Posted in chick lit, cooking, Romantic Comedy, Spotlight on January 14, 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?

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 excerpt, humor, Spotlight, Trailer on January 13, 2017

Synopsis

Doesn’t it seem as if someone issues a new apocalypse prediction every week? Y2K? The Mayan apocalypse? The Rapture? Doesn’t it seem endless? As opposed to the traditional trend of post-apocalyptic literature, Apocalypse All the Time is post-post-apocalypticism.

Marshall is sick of the apocalypse happening on a weekly (if not daily) basis. Life is constantly in peril, continually disrupted, but nothing significant ever happens. The emergency is always handled. Always. Marshall wants out; he wants it all to stop…one way or another. Apocalypse All the Time explores humanity’s fascination with the end times and what impact such a fascination has on the way we live our lives.

Excerpt

Chapter One

Someone ran into the room where Marshall had been sleeping. He’d been dreaming of being pursued by robed riders on skeletal horses. One person ran into the room, and then more people followed, their steps echoing everywhere. It got louder. He opened a tired eye, but he was alone in his apartment. The rumbling continued.

Then, the building was on log rollers, rumbling back and forth. Marshall was disoriented as he lay in bed. His body, always feeling a little oversized, seemed disconnected from up or down. Rudderless.

An earthquake.

Marshall tried to remember if they were still on Earth. So many things had happened and it was di cult to keep track of everything. If he was still on earth then it was only an earthquake. Otherwise, it’d be a something else quake.

Same difference for what it meant, but the distinction seemed as important as anything else. It was at least as important as the fact it was happening, which itself wasn’t a big deal.

Marshall grabbed the side of the bed to pull himself out from under the blankets. He let his body roll onto the door and tried to stand. Nothing fell off the walls, but only because Marshall had never bothered putting anything up. He started toward his front door.

It was just the apocalypse. An earthquake apocalypse. The ground under people’s feet would betray them. Great cracks would open and swallow up men without thought, without intention. Buildings would crumble. People would die. Continents would shift. Life would change forever.

Marshall yawned. He rubbed sleep from his eyes. He ran a hand through his shaggy, black hair. Then he emerged from his apartment, sure his pale skin made him seem like a naked mole rat tentatively greeting the day.

Oh well.

In the hall, a flood of people screamed, and owed toward the stairs, pulling Marshall awkwardly along with them. He couldn’t be sure who was screaming. There were so many people everywhere. Nobody seemed to be yelling, but everybody seemed to be. It was disembodied screaming, and Marshall stopped thinking about it when he remembered he didn’t care about who it was.

The flow swept him down the cement stairs. No one took 
the elevators during an emergency. They were well trained. The flow surged Marshall downward. Some people tumbled, but only onto other people. No big problem. No one seemed to be getting crushed. There was that at least.

The mass broke outside, each out for themselves, running anywhere away from the buildings.

The open.

The instinct was to head for the open.

Marshall found himself in a nearby green space. It was like a park, but with nothing in it. Like a vacant lot, but mowed. It was probably important for something, but for the moment, Marshall thought it best for avoiding earthquake dangers.

There was a tearing sort of roar. Marshall looked up to see an apartment building separating into halves. Like a wishbone, though Marshall didn’t bother making a wish. Steel frames shrieked and twanged, snapped. Bricks crumbled to powder. The whole thing fell to the ground as if it was tired and needed to sit.

No people died though, apparently. It looked like everyone had gotten out. That was a nice thing.

Other buildings fell.

Then the shaking stopped. People looked around, Marshall along with them. Thousands of voices buzzed, probably trying to ask what was going on. Confusion. It all merged into a giant mass of noise-thought. Indistinguishable sound like listening to all the broadcast stations at once. No message remained in all the messages. Then the rumbling began again. Stronger.

A red-haired woman in a brown jumper grabbed Marshall. She pulled him down to her and jammed her tongue into his mouth, searching. Need.

Surprised, Marshall returned the rutting kiss.

The woman was short and curvy. The jumper stretched, emphasizing attractive bulges. Not that he’d had a chance to judge, but Marshall felt attracted. His instinct wasn’t to push her off.

She ground her hips into him, something to which Marshall was unaccustomed. It wasn’t like he’d never been with a girl before, only it was usually a lot more work. Meeting, expressing interest, pursuing, and mood setting. A choreographed and stylized dance. It was kind of refreshing to have one just show up.

Her hands groped at his belt. She moaned. “Come on. We don’t have much time. This could be it.”

Marshall froze, disgusted. His arousal drained. The redhead repulsed him. She smelled of saliva and sweat, though she’d smelled of sex a moment before. Her grinding now seemed like an attack, desperate. She clung like a maggot, a greasy, rotting maggot. The taste of bile rose in Marshall’s throat.

The redhead didn’t seem to notice, still humping Marshall’s leg. Maybe she didn’t care. She still pulled at his clothes, frantic. Drool leaked out one side of her mouth.

“Get me off. We’re going to die.”

Marshall broke away. Stunned, he didn’t go far. He had to get the redhead o him, get her out of his face. He couldn’t breathe.

The woman didn’t pursue. She almost didn’t pick up on his departure, instead grabbing a fat man nearby. She latched on and the fat man did the same.

“We’re going to die,” the woman shrieked as a crack tore through the green space, splitting earth, and knocking everyone o their feet. “Do it, now.”

The redhead and fat man pulled at their clothes, frenzied. As soon as a path was open, she thrust herself onto him. The fat man grunted, red-faced, and pumped furiously. They looked like pigs.

Marshall stared in horror, wishing he could look away. “Faster,” the woman screamed, “before it’s too late.”

The fat man’s flesh rolled. It jiggled and shook more than the world around them. The coarse hair on his hide was flecked with bits of white deodorant, and the scent of rotting milk wafted o of him. He groaned and squealed, frantically trying to finish. He barely seemed to notice the redhead.

Trailer

About the Author

David S. Atkinson is the author of Apocalypse All the Time (forthcoming from Literary Wanderlust), Not Quite So Stories, Bones Buried in the Dirt (2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards® finalist, First Novel (under 80,000 words)) and The Garden of Good and Evil Pancakes (2015 National Indie Excellence® Awards finalist in humor). His writing has appeared in Bartleby Snopes, Grey Sparrow Journal, Atticus Review and other literary magazines and journals.

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Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Spotlight on January 11, 2017

Towhee Get Your Gun (A Bird Lover’s Mystery)

Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Lyrical Underground (January 3, 2017)
288 Pages
ASIN: B01E2H1NQG

Synopsis

When Birds & Bees owner Amy Simms volunteers to act in a local production of Annie, Get Your Gun, she finds herself upstaged by a killer waiting in the wings . . .

Who’s got time for birdwatching? Amy has enough to do running her shop, fighting attempts by the town planning commission to demolish her old Victorian house, and rescuing an injured towhee. Yet somehow she allows herself to get roped into performing in the Ruby Lake, North Carolina, community theater’s new musical after some cast members get injured by mysterious mishaps. The production seems plagued by bad luck, but events turn tragic when a member of the company is found murdered in a locked dressing room.

Trading in her binoculars for a magnifying glass, Amy steps into the role of amateur sleuth and soon discovers the victim ruffled a lot of feathers. With a flock of suspects, Amy will need to beat the bushes before the cagey killer takes flight. After all, the show must go on . . .

About the Author

j r ripleyJ.R. Ripley is the pen name of Glenn Meganck, the critically acclaimed author of the Tony Kozol mystery series. As a member of the Mystery Writers of America, he has chaired the Edgar committee for Best Original Paperback novel and served on the Best Short Story Committee. As a member of the International Association of Crime Writers, he has served on the Hammett Award committee for Best Novel. When not writing books, Glenn is writing songs, often singing them to the consternation of his audience and neighbors, or involved in one of his many passions, none of which have involved any of the dead bodies that seem to keep cropping up in his mysteries.

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January 9 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW

January 10 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

January 11 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

January 12 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

January 13 – Cozy Up With Kathy – SPOTLIGHT

January 14 – Girl with Book Lungs – SPOTLIGHT

January 15 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &. Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

January 16 – A Date with a Book – REVIEW

January 17 – Turning the Pages – SPOTLIGHT

January 18 – Varietats – REVIEW

January 19 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

January 20 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – REVIEW

January 21 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW

January 22 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

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Posted in fiction, Giveaway, Spotlight, women on January 10, 2017

friends-fornever
Friends ForNever by Melissa Baldwin

Erin Taylor is a hard-working journalist with a serious TV addiction and lack of a social life. She’s focused on her career and determined to leave her tiny cubicle behind for a fabulous corner office! But when a new co-worker, a friendship drama, and a hot workplace crush collide, Erin finds it harder and harder to focus. Especially when that crush on the oh-so-yummy Aiden Thomas starts to materialize into what feels like a magical relationship. Erin’s life seems to finally be heading in the right direction…until suddenly friends aren’t such great friends after all, her magical relationship hits a bumpy road, and her career could be derailed by it all. Erin learns a lesson the hard way: Sometimes people aren’t who they seem to be. With her happiness on the line, can Erin rise above her disappointments and create the life she’s always dreamed of or will she be stuck being Friends ForNever?

amazon

Praise for the Book

Friends ForNever is a cleverly written book that will keep you wanting for more until the very end! I highly recommend this book!

Friends for Never is like listening to your best friend tell you about her day at work! And anyone who has worked in an office will totally relate to this book. I was absolutely sucked in. The love story was great!

It was well paced and funny!
The author is really good.

An intriguing look at the demands of family and friendship when personal goals are at risk.
A novel of back stabbing emotions.

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Melissa BAbout the Author

Melissa graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications; she has always had a love for writing. An avid journal keeper, she took her creativity to the next level by fulfilling her dream with her debut novel, An Event to Remember . . . Or Forget. Since then, she has written and published four more novels, Wedding Haters, See You Soon Broadway, Not Quite Sheer Happiness and Friends ForNever.

Melissa resides in Orlando, Florida, with her husband and young daughter. When she isn’t writing, this multi-tasking master organizer is busy being a mother, wife, chauffeur, PTA President, and Fitness Trainer.

When she has free time, she enjoys traveling, running, fitness, and taking a Disney Cruise every now and then.

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$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 1/26/17

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

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Posted in excerpt, Monday, mystery, Spotlight on January 9, 2017

Title: A Darker Shore
Author: Malia Zaldi
Publisher: Bookbaby
Pages: 400
Genre: Historical Mystery

Synopsis

1926: A year has passed since the events of “A Poisonous Journey” and Lady Evelyn has made a home for herself in Greece, living with her cousin, Briony, her husband, Jeffrey and Daniel Harper. Disturbing this island idyll is a letter, which arrives from France with troubling information about the Daniel’s long-believed-dead brother, Henry. A new journey awaits! With the shadows of the Great War reaching out, Lady Evelyn and Daniel voyage to Amiens in Northern France with the aim of discovering the truth behind the ominous letter. Upon their arrival, they are met not with clarity but rather with crime. Murder, to be precise. Is it linked to their presence in France, or even worse, to Henry himself?  Evelyn and Daniel must confront their history as they try to make sense of the present before the killer can strike again, and the secrets of the past are lost forever.

Excerpt

Prologue

Near Pozières, France 1917

            We came here to die.

My heart beats the rhythm of the shell blast. Boom. Boom. Boom. Ready to burst, ready to break. Boom. Boom. Boom.

“Get down!”

An explosion of earth, light, and fire twenty feet beyond our trench.

“Close one that?” McCragh bellows into my ear.

I only manage a nod. Too many sounds echoing through my body, the steady pulsing of my heart, the tinny ringing in my ears. But silence can be just as bad I have learned. Silence can be death. My discovery weighs heavy on my mind. What will I do? Do I have a choice?

“What are the orders?” asks a young man, whose name I cannot remember, standing at my other side, leaning heavily against the dirt wall of our trench, his feet squelching thickly in the mud underfoot.

“Awaiting orders,” says McCragh with a sneer. “Won’t do us much good, waiting ‘ere much longer, better get out, better to be moving.”

The nameless young man shies away from us, from the bitter words of the burly Scot

Before I can respond, another man, the Runner, comes catapulting into the ditch. I help him right himself. His face is smeared with dirt and dust, but this mask cannot conceal his tender age. I shudder. We will all die here today.

“Orders are to stay. Enemy—” he gasps for air, “enemy is showing signs of retreat.”

“Retreat?” McCragh frowns. “Bleedin’ cowards!”

“Are you certain?” I ask, feeling the quiver in my voice.

“Yessir, orders from above. Told us to wait it out.”

“Right, well done, son,” I say, though the boy could be my brother. “Go on, then. Best make the rounds.” I try to sound calm, reassuring, to keep my voice steady, while I know I fail and only hope my fear is disguised by the screams and blasts from above.

“Yessir.” He takes a breath and sets off at a brisk trot, as fast as the bodies crowded into this tight space will allow.

“Another day to live in hell, then. Lovely.” Lewis, a Cornish fellow with a missing left ear comments wryly as he materializes at our side.

“Sounds about right.” McCragh rolls his eyes, but makes an involuntary sign of the cross nonetheless.

“Four months they told us,” Rawlins, another man with a raspy voice adds, sticking a cigarette between his thin, flaking lips. “‘Four months, lads, serve King and Country’, eh? Bleedin’ liars.”

“Watch what you’re saying, or I’ll ‘ave you for treason!” McCragh winks and rubs his beard.

Time passes slowly. The sky goes from gray to purple to black tinged orange, and still the thrumming of the guns, the intermittent blasts, grow only slightly fainter, move only slightly farther away. We crouch together in the black, damp, misery of our trench, our only light is the flicker of orange at the end of a cigarette.

“What will you do when this is all over?” comes the whispered voice of a young nameless soldier, who has drifted to my side.

“If I’m not—” I start.

“If yer not dead,” chimes in McCragh. “If we get out of this pile o’ shite in one bit, you mean, laddie?”

“Stop pissing about, McCragh,” Rawlins says sharply. It is an unspoken rule not to mention the very real likelihood of us never seeing the end of this war.

“Oh, right,” comes McCragh’s chastised reply. “I fer one will be gettin’ back me ol’ missus. Seein’ the kids.”

“How many have you got, then?” Lewis asks, keen for any distraction from the agony of numb legs, and the even worse terror raging above us.

“Two. Two little girls. Bessie and Mary. And I thank the Lord fer that. I’ll never be sendin’ them off to be blown to bits. I won’t let them out of my sight again. Future husbands beware.”

We chuckle, though I do not doubt the sincerity of his statement. Future husbands beware indeed!

“And you? How about you, son?” Lewis asks.

“Just go home,” I say. “See my mother, father. See my brothers.”

“How many?”

“Two. One—” I swallow, a sudden tightness in my throat, “one is here, somewhere . . .” I let the word float into the night, knowing the others understand. Silence descends upon our group, and soon I hear the faint sound of snoring. Can it be? Is one of them actually sleeping while the sky is falling down on us?

After some moments, I sense a sudden motion to my right. I turn my head, though I cannot see my hand before my eyes.

“Hello?” I whisper, but before I can hear an answer, a sharp stab of pain swells in my chest. I gasp, my hand flying up, meeting . . . meeting wetness. Wetness? Sticky . . .

I can’t breathe; I grapple around, touching the soft, earthen wall, the rough fabric of a uniform.

“I-I . . .” I swallow hard, pain explodes inside me, louder, more forceful than the shells above. My mouth feels dry, I try retching, but nothing comes. I am on the ground. “Help.” I croak.

I feel a hand on my shoulder. Hear voices, raised in concern. All I see is blackness and stars.

We came here to die.

About the Author

Malia Zaidi is the author of A POISONOUS JOURNEY. She attended the University of Pittsburgh, and studied at English at Oxford University. Having grown up in Germany, she currently lives in Washington DC, though through her love of reading, she resides, vicariously in countries throughout the world. A POISONOUS JOURNEY is her first book in the Lady Evelyn mysteries series. The sequel, A DARKER SHORE, is her latest novel.

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Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Spotlight on January 8, 2017

Custom Baked Murder (A Pawsitively Organic Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
5th in Series
Kensington (December 27, 2016)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1496700193
E-Book ASIN: B01DRXCGD0

Synopsis

Kristan “Stan” Connor gladly turned tail on her high-flying job and moved to a quaint New England town to sell organic pet treats. But with her nose for solving murders, there’s no such thing as a quiet life…

Summer is winding down in Frog Ledge, Connecticut, but Stan’s love life and career are both heating up nicely. In between planning her new pet patisserie and café, Stan is settling into living-in-bliss with sexy pub owner Jake McGee. Love’s on the menu for Stan’s mom, Patricia, too, who’s engaged to Frog Ledge’s mayor, Tony Falco.

Mayor Falco’s dogged ambition isn’t popular among locals, but it’s his executive coach, Eleanor Chang, who’s inspired a dangerous grudge. When Eleanor is found dead, there’s a whole pack of suspects to choose from. Stan has first-hand experience of Eleanor’s unsavory business tactics. But finding out who forced her to take a fatal plunge off the corporate ladder means unearthing some shady secrets…and a killer who’s too close for comfort.

Includes Gourmet Pet Food Recipes!

About the Author

Liz Mugavero has been writing stories since she could hold a pen. Before that, she would tell them to anyone who would listen (not many at the time). After deciding early on she would write books for a living, she practiced by writing bad, angst-filled poems, short stories and even a storyline for a soap opera–all by age 15. She never wavered from her goals despite all the usual questions including, “So are you going to be an English teacher with that degree in English?” or, “That writing thing sounds nice, but how are you REALLY going to make a living?”

She went on to get a master’s in writing and publishing and spent time in journalism, PR, and presently, corporate communications. And she’s confident this writing thing IS the way to make a living.

Aside from writing, she loves animals (has a houseful), the beach, reading other writers’ masterpieces and Starbucks coffee.

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January 5 – Bibliophile Reviews –  REVIEW

January 5 – Mochas, Mysteries and Meows – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

January 6 – The Self-Rescue Princess – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

January 6 – Cinnamon, Sugar, and a Little Bit of Murder – REVIEW

January 6 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW

January 7 – Books,Dreams,Life – REVIEW

January 7 – Girl with Book Lungs – SPOTLIGHTS

January 8 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW

January 8 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

January 9 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – REVIEW

January 9 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

January 10 – A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW

January 10 – Island Confidential – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

January 11 – Classy Cheapskate – REVIEW

January 11 – Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf – INTERVIEW

Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Spotlight on January 6, 2017

River City Dead (An Aggie Mundeen Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
Henery Press (January 17, 2017)
Paperback: 224 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1635111330
E-Book ASIN: B01MA6NALN

Synopsis

Aggie Mundeen, who advises readers in her column, “Stay Young with Aggie,” is pushing forty and determined to postpone a precipitous descent into middle-age. She plans to rendezvous with SAPD Detective Sam Vanderhoven at a hotel on the San Antonio River Walk…a vacation from crime and reset for their tumultuous relationship. In the midst of River City during Fiesta Week, what could go wrong?

Aggie’s new friends, the Fabulous Femmes, are holding their convention at the hotel. When hotel guests are murdered, Aggie discovers her friends have disturbing backgrounds. Evil surfaces at Fiesta events, and Aggie’s dancing debut at a Fiesta performance at Arneson River Theater is fraught with danger. Even in idyllic River City, crime complicates relationships.

Books in the Aggie Mundeen Humorous Mystery Series:

FIT TO BE DEAD (#1)
DANG NEAR DEAD (#2)
SMART, BUT DEAD (#3)
RIVER CITY DEAD (#4)

About This Author

nancy westI’ve been writing since age seven: poems back and forth with my mom. I had a real poem published in the Library Journal, Pegasus, at age fifteen. At eighteen, I wanted to study journalism and English literature, but friends who chose that college route were making minimum wage or selling lingerie. Being practical, I earned a business degree. After marriage and two children, I decided I HAD to study literature and write. I wrote non-fiction articles, a biography, and a suspense novel in 2004. That’s when whimsical Aggie Mundeen cut through the suspense, popped into my head and demanded her own series. The Aggie Mundeen mystery capers were born. Aggie must have been right:FIT TO BE DEAD is a LEFTY FINALIST 2013 for best humorous mystery, nominated by Left Coast Crime.

Blog * Website * Henery Press * Goodreads * Twitter

 

 

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January 6 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – REVIEW

January 6 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

January 7 – Books, Dreams, Life – SPOTLIGHT

January 8 – Queen of All She Reads – SPOTLIGHT

January 9 – The Girl with Book Lungs – SPOTLIGHT

January 9 – View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT

January 10 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

January 11 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

January 12 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

January 13 – Varietats – REVIEW

January 13 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

January 14 – Sleuth Cafe – SPOTLIGHT

January 15 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

January 16 – A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW

January 17 – Community Bookstop – SPOTLIGHT

January 18 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

January 19 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

 

Posted in animals, Cozy, excerpt, mystery, Spotlight on January 4, 2017

Synopsis

In the small town of Clarkesville, in the heart of the Oregon Cascade Mountains, a humble forester stumbles into the complex world of crooked cops and power-hungry politicians… all because he rescued a stray, injured dog on the highway.

Lehigh Carter didn’t really mean to adopt the dog. But his ex-fiancée, Stacy McBride, convinces him to do it, with a promise to help. Their rekindled romance angers her father, state Senator George McBride, who sees her backwoods suitor as a blemish on his carefully created political image. It also sets off a chain of events that entangle Lehigh in a life-or-death conflict with the senator’s hardnosed campaign treasurer, Paul van Paten, who had his own plans for Stacy’s future.

The Mountain Man’s Dog is a briskly told crime thriller loaded with equal parts suspense, romance, and light-hearted humor, pitting honor and loyalty against ruthless ambition and runaway greed in a town too small for anyone to get away with anything.

Excerpt

Lehigh slowed down around the S-curves on Brady Mountain Road even before the speed limit sign told him to. The fog rolled in thicker here due to the nearby lakes, intensifying the dark and making the night seem much later than it was. A guy never knew what the night fog might throw out of the woods in Oregon’s Cascade Mountains, especially in late September. He didn’t want adventure on a Thursday night. He just needed some groceries, stuff that old man Patterson’s market didn’t carry, and anyways, he closed at five o’clock. So, as much as he hated doing it, Lehigh had to drive down the mountain into town.

Just go to WinCo, get some groceries, and leave. No distractions.

He braked just in time not to kill a coyote darting across the highway. It startled him and sweat rolled down his back in spite of the chill. He shook his head and took a heavy breath. Focus on driving, dumb-ass. Don’t get all riled up.

He kept his speed down below forty. Good thing, as it enabled him to brake in time once again, this time to avoid hitting a yellow hound dog limping across the road. Well, normally he’d call it a good thing. In coming years, Lehigh often argued it was anything but. He wasn’t much of a dog person, ever since Uncle Ted’s German Shepherd near tore his hand off as a kid. Or so he remembered. The injury grew with every retelling.

Lehigh didn’t so much fear dogs as loathe them. Dogs were nothing but a nuisance: noisy, smelly, always needing attention and cleaning up after. Kind of like a kid that never grows up. Still a committed bachelor at thirty-seven, his position on kids was pretty clear.

He came to a full stop for the yellow hound. It limped so badly, it hardly moved, really. Its brown eyes reflected the glare of the truck’s headlights, making them shine red like the indicator lights on his dashboard. The dog froze in his tracks as Lehigh waited. Then it lay right down across the center stripe, its bleeding belly exposed and vulnerable.

Dumb-assed dog. He could get killed like that. Of course, that might well have been the dog’s intention. Dogs, his uncle used to say, can smell their own death, and will go take care of it when the time comes. Maybe the dog wanted him to run it over.

Hmm. Tempting.

He shook his head. Nope. Can’t do it. Dogs may be mean, stupid little bastards, but he couldn’t just up and kill one of ’em. Maybe Uncle Ted’s nasty old shepherd, but not one that hadn’t done anything to him first.
He left the old Ford running, tucked his shaggy brown hair into the Dodgers hat he kept on the seat and stepped out into the fog. The dog looked up at him, stared a second, then lay his head back down on the pavement. Lehigh approached him, taking small steps, still wary, twenty-nine years after feeling that shepherd dog’s teeth on his fingers. He could just move the pup aside a bit. Move him and be on his way.

He fetched the wide aluminum shovel out of the back of his truck, just in case he had to prod the old hound to move. The dog looked friendly, but one never knows what a dog’s going to do. What if he’s rabid, like Uncle Ted’s dog? You just never know. Those shots hurt like hell for days and days. He had no desire to go through that again.

The lazy flap of the dog’s snakelike tail against the damp black pavement told him rabies were probably not an issue. Its pink tongue flickered between furry lips, anticipating rescue. The dog’s brown irises and black pupils filled the top hemisphere of its eye sockets in a steady, whimpering stare. Its bleeding belly and forlorn face melted Lehigh’s apprehension. Dogs may be a nuisance, he reckoned, but this one was just
hurting.

He set the shovel down and held his hand out, palm down, in front of the dog’s nose, the way Uncle Ted had taught him. Wet, gentle lapping on his knuckles confirmed the dog’s friendliness—or at least, its trust. “Let me take a look at you, boy,” he said in as soothing a voice as he could muster. He used the handle of the shovel to lift the dog’s hind leg, exposing more of its belly and crotch.

“Huh. I guess I shouldn’t call you boy no more,” he said, a little embarrassed. She licked his hand again. He looked closer at the cut. She’d somehow sliced herself across the belly, maybe jumping over a freshly-pruned hedge, or a barbed-wire fence, or maybe a cat or raccoon had clawed her. The ragged cut caused her skin to gape an inch or so apart. It would need stitches, probably several.

“Well, you ain’t gonna walk into a vet’s office all on your own,” he said. “But the sheriff’s office is on the way to town. Maybe he’ll get you there. Which means, I’ve got to get you to him. C’mere, girl.”

The dog found his eyes with her own, and laid her head back down on the pavement. He nudged her backside with his foot. “C’mon girl, get up.” She stayed put and glanced at him sideways, panting just a little. Moisture from the dog’s breath danced in the beam of his truck’s headlights.

“You gonna make me pick you up and carry you?” She didn’t look heavy. But to pick her up, he’d have to risk putting at least one hand near her head. Near her open mouth.

Pain. Fingers. Bleeding…

He shook his head. This dog knew more about pain and bleeding than he ever would. Come on, Lehigh, do what you gotta do here.

He crossed around the dog and slid the edge of his shovel under her furry back. At first she remained dead weight, a passenger in the next step of her journey. He pried her body up from the pavement, using the shovel as a lever and his foot as a fulcrum. He grunted under the awkward exertion. Six-one, one-ninety-five, he ought to be able to lift this skinny mutt with ease, but not from this position.

Just before he let go to start over, the dog responded. With a herky-jerky motion she stumbled to her feet and sauntered to the open door of his pickup’s cab, panting, a hopeful and grateful dog-smile painted on her weary face.

“Wait,” Lehigh said. To his surprise, the dog obeyed. He scratched the stubble on his chin. “You been around people.” That changed his strategy a bit. He had intended to put her in the bed of the pickup, but he discarded that thought like an empty carcass. Instead he spread a small tarp onto the passenger’s side of the seat. The dog put her front paws on the truck’s sidestep and convulsed in a pathetic attempt to climb further. Fresh blood trickled down her hind leg. Lehigh winced. Careful not to touch the wound, he pressed the flat blade of the shovel against the dog’s hindquarters and pushed her onto the floor of the truck, then guided her onto the tarp.

“I don’t reckon you’ve done anything wrong,” he said after climbing in next to her, “but I think it’s time you and Sheriff Summers got acquainted.”

The dog responded with a quick lick of her lips, heavy panting, and a low, prolonged whine.

About the Author

Gary Corbin is a writer, actor, and playwright in Camas, WA, a suburb of Portland, OR. In addition to his novels, he writes on assignment for private sector, government, individuals, and not-for-profit clients, and his articles have been published in BrainstormNW, the Portland Tribune, The Oregonian, and Global Envision, among others.

Gary earned his B.A. in Political Science and Economics at Louisiana State University (Geaux Tigers!) and his Ph.D. at Indiana University (Go Hoosiers!), writing his dissertation on the politics of acid rain (1988). After working variously on farms, construction, in restaurants, and in various information technology positions, in 2005 he founded Gary Corbin Writing and Consulting.

Gary is a member of the Willamette Writers Group, the Northwest Editors Guild, the North Bank Writers Workshop, PDX Playwrights, and the Portland Area Theater Alliance, and participates in workshops and conferences in the Portland, Oregon area. A homebrewer as well as a maker of wine, mead, cider, and soft drinks, Gary is a member of the Oregon Brew Crew and a BJCP National Beer Judge. He loves to ski, cook, and garden, and hopes someday to train his dogs to obey. And when that doesn’t work, he escapes to the Oregon coast with his sweetie.

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Posted in Giveaway, memoir, nonfiction, Spotlight on January 2, 2017

OF BULLETINS AND BOOZE

  A NEWSMAN’S STORY OF RECOVERY

by

Bob Horton

Genre: Journalism / Memoir

Publisher: Texas Tech University Press

Date of Publication: March, 2017

Number of Pages: 284

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Bob Horton began his journalism career as a reporter for the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Innate skill and good fortune took him from a modest Texas farm upbringing to Washington, DC, where he was thrown into the high-pressure world of the wire service, first as a correspondent for the Associated Press, and later for Reuters news agency. The stress was intense, but he found the rush to be intoxicating.

From his early days covering the Dallas murder trial of Jack Ruby, through three colorful decades as a newsman, Horton often found himself witnessing history in the making. He covered the Pentagon during the early days of the Vietnam War, was on board a Navy ship in the Mediterranean awaiting Israel’s expected attack on Egypt, was witness to the Watergate burglary trial, and attended a Beverly Hills church service with then-President-elect Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy.

The success Horton enjoyed as a journalist mostly hid the dark side of his career: a gradual descent into alcoholism. Of Bulletins and Booze candidly recounts the unforgettable moments of Horton’s career, as well as more than a few moments he would just as soon forget.

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Bob Horton has been in the news business for more than fifty years. In 1966 he received the Top Reporting Performance Award from the Associated Press Managing Editors organization, and in 1968 he and an AP cohort were nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for general coverage of the Pentagon during the Vietnam War. Today he is a radio news anchor with shows in Lubbock and Victoria, Texas. He lives in Lubbock.

 

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance, Spotlight on January 2, 2017

Title: Solo

Author: Jill Mansell

Pub Date: January 3, 2017

ISBN: 9781492632429

Synopsis

It all starts at a party, as these things often do…

  • A one-night stand with far-reaching consequences
  • Momentarily enamored guests going home with all the wrong people
  • An unfaithful wife struck by jealousy and getting a dose of her own medicine
  • A shocking family secret revealed at the worst possible moment

One fling follows another, and now the whole community is embroiled in a great big web of deceit, the untangling of which will charm you, amuse you, make you laugh and make you cry.

Whatever’s going on in your life, Solo by Jill Mansell is the perfect distraction right about now…

Amazon * Books-A-Million * Barnes & Noble * Indiebound

Question to Jill

What draws you to write romance?

I love it! It means spending your days with fictional people you’d really enjoy knowing and spending time with in real life. I particularly love writing sparky, witty exchanges between two characters who find each other attractive. What could possibly be more fun than that?

Excerpt

Parties full of strangers bored the knickers off Tessa.

“Well, you’re damn well coming to this one,” declared Holly impatiently. “You haven’t been out for weeks and it’s going to be brilliant. Everyone’s going. And just think, play your cards right, show a bit of leg, a bit of cleavage, and you, too, could find a husband like mine!”

Tessa wiped her hands on her already paint-streaked sweatshirt and picked up the bottle of ridiculously expensive Chardonnay that Holly always insisted on buying because she liked the label, and which neither of them properly appreciated. Pouring herself half a mugful and wincing at its icy dryness she said, “I don’t have a cleavage.”

“What God didn’t give you, scotch tape will,” pronounced Holly. “They showed us how on Blue Peter.”

“And I haven’t been out for weeks”—Tessa mimicked Holly’s despairing tones—“because I have been working. Working pays the rent. It even occasionally allows me to eat. I simply can’t afford to mix in your kind of social circles.”

“You can’t afford not to,” countered Holly. “These are the people who commission poverty-stricken artists to paint absurdly flattering portraits of their revolting children.”

“Besides,” Tessa went on, surveying the almost-finished canvas before her and beginning to realize that Holly wasn’t going to let her wriggle out of this one, “you aren’t married.”

Holly grinned, refilling her own mug with a flourish. “Ah! I didn’t say I had a husband, I said I’d found him. All that remains now is to exert a little gentle pressure.”

“And I suppose he’ll be there tonight.”

“There is that small chance,” conceded Holly smugly. “After all, it is his party.”

***

From the living room window of Tessa’s tiny cottage, perched on the side of one of the rolling, north-facing hills overlooking the spectacular elegance of the city of Bath, she could see in the far distance the equally spectacular and elegant Charrington Grange Hotel.

Even if Holly hadn’t been working there for the past two months and regaling her with endless details about it, Tessa would have heard of it. Everyone knew of the Charrington Grange Hotel, owned and run by the Monahan brothers and built up from nothing—well, scarcely anything—over the last fifteen years into one of the foremost country hotels in England. Originally a gracious Georgian residence commanding breathtaking views across the city from its position at the very top of the south-facing hills above Bath, it had fallen into hideous disrepair during its forty-year occupation by an elderly and eccentric Monahan maiden aunt. By the time of her eventual death the roof was barely intact, the walls of the gracefully proportioned rooms were streaked with damp and the entire place was overrun by the dotty old woman’s grand passion—several hundred decidedly un-housetrained cats.

Pulling every conceivable string between them, the notorious Monahan brothers, Ross and Max, had somehow managed to raise the vast amount of capital necessary to transform the crumbling old house into an opulent hotel catering to the very wealthiest clientele.

The press had had a field day at the time. The very idea that Max Monahan, moody and unpredictable, and Ross, with his mile-long reputation for carousing, heart-breaking and generally misbehaving, could pull off such a stunt was so ridiculous it was laughable. Max, the elder brother by two years, having been sent down from Oxford following a particularly outrageous prank involving a prostitute dressed as a nun and a visiting trade union leader, had rapidly established himself as a star broker on the Stock Exchange. Six months later, the day after his twenty-first birthday, he had abandoned this glittering new career, disappearing to the Caribbean and returning eighteen months later with the completed manuscripts of not one but two fat novels. These thrillers, with their winning combination of sex, violence, tension and wit were wildly successful, yet at the time Max had doubted whether he would want to do it again. It had been fun finding out that he could, but it was scarcely what he termed a proper job.

In the end, however, the vast sums of money offered, the luxury of being virtually his own boss, the flexible hours and the ease with which he conjured up fresh plots, won the day. To Max Monahan, writing was a doddle and the rewards were too great to pass up. He rapidly became established as one of those few lucky writers whose books were read by everyone. Over the years he had grown more level headed and now, with his astute business brain and almost ruthless determination to pile success upon success, he was recognized as the more down to earth of the two brothers. The Charrington Grange Hotel was owned jointly between them and although Max didn’t work there full-time he was involved in all the major decision-making and both he and Ross still lived there. Blockbuster novels remained his major—and considerable—source of income, but the hotel acted as an antidote to the solitude which writing entailed, and because he didn’t need to sweat over a word processor for eight hours a day like some writers he’d heard of, there was still plenty of time left over in which to enjoy himself.

Ross Monahan, on the other hand, devoted his entire life to enjoyment. Tessa had never made a particular point of reading the gossip columns but even she was aware of his wicked reputation. Expelled from more schools than anyone cared to remember, his notorious passion for fun was equaled only by his stunning good looks and lethal charm. Incapable of remaining in one place for more than a few weeks, in his early twenties he was the archetypal playboy, his outrageous exploits hitting the papers almost weekly. Men despised and envied him; women—apart from those whose hearts he had broken—adored him.

If everyone had been amazed when he had appointed himself manager of The Charrington Grange, they had been well and truly astounded when they finally realized what an out-and-out success he was actually making of the job.

And fifteen years on, Ross Monahan was still doing it, running the hotel with such panache and enjoyment that he had made it seem scarcely like work at all. Having always moved in the most glittering and outrageous circles, he had turned The Grange into a kind of open house for those who played as hard as he did. It was quite simply the place to stay if you wanted to have a really good time—and could afford to pay for it.

And according to Holly, Ross Monahan was absolutely lethal with women.

“Gorgeous, gorgeous!” she had informed Tessa, shortly after going to work for him. “But definitely dangerous to know. When I first met him I made a solemn vow with myself not to get involved.”

“But you have,” guessed Tessa, observing the sheepish look in her friend’s eyes. Holly had shrugged and smiled. “Given half a chance I would have done,” she’d admitted. “But the bastard isn’t interested. For God’s sake, Tess, he treats me like a friend!”

***

And now Holly was planning on treating him like a brother-in-law. She was passionately in love with Max, only Max didn’t know it yet. Tessa, who adored Holly but sometimes despaired of her, suspected that it would all end in tears and that most of them would land on her own inadequately small shoulders.

Meanwhile, Holly was returning in less than two hours to pick her up and take her along to this horrible party. And she really didn’t have a single suitable thing to wear.

About the Author

With over 10 million copies sold, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jill Mansell writes irresistible and funny, poignant and romantic tales for women in the tradition of Marian Keyes, Sophie Kinsella and Jojo Moyes. She lives with her partner and their children in Bristol, England.

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