A fatal game – who is the murderer?

Life is a game, or it can feel like that. I prefer to think of it as a challenge with stepping-stones to understand who I am and what my purpose is. Like Anna Belle in Stratagem, I came from humble beginnings which meant my ladder appeared to stretch into the clouds of overcoming. I couldn’t see the end of the ladder, but even today having climbed more than half of it I still can’t see the final rungs. It appears God has a lot of work ahead for me! However, I am glad that I do not have to compete in a game to prove if I am worthy to be chosen for my job.

Stratagem FB Banner copy

My Penny’s Worth

I believe the author did a great of job of creating Anna Belle, who I disliked and liked at the same time. A driven lady who was going to overcome and win using any means possible. That meant she had strength, propelled by a desire to rise above her humble beginnings. Sadly, Anna Belle used her own strength to hurt others, yes even those who loved her dearly. Therefore, I disliked the manner in which Anna Belle used to climb the ladder but liked the author’s skill to make me at odds with this character.

A game of who-dun-it Stratagem @RobinCaroll on tour with @Celebrate_Lit with #free #giveaway #amreading #books #bookreview Click To Tweet
A game of who-dun-it

The book as a whole felt more of a holiday who-dun-it as it was a quick read. I enjoyed Grayson’s character but wondered if there are many men who would have acted as he did. One police officer’s determination to only focus on him as the main suspect called into question the “presumed innocent until proved guilty” theory. This is a dangerous game to play.

“The man’s faith wasn’t just a card he carried – it was the life he lived.”

The same goes for Anna Belle’s mother. She is lovely and deep.

“If God, the perfect Father, has disobedient children, why are we mere humans so arrogant to think that our children ought to believe as they should?”

Did I enjoy Stratagem?

I enjoyed this mystery book, the pace was even, and there were enough suspects to keep you interested. However, the repetitive bringing out the notebook did niggle me a little. I get it the police use notebooks to write things down. To counteract that there are gems like this in the pages:

“She’d been wearing stress and strain on her like a favourite sweater.”

Who would like this book?

If you appreciate mysteries in the modern day world, then you may like this book. It’s a good book on a train journey to work. It also offers questions at the back of the book to ponder on.

A heads up…

There is mention of adultery and abortion in this book.

What am I happy about?

I am happy that I don’t have to do a psychological game to further my job prospects – it appears too dangerous!

I would like to give Stratagem 3.75 *** Why? Because I guessed who did it.

Thank you, Robin Caroll, for writing Stratagem.

*I received this book for free. No compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.*

Click here to purchase your copy!

This book review was brought to you by Margaret Kazmierczak author of “How to Make Victoria Sponge” And a contributor to Heart”wings” devotional.

About the Book

Margaret Kazmierczak reviews Stratagem by Robin CarollBook: Stratagem

Author: Robin Caroll

Genre: Christian Suspense

Release Date: November 2018

A High-Stakes Simulation Adventure Leaves Grayson Thibodeaux the Prime Suspect. . .for Murder

Deep in the gritty underbelly of New Orleans, psychologist Grayson Thibodeaux loses everything when his wife leaves him to climb her company’s corporate ladder. He buries himself in his job of creating mind-bending adventure games for businesses as team-building explorations. When his ex-wife’s company hires Grayson’s to create an elaborate game, he doesn’t see how things can get worse. Until she dies during the course of the game he created…making him the prime suspect for murder.

About the Author

Margaret Kazmierczak reviews Stratagem by Robin Caroll“I love boxing, I love Hallmark movies, I love fishing and I love scrapbooking. Nope, I’ve never fit into the boxes people have wanted to put me in.” Robin Caroll is definitely a contradiction, but one that beckons you to get to know her better. Robin’s passion has always been to tell stories to entertain others and come alongside them on their faith journey—aspects Robin weaves into each of her twenty-five-plus published novels. When she isn’t writing, Robin spends quality time with her husband of nearly three decades, her three beautiful daughters and two handsome grandsons, and their character-filled pets at home. Robin gives back to the writing community by serving as executive director/conference director for ACFW. Her books have been recognized in such contests as the Carol Award, Holt Medallion, Daphne du Maurier, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, Bookseller’s Best, and Book of the Year.

You can find out more about Robin by visiting www.robincaroll.com.

Guest post from Robin

Behind the Scenes

Robin Caroll Shares Her Inspiration for Writing Stratagem

Dear Reader,

Thank you for journeying to New Orleans in a web of deceit and confusion with me. Sharing a place that has such connection for me was a pure joy. South Louisiana offers such a laid-back attitude that I often miss “home.” I hope you’ll enjoy sampling a taste of the flavor of Louisiana.

Years ago I watched the movie The Game with Michael Douglas and Sean Penn and was enthralled. There’s just something grabbing about messing with a person’s mind and life by using their own feelings and instincts against them. When this story of Stratagem first began forming, I wanted to use all that intrigue to mess up the game master’s life. The end result is quite the ride!

As the characters came alive to me, I found the theme of forgiveness and acceptance coming out in the story. Some of the emotions within this story are very personal to me, and I’m honored I was able to share them with you. It is my wish that you may be touched by Grayson’s faith journey as well.

Until next time. . .


Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 17

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, November 17

Midnight Bookaholic, November 17

Back Porch Reads, November 18

Rebekah’s Quill, November 18

Real World Bible Study, November 18*

By The Book, November 19

Reading Is My SuperPower, November 19

Genesis 5020, November 19

All-of-a-kind Mom, November 19

Lighthouse Academy, November 20

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Inklings and notionsNovember 20*

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, November 21

Splashes of JoyNovember 21

Moments, November 21

Just the Write Escape, November 22

Mary Hake, November 22

Simple Harvest Reads, November 22 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)

Bigreadersite, November 22

Aryn The Libraryan , November 23

Multifarious, November 23

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 23

Bibliophile Reviews, November 24

Remembrancy, November 24

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Margaret Kazmierczak, November 25

Pause for Tales, November 25

Book by Book, November 25

Livin Lit, November 26

Ashley’s Bookshelf, November 26

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Daysong ReflectionsNovember 27

proud to be an autism mom, November 27

Texas Book-aholic, November 27

Painting with Words, November 28

Maureen’s Musings, November 28

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 28

Janices book reviews, November 29

Carpe Diem, November 29

A Baker’s Perspective, November 29

Godly Book Reviews, November 30

Tell Tale Book Reviews, November 30

Reader’s Cozy Corner, November 30


This giveaway has now finished.

Don’t let a mistake in the past crush you

We can all make a mistake, and when you are in the public eye, everyone gets to have a say about it. Am I right?  You only need to look at the front page of a newspaper for evidence. Facts, well someone’s facts – as often they are embellished with bells on – inform us, the public, that a deed from the past has been unearthed.

Humanity loves gossip. It sells newspapers, and it makes money. A fruity headline turns many a head, but how accurate is the news? Bringing up the past can ruin a person’s reputation. If someone has atoned for their misdemeanours shouldn’t we lay it to rest?  Give a second chance and look at the person today and see them in the light of a reformed character? Can we forgive and forget? Or will the person always be running from their past mistake?

Margaret Kazmierczak reviews Running by Dave Milbrandt - Don't let a mistake in the past crush you

Click here to purchase your copy.

My Penny’s Worth

When I looked at the title of this book I wasn’t sure if the contents would be about running for election or running away from a past mistake. In fact, both are true which makes the story an exciting read.

Do I need to read the previous books?

I haven’t read the two other books, but that did not matter as this story can be enjoyed in its own right.

So what is the main character like?

The main character Jim Mitchell is for the underdog; he has Christian principles, tries to be fair and true to his conscience. But is this possible in politics? I liked these strong traits and warmed to Jim as his character showed flaws as well – his flippant remarks get him into trouble, and I can relate to that!

Now there’s a thing, he’s made a mistake

He has a past, and that is raked up to discredit him. Well of course it is, he is in the public eye and a juicy morsel for sharks. No one is whiter than white. But does Jim let his past mistake crush him? I can’t answer that without giving away the story. However, when Jim questions his path, Melissa his wife reminds him “You are where you are for a reason and until God makes it clear you need to leave, that’s where you need to stay.” Wise words to ponder on in our lives too.

Was there anything different that stood out?

Interspersed in the story are news articles about Jim, and I enjoyed this touch.

But it can’t just be about one person?

There are, of course, other characters who contribute to this narrative. The team behind Jim Mitchell, his wife and political advisors all played good roles and made me smile at times. The early action after the murder of the assemblywoman and consequent undercover investigation slows to centre on Jim’s political career. If you like the nuts and bolts, then you may enjoy this aspect of the book. I know very little of the American system, so it was helpful for me.

Would I like it?

Running is a book about politics, intrigue, danger, divided loyalties, ethical dilemmas and the sores of unforgiveness. If you like this mix, then give it a go.

I don’t think it would be a mistake to buy this book.

I would like to give it 4****.

Thank you, Dave Milbrandt, for writing Running.

*I received this book for free. No compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.*

Now don’t forget Dave has a GIVEAWAY for you to enter at the end of this post. You need to enter to be in with a chance of winning.

Running by @DaveMilbrandt #book on tour with @Celetrate_Lit read #bookreview and enter #giveaway #amreading cracking read Click To Tweet
Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Book

Margaret Kazmierczak reviews Running by Dave Milbrandt - Don't let a mistake in the past crush you

Book Title: Running

Author: Dave Milbrandt

Genre: Christian Suspense

Release date: May 1, 2018

An assassin’s bullet sends Jim Mitchell running. When he’ll stop is anybody’s guess.

A tragedy propels Jim into a vacant state assembly seat. The new lawmaker and his wife have a baby on the way, but that doesn’t stop the people trying to keep him from a job he never wanted in the first place. Then Jim gets involved in a plan to thwart a major terror attack that could either make him a hero or get him killed.

Political intrigue and high drama accent this tale of what it costs to find one’s purpose, and what the rewards can be when you do.

Running is the third book in the Jim Mitchell series. Previous titles include Chasing Deception and Undue Pressure.

About the Author

Margaret Kazmierczak reviews Running by Dave Milbrandt - Don't let a mistake in the past crush youThe author of Chasing Deception and Undue Pressure, Dave Milbrandt fell in love with writing in junior high and has been a storyteller ever since. A former staff writer for a daily newspaper, the Southern California native spent five years in journalism and public relations before becoming a teacher. Having worked at several area colleges, Dave has taught high school English and Social Studies classes since 2005 and fills his evenings sharing a passion for politics with his community college students. Dave and his wife, Lynn, have been married since 1997.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, July 28

Carpe Diem, July 28

Bibliophile Reviews, July 29

Margaret Kazmierczak, July 30

A Baker’s Perspective, July 31

At the Fence, August 1

Cathe Swanson, August 1

Just the Write Escape, August 2

Multifarious, August 3

Mary Hake, August 3

Blogging With Carol, August 4

The Midnight Bookaholic, August 4

proud to be an autism mom, August 5

Simple Harvest Reads, August 5 (Spotlight)

Texas Book-aholic, August 6

Ashley’s Bookshelf, August 7

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 7

Janices book reviews, August 8

Artistic Nobody, August 8 (Spotlight)

Jeanette’s Thoughts, August 9

Reading is my Super Power, August 9 (Interview)

Two Points of Interest, August 10

Bigreadersite, August 10



Warning – A fresh new fantasy that will intrigue you

Do you ever find yourself in the realms of fantasy? I know I do. At times I think my life is one big fantasy (she laughs at the crazy idea of a normal life!).

When I attended school, my teachers thought my daydreaming affected my learning. But they knew nothing of the adventures I went on gazing out of the classroom window! The contours of clouds called me to other worlds, promising thrills beyond the blackboard. (Yes I am that old!) I used to be asked to grace the class with my attention, but the call of my creative imagination lured me away time after time.

Points Worth has just had that same effect on me. The decorating I am supposed to be doing faded away as soon as I picked up D. C. Marino’s novelette. Its introduction to the Kingdom of Ruins Series has me…. Ok, you nearly got me there! To read further scroll down to My Penny’s Worth, where all will be revealed.

Margaret Kazmierczak reviews Points Worth by D. C. Marino

Click here to purchase your copy!

My Penny’s worth


Sometimes fantasy can seem too improbable and distant for the reader to make a connection. However, Points Worth catches your breath from the moment you begin reading. It is different, fresh and new and had me journeying to this small port town in a rush.

“The ocean was known to hold back a day of tides when differences of opinion needed to be settled.” What a sentence to draw you in. How could an ocean hold back a day of tides? What differences of opinion could an ocean have? “The water spoke in a low, distrustful tone.” Say what? Tell me more…

The language

I loved the flow of this novelette, the descriptive language especially and what is a “nautical linguist?” My mind said dolphins, but D. C. Marino is a linguist earthquake when it comes to describing her fantasy world. As a writer, she explodes on the pages delving out line after line of action. “And what was the final script from the Caletain Sea?” Mystified? So was I, and I got to read the answer! Oh, the joy. I want more than this novelette.

Coming soon

Fortunately, there is more, (phew, I wipe my brow in relief) you can’t leave me like this. No, really there is a longer book, this is just a taster. The riddle has just begun, and I can’t wait to continue the adventure.

The sea talks? You have to be kidding me; it does in this book! Keep talking I want to know more.

Would I recommend this novelette?

I did not like this… No, I loved it. Would I recommend it, I totally would, especially if you like fantasy and something completely different. Its thirty-one pages packed with pieces of a wider jigsaw will make you want to know more, well IMO anyway.

For me, Points Worth deserves ***** stars.

*I received this book for free. No compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.*

Now I have had my say, don’t forget the GIVEAWAY from D.C. Marino which is at the bottom of my page.

#amreading Points Worth @DCMarinoAuthor ‏#book on tour with @Celebrate_Lit read #bookreview & enter #free #giveaway Click To Tweet

About the Book

Points Worth coverTitle: Points Worth

Author: D.C. Marino

Genre: Fantasy

Release Date: March 30

For centuries the small port town of Points Worth has been able to communicate with the ocean in its own language. But the water has just gone silent and its last word has shaken those able to translate it. A knowledge of sea-script won’t be enough to mend the broken relationship between man and the deep. Gil, a young nautical linguist, will have to break rules and search the past to discover why the ocean ceased its tides—or had them stolen.

Points Worth is a novelette set in the world of Kingdom of Ruins, and is a prequel to the first book in the series.

About the Author

Dcmarino autho picD.C. Marino is a dedicated reader of history books and fantasy novels, both of which occupy an equal amount of space on her bookshelves. But it wasn’t until she realized how one breathed life into the other that she became addicted to finding the intersections of the real world and the fairy story. Still more: what those intersections about us as a creative, curious people. Kingdom of Ruins is her debut novel.

Guest post from D.C. Marino

Hi Everyone!

I’m so excited to celebrate the release of Points Worth with you! To start, I’ll share a funny secret: this little novelette was never in the plan. The idea came at the last moment, at the suggestion of my publisher. I had never intended to write a prequel to the Kingdom of Ruins series, but when I began fleshing out this small story, it took on a personality I couldn’t ignore. Not only did I fall in love with the sea-salt setting and gutsy characters, but Points Worth is now planned to continue as a mini-series of novellas, each one to be released between the full-length novels!

Who is Gil?

Gil, the main character and hero, is who I blame for the speed of my commitment to this storyline. He inspires me. Calamity has befallen his small port town and fear is driving even the wisest of the townsfolk to make dangerous decisions. Instead of swallowing the easiest explanation for the disaster, Gil goes in search of the truth against one of the most powerful men in the town. He’s scrappy, inventive and knows his history. Though born in the hills, he’s a natural seafarer. I wanted to keep following him right off the page. And so, his story has only just begun to sail the unknown ocean.

The Kingdom of Ruins Series, where does Gil fit in?

On the flip side, the Kingdom of Ruins series takes place on land. But this isn’t a default setting. The land is a character in itself and interacts with those that live upon its soil. It even takes sides in war. This same concept was extended to the sea in Points Worth. Which is appropriate, as they are part of the same world. In fact, the town of Points Worth is only a few days’ ride away from where the main novel takes place. Which leads me to the last thing I wanted to share with you. Gil will show up as a supporting character in one of the main novels. I love this because, though the reader will know Gil very well, the main characters in Kingdom of Ruins will not. You’ll suddenly see Gil from another’s perspective, which should be interesting and sometimes comical.

I will say no more. Land and sea must tell the rest of the story.

Thank you for coming! I hope you enjoy the ocean-air and the adventure it inspires!

D.C. Marino

Blog Stops

Blossoms and Blessings, June 14

Multifarious, June 15

A Baker’s Perspective, June 15

Fiction Aficionado, June 16

Remebrancy, June 17

Ashley’s Bookshelf, June 18

RebekahsQuill, June 19

Mommynificent, June 20

Christian Author, J.E.Grace, June 20

proud to be an autism mom, June 21

Bigreadersite, June 21

Texas Book-aholic, June 22

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 23

Janices book reviews, June 24

Margaret Kazmierczak, June 25

Jeanette’s Thoughts, June 26

Carpe Diem, June 27