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Audio Book Review & Giveaway: Covey Jencks by Shelton L. Williams

COVEY JENCKS
by
SHELTON L. WILLIAMS
Narrated by Kathy James
Genre: Mystery / Social Thriller
Publisher: Southern Owl Publications, LLC
Publication Date: February 10, 2018
Number of Pages: 229 pages
Audio Book Length: 6 hours, 38 minutesSCROLL DOWN FOR THE GIVEAWAY! 

Covey Jencks is a murder mystery with a social conscience. Set in West Texas with a cast of colorful and humorous characters, it follows a young lawyer from Washington, DC back to his hometown of Odessa, Texas. He wants and needs to solve a murder case from 1979 in 1993. The problem is that the Odessa Police Department has already found its man, and no one wants to re-visit the case of a black prostitute whose life was seemingly of no consequence to anyone. But Freddie Mae Johnson’s death matters to Covey, and eventually he discovers an old flame, JayJay Qualls, who also knew and loved Freddie. Together they undertake an investigation that uncovers not only the truth about Freddie but also the secrets of Odessa’s south side, Mexican gangs, a Boston mobster, and the fallacy of unexamined assumptions. Finding out who killed Freddie is one thing, but preventing their own demise is quite another! 
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PRAISE FOR COVEY JENCKS:
 
Williams seamlessly braids a murder mystery with a love story and a drama about the pervasiveness of racism in the South… The author’s prose is buoyantly eccentric, both insightful and self-effacingly humorous. And the clues Covey and JayJay track down are meted out to readers with impressive judiciousness: The author never prematurely surrenders so much information that the conclusion is rendered foregone while the tale’s swift pace prevents it from becoming tedious. An engrossing crime drama that’s both entertaining and provocative. — Kirkus Indie

review

Welcome to my first ever audio book review! I’m really excited to share my thoughts on Covey Jencks. Within the first few seconds, I was laughing because I was pronouncing Covey with a long “O” sound. So you can see that I am someone who could definitely benefit from listening to audio books more often.

One thing I noticed several minutes into this audio book is that all the normal front of the book stuff (title page, publishing information, foreword, etc.) was treated as individual chapters. So when you looked at your listening device, chapter 7 was when chapter 1 of the book actually began. I wish the company that put together the audio book could or would have used some other naming convention so that the chapter numbers actually matched up.

Narrator: At first I was a little confused with the choice of Kathy James as narrator, but I feel like it might have had to do with what was discussed in the foreword. This book contains all types of characters and the diversity extends beyond the normal racial categories to include cisgender individuals as well. So I think that Williams wanted to liberate us of our assumption as to what Covey Jencks would sound like. James was a good choice for keeping us on neutral footing. She has a very soothing voice with very precise diction, sort of like Siri. It takes her about a chapter or two to hit her stride, but it feels satisfying to hear her personality shine through. And though I tried to break the confines of my bias on gender roles, I couldn’t help but smile every time that pretty voice cursed or talked about lewd behavior. Side note: I truly hope that Ms. James narrates some of those children’s books intended for adult audiences in the future. Lastly, kudos to anyone who can read AIM messages without me fast forwarding.

Story: I can’t praise this story enough. I was able to invest myself into every character, especially when it came to Covey and Freddie. I liked hearing about Covey’s upbringing and just appreciated his sense of humor all around. I have a feeling that Williams has a bit of Covey in him because that character just felt so natural. I liked the many layers of Ms. Freddie as well and was glad to get to know her through the various flashbacks. Odessa was sort of its own character for me also because who knew about the seedy underground during that time period? I have never been to Odessa but I had imagined a sleepy town where there’s one bar and one police officer to break up the occasional drunken brawl. But I guess that there would have to be more to a place for Covey to come back from a high power attorney position in Washington, D.C.

I had a good time listening to this book. It’s a good mystery that takes you on a wild ride that is very different from your typical whodunit. You can’t go wrong getting this in audio or print format.

Shelton L. Williams (Shelly) is founder and president of the Osgood Center for International Studies in Washington, DC. He holds a PhD from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and he taught for nearly 40 years at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. He has served in the US Government on 4 occasions and he has written books and articles on nuclear proliferation. In 2004 he began a new career of writing books on crime and society. Those books are Washed in the Blood, Summer of 66, and now Covey Jencks. All firmly prove that he is still a Texan at heart.

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My first part time job while I was in high school was announcing at the local radio station, and I had fun being “on the air” and using my sarcastic sense of humor.  I worked in the radio business for more than twenty years. My favorite pastimes are teaching figure skating, getting lost in a great book, and watching movies.  I narrate and produce audio books in my home studio, and I truly enjoy bringing an author’s characters to life with an audio book. I currently reside in Minnesota with my slightly overweight cat and two childlike golden retrievers.  
 
 
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Review & Giveaway: In Too Deep by Lynn H. Blackburn

IN TOO DEEP
Dive Team Investigations
Book Two
by
Lynn H. Blackburn
Genre: Suspense / Romance / Christian
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: November 6, 2018
Number of Pages: 352

Scroll down for the giveaway!
 

When the dive team is called in to recover a body from a submerged car, they aren’t prepared to find an encrypted laptop—or an unsettling connection between investigator Adam Campbell and the dead accountant. 

Adam turns to his friend Dr. Sabrina Fleming—a professor at the local university with unparalleled computer security and forensics skills—to recover the files from the laptop. But the deeper they dig, the deadlier the investigation becomes. When evidence uncovers a human trafficking ring and implicates members of Adam’s own family, he and Sabrina will have to risk everything to solve the case.
The truth could set hundreds free—but someone is willing to do whatever it takes to silence anyone who threatens to reveal their secrets. Award-winning author Lynn H. Blackburn invites readers back to Carrington, North Carolina, where everything is not as it seems, and sinister elements lurk behind the idyllic façade.

PRAISE FOR BENEATH THE SURFACE, BOOK ONE IN THE DIVE TEAM INVESTIGATIONS SERIES:

“Fans of Dani Pettrey’s “Alaskan Courage” thrillers will enjoy this nail-biter of a series opener, which will also be appreciated by romantic and psychological suspense fans.” Library Journal
 
“Just when you think you can relax, Blackburn brings you back to the edge of your seat in this riveting, high-tension suspense story.” 
Patricia Bradley, author of Justice Delayed 
“Blackburn’s Beneath the Surface is completely engaging from the very first page. Dive Team Investigations is bound to be a new favorite series for readers everywhere.” Christian Market
 
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review

For a book with a cover that shows an underwater scene and a punny title like “In Too Deep,” I predicted that at least 50% of the novel would take place in or around the water. It turns out, evidence and clues were disposed of in the water, and we end up only spending about 5-10% of the time in the deep dark. I was hoping to read more about the technical side of crime scene diving, but perhaps Blackburn does that more in Book 1 of the Dive Team Investigations. At any rate, I found this book to be suspenseful and well plotted. I had an inkling of whodunit, but I couldn’t figure out how they could possibly walk away with what they wanted.

Characters make or break a story for me, and it’s difficult to find fault with Adam and Sabrina. When I realized that I’m 10 years older than Sabrina, I started to question how much I have accomplished in my life. I loved how cerebral and logical she was – practically an AI in human skin. I was frustrated by how clueless she was about Adam’s affections, but then again remembered being that age and misreading guys all the time. The drama of their romance proved to be unfounded and was a little anticlimactic for me, but I found their interactions to be cute. I think my favorite relationships and interactions involved the friends and fellow police officers who kept watch over the two as the bad guy(s) kept coming after them.

The underlying, terrible criminal activity that is unearthed in this novel is completely relevant and morbidly fascinating. If you live in the Houston area as I do, you’ve heard your share of stories with similar situations. I hope that books like this one build awareness and encourage people to take notice and take action. Sorry for being so elusive, but I don’t want to ruin the story for you.

I feel bad for saying this, but the Christian bits in this novel took me out of the story a little. I really wish they didn’t, but they did for some reason. However, don’t feel like you need to avoid this book if you’re adverse to religious or Christian novels.

This book is first and foremost a mystery. Don’t miss out on a great story that sheds light on a very ugly and real problem that we have in our country. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good mystery and the satisfaction of justice served.

Lynn H. Blackburn is the author of Hidden Legacy (Love Inspired, June 2017) and Covert Justice, winner of the 2016 Selah Award for Mystery and Suspense and the 2016 Carol Award for Short Novel. Blackburn believes in the power of stories, especially those that remind us that true love exists, a gift from the Truest Love. She’s passionate about CrossFit, coffee, and chocolate (don’t make her choose) and experimenting with recipes that feed both body and soul. She lives in Simpsonville, South Carolina, with her true love, Brian, and their three children.
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Review & Giveaway: Burden of Proof by DiAnn Mills

BURDEN OF PROOF
FBI Rapid Response, #1
by
DiANN MILLS
Genre: Inspirational /Mystery / Suspense / Romance
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Date of Publication: October 9, 2018
Number of Pages: 416

Scroll down for the giveaway!
Reeling from a negotiation gone wrong, FBI Special Agent April Ramos is caught off guard when a frazzled young woman shoves a crying baby into her arms, then disappears. Worry for the child’s safety quickly turns to fear when a man claiming to be the girl’s father abducts them at gunpoint. April puts her hostage negotiation skills to use to learn more about who she’s dealing with: Jason Snyder, a fugitive accused of murder. 
As Jason spins a tall tale about being framed for the killing of his business partner, April must sort through his claims to find the truth. A truth that becomes all the more evident after April overhears a conversation between Jason and the local sheriff and realizes something more sinister may be happening in their small town of Sweet Briar, Texas. But aligning herself with a known fugitive to uncover the burden of proof could cost April her job . . . or worse, her life and the lives of other innocent people.
PRAISE FOR DiANN MILLS:
“The tension level rises as layers of lies are peeled away in multiple plot twists.” —Library Journal

“DiAnn Mills is a master of fast-paced and intricately plotted romantic suspense.” —Colleen Coble, Bestselling author

“[A] fast-moving, intricately plotted thriller.” —Publishers Weekly
CHECK OUT THE BOOK TRAILER! 

review
I was excited to get a copy of DiAnn Mills’ latest book because she never fails to capture my undivided attention. I get a little breathless when gripped with suspense or excitement, and this book is filled with so many moments that make your heart skip a beat. Mills is especially skilled when it comes to writing dialogue. Each characters’ speech sounds natural and flows just as well as the non-dialogue text. When Mills switches the point of view, there is no confusion because the character’s voice shines through very clearly and the writing style is concise.
I can say with all honesty that Mills’ books are all very unique. Although I’ve read several FBI-mystery-romance books by her, they are all very different from each other, as well as books by other authors in the same genre. You would think that there are only so many meet-cute scenarios that can happen between an FBI agent and a paramour, but Mills will raise you another. In fact, she will keep them coming since this is the first book of a new series.
I’m Filipino, so I’m excited to see a Filipino protagonist whose ethnicity is not central to the plot. Sure, Mills throws in an Adobo reference – you should try this dish if you haven’t yet (it’s not the same as the Hispanic Adobo dish) – but April could be any ethnicity really. But since she’s not just any ethnicity, I’m going to nitpick a little. April is uncomfortable during long prayers, but most Filipinos are (or were at one time in their life) Catholic, so super long prayers – Hail Mary, anyone? – should be no biggie. April’s parents would prefer that she was a university professor rather than an FBI agent. Are you kidding? Filipinos love to brag and most of them love guns as well. And they live in Texas? Game over. They have guns of all shapes and sizes. And they would bring all those guns to the range to show their friends while they proudly talked about their FBI agent daughter.
But overall, I’m really amazed at how Mills’ characters spring to life in every book, this one especially. I think she is very successful with her portrayal of April’s struggle to do the right thing because I was constantly second guessing myself on what was the “right” or best thing to do in that situation too. I feel lucky to not have to make decisions that place my family on one side of the scale and the community on the other. I suppose most normal Joes like myself don’t have to.
I look forward to reading the next book. While you wait for the next installment, I suggest you pick up one of her FBI Task Force novels.

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.
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 Reader’s Choice, and Carol Award contests. Firewall, the first book in her Houston: FBI series, was listed by Library Journal as one of the best Christian fiction books of 2014.
DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, 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. DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers.
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Review & Giveaway: Out and In by Pat Dunlap Evans

OUT AN IN
a mystery-thriller
MARIE DONOVAN MYSTERIES, #1
by
PAT DUNLAP EVANS
Genre: Fiction / Romantic Suspense
Publisher: A.M. Chai Literary
Date of Publication: April 27, 2016
Number of Pages: 316
Scroll down for Giveaway!
Stunning beauty and amateur cellist Marie Donovan finds herself in deep trouble after her pro-quarterback husband dives off a Dallas high rise—many say in shame after his shady investments go sour. Just months later, the grieving Marie faces capital murder charges for the death of a lecherous opera maestro. When hard evidence points squarely at her, only her best friend and defense lawyer believe her.
 
Marie is no stranger to struggle. During her six years as an NFL Football wife, she fends off groupies eager to take her man, all the while feeling lost in her husband’s macho culture. Studying the cello becomes Marie’s solace until her hard-drinking husband retires after an injury. Returning to Dallas, he plays with high society’s money in an investment scheme until winning at all costs leaves Marie and her twin sons on the hook for millions.
 
Scorned by society friends, charged with murder, Marie pins her hopes on hunky defense lawyer Ryan Ingles, one of Cole’s college football pals. After Ryan’s legal team discovers some of the maestro’s dark secrets, Marie and Ryan’s investigative troupe travel to exotic islands in search of clues Cole left behind. As the tropics weave a romantic spell, a corrupt offshore banker dashes Marie’s hopes. She wonders if she’ll ever be free of blame…and able to claim her own place in this world.


PRAISE FOR OUT AND IN

Out and In is the perfect mystery-thriller for the beach, a long flight, or to savor before bed…an exciting but heartfelt story about a beautiful woman who struggles to prove her innocence … As for the ending, I am still stunned.” — Lara Reznik, Amazon best-selling author of The Girl from Long Guyland and Bagels and Salsa.
 
“Could not put it down, once I started reading. Definitely a must-read. Look forward to reading more books from Pat Dunlap Evans. ” — five-star Amazon review by reader “Mimi”
 
“Awesome…flowed nicely … definitely kept you on your toes to who actually committed the murder. The lead character was a perfect blend of hard and soft. A great read.” — five-star Amazon review by reader “Tiffany”
 
review
I have never felt such mixed emotions about a book before. I think that almost every element of this book – the setting, the plot, the characters – evoked feelings from opposite poles within myself. Take the setting: I hate Dallas; but I love the fine arts scene. Like Marie, I play the cello and love the human voice quality of it. Unlike Marie, I couldn’t imagine playing my instrument naked. I don’t love it that much. The plot: I really liked the mystery side of this book. Some authors hit you over the head with key details, thus ruining the surprise. Evans knows how to write a mystery and keep things mysterious. But the romance side of things, some details came down hard and bopped you on the nose. The characters: I felt compassion for Marie and her predicament but felt zero sympathy for her with regard to her spoiled “boys”. I guess I found it hard to believe that a go-getter like Cole wouldn’t have taught his sons how to succeed – even if that meant teaching them the wrong way to do things. 
The book cover is clever and sensual with a man (is that supposed to be Luca?) drawing a bow across the back of a woman with cello strings and f holes tattooed or drawn on her back. I’m not a fan of the font used and the decision to put “a women’s mystery-thriller” on the cover too. Bop! Right on the nose with that one. It’s nitpicky, but I think that bass clef signs should have been used instead of treble clef signs at the beginning of each chapter since that is the clef that cellos mostly play in. Speaking of the chapters, I didn’t mind the changes in point of view, but it sometimes took me a while to figure out who was talking. To be fair, there were a few chapters where Evans didn’t want us to know who was talking. I really liked those chapters where the killer(s) would talk about what they have done and how they got away with it.
The book could have used another pass on the editing table, but it was an entertaining read. I had a hunch about who the killer was and was surprised when it seemed like someone else murdered Luca. But then I got another helping of surprise when I realized that the story had not yet quite ended and then we finally get to find out whodunnit. I was hoping that Marie would have a drama free life from here on out, but I’m happy to see that this book is the beginning of a series. I recommend this book to anyone who thinks they can solve mysteries easily (yes, this is a challenge to you).
Pat Dunlap Evans was born in Michigan but “got to Texas as soon as I could,” she says. Her family lived in San Antonio and later Dallas, where she attended South Oak Cliff High School and Southern Methodist University. Pat eventually completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English at University of Missouri, Kansas City, with emphasis on creative writing. She also taught freshman writing courses as a part-time lecturer.After a divorce, Pat stressed her way as a single mom through twenty-five years of high-stress advertising and marketing roles before retiring to write fiction and screenplays. She lives in the Lake Travis area with her second husband Dr. Bill Evans and enjoys travel, golf, volunteer work, sailing, and the chaos of the couple’s combined five adult children, five grandchildren, and two cockalier dogs.

Pat has published two novels, To Leave a Memory and Out and In, with a third novel Those Who Try due out soon.

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Excerpt 1 & Giveaway: Justice Betrayed by Patricia Bradley

 

JUSTICE BETRAYED
A MEMPHIS COLD CASE MYSTERY, #3
by
PATRICIA BRADLEY
Genre: Fiction / Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: June 5, 2018
Number of Pages: 352
Scroll down for Giveaway!
It’s Elvis Week in Memphis, and homicide detective Rachel Sloan isn’t sure her day could get any stranger when aging Elvis impersonator Vic Vegas asks to see her. But when he produces a photo of her murdered mother with four Elvis impersonators—one of whom had also been murdered soon after the photo was taken—she’s forced to reevaluate. Is there some connection between the two unsolved cases? And could the recent break-in at Vic’s home be tied to his obsession with finding his friend’s killer?
When yet another person in the photo is murdered, Rachel suddenly has her hands full investigating three cases. Lieutenant Boone Callahan offers his help, but their checkered romantic past threatens to get in the way. Can they solve the cases before the murderer makes Rachel victim number four?
The third installment of Bradley’s Memphis Cold Case series focuses on a cold case related to a homicide detective’s past…Bradley includes the unique character of Erin who seems as if she is a real person and takes great care to portray her respectfully.”
RT Book Reviews
 
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c9819-excerpt
EXCERPT: PROLOGUE
JUSTICE BETRAYED
BY PATRICIA BRADLEY
(used with permission)
Prologue
June 1980
Shirley traced her finger over her mother’s image in the photo, then shoved the picture into the backpack with her other possessions. Every night, she promised herself she’d leave as soon as her father parked himself in front of All in the Family and fell asleep. A band squeezed her lungs, making it impossible to breathe.
You do it tonight.
She clenched her jaw. It wasn’t that she wanted to stay. But what if he came after her and found her? Or what if the law found her? She was only fifteen, and they would drag her back to him.
After all, they’d bought her father’s story that her mom had fallen down the basement steps as she’d carried a basket of clothes to the washer. If the sheriff suspected her father had pushed his wife, he’d kept it to himself. No one wanted to get on the bad side of Big Al in their small community, not even the law.
She flinched as the back screen slapped against the doorframe. “Shir-lee! Shirley Irene, I’m hungry. Get supper on the table.”
Shirley shoved the backpack under her bed and hurried to the
kitchen, stopping at the doorway to take a deep breath. “Evening,” she mumbled.
He ignored her and turned on the television. The actor Ronald Reagan filled the screen in one of his election ads, and he snapped the set off.
“Washington’s never going to stop spending our money,” her father muttered, then he turned and laid his John Deere cap on the red Formica table.
Shirley wanted to snatch the dirty thing off the table her mother had been so proud to get from a neighbor after she updated her kitchen. She sidestepped past him to the avocado-green refrigerator to take out a package of pork chops. The sour odor of beer and sweat made her want to gag.
“Where were you this afternoon?”
She averted her eyes. “The teacher asked me to stay and help with cleaning up.”
“Look at me when I ask you a question.”
Shirley pulled her gaze past the beer gut hanging over his belt to his ruddy face and dead brown eyes.
“That’s better. You aren’t worth anything to me helping somebody else. I needed you to help load logs. Next time you tell her you have other jobs to do.”
“Yes, sir,” she said, rubbing her thumbs over the calluses on her fingers. He worked her like a mule.
“Now get supper on the table.”
Shirley grabbed an apron and tied it around her waist. At the sink, she scrubbed her hands with the pumice soap until they were almost raw. Green sink, green stove, green refrigerator. She hated green. Her heart leaped into her throat as her gaze settled on the straight razor on the counter and then traveled to the leather strap hanging on the wall. She’d forgotten to sharpen his razor. That meant another beating if she didn’t get it done before morning.
Or maybe not. She wouldn’t be here by then. She would be gone.
With her spirits lighter, she lit the fire under the pot of beans and set a skillet on another burner and fried the pork chops, not even minding when the grease popped out, burning her arm. In twenty minutes, she had supper on the table and held her breath as he tasted the food.
“Girl, can’t you do anything right? You got the beans too salty.” He shoved away from the table and stood.
Her heart plummeted. But this time she wasn’t going to take it. “You’re not going to beat me again.”
“I wouldn’t have to if you didn’t mess up all the time.” He yanked the leather strap from the wall and marched toward her. “Any fifteen-year-old should be able to cook a simple meal without ruining it.”
“I won’t do it again.” She backed up against the sink.
“This is to make sure you don’t.”
She screamed as the strap came down and barely turned in time to protect her face as the strap stung her back.
“I told you not to scream. Now you’ve gone and done it, and I have to correct you again. Turn around and face me.”
“No!” The straight razor lay on the counter waiting for her to sharpen it. She grabbed it.
“You always say that.” His fingers closed on her shoulder, and he yanked her back.
She came around swinging the knife at his throat. Blood spurted from his neck.
He grabbed his throat and staggered back. “What have you done, girl? Call an ambulance!”
With every heartbeat came more blood.
“No.” He’d beat her for sure if he lived. Shirley sucked in air. “You shouldn’t have made me do it.”
“Girl, I’m sorry.” His breath came shorter. “I won’t do it again. Now call that ambulance.”
She pressed her fingers against her mouth. He couldn’t die here. The law might not believe her. “I’ll drive you to the hospital.”
“You . . . better . . . hope I don’ . . . die.” His voice grew weaker. “Haunt you . . . never get away from me.”
Can he do that? No. When you’re dead, you’re dead.
He grasped her wrist. “Help me!”
Blood dripped onto her hair as she half supported and half dragged him through the door. “You’ve got to help me,” she said through gritted teeth. Shirley didn’t know if he heard her or not. Then he got his feet under him, barely lightening her load. “Good,” she said with a grunt.
For once she was glad of the man’s work he’d forced her to do. They stumbled once in the pitch dark of the moonless night but finally made it to the old pickup. Once she had him inside the cab, he leaned against the door, and Shirley drove toward town. They’d just reached the tavern he’d just come from when death rattled in his chest.
A quarter of a mile past the tavern, she pulled over on the shoulder of the road and stopped. The dim light of the dashboard revealed his chest no longer rose and fell as his breathing became shallower. When he took his last breath, she rested her head against the back of the seat. He was beyond hurting her ever again.
This wasn’t her fault.
“You shouldn’t have made me do it,” she said softly.
She couldn’t leave him here like this, though.
Shirley angled the pickup toward the deep ravine on the side of the road. Then she pulled his body into the driver’s seat.
After wiping the steering wheel clean, she put the truck in neutral. Then she climbed out of the pickup. Slowly, it inched toward the ravine, picking up speed until it shot down the steep grade. Shirley ran like the hound of the Pit was after her.
The explosion happened just as she got past the tavern. She looked over her shoulder as a ball of fire rose from the trees.
For the first time in her life, she drew a free breath.
Click to read Chapter 1, Part 1, coming tomorrow on the Lone Star Book Blog Tours 8/16 stop!
Patricia Bradley is the award-winning author of Justice Delayed and Justice Buried, as well as the Logan Point series. She is cofounder of Aiming for Healthy Families, Inc., and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. She lives in Mississippi.
 
 
 
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GRAND PRIZE: All Three Books in the Memphis Cold Case Series + Elvis Umbrella + $10 Starbucks Gift Card
2ND PRIZE: All Three Books in the Memphis Cold Case Series
+ $15 Barnes & Noble Gift Card
3RD PRIZE: All Three Books in the Memphis Cold Case Series
+ $10 Starbucks Gift Card
(US ONLY)
August 15-24, 2018
 
CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
8/15/18
Excerpt Part 1
8/15/18
BONUS post
8/16/18
Excerpt Part 2
8/17/18
Review
8/18/18
Author Video
8/19/18
Review
8/20/18
Character Interview
8/21/18
Review
8/22/18
Excerpt Part 3
8/23/18
Excerpt Part 4
8/24/18
Review
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Blitz: The Hope of Azure Springs by Rachel Fordham

THE HOPE OF
AZURE SPRINGS 
by
RACHEL FORDHAM
Genre: Inspirational Historical Romance 
Date of Publication: July 3, 2018
Publisher: Revell

Number of Pages: 336

ABOUT THE BOOK: Seven years ago, orphaned and alone, Em finally arrived at a new home in Iowa after riding the orphan train. But secrets from her past haunt her, and her new life in the Western wilderness is a rough one. When her guardian is shot and killed, Em, now nineteen, finally has the chance to search for her long-lost sister, but she won’t be able to do it alone.

For Azure Springs Sheriff Caleb Reynolds, securing justice for the waifish and injured Em is just part of his job. He’s determined to solve every case put before him in order to impress his parents and make a name for himself. Caleb expects to succeed. What he doesn’t expect is the hold this strange young woman will have on his heart.
Welcome to the charming town of Azure Springs, Iowa, where people care deeply for one another and, sometimes, even fall in love.
 
CLICK TO PURCHASE
 
 
PRAISE FOR THE HOPE OF AZURE SPRINGS: “In her promising first novel, Fordham assembles an endearing cast of characters in the rugged Midwest plains for a tale about surviving and thriving. . . .Fordham depicts heartbreaking emotional and physical suffering, while beautifully illustrating the power in simple acts of kindness to foster healing, hope, and happiness.”
Booklist

EXCERPT: PROLOGUE
FROM THE HOPE OF AZURE SPRINGS

Iowa, 1881

     She dead?”
     Em heard a man’s voice from somewhere above her. A strange thumping pulsed through her with each word he spoke. Her throat burned, screaming for water, but she could not cry out.
     “There’s life in her. Not much of it though,” a second, raspier voice answered. She felt a hand press against her throat and then move over her body, gently probing. “She’s bleeding pretty bad.”
     “Gunshot?” the first voice asked.
     If only her eyes would open, and she could see them. Straining, she struggled to pull her heavy eyelids open. Finally, bits of light darted in front of her eyes, but she could not focus. The faces above her were fuzzy and indiscernible.
     Fear swept through her, suddenly waking her battered body. Afraid the men from before had returned, she opened her eyes wide, finding strength that only moments before she had lacked. With thrashing arms, she flailed at the men. Her arms flopped about but offered little defense—she was too weak from blood loss. And then they moved no longer, subdued by large, strong hands.
     “Easy, girl. We aren’t going to hurt you. We just want to help. Take you into town, that’s all. There’s a good doctor there.” The man’s deep voice sounded gentle, but still she did not trust him. Voices could be deceiving. Arms could hurt as well as help. She knew these things well.
     Soon she felt her body being raised above the ground, and moments later the hard planks of a wagon became the resting place for her injured frame. Too weak to move, she lay looking at the sky, wishing there were a way to end the agony, but knowing that for Lucy she would fight on.
     Once the wagon lurched forward, she lost track of everything again. The wheels bouncing over ruts made her pain so intense that everything closed around her and then faded to black.
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rachel Fordham started writing when her children began begging her for stories at night. She’d pull a book from the shelf, but they’d insist she make one up. She hasn’t stopped since. She lives with her husband and children on an island in the state of Washington.

 
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Review & Giveaway: Cinco de Murder by Rebecca Adler

 

CINCO DE MURDER
A Taste of Texas Mystery, #3
by
Rebecca Adler
Genre:  Texas Cozy Mystery
Date of Publication: April 3, 2018
Publisher: Berkley
Number of Pages: 304

Scroll down for the giveaway!

 

Tex-Mex waitress and part-time reporter Josie Callahan serves up more Lone Star justice in this spicy mystery from the author of The Good, the Bad, and the Guacamole.It’s fiesta time in Broken Boot, Texas, and tourists are pouring into town faster than free beer at a bull roping for the mouthwatering Cinco de Mayo festivities. Tex-Mex waitress Josie Callahan, her feisty abuela, and even her spunky Chihuahua Lenny are polishing their folklórico dances for Saturday’s big parade, while Uncle Eddie is adding his own spicy event to the fiesta menu: Broken Boot’s First Annual Charity Chili Cook-off.

But Uncle Eddie’s hopes of impressing the town council go up in smoke when cantankerous chili cook Lucky Straw is found dead in his tent. And when Josie’s beloved uncle is accused of fatal negligence, she, Lenny, and the steadfast Detective Lightfoot must uncover who ended the ambitious chilihead’s life–before another cook kicks the bucket.

PRAISE FOR CINCO DE MURDER:

“I enjoyed every minute of this high fa looting Texas escapade. The authentic Texas sayings had me rolling on the floor. I’m a Texan and boy did I relate to the towns and chili cook-off so well.”
Texas Book-aholic

 

“I enjoy the Texas flair and touch while all the food talk just makes me hungry. If you enjoy a good cozy mystery that features an adorable dog and a culinary touch then this is the book/series for you.”~Books a Plenty Book Reviews

CLICK TO PURCHASE:
Amazon   Barnes and Noble   Kobo

review
I don’t know that I would ever visit a town like Broken Boot, Texas, but I do know that I found the people and the vibe so quaint that I didn’t want to see anyone get murdered. But then those pesky tourists come in and I start thinking, “I wouldn’t miss that Lucky Straw guy at all.” I suppose that Adler felt the same way since she decided to off him as soon as she could. Well, I have to admit that I was halfway wrong about nobody missing the big lug. Surprisingly, a few of the chili cooks who have made the circuit with him shed a tear or two while others only lament that they didn’t get to steal his chili championship title before he died.
Josie Callahan, already in the thick of things since her family is in charge of the chili cook off, wades in even deeper as she tries to prove herself worthy of the criminal reporter position with the town’s newspaper. When she isn’t busy trying to please her adopted family or negotiate her way through a subtle love triangle, she is channelling Nancy Drew and coming up with theories that no one takes seriously for some reason.
Adler kept me hooked with her colorful cast and funny dialogue. There were a few times that even Josie acknowledged her use of corny cliches, while other times some slipped by without comment. It’s a little silly, but I would have liked to see Lenny the dog have a more varied vocabulary since I know that dogs can say a lot more than, “yip.”
There were a few times that I felt like Adler was hitting us over the head with details to make sure that we didn’t miss them. For example, Lightfoot’s ponytail and his various Native American accessory choices. I’m not sure why those details were so important to bring up so often, especially when there’s a whole tense conversation between Lightfoot and Josie about his ethnicity.
Overall, Adler writes a cute story with great use of misdirection to keep the reader guessing. Once you track down the other books in the series, grab a margarita and enjoy.

Rebecca Adler grew up on the sugar beaches of the Florida Gulf Coast. Drawn to the Big Apple by the sweet smell of wishful thinking, she studied acting on Broadway until a dark-eyed cowboy flung her over his saddle and hightailed it to the Southwest.
She’s currently content to pour her melodramatic tendencies into writing the Taste of Texas culinary mysteries from Berkley Prime Crime: Here Today, Gone Tamale; The Good, the Bad, and the Guacamole; and Cinco de Murder. Set in far West Texas, her humorous stories are filled with delicious suspense and scrumptious Tex-Mex recipes. Her alter ego, Gina Lee Nelson, writes contemporary romance with a sweet, Southern-fried flavor. 
A former president of North Texas Romance Writers, Rebecca is currently a member of Sisters in Crime and Romance Writers of America. When not writing, she spends a great deal of time on her other favorite pastime, directing high school theatre. 
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Grand Prize: Signed Copies of the Full Taste of Texas Series + $10 Amazon Gift Card
Two Runners-Up: Signed Copies of Cinco de Murder

JUNE 20-29, 2018

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VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

6/20/18
Author Interview
6/20/18
Guest Post
6/21/18
Review
6/22/18
Top 5 List
6/23/18
Excerpt
6/24/18
Review
6/25/18
Bonus Review
6/26/18
Character Guest Post
6/27/18
Review
6/28/18
Guest Post + Bonus Review
6/29/18
Review
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