Posted in Cozy, Guest Post, mystery on September 29, 2017

The Bell Tolls (A Hollis Morgan Mystery) 
Traditional Mystery
5th in Series
Camel Press (June 1, 2017)
Paperback: 256 pages

Synopsis

Hollis Morgan has survived imprisonment, received a pardon and persevered to finally become a probate attorney. Tough as she is, her newest case will further test her mettle. She discovers her client, Matthias Bell, is a deceased blackmailer whose last wish was to return the damaging documents letting his victims off the hook. It falls to Hollis to give them the good news. But it becomes apparent that Bell was murdered, and the victims of “Bell’s tolls” are now suspects.

Hollis’ white-collar criminal past has left her with keen survival instincts. A gifted liar, she knows a liar when she sees one. A lot of people in this case are lying and one is a killer.

On top of that, she’s also representing a dying stripper, a wealthy widow whose estranged daughter spurns her attempts at reconciliation, but whose husband sees the potential inheritance as mending all wounds.

Clients aside, Hollis is defensive and wary. Her mother, who hasn’t spoken to her for years, needs a kidney, and Hollis is a match, but neither are ready to put away the past. With Hollis’ fiancé and emotional support off on an undercover mission for Homeland Security, she must count on her own survival instincts. She is swept along on an emotional roller coaster as her absent love and her family’s coldness take their own toll.

Work is her salvation. The specter of a killer keeps her focused. Hollis has always had to rely on her wits, but now she finds that others who don’t have her well-being in mind are relying on them as well.

Book 5 in the Hollis Morgan Mystery series, which began with The Fallen Angels Book Club.

Guest Post

BIRTH OF A SERIES

By Rae James

I didn’t start out wanting to write a series, but it was clear to me by the time I reached sixty-thousand words, that Hollis Morgan, my protagonist in the Hollis Morgan Mystery Series, had much left to say.

My first book was in first person, a voice initially I was not that comfortable with, except that I could hear Hollis whispering in my ear. Her reactions, thoughts, and words all spilled out onto the page – her story was not only about fighting for a second chance, she wanted redemption. Once book one was launched, later books were written in third person-close and I saw the world through Hollis’s eyes.

Book one, The Fallen Angels Book Club, poured out of my keyboard. The members of the book club were all white-collar ex-felons, and were as different and complex as any miscreant ensemble. The fact that they shared a love of books took precedence over their unfortunate deviation from the law. Now considered social outcasts, they fought hard to regain society’s acceptance and even harder to re-gain their own self-respect. Unfortunately, their efforts are discounted. They are obvious suspects when a member of the club is murdered mimicking the plot from one of their book club selections.

But Hollis’ story couldn’t end with the resolution of the crime. I wanted to know what would (or could) happen to Hollis Morgan. Would she tire of having to prove herself to society that she deserved to be trusted?  Or, would her innate sense of helping those who, like her, just needed a second chance, move her to confront risk, face danger and her own worst fears?

The outline of a series revealed itself to me.

Books two through four, not only reveal the character development and growth of Hollis, the plot lines are more complex and darker. Hollis’s resolve to remain true to herself while resisting letting down the towering walls she has built up, becomes harder and harder to do. Her encounter with others, who not only need her professional skills, but with whom she finds she must trust to share a part of herself—is her series character arc.  While each book stands on its own, readers will enjoy experiencing Hollis’s evolution from a brash, standoffish ex-con into a thoughtful, confident but still brash young woman.

The trick for any mystery series (for any book, really) is to keep the reader engaged and vested in the plot, anticipating and eager to find out what lies ahead. A book club of ex-felons not only contains a caldron full of sub-plots, it creates the major opportunity to keep readers’ attention. Today’s world is full of distractions and short attention spans, but when your sub-plots are as intriguing as your main plot, readers will not put down the book until the last satisfying page.

Subplots are essential to a series. These stories within a story not only provide tension and multi-layered suspense, subplots weave dimension to characters allowing them to express themselves differently under potentially different situations. Hollis comes from a dysfunctional family that contributes to her isolation, but we see in how she reacts to confrontations with her family that she keeps hidden her vulnerability when responding to her clients. For them, she’s as “tough as nails”.

It’s important to write characters that readers care about. When you’re writing a series, the storyline has to be gripping for the long haul. In my case it had to be six books long. This is key not only for mysteries, but for any work of fiction, as well. Shallow or stereotyped characters are not sympathetic, they are boring. An antagonist has dimension when they have at least some redeeming qualities, and becomes a complex character that enriches the storyline. In a like manner, a flawed protagonist will keep readers turning the pages of your mystery, because it’s unexpected and if the flaw is an emotional wound—even better.

 

About the Author

R. Franklin James grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. From there she cultivated a different type of writing—legislation and public policy. After serving as Deputy Mayor for the City of Los Angeles, under millionaire Richard Riordan, she went back to her first love—writing, and in 2013 her debut novel, THE FALLEN ANGELS BOOK CLUB was published by Camel Press. Her second book in The Hollis Morgan Mystery Series, STICKS & STONES, was followed by THE RETURN OF THE FALLEN ANGELS BOOK CLUB, and THE TRADE LIST. THE BELL TOLLS, book five was released in June 2017.

R. Franklin James lives in Northern California with her husband.

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September 20 –  Varietats2010 – REVIEW, GIVEAWAY

September 20 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

September 21 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

September 21 – Cozy Up With Kathy – INTERVIEW

September 22 – Island Confidential – INTERVIEW

September 23 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – REVIEW, GIVEAWAY

September 23 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST

September 24 – The Editing Pen – GUEST POST

September 25 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW

September 26 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW

September 27 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST, GIVEAWAY

September 28 – Maureen’s Musings – REVIEW

September 29 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance on September 29, 2017

Synopsis

TONIGHT, SHE PLANS TO LET GO.

Dressed up and anonymous, Sadie Liberato feels powerful, sexy and free. Where better to lose herself than a masked party?

Gear Blackstone’s cheating ex and scheming best friend have managed to spin his life into a serious downward spiral. At least with a mask on he can cut loose for one night. And cut loose he does—with the sexiest, snarkiest chick he’s ever met.

After a scorching-hot encounter, Sadie and Gear are desperate to find each other in real life. But can the heat last when the masks come off?

Excerpt

A large, muscular man with tattoos, ear gauges, and a Mohawk standing inside the foyer bro-hugged Elliot, gave Sadie a refreshing once-over to let her know she was indeed a woman, and then let them continue inside.

The music grew louder the farther they walked into the party. But not so loud Sadie couldn’t hear Elliot’s apparent shock. Or rather, his continued shock.

“I have no words.” Elliot stared at her as if Sadie had grown two heads.

“You keep saying that…which is kind of ironic, don’t you think?”

“Just…no words.”

She sighed. “What?”

“You’re…hot. I mean, really sexy in that getup. Ew, I think I threw up in my mouth a little.” Elliot pretended to gag. Dressed as the Phantom of the Opera, her brother looked magnificent. The half mask he wore emphasized the vivid green of his eyes and the square line of his jaw. But now, inside and adjusting to the festivities, Sadie saw more beautiful people, making Elliot appear almost normal.

“You know, I can look good when I put my mind to it.”

“I see that.” He smiled.

She glanced around at men and women in costumes a lot more revealing than hers. She’d been annoyed enough that she’d decided to go as a warrior princess, complete with a fake sword she considered using on her brother. Sadie’s costume showed a lot of skin but kept the important parts covered. Nothing less than what she wore at the gym, to be honest. A short skirt of fake leather and a matching halter top that bared a good bit of her toned stomach, complete with a scabbard at her back. Fake-gold armbands tightened around her biceps, while quality leather boots with tufts of faux fur around the tops looked authentic enough to be part of the costume. In reality she’d borrowed them from Rose.

Sadie had left her hair long with a single braid on each side of her face, and she’d darkened her eyes and lips with black makeup. A few fake war-paint lines under her eyes and across her cheeks apparently made her look authentically man-eating—or so the drunk guy brushing by her thought out loud.

Not bad. If he hadn’t been so sloshed, she might have considered trying him on for size. She had a leather satchel belted to her waist containing some money, a few condoms, and her phone.

“Oh my God. Is that who I think it is?” Elliot dragged her around the packed dance floor and up a half level toward the rear of the home leading out into the patio, where the crowd was thin enough to see a small gathering under bright lights. Space heaters and tall tables had been placed around a slate-slabbed yard, while strategically placed minibars provided drinks.

“Who are you talking about?” She rubbed her arms, feeling the chill before Elliot squeezed them in next to two couples by a space heater. Before she could ask again, her brother shushed her.

To the small group near them, he asked in a low voice, “Is that Gear in the Joker costume? And B-Man with Sahara?”

“Yeah” came a low reply from one of the men. “See the camera guy standing just behind the tall Batman? And the other one, the lighting guy there, is wearing scrubs, but he’s no doctor. Dude is working to keep the lights on in this clusterfu—”

“Foley,” the redhead next to him chastened.

“Come on, Cyn. This ain’t the place for reality TV. I just wanna party.”

Sadie glanced at the guy and blinked. The large man had dark hair, a muscular build—the way she liked them—and amazing gray eyes. Dressed as a sexy cop, he exuded menace more than law and order. Très sexy. Before Sadie could close her mouth, Cyn, the stunning redhead wearing an orange prisoner jumpsuit that clung to her curves, whispered something into his ear. He chuckled, and Sadie turned away, knowing she could never compete with a woman that pretty. Not that she’d ever try to break up a relationship, but with that woman, she’d stand no chance.

“Look, Sadie,” Elliot whispered with excitement. “It’s the guys from Motorcycle Madnezz.”

“Oh, right. Birdman and Glock.”

“B-man and Gear,” he growled.

“Whatever.” She wanted to turn away, but their dialogue sucked her in.

Gear, the bodybuilder mechanic  from the TV show, wore white makeup and a green wig, and had a Joker grin painted in red over his lips, making him seem both perpetually smiling and sneering at the same time. The purple pin-striped suit he wore seemed painted onto his larger-than-life body. He looks damn good was all  she could think, wondering when she’d become so desperate that now maniacal clowns turned her on.

“Jesus, he shaved off his beard.” Elliot fanned himself. “I’m in lust.”

“I know.” Cyn sounded in awe until her boyfriend grunted. “I mean, I’m surprised about the beard.” She coughed. “It’s so sad they broke up, isn’t it, Foley? Gear and Sahara were perfect for each other.”

He shrugged. “Too bad about the show. They sure made some killer bikes.”

Next to them, another guy agreed while his girlfriend called Gear some unflattering names. Her boyfriend started to argue with her, defending the mechanic.

“People, we’re getting ready to roll.” A man holding a large mic over the TV combatants glared at the onlookers. “Quiet.”

The growing crowd around Sadie and Elliot grew silent.

Elliot gripped Sadie’s hand. “They’re starting. Oh my God. Best. Night. Ever.”

Illuminated and surrounded by heat lamps, standing across from each other with the mediator seated on a barstool between them, the three leads of Motorcycle Madnezz—Gear as the Joker, with B-Man and Sahara as Adam and Eve—faced off.

 

About the Author

Caffeine addict, boy referee, and romance aficionado, MARIE HARTE is a confessed bibliophile and devotee of action movies. Whether hiking in Central Oregon, biking around town, or hanging at the local tea shop, she’s constantly plotting to give everyone a happily ever after.

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Posted in Thriller, Trailer on September 28, 2017

Title: EMILY STONE THRILLER SERIES
Author: Jennifer Chase
Publisher: JEC Press
Genre: Crime Thriller

Synopsis

Vigilante detective Emily Stone hunts serial killers and child abductors, covertly and under the law enforcement radar. She uses her fine-tuned skills of criminal profiling and forensic perceptiveness to locate predators that cops cannot or will not find. She is trained, she is tough, she is serious, and she gets results.

With Stone’s toughest cases yet, the killer immediately crosses her radar and sends her into the dark territory of a serial killer’s mind—to the point of no return.

Take your pick of any of the award-winning, stand-alone books and tag along with a serial killer hunter.

Amazon

Trailer

About the Author

Jennifer Chase is a multi award-winning crime fiction author and consulting criminologist. Jennifer holds a bachelor degree in police forensics and a master’s degree in criminology & criminal justice. These academic pursuits developed out of her curiosity about the criminal mind as well as from her own experience with a violent sociopath, providing Jennifer with deep personal investment in every story she tells. In addition, she holds certifications in serial crime and criminal profiling.  She is an affiliate member of the International Association of Forensic Criminologists.

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Posted in Cozy, Free, Guest Post, mystery on September 28, 2017

In The Stars: A Humorous Romantic Mystery (Amber Reed Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Self Published
Publication Date: December 11, 2014
Print Length: 364 pages
ASIN: B00QXFNP62

Synopsis

One desperate phone call is all it takes to turn Amber’s previously dull day into one speeding scarily out of control!

Amber Reed’s at work making up the horoscopes for the local newspaper and wishing for some excitement in her life, when she gets a phone call offering her just that.

Plunged into the middle of a celebrity murder investigation she’s desperately trying to convince the scarily handsome special agent assigned to solve the case that she can help him catch the killer.

Amber’s soon battling something far more dangerous than she could ever have imagined – and it has nothing to do with the equally scary chemistry fizzing between her and special agent Charlie.

Is it Amber’s wish for more excitement in her life which has landed her in big trouble – or is her fate written in the stars?

In The Stars is part of the fun, romantic Amber Reed Mystery series:

In The Stars (book 1)
On Trial ( book 1.5)
Precious (book 2)
Forever Mine (book 3)
Past Perfect (book 4)
Stop The Beat (book 5)
Paradise Lost (book 6)

Guest Post

A Wedding Day Rescue…

My name is Amber Reed. I used to have a really boring job but now I’m training to be a support investigation officer for the Celebrity Crimes investigation Agency (CCIA) – how cool is that? How did I go from desk job to racing around trying to solve mysteries and catch the bad guys do I hear you ask? Great question! Well, that’s a whole other story and you can check out In The Stars, book 1 in this fun and flirty mystery series, for that life changing adventure. I will share that it involves a rather handsome special agent who works for the CCIA called Charlie. You’ll have to read the book to find out the rest! So, anyway, here I am now … about to be whisked off from agency boot camp training in a helicopter would you believe? Where am I going? Join me as we find out…

 

“You’re ready.”

I struggle to catch my breath. Tucking a strand of sweaty strawberry blonde hair behind my ear I gasp, “You’re sure?”

James, my agency trainer and mentor, nods and smiles. “Yep. I’m sure.”

When I signed up for the chance to become a support officer for the Celebrity Crimes Investigation Agency (otherwise known as the CCIA) I knew my apprenticeship would be tough. I’ve fought to put aside the aching limbs, lack of sleep and mental demands of these past few months and keep my eyes firmly on the prize – my dream job.

If I do manage to complete my apprenticeship, and still be alive at the end of all of this, then hopefully the agency will offer me a job as a support officer. Right now though, I’m wondering if James is right. Am I really ready for the next stage of my training? It doesn’t feel like it. Despite all the efforts to build up my fitness I’m still gasping and out of breath after facing the assault course from hell. I have to confess, I didn’t realise throwing myself into muddy ditches, climbing trees and being abandoned in the middle of nowhere with just a map, compass and bottle of water would be the type of assignments I’d be put through. I mean, I’m applying to be a support officer, not a special agent. But as James pointed out, if I get this job I will work alongside agents, and where they go in order to solve a case, then so do I.

The steady beat of helicopter blades makes me shield my eyes and peer into the skies above the hundreds of acres of woodland, moor and hills which surround agency training camp.

“That’s our lift,” James says, gesturing towards the helicopter now coming in to land in the field just across from us. “You’ve got ten minutes to pack your stuff and meet me back here. This will be your final challenge. Fail this one and you’ll be on your way home with no job.”

Nerves and anxiety bubble up inside of me. This is it. My last chance to prove myself. My last training exercise. Whatever I am about to face will determine my life from this point on. “Only ten minutes? Where are we going anyway?” I shout above the sound of the sinister-looking black helicopter.

“Yes, you’ve only got ten minutes, so you’d better get a move on,” James shouts back. “I’ll explain later where we’re going and why.”

In the helicopter I sit back and focus on the horizon, forcing myself to think positive thoughts. I will not allow the rising tide of nausea and anxiety to take hold. I will not let negativity and doubt worm its way into my head. I think of Charlie instead. My Charlie. We’ve been dating for several months. He’s off working on yet another case at the moment. He’s a CCIA special agent and right about now he will probably be coming to the aid of some celebrity somewhere around the globe. He’s prohibited from telling me the details of what he’s investigating because it’s against agency rules. In addition, as all of the CCIA’s clients are famous, everyone has a big fat privacy clause written into their contract. Between his investigation caseload and my time at CCIA training camp we haven’t seen much of each other lately.

The helicopter suddenly dips alarmingly and it looks as though we’re heading in to land at our destination. My stomach performs several somersaults and I’m glad I didn’t have time for any lunch. I feel hot and cold at the same time. What have I got myself into? What will my last test be?

I gulp and remind myself to stay calm.

I can do this.

I can do this.

Can’t I?

We’re landing on the helipad of a large country house which looks vaguely familiar. It’s built of Cumbrian stone and slate and looks very impressive. Where have I seen it before?

“This is the Roseby Hotel,” James says, unclipping his seatbelt before we’ve even touched down.

The Roseby. Of course. That’s why it looks familiar. I’ve seen it in loads of magazines and on the TV. It’s a five star hotel frequented by the rich and famous. Nestling in acres of private grounds, it sits part way up a hill in the Lake District, a few miles from the tourist town of Delamere.

“This way,” James instructs. “The hotel is hosting a celebrity wedding. The happy couple and their guests have taken over the whole of the Roseby for three days with their family and friends. The wedding photos have been sold to Celeb Spotter magazine.”

A tingle of excitement runs through me. This is the kind of life I could lead if I pass this assignment and get offered a job with the agency.

“The wedding ceremony is scheduled for seven o’clock today and will take place in the marquee in the grounds,” James continues.

I glance at my watch. Seven o’clock. That’s in just over an hour.

“So what goes wrong? Does somebody shoot the groom?”

“You’re about to find out exactly what’s happened,” James replies. “Follow me.”

 

Do you want to continue this adventure? Do you want to read this book for free? You do? Brilliant!

Simply head to my website www.zannamackenzie.co.uk and you’ll discover how you can download a free copy of On Trial (a wedding day mystery) and join my fun and exclusive reader group.

Hope to see you there!

About the Author

ZannaMI write romantic comedy mysteries and when I’m not writing I can be found gardening (trying to grow tomatoes in the British climate is a major challenge!) walking the dogs or reading.

I’m a former therapist, a fan of the great outdoors – especially Scotland, the Lake District and Derbyshire’s Peak district – and also something of a dreamer!

Home is a village on the Derbyshire / Leicestershire border in the UK with my husband, our 4 Labrador dogs, a vegetable patch that’s home to far too many weeds and an ever expanding library of books waiting to be read.

At every opportunity I can be found scribbling down notes on scenes for whatever novel I’m working on and I love it when the characters in my work in progress novels take on minds of their own and start deviating from the original plot!

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check out the other blogs on this tour

September 21 – Carole’s Book Corner – GUEST POST

September 21 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

September 22 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

September 23 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

September 24 – The Montana Bookaholic – GUEST POST, SPOTLIGHT

September 25 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW

September 26 – Valerie’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

September 27 – Socrates’ Book Reviews  – SPOTLIGHT

September 28 – StoreyBook Reviews – CHARACTER GUEST POST

September 29 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

September 30 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

October 1 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

October 2 – That’s What She’s Reading – REVIEW

October 3 – A Blue Million Books – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

October 3 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW

October 4 – Jane Reads – REVIEW, GUEST POST

Posted in excerpt, romance on September 27, 2017

Synopsis

Meet cute…

Run for the hills—temporarily. That’s Colbie Albright’s plan when she flees New York for San Francisco. Wrangling her crazy family by day and writing a bestselling YA fantasy series by night has taken its toll. In short, Colbie’s so over it that she’s under it. She’s also under the waters of a historic San Francisco fountain within an hour of arrival. Fortunately, the guy who fishes Colbie out has her looking forward to Christmas among strangers. But she’s pretty sure Spencer Baldwin won’t be a stranger for long.

Make merry…

Spence’s commitment to hiding from the Ghosts of Relationships Past means he doesn’t have to worry about the powerful—okay, crazy hot—chemistry he’s got with Colbie. Just because she can laugh at anything, especially herself… just because she’s gorgeous and a great listener…just because she “gets” Spence immediately doesn’t mean he won’t be able to let Colbie go. Does it?

…and hope for a miracle.

Now the clock’s ticking for Colbie and Spence: Two weeks to cut loose. Two weeks to fall hard. Two weeks to figure out how to make this Christmas last a lifetime.

Amazon * Indie Bound * Barnes & Noble

Books A Million * iBooks * Google Play

Excerpt

At the unexpected sight of Spence, Colbie startled hard. How was it that he was the one who needed glasses and yet she’d not seen him standing against the window? “No, I don’t kill a lot of people,” she said cautiously because she was wearing only a towelin front of a strange man. “But I’m happy to make an exception.”

He laughed, a rough rumble that was more than a little contagious but she controlled herself because, hello, she was once again dripping wet before the man who seemed to make her knees forget to hold her up.

“I didn’t mean to scare you,” he said and pushed off the wall to come close.

She froze, but he held up his hands like, I come in peace, and crouched at her feet to scoop up the clothes she hadn’t realized she’d dropped.

Leggings, a long forgiving tee, and the peach silk bra-and-panty set that hadn’t gotten so much as a blink from the TSA guy.

But it got one out of Spence. He also swallowed hard as she snatched them back from him.

“Hold on,” he said and caught her arm, pulling it toward him to look at her bleeding elbow.

“Sit,” he said and gently pushed her down to a weight bench. He vanished into the bathroom and came back out with a first aid kit.

It took him less than two minutes to clean and bandage the scrape. Then, easily balanced at her side on the balls of his feet, he did the same for both her knees, which she hadn’t noticed were also scraped up.

“You must’ve hit the brick coping as you fell in the fountain,” he said and let his thumb slide over the skin just above one bandaged knee.

She shivered, and not from the cold either. “Not going to kiss it better?” she heard herself ask before biting her tongue for running away with her good sense.

She’d raised her younger twin brothers. Scrappy, roughhouse wild animals, the both of them, so there’d been plenty of injuries she’d kissed over the years.

But no one had ever kissed hers. Not surprising, since most of her injuries tended to be on the inside, where they didn’t show. Still, she was horrified she’d said anything at all. “I didn’t mean—”

She broke off, frozen like a deer in the headlights as Spence slowly lowered his head, brushing his lips over the Band-Aid on her elbow, then her knees. When he lifted his head, he pushed his glasses higher on his nose, those whiskey eyes warm and amused behind his lenses. “Better?”

Shockingly better. Since she didn’t quite trust her voice at the moment, she gave a jerky nod and took her clothes back into the bathroom. She shut the door and then leaned against it, letting out a slow, deliberate breath. Holy cow, she was out of her league. He was somehow both cute and hot, and those glasses . . .

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance, Time Travel on September 27, 2017

Title: A SHAPE ON THE AIR
Author: Julia H. Ibbotson
Publisher: Endeavour Press
Pages: 267
Genre: Medieval Timeslip Romance

Synopsis

Unlocking a love that lasts for lifetimes … and beyond …

Dr Viv Dulac, a lecturer in medieval studies, is devastated when her partner walks out (and with her best friend too) and it seems that she is about to lose everything. Drunk and desperate, her world quite literally turns upside down when she finds herself in the body of the fifth century Lady Vivianne. Lady V has her own traumas; she is struggling with the shifting values of the Dark Ages and her forced betrothal to the brutish Sir Pelleas, who is implicated in the death of her parents. Haunted by both Lady Vivianne and by Viv’s own parents’ death and legacy, can Viv  unlock the mystery that surrounds and connects their two lives, 1500 years apart, and bring peace to them both? Can the strange key she finds hold the truth? A haunting story of lives intertwining across the ages, of the triumph of the human spirit and of dreams lost and found.

Excerpt

Prologue

1500 years before

Lady Nymue, her mother, is rising from the mere like a spirit: tall, slow like a dream, over-gown falling in slim folds from her waist. Vivianne sees her in a haze of mist, like magic, an illusion. She feels it, that enchantment, and it is enfolding her, but making her shiver, too. Her life-giver, robes dry despite the water, is coming towards her as she stands anxiously on the bank, waiting impatiently, calling out urgently, hopping from one foot to the other, tangling her feet in her earth-sweeping kirtle, longing to rejoin her playmates who are chasing around the village pretending to be Roman soldiers. Her mother, reaching out a hand to her, is shaking her head, but laughing. Be more patient, my little Lady Vivianne, she says, I have not completed my rituals, but let me wrap you in my cloak, for I must return to the mere. But she is only a little girl and something is making her feel cold, frightened. No, she calls, sticking out her lower lip, I want to play! I want to be Honorius this time! They promised! Eleanor will play my wife – or maybe my lady servant.

Her mother is ruffling her soft curls. Well, then, she smiles, I will return later to finish. She is lifted onto her mother’s horse, in front, held close. Dry, warm, comforting. Riding back to the village. Her care-giver is taking her back to play with her friends again. Her mother turns to the special hall which her father, Sir Tristram, called “sacred” and where she is only allowed to go sometimes.

And then, fire, flames, the acrid smell of smoke. Looking across to the great hall, terror strangling her heart, stealing her breath. Running towards the wooden building, through the ash and cinders and the roaring, screaming now, choking. Someone holding her back, pulling her.

Darkness.

Waking up in her little bed. A big red-faced man in the shadows, haloed with a fair unruly beard and thick wild hair, telling her that her parents were dead, burned in the fire. Her mother and her father, both of them. An accident with tallows. She knows those tallows; they are always on the altar in the sacred hall. They are only spoken of in whispers. But this man is speaking in a strange way, loud, too loud, and it seems to her, sneering, as she peers at him through the darkness.

About the Author

Award-winning author Julia Ibbotson is obsessed with the medieval world and concepts of time travel. She read English at Keele University, England (after a turbulent but exciting gap year in Ghana) specialising in medieval studies, and has a PhD in linguistics. She wrote her first novel at 10 years of age, but became a teacher, lecturer and researcher, and a single mum.  Julia has published four books, including a children’s book S.C.A.R.S (a fantasy medieval time slip), a memoir, and the first two novels of her Drumbeats trilogy (which begins in Ghana).  Apart from insatiable reading, she loves travelling the world, singing in choirs, swimming, yoga, and walking in the English countryside.

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Giveaway


Julia Ibbotson is giving away a PDF copy of ‘Drumbeats’!
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• Winner has 48 hours to reply.
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Posted in 5 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Review on September 26, 2017

A Cajun Christmas Killing: A Cajun Country Mystery
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Crooked Lane Books (October 10, 2017)
Hardcover: 304 pages

Synopsis

Maggie Crozat is back home in bayou country during the most magical time of the year. In Pelican, Louisiana, Christmastime is a season of giant bonfires on the levee, zydeco carols, and pots of gumbo. Except, this year, the Grinch has come to stay at the family-run Crozat Plantation B&B. When he floods travel websites with vicious reviews, Maggie thinks she’s identified him as rival businessman Donald Baxter. That is, until he’s found stabbed to death at Maggie’s workplace. And Maggie and her loved ones become top suspects.

The Crozats quickly establish alibis, but Maggie’s boyfriend, Detective Bo Durand, remains under suspicion. With Bo sidelined during the investigation, Maggie finds herself forced to work with an unlikely ally: longtime family enemy Rufus Durand. Her sleuthing uncovers more suspects than drummers drumming, and lands her in the crosshairs of the murderer.

The sleigh bells are jingling, and the clock is ticking for Maggie and Rufus, who must catch the killer or it will be the opposite of a Joyeux Noël in A Cajun Christmas Killing, the recipe-stuffed third installment of USA Today bestselling author Ellen Byron’s Cajun Country mysteries.

Review

I really love this series and I know a lot of it is tied to having family in Louisiana and I can relate/understand many of the situations and traditions but there is something about Pelican that makes me feel right at home.

But that aside, I really enjoy the mystery aspect and I did sort of guess the killer but not the whole situation…so I was about half right! There are some twists at the end that surprised me (hence only guessing half of the mystery).

I enjoy the quirkiness of many of the characters and of course Maggie and Bo’s relationship. It is nice to see it slowly evolve and they are not rushing into anything with each other.

We give this 5 paws up.

About the Author

ellen byronBody on the Bayou, the second in Ellen’s Cajun Country Mystery series, won the Left Coast Crime Lefty Award for Best Humorous Mystery, and was nominated for a Best Contemporary Novel Agatha Award. Her debut book in the series, Plantation Shuddersmade the USA Today Bestsellers list, and was nominated for Agatha, Lefty, and Daphne awards. Ellen is also a recipient of a William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic Grant from the Malice Domestic Convention. Her TV credits include Wings, Still Standing, and Just Shoot Me, as well as network and cable pilots. As a journalist, she’s written over 200 magazine articles for national publications. Her plays, published by Dramatists Play Service, include the popular Graceland and Asleep on the Wind. A native New Yorker and graduate of Tulane University, Ellen lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband, daughter, and the family’s spoiled rescue dogs.

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check out the other blogs on this tour

September 17 – Island Confidential – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

September 17 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

September 18 – Valerie’s Musings – GUEST POST

September 19 – Bibliophile Reviews – INTERVIEW

September 19 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST

September 20 – Girl with Book Lung – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

September 20 – A Cozy Experience – REVIEW

September 21 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

September 22 – Readeropolis – INTERVIEW

September 23 – Bookworm Cafe – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

September 24 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

September 25 – Cozy Up With Kathy – CHARACTER GUEST POST

September 25 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

September 25 – View from the Birdhouse – REVIEW

September 26 – The Mysterious Ink Spot – REVIEW

September 26 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

September 27 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW

September 27 – A Blue Million Books – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

September 28 – I Wish I Lived in a Library – REVIEW

September 28 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

September 29 – Brooke Blogs – CHARACTER GUEST POST

September 29 – Teresa Trent Author Blog – REVIEW

September 30 – Varietats – REVIEW

October 1 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW

October 1 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW, GUEST POST

Posted in 3 1/2 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, Monday, mystery on September 25, 2017

Gone with the Wings (Meera Patel Cozy Mystery Series)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Self Published
Publication Date: June 3, 2017
Paperback: 269 pages

Synopsis

Author Leena Clover announces a brand new cozy mystery series set in a small Oklahoma college town. Mystery readers will enjoy this culinary cozy murder mystery featuring plenty of yummy recipes like Masala Fried Chicken and Shish Kabob Blue Plate Special.

Meera Patel is back home with the family after she dropped out of graduate school. Now she shelves books for a living and rustles up fusion recipes at Sylvie’s Cafe & Diner. Everything is fine until her old nemesis Prudence Walker floats up in the local pond. Meera is accused of murder! Well, she did publicly declare Prudence would drop dead.

Meera cries foul and screams police harassment. But she has no defense when she is accused of a second crime. Flanked by pals Tony and Becky, Meera puts in the leg work, trying to solve clues and discard red herrings.

Fall in Oklahoma has never been more exciting.

Cozy mystery fans will love this new mystery series featuring an Asian American amateur sleuth. There is a full cast of characters with a professor father, young sibling, old grandparents, loyal friends and a candid glimpse into South Asian culture.

Review

There was a lot to like for this first book in this series. What i liked about it was that it was set in OK in a small college community town and where there seems to be a large Indian (Asian not Native American) population. The family is close knit and they are always eating…that may sound strange but I love food and all of the dishes that were described in the book sounded delicious. I also liked that the murder was solved in a roundabout way and really wasn’t the main focus, or it doesn’t appear to be the main focus most of the time.

There are some unknowns that might be addressed more in future books, such as, why did Meera drop out of school to work at the local college library? What happened to Meera’s mom all those years ago in the tornado? (side note, I think there might be some foreshadowing happening in this book at the end that might address that in future books).

I do think at times the writing seemed choppy and some words were used that didn’t seem right such as calling a car trunk a boot. That is the British word and Meera is American so would have used the word trunk unless her family always called it a boot and she picked it up that way.

This series has great potential and I look forward to reading them at some point.  We give it 3 1/2 paws.

About the Author

Leena Clover is the author of the brand new Meera Patel Cozy Mystery Series, starring a 20 something Desi girl as the protagonist. The series is set in a small Oklahoma college town Meera calls home.

Leena Clover offers plenty of clues for her readers so that they can solve the mystery as they read along. Readers can expect a unique look into Indian/ South Asian culture and plenty of yummy recipes.

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September 18 – Student of Opinions – REVIEW

September 19 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW

September 19 – Readsalot – GUEST POST

September 20 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

September 20 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW

September 21 – Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting – REVIEW

September 21 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

September 22 – Cozy Up With Kathy – INTERVIEW

September 22 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

September 23 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

September 23 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

September 24 – Island Confidential – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

September 25 – Book Babble – REVIEW

September 25 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

September 26 – Laura’s Interests – SPOTLIGHT

September 26 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST

September 27 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW

September 27 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

Posted in Christian, Giveaway, Spotlight on September 25, 2017

THE DAY THE ANGELS FELL

by

SHAWN SMUCKER

  Genre: Psychological Fiction / Christian

Publisher: Revell

Date of Publication: September 5, 2017

Number of Pages: 320

Scroll down for giveaway!

Shawn Smucker will capture readers’ imaginations with this masterfully written debut novel that combines elements of mystery and magical realism.

It was the summer of storms, strays, and strangers. The summer that lightning struck the big oak tree in the front yard. The summer his mother died in a tragic accident.

Twelve-year-old Samuel Chambers would do anything to turn back time. Prompted by three strange carnival fortune-tellers and the surfacing of his mysterious and reclusive neighbor, Samuel begins his search for the Tree of Life—the only thing that could possibly bring his mother back. His quest to defeat death entangles him and his best friend, Abra, in an ancient conflict and forces Samuel to grapple with an unwelcome question: could it be possible that death is a gift?

Haunting and hypnotic, The Day the Angels Fell is a story that explores the difficult questions of life in a voice that is fresh, friendly, and unafraid. With this powerful novel, Shawn Smucker has carved out a spot for himself in the tradition of authors Madeleine L’Engle and Lois Lowry.

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Praise for The Day the Angels Fell

“Neil Gaiman meets Madeleine L’Engle. I read it in two days!” —Anne Bogel, Modern Mrs. Darcy

“Shawn Smucker enchants with a deftly woven tale of mystery and magic that will leave you not only spellbound but wanting more.” —Billy Coffey, author of There Will Be Stars

 

CHECK OUT THE BOOK TRAILER!


Have you always wondered what authors listen to while writing?  Well wonder no more, you can get a peek into what Shawn was listening to as he wrote The Day the Angels Fell.

I think I might have to go check out a few of these songs myself!

Shawn Smucker lives with his wife and six children in the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The Day the Angels Fell is his first novel.

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GRAND PRIZE:

Copy of The Day the Angels Fell + Ancient Tree Journal + $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card

2nd PRIZE: Copy of the book + leather bracelet charms

3rd PRIZE: Copy of the book + $10 Starbucks Gift cCard

September 17-26, 2017

(U.S. Only)


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Check out the other great blogs on this tour

9/17 Character Interview The Page Unbound
9/18 Review Books and Broomsticks
9/19 Excerpt 1 Chapter Break Book Blog
9/20 Author Interview Texas Book Lover
9/21 Review A Page Before Bedtime
9/22 Excerpt 2 Texan Girl Reads
9/23 Review Forgotten Winds
9/24 Author Interview The Librarian Talks
9/25 Playlist StoreyBook Reviews
9/26 Review Tangled in Text

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Posted in Cozy, Guest Post, mystery, Texas on September 24, 2017

Synopsis

A college student, dead, in an empty pasture. Rifle-carrying strangers in the local grocery store. An irresistible and loveable Labrador puppy. These add up to trouble for Susan Hogan, associate professor of English at Oak Grove (Texas) University, and her partner, Jake, Chief of Campus Security. Susan’s independent investigation involves a shooting, a break-in, vandalism, threats, a clandestine spy trip to the woods, and an attempted kidnapping. Throughout, she trips over—and trips up—law enforcement investigation, to Jake’s ongoing frustration. Small college towns just aren’t always as peaceful as they are billed.

The first book in this series is The Perfect Coed, click on the cover below to be directed to Amazon

Guest Post

The small worlds of the cozy mystery

Cozy mysteries are traditionally set in small towns, on the theory I suppose that the population in a small town is easier to handle. Everyone knows everyone else, and they interact—sometimes even murdering each other. With a limited case of characters, it’s easy to point the finger of suspicion at this one and that and to develop relationships, antagonistic or otherwise, that result in murder.

As soon as I say that I know people will come forward with favorite urban mysteries. Off the top of my head I think of J. A. Jance’s JP Beaumont series, set in Seattle, or Cleo Coyle’s New York coffeehouse series. Of course, there are exceptions to my sweeping generalization. I have even set the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries in the good-size city of Fort Worth, but the major characters live, work, shop and dine in one tight-knit neighborhood. Same as a small town.

Cozy is a subgenre of mystery, but even the cozy has its sub-subgenres. Think of the small and controlled worlds of the academic mystery or the mystery set in a library. All three settings—small town, university, or library—offer the advantage of the unexpected. Small towns are stereotypically peaceful; universities are bastions of learning and as such should be aloof from violence (never mind we know that’s not true), and the same is true of libraries. Gentle souls go to libraries to read, don’t they? Murders just don’t happen in places like that—or do they?

Academic mysteries seem not to have caught on, although some honorable authors have tried their hand—including Anthony Boucher (The Case of the Seven of Calvary, tracing way back to the ‘30s), Josephine Tey’s Miss Pym Disposes (1940s), American Sharyn McCrumb (Bimboes of the Death Sun and Zombies of the Gene Pool-1990s), and right on up to John Grisham, with The Summons in the early years of the 21st century.

But the only sustained academic series seems to be the Kate Fansler mysteries by Amanda Cross (a pen name for professor and feminist author Carolyn G. Heilbrun). Kate, professor of English, is featured in close to twenty adventures, and most of the murders are set on campus and involve academic colleagues, either as victim or perpetrator or both.

Libraries also offer a small world, although that world, like academia, has not been much explored as a setting for mysteries. You might make a case for the popular Aurora Teagarden books by Charlaine Harris. Aurora is a librarian and some scenes take place in her library. Otherwise, again, single titles come to mind: Sylvia Nash’s Benjamin’s Ghosts and Ellen Butler’s Poplar Place, not set in a library but with a lot of the action in one. As with academic settings, there seems to be no sustained series set in a library.

I don’t know if the conclusion means that those settings just don’t work with readers or that no one has given them a fair try. My Oak Grove Mysteries are academic—Susan Hogan is an associate professor of English at a university in a small, west Texas town. The first book, The Perfect Coed, takes place mostly but not entirely on campus; in Pigface and the Perfect Dog, the action moves ore to the town than the campus.

Could it be that the world of libraries or college is too small to sustain a series? An author quickly runs into the Cabot Cove syndrome, where it stretches credibility that so many murders occur in such a small population. The small town offers more diversity that a library or a college campus, yet not the unmanageable crowds of the big city.

About the Author

Judy Alter is the author of six books in the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries, two books in the Blue Plate Café Mysteries; and two in the Oak Grove Mysteries. Pigface and the Perfect Dog follows The Perfect Coed in this series of mysteries set on a university campus. Judy is no stranger to college campuses. She attended the University of Chicago, Truman State University in Missouri, and Texas Christian University, where she earned a Ph.D. and taught English. For twenty years, she was director of TCU Press, the book publishing program of the university. The author of many books for both children and adults primarily on women of the American West, she retired in 2010 and turned her attention to writing contemporary cozy mysteries.

She holds awards from the Western Writers of America, the National Cowboy Museum and Hall of Fame, and the Texas Institute of Letters. She was inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame and recognized as an Outstanding Woman of Fort Worth and a woman who has left her mark on Texas. Western Writers of America gave her the Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Achievement and will induct her into its Hall of Fame in June 2015.

The single parent of four and the grandmother of seven, she lives in Fort Worth, Texas, with her perfect dog, Sophie.

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