Posted in Christian, Giveaway, Guest Post, Historical, romance on June 26, 2017

HEART ON THE LINE

Ladies of Harper’s Station #2

by

Karen Witemeyer

  Genre: Christian / Historical / Frontier Romance

Publisher: Bethany House

Date of Publication: June 6, 2017

Number of Pages: 336

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Grace Mallory is tired of hiding. She hungers for a normal life, perhaps even a suitor like two of her friends in Harper’s Station have found. But when the man she believes responsible for her father’s death discovers her whereabouts, survival takes priority.

Amos Bledsoe prefers bicycles to horses and private conversations over the telegraph wire to social gatherings with young ladies who see him as nothing more than an oddity. His fellow telegrapher, the mysterious Miss G, has been the ideal companion. For months, their friendship—dare he believe, courtship?—over the wire has fed his hope that he has finally found the woman God intends for him. However, when he intercepts an ominous message and discovers her life is in peril, Amos must shed the cocoon of his quiet nature to become the hero Grace requires.

 

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PRAISE FOR HEART ON THE LINE

“Witemeyer blends history, suspense, and romance with touches of humor. Women will enjoy this story that proves heroes come in unexpected shapes and sizes and not always on a white charger.”Christian Market

“Online dating meets 1890s Texas in this charming, spiritually deep, laugh-out-loud funny romance!”—reader review on Goodreads

 

The Inspiration behind Heart on the Line

The inspiration for Heart on the Line began way back in 2011 when I was doing research on telegraph communication for an older book. I stumbled upon a novel written in 1879 by female telegraph operator Ella Cheever called Wired Love.

Apparently many operators were women in the late 19th century, and they were often identified as such by the delicacy of their “sounding” on the wires. The hero in Miss Thayer’s novel, Clem Stanwood, knows right away that the operator at the “B m” station is female.

Nattie Rogers is intrigued by the mysterious “C” at the “X n” station and seeks out conversations that soon turn flirtatious. These two telegraph operators fall in love over the wire without ever laying eyes on one another.

There is one scene about halfway through the book that served as my inspiration for Heart on the Line. A case of mistaken identity had scared Nattie off, but Mr. Stanwood arranges a visit to her boarding house, and while sitting amongst others in the parlor, he begins tapping out code with his pencil against a marble table top. Nattie recognizes her call name and, taking up a pair of scissors, drums out her own answer. They carry on an entire conversation this way with no one else in the parlor suspecting their action were anything more than idle tapping. Until, that is, Mr. Stanwood reveals himself to be the real “C”.

Nattie jumps to her feet and exclaims aloud, “What do you mean? It cannot be possible!”

Don’t you love it? Hysterical!

Of course everyone else in the room thinks she’s lost her mind except the hero who crosses the room to take her hand.  Awww…

Wired Love: A Romance of Dots and Dashes was a best selling book for over 10 years. And why not? The story is timeless. Remember You’ve Got Mail, which was adapted to e-mail from The Shop Around the Corner where Jimmy Stewart did his courting through letters? Very similar premise. And there are so many parallels to dating in today’s wired world. Can you trust that she looks like her description? Is he a gentleman or a stalker? How about the awkwardness of the first face-to-face meet? And with all the abbreviations used on the telegraph lines, it reminded me of the text speak our kids use today. It is really rather eerie how easily Ella Thayer’s story translates to our contemporary society 130 years after it was written.

In Heart on the Line, I had a great deal of fun creating situations where my two telegraph operators communicated through coded tapping without anyone else being able to understand the significance of their private conversations.

You never know when a random research trail will lead to the perfect plot for a new book.

 

Winner of the HOLT Medallion and the Carol Award and a finalist for the RITA and Christy Award, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer writes historical romance to give the world more happily-ever-afters. Karen makes her home in Texas, with her husband and three children.

 

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June 23-July 2, 2017

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Check out the other great blogs on this tour

6/23 Excerpt CGB Blog Tours
6/24 Promo Reading by Moonlight
6/25 Review  Missus Gonzo
6/26 Guest Post StoreyBook Reviews
6/27 Review My Book Fix Blog
6/28 Excerpt The Page Unbound
6/29 Guest Post The Librarian Talks
6/30 Review Books in the Garden
7/01 Promo Books and Broomsticks
7/02 Review Forgotten Winds


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Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, Guest Post, Interview, mystery on June 26, 2017

Death on West End Road (Hamptons Murder Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Dunemere Books (June 20, 2017)
Paperback 268 Pages

Synopsis

Like a basket of warm cinnamon buns, an unsolved crime is something that Hamptons innkeeper and sleuth Antonia Bingham just can’t resist. Despite a busy high-season schedule and an inn booked to capacity, Antonia has agreed to investigate a cold case in her beloved adopted hometown, East Hampton, NY: the killing of Susie Whitaker, whose brutal 1990 slaying on a tennis court in the poshest part of town was never solved. And the person who has hired Antonia? Prime suspect Pauline Framingham, a manipulative pharmaceutical heiress from a powerful family. The crime scene is compromised, the circumstances are complicated, and former witnesses are cagey, haunted and very reluctant to revisit what happened on that sun-splashed afternoon decades earlier. As Antonia attempts to unravel the mysteries of the past she unearths even darker secrets and ultimately wonders if it would have been best to let sleeping dogs lie. To make matters worse, past acquaintances and love interests reappear in the Hamptons, disrupting Antonia’s world and causing her to scurry to the fridge for comfort.

Death on West End Road is the third book in the Hamptons Murder Mystery Series. Along with a colorful cast of supporting characters, the beating heart of the book is Antonia Bingham, restaurateur, gourmand, and nosy carb-lover.

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Guest Post

Antonia Bingham of “DEATH ON WEST END ROAD”

By Carrie Doyle

Sometimes you just need help finding the secret ingredient. That’s what happened to me in my quest to create the perfect hors d’oeuvres.  Despite all my best efforts, it was not until my friend Merecias Gandela, or “May” as she is more commonly known, came to visit me in my kitchen at The Windmill Inn, that I was able to complete the most delicious version of shrimp balls that I have ever tasted.

I had been asked to create a new hors d’oeuvres to present at the Ladies Village Improvement Society benefit. This is an important organization that, in their own words, ‘has been keeping East Hampton beautiful since 1895.’ The volunteers and employees there work hard maintaining the historical landmarks, as well as the ponds, parks, greens, trees and gardens in the village. They do a fantastic job and I certainly do believe we have the prettiest town in America!

With that in mind, I wanted to make sure I created a special dish that was both tasty and original. I like crab cakes, and they are always a crowd pleaser. But they are not the most innovative hors d’oeuvres. And I also hate to say it, but they kind of make your breath stinky after you eat them. It’s true! That’s why it’s kind of weird to me that they serve them at cocktail parties where people keep talking to one another. Maybe they would be better eaten in private. But what I love about shrimp is you don’t have that bad breath when you eat them and I think they are even tastier!

I had tried various batches of shrimp balls, always tweaking the recipe. At first I used rosemary and thyme, then I tried cilantro until I finally settled on tarragon as the herb of choice. Settling on seasoning was a head scratcher. I finally thought I had the recipe down—much to the relief of Marty and Kendra who work with me in my kitchen and were up to their eyeballs in shrimp balls—when May came to visit me. She took one bite before nodding and saying, ‘old bay.’ Of course! I needed Old Bay seasoning. With May’s help (Marty and Kendra were fed up) we quickly created a new batch. I have to say—fantastic! I’m including the recipe below and you can try it yourself. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. The Ladies of the Ladies Village Improvement Society certainly weren’t!

May’s Shrimp Balls

1 pound of shrimp, peeled, deveined and finely chopped or blended in a Cuisinart

1 egg

2 tsps of Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon of ground pepper

1/8 cup of chopped fresh tarragon

2 tsp of mayonnaise

3 cloves of garlic

1 bundle of scallions (mostly white part)

½ cup of panko (will be 1 cup total but ½ now)

½ tsp of Old Bay

Mix all together, then roll into individual balls 2/3 the size of a ping pong ball. Spread rest of panko bread crumbs on a plate and roll each ball in panko. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour.  Then fry each one in olive or vegetable oil.

Serve hot with a horseradish sauce mixed with Siracha.

Q & A with Carrie

I was lucky enough to also get some insight from Carrie.  Some interesting information that you may never have known!

Q: How did you ‘get into a life of crime’? Writing, not committing crime?

A: I’ve always been drawn to stories of murder. Whether it be the big celebrity cases—like JonBenet Ramsey or Laci Peterson—or the less well known ones. I think perhaps because I have known people or met people personally who have committed a crime or been a potential victim of a crime. For example, the doorman in my apartment building where I grew up killed his wife. One day I was talking to him in the lobby and the next thing I heard he was doing 25 to life for killing her. So random. Also, my aunt Katie Mahon had a very close run in with Ted Bundy in the 1970s and almost was his victim. She wrote about her experience in her book The Miracle Chase. Her story is harrowing and always captivated me.

Q: What is it about it that captivated you?

A: I think the fact that an everyday person can be homicidal. Not just someone who in frustration says, ‘oh I want to kill her,’ but someone who actually does! I mean, one of the reasons the public couldn’t accept that O.J. Simpson killed Nicole and Ron was that we all felt like we knew him. It was like, ‘O.J. wouldn’t do that.’ But it turns out, we didn’t know him at all.

Q: I heard you had a connection to O.J.?

A: Not really a connection but a weird coincidence. OJ Simpson used to go jogging with my upstairs neighbor. And our doorman told us after the murder (not the same doorman who killed his wife I might add) that he saw OJ beating Nicole up outside our building. Then during the recent documentary ‘Made in America” about OJ they showed a picture of Nicole’s diary. She says the first time he beat her up was at the party in the apartment of my upstairs neighbor! I would have been 12 years old and sleeping right below the party. It is eerie.

Q: How did you pick East Hampton as a setting for your Hamptons Murder Mystery Series?

A: I have spent every summer of my life in East Hampton as well as most holidays and long weekends. For the past ten years I have also gone there every weekend. It is my favorite place on earth and I know it like the back of my hand. They say ‘write about what you know’ and so I did. You can tell if the writer really knows the location they are writing about so it was important to me that I not set it in say, Oklahoma, because I’ve never been there and it wouldn’t be authentic.

Q: Have there been a lot of murders in East Hampton?
A: Not really. Although now the bodies are stacking up in my books! But the case that really captivated people was the Ted Ammon murder in East Hampton in 2001. He was a wealthy banker who was good looking and well liked, and he was brutally murdered in his ten-million dollar home near the ocean. It ultimately came out that the boyfriend of his estranged wife—a local electrician—had killed him. It had all the elements—money, class warfare and murder. But at the end of the day, he had two small children whose life were ruined by his death.

Q: What’s next for Antonia Bingham, the heroine of your books?

A: The next book will be very straight forward and all about murder. Less of Antonia’s personal life, I’m hitting a pause button on that. Someone will arrive at the inn and they are not the person they say they are. It’s inspired by Agatha Christie’s Mousetrap, my favorite play.

About the Author

carrie-doyleCarrie Doyle was the founding Editor-in- Chief of the Russian edition of Marie Claire Magazine. She is currently a Contributing Editor of Hamptons Magazine and has written extensively for Harper’s Bazaar, Town & Country and has also written for Women’s Health and Avenue on the Beach. With Jill Kargman, Carrie co-wrote the film Intern (which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 1999), as well as several screenplays sold to Showtime, Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon Films and the Oxygen Network. Carrie and Jill co-wrote five books together, including three teen books for HarperCollins and two bestselling women’s fiction books, The Right Address and Wolves in Chic Clothing (Broadway Books). Carrie also penned the popular novel The Infidelity Pact (Broadway Books). Carrie lives in New York City with her husband and two children and is currently at work on an animated series for broadcast as well as her new series, the Hamptons Murder Mysteries.

Webpage * GoodReadsAmazonPublisher Page * Twitter

 

Giveaway

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Check out the other blogs on this tour

June 19 – My Journey Back – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

June 19 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 20 – deal sharing aunt – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

June 20 – Dee-Scoveries – SPOTLIGHT

June 21 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW

June 21 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – GUEST POST

June 22 – Books Direct – GUEST POST

June 22 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

June 23 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST

June 24 – Valerie’s Musings – INTERVIEW

June 24 – Island Confidential – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

June 25 – A Holland Reads – CHARACTER GUEST POST

June 26 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW

June 26 – StoreyBook Reviews – CHARACTER GUEST POST

June 27 – Queen of All She Reads – REVIEW, SPOTLIGHT

June 28 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW

June 28 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW

June 29 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – REVIEW

June 29 – The Self-Rescue Princess – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

June 30 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

Posted in Giveaway, romance, Spotlight, Young Adult on June 26, 2017

 

The Ghost of You and Me by Kelly Oram

How do you tell someone who hates you and blames you for the death of his best friend that you miss him?

From the bestselling teen and young adult author of Cinder & Ella comes a new heart-wrenching romance sure to bring all the feels.

The tragic death of Spencer Schott unravels the lives of the two people he loved most—his girlfriend, Bailey, and his best friend, Wes. Secrets and guilt from that fateful night keep both Bailey and Wes from overcoming Spencer’s loss and moving on with their lives.

Now, nearly a year later, both Bailey and Wes are still so broken over what happened that Spencer can’t find peace in the afterlife. In order to put his soul to rest, he’s given one chance to come back and set things right…even if that means setting up his girlfriend with his best friend.

With the emotional resonance of Jellicoe Road and the magical realism of The Lovely Bones, The Ghost of You and Me is a story about overcoming grief, finding redemption for past mistakes, and the healing power of friendship and love. Fans of John Green, Sarah Dessen, and Nicholas Sparks are sure to love this haunting new tale from Kelly Oram.

This is a clean young adult romance stand alone novel that reads like contemporary drama romance and has just a touch of magical realism.

 

About the Author

Kelly Oram wrote her first novel at age fifteen–a fan fiction about her favorite music group, The Backstreet Boys, for which her family and friends still tease her. She’s obsessed with reading, talks way too much, and likes to eat frosting by the spoonful. She lives outside of Phoenix, Arizona with her husband, four children, and her cat, Mr. Darcy.

Website * Twitter * Facebook

 

 

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Ends 7/26/17

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Posted in Book Release, Interview, Young Adult on June 25, 2017

Synopsis

Li Nguyen, aka Juice Box, has never really had a friend. That is, until he meets the ultra cool, super mysterious Shame. Though Juice Box feels certain this is his new BFF, Shame’s dark past and nefarious entanglements get them both into serious, life-threatening trouble. It doesn’t help that Shame inadvertently pissed off one of the baddest crime bosses in Baltimore, Anna Nguyen (aka Laoban), who also happens to be Juice Box’s cousin. Shame stirred up trouble with a rival game, putting Anna and her crew in a precarious situation. Torn between his love for Anna and his new, exciting friendship with Shame, Juice Box must choose where his loyalties lie.

Will he choose family and leave Shame out to dry, or will he choose the only friend he’s ever had, despite the danger?

Praise

“MIND BLOWING! From the first sentence, “I am ugly.” to the last sentence, “I see you.” this book had me glues to the pages. I read this book in one night.”

“Fantastic roller coaster of a book. VERY visual.  There were moments where I was too in the moment and felt as if I was truly there.”

“The ambiguity that surrounds the main character’s gender/sexuality is a welcome change. It allows you to get wrapped up in the character’s development.”

“It’s like Girl with the Dragon Tattoo meets Middle Sex.  The gender ambiguity coupled with the vague use of personal pronouns was bold and executed masterfully.”

“What a relief it is to not have a completely heteronormative main character with a love interest for once, and to also have it executed so damn well.  Shame’s identity is kept under wraps masterfully by the author and I almost hope she never reveals it.”

“This book sucked me in as soon as I opened it. I swung from feeling pity and heartache for Shame, to hating the character, and back again. After whipping through it in under a week, I can honestly say the novel didn’t disappoint in the least–my main problem is desperately wanting the second and third installments in the trilogy to be written NOW so I can read them!’

Q&A with the Author & Illustrator

I love the Comic Book vibe and illustrations you’ve incorporated into The Adventures of Juice Box and Shame! Can you tell readers what inspired this theme for your thrilling novella?

Liv Hadden: I grew up around comic books because my brother loved them. Some of that rubbed off on me! I was reading a Deadpool comic before bed one night. When I woke up the next morning, I had this vision of Juice Box and Shame on the cover of a comic book called The Adventures of Juice Box and Shame. I was so excited about the idea, I knew I had to make it real.

Mo Malone: I also grew up reading comic books when I was a kid. My dad would take my brother and me to a local comic book shop on a fairly regular basis and I was always excited to add to my collection. I always found the artwork to be striking and dramatic. It impressed me how line weight, perspective, and color theory can further the emotion and storyline of a comic. I was very excited when Liv asked me to join her on this project.

Liv, how did you find Mo Malone, and inevitably end up partnering with her on this project?

LH: I knew I was going to need an artist to pull off the comic book theme, and Mo popped into my head immediately. We met years ago when she started tattooing my entire back. Through that process, I got to know her and see what she was capable of. She’s a brilliant artist and a wonderful woman – she seemed like an obvious choice.

Mo, did you ever think you would contribute to publishing a book?

MM: I have always wanted to contribute artwork for a book and I’m elated with joy that I get to team up with such a talented and overall amazing person as Liv!

How has it been working as a ‘team’ with a co-author/illustrator, versus flying solo?

LH: As far as the writing goes, not too much different, other than having someone’s eyes on my drafts immediately. As a reader of the series herself, she was able to give me perspective I wouldn’t have had access to so early on. She caught some things and helped me fine-tune the characters, which was very helpful. It’s been amazing for me to see her bring the characters to life in her drawings. I love seeing her interpretations of things. It’s a good check for me to see if I’m illustrating the story well with my words.

MM: It can be a bit of a daunting task. To find that balance of vision between author and illustrator, you want to make sure you both are on the same page. Having Liv’s guidance through the drawing process has made it much easier to ensure that I carry out her vision for the book.

Mo, how quickly did you dream up your illustrations from Juice Box and Shame? Was there any specific part of In the Mind of Revenge that really influence how you saw these characters?
MM:
It was quite helpful having already read a book that included these characters. I think we all paint a picture in our mind, when we read. And Liv is so descriptive, that it came pretty naturally. It was important for me to choose scenes from each episode that would further the storyline and keep the reader guessing what might happen next.

What do you think will surprise readers most about The Adventures of Juice Box and Shame?

LH: Some things that weren’t revealed in In the Mind of Revenge get addressed. For some, it will be obvious, for others a surprise. There’s also a hint as to where to story will go from here!

Liv, you talk about some medical procedures in your story, as well as some of the advancements humans have made in metal. What was the most interesting thing you learned while researching for the book?

LH: I came across a type of metal that can disintegrate bullets on contact! As of now, it primarily has military applications, but I had to ask myself, “What if we could replace human bones with this material?” The answer was intriguing and leads me to some very exciting plot items for the future.

About the Author

Liv Hadden has her roots in Burlington, Vermont  and currently resides in Georgetown, TX with her partner and two dogs, Madison and Samuel, where she is an active member of Writer’s League of Texas. Her 2016 release In the Mind of Revenge received high praise from Blue Ink Reviews, Writer’s Digest, Kirkus ReviewsindieBRAG and five stars from Foreword Clarion Review.

Incredibly inspired by artistic expression, Hadden immerses herself in creative endeavors on a daily basis. She finds great joy in getting lost in writing and seeing others fully express themselves through their greatest artistic passions. It’s no wonder she teamed up talented tattoo artist Mo Malone (who scribed a majority of Hadden’s body work) to create her latest release The Adventures of Juice Box and Shame.

Find Liv Online: Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Goodreads

About the Illustrator

Malone has been making art since she was a kid. Offered a tattoo apprenticeship while obtaining a B.F.A. in Sculpture from Virginia Commonwealth University. Malone briefly diverted from tattooing to be an elementary and middle school teacher,  an experience she greatly enjoyed, but ultimately came back to her artistic roots. She has tattooed at Rick’s Tattoo in Arlington, Virginia (where she got her start), Iron Age Studio in St. Louis, Missouri and Triple Crown Tattoo in Austin, Texas where she met Hadden.

A lover of travel, her craft has taken her all over the world, to include a dozens of tattoo conferences spanning from New York to Moscow. You can now find Malone back in St. Louis at Ragtime Tattoo. She has recently joined Evil Prints to expand into screen-printing, and when she’s not working her magic in the art world, you can find her feeding her adventurous spirit BMXing at her local skate park or wandering the Missouri Botanical Garden

Find Mo Malone Online: Instagram

 

Posted in excerpt, fiction, Military, Spotlight on June 25, 2017

Synopsis

The Discharge is the third novel in Gary Reilly’s trilogy chronicling the life and times of Private Palmer as he returns from the U.S. Army to civilian life after a tour of duty in Vietnam. It is a largely autobiographical series based on his own two years of service, 1969-1971, which included a year in Southeast Asia.

In the first book, The Enlisted Men’s Club, Palmer is stationed as an MP trainee at the Presidio in San Francisco, awaiting deployment orders. Palmer is wracked with doubt and anxiety. A tortured relationship with a young lady off base and cheap beer at the EM club offer escape and temporary relief.

The Detachment is the second in the series. This novel covers Palmer’s twelve months in Vietnam as a Military Policeman. In the beginning, he endures through drink and drugs and prostitutes but comes to a turning point when he faces his challenges fully sober.

Now, in The Discharge, Palmer is back in the United States. But he’s adrift. Palmer tries to reconnect with a changed world. From San Francisco to Hollywood to Denver and, finally, behind the wheel of a taxi, Palmer seeks to find his place.

Excerpt

From Part 2

Chapter 1

On my way back to Denver from LA I stopped off at my brother’s place in San Francisco and stayed a few days. My brother Mike runs an auto upholstery business that he started in 1976, during the summer of the 200th anniversary of America, the Bicentennial. I had visited him that summer too. I was there on the Fourth of July when thousands of ships and boats sailed beneath the red mass of the Golden Gate Bridge, gliding across its shadow and filling the same bay that my father had sailed out of without fanfare towards the South Pacific and the unknown in 1942.

I was asleep when all the celebrations took place. I watched them through a hangover on TV on the five o’clock news when I woke up. My brother was at work. He was organizing the inventory. He intended to specialize in tops. When Mike came home that night, we sat in the living room of his small apartment and drank beer and watched the video-taped repeats of the flotilla which graced the deadly waters of the bay lapping against the island where Alcatraz is poised, lone, businesslike, empty.

There was a thing I had always intended to do in San Francisco, but never did because I’d never had the time. Not having the time was one of my favorite excuses because it imbued my slightest whim with unfathomable significance. Deadlines were unconscionable irritants. Schedules were out the window. Brilliant people on the go don’t live by clocks, their heels are jet-propelled, they leave vapor trails in the sky, you never see where they are, only where they’ve been. I never had the time. Time was smoke between my fingers. It was a bohemian concept and it was fitting that I’d never had the time to look up the haunts of the bohemians during those brief visits to San Francisco on summer break, spring break, or the time I quit college, abandoned my GI Bill income, and came to live with Mike for three months until he sat me down and asked me straight out when I was going to get a job.

“I don’t have the time,” I now imagine myself saying to him.

He wouldn’t have bought that line because Mike is not much different than myself. We grew up together, one year apart, and knew each other well. But I was going to tour the city and visit landmarks made famous by the writings of the beats, the beatniks. I had the time now.

It was a Sunday morning when my plane from LA began circling San Francisco International Airport. The cabin was orange with morning light. Shadows swept at odd angles abruptly as the plane adjusted its flight path prior to landing. Passengers were waking up. They steadied themselves in the aisle, heading for the restroom to get rid of the scotch-and-soda and pops purchased on the flight up. It was cozy. Campers. The stewardesses stashed balloon pillows and blue blankets in overhead racks. Smokers lit up. I was in the smoking section, seated by the emergency-exit door. I was sitting in what would have been the center seat on the right side of the plane, except there was no far right seat. To my right was a metal well, and a lid which hid the emergency chute designed to pop out the door and allow crash survivors to slide to safety. It bothered me to be sitting next to it. I originally had been assigned to a seat at the very back of the plane, but a woman asked if I would switch seats with her husband so they could fly together. It was all right with the rational part of me, I trust planes even if I tell myself I don’t, and also a plane crash is lethal no matter where you sit, don’t kid yourself, don’t talk about the famous last three rows that always make it through a crash. I grew up on those myths. The irrational part of me made a movie out of my situation. Even though I was through with movies, which is what I had told myself when I left LA, I still turned this subtle, innocent series of events into a death knell. The Main Character is asked to switch seats. During the flight, the emergency door breaks off and the Main Character is sucked into oblivion. UPI picks up the story, and the irony of his switched seat is broadcast across America, and for less than fifteen minutes I am famous for being a victim of ironic fate. Friends from high school tell their wives they once knew me. Tsk.

The landing was flawless, and I felt almost as good about being in San Francisco as I once had felt about being in LA, though San Francisco is a little too magic. I told my brother I did not think I could ever live permanently in San Francisco because I would be overwhelmed by its charm. Better to have a place like that set aside for visiting. A place where you can go once a year, feel melancholy, get drunk, and leave. The visits were always good. I had never had a bad visit to San Francisco, and although my visit to Los Angeles had been a bust, I noted as I stepped out the terminal into the slightly chilled fog-lifted morning air that, still, LA had been even better, it owned me, because it was the movie capital of the world, and no matter how mesmerizing might be San Francisco balanced on those white hills with all its beatnik mythology, the legend of Los Angeles towered over it, obliterated it, a surprising thing which I still do not understand, since LA is a very tacky and run-down place. Everywhere except in my heart.

I called Mike and told him I was in town, and he said come on over and don’t wake him, he had been out late the previous evening. I had a key. I’d had a key since the Bicentennial when the whole world had paused to tip its hat in our direction and acknowledge what a swell country this is, even our enemies, who hate us because we’ve got it all.

Mike was asleep when I arrived. He was laying in a cocoon of sheets on his Murphy bed. His apartment is small, expensive west coast standard, it would go for less than two hundred in Denver but he pays more than five hundred a month, and when he is still there in ten years he will probably be paying a thousand a month. I put my duffel bag beside the couch and stepped into the kitchen to see what food he had. Thirty-three years old, one year older than me, and still living like a teen fresh from home. You go to a laundromat and put all your clothes into a single washer, whites and darks, God forbid you should waste more than a quarter on cleanliness, and if the clothes are still damp from the dryer, you hustle them home damp because they can dry wrinkled on hangers, God forbid you should waste an extra dime on ten more minutes of drying time, which I now read as “dignity” as I grow older. You shake your head with dismay at things that made perfect sense when you were a kid. Those dimes added up to a lot of six-packs of beer. I don’t know what girls value when they leave home for the first time, but boys know exactly how much beer money they have in their pockets every second of the day.

A balled wad of hamburger in plastic which would be good maybe one more day. Two bottles of beer. In the cupboard spaghetti. I am home. My brother and I lived this way for years, ten years ago, so I felt like I had gone back in time, and felt a little lighter in my step, a little freer, irresponsibility has its good points. I left the apartment to go down to one of the Iranian-run grocery stores on the corner to buy food and maybe a jug of wine.

My brother’s apartment is on a hill near the San Francisco State Medical College and the breeze from the ocean three miles west was rolling right up the street bringing a little fog with it. The sky was overcast, though I could have gone a dozen blocks east or north and seen high sun and blue sky. There was a grocery store on every block, Greeks kittycorner, Iranians kattycorner, the doors were open and I could see shelves of bottled wine running to the rear of the store, narrow aisles, wooden floors, it pleased me to think that these same warped boards were being walked upon by beatniks when I was a child in 1955. Old white freezers with rounded corners filled with scattered cartons of ice cream. Worn-out looking young men standing in a silent polite line at the cash register holding bottles of wine the color of coffee or lilac.

I bought some Mama Celeste pizzas, peanut butter, and a half gallon of pink Chablis. I recognized the man behind the cash register who had been here when I visited San Francisco in 1976, a barrel-chested Iranian with salt-and-pepper Brillo hair leaning into his work, reading each item and ringing it up even though he must have had the store memorized and could probably tell you the price of each product since the day he’d fled his homeland and said this is it.

“Are you going to pay for that grape?”

A young man who might have been the owner’s nephew entered the store dragging a man wearing a baggy suit, clutching his sleeve, a white-haired old man with a wine-shot face. “I caught this guy stealing a grape,” the kid said.

There was a display of fruit set up outside on a cart.

“Are you going to pay for that grape?”

I picked up my sack and got out of there thinking what a cheapskate, and then, when I got to the top of the hill where my brother’s apartment was, I thought I should have handed the kid a dime and paid for the grape myself. When I got into the foyer, I thought, stop thinking heroics. You aren’t a hero and never will be. You couldn’t even think of a way to help the guy, so continue to not think, bub.

Mike woke up about an hour after I got back. He pulled his pants on with his hangover groggy frown while I washed off the plate that had pizza on it. I’d saved a slice for him, but he didn’t want it. He made a glass of ice water and sat on the couch and lit a cigarette.

“Did you get a movie contract?” he said.

“No.”

He was the only one in the family whom I had told about the movie deal. I had come close to selling screenplays before but never as close as this, and even before I left Denver, when I had called Mike to let him know about it, I thought I might be jinxing it. But I’m not really superstitious, not like a man who plays the horses or dogs. I just need to think things like this to fix the blame because in the end nobody understands the real reasons Hollywood deals evaporate. They just do. Gone. So you make up a superstition. It happened because I told someone about it. If you’re a Catholic, it happened because you told someone and God punished you for being presumptuous.

“I didn’t find Strother Martin’s grave, either.”

My brother shook his head and exhaled a balloon of smoke. I saw words printed within its borders, “Too bad.” That was the real bad news. He had never believed I was going to sell a screenplay, and in fact I didn’t either. We grew up together. But there was nothing to stop me from finding Strother Martin’s grave, except our family penchant for not succeeding at things that are almost impossible to fail at, which is to say, anything requiring minimum effort.

“Why didn’t you find it?” he said.

“I didn’t have the time.”

About the Author

Gary Reilly was a natural and prolific writer. But he lacked the self-promotion gene. His efforts to publish his work were sporadic and perfunctory, at best. When he died in 2011, he left behind upwards of 25 unpublished novels, the Vietnam trilogy being among the first he had written.

Running Meter Press, founded by two of his close friends, has made a mission of bringing Gary’s work to print. So far, besides this trilogy, RMP has published eight of ten novels in his Asphalt Warrior series. These are the comic tales of a Denver cab driver named Murph, a bohemian philosopher and aficionado of “Gilligan’s Island” whose primary mantra is: “Never get involved in lives of my passengers.” But, of course, he does exactly that.

Three of the titles in The Asphalt Warrior series were finalists for the Colorado Book Award. Two years in a row, Gary’s novels were featured as the best fiction of the year on NPR’s Saturday Morning Edition with Scott Simon. And Gary’s second Vietnam novel, The Detachment, drew high praise from such fine writers as Ron Carlson, Stewart O’Nan, and John Mort. A book reviewer for Vietnam Veterans of America, David Willson, raved about it, too.

There is a fascinating overlap in the serious story of Private Palmer’s return to Denver and the quixotic meanderings of Murph. It is the taxicab. One picks up where the other leaves off. Readers familiar with The Asphalt Warrior series will find a satisfying transition in the final chapters of The Discharge.

And they will better know Gary Reilly the writer and Gary Reilly the man.

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Posted in Cozy, mystery, Spotlight on June 24, 2017

Stuck (The Penningtons Investigate Book 2)
Self Published (March 18, 2017)
Paperback: 308 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1544277967
ASIN: B06XQP5VYZ

Synopsis

Meet the Penningtons: Lyssa, Ph.D. Economics, and her husband “the handsome Brit” Kyle, Ph.D. Computer Science. When their clever minds ask questions, clever killers can’t hide.

Murder never entered the picture until Fritz Van Derzee decided, at long last, to clear his name. Who stuck a jeweled stiletto into his desktop after stabbing him to death? Fritz’s daughter, Emma, recruits her former professor Lyssa Pennington to find the killer.

But where’s the ten million Fritz was falsely accused of embezzling? Tompkins College President, Justin Cushman, hires his old friend Kyle Pennington to trace the missing money.

While Lyssa uses charm and tenacity on the long list of suspects, Kyle reconstructs the college’s old homegrown finance system. As they converge on the killer, Lyssa and Kyle may be the next two casualties.

Amazon PrintBarnes & Noble Print

KindleNook

About the Author

C. T. Collier was born to solve logic puzzles, wear tweed, and drink Earl Grey tea. Her professional experience in cutthroat high tech and backstabbing higher education gave her endless opportunity to study intrigue. Add to that her longtime love of mysteries, and it’s no wonder she writes academic mysteries that draw inspiration from traditional whodunits. Her setting is entirely fictional: Tompkins College is no college and every college, and Tompkins Falls is a blend of several Finger Lakes towns, including her hometown, Seneca Falls, NY (AKA Bedford Falls from It’s a Wonderful Life).

 

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Check out these other blogs on the tour – some have giveaways!

June 20 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – GUEST POST

June 21 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 22 – The Self-Rescue Princess – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

June 23 – Books Direct – INTERVIEW, GIVEAWAY

June 24 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

June 24 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 25 – Cozy Up With Kathy – GUEST POST

June 26 – Readsalot – SPOTLIGHT

June 27 – Sleuth Cafe – SPOTLIGHT, GIVEAWAY

June 28 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 29 – Infinite House of Books – SPOTLIGHT

June 30 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW

July 1 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

July 1 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

July 2 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW

July 3 – Laura’s Interests – CHARACTER GUEST POST, GIVEAWAY

Posted in Book Blast, Cozy, Giveaway, mystery on June 23, 2017

A Crime of Passion Fruit (A Bakeshop Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
6th in Series
St. Martin’s Paperbacks (June 27, 2017)
Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1250088079
E-Book ASIN: B01MRU56AS

Synopsis

Torte―everybody’s favorite small-town family bakeshop―is headed for the high seas, where murder is about to make a splash. . .

Jules Capshaw is trying to keep her cool as Torte gets set to make its transformation from quaint, local confectionary café to royal pastry palace. Meanwhile, Jules’s estranged husband Carlos is making a desperate plea for her to come aboard his cruise ship and dazzle everyone with her signature sweets. She may be skeptical about returning to her former nautical life with Carlos but Jules can’t resist an all-expense-paid trip, either. If only she knew that adead body would find its way onto the itinerary . .
“A warm and inviting atmosphere, friendly and likable main characters, and a nasty murder mystery to solve!” ―Fresh Fiction

Now, instead of enjoying tropical drinks on deck between whipping up batches of sea-salted chocolates and flambéing fresh pineapple slices in the kitchen, Jules is plunged into dangerous waters. Her investigation leaves her with more questions than answers: Why can’t anyone on board identify the young woman? And how can she help Carlos keep passengers at ease with a killer in their midst? Jules feels like she’s ready to jump ship. Can she solve this case without getting in too deep?

“A perfect mix for fans of Jenn McKinlay, Leslie Budewitz, or Jessica Beck.”  ―Library Journal

Amazon * B&N * IndieBound

About The Author

Ellie Alexander is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research.

 

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Posted in 4 paws, Children, Review on June 23, 2017

Dominick and the Dragon, by Anne K. Edwards

Age level: 4-8

Pages: 42

Synopsis

Dominick is a little boy fascinated by dragons. When he finally meets one named Elvis that wants to eat everything, including him, he has to find a way to outsmart him. His adventure proves a boy can be smarter than a dragon.

Review

Dragons are real, aren’t they?

A great story for a new reader to chapter books. Not a long book but if a child likes magic, dragons and fantasy then this would be a book for them to read.

The old adage that you shouldn’t talk to strangers applies here especially when you have a dragon that perhaps doesn’t always tell the truth….especially since he has been on a vegetarian diet and is anxious for some people soup!

I thought this was very well written and hopefully will lead a child to use their imagination when writing their own story or using their imagination when playing (assuming they are not tied to electronics). The story also has some problem solving for Dominick to figure out how to get out of this situation with the dragons.

We give this 4 paws up!

About the Author

Anne K. Edwards enjoys writing tales for children when she’s not focusing on a mystery. Some stories are ideas taken from little misadventures of her cat who actually did fall off the porch and land on a large blacksnake as it was sunning itself. Both were more than a little surprised.

Posted in Christian, excerpt, Giveaway, romance on June 22, 2017


UNDER A SUMMER SKY
Follow Your Heart, Book 3
by
Melody Carlson

Genre: Contemporary Romance / Christian / Inspirational
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: June 6, 2017
Number of Pages: 320

Scroll down for Giveaway!

High school art teacher Nicole Anderson is looking forward to a relaxing summer in Savannah, house-sitting and managing an art gallery for a family friend. The house is luxurious in a way that only old money could make it, and the gallery promises interesting days in a gorgeous setting. Yet it isn’t long before her ideal summer turns into more than she bargained for: a snooty gallery employee who’s determined to force her out, a displaced adolescent roosting in the attic, and two of her childhood friends—who also happen to be brothers—vying for her attention.

With the backdrop of a gorgeous historical city, incredible architecture, and even an alleged ghost or two, combined with the opportunity for romance . . . anything can happen!
Bestselling and award-winning author Melody Carlson invites you to spend the summer surrounded by splendor . . . and tantalizing possibilities.

Baker Book House * Amazon * Christianbook.com

iBooks * Kobo * Lifeway * Barnes & Noble

Praise

“Heartwarming and uplifting.”—Library Journal on Once Upon a Summertime

“Sweet, romantic, and endlessly entertaining.”—Radiant Lit on Once Upon a Summertime

“This winsome romance [is] a perfect summer read.”—Publishers Weekly on All Summer Long

Excerpt: Chapter 1, Part 2
From Under a Summer Sky
By Melody Carlson

continued from the 6/17/17 Chapter Break Book Blog Tours stop

After the students had exited, Nicole smiled at her mother. “Thanks for asking that question, Mom. It was just what we needed.”

Caroline Anderson laughed as she walked to the front of the classroom. “Seemed like you were losing them, honey. I figured a little maternal prodding couldn’t hurt.”

“Well, I’ve never been particularly fond of the Renaissance period.” Nicole shut down the program on her computer and turned off the projector. “I appreciate what it did for the art world and all that, but it’s but it’s just not my cup of tea. You know?”

Her mom gave her a little hug. “I understand completely.”

Nicole closed her laptop. “But why are you here?”

“Because I knew you were stuck.”

“Huh?” Nicole frowned. “How could you possibly . . . ?”

“I meant stuck in general, Nikki.”

“What do you mean? Stuck how?” She studied her mom’s carefully made-up face. For sixty-five, this woman looked pretty good.

“Oh, you know . . . the things you were telling me last weekend at Michael’s birthday party—about how you felt sort of lost since you and Peter broke up, and you felt stuck in your job.”

“I really said that?” Nicole tried to remember how much she’d divulged at her nephew’s birthday party.

“You sounded like you were looking for a change.”

Nicole sighed. She’d been feeling a little envious of her older sister’s picture-perfect life last weekend. Oh, she knew Katy had her own challenges. But maintaining her career and raising three boys with a man she loved—sometimes it looked pretty good. “I was obviously kind of down that day, Mom. I didn’t mean to dump on you about—”

“No, no, that’s not it. It’s just that I have something exciting to tell you. And since you’re all done with classes today, why don’t you let me take you out for a cup of coffee.” She waved her hand like a fan. “Or maybe something icy. Good grief, it’s like a sauna in here. How can you stand it?”

“Even with all these windows, it gets pretty stuffy in here. Especially this time of year. And this building doesn’t have air-conditioning.” Nicole wondered why she felt so defensive about her “sauna.”

“It has been unseasonably warm for Seattle this week,” her mom offered.

“Anyway, I’d be happy to escape for a while.” Nicole went over to close the door that she’d propped open with a heavy clay pot. “Hopefully it’ll cool down some after the sun goes behind those trees. But I need to come back here when we’re done. I have to fire up the kiln.” She pointed to the pottery lined up on the counter. “I need to get those fired before the end of the week. I’ve been trying to run it at night because of the heat.”

“My poor girl,” Caroline said. “They’ve got you working in an honest-to-goodness sweatshop here.”

Nicole laughed as she went for her bag. “A lot of people would love to have my job,” she called from her office. “One more year until tenure.” Even as she said this, she wasn’t certain she cared. Was tenure about job security or about getting stuck in a job she didn’t really love? What was the point? She locked her office, and now more curious as to what her mother had to tell her, she hurried back out.

“So what’s up, Mom?” she asked.

“Not yet.” Caroline chuckled.

As they walked out to the visitors’ parking lot, Nicole continued to question her mother, determining that her news was nothing related to their family but still not getting to the bottom of it. “Can’t you just give me a clue?” Nicole said as she got into the passenger seat of her mom’s sedan.

“Okay.” Caroline started the engine. “It’s related to Vivian Graham.”

Vivian had been Caroline’s best friend throughout high school and college. She and her husband Robert lived in Savannah, Georgia, and were very wealthy. Caroline and Vivian had tried to remain close over the years, sometimes visiting each other’s homes on opposite sides of the country, occasionally sharing family vacations at places like the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park. But Nicole hadn’t really heard much about Vivian and her family in recent years.

“I haven’t seen Vivian since I was fifteen—when we went to Alex’s college graduation.” Nicole tried not to recall how hurt she’d felt when Vivian’s attractive older son had totally ignored her. Naturally, Alex had seen Nicole as a juvenile. He had no idea that she’d been crushing on him since she was ten years old, during the summer their families had spent a week at Yellowstone and Alex had rescued her from being trampled by a buffalo. She felt childish even thinking of her crush now.

Read part three on the The Page Abound’s Blog Tour stop on 6/25/17.

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books with sales of more than 6.5 million, including many bestselling Christmas novellas, young adult titles, and the contemporary romances Once Upon a Summertime and All Summer Long. She received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her many books, including Finding Alice. She and her husband live in central Oregon.

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GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!

Grand Prize: Print copies of the three books in the Follow Your Heart series, Thanks You’re A Peach Tea Gift Tin,12×18 Savannah travel poster, & Georgia Peach Cookies Tin
1st Runner-Up: Full series + $15 Barnes & Noble Gift Card
2nd Runner-Up: Full Series + $10 Starbucks Gift Card
June 17-26, 2017
(U.S. Only)


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Check out the other great blogs on this tour

 

6/17 Excerpt Chapter Break Book Blog
6/18 REVIEW Momma On The Rocks
6/19 Guest Post CGB Blog Tours
6/20 Author Interview Books and Broomsticks
6/21 REVIEW My Book Fix Blog
6/22 Excerpt StoreyBook Reviews
6/23 Scrapbook Books in the Garden
6/24 REVIEW Margie’s Must Reads
6/25 Excerpt The Page Unbound
6/26 REVIEW Reading by Moonlight

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Posted in 4 paws, Children, Review on June 22, 2017

Changing Places, by Anne K. Edwards

Age level: 4-8

Pages: 14

Synopsis

A black cat named Whiskers encounters a snake that has lost his home when he goes outside to see the world.

Review

Cute children’s book that teaches you that the grass is not always greener on the other side!

A cat meets a snake and they both think they have the best lives and decide to trade places for a day. They learn quickly that what they had before is definitely the best for them and they shouldn’t try and be something they are not.

I thought the characters were cute and it was also a little educational about how a snake moves and eats and how cats climb trees (and get back down!).

It is only 14 pages and would be a great story to read to children especially if you make the hissing sounds for the snake!

We give it 4 paws up

About the Author

Anne K. Edwards enjoys writing tales for children when she’s not focusing on a mystery. Some stories are ideas taken from little misadventures of her cat who actually did fall off the porch and land on a large blacksnake as it was sunning itself. Both were more than a little surprised.