Lee Child - Tripwire (Reacher #3)

Tripwire (Jack Reacher, #3)Tripwire by Lee Child

Publisher: Berkley Trade

ISBN: 978-0425206225

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In Tripwire, Child pits ex-military policeman Jack Reacher against his most deadly and merciless adversary yet. Kirkus Reviews noted that "Reacher swashbuckles with the best of them" and Booklist called Tripwire "edgy, exciting reading."

Jack Reacher washes up in the Florida Keys with his savings running out; he spends his days digging pools and his nights as the bouncer in the local strip club. But a private investigator intrudes upon his tropical refuge, seeking Reacher out. When he discovers the PI's lifeless beaten body lying in the street, Reacher heads north to determine who is trying to find him and why.

Tracing the dead man's trail to New York, Reacher discovers the PI was working for Reacher's former commanding officer, mentor and close friend Leon Garber. Reacher teams up with Garber's daughter Jodie, a sharp Wall Street lawyer, to find out why Leon needed Reacher's help and they find themselves embroiled in a life-threatening search for the truth—and the deeper they dig, the more dangerous and twisted their path becomes.

In this third novel featuring Jack Reacher, author Lee Child masterfully intertwines the domains of the underworld and the bureaucracy of the U.S. Army. Reacher and Jodie uncover 30 years of deceit—and their love for each other—in a thriller that reaches its heart-stopping, plot twisting climax on the 88th floor of the World Trade Center.

My thoughts

Another great book! BRILLIANT. Right from the very beginning I was hooked on to the story and found myself picking it up again and again for "just another few more pages". So much so, I will need to catch up on sleep and life now. :-)

Jack Reacher has taken on two jobs, but his daily life gets interrupted when PI Costello is looking for him. When he finds Costello dead in the streets, Reacher heads to New York to find out who is looking for him and why. And that's when the rollercoaster starts and won't let go of the reader until the very end.

What can I say. It was simply good, and IMHO even better than the first one. Fast flowing, interesting plot, great characters - Reacher is becoming more 'likeable' as he ponders more about life, about whether there's more to just live life on the road. Great development and with Jodie in his life now I can't wait to see where Lee Child's going with it.

About 3/4 into the book there's a lot of backstory all of a sudden. At the time it seemed long but probably only because I was so eager to get to the end, to find out about mystery, yet without really wanting the book to finish. For me it killed the flow of the story a tiny little bit, though I admit it's necessary!

The end seemed quick and we never find out what actually happened to Marilyn and Chester Stone who I thought were important characters in the story. But I would have also loved to know more about Tony - Hobie's sidekick. With such a detailed backstory I would have imagined there'd be a paragraph about him.

So I'm torn between 4 and 5 stars. Is the above really enough to lower it to 4 stars when I spent the last three days eagerly reading?

This was a great book and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

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Lindsay Downs - A Dog gone Christmas

A Dog Gone ChristmasPublisher: Astraea Press

A Dog Gone Christmas by Lindsay Downs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When a call for paws goes out, five friends bring their collies without question to a friend’s house. They learn the collies are needed to help seven children with the grief of losing a parent in Iraq or Afghanistan. Now, with seven friends, four collie yearlings and their mother, they set out to help the children. Not far away, a mother hopefully leads her seven puppies to safety from a man intent on selling them for illicit purposes. By a miracle of fate, the two mother collies find each other right before the man sells the puppies. That Christmas morning will be one the children will remember all their lives as they are united with the puppies.

My thoughts

This is a lovely little story. Though a story set around Christmas the reader can enjoy it at any time.

It's about children who will have to spend Christmas with either just one or none of their parents ... and Emily and her friends, incl the collies Dakota, Kebi and their dog family are there to help.

I really enjoyed this quick read and I'm sure it'll touch many readers heart!

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Guest Blog - Joanne Tropello

Welcome Joanne Troppello

Today I have the pleasure to have Joanne Troppello as a guest here on my blog.  So I hope you all make her very welcome!

Joanne Troppello is an author of romantic suspense novels. She has published three books: Shadowed Remembrances, Mr. Shipley’s Governess and Bella Lucia. Currently, she is working on her new writing project, The Paradise Redeemed Series.

Joanne is married and loves spending time with her husband and family. She enjoys interacting with readers at The Mustard Seed Blog.

Author Contact Links
Joanne's Blog: The Mustard Seed
Find Joanne on Facebook
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What Makes a Love Story Great?
Plain and simple, the formula for a romance novel is man meets woman and they fall in love. Of course, they run into various obstacles along the way, but there is always a happy ending. However, what sets a romance novel apart and makes it irrefutably memorable?
Think about one of the most dramatic love stories through the ages—Romeo & Juliet, young love of the forever kind. Yes, this story ended tragically, but it shows the ingredients of a great love affair. Even death could not keep them apart.

Let’s look at a more contemporary example, The Notebook, by Nicholas Sparks. Two young people experience a passionate summer romance and life threatens to pull them apart. The heroine goes away to college while the hero enlists in the army. The hero wrote to her but she never received his letters and she thinks he doesn’t want to be with her. She gets engaged to a man from an affluent family and finally, circumstances bring the hero and his heroine together again. They marry and have a family, living a good life. Eventually the heroine has dementia and her loving husband stands by her, trying to help her remember the happy life they had. Even when she has lost her mental capacity, he stands by his wife. They die together in their sleep. Now that is a true testament of an everlasting love affair. So how do you create such an unforgettable love affair that breaches the limits of the run of the mill romance novel? You start by thinking outside the box. The formula is the same, but you need to make the plot your own. I write inspirational romance, so I bring an element of faith into my stories. In my opinion, that adds the cement to hold the romance together. If a couple wants to weather the storms of life, they need a higher power to give them the foundation to succeed. I believe that foundation is God at the center of their relationship.

Now, I don’t want to get too preachy here—and I never do in my books either because I believe in real life. Not everyone believes the same way or has a strong faith in God, yet many people experience a great love affair in their lives. So, even if you don’t add an element of faith to your novels, you too, can write a memorable love story.  Your hero and heroine need to love each other unconditionally. That is real love. They love body, soul and spirit, every part of each other. A great love affair is one that begins in the realm of friendship or at least intellectual or
emotional connection, before any inkling of physical intimacy enters the  picture. Passionate connections are wonderful, but passion eventually fades.  When it lessens, what remains? That agape, unconditional, love remains. It’s a love that knows no bounds. They overcome hurts and offenses and learn to forgive. It’s not about winning, but learning to compromise and
serve one another’s needs first. A great love affair turns from friendship into a passionate love with your best friend. Physical intimacy obviously comes into play, but depending on the type of genre you write in, will determine the amount you show the readers.

Your novel may not span the length of your hero and heroine’s years like in The Notebook, but you need to convey the same sense of long-term commitment. Your readers must get the sense that your characters are in it forever. However, if you write a sappy romance novel, most readers won’t appreciate that and it won’t be a memorable love affair. In real life, we face problems. Make your novel real and add reality to your story. If you do that, it will be believable and readers will relate. Own your own story. If you believe the love affair you are creating, your readers will believe it too.
Currently, I’m enjoying the release of my newest book, Bella Lucia, and I’m busy making the rounds in my blog tour. I mentioned two great  love stories—Romeo & Juliet and The Notebook.

What is your all-time favorite love story?

Book Blurb for Bella Lucia:
After being married for six years, Gwen and Lucas DeStefano are dealing with the pain of a childless marriage and trying to trust God for their future.  On a weekend getaway to the Poconos, they attempt to relax and renew their marriage, but witness an event that turns their lives upside down.  They see a body dump in the woods while they are on a hike and their lives become entangled in a web of suspense and God’s ultimate blessing in the form of a little baby girl, named Bella Lucia. Will Gwen learn to trust God with childlike faith and wholeheartedly accept His plan?

Det. Marc Abrams is assigned to the murder investigation of Sabrina Reysen and he will do whatever it takes to find her killer. He has his suspicions and is pleasantly surprised when he meets Samantha “Sam” Collins, the attractive US Marshall assigned to protect one of the witnesses in this case. Will Det. Abrams find the killer before it’s too late and is the attraction between him and Sam strong enough to survive?

Susan Elizabeth Phillips - Fancy Pants

Fancy PantsFancy Pants by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

ISBN: 9781416505242

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

She was the most beautiful British bauble in Europe’s jet-set playgrounds. Now she’s broke, furious, and limping down a backwoods road in an ugly pink Southern Belle gown. He’s a tall, lean Texan who’s sure to regret stopping his car for this woebegone, surly Scarlett? Meet Francesca Day and Dallie Beaudine, two incredible characters whose tangled love affair is at the heart of this ravishing New York Times bestseller from award-winning author Susan Elizabeth Phillips

My thoughts

No wonder my mum didn't get me to read books in the 1980s!

I have absolutely no idea how to put my thoughts into words. Basically I'd give the first third a rating of '1' as in boring, the next part a '3' as in mildly amusing and interesting, we go back to '2' for more confusing backstory and another '3' for tying everything up nicely in the end ... so what does that make? I'd say a weak '3' .... :-)

So we read about Francesca. English born, spoilt rotten, up herself, the most unlikeable person you could read about in a romance. And it drags along and more and more about her upbringing. More or less to the point where I was considering giving up! Then we get to know Dallas 'Dallie' Boudine. Golfer in the US with his own demons to struggle. And back and forth both, Francesca and Dallie meet and loathe each other, yet end up in bed. You get the gist of it.

Result of the bedstory is Teddy, yet Dallie only finds out about ten years later. Even though it's a book and not real life and you've gotta give it a bit of leanway, but honestly I did struggle with that!

Who else is there? Heaps of people, makes your mind boggle, honestly! I really liked Holly Grace, Dallie's first wife, and mother of his first son. Anybody out there who can tell me if she has her own story ?

So all in all, I really can't recommend the book only to die-hard SEP fans. Perhaps one could argue that's the way stories were told in the 1980s .... I wouldn't know!

My journey so far.

Okay, so I was asked to write a little blog post, however, the person didn't really like it. Fair enough, isn't it. But before it lands in the virtual rubbish bin, I thought I might as well post it on here.

Comment away, if you like it!

I honestly have to admit that if you had asked me a few years ago that my second book would be released by a publisher I would’ve said something along the line “Get outta here!” I think it would have been late 1980s that I had read my last book .... and then fast forward to the next century, one night I was bored, the computer in front of me, I just typed away. Knitting didn’t work, stitching didn’t work, typing was next. It turned out to be a nice story and with some encouragement by my husband I had it “professionally critiqued”. AND SHE LIKED IT. Then I felt lost. I submitted it to one or two publishers and Literary Agents, but with no research or even doing any homework, I obviously didn’t format it correctly let alone all the other little things you need to do. Impatient, I checked out the possibilities for printing and it was reasonably affordable. Remember this was before Kindle and the eBook era. I printed a few for family and friends, but people loved it so much I re-ordered even more. The book did really well considering all. I fell in love with the whole idea of writing. I had read heaps of books by the time my second book was finished. Yes, there had been more boring, cold nights J And with more knowledge about the do and don’ts I approached the whole submitting process with a different attitude and more patience ... AND lucky us writers ... there are way more eBook publishers out there than there were years ago. They like to have a read before saying no! So this is how I ended up with Astraea Press and I have to say as a novice author I feel very much at home with them. As they grow, so do I. I have a question and it gets answered, silly, naive or straight forward – they’re always there for you!

So more or less this is my story ... unusual probably, because I never ever would have seen myself a published author or loving the process of writing. Writing doesn’t come easy to me, but there are still heaps of stories in me to tell and I’m sure if I keep it slow and easy I’ll be able to put them into nice words one after the other – with a lot of patience, I’ve learnt that part, too!

Blurb of "Journey to Her Dreams"

Would you travel around the world to uncover the reason for your dreams?

Hollie Anderson does.

A young woman from Tasmania who lives on a farm just outside Launceston, she has got good looks, likes her job and loves to hang out with her friends. She should be happy, right?
But it’s a recurrent dream that throws her daily life into chaos and takes her on a journey to Ireland. While on her quest for answers she meets Sam in Dublin under unusual circumstances and both women, so different in many ways, find out they have one thing in common - and it changes their lives forever


My interview with Matt Goss

A few weeks back I interviewed Matt Goss, former front man of the 1980s Band Bros, and now very  successful performer at Caesar Palace in Las Vegas .
All thanks to 99.9 VoiceFM and Belinda. Thanks also to Amiee at Pink Diamond Events & PR and @gossyaustralia for their help and support
You will find all about Matt on his website.
Hope you enjoy the interview as much as I enjoyed talking to Matt. He's a charmer and a true inspiration. I wish him well with his soon-to-be released new CD and hope that his plans to come to Australia this year will eventuate.
Please feel free to leave a comment - I'd love to hear from you all!

Leah Sanders - Sacred Ring

Sacred RingSacred Ring by Leah Sanders

Publisher: Astraea Press

ISBN: 9781­62135­

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nothing in Kynan Murphy's life is going right. His grades are horrible, he's always in trouble, and the girl he likes doesn't know he exists. But things go from bad to worse when his parents tell him they have decided to split up. Angry and confused, he wants nothing more than to lash out against the world. The closest thing he can find, however, is the Saint Valentine shrine during a school field trip. Armed with some fireworks and encouraged by his best friend, Michael Connell, he's all set to vent his frustration with life.

His best laid plans fail when a mysterious priest confronts him, sharing an ancient secret about a hidden ring with special powers. Kynan believes the answer to all his problems and the only way to fix his parents' broken marriage is to find the ring — a task he won't be able to accomplish on his own.

It was easy enough to convince his friend Michael to join him, but the irritating Brianna Collins insists on tagging along. Fortunately, her knack for language and interest in history is a valuable asset in the search. Their quest leads them to the northern coast and into dangerous territory where, in spite of their good intentions, they may lose their own lives.

My thoughts

Again .... a dive into a the YA genre and I LOVED IT.

So this was a "MUST READ" book for me. It's all set in Ireland (big plus) and about St Valentine's Sacred Ring. Not overly religious, if at all, yet I do like "my" saints!

Kynan Murphy's parents have just separated and as fate has it, soon after he learns about St Valentine's Sacred Ring which is believed to have healing "love" powers. So with the help of his friend Michael and Brianna, a girl in his class, he starts his quest to search for the ring in some caves north of Dublin.

It's literally a page turner from the very first page. It's full of adventure, history and a bit of mystery .... and friendship. The three friends are real and though for me the seemed more American than Irish, typical teens. The story was very well researched which makes it an even more interesting read. The only person I would have like to know more about though was Father Leroy. Considering the importance of his character and his role in finding the ring, I was disappointed that Leah Sanders didn't go into more details for his background.

Great read for young and old! Let's hope my daughter will enjoy it as much as I did.

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James Lee Burke - Rain Gods

Publishers: Simon & Schuster
ISBN:  9781439128244
My rating: 3/5
When Hackberry Holland became sheriff of a tiny Texas town near the Mexican border, he'd hoped to leave certain things behind: his checkered reputation, his haunted dreams, and his obsessive memories of the good life with his late wife, Rie. But the discovery of the bodies of nine illegal aliens, machine-gunned to death and buried in a shallow grave behind a church, soon makes it clear that he won't escape so easily. As Hack and Deputy Sheriff Pam Tibbs attempt to untangle the threads of this complex and grisly case, a damaged young Iraq veteran, Pete Flores, and his girlfriend, Vikki Gaddis, are running for their lives, hoping to outwit the bloodthirsty criminals who want to kill Pete for his involvement in the murders. The only trouble is, Pete doesn't know who he's running from: drunk and terrified, he fled the scene of the crime when the shooting began. And there's a long list of people who want Pete and Vikki dead: crime boss Hugo Cistranos, who hired Pete for the operation; Nick Dolan, a strip club owner and small-time gangster with revenge on his mind; and a mysterious God-fearing serial-killer-for-hire known as Preacher Jack Collins, with enigmatic motives of his own.
With the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and a host of cold-blooded killers on Pete and Vikki's trail, it's up to Sheriff Holland to find them first and figure out who's behind the mass murder before anyone else ends up dead. In this thrilling and intricate work, James Lee Burke has once again proven himself a master storyteller and a perceptive chronicler of the darkest corners of the human heart (
My thoughts
My first book by James Lee Burke. Bottom line - great story. Why only 3 stars? Well several reasons.
The story has so many characters and story lines I won't even try and give a brief summary.
It took me quite a while to actually get into the story and a few chapters I had to re-read to remember the plot from the previous chapter and the characters. Once I  got hooked, I really enjoyed the book.
But it's a looooong book. Just short of 400 pages, I initially enjoyed Burke's detailed descriptions, "show not tell" paragraphs, but in the end, it was just too much and repetitious. The characters are interesting, but again the constant analysis of their past, emotions or behaviour was at times too much.
Not sure whether I started with the wrong story, but I will probably not add another book by James Lee Burke on my TBR file.