Fragments of Fear by Carrie Stuart Parks

Fragments of Fear by Carrie Stuart Park

Fragments of Fear

Fragments of Fear by Carrie Stuart ParksFrom award-winning author Carrie Stuart Parks comes a new novel with danger that reaches from a New Mexico Anasazi archaeological dig to micro- and nano-chip technology.

Evelyn Yvonne McTavish-Tavish to her friends-had her almost perfect world in Albuquerque, New Mexico, come to a crashing end with the suicide of her fiancé. As she struggles to put her life back together and make a living from her art, she’s given the news that her dog is about to be destroyed at the dog pound. Except she doesn’t own a dog. The shelter is adamant that the microchip embedded in the canine-with her name and address-makes it hers.

Tavish recognizes the dog as one owned by an archaeologist named Pat Caron because she did a commissioned drawing of the two of them months earlier. The simple solution is to return the dog to his owner, but she arrives only to discover Caron’s murdered body.

After meeting undercover FBI agent Sawyer Price the mystery deepens as more people start disappearing and Tavish becomes a target as well. Her only solution is to find the links between microchip technology, an Anasazi site in the desert, her fiancé’s death, a late-night radio show, and the dog. And the clock is ticking.

Click here to purchase your copy.

My review

With her usual deft characterization, Carrie Stuart Parks has brought to life a cast of unique and believable people (and dog) in Fragments of Fear. This book moves fast, with as many twists and turns as any thriller, without losing sight of the individuals’ character development. The book begins with a rather ditzy, anxiety-ridden woman, burdened with shock and sorrows, but as soon as I started getting impatient with her, the story shifted, and I was hooked.

Each of the supporting characters is well-drawn and has a meaningful role in the story, just as every detail is important to the tightly-constructed plot. The author knows art and archaeology, and that expertise is obvious in the story. There’s also murder, theft, a disappearing corpse and chip technology in the mystery. The ending was surprising and satisfying.

I had to look up the breed of dog in the story, because it sounded so unusual. This is Marley, a Puli.  Not kidding.

It’s action-packed suspense, all the way through, but there’s a little romance and a light faith theme. If you like thrillers and suspense, you will enjoy this one!

About the Author

Carrie Stuart Parks

 

Carrie Stuart Parks is a Christy finalist as well as a Carol Award-winning author. She has won numerous awards for her fine art as well. An internationally known forensic artist, she travels with her husband, Rick, across the US and Canada teaching courses in forensic art to law-enforcement professionals. The author/illustrator of numerous books on drawing and painting, Carrie continues to create dramatic watercolors from her studio in the mountains of Idaho.

More from Carrie

Using Art to Solve Crime: Techniques Used by Forensic Artists

Since 1981, I’ve been a forensic artist—an amazing feat since I’m only . . .um. . . well, younger than that. In those years, I’ve seen some shifts and trends, but some things have never changed. Despite the overwhelming prevalence of computers in almost every other field, they have never been able to replace a trained forensic artist. Artists have an amazing toolbox of techniques we use to gather the information we need to help solve crime.

  1. The pencil. Any forensic artist worth her weight in graphite knows the power of the lowly pencil and a sketchpad. Law enforcement would love a photographic image of the suspect, but all we have to work with is memory…and memory is faulty. The more the image looks perfect, the more imperfect it is for helping to identify a suspect. We want the drawing to just suggest a likeness and eliminate those not similar.
  2. Now that we brought up the subject of memory, a forensic artist needs to understand how memory works. The average witness will remember between four and five facial features. When they describe the person they saw, they will do so from their strongest memory to their weakest memory, from most important to least important. We listen carefully to the order of facial features.
  3. Whole vs Parts. We don’t look at faces as individual parts, although a particularly outstanding nose or Marty Feldman eyes might catch our attention. We will remember the face as a whole, with the proportions of the face an unacknowledged part of that. Forensic artist prefer to use reference photographs where the whole face is viewed.

Want more? Check out the rest of my article at The Strand Magazine

 

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, July 23

All-of-a-kind Mom, July 23

Blogging With Carol, July 23

A Reader’s Brain, July 23

A Baker’s Perspective, July 24

The Avid Reader, July 24

CarpeDiem, July 24

Fiction Aficionado, July 25

Christian Bookaholic, July 25

Godly Book Reviews, July 25

Through the Fire Blogs, July 26

Livin’ Lit, July 26

The Becca Files, July 26

Inklings and notions , July 26

Real World Bible Study, July 27

Cathe Swanson, July 27

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, July 27

For Him and My Family, July 28

Lights in a Dark World, July 28

Retrospective Spines, July 28

Bigreadersite, July 29

Simple Harvest Reads, July 29 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)

Mary Hake, July 29

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, July 30

Blossoms and Blessings, July 30

EmpowerMoms, July 30

Aryn The Libraryan, July 31

Stories Where Hope and Quirky Meet, July 31

For the Love of Literature, July 31

Inspired by fiction, August 1

Ashley’s Bookshelf, August 1

By The Book, August 1

Tell Tale Book Reviews, August 2

Remembrancy, August 2

amandainpa, August 2

Pause for Tales, August 3

For the Love of Books, August 3

Just Your Average reviews, August 3

Hallie Reads, August 4

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, August 4

Daysong Reflections, August 4

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, August 5

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 5

Texas Book-aholic, August 5

janicesbookreviews, August 5

Giveaway

Fragments of Fear by Carrie Stuart Parks

To celebrate her tour, Carrie is giving away a copy of her book, Fragments of Fear. Be sure to visit the other blogs stops (above) to read their reviews of this excellent book and leave comments for nine extra entries into the giveaway.

Click HERE to enter to win a copy of Fragments of Fear

Catching Christmas by Terri Blackstock

Terri Blackstock Catching Christmas

About the Book

Terri Blackstock Catching Christmas

Book: Catching Christmas

Author: Terri Blackstock

Genre: Christian Fiction, Romance, Christmas

Release Date: October 9, 201

This Year, Christmas Comes Just in Time

As a first-year law associate, Sydney Batson knows she will be updating her resume by New Year’s if she loses her current court case. So when her grandmother gets inexplicably ill while she’s in court, Sydney arranges for a cab to get her to the clinic.

The last thing cab driver Finn Parrish wants is to be saddled with a wheelchair-bound old lady with dementia. But because Miss Callie reminds him of his own mother, whom he failed miserably in her last days, he can’t say no when she keeps calling him for rides. Once a successful gourmet chef, Finn’s biggest concern now is making his rent, but half the time Callie doesn’t remember to pay him. And as she starts to feel better, she leads him on wild goose chases to find a Christmas date for her granddaughter.

When Finn meets Sydney, he’s quite sure that she’s never needed help finding a date. Does Miss Callie have an ulterior motive, or is this just a mission driven by delusions? He’s willing to do whatever he can to help fulfill Callie’s Christmas wish. He just never expected to be a vital part of it.

Click HERE to purchase Catching Christmas

My Thoughts

Terri Blackstock is one of my favorite authors, and I will continue to read her books, but I was disappointed in Catching Christmas.  Or maybe not disappointed, exactly, but depressed.  The story is a meaningful, timely reminder that Christmas isn’t always full of children’s laughter and extended family. Many people aren’t busy and festive this time of year. Too many people are alone.

Ms. Blackstock is a skilled writer, so it’s a well-crafted book (if you like first-person present-tense format), but it’s a sad, sad story about a man who neglected and avoided his own dying mother and a woman who is frantically focused on keeping her (lousy) job. They’re both mired in guilt, so they are doing their best to care for the elderly Callie.

Callie is an extremely well-written character, typical of many lonely and confused elderly people who find life especially hard in the holiday season.  Her fixation on finding her granddaughter a date for Christmas day and uncharacteristically rude comments (referred to as “losing her filter”) accurately represent a person in that stage of dementia.

Finn, the cab driver, is burned out after losing his restaurant. He’s spiraled down into depression and ended up driving a cab. Sydney, the granddaughter, has a precarious job at a rather shady law firm. While I could see how a new college graduate, burdened with student loans, might feel desperate to keep her job, it didn’t ring quite true for a smart young woman with moral standards.

The ending implies a more promising direction for both of the young people, which is encouraging. Overall, I think this is a meaningful and good book for reminding us of the frailty of life and our responsibility to care for our elderly family and friends.

I look forward to Terri Blackstock’s next book!

About the Author

Terri Blackstock has sold over seven million books worldwide and is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author. She is the award-winning author of Intervention, Vicious Cycle, and Downfall, as well as such series as Cape Refuge, Newpointe 911, the SunCoast Chronicles, and the Restoration Series. Catching Christmas is her first Christmas romance. Visit her website at www.terriblackstock.com Facebook: tblackstock Twitter:@terriblackstock

 

 

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, December 15

Daysong Reflections, December 15

Genesis 5020, December 15

Back Porch ReadsDecember 15

The Power of Words, December 16

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, December 16

Quiet Quilter, December 16

Among the Reads, December 17

Kathleen Denly, December 17

By The Book, December 17

Lighthouse Academy, December 17

Cultivating Us, December 18

Simple Harvest ReadsDecember 18 (Guest Post from Mindy Houng)

Remembrancy, December 18

Caffeinated Christian Raves – N – Reviews, December 19

Jennifer Sienes: Where Crisis and Christ Collide, December 19

Christian Author, J.E. Grace, December 19

All-of-a-kind Mom, December 20

amandainpa, December 20

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, December 20

Multifarious, December 21

Cathe Swanson, December 21

Stories By Gina, December 21

Connect in Fiction, December 22

Have A Wonderful Day, December 22

Splashes of Joy, December 22

Bibliophile Reviews, December 22

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 23

Lis Loves Reading, December 23

Mary Hake, December 23

Bigreadersite, December 23

Book by Book, December 24

Pause for Tales, December 24

To Everything A Season, December 24

Southern Gal Loves to Read, December 25

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, December 25

Vicky Sluiter, December 25

Tell Tale Book Reviews, December 26

Inklings and notions, December 26

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, December 26

Stories Where Hope and Quirky Meet, December 27

Captive Dreams Window, December 27

Texas Book-aholic, December 27

A Baker’s Perspective, December 27

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 28

Older & Smarter?, December 28

Janices book reviews, December 28

Carpe Diem, December 28

A Sparkle of Silver by Liz Johnson

I’ve been busy preparing for the launch of Comfort & Joy, the 2018 Christmas Lights novella collection, but I took time to enjoy the new Liz Johnson book, A Sparkle of Silver.

A Sparkle of Silver by Liz Johnson

I’ve read other books by Liz Johnson, so when I was offered an advance reader copy of A Sparkle of Silver, I accepted it gladly and appreciated the break from my own writing! I really enjoyed it.  (Her book, not the break.) Millie and Ben are relatable – broke. burdened with responsibilities and guilt, doing the best they can in hard circumstances. They’re genuinely good people we like to root for.

We want them to succeed at finding the treasure because they aren’t just doing it for fun, being greedy. They need the money. Ben is stubbornly trying to make restitution for something that wasn’t his fault. Millie is desperate, working against a deadline to find enough money to pay for her grandmother’s care.

The setting – an opulent 1920’s era mansion with a history of lavish parties for the wealthy elite of Georgia – was intriguing. To gain access to the house, Millie got a job as a reenactor – dressing in the vintage clothing and putting on a show for guided tours through the historic building. I would have liked to read more about that, mostly because it sounds like a great job!

The historical romance and mystery were related through diary entries. Liz Johnson did a good job with this character. Ruth was a guest, not part of the rich crowd, and I could easily imagine her writing out the events and her feelings, a little overwhelmed and confused by her surroundings.

The ending is delightful for both timelines.  There is a swoony romantic scene and a not-too-outlandish happy resolution. I enjoyed it.

 

 

 

 

I look forward to the next book in this series, but unfortunately, it’s still nearly a year away. In the meantime, I recommend Ms. Johnson’s Prince Edward Island Dreams  series – especially if you’re an Anne of Green Gables fan!

Sins of the Past – a Novella Collection

  Sins of the Past, a romantic suspense novella collection by Dee Henderson, Dani Pettrey and Lynette Eason Sins of the Past

Novellas vary, in length and in quality.  In a full-length novel, the author has more time to develop the plot and characters. The novella has to contain all of the story elements in a more compact package. It’s not an easy job – harder, in some ways, than writing a long book. The author has to develop a complete plot, create well-developed characters and (usually) write a believable romance  in a much shorter form. Novellas come in different sizes, usually between 25,000 and 45,000 words. Multi-author novella collections are popular, especially at Christmastime. They can be inexpensive and fun introduction to new authors.

This novella collection from three distinguished writers of romantic suspense, was published one year ago, and I have already listened to it twice. Obviously, I liked it! All three of the authors are on my “read everything list.”

Missing - a novella by Dee HendersonMissing

Dee Henderson’s O’Malley series is one of the most popular and enduring family sagas in its genre. I’ve read them all at least twice, so I had high expectations for her contribution to this collection, Missing. I was disappointed. As I considered it later, I decided that her full-length books are paced in a more leisurely style, developing gradually over a long period of time. She couldn’t do that in a short novella, so the characters had no depth. The romance didn’t make sense. I liked the plot, but unlike traditional mysteries, the ending was based on something totally unknown to the reader. I will still continue to read everything else she writes, of course, because I love her work!

Shadowed - a novella by Dani PettreyShadowed

I have been an enthusiastic Dani Pettrey fan since I found her first book, Submerged, shortly after it was released. It’s still one of my favorite books, and I’ve read everything she’s written since then – usually in audiobook form. Her novella, Shadowed, is by far the best of this collection. It reads like a full-length book, a complex and worthy addition to the Alaskan Courage series. It was set in the 1970’s – a fun and unusual time period we don’t see much of in current books. I enjoyed the “retro” cultural references. Shadowed has terrific characters, plot, setting… and bonus points for continuing the alliteration.

Blackout - a novella by Lynette EasonBlackout

I have only recently started reading Lynette Eason, but I’ve enjoyed the books I’ve read so far. Blackout was a little confusing sometimes, with many characters, but still very good. It moved quickly, with intense action, and I liked the base and progression of the romantic relationship.

Each of the novellas is now available separately, but the Sins of the Past collection is a bargain – and you can pick up the audio version for just a few dollars more!

What do you think?

What has been your experience with novellas?  Have you read many of them? What, in your opinion, makes a novella a good book?

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Front Window by Chautona Havig ~ a review

Front Window by Chautona Havig

Front Window, the newest book in the Hartfield Mysteries series by Chautona Havig,  is now available on Amazon!

I have to admit, I’m a sucker for a new Chautona Havig book. It’s partly self-preservation – she modeled a character on me one time, and it was not one of the good guys.  In fact.. well, never mind. Figure it out for yourself. It’s someone in this series.

 

 

 

 

 

Book #1 – Manuscript for Murder

Manuscript for Murder by Chautona Havig

 

Because of that, or in spite of it, the Hartfield Mysteries are my favorite Chautona Havig series. It is such a creative concept – in the first book, Manuscript for Murder, Alexa Hartfield is an eccentric mystery writer living in an idyllic small town. She’s a free spirit, dressing in clothing from different eras to suit her mood and the book she is writing, living alone and enjoying it. Then someone starts turning her murder mysteries into a blueprint for their own killing spree, and Alexa Hartfield teams up with an unusual police officer to solve the case.  This book just delighted me. I loved Alexa. She’s so “comfortable in her own skin.” The pace of the (obviously incipient) relationship with the policeman, Joe  Freidan, was perfect. I appreciate slow romances.

Book #2 – Crime of Fashion

Crime of Fashion by Chautona Havig

 

 

At the beginning of Crime of Fashion, Alexa assumes that her life will resume its previous tranquility. It doesn’t, of course. Things are changing at home and in a new business venture.  I really didn’t want her to get involved in that business. You could see it was a train wreck right from the start.  She and Joe are getting serious in this book.  The ending, unfortunately, left something to be desired. It was a complete shock to me, though, and I can usually solve the mystery by the middle of the book. Not here. I only started getting suspicious in the last few pages.  I still wish it had ended differently.

 

Book #3 – Two o’Clock SlumpTwo o'Clock Slump by Chautona Havig

 

Two o’Clock Slump was a totally different book. Alexa leaves her beloved home and travels back to the place she left behind – a place where she is neither liked nor welcomed, where even her own family (not nice people) cause her grief.  There was considerable character development in this book.  I liked it, but Alexa was depressed there, and I just wanted her to leave. Go back to Fairbury where people like you and you can be yourself, Alexa. Except she can’t, because someone is framing her for murder. She’s on the lam.

Book #4 – Front Window

Front Window by Chautona Havig

 

I don’t want to give spoilers, but you’ve probably already guessed that Two o’Clock Slump has a happy ending. Things are going along pretty well at the start of Front Window. Alexa’s even-more-eccentric aunt Faye is moving to Fairbury, and all of them are looking forward to a happy season when strange things start happening at the retirement village. Aunt Faye is the real star of this book, and she’s a worthy addition to the series! Front Window is an entertaining book with all the best qualities of the series. You’ll love it.

 

 

Have you read any of these books? What do you think? Which was your favorite? Do you think Aunt Faye should have her own book?

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Feta & Freeways by Susan M. Baganz

Feta & Freeways by Susan Baganz

 

Feta & Freeways by Susan M. Baganz is finally available for sale on Amazon! I have enjoyed all of the books I’ve read by this author, so I’ve been looking forward to this one. Like her other Orchard Hill books, the characters are complex. Susan M. Baganz portrays people with human strengths and weaknesses – people you can visualize and connect with, even when they are celebrities like Niko and the rest of the successful Christian band, Specific Gravity.

 

A rich story, skillfully crafted

As with the other books, I was struck by the cadence of her writing. She transitions smoothly from stress-filled scenes to more calm scenes to emotional scenes. Some of her characters have messy, painful backgrounds and some are from more stable environments. It is a good mix. Ms. Baganz is also good at creating realistic communities and family relationships. Her characters do not live in a bubble.

Glorifying God

The spiritual condition of her characters is sometimes rock solid, but it’s often like the rest of us – believing, but still occasionally anxious and confused. Niko and Tia don’t doubt the saving grace of God, but at times they muddle along hoping they are making the right choices. The author’s skill is clear in all of these aspects of the book. It is a “clean” book; there is no foul language and the small amount of violence is all off-screen, but Niko and Tia ARE married, and the implications of that relationship are not hidden. I recommend it for married women.

 

Susan Baganz

Susan M. Baganz chases after three Hobbits and is a native of Wisconsin. She is an Acquisitions Editor with Prism Book Group specializing in bringing great romance novels and novellas to publication. Susan writes adventurous historical and contemporary romances with a biblical world-view.

 

 

 

 

Her Orchard Hill series includes:

Pesto & Potholes

Salsa & Speedbumps

Feta & Freeways

 Pesto & Potholes by Susan M. Baganz    Salsa & Speedbumps by Susan M. Baganz    Feta & Freeways by Susan M. Baganz

 

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