Monday, June 30, 2014

BOOK GIVEAWAY: Purr-fect Mating by Sheryl Winters

Roane Publishing is giving away THREE ARCs of Purr-fect Mating!

Purr-fect Mating A Lil Genie Series Novella
Genre: Paranormal / Romance By Sheryl Winters Release Date: July 21, 2014
Keywords: Paranormal, Romance, Shifters Description:  Fhina and Wulfar have a little problem.

On their wedding night, at the stroke of midnight, Wulfar changes into his shifted wolf form and cannot shift back. Not even to communicate with the woman he loves. Fhina, upon waking the day after their mating, no longer recognizes her mate. Pregnant and confused, she’s convinced herself her mate has run away and left her to live alone. With his dog. Can the cursed pair find a counter charm before Fhina gives birth? Will Wulfar be able to curb his inclination to run? Or will their mutual curses break up their love affair before it’s really even started.

Roane Publishing is giving away THREE ARC copies to three lucky winners!

You don’t even have to be a blogger.

If you are willing to leave an honest review between the dates July 21st and August 15th, you are eligible to enter.

How? Simply fill out the form! You have until Midnight of July 5th when three winners will be chosen by random drawing.
Thanks so much for participating & best of luck!

Friday, June 27, 2014

REVIEW: The Bone Church by Victoria Dougherty


In the surreal and paranoid underworld of wartime Prague, fugitive lovers Felix Andel and Magdalena Ruza make some dubious alliances – with a mysterious Roman Catholic cardinal, a reckless sculptor intent on making a big political statement, and a gypsy with a risky sex life. As one by one their chances for fleeing the country collapse, the two join a plot to assassinate Hitler’s nefarious Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, Josef Goebbels.

But the assassination attempt goes wildly wrong, propelling the lovers in separate directions.

Felix’s destiny is sealed at the Bone Church, a mystical pilgrimage site on the outskirts of Prague, while Magdalena is thrust even deeper into the bowels of a city that betrayed her and a homeland soon to be swallowed by the Soviets. As they emerge from the shadowy fog of World War II, and stagger into the foul haze of the Cold War, Felix and Magdalena must confront the past, and a dangerous, uncertain future.



Most of what I read is 'light' cozy mysteries.  But June seems to have been the month of the 'heavy read', including "The Bone Church" by Victoria Dougherty.  However, in this case, heavy is good...very good.  I mean, Prague during WWII, when it was controlled by Nazi Germany, and then afterwards, when it was controlled for years by the Soviets.  It doesn't exactly conjure up pictures of 1960's flower children dancing in the park, now does it?

"The Bone Church" helps us appreciate what people in Eastern Europe went through during WWII and since then, when intrigue, spies, and never knowing when something you do or something you are may get you on somebody's death list are a way of life, and not something you watched in the movies or read in a book.  Dougherty gave the characters life and expressed their stories beautifully with rich language worthy of a medieval tapestry.

(It reminded me of a story my mother's cousin in Switzerland told me about an evening's events during the war.  What today would be seen as teenage hi-jinks or petty vandalism would have had much more serious consequences then.  I heard that story first 30 years ago and it still gives me the shivers.)

If you are looking for a provocative book, one that will both entertain you and make you think, you need look no farther than "The Bone Church".



Victoria Dougherty writes fiction, drama, and essays that often revolve around spies, killers, curses and destinies. Her work has been published or profiled in The New York Times, USA Today, International Herald Tribune and elsewhere. Earlier in her career, while living in Prague, she co-founded Black Box Theater, translating, producing and acting in several Czech plays. She lives with her husband and children in Charlottesville, Virginia.


(Disclaimer:  I received an e-copy of "The Bone Collector" from the author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.  No other compensation was offered, requested or received.)

Monday, June 23, 2014

BOOK REVIEW/INTERVIEW: Drive Bye by Amy Saunders


Belinda’s recent blunders have come back to bite her – and Bennett – in the monster cupcake. But they’re not the only ones with problems. 

A car crash uncovers the body of an unlikely murder victim. But the more they learn about her, the more the answer to her death seems to lie in issues that reach far beyond Portside. 

As the truth comes out, and Belinda’s personal life teeters on the breaking point, she takes life by the maraschino cherries, and finds help in very unexpected places.



Ms. Saunders scored points with me on this one before I ever clicked to 'turn the page' on this one.  I love punny titles chock full of "double entendre".  Add to that the fact that this is a "team cozy mystery" (Book 3 of the "Belinda and Bennett Mysteries") in the style of Agatha Christie (I loved her Tommy and Tuppence) and my reading engines were revving already.

So, imagine the scene.  You are trying to run a cupcake truck business.  You are fighting with your 'boyfriend'/partner over something on which he took the fall for you.  Your grandmother wants you to break up because the man is from the proverbial 'wrong side of the tracks'.  You come upon a fatal car accident on your way home from a wedding.  And you get asked to help solve the murder.  (I must have been absent the day they had the 'how to have an exciting life' class.)

But this is why I read books like "Drive Bye".  The writing flows beautifully and guides readers through numerous twists and turns with ease.

Stay tuned because Book 4 - "Overkill" is due out soon!



Amy Saunders is a mystery lover with a soft spot for humor and romance–and the ocean. She lives in Massachusetts, and loves to bake and watch movies. She’s the author of one mystery series and three standalone mysteries. Learn more about Amy and her books at her website.



1.  What is a 'house stalker"? (from your FB B&B page)
Well, basically I made up that term to describe what happens when I find a house to use as inspiration for someone in my books. I'll drive by it a hundred times, take TMZ stealth photos, that sort of thing. If you didn't know that I'm simply trying to commit images to memory to put in my books later, you might think I'm up to no good. 

2.  Do you prefer writing series books or standalones?
Now that I'm working on a series, I have to say series books. There was a time I only wanted to write standalones because I worried a series would bore me. But the opposite has been true. I'm relieved I don't have to say goodbye to my characters or setting just yet.

3.  When did the writing bug bite?
Pretty much in elementary school, but I got serious about it in my early teens. I wrote anything and everything from stories to plays. But it was the stories I always loved the most and wound up sticking with.

4.  Describe your 'ideal' writing day/setting.
Hmm...sunny and beautiful out. (I know it doesn't make sense, but I work better when it's nice out.) I have a photo on Pinterest of this ginormous porch swing - the size of a twin bed, no joke - with this fluffy cushion. I would want that looking out on the ocean so I can plop down with my laptop for the afternoon and enjoy the sea breeze while I write.

5.  Who are your writing influences and why?
As I was thinking about this question, I realized there's quite a few, really starting with L.M. Montgomery and Louisa May Alcott, whose styles I copied when I was about 10 or 11. In my teens, I read everything by Sherry Garland and Ann Rinaldi. I owe both authors for making me want to pursue writing myself.

When I got older, I read Agatha Christie books because my mom did. I was amazed at Christie's whodunnit skills, and though it was a long time before I attempted mystery writing myself, I know reading her books left me wanting to. There was also a series of medieval mysteries at my library by C.L. Grace that I devoured, and several adventure romance standalones by Madeleine Brent that affected the relationship aspect of my writing later on. Then there's Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen, which has influenced the romance side of my stories. In more recent history, I'm obsessed with the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. I love his writing style.

6.  If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
Hawaii. I got to go there twice and it was the first place I felt I could live. The weather's gorgeous and I love that you're never too far from the coast. Plus, I like the casual lifestyle.

7.  What is your favorite color?
Blue. Specifically lighter, heathery blues, though I'm drawn to almost any shade.

8.  What's at the top of your TBR list?
Right now, book two of the Selection series by Kiera Cass, which I just got around to starting, and book two of The Blackwell Pages by K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr. I also just started Rhys Bowen's Molly Murphy series, so that's at the top. I always have more samples on my Kindle than time to read them!

9.  What's your favorite type of food?
Almost any type of comfort food with pasta around the top of the list.

10.  Say your books are made into movies.  Would you want to write the script, or .....?
I would love to do screenwriting, but since I have zero experience, I'd probably just want to work closely with someone who knows what they're doing!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


(Disclaimer:  I received an e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  No other compensation was offered, requested, or received.  My opinions are my own.)

BOOK REVIEW: A Photographic Death by Judi Culbertson

A Photographic Death

by Judi Culbertson

on Tour May 27 - June 27, 2014

Book Details:
Genre: Mystery & Detective; Women Sleuth
Published by:  Witness Impulse
Publication Date:  5/27/2014
Number of Pages: 288
ISBN:  9780062296351
Purchase Links:    

Giveaway: There will be one rafflecopter form for the tour where we will offer 10 individual promo codes for a free download of the book for the entire tour. Winner must have access to Bluefire Reader and have an Adobe account to receive free download.


Bookseller-turned-amateur detective Delhi Laine is back with another atmospheric mystery, but this time, it’s a family affair.

Nineteen years ago, Delhi Laine’s two-year old daughter disappeared. After a frantic but inconclusive search, authorities determined that she must have drowned, her body washed away from the picturesque English park in which she was playing.

Delhi’s heart has never healed, yet her family has since soldiered on. But when a mysterious letter arrives containing the ominous words, YOUR DAUGHTER DID NOT DROWN, their lives are once again thrown into turmoil. With her family torn between fighting for the past and protecting the future, Delhi is caught in the middle. For a mother, the choice to find her daughter seems easy. But for a family left fractured by the mistakes of the past, the consequence, and the truth, may be infinitely more costly.

Fans of Carolyn Hart will be swept away by this story of a family on the brink - and their hunt for the truth.

Read an excerpt:

In those days photography had been my passion, my way of escaping from the endless rounds of dirty diapers and runny noses and tears. At home, as soon as the children were bedded down, I’d fled to my darkroom, working into the early hours printing and tinting photos. The quiet darkness was an addiction. As sleepy as I often was during the day, I came alive in those night hours.
I had been taking photos in Stratford to work on, to enlarge and color when we got home.

After that day by the river, I never took another. Growing up I had never daydreamed about having a family, of being surrounded by children. I’d read endlessly, imagined myself in exotic places, even saw myself as an archeologist. So when I met Colin . . . I loved the children, they were mine, but they were part of the scenery of my life.

When I lost one of them due to my preoccupation, I vowed never to let anything distract me again. Not even photography. Especially not photography.

“You thought falling asleep sounded better?” Colin felt menacing beside me, as if he might grab my shoulders and shake me.

I knew then that I should have told him about the note first, that we should not be having this conversation in front of everyone. “I—yes . And after I kept saying it a part of me started believing it. When I finally admitted the truth and told someone else, she pointed out that if I was standing right by the water, I should have heard a splash or seen Caitlin fall in. And I was, right by the edge of the river. I--”

“But the police must have investigated all that?” Patience couldn’t keep out of it any longer.

“Of course they did.” Colin boomed. “They interviewed everyone who’d had been in the park that day. We even hired a private detective. Who found nothing.”

Through the miasma of wine and coffee I tried to remember what had been in the detective’s report. Surely, for all the money we borrowed from Colin’s parents to pay him, he had turned up something. “But the police never found her. They said that was unusual for that part of the river.”

“But not impossible.” Colin held up a professorial hand, a gesture he would use to silence a classroom. Everyone looked at him, waiting. He addressed the girls first. “I’m sorry you had to learn this from someone in a drunken stupor. It’s something that happened long ago. We didn’t want you to grow up thinking something terrible would happen to you too. We didn’t want it to overshadow your childhoods. It was the worst thing that ever happened to us. But your mother has conflated another day when she was taking pictures with the day it actually happened. All I can say is, memory is notoriously unreliable.”

I was so furious that I couldn’t think of which calumny to address first. I was not in a drunken stupor. I was not mixing up the days. But I needed to explain why I was bringing it up now. “What I was doing that day isn’t the point.” I reached in my Mexican jacket pocket and pulled out an envelope. “This is the point.”

A rustling, a squeaking of chairs, as everyone craned to look.

It was a square white envelope, the size of a small greeting card, addressed to “The Fitzhughs.” On the front were stamp images of Queen Elizabeth in red and green and a postmark I could not read. I pulled out the white paper inside, unfolded it, and laid it flat on the table so that the people closest to me could see. In large black letters it read:

When Colin and the girls had seen it I passed it to Pat who scanned it and gave it back so I could show it to Ben. “This came in the mail Monday,” I said. “I can’t tell what part of England it’s from.”

Colin picked up the envelope and studied it. Again, everyone seemed to be waiting for his official pronouncement. “A mean trick,” he said finally. “Someone’s idea of a bad joke.”

A bad joke? “But why now?” I argued, shocked. “Almost twenty years later? Who would know anything about it now?”

“Maybe they ran a story in the local Stratford papers,” Ben said. “Maybe the detective who investigated it is retiring or something.”

“And that would make somebody track us all the way over here to taunt us, a mention in a retirement story? I don’t buy that. It wasn’t even a criminal investigation, they just thought she’d drowned. No policeman would be remembered for it.”

“Maybe that’s what the story was about then, people drowning in the river.” Ben brightened as if he had solved the problem. I told myself he wasn’t trying to be cruel, that he just liked to fix things.

“They’d hardly go to the trouble of finding Delhi and Colin’s address in another country. That’s ridiculous,” Patience said. “It sounds like whoever wrote it knows something definite.”

“Can’t we have the handwriting analyzed?” Jane interrupted. “Or have it dusted for fingerprints?”

Colin sighed, playing with a small glass salt shaker that had been left on the table. “That note is hardly a criminal matter. They wouldn’t go to the trouble. Besides, the real point is if Caitlin did somehow survive, it’s too late now. Too much time has passed. It’s like an adoption, it’s final.”

“No!” It came out of me as a wail.

Patience gasped. “It is not like an adoption. If your daughter didn’t drown, then she was kidnapped! She has every right to know her real family.”

“Patsy,”—Colin lapsed into her old nickname--“it’s not that simple. You can’t assume a kidnapping. If she didn’t drown, she probably wandered off and someone found her.”

“Daddy, what are you talking about?” Jane grasped his forearm. She was flushed, probably with cabernet, and furious. As close as they were, she often lost her temper with Colin. “People don’t keep lost children. They find a policeman and get them back to their parents! It’s not like a stray kitten that you decide to take in.”

“No, Daddy’s right,” Hannah looked up from where she had been tormenting a cuticle. “How would you feel if someone contacted us and claimed after nineteen years that I had been stolen and was part of their family? That everything I’d thought was true was a lie and they wanted me to come live with them. Anyway, I don’t want a twin. I’m fine just as I am.”

Colin pushed back from the table. “I think it’s time for us to go.”

“But we haven’t had our walk,” Ben protested. “We have to take our beach walk!”

Poor Ben. If he’d been on the Titanic, he would have been demanding his nightly whiskey as the ship went down.

“Yes, go on your walk. I have to show Delhi something of our mother’s that I found. We’ll catch up.”

I knew we wouldn’t.

“Can I see?” Jane asked eagerly.

Patience and I exchanged a look.

“Sure,” I told her.


I have to side with Delhi and Jane on this one.  If one of my children disappeared...well, "ain't no mountain high enough", if you get my drift.  Of course, after so long a time, there is always the possibility that Caitlin (the daughter who disappeared) might not have been told about her biological family and/or may want nothing to do with them anyway.

One of my husband's aunts was forced to give up a child she had a number of years ago, born out of wedlock with a man of a different race.  When that girl grew up, she knew she had been adopted and wanted to find her biological mother and father.  Well, she did and she is now as much a part of our family as she is the one in which she grew up.

But not all reunions work out so well.

I cannot begin to imagine the heartbreak an experience like this would cause, or the strain it would add to the family and marriage.  Culbertson does an admirable job of showing the family drama and multiplicity of feelings and points of view that a long-standing disappearance can uncover.  The more I read of "A Photographic Death", the more I wanted to read.

This is the third book in the Secondhand Prose series (aka the Delhi Laine Mysteries), preceded by:  "A Novel Death", and "An Illustrated Death".  I would like to learn more about Delhi and see how Caitlin's disappearance affected Delhi in the earlier works.

Author Information

JUDI CULBERTSON draws on her experience as a used-and-rare book dealer, social worker, and world traveler to create her bibliophile mysteries. She has co-authored five illustrated guides with her husband, Tom Randall, of such cities as Paris, London, and New York. She is also the author of the acclaimed nonfiction titles SCALING DOWN and THE CLUTTER CURE. She lives in Port Jefferson, New York, with her family.

Catch Up With the Author:     
Catch Up With the Publisher:  


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, June 19, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper by Sally Carpenter



In the 1970s, teen idol Sandy Fairfax recorded 10 gold records and starred in the hit TV show Buddy Brave, Boy Sleuth. Now he’s a 38-year-old recovering alcoholic with dead bodies getting in the way of his comeback! An easy gig as the guest celebrity at a Midwest Beatles fan convention turns deadly when a member of the tribute band is murdered. When the police finger Sandy as the prime suspect, the boy sleuth is back in action to interpret the “Beatle-ly” clues and find the killer.



While I may be a little on the young side (only just) to have been a Beatlemaniac or have been a screaming fan for a 70's teen idol, I can so relate to those feelings and the special childhood afforded by the 1960's and 1970's.  Flash forward a couple of ... decades ... and we have Sandy Fairfax, more than a little tarnished 38 year old 'fair-haired boy'.  

The first thing that struck me about "Baffled Beatlemaniac" was the fact that it felt very 'real'.  I could definitely see something like this happening to me or someone close to me.  Former (child) stars keep chasing that elusive dream of fame, hoping the squeeze the last little drop of celebrity out of the game called life.

I loved the multiple layers of this book as well.  You have a small Beatles fanvention, with a name star from relatively the same era for a headliner.  Mix in a little alcohol, some big (and all-to-fragile) egos, fans believing the stories they have made up in their mind about their idols, rabid memorabilia collectors and you can see how a supposedly quiet weekend in a Midwestern town could turn into a huge indoor concert where you are standing right in front of speakers that are bigger than you are.



Sally Carpenter is native Hoosier now living in Moorpark, Calif.
She has a master’s degree in theater from Indiana State University. While in school her plays “Star Collector” and “Common Ground” were finalists in the American College Theater Festival One-Act Playwrighting Competition. “Common Ground” also earned a college creative writing award and “Star Collector” was produced in New York City.
Carpenter also has a master’s degree in theology and a black belt in tae kwon do.
She’s worked as an actress, college writing instructor, theater critic, jail chaplain and tour guide/page for Paramount Pictures. She’s now employed at a community newspaper.
“The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper,” was a 2012 Eureka! Award finalist for best first mystery novel.
“The Sinister Sitcom Caper,” the second in the Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol series, is published by Cozy Cat Press. The third book, “The Cunning Cruise Ship Caper,” is due in 2015.
Her short story, “Dark Nights at the Deluxe Drive-in,” appears in the 2013 anthology “Last Exit to Murder.”
“Faster Than a Speeding Bullet” was published in the “Plan B: Vol. 2” e-book anthology.
Her short story “The Pie-eyed Spy” appeared in the Nov. 23, 2013, issue of Kings River Life ezine.
She’s a member of Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles and “mom” to two black cats.
"Did the victim do or say anything that might identify the murderer?
“Yes, sir.”

Braxton waited, his pen poised over his notebook page. “Well? What was it?”

I licked my dry lips. I felt terribly thirsty. I knew Braxton would hate my answer.

“He said, ‘Rocky Raccoon.’”

Sure enough, he frowned at me. “Is that a joke?”

“No, sir. That’s exactly what he said.”“Is that the name of the murderer? An animal? What’s a Rocky Raccoon?”

“It’s a song.” Bunny stepped up beside us as she closed the zipper on the pouch that hung from her waist. “By John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Paul sings lead. It’s on disc one, side two, track five of The Beatles’ 1968 double record, ‘White Album,’ which isn’t the name, but everyone calls it that because it was issued in a plain white cover with no artwork. I have a 1978 French import reissue with the records in white vinyl.”Braxton stared at her, too stunned to take notes, but I took it in stride. Fans possess encyclopedia knowledge of the minutest trivia.

GUEST POST: Literary Revolution by D.M. Annechino

I am honored to have D. M. Annechino, the author of "Hypocrisy" here on the porch today for a guest post on how publishing has changed over the years!  Let's hear (well, ok, see in this case) what he has to say!


Literary Revolution 

Over the years, I've attended both the San Diego State University Writer’s Conference and the southern California Writers Conference. Like most conferences and conventions, the theme is very specific. These two focus on the world of literature and publishing. It’s a great opportunity for an aspiring writer to hobnob with fellow authors, agents, editors, and publishers. These conferences also offer workshops that cover a wide array of literary­ related topics. 

One of the events I most enjoyed was the “Read & Critique Workshops”. Picture a group of writers—all high strung and uptight, desperately wanting to be discovered—huddled in a crowded room. Each author has the opportunity to read passages from his or her’s latest effort and the other authors offer constructive feedback. Well, you might think that this is a great idea, but remember that you’re dealing with writers who are very passionate about their books and don’t always accept criticism in the spirit in which it was intended. Tempers do flare and some people storm out the door. 

The one thing that always struck me about these Read & Critique Workshops was the number of highly talented writers who were yet unpublished. I used to think to myself, “If these writers can’t find an agent or a publisher, then I’m totally screwed.” 

Back then, an author had two ways to get published: 

#1  Find a literary agent willing to represent you (trust me, it’s easier to win the Lottery), and hope and pray that he or she can make a deal with a publisher. 

#2  Self publish through what were once called “Vanity Presses” (a very expensive proposition), fill your trunk with over­priced books, and try to peddle them to independent bookstores. 

Those days—thank God— are gone. 

The literary landscape today is a completely different world. It has gone through an amazing evolution over the last few years. With the launch of Amazon Publishing, currently releasing books under five or six different imprints, and the growing opportunities for self-­publishing and print-­on­-demand, not to mention the emergent world of e­books, the literary marketplace has experienced some major changes—all for the good. These changes have opened the door for many authors who in the past never got a chance to showcase their work. Many previously undiscovered authors are now in the limelight. This is a long ­overdue literary revolution. 

I am one of those writers who stumbled upon an amazing opportunity to publish through Amazon Encore.  Like so many other writers, for years I was an author trying to get published with no success. But now, Hypocrisy, my fourth novel, was released on March 15, 2014. It took twenty hard years of writing novel after novel, and dealing with a daily dose of rejection to finally get a break. The message here is simple: If writing is your passion, don’t give up the fight. Never forget that rejection is a prerequisite of success. 


I was fortunate to receive a copy of Hypocrisy for review via iRead Book Tours.  See why "Hypocrisy" should be on your TBR lists here!

BOOK REVIEW: The Kill Call by Stephen Booth


On a rain-swept hillside, hounds from the local foxhunt discover the body of a well-dressed man. At that exact moment, an anonymous caller reports the same body . . . lying half a mile away.

It's only the first in a series of baffling clues as Ben Cooper and Diane Fry - partners and rivals on the detective force - plunge into a case involving horses, spectacular wealth, and a mysterious "plague village" where a centuries-old outbreak of Black Death has been transformed into a modern tourist attraction.

As the spring rain falls and the body count rises, Cooper and Fry's investigation twists back to the recent past. A killer lurks in the shadows there-a killer now hiding in plain sight . . .

 Atmospheric and ingenious, packed with suspense and secrets, The Kill Call is an unforgettable thriller from an unforgettable writer.



The first few chapters of "The Kill Call" reminded me of the movie "Pulp Fiction".  Points of view jumped through decades of time and various narrators.  That, coupled with the fact that the book is set in England, with the different terms for things than we have in the US, made the read start a teensy bit slow for me.  Then I remembered to turn my Anglophile switch to the 'on' position, and I felt like Dorothy when she landed in Oz...the colors turned on!

But, imagine if you will, dipping your toe in to test the waters instead of diving right in.  It takes a little while to get your whole body in, but once you do, the water is quite enjoyable.

For me, the most enjoyable thing about the book was Mr. Booth's use of, and obvious skill with, descriptive language.  When he talks of underground bunkers, and the damp, dank atmosphere, all my senses were engaged.  I could see, hear, feel, smell and taste the setting.

Another of Booth's strengths is the ability to bring seemingly unrelated strands of many stories and weave them together into a coherent whole.

The worst thing about the book is that it is part of a series of novels involving the same detectives, Cooper and Fry, and that by crossing "The Kill Call" off my TBR (to be read) list, I now have to add the other 11 books of the series, because I want to read them all.  We should all have such bad luck, right?



Stephen Booth is an award winning British crime writer, the creator of two young Derbyshire police detectives, DC Ben Cooper and DS Diane Fry, who have appeared in twelve novels set in England’s beautiful and atmospheric Peak District. Stephen has been a Gold Dagger finalist, an Anthony Award nominee, twice winner of a Barry Award for Best British Crime Novel, and twice shortlisted for the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year. Ben Cooper was a finalist for the Sherlock Award for the best detective created by a British author, and in 2003 the Crime Writers’ Association presented Stephen with the Dagger in the Library Award for “the author whose books have given readers the most pleasure”. The Cooper & Fry series is published all around the world, and has been translated into 15 languages. The latest title is DEAD AND BURIED, with a new book, ALREADY DEAD, published in June 2013.


Disclaimer:  I received an e-copy of "The Kill Call" from the author and publisher via Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.  No other compensation was offered, requested or received.

Also, to those looking for the review on Monday of this week, I offer my sincere apology.  A scheduling error on my part led to this oversight.  This, also, did not affect the content or wording of my review above

Monday, June 16, 2014

Blogathon Bash June 2014 Goals

Biannual Blogathon Bash


1.  Catch up on book reviews.
2.  Print blog planner pages.
3.  Use blog planner pages.
4.  Set a blog post writing schedule.
5.  Set a blog business (non-writing) schedule.
6.  Enter at least one challenge.
7.  Participate in at least one chat session.
8.  Set up three incoming guest posts.
9.  Set up three outgoing guest posts.
10.  Start setting up sponsors to attend a blog conference in 2015.

Also sharing with my friends at:

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Five Things That Make Me Happy Right Now

Today's prompt:  What are the 5 things that make you most happy right now?

1.  My faith

One week after my last pregnancy test came back positive, I started bleeding at work.  The ER doctor refused to believe I was pregnant, even though I had had a confirmation from my ob/gyn the day before.  So while they were doing a blood test, I lay there thinking, "What am I supposed to hope for?"  That I wasn't pregnant after all?  That I was and may be having a miscarriage?  What happens if they baby has problems?  I had used the 23rd Psalm countless times in the dentist's chair to calm myself and tried it again for this situation.  Then I prayed.  I made the decision to accept whatever happened, knowing that I could get through it with God's help.  The moment that thought passed, I felt the sweetest peace I have ever known in my life.

2.  My husband.

We originally met online in a role-playing game.  He was a shaman; I was a vampire.  We decided he would come out to Salt Lake City to visit for a week.  He never really left. :O)  We've had our ups and downs, but I believe we were made for each other.  

3.  My older son.

Even though he crawled across the phone (which was on the floor) at 7 months of age and somehow dialed 911; even though he deleted Windows from our computer when he was 1-1/2 years old ... yes, he's my evil genius.  He's smart as a whip and has never really given us serious grief about doing his share around the house.  He even goes up on his Papaw's roof to keep the gutters clean.  And he will still hug his old Mom in public.  He is 17 years old.  When his sister was born, he got mad at the NICU nurses because they wouldn't let him take her home so he could take care of her.

4.  My younger son.

Also very intelligent, he processes things differently from most people.  He never showed much interest in reading until his Grammy got him a Kindle for Christmas one year.  Now we can hardly get him to stop!  And he has one of the biggest hearts I've ever known in a human.  He makes sure everyone gets a fair share, even if it means giving up some of what is his.  And I wish I could speed up my hearing because he could give the world's fastest talker a run for his money.  If someone in the family is having a rough time, he'll come and tell his father or me, saying that he is worried.  And he just turned 16 so, "WOOHOO!  We have four drivers now when we make the trip to Texas every year!"

5.  My daughter.

She is my miracle "HARBOR CHICK"!  (The term is taken from Ghostbusters II when they are walking through NYC inside the Statue of Liberty.  Egon is worried that the stress will cause the statue to crack and Bill Murray's character says, "Don't worry.  She's tough.  She's a HARBOR CHICK!")  DD came into the world 2 months early.  They told us to expect her to be in the NICU for 2 months (or her original due date).  We had two gentlemen from our church come into the NICU when she was 2-3 days old and give her a blessing.  She wound up getting to come home when she was 22 days old (just over 3 weeks), and she was still slightly under 4 pounds.  The doctors said she was "just too healthy and they needed the space".  I was thrilled because having to go home from the hospital and leave her there has been, BAR NONE, the hardest thing I've ever had to do.


Also sharing at:  


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

BE Society Day 4 and IWSG

Today's prompt:  List 10 things you would tell your 16 year-old self if you could.

1.  If you ever drive after drinking, or get into a vehicle where the driver is not sober, I will come back through time and slap you upside the head.

2.  Brush your teeth.

3.  Spend more time with your Dad.  He's not going to be around much longer.

4.  Your mother knows more than you think she does.

5.  You are better at acting on stage than you think you are.

6.  Don't be in a rush on tile floors when you've just come in from the rain.  Your tailbone with thank you.

7.  Don't walk down hills in flip flops.  Take the stairs that are 10 feet away.

8.  You are a daughter of God and He only makes the best.

9.  The family you and I have without changes to the timeline are a pretty cool bunch.

10.  Take more time to pray.


I think a lot of my issues here come down to time management.

The blog is coming along nicely.  I had plenty of book reviews/tours last month to keep things hopping.  Maybe a few too many.  I put time and effort into the reviews and too much of a good not a good thing.  It is also not doing the author/tour companies any favors if I am overbooked.  And last, but definitely not least, I don't want to wear my readers out!

I'm involved in the BE  Society June Challenge, where a prompt has been provided for each day.  Thank goodness for the prompts.  I'm also doing Writing 101 from Blogging University.  In my first post, "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly", I confused the term free-writing with stream-of-consciousness writing.  (I don't think I used (any or many) swear words in it, but be warned, it is not my usual 'style'.)

In May, I stated my intention to turn my 2014 A to Z posts (about Proverbs 31) into an e-book.  I was using the "Weekend Writing Warriors" for some accountability, but totally spaced last week.  Now I'm wondering if I have been adding all these challenges and activities with the blog to crowd out having to face the e-book issue.  What am I afraid of? *sigh*

Well, at least I seem to have the insecurity part down pat! *lol*

BOOK REVIEW: Lemonade Revealed by Will Chluho


FICTION: A boy on a voyage to find his true father regained consciousness on an unknown island to the curious stares of three old men: a warrior, a trader, and a priest. The lost boy would later discover through a mysterious man–a skinhead with an eye tattoo on his neck–that one among the trio could be the father he’d been looking for….

NONFICTION: This “little yellow book” is a good place to reclaim such good old-fashioned gems as “faith” and “hope” under the demythologized light of human reason. It is a phenomenological examination on the possibility and probability of a divine existent vis-à-vis a real world of human frailties and frictions. Lemonade Revealed is a timely discourse in a timeless (and engaging) story.


"Lemonade Revealed" is a complex book.  Woven into the boy's story is a nice bit of social commentary, right and wrong, greed vs. sacrifice, and the like.

I spent part of the book wondering what the boy's name was, as he himself did not know.  When he gets a crush on the daughter of one of his benefactors, he blurts out what he wants to drink in response to the girl's question of what is his name.  "Lemonade," he declares!  Hence the title.

As he becomes more accustomed to his new life, he gradually begins to find out about who he was before.  He was named after a star, Iota Draconis, and the ship on which he was sailing with his mother (in search of his father) was wrecked.

I was a bit confused because the book started with the boy awakening after the accident, without his memory, and in the presence of three of the king's advisors (business, military and spiritual).  Then about 2/3 the way through the book, the same scene takes place again.  I was not clear on whether it was Iota's memory of the scene, or another group altogether.

"Lemonade Revealed" is an engaging story (what would you do if you awoke on an island with no memory).  Chluho does a wonderful job of making the philosophical discussions part of the story and not something that is thrown in there for political correctness' sake.  The Island of Ahio will not give up her secrets without effort on the part of the reader.  I personally feel the story, while complete, is not 'over'.

This is a book you can read and re-read, and get something new (detail, insight, etc) each time.



As an urban pragmatist, Will Chluho was a creative director who’d served on world-renowned brands such as BlackBerry, Mercedes-Benz, and Singapore Airlines. As a spiritual “romanticist” of sorts who sought solace, he’d lived four years as a Franciscan friar, a major in philosophy and theology. He’s 44, married, and advancing his philosophical studies with the University of London.


(Disclaimer:  I received a print copy of Lemonade Revealed from the author and publisher, via TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.  No other compensation was offered, requested or received.  The opinions expressed in the review are my own.)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Writing 101: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Actually, the title of the days exercise was "Unlocking the Mind".  20 minutes of free writing, no censorship, no edits.  So if I misspell something or my grammar is atrocious, so be it.  So of course, I misspell grammar, notice it in the middle of typing atrocious, and go back and fix it.  Now, I could get down on myself for already breaking the rules, but I really don't care.  There again, I almost didn't type "don't care" and wanted to change it to something else that sounded less exasperating, but I decided not to.

I just finished baking ham and pork for supper.  I added a Thai basil sauce, and Szechuan (ok, so I used spell check on that one) spicy sauce and some other kind of sauce that I really can't remember right now.  I swear I washed my hands afterwards but they still feel kind of sticky, but just between the fingers.  It's not like I'm getting gross junk all over the keyboard.

My son came in and asked if the cat could have the ground beef that was sitting on the drain board.  I stopped writing momentarily and answered him.  Of course, with him, a one word answer will never do and he goes off talking on another tangent.  That boy (ok, young man, he's 17) goes off, no I already said that, and now I can't remember what I was going to put before.

Ah, the beauty of free-writing and no edits.  I'm also watching Fifth Element on DVR while I'm typing.  I'm guessing that's a big no-no.  A part of my trunk is also itchy.  And my left hand and my right forearm.  Of course, that's probably because I'm out in the garden so much these days.  Mostly in the morning, before the sun is up and it gets beastly hot and humid.

I was not made for very warm or very humid climates.  Um, Um, Um.  More itching.  Seeing shadows of explosions and wrecks from the floating taxi chase scene in my peripheral vision.

Did you know that I already have a couple of posts up today?  One is the Teaser Tuesday/First Chapter First paragraph Tuesday link-ups.  But I'm not going to stop to link them up in this post, because that's a little like editing, isn't it.  Those posts are a lot more interesting than this one, because really I'm just blathering on.  I'm good at blathering on.  Now I know where my son gets it from.  Only it's concentrated in his generation.  In both boys actually.  Our daughter does not speak nearly as much and speaks so quietly, we have to ask her to say things over numerous times.  Of course, maybe it's just because we are old and/or going deaf.

Now my finger itches.  But I think it is just my mind trying to distract me from writing, or trying to make me think about the writing, in which case it would have a chance for me to stop and then the whole exercise would fall apart.  I had someone tell me once that I tend to catastrophize this.  Assume the worst.

Now she puts a gun to his head (on the Fifth Element).  A guy in a Cadillac drove into the yard today.  He had seen the boat from the road and wanted to know if we wanted to sell it.  My husband had actually just listed it on the local radio station "Stop and Swap" or "Shop and Swap" (whatever it's called).  We've actually never used it, but it was given to us by a former landlord who also didn't use it and whose wife just wanted it out of their yard.  Then they sue us after we move out.

Sheesh.  It's not like he was great shakes at maintenance.  We had to call many, many times and wait weeks to get things fixed sometimes.  And come to find out that everyone else was paying comparatively a LOT LESS for rent than we were.

But the more I think about that, the more I get pissed off.  And I worry about typing pissed off because it might offend people, but short of words that might get censored on national tv, I've sent the inner censor out for coffee ... for about twenty minutes or so.  Boy is she gonna be upset when she gets back.  Too bad!  I remember a friend's mother saying once that it was perfectly ok if you talked to yourself as long as you didn't answer back.  It's when you started having conversations with yourself that the problems arose and people tended to think you were crazy.

Five more minutes.  I know.  I stopped typing and looked at the clock on my monitor.  Sue me.  No wait, you'll have to stand in line.  La-la-la.  I'm feeling a little 'off' today, can you tell?  I was worried yesterday that I might need to go to the doctor, because I've had a dull pain in my left side just under the rib cage for a couple of days.  My husband had pancreatitis a few years back and I wanted to make sure it wasn't that.  I really don't think so, it's more likely it's just because I'm getting old and the work in the garden is the most physical exercise I've had in a long time.

Ok.  Four more minutes.  Now my left shoulder (back) itches.  It's been drizzling off and on today and the air feels very moist.  This whole exercise reminds me of "morning pages" from "The Artist's Way" (I think that's what it is called.  If anyone has made it this far in the reading and knows and doesn't think I'm to crazy to comment, I'd be very grateful.

That one alien race on The Fifth Element is really ugly.  That's probably an unkind thing to say.  Maybe they look hot to each other.  To each their own, and all those similar platitudes.  I know they are all in my head in their respective little memory boxes, but someone tied those boxes with knots and I can't get them open right now, so you'll just have to be satisfied with the one.

One ... one minute!  Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.   (Did anyone just have flashbacks to "The Count" on "Sesame Street"?  Because I sure did.)


What I like about free writing is like it power-washing the mind and cleans out a lot of junk so you can sit down and get to work. :O)  Anyway, there's day one.  I'll probably have to double up on a couple of days' posts to catch up, but that's life.

BOOK REVIEW: 100 Proof Stud by A. J. Lapes



Sometimes life smacks you right in the kisser with a whole lot of ohhhh craaaaap.

Just ask Darcy Walker.

100 Proof Stud picks up four months after No Brainer’s cliffhanger ending, and Darcy discovers the aftermath pales in comparison to the crisis her heart is in. All of a sudden it’s raining men, and this teenage heroine’s personal life turns her inside out.

Before she can sort out her feelings, she chases a spray-painting vandal and stumbles upon a case of identity theft right in her own backyard. Darcy jumps into the fray headfirst to prove she can hang with the big boys. But it’s not just to hang…nope, she’s chasing reward money. Tapping her band of misfit brothers for help, she turns Valley upside down trying to unearth the criminals. Problem is, the cloak and dagger goes high-octane, and she raises the bar on “crazy” in the process. Bullets ring out…dead bodies appear…and Darcy rubs shoulders with the ultimate sociopath. In the midst of murder and mayhem, will she finally follow her heart or build a fortress of lies around it? Will she even get the chance?


Reading "100 Proof Stud" is like having a fear of heights and getting in the roller-coaster car anyway.  It's a white-knuckle, half terrifying/half thrilling ride.  Once your hair settles back onto your head and you realize you are at a full stop, still breathing and heart still beating, a hint of a smile appears on your lips.  You might need help to a nearby bench until your knees work properly again, but eventually you will say "Let's do it again."

Frankly, "100 Proof Stud" is probably not the kind of book I would normally have chosen to read.  I'm *ahem* middle-aged and don't have much patience for the antics and attitudes of some young adults.  But they say 'with age comes wisdom' and I've learned that I'm not always right in my first impressions.  Go figure.  "Stud" is definitely quirky.  But if I would have passed it by because of that, it would have been my loss.  I will be reading all of Darcy's other adventures at some point.

Darcy Walker, the 16-year old main character, also serves as narrator.  Reading about her antics and adventures is sometimes like reading a whole other language - but let's face it, she's a teenager.  If we are not experiencing those days for ourselves at the moment, we probably remember them.  A young adult of that age is not necessarily the most logical animal in the zoo.  Who else would buy a book on the migratory patterns of the cuckoo to get the free hot dog that comes with it?

In the space of a few months, Darcy is injured in two separate vehicle 'incidents'.  They have to be called that because in the first one, the car in which she was riding was intentionally struck.  In the second occurrence she absent-mindedly steps out in front of a car.  Of course, the first time she may have been a target, and the driver of the (other) vehicle was intentionally trying to harm her.  In the second, the driver of the vehicle was a handsome young man, and she worries at least as much about her awkwardness as her injuries.

Darcy is just plain crazy ... the good kind.  She gets in over her head at least a couple of times a day.  Some of those over-the-heads are harder to come back from than others.  But she's also the kind of crazy that hides her boss's keys so he'll have to sleep in the store and not try to drive home drunk.  The world needs more of that kind of crazy, so I guess we need more Darcy.  Luckily, I don't think we have long to wait.



A. J. Lape’s Darcy Walker Series broke into the Top 50 books in Teens Literature & Fiction within 36 hours of its release. It has spent numerous weeks in the Top 100 in Mystery Series and Teens, Mysteries & Thrillers Categories as well as being one of the Top Rated in its genre. A self-proclaimed neurotic and troublemaker at heart, a perfect day for A. J. consists of writing, watching her kids play sports, drinking Coke, then lounging in her pajamas by 8PM.

She lives in Cincinnati with her husband, two feministic daughters, an ADD dog, a spoiled hamster, and an unapologetic and unrepentant addiction to Coca-Cola, with a lifelong love affair with bacon.  She studied English, Journalism, and Political Science at Morehead State University and left the business world when her daughters were born.  Her love for suspense and a good story was born from watching Mystery Science Theater with her sister during childhood.  That and any B movie with comedic undertones they could get their hands on.

When she’s not riding that razor-thin line between creativity and insanity, she  likes to read, watch too much cable TV, or cheer like a banshee at her daughters’ sporting events. She’s a huge hometown sports fan and loves to watch the Cincinnati Bengals and Cincinnati Reds whenever she can.

A. J. loves to connect with fans!  If you would like to receive emails of upcoming releases, please sign up for her distribution list by visiting her homepage at and clicking the “contact” tab.


(Disclaimer:  I received an e-copy of this book from the author and publisher via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my honest opinion.  No other compensation was offered, requested or received.)