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Book Review: Thin Ice by Irene Hannon

Posted by Julie on January 15, 2016 in Book Review, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

BOOK DESCRIPTION

After losing her parents in a car accident and her sister to a house fire, Christy Reed has been mired in grief. Life is finally starting to feel normal again when an envelope arrives in the mail–addressed in her sister’s handwriting. And the note inside claims she is still alive.

FBI Special Agent Lance McGregor, a former Delta Force operator, is assigned to reopen the case, but he’s coming up with more questions than answers. If Ginny Reed is still alive–who is the woman buried in her grave? Where is Ginny? And is Christy a pawn in a twisted cat-and-mouse game–or the target of a sinister plot? As he digs deeper, one thing becomes clear: whoever is behind the bizarre ruse has a deadly agenda.

Bestselling author and two-time Christy Award finalist Irene Hannon warms readers’ hearts as they root for a romance between Lance and Christy, but she pulls out all the stops as this high-stakes thriller chills to the bone in a race to the finish.

Thin Ice by Irene Hannon is romantic suspense at its best.

Thin Ice by Irene Hannon is romantic suspense at its best.

Romantic suspense doesn’t get any better than when it’s penned by Irene Hannon. THIN ICE is no exception. It contains a plot I haven’t seen, a former ice skater who has lost her parents, and not long after, her sister in a terrible fire. But now she’s receiving notes in her sister’s handwriting. Is she alive? What’s going on?

The chemistry between Lance and Christy isn’t forced and makes for easy reading. The mystery behind who is sending the notes makes the reading hard because I couldn’t stop. I can usually figure the plot out, and in THIN ICE, I couldn’t. Frustrating? Nope. Those make for the best reads.

If you’re looking for a well crafted mystery with top notch characters, THIN ICE is a perfect choice this winter.

To purchase THIN ICE, click here.

I received THIN ICE from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Burning Justice by Helena Smrcek

Posted by Julie on July 1, 2015 in Book Review, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |
Book Description:
Romantic suspense, set in French Lick Indiana, first in the Alicia Yu, FBI series.Between a beacon of hope and redemption, comes Jacob. Nora’s future hangs in the balance of his past.

Pacifist Mennonite social worker Nora Martin is on the verge of opening a residential facility for first-time offenders. After years of planning, she’ll finally be able to rescue young men from the violence of prison…or what has been their only other option, the violence of the military.

But then a stranger in camouflage and combat boots marches through her front door and claims to own her house. And he’s not interested in letting Nora change it.

Who is Petty Officer Jacob Schwartz, and why does no one in the close-knit town of French Lick, Indiana want to acknowledge that he exists? What are they hiding? What had seemed like a safe community is now full of secrets and old heartaches, and Nora is caught in the dangerous middle. Her only ally is her best friend, FBI agent Alicia Yu (who readers first met in Glitter and Sorrow), but even Alicia can’t protect her from the way Nora’s heart races every time Jacob’s in the room.

Can she trust a man in uniform?

Nora and Jacob’s choices have taken them down different paths, but God may still show them a safe way back.

 

Burning Justice 2***
The mark of good romantic suspense is constant conflict. Chemistry. A push-pull reaction in every chapter, every scene. Burning Justice has all of these things and more.

Alicia isn’t the star of Burning Justice as much as Nora Martin is. Nora’s about peace but nothing in her life is peaceful. Especially when Jacob comes back to town.

The two battle through plans for the farm, whispers about them that threaten the plans for the farm, whispers about his past, fears she has about her own past. There is sorrow and pain, but there is also fun self talk from Nora in the first person POV.

I found this book to be one I knew I should put down to get things done around the house, but I couldn’t. All the things above impressed me so, right down to the dramatic ending.

Each year I share my favorite reads of the year and right now, Burning Justice is in the running. I highly recommend.

(I received Burning Justice in exchange for an honest review.)

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Book Review: A Date with Death by Ace Collins

Posted by Julie on January 8, 2014 in Book Review, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |


Book Description:

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Helen Meeker is back and has less than thirty days to stop the execution of an innocent pastor who has unbelievably confessed to being a Nazi spy. While on a case that has dynamic implications to uncovering an espionage ring operating on American and British soil, Helen defuses a hostage crisis in a bank robbery gone wrong, unearths an explosive coffin, and is introduced to a dead English hero who seems very much alive. The fate of an innocent girl and the world’s two most dynamic leaders depend upon Helen’s connecting cases before Wilbur Shellmeyer faces a firing squad, and Churchill and Roosevelt meet for a secret conference in upstate New York. 

Set against the backdrop of the early days of World War II, A Date with Death combines action, adventure, mystery, and romance in a tale that will keep readers on the edge of their seats until they, like Helen Meeker, answer the question, “Do I save the leader of the free world or an innocent man scheduled to die to protect someone he loves?” Which life is more important? 

Though the answer to this question will be revealed at the end of A Date with Death, Helen’s action and adventure will continue at a break-neck pace throughout the “In the President’s Service Series,” as she takes on new challenges and dangers. 

What a ride A Date with Death was. I went into this book knowing little. I knew it was set in the 40’s and was part of the “In the President’s Service” series that will release each month.

I loved this book. Helen Meeker is a strong heroine who defies the 40’s stereotypes that the men keep trying to put on her. Perhaps she’s a little too good at what she does, but I didn’t care. I love espionage and WWII stories and A Date with Death had everything. Romance. Suspense. Thrills. Action. History. And a great cliffhanger to set up the next story in the series.

I’m fairly discerning in guessing who is a good guy and who isn’t, and this was a guess until the end. I also loved bringing a president to life in fiction. The interactions between President Roosevelt and Helen were fun to read. I could picture it.

I also was surprised to read cities I grew up near mentioned. I lived 20 miles from Elmira. I know Ithaca well. It’s always fun to see places you know “in real life.”

If you love 1940 thrillers with intrigue, strong characters, constant guessing, and non stop action, you need to make a date with this book, and series.

To purchase A Date with Death, click here.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Mistaken by Karen Barnett

Posted by Julie on October 3, 2013 in Book Review, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

From Amazon:

Since booze and prohibition have made criminals out of every man in her world,
Laurie Burke resolves to find at least one honorable man to fill her life. Convinced
that handsome newcomer Daniel Shepherd is connected with her brother’s rum-running
gang, Laurie quickly scratches his name off her list. Daniel has mixed feelings
about returning to the dirty mill town of his youth, but grudgingly agrees to manage
his grandfather’s drug store until a replacement can be found. The moment he meets
Laurie on the windswept bluff overlooking the beach, he knows that if he can earn
her love, he might have a reason to stay. But when Laurie pushes him away–for none
other than Federal Agent Samuel Brown–Daniel wonders if Laurie really is the
upstanding woman he thought her to be. The Strait of Juan de Fuca, just off the
beaches of Port Angeles, Washington, was treacherous water for reckless
rum-runners—and the agents who tried to catch them. So when she realizes her brother
is in danger, romance is the last thing on Laurie’s mind. Yet the people she
believes she can trust, may not be so honorable after all.

mistaken_

From everything I’ve read, Mistaken: First Impressions Are Never What They Seem is Karen Barnett’s first novel. If so, readers are in for a treat as this is a gripping look at the prohibition era and a desperate family trapped by liquor in more ways than one.

Laurie is loyal and no matter how many times her father and brother mess up, she’s there to pick up the pieces. Every chapter, every scene, escalates her conflict into doing what’s right and being there for her family.

Her situation is complicated by Daniel and Samuel. As handsome and kind as Daniel is, he appears to be in the same trouble as her brother. Samuel is charismatic and driven to rid Port Angeles of alcohol, something that would make Laurie’s life easier if her family wasn’t so involved with it.

This was full of emotion and action, and the heartbreak that comes from addiction is very well done here. Mistaken made me think of things about prohibition I wouldn’t have thought of—the dilemmas drugstores had back then filling prescriptions. I really liked the interaction between Daniel and his grandfather. And Daniel and Samuel? Those scenes were intense in the best way.

Mistaken is thought-provoking, full of conflict and action, and of course, romance. I recommend you put  Mistaken on your autumn to-do list. Karen Barnett’s first impression is an excellent one.

To purchase Mistaken, click here.

I received a copy of this book from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: The Stars Shine Bright by Sibella Giorello

Posted by Julie on August 11, 2012 in Book Review, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender, Uncategorized, Writing |

Thanks to a broken wrist, hurt knee, and other ailments, I’ve had ample time to watch crime and mystery shows, and read, a lot. When Litfuse Publicity had a call out to bloggers to review Sibella Giorello‘s fifth installment with Raleigh Harmon in The Stars Shine Bright, I pecked away on the keyboard, hoping to get the chance. Raleigh Harmon is like an old friend as I’ve read all the other books about Raleigh’s work with the FBI and the toll her work and the way she handles herself affects others.

The Stars Shine Bright picks up where The Mountains Bow Down leaves off. Raleigh faces a fresh start, not because she wants to, but because she has to. The FBI suspended her for bending the rules. Her mom isn’t in great health or speaking to her, and it’s her fault. Her fiance is in Virginia, but she isn’t. The FBI offers her a second chance with an undercover job in the horse racing business in the northwest. Taking the job offers her redemption, but puts her with Special Agent Jack Stephenson, and further from her fiance, who wants to start their life together immediately.

As Raleigh sinks further into her undercover role, she learns a great deal about the track, the horses, and herself. That’s all I’m going to give you, because you need to read this yourself.

I love Sibella Giorello’s work. She’s a master with research, blending forensic geology, the FBI, and in this book, the horse racing industry. Raleigh is a perfect fit in this undercover role because the author did her homework once again. The emotional conflict Raleigh has with her past and present situations is moving, I felt as under Raleigh’s skin thinking about her lies as much as her work ordered psych consult was. It’s a gripping story where the villain/s aren’t revealed until the end, and realistically so. Her romantic life has as much conflict as her work.  The Stars Shine Bright clocks in at 400 pages and reading it, it seems half that. The pages turn themselves, and fast.

I suggest if you haven’t read the others, do so. I think The Stars Shine Bright could stand alone I suppose, but why should it? Do yourself a favor and read the others. Doing so will be the highlight of your summer, in my opinion.

As an aside, you know what would be amazing in the fiction FBI world–hint hint–Sibella Giorello and Steven James? Collaborate and bring Patrick Bowers and Raleigh Harmon together for some crime solving dysfunction.  I devour their books and FBI characters.

But the bottom line here? Looking for a smart and suspenseful read? The Stars Shine Bright delivers.

After the FBI suspends her for bending its rules, Special Agent Raleigh Harmon is looking for a chance to redeem her career and re-start her life.

Sent undercover to a thoroughbred horse track, Raleigh takes on a double life to find out who’s fixing the races. But when horses start dying and then her own life is threatened, Raleigh realizes something bigger-and more sinister-is ruining Emerald Meadows.

She’s never felt more alone.

Her one contact with the FBI is Special Agent Jack Stephanson, a guy who seems to jump from antagonistic to genuine friend depending on the time of day. And she can’t turn to her family for support. They’re off-limits while she’s undercover, and her mother isn’t speaking to her anyway, having been confined to a mental hospital following a psychotic breakdown. Adding insult to her isolation, Raleigh’s fiance wants them to begin their life together-now-precisely when she’s been ordered not to be herself.

With just days left before the season ends, Raleigh races to stop the killing and find out who’s behind the track’s trouble, all the while trying to determine if Jack is friend or foe, and whether marrying her fiance will make things better-or worse.

Raleigh is walking through the darkest night she’s faced, searching for a place where the stars shine bright.

Sibella Giorello grew up in the mountains of Alaska admiring the beauty and nature that surrounded her. She majored in geology at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts hoping to learn more about the landscape she loved back home. From there Sibella followed a winding path, much like the motorcycle ride she took across the country, which led to her true love, journalism.

 

She found herself in Seattle writing for rock-n-roll magazine and earned a journalism degree from the University of Washington before heading south to the land of great stories.

 

In Virginia, Sibella became a features writer for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. It was there she also met her husband and would hear Jesus whispering her name at a tent revival.

 

Sibella started writing about Raleigh Harmon as a way to keep her love of story-telling alive while staying at home with her young sons. As a journalist and author, her stories have won state and national awards, including two nominations for the Pulitzer Prize. The Stones Cry Out, the first Raleigh Harmon novel, won a Christy award for debut novel in 2008. Sibella now lives in Washington state with her husband and sons.

 

Visit Sibella Giorello online at www.sibellagiorello.com, Facebook or Twitter.

I received an advanced readers copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

To purchase, click here.

To visit the rest of the tour, click here.

 

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Book Review: The Stars Shine Bright by Sibella Giorello

Posted by Julie on July 25, 2012 in Book Review, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

Thanks to a broken wrist, hurt knee, and other ailments, I’ve had ample time to watch crime and mystery shows, and read, a lot. When Litfuse Publicity had a call out to bloggers to review Sibella Giorello‘s fifth installment with Raleigh Harmon in The Stars Shine Bright, I pecked away on the keyboard, hoping to get the chance. Raleigh Harmon is like an old friend as I’ve read all the other books about Raleigh’s work with the FBI and the toll her work and the way she handles herself affects others.

The Stars Shine Bright picks up where The Mountains Bow Down leaves off. Raleigh faces a fresh start, not because she wants to, but because she has to. The FBI suspended her for bending the rules. Her mom isn’t in great health or speaking to her, and it’s her fault. Her fiance is in Virginia, but she isn’t. The FBI offers her a second chance with an undercover job in the horse racing business in the northwest. Taking the job offers her redemption, but puts her with Special Agent Jack Stephenson, and further from her fiance, who wants to start their life together immediately.

As Raleigh sinks further into her undercover role, she learns a great deal about the track, the horses, and herself. That’s all I’m going to give you, because you need to read this yourself.

I love Sibella Giorello’s work. She’s a master with research, blending forensic geology, the FBI, and in this book, the horse racing industry. Raleigh is a perfect fit in this undercover role because the author did her homework once again. The emotional conflict Raleigh has with her past and present situations is moving, I felt as under Raleigh’s skin thinking about her lies as much as her work ordered psych consult was. It’s a gripping story where the villain/s aren’t revealed until the end, and realistically so. Her romantic life has as much conflict as her work.  The Stars Shine Bright clocks in at 400 pages and reading it, it seems half that. The pages turn themselves, and fast.

I suggest if you haven’t read the others, do so. I think The Stars Shine Bright could stand alone I suppose, but why should it? Do yourself a favor and read the others. Doing so will be the highlight of your summer, in my opinion.

As an aside, you know what would be amazing in the fiction FBI world–hint hint–Sibella Giorello and Steven James? Collaborate and bring Patrick Bowers and Raleigh Harmon together for some crime solving dysfunction.  I devour their books and FBI characters.

But the bottom line here? Looking for a smart and suspenseful read? The Stars Shine Bright delivers.

After the FBI suspends her for bending its rules, Special Agent Raleigh Harmon is looking for a chance to redeem her career and re-start her life.

Sent undercover to a thoroughbred horse track, Raleigh takes on a double life to find out who’s fixing the races. But when horses start dying and then her own life is threatened, Raleigh realizes something bigger-and more sinister-is ruining Emerald Meadows.

She’s never felt more alone.

Her one contact with the FBI is Special Agent Jack Stephanson, a guy who seems to jump from antagonistic to genuine friend depending on the time of day. And she can’t turn to her family for support. They’re off-limits while she’s undercover, and her mother isn’t speaking to her anyway, having been confined to a mental hospital following a psychotic breakdown. Adding insult to her isolation, Raleigh’s fiance wants them to begin their life together-now-precisely when she’s been ordered not to be herself.

With just days left before the season ends, Raleigh races to stop the killing and find out who’s behind the track’s trouble, all the while trying to determine if Jack is friend or foe, and whether marrying her fiance will make things better-or worse.

Raleigh is walking through the darkest night she’s faced, searching for a place where the stars shine bright.

I received an advanced readers copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

To purchase, click here.

 



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