Thursday, January 12, 2017

Review: Desert Vengeance (Lena Jones Series Book 9) by Betty Webb

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 750 KB
  • Print Length: 277 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (Feb. 7 2017)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01N6CE6EZ

Book Description

When the man who raped Scottsdale PI Lena Jones when she was a nine-year-old foster child is released from prison, Lena is waiting for him in the parking lot-with a big knife. "Papa" Brian Wycoff survives their meeting, but the next day, his wife, who knew about his crimes but did nothing to stop him-in fact enabled him-is found dead in their Apache Junction home, shot through both eyes. Terrified he will be next, Wycoff, violating his parole, flees north to the small town of Black Canyon City, taking shelter in an RV on his brother-in-law's small ranch. A couple of days later, he is found tortured to death, eight horizontal marks burned into his flesh. One for each of his victims?

Suspicion first falls upon Lena, who has trailed Wycoff to Black Canyon City to make sure he doesn't come near any other children. When the local authorities arrive to question her, she admits to having been tempted to kill her former foster father, but someone beat her to the punch. Suspicion then falls on Wycoff's other victims, the now-grown men and women he abused when they were still in his care, and on the mothers of the children who went missing before his arrest.

When Lena takes up the case, more to protect one of the mothers who has been arrested than to find the real killer, her conscience is torn. Does a serial child rapist, a pedophile also implicated in the disappearance of several children, really deserve justice? That choice might not be left up to Lena when members of a local group, Parents of Missing Children, start working to prevent her investigation from succeeding. How far will they go to make sure she fails?

This book cover topics that most do not like to think about. Betty Webb has written an excellent story she covers these topics from the victim 's standpoint.~~~ I highly recommend this book and series. (Betty Louise Davenport NetGalley)

I have read and enjoyed all of Betty Webb's mysteries. This book, the 9th in the Lena Jones series, about a former foster child who is now a PI, was quite dark, but well-plotted and a great page-turner. (L. Tilden NetGalley)

Webb, no stranger to hot-button issues (Desert Wind, 2012, etc.), takes on child molestation in a page-turner that presents both her flawed heroine and the reader with plenty of challenges to their moral codes. (Kirkus)

Desert Vengeance (Lena Jones Series) by Betty Webb is a difficult book to read because of the subject matter. It is an excellent book regardless of being about the murder of a serial rapist who had attacked Private Investigator Lena Jones when she was only nine. It delves into the past for Lena and shows how she has permanent ill effects from this childhood trauma, including having screaming nightmares. (Carolyn Injoy-Hertz NetGalley)

Webb offers fans the profound pleasure of watching Lena mature as she comes one step closer to understanding and accepting her difficult past, while providing new readers with an introduction to this strong and genuinely likable character. (Publishers Weekly)

No one writes southwestern mysteries as well as Betty Webb and she proves it again in this enthralling, wonderful 9th entry into the trials and tribulations of her private investigator, Lena Jones.~~~This is one of the best Lena Jones books I have read and I can't wait to see where this scrappy, smart, strong but flawed character finds herself next.~~~Highly recommended! (Linda Riffe Goodreads

About the Author

As a journalist and literary critic for more than 20 years, Betty -- a resident of Scottsdale, Arizona, where her detective Lena Jones also lives -- has interviewed U. S. presidents, Nobel prize-winners, astronauts who’ve walked on the moon, polygamy runaways, the homeless, and the hopeless.

Now retired from journalism to write full time, she also contributes the Small Press column for Mystery Scene magazine and teaches creative writing at Phoenix College.
In her writing, Betty makes liberal use of her own varied background. She earned her way through art school by working as a folk singer but eventually gave up singing to concentrate on her art career. At various times she has picked cotton, raised chickens which laid blue eggs (Speckled Hamburgs), worked in a zoo, been a go-go dancer and horse breeder, taught Sunday School, founded a literary magazine, helped rebuild a long-abandoned 120-year-old farm house, and back-packed the Highlands of Scotland alone.

In 1982, Betty moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, where her Lena Jones novels are set, but her roots are in Hamilton, Alabama, where most of her extended family still lives. In 2000 she published The Webb Family of Alabama: Survivors of Change, which focused on the descendants of her half-Seneca, half-English great-great-grandfather, William Douglas Webb, who ran away to sea at the age of 16, then after 14 wild years, settled down to farm peacefully in Hamilton. Recent DNA testing, however, has revealed that her seafaring ancestor harbored a big secret: he might not have been a Webb after all, but the descendant of a New Jersey colonist family named Price. Betty is now working to unravel this real-life mystery: did William Douglas Price change his name to Webb. Was he on the run from the law? (As a mystery writer, she kinda hopes he was)

On her mother’s side, Betty can trace her roots back to the Barons of Riddell in medieval Scotland. The Riddells, friends and financial supporters of the poet Robert Burns, did not always enjoy the best of reputations. The opera, Lucia di Lammermore, about a young bride who decapitates her husband on their wedding night, was based upon a real life incident in the Riddell family. But the Riddells maintain that Lucy (her real name) merely scratched her bridegroom, and that he simply overreacted when he screamed out, "Murder!" Anyway, that’s the Riddells' story and they're sticking to it.

"The impact of my unusual family upon my life has been profound," Betty says. "That's why I thought it would be intriguing to create a detective who had no idea of where she came from or who her parents were. Creating the orphaned Lena Jones has helped me appreciate my own ancestral heritage - both the good and the bad." About the recent DNA testing results, she adds, "All this time the Webbs were keeping an even bigger secret than the Riddells -- and they didn’t even know they were! How could I not have become a mystery novelist."

My Review

Desert Vengeance is the ninth Lena Jones Series Book by author Betty Webb. This is an excellent series that I do highly recommend. I have read most of the books in this series. Desert Vengeance did not disappoint...a fabulous addition to the series.

Desert Vengeance focuses on events that happened in Lena's childhood as well as the present. Lena, the brave, damaged and flawed private detective grew up in foster homes. Some were better than others. The worst was run by a pedophile who targeted young girls..and his wife was his enabler. Lena is basically ready to take out her abuser as soon as he is released from prison but someone beats her to it. First Brian Wycoff's wife is murdered, shot in both eyes, at their home in Apache Junction then he is found dead at his sister's ranch in Black Canyon City. Lena is close by to both of the crimes but we know she is innocent. It is fascinating to follow the different trails that Lena pursues and the all the people who have good reason to eliminate Wycoff.

I always enjoy the Arizona setting of this series. Webb lives there and knows it well. Phoenix and its endless suburbs are very well represented. And the characters are well fleshed out. So many people had motives. Really enjoyable mystery...I had a hard time putting down Desert Vengeance.

I loved the addition of the kitten to the tale. It was very realistic. Well then there was the other kittens...and the mother cat...and the horse. And by the sounds of it on the last page, perhaps Lena is finally waking up to the fact that the greatest love of her life might be right in front of her....

Great tale. Highly recommend.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Review: Fever in the Dark (Jane Lawless #24) by Ellen Hart

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (Jan. 31 2017)
  • Sold by: Macmillan CA
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01D8F64TO

Book Description

On their one year wedding anniversary, Fiona and Annie return home from a trip together to discover that their poignant proposal video has been posted on YouTube and has garnered hundreds of thousands of hits. The video is on the verge of going viral, and there’s enormous media interest in Fiona and Annie, as their fame comes just on the heels of the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage across the country. As some of the attention starts to turn vicious, Fiona pulls in an old friend, private investigator Jane Lawless, to help separate the harmless threats from the potentially harmful.

As the media storm continues to grow, Fiona revels in the attention, but Annie is furious. Fiona has always known that Annie has secrets, but her newfound notoriety threatens to bring Annie's past straight to their door. And then, when a murder occurs and Annie and Fiona are both suspects, it’s up to Jane to prove their innocence…although the more she learns, the more she starts to wonder whether they actually are innocent.

Ellen Hart will once again captivate readers with her trademark smart, clever, mystery plotting and rich, human characters.

About the Author

Ellen Hart is the author of twenty-eight crime novels in two different series. She is a five-time winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Best Lesbian Mystery, a three-time winner of the Minnesota Book Award for Best Popular Fiction, a three-time winner of the Golden Crown Literary Award in several categories, a recipient of the Alice B Medal, and was made an official GLBT Literary Saint at the Saints & Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans in 2005. In 2010, Ellen received the GCLS Trailblazer Award for lifetime achievement in the field of lesbian literature. For the past fourteen years, Ellen has taught "An Introduction to Writing the Modern Mystery" through the The Loft Literary Center, the largest independent writing community in the nation. Ellen's latest Sophie Greenway mystery is No Reservations Required (Ballantine). Rest for the Wicked, the twentieth Jane Lawless mystery, will be released by St. Martin's/Minotaur in October 2012. Bella Books has recently revived the out-of-print books by publishing them in both trade paperback and E-book. Ellen lives in the Minneapolis area with her partner of over 35 years.

My Review

Fever in the Dark is the twenty-fourth Jane Lawless mystery by author Ellen Hart. I read The Grave Soul by Ellen Hart last year and really enjoyed it so I have been looking forward to Fever in the Dark. I was not disappointed.

Fever in the Dark is character driven by a fascinating group of people. Jane's friend Cordelia runs a theater.  Fiona is her stage manager. Fiona has been married for one year to her wife Annie. Annie's past has always been a bit of a mystery but not once a video is uploaded of their engagement. The video goes viral and Annie's family discovers where she is. Annie's family was never accepting her life style choices but we soon discover that Annie's rift with her family is much more sinister.

Annie's family show up in Minnesota determined to reconcile. In the meantime, Annie and Fiona's home is bombarded with people, media and threats. Annie, Fiona and Annie's extended family move in with Cordelia. When Annie's brother-in-law is murdered there are is no shortage of suspects. Jane searches to find an answer to the killing while Fiona is worried that Annie is going to be driven away by all the fuss and attention.

I really enjoyed Fever in the Dark. Ellen Hart is a great writer and storyteller. I highly recommend Fever in the Dark.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Review: Without Rival: Embrace Your Identity and Purpose in an Age of Confusion and Comparison by Lisa Bevere

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 4391 KB
  • Print Length: 258 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 080072724X
  • Publisher: Revell (Aug. 16 2016)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English

Book Description

There is a reason we look at others as rivals and limit ourselves to comparison and competition. We have an enemy assaulting our mind, will, and emotions in the hope that we'll turn on ourselves and each other. It's a cycle that isolates us from intimate connections, creates confusion about our identity, and limits our purpose. 

In Without Rival, bestselling author Lisa Bevere shares how a revelation of God's love breaks these limits. You'll learn how to stop seeing others as rivals and make the deep connections with your Creator you long for--connections that hold the promise of true identity and intimacy. With biblically sound teaching filled with prophetic insight for our day, Lisa uses humor and passion to challenge you to 

  • Flip rivalry so it brings out the best in you
  • Stop hiding from conversations you need to be a part of
  • Answer the argument that says women are unfit, easily deceived, and gullible
  • Dismantle gender rivalry and work with the men in your life
It's time to step forward to live a life without rival.

"A powerful, prophetic, and inspiring book."--Christine Caine, founder of A21 and Propel Women

"Imagine the world if each of us understood how loved and valued we are. In her book Without Rival, Lisa Bevere encourages us to know and understand that we are uniquely created and loved by God. Because we are, we have each been given a crucial and important role to fulfill in God's plan. This book is an invitation to pursue God and the mission he has for you."--Holly Wagner, pastor and author 

"We live in a culture that is filled with wandering souls looking for identity in all the wrong places. This book is a true compass that points men and women to the real source of our spiritual identity. We belong to God, he has chosen us, and we are loved uniquely. Lisa does a masterful job of bringing these timeless truths to life. This book is a must-read!"--Brady Boyd, pastor of New Life Church, Colorado Springs, and author of Addicted to Busy 

"In Without Rival, Lisa shares the penetrating truth about who God cr
eated us to be and how he loves each of us personally and uniquely. After reading this book, I can't imagine anyone ever doubting God's love for them!"--Chris Hodges, senior pastor of Church of the Highlands and author of Fresh Air and Four Cups 

"If you have ever struggled with your identity, this book will be a game changer. Understanding who we uniquely are in Christ transforms us from playing it safe to taking our place in God's great plan of redemption."--Sheila Walsh, author of God Loves Broken People and core speaker for Women of Faith 

"If you struggle with feelings of worthlessness or lack a sense of purpose, Without Rival is just what you need to silence your inner critic. God has positioned you to find contentment in the midst of any circumstance and live a life without comparison."--Pastor Steven and Holly Furtick, Elevation Church 

About the Author

Lisa Bevere is a Christian author of the books Lioness Arising, Nurture, Fight Like a Girl, Kissed the Girls and Made Them Cry, Out of Control and Loving It! Be Angry but Don't Blow It! The True Measure of a Woman, and You Are Not What You Weigh.

In addition to speaking at national and international conferences, she is a frequent guest on Christian television and radio shows. Lisa is also the cohost of the weekly television program The Messenger, which broadcasts to 214 nations. She and her husband, John Bevere, also a best-selling author, make their home in Colorado with their four sons Addison, Austin, Alec, and Arden.

My Review

Without Rival: Embrace Your Identity and Purpose in an Age of Confusion and Comparison by Lisa Bevere is the first book of Bevere's that I have read. Without Rival is a book selection of the Propel Women bookclub and this is why I choose to read it.

Lisa Bevere's Without Rival will probably appeal to women most but men should read it as well. Rivals is such an interesting subject. Bevere's book help us to overcome our feelings of rivalry towards others. What brings on these feelings of rivalry...the enemy of course. Seeing everyone as a rival is very limiting to our Christian life.

There are 10 chapters in Without Rival:

  1. An Identity without Rival
  2. Our Unrivaled God
  3. A Promise without Rival
  4. Don't You Dare Compare!
  5. When You're Seen as a Rival
  6. Gender without Rival
  7. The Rivalry of Fear and Love
  8. Deep Wells and Wishing Wells
  9. A Daughter without Rival
  10. A Life Unrivaled
 Each chapter has discussion questions at the end. There are also discussion questions at the end of the book for each chapter but those questions pertain more to the videos that can be utilized in conjunction with Without Rival if you are doing a group bible study. Would this be a good book for a bible study? Definitely yes in my opinion.

Without Rival is a fascinating, uplifting and revealing book. I highly recommend it.

Bible Review: The Jesus Bible, NIV Edition, Cloth over Board, Gray Linen Hardcover – Deluxe Edition, January 3, 2017 by Passion Publishing (Editor), Louie Giglio (Introduction)

  • Hardcover: 2048 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan; Special edition (January 3, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310444675
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310444671

Book Description

Sixty-Six Books. One Story. All About One Name.

Encounter the living Jesus in all of Scripture. From the Passion Movement, The Jesus Bible, NIV Edition, with exclusive articles from Louie Giglio, Max Lucado, John Piper, Ravi Zacharias, and Randy Alcorn, lifts Jesus up as the lead story of the Bible.

Textured yet soft to touch, classic woven material encases the Bible for smooth access to the faithful plot. Profound yet accessible study features help you meet Jesus throughout Scripture. See him in every book so that you may know him more intimately, love him more passionately, and walk with him more faithfully.

  • Introduction by Louie Giglio
  • 66 book introductions highlight the story of Jesus in every book
  • 7 compelling essays on the grand narrative of Scripture by Louie Giglio, Max Lucado, John Piper, Ravi Zacharias, and Randy Alcorn guide you to treasure Jesus and encourage you to faithfully follow him as you participate in his story
  • Over 300 full-page articles and nearly 700 sidebar articles reveal Jesus throughout all of Scripture
  • Single-column text of the most read, most trusted modern-English Bible — the New International Version (NIV)
  • Room for notes and journaling throughout
  • NIV dictionary-concordance
  • Ribbon marker
How I wish someone had put a book like this into my hands 50 years ago -- N. T. Wright, Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity, University of St. Andrews, Scotland

Every line and every word in the Bible comes from a context -- historical, social, cultural, theological -- and speaks into those contexts -- sometimes against that culture, sometimes with that culture, and sometimes to expand that culture. In so doing the Bible models how we can speak from our culture and into our culture in very fresh and missional ways. The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible not only acknowledges this but engages ordinary readers in seeing what it looks like. I cannot recommend a study Bible any more than this one: Five stars! -- Scot McKnight, Julius R. Mantey Professor of New Testament, Northern Seminary --This text refers to the Imitation Leather edition.

My Review

This review is of the hardcover version. There is a kindle version available. This hardcover included access to the The Jesus Bible on the YouVersion app which I have already found to be extremely useful.

The Jesus Bible, NIV Edition, Cloth over Board, Gray Linen Hardcover – Deluxe Edition, January 3, 2017 by Passion Publishing (Editor), Louie Giglio (Introduction) is a wonderful new bible to assist with understanding and encountering Jesus throughout the entire bible.

The Jesus Bible is a gray linen hardcover. It comes in a cardboard sleeve to protect it. The words are easy to read...the print is a reasonable size. There are wide margins that are good for notes or journaling. As you can see in the illustration the margins are quite wide.

There is a dictionary-concordance at the end. There are essays, full page articles and sidebar articles.I like the timelines at the beginning of each chapter.

 There are 7 essays by biblical scholars:

Full page articles:

Sidebar articles:

The Jesus Bible is an eye-opening, resource-filled volume that will be a welcome addition to my bible study collection.  There are so many bibles to choose from these days that it can be hard to choose one. I think that The Jesus Bible offers a focus on Jesus that is unprecedented and that will be valuable to those studying the Word. I highly recommend The Jesus Bible.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Review: The Return of the Raven Mocker (Alafair Tucker #9) by Donis Casey

Book Description

World War I is raging in Europe, but as the deadly influenza pandemic of 1918 sweeps like a wildfire through Boynton, Oklahoma, Alafair Tucker is fighting her own war. Her daughter, Alice, and son-in-law, Walter Kelley, have both come down with the flu, and Alafair has moved into town to care for them after quarantining her young children at their sister s farm. Boynton as a whole isolates itself like an old English plague village, discouraging anyone from coming into town and the residents from traveling outside. A new doctor applies science to treating the stricken, but Alafair applies all she knows about hygiene, nutrition, and old and trusted country remedies. Unable to aid her sons and sons-inlaw fighting overseas, this is danger she can combat. One autumn afternoon, screams coming from next door alert Alafair that Alice s neighbor, Nola Thomason, and her son Lewis have suddenly and unexpectedly succumbed. Yet there is something about the way the pair died that causes Alafair to suspect their deaths were due to poison rather than to influenza. The epidemic is so overwhelming that it is many days before the only doctor left in town can confirm Alafair s suspicions; neither Nola nor Lewis died of the flu. The only witness to their deaths, twelve-year-old Dorothy Thomason, a special friend of Alafair s daughter, Sophronia, is so traumatized that she is rendered mute. Were Nola and her son murdered, and if so, why? The usual motives for murder are greed, or jealousy, or hatred. Or could it be, as Alafair fears, that the Raven Mocker, the most dreaded of the Cherokee wizards or witches, the evil spirit who takes to the air in a fiery shape to rob the old, the sick, and the dying of their lives, is hunting victims and bringing misery to the innocent?"


Grimly realistic, this unusual mystery―—ninth in the series―—set during the flu pandemic of 1918, graphically portrays, from a caregiver’s perspective, nursing the desperately ill and witnessing horrible deaths, while also worrying about loved ones fighting overseas. Vividly rendered and psychologically astute, this somewhat transparent puzzler provides an unusually immersive perspective on familiar historical territory. (Jen Baker Booklist)

The Return of the Raven Mocker (An Alafair Tucker Mystery) by Donis Casey is a compelling book. I gave it five stars because the characters came to life and kept my attention.~~~ I had not read Donis Casey's books before and am thrilled to discover an established series. I added all of them to my wish list. (Carolyn Injoy-Hertz NetGalley)

The mystery comes in second (or maybe third) to history lessons and paeans to traditional American values in this folksy tale of small towns and big hearts. (Kirkus)

Casey’s thoughtful ninth Alafair Tucker mystery (after 2015’s All Men Fear Me) ably evokes rural Oklahoma in 1918. In remote Boynton, farm wife Alafair prays for an end to the hostilities in Europe as her youngest child starts school. Meanwhile, the flu pandemic of that year turns Boynton into a battleground. Townspeople by the score fall ill, the Tucker children are unofficially quarantined at a relative’s home, and Alafair moves into town to nurse her daughter Alice and Alice’s husband, who are both sick with the flu. When Alice’s neighbor Nola Thomason and her adult son, Lewis, die suddenly, Alafair suspects foul play rather than flu, a concern exacerbated by the discovery that Nola’s husband has taken out a $25,000 insurance policy on her life. In tandem with new-to-town medic Emmett Carney, Alafair sleuths and keeps her loved ones safe. Readers may find Alafair’s huge extended family hard to keep straight, but the homespun mood remains winning, while the impact of world history on the Ozarks is skillfully evoked. (Publishers Weekly)

What a great time to commit murder. During a major pandemic. Who's to know? Who's going to even notice? A delightful story. One not to be missed if you are fascinated by the Spanish flu outbreak of 1918. (Cherei McCarter Goodreads

About the Author

DONIS CASEY was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A third generation Oklahoman, she and her siblings grew up among their aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents and great-grandparents on farms and in small towns, where they learned the love of family and independent spirit that characterizes the population of that pioneering state. Donis graduated from the University of Tulsa with a degree in English, and earned a Master’s degree in Library Science from Oklahoma University. After teaching school for a short time, she enjoyed a career as an academic librarian, working for many years at the University of Oklahoma and at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona.

Donis left academia in 1988 to start a Scottish import gift shop in downtown Tempe. After more than a decade as an entrepreneur, she decided to devote herself full-time to writing. The Old Buzzard Had It Coming is her first book. For the past twenty years, Donis has lived in Tempe, AZ, with her husband.

My Review

 The Return of the Raven Mocker is the ninth Alafair Tucker mystery by author Donis Casey. I have read the previous books in the Alafair Tucker series and found them all to be fascinating, well written and informative.

 The Return of the Raven Mocker. The title of the book itself is enough to grab anyone's attentions. How intriguing can you get? The Raven Mocker is an evil bigfoot being from Cherokee mythology who robs the old, sick and dying of their lives. As the Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918 barrels through Boynton, Alafair is reminded of the Cherokee myth and doesn't even want to hear the name Raven Mocker. 

Donis Casey gives the reader a history lesson without them even realizing it. I learned so much about the Spanish Flu Epidemic from this book. But someone in Boynton is using the flu epidemic to cover up a murder. And Alafair figures this out early and the hunt is on. With the assistance of a new young doctor sent to help with the epidemic, Alafair is able to see through the deception.

I love the characters that author Casey has created in Alafair's family and the town of Boynton. Alafair's large family is fighting World War I in Europe and the Spanish Flu at home. Opening The Return of the Raven Mocker, the reader is transported immediately into the realm of the Tucker farm and their lives. It is always a fascinating world to dive back into.

The Return of the Raven Mocker is  well written tale. I found it immensely enjoyable and I'm sure you will too. Read the entire series!!! I highly recommend The Return of the Raven Mocker.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Review: Conviction (Rebekah Roberts #3) by Julia Dahl

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (March 28 2017)
  • Sold by: Macmillan CA
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01HB7GF4O

Book Description

In the summer of 1992, a year after riots exploded between black and Jewish neighbors in Crown Heights, a black family is brutally murdered in their Brooklyn home. A teenager is quickly convicted, and the justice system moves on.

Twenty-two years later, journalist Rebekah Roberts gets a letter: I didn't do it. Frustrated with her work at the city’s sleaziest tabloid, Rebekah starts to dig. But witnesses are missing, memories faded, and almost no one wants to talk about that grim, violent time in New York City—not even Saul Katz, a former cop and her source in Brooklyn’s insular Hasidic community.

So she goes it alone. And as she gets closer to the truth of that night, Rebekah finds herself in the path of a killer with two decades of secrets to protect.

From the author of the Edgar-nominated Invisible City comes another timely thriller that illuminates society’s darkest corners. Told in part through the eyes of a jittery eyewitness and the massacre’s sole survivor, Conviction examines the power—and cost—of community, loyalty, and denial.

Conviction is New York City crime at its very best: gritty, realistic, culturally complex and sometimes really terrifying, but ultimately full of hope, with a heroine you can’t help but root for. Brava, Julia Dahl―I couldn’t put the damn thing down.”―Lisa Lutz

“Julia Dahl’s Conviction is a thrilling, utterly absorbing crime novel. With tender-tough reporter Rebekah Roberts at the story’s center, it jolts the heart, while also raising bigger, troubling questions―about criminal confessions, urban fear, and the many, many ways our moral and ethical convictions can both guide us and mislead us, and ultimately save us.”―Megan Abbott

About the Author

Julia Dahl was born in Fresno, Calif., to a Lutheran father and a Jewish mother. She currently lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Julia has been writing about crime since 2004 when Seventeen magazine sent her to cover the story of a young Birmingham, Ala., girl who had been killed by her mother. Since then, she has worked as a freelance reporter at the New York Post, the deputy managing editor of The Crime Report, and now covers crime and justice for

Julia's feature articles have appeared in Mental Floss, Salon, Pacific Standard, the Columbia Journalism Review, the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine, and the Daily Beast, among others. She has been the recipient of fellowships from the H.F. Guggenheim Foundation and the Nation Institute for her reporting on criminal justice issues.

Before turning her attention to crime and justice, Julia was an editor at Redbook and Marie Claire. She began her career fact-checking at Entertainment Weekly.

INVISIBLE CITY is her first novel. She is at work on the sequel.

My Review

Conviction is the third Rebekah Roberts novel by author Julia Dahl. I have read the first two books in the series previously. Conviction could be a stand alone novel but I think that readers would enjoy reading the entire series.

Conviction tells the story of a young man, DeShawn, who was convicted unjustly of murdering his foster parents and his young foster sister. He has written a letter to Rebekah, who is a newspaper reporter, pleading his case that he has been incarcerated for over 20 years and that he is innocent. Rebekah quickly realizes that witnesses were ignored or lied and that DeShawn is innocent. But the main problem in the case is that her contact in the Hasidic community, Saul Katz, was a police officer involved in the original case back in 1992. Now, Saul is involved with Rebekah's mother so she is torn.

Conviction is a great read. I enjoy the New York setting which is very realistically portrayed by author Dahl. The characters are all interesting.

Highly recommend Conviction by Julia Dahl.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Review: Fudge and Jury (A Bakeshop Mystery #5) by Ellie Alexander

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1074 KB
  • Print Length: 321 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1250088054
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks (Jan. 3 2017)
  • Sold by: Macmillan CA
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01H035XWY

Book Description

Welcome to Torte—a friendly, small-town family bakery where the pastries are delicious…and, now, suspicious.

It’s almost spring in Ashland, Oregon, and the town is preparing for the Shakespeare and the annual Chocolate Festival. Business is cookin’ at Torte, and the store is expanding as Jules’ team whips up crèpes filled with mascarpone cheese and dark chocolate. Torte stands a chance of being this year’s confectionery belle of the ball! Life couldn’t be sweeter—unless murder taints the batter.

Evan Rowe, of Confections Couture, makes a chocolate fountain that would put Willy Wonka to shame, and his truffles are to die for—literally? Yes, the world-renowned chocolatier has just turned up dead…right after sampling a slice of Jules’ decadent four-layer chocolate cake. Now all eyes are on Jules as she tries to find the mysterious ingredient in her own recipe. Can she sift out the truth before another contestant bites the buttercream?

About the Author

Ellie Alexander, author of the Bakeshop Mystery Series (St. Martin's Press), is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research.

Find out more about Ellie and her books by visiting her blog at or following her on Facebook:

My Review

Fudge and Jury is the fifth book in the A Bakeshop Mystery by Ellie Alexander. This is a very enjoyable cozy series. I have read most of the earlier books in the series.

The Bakeshop Mystery series is set in the lovely southern Oregon festival town of Ashland. Ashland is famous for its Shakespearean theater as well as other tourist attractions. Ellie Alexander does a fantastic job of bringing Ashland to life in this series.

There is no sign of Jules' husband Carlos is this latest outing but she has plenty of local interest. The crew at the bakeshop Torte particularly her mother are prominently featured as Jules realizes more and more what the people at Torte and Ashland itself mean to her.

The murder-mystery centers around the murder of a local chocolatier. This occurs during the annual chocolate festival. Despite Evan's death and Jules' preoccupation with it, Torte shines at the event which ensures that Jules knows she is in the right place.

Great mystery. Well written and enjoyable. Highly recommend.