The Ultimatum by Karen Robards

Thief with a heart!

 

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The Ultimatum: An International Spy Thriller (The Guardian Book 1) by Karen Robards, MIRA, 336 pages, July 13th 2017, Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense/Organized Crime. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

Review by Leigh Holland.

“What I’m doing is trying to save a little girl and her mother, and yes, that’s worth risking my life,” says Bianca St. Ives, an international thief with a heart of gold. In this intriguing dance of crooks, cops, and killers, Robards provides us with a harder-than-diamonds heroine who’s soft in all the right places. Although her father taught her ‘the rules’, a code that ensures her survival even at the expense of others, Bianca often finds herself making ‘exceptions’.

Bianca St. Ives has been trained since childhood by her father to be a master of disguise, thief, con artist, security specialist, martial artist and part of his team. A huge heist goes horribly wrong in Bahrain, leading to an explosion that takes the life of her father. Bianca must pick up the pieces, returning to her ‘cover’ life in Savannah as the head of a her own security firm. Doc, the only surviving member of his team, returns with her and acts in the capacity of her internet and computer expert. While monitoring her father’s email, Doc and Bianca get an offer for a job directed to her dad. Bianca takes the job. When things go from bad to worse, she tries to get out of the job, to no avail, as the lives of others hang in the balance. Bianca’s journey leads her to discover more about her origins, true identity, and her family’s past. The cliffhanger ending readies the reader for the next installment in the series, leaving us wanting more.

For fans of Robards’ previous Romantic Suspense novels, this first installment may leave you feeling the romantic aspect is lacking. Bianca has steamy chemistry in her cat-and-mouse game with Mickey, but it never goes deeper. There is potential for fleshing out a deeper relationship in later books. A lot of questions about Bianca’s past remain unanswered. In this book, you’ll find a lot of descriptive spy activity, suspenseful action, and a couple of interesting twists.

I enjoyed reading this first installment and I’m anxiously looking forward to seeing where the series goes as well as finding out more about Bianca’s past. I’d recommend this book to readers who enjoy strong female protagonists and criminal/suspense novels.

Amazon link: The Ultimatum by Karen Robards

Website: http://www.karenrobards.com/

Biography:

Karen Robards is a bestselling novelist from Louisville, Kentucky. She has penned over 50 published novels since 1981 and had her work translated into 17 languages. Starting off as a historical romance writer, Robards switched to Romantic Suspense. Her most recent novel, The Ultimatum, is a Spy Thriller.

Her father was an orthodontist and when she visited his work, she read his copies of Reader’s Digest. In 1973, she sold her first short story to Reader’s Digest for $100. Her first book, “Island Flame”, was the result of a graduate level writing class assignment. Not realizing she’d have to read the work to the class, she chose to write the assignment in the historical romance genre. Her first book stayed on the shelves three weeks, which was standard in those days. She took a job at an orthodontist’s office and during her lunch break, worked on her second novel bit by bit. “To Love a Man” sold to new publisher and began selling quickly. She won a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award.

Check out other reviews at:

The Ultimatum at All About Romance

The Ultimatum at Publisher’s Weekly

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Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas by Sojourner McConnell

KentuckyAuthors!BannerWho’s That in the Cat Pajamas? (The Dolcey Series Book 1) By Sojourner McConnell, Illustrated by Ellie Barrett, 40 pages, June 2nd 2017, ISBN: 978-1545150269, Genre: Multigenerational, Children’s Books, Family Life. Format: Kindle. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

Review by Leigh Holland.

The age range for this book is listed as 5-12 years of age. I confess that I’m way older than 12, but I adored this cute children’s tale. Nobody likes dealing with change, particularly when you’re a child with no control over where you live. Change is difficult for everyone, but sometimes all that’s needed to embrace it is viewing it with a new set of eyes and a new attitude.

The fairy Dolcey has a special ability she learned from her mother. With this skill, she can find and help children who are sad or have a big problem. Dolcey finds Emily Patton, a little girl who is scared of moving to a new place. Dolcey befriends Emily in the form of a cat by wearing cat pajamas. By day, Dolcey is a lovable, cold, hungry stray whom the family decides to take in. By night, she is a fairy, helping Emily come to terms with the changes approaching in her life.

The book slowly provides children with the lesson that while change is hard and even scary, change can also be a wondrous adventure; an opportunity of a lifetime. Parents love their kids and make decisions they feel are best for them and the entire family as a whole. Trusting your parents can make change less difficult. Just as the kitty cat came into a new environment not knowing what to expect and found a loving home with new people, so too will Emily be able to make a new and happy life in her new town.

The illustrations in the book were cute, colorful, and fit the story perfectly. The writing was on par with the reading level for the target age range and evoked magical images to captivate the reader. I’d recommend this book to parents with kids between 5 and 12 years of age- not just for the kids to enjoy, but also the parents.

It’s available at Amazon at Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas?

About the Author:

Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. Sojourner McConnell lives in Winchester, Kentucky with one of her daughters and three of her thirteen grandchildren. She has six grandchildren in Alabama and four that live in Michigan. Sojourner’s new book is a children’s chapter book, Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas which will release June 2, 2017. Her next book, Blip, is a sci-fi book with humor and intrigue and is due out by December 2017. The Path of the Child, The Power of Forgiveness, and 31 Days of October are available in paperback and in eBook format on Amazon and other retailers. Sojourner brings a taste of strong personalities with a healthy dose of southern charm to her characters. As co-founder and part of the organizing team of Mystery Thriller Week, she has become fascinated with writing a mystery of her own. In fact, there might be a little mystery woven into one of the two books she is writing at present. When not writing, she is busy entertaining her Australian Shepherd, Beau. Unfortunately, Beau tends to get jealous when she spends too much time working on the computer.

50 Kentucky Facts and Trivia

50 Kentucky Facts and Trivia

  1. The town of Murray is home to the Boy Scouts of America Scouting Museum located on the campus of Murray State University.
  2. The Kentucky Derby is the oldest continuously held horse race in the country. It is held at Churchill Downs in Louisville on the first Saturday in May.
  3. The Bluegrass Country around Lexington is home to some of the world’s finest racehorses.
  4. Kentucky was a popular hunting ground for the Shawnee and Cherokee Indian nations prior to being settled by European settlers.
  5. In 1774, Harrodstown (now Harrodsburg) was established as the first permanent settlement in the Kentucky region. It was named after James Harrod who led a team of area surveyors.
  6. The old official state tree was the Kentucky coffee tree (Gymnocladus dioicus.) The tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) is the current official state tree. The change was made in 1976.tuliptree
  7. Cheeseburgers were first served in 1934 at Kaolin’s restaurant in Louisville.
  8. Chevrolet Corvettes are manufactured in Bowling Green.
  9. Mammoth Cave is the world’s longest cave and was first promoted in 1816, making it the second oldest tourist attraction in the United States. Niagara Falls, New York is first.Mammoth_Cave_National_Park_005
  10. Begun in 1819, the first commercial oil well was on the Cumberland River in McCreary County.
  11. The first Miss America from Kentucky is Heather Renee French. She was crowned September 18, 1999.
  12. The first Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant owned and operated by Colonel Sanders is located in Corbin.
  13. Kentucky is the state where both Abraham Lincoln, President of the Union, and Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, were born. They were born less than one hundred miles and one year apart.
  14. Cumberland is the only waterfall in the world to regularly display a Moonbow. It is located just southwest of Corbin.Red-Moonbow1
  15. Fleming County is recognized as the Covered Bridge Capital of Kentucky.
  16. Shelby County is recognized as the Saddlebred Capital of Kentucky.
  17. The town of Corbin was the birthplace of old time movie star Arthur Lake whose real surname was Silverlake: He played the role of Dagwood in the “Blondie” films of the 1930s and ‘40s. Lake’s parents were trapeze artists billed as “The Flying Silverlakes”.
  18. Christian County is wet while Bourbon County is dry. Barren County has the most fertile land in the state.wetdryky
  19. Thunder Over Louisville is the opening ceremony for the Kentucky Derby Festival and is the world’s largest fireworks display.thunder-over-louisville
  20. More than 100 native Kentuckians have been elected governors of other states.
  21. In 1888, “Honest Dick” Tate the state treasurer embezzled $247,000 and fled the state.
  22. The song “Happy Birthday to You” was the creation of two Louisville sisters in 1893.happybirthdaytoyou
  23. Teacher Mary S. Wilson held the first observance of Mother’s Day in Henderson in 1887. It was made a national holiday in 1916.
  24. The great Man o’ War won all of his horse races except one which he lost to a horse named Upset.
  25. The first town in the United States to be named for the first president was Washington, Kentucky. It was named in 1780.
  26. Pikeville annually leads the nation in per capita consumption of Pepsi-Cola.
  27. The first American performance of a Beethoven symphony was in Lexington in 1817.
  28. Post-It Notes are manufactured exclusively in Cynthiana. The exact number made annually of these popular notes is a trade secret.
  29. Kentucky was the 15th state to join the Union and the first on the western frontier.
  30. Bluegrass is not really blue–it’s green–but in the spring bluegrass produces bluish purple buds that when seen in large fields give a blue cast to the grass. Today, Kentucky is known as the Bluegrass State.
  31. There is a legend that the inspiration for Stephen Foster’s hymn like song“My Old Kentucky Home” was written in 1852 after an unverified trip to visit relatives in Kentucky.
  32. Daniel Boone and his wife Rebecca are buried in the Frankfort Cemetery. Their son Isaac is buried at Blue Licks Battlefield near Carlisle, where he was killed in the last battle of the Revolutionary War fought in Kentucky.
  33. The only monument south of the Ohio River dedicated to Union Soldiers who died in the Civil War is located in Vanceburg.
  34. The public saw an electric light for the first time in Louisville. Thomas Edison introduced his incandescent light bulb to crowds at the Southern Exposition in 1883.
  35. The radio was invented by a Kentuckian named Nathan B. Stubblefield of Murray in 1892. It was three years before Marconi made his claim to the invention.
  36. The first enamel bathtub was made in Louisville in 1856.
  37. In the War of 1812 more than half of all Americans killed in action were Kentuckians.
  38. Middlesboro is the only city in the United States built within a meteor crater.
  39. Joe Bowen holds the world record for stilt walking endurance. He walked 3,008 miles on stilts between Bowen, Kentucky to Los Angeles, California.
  40. The world’s largest free-swinging bell known as the World Peace Bell is on permanent display in Newport.WPBell-0235424
  41. High Bridge located near Nicholasville is the highest railroad bridge over navigable water in the United States.
  42. Carrie Nation- the spokesperson against rum, tobacco, pornography, and corsets- was born near Lancaster in Garrard County.lttlsnto
  43. The brass plate embedded in the sidewalk at the corner of Limestone and Main Street in downtown Lexington is a memorial marker honoring Smiley Pete. The animal was known as the town dog in Lexington. He died in 1957.petey
  44. Kentucky-born Alben W. Barkley was the oldest United States Vice President when he assumed office in 1949. He was 71 years old.
  45. More than $6 billion worth of gold is held in the underground vaults of Fort Knox. This is the largest amount of gold stored anywhere in the world.
  46. The Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption in Covington has 82 stained-glass windows including the world’s largest hand-blown one. The window measures 24 feet wide by 67 feet high and depicts the Council of Ephesus with 134 life-sized figures.cathedralbasilicaky
  47. The Lost River Cave and Valley Bowling Green includes a cave with the shortest and deepest underground river in the world. It contains the largest cave opening east of the Mississippi.
  48. Frederick Vinson who was born in Louisa is the only Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court known to be born in jail.
  49. Pike County the world’s largest producer of coal is famous for the Hatfield-McCoy feud, an Appalachian vendetta that lasted from the Civil War to the 1890s.
  50. Kentucky- cradle of Bluegrass Music!

Thanks to: Kentucky Department of Travel, John D. Dowd, Mandy Paige, DeLores Wiggins, Wayne Shelton, David Grossman, Cleamon Inman, Jody Odonnell. Originally at Kentucky Facts.

Seeking Kentucky Authors!

Are you an author from Kentucky? If so, I’d love to hear from you! I’m looking for both traditionally published and Indie authors, established or new, from Kentucky to do book reviews for and author interviews with on my blog.

If you’re interested, please send me an email at LHrequest@gmail.com with the subject line ‘Kentucky Author’. I look forward to hearing from you soon!