Review: WATCH OUT FOR HER by Samantha M. Bailey

A mystery I read recently released today – Watch Out for Her – by Samantha M. Bailey. I enjoyed it. If you are a fan of psychological thrillers/mysteries, be sure to check it out.

Description*

Wherever you go…
she’ll be watching.


Sarah Goldman, mother to six-year-old Jacob, is relieved to move across the country. She has a lot she wants to leave behind, especially Holly Monroe, the pretty twenty-two-year-old babysitter she and her husband, Daniel, hired to take care of their young son last summer. It started out as a perfect arrangement—Sarah had a childminder her son adored, and Holly found the mother figure she’d always wanted. But Sarah’s never been one to trust very easily, so she kept a close eye on Holly, maybe too close at times. What she saw raised some questions, not only about who Holly really was but what she was hiding. The more Sarah watched, the more she learned—until one day, she saw something she couldn’t unsee, something so shocking that all she could do was flee.

Sarah has put it all behind her and is starting over in a different city with her husband and son. They’ve settled into a friendly suburb where the neighbors, a tight clique of good citizens, are always on the lookout for danger. But when Sarah finds hidden cameras in her new home, she has to wonder: has her past caught up to her, and worse yet, who’s watching her now?

A spine-tingling, page-turning novel from USA TODAY and #1 national bestselling author Samantha M. Bailey, Watch Out for Her is psychological suspense at its very best—a chilling look at trust, voyeurism, and obsession in the modern age, and how far we will go to watch out for those we love.

*Publisher’s description as appears on Amazon

My Review

This well written novel presents an intriguing tale centered on the personalities of two women. Both are somewhat emotionally unbalanced yet for very different reasons. They both seek a sense of security, love, and validation. Holly is desperate to become part of a loving family at any cost, and Sarah is cast in the role of surrogate mother to the troubled young woman. Holly and Sarah get along well. That is, until a series of events lead to a falling out. As the story unravels, the extent of their respective psychological issues becomes apparent and the questions surrounding who is/was watching whom are answered.

The author’s choice of voice was interesting, with the point of view alternating between Sarah’s (1st person) POV after the move and Holly’s POV (in 3rd person) before the move. Felt odd to me at first, but it works. Overall, the pace was pretty even thoughout, picking up pace near the end leading to a speedy resolution. I enjoyed the book and will be on the look out for future work by this author.

FTC disclosure: I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley and have voluntarily posted this honest review.

A Conversation with Author Cassidy Salem

I Read What You Write!

IR- What does it mean to you to be called an author?

CS- Difficult question. I have always had great respect for authors and their ability to invent and tell a story. I have written and published stories so I, too, am an author. When I wrote my first novel, it was the result of a challenge I had set for myself – a self-dare of sorts. For me, being called an author is a source of pride and a sense of accomplishment.

IR- Which book are we talking about today?

CS- Dead amid the Dogwoods, a standalone novella in the Adina Donati, Accidental Sleuth mystery series. This time Adina’s plans for a stress-free weekend getaway in rural Pennsylvania take a deadly turn with the appearance of an uninvited and decidedly unwelcome corpse.

IR- What inspired the idea for your book?

CS- No specific person or thing. The first…

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Book Blast: MESSAGE IN A BULLET by Owen Thomas

Today, I am happy to let you know about a new mystery – Message in a Bullet (A Raymond Mackey Mystery – Book 1) by Owen Thomas. I haven’t read it yet, but it sounds interesting. Enjoy.

About the Book

Raymond Mackey is a struggling crime writer. His friends call him Mack. But friends are in short supply these days. Mack’s thirty years as a homicide detective came to the kind of abrupt, ignominious end that tends to make friends dry up and blow away. It matters little that Mack was never actually a mole working for a shadowy, seemingly omnipresent mob boss. Somehow, the evidence was there anyway and the scandal ended everything for him overnight. Lucky to stay out of prison, Mack lives in a netherworld of forced retirement, spinning his memories of old homicide cases into pulp fiction and working part time as a shopping mall cop. His wife Marlo, the greatest criminal investigator Mack has ever known, has been dead of pancreatic cancer for nearly five years. That leaves his ancient Smith-Corona Corsair, a pack of Camels, a bottle of Old Forester, and Marlo’s bourbon-loving cat, Phil, as Mack’s only company. 

Almost. Because Mack also keeps himself company. The psychiatrists call it Depersonalization-Derealization Disorder. Mack calls it Triple-D. But crazy also works. It means he watches himself, usually from an overhead perspective, as though someone has tied a floating camera to a back beltloop on a long string. It makes him feel watched, and not by someone inclined to judge him kindly. So Raymond Mackey comes complete with his own Greek chorus. “Watch yourself, Mack,” people tell him. He has no choice.

When one of Mack’s old informants goes missing and Mack’s face turns up in a dead man’s camera, his past comes roaring painfully back to life. Now the police want him for questioning, the mob want him dead and it’s increasingly difficult to tell who, exactly, is working for who. As a mercilessly hot Chicago summer finally breaks and it starts to rain bodies, Mack finds himself past his prime for this kind of action. Retirement has added weight and subtracted agility. He hasn’t fired a weapon in years. His antiquated cell phone will not stop ringing with a mysteriously blocked number. In the end, as Mack watches himself from above, it is razor-sharp instinct, cheap consumer electronics and his dead wife that offer his only hope.
Link to purchase:  Amazon    

New Release Review ~ Dead Amid the Dogwoods (Adina Donati, Accidental Sleuth Book 5) by Cassidy Salem

Excited to share with you the first review of my latest book – Dead amid the Dogwoods.

Bayou Book Junkie

Nothing disrupts a celebration quite like an uninvited corpse.

Adina already knows the city can be a dangerous place. That’s why she’s looking forward to a stress-free weekend in rural Pennsylvania with her favorite detective. Maybe not all that stress-free. They are attending an engagement party and Adina will be meeting Jonathan’s family for the first time.
Except the holiday weekend takes a deadly turn when leading industrialists, a hard-core environmentalist, and a bevy of wealthy partygoers converge on the Riverfront Lodge, and the couple stumbles upon yet another dead body. Drawn into the ensuing investigation, making a good impression on Jonathan’s parents is the least of her worries.

A standalone novella, Dead amid the Dogwoods is the fifth mystery in the Adina Donati, Accidental Sleuth Series.

Amazon

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Review: LOVE, LAUGHTER & HAPPILY EVER AFTER

If you enjoy sweet romance and are looking for fun reads, then this recently romantic comedy collection is just for you.  Wide range of novellas from diverse group of authors.

Description

Escape with 20 Sweet Romantic Comedies with all the feels!

✔ Flirty & swoony heartthrobs

✔ Funny & sassy heroines

✔ Off-the-charts chemistry & charm

✔ Sweet kisses & happily ever afters

This sweet romcom collection contains 20 original humorous novellas from best-selling authors that are heartwarming, feel-good, and laugh out loud funny.

Between the pages, you’ll find tropes such as enemies to lovers, second chance romance, high school sweethearts, opposites attract, friends to lovers, fake dating, and more.

Don’t miss this limited edition box set, featuring some of your favorite authors, that will leave you reeling with laughter:

  • Ellie Hall – An Unwanted Love Story
  • Summer Dowell – Her Plus One
  • Liwen Y. Ho – Head Over Stilettos
  • Meg Easton – Looking for Love (sort of)
  • Rachael Eliker – Lassoed into Love
  • Sophie-Leigh Robbins – Take a Hike
  • Rachel John – Worst Neighbor Ever
  • Jennifer Griffith – Elevator Pitch
  • Cami Checketts – The Sassy One
  • Sarah Gay – Once Upon a Midnight Swim
  • Jennifer Youngblood – Cold Feet
  • Kimberly Krey – Five Days With My (Super Hot) Ex
  • Ellen Jacobson – Smitten with Candy Canes
  • Cindy Roland Anderson – Breaking All the Rules
  • Taylor Hart – Secret Wedding Date
  • Carina Taylor – Jude and the Matchmaking Llama
  • Gigi Blume – Baby You Can Drive My Car
  • Amy Sparling – Julie and the Fixer-Upper
  • Johanna Evelyn – I Think Maybe I Lied
  • Melanie Jacobson – The Backup Plan

* Description from Amazon.

My Review

This collection provided a pleasant diversion – sweet  romance novellas, each with different style and storyline. Something for everyone. Each story short enough to read in one or two settings.  Although I enjoyed this anthology as a whole, with 20 authors, inevitably I like some more than others.  And I can’t exactly provide detailed revies of each and every one. However, there were a few that stood out in particular -“Elevator Pitch” for its Tolkien references, fan fiction of a sort; and Her Plus One, which had me laughing out loud on more than once occasion.   “Smitten with Candy Canes” was also a fun holiday-themed read.  Enjoy.

Review: KILL ALL YOUR DARLINGS by David Bell

Already a fan of David Bell’s work, I was quick to snap up a pre-release copy of the author’s latest book, Kill All Your Darlings. Though I must admit, even if I wasn’t already familiar with the author its gorgeous cover would certainly have caught my eye. It doesn’t release until next month, but it’s already available for pre-order.

Description*

After years of struggling to write following the deaths of his wife and son, English professor Connor Nye publishes his first novel, a thriller about the murder of a young woman.    

There’s just one problem: Connor didn’t write the book. His missing student did. And then she appears on his doorstep, alive and well, threatening to expose him.    

Connor’s problems escalate when the police insist details in the novel implicate him in an unsolved murder from two years ago. Soon Connor discovers the crime is part of a disturbing scandal on campus and faces an impossible dilemma—admit he didn’t write the book and lose his job or keep up the lie and risk everything. When another murder occurs, Connor must clear his name by unraveling the horrifying secrets buried in his student’s manuscript.  

This is a suspenseful, provocative novel about the sexual harassment that still runs rampant in academia—and the lengths those in power will go to cover it up.

* as appears on Amazon

My Review

This is the kind of book that pulls you in from its first pages. It is a fast-paced read and full of surprises. Although you know that what Connor has done is wrong, very wrong, you can’t help rooting for him as he tries to prove he is innocent of murder. Connor and Madeline are both well developed yet somewhat tragic characters. They are complemented by a cast of diverse characters, with the true nature of several of them revealed only over time.

As the mystery unravels, you are exposed to real issues in the academic world – the pressure to publish or perish, the temptations of plagiarism, and most important – sexual harassment and the “old boys” network. Shining light on these issues gives this book added relevance on top of its page-turning quality.

If you enjoy mystery and suspense, you’ll want to add this well-written book to your TBR list.

FTC Disclosure: I received an advance reader copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

Showcase: THE MADNESS OF MERCURY by Connie di Marco

As part of a virtual book tour organized by Partners in Crime Tours, today’s spotlight shines on The Madness of Mercury by Connie di Marco.

About the Book

San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti’s life is turned upside down when she becomes a target of the Reverend Roy of the Prophet’s Tabernacle. The Reverend, a recently-arrived cult preacher, is determined to drive sin from the city, but his gospel of love and compassion doesn’t extend to those he considers an “abomination unto the Lord.” Julia’s outspoken advice in her newspaper column, AskZodia, has put her at the top of the Reverend’s list. While the powerful Mercury-ruled preacher woos local dignitaries, his Army of the Prophet will stop at nothing to silence not just Julia, but anyone who stands in his way.

Driven out of her apartment in the midst of a disastrous Mercury retrograde period, she takes shelter with a client who’s caring for two elderly aunts. One aunt appears stricken with dementia and the other has fallen under the spell of the Reverend Roy. To add to the confusion, a young man claiming to be a long-lost nephew arrives. The longer he stays, the more dangerous things become. One aunt slides deeper into psychosis while the other disappears. Is this young man truly a member of the family? Can astrology confirm that? Julia’s not sure, but one thing she does know is that Mercury wasn’t merely the messenger of the gods – he was a trickster and a liar as well.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Excerpt

“Thank God you’re there.” Gale sounded very shaky.
“What’s wrong?”
“I’m at the Mystic Eye. Something very strange just happened. I heard a knock at the back door. I thought it might be you.”
“Are you alone?”
“Yes. I closed up and sent Cheryl home. When I opened the door . . . oh God, Julia. Someone left a dead cat on the doorstep.”
I cringed. “I’ll be right there.”
“I’m sorry. You don’t need to come. I wrapped it up and put it in plastic in the dumpster. It looked like its neck had been broken.” 
Don’t argue. I’ll be there in twenty minutes. Less than that.”
I drove the length of California Street as fast as I could, slowing at each red light. Once I was sure no other cars were crossing I ran through several intersections. When I reached the Eye the shop was closed but the display lights were on in the front windows. I pulled down the alleyway and parked next to Gale’s car. I tapped on the door. “Gale, it’s me.” She opened the door immediately. The storeroom was dark. A stack of empty boxes and packing materials stood against the wall. Inside, the only light was a small desk lamp in the office.
Gale is tall and self-assured with a regal bearing. Tonight she was completely shaken. She hugged her arms, more from fright than from cold. “I feel bad now that I’ve called you. I was just so freaked out. I recognized the cat, it was the little gray one that hangs out behind the apartment building next door. I think it’s a stray. Everyone around here feeds it, even the restaurant people, and it’s such a friendly little thing. Some sick bastard probably gave it some food and then snapped its neck. God, I think I’m going to be sick.”
“Shouldn’t you call the cops?”
“And tell them what? I found a dead cat? Please. Like they’d listen. Even if they thought someone had killed it, what could they do?”
“It shows a pattern of harassment. Might be worth making a report.”
She sighed. “Yeah. You’re probably right. I just wasn’t thinking straight. I was so upset.” She collapsed in the chair behind her desk.
I shrugged out of my coat. “Why are you here so late?”
“We just got a huge shipment of books and supplies in. Cheryl’s been working late every night so I sent her home. I had just finished stacking the boxes in the storeroom.” Gale shivered involuntarily. “Look, let’s get out of here. Have you eaten? Why don’t we go up the block and grab some food? Actually a drink sounds even better.”
“Okay.”
“Get your coat. We can leave the cars here and walk. I’ll just get my purse.”
I headed to the front door and checked that the locks were all in place. The drapes separating the display windows from the shop were drawn for privacy. Gale left the desk lamp on in the office and walked out to the front counter. As she reached under the counter for her purse, we heard glass breaking. Then I saw a flash of flame through the doorway to the back storeroom. I screamed. The empty boxes and packing materials had caught fire in an explosive flash. The smoke alarm started to ring, filling the shop with earsplitting sound. Using my coat like a blanket, I dropped it over the center of the flaming pile. It wasn’t going to be enough, but I had to do something before the entire storeroom went up, if not the building.

Giveaway

Enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win an Amazon gift card.

About the Author

Connie di Marco is the author of the Zodiac Mysteries featuring San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti. The Madness of Mercury, the first book in the series will be re-released in October 2020.

Writing as Connie Archer, she is also the author of the national bestselling Soup Lover’s Mysteries from Berkley Prime Crime. You can find her excerpts and recipes in The Cozy Cookbook and The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. Connie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime.

Catch Up With Connie di Marco:
ConniediMarco.comGoodreadsBookBubTwitter, & Facebook!

Review: HOLIDAYS, INC. by Rachelle Paige Campbell

Time for a chance of pace. Instead of another mystery, today’s post features a sweet romance – Holidays, Inc. (Finding New Hope Book 1), by Rachelle Paige Campbell. I was offered the opportunity to read and review the book as part of a virtual blog tour organized by Goddess Fish Productions. I’m glad I did.

About the Book

Former child actress, Danielle “Dani” Winter, left Hollywood to transform an old cinema into a dinner theater, seeing the project as her chance to take control of her future. The middle-of-nowhere location in Wisconsin is a perfect escape from backstabbing celebrity friends. The small town welcomes her help with open arms, but one man questions her plan. After unsuccessful writing stints on both coasts, Paul Howell returns home to New Hope. He’s shocked to discover that his sister has sold the family business to a beautiful woman. With the encouragement of his neighbors, he reluctantly agrees to write Dani’s next musical.

Working together, they discover more similarities than differences and grow close. When Dani’s former best friend and America’s sweetheart, Kara Kensington arrives, their blossoming relationship is threatened in more ways than one.

My Review

Dani and Paul are both likeable characters carrying baggage from their past relationships, business and personal, and not just romantic. The attraction between them is instantaneous and mutual. But they have been hurt by people they trusted and are reluctant to put their faith in others. Like the main characters in most romance novels, the two dance circles around each other as they try to figure out what they are looking for, both in terms of their growing feelings and their careers. The dinner theatre in a would-be ghost town provided a charming backdrop for what was an enjoyable sweet romance with the predictable feel good happily-ever after for both the town and the couple.

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

Get the book: Amazon

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a copy of Holidays, Inc. from the author.

Review & Giveaway: MURDER IN THE PIAZZA by Jen Collins Moore

As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently had the opportunity to read an advance copy of Murder in the Piazza: A Maggie White Mystery. This new release is the first book in a new mystery series by Jen Collins Moore.

About the Book

Maggie White, a downsized American executive stuck in Rome on her husband’s expat assignment, is finding the dolce vita isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. She’s taken a job offering painting instruction to well-heeled travelers and her boss—a rather unpleasant English lord—has turned up dead in his penthouse. Maggie’s left with a palazzo full of suspicious guests, a valuable painting her boss might have stolen, and a policeman who’s decided she’s the prime suspect. Now Maggie must keep the tour up and running while she tracks the killer and works to clear her name.

My Review

Looking to make herself useful while her husband is off at work, Maggie takes on a new position with a boutique tour company, run by a British (ex-pat) nobleman. When her boss is murdered, no one seems to really care. He wasn’t a very nice man and not even the police seem inclined to find the culprit. But Maggie just won’t let it go. She pushes and prods the detective in charge until she ends up the prime suspect. And so she takes on the role of amateur sleuth and launches her own investigation while continuing to take care of the participants in the already running tour. Maggie’s list of potential suspects is long, however she does eventually solve the mystery.

This was pleasant cozy mystery that allows you to travel without moving your feet. The descriptions of Rome, its historic sites and art, are vivid and give the reader a great feel for the city. The quotes from the travel brochure at the start of each chapter were a great touch. And kudos to the graphic designer – that cover is simply gorgeous.

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

Jen Collins Moore is the author of the Maggie White Mysteries. Her short fiction has appeared in Mystery Weekly, and she is the editor of the Mystery Writers of America Midwest newsletter. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America, as well an established marketer and entrepreneur. A transplanted New Englander, she lives in Chicago with her husband and two boys.

Author Link: https://www.jennifercollinsmoore.com/

Purchase Links – Amazon – B&N – Kobo 

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

Guest Post & Release Spotlight: DOG-GONE DEAD by Jackie Layton

DOG-GONE-DEAD-BANNER-184

As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I am pleased to have as my guest today, Andi Grace Scott, Low Country Dog Walker – the main character in Jackie Layton’s recently released Dog-Gone Dead mystery.


Caring for Dogs  

I’m Andi Grace Scott, Low Country Dog Walker. If you have a dog, he or she needs to be walked. A few reasons to walk you dog are to keep you and your pet healthy. It’s also a good bonding time. A tired dog is also a less destructive pet. And it’s good to get outside in the fresh air and sunshine.

doggieIf you don’t have time because of work or you’re in bad health, you can look for a good dog walker in your area. If you live in Heyward Beach, South Carolina, look me up.

For those of you who walk your dog yourself, one important thing to do is choose the correct dog harness and leash. Bring creativity into your walk, enjoy the time with your pet, and be a good neighbor by scooping your dog’s poop. Take a break and play fetch. Love on your pet.

I live on the coast of South Carolina and in the hot weather, I carry a water bottle and a bowl to keep my dog hydrated. I’ve been known to discover dead bodies in my job, but this is rare. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to keep your cell phone on you, just in case.

I often bring my German shepherd Sunny to appointments to help socialization of the pets I walk. If you don’t use a dog walker, it’s a good idea to make play dates for your pet. Also when you go for walks and speak to neighbors, allow your dog to greet other pets.

Most people say, “Dog is man’s best friend.” I say, “Dogs are women’s best friends.” I’d take a dog over a diamond any day. If you don’t have a pet, you should visit your local animal shelter. If you’re not sure about pet ownership, see if they have a foster program. It’ll lessen your stress and give you time to relax and get to know your foster pet.


About Dog-Gone Dead

Dog-Gone-Dead-scaledWho’d have thought mulch could cause such a stink?

Low Country dog walker Andi Grace Scott is happy to score some free mulch from one of her brother’s landscaping jobs—until she discovers the dead body buried beneath the bark.

Worse, her brother’s landscaping tools were used to commit the murder. Once the police arrest her brother and seem happy to have “caught their man,” Andi Grace has no choice but to track down the real killer. She’ll risk everything to prove her brother’s innocence. Even if it means turning over every rock in town.

If you love small-town coastal life, dogs, and strong heroines, you’ll love Dog-Gone Dead.

Giveaway

Click here to enter the author’s rafflecopter.

JLayton_authorphoto2018-About the Author

Former Kentucky pharmacist Jackie Layton loves her new life in the Low Country. When she’s not writing, Jackie enjoys walks on the beach, bike rides and collecting shells. The first two books in Jackie’s Low Country Dog Walker Mystery series are Bite the Dust and Dog-Gone Dead. Jackie always enjoys hearing from readers.

Author Links

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

Click here visit the tour page for additional posts, with reviews, interviews and more.