Monday, February 23, 2015

300 free Christian ebooks

Pelican Books Group is offering 300 ebook titles for free during the 40 days of Lent (ends April 2, 2015). Please visit http://www.pelicanbookgroup.com/ec/

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Dani Pettrey: Sabotaged



By Kelly Bridgewater

Back Cover Copy: 

Finally Returned Home, Reef McKeena
Finds His Beloved Alaska Facing Its Greatest Threat

Growing up, goody-two-shoes Kirra Jacobs and troublemaker Reef McKenna were always at odds. Now, working together as search-and-rescue for Alaska's arduous Iditarod race, a growing attraction seems to be forcing aside old arguments. Then Reef catches Kirra sneaking from camp in the middle of the night.

Kirra's uncle, a musher in the race, has disappeared. Kirra and Reef quickly track the man, but what they discover is harrowing: Frank's daughter has been kidnapped. Kirra and Reef, along with the entire McKenna family, are thrown into a race to stop a shadowy villain who is not only threatening a girl's life--but appears willing to unleash one of the largest disasters Alaska has ever seen.

My Review:



Dani Pettrey writes romantic suspense, and as this is my genre of choice. I jumped on Submerged when I came across it at the local Christian bookstore. I have truly enjoyed every one of the five books in the Alaskan Courage series featuring the McKenna’s siblings. One of my favorite things about books is when you have the same characters reoccurring, so as the reader, you can watch them mature and grow. Pet trey writes with such passion that it shows in her stories.

As for the characters of Kirra and Reef, I loved them. We have seen them in other books, but they finally have a time to shine in their story, Sabotaged. Kirra and Reef have known each other their entire lives and have argued just as long. Reef even went so far as to date Kirra’s cousin, Megan, in a previous book. But in this book, Reef, as the hero, has chosen to change his life around and want God’s love to improve his life. After following the destructive path in an earlier book, it was nice to see Reef change and mature in this book. As for Kirra, I enjoyed watching her struggle with an issue in the past and overcome it. Her pain ripped pretty close to home, drawing a little bit of sympathy from the inside as I read how she changed and found God again.

As for the setting, I could feel the bitter cold and enjoy the crackling fire as the characters cozied up next to the warmth offered. Pettrey does a good job at allowing her readers to feel like they are trudging through waist high snow in the Alaskan wilderness.

Pettrey  obtained a good suspense with her plot. It was exciting and kept me on the edge of my seat. I really didn’t want to put the book down and go to sleep. But the alarm at five in the morning comes too soon. I dived right in the next morning while waking my boys and rushing them through their morning rituals before school. I highly recommend this book to readers of any age who love suspense or mysteries. It was great! I can’t wait to read Pettrey’s new series when she finishes writing them.

I received a complimentary copy of Dani Pettrey’s Sabotaged from Bethany House Publishers and the opinions stated are all my own.

Dani Pettrey’s Bio:

Dani Pettrey is a wife, home-schooling mom, and the author of the bestselling romantic suspense novels Silenced, Stranded, Shattered, and Submerged, winner of the 2013 Holt Medallion for First Novel and the Colorado Romance Writers 2013 Award of Excellence. She and her husband reside in Maryland with their two teenage daughters.

Dani Pettrey
From Dani Pettrey's Facebook Profile Image
Where you can connect with Dani Pettrey:
Author’s Personal Webpage: http://www.danipettrey.com/

Where to purchase Sabotaged or any of Dani Pettrey’s books:
Amazon
Christianbook.com
Barnes and Nobles
Wherever books are sold.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Interview with Amryn Cross

If you haven't read one of Amryn Cross' books yet, you're missing out. Her debut novel is a great read that I couldn't put down. I'm so excited to interview her about her latest project.


1. Tell us a little about Warzone.

Warzone is the first in a novella series. I've always been a fan of Sherlock Holmes and the various incarnations of those stories. When you think of all that's packed into the cases, it's amazing that most of the stories are very short. I wanted to attempt something similar, and I wanted to explore the possibility of how the main characters would interact if Sherlock's personality were placed in a woman's body. Warzone teases at the answer to that question while throwing these two opposite characters into the middle of a murder investigation that operates largely outside of the police force. It's a wild ride for sure.

2. Your debut novel, Learning to Die, was traditionally published. You indie published Warzone. What made you decide to be a hybrid author?

My first novel, Learning to Die, fit into the nice neat category of Inspirational Romantic Suspense. Warzone doesn't fit into one specific genre. It's definitely a mystery, but since it leans more toward novella or serial novel than traditional novel, I thought it might be easier to test the waters if I published it myself. Though Warzone definitely has its own plot and resolution, it's also part of a much larger, overarching plot that will be continued in the next several novellas. 

3. How has indie publishing differed from traditional? Do you have a favorite?

I enjoy both indie and traditional publishing for different reasons. I loved having my first book traditionally published because it got my feet wet in the industry. It was great to have that support system and to be able to rely on other people for editing, cover art, and those sorts of things. Independent publishing gives you all the control, but you also have to do all the work and put up all the money. I was fortunate enough to have a graphic artist for a brother-in-law who worked with my on my covers. I also have a host of family and friends willing to beta read my work and catch many of the mistakes. Both indie and traditional publishing appeal to me, so it just depends on the type of book I'm writing as to which one I'll pursue.

4. What inspired the characters in Warzone?

As I mentioned, Warzone and the entire East Wind series is heavily based on Sherlock Holmes and his cases. More specifically, my Sherlock and Watson (Alex and Cade, respectively) borrow from the BBC adaptation of Sherlock, mostly because it's modernized. I wanted to explore Sherlock as a woman with all the brilliance and aloofness intact. I wanted to write a strong female character that broke the mold of typical expectations. Alex Holst certainly does that.

5. I know the next novel in your traditionally published U.S. Marshals series comes out later this year. What else do you have planned for 2015?

On top of book 2 in the US Marshals series, Between the Breaking, I'm planning to release the second book in the East Wind series, Smoke and Mirrors. And because I like to work myself to death, I'm also finishing up a young adult novel that I hope to independently publish by the end of the year as well, though I don't have a date for that one. Stay tune to amryncross.com for more details.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Interview With Suzanne D. Williams


Interview and Giveaway with Suzanne D. Williams

Please welcome Suzanne to Sleuths and Suspects.

Suzanne, how do you develop your characters?

Different ways. I am also a graphic designer, so sometimes, the characters are faces on the book cover first. Other times, they are names without a face. I glean ideas from everywhere – books, TV, internet. I may hear a name that I particularly like, so I write it down to use later, or I may know exactly who that person is the moment it comes to me. As an author, I live with characters in my head, old ones I love and new ones who have yet to make the page.

It's fun living in a fantasy world where we can make up people. I love diverse characters and it sounds like you have a great way to come up with them. What about settings? Where do you find your inspiration for those?

Again, from so many places. I’ve learned to think way outside the box. The stranger the storyline, the more it inspires me to write it. That said, I love writing romantic suspense and, therefore, use a lot of law enforcement subjects in my writing. I think this comes from watching way too much TV involving similar subjects. I like to be kept guessing, love a well-staged shootout, and always want the bad guys caught.

It sounds like you and I have a lot in common! How does your environment color your writing?

It is key. I am a Floridian, born-and-raised. I haven’t traveled too widely, and so Florida is usually present in some form or another. I wasn’t aware, at first, of how much my lifestyle here and being a Southerner colored my thinking until having my work edited by people from other areas of the country. It caused me to really embrace who I am, how I write, and what types of environment I like in my stories.

As a native Texan, I understand what you mean about where you live and even phrases you use becoming a part of you. I love books that have a regional flare. Too often I read books that could be set anywhere because they don't have that regional color. When you aren't writing, what hobbies do you pursue?

Really, writing is my hobby. I write every day, all day, though most often in the mornings. I do enjoy baking desserts, though that can become a bad thing sometimes. I also like gardening. I grow flowers and vegetables in my front garden.

I am a photographer. I write a column on photography for a popular webpage.

It's interesting that you are a graphic artist and photographer. I imagine those impact your writing greatly, but do you ever have writer's block?

Absolutely. It’s the major reason I have so many stories started at once. I tend to work on one, get blocked, and work on another. That said, I’m trying to concentrate more this year, let the stories build in me, and not jump around so much.

Sometimes bouncing ideas off a writer friend helps. When I lose perspective, it’s great to know there are others who understand the way I think and will guide me in the right direction.

That's interesting. I'm curious to see if focusing more has an impact or if you go back to the multiple stories at once. Have you ever written anything you hated?

No. Not hated and released to the public. I edit as I go, so when I reach the end of a story, it’s what I wanted it to be. My editor will tell you there’s very little to change or correct, but she’s great about helping me with content if she feels I got off track.

I do have stories I’d change now if I were to rewrite them. But I believe in letting things stand. Barring serious mistakes in grammar or spelling, what a story is when it goes public is what it will be years from now. Readers often don’t understand that. They’ll make the same complaint I’ve heard a dozen times, and I respect their judgment. But in my mind, that story as it is represents a part of my life. I can’t go back and fix the past in real life, so changing the story to something different is just as impossible for me.

PROMO:

$2.99


“James Bond on the fast track.”
“Wonderful Christian Suspense”



“We’ll find her. If she’s as smart as you say she is, then she’s a survivor.”

But would they get there before whoever stole the paintings found out she was on their tail? Because he’d never forgive himself if they didn’t. Never. This had gone way beyond cops and robbers.

He half-smiled, then it faded. The light changed, and he hit the gas, surging ahead.

This was a man who needed a woman simply to breathe.

-----

Justin Cahill’s first case as a homicide detective walked into the middle of his promotion celebration wearing a very short, polka-dotted skirt and an amazing set of red heels.

Olivia Dircks. She said she’d found a body and wanted the police to know.

But when the body goes missing and she turns out to be the Commissioner’s niece as well as a professional art thief, everything changes. This case is deeper and more far-reaching than anything he expected.

Deep enough to alter the most valuable thing of all – his heart.

A fun romantic suspense by best-selling author, SUZANNE D. WILLIAMS.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Best-selling author, Suzanne D. Williams, is a native Floridian, wife, mother, and photographer. She is the author of both nonfiction and fiction books. She writes a monthly column for Steves-Digicams.com on the subject of digital photography, as well as devotionals and instructional articles for various blogs. She also does graphic design for self-publishing authors. She is co-founder of THE EDGE.

To learn more about what she’s doing and check out her extensive catalog of stories, visit http://suzanne-williams-photography.blogspot.com/ or link with her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/suzannedwilliamsauthor.





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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Review of Turned by Clare Revell

Recently, I reviewed Turned by Clare Revell.

In this suspense tale of a woman on the run, the author has crafted intricate subplots and has cleverly interwoven them throughout the story. Though the age gap between Dane and Amy was bigger than I prefer, in no way did it detract from the beautiful love story that unfolded. Also, the author did a good job of ramping up the tension in the book as well as providing non-British readers with a story packed with cultural flair (as the story is set in England). The cultural lesson I received was icing on the cake of an already delicious suspense novel (additionally, the author provided me with enough context to understand terms that were not familiar to me; I appreciated this).

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys suspense, romantic suspense, or stories set in England.

The author provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. The opinion expressed here is my own.

Turned by Clare Revell - man with gun shown on cover


Book description:

Turned upside down by misadventure 
Amy Childs is late for a party when she makes an illegal turn and hits a pedestrian–the brother of one of the most corrupt men in town. Now her brush with the law has her running for her life from those who want retribution. 

Torn apart by tragedy 
Detective Sgt. Dane Philips lost his wife to a serial killer. He's juggled work and parenting his two daughters since but can no longer cope. To save his job he must find a live-in nanny immediately. While he knows he shouldn't hire someone without references, he desperately needs someone. Perhaps Amy is an answer to prayer. 
But as events take a sinister turn, only a miracle can save them all from destruction. Is Amy the woman of his dreams or the start of a nightmare?

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Carrie Stuart Parks: A Cry from the Dust



By Kelly Bridgewater

What would it be like to have one of the premier founding authors of Christian thrillers to read your manuscript and held mentor you into publication?

That is exactly what Carrie Stuart Parks did. According to the introduction to her debut suspense novel, A Cry from the Dust, Frank Peretti reviewed her early manuscript and helped make it publishable. Peretti had never done that for anyone before; at least that was what he said in his opening.

A Cry From the Dust  -     By: Carrie Parks
A Cry from the Dust is a story relying on Mormon history, especially with the death of Joseph Smith, the founder and prophet of the Mormon faith. The heroine of the story is Gwen Marcy, a cancer survivor and recently divorced forensic scientist who draws and sculpts the images of victims from their skeletons or their corpses.

In the beginning of the story, Gwen is working on reconstructing three heads from the skeletons of their bodies, which were found at the evident site of the Mountain Massacre. If you don’t know much about Mormon tradition, which I didn’t until I read the book, the Massacre occurred at the hands of the Mormons who killed off a crowd of innocent immigrants on their way to California.

My favorite part of the book was that Carrie Stuart Parks actually has a background as a forensic artist, which made all the technical ideas that Gwen does realistic. It helped the authenticity of the plot line. When Gwen was molding or drawing the face of the killer, I trusted Parks words and the actions because she actually does what Gwen does for a living.

As the story progress, Gwen is hunted by what she is led to believe as the Avenging Angels of the Mormon faith. Wanting to protect her teenage daughter and her best friend, Beth, she sends them to a peace convention outside of Seattle, Washington after she constructs a clay image of Joseph Smith head.

The character of Gwen was realistic and interesting. She worried about her family while struggling with the effects of cancer on her life, her rebellious teenage daughter, and her ex-husband who wanted a younger woman. Gwen had a lot on her plate, but she kept her focus on solving the mystery, even though there were moments where her life wanted to go array. Parks allowed the readers to empathize with Gwen. We all struggle with a lot of different things like soccer practice, boy scouts, chess club, church, aging parents, writing while trying to keep our heads above water. We understood Gwen completely.

The story has many twists and turns to come to its unforeseeable conclusion. I liked how Parks created the bad guy to be someone who most readers wouldn’t have suspected. The story features kidnapping, teenage pregnancies, and murder while trying to solve a mystery of the murder victims.

Parks does a good job at wrapping the fictional story around the items of historical significance. I learned a lot about the Mormon faith then I probably would have if I read the Mormon’s sacred text written from Joseph Smith. As an outsider, the readers will learn and observe more of the inside world of the Mormons.

I truly enjoyed the story, especially learning about a culture that I know a couple of friends belong to. I’m curious to see what is in store for readers for the next time Carrie Stuart Parks creates her next historical suspense, if I’m aloud to call it that.

Have you read this book yet? If so, what was your favorite part about the book?

Monday, December 29, 2014

Books That Changed My View of Christian Mystery/Suspense

I started reading Christian fiction in its infancy. Gilbert Morris was one of the most prominent authors at the time, and I read nearly every book he wrote - YA, mystery, historical and more. Terri Blackstock was just getting started, and I became a fan of her writing from the beginning. I spent several years reading a mix of Christian and secular novels.

In college, I made the decision to stop reading secular fiction. My reading time was limited, and I wanted to get away from the bad language and inappropriate content of the mysteries I'd been reading. When I moved exclusively to Christian fiction, I found a few more good authors, but something was missing. The gritty, realistic mysteries I loved didn't exist in Christian fiction at the time. Around the same time, I got married and started a family, and for a while, I quit reading fiction altogether.

A few years later, my boys were getting older, and I found myself craving good fiction again. I discovered some great authors, but I was still looking for something more. Then I discovered Ted Dekker. Everything I knew about Christian fiction was turned upside down. Over the next several years, I discovered several books that changed my view of Christian fiction and turned me back into a voracious reader.



1. Thr3e - Ted Dekker

This was the first book I picked up when I decided to start reading fiction again. My boys were one and four. I was a stay-at-home mom looking for the kind of fast paced fiction I'd loved as a teen and college student. I'd heard good things about Dekker's books, so I splurged and bought a copy.

I had no idea what I was in for.

I started the book one night, curled up in a recliner in the study at the parsonage. Two days later, I finished the book, but I still couldn't pull myself out of Kevin Parson's world. I was so drawn into to the story that I couldn't put it down. By the end, I sat in that old recliner, shocked, thinking, "Did he really just do that? He can't end it like that, can he?"

This was exactly what I'd been missing. That book reignited my passion for reading, and I devoured as many Dekker novels as I could. I wanted to branch out and find new authors, though. That's when I found Steven James.

2. The Pawn - Steven James

I picked this up as a freebie on Amazon a few years ago. I'd had my eye on this author for a while, because his name kept popping up as an Amazon recommendation when I bought Ted Dekker books. The Pawn blew me away. Fast paced with a unique angle on crime scenes, this was another book I couldn't stop reading. FBI agent Patrick Bowers remains one of my favorite fictional characters.

The final book in the series, Checkmate, was released earlier this month. I have to admit, I'm a little reluctant to read it because it marks the end of this incredible series. Thankfully, there are more Patrick Bowers books coming in the future.

3. The Bride Collector - Ted Dekker

This was a controversial book for a lot of people. I thought it was a brilliant idea when Ted Dekker started working with a non-Christian publishing company, moving some of his books into more secular fiction circles. What an opportunity to reach people who wouldn't normally read Christian fiction.

This book took an even darker turn that his previous books. While it was a turn-off for many readers, I thought this book reached a new level. The message was toned down a bit, but it was definitely still there. The writing was brilliant. The mentally ill main character was unforgettable. Just don't read this one alone at night.

4. Isolation - Travis Thrasher

I thought Ted Dekker scared me...until I read Isolation. Not for the faint of heart, Travis Thrasher walks the line between suspense and horror. He pulls in a theme of spiritual warfare in this story of a missionary couple desperately in need of rest and healing. Unfortunately, they find themselves under attack. The message in this book is amazing, but it's definitely for readers who enjoy an edgier story.

What books have left their mark on you? Which authors make you look at life and faith differently?