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.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Everywhere To Hide by Siri Mitchell (VBT: Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

 In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Everywhere To Hide by author Siri Mitchell!





Book Review





Everywhere To Hide by Siri Mitchell
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: October 6, 2020
Format: Paperback - 352 pages
               Kindle - 2805 KB
               Audiobook - 9 Hours 4 Minutes
               Nook - 3 MB
ISBN: 978-0785228646
ASIN (ebook): B081N148FX
ASIN (Audiobook): B08286GL3S
BNID: 978-0785228653
Genre: Suspense / Thriller


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:

How can she protect herself from an enemy she can’t see?

Law school graduate Whitney Garrison is a survivor. She admirably deals with an abusive boyfriend, her mother’s death, mounting student debt, dwindling job opportunities, and a rare neurological condition that prevents her from recognizing human faces.

But witnessing a murder might be the crisis she can’t overcome.

The killer has every advantage. Though Whitney saw him, she has no idea what he looks like. He knows where she lives and works. He anticipates her every move. Worst of all, he’s hiding in plain sight and believes she has information he needs. Information worth killing for. Again.

As the hunter drives his prey into a net of terror and international intrigue, Whitney’s only ally, Detective Leo Baroni, is taken off the case. Stripped of all semblance of safety, Whitney must suspect everyone and trust no one—and hope to come out alive.

Book Excerpt:


The door was difficult to open. The tropical storm had transformed the alley into a wind tunnel, funneling the muggy air from one side of the block to the other. I raised a hand to pull my hair off my face and turned into the wind to keep it there, quickly turning my ponytail into a bun. As I stepped away from the door, I was surprised to see someone sprawled on the pavement in front of me.

He was lying face up. A red puddle had formed a halo around his head.

He wasn’t— was he— he wasn’t— was he dead?

As I stood there trying to process what I was seeing, the wind sent a recycling crate skidding across the cracked pavement.

I jumped.

I glanced up the alley, then down. Nothing was there. Nothing but the wind. And a dead man staring up at the cloud- streaked sky.

Behind me, I heard something scrabble across the low, flat roof.

I pivoted and glanced up. Saw a form silhouetted against the sky. Shock gave way to panic as I realized he had a gun in his hand. As I realized that he had also seen me.

I should have lunged toward the door.

But a familiar numbness was spreading over me. The prickle on my scalp, the sudden dryness in my mouth. I was living my nightmares all over again.

As I had done too often in the past, I reverted to form. I froze.

Please. Please. Please.

My thoughts latched onto that one word and refused to let it go.

If I could just punch my code into the keypad, I could slip back inside and pull the door shut behind me.

But I couldn’t do anything at all.

My fingers wouldn’t work.

Please. Please. Please.

I willed them to function, but they had long ago learned that in a dangerous situation, the best thing to do was nothing. Any movement, any action on my part had always made things worse.

And so I just stood there as my thoughts stuttered.

Fragmented.

***

Excerpt from Everywhere to Hide by Siri Mitchell. Copyright 2020 by Siri Mitchell. Reproduced with permission from Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved.




My Book Review:


In Everywhere To Hide, author Siri Mitchell transports the reader to Alexandria, Virginia, for an intriguing suspense thriller that will keep the reader guessing and turning the pages.

Whitney Garrison is a recent law school graduate, who is holding down two jobs as a barista and a college-test prep coach, while studing for the bar exam. After her shift is complete at the Blue Dog / RINO coffee shop, Whitney leaves by the back door and finds a man lying on the ground with blood around his head in the alley. She hears a sound and looks up to see a man with a gun on the roof. Whitney has just witnessed a murder, but there is a major problem, she has prosopagnosia (face blindness), a neurological condition where she has the inability to recognize faces. With a killer on the loose who saw Whitney, what can she do to protect herself from becoming the next victim?

Leo Baroni is a detective with the Alexandria Police Department, who has been assigned to the murder case that Whitney witnessed. After Whitney explains her condition, Leo is determined to keep her safe while searching for the killer. But when the victim is identified and had close ties to Whitney, the FBI takes the lead in the investigation with an international focus that includes politics, corruption, espionage, and hacking. Whitney and Leo team up to figure out why the killer has targeted her, and what important information does she have that the killer is determined to get at all costs.  

Author Siri Mitchell weaves a suspenseful tale written in the first person narrative that follows Whitney and Leo as they work around her neurological condition, and try to figure out what important information that she has that the killer desperately wants. 

I enjoyed reading this slow-building, intriguing, and suspenseful story. The reader will be easily drawn into this well written story with its richly descriptive plot that revolves around cryptocurrency and international political / governmental hacking that will keep them guessing as secrets, possible motives, and clues are uncovered, while unexpected twists and turns, and a surprising conclusion will leave the reader simply stunned. The author provides the reader with a lot of fascinating information into what cryptocurrency is, how it relates to the international world, and the intrigue of international political espionage and hacking attempts. I would be remiss if I didn't mention how much I enjoyed the unexpected connection between Whitney and Leo, they made a great team when Whitney learned to trust Leo, especially after the trauma she endured in a past abusive relationship. 

Everywhere To Hide has enough drama, tension, action, dark secrets, a touch of romance, and unexpected twists and turns that will take the reader on one heck of a thrilling roller coaster ride.



RATING: 4 STARS  







About The Author



Siri Mitchell is the author of 16 novels. She has also written 2 novels under the pseudonym of Iris Anthony. She graduated from the University of Washington with a business degree and has worked in various levels of government. As a military spouse, she lived all over the world, including Paris and Tokyo.




Contest Giveaway

Win A Copy Of 

Everywhere To Hide



This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Siri Mitchell. There will be 3 winners. Each winner will receive one (1) EVERYWHERE TO HIDE by Siri Mitchell (Print ~ U.S. addresses only). The giveaway begins on October 1, 2020 and runs through November 2, 2020. Void where prohibited. 







Virtual Book Tour




Tour Participants:


10/01 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader

10/03 Guest post @ The Book Divas Reads

10/04 Review @ Books with Bircky

10/05 Showcase @ Im Into Books

10/06 Review @ Christian Bookshelf Reviews

10/07 Review @ Shelleens Musings

10/08 Interview/showcase @ CMash Reads

10/09 Interview @ A Blue Million Books

10/09 Review @ Nesies Place

10/12 Review/showcase @ Novels N Latte

10/13 Review @ Confessions of the Perfect Mom

10/14 Guest post @ Quiet Fury Books

10/15 Interview @ BooksChatter

10/16 Review @ Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!

10/17 Review @ Jane Pettit Reviews

10/18 Review @ Splashes of Joy

10/18 Showcase @ EienCafe

10/19 Guest post @ Reading A Page Turner

10/20 Review @ Sunny Island Breezes

10/21 Review @ Read Review Rejoice

10/21 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews

10/22 Review @ Nanasbookreviews

10/23 Review @ Lynchburg Mama

10/27 Review @ Cover To Cover Cafe

10/28 Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews

10/29 Review @ WTF Are You Reading?

10/30 Review @ A Room Without Books is Empty

10/30 Review @ Sylv. net

10/31 Review @ Just Reviews





Friday, October 23, 2020

Little Falls by Elizabeth Lewes (VBT: Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

 In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Little Falls by author Elizabeth Lewes!





Book Review



Little Falls by Elizabeth Lewes
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: August 11, 2020
Format: Hardcover - 264 pages
               Kindle - 1168 KB / 293 pages
               Audiobook - 10 Hours 50 Minutes
               Nook - 1 MB / 272 pages
ISBN: 978-1643855066
ASIN (eBook): 
B085N41ZHP
ASIN (Audiobook): B08CJ7SPLG
BNID: 978-1643855073
Genre: Mystery / Noir


Buy The Book:



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



Book Description:

She tried to forget the horrors of war–but her quiet hometown conceals a litany of new evils.

Sergeant Camille Waresch did everything she could to forget Iraq. She went home to Eastern Washington and got a quiet job. She connected with her daughter, Sophie, whom she had left as a baby. She got sober. But the ghosts of her past were never far behind.

While conducting a routine property tax inspection on an isolated ranch, Camille discovers a teenager’s tortured corpse hanging in a dilapidated outbuilding. In a flash, her combat-related PTSD resurges–and in her dreams, the hanging boy merges with a young soldier whose eerily similar death still haunts her. The case hits home when Sophie reveals that the victim was her ex-boyfriend–and as Camille investigates, she uncovers a tangled trail that leads to his jealous younger brother and her own daughter, wild, defiant, and ensnared.

The closer Camille gets to the truth, the closer she is driven to the edge. Her home is broken into. Her truck is blown up. Evidence and witnesses she remembers clearly are erased. And when Sophie disappears, Camille’s hunt for justice becomes a hunt for her child. At a remote compound where the terrifying truth is finally revealed, Camille has one last chance to save her daughter–and redeem her own shattered soul.

Praise for Little Falls:

“The tight, well-constructed plot complements the searing portrait of Camille as she deals with the guilt she feels over her daughter and her general rage at the world.”
Publisher’s Weekly, Starred Review

Little Falls snaps with suspense from beginning to end. With skilled execution of setting and plot, Elizabeth Lewes shuttles the reader between continents on a thrilling journey that reveals haunting secrets. I couldn’t put this book down!”
Margaret Mizushima, author of the award-winning Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries, including Hanging Falls

“A dark, dangerous read populated by distinct, well-drawn characters. The tormented heroine is a woman on the edge and fascinating in her unpredictability. You’re rooting for her, afraid for her, but never fully confident that she won’t succumb to her multiple demons. There is a desperate sense of urgency right up until the very end.”
P. J. Tracy, New York Times bestselling author of the Monkeewrench series



Book Excerpt:


I remember fragments: the color of the desert burning, the smell of the blood drying in the sun, the sound of the glass shattering under fire. Never what happened after. Rarely what happened before.

But sometimes ... sometimes, I remember everything. Time slows, crystallizes. I see everything, I smell everything, I hear everything. I feel everything.

Then something... snaps. Fragments.

It just happened. Here. In the barn. Flakes of snow are melting on my jacket; they're damp on my numb fingers. It happened when he looked up, when he turned toward me, when I saw her blood matted in his long hair, his hand on her face.

Then I fired

This is what happened before.

1

Dust: long, fat streamers of it rose from the wheels of my truck as I drove up into the hills of Jeremy Leamon's ranch. It was dry that Friday, dry as early August in Okanogan County usually is, but Leamon's black steers were still bent low in the parched pastures, scrounging for tufts of yellow grass under the orange morning sun. The windows in the truck were down, and I was tapping my fingernails on the window frame, but not to the beat of the honky-tonk on the radio.

An outcrop shot up out of the pasture and became a ridge. I steered the truck around it, bounced over the stones that had crumbled off, and powered through a mess of tree roots and washouts that made the steering column jerk and the axles whine. Not long after the truck stopped buck ing, an outbuilding peeked out of the stand of ponderosa pines that washed down the hillside. Its corrugated steel paneling and wooden barn door had seen better days. Hell, better decades. But the thick padlock on the door was shiny and new.

Suspicious? Yeah.

The country is not that peaceful, you know. Drugs—we got plenty. Prostitution, too. And guns. Jesus Christ, do we have guns. In the years I had been inspecting properties for the County Assessor's Office, I had seen more than my fair share out on the back roads, in the hidden valleys, and in forgotten forest clearings just like the one I found that day on the edge of Jeremy Leamon's property. That's why I carried my official ID in my pocket and my unofficial Glock in my right hand. Why I let the truck roll through the potholes until I turned a bend, then switched off the ignition and listened long and hard before I got out to take a look.

I remember that when my boots hit the ground, puffs of yellow dirt rose around my ankles, drifted on air heavy with the smell of sunburned pine needles: dry, hot, resinous. The smell of summer. The smell of fire.

I padded through the trees. A hundred yards in, I saw the back end of the building above me on the hill. I came up on the south side and approached the tree line, then doubled back to the north side. No sounds from the building, not even the whisper of a ventilation fan. So why lock it up, all the way out here in the hills?

My finger slipped closer to the Glock's trigger.

Slowly, cautiously, I approached the building. There was only the one door and no windows. No way to see what the padlock was protecting. But as I rounded a corner, a gust of wind blew through the trees, and a steel panel on the side of the building swayed with it. I held my breath, waited for some sound, some shout, from inside the building. When it didn't come, I caught the edge of the panel with the toe of my boot. It swung out easily, and daylight shot through holes where nails had once secured it to the building's wooden skeleton.

Inside was a stall for an animal, a horse maybe. Beyond it, open space, sunlight pouring through a hole in the roof onto messy stacks of last year's hay. The air glittered with dust and stank of decay, the funk of rot. But there was something else there too, something sweet and high and spoiled. And buzzing, buzzing that filled my ears, that vibrated my brain ...

I ducked under the steel panel and clambered in, breathing shallowly. Holding my weapon at the ready, I rounded the corner of the stall, and then I saw him.

Hanging

Hanging from a loop of braided wire stretched over a wooden beam. His fingers were at his neck, but not to scratch it or run over his scant, patchy beard. They were stuck. Stuck in the noose. Stuck when he'd clawed at it, tried to pry it away, tried to make room to breathe.

I'm sure he tried.

Because he hadn't jumped: there was no chair, no ladder. Nothing kicked away, nothing standing.

Nothing but the kid and the flies.

* * *

I don't remember much of what happened next, but I know I went back to the truck, and I must have made a call. Because I know I watched the helicopter erupt over the rock and sweep down the hillside and land in the track I had driven down. And I can still feel the dirt from the downwash blasting my face and the icy cold steel of the stairs when I pulled them out just after the bird settled on the ground. And I remember not understanding why everyone was acting so strange, why the doctor set down her things in slow motion, and the pilot just switched off the bird and strolled to the trees to light up a smoke and why both of them were so casual, like they were going to the park. But then I felt a hand on my shoulder, and I turned around. And everything snapped into focus.

Sergeant Darren Moses. My God, you should have seen him that day, in his mirrored sunglasses and chocolate-brown uniform, his black buzz cut and those high Indian cheekbones. He was always good looking-even when we were kids—but I guess I hadn't seen him for a while.

He asked me how I was, reached out and touched my shoulder again, looked concerned. I had on this green tank top, and the rough pads of his fingers were cool against my skin. He was standing close, almost intimately, his aftershave musky and faint. But I stood there and watched my reflection in his sunglasses and was an asshole.

"I'm glad to see the Sheriff's Office hasn't cleaned out the stables yet.”

Darren laughed, smiled broadly, his teeth flashing white in the sun. “You know I'm the kind of shit that sticks to the floor.”

He moved his hand away. My shoulder was suddenly cold. I smiled, tried to laugh, then grabbed another bag instead.

Darren held out his hand to take it. “You don't have to haul our gear, Camille."

I shrugged. “May as well. I'm here." “Really." "It's not a big deal." Darren's smile disappeared.

“I'm sorry. I need you to stay here."

My fingers tightened on the handle of the black Sheriff's Office duffel. “What are you talking about?”

"I can't let you into the crime scene."

I shook my head. “I've already seen it. My fibers or whatever you're worried about are already in there."

“It's procedure,” Darren said, his shoulders lifting slightly. “No exceptions, not even for old friends."

"That doesn't make any sense."

“And you've had a shock. Listen-Lucky's on his way up here. He took a truck so he could stop and talk to Leamon. He can take you back into town, and I'll drive your truck down after we're done."

I frowned. “What? No."

“Camille. If you're right and he's..." "Hey, Moses!" someone shouted.

I spun toward the building and saw a second officer standing by the peeled-back panel of corrugated steel: Deputy Jesus Moreno. His voice tight and flat and deathly calm, he said: “You need to see this."

Darren took the duffle from my hand and jogged over to the building. I followed. I'm not good at following orders. Never have been.

Inside the building, the two men stood side by side, their chins lifted, their eyes fixed on the corpse. Moreno was frowning, his arms crossed over his chest. He looked like a man at a museum: interested, but removed, dis tant. Darren looked like a man taking it personally. His jaw was clenched, his neck rigid, his thumb twitching on the safety catch of his holster.

In the corner, the medical examiner—a small woman with graying curls—busily set out her equipment on a bale of hay she'd draped with a white sheet. When she turned, she was zipping a white jumpsuit closed over a blue buttondown shirt.

"It's just decomposition, gentlemen," the examiner said. “Part of the natural process.”

“How long would you say?” Darren asked, still studying the corpse. "Three or four days,” I said without thinking.

Darren shot me a look and started to say something, probably to tell me I was violating his procedure, to threaten me with arrest if I didn't get out of his crime scene. But the examiner was faster.

“Yes.” She adjusted her glasses, squinted at the body, then said slowly, like she was really thinking about it: “It's been hot-hot enough for that much bloating-and the maggots are pretty far along. So, yes, that's a fair assessment."

Darren glanced from me to the examiner and back again, then opened his mouth.

“Aren't you going to introduce me, Sergeant?” the examiner said.

For a moment, Darren was caught between irritation and manners. He was staring at me like I had strung up the kid myself, his eyes dark and intense, a vein in his neck jumping. The examiner was staring at him like he was a naughty schoolboy.

"Doctor Marguerite Fleischman, Camille Waresch," Darren said. "Camille found the body this morning, Doc. She works for the County Assessor's Office."

“And?” the doctor said, looking over her wire rims at Darren.

“And she's leaving,” he said, taking a step forward, one hand reaching toward my arm.

The examiner raised her hand to him. “Not until she answers my ques tions,” she said, then turned to me. “How is it you know the body's been there for three or four days?"

I shrugged. “Just a guess.”

“Camille was a medic, Doc,” Darren said through gritted teeth. “She was in Iraq."

I clenched my jaw, looked away. “And Afghanistan.” “I see.”

Doctor Fleischman pulled on a pair of latex gloves, snapping them against her wrists. Then she squatted and rifled through one of her bags. When she stood, she was holding a notebook and pen out to me.

“My recorder is broken. You remember how to take notes?”

We had been at it for a couple of hours when a truck pulled up outside. The engine died and one door, then another, slammed. I stood up quickly and backed toward the wall, skittish, my eyes on the big door by the road.

"I'm telling you," a male voice said outside, his voice escalating from exasperation to anger.

“That ain't my building. I don't know what your problem is, but it ain't mine.”

Leamon, Jeremy Leamon. My dad had known him. I had knocked on his front door and chatted with him about the weather that morning when I arrived at the property for the inspection.

“All right,” another man said in this sort of soothing, persuasive voice, the kind of voice you want in commercials for condoms or caramels. Lucky Phillips, it had to be. He was Darren's partner back then. And he was an outsider, one of the few people who'd moved into the Okanogan instead of out.

“I believe you, Jeremy,” Lucky said. “But you know I'm a curious kind of guy—I just want to see if any of these keys work."

“It ain't mine," Leamon growled, but there was panic in his voice.

Someone thumped the door and fiddled with the padlock, its steel loop rattling against the cleats on the door. The door jerked open, sliding to the side on the top rail. Lucky stepped into the doorway, all tall and broad in his brown uniform and flaming orange hair. And beside him, his arm clamped in one of Lucky's big hands, was Jeremy Leamon, a man with too much denim wrinkled around his body and a halo of gray stubble on top of his head.

“What's that then, Jeremy?” Lucky asked, still cool, still smooth.

Leamon ducked out of Lucky's grip, his gnarled, liver-spotted hands clenched in enormous fists. But Lucky was younger and faster. He stepped forward, taking the older man's arm and spinning him, forcing him to look into the building, to look at the body still hanging from the beam, still crawling with flies, dripping slowly onto the packed earth floor.

Leamon staggered back. “What is that?”

"What do you mean?” Lucky said in mock surprise. “You aren't going to introduce us to your new neighbor?”

“Neighbor?” Leamon's face went white as butcher paper, his knees wavered and shook. He shoved Lucky to one side and, bent double, ran outside, his hand clamped to his mouth as he began to retch.

* * *

Later, much later, I could still smell the decay, hear the smack of flies against the inside of the plastic body bag after Moreno finally cut the kid down and zipped him up. I was fine when they loaded him into the helicopter, fine when Darren asked me how I was for the second time that day. He said he knew I'd seen things before, but did I want someone to drive me to my place? I shook my head again, told him no. Then he climbed into the helicopter and I stowed the stairs, and I was fine until the bird disappeared over the rock, until even the sound of its rotors faded away, and I was alone again, alone in the narrow track, dust clinging to my jeans and caked in my hair.

That's when the shaking started.

I fell to my knees and tried to not let it happen, but sometimes it just does. Sometimes the movie inside my head just won't stop, and I see the sniper bullet blow off half that staff sergeant's skull, see that corporal go limp on the table in the field hospital when everything went wrong, see that lieutenant's eyes gazing blindly into the deep, blue desert sky while his blood sank into the sand. And then the mortar rounds, the streaks of fire in the night sky, the staccato burst of AK-47s in the bone-dry morning, the sudden sick rocking of an IED going off under the tires of the forward Humvee.

After some time—God knows how long—I stood up and half-stumbled, half-ran to my truck and threw myself into the cab, then tore down the mountain faster than I should have. The assessment didn't matter; the rocks slamming against the chassis didn't matter; the cattle scattering wildly at the reckless rumble of the truck didn't matter. The only thing that mattered was getting out.

I still don't know how I got back that day. I just remember looking out the window of my one-bedroom apartment, my hair wet, my skin raw from the shower, watching people drive into the gravel lot below, go into the mart—my mart; felt strange to remember that, to remember that my father had bought it for me when I came home from the desert for the last time, that it was supposed to be my unwanted salvation-then leave again, a half rack of beer or a gallon of milk in hand. Across the street, my neighbor's trees, their leaves still green, waved in the heat rising off the pavement of the two-lane road that went through my two-street town. Behind them, behind the trees, the hill rose yellow and pale, dried-out green, the dirt streaked with orange. Like it was rusting.

Numb. I was numb. That's how it is at first. First bomb. First kill. You're scared out of your mind, scared straight. Get shit done, accomplish the mission. And then—it gets quiet. You're out, you're back at base. You're safe. And then numb. It's like floating, and nothing can touch you, nothing can make you feel. You're floating through the day, through the tour, through life. Then someone shoots down your balloon and it's all pain.

Most days, I miss the desert. But what I really miss is that numb.

* * *

As the shadows were lengthening, a key turned in the front door.

I was sitting at the scuffed kitchen table, staring at the property report for Jeremy Leamon's ranch in the black binder I'd had with me on-site that morning. My hair was dry and sticking to the sweat on my neck, so it must have been awhile since I had gotten back. I leapt to my feet-bare feet grabbed the Glock, cocked it, and held it down, but ready, my index finger hovering next to the trigger. God, I must have looked insane when the door opened and my teenage daughter walked in.

"Uh, hi,” Sophie said and dropped her backpack on the floor. “Hi,” I said without breathing.

“What's with you?”

Sophie sauntered into the kitchen. Hastily, I slid the Glock under the county map draped over the table.

“Nothing."

Across the narrow room, Sophie raised her eyebrows. I looked away, my jaw clenched. Be calm. Be normal.

“How was work?” I said, trying and failing. "Okay.”

Sophie opened the fridge, rummaged, smacked things around until she found the last can of soda.

“Crystal was okay?"

“Yeah, Crystal was okay.” Sophie stood up, closed the fridge, and popped open her drink.

"Roseann dropped you off?” She paused. “I asked if Roseann dropped you off.” "No," she snapped, her back still toward me. I ground my teeth.

"She had to go to Coulee City for something," Sophie said before I could open my mouth. “She said she wouldn't be back until late."

“Why didn't you call me?"

“I got home.” Sophie hesitated, her back stiffened. “I mean, I got back okay, didn't I?”

And that was it, really. Home. Her home was my home: the white farmhouse I had grown up in, the same place she had grown up after I left her to join the Army and then after I came back, when it was too much for me to take care of myself and take care of her too. And it had stayed that way, me in the apartment over the mart, her and my father in the old farmhouse thirty miles away. Until he died that May. After that, home was ... well, not my apartment.

"Who brought you?" I asked as evenly as I could. “Who brought you back?”

"A friend."

Sophie turned quickly and stalked past me until, like a toy tied to her with string, I sprang up and reached out to grab her. But then she stopped and the string broke. My hand snapped back.

“Who?" I insisted, my voice cracking with the strain of holding back the fury, the anxiety and fear.

“Just a friend."

“A name. Give me a name.”

Sophie glared at me, then bent to pick up her backpack. I rushed forward and put myself in her path. Her brown eyes—flecked with gold like mine-flashed dangerously, just like her father's had when he'd been pushed too far. Just like mine must have too.

“Jason,” Sophie said through clenched teeth. “Jason Sprague.” I stared her down. “Never heard of him.”

"You wouldn't have," she sneered. But then she dropped her eyes, dropped her head, and a lock of dark hair fell over her forehead.

"Granddad thought he was okay."

She said it so quietly, almost reverently, her eyes so downcast that her long lashes fanned over her cheeks. Even I felt tears welling. But my father thought everyone was okay; he was everyone's hero. And here's the thing, here's what I had learned about being a mother during those few months that Sophie and I had been the only ones left: your kid is the predator and you are the prey. They smell blood. They smell fear. And then—just then Sophie was playing with her food.

"Fine,” I said, biting off the word. “I'll meet him next time.”

I let her push past me. She slammed the bedroom door behind her; I stomped to the kitchen, poured a glass of water, and took it to the table.

Hours later, I was still there, trying to write my report about Leamon's ranch on my laptop when Sophie burst out of the bedroom. Her eyes were wild, and her long black hair flew behind her as she darted to the front door.

“Where are you going?” I demanded, rising from the table.

Sophie was pulling on her shoes, didn't even glance up when she said, "To Tracy's."

"Why?”

“I just am,” she said dismissively, snarling in that way that burned through all my nerves.

"No." Pulling the laces tight, her face away from me, she muttered, “Fuck

you."

In the blink of an eye, I was standing over her, the muscles in my arms screaming against the force it took to hold back my fists. “Stop.”

Her head jerked up: trails of tears streaked down her face, smeared mascara haloed her eyes.

“What the hell is wrong with you?" she shouted.

The heat of her anguish drove me back to the kitchen counter. Fury I could deal with, but anything else, anything more ... My chest tightened, my vision narrowed, darkened. Pinholed. I closed my eyes, shook my head, pushed down all the thoughts, the impulses, and the screams.

And when I opened my eyes, there was just Sophie. On the ground. Crying and tying her shoes like a child. My child. I dropped to my knees.

“What's going on, Sophie?” I said quietly, tentatively. “Why are you, why do you need to go to Tracy's right now? It's late.”

“Because,” she wailed, then breathed deeply, the air shuddering in her chest. “Because Patrick is dead.”

I shook my head. “Patrick?”

"Yeah, Patrick.”

"Okay.” I nodded. “Who is Patrick?”

“A friend,” Sophie said impatiently. She scrambled to her feet, grabbed her bag.

"A friend."

Sophie wove to push past me; I wove too, pushing back.

"Like Jason?” I said too sharply.

Sophie's eyes flashed through her tears. “No. He's my-he's just a really good friend. From school."

“From school,” I repeated, trying to keep myself in check.

Sophie rolled her eyes. “I mean, he just graduated in May.”

What?

"Patrick?" I whispered, looking past Sophie, looking over her shoulder into the distance where I could still see a male, his bloated body black and purple with pooled blood, patches of peach fuzz on his face, hanging at the end of a length of braided wire.

"Yeah, Patrick!” Sophie hitched up her backpack. Fresh tears were puddling in her eyes, her shoulders were tense. “He hasn't been around for a couple of weeks and now—” Her shoulders rose, her voice shuddered. “And now someone found him up in the hills and he's ... he's dead."

My heartbeat quickened. “What do you mean in the hills? Where?” “I don't know! Why would I know? Tracy just called me, okay?"

But I couldn't believe the kid that morning had been Sophie's friend, that the casualty was that close. I couldn't believe the medical examiner would have released an identification that early, that she could even know yet who the dead boy was. And why would some kid—why would Sophie's friend-know about it anyway?

Then everything sort of slowed down, came into focus: the tears on Sophie's cheeks crept down to her jaw, the smell of her shampoo-green apple-filled my nostrils; the dim light from the lamp by the sofa was suddenly blinding.

“Who found him?" I asked, my voice sounding tinny and distant in my ears.

"I don't know!” Sophie was shrieking now, her voice echoing in my brain, overloading every circuit. “How would I know?"

"How old was he?" I said urgently. “How old was Patrick?”

"It doesn't matter; he's dead!" She tore my fingers from her arms, even though I didn't remember—don't remember-grabbing her.

“Tell me.”

“Nineteen, okay?" Released, Sophie lunged for the door. “He just turned nineteen!”

Nineteen.

I had written nineteen on Doctor Fleischman's yellow notepad that morning.

“Victim is a Caucasian male, approximately nineteen to twenty-two years of age,” she had said from her perch on the ladder. “Death likely caused by asphyxiation, likely involuntary hanging, but”-she had leaned closer, peering through a magnifying glass at the discolored skin on the

kid's chest— “what appear to be electrical burns were inflicted to the torso prior to death. Two, maybe three days prior.”

She had pulled back then and shifted her attention downward. “Other indications of torture include nails missing from digits two through four of the right hand, pre-mortem bruising and lacerations on the left side of the face, including the eye ..."

Downstairs, the heavy steel door slammed.

* * *

I waited for Sophie to come back, waited while I was stretched out, rigid, on the couch, with my jeans on and my boots lined up on the floor by my feet. All the lights in the apartment were off, so I studied the ridges and valleys on the ceiling by the yellow light of the sodium streetlamp.

Around two, I heard footsteps on the gravel in the parking lot, and then the door downstairs opened. She crept up quietly; I smiled because it sounded like she'd even taken off her shoes. When her key turned in the lock of the apartment door, I threw my arm over my eyes and pretended to sleep.

Later, I crept to her door and opened it silently. Inside, the bedroom that had always been bare when it was mine was now anything but. Clothes were scattered everywhere, books were stacked in uneven piles. Sophie's pink backpack had been slung onto the chipped wooden desk. In the middle of it all was the girly white bed my parents had bought her for Christmas one year when I couldn't-or wouldn't-come home. She lay on the covers, curled in the fetal position, her hair tied up in a messy bun, her hands balled up under her chin.

I walked into the room, fighting the urge to pick up the mess, and watched her in the light that seeped through the thin, frilly white curtains that had once hung at the window of the bedroom we had both spent our childhoods in. At just barely fifteen, she still looked like the child I had watched growing up during visits two or three times a week for years. Her cheeks were thinning but were still rounded; the skin on her arms peeking out from under her T-shirt was still silky and down covered. Regret surged through my body as though it were a physical force—a shock wave. I closed my eyes to keep it in.

When I opened them again, the first thing I saw were the freckles sprinkled over her nose and cheeks. She looked like her Colville father, like Oren, with her dark hair and pale brown skin and almond eyes. Only her freckles were me.

Her phone, clutched in her hand, buzzed. She stirred but didn't wake. I glanced at the screen, then did a double take. The phone background was of her and a boy. He was a little older than her, but sort of wholesome looking—if you looked past their glassy eyes and flyaway hair and flushed cheeks. I thought I recognized the boy, imagined there was some resemblance there to the kid who had been hanging in Jeremy Leamon's barn. But then the screen went dark, and I glanced back at my daughter, her rounded cheeks not so childlike, her arms more sinew than down. And I looked past the freckles and saw a lot more of me.

***

Excerpt from Little Falls by Elizabeth Lewes. Copyright 2020 by Elizabeth Lewes. Reproduced with permission from Elizabeth Lewes. All rights reserved.

 

My Book Review:

In Little Falls, author Elizabeth Lewes weaves an intriguing dark noir mystery tale that follows military veteran Sergeant Camille Waresch as she takes it upon herself to investigate the horrific tortured death of nineteen year old Patrick Beale.

This dark noir mystery tale is set in Little Falls, Washington. Camille Waresch is a military veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. She came home with the horrors of war, and has a hard time struggling with PTSD. She tries to get normalcy in her life with a job as a county property tax inspector, and owner of the local town mart. She is also trying to establish a relationship with her fifteen year old head strong daughter Sophie, but finds that she is lacking in mothering skills. 

While conducting a property inspection at an isolated ranch, Camille finds the tortured body of local nineteen year old Patrick Beale hanging in the rafters of the barn. The grizzly scene sends Camille into a tailspin as her combat-PTSD comes back to haunt her. As Camille digs into the murder, she finds that her daughter Sophie is caught in the middle, and she is driven to the edge as her investigation leads her into dangerous territory, but she is determined to get her daughter back, and get to the truth behind the murder. 

In her debut novel, author Elizabeth Lewes provides a multi-layered storyline that has enough mystery, suspense, drama, treachery, secrets, tension, and intriguing twists and turns that keeps the reader guessing, while weaving an intricate and complicated portrait of Camille's PTSD as her flashbacks to her military past intertwine with the present, providing a haunting quest to get justice while dealing with her inner demons. 

Told in the first person perspective, Camille takes the reader along for the ride on her stealthy military-based investigative quest. This engaging noir mystery story has realistic characters; and an intriguing and tension filled multi-layered storyline that easily draws the reader into the interconnection between Camille's military past and the present, and how the pieces of the murder investigation puzzle comes together and is solved. 

This was a sobering and very dark noir story to read. I couldn't help but feel for Camille as her PTSD kicks in after discovering the murder scene, and how she spirals into paranoia and is on edge as her quest to get to the truth of the murder takes over her life, especially when it becomes personal as her daughter is caught in the middle. The story alternates between Camille's flashbacks to her military deployment with the present, and you can't help but sit on the edge of your seat as you wonder what will come next. This was a very compelling debut story that definitely kept me turning the pages, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention that in my opinion, the conclusion was abrupt and left me scratching my head. 

Little Falls is the kind of dark noir murder mystery that easily keeps the reader captivated, guessing, on their toes, and wanting more!


RATING: 4 STARS 





About The Author



Elizabeth Lewes is a veteran of the United States Navy who served during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. An analyst and linguist by training, she now practices law in Seattle. Little Falls is her debut novel.






Contest Giveaway

Win A $20 Amazon Gift Card
Or
An eBook Copy of Little Falls



This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Elizabeth Lewes. There will be five (5) winners. Three (3) winners will each receive one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. Two (2) winners will each receive LITTLE FALLS by Elizabeth Lewes (eBook). The giveaway begins on September 1, 2020 and runs through November 2, 2020. Void where prohibited.

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Virtual Book Tour



Tour Participants:


06/07 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader

09/01 Review/showcase @ Novels N Latte

09/02 Interview/showcase @ CMash Reads

09/02 Showcase @ The Pulp and Mystery Shelf

09/03 Showcase @ Buried Under Books

09/04 Showcase @ SYLV. net

09/05 Review/showcase @ From the TBR Pile

09/09 Interview @ BooksChatter

09/12 Review @ Jane Pettit Reviews

09/13 Showcase @ EienCafe

09/14 Guest post @ The Book Divas Reads

09/24 Interview @ Reading A Page Turner

09/28 Showcase @ Brooke Blogs

10/01 Review @ Lynchburg Mama

10/02 Review @ lovemybooks2020

10/05 Review @ The World As I See It

10/08 Review @ Quiet Fury Books

10/13 Showcase @ Book Reviews & More by Kathy

10/15 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews

10/19 Review @ Quirky Cats Fat Stacks

10/20 Review @ Avonna Loves Genres

10/21 Guest post @ Avonna Loves Genres

10/22 Review @ Celticladys Reviews

10/22 Review/showcase @ The Bookwyrm

10/23 Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews

10/26 Review @ Nesies Place

10/26 Showcase @ Socrates Book Reviews

10/27 Review @ Thats What Shes Reading

10/30 Review @ A Room Without Books is Empty









 

Monday, October 19, 2020

Two Reasons To Run by Colleen Coble (VBT: Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

 In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Two Reasons To Run by author Colleen Coble!




Two Reasons To Run by Colleen Coble
Book 2: The Pelican Harbor Series
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: September 8, 2020
Format: Hardcover - 352 pages
               Paperback - 352 pages
               Audiobook - 8 Hours 19 Minutes
               Kindle - 348 pages / 2270 KB
               Nook - 352 pages / 2 MB
ISBN (Hardcover): 978-0785228509
ISBN (Paperback): 978-0785228486
ASIN (Audiobook): B0829DK8VW
ASIN (Kindle): B081MQM97D
BNID: 978-0785228493
Genre: Romantic Suspense



Buy The Book: 


Buy The Series: The Pelican Harbor Series
Book 1: One Little Lie
Book 2: Two Reasons To Run
Book 3: Three Missing Days (Pub Date: April 6, 2021)



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: 


Gripping romantic suspense from USA TODAY bestselling author Colleen Coble.
  
A lie changed her world.
  
Police Chief Jane Hardy is still reeling from the scandal that rocked her small-town department just as she took over for her retired father—the man who wrecked her life with one little lie. Now she’s finally been reunited with her presumed-dead fifteen-year-old son, Will, and his father, documentarian Reid Bechtol.

A crisis looms.
  
When a murder aboard the oil platform Zeus exposes an environmental terrorist’s plot to flood Mobile Bay with crude oil, Jane and Reid must put their feelings for each other behind them and work together to prevent the rig from being sabotaged.

A killer targets her son.
  
Then the terrorist puts her son Will’s life on the line. Protecting him could be the common ground they need . . . but then ghosts from the past threaten to ruin Jane and Reid for good. She’s got plenty of reasons to run. But what if she stays?
  

 
Book Excerpt:


Was anyone watching?

Keith McDonald sat at the computer and glanced around the oil platform’s rec room, but the dozen or so workers were engrossed in watching the final game of a Ping-Pong match. He hesitated,
then hovered his cursor over the Send button. Clenching his teeth, he sent the emails. Maybe it was nothing, but if anyone could decipher the recording, it was Reid Dixon.

The back of his neck prickled, and Keith looked around again. The room felt stifling even with the AC cooling it from the May heat. He jumped up and headed for the door. He exited and darted into the shadows as two men strolled past. One was his suspect.

Keith stood on a grating suspended three thousand feet over the water and strained to hear past the noise of machinery. The scent of the sea enveloped him, and the stars glimmered on the water surrounding the oil platform that had been his home for two years now.

“Scheduled for late May—”

A clanging bell drowned out the rest of the man’s words.

“Devastation—”

The other fragment of conversation pumped up Keith’s heart rate. Were they talking about the sabotage he feared, or was he reading more into the words than were there? He couldn’t believe someone could be callous enough to sabotage the oil platform and destroy the coast on purpose. He’d seen firsthand the devastating effects from the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe. And what about the people living on the platform? Deepwater Horizon had killed eleven people and injured another seventeen.

He had to sound a warning and stop this, but he had no real evidence. If Reid Dixon blew him off, who would even listen? Maybe Homeland Security would pay attention, but who did he even call there? He could tell them about the pictures threatening Bonnie, but what did that prove? They might just say she had a stalker and he was chasing shadows.

He couldn’t say they were wrong.

He sidled along the railing, and the breeze lifted his hair. A boat bobbed in the waves far below, and in the moonlight, he spotted a diver aboard. Must be night diving the artificial reef created by the concrete supports below the platform. He’d done a bit of it himself over the years.

For an instant he wished he were gliding carefree through the waves without this crushing weight of conscience on his shoulders. When he was sixteen, life was so simple. School, girls, football, and good times. He’d gone to work at the platform when he was nineteen, after he’d decided college wasn’t for him.

It had been a safe place, a good place to work with fun companions and interesting work.

Until a few weeks ago when everything turned sinister and strange. He’d wanted to uncover more before he reported it, but every second he delayed could mean a stronger chance of an attack.

If an attack was coming. He still wasn’t sure, and he wanted a name or to identify the organization behind the threat. If there was a threat. Waffling back and forth had held him in place. Was this real, or was he reading something dangerous into something innocent?

Though he didn’t think he was overreacting.

He turned to head to his quarters. A bulky figure rushed him from the shadows and plowed into his chest, driving him back against the railing. The man grabbed Keith’s legs and tried to tip him over the edge.

***

Excerpt from Two Reasons to Run by Colleen Coble. Copyright 2020 by Colleen Coble. Reproduced with permission from Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved.

 


My Book Review:

In Two Reasons To Run, book two of The Pelican Harbor Series, author Colleen Coble transports the reader back to the Gulf Shores area of Pelican Harbor, Alabama, to catch up on the story of Police Chief Jane Hardy and Investigative Journalist Reid Dixon.

It has been four weeks since the town scandal and the revelation of the secret past between Jane and Reid. Jane is still reeling from the lies and life changing revelation that Reid's fifteen year old son Will is her long lost son. While building her relationship with Will and trying to figure out what relationship she'll have with Reid, Jane is still mad that her father has lied about their past and the whereabouts of her mother. To make matters worse, Keith McDonald, an oil rig platform employee is murdered over his finding out about a planned terrorist plot to sabotage the oil platform, and the person responsible will go to any cost to stop Jane from investigating, even threatening to harm her son Will. 

With a terrorist on the loose, and a personal threat against their son, Jane and Reid join forces to find the person before the terrorist plot on the oil rig platform occurs and devastates the coastal area, while protecting their son, and battling personal family demons.

Author Colleen Coble weaves a fast-paced and suspenseful tale written in the third person narrative that follows Jane and Reid's investigative journey in search of the person who is threatening to sabotage the oil rig platform and hurt their son, while dealing with the lies and life changing revelations from the secret past that they once shared, including her own father's lies. The reader will be easily drawn into the continuation of this well written story with its richly descriptive plot and setting. 

The author does a wonderful job of transporting the reader back to Pelican Harbor, as Jane and Reid's latest investigation unfolds. The drama and suspense is intense and will keep the reader engaged and guessing what will happen next until the surprising conclusion. But alas, the author teases the reader with a cliffhanger ending, as Jane and Reid's story continues in Three Missing Days, the third book in The Pelican Harbor Series

Two Reasons To Run has enough drama, tension, action, flashbacks and clues from the past, a growing list of suspects, a hint of a romance, and unexpected twists and turns that will take the reader on one heck of a thrilling roller coaster ride.



RATING: 5 STARS  





About The Author




Colleen Coble is a USA TODAY bestselling author and RITA finalist best known for her coastal romantic suspense novels, including The Inn at Ocean’s EdgeTwilight at Blueberry Barrens, and the Lavender TidesSunset CoveHope Beach, and Rock Harbor series.


Author Website
Amazon Author Page
Barnes & Noble Author Page
BookBub
Facebook
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Pinterest
Goodreads




Contest Giveaway

Win PB Copy - One Little Lie



This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Colleen Coble. There will be 3 winners, each winning ONE LITTLE LIE by Colleen Coble (Print). The giveaway begins on September 21, 2020 and runs through October 25, 2020. Open to U.S. addresses only. Void where prohibited. 







Virtual Book Tour



Tour Participants:


09/21 Review @ Jane Pettit Reviews

09/22 Showcase @ The Pulp and Mystery Shelf

09/23 Showcase @ eBook Addicts

09/23 Showcase @ Im Into Books

09/24 Guest post @ The Book Divas Reads

09/24 Showcase @ the bookworm lodge

09/25 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader

09/26 Showcase @ nanasbookreviews

09/27 Showcase @ Sylv. net

09/28 Review @ Kritters Ramblings

09/29 Review @ sunny island breezes

09/30 Review @ Cassidys Bookshelves

10/01 Interview/showcase @ CMash Reads

10/01 Review @ Read Review Rejoice

10/02 Interview @ Quiet Fury Books

10/03 Review @ Books of My Heart

10/05 Guest post/Showcase @ Fredas Voice

10/07 Showcase @ Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!

10/08 Interview @ Reading A Page Turner

10/09 Guest post @ Bookriot

10/11 Showcase @ EienCafe

10/12 Review/showcase @ The Bookwyrm

10/13 Review @ Wall-to-wall Books

10/14 Review @ Mystery Suspense Reviews

10/14 Showcase @ BooksChatter

10/15 Review @ Novels N Latte

10/19 Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews

10/19 Review @ Christian Bookshelf Reviews

10/20 Review @ all_books_great_and_small

10/20 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews

10/22 Review @ A Room Without Books is Empty

10/23 Review @ Nesies Place

10/25 Review @ The Review Crew