Posted in 4 paws, Review, romance on June 20, 2017

Synopsis

“My dog didn’t like men. Actually that was a lie – she didn’t like the men I chose. The only ones who rocked her world had been my father (who was no longer with us), Ross (who was gay), and the butcher on the high street (for obvious reasons).”

When Jenni Meadows has the opportunity to expand her dog-grooming business she takes it, and when a nice man appears on her horizon but fails to make any sparks fly, she decides she has enough on her plate with her business without adding a boyfriend into the mix.

Besides, Millie doesn’t like him and when her dog doesn’t like a man, Jenni knows all about it. So why does Millie take a very strange liking to the new vet, especially since he has a taciturn expression, wears a wedding ring, and wields a needle?

Under the Cherry Tree is a tale of love and hope, waggy tails, and cold noses.

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Review

I’m a sucker for any book that has dogs within the pages.

Jenni and Millie are quite tight for a dog and her owner, but I can see where Millie was a great source of support and unconditional love for Jenni especially after she lost her father. But Millie has some up side to her, such as knowing what people are not good and Jenni really should avoid…of course like any person, she doesn’t always make the right decisions.

There are several men that enter Jenni’s life and Millie has something to say (or bark) about them. She does not like Neil (and for good reason as you will find out later in the book) or Mark (he seems alright but lives too far away). Now she does like Scott – the substitute vet, but he has some issues of his own to work through.

I enjoyed the language of this book. That may sound like a strange thing, but it is set in England and while they speak English some of the terminology is different than the English I speak in America. Thank goodness for the dictionary on my Oasis for a few of those words! I also enjoyed the descriptions of the towns and landscape, it sounded very picturesque and a place I wouldn’t mind visiting.

There are also ghosts in this book – but not the scary kind. There is the owner of the property that died, Cecilia, and her ghostly efforts to push Jenni towards her future (which she does successfully but that is all I am saying). There is also a dog ghost which seems very real to Jenni.

The story tugged at my heartstrings nearer to the end when Millie is diagnosed with some health issues and the story that ensued after that. I am not ashamed to admit I was teary eyed because it reminded me of what I went through with one of my dogs not quite a year ago.

A very enjoyable story with a little bit of everything within the pages.  We give it 4 paws up.

About the Author

Lilac spends all her time writing, or reading, or thinking about writing or reading, often to the detriment of her day job, her family, and the housework. She apologises to her employer and her loved ones, but the house will simply have to deal with it!

She calls Worcester home, though she would prefer to call somewhere hot and sunny home, somewhere with a beach and cocktails and endless opportunities for snoozing in the sun…

When she isn’t hunched over a computer or dreaming about foreign shores, she enjoys creating strange, inedible dishes in the kitchen, accusing her daughter of stealing  borrowing her clothes, and fighting with her husband over whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher.

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Posted in 5 paws, Giveaway, Review, Romantic Comedy on June 17, 2017

Romantic Comedy
Self Published
Print Length: 235 pages
Publication Date: May 1, 2017
ASIN: B06XTSHJHB

Synopsis

I’m a total mess. My boyfriend dumped me – get this – because I diet too much. Not because I’m fat, mind you. Of course, this spurs me into the diet-fitness-revenge-plan of the century, which leads me to the gym and a scorching hot personal trainer. I even manage to make some cool new friends, including a millionaire if you can believe it. Things are looking up! Naturally, that’s the moment my ex decides he wants me back, the personal trainer asks me out, and my millionaire male buddy decides to throw his hat in the ring. But that’s not enough drama. No, not for me. Because I’ve also lost my job and decided to start my own business. Just call me Ms. Drama.

Warning: Bad language, bumpy roads, and embarrassing moments ahead. But there’s also more than a bit of romance and even, if we’re lucky, love. Fingers crossed.

Not endorsed by or affiliated with any brand of tequila.

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Review

This author has a way of taking a serious topic (body shaming) and making it where many could relate to the main character (Evie/Everly) and perhaps even understand why the character feels like she does.

I really enjoyed this book and chuckled through most of it. The book was a fast read (to me!) and I hated putting it down to go do other things (like cook dinner). I could identify with Everly but to be honest she wasn’t that overweight. In the notes afterwards the author shares she was about 5’4″ and from comments the character made about wanting to lose 50 lbs and weigh 110 we know she was around 160. That really isn’t that bad but it comes down to that topic that almost all women deal with – feeling inadequate about our bodies thanks to the media and the pressures it puts on us to be thin. But despite the fact that she wasn’t that overweight, she still had a body image/self esteem issue.

There is romance in this book too – the ex- Josh that started her journey at the gym; Gabe, her personal trainer who is also a “player”; and finally Carter, a geek but a famous one and rich to boot. As her interactions with the different men ensued I knew who I was rooting for..just call me Team Carter.

Besides the men there is a team of supportive women friends – Blaze who is her best friend and holds Everly the most accountable. Everyone needs a Blaze in their life! Lily, a co-worker that is supportive in many ways especially when it comes to work and how that job plays out. Then there is the group of ladies from Zumba who are a hoot and a half.

The only thing I wasn’t wild about was some of the language. There is a disclaimer that there was bad language, I just think some of it could have been cut out and not affected the moment in the story. Also, Charise (one of the friends from Zumba) called everyone bitches. It was funny the first few times but then it got old fast for me.

We give it 5 paws up.

About the Author

I grew up reading everything I could get my hands on from my mom’s Harlequin romances to Nancy Drew to Little Women. When I wasn’t flipping pages in a library book, I was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one should ever sing, or drafting stories which have thankfully been destroyed. College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along, robbing me of free time to write and read, although I did manage every once in a while to sneak a book into my rucksack between rolled up socks, MRIs, t-shirts, and cold weather gear. A few years into my legal career, I was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. I quit my job and sat down to write a manuscript, which I promptly hid in the attic after returning to the law. Another job change, this time from lawyer to B&B owner and I was again fed up and ready to scream I quit, which is incredibly difficult when you own the business. Thus, I shut the B&B during the week and in the off-season and started writing. Several books later I find myself in Istanbul writing full-time.

 

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June 13 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

June 13 – Bookworm Cafe  – GUEST POST

June 14 – Back Porchervations -REVIEW

June 14 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 15 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews – CHARACTER GUEST POST

June 15 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 16 – Babs Book Bistro – REVIEW

June 16 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW

June 17 –   StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

June 17 –   Books, Dreams, Life – SPOTLIGHT

June 18 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

June 19 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW

June 19 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, mystery, Review on June 16, 2017

Killer Music: A Cooper Harrington Detective Novel
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher: Lone Mountain Press (April 7, 2015)
Paperback: 212 pages

Synopsis

When private detective Cooper “Coop” Harrington meets record label mogul Grayson Taylor at a swank gathering of country music artists and politicians he never imagines he’ll be investigating his brutal murder less than twenty-four hours later.

The suspects are plentiful. More than a handful of people could have wanted him dead. Retained by Taylor’s widow, Coop works alongside his best friend and Chief of Detectives, Ben Mason. The investigation leads Coop and Ben to visit the luxurious mansions of recording industry magnates, navigate the murky undercurrents of the political world, and probe complicated family matters. Scandalous indiscretions, secrets, and hints of corruption swirl in the midst of their pursuit of the killer.

Coop’s faithful friend and assistant, Annabelle and his loyal golden retriever, Gus, both lend a hand during the investigation. Even his Aunt Camille mines the local gossip mill to unearth potential killers with motive. Yet the case seems hopeless until a crucial piece of evidence emerges that sends Coop and Ben on a race to catch the killer before someone else dies.

Review

I love a good mystery and this book did not disappoint! Grayson Taylor is murdered at a party and there are really no suspects in site. Sure there are tons of people at the party but it doesn’t seem like anyone has a motive to kill the music executive despite the fact that he was cheating on his wife and planning to start his own music label.

The author does not really lay out any clues for you to guess who the killer is, which is a good and bad thing. I followed along and wondered if it was this character or that character but never really knowing why. It is crazy what breaks the case wide open for Coop…that and some PI work that had unexpected benefits. Once that clue comes out the book moves at a faster pace and really kept me hooked until the end.

I think this will be a good series and I wonder if Coop and his office manager, AB (Annabelle) are destined to become love interests for each other. They have a good chemistry and I could see it happening.

We give it 4 paws up.

About the Author

Tammy L. Grace is the award-winning author of The Hometown Harbor Series of women’s fiction set in the picturesque San Jan Islands in Washington and a mystery series set in Nashville, Tennessee, featuring Cooper Harrington, Private Detective.

Born and raised in Nevada, Tammy L. Grace loved reading at a young age. With the help of her middle school teacher, she discovered the joy of writing. When Tammy isn’t working on ideas for a novel, she’s spending time with family and friends or supporting her addiction to books and chocolate. She and her husband have one grown son and a spoiled golden retriever.

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Check out the other blogs on this tour (some have giveaways!)

June 12 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW

June 12 – My Journey Back – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

June 12 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT, GIVEAWAY

June 13 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

June 13 – Books,Dreams,Life – INTERVIEW

June 13 – Dee-Scoveries – SPOTLIGHT, GIVEAWAY

June 14 – Author Annette Drake’s blog – INTERVIEW

June 14 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT, GIVEAWAY

June 15 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW

June 15 – Queen of All She Reads – REVIEW, GIVEAWAY

June 16 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

June 16 – Girl with Book Lungs – SPOTLIGHT

June 17 –  Brooke Blogs – REVIEW, GIVEAWAY

June 17 – Island Confidential – GUEST POST

June 18 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST, GIVEAWAY

June 18 – Community Bookstop – INTERVIEW

Posted in 3 1/2 paws, Giveaway, Review, suspense on June 11, 2017

No Turning Back: A Novel
Women Sleuths/Suspense Thriller
Crooked Lane Books (June 13, 2017)
Hardcover: 352 pages

Synopsis

You’d kill to protect your child – wouldn’t you?

Anna Graves’s whole life has recently been turned upside down. A new mother, she’s just gone back to her job as a radio presenter and is busy navigating a new schedule of late night feeding and early morning wake ups while also dealing with her newly separated husband. Then the worst happens. While Anna is walking on the beach with her daughter, she’s attacked by a crazed teenager. Terrified, Anna reacts instinctively to protect her baby.

But her life falls apart when the schoolboy dies from his injuries. The police believe Anna’s story, until the autopsy results reveal something more sinister. A frenzied media attack sends Anna into a spiral of self-doubt. Her precarious mental state is further threatened when she receives a chilling message from someone claiming to be the “Ophelia Killer,” a serial killer who preyed on the town twenty years ago—and who abruptly stopped when Anna’s father committed suicide.

Is Anna as innocent as she claims? And is murder forgivable, if committed to save your child’s life?

Internationally bestselling author Tracy Buchanan takes readers on an emotional roller coaster ride filled with heart-stopping secrets and hairpin turns in No Turning Back, her US debut.

Amazon B&N * IndieBound

Review

The first line of the synopsis really sets the reader up for this book – “You’d kill to protect your child – wouldn’t you?”. I think most people would said that yes they would to protect a child, spouse, etc if the situation warranted that drastic of an action. But how would you feel and act and react in the months following? Probably a lot like our main character Anna. She feels guilty about the situation and honestly didn’t mean to kill the teen that appeared to be attacking them and acting crazy. How was she to know that there was more to the situation than meets the eye?

What follows in the rest of the book is Anna dealing with her guilt, trying to figure out why the teen was crazy, trying to protect her child, and investigating these deaths and are were the deaths perpetrated by The Ophelia Killer (TOK) from 20 years ago that her father was investigating for an article?

The first 2/3 of the book fill in a lot of details and history is explained somewhat of the TOK but to me were a bit slow. Plus most of the chapters were really really long (personal preference is to stop at a chapter and was sometimes hard in this book). I also didn’t understand how a comb could kill a person even if they fell on it because that would have to be a lot of force for a comb to penetrate the skin (assuming plastic comb vs metal).

There are many characters to not like and a few red herrings mixed in to get you thinking that someone was behind all this that wasn’t really. I felt for Anna because of all the negative press she was receiving and how everyone painted her in a bad light and made assumptions that just weren’t true. Most of that was tied to the media and the stories they reported. Not too surprising considering what we see in the media today.

I’d probably give this 3 1/2 stars. I was originally give it 3 stars but it really picked up near the end and was not expecting the twist at the end!

About the Author

Tracy Buchanan lives in the UK with her husband, their little girl and their one-eyed Jack Russell. Buchanan traveled extensively while working as a travel magazine editor and has always been drawn to the sea after spending her childhood holidays on the coast visiting family–a fascination that inspires her writing. She now dedicates her time to writing and procrastinating on Twitter.

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June 5 – Books Direct  – INTERVIEW

June 5 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 6 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW

June 6 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

June 7 – Cassidy’s Bookshelves – REVIEW

June 7 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

June 8 – Bookworm Cafe – SPOTLIGHT

June 8 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 9 – That’s What She’s Reading – REVIEW

June 9 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST

June 9 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

June 10 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW

June 10 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

June 11 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

June 11 – Sleuth Cafe – SPOTLIGHT

June 12 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW

June 12 – Varietats – REVIEW

June 12 – My Journey Back – REVIEW

June 13 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

June 14 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW, GUEST POST

June 14 – The Editing Pen – INTERVIEW

Posted in 5 paws, cooking, Giveaway, Review, Texas on May 31, 2017

BREAKFAST IN TEXAS

by

Terry Thompson-Anderson

  Genre: Cookbook / Southwest Cuisine

Publisher: The University of Texas Press

Date of Publication: April 18, 2017

Number of Pages: 312

Scroll down for Giveaway!

Texans love the morning meal, whether it’s bacon and eggs (often eaten in a breakfast taco) or something as distinctively nontraditional as saag paneer omelets, pon haus, or goat curry. A Lone Star breakfast can be a time for eating healthy, or for indulging in decadent food and drink. And with Texas’s rich regional and cultural diversity, an amazing variety of dishes graces the state’s breakfast and brunch tables. The first Texas cookbook dedicated exclusively to the morning meal, Breakfast in Texas gathers nearly one hundred recipes that range from perfectly prepared classics to the breakfast foods of our regional cuisines (Southern, Mexican, German, Czech, Indian, and Asian among them) to stand-out dishes from the state’s established and rising chefs and restaurants.

Terry Thompson-Anderson organizes the book into sections that cover breakfast and brunch libations (with and without alcohol); simple, classic, and fancy egg presentations; pancakes, French toast, and waffles; meat lover’s dishes; seafood and shellfish; vegan dishes and sides; and pastries. The recipes reference locally sourced ingredients whenever possible, and Thompson-Anderson provides enjoyable notes about the chefs who created them or the cultural history they represent. She also offers an expert primer on cooking eggs, featuring an encounter with Julia Child, as well as a selection of theme brunches (the boozy brunch, the make-ahead brunch, New Year’s Day brunch, Mother’s Day brunch with seasonal ingredients, teenage daughter’s post-slumber party breakfast, and more). Sandy Wilson’s color photographs of many of the dishes and the chefs and restaurants who serve them provide a lovely visual counterpoint to the appetizing text.

Purchase the book here from UT Press

Praise

**A James Beard Cookbook Award Finalist**

“Bring a Texas-sized appetite to the table for Breakfast in Texas! A combination of home-style cooking and favorite dishes from restaurants across the great state, Breakfast in Texas is packed with recipes for simple to spectacular egg dishes, creative cocktails, meat lovers’ feasts, and pancakes and pastries, as well as vegan breakfast and brunch ideas. Beautiful photographs, mouth-watering recipes, and great menu and party ideas make this a must-have for your cookbook shelf.” – Virginia Willis, chef and James Beard Award–winning cookbook author

“I thoroughly enjoyed Terry Thompson-Anderson’s latest cookbook, Breakfast in Texas. I’m sure many of these recipes are going to become signature dishes for my family, as well as my loyal restaurant customers. Relish every story; enjoy every bite. This cookbook is Texas at the breakfast table.” -Monica Pope, chef and author of Eat Where Your Food Lives

“Terry Thompson-Anderson’s epic breakfast book spans the cultures of Texas, as well as its regions. With recipes that run from simple to more elaborate, and range from libations to pastries, there’s something for everyone. Plus, Breakfast in Texas is a good read, with all sorts of fascinating information about Texas and its rich and colorful history.” -Paula Lambert, owner of the Mozzarella Company and author of The Cheese Lover’s Cookbook and Guide

 

Is it possible to gain 10 lbs just reading a cookbook?

I do love a good cookbook and this one just tipped the scales for me! Not only is it breakfast/brunch recipes – they are from restaurants in Texas. How much better can it get?!

I enjoyed reading about all of the different chefs, restaurants, and recipes that are throughout the book. The photos (and recipes) had me drooling and wanting to pull up a chair and have a delicious meal or two (or three or four).  I haven’t tried any of the recipes yet, but have earmarked a few to try very soon.

But this book contains more than food recipes, it also includes beverages to imbibe while enjoying the food and also the stories behind how many of the dishes came to be and more information about the creators (aka Chefs). There is even a section on how to prepare eggs – because that truly can be an art form even for the best cook out there.

Because this is Texas we can’t overlook the Mexican influence that spices up all of our dishes – from beverages to breakfast tacos. Or the Cajun influence that is reflected in Brennan’s dishes (Houston restaurant). So if these flavors call to you, then those are the recipes you’ll want to try first.

But before you think that everything is for the carnivores out there – there is actually a section on vegan/vegetarian options and a couple of restaurants were highlighted. (although they missed out on a good restaurant – The Spiral Diner in Fort Worth).

Overall an excellent cookbook that serves up history with the recipes – a great combination.  We give it 5 paws up.

Terry Thompson-Anderson is the author of nine previous cookbooks, including Texas on the Table: People, Places, and Recipes Celebrating the Flavors of the Lone Star State, which was a finalist for the 2015 James Beard Book Award for American Cooking.

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6/5 Review Bibliotica
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6/10 Review Books and Broomsticks
6/11 Promo The Page Unbound
6/12 Author Interview CGB Blog Tours
6/13 Review Reading By Moonlight

 

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Posted in 3 1/2 paws, Review, Short Story on May 30, 2017

Synopsis

This collection is comprised of three short stories.

The Move : Guillaume, who gives up everything to protect his child
The Listener : Mathew, who risks his life to save his home
The Sacrifice : François, who makes the biggest donation to rescue his grandson

Review

This was an interesting set of short stories.  I’m going to give a mini review of each story.  Each story is set in France and I enjoyed the descriptions of the towns that each story takes place.  The three stories touch on life, death, conservation, and other topics that make you think.

The Move showed me a father’s devotion but the story is also a little dark.  Guillaume has a dairy farm (or what we might consider a dairy farm) and sells his milk to a co-op.  Well things aren’t going well and this leads to the downfall of his farm.  Guillaume’s son is his world and he is trying to provide him with a good life, but things spin out of his control.  There is a part near the end that involves their dog and I think it is the silver lining in this whole story.  This was probably my least favorite of the three.

The Listener is a story about one boy’s quest to save a tree he considers to be his in the forest.  It gives him shelter and calms him down when things aren’t going well.  However, the entity that manages the forest is losing money and is cutting down trees to sell the wood for furniture etc.  The Director that runs this entity is a real jerk but he gets what is coming to him in the end.  I think it is a good story that shows we need to watch out for nature and not cut down every tree or get rid of nature because it really does give back to us in the form of oxygen.  An interesting part of the story is a place called the Children’s Center where apparently parents can leave children while they go on vacation.  I don’t know if it is like an extended day care or what, but thought it was interesting.

The Sacrifice is the story of what a grandfather will do for his grandson despite all odds.  Both Francois and Arthur bring out the best in each other and are probably each other’s biggest cheerleaders.  Both had had some challenges in life regarding Arthur’s mother/Francois’ daughter and her mental health issues.  This was probably my favorite story because it seemed more real to me or maybe I could just relate better to the characters.

Enjoyable and a little bit of a lesson in each story that makes you think and how you would handle things if you were in their situation.  My only negative is that the writing seemed choppy in the first two stories.  I don’t know if the book was translated from one language to another and that is the reason for the stilted writing/flow of the stories.

Overall we give it 3 1/2 paws up.

About the Author

Indrajit Garai, an American citizen now, was born in India in 1965. After his Bachelors degree from Indian Institute of Technology and Masters from Harvard, he worked as a Corporate Strategy Consultant and as an Investment Banker in America, Spain, and England, while studying parallelly Ayurveda (ancient medicine of India) and clinical yoga, for stress management. In 2001, after the birth of his daughter, he moved to Paris and opened his private practice of stress management.

Currently, he has taken sabbatical from his practice of stress management, as a full-time writer, to work on his fiction and nonfiction.

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Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, excerpt, Giveaway, mystery, Review on May 24, 2017

 

 

Grilled, Chilled and Killed: Big Lake Murder Mystery
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Creekside Publishing (December 31, 2016)
Paperback: 330 pages E-Book 224 pages

Synopsis

It seems as if Emily is destined to discover dead bodies. This time she finds one of the contestants at the local barbecue cook-off dead and covered in barbecue sauce in a beer cooler. She should be used to stumbling onto corpses by now and the question of who killed the guy should pique her curiosity, but Emily decides to let Detective Lewis handle this one, at least until she figures his theory of who did the deed is wrong, wrong, wrong. Lewis’ denigration of Emily’s speculations is condescending enough to stimulate her dormant snooping skills. As the two of them go on their separate paths to find the killer, Lewis’ old partner, Toby the dirty, tobacco-spitting cop interferes in the investigation leaving Lewis with the wrong man in jail. Killers, bootleggers, barbecue and feral pigs—it’s a lethal game of hide and seek in the Florida swamp.

Excerpt

Emily shook the metal canister filled with ice, liquor and mix until her hand numbed from the cold. Perfect. She tapped the edge of the lid to loosen it and tossed the ice cubes she’d placed in the martini glass into the sink. A young man stepped up to the bar and opened the lid of the container, which held cherries and slices of lime and lemon. He reached in to extract a piece of the fruit.

She slapped his knuckles with a mixer spoon. “Yow!” He snatched back his hand.

“I do the bartending around here. Keep your hands out of my stuff.” Emily shook the spoon at him, threatening to hit him once more. He spun on the heel of his boot and left.

She poured the icy concoction into a glass and placed it on the bar in front of the man sitting there.

“You’re a tough gal.” The man’s gaze swept over the tiny blonde bartender with admiration. “But I already knew that.”

“He just came out of the bathroom. I’ll bet he didn’t even wash his hands before he pawed through my fruit.” She plunged the shaker into the soapy water in the sink and looked around the bar.

“Good drink. Just enough vermouth. Almost as good as mine.”

“Don’t sass your boss.”

“Where’d you learn to use the word ‘sass’?” There was almost a chuckle in his voice.

Emily knew Donald Green rarely laughed, never chuckled and chose to dole out his smiles with infrequency. The bass fisherman with the tall, muscular body and long, silver ponytail didn’t care if anyone found him pleasant or not. Emily figured he didn’t care about most people. Sometimes she worried she might be an exception. She didn’t need Donald paying attention to her as a woman, so she tried to aggravate him as much as possible. She thought that might take his mind off romance and put it back on catching bass or mixing drinks.

“You drink that drink, and I’ll drive to the festival grounds. It would look bad for the country club if their backup bartender got picked up for DWI.”

Review

I enjoyed this book as much as the first book since all the characters were back including a few “bad” guys (they just weren’t the killers in the first book!).  There are even some new characters added to this story that may just be passing through, but perhaps we will see them in book 3.  It is interesting how Emily is still treated as a Yankee and a visitor even though she has lived in this town for quite some time.  Maybe one of these years she will be treated as one of the gang and not an outsider.

While this is a mystery there are also quite a few comedic moments that caused me to chuckle and my husband to ask what was so funny.  Sometimes you just can’t explain those little bits because they are part of a larger story and takes too long to explain.  I kept going back and forth on suspecting different characters for the murder and their motive.  Of course I didn’t figure it out and I was glad that it wasn’t easy to figure out and kept me guessing.

Emily seems to have two love interests…Donald who is interested in her but I don’t think she is interested in him, and Detective Lewis who is married but getting a divorce and they seem to have some crazy sexual tension between them.

I thought the setting where the dead body was fun, a barbecue competition.  Living in Texas, I am quite familiar with those competitions and can be quite intense with the contestants.

Overall we enjoyed visiting Big Lake and hope to visit again soon!  We give this 4 paws up.

About the Author

Lesley retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in upstate New York.  In the winter she migrates to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office, and gators make golf a contact sport.  Back north, the shy ghost inhabiting the cottage serves as her literary muse.  When not writing, she gardens, cooks and renovates the 1874 cottage with the help of her husband, two cats and, of course, Fred the ghost, who gives artistic direction to their work.

She is the author of a number of mystery series (Microbrewing Series, Big Lake Mystery Series, Eve Appel Mystery Series and the Laura Murphy Mysteries), a standalone mystery (Angel Sleuth) and numerous short stories.   

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May 15 – The Ninja Librarian – REVIEW – Book 1, CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 15 – My Journey Back My Reading Journeys –  REVIEW – Both Books, INTERVIEW*

May 16 – Dee-Scoveries – SPOTLIGHT

May 17 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW – Both Books, INTERVIEW

May 17 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

May 18 – A Blue Million Books – GUEST POST

May 18 – Book Babble – REVIEW – Both Books

May 19 – Sleuth Cafe – SPOTLIGHT

May 19 – Bookworm Café –  GUEST POST

May 20 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW – Book 1

May 20 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – REVIEW – Both Books *

May 21 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

May 21 – Island Confidential – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

May 22 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW – Both Books, CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 22 –StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW – Book 1

May 22 – Queen of All She Reads – REVIEW – Both Books

May 23 – FUONLYKNEW – REVIEW – Both Books*

May 24 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW – Book 2

May 24 – T’s Stuff – REVIEW – Book 1

May 25 – Bibliophile Reviews –  REVIEW – Both Books

May 25 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 26 – Rainy Day Reviews – REVIEW –  Both Books*

May 26 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 27 – Varietats2010 – REVIEW – Book 2

May 27 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW Book 1, GUEST POST*

May 28 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW Book 2*

May 28 – Cassidy’s Bookshelves – CHARACTER GUEST POST

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Comments Off on Review & #Giveaway – Grilled, Chilled and Killed by Lesley A. Diehl @lesleydiehl #cozy
Posted in excerpt, Historical, Review, romance on May 23, 2017

Title: As the Liquor Flows
Author: Angela Christina Archer
Publisher: Long Valley Press
Genre: Historical Romance (Sweeter/Lower Heat Level)
Pages: 256
Publication Date: March 19, 2016
ISBN: 978-0692660546

Synopsis

Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929, the day the stock market crashed, and the day Evelyn Ford will never forget.

With the untimely death of her parents and the loss of their only income, Evelyn, and her brother, Frank flee to a make-shift hovel built in Central Park.

After Frank mysteriously goes missing, bare cupboards force Evelyn to seek employment anywhere she can find work, even if that means working at a burlesque theater.

Catching the attention of Don Vincent Giovanni, a Kingpin in the New York mafia, Evelyn discovers that Frank is serving time in prison for running hooch and he owes Vincent a lot of money. In order to pay off her brother’s debt, Evelyn is thrown into the world of mobsters and bootlegging.

Between running hooch all over the city of New York and trying to save her brother, Evelyn finds herself drawn to Max Catalano, Vincent’s Consigliere. Even with secrets of his own, he’s the only one she can trust when she entangles herself in the middle of the New York mafia crime wars.

Excerpt

“Does it matter if I am doing all right or not?”

“It matters to me.”

Nervous energy itched through my skin.

It mattered to him?

“I don’t know how I’m supposed to stay here,” I said, ignoring his admission. “Any one of those bullets could have hit me by accident and a . . . a young man lost his . . . the three of you murdered him.”

“I never hit him. I never hit any of them. I shot in his direction, but it wasn’t my bullet that killed him.”

“How do you know that?”

“Because I know. I’m trained to know.”

“Well, I don’t care. All I care about is getting out of here. I’ve to get out of here. I’ve got to get away from Vincent and this house and whatever business that he’s involved in.”

I shoved past him and his arms wrapped around my waist. His shoulders towered over mine with an intense strength, and yet, a concerned passion and honesty that left me gasping for breath, He drew me into him. My heart thumped hard. My body trembled in his arms.

“You know you can’t leave.”

“How am I supposed to just pretend that nothing is wrong?”

“You pretend for Frank’s sake. You pretend to keep him alive and to keep you alive.”

Two truths I already knew, and yet, didn’t want to admit to myself. I wanted Vincent to pay for what he’d done to my family. I wanted him to sit in a prison cell behind iron bars like Frank, whose crime wasn’t even one-tenth as horrific as the crime he committed yesterday. I wanted him to squirm as he sat in a courtroom and listened as a judge sentenced him for murder.

Yet, no matter how much I wanted it, I knew the Kingpin, the boss of bosses, the powerful Vincent Giovanni would never see one ounce of punishment.

“I don’t know how I can,” I whispered.

Without any ounce of hesitation, his hands slid up my neck, cradling my cheeks. His body so close to mine, he pressed into me, weakening my knees. His lips brushed against my forehead for a moment, giving me a soft kiss before they traced down the side of my temple. His hot breath warmed my skin.

I closed my eyes and held my breath.

He jerked away from me, shaking his head as though someone had slapped him.

“I’m sorry, Evelyn. I shouldn’t have done that.”

“It’s all right,” I whispered, fighting my disappointment.

Review

When I first agreed to review this book, I thought it was a cozy/mystery. I am going to say not a mystery (and I blame no one but myself for thinking this!) and then as I started reading I thought it was a dystopian book…nope, it is set in the early 1930’s during the depression. It took me awhile to figure this out (and once again no one’s fault but mine as I should have read the synopsis again before starting the book because it clearly gives the time frame!). With all that said, here is what I thought of the book:

Evelyn Ford is a scrappy young woman that is just trying to survive during the depression. She seeks employment at a burlesque theater and steps into a world that is nothing she could ever imagined. You could feel her discomfort being in that theater and putting on a skimpy dress to dance for men…and skimpy in that time frame covers a heck of a lot more than what you would see today. What she doesn’t expect to find in her journey is her true love with Max, and even he turns out to have his own secrets.

There are gangsters involved in this story – because what would prohibition be without hooch smuggling and such?! Evelyn has to summon the strength to stand up to a kingpin and she does a decent job for someone that never has known that world.

Overall this is a very enjoyable story and it took me back to a time that I could only read about or watch in movies. I felt the book was accurate to the time period and what was going on during the depression.

We give it 4 paws up

About the Author

Angela lives on a ranch with her husband, two daughters, and many farm animals. She was born and raised in Nevada, and grew up riding and showing horses from hunter jumper, English equitation, western pleasure, trail, and halter. While she doesn’t show anymore, she still loves to trail ride her paint horse, Honky. In December of 2007, she and her husband moved to Oklahoma.

From a young age, she always wanted to write a novel. However, she never believed she could write anything well enough for a publisher to even consider her. Every time the desire flickered, she shoved the thought from my mind until one morning, in 2009, she awoke with the determination to follow her dream.

In December 2014, Angela launched Long Valley Press.

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Comments Off on Review & #Excerpt – As the Liquor Flows by Angela Christina Archer @AuthorACArcher #historicalromance #4paws
Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, Monday, mystery, Review on May 22, 2017

Dumpster Dying: Book 1 in the Big Lake Murder Mysteries

Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Creekside Publishing (December 31, 2016)

Synopsis

Emily Rhodes came to rural Florida for the cowboys, the cattle, and to do a little country two-step, not to fall head first onto a dead body in a dumpster. Ah, the golden years of retirement in the sunshine state. They’re more like pot metal to Emily, who discovers the body of the county’s wealthiest rancher in the Big Lake Country Club dumpster. With her close friend accused of the murder, Emily sets aside her grief at her life partner’s death to find the real killer. She underestimates the obstacles rural Florida can set up for a winter visitor and runs afoul of a local judge with his own version of justice, hires a lawyer who works out of a retirement home, and flees wild fires hand-in-hand with the man she believes to be the killer.

Excerpt

Emily Rhodes, the new bartender at the Big Lake Country Club, blew damp tendrils of sun-bleached hair out of her face as she kicked and dragged three plastic trash bags across the sunbaked asphalt lot behind the clubhouse. A full moon illuminated the area’s lone palm tree under which sat a metal beast waiting for its nightly feeding.

“Here you go, big boy,” she said. She let go of the bags and, with one hand, lifted the dumpster’s lid on the side closest to her. The usual stench of rotting garbage assaulted her nostrils. She ignored the smell and tried to heave the bag into the container, but it tumbled back out. She shoved back the lid on the other side, and mentally crossed her fingers that she wouldn’t have to hop in there and stomp around on that stuff to make room like she did the other night.

By the glow of the security light she spotted a white object lying at the far end of the dumpster, a cowboy hat, a very special cowboy hat, a Silver Belly, expensive and worn by very few men. She’d encountered just such a man earlier in the evening. The circumstances of their meeting were not pleasant.

What the hell was that doing here, she wondered? Emily leaned in as far as she could. Her feet left the ground, and she teetered on the rim of the dumpster. She struggled to reach the hat, tugged at it and almost went head first into the bin, head first onto the man’s face hidden beneath the hat.

Ugh! She fell back and dropped the metal lid, the clang reverberating off the side of the building in the still night. She covered her mouth with her hand, and leaned against the dumpster. That can’t be. I didn’t see that, did I?

She turned, opened the lid once more, gingerly pushed a garbage bag to one side and peered in for another look. She remembered him from earlier in the evening when he had grabbed her blouse and tried to pull her across the bar. He had worn a brilliant white cowboy shirt with roses appliquéd on the front yoke. Now the shirt front was as dark as the blood-red flowers.

She gulped hard to hold back the bile working its way up from her stomach and looked around the lot. It was empty. She needed help.

She ran for the door of the clubhouse. The knob wouldn’t turn.

Oh, damn. I did it again, left the door on auto lock. Now I can’t get back in. She felt in her pocket for her cell phone, then remembered she had left it along with her keys lying on the bar counter. But she had hidden a spare car key in the wheel well. I’ll have to drive for help, and the sooner the better.

She gripped the steering wheel with sweaty hands and hunched over it, the tension in her neck sending shooting pains up the back of her head. As she turned out of the country club grounds and punched the accelerator, she saw the flashing lights of a police car heading toward her. She sat back in the seat and dropped her shoulders. Oh, good. Help was on its way.

As the cruiser’s lights caught hers, its driver slammed to a halt and did a controlled skid blocking her lane. She stood on her brake, and stopped the car, then jumped out and ran toward the police vehicle. Tears of relief poured down her face and onto her chin.

Two officers with drawn guns greeted her.

“Stop right there, on the ground, hands out,” said the officer who had been driving.

“But officer, there’s a man there. I think he’s dead.”

“On the ground, on the ground.” His voice chilled the hot, still night.

Emily raised her shaking hands and dropped on rubbery knees. This can’t be happening.

The other member of the duo placed his knee in her back, cuffed her, pulled her to her feet, and searched her.

“Why are you doing this to me? I was trying to help. The man back there, someone killed him, I think,” Emily said. The officer walked her to the police car.

“We know all about that. Got a call a few minutes ago, and we’re responding. Now we’d like to find out what you know about it.”

She began to hiccup, her usual reaction when she was frightened. “Me? (hic) Me? I found him (hic) when I took out the garbage. I would have called it in, but I locked myself out of the bar, and I left my cell phone inside.” Her explanation sounded lame even to her ears.

“Sure you weren’t running?” asked Officer Handcuffs.

They shoved her into the back seat and headed toward the clubhouse.

“Sure I was running. I was trying to get help.”

“Looks like you’re the one who needs it,” said the driver. The other officer turned in his seat and looked at her. There was hardness in his eyes that she knew he reserved for the guilty.

“My car. It’s in the middle of the road,” hiccupped Emily. She twisted her head around to look out of the back window. If anything happened to that car, she wouldn’t be able to afford another, and her insurance rates would go sky high. There was little point in telling the officers her financial concerns. They were after a criminal, and they thought they’d found her.

At the clubhouse, the driver shone his high-powered flashlight into the dumpster, confirming their report.

“Shot in the chest. Gotta be dead. Lotta blood.”

She tried to shut out her memory of the body, but the officer’s words brought it back to her in IMAX and Technicolor. It was just the reminder she needed to experience the gory scene yet again.

Review

What an intriguing town in this mystery. I live in Texas and so usually think of the wild west being here and a bit further west, not in a sleepy little town in Florida with alligators.

I liked most of the characters and they played well off one another and really rounded out the story. Emily and Clara have a unique friendship that works for them and their family members really include each other as well. There are of course busy bodies in the town that you think are on your side…until they aren’t. Watch out!

The mystery was well written as I was very surprised near the end when the mastermind behind everything was revealed. I don’t think I was too surprised just because the character was annoying, but I didn’t think they could be involved in everything. There is more than 1 person involved and you know some of them through the story, but not all.

There is a hint of a love story between Emily and Detective Lewis, but that will have to come in future books since Emily is still getting over the death of her life partner.

We give this 4 paws up.

About the Author

Lesley retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in upstate New York.  In the winter she migrates to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office, and gators make golf a contact sport.  Back north, the shy ghost inhabiting the cottage serves as her literary muse.  When not writing, she gardens, cooks and renovates the 1874 cottage with the help of her husband, two cats and, of course, Fred the ghost, who gives artistic direction to their work.

She is the author of a number of mystery series (Microbrewing Series, Big Lake Mystery Series, Eve Appel Mystery Series and the Laura Murphy Mysteries), a standalone mystery (Angel Sleuth) and numerous short stories.   

Website * Twitter * Facebook * Blog

Giveaway

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check out the other blogs on this tour

May 15 – The Ninja Librarian – REVIEW – Book 1, CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 15 – My Journey Back My Reading Journeys –  REVIEW – Both Books, INTERVIEW*

May 16 – Dee-Scoveries – SPOTLIGHT

May 17 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW – Both Books, INTERVIEW

May 17 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

May 18 – A Blue Million Books – GUEST POST

May 18 – Book Babble – REVIEW – Both Books

May 19 – Sleuth Cafe – SPOTLIGHT

May 19 – Bookworm Café –  GUEST POST

May 20 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW – Book 1

May 20 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – REVIEW – Both Books *

May 21 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

May 21 – Island Confidential – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

May 22 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW – Both Books, CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 22 –StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW – Book 1

May 22 – Queen of All She Reads – REVIEW – Both Books

May 23 – FUONLYKNEW – REVIEW – Both Books*

May 24 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW – Book 2

May 24 – T’s Stuff – REVIEW – Book 1

May 25 – Bibliophile Reviews –  REVIEW – Both Books

May 25 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 26 – Rainy Day Reviews – REVIEW –  Both Books*

May 26 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 27 – Varietats2010 – REVIEW – Book 2

May 27 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW Book 1, GUEST POST*

May 28 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW Book 2*

May 28 – Cassidy’s Bookshelves – CHARACTER GUEST POST

Posted in 3 1/2 paws, Giveaway, Review, romance on May 21, 2017

Synopsis

From author Sarah Hegger comes an exciting new series set in small-town Utah, where secrets don’t keep for long—and love turns up in the most unexpected places.

For Pippa Turner there’s only one place to go when her life self-destructs on national TV—home to Ghost Falls, and her heavily perfumed, overly dramatic, but supremely loving grandmother, Philomene. If anyone will understand how Pippa’s hit makeover show was sabotaged by her vengeful ex, it’s Phi. But she’s not the only one who’s happy to see her—and Pippa can’t help but wonder if Matt Evans, her gorgeous high-school crush turned Phi’s contractor, is game for a steamy close-up…

Matt owes his whole career to Phi and her constant demands to embellish the gothically ridiculous house he built for her. Getting to see red-headed, red-hot Pippa is a bonus, especially now that she’s no longer the troublesome teenager he remembers. He’s willing to stay behind the scenes while she gives her own life a much-needed makeover, but not forever. As far as he’s concerned, their connection is too electric to ignore. And the chance to build something lasting between them—before she can high-tail it back to Hollywood—is going to the top of his to-do list.

Amazon * B&N * Kobo * iBooks

Excerpt

“Aren’t you—?”

“No.” Not anymore she wasn’t. Pippa snatched her boarding pass from the check-in attendant and tugged her baseball cap lower over her eyes. Couldn’t Kim Kardashian help a girl out and release another sex tape or something? Anything to get Pippa away from the social media lynch mob. She kept her head down until she found her gate, and chose the seat farthest away from the other passengers waiting to board the flight to Salt Lake City. Latest copy of Vogue blocking her face, she flipped through the glossy pages.

Peeping over the top of her magazine she slammed straight into the narrowed gaze of a woman three rows over. Shit! Pippa dropped the woman’s gaze and went back to Vivienne Westwood bucking the trend.

Across the airport lounge the woman’s glare beamed into the top of her head like those laser tracking things you saw in spy movies. Pippa buckled under the burn and slouched lower into her seat.

Look at that, Fendi was doing fabulous separates this season. And really, Ralph Lauren, that’s your idea of a plus-size model? Stuff like this made her job so much harder.

Her former job.

Losing her show still clawed at her. Losing? Like she’d left the damn thing at Starbucks as she picked up her morning latte. More like her jackass ex with zero conscience had knocked it out of her hand. Framed, stitched up, wrongfully accused—judged, found guilty, and sentenced to a plethora of public loathing wiping out all the years spent building her career. Burning sense of injustice aside, she was stuck in this thing until it went away.

Angry Woman lurked in her peripheral vision. As sweat slid down her sides, Pippa tucked her elbows in tight and risked another glance.

Under an iron-gray row of rigidly permed bangs, the woman’s mouth puckered up.

Back to Vogue. The knot in her stomach twisted tighter, and she checked her cap. What the hell? A baseball cap and shades always worked for other celebrities. Why not her?

Angry Woman squared her shoulders and huffed.

This could go one of two ways. Either Angry Woman would come over and give her a piece of her mind on behalf of women everywhere, or she’d confine her anger to vicious staring and muttering. Maybe some head shaking. Please don’t let her be a crusader for women. Please, please, please. After two weeks of glares, stares and condemnation, Pippa had gotten the message:

Pippa St. Amor, the woman America loves to hate.

Review

What happens when a fallen TV star is kicked off her own show? She slinks back home to a small town where most everyone knows everyone especially her Diva Grandmother.

Pippa has a lot to deal with after she is unjustly kicked off her TV show and despite being wronged by her ex, she can’t get anyone to help back her that she isn’t the witch that was portrayed on television. So she goes back to lick her wounds and of course stays with her Diva grandmother since they are two peas in a pod. There is the run in with Matt, the man of her dreams back in high school…and let’s say they make up for lost time pretty quickly.

This story is more than meets the eye. Pippa has to dig deep to figure out what is important to her…is it her career or will the family she left 17 years ago entice her to stay and reconnect with them. Or what about Matt? He obviously fulfills her sexual needs, but can he fill the rest of her wants and desires in a man? There is a little bit of a mystery when Phi (the Diva grandmother) finds several of her treasures missing. These items are very dear to her as they hold some strong memories. What happened to them might just surprise you….and you won’t find out until near the end of the book.

Overall the story was really enjoyable and well written. My biggest complaint – wayyyyy too many f* bombs in this book. At least half (or more) of them really were not needed and they did not add anything to the story. So if you do not like to read that word, don’t pick up this book. If you can overlook them or don’t mind them, then you will enjoy this book.

We give this 3 1/2 paws

About the Author

Born British and raised in South Africa, Sarah Hegger suffers from an incurable case of wanderlust. Her match? A hot Canadian engineer, whose marriage proposal she accepted six short weeks after they first met. Together they’ve made homes in seven different cities across three different continents (and back again once or twice). If only it made her multilingual, but the best she can manage is idiosyncratic English, fluent Afrikaans, conversant Russian, pigeon Portuguese, even worse Zulu and enough French to get herself into trouble.

Mimicking her globe trotting adventures, Sarah’s career path began as a gainfully employed actress, drifted into public relations, settled a moment in advertising, and eventually took root in the fertile soil of her first love, writing. She also moonlights as a wife and mother.

She currently lives in Colorado with her teenage daughters, two Golden Retrievers and aforementioned husband. Part footloose buccaneer, part quixotic observer of life, Sarah’s restless heart is most content when reading or writing books.

Sarah is the recipient of the 2015 EPIC Award for Historical Romance.

She is represented my Nalini Akolekar of Spencerhill Associates.

 

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Giveaway

One Grand Prize Winner will receive a $150 Gift Card to Ulta + the Pippa’s Favorites Bundle (Planner, Pen and Pouch) and a book, two more winners will receive a $100 and $50 Ulta Beauty Gift Card as well as a book each and 5 winners will get a copy of Positively Pippa!

Gift cards and Bundle are only open to US Residents only, international entrants are eligible to win a Positively Pippa e-book. 


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