Sheila's Books Read

Sheila's bookshelf: read

What Would the Founding Fathers Think: A Young American's guide to understanding the mess our country is in and how we get out
Isabelle Webb: Legend of the Jewel
Captive Heart
Cobble Cavern
Caller ID
Promises
Protected,
Summer of Secrets
On Little Wings
We Lived in Heaven: Spiritual Accounts of Souls Coming to Earth
Christ's gifts to women
A Woman's power: threads that bind us to god
Scary School
Hope's journey
Blue
Targets in Ties
Crater Lake: Battle for Wizard Island
Venom
With a Name like Love
Sean Griswold's head


Sheila's favorite books »

2014 Reading Challenges

2014 Reading Challenge

2014 Reading Challenge
Sheila has read 4 books toward her goal of 100 books.
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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Saving Grace: A Hearthfire Romance by Michele Paige Holmes-Review


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 Product Details

Title: Saving Grace: A Hearthfire Romance   

Author: Michele Paige Holmes

Publisher: Mirror Press

Publish Date: October 15th, 2015

ISBN13: 9781941145234

ebook: 380 pages

Genre: Regency romance

FTC, FYI: I was given a review e-copy in exchange for an honest review.



  Book Description:
From Whitney Award Winning Author, Michele Paige Holmes, comes Saving Grace, A Hearthfire Romance:
After the death of Grace Thatcher’s grandfather, the Duke of Salisbury, Grace wants nothing more than to live quietly in the country with her younger siblings. But her father’s debts thwart those plans, and to protect her sister, Helen, Grace must marry a man of her father’s choosing.
As each suitor proves less than desirable, Grace comes up with clever schemes, causing each to reject her. While staying at the mysterious Sutherland Hall, a middle-of-the-night mishap sends Grace into the arms of a stranger, Nicholas Sutherland—and provides inspiration for her grandest plan yet—one that will leave her reputation in tatters yet free both her and Helen from all possibility of marriage. But when Grace meets Mr. Samuel Preston, a true gentlemen and sworn enemy of Nicholas Sutherland, instead of being free, Grace is caught between two men—each with his own agenda.

My Review
Saving Grace is one of those books that you start reading and you can't stop. This Regency Romance novel has everything that you could love: a strong heroine, Grace, in a bad situation looking for hope and a way out; a handsome, stubborn male lead, Nicholas, who wants to fall for the heroine but things from his past still haunt him and he's worried about taking a chance on love; and then we have the other man, Samuel, that loves our heroine and wants her, but his past is also standing in his way towards happiness. Of course there are the other things that add to the drama like the manipulative, gambling father of our heroine and the snobby, heartless mother of our hero who wants nothing to do with the commoner Grace.

I loved the funny situations that Grace seems to always find herself in,many of them are of her own doing. She has learned how to be strong as she practically raised her younger siblings Helen and Christopher, by herself, while her widower father was out gambling and drinking. Grace is so likable a character that you want everything good to happen for her, but at times I wanted to shake her silly when it came to  romantic love. The tension between brother-in- laws Nicholas and Samuel, was well written and felt throughout the story. Because of the death of Nicholas's sister Elizabeth,who was also Samuel's wife, the neighboring estates became places of sadness, hatred and revenge. 
Without giving too much away, I loved how Grace came in with her kind and loving disposition that ultimately changes things for both men.

I truly ended up loving this story! The great characters, interesting situations and wonderful storytelling will make Saving Grace a favorite among Regency Romance readers.


Meet Author: Michele Paige Holmes: 

Michele Paige Holmes spent her childhood and youth in Arizona and northern California, often curled up with a good book instead of out enjoying the sunshine. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in Elementary Education, and found it an excellent major in which to indulge her love of children's literature.
Her first novel, Counting Stars (Covenant Communications 2007), won the 2007 Whitney Award for best romance. Her companion novel, a romantic suspense titled, All the Stars in Heaven (Covenant 2009), was a Whitney finalist, as was her first historical romance, Captive Heart (Covenant 2011). My Lucky Stars (Covenant 2012) completed the Stars series.
Michele has been a member of the same critique group for over thirteen years and feels privileged to meet weekly with fellow authors Annette Lyon, Heather B. Moore, LuAnn Staheli, Sarah M. Eden, J. Scott Savage, and Robison Wells. She has been a member of RWA and URWA, LDStorymakers, and The League of Utah Writers. Michele enjoys both attending and teaching at conferences.
When not reading or writing romance, Michele is busy with her full time job as a wife and mother. She and her husband live in Utah with their five high maintenance children and a Shitzu that resembles a teddy bear, in a house with a wonderful view of the mountains. 


Author Links
Website / Twitter / Goodreads
Purchase Links
Amazon / Barnes and Noble (other titles)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Bad Guys of the Bible by Dennis Gaunt-Combined Review by Sheila and Mindy




Product Details

  • Title: Bad Guys of the Bible
  • Author: Dennis Gaunt
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Covenant Communications Inc. (October 15, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1621088677
  • FTC, FYI:  I received a review copy in exchange for an honest review.




 

Book Description

These bad guys are smart. You can be smarter. This entertaining book shows how knowing the enemy can help you be a righteous warrior in your own life. Any discussion of bad guys has to begin with “in the beginning.” From Genesis to Revelation, you’ll get the dirt on the dastardly deeds perpetrated by Bible characters ranging from the truly villainous to the temporarily wayward. Weaving together gospel truth and humor, Dennis Gaunt shows that you can’t have a great story without a great bad guy—and that by studying and knowing the mistakes that biblical bad guys made, we can avoid falling into similar perilous traps. This entertaining and inspiring book also wraps up each chapter with thoughtful questions that invite readers to ponder and apply in their own lives the spiritual lessons from these fascinating stories.

I'm excited to be doing a combined review today with my very good  friend, Mindy Holt. We review together at LDS Womens Book Review. 

Sheila's Review:
I loved Dennis's first book, Bad Guys of the Book of Mormon. When I knew he was writing Bad Guys of the Bible, I couldn't wait to start reading this new book.
 
The book jumps right in starting with the beginning of the Bible and the original bad guy, Satan and those he tempted, Adam and Eve, Moses and Jesus Christ. I like what Dennis had to say about why he started with him, "It's essential that we learn to spot his tricks and traps early so we can avoid them." 

One of the things that I love about the way Dennis writes, is the humor he infuses throughout such serious subjects. He knows how to keep the old Bible stories refreshing and relevant to today's people so teens and adults can relate to them. There is also plenty of quoted scriptures which I so appreciate him including. I was able to highlight many things as I read each chapter. I kept thinking of how I will be using each chapter as a Family Home Evening lesson with my family. Thanks for that Dennis! I have 16 lessons ready to go! ;) 

 I was so excited to see in Bad Guys of the Bible that Dennis had included one of my favorite things from his first book. At the end of each chapter you'll find...
-Lessons NOT Learned and-Lessons TO Learn
 Let me give you an example from one of my favorite chapters, Chapter 7: More Whiners in the Wilderness=Lessons from the Exodus.
**Lessons NOT Learned:
  • Random Israelite #1: "Hey, is it just me, or is this wilderness kind of rough?"
  • Random Israelite #2: "Now that you mention it, it is sort of unpleasant out here!"
  • Random Israelite #3: "Guys? I have sand in my shoe."
  • Random Israelite #1:  "Oh that's it! Where's Moses? I want to go back to Egypt!" 
**Lessons TO Learn:
  • Why does life feel like a harsh wilderness sometimes?Why do we have so many trials to deal with? How can we resist the temptation to murmur and complain when times are hard?
  • What made the difference between people like Moses, Joshua, or Caleb and those who wanted to go back every time something was wrong? What can you do to change and control your own attitude when you feel like giving up?
  • Make a list of the different ways you can gather spiritual manna every single day. For each item on the list, ask yourself: How can I avoid becoming ungrateful for this? What can I do so that I don't become bored with the things Heavenly Father has asked me to do every day?
     
See what I mean? Your Family Home Evening lesson is right there! I don't think Dennis wrote this book for that purpose, but it is a perfect teaching tool. You can also see what a great wit this author has in his writing and in real life. The author also concludes the book with this thought..."The study of the bad guys of the Bible is the study of ourselves. By looking at the the things they did wrong, we can learn to do things right. We can outsmart Satan and all of his followers by being smarter than the bad guys. We did it once before, and we can do it again.No one is doomed to fail in this life; no one is destined to be miserable. Every person in this world has the opportunity to choose to follow Christ and be happy."

This well researched and wonderfully written book must be in every Christian home that reads the Bible. This book deserves the
 5 ***** rating that I'm happily giving it! 

Mindy's Review
 Dennis is the man. Not only does he make the Bible interesting, he makes it understandable. I found myself looking forward to each chapter to see what bad guy (or guys) was next. I enjoyed the care and detail of each chapter. The personal stories mixed with council from church leaders, past and present, along with insightful scriptures, were what made this book even better. I took notes throughout and took pictures of the pages so I am able to look back and appreciate what I read. Dennis added his awesome humor and lots of familiar quotes for chapter headings. I think this helped make it for relatable for his readers. As I was reading, I could hear Dennis saying the funny lines. A personal fav was "tree house of wickedness".

As with Bad Guys of the Book of Mormon, Dennis adds a lessons learned and not learned at the end of each chapter, to summarize and ask questions to the reader. It added his own personal touch and humor to each chapter and a great review of what was discussed. Honestly, the Bible, to me, is intimating and confusing at times. I was able to understand and appreciate the Bible even more and was reminded of stories I hadn't heard in awhile. As with his first book, this one also teaches us to be ever mindful of the ultimate bad guy, the one who wants us all to fail, Satan.

I probably had about 20+ quotes that I would love to share, but the very last paragraph, ended with the author's testimony.

I add my own testimony that God has big plans for you and your life. When we choose to stand on the Lord's side, we will discover "they that be with us are more than they that be with them" (2 Kings 6:16). May each of us choose now to be one of the Lord's good guys, to make whatever changes are needed, and to be true and valiant to Him every day of our lives. (page 235)

5 out of 5 stars. Another solid book from Dennis.


Meet Author Dennis Gaunt: 


DENNIS GAUNT has been an avid student of the scriptures for as long as he can remember. He studied history and English at the University of Utah. He taught seminary and institute in CES for a number of years, and currently serves as the Gospel Doctrine teacher in his ward. He and his wife, Natalie, live in Sandy, Utah.

Learn more about Dennis and his books at:  http://dennisgaunt.com/

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Time of the Fireflies by Kimberley Griffiths Little-Review

Product Details

  • Title: The Time of the Fireflies
  • Author:  Kimberley Griffiths Little
  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 720L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press (July 29, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0545165636
  • FTC, FYI: I received a review copy in exchange for an honest review.








Book Description:
Critically acclaimed author Kimberley Griffiths Little spins a thrilling story of one girl's race to unravel the curse that has haunted her family for generations.

When Larissa Renaud starts receiving eerie phone calls on a disconnected old phone in her family's antique shop, she knows she's in for a strange summer. A series of clues leads her to the muddy river banks, where clouds of fireflies dance among the cypress knees and cattails each evening at twilight. The fireflies are beautiful and mysterious, and they take her on a magical journey through time, where Larissa learns secrets about her family's tragic past -- deadly, curse-ridden secrets that could harm the future of her family as she knows it. It soon becomes clear that it is up to Larissa to prevent history from repeating itself and a fatal tragedy from striking the people she loves.
With her signature lyricism, Kimberley Griffiths Little weaves a thrilling tale filled with family secrets, haunting mystery, and dangerous adventure.

 
My Review:
Even though this series of books are Middle-grade books written for children ages 8-12, I can't help but be pulled into the mystery and magic found in Kimberley's writing and her stories. The Time of the Fireflies takes the reader back to the world that first started in The Healing Spell and continued in Circle of Secrets and When the Butterflies Came. Though I've never really been to the bayou or anywhere close to Louisiana, I feel like I have through the lush, descriptive writing found in Kimberley's books. 

The Time of the Fireflies is Larissa's story about her family and the past. There is an element of time travel, but I'm not giving away the secret of how that happens. I do love how she time travels and who she meets, and how this changes her life and her parent's lives. Larissa had some hard things that happened to her in the past when she almost drowned in the Bayou Teche. The year before, she fell from the broken bridge that she crossed over on a dare.Now she has a large scar running down the side of her face. Years earlier,her Aunt Gwen drowned the same way. Now she struggles to fit in and deal with the lot that life has handed her. A mysterious, creepy antique doll adds spooky parts to the story, but not too scary for the intended age group. I loved how the history of the town, Bayou Bridge, is shared from Larissa's trips to the past.

This is another beautiful "coming of age" story for a young girl who learns to let her past anger go, and embrace the wonder of new beginnings. Young people reading this book will be in for a ride of chills, thrills, mystery and learning to love and let go of the past. I would highly recommend this book to my students and my own kids. You too will be swept away with the mystery of the Fireflies and the secrets to be found in the bayou.


Meet Author: Kimberley Griffiths Little:
Kimberley Griffiths Little was born in San Francisco, but now lives in New Mexico with her husband and their three sons.

For such award-winning middle grade novels as When the Butterflies Came, The Last Snake Runner, The Healing Spell, and Circle of Secrets, her writing has been praised as "fast-paced and dramatic," with "characters painted in memorable detail" and "beautifully realized settings."

Kimberley adores anything old and musty with a secret story to tell and makes way too many cookies while writing.

She's stayed in the haunted tower room at Borthwick Castle in Scotland; sailed on the Seine in Paris; ridden a camel in Petra, Jordan; shopped the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul; and spent the night in an old Communist hotel in Bulgaria.

Her amazing, filmed-on-location book trailers can be found on Goodreads. https://www.goodreads.com/videos/list...

Awards: Southwest Book Award, Whitney Award for Best Youth Novel, Bank Street College Best Books of 2011 & 2014, Crystal Kite Finalist, and New Mexico Book Award Finalist.


Learn more about Kimberley and her other wonderful books here at... http://www.kimberleygriffithslittle.com

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Review of-Spell Check by Julie Wright AND Buy it Now for 99 cents on Kindle through Halloween!

Product Details

  • Title: Spell Check
  • Author: Julie Wright
  • File Size: 1072 KB
  • Print Length: 220 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1941849008
  • Publisher: Heart Stone Press; 1 edition (June 30, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00LF449GG
  • AmazonGoodreads 



Book Description

"Spell Check is an impossible-to-put-down, topsy-turvy adventure with fun, romance, and fabulous characters.”
--Heather B. Moore, USA Today bestselling author

A skeleton is rattling its way out of the closet marked
“FAMILY SECRET! KEEP OUT!”

Allyson Peterson believes that being hanged by the
Salem High Witches is the absolute worst thing that
can happen. But when her powers, wrested from the
trolls of ancient Sweden, manifest themselves, she
realizes that a prank hanging by vindictive cheerleaders
is the least of her worries.

Ally accidentally sends her parents to the jungle to fight
anacondas, turns her brother into a mute, and curses the
entire cheerleading team with an illness that has no cure,
proving that her spells need a little checking. Her Swedish
grandmother shows up to help her through the worst part
of all—surviving the Troll Trials and saving the guy of
her dreams from a vengeance that has festered through-
out generations.

The power is in her, if she can just get the magic right. 


My Review:
 Spell Check is a fun story of a young woman, Ally from Salem Massachusetts, whose life is turned upside down in just a few days. Not only does she find out that her thoughtless wishes are coming true, but also that she is a witch. Turning 16 is the key that unlocks her powers and boy does this cause havoc in her and her family's life, her friends and her "frenemies" lives. I really liked how her magical powers came from the four elements of earth, air, water and fire.  The best part of the book is the humor and the dialogue that will keep you laughing page after page; even when Ally is in very scary predicaments like trying to save her parents in the Amazon and during the Troll Trials.  

Julie has written some of the best side characters, in Ally's 10 year old brother Robison, and her Swedish Grandmother, Farmor, who is also a witch or a Troll Kvinna. The banter between Ally and her brother and Ally and her grandmother is sarcastic and funny. There is the sweetness and uncertainty of first young love between Ally and Jake, which is all clean, but so realistic for what teens go through. 

This YA Paranormal novel has so much to offer readers: mean girls that are chastised after they've bullied Ally for years, magical trolls with trials that can kill, and a rouge troll whose deception puts Jake's life at risk. This story is one of coming of age where Ally finally learns to love herself and be proud of who she truly is. This was a great message for anyone, especially teens to read. 

I'm ending the review by listing some of the clever chapter titles that kept me smiling. If you like books about magic combined with great humor, you and your tweens and teens will love Spell Check.

-Note to Self: A Troll is a Lame Birthday Gift.
-Note to Self: Sleep is awesome. I should try it sometime.
-Note to Self: Just because a tiny man shows up at your door with an elk in tow doesn't prove anything about Santa Claus.
-Note to Self: Dragon Boats are sarcastic, unhelpful, and deserve to sink.
-Note to Self: No matter what happens...it can be worse. At least I'm not married to a troll. 
 

 Spell Check is on sale for 99 Cents at the Kindle store now through Halloween!! What a great deal! (Follow this link)

Meet Author Julie Wright

Julie Wright started her first book when she was fifteen. She’s written seventeen novels since then: including the Hazzardous Universe Series and the Newport Ladies Book Club series. She won the Whitney Award for best romance for the novel Cross My Heart and the Crown Heart for The Fortune Cafe. She is represented by agent Sara Crowe with Harvey Klinger Inc. in New York. She enjoys speaking to writing groups, youth groups, and schools. She loves reading, eating, writing, hiking, and playing on the beach with her kids and husband. Julie’s favorite thing to do is watch her husband make dinner. Visit her at her website: www.juliewright.com

Friday, October 24, 2014

Loving Lucianna: A Hearts in Autumn Romance by Joyce DiPastena-Review




Product Details:

Book Title: Loving Lucianna: A Hearts in Autumn Romance  
Author: Joyce DiPastena
Category: Adult fiction, 223 pages
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Sable Tyger Books
Published: October 11, 2014
ASIN: B00NG8NWGW
FTC, FYI:  I received a review e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
 
 
 
About the Book:

Sir Balduin de Soler gave up long ago on love. He never had the means to support a wife until an unexpected advancement in his fifties allows him to reassess his future just as the lovely Lucianna enters his life.

Lucianna Fabio harbors a secret, painful memory from her past that has kept her unwed, as well. Now in her forties, she thought herself too old to marry until she meets Sir Balduin. Now suddenly their lonely autumn lives feel very much like spring again . . . until Lucianna’s brother appears without warning and threatens to revive the secret that will destroy Lucianna’s second chance at love.  
Loving Lucianna is the first in Joyce DiPastena’s new "Hearts in Autumn" romance series, medieval romances revolving around heroes and heroines “in the autumn of their years.” Because you’re never too old to fall in love!
 
Excerpt:

Lucianna gazed down at the three silver needles bedded against the red silk lining of the tiny but beautifully carved casket that held them, and nearly burst into tears. In the house of Siri’s first husband, a wealthy Venetian merchant, she had usually embroidered with needles of iron or bronze. These must have been shockingly expensive. Even with his prominent position in Triston’s household, the pins must have cost months of Sir Balduin’s pay. He still looked a little pale as he waited for her response, as though he had not quite recovered from the massive loss of his coins, but he also looked touchingly hopeful that they would please her.

Please her? No man had ever given her a finer gift. These would make her threads slide through cloth like butter.

Her lips trembled to thank him in the sweetest way for a couple in love, with a kiss that forgave everything in the past and promised only bliss in their future. But even as her feet quivered to carry her into Sir Balduin’s arms, Serafino spoke from where he gazed at the gift over her shoulder.

“There, you see, cara? You have been cross for no good reason. Today Sir Balduin lavishes silver needles on you. Tomorrow it will be gold threads for your embroidery and silk gowns for you to wear and black pepper at every meal, imported all the way from Venice.”

Lucianna shrank at her brother’s words. They were only a reminder of the poison he would pour into her marriage if she allowed the needles to melt her heart, as she had the sweet posy of flowers Sir Balduin had brought her after she had rebuked him for missing dinner.

She snapped the pretty little casket shut. “All I see is a man who expects me to sew my fingers to the bone for him. Shirts, hats—no doubt he will even want embroidery on his shoes!” She shoved the casket back into Sir Balduin’s hands. “No. I will not live my life as a drudge, just to wipe away the shame of never being a wife. Take him away, Serafino, out of my sight!”

She tried to slam the door of her bedchamber, but Serafino, who had stepped into the corridor outside to view the needles, stuck his foot on the threshold and blocked it from closing.

“Signore,” he said with a reassuring smile at Sir Balduin, “you must not heed her. I’m afraid I carelessly reminded her this morning that she is no spring maid as I sought to laud her good fortune in winning the favor of so generous a knight as yourself, but she took my remarks quite amiss. See, Lucianna, how I was right to praise him, though. You will lack for no luxury as his wife, while all he asks in return is to show off a bit of your fine embroidery to his friends. Be reasonable, cara.”

Lucianna determined to be anything but. If nagging and scolding and peevish rebukes had failed to break Sir Balduin’s affection for her, then she must leave him in no doubt that his “insulting gift” had broken hers.

 

My Review
It's always a treat to run away from my troubles and escape in a lovely romance written by Joyce DiPastena. It makes the journey even better when you can revisit characters that you loved from Joyce's other books. 
 
Readers first met Lucianna in Illuminations Of The Heart as she was a minor character in Siri and Triston's love story. Lucianna always intrigued me as I wondered why she acted the way she did. You knew that she had to have had a hard and painful past. This difficult past is the mystery that comes storming out in the middle of Loving Lucianna. The book starts with the serene picture of an "Autumn Romance" between Lucianna in her forties and Sir Balduin in his early fifties. As someone who fits into that age bracket, it was refreshing to read about a romance between people not in their teens or twenties. Of course it couldn't stay perfect and wonderful too long because soon, Lucianna's past comes to haunt her once again. Her older,half-brother Serifino, shows up to cause trouble and continue his blackmail of his sister. Serifino is a well- written fiend that readers will love to hate. Readers will be incensed as they "watch" Serifino manipulate every situation and person within his reach. 

I'll not be giving away any more details now, but there will be many misunderstandings, deceptions and some very humorous scenes before this story plays itself out, leading to some sigh-worthy moments. Loving Lucianna is a must read for all of Joyce's fan's and those wanting to read a clean medieval romance. I'm very excited to read more books in the "Hearts in Autumn Romance" series.


Buy Loving Lucianna now in ebook format from these booksellers:

Amazon Paperback and Kindle
Barnes and Noble Nook
iTunes (iBook)
Kobo
Smashwords


Praise for Joyce DiPastena's Books:

“Illuminations of the Heart was truly superb. I was hooked by the first line, and in love with the hero by the third page.”
  — Donna Hatch, Author of The Stranger She Married

"Loyalty's Web took me on a journey into the twelfth century that I will not soon forget. A tale of intrigue, manipulation, lust and conflict, this book was exquisitely written and showed how love can defy any evil that comes against it."   
  --You Gotta Read Reviews

“Every story I read, written by Joyce DiPastena, makes me fall in love with this time period more and more. Medieval France is brought to life again, in this story about the fair maiden, Mathilde, and her handsome knight, Etienne.”
  — Sheila Staley, LDS Women’s Book Reviews


Picture Meet the author: 

Joyce DiPastena dreamed of green medieval forests while growing up in the dusty copper mining town of Kearny, Arizona. She filled her medieval hunger by reading the books of Thomas B. Costain (where she fell in love with King Henry II of England), and later by attending the University of Arizona where she graduated with a degree in history, specializing in the Middle Ages. The university was also where she completed her first full-length novel…set, of course, in medieval England. Later, her fascination with Henry II led her to expand her research horizons to the far reaches of his “Angevin Empire” in France, which became the setting of her first published novel, Loyalty’s Web (a 2007 Whitney Award Finalist).

Joyce is a multi-published, multi-award winning author who specializes in sweet medieval romances heavily spiced with mystery and adventure. She lives with her two cats, Clio and Glinka Rimsky-Korsokov, in Mesa, Arizona.

Connect with Joyce:  Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter

Friday, October 17, 2014

Truth is Relative: A Truth Inducer Mystery by J.J. Lyon-Review

Product Details

  • Title: Truth is Relative
  • Author: J.J. Lyon
  • Series: Truth Inducer Mysteries
  • Paperback: 316 pages
  • Publisher: Gem Cache Publishing; 1 edition (July 26, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0990351203
  • FTC, FYI: I received a review copy in exchange for an honest review.







Book Description:
Anthony Blackwell’s “gift” compels people to confess their deepest secrets. It corrupts his relationships, derails his career and drives him toward eviction—until he becomes Anthony Bishop, private investigator. His first case drops him into a deadly family drama that will save him financially, if it doesn't kill him first.

My Review:
I knew that I was going to love this story when I first read the back blurb and it described Anthony Blackwell's "gift" that compels people to confess their deepest secrets. What a great twist for a main character! I have to admit that my favorite parts of the book were when Anthony had his little chats with people and they were spilling all kinds of thoughts and feelings to him. Some are downright funny, where others are kind of creepy; this is a murder mystery after all. 

There are two stories intertwined in Truth is Relative. One story concerns Anthony and his family, and the other concerns the attractive Danielle, her cousin Aria who is engaged to Danielle's former fiance and his father Dennis. The mystery in the story is compelling and keeps the story moving until the shocking end where the killer is revealed. I really like Anthony, and hope that J.J. Lyon writes more stories with this P.I. and his "gift" that makes others gab if they want to or not.

  Reader Reviews:
"I love the premise of this book, it's like PI Morrow meets Liar Liar."



“This book reminded me of the stone movies Tom Selleck was in. It has the rough feeling of the west but is written smoothly so that it's hard to stop reading. I'm hoping there is/will be more. Stefanie Andersen - Logan, UT 


“A very interesting and innovative plot.” Billie H - Lamesa, TX

Amazon | Goodreads

 EXCERPT
The Monday before Thanksgiving, my car disappeared. Or it might have been late Sunday night. The day was half over before I even looked outside. Instead I focused on an ugly painting until I realized I was hungry. I was out of bread and low on groceries in general. I cleaned my brushes, grabbed my keys, opened the front door, and stared at gray asphalt where my Mazda used to be. A few dead cottonwood leaves swirled there before the wind swept them off.

I didn’t bother calling the police. My car hadn’t been stolen, it had been repossessed. 

My cell phone buzzed. It was my brother, Bart. “Hey,” I said.
“Hey, Bro. How’s life in the Big City?” Bart wasn’t being ironic. Compared to our hometown of Jersey, Cheyenne was enormous.
“It’s good!” I stepped back into Sam’s Café and tried to think of something else to say. Something that would back up my lie.
“Great. When are you coming for Thanksgiving?” Bart asked.

My brain scrambled, too busy to pay attention. I didn’t need a car. The abandoned café was a great studio, with north-facing windows and indirect natural light. My work happened right at home.

My work was also stacked against the walls, waiting for a gallery to accept it. The art that was already in a gallery had hung there for months. I needed a day job. A car would help.
“Tony? Hello?”
“Huh?”
“What about Thanksgiving?”
“I don’t know yet.”
“Whaddaya mean? I thought you were your own boss.”
“Yeah, but I’m pretty …” I glanced out at the empty parking place. “It’s hard to get away right now.”
Bart was quiet, and when he spoke again he sounded unusually hesitant. “So how are you really?”
“Fine. I’m doing great.”
“Yeah, okay. You know what you need? A night out.”
“No, I don’t.”
“Yes, you do. I can tell you’re depressed.”
“I’m not depressed.”
“C’mon, Tony. Think of everything we could learn about the beautiful women of Cheyenne.” Bart could afford to be fascinated by my new ability. He didn’t have to live with it.
“I’ve got to go get some groceries,” I said.
“Fine.” Bart sounded annoyed, but he didn’t argue. “Fine, I’ll talk to you later.”

I turned away from the café window and walked to my bedroom, which was actually a converted storage area in the back of the café. A walk-in cooler had once taken up most of the space, but it had been ripped out and sold the last time the place went out of business. There was room for a twin bed and a battered dresser from Goodwill Industries. I pulled my wallet from the top drawer and retrieved my old bike from the back of the building.

It was a cold ride to the store. Cheyenne’s legendary wind pushed against my side and cut across my hands. I’d forgotten my gloves. I zipped my jacket all the way up, stuffed my hands in my pockets, and kept pedaling, glad I had at least one useful talent. God gave me excellent balance.

My mind whirled as fast as my bike wheels, tallying my other useful abilities. I was decent at hanging Sheetrock, and I could tape and texture as long as the customer didn’t mind it a little antique and heavy. As for roofs, I’d done it all—patch, replace, steel, asphalt. If I had a truck I could rent myself out as a handyman. I could work in blissful isolation most of the time.
A gust of wind broadsided me. I went down in slow motion, shifted my weight, scuffed on the pavement with my feet. In the end my shoulder hit the road before I could pull my hands out of my pockets. The car behind me screeched to a stop and a woman got out. “Are you all right?” she asked.

“Fine,” I said. The front bike wheel spun uselessly. My arm hurt. I scrambled out from under the bike, trying to place the woman’s voice.
“Anthony?”
Recognition registered in my gut as much as my ears. I knew that voice. The last time I had heard it, its tone had been much angrier. “Hi, Heather,” I said.
“What are you doing out here in the cold on a bike? I heard you drove a hot Mazda.”
“Not today,” I said.
“I heard you got fired, too. Twice.”
Technically I only got fired once. The other time I quit before the ax fell.

Heather wasn’t in my fan club, but she wasn’t being rude, either. She was just under my influence. After thirty seconds in close proximity, people began confessing to me. I didn’t know why this began happening. For the first year or so, I didn’t realize it was happening at all. But as soon as my “gift” began manifesting itself, my life started rolling down a rocky slope.

“I almost drove by when you fell.” She brushed dirt from my sleeve. “I knew it was you and I don’t want to talk to you, but it looked bad.”
“It’s all right.” I stepped away from her brushing hand.
She didn’t leave. “Can I give you a ride? Please say no. I don’t want to be in a car alone with you, pretending I don’t remember how you—”
“No thanks.” I gripped the handlebars and pressed my weight on them a little. 
She nodded. “You wouldn’t accept help from me anyway. Bart, maybe, but not me.”
“I don’t need it. I’ll see you later, okay?”
“Okay.”

I rode the rest of the way to Safeway with my hands on the handlebars. My fingers numbed in the wind. The pain in my arm faded to a dull ache, and I shook off the encounter with my ex. In the store parking lot, the lights shone in the murky daylight. It was early afternoon, but the thick clouds fooled the light sensors into thinking it was dusk. I went inside the store and found some sandwich meat on sale and a package of rubbery cheese slices. I picked up some day-old wheat bread and waited in line behind a thin, fortyish man with a few days’ beard. He wore dirty jeans and a sweatshirt stained with what looked like motor oil. After thirty seconds, he turned to me.

“My wife left me this morning,” he said.
I nodded. If I didn’t acknowledge him, he would only repeat himself. Louder.
“She put her ring in my hand and said, ‘I’ve got to go to work.’ I said, ‘Can we talk about this?’ and she said, ‘It’s too late.’”
I nodded again.
“How can it be too late? Twelve years, and she can’t even talk about it? Isn’t twelve years worth a little discussion before you throw your husband in the garbage?”
“Yeah,” I said.
“I know I didn’t pay attention before. I mean, when she was going around all mopey and resentful. I just figured she’d work it out. And sometimes she tried to tell me something and I’d change the subject, ’cause I could only hear that her life sucked so many times—”
“They’re ready to ring you up,” I said, nodding to the sales clerk.

The man stepped forward. I stepped back. So far, ten feet looked like the magic distance. More than that, and most people were out of the range of my gift. Less than that and I was in the confessor’s bubble.

“Are you in line?” a young mother asked behind me.
“Yeah. I’m just, uh …” I glanced at the man, who was now deep into an emotional conversation with the salesclerk. Apparently I wasn’t far enough away yet. I took another step back. “That guy needs a little space.”

The mother peered at him. “Is he crying?”
“I think so.”
She shrugged. “It figures. I get it all day from these two.” She nodded to her cart. A baby in the front clung to the push bar and gummed it with a slobbery mouth. A curly-haired toddler sat in the main basket, his fist buried in a box of cereal. “Maybe they never get over it. ‘I need this,’ ‘I want that.’”
I nodded.

“And then their dad comes home and he needs dinner and he wants sex. Everybody’s gotta have something.”
I took a step forward.
“Can’t anybody see that I’m tired? Look at me. I haven’t had a shower in three days, and I’m supposed to be a sex goddess?”
I glanced at her. She was frumpy. “Looks like it’s my turn.” I stepped up to the counter the crying man had just left.
She followed me, closing the space I had opened between us. “I mean, I’m doing good to be conscious at the end of the day.”
“Maybe you should tell this to your mom.” I hoped to deflect her. I didn’t want to hear any more—not today.

“She’s in Alabama,” the young mother said. “Everybody I know has a mom who acts like a built-in babysitter, but I’m stuck here alone in the cold.”
“Ten fifty-four,” the salesclerk said in front of me. I dug my wallet out of my jacket pocket and handed some bills to her.
“You have the most amazing blue eyes.” The clerk leaned forward. This might have been interesting, if she were not sixtyish, wrinkled, and stinking of cigarettes.
I held out my hand. “Can I have my change?” 


 J.J. Lyon is a wife, mom, public relations professional and recovering journalist.
Her passion for prose and love of the American West are so intertwined; she doesn’t think she can separate them. When J.J. runs out of words, she reaches for her camera, takes off on a back road and returns home with a bucketful of inspiration.
She lives in a mountain valley with her husband, three children, some cats, two goats, a bird and a basset hound.

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