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Saturday, January 29, 2022

Review: Smoke Screen - Terri Blackstock






Smoke Screen

Review: Smoke Screen - Terri Blackstock - November 2019


One of my favorite subgenres is Edgy Christian Fiction and lately, I have wanted to get back into enjoying Christian fiction authors Terri Blackstock has been one that I haven't read in years. Smoke Screen was available on the Libby library app as I was scrolling through to check which titles jumped out at me. In Smoke Screen we meet Breanna who was formerly married to a politician who decided to divorce her and marry someone younger and arm candy and of course since his father likes to control the narrative - he has made sure that Jack is going for full custody of his and Breanna's children. I hated the character of William who is Jack's father, he was one of those elite arrogant pricks. You know the type that wants everyone to bend to their knee and think he is above everyone else. However, near the end of the book, we will learn that William has a deeper set of anger towards Breanna and it has more to do with who her family is than her as a person. Breanna has been taking the custody battle hard and started drinking, what happens though when things look bleak for her future? Will she turn back to the God who she had so much faith in when she was a teenager as she grew up as a preacher's daughter?
Nate Beckett has spent his life-fighting fires which is ironic since everyone blamed him for burning down Breanna's fathers' church after his dad was convicted of killing Breanna's dad. Now 14 years later, the three of them Nate, Breanna, and his Dad are all in the same place at the same time and going through their own set of dramas. Both Nate and his dad have always maintained that they were innocent and now both of them will do their research and discover the truth about what happened fourteen years ago in doing so, Breanna whose first love was always Nate will reunite and he may be the very person she needs to save herself from destruction and losing her kids forever as we see near the end that most of the dots start connecting and what is happening now is connected to that fateful night when the Reverand died.
As this is written by a Christian author, the book falls under Edgy Christian Fiction as it does focus on prison, divorce, custody battles, arson, and alcoholism with a sprinkle of faith and hope and bible verse throughout the story as we all know that the faith of a single small mustard seed can move the biggest of mountains - this is one of my favorite verses in the bible and something I try so hard to live in my everyday life.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3gckPpi













Book Blitz - Dior or Die by Laura E. Akers

Dior or Die
Laura E. Akers
Publication date: January 22nd 2022
Genres: Adult, Mystery, Suspense

She’s survived dangerous missions for the government, but can she survive life among the rich?

Davia Glenn is the first woman on a covert paramilitary team until a mission goes deadly wrong. She inherits a fortune, moves to a wealthy community, and soon discovers the crazy under all that money. On a terrorist’s hit list, Davia must navigate her new life while dodging assassins.

Torn between two men and two worlds, Davia must decide her future— but this time, she wears haute couture instead of camouflage and combat boots.

If you love the grit of Jack Reacher and the fun of Stephanie Plum, one-click Dior or Die today for your next addicting, suspenseful mystery read.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

Four men shot at me with automatic rifles.

I sat in a chair blindfolded, arms bound behind me with duct tape, and a gag stuffed in my mouth. The relentless gunfire battered my senses.

Control the mind-game, Davia.

Forcing my hands into tight balls, I leaned forward and arched my back, preparing to free myself. In response, a bullet cracked one of my chair’s legs, and I almost crashed to the ground.

This ordeal was a boys’ club welcome to the first woman assigned to the most elite covert paramilitary team in existence. Of course, the team wouldn’t greet me with candy and flowers, but this?

My face grew hot from suppressed fury as the rounds whizzed past unabated. I slowed my breathing. Four breaths in, four out.

Again.

Finally, there was silence.

The malignant perfume of gunfire burned my nostrils. I listened for the click of empty magazines dropped and replaced. Instead, booming laughter and the dull thud of men slapping each other’s backs echoed through the space.

“Let’s give Glenn some time to sit in her messed drawers.” It was James Warden, my team’s leader. When we met this morning at our training base in Virginia, he radiated Apex Alpha. Now, I amended it to Apex Asshat.

“We can tell the colonel we didn’t hit the hostage,” said another.

More guffaws.

After their voices drifted away, I renewed my efforts to break the bindings. Within minutes, I was loose. I spat the gag from my mouth and tore the blindfold from my eyes, temples throbbing. How long would it take my shattered hearing to return in full?

My location was a plywood shoot house with movable walls. Dummy targets riddled with bullet holes surrounded me, and spent brass casings blanketed the floor like a golden carpet. Crouching, I snuck to the door, flattened myself against the wall, and peeked out.

Another teammate, Savant, sat at a distant table under a canvas shade, headphones atop his mop of fair hair. Hunched over a laptop, he bopped in time to an unheard beat. Gunfire began at a nearby range.

The group had moved on.

Bending, I lifted the combat knife strapped to my right calf and noticed a bullet hole had pierced a cargo pocket. The round missed my leg by a fraction of an inch.

I was almost a victim of high-speed lead poisoning.

Jaw set, I crept forward and thrust the knife under Savant’s chin in case he wanted to continue the hazing. Complex surveillance images streamed across his laptop’s screen as heavy metal blared from the headphones I tugged off.

“Don’t move,” I hissed.

“Oh, hey, Davia.” He pointed toward the distant gunfire. “Have fun.”

He never looked up.

Dropping Savant’s headphones into his lap, I put my knife back in its sheath. At the weapons table, I selected a submachine gun.

Popping in filtered ear protection, I stalked out to the range. Let’s find the hyenas.

Four battle-hardened men turned in sync when I approached, their expressions ranging from surprised to annoyed at my unexpected appearance.

“Sorry, I’m late.” My voice was saccharine sweet, like I was tardy for a Sunday picnic.

“We wasn’t ’specting you at all,” said Hodge, our burly Texan medic. “You’re tougher than a one-eared alley cat.”

Most worked to hide smiles, but Warden scowled. “Careful with that gun,” he said. “I’ll show you how to use it in a sec.”

Show me? I trained for years on every weapon they used, and some they didn’t. Not pausing, I discharged all my ammo, disintegrating the bullseye of the target.

When I finished, teammate Ned tugged at his scruffy beard and said, “We should nickname you Bombshell, and not because you’re blonde.”

The men all laughed, except Warden.

FIREARMS PRACTICE CONCLUDED, we entered the primary building of the complex. Our boss, Colonel Streeter, kept an office in a nearby wing.

“Why isn’t Savant coming with us?” I asked Ned.

“He operates on a different plane than us mere mortals.” Besides his unkempt beard, Ned wore his brown hair in a hipster bun. Grooming rules did not apply to this unit.

A female aide who worked with Colonel Streeter beckoned to another team member, K. He put up a hand in acknowledgment. K resembled Idris Elba, but younger and buffer. They moved away down a side hall.

The rest of us turned into a room with a mat-lined floor. On one wall, racks held fighting sticks, knives of various sizes, and boxing gloves.

“Ned, you and H pair up. I’ll take on Bombshell,” Warden drawled, emphasis on the B. Ned and Hodge pulled on boxing gloves.

Warden handed me two twenty-eight-inch sticks, took two himself, and we faced off. At six-three, he had me by six inches.

It was Davia versus Goliath.

“Ready?” Warden’s full lips curled into a sneer.

“Ready to lay you out.”

He came at me and didn’t hold back, hitting with the power of a rhinoceros in a charge. Stepping fast to keep him from knocking me over, I blocked blow after blow. I pictured Batman bubbles over our heads: Bam! Pow! Krunch!

Warden made the men on the cover of Muscle & Fitness magazine look like featherweights. He was one hundred pounds heavier than me and sported gallon jug biceps. Our weapons were a mere blur until a searing thwack landed on my upper arm, and I cringed away.

“Give up?” Warden asked, driving me toward a corner.

“You. First.” I gasped, sucking wind.

Back up-Duck-Back up.

At the edge of the mat, our sticks clanged. Cornered, I did a quick roll and slammed one of my bars against the back of Warden’s knees.

He crashed to the floor.

Timber!

A giant hand caught my right ankle and jerked.

I fell hard on my face.

Kicking free, I sprang up, but Warden did the same. Rivulets of sweat coursed from his close-cropped, dark hair and down his face. We circled each other, and I grinned as he also fought to catch his breath.

“Let’s go weaponless,” he grunted. “Fine.” We tossed our sticks aside.

We went at each other in an all-out grappling fight, working through an entire catalog of wrestling, martial arts, and street fighting tactics. Kyle Kavanagh, my South Dakota neighbor, and his myriad of deadly friends, had drilled me relentlessly through the years. I remembered their admonition: The bigger they are, the harder they— Warden latched onto my shoulder and tossed me to the ground.

His reinforced steel body landed on top of me, and the air blasted from my lungs.

Before he could trap my arms against the mats, I thrust a hand past his groin and wrapped my arm around his upper thigh. He went still for a split-second, hyper-aware I was a woman near his most prized and vulnerable possessions.

To make up for his momentary pause, he grabbed for my hair, but it was too short. He rolled over in an instant, clamped an arm around my chest, and spoke close to my ear. “You don’t belong here.”

“Says you.” I walloped him in the midsection with an elbow, leaped sideways, and broke away.

We jumped to our feet, circling again, checking for weaknesses.

My stamina hit the edge of empty. If I didn’t do something soon, this fight would be over. Warden lunged for me, and I caught his forearm. Using the last of my strength, I flipped him to the ground and trapped one of his knees with my legs.

“Call it quits?” I drove his joint to an unnatural angle, grinding my hips against his bulk.

Warden growled with frustration but didn’t give up. He bucked against me like a fly trapped in a spider’s web fighting for its life. After an age, he tapped out. I released him, falling back on the mat, drained. He untangled himself and got to his feet.

“Here.” He reached down to help me up. I took his hand, and he yanked me within inches of his face. Our eyes locked.

He held me much longer than necessary, then let go.

“Welcome to the team,” he said and walked away.


Author Bio:

I grew up in a small town in Southern California. My early writing career began when I created a neighborhood newspaper, won an American Legion essay award in 8th grade, and became editor of my high school newspaper.

At age 24, I became a prosecutor for the San Diego County District Attorney's office. I handled high-profile murder, rape, domestic violence, and gang cases. When one person I convicted made death threats, I trained in self-defense and weapons with a former black-ops agent. This led to the creation of my protagonist, Davia Glenn.

I'm a Distinguished Toastmaster and like to advocate for suicide prevention, elder abuse prevention, and fighting sex crimes against children.

This all sounds serious and achievement driven, but I also enjoy traveling, taking photos, and Korean dramas. I have two cats and a great guy.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / TikTok


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Review : Rag Doll Girls - Sydney James






Rag Doll Girls

Review: Rag Doll Girls - Sydney James - January 2022

Twenty or so years later Lisa is now a size 5XL and about to get evicted from her apartment, we can see she has become a fat shell of herself living on junk food and bordering on being a hoarder and agoraphobic. Due to her size, she also can't walk far and exercise, and therefore the weight just piles on as she was always a bit on the chubby side even when she was a child and teenager. When Lisa was 18, she left home in Sweden and never looked back as she tried to escape the memories of what happened at her grandmother’s cottage. Now her grandmother aka Mormor has died and her sister Astrid has phoned her asking her to come home. Lisa is scared but when her sister entices her with money that could solve her housing problems, she reluctantly agrees.  Lisa and Astrid haven't seen each other since they were teenagers and now Astrid is married with two children of her own. When they arrive, they head much to Lisa's reluctance to Mormor's cottage - a place that used to hold happy memories but now for Lisa is the place of nightmares as when Lisa was 5 and Astrid was 11-13 years old, Astrid had a friend come over and stay for the Summer - Ellen and by the end of the summer Ellen would be dead and Lisa would be the only witness. Everyone said Ellen had drowned but Lisa knew the truth, as she watched Ellen be murdered by The Hunter and then watched as his barn went up in flames with the kittens. Now the dark truth that has hindered Lisa and frozen her in fear is about to bubble to the surface as Lisa meets Caroline who is the Hunter's daughter and the real events of that Summer are about to come to light. Will this Summer be the awakening and reality dose that Lisa needs to be able to move on and change her ways finally? They say looking at the fear face-on is the best way to overcome it - immersive therapy.  Will this time around be a move in the right direction and bring closure to both her and Astrid about what happened to Ellen and the dark events surrounding that, Summer? Find out in this awesome psychological thriller by Sydney James today.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3H6aVl7


 




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