Tag Archives: legal suspense

Top 10 Tuesday — Book Turn-Ons

30 May

Happy Tuesday! This week’s TTT topic is Book Turn-Offs. I really hate to hate on books and by extension the authors. So I did a little research into what other readers find to be turn-offs and twisted it up. I’ve listed books that did each category really well.

For more about book turn-offs/ons, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Book Turn-Ons

Some people don’t like “bad” covers. Indigo Isle by T. I. Lowe has a fantastic cover!

Some people don’t like multiple points of view. I do. Especially in dual timeline novels. The Vanishing At Castle Moreau by Jaime Jo Wright is spot on with its POVS.

Some people believe a male author can’t write a strong female character. Tom Threadgill did it twice with his Amara Alvarez series. Collision of Lies is book 1.

Some people don’t like horror. I get that, but Billy Coffey writes stories that sneak up on you. It’s horror without the gore. But there sure are spine tingles. The Devil Walks in Mattingly is excellent.

Main characters that are too perfect turn people off. I guess that would be true of me too, but sometimes an author explores a “perfect” character to show that no one lives a life of perfection. Struggles are real and universal. Becky Wade‘s Stay With Me is a good example.

Some people don’t like long book series. I sure am glad Irene Hannon doesn’t feel that way. I love my return visits to Hope Harbor, Oregon. The latest book, #9!, Windswept Way is a favorite.

Some people don’t like cliff-hangers. One of the biggest I have come across is Life Support by Robert Whitlow. Some of the members of my book club were a little miffed when we read it. But we clamored for the rest of the story in Life Everlasting. Both books are available, so make sure you buy both. ūüėČ

Top 10 Tuesday — Anticipated Books of 2021

5 Jan

2020 was a bust in so many ways, but one bright spot was the great books I had the pleasure of reading! Looking forward, there is some uncertainty of what 2021 will bring, but one thing I can continue to count on is wonderful reading ahead. This week’s Top 10 Tuesday prompts us to list the books we are eagerly anticipating in the first half of 2021. It was hard to limit to just 10! (It helped that I already have a lot of January releases ūüėČ .) I hope my list helps you to find a book you will love.

For more great new books, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.


Top Anticipated Books of January-June 2021



Night Bird Calling by Cathy Gohlke

When Lilliana Swope’s beloved mother dies, Lilliana gathers her last ounce of courage and flees her abusive husband for the home of her only living relative in the foothills of No Creek, North Carolina. Though Hyacinth Belvidere hasn’t seen Lilliana since she was five, she offers her cherished great-niece a safe harbor. Their joyful reunion inspires plans to revive Aunt Hyacinth’s estate and open a public library where everyone is welcome, no matter the color of their skin.

Slowly Lilliana finds revival and friendship in No Creek‚ÄĒwith precocious eleven-year-old Celia Percy, with kindhearted Reverend Jesse Willard, and with Ruby Lynne Wishon, a young woman whose secrets could destroy both them and the town. When the plans for the library also incite the wrath of the Klan, the dangers of Lilliana‚Äôs past and present threaten to topple her before she‚Äôs learned to stand.

With war brewing for the nation and for her newfound community, Lilliana must overcome a hard truth voiced by her young friend Celia: Wishing comes easy. Change don’t.



Trial And Error by Robert Whitlow

Buddy Smith built his law practice around tracking down missing children. After all, he knows the agony of being separated from a child. Not long after his daughter’s birth, her mother ran away and Buddy never saw either one again.

Gracie Blaylock has known Buddy her entire life, and now that she is clerk of court for the county, their paths cross frequently. When Gracie hears that a teenager in town has gone missing, she knows Buddy is the one for the case.

The girl‚Äôs parents are desperate for answers. Together with Gracie and Mayleah‚ÄĒthe new detective in town‚ÄĒBuddy chases all leads, hoping to reach the missing teen before it‚Äôs too late. And as he pursues one girl, he uncovers clues that could bring him closer to the girl he thought he lost forever: his own daughter.

Master legal writer Robert Whitlow will keep you guessing in this gripping legal drama while reminding you of the power of God’s restoration.


When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin

Munich, 1938. Evelyn Brand is an American foreign correspondent as determined to prove her worth in a male-dominated profession as she is to expose the growing tyranny in Nazi Germany. To do so, she must walk a thin line. If she offends the government, she could be expelled from the country — or worse. If she fails to truthfully report on major stories, she’ll never be able to give a voice to the oppressed — and wake up the folks back home.

In another part of the city, American graduate student Peter Lang is working on his PhD in German. Disillusioned with the chaos in the world due to the Great Depression, he is impressed with the prosperity and order of German society. But when the brutality of the regime hits close, he discovers a far better way to use his contacts within the Nazi party–to feed information to the shrewd reporter he can’t get off his mind.

This electric standalone novel from fan-favorite Sarah Sundin puts you right at the intersection of pulse-pounding suspense and heart-stopping romance.



The Curator’s Daughter by Melanie Dobson

1940. Hanna Tillich cherishes her work as an archaeologist for the Third Reich, searching for the Holy Grail and other artifacts to bolster evidence of a master Aryan race. But when she is reassigned to work as a museum curator in Nuremberg, then forced to marry an SS officer and adopt a young girl, Hanna begins to see behind the Nazi facade. A prayer labyrinth becomes a storehouse for Hanna‚Äôs secrets, but as she comes to love Lilly as her own daughter, she fears that what she‚Äôs hiding‚ÄĒand what she begins to uncover‚ÄĒcould put them both in mortal danger.

Eighty years later, Ember Ellis is a Holocaust researcher intent on confronting hatred toward the Jewish people and other minorities. She reconnects with a former teacher on Martha‚Äôs Vineyard after she learns that Mrs. Kiehl‚Äôs mother once worked with the Nazi Ahnenerbe. And yet, Mrs. Kiehl describes her mother as ‚Äúa friend to the Jewish people.‚ÄĚ Wondering how both could be true, Ember helps Mrs. Kiehl regain her fractured childhood memories of World War II while at the same time confronting the heartache of her own secret past‚ÄĒand the person who wants to silence Ember forever.

Facing The Dawn by Cynthia Ruchti

While her humanitarian husband Liam has been digging wells in Africa, Mara Jacobs has been struggling. She knows she’s supposed to feel a warm glow that her husband is nine time zones away, caring for widows and orphans. But the reality is that she is exhausted, working a demanding yet unrewarding job, trying to manage their three detention-prone kids, failing at her to-repair list, and fading like a garment left too long in the sun.

Then Liam’s three-year absence turns into something more, changing everything and plunging her into a sunless grief. As Mara struggles to find her footing, she discovers that even when hope is tenuous, faith is fragile, and the future is unknown, we can be sure we are not forgotten .¬†.¬†. or unloved


Tapestry of Light by Kimberly Duffy

Calcutta, 1886.

Ottilie Russell is adrift between two cultures, British and Indian, belonging to both and neither. In order to support her little brother, Thaddeus, and her grandmother, she relies upon her skills in beetle-wing embroidery that have been passed down to her through generations of Indian women.

When a stranger appears with the news that Thaddeus is now Baron Sunderson and must travel to England to take his place as a nobleman, Ottilie is shattered by the secrets that come to light. Despite her growing friendship with Everett Scott, friend to Ottilie’s English grandmother and aunt, she refuses to give up her brother. Then tragedy strikes, and she is forced to make a decision that will take Thaddeus far from death and herself far from home.

But betrayal and loss lurk in England, too, and soon Ottilie must fight to ensure Thaddeus doesn’t forget who he is, as well as find a way to stitch a place for herself in this foreign land.

Unknown Threat by Lynn H. Blackburn

US Secret Service Special Agent Luke Powell is lucky to be alive. Three of his fellow agents have died in unusual circumstances in the past ten weeks. Luke is devastated by the loss of his friends and colleagues, and his inability to locate the killer feels like a personal failure. He’s an expert at shielding others, but now the protectors are in need of protection.

FBI Special Agent Faith Malone is driven to succeed and confident in her ability to solve every case she’s assigned. She’s been put in charge of the investigation into the unprecedented attacks, and with Luke’s life in danger, the stakes have never been higher. But it’s hard to know how to fight back when you don’t know who the enemy is.

As more agents are targeted, Luke and Faith will have to work together to bring a killer to justice and prevent any more names from joining their fallen brothers and sisters on the Secret Service Wall of Honor.

Award-winning author Lynn H. Blackburn pulls out all the stops in this brand-new romantic suspense series that will have you holding your breath one minute and swooning the next.



Blackberry Beach by Irene Hannon

Katherine Parker is on the cusp of having everything she ever wanted–fame, money, and acclaim. So why isn’t she happy? In search of answers, she comes incognito to Hope Harbor on the Oregon coast for some R&R. Maybe in her secluded rental house overlooking the serene Pacific she’ll be able to calm the storm inside.

Coffee shop owner Zach Garrett has found his niche after a traumatic loss–and he has no plans to change the life he’s created. Nor does he want to get involved with his reticent new neighbor, whose past is shrouded in mystery. He’s had enough drama to last a lifetime. But when Katherine and Zach are recruited to help rehab a home for foster children, sparks fly. And as their lives begin to intersect, might they find more common ground than they expected .¬†.¬†. and discover that, with love, all things are possible?

Bestselling and award-winning author Irene Hannon invites you to come home to Hope Harbor — where hearts heal .¬†.¬†. and love blooms.



Let It Be Me by Becky Wade

Having graduated college at 18, Sebastian Grant has continued to leverage his intelligence and determination to become a pediatric heart surgeon. The more accolades he receives, the more he’s driven to pursue. Then he meets high school math teacher Leah Montgomery, and his fast-spinning world comes to a sudden stop.

Solving advanced math equations by the age of five, Leah has always wanted to pursue a PhD in mathematics. She willingly put that dream on hold to raise her brother. Now that he is of age, she’s set on avoiding any obstacles to her goal–including romance.¬†

When Leah receives surprising news in the process of taking a test for tracking her ancestry, she asks Sebastian to help her comb through aged hospital records to learn more. Soon his presence isn’t so easily ignored. But when Sebastian learns his best friend also has feelings for Leah, he begins to question his resolve to win her. Attaining their deepest desires may require more sacrifices than they ever imagined.



Power Play by Rachel Dylan

When State Department attorney Vivian Steele witnesses two ambassadors collapse as if poisoned at a diplomatic¬†dinner in Washington, DC, she is recruited to be a member of a joint FBI task force assigned¬†to investigate. But she soon finds her by-the-book ways clashing with a special agent in the Diplomatic¬†Security Service, Jacob Cruz. A former Navy SEAL and in charge of the event’s security, Jacob takes the attack personally and is driven to act quickly, even ahead of the rules and regulations.¬†

As Viv starts to work her diplomatic sources, her past as a State Department lawyer comes back to haunt her, and secrets held tightly by the government¬†thrust her into a web of danger. Afraid, Viv turns to the one man bent on protecting others. But can she accept Jacob’s reckless ways as exactly what she needs to stay alive and to discover the truth behind the attacks?


Top 10 Tuesday — Characters Like Me, Because It Really Is All About The Books

7 May

I found this week’s Top 10 Tuesday prompt — Characters That Remind Me of Myself — a bit daunting. I lead such a boring life, that it would never make it as a book. ūüėČ I really struggled to come up with the requisite 10 to fill this post, until I started thinking about what consumes a lot of my thoughts — books! I read them, talk about them, blog about them, sniff them . . . . Anyway, I came up with a list of characters that are surrounded by books too. I really wouldn’t want to trade places with any of them because of their issues, and the fact that some regularly stumble on dead bodies or engage in nefarious activities! And while my husband may say our home is starting to look a lot like a bookstore or library, I do not work at either. But I am a book pusher¬† enthusiast who makes sure everyone has the opportunity to get their hands on the story that is just right for them. Whether you like cozy mysteries, suspense, romance, women’s fiction, or time-slip novels, I hope you find a book you just need to read!

For more fun with doppleganger characters, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.


A Dozen Book Pushing Characters

(aka booksellers or librarians)

Bruce Cable — Camino Island by John Grisham

Violet and Daisy Waverly —Crime And Poetry by Amanda Flower

Annie Laurance Darling — Death on Demand by Carolyn Hart

Callie Randall — Hidden Among The Stars by Melanie Dobson

Helma Zukas — Miss Zukas And The Library Murders by Jo Dereske

Madeline, Janet, and Carrie — The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay

Rick Denton — Remembering Christmas by Dan Walsh

A. J. Fickry — The Storied Life of A. J. Fickry by Gabrielle Zevin

Claire Malloy — Strangled Prose by Joan Hess


Which character is like you?

Audiobook Review: Lethal Beauty

11 May

549051It should have been an open and shut murder case, but Mia Quinn finds out nothing about it is simple.

After a young Chinese prostitute is stabbed to death by her rich American client, the tabloids dub Dandan Yee ‚ÄúLethal Beauty‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒdespite the fact that she was the one who ended up dead. Yet even with double standards and naked prejudice working against her, Seattle prosecutor Mia Quinn is determined to get justice for Dandan Yee.

But when a key witness goes missing and an unsavory juror shuts down deliberations without explanation, Mia fears the trial‚ÄĒand the law‚ÄĒare being tampered with.

A constellation of fresh killings has Mia and homicide detective Charlie Carlson searching for a common source and puts Mia’s family in the crosshairs of a Chinese crime cabal. Meanwhile, Dandan Yee’s mother has opted to take matters into her own hands . . . and the stakes get more lethal overnight.

In the midst of all this, Mia has to contend with a fifteen-year-old son who is growing up too fast for his own good, and the idea that Charlie might want to be more than just friends. Can Mia and Charlie stop the murders and still keep her family safe? Or is the very act of seeking justice enough to cost her everything‚ÄĒand everyone‚ÄĒshe loves?


568299Lis Wiehl is one of the nation‚Äôs most prominent trial lawyers and highly regarded commentators. Currently, she is the legal analyst and reporter on the Fox News Channel and Bill O‚ÄôReilly‚Äôs sparring partner in the weekly ‚ÄúIs It Legal?‚ÄĚ segment on The O‚ÄôReilly Factor. Prior to that she was O‚ÄôReilly‚Äôs co-host on the nationally syndicated show The Radio Factor. She is also a Professor of Law at New York Law School. Her column ‚ÄúLis on Law‚ÄĚ appears weekly on FoxNews.com.

Prior to joining Fox News Channel in New York City, Wiehl served as a legal analyst and reporter for NBC News and NPR’s All Things Considered. Before that, Wiehl served as a Federal Prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s office.

Wiehl earned her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School and her Master of Arts in Literature from the University of Queensland.

Wiehl is also the author of The 51% Minority, which won the 2008 award for Books for a Better Life in the motivational category, and Winning Every Time.

She lives with her husband and two children in New York.

My Impressions:

Lethal Beauty is the third installment in Lis Wiehl’s Mia Quinn Mystery series. I have listened to all three books on audio and have enjoyed them all. Running throughout the series is the mystery behind Seattle prosecutor Mia Quinn’s husband’s death. This fact and the ongoing impact on Mia’s personal and professional life from the loss of her husband makes me recommend that you begin at the beginning. Otherwise you will miss some crucial pieces to the story.

The action begins in the courtroom. Mia is concluding a highly publicized murder trial in which the victim has been dubbed by the press as the Lethal Beauty. Forces are working behind the scenes to achieve a certain outcome. But as always, Mia is determined to see justice served. On the personal front, Mia’s family continues to deal with the void her husband Scott’s death has caused. Evil continues to creep at the door.

Wiehl’s novel deals with some tough issues and truths in the not so pretty world we live in. Crime rings which deal in drugs, prostitution, human smuggling, and enslavement are the focus of Lethal Beauty. Their tentacles are far-reaching and more often than not are not recognized by law-abiding citizens. Even as a prosecutor, Mia is unaware of what really goes on behind the scenes of seemingly legitimate businesses. The seedy underworld encroaches on middle America with little warning. On a more personal front, Mia’s character, still struggling with grief and betrayal, portrays an all too familiar reality. Her family life consists of ordering pizza, making food from boxes and rushing the kids to school and daycare as she struggles to meet professional obligations. Mia’s non-existent spiritual life continues to be challenged, and her mind and heart open ever so slowly. Mia has a lot more growing to do, and I hope there are more books to follow.

I recommend Lethal Beauty (and the first two books in the series) to all who like realism in their suspense novels. The characters, though flawed, are relatable. The crimes are ugly, but exit in our country. And the truth that is presented is available to all.


Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE. 

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)


Author, Author! — Robert Whitlow

4 Aug

Robert Whitlow is a film-maker and a best-selling author of eight legal thrillers. He is also a contributor to a short story The Rescuers, a story included in the book What The Wind Picked Up by The ChiLibris Ring. In 2001, he won the Christy Award for Contemporary Fiction, for his novel The Trial.

His debut novel, The List, was made into a movie starring Malcolm McDowell.

In 2010, Whitlow’s second novel,¬†The Trial,¬†a film based upon Whitlow’s Christy Award Winning book¬†The Trial, and directed by¬†Gary Wheeler, was produced as a movie. The screenplay for the movie¬†The Trial¬†was written by¬†Mark Freiburger. The movie starred¬†Matthew Modine,¬†Nikki Deloach,¬†Robert Forster,¬†Clare Carey¬†and¬†Bob Gunton¬†[1]

Robert Whitlow is also a practicing attorney and lives in North Carolina.  (From Wikipedia)

Robert Whitlow stands at the top of the list of my book club’s favorite authors. ¬†We have read and discussed all of his books, except two: ¬†The List (which some had already read, but we watched the movie) and Water’s Edge (because it has just come out). ¬†I had the opportunity to sit down with Robert and his wife Cathy at the ICRS last month. ¬†Here are some highlights of our talk.

BTB:  What is your writing schedule and research practices?

Robert: ¬†Because I still practice law, I tend to write in the evenings and sometimes on the weekends. ¬†I like to keep time open for my family though. When deadlines are coming close, I will spend much more time. ¬†As to research, my legal experience helps with that aspect of my writing. ¬†I will do research on the places in which the books are set. ¬†Water’s Edge is set in northwest Georgia, an area we lived in for some time. ¬†I also did research on Ponzi schemes for¬†Water’s Edge. But, generally I have very little actual research hours invested in each book.

Kathy:  He is very disciplined in his writing schedule.

BTB:  Of all your books, which one is closest to your heart?

Robert: ¬†My first book, The List¬†and ¬†my book Jimmy are what I call “inspired books”, books I had to write. ¬†Writing Jimmy had a huge impact on my life. ¬†Following the publication of Jimmy, my daughter gave birth to my grandchild who has Downs Syndrome. ¬† My other books I believe are “sanctified imagination”.

BTB:  Jimmy had an alternate ending published online, why?

Robert:  I presented the publisher with both endings and they choose the ending to be published in the book.  A movie version of Jimmy is also currently in the works.

BTB:  Are the movies adapted from your books different?

Robert:  I am involved in the whole process of producing a movie.  The movies become independent works from the book on which it is based.  For The Trial, the focus was on healing from grief, so parts of the novel that were not integral to the focus were not included.

BTB: ¬†What is your newest book, Water’s Edge, about?

Robert: ¬†A young lawyer on the rise in Atlanta is faced with the death of his father, also an attorney. He has to deal with all the issues involving his father’s death, including the closing of his law office. In the novel, the young lawyer has to go back to his roots in order to find purpose in his life. ¬†I have used Jeremiah 6:16 for this book (The¬†Lord¬†said¬†to his people:¬†‚ÄúYou are standing¬†at the crossroads. So consider¬†your path.¬†¬†Ask¬†where the old, reliable¬†paths¬†are.¬†Ask where¬†the path¬†is¬†that leads to blessing¬†and follow¬†it.¬†If you do, you will find¬†rest¬†for your souls.‚ÄĚ ¬†But they said,¬†‚ÄúWe will not¬†follow¬†it!‚ÄĚ NET)

BTB:  Can you tell us about the novel you are currently working on?

Robert: ¬†The first draft of my newest novel is due August 1. ¬†It will be a standalone featuring a High School student faced with an unplanned pregnancy. ¬†The year is 1974, the year of the Roe v. Wade decision. ¬†The action then jumps to a point in the future. ¬†It will be a very emotional story. ¬†(Robert shared a little more about the book, but Kathy very wisely advised I not tell too much! ¬†Let’s just say, you won’t want to miss this one when it is finished.)

A Big Thank You to Robert and Kathy for speaking with me.  

My Husband’s Impressions:

Copies of Water’s Edge were snapped up quickly at the ICRS, so the publisher, Thomas Nelson, sent me a copy of to read and review. ¬†Unfortunately that copy was snatched up too — by my husband! ¬†Brian is a huge fan of Robert Whitlow and was eager to read Water’s Edge. Because it was his birthday, I let him. Here are some of Brian’s thoughts about the book.

It kept me wanting to read more and more. ¬†The main character, Tom Crane, has a set view on what success is, until he returns to his hometown and to the law practice of his dead father. ¬†He runs into all kinds of people around town who tell him what a success his father is, something he has a hard time believing since he has bills and back taxes to take care of. ¬†His uncle is also was a great character. ¬†A retired preacher, he is often awakened at night to pray for the issues Tom is facing. ¬†And the prayers, often unknown to Tom, impact the direction that Tom goes. ¬†The scripture the uncle quotes is very relevant and applicable for the day to day. ¬†Probably the best book Robert Whitlow has written.”


(I received Water’s Edge from Thomas Nelson. ¬†The opinions expressed by my husband are his alone, no coercion from anyone, including me!)