False Blood (A Detective Cliff Husto Thriller Book 3) by Jack King

False Blood is another fast-paced book in the Detective Cliff Husto thriller series by Jack King. This time Detective Husto faces his most challenging case yet. This case includes drug smuggling, murder, arson, and kidnapping, and the number of suspects mounts.

Jack King’s False Blood will keep you turning pages, keep you on the edge of your seat, and keep your mind thoroughly engaged as you try to figure out which suspect or suspects are guilty. Will you be able to identify the guilty person or persons before Detective Husto can?

False Blood also includes some twists and surprises. I did feel like some parts of the story were a bit rushed and some characters not as well developed as in the previous two Detective Cliff Husto hard-boiled mysteries. I also think some parts of the crime weren’t as clearly wrapped up with details as they could have been, which made the case wrap-up at the end feel a bit rushed. I also would have liked to have seen the main suspect better developed.

Unlike Jack King’s first two Detective Husto novels, False Blood did not begin with a lot of character introductions. Instead it begins with a Prologue where a crime is committed, then the first chapter finds Detective Husto and his two sons engaged in some at home one-on-one basketball and Horse, followed by Detective Husto going for a jog. Then begins his detective work, introducing the cases without really introducing characters. This change in how the story begins works fine, although I think focusing more on the crimes caused a lack of development of the criminals, and being a reader who wants to be fully engaged with characters and really get into their heads, found that missing part disappointing.

Jack King is a talented writer, who, obviously knows how to weave a complicated crime story with lots of characters. Detective Cliff Husto is a very likable character. He cares about his family and spends time with his sons. He is kind and respectful to the victims of crime that he must question or to whom he must give bad news. He is also respectful of his coworkers and those in authority. So, all in all, Detective Husto is a positive role model.

False Blood author, Jack King, is also talented at keeping the story moving at a fast pace, something all thriller readers enjoy. Readers will find it hard to put this book down. I certainly did.

False Blood does not include a lot of graphic violence. There are also no religious examples or messages in this book, although there is a character who is Muslim as well as a Jewish character. There is profanity sprinkled into some dialogue in some scenes in False Blood, but it is not used excessively.

I give False Blood 4 stars.

Settling Into a New Stage in Life

It’s been nearly a year since I finished homeschooling my youngest son, and my plan has always been that when I finished homeschooling my boys, I would work on my writing full time, and my husband fully supported this plan. However, the circumstances of life have a way of changing our plans. I know that God has called me to be a writer, and I know that God has a purpose for the novel I have been working on for about five years now, and my desire is to finish the final edits of my novel and publish it so that I can work on my next book.

However, writing novels in today’s world, and even in the past, isn’t going to earn anyone, except the rare bestsellers, a decent amount of money in a reasonable amount of time, and with gas prices fluctuating and now, mostly, on the rise again, as well as grocery prices constantly rising, my husband and I realized I needed to do something more than work on my novels. But, I was unwilling to do anything that isn’t writing related. In addition, I was unwilling to work outside the home, so I spent months searching online for a job that paid a decent amount of money and involved writing, and I prayed that God would open the right door.

I became frustrated when most of the jobs that popped up in my searches online required a college degree. With all of the writing experience I’ve had over the years, why couldn’t they look at my work and give me a job? What was a college degree going to do for my writing that all my experience hadn’t already?

Then, one day, I met my critique partner in a coffee shop and shared my frustration with her. She responded by telling me about an ad, she saw in a local paper that said they were looking for writers. The position she mentioned sounded minimal and boring to me, but I decided to take a chance, so in the late morning of that same day, I called the newspaper and explained to the woman who answered, the reason for my call. She said the person I needed to talk to wouldn’t be in until later that afternoon, when I wouldn’t be available. So, the woman took my name and number and said she’d have the person call me the next day.

The next day, my phone rang, and it was the Managing Editor of the paper. I explained why I had called and he explained more about the position my critique partner had mentioned then asked if I thought that was something I’d want to do. So, I decided to take a chance and explained that I’m a Freelance Writer and was looking for something more, so we talked for a while and I explained my previous writing experience, and he sounded interested. Then he asked if we could meet the next day, so we set up a meeting for the next morning.

The next morning, I met the Managing Editor, we talked, and I showed him samples of my writing in all the different forms I had written, and he offered me a job as a Local Reporter. That was near the end of January 2023 and I completed my first article for The Lancaster Patriot in early February 2023 and I have been writing one article a week, nearly every week for this local newspaper, and I really enjoy the job.

What about my novel, you might ask. Well, that’s part of trying to settle into this new stage in life — my plan is to write for the paper, write my 40 Book Reviews for Clean Fiction Magazine each year, finish the final edits of my novel so that I can publish it and start the next one, post more frequently here on my blog and on my Linkedin account, and resume my activity on my MeWe page and my MeWe writing group page. In other words, I want a life of full-time writing.

However, I also have to be my youngest son’s transportation back and forth to work most of the time because he is studying for his permit and cannot drive yet, and my mother is a senior citizen and has some health issues and she requires some of my time to take her to appointments or help her with things around her home that she can’t do on her own anymore, like running the vacuum cleaner and mopping the floors. Then, of course, there is caring for my own household and spending time with friends.

So, as I continue to try to create a schedule that allows me to be a full-time writer, life continues to throw other challenges in that force me to focus on writing for the newspaper and write my Book Reviews, and only work on my novel a couple hours a week and let my blog and MeWe pages slide. I find this frustrating and sincerely hope I can fit all of these writing things into my schedule soon, but it may mean writing a blog post and a Linkedin post once a month and doing a short MeWe post on each of my pages once a week. I’m still trying to figure it all out. If you are a writer who manages to do multiple writing tasks and still handle family and life responsibilites, please leave a comment letting me know how you handle it all. Maybe seeing how other writers handle life, will give me things to try until I find the best schedule for my life.

The Great Austen Adventure by Tomi Tabb

As a Book Reviewer, this is my honest review of The Great Austen Adventure by Tomi Tabb. I was not required to write a positive, nor any review.

I have become a devoted fan of Tomi Tabb’s books as I have read her complete “Unexpected Royals” series. The Great Austen Adventure is Ms. Tabb’s lastest novel and the first in her “The Royals of Isola Nostrum” series, and though I have heard a lot about Jane Austen and her novels, I must confess I am not a Jane Austen fan. However, The Great Austen Adventure by Tomi Tabb drew me in right from the start.

Ms. Tabb has, once again, created endearing characters and put them in interesting predicaments that lead to a delightful sweet romance. In The Great Austen Adventure, Sabrina, a devoted Janeite loses her job after an accidental blunder while planning her vacation to attend the Jane Austen Festival. But she doesn’t let the loss of her job stop her from going on her planned, and long dreamed of, adventure.

Leaving family struggles and troubled relationships behind, she embarks on a European adventure.

What follows is an enjoyable story that includes adventure, mishaps, and a sweet romance. Both Sabrina and Lorenzo learn lessons that bring growth in their characters and change in their thinking and their lives as the story progresses. And, though there is a lot about Jane Austen’s books and characters included in this novel, I found it all interesting and fun to read, like all books by Tomi Tabb.

Tomi Tabb is a gifted writer who cleverly ties the world of Royals to the common folk. At least one character in every story has an interesting quirk which adds some delightful, sometimes humorous, scenes to the story.

If you’ve never read a Tomi Tabb novel, I highly recommend them. If you like delightful, sometimes humorous, clean, sweet romance stories, you are sure to become a Tomi Tabb fan, just as I have. After reading a Tomi Tabb novel, I always eagerly await the next one.

In Darkness: The Vampire

I am a Book Reviewer and received a free copy of In Darkness: The Vampire and this is my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor any review.

In Darkness: The Vampire by L. Diane Wolfe is the first book in her In Darkness series. It is a Paranormal Romance story. It is a short easy read with only 11 chapters.

Anna is an overworked barmaid in her father’s tavern. She longs to leave and is saving her money in hopes of doing so. One night a group of strangers enter the tavern and Anna is struck by their wealthy appearance. When she overhears that they are looking for Zancrela, an ancient fortress filled with treasure and a magical library, she decides to offer to lead them.

During their travels, Anna and the leader of the group, Victor, form a special bond as Victor is surprised and impressed by Anna’s strength and determination and Anna feels safe in Victor’s protective presence. Victor is also very kind to Anna. Anna faces danger during the travel, and realizes she has tied herself to a group of vampires. Will Anna get them to Zancrela or will she become a meal for at least one of the vampires?

In Darkness: The Vampire is a story filled with action, adventure, danger, and a subtle romance. It is a unique vampire story in that these vampires are not immortal and the story does not include a lot of blood and gore. Ms. Wolfe has created well developed characters in the three main characters of the story. The cast of characters is short and well focused. The plot line is simple but definitely exciting and engaging, and the ending is definitely unique.

I thoroughly enjoyed In Darkness: The Vampire, and if you like clean Paranormal Romance stories or Vampire stories, I’m sure you’ll like In Darkness: The Vampire by Diane L. Wolfe.

I give In Darkness: The Vampire 5 stars.

Soulmates Lost in Time by Ellen Knightley

Soulmates Lost in Time by Ellen Knightly is a historical romance story set in the old west. Josephine’s family is struggling to make ends meet and bring in money for a doctor for her sick mother. Josephine and her father are exhausted. Then Josephine’s mother mentions something that she lost many years ago. This sparks an idea in Josephine, so she leaves home and ends up in a town she lived in as a young girl. She secures a job as a maid for a wealthy ranch family without realizing how much trouble this will bring.

Johnnie is being pressured by his parents to marry, not a woman of his choosing, but the one they think is best. His father is also pressuring him to focus on running the ranch, insisting that what Johnnie dreams of doing is a useless endeavor. Then his parents hire a new maid and he is immediately intrigued by her.

Ellen Knightly does a great job of writing a story with lots of surprises and twists that keep the reader turning pages. She is also talented at creating characters who face struggles that cause them great internal conflict. She even included a bit of a mystery in this story.

Soulmates Lost in Time does have lots of tension and suspense as well as a couple scary scenes, but the scary scenes are not too scary and there is no violence.

There is no clear religion mentioned or represented in Soulmates Lost in Time, but there is a pastor in the story and there is a clear representation that marriage is a lifetime commitment and there is no such thing as acceptable divorce.

The only issue I had with this novel is that the ending, though fairly satisfying, is left a bit open and Ms. Knightly mentions that there is an Extended Epilogue to the story, but she doesn’t include it at the end of the story or on the ebook at all. Instead, she includes the first chapter of one of her other novels, but here is the link where you can get the Extended Epilogue to Soulmates Lost in Time: http://ellenknightley.com/soulmates-lost-time-extended-epilogue/

The epilogue gives a glimpse into a few years after the end of Soulmates Lost in Time and wraps things up very nicely, so it is well worth going to the link to read it.

Also, I feel the need to issue a warning here. I have reason to believe this book may have been written by a bot writer and not an actual person.

Historical romance readers who enjoy stories set in the Old West will enjoy this story just as I did.

I give Soulmates Lost in Time by Ellen Knightley 4 stars.

You Make Me Sick … Literally by Shamika Lindsay

As a Book Reviewer, I received a free ebook copy of You Make Me Sick … Literally by Shamika Lindsay, and this is my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor any review.

You Make Me Sick … Literally is listed as a Contemporary Romance; Medical Fiction; Small Town and Rural Fiction; and Science Fiction Romance, which may explain why the story is so strange. As someone who has been studying the writing craft, especially the romance genre, for the past 10 years, I found this story quite annoying because, though the male and female lead characters meet in the first chapter, in chapters 2-9 it’s all about the female, Nyla. Not only is it all about Nyla, but it’s all about Nyla being sick. By chapter 7, I was considering dropping the book, but I looked it up on Amazon to see if it had any ratings or reviews.

As a reviewer, I have never before read reviews of books I have been asked to read and review before finishing my reading and reviewing of the book. But I wanted to know if anyone kept reading past chapter 6. I was quite surprised to see there were 17 ratings with an average of 4.5 stars, but only 7 actual reviews. However, the reviews were in favor of the book. Seven people, and probably at least some of the 17 who rated it, had actually read the entire book and had some good things to say about it, so that made me curious enough to keep reading.

Finally, in chapter 10, the male lead, Noah, finally makes a grand entrance. However, his appearance is short and, quite honestly, the scene is frustrating. But, I continued reading, and things started to get a little more interesting and a little less about the characters being sick.

So, what kept me reading? I liked Noah. I wanted to see if Noah and Nyla would ever figure out their illness and if they could be cured, and I wanted to see how the story would end. Ms. Lindsay had included enough interesting supporting characters to keep me reading, and I still really liked Noah.

I still think the story could’ve been better and fit the Romance genre better. I think Noah should have been in the story much sooner between chapters 2 and 9, and I think it would’ve been better if it would’ve been told from both Nyla and Noah’s points of view, instead of solely through Nyla’s, especially since they were both experiencing the same illness.

I also didn’t see any actual science fiction element in the story at all, and the book could really have used a good edit. And, though I really didn’t care for Nyla all that much because I found her whiny, stubborn, and self-pitying, eventually I liked the relationship that developed between Noah and Nyla. I will also say that the ending of the story almost made it worth the frustration of reading through the drawn out beginning. In all honesty, I did like the ending.

So, if you are a reader who really enjoys reading strange stories or are looking for something totally unusual, you will like this book, as long as you don’t give up before chapter 10 or 11.

I give You Make Me Sick … Literally by Shamika Lindsay 3 stars.

When Hearts Collide by Sara Beth Williams

When Hearts Collide is the debut novel and first book of the Second Chance series by Sara Beth Williams. Jay is beginning a new life and things seem to be going great when he gets the leading male role in the college play by default and sparks happen between him and the girl who gets the female lead.

Although Lacey changed her college major from theater to a business major, she still decided to try out for the college play. She lands the leading female role and feels a definite attraction to new guy in town, Jay, who plays the male lead.

But both Jay and Lacey have sorrow in their past that they don’t openly share and eventually their secret keeping becomes a big problem not just in their lives, but in the lives of people they care about.

Sara Beth Williams seems to have a great understanding of human struggles and the human need for forgiveness and second chances. She also shows that those things are very difficult to come by without knowing God. In When Hearts Collide, Ms. Williams shows how forgiveness can give someone hope, strength, and the ability to move forward even in the face of a very tragic and difficult situation. She also shows how hard it is to move forward when a person cannot forgive and cannot let go of the past.

She appropriately shows the emotions involved in such circumstances and how choices made because of those emotions can either make things worse or bring healing.

When Hearts Collide is definitely told from a Christian perspective. The novel includes quite a bit of prayer, talk about God, and church attendance and activities.

This book is written for young adults through adults, as it deals with some more mature issues that face people in these age groups in real life. These issues are all dealt with in a very sensitive way and are not intense nor explicit in any way.

I give When Hearts Collide by Sara Beth Williams 5 stars.

Lonewild Winter by Rebecca Stevenson

Lonewild Winter is the third book in the Wentworth Cove Series by Rebecca Stevens. Though it is part of a series, it can be read as a stand alone. I have not read any of the other books in the series but had no problem following the story line.

Reagan Loper and her daughter Meredith relocate from New York City to the little village town of Wentworth Cove, Maine. Reagan was able to rent a house owned by a senior lady, who has moved to an assisted living facility.

Reagan, a watercolor artist has been raising Meredith for seven years on her own and has devoted her life to giving Meredith a good upbringing and keeping her safe. Her decision to move to Wentworth Cove comes with the decision to also change their last name when Reagan finds out that her ex-husband will soon be released from prison.

Reagan and Meredith love their new home and new community, and for the first time in seven years, Reagan begins to wonder if she might fall in love again when she meets Brett, the son of the woman whose house Reagan is renting. Since his mother is now in an assisted living facility, he takes care of his mother’s estate, which includes the home Reagan is renting. Therefore, whenever Reagan needs something in regard to the house, she deals with Brett.

Brett has trust issues of his own, and he isn’t looking for love. He’s perfectly happy in his busy career as a political journalist.

Lonewild Winter is an enjoyable read. It is well written and it is easy for the reader to get caught up in the lives of the characters. The story has some light conflict, light suspense, and some excitement.

There is no clear religion referred to in this book.

I give Lonewild Winter by Rebecca Stevenson 5 stars.

Diary of an Angry Young Man by Rishi Vohra

As a Book Reviewer, I received a free ebook copy of Diary of an Angry Young Man by Rishi Vohra. This is my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor any review.

In the “Author’s Note” at the beginning of Diary of an Angry Young Man, Mr. Vohra includes this information: Rishi Vohra grew up in Bombay, now known as Mumbai, in India. He grew up in a building complex that overlooked a slum colony. His novel, Diary of an Angry Young Man includes parts that are based on true events, and the rest is fiction. The names and professions of the characters in the book have been changed to protect the real people referenced for this story. Diary of an Angry Young Man attempts to showcase the spirit of India’s youth and the humanity of society that we may or may not be oblivious to. It is a mirror of the times we live in, of the city that has brought me up.

Diary of an Angry Young Man grabs the reader’s attention from the first page and holds it until the very last page. It is the story of Raghav, a young man who lives in Colaba in Bombay, and it begins in 1992 and continues through June 2013. Raghav lives with his parents and sister, and life is fairly normal for life in India during that time, except that Raghav’s compassion for others is shown when he helps a young boy get home safely one night. Then one day when Raghav’s mother is taken to the hospital in a neighbor’s car, and everyone goes along, except Raghav. Raghav is told there is no room for him and he is left home alone. What happens to Raghav while he’s home alone changes his life forever, and it is what causes him to become “an angry young man”.

As the story continues, Raghav witnesses many of the evils of humanity and he gets into trouble because he fails to control his anger. Though his anger is often justified, it is wrong of him to act on it in the some of the ways that he does. However, Raghav’s anger motivates him to try to make a difference in his society, to try to take a stand against at least one evil man in his neighborhood.

Diary of an Angry Young Man is a difficult book to read if you are a sensitive person, but it clearly shows the evils of humanity and the struggles of many of the unfortunate people in society. There is violence, rape, and child molestation throughout the story. As I neared the end of this novel, I began to dread the ending, fearing it would be an ending without hope—an unhappy ending. I know not all stories have or need to have happy endings, but I cared about Raghav, and after seeing him suffer many terrible things, I wanted to see at least one good thing happen for him. I continued reading, despite my dread and was glad that I did.

Very close to the end of the book, Rishi Vohra includes a couple unexpected twists that made the entire book worth reading. In addition, Mr. Vohra does an excellent job wrapping up the story and showing the changes in Raghav’s life and the lessons he learned. Mr. Vohra also does something else, which I will not share so as not to give any spoilers, that makes the story very poignant, and though parts of Diary of an Angry Young Man were difficult to read, it is a book that affected me deeply, educated me on life in a country I am unfamiliar with, and will remain in my mind for years to come.

I give Diary of an Angry Young Man 5 stars.

The Enterprising Bride by Claire Sanders

The Enterprising Bride by Claire Sanders is the fourth and final book of Ms. Sanders’ “The Masons of Brightfield” series. It is a clean, sweet romance story and as a Book Reviewer, this is my honest review. I was not required to write a positive nor any review.

Each of the books in “The Masons of Brightfield” series has a different main character from the Mason family. However, all of the family members are included in each story to some degree. The Enterprising Bride focuses mainly on the oldest of the Mason siblings, John, and the woman he is in love with, Rosalind. But, John is dragging his feet in regard to getting married. Will Rosalind get tired of waiting and accept the affections of a childhood friend who returns and expresses interest in spending time with her?

Claire Sanders is a talented writer. She engages her readers from the beginning of the story and holds their attention until the end through her well developed, captivating characters who feel like friends. The relationship between the Mason siblings is realistic and includes a bit of sibling teasing and conflict, as well as a bond that holds them together and gives them a love for one another that enables them to encourage and help one another. Her words paint pictures in the reader’s mind and the interactions of the characters bring smiles and occasional chuckles to the reader’s lips.

Ms. Sanders also does a good job of showing both John and Rosalind’s points of view. She clearly shows their character, their thoughts and feelings, and their concerns, frustrations, hopes, and dreams throughout The Enterprising Bride.

She resolves the conflict to the great satisfaction of the reader by the end of the story.

I have read all of the books in Claire Sanders’ “The Masons of Brightfield” series and enjoyed every one of them. Each one presented unique problems for the characters to overcome, whether external or internal, or some of both. Each story presented a very realistic family with realistic relationships and problems that the reader could easily relate to. I will miss the delightful characters of the Mason family, but I greatly look forward to what Ms. Sanders publishes next.

I give The Enterprising Bride by Claire Sanders 5 stars.