’ cake recipe that everyone follows. Now, what if you wanted to make this cake a little more special because it was for someone you really love? You think about this person while you are mixing the batter when suddenly, ‘out of nowhere’, you get the idea to add raspberries to your batter. Now your cake is no longer the original recipe. You didn’t need the raspberries to make the cake work, but you were inspired to create something different, inspired by someone special to you. You changed the world, just a little, by adding the raspberries.”

“Really, Mum, it’s a cake.”

“It’s an analogy, Willow.”

“I know. What you’re saying is that too many of us are making the same chocolate cake, following other peoples’ ideas. But to help things change, we need to create using inspired thought too. Right?”




E.V. Farrell lives in rural Victoria with her husband and two sons. This is her first novel.




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Monday, November 5, 2018

New Release: Sugarplums and Second Chances by Jill Kemerer

Are some mistakes beyond redemption?

When former NFL star, Chase McGill, invites Courtney Trudesta, the widow of his former teammate, to spend Christmas with him and his son in Lake Endwell, he simply wants to repay her for the weekly letters she sent while he was in prison. He didn’t expect to fall for her.
Chase regrets his past and knows it will take more than sugarplums and wishful thinking to heal Courtney’s lonely heart. But with a dose of small-town charm and plenty of Christmas cheer, they might have a second chance at happiness…with each other.

Sugarplums and Second Chances was originally released in the I’ll Be Home for Christmas novella collection.

Chase and Wyatt McGill were featured in Hometown Hero’s Redemption (Lake Endwell book 5).

Purchase right now for only 99 cents! This is an introductory offer and may not be available if you wait too long.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - Nov 5

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It's a great post to organize yourself. It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date.

Well, it has certainly been a while. The WriteAngles Conference is almost here, so I've been busy with that and real estate has been crazier than most of the year. Barely have had time to breathe. Glad the holidays are on the way because that usually means a lull.

In my reading world, not a lot going on, but I'm gearing up for several reviews coming up. Right now I am reading...

Next up are the following books for review...

What is going on in your reading world?