Wednesday, August 5, 2015

#Review/#Giveaway: Give 'Em Pumpkin to Talk About by Joyce & Jim Lavene

Richmond attorney Sarah Tucker returns to sell her family’s abandoned farm in Misty River, Virginia despite unanswered questions about her grandparents’ disappearance sixteen years earlier. Sarah was only twelve when she went to visit and found her grandparents had vanished. No amount of searching has brought answers.

Now Sarah is faced with other issues when a man is killed who claimed to have information about what happened to her grandparents. She learns of a Confederate chest of gold that is said to be buried on the property, and treasure hunters who are willing to do anything to get their hands on it.

Were her grandparents murdered for the gold? Sarah can’t sell the land and go back to her life until she has answers. But the cost of the answers may be her life.

Includes farm-fresh recipes!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Mailbox Musings on Monday

Musing Mondays, hosted at A Daily Rhythym, is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

I’m currently reading…Up next I think I’ll read…I bought the following book(s) in the past week…I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…I can’t wait to get a copy of…I wish I could read ___, but…I blogged about ____ this past week…

So here goes:

I'm super excited to tell you about the song lyrics I made up to the tune of "Something to Talk About" (performed by Bonnie Raitt).  Only my version is called "Pumpkin to Talk About", some words I made up to the tune that go along with the story of Joyce and Jim Lavene's new book (out tomorrow!) called "Give 'Em Pumpkin to Talk About" (link goes to GoodReads).  Bear in mind that the lyrics I wrote are far more in line with the book than the music:

People are talkin' 'bout people
That disappeared long ago, no one knows
Where they went but the time has come now
Their grandkid is grown and she wants to know
How and why they disappeared
She has friends she needs to clear
Danger’s not gone; in fact it’s near
As near as the pumpkin patch maybe, Darlin’

Let's give them pumpkin to talk about
Down to the barn raisin’ we’ll give ‘em out
Let's give them pumpkin to talk about
Talk about pumpkin bread?

He looked so scruffy, not her kind of guy
He sabotaged her
Efforts to sell the house
But for her grandparents he helped her out
She started thinking he’s not so bad
For her he even shaved his beard
They faced some danger side by side
Once or twice they almost died
Now that the murders are solved, they thought, Darlin’

Let's give them pumpkin to talk about
Down to the barn raisin’ we gave ‘em out
Let's give them pumpkin to talk about
How about pumpkin pie?

Let's give them pumpkin to talk about
A little mystery to figure out
Let's give them pumpkin to talk about

How about pumpkin cheesecake?


From the Mailbox Monday site (click the button to go there):

Here at Mailbox Monday, we want to encourage participants to not only share the books they received, but to check out the books others have received.
One of these days I'll keep a running draft post during the week, but until then, here's some Kindle books I got during the last couple of days:













Since I didn't do a little bit of work on this post each day, I won't put up links but you can find any of them on GoodReads

#Review/#Interview/#Giveaway: Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Marty Wingate

After her romantic idyll with the debonair Detective Chief Inspector Christopher Pearse culminates in a marriage proposal, Pru Parke sets about arranging their nuptials while diving into a short-term gig at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. At hand is the authentication of a journal purportedly penned by eighteenth-century botanist and explorer Archibald Menzies. Compared to the chaos of wedding planning, studying the journal is an agreeable task . . . that is, until a search for a missing cat leads to the discovery of a dead body: One of Pru’s colleagues has been conked on the head with a rock and dumped from a bridge into the Water of Leith.

Pru can’t help wondering if the murder has something to do with the Menzies diary. Is the killer covering up a forgery? Among the police’s many suspects are a fallen aristocrat turned furniture maker, Pru’s overly solicitous assistant, even Pru herself. Now, in the midst of sheer torture by the likes of flamboyant wedding dress designers and eccentric church organists, Pru must also uncover the work of a sly murderer—unless this bride wants to walk down the aisle in handcuffs.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

I'm Mad as Hell ... And It's Wordless Wednesday!

(This picture was found through an online search of "celebrity shoe closets" at with the follow attribution: 

(This picture was taken by me on my Kindle Fire on 7/29/2015 and represents the sum total of my 'shoe closet'.)

I am blessed.  I realize this. 

I may have only one pair of shoes, but that puts me ahead of the majority of the world's population.  (Besides, generations of small, furry family members are partially to blame for my lack of footwear.)

This picture was taken on our front porch.  We used my share of the proceeds from the sale of my mother's house in Utah (she passed in March 2011) to pay 'cash' for my husband's paternal grandmother's home in Kentucky (after she passed in 2013).  That's right.  We own our home with no mortgage.  That puts us 'ahead' of the majority of our 7-billion planet co-dwellers.

Then yesterday, I saw a feature on Yahoo about 'celebrity shoe closets', many of which looked like the one featured in the first picture up there.  To tell the truth, I've been struggling with my mood of late.  Well, that was the straw that broke this camel's back.

I understand that female celebrities are judge differently than their male counterparts.  Witness the photo with Selena Gomez, Adam Sandler and Kevin James.  She is wearing a red satin dress with a thigh-high slit and high heel shoes.  The men are dressed in sweats, gym shorts, tee shirts and tennis shoes. 

Why can men get away with dressing casually, when women are criticized for wearing anything that is not from a famous designer and God forbid they wear things more than once!

And can we talk about the excess?

There is more food in that celebrity closet than at a charitable food bank.  And cost of one column of the shoes on the shelves in 'picture A' could support village in an developing nation for quite some time.

When do we start valuing human life more than having more stuff than 'the Jones'?  When does it matter more to us that a single child in our country (and here I mean the USA, specifically) goes to bed with enough food in his or her belly to make it through the next day, than it does that the 20+ people who think they have what it takes to become the President of the United States raise yet another BILLION dollars to spend on their campaigns, all but one of which are guaranteed to l.o.s.e.?

It's enough to make me cry.  No lie.  I was disconsolate last night.

Stay tuned.  Tomorrow or Friday (when my fires have been sufficiently revived) I will post the 2nd half of this rant, or why "I'm Not Going to Take It Anymore".  Don't worry, though.  I don't want my '15 minutes of fame'.  I'm going to make a plan as to how I can make a needed change.  I don't delude myself that I can solve any of the world's problems.  But I can sure as hell make my little corner of it better.

Maybe if enough people feel that way (and I know there are those out there already laboring in the field, so to speak, and God bless each and every one of them) ... well, every drop goes to fill the bucket.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Write-On Review-a-Thon Wish List

Write On Review-a-Thon

Got reviews you need to write up and post?  Join in by clicking on the button above.  Receive support and encouragement from your sister and brother slackers, like me! :O)

I cannot begin to fathom the number of reviews I have to write.  Many of them come from free e-books that are used to pique interest in a new author.  Some, *ahem*, I owe people to whom I promised a review on a condition of getting the book or e-book.

So my reviews for this weekend may come from the following list.  Now all I have to do is find my Kindle. *sigh*


Good news!  I found the Kindle.

Bad news!  I stopped counting at 30 reviews to be done.

EVEN MORE bad news.  The following is not an exhaustive list.  There are some 'book-books' as opposed to e-books that will be added to the list as well.


The list will turn into links when the reviews are done.  And if you happen to click through to any of them and want to give the review a thumbs up if you think it merits one, well, don't let me stop you! ;)

  1. Faith by Ruth Hartzler (edited to add link 12:20 pm Eastern US, 7/26/2015)
  2. Treasure on Moon Lake by Amy Gamet
  3. Tennessee Waltz by Trana Mae Simmons
  4. Ready to Were by Robyn Peterman
  5. Keeper by Suzanne Woods Fisher
  6. Julia by Ashley Merrick
  7. Ashes by Kelly Cozy
  8. Sir Dudley Dinklebottom by T. J. Lantz
  9. Gathering Bittersweet by JoHannah Reardon
  10. My Splendid Concubine by Lloyd Lofthouse
  11. Maid for Love by Marie Force
  12. Rose Hill by Pamela Grandstaff
  13. The First Cut by Dianne Emley
  14. Visions of Love by Joynce and Jim Lavene
  15. This Time Forever by Rachel Ann Nunes
  16. Slow Curve on the Coquihalla by R. E. Donald
  17. The Case of Moomah's Moolah by Jim Stevens
  18. Under the Ice by Aaron Paul Lazar
  19. Celtic Viking by Lexy Timms
  20. Rest in Pieces by Katie Graykowski
  21. Mine all Mine by Ella J. Quince
  22. Purling Road by M. L. ardner
  23. Perilous Pranks by Joyce & Jim Lavene
  24. High Heels Mysteries 1-3 by Gemma Halliday
  25. Black Sands by Carl Goodman
  26. Mistaken Kiss by Kathleen Baldwin
  27. Sinjin by H.P. Mallory
  28. Imogene in New Orleans by Hunter Murphy
  29. Hollywood Dirty by MZ Kelly
  30. The Executioner: War Against the Mafia by Don Pendleton
  31. Summer of Promise by Amanda Cabot
  32. Streetlights Like Fireworks by ? Pandolfe
  33. Defending Turquoice by John Ellsworth
  34. The Taming of Lady Kate by G. G. Vandagriff
  35. A Winter Wrong by Elizabeth Ann West
  36. Around the Bend by Rosemary Hines
  37. Play Dead by Leslie O'Kane
  38. A Time to Live, and a Thyme for Murder by Phoebe T. Eggli
  39. The Singularity: Heretic by David Beers
  40. Chloes by Dean Garlick
  41. The Hunter Awakens by J. R. Rober
  42. Goodey's Last Stand by Charles Alverson
  43. The Duke and the Baron by Jenn LeFlanc
  44. What if it's True? by Dixie Burns
  45. Seaside Secrets by Cindy Bell
  46. Double Trouble by Deborah Cooke
I know.  I know.  I have a problem.  Well, one day at a time, I will tackle this list and get it done.  I may have to have a party when it's all finished.

Anyway, that's my list.  Laissez les bon temps roulez!

Friday, July 24, 2015

#Review/#Giveaway: Trawling for Trouble by Shelley Freydont

The author of Independence Slay is back as intrepid event planner Liv Montgomery discovers something fishy going on beneath Celebration Bay’s deceptively calm surface.

Liv Montgomery knew that asking Celebration Bay’s newspaper owner-slash-ne’er-do-well Chaz Bristow to teach her how to fish meant angling for more than a lesson in sinkers and chum. Like asking him to spearhead the fund raiser that’ll benefit the town’s community center. And there are worse ways to spend the afternoon than out on the town’s picturesque lake.

But it’s not long before Liv reels in a huge catch—already quite dead. It’s the body of an unknown man, and it was no accidental drowning. This floater was murdered. While local authorities investigate, it’s Liv and Chaz who stumble upon a shocking motive, and become live bait for a ruthless killer determined to keep his secrets down in the deep.

Includes exclusive previews of the next Celebration Bay mystery, Trick or Deceit, and A Gilded Grave, the first book in Shelley Freydont’s new Newport Gilded Age Mystery series.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Book Review: The Jaime Quinn Mysteries

GoodReads * Amazon


Reluctant lawyer, Jamie Quinn, still reeling from the death of her mother, is pulled into a game of deception, jealousy, and vengeance when her cousin, Adam, is wrongfully accused of murder. It’s up to Jamie to find the real murderer before it’s too late. It doesn’t help that the victim is a former rock star with more enemies than friends, or that Adam confessed to a murder he didn’t commit.


Reluctant lawyer, Jamie Quinn, has returned to her family law practice after a hiatus due to the death of her mother. It’s business as usual until a bitter divorce case turns into a murder investigation, and Jamie’s client becomes the prime suspect. When she can’t untangle truth from lies, Jamie enlists the help of Duke Broussard, her favorite private investigator, to try to clear her client’s name. And she’s hoping that, in his spare time, he can help her find her long-lost father…


There’s big trouble in the park system. Someone is making life difficult for Jamie Quinn’s boyfriend, Kip Simons, the new director of Broward County parks. Was it the angry supervisor passed over for promotion? The disgruntled employee Kip recently fired? Or someone with a bigger ax to grind? If Jamie can’t figure it out soon, she may be looking for a new boyfriend because there’s a dead guy in the park and Kip has gone missing! With the help of her favorite P.I., Duke Broussard, Jamie must race the clock to find Kip before it’s too late.



Hands down, The Jaime Quinn Mysteries are one of my favorite series to date!  Let me explain ...

I read.  I read a lot.  A.  LOT.  Quite a number of the books I read are the free days authors have sometimes on Amazon as a way to introduce new readers to their works.  So I read them.  Then I want to read the rest of the series as well.  But the catch is, the cliff-hanger at the end of the books is huge that I am disappointed that I cannot continue into the next book right away.

That is where Ms. Venkataraman's Jamie Quinn Mysteries shine.  I was concerned at the outset of each installment that they would not be long enough to provide a fully fleshed-out story, but I was wrong.  Each book provides more than enough dialog and action to form a complete tale, and I was satisfied at the end of each book.  The story ends had been tied together (sometimes even in a bow!)  And, while each book could be read alone quite nicely, there is enough of a tease of foreshadowing to let the reader know that all had not yet been revealed.

In Death by Digeridoo, I appreciated the author's sensitivity to the story of Adam, a young man with autism, whose statement, "I did a bad thing," was taken as a confession by the local police when they find him standing over the body of his music teacher.  And it Jaime's own story was encouraging as well.  In a funk since her mother had passed away, Adam's need brought her out of that miasma and back to the land of the living.

The Case of the Killer Divorce highlights the character, Duke Broussard, a former client of Jaime's.  As Jaime has already reconnected with a high-school beau of hers (Kip), Duke adds a nice tension to the story.  It's probably good that he shortened his name to Duke from Marmaduke.  (The only other Marmaduke I know is a cartoon strip dog.)  And if there's ever a case of a client working against their lawyer, this is it.

Peril in the Park winds up the trio of books I was happy to read.  Kip and Jaime have gone from touchy-feely to comfy-cozy.  But the politics at Kip's government position are stifling at best and downright dangerous a majority of the time.  Collusion, cover-ups, petty jealousies and backbiting are the order of the day, it seems.  Bodies (of the not live variety) keep showing up in parks and then Kip goes missing.  So, Jaime has to turn to Duke (yay! more of that tension!) for more help, in order to find Kip before it's too late.  For a while I even wondered which one Jamie would choose.

So.  You can buy each book individually.  Or you can get the boxed set (or the larger e-file).  Each story is not long, but definitely satisfying.  In my opinion, the books to not have to be read in order but I think it's human nature to want order and when one is presented, to follow from point A to point B.  The set is only $2.99 on Amazon as of about 5 minutes ago.  Get it, read it, love it.  And save a space on your shelf (or in your e-reader) for the next Jaime Quinn Mystery, which is in the works!



Award-winning author, Barbara Venkataraman is an attorney and mediator specializing in family law and debt collection.
She is the author of “Teatime with Mrs. Grammar Person”; “The Fight for Magicallus,” a children’s fantasy; a humorous short story entitled, “If You’d Just Listened to Me in the First Place”; and two books of humorous essays: “I’m Not Talking about You, Of Course” and “A Trip to the Hardware Store & Other Calamities,” which are part of the “Quirky Essays for Quirky People” series. Both books of humorous essays won the “Indie Book of the Day” award.
Her latest works are “Death by Didgeridoo,” first in the Jamie Quinn series, “The Case of the Killer Divorce,” the second Jamie Quinn mystery, and, just out, “Peril in the Park,” the latest in the popular Jamie Quinn series. Coming soon, “Engaged in Danger”–the next Jamie Quinn mystery!

Today is the tour kick-off and by clicking the graphic just above you can to go the tour schedule page, where you will find more reviews, as well as interviews and guest posts.  You can even find out about becoming a reviewer for Great Escapes yourself!

(Disclaimer:  I received a copy of the set of books from the author and publishers via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my honest and unbiased review only.)