Until I Find You by Rea Frey Review and Giveaway

Until I Find You

by Rea Frey

April 26 – May 21, 2021 Tour

 

Synopsis:


uifySoon, Rebecca Gray won’t be able to see. Diagnosed in her twenties with a degenerative eye disease, each day her world grows a little darker. She’s moved to the suburbs to raise her son, Jackson. In the wake of her husband\’s death, it should be a quieter, easier way of life. It won’t be.

 

The Set-Up

The Moment That Changes Everything

When Bec awakes after fainting in the park, she makes promises to start taking better care of herself. When her son begins to cry, she approaches the crib. Reaches in. Picks him up. But he’s not her son.

The Search

There’s nothing Bec won’t do to find Jackson. But she’s a blind woman in a world where seeing is believing. The police think she’s confused. Her friends don’t see any differences. Relying on the conviction of her instinct and the power of a mother’s love, Bec must push the limits of her world to uncover what happened to her baby boy…and bring him home for good.

 

Book Details:

Genre: Domestic Suspense
Published by: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: August 11th 2020
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 1250241588 (ISBN13: 9781250241580)
Series: Until I Find You is not a part of a series.
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

1
BEC

Someone’s coming.

I push the stroller. My feet expertly navigate the familiar path toward the park without my cane. Footsteps advance behind me. The swish of fabric between hurried thighs. The clop of a shoe on pavement. Measured, but gaining with every step. Blood whooshes through my ears, a distraction.

One more block until the park’s entrance. My world blots behind my sunglasses, smeared and dreamy. A few errant hairs whip across my face. My toe catches a crack, and my ankle painfully twists.

No time to stop.

My thighs burn. A few more steps. Finally, I make a sharp left into the park’s entrance. Jackson’s anklet jingles from the blistering pace.

“Hang on, sweet boy. Almost there. Almost.” The relentless August sun sizzles in the sky, and I adjust my ball cap with a trembling hand. Uncertain, I stop and wait for either the rush of footsteps to pass, or to approach and attack. Instead, nothing.

I lick my dry lips and half turn, one hand still securely fastened on my son’s stroller. “Hello?” The wind stalls. The hairs bristle on the back of my neck. My world goes unnaturally still, until I choke on my own warped breath.

I waver on the sidewalk and then lunge toward the entrance toWilder. The stroller is my guide as I half walk, half jog, knowing precisely how many steps I must take to reach the other side of the gate.

Twenty.

My heart thumps, a manic metronome. Jackson squeals and kicks his foot. The bells again.

Ten.

The footsteps echo in my ears. The stroller rams an obstacle in the way and flattens it. I swerve and cry out in surprise.

Five.

I reach the gate, hurtle through to a din of voices. Somewhere in the distance, a lawn mower stutters then chugs to life.

Safe.

I slide toward the ground and drop my head between my knees. My ears prick for the stranger behind me, but all is lost. A plane roars overhead, probably heading for Chicago. Birds aggressively chirp as the sun continues to crisp my already pink shoulders. A car horn honks on the parallel street. Someone blows a whistle. My body shudders from the surge of adrenaline. I sit until I regain my composure and then push to shaky legs.

I check Jackson, dragging my hands over the length of his body— his strong little fingers, his plump thighs, and perpetually kicking feet—and blot my face with his spit-up blanket. Just when I think I’m safe, a hand encircles my wrist.

“Miss?”

I jerk back and suck a surprised breath.

The hand drops. “I’m sorry,” a woman’s voice says. “I didn’t mean to scare you. You dropped this.” Something jingles and lands in my upturned palm: Jackson’s anklet.

I smooth my fingers over the bells. “Thanks.” I bend over the stroller, grip his ankle, and reattach them. I tickle the bottom of his foot, and he murmurs.

“Are the bells so you can hear him?” the woman asks. “Are you . . . ?”

“Blind? Yes.” I straighten. “I am.”

“That’s cool. I’ve never seen that before.”

I assume she means the bells. I almost make a joke—neither have I!—but instead, I smile. “It’s a little early for him to wear them,” I explain.

“They’re more for when he becomes mobile, but I want him to get used to them.”

“That’s smart.”

I’m not sure if she’s waiting for me to say something else. “Thanks again,” I offer.

“No problem. Have a good day.”

She leaves. My hands clamp around the stroller’s handle. Was she the one behind me? I stall at the gate and wonder if I should just go back home. I remind myself where I am—in one of the safest suburbs outside of Chicago—not in some sketchy place. I’m not being followed.

It’s fine.

To prove it, I remove my cane, unfold it, and brace it on the path. I maneuver Jackson’s stroller behind and sweep my cane in front, searching for more obstacles or unsuspecting feet.

I weave toward Cottage Hill and pass the wedding garden, the Wilder Mansion, and the art museum. Finally, I wind around the arboretum. I leave the conservatory for last, pulling Jackson through colorful flower breeds, active butterflies, and rows of green. My heart still betrays my calm exterior, but whoever was there is gone.

I whisk my T-shirt from my body. Jackson babbles and then lets out a sharp cry. I adjust the brim of his stroller so his eyes aren’t directly hit by the sun. I lower my baseball cap and head toward the play-ground. The rubber flooring shifts beneath my cane.

Wilder Park is packed with last-minute late-summer activity. I do a lap around the playground and then angle my cane toward a bench to check for occupants. Once I confirm it’s empty, I settle and park the stroller beside me. I keep my ears alert for Jess or Beth. I think about calling Crystal to join us, but then remember she has an interior design job today.

I place my hand on Jackson’s leg, the small jingle of his anklet a comfort. Suddenly, I am overcome with hunger. I rummage in the diaper bag for a banana, peel it, and reach again for Jackson, who is playing with his pacifier. He furiously sucks then knocks it out of his mouth. He giggles every time I hand it back to him.

I replay what just happened. If someone had attacked me, I wouldn’t have been able to defend myself or identify the perpetrator. A shiver courses the length of my spine. Though Jackson is technically easy—healthy, no colic, a decent sleeper—this stage of life is not. Chris died a year ago, and though it’s been twelve months since the accident, sometimes it feels like it’s been twelve days.

Jackson’s life flashes before me. Not the happy baby playing in his stroller, but the other parts. The first time he gets really sick. The first time he has to go to the emergency room, and I’m all alone. The first time I don’t know what to do when something is wrong. The first time he runs away from me in public and isn’t wearing bells to alert me to his location.

Will I be able to keep him safe, to protect him?

I will the dark cloud away, but uneasiness pierces my skin like a warning. I fan my shirt, swallow, close my eyes behind my sunglasses, and adjust my ball cap.

The world shrinks. I try to swallow, but my throat constricts. I claw air.

I can’t breathe. I’m drowning. My heart is going to explode. I’m going to die.

I lurch off the bench and walk a few paces, churning my arms toward my chest to produce air. I gasp, tell myself to breathe, tell myself to do something.

When I think I’m going to faint, I exhale completely, then sip in a shallow breath. I veer toward a tree, fingers grasping, and reach its chalky bark. In, out. In, out. Breathe, Rebecca. Breathe.

Concerned whispers crescendo around me while I remember how to breathe. I mentally force my limbs to relax, soften my jaw, and count to ten. After a few toxic moments, I retrace my steps back to the bench.

I just left my baby alone.

Jackson’s right foot twitches and jingles from the stroller; he’s bliss- fully unaware that his mother just had a panic attack. I calm myself, but my heart continues to knock around my chest like a pinball. I open a bottle of water and lift it to my lips with trembling hands. I exhale and massage my chest. The footsteps. The panic attack. These recurring fears . . .

“Hey, lady. Fancy meeting you here.” Jess leans down and delivers a kiss to my cheek. Her scent—sweet, like honey crisp apples—does little to dissuade my terrified mood.

“Hi. Sit, sit.” I rearrange my voice to neutral and move the diaper bag to make room.

Jess positions her stroller beside mine. Beth sits next to her, her three-month-old baby, Trevor, always in a ring sling or strapped to her chest.

“How’s the morning?” Beth asks.

I tell them both about the footsteps and the woman who returned the bells, but conveniently leave out the part about the panic attack.

Beth leans closer. “Scary. Who do you think was following you?”

“I’m not sure,” I say.

“You should have called,” Jess says. “I’m always happy to walk with you.”

“That’s not exactly on your way.”

“Oh, please. I could use the extra exercise.”

I roll my eyes at her disparaging comment, because Beth and I both know she loves her curves.

“Anyway, it’s sleep deprivation,” Jess continues. “Makes you hallucinate. I remember when Baxter was Jackson’s age and waking up every two hours, I literally thought I was going to lose my mind. I would put things in odd places. I was even convinced Rob was cheating.”

I laugh. “Rob would never cheat on you.”

“Exactly my point.” She turns to me. “Have you thought about hiring a nanny?”

“Yeah,” Beth adds. “Especially with everything you’ve been through.”

My stomach clenches at those words: everything you’ve been through.

After Chris died, I moved in with my mother so she could essentially become Jackson’s nanny. And then, just two months ago, she died too. Though her death wasn’t a surprise due to her lifelong heart condition, no one is ever prepared to lose a parent. “I can’t afford it.”

“Like I’ve said before, Rob and I are happy to pitch in—”

I lift my hand to stop her. “And I appreciate it. I really do. But I’m not ready to have someone in my space when I’m just getting used to it being empty. I need to get comfortable taking care of Jackson on my own.”

“That makes sense,” Beth assures me.

“It does.” Jess pats my thigh. “But you’re not a martyr, okay? Everyone needs help.”

“I know.” I adjust my sunglasses and rearrange my face in hopes of hiding the real emotions I feel. “What’s new with both of you?”

“Can I vent for a second?” Beth asks. She situates closer to us on the bench. Thanks to the visual Jess supplied, I know Beth is blond, petite, and impossibly fit—and is perpetually in a state of crisis. She’s practicing attachment parenting, which, in her mind, keeps her glued to her son twenty-four hours a day. I’ve never even held him.

“Vent away,” I say.

“Okay.” She drops her voice. “Like, I love this little guy, truly. But sometimes, when it’s just the two of us in the house all day, I fantasize about just running away somewhere. Or going out to take a walk. I’d never do it, of course,” she rushes to add. “But I just have this feeling like . . . I’m never going to be alone again.”

“Nanny,” Jess trills. “I’m telling you. Quit this attachment parenting crap and get yourself a nanny. And if she’s hot, she can even occupy your husband so you don’t have to.”

I slap Jess’s arm. “Don’t say that. You’d be totally devastated if Rob ever did cheat.”

***

Excerpt from Until I Find You by Rea Frey. Copyright 2020 by Rea Frey. Reproduced with permission from Rea Frey. All rights reserved.

 

My Thoughts:

This book had so many things that I found interesting…switched babies, a single mother with very little vision, and several mysteries along the way. 

I really found Bec’s life interesting, walking in the shoes of a single mother who is blind really made me think. Darkness has always been a little scary for me, even as an adult. Living in constant darkness and caring for an infant must add a whole new layer of fear. The author did an excellent job at portraying the fears and anxieties that Bec experienced. I also appreciated learning the different things that Bec used to adapt to this world (talking alarm clocks, Siri, and bells on her son’s ankles so that she would always know where he was). 

It was sad to see the reaction that Bec received after realizing that the child in her son’s room was not her son. I can’t imagine the frustration that she experienced…blind or not, a mother knows their children!

The mystery was very well thought out and kept me guessing. A few red herrings along the way made it a lot of fun and I loved how everything wrapped up in the end. I highly recommend this mystery story. It reminded me a little bit of Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (one of my favorite books) with the mystery aspect and the mom groups. 

I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher to read and review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Author Bio:


unnamedTo learn more, visit reafrey.com or writewayco.com.
REA FREY is the multi-published, award-winning bestselling author of three suspense novels and four nonfiction books. She’s been featured in US Weekly, Entertainment Weekly, Glamour, Popsugar, Hello Sunshine, Marie Claire, Parade, Shape, Hello Giggles, CrimeReads, Writer’s Digest, WGN, Fox News, Today in Nashville, Talk of the Town, and more. She is also the CEO and Founder of Writeway, where aspiring writers become published authors.

Catch Up With Rea Frey:
ReaFrey.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @ReaFreyAuthor
Instagram – @reafrey
Twitter – #ReaFrey
Facebook – @reafrey

Tour Participants:

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


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Enter To Win!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Rea Frey. There will be three (3) winners who will each receive one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on April 26, 2021 and ends on May 23, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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The Green Dress by Liz Tolsma Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book:  The Green Dress

Author: Liz Tolsma

Genre: Christian Historical Suspense

Release Date: June 2020

Death Seems to Follow Harriet’s New Friend

Book 6 in the True Colors series—Fiction Based on Strange-But True History

When Harriet Peters came to Boston in 1882, the Robinson family took her in like one of their own, and Harriet became closer to Lizzie Robinson than her own siblings. Now, four years later, Lizzie is deathly sick, failing quickly just like several others in her family have done over the past few years. How can so many in one family die from the same mysterious illness? Harriet doesn’t have answers, but she is determined to help the family, bringing in a new-to-the-neighborhood doctor, Michael Wheaton.
As Harriet and Michael close in on the answer, putting their own lives at risk, can the cause be found before anyone else dies?

Click here to get your copy!



My Thoughts

This series is very interesting to me because each book is a fictional account of a true historical event from history…each event is associated with an unusual crime and are often stories I’ve never heard of before. I enjoy this “grittier” side of Christian Fiction as I’ve always been interested in true crime stories.

The Green Dress focuses on a family that continues to lose members due to a mysterious illness of an unknown cause. The entire story had a gothic feel to it and also felt very sinister. The “whodunnit” was fairly easy for me to guess but I still found myself fascinating by how it all unfolded, especially knowing that it was based on a true story.

This was a quick read and the story moved fast. I did find that it opened abruptly and the character introductions were a bit muddy and confusing at times. Overall this was a great story and one of my favorites from the True Colors series.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher/author to read and review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

About the Author

Liz Tolsma is a popular speaker and an editor and the owner of the Write Direction Editing. An almost-native Wisconsinite, she resides in a quiet corner of the state with her husband and is the mother of three. Her son proudly serves as a U.S. Marine. They adopted all of their children internationally, and one has special needs. When she gets a few spare minutes, she enjoys reading, relaxing on the front porch, walking, working in her large perennial garden, and camping with her family.

More from Liz

We’ve all been there—started a letter or an email or even a list, didn’t like what we had, crossed it out or hit the delete button, and tried again. Now imagine that happening when you’re writing a novel.

That’s what occurred with The Green Dress. Finding the perfect place to start a novel can be tricky, but when you’re trying to balance fact with fiction, it’s even harder. I needed the fictional heroine, Harriet Peters, to have a good reason to come into contact with and become close to the factual Robinson family. And I needed for the hero, Michael Wheaton, to meet Harriet early on. So I dove into the story. Five chapters later, the hero and heroine hadn’t yet met. The book wasn’t working.

I scrapped those chapters and started at a different point. At first, it seemed to be going better. I was happy. Until I got to the fifth chapter, when I realized again that the book wasn’t working. Frankly, it was boring. So those ended up in the virtual trash bin. Meanwhile, the clock was ticking on my deadline. I was desperate to find the right starting point, at a place with high tension. Finally, I had an “aha” moment, and the story flowed from there. That’s how the first five chapters (and the rest of The Green Dress) came to be.

—Liz Tolsma

Blog Stops

The Power of Words, June 26

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 26

deb’s Book Review, June 26

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, June 26

A Reader’s Brain, June 27

Rebecca Tews, June 27

For Him and My Family, June 27

Texas Book-aholic, June 28

Back Porch Reads, June 28

Inklings and notions, June 28

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 28

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, June 29

Genesis 5020, June 29

Emily Yager, June 29

Christian Bookaholic, June 30

Robin’s Nest, June 30

To Everything There is A Season, June 30

Tell Tale Book Reviews, June 30

Blogging With Carol, July 1

Bigreadersite, July 1

Read Review Rejoice, July 1

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, July 2

Life of Literature, July 2

Connie’s History Classroom, July 2

Betti Mace, July 3

Southern Gal Loves to Read, July 3

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, July 3

Stories By Gina, July 3

For the Love of Literature, July 4

Remembrancy, July 4

Reviewingbooksplusmore, July 4

Godly Book Reviews, July 5

Splashes of Joy, July 5

Vicky Sluiter, July 5

Older & Smarter?, July 6

Through the Fire Blogs, July 6

Daysong Reflections, July 6

amandainpa, July 6

Locks, Hooks and Books, July 7

Pause for Tales , July 7

Just the Write Escape, July 7

Hallie Reads, July 8

Where Faith and Books Meet, July 8

Blossoms and Blessings, July 8

Spoken from the Heart, July 9

With a Joyful Noise, July 9

Artistic Nobody, July 9 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Liz is giving away the grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/fcd8/the-green-dress-celebration-tour-giveaway

Shattered by Death by Catherine Finger Reiew and Givewaway

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About the Book

Book:  Shattered by Death

Author: Catherine Finger

Genre:  Thriller/Suspense/Mystery

Release Date: June 2016

When Josie’s abusive soon-to-be-ex-husband had an affair with another woman, Josie could have murdered them. When someone does, Jo is the prime suspect and the only one who can solve the case.

 

 

 

Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts

Of all the genres that I typically read, suspense and thrillers are among my favorite. This story was one of the “grittier” thrillers that I’ve read in Christian fiction (graphic descriptions that are not for the faint of heart) but I liked that about this book. Often I find that Christian suspense tends to barely scratch of the surface of murder related stories and I appreciated that this author delved a little deeper into it.

The story is book 2 in a series and often, especially in Christian fiction, I find that reading the previous books in a series aren’t necessary to understanding the story. Although reading book one isn’t necessary, I did find myself a bit in the dark about some of the things that the characters were discussing, as the plot points from the first book were referenced several times. In this instance, I would recommend reading book 1 before this one.

Overall, I found this a solid, quick mystery that was enjoyable to read. 

I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher to read and review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

About the Author

 

Catherine Finger loves to dream, write, and tell stories. Recently retired from a wonderful career in public education, she celebrates the ability to choose how to spend her time in a new way during the second half of life. So far, she chooses to write books, ride horses, serve others, and generally find her way into and out of trouble both on the road and at home.  She lives in the Midwest with a warm and wonderful combination of family and friends.

Capsized by Death, the fourth novel in her Jo Oliver Thriller series, will be released by Elk Lake Publishing in November 2019. Anchored by Death, the third of her Jo Oliver novels, was a Bronze Medal winner at the 2018 Independent Publisher Book Awards; a 2018 Selah Awards finalist; and a finalist for the National Indie Excellence Awards. Her second Jo Oliver Thriller, Shattered by Death, was a finalist in the International Book Awards and the National Indie Excellence Awards. Catherine and her novels have been featured on radio stations, blogs, and in numerous articles—all posted at www.CatherineFinger.com.

Catherine loves to interact with her readers at www.CatherineFinger.comFollow her on Facebook at Catherine Finger, Author, and on Twitter at CatherineFinger@BeJoOliver.

 

 

More from Catherine

“If you could kill someone and get away with it, what would you do? How would you do it?”

 

Having posed this question over dessert during a really good first date several years ago—to my surprise and delight my date proceeded to share a story about an international cosmetic gone badly awry. I was so taken with this story, that I couldn’t wait to get home and start writing. And I did. That night I sat down to write a scene between two powerful women, intending one to toy with the other by playing with a jar of deadly moisturizer as they interacted.

 

As I wrote that night, an unexpected scene involving spiritual warfare popped into my head and onto the screen. The edgy, scary, lock-your-doors-before reading story I called Shattered by Death was born.

 

While the moisturizer scene didn’t ultimately stay in the book, the idea of powerful women pitted against each other did. I strive to create antagonists that are as strong—or stronger—than Jo Oliver. When I feel the tension of wondering whether or not Josie is going to make it out alive—that’s when I know I’m in the middle of a great story.

I hope you think so too.

Enjoy the read!

Catherine

 

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, May 26

My Devotional Thoughts, May 26

deb’s Book Review, May 27

Blogging With Carol, May 27

Texas Book-aholic, May 28

Betti Mace, May 29

Emily Yager, May 29

Older & Smarter?, May 30

Bigreadersite, May 30

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 31

Inklings and notions, June 1

Rebecca Tews, June 1

Locks, Hooks and Books, June 2

Soulfully Romantic, June 2

For Him and My Family, June 3

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 4

Daysong Reflections, June 4

For the Love of Literature, June 5

Pause for Tales, June 5

Through the Fire Blogs, June 6

April Hayman, Author, June 6

Christian Bookaholic, June 7

Splashes of Joy, June 7

amandainpa, June 8

Genesis 5020, June 8

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Catherine is giving away the grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/fb4f/shattered-by-death-celebration-tour-giveaway

All the Pretty Things by Emily Arsenault Review

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Synopsis

For fans of Sadie and The Cheerleaders comes an all new thriller about a boy who turns up dead under suspicious circumstances and the one girl who may be the key to solving the mystery of his untimely death.

For Ivy, summer means roller-coaster season, spinning cotton candy at the Fabuland amusement park, and hanging out with her best friend, Morgan. But this summer is different.

One morning, Morgan finds a dead body. It’s their former classmate and coworker Ethan. To make matters worse, Morgan is taken to a hospital psych ward only days later, and she’s not saying much–not even to Ivy.

The police claim that Ethan simply took a bad fall, but Ivy isn’t convinced and realizes it’s up to her to get answers. What she finds is unsettling–it’s clear that some people aren’t being honest about Ethan’s last night at Fabuland. Including Morgan. And the more secrets Ivy uncovers, the closer she gets to unraveling dark truths that will change her life forever.

My Thoughts

There were some things about this book that I really enjoyed and some things that really rubbed me the wrong way.

The atmosphere of this story was on point! Almost every scene of the story takes place in the Fabuland Amusement park and the sights and sounds are described very vividly. Amusement park settings are always fun for me to read so I loved this aspect of the book.

The plot was okay…a boy is found dead at the bottom of a bridge and the amusement park owner’s daughter goes on a mission to find out what happened the night he died. The “do it yourself detective” work is a trope that I really don’t enjoy. It’s just very unrealistic and ridiculous to me.

The victim in the story had down syndrome but did not display the characteristics of anyone that I know or have known with down syndrome (he seemed to have more traits of someone on the autism spectrum). I work with many students with special needs in my job.

I was very concerned about a scene where a character chugged a beer, felt lightheaded, then got in their car and drove. For a YA book, this seems very irresponsible to include. I was waiting for there to be some sort of discussion on how this was not safe but it never came. (I understand that it’s not an author’s job to teach readers and in most cases I don’t want that, but this scene almost condoned underage drinking and driving.)

Overall, the atmosphere was the only strong point in my opinion.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and Delacorte Press to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

My Rating

2 stars

The Holdout by Graham Moore Review

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Synopsis

In this twisty tale from Moore (The Sherlockian), the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of The Imitation Game, young juror Maya Seale is convinced that African American high school teacher Bobby Nock is innocent of killing the wealthy white female student with whom he appears to have been involved and persuades her fellow jurors likewise. Ten years later, a true-crime docuseries reassembles the jurors, and Maya, now a defense attorney, must prove her own innocence when one of them is found dead in Maya’s room.

My Thoughts

I remember watching the Jodi Arias trial religiously…I didn’t want to miss even one day of testimony and when the verdict came in, I rushed home from work and got there just in time to see the jury render her guilty of first degree murder. The jury then went to work on the sentencing phase and could not decide for or against the death penalty so they were dismissed and a new trial commenced for sentencing. In this trial, the jury was hung as well, but with 11 jurors in favor of the death penalty and only 1 against it. This one “holdout” juror was seen as a vile, horrible human being on the forums that I frequently read. The other jurors were quoted as saying that she refused to deliberate and the rumors were swirling that she could possibly have been a plant to keep Jodi Arias from receiving the death penalty. It was a media circus and very eye opening. Seeing this made me rethink my opinions on being a juror…before this experience, I had assumed that a juror could keep their anonymity if they desired but after seeing the press visit and record images of this woman’s home, I realized that this is not true.

The Holdout by Graham Moore presents a similar scenario…12 jurors find a man not guilty of murder when the evidence seems to point to his guilt. This decision is made because of 1 holdout who convinces each of the 11 other jurors to vote not guilty. I found the story to be very interesting as it delves into the jury selection process, being sequestered, and deliberations. There are also multiple mysteries in the story and plenty of twists and turns.

There were a few moments when the story began to lose some steam and the story became a bit convoluted but overall, it was a very unique and interesting thriller that I really enjoyed. Highly recommended.

I received an arc of this book to read and review from Random House and NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

My Rating

4 stars

Dead to Her by Sarah Pinborough Review

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Synopsis

Being the second wife can be murder . . .

“Once a cheat, always a cheat,” they say. Marcie Maddox has worked hard to get where she is after the illicit affair that started her new life a few years ago. But her world of country clubs, yachts and sumptuous houses in Savannah, Georgia, isn’t easy to maintain, no matter how hard she tries. Nor is keeping her husband, Jason, truly interested.

So, when Jason’s boss brings home a hot new wife from his trip to London, the young Mrs William Radford IV isn’t quite the souvenir everyone expected. Sexy, drop-dead gorgeous and black—Keisha quickly usurps Marcie’s place as the beautiful second wife. But when Marcie sees the extra spark in the room when Keisha and Jason are together and their obvious, magnetic attraction, the gloves come off.

Revenge is best served cold, but in the steamy Savannah heat, blood runs so hot that this summer it might just boil over into murder.

My Thoughts

I had to DNF this book. It started out fairly promising. The plot was interesting and the characters seemed pretty awful (which I tend to like) but the story veered into a territory that I don’t read about…voodoo. I stay away from books that have witchcraft, voodoo, black magic, and similar things so this was a no for me.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and William Morrow to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Perfect Little Children by Sophie Hannah Review

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Plot

All Beth has to do is drive her son to his Under-14s away match, watch him play, and bring him home.

Just because she knows her ex-best friend lives near the football ground, that doesn’t mean she has to drive past her house and try to catch a glimpse of her. Why would Beth do that, and risk dredging up painful memories? She hasn’t seen Flora for twelve years. She doesn’t want to see her today, or ever again.

But she can’t resist. She parks outside the open gates of Newnham House, watches from across the road as Flora and her children Thomas and Emily step out of the car. Except… There’s something terribly wrong. Flora looks the same, only older. As Beth would have expected. It’s the children. Twelve years ago, Thomas and Emily were five and three years old. Today, they look precisely as they did then.

They are still five and three. They are Thomas and Emily without a doubt – Hilary hears Flora call them by their names – but they haven’t changed at all.

They are no taller, no older… Why haven’t they grown?

My Thoughts

The description of this book was very intriguing…a woman sees her friend and children after 12 years but notices that the children have not aged at all. I was completely stumped by what was truly happening in the story and enjoyed the unique plot but there was a lot of telling, not showing. A large portion of the book was the main character, Beth, thinking through what was going on and it became a bit boring and monotonous to me. Overall, a subpar story. I liked it but didn’t love it.
I received a digital copy of this book to review from Netgalley and Harper Collins Publishers to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

My Rating

2.5 stars

Fragments of Fear by Carrie Stuart Parks Review and Giveaway!

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About the Book

Book: Fragments of Fear

Author: Carrie Stuart Parks

Genre: Suspense

Release date: July 23, 2019

Fragments of FearFrom award-winning author Carrie Stuart Parks comes a new novel with danger that reaches from a New Mexico Anasazi archaeological dig to micro- and nano-chip technology.

Evelyn Yvonne McTavish-Tavish to her friends-had her almost perfect world in Albuquerque, New Mexico, come to a crashing end with the suicide of her fiancé. As she struggles to put her life back together and make a living from her art, she’s given the news that her dog is about to be destroyed at the dog pound. Except she doesn’t own a dog. The shelter is adamant that the microchip embedded in the canine-with her name and address-makes it hers.

Tavish recognizes the dog as one owned by an archaeologist named Pat Caron because she did a commissioned drawing of the two of them months earlier. The simple solution is to return the dog to his owner, but she arrives only to discover Caron’s murdered body.

After meeting undercover FBI agent Sawyer Price the mystery deepens as more people start disappearing and Tavish becomes a target as well. Her only solution is to find the links between microchip technology, an Anasazi site in the desert, her fiancé’s death, a late-night radio show, and the dog. And the clock is ticking.

 

Click here to purchase your copy.

My Thoughts

I have read one other book by Carrie Stuart Parks and I enjoyed it so I was looking forward to reading this one as well.

I enjoyed many things about this story. Tavish, the main character was enjoyable to read about and I adored her relationship with Marley, the dog in the book. The setting of the story was also great and unique to me…it takes place in Albuquerque, New Mexico and there are several scenes in the deserts and canyons that were described very well.

There was no shortage of action in this book. The plot moves very briskly and there were no moments when I felt that the story lagged or was slow. The content was very clean and appropriate and the faith message was presented well.

The plot was a bit complicated and full of many characters that I found difficult to keep track of at times. I also found that romance was definitely an instalove situation.

Overall, the mystery was interesting and kept me guessing and there were a few twists that I didn’t see coming. I highly recommend this one to fans of suspense and action.

I received this book from the author/publisher to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

About the Author

Parks Carrie StuartCarrie Stuart Parks is a Christy finalist as well as a Carol Award-winning author. She has won numerous awards for her fine art as well. An internationally known forensic artist, she travels with her husband, Rick, across the US and Canada teaching courses in forensic art to law-enforcement professionals. The author/illustrator of numerous books on drawing and painting, Carrie continues to create dramatic watercolors from her studio in the mountains of Idaho.

 

More from Carrie

Using Art to Solve Crime: Techniques Used by Forensic Artists

 

Since 1981, I’ve been a forensic artist—an amazing feat since I’m only . . .um. . . well, younger than that. In those years, I’ve seen some shifts and trends, but some things have never changed. Despite the overwhelming prevalence of computers in almost every other field, they have never been able to replace a trained forensic artist. Artists have an amazing toolbox of techniques we use to gather the information we need to help solve crime.

  1. The pencil. Any forensic artist worth her weight in graphite knows the power of the lowly pencil and a sketchpad. Law enforcement would love a photographic image of the suspect, but all we have to work with is memory…and memory is faulty. The more the image looks perfect, the more imperfect it is for helping to identify a suspect. We want the drawing to just suggest a likeness and eliminate those not similar.
  2. Now that we brought up the subject of memory, a forensic artist needs to understand how memory works. The average witness will remember between four and five facial features. When they describe the person they saw, they will do so from their strongest memory to their weakest memory, from most important to least important. We listen carefully to the order of facial features.
  3. Whole vs Parts. We don’t look at faces as individual parts, although a particularly outstanding nose or Marty Feldman eyes might catch our attention. We will remember the face as a whole, with the proportions of the face an unacknowledged part of that. Forensic artist prefer to use reference photographs where the whole face is viewed.

Want more? Check out the rest of my article at The Strand Magazine

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, July 23

All-of-a-kind Mom, July 23

Blogging With Carol, July 23

A Reader’s Brain, July 23

A Baker’s Perspective, July 24

The Avid Reader, July 24

CarpeDiem, July 24

Fiction Aficionado, July 25

Christian Bookaholic, July 25

Godly Book Reviews, July 25

Through the Fire Blogs, July 26

Livin’ Lit, July 26

The Becca Files, July 26

Inklings and notions , July 26

Real World Bible Study, July 27

Cathe Swanson, July 27

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, July 27

For Him and My Family, July 28

Lights in a Dark World, July 28

Retrospective Spines, July 28

Bigreadersite, July 29

Simple Harvest Reads, July 29 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)

Mary Hake, July 29

Truth and Grace Homeschool Acdemy, July 30

Blossoms and Blessings, July 30

EmpowerMoms, July 30

Aryn The Libraryan, July 31

Stories Where Hope and Quirky Meet, July 31

For the Love of Literature, July 31

Inspired by fiction, August 1

Ashley’s Bookshelf, August 1

By The Book, August 1

Tell Tale Book Reviews, August 2

Remembrancy, August 2

amandainpa, August 2

Pause for Tales, August 3

For the Love of Books, August 3

Just Your Average reviews, August 3

Hallie Reads, August 4

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, August 4

Daysong Reflections, August 4

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, August 5

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 5

Texas Book-aholic, August 5

janicesbookreviews, August 5

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Carrie is giving away a grand prize of her book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/e592/fragments-of-fear-celebration-tour-giveaway

Strategem by Robin Caroll Review and Giveaway

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About the Book

9781683227304

Book: Stratagem

Author: Robin Caroll

Genre: Christian Suspense

Release Date: November, 2018

A High-Stakes Simulation Adventure Leaves Grayson Thibodeaux the Prime Suspect. . .for Murder

Deep in the gritty underbelly of New Orleans, psychologist Grayson Thibodeaux loses everything when his wife leaves him to climb her company’s corporate ladder. He buries himself in his job of creating mind-bending adventure games for businesses as team-building explorations. When his ex-wife’s company hires Grayson’s to create an elaborate game, he doesn’t see how things can get worse. Until she dies during the course of the game he created…making him the prime suspect for murder.

 

Click here to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts:

I love a good mystery and this one was great. Set in the historical city of New Orleans, the story was very atmospheric and the pacing was brisk.

The story focused on a murder that occurred during a team building simulation adventure in a creepy mansion. There are many characters (suspects) and as the crime is unfolded through police interrogations, there are more questions than answers. The story reminded me several times of the movie “Clue” as there were many characters and the setting was dark and creepy.

I found the story to be original and fun and although I guessed the culprit ahead of time, I was guessing throughout the story.

Overall, this was a very fun mystery that I highly recommend!

I received this book from the author/publisher to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

About the Author

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“I love boxing. I love Hallmark movies. I love fishing. I love scrapbooking. Nope, I’ve never fit into the boxes people have wanted to put me in.” Robin Caroll is definitely a contradiction, but one that beckons you to get to know her better. Robin’s passion has always been to tell stories to entertain others and come alongside them on their faith journey—aspects Robin weaves into each of her twenty-five-plus published novels. When she isn’t writing, Robin spends quality time with her husband of nearly three decades, her three beautiful daughters and two handsome grandsons, and their character-filled pets at home. Robin gives back to the writing community by serving as executive director/conference director for ACFW. Her books have been recognized in such contests as the Carol Award, Holt Medallion, Daphne du Maurier, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, Bookseller’s Best, and Book of the Year.

You can find out more about Robin by visiting www.robincaroll.com.

 

Guest post from Robin

Behind the Scenes: Robin Caroll Shares Her Inspiration for Writing Stratagem

Dear Reader,

Thank you for journeying to New Orleans in a web of deceit and confusion with me. Sharing a place that has such connection for me was a pure joy. South Louisiana offers such a laid-back attitude that I often miss “home.” I hope you’ll enjoy sampling a taste of the flavor of Louisiana.

Years ago I watched the movie The Game with Michael Douglas and Sean Penn and was enthralled. There’s just something grabbing about messing with a person’s mind and life by using their own feelings and instincts against them. When this story of Stratagem first began forming, I wanted to use all that intrigue to mess up the game master’s life. The end result is quite the ride!

As the characters came alive to me, I found the theme of forgiveness and acceptance coming out in the story. Some of the emotions within this story are very personal to me, and I’m honored I was able to share them with you. It is my wish that you may be touched by Grayson’s faith journey as well.

Until next time. . .

-Robin

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 17

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, November 17

Midnight Bookaholic, November 17

Back Porch Reads, November 18

Rebekah’s Quill, November 18

Real World Bible Study, November 18

By The Book, November 19

Reading Is My SuperPower, November 19

Genesis 5020, November 19

All-of-a-kind Mom, November 19

Lighthouse Academy, November 20

Inklings and notionsNovember 20

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, November 21

Splashes of JoyNovember 21

Moments, November 21

Just the Write Escape, November 22

Mary Hake, November 22

Simple Harvest Reads, November 22 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)

Bigreadersite, November 22

Aryn The Libraryan , November 23

Multifarious, November 23

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 23

Bibliophile Reviews, November 24

Remembrancy, November 24

amandainpaNovember 24

Margaret Kazmierczak, November 25

Pause for Tales, November 25

Book by Book, November 25

Livin Lit, November 26

Ashley’s Bookshelf, November 26

Baker kella, November 26

Daysong ReflectionsNovember 27

Texas Book-aholic, November 27

Painting with Words, November 28

Maureen’s Musings, November 28

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 28

Janices book reviews, November 29

Carpe Diem, November 29

A Baker’s Perspective, November 29

Godly Book Reviews, November 30

Tell Tale Book Reviews, November 30

Reader’s Cozy Corner, November 30

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Robin is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of Stratagem!!

 

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d629/stratagem-celebration-tour-giveaway

Aaru by David Meredith Review

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Synopsis:

Rose is dying. Her body is wasted and skeletal. She is too sick and weak to move. Every day is an agony and her only hope is that death will find her swiftly before the pain grows too great to bear.

She is sixteen years old.

Rose has made peace with her fate, but her younger sister, Koren, certainly has not. Though all hope appears lost Koren convinces Rose to make one final attempt at saving her life after a mysterious man in a white lab coat approaches their family about an unorthodox and experimental procedure. A copy of Rose’s radiant mind is uploaded to a massive super computer called Aaru – a virtual paradise where the great and the righteous might live forever in an arcadian world free from pain, illness, and death. Elysian Industries is set to begin offering the service to those who can afford it and hires Koren to be their spokes-model.

Within a matter of weeks, the sisters’ faces are nationally ubiquitous, but they soon discover that neither celebrity nor immortality is as utopian as they think. Not everyone is pleased with the idea of life everlasting for sale.
What unfolds is a whirlwind of controversy, sabotage, obsession, and danger. Rose and Koren must struggle to find meaning in their chaotic new lives and at the same time hold true to each other as Aaru challenges all they ever knew about life, love, and death and everything they thought they really believed.

My Thoughts:

The synopsis of this book piqued my interest and it definitely did not disappoint. Immortality is something that I think everyone thinks about from time to time and this book explores this possibility in a unique way of downloading your persona onto a massive super computer called “Aaru”.

The story was very well done…the writing flowed very smoothly and I was engaged from the first page to the last. It had some unexpected moments and ended in a way that would satisfy but also leaves me wanting more (book 2, Aaru, Halls of Hel is advertised to be released in 2018).

The characters were interesting. I did find it difficult to be on board with Koren being  only 13 or 14 years old, based on the lack of parental supervision and some of the things that happened to her (although I realize that this does happen).

Rose was a sweet character and I loved seeing the virtual world through her eyes. I did find some of the concepts of Aaru to be a bit confusing at times but overall the world building was solid.

This is not a Christian fiction book, so there was some cursing and some references to Heaven and God that I didn’t agree with.

Overall, this was a nice change from the contemporary stories I’ve been immersed in lately. It had a mixture of many genres…fantasy, thriller, horror, mystery, and romance.

My Rating:

4 stars

I received this book from the author to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.