Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Review on March 9, 2017

Kneaded to Death (A Bread Shop Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
New Series
Kensington (February 28, 2017)
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages

Synopsis

Everyone swears by Yeast of Eden, the Mexican bread shop in town. But tonight, the only thing on the menu is la muerte . . .

Struggling photographer Ivy Culpepper has lots of soul-searching to do since returning to seaside Santa Sofia, California. That is, until the thirty-six-year-old enters a bread making class at Yeast of Eden. Whether it’s the aroma of fresh conchas in the oven, or her instant connection with owner Olaya Solis, Ivy just knows the missing ingredients in her life are hidden among the secrets of Olaya’s bakery . . .

But Ivy’s spirits crumble when a missing classmate is suddenly discovered dead in her car. Even more devastating, the prime suspect is Olaya Solis herself. Doubting the woman could commit such a crime, Ivy embarks on a murder investigation of her own to prove her innocence and seize the real killer. As she follows a deadly trail of crumbs around town, Ivy must trust her gut like never before—or someone else could be toast!

Review

I always enjoy checking out a new cozy series, especially when there is food involved! This series revolves around a bakery called Yeast of Eden and the author does a great job of making my mouth water when she describes all the different breads. I especially enjoy the tips on baking bread because even though I don’t bake bread often, the tips are very handy to keep in the back of my mind.

There are several mysteries that need to be solved in this book. Of course there is the main murder of Jackie, a local cooking school owner. Why was she killed? The reason will surprise you because it sure did surprise me. The author takes you down another path and while there is some merit it isn’t all it seems to be. Then there is Ivy’s mother that was killed 6 months prior. All seems to reflect a hit and run, but Ivy just can’t accept that there isn’t more. Could it have been murder? And if so, are the deaths tied together?

When it came time to revealing the killer I was quite surprised because this person was not even on my radar. I don’t think there were any clues to tip us off that it was this character. In fact, I was starting to suspect one of the main characters (not going to tell you who, you’ll have to read the book because this character might become a suspect in your mind too!) but was very relieve it was not her.

This book also focuses on grief – from Ivy and her father over losing her mother, to Miguel’s loss of his father and even Jackie’s daughter. I hope that in future books knowing the truth about Ivy’s mother will help her family move on past the grief.

Lastly, there is a hint at a possible romance being rekindled between Ivy and Miguel. They dated in high school and then he left town. Ivy’s heart was broken but will she get past that hurt? I think probably so.

We give this book 4 paws up.

About the Author

The indefatigable Winnie Archer is a middle school teacher by day, and a writer by night. Born in a beach town in California, she now lives in an inspiring century old house in North Texas and loves being surrounded by real-life history. She fantasizes about spending summers writing in quaint, cozy locales, has a love/hate relationship with both yoga and chocolate, adores pumpkin spice lattes, is devoted to her five kids and husband, and can’t believe she’s lucky enough to be living the life of her dreams.

Winnie Archer Website

Winnie Archer is the pseudonym for national bestselling author Melissa Bourbon.

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February 27 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – REVIEW

February 27 – Books,Dreams,Life – REVIEW

February 28 – Sleuth Cafe – REVIEW

February 28 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW

March 1 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 1 – Cinnamon, Sugar, and a Little Bit of Murder – REVIEW

March 1 – Bookworm Mom – REVIEW

March 2 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

March 2 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews – INTERVIEW

March 3 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW

March 3 – Rainy Day Reviews – REVIEW

March 4 – Shelley’s Book Case – REVIEW, GUEST POST

March 4 – Island Confidential – INTERVIEW

March 5 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

March 5 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW

March 6 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW

March 6 – Book Babble – REVIEW

March 7 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW

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March 8 – A Holland Reads – REVIEW

March 9 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

March 9 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW

March 10 – Becky’s Bookcase – REVIEW

March 10 – Readeropolis – REVIEW

March 11 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

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Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Review on March 7, 2017

Pressed to Death (A Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum Mystery)
2nd in Series
Publisher: Midnight Ink (March 8, 2017)
Paperback: 336 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0738750316
Kindle ASIN: B01FOR0Z7G

Synopsis

Paranormal museum owner Maddie Kosloski thinks she has the perfect paranormal exhibit for the harvest festival—a haunted grape press. But when she’s accused of stealing the press, and her accuser is found murdered, all eyes turn to Maddie.

Maddie knows well the perils of amateur sleuthing and is reluctant to get involved. But her mother insists she investigate. Does her mom have a secret agenda? Or is she somehow connected to the murder?

Facing down danger and her own over-active imagination, Maddie must unearth the killer before she becomes the next ghost to haunt her museum.

Review

This series is a great combination of mystery and paranormal – the paranormal is very light as it is a paranormal museum and there is no telling if the items in the museum are actually haunted or not. Although the museum cat, GD, apparently can sense spirits.

The great thing about this series so far (as it is just the 2nd book) is that Maddie solves the crimes in the present and in the past. In both books there are unsolved crimes that are resolved as they seem to tie into main story line. This time it is a haunted wine press and Maddie purchases but the seller ends up dead after claiming it was stolen. Of course Maddie is a suspect and one of the police detectives, Laurel Hamilton, is definitely out to get Maddie. Laurel holds a grudge and does what she can to make Maddie’s life miserable. I’m actually surprised that she gets away with what she does, but it is a small town and sometimes those small towns have a different outlook.

The mystery itself was well written as I didn’t quite figure out who the killer was and the why was a surprise too. I do like that Maddie doesn’t try and confront the killer herself and brings in the police to apprehend the perpetrator.

Maddie does have a love interest, Mason, but some things come up with him and a person from his past and a situation that he has to deal with. While we don’t know what exactly the situation is until about 3/4 of the way through the book, I did figure out why this person was back in town. It does put a crimp in their relationship so we will have to see how it pans out in coming books.

Overall I enjoyed the book and can’t wait for the next book to come out.  We give it 4 paws up

About the Author

KIRSTEN WEISSKirsten Weiss grew up in San Mateo, California. After getting her MBA, she joined the Peace Corps, starting an international career that took her around the fringes of the defunct USSR and into the Afghan war zone. Her experiences abroad not only gave her glimpses into the darker side of human nature, but also sparked an interest in the effects of mysticism and mythology, and how both are woven into our daily lives.

She writes paranormal mystery and suspense, blending her experiences and imagination to create vivid worlds of magic and mayhem.

Kirsten has never met a dessert she didn’t like, and her guilty pleasures are watching ghost Whisperer re-runs and drinking good wine.

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March 7 – T’s Stuff – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

March 8 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 9 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

March 10 – Queen of All She Reads – REVIEW

March 11 – Curling up by the Fire – REVIEW

March 12 – Island Confidential – INTERVIEW

March 13 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW

March 14 – Nadaness In Motion – REVIEW

March 15 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW

March 16 – Bea’s Book Nook – REVIEW

March 16 – Bookworm Mom – REVIEW

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Posted in 4 paws, Giveaway, Literary, Review on March 5, 2017

FOY: ON THE ROAD TO LOST

by

GORDON ATKINSON

  Genre: Literary Fiction

Publisher: Material Media LLC

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Date of Publication: March 1, 2017

Number of Pages: 194

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Gordon Atkinson, of the popular blog RealLivePreacher, brings us Foy, a recently- divorced, recently-resigned pastor in the midst of redefining personal meaning. As Foy travels to New Orleans, hoping to find a new identity separate from the church, he keenly observes the everyday, rendering ordinary moments unexpectedly significant. Atkinson’s own background as a preacher and blogger inspires Foy’s confessional voice, the voice which characterizes this story about how our own experiences impact the universal search for meaning.

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PRAISE FOR FOY: ON THE ROAD TO LOST

“If the magnitude of difference between the stars and humankind is the purest of religions, reminding us of our insignificance (so thinks Foy), then that magnitude is collapsed in the hands of Atkinson, whose words elevate the most insignificant of objects, acts, and characters to startling heights. A key shifted on a desk, a communion cup offered to an old woman despite a philosophical mismatch, a baby’s bottle first ignored and then retrieved for a frazzled stranger on a bus. Each commands, each arrests, each persists. And we suddenly remember that what we create with mere words can be as lasting as the luminaries.”  — L.L. Barkat, author of Rumors of Water: Thoughts on Creativity & Writing, twice named a best book of 2011

“Few writers can match Gordon Atkinson’s ability to tell stories about the sacred in our everyday lives. Foy is a work of power, beauty, and clarity–I saw myself and the world more clearly after reading it. I think you will too.”  — Greg Garrett, author of The Prodigal and Entertaining Judgment

“I really, really like Gordon Atkinson’s Foy. I like the character Foy himself. He’s Everyman and he’s me and he’s Gordon, all at the same time. Nice trick. I like Gordon’s writing — straightforward, but with a simple elegance. But what I really like is the no-holds-barred honesty. This feels real because it is real. Foy at his worst, Foy at his best, Foy at his most wonderful/awful. It’s an on-going series, just like life. I look forward to the next chapter.”  — Robert F. Darden, author of Nothing but Love in God’s Water, Volume II: Black Sacred Music from Sit-Ins to Resurrection City

New Novel by Gordon Atkinson Foy: On the Road to Lost, to be released March 1 from Material Media on Vimeo.

Books in the Literary Fiction genre seem to be hit and miss with me.  However, Foy surprised me and I found this introspective look back at his life very fascinating.  The book starts off and Foy is being let go from the church where he is a pastor.  I think it is something of a shock, and like most people that are let go, he seems to stumble around trying to figure out what he should be doing with his life.  The following chapters are a flashback of his life and how he got to this point.  I liked that each chapter was more of a snapshot of an influential time in his life, whether he knew it or not at the time.  It seems like he was meant to be a preacher from his early days, but was that because he was emulating his father?

This book also peeks inside Foy’s relationship with God and religion, and perhaps it causes the reader to also consider how they feel or what they believe when it comes to God and religion.  One paragraph (or close) made me think a little.  This is from the Bearing Witness chapter – “I think hell is a place where God is not.  And if people don’t want to be with God, then he honors that choice and they can be away from God for eternity.  If that’s what they choose, he’ll give it to them.  But I think hell must be a terrible place if God is absent from it.”  This gave me pause and actually changed my thinking on how to perceive hell (whether there is one or not is a whole other topic!)

Another paragraph that stood out to me is from The Sermon chapter.  “The thing about forgiveness is, we don’t even know what the hell it means.  People are always saying “Forgive me” or “I forgive you”, but we don’t define it.  That’s a problem.”  This is tied to a biblical verse that talks about forgiving someone not seven times, but seventy times seven.  If you think about it, that is a lot of forgiveness.  What could someone do 490 times (70 x 7) that you would forgive them every single time?  For most people it would never get that far before they had enough of the situation.

The only thing I don’t really like in this book is the use of the f* bomb.  Ironically there is a chapter titled F-Bomb and there is a bit of humor in that chapter tied to this word, but there were many other uses of the word in this book that weren’t really necessary.  Maybe I grew up in a sheltered household, but I don’t recall this word being used much in the 70’s and 80’s.  I could be wrong though.

The book doesn’t really end and in the notes from the author it seems that he is working on a Part II that will pick up where this book ends.

Overall I give it 4 paws and if you are looking for a book that will make you think, then check out this one.

Atkinson is the author of the books RealLivePreacher.com (Wm. B. Eerdmans), Turtles All the Way Down, and A Christmas Story You’ve Never Heard.  He was a contributor for the magazine Christian Century and founding editor for the High Calling website, which brought together hundreds of independent writers and featured their work.

His writing career started on Salon where he was among the most read bloggers on the site.  One of his essays was chosen to be included in The Best Christian Writing 2004 (Jossey-Bass) and his book RealLivePreacher.com won the Independent Publisher Book Award in the creative non-fiction category.

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3rd Prize: Signed Copy of RealLivePreacher.com
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March 1 – 15, 2017

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3/2 Review Momma On The Rocks
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3/6 Author Interview Kara The Redhead
3/7 Review Forgotten Winds
3/8 Video Guest Post The Page Unbound
3/9 Excerpt My Book Fix Blog
3/10 Review Margie’s Must Reads
3/11 Video Guest Post Chapter Break Book Blog
3/12 Author Interview Missus Gonzo
3/13 Review Book Chase
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Posted in 4 paws, Review, Romantic Suspense on March 4, 2017

Synopsis

Forty-year-old, never been married stage and TV actress Kelly Lawson returns to her Texas home to choreograph and star in the Glenview Theatre summer season. Kelly’s mother has made a hobby of trailing out every new man in town for Kelly’s inspection, hoping she’ll fall in love and use Glenview as her home base, especially now that Kelly’s father has entered the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s . Two years ago, Kelly broke off an engagement shortly before she discovered her former fiancé dead, a gun in his hand and a hole in his head. Reason enough to guard her heart.

When Kelly accuses a Glenview police officer of harassing two of their gay actors, Police Chief Josh Kincaid, her mother’s candidate for this trip, becomes involved in the investigation. Incidents pile up, making it clear someone has it in, not only for the theatre, but for Kelly as well. Josh searches for clues to the person behind the attacks and the reason for them, all the while trying to ignore his developing feelings. How could he trust his heart to a New York actress?

Review

I really enjoyed this romantic suspense novel. It home on a few levels – set in Texas close to where I live and 2 of the men have Alzheimers (I have known many that had this including my own dad).

I like that while Kelly may be an actress and famous, she is very down to earth and has some of her own issues to deal with as well. Josh hasn’t had the easiest life either but he knows what he wants when he meets Kelly.

This is a suspense novel so there is only a slight bit of a mystery at the beginning about who is causing some problems. It is all revealed as to who the culprits are, but it still takes a while for them to be discovered and brought to justice. There are a few tense nail biting moments that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

There are some slightly graphic love scenes but much tamer than you find in other books. I tend to skim over those parts, but that is me.

All in all a good book and worth the read.  We give it 4 paws up.

 

About the Author

I’ve worn many hats during my life. I’d thought the writing hat was of recent vintage. Then going through some boxes, I stumbled over plays and short stories I wrote in 6th and 7th grades. The hat is older than I recalled.

For many years, I wore the hat of an activist PTA mom and volunteer. Then I added a campaign hat and served on the Fort Worth school board for eight years. A task I never could’ve undertaken without the full cooperation of my husband, an attorney . He’s supported me in everything I’ve wanted to do.

Then I went back to teaching high school theatre, a fun hat to wear. They paid me for doing something I loved. After that, I morphed into an elementary school administrator. Sometimes the hat fit well. At other times, it pinched. Joyous, but exhausting work. Ever since retiring, I’ve concentrated on my writing career. As I said, lots of hats.

Our grown children live near us and have given us the best of the best: grandchildren. I’ve turned into your stereotypical grandmother believing these little jewels are the most beautiful, handsome, and brilliant in the world!

My favorite season is fall, and I’m never happier than when we travel to New England. We’ve been fortunate to visit many beautiful parts of the country, some of which find their way into my books.

I’m working on book three of The Second Chances Series, ACT OF BETRAYAL..s series. Newest release is THE THEATRE October 31, 2016.

I’ve recently joined Sisterhood of Suspense, a blog made up of 16 authors all who write romantic suspense. Much fun.

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Posted in 4 paws, Review, romance, women on February 28, 2017

Synopsis

Linnie Wayfair knows just how many people are counting on her. But knowing doesn’t make doing any easier.

Everyone in Sweet Lake, Ohio, wants her to muster all her business sense and return the Wayfair Inn to its former glory. Her parents hope she’ll forgive her scoundrel of a brother and reconcile the family. The eccentric Sweet Lake Sirens want her to open the inn—and her heart—to new possibilities. And her hilarious lifelong friends Jada and Cat are dropping none-too-subtle hints for her to ignite a romance with Daniel Kettering, the sexy attorney who’s been pining for her for years…

Now a shocking turn of events will open old wounds and upend the world Linnie has carefully built. She has to make changes quickly—and the results, though not entirely what she expected, might be what she’s been yearning for all along.

Review

If you want to read about trying family dynamics, this is the book for you. The Wayfair’s own a inn in a small OH town and it has been in their family for many generations and always run by a male. However, after the proprietor has a stroke he retires and leaves his daughter, Linnie, to run the inn. What we don’t realize is that Linnie’s brother has a stake in the inn. Freddie also caused a lot of turmoil 7 years previously that has set up some hard feelings on Linnie’s part. So a lot of this book centers around her actions and reactions to his behavior all those years ago.

But this book is not without romance. Daniel and Linnie grew up together and I think they both secretly liked each other but never did anything about it….until now.

I found the story intriguing with the variety of characters including the Sirens (matriarchs of the town that had their own group) and Linnie’s best friends Cat and Jada. Freddie is deplorable, but we see a hint of goodness in him and perhaps he is despicable because he thinks that is what is expected.

Linnie has a lot of growing up to do in this book when it comes to her family. She has always been the dutiful daughter and that is not always a good thing because she never puts herself first.

The only negative I have about this book is that when there was a change in time/scene there wasn’t a break in the text. Sometimes there was and sometimes there wasn’t and at times I’d be reading along and it would jump to another time/location without any warning. This didn’t happen often and didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book, after all I read it in a day!

We give this 4 paws up.

About the Author

Some writers are gifted with an unusual life and I’m certainly one of those. I’ve lived in Ohio, Virginia, California, Utah and now South Carolina. In college I was featured on the front page of the Houston Post for a lark that erased all my debt. I met my four adopted children for the first time in the sweltering heat of the tropics. I helped build several companies and was lucky enough to earn a living doing what I love best–writing–in a PR firm I owned.

In 2004 I made the wisest and most irrational decision of my life–I began writing fiction full-time. All those years of hard work pay off daily in sweet notes and comments by readers. Please continue the mail, tweets and comments on FaceBook, GoodReads and other sites. I cherish your support and love chatting with readers.

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Posted in 4 paws, humor, Review, women on February 26, 2017

Synopsis

Divorced, broke, and living with her parents—forty-year-old Shannon Johnson is clearly winning at life.

She’s so awesome, she accidentally uses a tampon irradiated in Kazakhstan. Suddenly, this mush-mouthed loser becomes a superheroine who can shoot menstrual cramps from her fingers.

No, really.

But her new mission of saving NYC’s abused women gets complex for Super 40. With her teleporting partner Dolly Poppin’, Super 40 runs afoul of domestic abusers, jerky news anchors, and an evil scientist with cats. Even worse, someone’s trying to kill the partners for reasons unknown, which is just plain rude. Is it the mysterious flying Antihero? The robo-kittens? Or one of the delightful internet trolls always eager to call Shannon fat and ugly?

No matter, for the amazing Super 40 will get her mojo back through butt-kicking, self-love, and some hot dates with the world’s yummiest superhero.

If you ever thought Bridget Jones needed a borked-out superpower, you won’t be able to put down the hilarious adventures of SUPER 40. She’s a heroine for every woman society deems unsuitable, which is basically all of us.

To heck with that!

From Lucy – My goal for this book is for every woman who reads it to feel like a superheroine herself–no matter her circumstance, abilities, or dress size.

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Review

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I started reading this book….was I expecting mystery? romance? humor? wacky characters? I don’t know for sure but that is what you get when you read this book.

The book starts off rather odd (IMHO) and Shannon is over the top in the first chapter. But as the book progresses she seems to level off and while she does not have a lot of her life together, becoming a super heroine seems to be a good thing for her. It gives her confidence which allows her to see beyond what has been projected on her by her family and ex-husband.

I haven’t even mentioned her super power yet – she can shoot menstrual cramps into anyone that gets in her way. And these aren’t “light ones” either. These are strong enough to take down a big hulking man! It is rather humorous as she tried to figure out what to call her power.

Shannon does find herself in some odd situations as a super heroine, but she muddles through along with another super heroine, Dolly Poppins (aka Kayla), because there really isn’t much of a handbook to give you guidance. She does have 3 men interested in her and while she each has their own merits, I think she has focused on one that really captures her spirit and possibly her heart.

I think Shannon learns a lot in this book and actually inspires others that seem to have a problem with turning 40. They realize that you do not have to act any certain way and that only you control your destiny.

If you can get past the first chapter (that was the hardest for me because I think I didn’t know what to expect with the book) I think you might enjoy it.

We give it 4 paws up!

About the Author

Lucy Woodhull’s writing began in the womb, where she composed haiku about being claustrophobic. Unfortunately, her mother interpreted this talent as “heartburn,” so Lucy’s gifts went unappreciated in the world at large for several years.

In addition to writing le steamy romantic comedy, Lucy pens parody and satire, for she dreams of being the literary Mel Brooks. (You should imagine air quotes around the word “literary.”)

Her motto is “Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you’ll short-circuit your Kindle.” That’s why she writes funny books, because goodness knows we all need to escape the real world once in a while.

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Posted in 5 paws, mystery, Review on February 23, 2017

Murder by the Book: A Mystery Mini
Print Length: 27 pages
Publisher: Mike Byrnes and Associates, Inc. (February 27, 2016)
Publication Date: February 27, 2016
ASIN: B01CC3NJQO

Synopsis

 

An ordinary work day at the western Massachusetts Sugarloaf Inn turns more chilling than the winter weather when staff member Candy Wadsen makes a gruesome discovery. Her day goes from bad to worse when Candy realizes that Detective Sergeant Dan Petrowski suspects her of committing the crime.

Review

This is a very short book (27 pages) but it packs a lot into the murder and solving the crime.

I liked that because it is short it was very fast paced and the reveal of the killer surprised me. I like how they figured out who the killer was – using a play on words, very unique.

I don’t know if there will be more with these characters but I could see a possible romance brewing between Candy the the police detective Dan.

We give it 5 paws up

About the Author

“What if?” Those two words all too easily send Devorah Fox spinning into flights of fancy. Best-selling author of an award-winning literary historical fantasy series and several thrillers, she also penned Mystery Mini Short Reads and contributed short stories to popular fantasy anthologies. Born in Brooklyn, New York, she now lives on the Texas Gulf Coast with rescued tabby cats … and a dragon named Inky. 

 

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Posted in 4 paws, Review, Romantic Comedy on February 17, 2017

Synopsis

Born with a silver spoon in her mouth, Manhattan upper-cruster Cecily Sinclair now uses that pricey utensil to dish up fancy French fare on her cooking show, Serving Romance. When there’s an executive shake-up at the network, she’s not worried. Not much anyway. Her show’s a hit after all. Why would the new CEO want to mess with success?

The driving force behind several buzzed-about networks, Devlin Hayes is considered to be a wunderkind in the television industry. Although his plans to rebrand CuisineTV and make Serving Romance more Millennial-friendly don’t thrill Cecily, her charming, blue-eyed boss is a hard man to say “no” to and she really wants to keep her job—even if that means sharing screen time with a loathsome blast from her past.

Mercurial Italian chef Dante Marchetti a.k.a. “Il Duce” was once Cecily’s boss, and she has the PTSD to prove it. Now the owner of one of the hottest restaurants in town, Dante’s egomania knows no bounds and his constant attempts to provoke and upstage Cecily make her want to conk him on the head with a sautééé pan. She thinks they’re toxic together, but viewers love their chemistry and clamor for more.

As Cecily battles to maintain the integrity of her show, she finds herself scheming and manipulating right along with Dante and Devlin. Is she fighting a lost cause? Does she really belong on TV, or would her culinary talent be better served elsewhere? And could one of the men who makes Cecily’s blood boil ignite a passion in her for something other than food?

Review

If you like hunky men, comedy, romance and food/cooking then this is the book for you.

Cecily is a multi faceted protagonist. She is wealthy but was trained at Cordon Bleu and worked in restaurants before becoming a television chef. She has a very wacky family including a cousin, Dina, that is a flower child long past the 60’s. And a grandmother that makes everyone toe the line.

Then you have 3 potential love interests for Cecily – her ex-fiance’ Boyce (because is he really an ex if they still have a good relationship? maybe, maybe not), Dante – a former boss of Cecily’s who happens to have a hot body and seems to rub Cecily the wrong way. Is it conflict or perhaps chemistry? And finally we have Devlin – her boss, who despite shaking up the network and making huge changes, sees something in Cecily. So who will she end up with? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

I really enjoyed the mix of characters and the interaction (whether good or bad) because it just added more dimension to the story. I was hoping Cecily would end up with who she did, but there were times when I wondered if other incidents might influence her decision. Dina is a crack up, I love her whimsical nature. Paige (the best friend) plays a minor role, but there are some interesting twists with her life near the end.

I also liked how Cecily’s character grew as the book progressed. Yes she may be formally trained and have had a “proper” upbringing, but she learns to bend and grows as a woman and even as a chef. I liked how down to earth she was despite her parents and grandmother. I think it is her and Dina having each other as best friends growing up (even though they are cousins) that helped ground both of them.

We enjoyed the book and give it 4 paws up.

About the Author

An avid reader and writer, Tracie Banister has been scribbling stories since she was a child, most of them featuring feisty heroines with complicated love lives like her favorite fictional protagonist Scarlett O’Hara. Her work was first seen on the stage of her elementary school, where her 4th grade class performed an original holiday play she penned. (Like all good divas-in-the-making, she also starred in and tried to direct the production.)

Tracie’s dreams of authorial success were put on the backburner when she reached adulthood and discovered that she needed a “real” job in order to pay her bills. Her career as personal assistant to a local entrepreneur lasted for 12 years. When it ended, she decided to follow her bliss and dedicate herself to writing full-time. Mixing It Up is her fourth Chick Lit release, and in it Tracie finally got to live out her fantasy of being a Cordon Bleu-trained chef.

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Posted in 4 paws, excerpt, mystery, Review on February 13, 2017

Synopsis

Luke McWhorter is one strange dude. He is America’s only sheriff with a Yale divinity school degree. That means he is able to use everything from existential philosophy to holistic psychology to old-time religion to cow-country street smarts as he deals with law and order issues in the obscure “West of Fort Worth” Texas county where he grew up.

During the dreadful autumn week recounted in Dudley Lynch’s debut mystery, McWhorter starts to wonder if even this will be enough. Four religion professors in Flagler’s three small church colleges are murdered on successive days. Sheriff Luke begins to understand that he is dealing with mayhem driven by one of America’s richest men, by Armenian cyber-revolutionaries, by Flagler’s own homegrown power-hungry provocateurs and by back-country caprice itself.

The jolts in Dudley Lynch’s ever-shifting, ever-surprising debut mystery don’t end there. To his near-disbelief, Sheriff Luke eventually realizes that Flagler’s religious colleges have been turned into killing fields by events connected to an astonishing discovery on Mt. Ararat in Turkey (no, it’s not Noah’s Ark).

It will be the rare reader who guesses the final shoe to fall in the autumn week that changes Sheriff McWhorter’s future and the legacy of Abbot County, Texas, forever.

Excerpt

Excerpt from Chapter One of Beliefs Can Be Murder
by Dudley Lynch

I leaned in for a better view. I’d seen photos like this before. Usually, they were taken by an x-ray scanner mounted on a truck. Border patrol agents referred to the vans as “ice cream trucks.” They used them to spot illegals hiding in truckers’ sleeper berths or crouched between cargo shipments back in their trailers. In this x-ray, there didn’t seem to be any humans visible. Only one very large, longish, waist-high crate-looking object with indeterminate contents, if any. A cylinder that looked like a giant thermos bottle. An assortment of smaller boxes. And a jumble of what I took to be tanks, wires, hoses and other items although their vagueness made them hard to identify.

I cleared my throat. “What is it?”

“That’s certainly one of the questions.” Kane continued to gaze at me.

“What’s another one?”

Where is it?”

As was the case with many conference rooms, ours was like an aquarium. Lots of glass in the wall fronting the hallway. If the blinds weren’t lowered, passers-by could see in and the occupying fishes could see out.

As was my habit, I’d taken a seat that put my back toward the windowless inner wall. This allowed me to monitor activity in the hallway. That was why I was able to notice my long-legged, big-bellied chief deputy, Sawyers Tanner, as he strode by.

On an ordinary day, being briefed about what he found on his trip to a remote corner of Abbot County that morning would have been a priority. He and our C.S.I. team had been dispatched to investigate a gristly scene near a makeshift stone altar that contained the charred leftovers of a rancher’s most prized Angora goat buck. Well, most of the leftovers. The rancher had said the creature’s severed head was lying close by, abandoned in the dirt like a butcher’s bad habit. But my chief deputy’s briefing would have to wait. On this day, priorities were getting juggled.

Then, they got juggled again.

Shortly after Sawyers walked by, he reappeared from the opposite direction. This time, he was running. Hard. Another of my deputies was right on his heels. Both were clutching a Colt AR-15 Tactical Carbine in each hand. Usually, these light-weight, rapid-fire, military-styled rifles were locked up in a gun case. Four of them represented half of our department’s total supply. Our deputies liked them because, as one had once explained it to me, “they can take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’.” They were never unchained without good reason. Usually, the reason was that some of my people somewhere feared that the guns were going to be needed.

The burly F.B.I. agent hadn’t seen my deputies race by. But the concerned look on my face was all the tip-off he required to the new weather conditions in the room. Getting to his feet abruptly, he headed toward the end of the room where we had a large highway map of West Texas mounted on the wall. He took his brief case with him because he was still attached to it.

That was the precise moment that Helen charged back into the picture. The collision with the startled F.B.I. agent was a hard one, but it only slowed her. She shoved around him like he was a linebacker arriving a step too late and thrust a sheet of paper into my hands. The handwriting on it betrayed no urgency. I hadn’t expected it to. But the same was not to be said for her message. In her usual letter-perfect, schoolmarmish cursive, she had written: “Shooting in Bible Building at Hills U. Sawyers, deputies, paramedics en route. No other details.”

I read the note again—not for meaning but for its implications. Campus shootings were one thing that our department drilled for often with the university security departments in Flagler. A smart, pro-active thing to do, I’d always thought, when you have not one but three institutions of fairly decent size in your otherwise thinly populated, isolated, back-prairie-ish shallow West Texas county. One of the incidents we’d studied exhaustively was the one in Blacksburg. This was the one where a lone gunman had murdered 32 students and wounded 17 more at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. But we’d also combed through law enforcement analyses of the mass shootings at Columbine High, Sandy Hook Elementary School, Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, the movie theater in Aurora, Umpqua Community College in Oregon and a number of others. There was no reason why such shootings couldn’t happen in Abbot County—the Good Lord knew there were enough guns in the county. Now, it appeared one had.

Getting to my feet, I raised an index finger in the direction of Special Agent in Charge Patrick Kane. Told him that I didn’t mean to be rude, but he had 90 seconds. That was how much time he was being alloted to explain to me exactly why he was here. If he failed to do so, he and his compañeros would be promptly escorted to the parking lot and shown the way to the street. They’d each need a special pass before they’d be allowed to reenter our parking lot, much less our courthouse. Because this was still my conference room, my department, my county and my show.

To his credit, Special Agent Kane didn’t need 90 seconds. He finished in less than a minute.

For added emphasis, he tucked the X-ray photo of the cargo container under his chin with his free hand in his most earnest show-and-tell stance.

“We believe—or rather, we fear—this container is filled with weapons of mass destruction originating with terrorists in the Middle East. We lost track of it in Istanbul 22 days ago. Didn’t know where it was until today. We think it’s in Flagler or close by. The shipping industry’s computerized tracking system shows it was off-loaded in your rail yard about nine this morning by somebody, identity unknown. If we are right, there may be enough destructive power hidden away in your county right now to blow half this place to kingdom come. If not that, to poison nearly everything that breathes for miles around it.”

I studied him for a moment. “Do what you gotta do.” And bolted for the door.

Review

This was quite an interesting book and the concept of a small west Texas town being home to several bible colleges. There isn’t much in west Texas so I thought this was quite intriguing.

Luke may be the sheriff but he never planned to take that position, in face he wanted to be a minister and has a degree in divinity. It makes for an interesting back story for Luke and his dreams and education and I’m not sure it really fits in with being the sheriff…..but he was born into a family of law enforcement so it is hard to escape it at times.

The mystery was not easy to figure out, in fact I didn’t know who the killer was or why. It made sense as the story was winding down and the pieces all came together.

I did enjoy the story and the various story lines that intersected. And of course, the story line with Fresca (a dog) because I love dogs and there are some “oh no” moments when it comes to Fresca.

Overall we give it 4 paws up.

About the Author

Author/journalist/thinking skills expert Dudley Lynch says the abiding themes of all our lives are transition and breakout, which are two very different things.

Mr. Lynch grew up in small towns in the American southern Great Plains and southwestern U.S. He was the son of a fundamentalist Christian minister who moved his family, on average, about as often as military families move.

Dudley’s dad intended to be a transition for his son, expecting him to follow in his footsteps in the church. Instead, the son choose breakout and got (two) degrees in mass communication (with an extra major in religion) and moved into American journalism. For a time, he worked for newspapers, including The Dallas News and the Arizona Republic.

Again, break-out took over. Dudley decided he’d rather write for himself, so he chose to free-lance. In the next ten years, his by-lined articles were published in about 250 periodicals on six continents—Reader’s Digest, Business Week, Newsweek, Fortune Magazine (special sections), The New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, The Economist and many others.

In the late 1970s, Reader’s Digest assigned him a story on creativity. Shortly after the story’s publication, a major Manhattan insurance company invited Dudley to stage a half-day seminar in thinking skills improvement for fifteen of its senior executives, and he suddenly found himself at the helm of a management consulting business that he called Brain Technologies Corporation.

Then, more breakout! A voracious life-long consumer of mysteries, Dudley decided to write one about the all-encompassing themes of his life, transition and breakout, and about the mindsets and geographical trappings he knows best: churchy people in the red-dirt prairies and hills of shallow West Texas.

He sees a lot of himself in his POV character, Sheriff Luke McWhorter. Like his creator, McWhorter also trained to be a minister but in making the transition, one break-out after another got in his way. The latest, the murders of four Bible department professors at Flagler, Texas’ three church universities, requires McWhorter to use everything in his experience about transitions and break-outs—and religion—to restore order and a sense of calm to an excessively churchy community that never dreamed its citizens could commit such acts of self-destruction or that it would find itself the target of such mayhem from the outside.

Dudley now lives in Gainesville, Florida, where he and his wife, Sherry, continue to operate their company, Brain Technologies Corporation. He has written his acclaimed LEAP!psych blog for years.

Posted in 5 paws, paranormal, Review, romance on February 11, 2017

Synopsis

Veronica’s first date with Sebastian not only stirs up a powerful attraction, but also a series of supernatural events that will tear them apart.

After countless hours of dead end online dating, Veronica meets up with Sebastian at a reportedly haunted restaurant, since he knows she has a fascination with the paranormal. While enjoying their meals and each other’s company, they share a shocking supernatural experience. Their romantic connection is overshadowed by the ghosts of their own pasts that threaten to destroy their budding relationship. Veronica decides she must return to the restaurant to face her past and dig up more answers. Unfortunately, she realizes she must go back, this time with a reluctant Sebastian. In the end, they join forces against the evil that stands between them, but will they make it out alive?

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Review

This is a very short book at only 38 pages, but the author packs a lot into those pages with many twists and turns that I never saw coming!

I think this book is something of a mystery and perhaps slightly paranormal (there are ghosts after all!) and maybe some suspense too. The book starts off with someone in trouble and then goes back and fills in the gaps. It is a little funny on how Veronica meets Sebastian – through online dating – when she thinks she has removed herself from all these sites. But she decides to give it a whirl and meets Sebastian – who could be her soulmate.

Now the blurb tells you that they have their own supernatural experience while dining at the haunted restaurant…however, neither expected what they saw to to touch them so personally!

The ending…WOW! Obviously I am not going to tell you what happens but I had to go back and reread the last page or two because I wasn’t sure I was reading and understanding it right. Let’s just say it was a bit of a shocker to me! And it leaves me wanting to know even more – what happens to them after the story ends? My imagination went many different directions.

This book may be short but it was very enjoyable and kept me wondering what would happen next.  We give it 5 paws up.

Excerpt

None of this is his fault, but here we sit in the police station. The cold, white walls are scuffed and dirty. Scrolling mug shots of wanted criminals flash by on a mounted monitor. My hand is clutching Sebastian’s, although I’m not sure he’s even aware of it after all we’ve been through.

His eyes are glazed over, his sandy-colored hair both matted and cowlick-y. He wears the circumstantial evidence: a scratched face and a split lower lip. Not to mention, his gray shirt is caked with blood and soaked in sweat.

It’s all rather fuzzy, but there’s dried blood under my fingernails. I’m pretty sure I’m to blame for everything.

My eyes are already swollen, but all I want to do is cry even more. I rest my head on Sebastian’s shoulder and pray he can forgive me. I’m here now. That should count for something.

I guess you could say he’s my boyfriend. Early on he told me he didn’t want to see anyone else. I didn’t either. Even though it’s been only about a month, I have to admit I’ve never felt this way. We’re in love. I’d like to think it’s even stronger now.

The problem is, I never knew that finding the one would be such a double-edged sword.

About the Author

Theresa Braun was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and has carried some of that hardiness with her to South Florida where she currently resides with her two fur babies, who are her creative sidekicks. She enjoys delving into creative writing, painting, photography and even bouts of ghost hunting. Traveling is one of her passions—in fact, her latest adventure took her to Romania for a horror writers’ workshop where she followed in the steps of Vlad the Impaler. She writes horror fiction and the occasional romance. Oh, and she likes to guest blog about writing, television shows, movies, and books, mostly in the horror genre. Her short stories are published in Under the Bed Magazine, in Hindered Souls, in the spring 2017 issue of The Horror Zine, and by Frith Books.

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