Review: REST IN PIECES by Katie Graykowski

Browsing the endless list of titles on my Kindle that I had yet to read, I came across a book that I downloaded a long time ago.  It’s not a new release, but Rest in Pieces by Katie Graykowski made for a fun diversion.

Description

restinpiecesMustang Ridges isn’t a town, a stripper, or some old western movie. She’s a feisty, single mom living in the small town of Lakeside, Texas where money does buy happiness and keeping up appearances is much more important than the truth. Six months ago on her thirtieth birthday, her husband decided that married life, fatherhood, and his job as the Lakeside Chief of Police weren’t as exciting as a permanent vacation to Grand Cayman with his mistress and a million dollars in diamonds he stole from the police evidence lockup.

Mustang is a pariah in a Lakeside full of piranha. But she refuses to leave—this is her home, and she figures that if she can’t join them, then she’ll beat them at their own game. With a little luck, some intimidation, and the help of her good friends Monica and Haley, Mustang presides over her own little slice of Lakeside, the Bee Creek Elementary Parent Teacher Organization.

All is quiet in Lakeside until Molly Miars, the kindergarten teacher, is found dead. According to the new police chief, she overdosed on heroin. That doesn’t explain why her head was the only body part to make it to her funeral. Mustang and her fellow PTOers don’t buy the heroin overdose for a second.

Vowing to do right by Molly, the PTO decides to investigate.

Quickly they find that Lakeside isn’t the quiet, sleepy town it appears to be. There is a dark side—money laundering and drug trafficking. When Mustang’s name turns up on a contract killer’s hit list, things go from bad to worse. Can she and the PTO stay alive long enough to find out who killed Molly Miars?

My Review

Mustang, Monica, and Haley (dare I say, partners in crime)  make for a unique team of sleuths. The three women are great friends and fellow members of the local Parent-Teacher Organization, with all of the associated drama. And they all knew the victim. They manage to find their way into some pretty far-fetched, yet humorous situations as they try to discover what happened to Molly. The story moved along at a nice pace, with enough twists to keep you wondering what might happen next and, of course, who the killer might be. Although Mustang succeeded in uncovering Molly’s killer, some of the questions raised were left unanswered, presumably to be addressed in the next book in the series.  It was a lively, enjoyable read.

Content advisory:  Although it didn’t bother me, this book does include slightly more graphic content and stronger language than the average cozy mystery. 

Review: MIND YOUR MANORS by CeeCee James

Today’s post features a book I recently read and enjoyed!

About the Book

MindManorsMeet Stella O’Neil, retired FBI agent Oscar O’Neil’s granddaughter. She’s got a lot on her plate, trying to figure out her crazy, stubborn family, the hidden secrets that caused her grandfather’s estrangement from her dad, and starting out as a realtor. Throw in a dead body found in what used to be the town’s “royalty” family’s manor, and she’s neck deep in a mystery.

She may be sweet, but she’s pretty stubborn herself.
As Stella’s curiosity leads her from one town resident to the next, a dramatic tale of family secrets starts to appear, but is she getting too close to the truth? A scary car chase in the dark has her nerves on edge, but she won’t give up until she finds out who the skeleton once was. She’s so close… but someone… maybe more than one person… will do anything to stop her.

A clean cozy mystery. No graphic violence, sex, or strong language.

My Review

Stella’s first assignment at Flaming Royalty has her visiting the three senior siblings who live in a creepy old mansion that needs to be readied for an Open House. They are bizarre, to say the least.  When Stella discovers a skeleton in the house,  she decides to investigate on her own, and as a relative newcomer, she becomes acquainted with the community and its history in the process. The pace picks up quickly with a series of suspicious incidents, and plot twists as the story unfolds.  This was a  very well written read, with vivid, yet concise descriptions, and memorable characters – an enjoyable page-turner that kept me up way past my bedtime.

Review: MURDER, CURLERS, AND CREAM by Arlene McFarlane

After a particularly stressful week, I was looking for something fun to read. After all, sometimes we all need to escape for a few hours.  And so I dove into Murder, Curlers, and Cream by Arlene McFarlane.  Its the first of four books in the Valentine Beaumont Mystery Series.

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Valentine Beaumont is a beautician with a problem. Not only has she got a meddling mother, a wacky staff, and a dying business, but now she’s got a dead client who was strangled while awaiting her facial.

With business the way it is, combing through this mystery may be the only way to save her salon. Until a second murder, an explosion, a kidnapping, death threats, and the hard-nosed Detective Romero complicate things. But Valentine will do anything to untangle the crime. That’s if she can keep her tools of the trade in her bag, keep herself alive, and avoid falling for the tough detective.

In the end, how hard can that be?

My Review

From the book’s opening sentence (“You wound a perm rod around a man’s what?”), two things became clear:  1) Valentine is a different kind of sleuth and  2) this would be an entertaining read.  And it was. I laughed a lot.  Valentine has a knack for improvising when she’s in a predicament.  Even though she is quite ditsy and does some stupid things, she is likeable.  She is a good person.  Even Detective Romero, the enigmatic hot detective, likes her – lending an element of romantic suspense to the story.  The murder mystery was laid out nicely, developing at a good pace, and the identity of the culprit was divulged only as the story neared its end.

If you’re looking for a serious literary read, look elsewhere.  If you’re looking for an  entertaining escape – this book is for you.

The book is available on Amazon.

About the Author

Arlene McFarlane is the USA Today bestselling author of the Murder, Curlers series. Previously an aesthetician, hairstylist, and owner of a full-service salon, Arlene now writes full-time. She’s also an accomplished pianist and makeover artist. When time allows, she plays publicly and posts makeovers on her website.

Review & Giveaway: BOOKMARKED FOR MURDER by V.M. Burns

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As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently read Bookmarked for Murder, the 5th book in the Mystery Bookshop series by V.M. Burns.

About the Book

Amateur sleuth Samantha Washington’s shopping trip to Chicago takes a deadly detour when a man is murdered on her bus . . .
 
BOOKMARKED FOR MURDERAfter some post-Christmas retail therapy in the Windy City, mystery bookshop owner and historical whodunit novelist Sam Washington is returning home to North Harbor, Michigan, on a chartered bus. With Nana Jo and her gal pals Irma, Dorothy, and Ruby Mae from Shady Acres Retirement Village along for the ride, it’s a lively trip. But one passenger is not so lively—a gentleman Irma befriended is found dead in his seat after an unscheduled stop. The ladies immediately shift gears to find out who punched his ticket, while Sam slips into the driver’s seat to make sure Nana Jo and her crew steer clear of fatal conclusions . . .

My Review

When Sam (Samantha) joins her grandmother and her friends from the Shady Acres Retirement Home on a trip to the windy city,  a passenger is killed on the return trip.   With the help of her Nana Jo and the quirky residents of the retirement home,  Sam is determined to find out who killed the well-known author and why.

Sam is a likeable character and I identified with her ambition to write. Sam is also working on writing her own mystery, so you get another mystery as Sam works on her book at regular intervals.  Personally, I found the additional mystery somewhat distracting; I think it slowed the overall pace of the book.

Although this is the fifth book in the Mystery Bookshop series it can easily be enjoyed as a standalone.

FTC disclosure: I received an advance review copy of this book from the publisher.  This has not affected the content of my review. 

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card from the author.

About the Author

62CV.M. Burns was born in Northwestern Indiana and spent many years in Southwestern Michigan on the Lake Michigan shoreline. She is a lover of dogs, British historic cozies, and scones with clotted cream. After many years in the Midwest, she went in search of milder winters and currently lives in Eastern Tennessee with her poodles. Her debut novel, The Plot is Murder was nominated for a 2017 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Valerie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and a lifetime member of  Sisters in Crime. Readers can learn more by visiting her website at vmburns.com

Author Links:

Purchase Links – Amazon –  Barnes & Noble – IndieBound  – Books-A-Million –  Hudson BooksellersKobo

 

 

Review & Giveaway: MEMORIES IN DECEMBER by Gina Ardito

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As part of a virtual blog tour organized by Silver Dagger Book Tours, I recently had the pleasure of reading Memories in December (Calendar Girls Book 4) a recently released romance by Gina Ardito.  It provided a delightful break from my usual diet of mystery fare.

About the Book

MemoriesinDecember 500x750 (1)_400x600Siobhan Bendlow is struggling with her recovery from an eating disorder and the financial downturn of her photography business. The last thing she needs is to become the sole caretaker of her wacky grandmother. Especially since the man of her teenaged dreams, Jimmy Vais, has moved back to town, newly single and available. So has his pesky younger brother, Justin. One Vais is fun, but juggling two is a problem.

Althea Bendlow may be in her seventies now, but she still craves all the things she wanted in youth: joy, comfort, laughter, and happiness for her loved ones. If gaining the latter means performing some matchmaking magic for her only granddaughter, she’s up to the task. As long as her own past doesn’t keep distracting her, in the form of Captain Lou Rugerman, a man who meant the world to her for one night only.

Welcome back to Snug Harbor, where the memories of a lifetime can become the dreams of tomorrow…

You’ll find the book on:  Amazon * Apple * B&N * Kobo * Goodreads

My Review

This  two-in-one romance follows Siobhan and her grandmother as they face real-life issues and ponder their pasts and their futures.  Siobhan may be young however she is not without baggage, and her story provides an informative glimpse into the long-term impact of eating disorders – emotional and physical – even years after recovery.  She struggles to see herself in a positive light, as someone that a hot guy would want to be with.  I enjoyed reading about her and Jimmy and the dynamic between them as they became reacquainted.

In her 70s, Althea, is an upbeat and vital woman, and a lot of fun. Her actions made me laugh more than once.  Upon returning to Snug Harbor, she faces the prospect of falling in love again after her husband’s death.  And her suitor is quite a character himself.

This was a well-written and humorous book and a pleasure to read.
Although part of a series, it can definitely be read as a standalone novel.  This was my first time reading anything by this author.)

FTC Disclosure: I received an advance review copy from the publisher. This has not affected the content of this review. 

Giveaway

Follow the tour HERE for more reviews, excerpts, guest posts, and more – and enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win one of two $15 Amazon gift cards.

About the Author

Gina“I kill houseplants. There. Now you know one of my greatest shames. I’m not boasting. I just figure that if you’re reading this, you’re looking for more than how wonderful life is as a writer. You get enough of that elsewhere. Ditto for political rants, how to lose thirty pounds in a week, and creating gorgeous crafts with nothing more than twine and soup cans. My goal is to connect with you, dear reader, even if you’re not a writer, not a New Yorker, not a mother, not a female. We’re human (unless one of us is a spambot), and what we have in common is flaws. So here are a few more of mine:

I sing all the time. I sing songs most people don’t know–jingles from television, crazy stuff I used to listen to on Dr. Demento, Broadway and movie soundtracks, and I can even bum-bum-bum through instrumental music. I sing in the car. In the shower. While I’m grocery shopping. And I headbop while I sing. When I’m not singing, I talk to myself. Just ignore me and move on. You get used to it after a while.

I don’t eat my vegetables. Seriously. I only started eating salad about ten years ago, but I’d still rather have a cookie.

Given the option, I would live in a mall where I would never have to worry about freezing temperatures or too much sun. I’m extremely fair-skinned and could burn under a 60-watt light bulb.

I can’t sleep without background noise so the television’s on all night. If it’s too dark and too quiet, all I have are my thoughts. And even *I* don’t want to be alone with my thoughts.

Don’t ask me to Zumba, line dance, or march in the parade. I have absolutely no rhythm.

I color outside the lines. Not because I’m a rebel, but because I suck as an artist. My artistic ability is limited to being able to draw Snoopy sleeping on his doghouse. And I don’t even draw that well.

Regrets. I have more than a few.

My favorite activity is sleep, and I’m pretty good at it. I don’t clock a lot of hours, but I can powernap like a Persian cat and rejuvenate within ten minutes.

I consider shopping and dining out excellent therapy for anything wrong in my life.
My feet are always cold. Always. My husband of more than a quarter century claims it’s because I’m an alien sent to Earth to destroy him. (He might be right about that.)

Coming to my house for a visit? Unless you’ve given me plenty of advance notice, be prepared. My floor will not be vacuumed, there will be dishes in my sink, and I only make my bed when I change the sheets once a week (I’m climbing back into it ASAP. Why make it?) Housecleaning is not high on my priority list. Okay, to be totally honest, it’s not on the list at all.

I can resist anything…except ice cream.

Since this is our first date, I figure I’ve revealed enough secrets for now. But if you’ve read this bio and think I might be the author for you, pick up one of my books or stalk my website: www.ginaardito.com.”

Author Links

Review & Giveaway: THE WIPEOUT AFFAIR by Rachel Neuburger Reynolds

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As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently had the pleasure of reading an advance copy of  The Wipeout Affair, the second book in the Red Frog Beach Mystery Series by Rachel Neuburger Reynolds.

About the Book

Ready to go back to the beach?
51tf2O1OGLL._SY346_Lexie Milano left her heart in Bocas del Toro, and the new and improved New Yorker makes the big choice to move to the laid-back Caribbean island permanently. Piña coladas, white sand beaches, and a little cabin of her own on the edge of the rainforest complete her picture of the perfect tropical future awaiting her. But if it looks too good to be true, it usually is. . . .

When the body of a beautiful wealthy local is found at an isolated surf camp, the owner calls on Lexie to help him figure out who did it in this delicious whodunit. Reluctant sleuth Lexie first turns to the police, but her sudden access to a treasure-trove of island secrets convinces her it’s time to solve another murder on her own.

Favorite characters from Drowning Lessons return to grace the pages of this comedic mystery, including Migs, the handsome photographer; Lloyd, the genius with the cryptic past; and Lexie’s new best friend, Detective LaGuardia. Between old friends, new associates, and the added potential of shark attacks, The Wipeout Affair will leave you laughing and guessing until the very end.

This is the second in the series but can be read as a stand alone novel.

My Review

Lexi has escaped her old life in New York in favor of a paradise-like island on the coast of Panama. She is only starting to put down roots and make friends when her friend Jazz turns up dead.  The prime suspect is one of her employers and someone she feels could not possibly be the culprit, so she takes it upon herself to prove his innocence.

Even though the identity of the murderer didn’t really surprise me, the story was nicely paced with a number of plot twists and suspenseful incidents.   The unusual location, surfer milieu, and somewhat quirky characters made for a book that is a good choice if you are looking for a light, entertaining read.

Note: I have not read the first book in this series.  Although this book can be read as a standalone, I suspect it might be best to read them in order.

FTC Disclosure:  I received an advance review copy from the publisher.  This has not affected the content of my review.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win one of 5 ebook copies of The Wipeout Affair.  Good luck!

About the Author

RACHEL-NEUBURGER-REYNOLDSRachel Neuburger Reynolds is the author of the Red Frog Beach Mystery Series. Book 1, Drowning Lessons, was released on May 21, 2019, and the second in the series, The Wipeout Affair, was released on October 17, 2019. She’s also working on a separate series, The Evelyn Bay Murder Mystery series, and has written book one The Death Of A Classic. If all goes as planned you’ll be reading this in 2020. This is the first of book of seven in the series. Two of her plays have been produced in recent years. The Silencer, a cautionary tale about the perils of online dating, premiered at the Edinburgh Festival, followed by a run in New York. Nepenthe, a one-woman show about the 1960’s Hollywood-fication of the Holocaust had its premiere in London, and she is currently in talks about a film adaptation in 2021. Previous to her life of putting pen to paper, she produced theatre in New York City for fifteen years. Though she bounces back and forth between London in New York my headquarters is in Crowhurst on the South Coast of the UK. Please check out more at RachelNeuburger.com

Author Links

Purchase Links:  Amazon – Kindle

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Review & Giveaway: DIVORCE IS MURDER by Elka Ray

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As part of a blog tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions, I recently read Divorce is Murder by Elka Ray.

About the Book

After returning to her quiet hometown to care for her ailing mom, divorce lawyer Toby Wong is hired by Josh Barton, a guy who broke her heart as a teen at summer camp. Now a wealthy entrepreneur, Josh wants to divorce Tonya, the mean girl who tormented Toby all those years ago. When Tonya is found murdered, Josh is the prime suspect.

divorceismurder_cover JPEGTogether with her fortune-teller mom and her pregnant best friend, Toby sets out to clear Josh, whom she still has a guilty crush on. As she delves deeper into Tonya’s murder, Toby keeps running into catty ex-campers she’d rather forget. Are her old insecurities making her paranoid? Only too late does she realize she’s in danger.

The first entry in an addictive new series, Divorce is Murder introduces fans of mystery and romance to an irresistibly smart and sarcastic new heroine – Chinese Canadian divorce lawyer Toby Wong.

You can get your copy on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

My Review

This was a quick and enjoyable read. Toby is a likeable young woman, however she has a hard time putting the past behind her.  Her world is turned upside – emotionally anyway – when a guy she used to like hires her to handle his divorce.  Memories of a traumatic incident at summer camp years before surface and are integrated into the story in stages, each time providing a bit more insight into Toby’s insecurities. At the same time, in the present, she is faced with the challenge of proving that Josh isn’t a killer while tackling her own conflicted feelings.  She has an amazing friend in Quinn and her quirky  mother provides a whimsical touch.  The mystery side of the story was well paced,  with tension, twists and turns leading to an unexpected resolution.   A promising start to a new series.  

FTC Disclosure: I received an advance review copy of this book. This has not affected my opinion as expressed in this review. 

Giveaway

The author is awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner. Click here to enter the rafflecopter.

About the Author

Born in the UK, and raised in Africa and Canada, Elka now lives in Central Vietnam. She’s the author of two novels, a short story collection and three kids’ books that she also illustrated. To learn more about Elka’s upcoming projects, please visit http://www.elkaray.com

Click here to visit the other stops on this tour for additional reviews, guest posts, and more. 

Review & Giveaway: GALLIANO GOLD by Traci Andrighetti

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As part of a tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently had the pleasure of reading Galliano Gold by Tracy Andrighetti, the fifth book in her successful Franki Amato mystery series.

About the Book

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It’s Mardi Gras season in New Orleans, but PI Franki Amato has too many problems to celebrate. A proven Sicilian lemon tradition hasn’t landed her a proposal, so her nonna has amped up the meddling to get her married, and pronto. Franki’s also under pressure to solve the strange murder of a family friend’s nephew, Nick Pescatore, who was found on a Mississippi River steamboat rumored to be haunted. When the sinister old boat sets sail on an overnight gambling cruise, Franki goes undercover with a motley crew, including a Mark Twainophile captain with a murderous past and a slimy galley chef with a mobster brother, not to mention an ex-stripper landlady with a newfound career as a memoir writer and all-too public speaker. Franki has to figure out what missing Civil War gold, a playing card, and a mysterious woman on roller skates have to do with Nick’s death. If she doesn’t, it’s anchors aweigh for Franki—down to Davy Jones’ locker.

My Review

Set in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, this is a humorous mystery with a delightful cast of quirky characters.  A crazy chain of events is triggered when Franki is hired to find Luigi’s missing nephew, leading her to go undercover as a kitchen hand on the “haunted” Galliano Gold.  Franki’s adventures may not be realistic but they are definitely entertaining.  And I loved the touch of Italian flavor – complete with a meddling grandmother – determined to see Franki married off despite her tendency to fly in the face of old-world Italian traditions.

My first time reading anything by this author. I just might go back and read the earlier books in the series.

FTC Disclosure: I received an advance review copy of this book from the publisher. This has not affected the content of this review.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your change to win a New Orleans-themed mystery book box (U.S. only) from the author.

About the Author

Traci-Andrighetti-11bTraci Andrighetti is the USA TODAY bestselling author of the Franki Amato Mysteries and the Danger Cove Hair Salon Mysteries. In her previous life, she was an award-winning literary translator and a Lecturer of Italian at the University of Texas at Austin, where she earned a Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics. But then she got wise and ditched that academic stuff for a life of crime–writing, that is. Her latest capers are teaching mystery writing for Savvy Authors and taking aspiring and established authors on intensive writing retreats to Italy with LemonLit.

Author Links

Buy the Book:   Amazon. 

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Review & Excerpt: STRANDS OF TRUTH by Colleen Coble

As part of a virtual tour organized by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours, today’s post introduces Strands of Truth by Colleen Coble.

About the Book

cover-Strands-of-TruthStrands of Harper Taylor’s childhood are resurfacing—but will the truth save her … or pull her under?

Harper Taylor is used to being alone— after all, she grew up in one foster home after another. Oliver Jackson finally took her under his wing when she was a runaway teenager, and now Harper pours her marine biology knowledge into Oliver’s pen shell research. But she’s never stopped wishing for a family of her own.

So when a DNA test reveals a half-sister living just two hours away, Harper is both hopeful and nervous. Over warm cinnamon rolls, Harper and Annabelle find striking similarities in their stories. Is it just a coincidence that both their mothers died tragically, without revealing Harper and Annabelle’s father’s name?

Oliver’s son Ridge still sees Harper as a troubled teen even all these years later. But when Oliver is attacked, Ridge and Harper find themselves working together to uncover dangerous secrets that threaten to destroy them all. They must unravel her past before they can have any hope for the future.

Scroll down to the end of this post to read an excerpt.

My Review

Despite her successful career, Harper longs to find family and turns to DNA testing to track down possible relatives.  The results of her search are interwoven into an interesting story with a complex plot that exposes the reader to the world of marine biology and the intricacies of sea silk production.

As a fan of clean romance and mysteries, romantic suspense is one of my go-to reading choices. As a mystery, Strands of Truth ticks all the checkboxes – murder, attempted murder, threats, and more, with  surprises and twists along the way.  As for the romantic side of things, I enjoyed Harper and Ridge’s interactions – though at times it did seem they protested a bit too much with regard to their growing mutual attraction.  It was fun to watch their relationship evolve.

This was my first time reading anything by this author; it probably won’t be the last.

FTC Disclosure:  I received an advance review copy from the publisher.  This has not affected the content of my review.

About the Author

Coble-ColleenColleen Coble is a USA TODAY bestselling author and RITA finalist best known for her coastal romantic suspense novels, including The Inn at Ocean’s Edge, Twilight at Blueberry Barrens, and the Lavender Tides, Sunset Cove, Hope Beach, and Rock Harbor series.

Connect with Colleen online at:

Buy links: 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Excerpt

Prologue

January 1990

St. Petersburg, Florida

Lisa ran to her Datsun Bluebird and jerked open the yellow door. Her pulse strummed in her neck, and she glanced behind her to make sure she wasn’t being followed. She’d tried not to show fear during the confrontation, but it was all she could do not to cry. She couldn’t face life without him.

She’d been on edge ever since yesterday.

Twilight backlit the treetops and highlighted the hanging moss. Instead of finding it beautiful, she saw frightening shadows and shuddered. She slid under the wheel and started the engine, then pulled out of her driveway onto the road.

She turned toward the Gulf. The water always calmed her when she was upset—and she had crossed upset moments ago and swerved into the scared zone.

Her belly barely fit under the wheel, but this baby would be born soon, then she’d have her figure back. She accelerated away from her home, a dilapidated one-story house with peeling white paint, and switched on her headlights.

The radio blared full of the news about the Berlin Wall coming down, but Lisa didn’t care about that, not now. She switched channels until she found Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’ ” playing, but even her favorite tune failed to sooth her shattered nerves. Could she seriously be murdered over this? She’d glimpsed madness in those eyes.

She pressed the brakes as she came to a four-way stop, but the brake pedal went clear to the floor. She gasped and pumped the pedal again. No response. The car shot through the intersection, barely missing the tail end of another vehicle that had entered it before her.

Hands gripping the steering wheel, she struggled to keep the car on the road as she frantically thought of a way to bring it to a stop that didn’t involve hitting another car or a tree. The baby in her belly kicked as if he or she knew their lives hung suspended in time.

“We’re going to make it, little one. We have to. I can’t leave you alone.” No one would love her baby if she died. Her mother couldn’t care for her child. She cared more about her drugs than anything else.

Lisa tried to tamp down her rising emotions, but she’d never been so frightened. The car fishtailed on the sandy road as she forced it back from the shoulder. Huge trees lined the pavement in a dense formation. Where could she drive off into relative safety? A field sprawled over on the right, just past the four-way stop ahead. If she made it through, it seemed the only place where they might survive.

Had the brakes been cut? What else could it be? She’d just had the car serviced.

Lisa approached the stop sign much too fast. The slight downhill slope had only accelerated the speed that hovered at nearly seventy. Her mouth went bone dry.

***

Taken from “Strands of Truth” by Colleen Coble. Copyright © 2019 by Colleen Coble. Used by permission of http://www.thomasnelson.com/.


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here.

Review & Giveaway: THE PUPPET MASTER by Ronald S. Barak

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As part of a blog tour organized by Silver Dagger Book Tours, I jumped at the chance to read Ronald Barak’s latest thriller- The Puppet Master.  The Puppet  Master is a prequel to  The Amendment Killer, an excellent novel, which I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing when it was released (click here to read that review).

Description

Puppet-Master-2018-FIN-cover-praise-s-3200x4800px-ebook_400x600What would YOU do if they took everything you had, your family, your home, your business, your dignity, even—perhaps—your sanity? Ronald S. Barak’s latest, The Puppet Master, prequel to The Amendment Killer, and the second in the Brooks/Lotello Thriller Series, is a gripping story of a political system gone awry—and those who feel compelled to fix it. “Have you ever killed anyone? I have. I’ll do it again. If I need to.” Three prominent political leaders in Washington, D.C., murdered in as many days.

Not a plausible story premise? What about the real world villain who recently mailed a series of pipe bombs to a number of prominent political figures? Ripped from the headlines? Barak gives new meaning to the word “timely.” The Puppet Master isn’t ripped from the headlines; written first, it forecast the headlines that followed!

The Puppet Master begins with a bang. Literally. Three of them. Not a page wasted. Capitol Hill panics. Who will be next? Others whisper that our political leaders are only getting what they deserve. Anxious to see who will be next. And why.

Crafty D.C. homicide detective Frank Lotello is tasked to find the killer. Cliff Norman, a local businessman with ample motive, is arrested. Politicians breathe a sigh of relief. However, when Lotello discovers a disturbing White House connection, he suspects Norman may not be what he appears to be. Things may not be what they appear to be.

Norman’s trial commences in the courtroom of savvy D.C. trial court judge Cyrus Brooks. An angry nation rallies behind Norman. The jury debates whether Norman’s actions may be legally justified by a rampant abuse of political trust, and threatens to unravel the very fabric of our dysfunctional government.

In an unprecedented and questionable manner that may destroy their respective careers, Lotello quietly approaches Brooks and they form a secret alliance to uncover the truth in this classic whodunnit mystery. Before it’s too late.

Blurring fiction and reality, The Puppet Master will have you dangling from the first page to the very last.

You can view the book trailer at: https://youtu.be/J9aV5pMUKC8.

Buy Links:

My Review

I enjoyed following  Detective Lotello as he persists in investigating the murder of three high-profile politicans – despite the confession of a bitter, broken man with a grudge.  The story is told from alternating points of view in short chapters, giving you a sense of what each of the players is going through and their deliberations, yet without being too confusing to follow.   Both Lotello and Judge Brooks are great characters – human and relatable.

The story is engaging and well-paced, while raising controversial questions regarding the potential for broader application  of the justifiable homicide defense in the courts – when does it become reasonable to take the law into your own hands?  Definitely thought-provoking stuff.

A well-written choice for fans of political thrillers and police procedurals.

FTC Disclosure:   I received a complimentary ARC of this book as part of this blog tour. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

Giveaway and More

Follow the tour for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and enter the Thriller Junkies  giveaway for your chance to win an e-book copy of the Puppet Master and a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

About the Author

Ronald-S-BarakDescribed by his readers as a cross between Agatha Christie, Lee Child, and John Lescroart, bestselling author Ron Barak keeps his readers flipping the pages into the wee hours of the night. While he mostly lets his characters tell his stories, he does manage to get his licks in too.

Barak derives great satisfaction in knowing that his books not only entertain but also stimulate others to think about how things might be, how people can actually resolve real-world problems. In particular, Barak tackles the country’s dysfunctional government representatives—not just back-seat driving criticism for the sake of being a back-seat driver, but truly framing practical remedies to the political abuse and corruption adversely affecting too many people’s lives today. Barak’s extensive legal background and insight allow him to cleverly cross-pollenate his fiction and today’s sad state of political reality.

In his latest novel, THE AMENDMENT KILLER, Barak calls upon his real world legal ingenuity and skill to craft a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution criminalizing political abuse and corruption that Constitutional scholars across the country are heralding as a highly plausible answer to the political chaos destroying the very moral fiber of the country today. It’s difficult to read THE AMENDMENT KILLER and not imagine what could—and should—be expected and demanded of those political leaders who have forgotten they are there to serve and not be served.

Barak is also a committed and strident advocate of finding a cure for diabetes. One of the primary characters in THE AMENDMENT KILLER is the feisty and precocious 11-year-old diabetic granddaughter of the Supreme Court justice holding the swing vote in a case in which Congress is challenging the validity of Barak’s hypothetical 28th Amendment. It is no small coincidence that Barak is himself a diabetic. Or that he has committed 50% of the net proceeds of THE AMENDMENT KILLER to diabetes research and education.

Barak is singularly qualified to have authored THE AMENDMENT KILLER, which will appeal to political and legal thriller aficionados alike. Barak is a law school honors graduate and a former Olympic athlete. While still in law school, he authored a bill introduced in Congress that overnight forced the settlement of a decades long dispute between the NCAA and the AAU to control amateur athletics in the United States.

Present-day politicians would do well to read THE AMENDMENT KILLER and not underestimate the potential of Barak’s 28th Amendment. You can read his 28th Amendment at ronaldsbarak.com/28th-amendment-page-2. You can also read his occasional political blogs at ronaldsbarak.com/blog.

Ron and his wife, Barbie, and the four-legged members of their family reside in Pacific Palisades, California.

You can catch up with the author on:
Website 🔗, Goodreads 🔗, Twitter 🔗, & Facebook 🔗!