Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Smoke Screen by Terri Blackstock (VBT: Book Review)

In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Smoke Screen by author Terri Blackstock!

Smoke Screen by Terri Blackstock
Publisher: Thomas Nelson / HarperCollins
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Format: Hardcover - 352 pages
               Paperback - 352 pages
               Kindle - 352 pages / 3815 KB
               Nook - 352 pages / 3 MB
              Audio Book - 7 Hours 14 Minutes
ISBN (HC): 978-0310332602
ISBN (PB): 978-0310332596
ASIN (Audio Book): B07Q2345BS
ASIN ( Kindle eBook): B07Q79M56P
BNID (Nook eBook): 978-0310332640
Genre: Christian Suspense

Buy The Book:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours. 

Book Description:

One father was murdered, and another convicted of his death. All because their children fell in love.

Nate Beckett has spent his life fighting wildfires instead of the lies and rumors that drove him from his Colorado home town. His mother begs him to come to Carlisle now that his father has been released from prison, but it isn’t until he’s sidelined by an injury that he’s forced to return and face his past. But that means facing Brenna too.

Fourteen years ago, Nate was in love with the preacher’s daughter. When Pastor Strickland discovered Brenna had defied him to sneak out with Nate, the fight between Strickland and Nate’s drunken dad was loud—and very public. Strickland was found murdered later that night, and everyone accused Roy Beckett. When the church burned down, people assumed it was Nate getting even for his father’s conviction. He let the rumors fly and left Carlisle without looking back.

Now, Brenna is stunned to learn that the man convicted of murdering her father has been pardoned. The events of that night set her life on a bad course, and she’s dealing with a brutal custody battle with her ex and his new wife where he’s using lies and his family’s money to sway the judge. She’s barely hanging on, and she’s turned to alcohol to cope. Shame and fear consume her.

As they deal with the present—including new information about that fateful night and a wildfire that’s threatening their town—their past keeps igniting. Nate is the steady force Brenna has so desperately needed. But she’ll have to learn to trust him again first.

Book Excerpt:

I woke up in a blinding bright room, my clothes off and something clamped to my face. I tried to reach it, but I couldn’t bend my right arm, and my hand stung. An IV was taped to my other hand, but I moved carefully and touched the thing over my face.

An oxygen mask. I tried to sit up. “What happened?”

T-bird came to my bedside, a sheen of smoky sweat still soiling his face. “Nate, lie back, man.”

“The fire,” I said. “Need to get back. My men.”

“They’re still there. Making progress. But you’re not going anywhere near a fire for a month or so.”

I took the mask off and coughed a little, but managed to catch my breath. “A month?”

“Yep. Second degree burns on 20 percent of your body. Some of the burns are deep.”

It came back to me, the event that had gotten me here.

“The family. Were they injured?”

“Not a scratch or burn. Turns out it was a U.S. Senator from Kansas. He says you’re a hero.”

“You know I had no choice. They were in the path—”

“Take the praise where you can get it, man. We don’t get that much.”

I looked at my right side. My right arm was bandaged, and so was my side and down my right leg to the point where my boots had stopped the flames. Second degree wasn’t so bad, I told myself. Third degree would have been brutal. I’d be able to leave the hospital soon. I’d heal.

“I won’t need a month,” I said.

“Yes, you will. They can’t let you go back. Doctor’s orders. You’re grounded until he releases you.”

I managed to sit up, but it was a bad idea. The burns pulling on my skin reminded me why I shouldn’t. “I can’t be grounded during fire season. Are you crazy? I need to be there. You don’t have enough men as it is.”

“Sorry, Nate. It is what it is. Why don’t you go home to Carlisle for a while? Take it easy.”

Go home? Pop had just been pardoned, and he and my mom were trying to navigate the reunion. Though she would love to have me home, I didn’t know if I was up to it. My father could be challenging, and fourteen years of prison hadn’t done him any favors.

Required text: Taken from “Smoke Screen” by Terri Blackstock. Copyright © 2019 by Terri Blackstock. Used by permission of

My Book Review:

In Smoke Screen, author Terri Blackstock transports the reader to Carlisle, Colorado for an intriguing Christian Suspense story that follows two people who must face the traumas of the past, while trying to find a way to overcome present life struggles with hope, faith, and a second chance of finding love and redemption.

Nate Beckett is a member of the elite smokejumper team, the Rocky Mountain Hotshots. While battling a wildfire in Steamboat Springs, Nate rescues a U.S. Senator and his family, and is subsequently sidelined from duty with second degree burns on his body. Nate returns to his hometown of Carlisle to recover from his injuries and deal with the false misconceptions of his past.

Brenna Strickland-Hertzog's world has fallen apart after a recent divorce, and she struggles with the possiblity of losing her children to her ex-husband in a brutal child custody case. Brenna's struggles has led her down a self-destructive path of depression and alcoholism that could seriously damage her case, and cause her to lose her children.

Fourteen years ago, Nate and Brenna were high school sweethearts, but a tragic event between their fathers changed their lives forever. Nate's father was convicted of murdering Brenna's pastor father spurred on by the unapproved romance between the teenagers. And if that wasn't bad enough, Nate was wrongfully suspected of arson, when the pastor's church burned down after his father's sentencing. The lies and rumors ran rampant and drove Nate to leave his hometown. Recently, Nate's father has been pardoned for the murder and is released from prison, which causes old wounds to reopen between their families. Can Nate and Brenna face the trauma of their past that had torn them apart, get redemption by finding the real murderer and arsonist, overcome their present life struggles, and get a second chance of love?

Author Terri Blackstock weaves a multi-layered and suspenseful tale written in the first person alternating narrative that follows Nate and Brenna as they reunite and use their reconnection to lean on each other as they try to overcome the trauma of their past, while struggling to overcome the obstacles of current life issues, hoping for redemption, love, and a new beginning.

I loved reading this complexed multi-layered story. From the first page, I was intrigued as Nate and Brenna's traumatic past unfolded, and how their reconnection drew together two flawed people who were dealing with current life struggles, in addition to the questions surrounding the mystery of the murder and arson. The reader will be easily drawn into this well written story with its richly descriptive plot that will keep them guessing as secrets, deceit, greed, and dysfunctional family drama are uncovered. I loved the intertwining of Nate and Brenna's life struggles with the undeniable attraction between them, as they searched for forgiveness, redemption, and a second chance at love and a new beginning.

Smoke Screen has enough drama, tension, action, danger, secrets, romance, and unexpected twists and turns that will take the reader on one heck of a thrilling roller coaster ride.


About The Author

Terri Blackstock has sold over seven million books worldwide and is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author. She is the award-winning author of Intervention, Vicious Cycle, and Downfall, as well as such series as Cape Refuge, Newpointe 911, the SunCoast Chronicles, and the Restoration Series.

Author Website
Amazon Author Page

Virtual Book Tour Event

Tour Schedule:

10/28 Showcase @ Nesies Place
10/28 Showcase @ The Book Divas Reads
10/29 Showcase @ The Bookworm Lodge
10/29 Showcase @ What Is That Book About
10/30 Review @ Wall-to-wall books
10/31 Review @ Lynchburg Mama
11/01 Review @ Just another reader / beaten coffee Barista
11/03 Showcase @ Read and Review
11/04 Showcase @ EienCafe
11/05 Showcase @ BooksChatter
11/06 Showcase @ The Pulp and Mystery Shelf
11/07 showcase @ Reading A Page Turner
11/08 Showcase @ Eclectic Moods
11/09 Review @ Shalinis Books & Reviews
11/10 Review @ Robin Loves Reading
11/11 Review @ Buried Under Books
11/12 Review @ sunny island breezes
11/13 Review @ From the TBR Pile
11/14 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews
11/18 Showcase @ Quiet Fury Books
11/21 Showcase @ Our Town Book Reviews
11/24 Review @ Brooke Blogs
11/25 Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews
11/26 Review @ Blogging with A
11/27 Review @ Mystery Suspense Reviews
11/28 Review @ Forever the Wanderer
11/29 Review @ Avonna Loves Genres

Friday, November 15, 2019

Birth Right by Julian Iragorri and Lou Aronica (VBT: Book Review / Contest Giveaway))

In association with Providence Book Promotions, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Birth Right by authors Julian Iragorri and Lou Aronica!

Birth Right by Julian Iragorri and Lou Aronica
Publisher: The Story Plant
Publication Date: Hardcover - September 7, 2019 / eBook - October 1, 2019
Format: Hardcover - 240 pages
               Kindle - 4822 KB
               Nook - 7 MB
ISBN: 978-1611882667
BNID: 2940163716012
Genre: Literary Fiction

Buy The Book:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the authors / publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Providence Book Promotions.

Book Description:

In the mid-sixties, a young woman and a young man meet and begin the romance that will define their lives throughout the decades.

In the early nineties, two young men meet and forge a friendship that will propel both into newfound worlds.

Today, those same two men face a reality that could change the course of the world . . . and a fantasy that both have only dared to imagine.

How these three stories come together is the driving pulse of BIRTH RIGHT, a novel about despots and rulers, spouses and lovers, friendship and brotherhood. Playing out at once on the most global and the most intimate of stages, it is a story about the power one is born into and the power one earns and, at its very heart, the power of love.

Book Excerpt:

Alex had been to exactly one inaugural ceremony before. His parents had taken him to see President Marcador take the oath of office back when he was thirteen. That president had turned out to be ineffectual, serving only one term and, even at his young age, Alex had the sense that Marcador was going to be a footnote in Legado history. The man projected so little presence, almost as though he didn’t have enough internal energy to put a persona out there. What Alex subsequently learned was that Marcador was a compromise candidate during a period of transition for his country. The story would be decidedly different sixteen years later, when a wildly charismatic candidate – one who happened to be Alex’s cousin – would take the nation by storm and win the election in a landslide.

Alex could hardly believe the ceremony he was watching today had the same function as the one he’d witnessed as a boy. This one had so much pomp, so much music, so much color. Javier Benigno was easily the most popular political figure to rise from Legado since the late, ever-beloved Viviana Emisario, and perhaps the first to inspire the passion from the people that seemed to have been extinguished when Viviana’s helicopter had crashed during a diplomatic mission. Viviana’s death had snuffed the joy from a nation. It had done more than that to Alex, but that was a story he would forever keep to himself.

“Legado was always our most vibrant colony,” said a voice to his right. “This ceremony has more hues than a Joya de la Costa garden.”

Alex turned to look at the speaker. The man seemed to be about his age and height, though he was a bit heftier all around. Maybe this is what I’d look like if I didn’t spend as much time in the gym, Alex thought.

“I assume you’re aware that Legado hasn’t been a colony since your great-great grandfather was a twinkle in his mother’s eye.”

The man flashed a heavy-wattage smile. “Oh, well, of course. But one never stops thinking of their children as children, do they?”

“Well, we’re all grown up. And we’ve been a democracy continuously for more than a century. I don’t believe our ‘father’ can say the same thing.”

“I don’t know what you mean,” the man said, laughing boisterously. “The public elected El General to each of his nine terms. By an overwhelming majority, in fact. Usually more than ninety percent.”

A huge cheer went up at that moment. Looking down from the grandstand, Alex could see that the new president’s motorcade had entered the staging area.

“Yes, ninety percent,” Alex said to his companion. “My cousin should find that humbling, as he only received fifty-nine percent of the vote.”

“Cousin? I assume that makes you a Benigno.”

“Soberano, actually. Javier is a cousin on my mother’s side.” Alex put out his hand. “Alejandro Soberano. My friends call me Alex.”

The man shook. “Fernando Alfonso Trastámara. My friends call me Fernando.”

Alex should have recognized the man. He’d certainly seen the heir to the Léon throne in enough tabloids. “They don’t call you ‘Your Majesty.’”

“God, no. They will hopefully never call me that.”

“I assume that means you’re wishing for a very long life for your father and not that you’re expecting El General to come back from the dead.”

The man beamed again. It was easy to see why women found him so irresistible. Between the smile, the future crown, and the massive fortune, what was there to resist? “No, El General is gone forever. Just to make sure, my father sends an envoy every day to dance on his grave.”

Alex nodded approvingly. The people of Legado did indeed consider Léon to be close family, and the last thing that Alex would have ever wanted was a return to the days when El General dominated Léon so absolutely. Alex was barely in elementary school when the dictator had suddenly stepped down, allowing Fernando’s father, Juan Alfonso Trastámara, to take his rightful place on the throne and to allow for a duly elected prime minister to operate the government, but he could remember his mother spitting invective at the television every time she saw El General speak. And while Alex didn’t truly understand the cause of celebration on the streets of his hometown when El General resigned (and the only slightly-less-raucous celebration that happened when the dictator died eight months later), he would never forget the taste of the pastel con tres leches his mother made that night to mark the occasion.

“Very wise of your father,” Alex said. “Is he here?”

“He wishes he could be. He thinks highly of your cousin. But there’s a gathering of several European heads of state that Léon is hosting, so he of course needed to attend that. He sent me to represent the crown in his stead. He’s accurately deduced that my one statecraft talent is waving and smiling broadly, so I’m the perfect man for this assignment.”

Fernando did some smiling and waving at that point and excused himself. At the inaugural ball that evening, though, Fernando came up to Alex with two glasses of Champagne and offered him one.

“I noticed you didn’t have a drink,” he said.

Alex took the glass and tipped it in Fernando’s direction before taking a sip. “I was pacing myself.”

“I don’t have the remotest idea why anyone would do that.”

Alex grinned at Fernando’s acknowledgment of his excesses. “Lots of family around. And I wouldn’t want to do anything that might embarrass my cousin.”

“Hmm. Interesting perspective.”

“It was nearly time for another drink, though, so I appreciate the Champagne.”

“Happy to be of service. So, I hear you’ve been conscripted to accompany me to Anhelo tomorrow for the hospital ribbon-cutting ceremony.”

Just a few hours earlier, Alex had learned that his cousin, the president, had requested that Alex be part of the prince’s travel party for the opening of a new hospital that Léon had funded. The request had surprised Alex, because he’d never performed any sort of official government function before, and there were surely dozens of people on the presidential staff who could have filled this role. Had someone seen Alex and the prince speaking at the inauguration and decided that Alex would be a good companion? He did notice his mother looking at them a lot during the inauguration and then he saw her talking to the president later. Maybe she wanted him to become friends with the prince? But he doubted she would have such influence on the new president, even though he was her younger cousin. Did President Benigno think this might help groom Alex for some future place in his administration – something Alex had never considered and wouldn’t particularly desire, especially now that his career was kicking into its next gear? Regardless, he wasn’t going to turn down the new leader of his native land, and some pomp and circumstance at the side of the prince of Léon could be entertaining.

“Yes,” Alex said. “It appears they needed to tap the absolute best available talent for this engagement.”

“I’m flattered. I was afraid I was going to get a member of Benigno’s rotund retinue. Is it just me or is everyone in the president’s inner circle at least forty kilos overweight?”

Alex chose not to respond beyond a polite smile.

“No matter,” the prince said. “Tell me: is the Colina after-hours club scene as ribald as its reputation?”

“I wouldn’t really know. I’m down from New York, and I grew up in Anhelo. I’ve never taken much advantage of the clubs when I’ve been to Colina in the past.”

Fernando nodded thoughtfully for several long moments. Then his face brightened. “Care to join me on a bit of a research expedition after this event is over? Purely for cultural reasons, of course.”

Alex lifted an eyebrow. “I believe our plane is scheduled to leave at eight tomorrow morning.”

Fernando shrugged. “We’ll make it an early night, then. In bed no later than four.”

Alex had heard that Fernando could be a bit dangerous when out on the prowl, and Alex not only had his own reputation but the reputation of Legado’s new president to uphold. Still, it was difficult to avoid getting caught up in Fernando’s enthusiasm.

“I’ve heard of a few places that might be ideal for your ‘research.’ And I’m sure they would love a visit from the future king of Léon.”

“Excellent. One condition, though: you really need to stop calling me the future king of Léon. I already get all of the reminders I need about that from my father.”

My Book Review:

Every once in a while a story comes along that is powerfully compelling, poignant, and thought-provoking. In Birth Right, authors Julian Iragorri and Lou Aronica weave an interesting literary tale that takes the reader on a journey as they follow the bonds between two sets of people that spand from the mid-sixties to the present.

Birth Right is a richly descriptive literary tale that follows the soulmate relationship between Sandra and Cayetano, and the brotherly bond between Alex and Fernando.

While on vacation in Cap D'Antibes, South of France in 1965, Sandra meets Cayetano, and a long-distance romantic soulmate bond is formed. They correspond with each other regularly, but in 1966 Sandra's uncle has set up an arranged marriage for her, and while having a wedding gown fitting in Milan, Italy, Susan and Cayetano meet up and decide to continue to see each other at least once a year even though their lives have taken them in different directions. Can Sandra and Cayetano's soulmate relationship withstand the test of time?

While attending the presidential inauguration of his cousin Javier Benigno in his hometown of Colina, Legado, South America in 1992, Alex Soberano, a New York international financial businessman meets Crown Prince of Leon, Fernando Alfonso Trastamara. While Alex is striving to achieve his career goals, Fernando is a reluctant heir to the throne, who chooses to playout his playboy status roaming the globe. A brotherly bond is formed between Alex and Fernando that spans two decades. Fernando and his father, King Alfonso request Alex's financial advice when the country's newly elected Prime Minister, Romeo Olgar is making executive decisions that could adversely affect the country's economic status. Can Alex help the royals stop the Prime Minister's personal dark plans towards attaining a dictatorship over the country?

Birth Right is an interesting tale that is told in alternating storylines / timelines that will keep the readers intrigued and on their toes. The story has a touch of romance, a bond of brotherhood, intrigue, secrets, politics, and a paranormal aspect that will take the reader on a challenging journey as the two sets of relationships eventually intertwine in a surprising and poignant style.


About The Authors

Julian Iragorri lives in Manhattan. He has worked on Wall Street since the early nineties.

Author Website
Amazon Author Page

Lou Aronica is the author of the USA Today bestseller The Forever Year and the national bestseller Blue. He also collaborated on the New York Times nonfiction bestsellers The Element and Finding Your Element (with Ken Robinson) and the national bestsellers The Culture Code (with Clotaire Rapaille) and The Greatest You (with Trent Shelton). Aronica is a long- term book publishing veteran. He is President and Publisher of the independent publishing house The Story Plant. You can reach him at

Author Website
Amazon Author Page

Contest Giveaway

Win An eBook Copy Of

The Edge Of The World

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for The Story Plant, Julian Iragorri, and Lou Aronica. There will be 5 winners of one (1) copy of The Edge Of The World by Julian Iragorri and Lou Aronica (eBook). The giveaway begins on October 1, 2019 and runs through December 1, 2019. Void where prohibited.

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Virtual Book Tour Event

Tour Participants:

10/01 Review @ CMash Reads

10/02 Showcase @ What Is That Book About

10/04 Interview @ BooksChatter

10/06 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader

10/07 Guest post @ Its Raining Books

10/21 Showcase @ Book Reviews & More by Kathy

10/22 Review @ sunny island breezes

10/23 Review @ Reading With Nicole

11/03 Showcase @ Chapters through life

11/11 Guest post @ Mythical Books

11/15 Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews

11/17 Review @ Our Town Book Reviews

11/18 Showcase @ Shannon Muir, Author – Infinite House of Books

11/19 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews

11/28 Review @ The World As I See It

11/29 Review @ JBronder Book Reviews

11/30 Review @ just reviews

12/18 Blog Talk Radio w/Fran Lewis