Release Spotlight: OLD FRIENDS AND NEW, ANOTHER MURDER by Christa Nardi

Earlier this month brought the release of another great book from Christa Nardi – Old Friends and New, Another Murder – the third book in her successful Sheridan Hendley Mystery Series. Check it out.

oldfriendsAbout the Book

A touch of nostalgia, a murder, and good friends.
When a former colleague is implicated in his neighbor’s demise, Sheridan Hendley returns to Cold Creek to prove his innocence. Annoying as Max can be, she can’t imagine the quirky professor is capable of murder. Unfortunately, not everyone shares her opinion. Of course, it doesn’t help that Max threatened his neighbor in a public place soon before the man was murdered. Or that the victim’s drug shipments had a habit of turning up on Max’s doorstep.

The book is available on Amazon.

About the Author

Christa Nardi is an accomplished achristauthor of cozy mysteries. Christa’s background is in higher education and psychology, much as her protagonist, Sheridan Hendley in the Cold Creek mystery series. She has always loved mysteries – reading them, writing them, and solving them. Christa is a member of Sisters in Crime.

You can find Christa at:

Spotlight: SOUTHERN HARM by Caroline Fardig

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As part of a tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I am pleased to shine the spotlight on Caroline Fardig’s recent release, Southern Harm – the second book in her Southern B&B mystery series.   I have yet to read any of the books in this series, however this fan of her Java Jive series has added them to my TBR list.

About the Book

SOUTHERN-HARMA little Southern charm never killed anybody—until now—in an enchanting cozy mystery from the USA Today bestselling author of Southern Discomfort and the Java Jive novels.

After solving a murder at a local restaurant, Quinn Bellandini just wants to get back to her comfortable life running her grandfather’s B&B in Savannah, Georgia, with her sister, Delilah. But those plans get buried when Quinn and her new boyfriend, Tucker Heyward, dig up an old skeleton while doing some landscaping in his aunt Lela’s backyard. Before long, Lela becomes the prime suspect in the thirty-three-year-old unsolved murder of a high school homecoming queen.

Tucker is devastated. But Quinn’s conscience won’t let her risk an elderly woman spending her twilight years in jail for a crime she didn’t commit. And Delilah, bored by the quiet B&B biz, has been itching to do some more investigating of her own.

Soon they’re questioning a growing list of suspects, from nosy neighbors and snooty Savannah socialites to mild-mannered teachers and old high-school friends of the victim—including Quinn and Delilah’s own parents. But no one is safe from a killer who’s totally old school.

Giveaway

Click here to enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a digital copy of Southern Harm from the author.

About the Author

caroline-headshots-2015-10-06-0008CAROLINE FARDIG is the USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR of the Java Jive Mysteries series and the Lizzie Hart Mysteries series. Fardig’s BAD MEDICINE was named one of the “Best Books of 2015” by Suspense Magazine. She worked as a schoolteacher, church organist, insurance agent, funeral parlor associate, and stay-at-home mom before she realized that she wanted to be a writer when she grew up. Born and raised in a small town in Indiana, Fardig still lives in that same town with an understanding husband, two sweet kids, two energetic dogs, and one malevolent cat.

Social Media

Don’t miss Caroline Fardig’s thrilling Java Jive mysteries, which can be read together or separately:
DEATH BEFORE DECAF | MUG SHOT | A WHOLE LATTE MURDER | BREW OR DIE | MURDER OVER MOCHAS

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

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

Book Birthday Celebration & Giveaway: FIT FOR MURDER by Cassidy Salem

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I’m so excited about today’s release of Fit for Murder (An Adina Donati, Accidental Sleuth Mystery) that I decided it’s time to celebrate. Not only have I extended the introductory offer for Fit for Murder through Oct. 31st, I am also offering my readers a chance to download a copy of Think Murder for free (3 days only).

But that’s not all,  you can click here to enter a giveaway for your chance to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

About Fit for Murder

fitformurder-KINDLEExercise is good for you, or so they said.
So why is the Pilates instructor dead?

Adina signed up for Pilates because she wanted to get some exercise, not to find another body. Initially ruled an accidental death, the victim’s business partner has her doubts, which are soon reinforced by a series of suspicious incidents. With no obvious motives or suspects, Adina sets out to identify the killer – with or without help from her favorite detective.

This is the fourth book in the Adina Donati,Accidental Sleuth Mystery series, however it can be read as a standalone mystery.

All of the books in the Adina Donati, Accidental Sleuth Mystery series are available in paperback and digital editions, as well as with Kindle Unlimited.

For more about the series, click here.

Release Spotlight: CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE CURD KIND by Kirsten Weiss

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As part of a tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, today’s spotlight shines on a new release from Kirsten Weiss – Close Encounters of the Curd Kind (A Wits’ End Cozy Mystery).  Gotta love the cow on that cover.

About the Book

CLOSE-ENCOUNTERS-OF-A-CURD-KINDThe truth is out there…
Way out there.

Susan Witsend, owner of the best little UFO-themed B&B in the Sierras, is absolutely, positively, not going to get involved in another murder case. Not with her small-town sheriff threatening jail time if she interferes in one more investigation.

So when her neighbor is murdered, Susan exerts all her willpower to stay out of the sheriff’s business. But her neighbor’s daughter, Clare, needs Susan’s help. Clare’s been experiencing lost time, a sure sign of alien abduction. Helping Clare is only neighborly… and totally not interfering.
Right?

Worse, Clare’s not the only one with UFO issues. Weird lights in the sky, vanishing cows, and little green men are bringing the mountain town of Doyle to the edge of a panic. Can Susan unearth the truth before her town spirals into chaos?
If you like laugh-out-loud mysteries with complicated heroines (and breakfast recipes), you’ll love Close Encounters of the Curd Kind, book 3 in the Wits’ End series of cozy mystery novels. Read this twisty cozy caper today!

About the Author

KIRSTEN-WEISSKirsten Weisss has never met a dessert she didn’t like, and her guilty pleasures are watching Ghost Whisperer re-runs and drinking red wine. The latter gives her heartburn, but she drinks it anyway.

Now based in San Mateo, CA, she writes genre-blending cozy mystery, supernatural and steampunk suspense, mixing her experiences and imagination to create vivid worlds of fun and enchantment.

If you like funny cozy mysteries, check out her Pie Town, Paranormal Museum and Wits’ End books. If you’re looking for some magic with your mystery, give the Witches of Doyle, Riga Hayworth, and Rocky Bridges books a try. And if you like steampunk, the Sensibility Grey series might be for you.

Kirsten sends out original short stories of mystery and magic to her mailing list. If you’d like to get them delivered straight to your inbox, make sure to sign up for her newsletter at kirstenweiss.com

Author Links – Twitter: @KirstenWeiss    Facebook     Blog

Purchase Links    Kindle   Author affiliate     iBooks     B&N     Kobo    Google Play    Video

wits end series

Showcase & Giveaway: ONE NIGHT GONE by Tara Laskowski

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As part of a blog tour organized by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours, today’s post showcases One Night Gone, a new suspense-filled mystery by Tara Laskowski.

Description

one-night-gone-by-tara-laskowski-coverIt was the perfect place to disappear…

One sultry summer, Maureen Haddaway arrives in the wealthy town of Opal Beach to start her life anew—to achieve her destiny. There, she finds herself lured by the promise of friendship, love, starry skies, and wild parties. But Maureen’s new life just might be too good to be true, and before the summer is up, she vanishes.

Decades later, when Allison Simpson is offered the opportunity to house-sit in Opal Beach during the off-season, it seems like the perfect chance to begin fresh after a messy divorce. But when she becomes drawn into the mysterious disappearance of a girl thirty years before, Allison realizes the gorgeous homes of Opal Beach hide dark secrets. And the truth of that long-ago summer is not even the most shocking part of all…

“A heart-wrenching and suspenseful novel of betrayal and revenge. Stunning!” —Carol Goodman, award-winning author of The Night Visitors

“Featuring a brilliantly executed dual timeline with two unforgettable narrators, One Night Gone is a timely and timeless mystery that will keep you obsessively reading well past your bedtime.” —Paul Tremblay, author of The Cabin at the End of the World

Scroll down to the bottom of the post to read an excerpt.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter giveaway,  hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Harlequin and Tara Laskowski, for your chance to win a print copy of One Night Gone (U.S. and Canada addresses only).

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

About the Author

Tara LaskowskiTARA LASKOWSKI is the award-winning author of two short story collections, Modern Manners for Your Inner Demons and Bystanders, which was named a best book of 2017 by Jennifer Egan in The Guardian. She has had stories published in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Mid-American Review, and the Norton anthology New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction, among others. Her Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine story, “States of Matter,” was selected by Amy Hempel for the 2017 Best Small Fictions anthology, and her short story “The Case of the Vanishing Professor” is a finalist for the 2019 Agatha Award. Tara was the winner of the 2010 Santa Fe Writers Project’s Literary Awards Prize, has been the editor of the popular online flash fiction journal SmokeLong Quarterly since 2010, and is a member of Sisters in Crime. She earned a BA in English with a minor in writing from Susquehanna University and an MFA in creative writing from George Mason University. Tara grew up in Pennsylvania and lives in Virginia. One Night Gone is her first novel.

Visit Tara at:
TaraLaskowski.com, Goodreads, BookBub, @TaraLWrites, Instagram, & Facebook!

Read an excerpt:

Opal Beach was about a two-hour drive without traffic from downtown Philadelphia. It was somewhere halfway between Ocean City and Atlantic City and way less touristy. The beach always reminded me of vacations as a kid, running barefoot on hot sand, creating lopsided sand castles with plastic buckets, breaking crab legs and sucking out the meat. But there was also a sense of slowing down, of taking it all in, and I needed that now. I could feel the air change, the way it clung, coated, opened everything up.

Through the car windows, the Oc¬tober air was shockingly cold but also reviving. The salty air had always bothered my mother and sister, who complained it was too humid and their tongues felt strange, but I loved the way it worked its fingers into my hair and curled around the tendrils. It made me feel a little wild, a little different. Untamed. Like anything could happen.

Was I really doing this? Was I really pressing on this pedal, steering, guiding these four wheels to a stranger’s beach house, where I would live for the next three months alone? It had all happened so fast. A blur, really. Annie’s friend Sharon, with that same nurse-like efficiency that Annie had, set it all up so quickly that I’d barely had time to adjust to the idea before it was actually happening.

But I was used to life messing with me now, used to tripping over a curb or forgetting to eat breakfast or chipping a nail, waking up only to discover that everything I’d known to be true was suddenly different. So in some ways this journey, the picking up and leaving behind, felt like an emerging. Like Rockefeller, the hermit crab I’d bought on our family vacation one year at a boardwalk shack, I was crawling out of a dingy shell and moving into a shinier, larger home. (Unlike Rockefeller, though, I hoped I wouldn’t die from the soap residue that was left inside the new shell when someone tried to clean it too vigorously before setting him inside the cage.)

I drove down a two-lane road just off the ocean, the main drag for all the beachfront houses. I could imagine that on a weekend in July it looked like a parking lot as families navigated in or out of town, canoes and coolers tied up on their roof racks. But now it was eerily vacant, and I had the sense I was the last woman on earth, that in my quiet drive alone the rest of humanity had vanished. I was trying to decide if that was a good thing or not when a giant orange Hummer zoomed into view behind me and passed without slowing down. “Well, so much for that. Asshole,” I said.

The houses were dramatically large and looming, blocking what otherwise would’ve been a magnificent view. You could tell which ones were just rentals—the monstrosities with thirteen bedrooms and a six-car garage that five families could rent out at once. But further down the road, the houses had more style and character. The kind of places—lots of windows, big porches, nice landscaping—that would make your mouth water even without the lush ocean backdrop as icing on the cake.

I slowed as my GPS indicated I was getting close, but even so I almost missed the tiny driveway and its faded, weather-beaten road sign declaring my new mailing address: Piper Sand Road.

I had made it.

The long gravel drive split off halfway up, with one side leading to the Worthington house and the other side to their neighbor’s. When I’d first met the Worthingtons for my “job interview” just a few weeks before, I’d been so nervous about the whole thing that I’d taken the wrong driveway and parked in the neighbor’s lot and stared at it for a good minute before realizing the house number was wrong.

But now, pulling into the correct driveway slowly, it felt like an adventure movie soundtrack should be swelling. And our heroine finds her destiny.

I could imagine Annie’s reaction when she finally saw the house in person. It was stunning. The surrounding homes were propped up on beams, like old ladies hitching up their skirts so they wouldn’t get wet in the surf, but that just gave the Worthingtons’ house an understated effect. It stood confident and modest between them, a beach gingerbread house right out of a fairy tale, with light blue curtains and sweeping eaves.

I parked right at the porch steps and got out, wrapping my cardigan around me to stave off the whipping wind. The front porch was small but quaint, with two wooden rocking chairs and a small white table with flaking paint. I ran my palm along the back of one of the tall chairs, and it creaked from my touch. The chairs seemed to be more for decoration than sitting.

Dolores, Sharon’s sister who lived in town, was supposed to be meeting me to hand over the keys. Yet it seemed I’d arrived first. I’d had to come one week sooner than planned, as Patty and John had been whisked away to her mysterious assignment in Eastern Europe a little earlier than expected. Patty had called me from the airport with the news. I’d pictured her in her white visor and tennis sneakers rushing through the terminals, bags bouncing off her lower back as she breathlessly gave me instructions.

Still, I half expected Patty to appear in the window as I squatted down and peered inside the house. It was hard to see with the bright sun glaring at my back, but I could make out the shadowy silhouette of the large island counter in the middle of the kitchen. Beyond that room, I remembered, was the living room, with doors and stairs leading to all the many nooks of the house.

All empty now, waiting for me. A shiver curled from my spine up to my neck, unwinding inside me. Calm down, you idiot, I told myself. Not everything is a trap. Think positively, and positive things will come…

Excerpt from One Night Gone, by Tara Laskowski.

Follow the tour at Partners in Crime for reviews, guest posts and more.

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/.


Check out additional stops on the tour
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 🔗!

Spotlight, Guest Post & Giveaway: MULBERRY MISCHIEF by Sharon Farrow

MULBERRY-MISCHIEF-BANNER-184Today, as part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I am happy to host Sharon Farrow as she celebrates the recent release of Mulberry Mischief (A Berry Basket Mystery) and tells us about the similarities between archaeology and mystery writing.

Although I haven’t had a chance to read this one yet, I enjoyed the second book in this series – Blackberry Burial.  To learn more about it and read my review, click here.


How Archaeology and Mystery Writing Are Alike by Sharon Farrow

SharonFARROWCameraIn middle school, I told a teacher about my plans to become an archaeologist. I also announced I wanted to be a novelist. Being an overachiever, I saw no reason why I couldn’t do both. For a few years, I managed to do just that before putting aside my trowel to concentrate all my energies on writing. However, my experiences in these professions revealed the similarities between mystery authors and archaeologists.

1.  Digging up the Past.  

You cannot investigate an archaeological site without digging into the past. For archaeologists, this means literally digging! Somewhere I still have my field kit of trowels, work gloves, and measuring instruments. A mystery author also digs into the past, but not of an historic site. Instead, they explore the histories of their characters, and not simply the murder suspects. The protagonist has a backstory, too; one that explains why she has been drawn into this mystery – and what she has at stake. The past histories of the suspects and victims are especially crucial. How else to discover the motivations behind the crime? To solve the secrets and puzzles hidden in both the mystery novel and an archaeological site always requires uncovering the past.

2.  Plotting in Advance.

Prior to their arrival at an excavation site, archaeologists have done a tremendous amount of research. And before even an inch of soil is removed, the site has been plotted out into a grid. Their earlier research helps them decide how to grid a site. This grid acts as a fixed reference point and a road map, enabling archaeologists to record exactly where an artifact is found. So, too, the mystery author, who often creates a synopsis and/or outline for their upcoming book.

Like archaeologists, writers spend a lot of time in research, looking into everything from a time period to a method of murder. In addition, authors are aided by their own reference maps to help “excavate” their plot. An outline shows where clues are to be planted, when the murder or murders will occur, the inclusion of red herrings, and how and when the climax is to eventually unfold. Archaeologists and authors not only engage in research, they need their own particular GPS to do their jobs effectively. And a site grid is the archaeological equivalent of an author outline.

3.  The Devil is in the Details.

There is no such thing as an unimportant artifact recovered from a dig. Every single item is examined and recorded, followed by theories about how it fits into previous assumptions about the site. Some artifacts may also hold a startling clue which overturns previously held beliefs. The same with a mystery plot.

Once writing is underway, all those clues and red herrings must be kept straight. No loose ends or plot points left unexplained. And sometimes authors surprise themselves. They may have earlier mentioned something trivial about a character or an event, something that seemed little more than filler. Authors often realize later in the book how this insignificant item now serves as a missing key to a major plot point. Every detail matters –  on a site and in a novel.

To work on an archaeological dig or a mystery novel means embarking on an adventure. Along with the research, plotting, and a close examination of details, both endeavors are filled with discovery, fun, and meaning. So grab your Indiana Jones hat and/or a laptop and start digging.


About Mulberry Mischief

MULBERRY-MISCHIEFAutumn has arrived on the shores of Lake Michigan, but Marlee Jacob, proprietor of The Berry Basket, is feeling a chill for other reasons …

With the Harvest Health Fair in full swing, Marlee makes sure to stock up on elderberry products for cold and flu season. But this year there’s also a run on mulberry when an eccentric customer wants to use the dried berries to ward off evil forces. True, it’s almost Halloween, but something else seems to be spooking Leticia the Lake Lady, Oriole Point’s oddest resident. She believes someone plans to kill her—and the ghost. Only mulberries can protect them. Marlee doesn’t take her fears seriously until a man named Felix Bonaventure arrives in the village, asking questions about a mysterious woman.

The next day, Marlee finds Bonaventure dead on Leticia’s property—shot through the heart with an arrow made of mulberry wood. And Leticia has disappeared. Marlee soon learns the Lake Lady has a deadly past that is connected to the famous Sable family who are in town for the health fair. A bunch of clues start to come together—and figuring out what’s going on puts Marlee in a real jam …

Includes Berry Recipes!

Purchase Links – Amazon  –  B&N  –  Kobo  –  Google Play  –  IndieBound

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for a chance to win one of six print copies of Mulberry Mischief from the author.

About the Author

Sharon Farrow is the latest pen name of award-winning author Sharon Pisacreta. A freelance writer since her twenties, she has been published in mystery, fantasy, and romance. Sharon currently writes The Berry Basket cozy mystery series for Kensington. The series debuted in 2016 and is set along the beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline where she now lives. She is also one half of the writing team D.E. Ireland, who co-author the Agatha nominated Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins mysteries.

Author Links