Posted in 4 paws, Review, romance, women on July 19, 2016

first comes love

Synopsis

In this dazzling new novel, Emily Giffin, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Something Borrowed, Where We Belong, and The One & Only introduces a pair of sisters who find themselves at a crossroads.

Growing up, Josie and Meredith Garland shared a loving, if sometimes contentious relationship. Josie was impulsive, spirited, and outgoing; Meredith hardworking, thoughtful, and reserved. When tragedy strikes their family, their different responses to the event splinter their delicate bond.

Fifteen years later, Josie and Meredith are in their late thirties, following very different paths. Josie, a first grade teacher, is single—and this close to swearing off dating for good. What she wants more than the right guy, however, is to become a mother—a feeling that is heightened when her ex-boyfriend’s daughter ends up in her class. Determined to have the future she’s always wanted, Josie decides to take matters into her own hands.

On the outside, Meredith is the model daughter with the perfect life. A successful attorney, she’s married to a wonderful man, and together they’re raising a beautiful four-year-old daughter. Yet lately, Meredith feels dissatisfied and restless, secretly wondering if she chose the life that was expected of her rather than the one she truly desired.

As the anniversary of their tragedy looms and painful secrets from the past begin to surface, Josie and Meredith must not only confront the issues that divide them, but also come to terms with their own choices. In their journey toward understanding and forgiveness, both sisters discover they need each other more than they knew . . . and that in the recipe for true happiness, love always comes first.

Emotionally honest and utterly enthralling, First Comes Love is a story about family, friendship, and the courage to follow your own heart—wherever that may lead.

Review

I have always enjoyed this author’s books and this was no exception.

I like that despite the dysfunction of the family that they can come together in times of need, even after the death of the oldest child, Daniel, 15 years ago. There are still issues that each person is dealing with (primarily Josie and Meredith since the book is from their perspective). But both of them learn more about themselves and grow and are able to overcome the shadows they have been hiding in over the past 15 years.

Josie is a bit of a wildcard and her choice to become a single mom was admirable. There are some twists in regards to the “sperm donor”, but it was very interesting and I wonder if there will be any follow up books to see where they are in a year or so and if anything changes in her personal life.

Meredith is in a spot that many women probably find themselves, in a marriage they may not want to be in and not sure what they should do. I think some women will be able to relate to her and the struggles she faces.

We give it 4 paws up.

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Posted in 4 paws, Giveaway, mystery, Review, suspense, Thriller on July 9, 2016

Winning Texas Banner

 

WINNING TEXAS

by Nancy Stancill 

Genre: Mystery / Thriller / Suspense

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Date of Publication: April 26, 2016

# of pages: 230

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synopsis

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When a female body is found floating in the Houston Ship Channel, Annie Price, an investigative journalist for a struggling Houston newspaper, is propelled into a dangerous web of intrigue. She must solve a complex mystery that includes a corrupt strip club empire, a ruthless human trafficking scheme, and deadly competition between two separatist groups seeking to impose their twisted visions on the Lone Star State. As two murders hit close to home, Annie and a fellow reporter risk death to expose the hidden secrets of a Texas ranch.

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AMAZON * BLACK ROSE WRITING

PRAISE FOR WINNING TEXAS

“Sex traffickers and guns-for-hire meet in a nefarious plot to see Texas secede and America shaken to its core. Witty, gritty and filled with brilliantly realized characters, this book is a pure delight for lovers of suspense as the ever-dogged Annie Price risks life and limb to uncover the truth.”  – Tony D’Souza, author of Mule

Winning Texas is a moody thriller, an ode to people with outsized dreams and the ones they prey on; to those who populate the city by day, and those who rule the night. In the wake of L.A.-noir and Florida glare, Nancy Stancill gives us Bayou City grime. In her pages, Houston seduces and leaves us breathless, begging for more.”  – Stefan Kiesbye, author of The Staked Plains

Nancy Stancill “captures a newsroom’s camaraderie and angst . . . while her descriptions of Houston and the whole of Texas make you feel the heat and see its beauty.”  — Mary Cornatzer, The News & Observer

Review

 

Wow, what a surprising book! I have not read anything by this author and apparently this is the 2nd book in a series (the first being Saving Texas). I have this thing about reading a series in order but this book was well written and only a few references to things in the past that I am assuming are in the first book, but nothing that made me feel like I was missing out.

The book is set in Houston and while I am only slightly familiar with locations and such, I felt like I was there with the various descriptions and location mentions (including a reference to a restaurant called Ninfa’s that I remember eating at in the DFW area back in the 90’s and sadly is now closed)

Annie is an editor that is pulled back into reporting when a body is found in a Houston waterway and her main reporter that covers this beat is out of town. I don’t think she is expecting the tale that unfolds, I know I wasn’t! And if you want a sneak peek into the gentleman’s club scene, this book gives you a glimpse. It can be good and it can be bad, all depends on the owners and managers. There is also a glimpse into human trafficking, but not where women are kidnapped, but are brought into the US illegally to perform at strip clubs and do other things but are basically held hostage until they repay the cost to bring them here.

I found one of the underlying stories about groups wanting Texas to secede fascinating. Sure it has always been a joke here, but let’s face it, there would be so many things that would have to change that it may not be for the best (currency, trade, etc). But don’t let some of the characters in this book convince you otherwise.

There is a vast array of characters and just when you think that you like a character or two, they turn on you and they are not quite so likeable. I was very surprised at the changes in a few of the characters, did not expect the change in attitude/beliefs.

I was definitely surprised at how some events turned out including the big secret about “the ranch”. I was wondering if we would find out what was up with that location and what julianna was doing there, and you do find out but just FYI it isn’t until the end. Keeps the mystery going.

I also liked how the author addressed the newspaper industry and that printed papers are becoming a dying industry and that all of our news is gathered from online sources. It is the fate of the world due to advances in technology. Why wait on day old news when you can have the latest, most update news 24/7? Of course you hear all the bad news 24/7 and it can be a downer.

Overall, enjoyed the book and will be on the lookout for upcoming books from this author.  We give it 4 paws up!

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about the author

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Nancy Stancill spent more than 30 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before she began writing fiction full-time. She was an award-winning investigative reporter at the Houston Chronicle and the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer and worked as a reporter and editor at other newspapers in Texas, Virginia and California. Stancill is a journalism graduate of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and received her master’s in creative writing from the University of Tampa in Florida in 2015.  She and her husband lived in London for three years before moving back to the United States in 2012.  She has a son in Virginia and she lives in Charlotte, N.C. with her husband, Len Norman, and black cat, Spud. Saving Texas was her first novel. Winning Texas is her second.

 

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TWO WINNERS EACH WIN:

* Signed Copies of Winning Texas and Saving Texas *

* $15 Starbucks Gift Card * 

(US ONLY)

  June 30 – July 9, 2016

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Check out the other great blogs on the tour! 

6/30    Texas Book Lover  – Promo

7/1       The Librarian Talks – Review

7/2       Margie’s Must Reads – Excerpt

7/3       A Novel Reality — Promo

7/4       Country Girl Bookaholic  – Review

7/5       The Crazy Booksellers  – Promo

7/6       The Page Unbound  – Guest Post

7/7       Blogging for the Love of Authors and Their Books – Review

7/8       Forgotten Winds – Author Interview                    

7/9       StoreyBook Reviews  – Review

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Posted in 4 paws, Giveaway, Review, Romantic Suspense on July 3, 2016

 

unravel page hop

The Unravel by Rebecca Rohman Page Hop runs on our Facebook Page from July 3 to July 6, 2016 with 40 blogs having some AMAZING giveaways! Enter them all for more chances to win! There will be a signed paperback copy of Unravel as a grand prize.

UNRAVEL COVER gn6★ Unravel Blurb:

Chella and Mitch Mariani are a happily married couple, living the good life in San Diego. She’s a marketing genius in the cosmetics division at an international conglomerate; he’s one of the city’s most successful real estate investors. Life has never been better.

Until a series of disturbing events cloud a blissful fifth wedding anniversary.

Lies surface. Suspicions escalate. Danger lurks. Their seemingly taut bond unravels their love to its core. As misguided choices threaten to destroy them forever, keeping their hearts on the path to a collective future might be the most monumental fight of all.

★ Take a look at my review of Unravel below:

This was a short suspense story that had me wondering how it was going to turn out for Chella and Mitch. apparently someone wants them split up and their relationship is tested to the max. Will Chella continue to believe and trust Mitch?

Only thing I wasn’t crazy about were the graphic love scenes, so I skimmed through those sections. But that is my preference, I don’t need to read all the details! but outside of that, the story was engaging. I haven’t read the other books so will need to go back and pick those up some time soon!

We give this 4 paws up

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★ Buy Links

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Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon ES | Amazon IT | Amazon IN | Amazon NL

Amazon JP | Amazon BR | Amazon MX

 

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Posted in 4 paws, Dystopian, Giveaway, Review, Thriller on June 27, 2016

The CleanSweep Conspiracy

Synopsis

Matt Tremain publishes Verité, a modest blog dedicated to writing about the truth and exposing scams. Currently, he’s following up on rumors concerning something called CleanSweep, a mysterious project in Toronto, Canada.

Matt gets his break when a whistleblower connects CleanSweep to billionaire Charles Claussen. Claussen plans to rid Toronto of undesirables, beginning with street people and extending to any citizens who don’t match Claussen’s restrictive screening matrix.

With the help of a high-ranking government official, Claussen plans to incite riots and violent unrest, conning Torontonians into sacrificing privacy and civil liberties for illusionary security and safety. Toronto will be reduced to a repressive city-state.

The information overwhelms Matt, who doubts he has the courage, skill, or readership to take on CleanSweep. But the murder of his source convinces the blogger to take a stand—although he’s too late to prevent chaos from gripping Toronto’s streets.

To get the word out, Matt’s going to need allies. He may have found some in a Toronto police detective and a local TV reporter pursuing the same story—presuming they aren’t allied with Claussen. If they are, Matt’s going to become yet another victim of CleanSweep, and the truth will be buried forever.

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**Note, when I looked on Amazon on 6/26/16 the book was FREE if you have a Kindle.  Check pricing before submitting purchase**

Review

The premise of this book reminded me a lot of Atlas Shrugged – where the government wants to control the lives of its citizens. Ok, maybe not to the extent of AS but pretty darn close.

It did take me a bit to get into the book, not sure if it was my mood or the book, but once I understood what was happening it definitely grabbed my attention.  I love reading about conspiracy theories and corrupt governments (because don’t we see that every day?!).  It was intriguing to see this author’s spin on government control and what was in the works, how it would work and why.  I thought the book was based in Canada, but there are a lot of references to the US so it was a bit confusing to me until it was definitely stated that it was happening in Toronto.

The characters were diverse and not surprising in today’s world that a blogger broke the news of some corrupt members of the government and society.  And when they came after him, he was prepared and knew how to destroy all the evidence.  In a way it was comical how he kept evading the authorities, but he couldn’t have done it without some help from some techy friends.

There were a few spots where it didn’t seem to flow or the timeline seemed off, but I might have missed something. Also, apparently Carl and Susan decided to have a physical relationship but there wasn’t any sort of real lead up to it other than Carl had a thing for her.  While this is a minor storyline, I think it needed a bit better development.

Overall it was a good story, I thought it just needed a little polishing/editing. Nothing drastic, but just some flow issues.

We give it 4 paws up.

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About the Author

Born in Iowa, Chuck Waldron lived in Ontario, Canada, before relocating to Florida’s Treasure Coast. Over the years, he’s held many jobs. The ones he can mention in print include US Army soldier, truck driver, office manager, mailman, real estate salesman, social worker, hardware store clerk, and shuttle driver.

Fate played a crucial role when he walked into his first writing class, and he still honors the memory of the teacher, Henrietta. She gave him permission to write. That—along with countless writing groups, classes, seminars, and much sweat—has resulted in over fifty short stories and four novels.

Waldron often likes to pretend interest, lacks perseverance, and could generally use a good talking to—until it comes to his writing, that is. He and his wife Suzanne reside in Port St. Lucie, Florida. While keeping an eye out for hurricanes, alligators, and Burmese pythons, he’s busy writing his next novel

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Giveaway

Prizes:

1. Grand prize: Kindle Fire with 7” display from Amazon + copy of CleanSweep (1 winner)

2. 4 copies of CleanSweep (4 winners)

3. 5 copies of author’s previous titles (5 winners)

4. 2 X $15 Amazon GC + copy of CleanSweep (2 winners)

Total: 12 winners (Open to USA & Canada) Giveaway ends July 7, 2016.

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Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, Monday, mystery, Review on June 20, 2016

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FIXIN' TO DIE

FIXIN’ TO DIE
Kenni Lowry Mystery Series

by Tonya Kappes

Synopsis

Kenni Lowry likes to think the zero crime rate in Cottonwood, Kentucky is due to her being sheriff, but she quickly discovers the ghost of her grandfather, the town’s previous sheriff, has been scaring off any would-be criminals since she was elected. When the town’s most beloved doctor is found murdered on the very same day as a jewelry store robbery, and a mysterious symbol ties the crime scenes together, Kenni must satisfy her hankerin’ for justice by nabbing the culprits.

With the help of her Poppa, a lone deputy, and an annoyingly cute, too-big-for-his-britches State Reserve officer, Kenni must solve both cases and prove to the whole town, and herself, that she’s worth her salt before time runs out.

Related subjects include: cozy mysteries, women sleuths, murder mystery series, whodunit mysteries (whodunnit), humorous murder mysteries, book club recommendations, amateur sleuth books, Southern humor, small town, paranormal mysteries.

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Review

This is the first book I have read by this author (but have her other books on my kindle) and I enjoyed this book. But then I always do love a good cozy.

I can safely say I did not see that ending coming! (well the killer reveal portion) but it seems like each time I read a mystery and think I have the killer figured out, there is some sort of twist that surprises me.

There is a paranormal aspect that actually made the story somewhat light (at least to me). I don’t want to spoil anything so hard to say too much, but it explains why there was no crime for her first 2 years as sheriff.

This is a series that I will be following and we give it 4 paws up.

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About the Author

Tonya KnappesTonya Kappes has written more than fifteen novels and four novellas, all of which have graced numerous bestseller lists including USA Today. Best known for stories charged with emotion and humor and filled with flawed characters, her novels have garnered reader praise and glowing critical reviews. She lives with her husband, two very spoiled schnauzers, and one ex-stray cat in northern Kentucky. Now that her boys are teenagers, Tonya writes full-time but can be found at all of her guys’ high school games with a pencil and paper in hand. More than anything, Tonya loves to connect with readers, with a loyal ‘street team’ of fans and followers on social media.

Facebook * Twitter * TSU * Instagram * Kappes Krew Street Team * Website

Goodreads * Pinterest * Recipe Submission Email * Kappes Krew Recipe Exchange

 

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Posted in 4 paws, cooking, Review on June 19, 2016

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Synopsis

Skip the hassle of last-minute meals and leftovers and replace them with simple, healthy, delicious, and easy-to-prepare make-ahead dishes! Your family will love these comfortable meals, new favorites, cozy drinks, and tantalizing desserts—all of them prepared ahead of time so you don’t have to worry! Enjoy simple, soul-filling foods without the chaos of preparing them at the last minute.

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Books and Things

Review

I love cookbooks and was excited to be invited to participate in the blog tour for this book. I didn’t realize there are 75 recipes in the book but that sounds about right. The recipes are varied and include all different courses – from appetizers to main dishes, to sides and desserts. There are even a few beverage options.  The photos of the different recipes are mouthwatering!  I chose a few recipes based on the photos alone…is that wrong?  I hope not!  The Cashew Chicken and Brown Rice casserole caught my eye, along with the Double Dark Chocolate Banana Bread and the Coconut Black Bottom Brownies.  They were all a hit with family and friends so those will go in the keeper file.

I will say that this is down home cooking at its finest and if you are looking for low fat, this is not the cookbook for you. You can probably slim them down with exchanges without losing too much in the consistency or taste. Don’t get me wrong, these are some delicious recipes…just eat in moderation.

I do like how you can make ahead, and even freeze, some of the dishes for future meals. Watch how many the recipe says it serves. If you have a smaller family you might need to cut in half.

All in all some great new recipes and I can’t wait to try out all of the recipes later, especially the soups this winter.

We give it 4 paws up.

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About the Author

Annalise Thomas is a big city girl married to a small town boy. Every day is a joy and a challenge as she learns to live and love this small town life. Annalise is a foodie with a deep passion for everything edible and for sharing what she loves with others. Annalise is a wife and mom, a baker, a cook, and a blogger. She and her family live a very real life and eat as much real food as possible.

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Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, mystery, Review on June 17, 2016

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Murder at Morningside

Title: Murder at Morningside
Author: Sandra Bretting
Publisher: Lyrical Underground
Genre: Mystery
Format: Ecopy

Synopsis

Hat designer Missy DuBois opened her shop, Crowning Glory, along Louisiana’s Great River Road to cater to the sophisticated Southern bride. But bless her heart, who knew creating stylish wedding veils would lead to murder?

Hired to craft a veil for a socialite getting married at Morningside Plantation means Missy can bask in the height of antebellum atmosphere. But when the bride is found dead in a women’s bathroom, Missy the milliner finds herself entangled in one unfashionable murder. With the list of suspects thicker than the sweltering Louisiana heat, including a gaggle of bridesmaids shedding nary a tear and a family with no shortage of enemies, it seems anyone at the mansion may have done away with the bride-to-be. While Missy has Southern charm to spare, she’s going to need more than manners and a manicure to put a hat pin on this murderous affair . . .

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Review

If you like reading about the south, especially Louisiana, you’ll enjoy this cozy! Set close to Baton Rouge the protagonist, Missy, is a milliner and creates veils for brides along with various hats and cloches. Like most cozies, she puts herself in harms way but doesn’t realize it most of the time.

This was an engaging story that I enjoyed. I had no idea who to suspect as the “bad guy” until a certain fact is revealed. If you pay attention you’ll know who it is BUT you won’t know why until the killer is confronted.

There is a bit of a one sided love interest, Missy has a thing for Ambrose “Bo” who is a fashion designer and her best friend. I’m not sure if anything will develop in future books, but a friend from her past also shows up and while nothing is really said about any interest from either side, you just never know.

We give it 4 paws up!

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Meet the Author

Sandra Bretting has served as a freelance feature writer for the Houston Chronicle since moving to Texas in 1996. She received a journalism degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism, and spent her early career in healthcare public relations at medical centers throughout Southern California. Other publications for which she’s written include the Los Angeles Times and Woman’s Day.

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Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, mystery, Review on June 11, 2016

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Passion, Poison, & Puppy Dogs

A Danger Cove Pet Sitter Mystery

Sally S. Smith & Jean Steffens

Gemma Halliday Publishing

ISBN: 9781943587469

Synopsis

In this dog eat dog world, it’s people you have to keep your eye on.

When Lizzie Jones, pet sitter extraordinaire, is asked to watch over her best friend’s two spoiled dogs at the posh gated community of Craggy Hill Estates, the last thing she expects is to wind up in the middle of a homicide. But that’s exactly what happens when she finds her best friend’s cheating husband and Danger Cove’s celebrity bodybuilder champ, Mr. Jupiter, floating facedown in his hot tub. To make matters worse, the police aren’t looking any further than the wife for a suspect—isn’t it always the wife? Well, not in this case—at least Lizzie refuses to believe it.

Between dealing with Craggy Hill’s hot security guard, Tino Morales—who also just happens to be the man who broke Lizzie’s heart in high school, caring for her grieving friend, and watching three rambunctious dogs, Lizzie has her hands full. So she recruits her famous granddad, retired network field correspondent, Jimmy John Jones, to help her put two and two together to find the real killer. Was Mr. Jupiter murdered by one of his women on the side? A jealous, disgruntled employee? Or someone with a bitter and deep-seated hatred of the superstar? It’s up to Lizzie, Jimmy John, and Lizzie’s own pug, Vader, to crack the case before the killer claims another victim…this one much closer to Lizzie’s own heart!

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Review

I love dogs so the book title interested me from the start! and what a title to grab you – after all what could go wrong with passion and poison and puppy dogs?! but not to worry, no puppy dogs are harmed in the writing of this book!

This book is part of a series about a town called Danger Cove. I don’t think it is a very small town, but most people know each other so there is no getting away with anything. Lizzie is a pet sitter/vet student. I have to give her props for not racking up student loan debt! She runs into a high school crush, Tino, and a relationship begins.

But let’s not forget the murder! Her best friend’s husband is killed and of course the wife is the primary suspect since a divorce was pending.

There is more to the story than just the murder of Mr. Jupiter (body builder with not a lot of brains in his head or so it would seem). There is theft of his money (or at least some of it), a crazy sister and then the 3 mistresses. Let’s just say he had a lot going on in his life.

As far as the mystery goes, there are not a ton of people to suspect, so I was pretty sure I knew who did it, I just didn’t know why. But that didn’t detract from the story and I enjoyed it all the way until the end.

We give this 4 paws up!

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About the Authors

jean & sally authorThe international best-selling writing team of Sally J. Smith (right brain) and Jean Steffens (left brain) make up equal halves of one totally functional writer’s mind. Creative and intuitive and organized and systematic? What could be better than that?

The two desert dwellers work together side-by-side, literally finishing each other’s sentences, putting together their novels faster and more efficiently than they ever could individually.

When their heads aren’t together over a manuscript, you’ll find them with their families, at a movie, the yoga studio, the mall, or out-to-lunch—in the food sense, not the spaced-out sense, well…most of the time. Their current series include Jordan Welsh & Eddie Marino Novels, Mystic Isle Mysteries, Danger Cove Pet Sitter Mysteries, and coming soon, Aloha Lagoon Gabby LeClair Mysteries, and Digby Sloan Mysteries.

Sally J. Smith and Jean Steffens, are partners in crime—crime writing, that is. They live in the Valley of the Sun in Arizona, awesome for eight months out of the year, an inferno the other four. They write bloody murder, flirty romance, and wicked humor all in one package.

Visit our website, look around, and sign up for our newsletter. We love hearing from our readers and always answer our e-mails: smithandsteffens@cox.net.

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Posted in 4 paws, Historical, Review, romance on May 27, 2016

love is come

Synopsis

From the Power of the Matchmaker series: LOVE IS COME

Nelle Thompson lives a life of privilege during the turn of the century New York City. When her parents are killed in a terrible accident, she’s forced to live with her aunt’s family in a small town in Connecticut, and treated as a poor relation with no financial independence. Broken hearted and riddled with insomnia, Nelle’s health begins a downward spiral. When a locked part of her heart blossoms around her cousin’s fiancé Mathew Janson, Nelle doesn’t know if she can endure one more heartbreak. Miss Pearl, owner of the local apothecary shop, becomes a mother figure to Nelle, but a fateful summer day has Nelle questioning everything she’s ever believed and wondering if she’ll ever love again.

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Review

Another great book in the Matchmaker series. Like a few other books, i was surprised at the very small role of Pearl, the Matchmaker. In fact, she didn’t even appear until at least 25% of the way into the book. But no matter, the story was still very enjoyable and it was a refreshing step into the past when things were simpler but not as advantageous for women as Nelle found out when she lost her parents and everything outside of a small trust was left to her uncle.

Nelle finds a new purpose for her life and even someone that fills her heart, but the bad thing is that he is involved with her cousin.

This is a clean romance but well worth the read.

We give it 4 paws up.

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Posted in 4 paws, BEA, Children, Review on May 21, 2016

Today I bring you another children’s book that I picked up at Book Expo America.  It came out in July 2015 internationally but won’t be available here until September 1.  I didn’t realize, but Max has other books out as well, so look for those available now and this one out in September.

I’m sure you are thinking…why so many children’s books?  Well they are all for my great-niece AND I can catch up on my Goodreads challenge since I had fallen off the wagon with my reading and was behind!  Children’s books are a great way to catch up.

max at night

Synopsis

Meet Max – the mighty kitten and New York Times bestseller.

This is Max. Max is very sleepy. It’s way past Max’s bedtime. Max has drunk his milk. Max has brushed his teeth. Max has cleaned behind his ears. Now Max just needs to say goodnight…

Max is tired and all ready for bed, but when he can’t find the moon to say goodnight to, he sets out to find it. But that’s not as easy as Max had hoped… Witty and heart-warming, this stylish and beautifully illustrated book is the perfect bedtime read.

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Review

I picked up this ARC at BEA and it is a cute story about a kitten looking for the moon one night because the moon is nowhere to be seen. So the kitten goes on an adventure to find the moon and that he does.

Cute story, great for kids and I think it would be a good bedtime story because it is very repetitive and calming.  Just what you need to get a kid to sleep!

We give it 4 paws up.

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