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 🔗!

Review: WHO SHOT THE SERIF? by Jessa Archer

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As part of a tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, today’s post is about the first book in a new cozy mystery series – Who Shot the Serif? by Jessa Archer.

Description

Who-Shot-the-Serif-ebook-coverWhen Jamie Lang finds one of her hand lettered quotes on the window of her shop, Flourish, with a hole shot through a serif, she knows someone’s trying to drive her business into red ink. Jamie confronts Earleen Culp, the ruthless owner of the local stationery shop, in front of the most popular breakfast spot in the small town of Cedar Valley. Of course, Earleen professes shock and innocence, so when she’s found dead in front of Jamie’s home the next morning, Jamie becomes the prime suspect.

Jamie’s one cross-stroke short of acquittal, and even her best friend has her doubts. But Jamie’s not the only one in town with a motive for wanting Earleen silenced for good. To clear her name, Jamie’s going to need every last drop of ink in her quill.

With the hot police chief Ridge, and her makeup artist friend Nora on her side, she’s prepared to go out with a flourish if that’s what it takes to catch the real murderer. She’s desperate to save her hand lettering business, but will her quest lead her right into a killer’s snare?

My Review

An enjoyable light mystery about a small-town business owner specializing in hand printing who takes on the role of amateur sleuth to prove she didn’t commit murder. The victim, Earleen, is the type of person everyone loves to hate.  Lots of people, including Jamie’s friends and neighbors, have a motive for wanting her gone.  That doesn’t stop many of the townsfolk from pointing a finger in Jamie’s direction.

The story moved along at a nice pace, with enough suspense to keep the pages turning  -though if you pay close attention, the killer might not come as a surprise to you.

Nice start to a cute series likely to please most cozy mystery fans.

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

About the Author

jessaJessa Archer writes sweet, funny, warm-hearted cozy mysteries because she loves a good puzzle and can’t stand the sight of blood. Her characters are witty, adventurous, and crafty in the nicest way. You’ll find her sleuths hand lettering inspirational quotes, trying to lower golf handicaps, enjoying a scone at a favorite teashop, knitting a sweater, or showing off a dramatic side in local theater.

Jessa’s done many things in her long career, including a stint as a journalist and practicing law. But her favorite job is spinning mysteries. She loves playing small town sleuth and transporting readers to a world where the scones are delicious, wine pairs with hand lettering, and justice always prevails.

Author Links

Amazon: http://bit.ly/JessaArcher
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jessa-archer
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19123141.Jessa_Archer
Facebook: http://bit.ly/JessaArcherFacebook
Pinterest: http://bit.ly/JessaArcherPinterest
Twitter: http://bit.ly/JessaArcher-Twitter
Instagram: http://bit.ly/JessaArcherInstagram
Jessa Archer Web Page: https://www.jessaarcher.com/home.html

Purchase Links

Amazon.com:
Amazon Universal Link (to all Amazon sites)

Follow the tour here for reviews, guest posts and more.

 

Review: HER SILENT CRY by Lisa Regan

This summer I got a lot of reading done. For a slight change of pace, I downloaded a review copy of Her Silent Cry (Detective Josie Quinn Book 6) from Net Galley.  After all, I couldn’t resist a thriller with such a beautiful cover.

Description

51xgehv2bpblRound and round she goes, blonde pigtails flying, her high-pitched giggle catching on the wind. But as the ride slows to a stop, her seat is suddenly empty. Little Lucy is gone…

When seven-year-old Lucy Ross is snatched from the carousel in Denton city park, Detective Josie Quinn joins the frantic search. She’s the one who finds Lucy’s sparkly butterfly backpack abandoned by the ticket booth, a note with a devastating message stuffed inside: answer your phone, or your sweet little darling will die…

The next day, Lucy’s parents are filled with hope when they pick up a call which they think is from their babysitter – but instead it’s a chilling male voice on the line. Josie races to the babysitter’s small apartment only to find her lifeless body in a tangle of sheets on her bed.

Josie is faced with the most high-stakes case of her career as each new phone call from someone connected to the family ends with the shocking discovery of another body. This twisted killer wants revenge, and he won’t stop until the Ross family are in pieces…

Something is telling Josie that Lucy’s parents aren’t giving her the whole truth, but digging deeper into their lives will force her to confront a life-changing secret of her own. Does Josie have what it takes to crack this case? She has no choice if she’s going to bring Lucy home alive…

Her Silent Cry is available on Amazon.

My Review

This police procedural/thriller was a page-turner. From the onset, you are invested – you want to know what happened to Lucy, who took her, and why.  Josie is strong, smart, and determined. She is quick to take charge and willing to do whatever needs to be done to find the missing child. The investigation points in one direction, only to then turn in another, and then veer off in yet another – without identifying the kidnapper and motive until almost the very end. Relatable characters and unexpected plot twists made for an engrossing read.

This was my first time reading anything by Lisa Regan;  it probably won’t me my last.    Although Her Silent Cry can be read as a standalone,  I may have to find time now to go back and read the rest of the series.

FTC Disclosure:  I received an advance review copy of this book via Net Galley. This has not affected the content of my review.

Review & Giveaway: THE ORNERY GENE by Warren C. Embree

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As part of a blog tour organized by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours,  this city girl vicariously ventured into the world of ranching and rodeos by reading The Ornery Gene by Warren C. Embree.

About the Book

cover-embree-ornery-gene-SQWhen itinerant ranch hand Buck Ellison took a job with Sarah Watkins at her ranch in the Sandhills of Nebraska, he thought he had found the place where he could park his pickup, leave the past behind, and never move again.

On a rainy July night, a dead body at the south end of Sarah’s ranch forces him to become a reluctant detective, digging into the business of cattle breeding for rodeos and digging up events from his past that are linked to the circumstances surrounding the murder of Sam Danielson.

Working with his boss Sarah, her nephew Travis Martin, and the cook Diane Gibbons, Buck unmasks the murderer, but at the cost of learning the reality of past events that he chooses to keep to himself.

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

My Review

This well written mystery is set against the backdrop of rural Nebraska and the world of cattle ranching and rodeos.

As the story progresses the personalities of the different characters emerge as events from the past are brought into focus.  Kind of like peeling off the skin of an onion – layer by layer.  This was particularly true with regard to Buck; each new twist in the story brought with it new information about his past.

I enjoyed the glimpse into life on a ranch. The descriptions of the region and the way of life were detailed enough to be vivid yet seamlessly woven into the story, without slowing the down the overall pace.  The mystery itself was unusual and, although not jam-packed with suspense,  the identify of the culprit came as a surprise.  I liked it.

FTC Disclosure:  I received an advance review copy of this book as part of  this blog tour. This has not affected the content of my review.

Giveaway

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

About the Author

Warren-EmbreeWarren Embree and his wife grew up in the Sandhills of Nebraska. He did both farm work and ranch work during those years, and he still keeps track of what goes on in the hills. After leaving the area, he pursued an academic career in English, Classical Languages, and Divinity. He lectured at a couple of institutions and preached at a few churches, and he now works in Lincoln as a data analyst for the University of Nebraska. His knowledge and love of the unique culture of the Sandhills, his education in languages and literature, and his analytical skills contribute to his story telling. He and his wife currently live in Nebraska and have 3 grown children.

Catch Up With Warren Embree On:  warrenembree.com, Goodreads, & Facebook!

Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE
Wednesday, 9:15 p.m.

Sam Danielson slowed his pickup to a stop beside an old cattle chute, switched off the engine, rolled the window all the way down, and listened. He absentmindedly counted the cricket chirps for ten seconds, added forty to the number of chirps and calculated it to be about sixty-five degrees or so outside. A trick his dad had taught him. It was a little chilly for July in this part of the hills, but he had heard the low rumbling of thunder on the drive out. It smelled like rain; there was a storm moving from the northeast that was cooling things down. There could even be some ice in it. He checked his watch: nine-fifteen. Just past twilight. He opened the pickup door and took a deep breath. He reached over, grabbed the flashlight from the glove box, and slid out of the driver’s seat onto the soft sand.

Off in the distance, he heard a mama cow lowing. This was the life he had chosen, and he had never looked back. It hadn’t been easy working for, and then with, his dad. They had gone back and forth on the best way to select the bulls and broncos they supplied for “rough stock” events at the rodeos in the Sandhills of western Nebraska. There was only one way for Dad. “You don’t have the feel for how much the bull don’t want rode,” his dad would say. But Sam had gone to school and studied twentieth-century methods of livestock rearing. For his dad it was a way of life; for Sam it was a business. Sam liked the numbers. He liked to narrow the odds by more than just a feeling. He had tried to show his dad the value in breeding techniques and genetic tracking in estimating the probability that a particular bull would do well in the arena. His dad would just laugh it off. “Show me the ornery gene,” his dad would laugh. “I’ll have five bulls picked before you decide on one.” But Sam knew his would be a better one than the five. He could prove the temperament of a bull before anyone tried to ride it. He had never convinced his dad. The ornery gene had been elusive, but not the genetic makeup of the ornery bulls. He had been right, and he had a genetically identifiable line of stock to prove it.

During his travels from his ranch outside of Laramie, Wyoming, Sam had been made aware of a genetic curiosity in one of the cattle he purchased in Colorado in the spring. Being off in the records would end up being off in the genetic makeup of the calves. There never was just one gene that made the difference. It was a matter of multiple generations. He had traced the lines that looked the most promising, and closely followed the leaders in the industry. Discovering that curiosity had led him into this part of the Sandhills of Nebraska. Talking about it at the bar had got him into an argument with the old cowboy, and listening to the old man had brought him to this particular spot.

“You’ll find what you’re looking for out there,” the old cowboy had said. “Then you’ll know I was telling you the truth.” Danielson switched the flashlight on and scanned the area around the cattle chute. He had let himself be convinced that the old man knew a thing or two about cattle breeding. What had surprised Danielson most was that the old man had known about the science behind modern breeding at all. The old cowboy looked more like he’d been “rode hard and put up wet” as his dad would have said: a man who had spent a hard life out in the sun and the rain and the snow. Danielson expected someone like that to know less about biogenetics and more about old school solutions. Like his dad.

The excitement the old cowboy had shown assured Danielson it would be worth his time to find out if he was headed in the right direction. But as he looked around the area, all he saw was a dump site for old batteries, tires, cook stoves, windmill parts, cans, bed springs, and used up corral panels. He saw nothing that would explain the old cowboy’s intensity. Now he was more curious to find out how the old cowboy would explain the genetic anomaly that he was so passionate about. It was one of those things his dad would say shouldn’t make a whole lot of difference in his deciding on a bull. It probably wasn’t all that important to breeders either. But he was curious, and keeping careful records was important to the integrity of breeding livestock.

It was a necessary component in the breeding business and his business. He was hoping he could find some answers out here as he tried to piece together the puzzle. He was determined to take some time to track it down to the source and maybe be able to verify when and where the mistake was made.

He had tried to be low-key when he was asking questions, but the speed at which the old cowboy had raised his hackles this afternoon showed Danielson just how hard that was going to be. He had touched the wrong nerve on the first try. He wasn’t sure whether he had asked the wrong question or his question had been taken the wrong way. It took a couple of beers and a good bit of time getting the old man calmed down. When it finally got friendly again, the old cowboy had told him about the spot out here in the hills. He gave directions and said he’d meet him out there around nine that evening.

As he waited for the old cowboy to show up, Danielson kicked at a broken pitman, picked it up, and used it to move around some cans at the edge of the dump site. He wasn’t terribly interested in getting bitten by a rattlesnake or a rat. It was a half-hearted effort. He sniffed the air again and caught the scent of pine and cedar trees this time. The hills hadn’t changed much from when he was a kid except the cedar trees. They were becoming a weed out in the hills. He shoved a wooden box with the pitman, then threw the stick of wood back into the pile. It was altogether possible that the old cowboy had sent him out on a snipe hunt. It just as well be. There was nothing he’d seen so far that was tied to the cattle breeding. If it were here, it wasn’t something obvious. What galled him was that he could be looking right at it and still not see it. For that matter, there could be nothing to it.

A loud clap of thunder caused Danielson to look up at the sky. In the southwest the clouds were fast turning to an ugly black. He saw the lightning streak across the sky and started counting. He reached fifty-two and he heard the thunder again. The storm was only about ten miles away. He didn’t want to get caught in the storm, and he hadn’t found anything yet. It wouldn’t be the first time he had gone on a wild goose chase.

He walked over to the rear of the pickup, pulled out a can of chewing tobacco from his back pocket, and stuffed a pinch in the back of his cheek. He put the can back in his pocket and picked up an old spur that was in the pickup box. He turned it over in his hand as he walked over to the chute—just an old spur. The old cowboy had given it to him, along with some old rodeo flyers, claiming he’d known Danielson’s dad and had got it from him. His dad had never been a bull rider, so the spur didn’t belong to him. He didn’t know whether someone had given it to his dad or his dad had simply found it tearing down after one of the rodeos they had supplied the bulls and broncs for. It reminded him that he needed to go through his dad’s things, a clutter of boxes, something he’d put off for ten years after his dad died. He tossed the spur toward the pickup box but hit the fender instead, bouncing the spur at an odd angle forward of the pickup. He walked over toward the cattle chute and battery and pointed his flashlight in the direction the spur had bounced.

Danielson caught the flash of lightning in the corner of his eye, heard a pop from behind him, then felt a sledgehammer hit him in the middle of the back. The strength drained out of his legs. He felt a sharp pain spring out from where the hammer had hit that seemed to rush through his torso. His legs gave out and he hit the ground, knees first, and then fell on his face. The pain was now a hot, burning sensation from the place where the hammer had hit and his back felt wet. He thought he had been struck with lightning, cursing himself for miscalculating the distance of the storm. He tried to use his arms to push himself up, but he couldn’t gather the strength. He dropped back down. He could feel that his back was soaked, but it hadn’t started raining yet.

From off to his right, he heard something moving cans around. It wasn’t the wind. It was deliberate. No animal would do that either. A few moments later, he felt someone kick his side. He grunted involuntarily, and then tried to roll over. His legs were a dead weight. He twisted his face away from the pickup, but couldn’t see anything. “He shot me,” he whispered. He tried to raise himself with his arms, but was light-headed now. I can’t believe he shot me. A few moments later rain poured from the clouds, diluting the blood from his back and mingling it with the sand.

Excerpt from The Ornery Gene. All rights reserved.

Review & Giveaway: THE GREAT JEWEL ROBBERY by Elizabeth McKenna

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As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently read The Great Jewel Robbery (A Front Page Mystery), the first book in a new series by Elizabeth McKenna.

About the Book

Great-Jewel-Robbery-FRONTCOVERMystery with a splash of romance…

Chicago Tribune reporters Emma and Grace have been best friends since college despite coming from different worlds. When Grace is assigned to cover an annual charity ball and auction being held at a lakeside mansion and her boyfriend bails on her, she brings Emma as her plus one. The night is going smoothly until Emma finds the host’s brother unconscious in the study. Though at first it is thought he was tipsy and stumbled, it soon becomes clear more is afoot, as the wall safe is empty and a three-million-dollar diamond necklace is missing. With visions of becoming ace investigative journalists, Emma and Grace set out to solve the mystery, much to the chagrin of the handsome local detective.

My Review

I liked this book. Emma and Grace are likeable, well-developed characters.  It was easy to relate to Grace’s frustration with her job, and even easier for this reader to relate to Emma’s love of donuts.  The author has drawn a diverse cast of characters,  some more likeable than others (kind of like the real world), and brought them together for a weekend gala fundraising event.  Mix in an assault, a robbery, a murder, and a hint of romance and the result is an enjoyable and sometimes surprising read.  A great start to a new mystery series.

FTC Disclosure:  I received an advance review copy of this book as part of  this blog tour. This has not affected the content of my review.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a digital copy of The Great Jewel Robbery and a $25 Amazon gift card.

About the Author

Elizabeth-McKenna-Author-picElizabeth McKenna’s love of books reaches back to her childhood, where her tastes ranged from Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys to Stephen King’s horror stories. She had never read a romance novel until one Christmas when her sister gave her the latest bestseller by Nora Roberts. She was hooked from page one (actually, she admits it was the first love scene). She combined her love of history, romance, and a happy ending to write Cera’s Place and Venice in the Moonlight. Her contemporary romance novel, First Crush Last Love, is loosely based on her life during her teens and twenties. The Great Jewel Robbery is her debut cozy mystery, and she hopes readers will like it as much as they have enjoyed her romances.

Elizabeth lives in Wisconsin with her understanding husband, two beautiful daughters, and a sassy Labrador. When she isn’t writing, working, or being a mom, she’s sleeping.

Author Links

Purchase Links –  Amazon  –   Barnes & Noble –   Kobo  – Scribd  –  Apple  

Follow the tour here for reviews, guest posts and more.