Monday, November 30, 2015

Empty Nest by Marty Wingate - #Review #Giveaway

In Empty Nest, Julia Lanchester’s life is interrupted by a murder most foul—and a killer who’s watching her like a hawk.
Manager of a tourist center in a quaint British village, Julia Lanchester finds herself with more ideas than time. Her boss is the Earl Fotheringill himself, but apart from him, she doesn’t mix well with the aristocracy. Unfortunately, toxic mold forces her from her cottage and into one of the earl’s countless spare rooms at the Hall. She tries to get a handle on her overload of work, while she finds herself arguing with dinner guests, chaffing at the sudden interest the earl’s son has in running the estate, and missing her new beau, Michael Sedgwick.

Her life goes from bad to sinister when Julia discovers poisoned sparrowhawks on the expansive estate grounds. And soon after, she finds one of the Hall’s visitors murdered—felled by the same poison. While simultaneously both spooked and angry, she still can’t keep herself from snooping, and dragging Michael along into her investigation. But will she find the culprit before her own wings are clipped?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Wedding at the Paragraph Ranch by Kay Ellington and Barbara Brannon - #review

Can she piece together a dream on a shoestring? As new owner of the falling-apart family homestead in West Texas, Dee Bennett is wrangling ways to earn a living, mend fences with farm and family, and manifest her dreams as a writer—all while nurturing the budding relationship with her beau, outdoorsy photographer Max Miller. But when a drop-dead-gorgeous, high-powered handler for a candidate in a key statewide election blows into Claxton, rivalries bigger than politics and football develop. With stakes running high on the campaign trail, as well as in publishing dreams and love lives, a Bennett family wedding must be attended to. And Dr. Dee, with the assistance of her motley writing-group protégés, must search her soul and fend off a host of challenges to live the life she just might learn to love.

Letter from Hell by M. Lee Mendelson - #review

A simple, routine call to 911 unexpectedly erupts into a grisly suicide. Mike, a well-seasoned deputy is uncharacteristically disturbed by the gruesome scene. Who was this tortured soul, and why did this happen? Innocently, most of us accept our destiny. We assume our life experiences are the result of mere chance. Few of us discover that our fate is actually an orchestrated tapestry woven from beyond our world. When that influencing weaver is from the netherworld, you may likely find yourself on a dark, terrifying, and tragic journey. What if you discovered a letter penned by a desperate soul from beyond the grave, a literal letter from hell? What if that letter could alter your perception of reality by revealing that you are not in control? Would you dare read it?



M. Lee Mendelson is a sick and twisted individual - BUT then so are Stephen King (author) and M. Night Shyamalan (filmmaker) - two masters of the horror genre.  The story is so frightening that it should come with a warning, like you might find on a particularly exciting amusement park ride:  "Do not ride if you have a heart condition."

That being said, if you are a fan of the horror genre and adore things that go bump in the night, you should be addressee of a "Letter From Hell".

Lots of people talk about writing a letter to their 'younger self'.  I suspect many of the 'younger selves' walking around today would take a look at such a letter from their 'future selves' and think, "Ye-e-e-e-ah, right," crumple up the letter, maybe burn it, visibly shudder and then go watch some episodes of The Smurfs.  Silly, silly, younger selves!

I felt a LOT of sympathy for 'young Mike'.  Bullied relentlessly in middle school, he vows one summer to work out a lot and buff up before starting high school.  His father, a former college sports hero, and his mother, a former college cheerleader, had previously I think 'given up' that they would get a repeat of their glory days through the efforts of their son.  But when they see he is serious about getting in shape, they start to take notice and an interest in their flesh and blood.

I could have done with much less description of episodes of his *ahem* daydreams in his bedroom and the numerous references to "Mr. Crunchy" definitely made me uncomfortable.  Especially in this case, the term 'crunchy' brings up a whole lot of visuals that killed my appetite for a while.

And the summer between middle and high school, he starts catching the attention of young ladies, including the daughter of the family newly moved in across the street.  She is less than happy when she notices other young ladies noticing Mike when the school year starts up.

I don't think it's giving too much away to remind people of a little movie from a while back called "Fatal Attraction".  Hmmmm?

Mike goes on to have a brilliant college sports career until an accident ends that future for him.  So he turns to police work.  As time wears on, he becomes a detective and just happens to catch the really disgusting, grizzly crimes, especially child abductions and ritual murders and the like.

The 'bad guys and gals' in Letter from Hell make Freddy Krueger, Michael Meyers, Frankenstein and most others of their ilk look like the "Little League of Horror".

This book is definitely disturbing and riveting as....well, ... h-e-l-l!



A first time author, M. Lee Mendelson and his wife Yvonne have six children between them, three boys and three girls. Yes–the Brady Bunch.

He was inspired and encouraged by Yvonne to write his first book after he proposed the concept to her. M. Lee never dreamt of writing anything before his first book, but has now discovered he has a passion for writing, with one idea after another pouring out of him.

A rare native Floridian, M. Lee recently retired from a career as a full-time firefighter and part-time law enforcement officer. His twenty-six years of experience on the streets have given him a vast array of experiences; some good, some bad. His recent retirement allows him much more freedom to dedicate to his new-found obsession with the written word.

His first book, “Letter From Hell,” is a complex horror novel with a little something for everyone M. Lee’s real-life experiences, coupled with an active and vivid imagination, allow his stories to come alive. Striving to paint pictures with words, he immerses the reader into his scenes.

His ambition is that people will enjoy reading his work and deem it worthy to recommend to others.

Click the link to go to the tour site where you will find more reviews as well as guest posts and author and character interviews.  You can also apply to become a virtual book tour host site yourself!

(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the author and publishers via Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for my objective review.  This post may contain affiliate links.)



I did not post my review on the day it was scheduled.  The mistake was my fault and I deeply regret any difficulties this may have caused for the author, publishers or tour organizers.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Smart but Dead by Nancy West - #review

Skirting forty and appalled by the prospect of descending into middle-age decrepitude, Aggie Mundeen blasts off to the local university to study the genetics of aging. In addition to providing youthful hints for readers of her column, “Stay Young with Aggie,” Aggie is doggedly determined to stay young.

Despite conflicts with her professor, she learns about the Human Genome Project and DNA. When she discovers a dead body, Detective Sam reminds her not to “help” with the investigation. But dangerously curious and programmed to prod, she races to solve the crime, winds up the prime suspect and is on target to become next campus corpse.

Related subjects include: cozy mysteries, women sleuths, murder mystery series, whodunit mysteries (whodunit), amateur sleuth books, book club recommendations, Southern humor, Southern living, and humorous murder mysteries.

Books in the Aggie Mundeen Humorous Mystery Series:


Olive and Let Die by Susannah Hardy - #review

As manager of the Bonaparte House, a historic landmark and Greek restaurant in upstate New York, Georgie Nikolopatos knows her local legends—and her traditional Greek recipes are to die for.

Between her soon-to-be ex-husband Spiro coming out of the closet and her budding romance with Captain Jack Conway, Georgie’s life is beginning to feel like a soap opera. And that’s before a surprise visit from her estranged mother Shirley, better known as soap star Melanie Ashley. But the dramatic family reunion takes a chilling turn when another long-lost relative turns up dead.

Just outside Spiro’s new restaurant, Georgie and Melanie find the body of Doreen Webber—a cousin Georgie never knew she had. With Spiro’s partner Inky on the list of suspects, Georgie begins to wonder what else her mother may be hiding. Is the dead-broke diva capable of murder? She’d better find out before someone adds a new twist to the family plot.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Pale Highway by Nicholas Conley - #review

Gabriel Schist is spending his remaining years at Bright New Day, a nursing home. He once won the Nobel Prize for inventing a vaccine for AIDS. But now, he has Alzheimer’s, and his mind is slowly slipping away.

When one of the residents comes down with a horrific virus, Gabriel realizes that he is the only one who can find a cure. Encouraged by Victor, an odd stranger, he convinces the administrator to allow him to study the virus.  Soon, reality begins to shift, and Gabriel’s hallucinations interfere with his work.

As the death count mounts, Gabriel is in a race against the clock and his own mind. Can he find a cure before his brain deteriorates past the point of no return?

Friday, November 20, 2015

Haunt Couture and Ghosts Galore by Rose Pressey - #review #giveaway

This looks like a job for the fashion police!
A hot-ticket charity fashion show is the perfect chance for Cookie Chanel, proud owner of It’s Vintage Y’All, to show off her stylistic savvy for a good cause. But when a famous fashionista is fatally flattened, and the ghost of a former private investigator asks for Cookie’s help, she has to scurry to sew up a solution. With clever clues from Wind Song, her psychic cat, and sassy suggestions from Charlotte, her ghost-in-residence, Cookie must unravel the sinister stitches of a deadly design–before she becomes the next fashion victim…

Don’t miss Cookie Chanel’s Fashion Tips

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

FCFP/Teaser Tuesday - Pale Highway by Nicholas Conley

Gabriel Schist is spending his remaining years at Bright New Day, a nursing home. He once won the Nobel Prize for inventing a vaccine for AIDS. But now, he has Alzheimer’s, and his mind is slowly slipping away.

When one of the residents comes down with a horrific virus, Gabriel realizes that he is the only one who can find a cure. Encouraged by Victor, an odd stranger, he convinces the administrator to allow him to study the virus.  Soon, reality begins to shift, and Gabriel’s hallucinations interfere with his work.

As the death count mounts, Gabriel is in a race against the clock and his own mind. Can he find a cure before his brain deteriorates past the point of no return?


"First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesdays" is a linkup hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea.

I'm going to use the first paragraph of the books prologue, because it is more ... evocative.  Let me show you what I mean....
"The patient had charcoal-black eyes, hard and cold, as if rounded chunks of volcanic rock and been shoved inside her eye sockets.  Her skin possessed a sickly white pallor, as if it had been sucked dry of all its nutrients and hung up on a clothesline.  Dark veins crawled over her body like wriggling snakes, pulsing with every unsteady heartbeat.  Her mouth hung open, and a pockmarked grey tongue hung uselessly over her lower lip.  Her bedridden form emitted the stench of necrotic flesh. 
Glenda Alvarez was 63 years old, young compared to the other residents.  Just last week she'd had her hair permed and her nails manicured.  The virus had hit fast."

"Teaser Tuesdays" is a linkup hosted by Jenn at A Daily Rhythm.

This is from approximately 58% on the mobi file:
"If he died tomorrow, his nudity would be all they would remember, not the Nobel Prize, not the Schist vaccine.  No, his humiliation would be his legacy."

So, what do you think?  Too far out for you?  Not far enough?


Here's a little about the author:

Originally from California, Nicholas Conley has currently made his home in the colder temperatures of New Hampshire. He considers himself to be a uniquely alien creature with mysterious literary ambitions, a passion for fiction, and a whole slew of terrific stories he’d like to share with others. 

When not busy writing, Nicholas is an obsessive reader, a truth seeker, a sarcastic idealist, a traveler, and — like many writers — a coffee addict.


So, how did I come by this read, do you ask?  The book will be on tour (via Sage's Blog Tours) and I will post a review here on the porch this coming, Sunday, November 22, 2015.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Stitching Hour by Amanda Lee - #review #giveaway

In the latest mystery from the bestselling author of Wicked Stitch, the future of Marcy Singer’s embroidery shop is dangling by a thread…

Marcy’s shop, the Seven-Year Stitch, is one year old this October so it’s time to party in little Tallulah Falls, Oregon. Aside from the Halloween decorations and festive stitching kits and patterns, Marcy’s got all sorts of celebratory swag, including Seven-Year Stitch key rings and goodie bags.

Unfortunately, her new neighbors might spoil the revelry. An eccentric couple has opened a haunted house next door, and all that screaming will certainly scare off customers. But there’s even more to be frightened of after a local waitress is found dead on the sidewalk with mysterious markings on her neck—and one of Marcy’s key rings beneath her. With no time to hem and haw, Marcy must act fast if she hopes to restore the peace to Tallulah Falls…

Friday, November 13, 2015

A Dickens of Murder by Joyce and Jim Lavene - #review #giveaway

Lisa Wellman and Simon Canterville are surprised to find a dead man on their roof in the midst of rushing to open the Canterville Book Shop in time for the holidays. And not just any dead man – Ebenezer Hart – the man who opposed the book shop opening in Olde Town, Portsmouth, Virginia.
What might be more surprising is when Daniel Fairhaven – Lisa’s ex – turns up at the door of the three-story Victorian house to head the police investigation. She hasn’t seen him in years but the sparks start to fly as soon as they are in the same room together.

Simon and Lisa are obviously the best suspects for the murder. Each of them had something to gain by Hart’s death. Then an attempt on Simon’s life throws that theory into a tailspin.
But the biggest surprise yet comes when the ghost of Charles Dickens turns up to help Lisa with the murder investigation – and writing the mystery novel she has been working on for years.
Without a doubt, Daniel and Dickens in Lisa’s life means trouble. And there’s still the matter of trying to get the book shop open with a killer on their heels.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Oracle by DJ Niko - #review

In Delphi, the mountain city deemed by the Greek gods to be the center of the Earth, a cult of neo-pagans re-create with painstaking authenticity ancient rituals to glorify the god Apollo and deliver oracles to seekers from around the world.

When antiquities are stolen from a museum in nearby Thebes, British archaeologist Sarah Weston and her American partner, Daniel Madigan, are drawn into a plot that goes beyond harmless role-playing: someone’s using the Delphian oracle as a smoke screen for an information exchange, with devastating consequences for the Western world.

Pitted against each other by the cult’s mastermind, Sarah and Daniel race against time and their own personal demons to uncover clues left behind by the ancients. Their mission: to find the original navel stone marked with a lost Pythagorean formula detailing the natural events that led to the collapse of the Minoan Empire.

But will they find it in time to stop the ultimate terrorist act?



The Oracle is one of the most exciting and engaging books I've read this year!

Maybe it's my interest in archaeology, but other books that have elicited this type of a reaction from me also deal with the same subject.  And even better news is that The Oracle is Book 3 of the "Sarah Weston Chronicles".  You can bet the rest of the series, past and future (oh please, oh please!) will shortly on my TBR (to-be-read) list.

I liked how the book went back and forth between the 4th century and the present day.  Since the story dealt with a 'collector' seeking relics relating to Delphi, it was especially nice to read about the front end of the omphalos' history.

The human nature tendency toward greed and self-interest shows in both ancient and modern times.  No big surprise there.

The so-called 'Christian' conquerors of the region imposed their religion on the indigenous population, declaring any other beliefs as devil-worship and viciously attacking any who opposed them.  Aristea and her associates just wanted to practice their rituals in solitude, regardless of the fact that no pilgrims came (due to the threats from the government).  Nope.  So sorry.  Our way or the highway.

Modern-day Greece (in the book) is not much better, if at all.  Various groups are willing to kill anyone who gets in their way.  The object?  All the 'bad guys' are after certain artefacts they believe will bring them great economic or political power, or allow them to extract revenge for (perceived) wrongs.

Thank goodness there are people like Sarah and Daniel, who are willing to intervene, even in the face of danger.  Both these individuals are not paragons, and that makes them all the more real.  Daniel has PTSD from a plane crash.  Sarah makes important decisions before she has all the facts, leading to needless separation from Daniel, one of the few true friends she has.

You want a tale with a finely-muscled caped crusader hero and a hothouse flower heroine?  Get a comic book.  On the other hand, if you want a thrilling story with plenty of action and danger, get The Oracle by DJ Niko.  Seriously.  Soon.


Daphne Nikolopoulos in an award-winning journalist, author, editor, and lecturer. Under the pen name D.J. Niko, she has written two novels in an archaeological thriller series titled The Sarah Weston Chronicles. Her debut novel, The Tenth Saint (Medallion Press, 2012), won the Gold Medal (popular fiction) in the prestigious, juried Florida Book Awards. Her follow-up release, The Riddle of Solomon, continues the story of British archaeologist Sarah Weston as she seeks the relics—and mystical secrets—left behind by the biblical King Solomon in remote Israel.

Daphne is currently at work on The Oracle, book 3 in The Sarah Weston Chronicles, which releases in 2015. Also slated for publication in 2015 is her first historical novel, The Judgment, which is set in Israel and Egypt in the tenth century BCE.

In addition to writing fiction, Daphne is editor in chief of Palm Beach Illustrated magazine and editorial director of Palm Beach Media Group. Prior to that, she was a travel journalist who logged hundreds of thousands of miles traveling across the globe, with emphasis on little-known and off-the-beaten-path locales—many of which have inspired her novels.

Daphne frequently lectures about her research on the ancient world. She is an instructor at Florida Atlantic University’s Lifelong Learning Society, teaching on the subject of archaeology. She has also spoken to audiences at the Jewish Community Center of the Palm Beaches’ Academy for Continuous Education, and several libraries and private groups throughout Florida.

Born and raised in Athens, Greece, Daphne now resides in West Palm Beach with her husband and twin son and daughter. You can find her on the Web at and connect with her on Facebook (AuthorDJNiko) and on Twitter: @djnikobooks.


Click the banner to go to the tour page, where you will find many more reviews of The Oracle as well as a character interview, a couple of guest posts and even some giveaways!  You can also find out how to apply to be a tour host yourself!

(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the author and publishers via Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tours in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.)

#Interview: Nicky Penttila of The Spanish Patriot

Nicky Penttila writes stories with adventure, ideas, history, and love. She enjoys coming up with stories that are set in faraway cities and countries, because then she *must* travel there, you know, for research. She lives in Maryland with her reading-mad husband and amazing rescue cat.

The Spanish Patriot by Nicky Penttila - #review

Some fly to war. Others flee it. No one is safe.

When the British army is sent into Spain to help expel Napoleon’s invaders, nothing goes as expected. Not for London newsman Sam Kerr, hunting a story that will win him the editor’s chair, who discovers one that could wreck his career. Not for the Wakefield family, loyalist refugees from America seeking peace among people of their faith, who find war has followed them even here. And certainly not for the British troops, whose mission of support turns into a fight for all their lives. Historical fiction set in Corunna 1808.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Faith of Our Fathers - DVD #review #giveaway

John Paul and Wayne are two young men in search of their fathers.  Problem is...their fathers have been dead for 25 years.  Eddie and Steven are two young men in search of their sons...whom they've never met.

In 1969, Eddie and Steven are with their squad deep in the jungle of Vietnam on a five-day mission to retrieve fallen comrades.  They write letters to their wives, often mentioning their love for their sons, one, who is an infant and one yet to be born.  The horrors of war and the testing of faith manifest themselves for the young men in Vietnam.

In 1994, John Paul and Wayne go on a five day road trip to the Vietnam Wall in Washington DC to see their fathers' names.  Along the way, reading those letters, they begin to get an understanding of who their fathers were and how they died.  Trials and mishaps, both funny and sad, complicate the road trip for the boys.

Ultimately, in parallel stories - 25 years apart - the fathers and sons are bound together forever.  

Monday, November 9, 2015

Love in the Time of Murder by D.E. Haggerty- #review #giveaway

In Love in the Time of Murder, the "Gray-Haired Knitting Detectives" face their toughest case yet. Delilah, or Dee as she wishes everyone would just call her already, is the granddaughter of one of the knitting detectives and her life is in a bit of a shambles. She finally manages to pry herself away from her husband’s clutches, move out on her own, and start her own business. But then her estranged husband is murdered and she’s the number one suspect. The Gray-Haired Knitting Detectives aren’t about to let one of their own get sent to the slammer and jump at the chance to search for the true killer. As if Dee doesn’t have enough problems, the knitting detectives decide that Delilah being a widow is the perfect opportunity to find her a new man and decide to put their matchmaking skills to use. Will Dee end up in prison for a murder she didn’t commit or will she be taking another walk down the aisle?

(All books in the Gray-Haired Knitting Detectives series are standalones.)


I do love me my feisty older ladies!  And Love in the Time of Murder is full of them!  I think I liked the gray-haired knitters better than the main character!  (Maybe that's because a few *ahem* of my hairs are turning gray.)

Dee is definitely not your average cozy heroine.  True, many cozy heroines flee big cities for smaller town.  But most of them aren't quite as unhappy about it as Dee seems to be.  Being a small-town type myself, I tend to get my back up a bit at that.  Then I remember that city folk have a harder time appreciating the benefits of living in less populated areas.

But Dee is a good person at heart.  I totally sympathize with her on her husband/ex situation.  And, of course, because of the domestic violence, the wife (well, widow) makes the perfect patsy for someone looking to off the scumbag.

This is where the beauty of small town groups of old ladies comes in.  There is no way they are going to let the grand-daughter of one of their members take the fall for a crime she did not commit!  You don't mess with the grandmas.  This always reminds me of my husband's paternal Mamaw.  Before we lived in Kentucky, we brought our children (then 3 and 4) up to meet his side of the family.  When we knocked on Mamaw's door she came out, looked at my husband and said, "I oughtta throw you across the yard," (for not bringing her great-grandbabies up to see her sooner)!

Dee has got a helping and a half of good-natured snark (I guess they used to call it 'sass'), and I always take seconds on that when I can get it.  And, as they say around here, "she comes by it honest".

While I understand the grannies intentions were good, I would be a little uncomfortable if I were a new widow (no matter how big a putz my husband had been), to be the object of match-making so soon after the death.  But, as I met only met one of my grandmothers, and that only during one visit, I would take just about any of these ladies as 'adoptees'.

Haggerty made an interesting choice writing these as a series of standalones.  Cozies usually come in series, but the story arcs over all the installments.  And it works out quite lovely!  Any unread and/or future installments of the tales of the "Gray-Haired Knitting Detectives" are going on my TBR.



I was born and raised in Wisconsin, but think I’m a European. After spending my senior year of high school in Germany, I developed a bad case of wanderlust that is yet to be cured. My flying Dutch husband and I have lived in Ohio, Virginia, the Netherlands, Germany and now Istanbul. We still haven’t decided if we want to settle down somewhere – let alone where. I’m leaning towards somewhere I can learn to surf even though the hubby thinks that’s a less than sound way to decide where to live. Although I’ve been a military policewoman, a commercial lawyer, and a B&B owner, I think with writing I may have finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up. That’s assuming I ever grow up, of course. Between playing tennis, running much slower than I would like, trying to adopt every stray dog within a 5-mile radius, traveling to exotic new locales, singing off tune, drinking entirely too many adult beverages, addictively watching new movies and reading books like they are going out of style, I write articles for a local expat magazine and various websites, review other indie authors’ books, write a blog about whatever comes to mind and am working on my seventh book.



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Click the banner to go to the tour page, where you will find more reviews, as well as interviews with the author and guest posts by her!  You can also find out how to become a book tour host yourself!

(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the author and publishers via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.)

Murder in a Two-Seater by Billie Thomas #review

A cheating wife in a classic car drives someone to murder.

Interior decorators turned amateur investigators, Chloe and Amanda Carstairs have spent the summer transforming their client’s creepy old castle into a luxury hotel. But before the first guest checks in, the owner’s wife checks out – with the help of a bullet to the head.

When Chloe’s dad is accused of the crime, there’s no time for the ladies to drown their sorrows in the hotel’s mini bar. Instead, they have to contend with a sneaky blackmailer, an unsolved murder from the past, and a cunning killer with nothing to lose.

The second Chloe Carstairs Mystery is filled with the same clever twists and hilarious mother-daughter relationship that made Murder on the First Day of Christmas such a fun, fast-paced read for an appreciative readership. The mystery will keep you guessing, but as any good decorator will tell you, even a beautiful setting can’t hide the ugly truth.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Look Both Ways by Carol J. Perry - #review #giveaway

In Salem, Massachusetts, there are secrets everywhere–even in the furniture. . .

When Lee Barrett spots the same style oak bureau she once had as a child on the WICH-TV show, Shopping Salem, she rushes to the antiques shop and buys the piece. Just like the beloved bureau she lost in a fire, this one has secret compartments. It also comes with an intriguing history–it was purchased in an estate sale from a home where a famous local murder took place.

The day after the bureau is delivered, Lee returns to the antiques shop and finds the owner dead. The police suspect the shop owner’s unscrupulous business partner, but Lee wonders if the murder is connected to her new furniture. At least part of the answer may be revealed through a mirror in the bureau, tarnished and blackened, allowing Lee to tap into her psychic visions. Using this bureau of investigation, Lee may be able to furnish her policeman beau with the evidence needed to catch the killer–before the next one to be shut up is her. . .



I got a different feeling from Look Both Ways by Carol J. Perry than I have from other cozy mysteries, and view that as a good thing!  It's probably something akin to what Maralee (aka Lee) felt when she passed by a shiny object.

Lee's a scryer, you see, which means she can see things in shiny surfaces other than her reflection.  Nostradamus had his bowl of water.  Lee has her tarnished desk mirror, clear desk mirror, patent leather shoe decoration, candlestick, full-length mirror.  In the course of this book (#3 in the Witch City Mystery series), Lee sees multiple visions of messages from two murder victims (one years old, one quite recent) that enable her to solve the crimes.

Of course, when the guilty party doesn't like you poking around and decides to *ahem* intervene ... well, that kind of seals her suspicions.

I liked the descriptions of the difficulty Lee had of revealing her gift to Pete, her lawman boyfriend.  Unless someone is already a believer in the paranormal, claims to certain 'abilities' can draw at best skepticism from people and at worst persecution.  Lee's worry with Pete was that his being grounded in the real world of crime would not leave him any room to 'accept' her gift ... and that this could cause them to break up.

Sometimes you read paranormal fiction and it has a "Bewitched" or "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch" kind of feel - kind of light-hearted and with little real 'evil'.  (Not that there's anything wrong with that - as I loved both shows!)  But there was a real-world gritty feel to Look Both Ways that I found very appealing.   

Also loved the nod to live theatre, where Lee works during the school year at a theatrical school in town, and she's doing a volunteer gig as propmistress for the summer season.  Before my kids came along, and after that nasty business where a professor told me I should find something else to do, other than theatre, because I had no future - I spent 5-6 years doing 5-6 plays a year, mostly acting, but also various behind-the-scenes and front-of-house duties.

So here I am, sitting in front of my living room window with the light on in the room behind me and looking more at the reflections i/o the darkened yard.  And I'm seeing more Carol J. Perry books in my future!

Oh, and be nice to your cats.

Seriously. (Cue the spooky movie music.) ;) *meow* 



Carol J. Perry knew as a child that she wanted to be a writer. A voracious reader, whose list for Santa consisted mostly of  book titles, she never lost sight of that goal. While living in Florida, Carol was on assignment for Southern Travel Magazine, preparing an article on the world’s tallest sand castle which was being built near her home. That combination  of events inspired her first young adult novel, Sand Castle Summer. That book was soon followed by half a dozen more. Always an avid reader of mysteries, Carol Perry’s debut mystery novel is set in Salem and involves a mysterious cat, several witches and some strange Halloween happenings. Appropriately enough, this Salem-born author celebrates her birthday on Halloween eve!



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Click the banner to go to the tour page where you will find more reviews and information on how to become a virtual book tour host for yourself!

(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the author and publishers via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.)

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Persian Woman by Thomas Booker - #bookblast

A tough Navy SEAL and a beautiful Persian woman clash before working together to confront a ferocious common enemy. It is a tale of jihad, terror, and forbidden love. A Jeffrey Quinn novel.

“I stayed up late reading this book a second time. I read it first for the intriguing story and the second time for the wonderful language. Mr. Booker has crafted a timely and compelling story filled with a cast of characters from the slimy to the sublime. I would like to have a friend like the main character, Jeffrey Quinn . . . a man with a past and his own demons . . . honest . . . loyal . . . .” -Rebecca K. McWhorter (5 Star Amazon Review)

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Great Bravura by Jill Dearman - #review

Since adolescence, Bravura and salt of the earth Susie have been partners in magic and best friends, as well as occasional bedmates. But when the two performers hire the mysterious and alluring Lena as a third banana to jazz up the act, Bravura falls madly in love. Lena believes in magic and not just the rabbit-out-of-a hat kind. She encourages Bravura to believe in her own supernatural powers, and when Susie balks, conflict ensues. Things really go south during the classic Disappearing Box act, when Susie disappears for real. With her pal presumed dead, and Bravura the prime suspect, the magician must act quickly to find Susie hopefully alive! To prove her innocence, Bravura must uncover the holes in her own story even if it means incriminating herself, and her precious Lena, in the process."



The Great Bravura has a gritty noir feel of a 'Perry Mason' (the old b&w series) or to use a more recent example, the 'Mad Men' series.  The characters are stark and larger than life, and I could see and feel the early to mid 20th century when I read the book.

I do have an issue or two with the book, though.  There is way too much emphasis on sex for my taste.  Some may say it's because it features a romance between or amongst, if you count Susie) women.  The truth is I don't want to see any graphic PDAs (public displays of affection), regardless of who makes up the participants. 

Once Lena enters the picture, Bravura behaves like a love-struck teenager.  The only thing (or person) she can think of is Lena.  For me, the storyline begins to get muddied in and secondary to the description of sexual attraction, fantasies and acts.  Does the author seek to entertain or arouse her audience?

Once Susie takes a powder, the story gains top hand again.  I stuck with it because I made an agreement to review the book.  If I had not, I might not have made it past Susie's disappearance.

I'm not saying Bravura is not a good book, and want to make that clear.  Just because a book is not something I might search out, has no bearing on the quality of the book.  (Ok, there is one exception, but this book is not it.  That is another story for another day.)

I felt a lot of sympathy for Susie.    She is like the wife who watches her marriage fall apart in front of her eyes.  Been there, done that.  It sucks.

Bottom line for me?  If you like a noir story with a lot (!) of heat and are not put off by the fact that it is all female, you will like The Great Bravura.  If any of those elements are not your cup of tea, keep looking through the shelves.



Jill Dearman is the author of Bang the Keys (Penguin), a book for writers, as well as Queer Astrology for Men and Queer Astrology for Women (St. Martins), which will be reissued by MacMillan. She is a broadly published journalist and award-winning prose writer whose work has been published in New York Stories, North Atlantic Review, The Portland Review, Lilith, and numerous other publications. A native New Yorker, mystic-about-town, and lifelong film fanatic, she enjoys taking imaginative forays along the seedy side of the street.


Disclosure:  I received a print copy of this book from the author and publishers via BookSparks in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.  Click on the banner to go to the tour site.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

46.6K Facebook Shares - Are You KIDDING ME???

I was working on the Blog Ahead Challenge and received an email notification from Neil Patel of a new blog post he had written, "23 Snazzy Blogging Tools Every Successful Content Marketer is Using".  Now, if you've ever read any blog post of Neil's, you know that it is like attending the biggest smorgasboard all-you-can-eat for one low price - there is SO MUCH information in each post you could spend a couple of days on it.

So, I went to 'snazzy blogging tool #1" - BuzzSumo.

On Neil's first suggested use of Buzzsumo as a content marketing tool, he mentioned getting inspiration from popular headlines - one that has received a huge amount of social shares.  As I write a lot of book reviews, and I always seem to be in the dark about what new books are coming out when, I typed in "new book releases".

There was no shortage of information - 715 p.a.g.e.s. of links to popular shares with a total of 14,300 entries!  The top share was a story from about how E.L. James is re-releasing her "50 Shades" series - but from Christian's point-of-view.  Want to guess how many shares it got on Facebook?  Go ahead.  Guess.  (Of course, if you read the title of this post, you already know.)  That's right:  approximately 46,600 shares on Facebook alone.


I have not read any of the books.  I did not see the movie.  I have no intention of ever doing either, unless someone forces me to "A Clockwork Orange"-style.

To me, that series should not qualify as literature at all - it seems to me to be more of an outlet for people who are upset that Playboy will no longer be featuring pictures of naked women anymore.  Or, it may be for people who cannot tell the difference between sexual arousal and other forms of entertainment; or for people whose lives are devoid of sexual experience and have to get it from literature or the movies.

Obviously, I am not a fan of the work.  Just as obviously, so many other people were enamored of it to the point that they bought the books and a movie was made.

But I also know I am not alone in my dislike of "50 Shades".  People who actually live the bondage-domination-submissive lifestyle in real life roundly criticizes both the book and the movie - saying it was an inaccurate representation.  But then, would an accurate depiction have been so commercial?  Probably not.

OK.  I think my rant has run out.  (I haven't been on this big a tsunami since I read the story about that woman who sued her 12 year old nephew for $127,000 for giving her too forceful a hug at his 8th birthday party and causing her to break her wrist and even now be unable to hold her hors d'oeuvres plate at cocktail parties.  Seriously, and now she's trying to backpedal, putting the blame on her insurance company.  *sheesh*)

OK.  Now my rant has really run out.  For now.

My point is, I used the tool and found out an area that definitely needs better things to talk about!  HUZZAH!  Thank you Neil and Buzzsumo!

Now I could probably go to one of the frequent yard sales they have down at the corner of Hwy 150 and Hwy 39 near Crab Orchard, Kentucky, pick up a used and tattered graphic novel and write a review of that comic book that would be more edifying than anything connected with "50 Shades".  But I am fortunate to work with a number of quality virtual book tour companies (Great Escapes, Historical Fiction, iRead, Sage's, TLC, and Premier Virtual Author to name but a few) that keep me well stocked in new book releases and allow me to post reviews help match my readers to books they will enjoy.

And, despite everything I have written here, I'm not saying E.L. James is a bad writer.  I wouldn't know.  I've never read anything she has written.  I'm just exercising my right to express my dislike of and disappointment in 'that book'.

So, dear reader, if you have gotten all the way through this post, thank you!

One thing I hope you take away from this post is that if you find content you like online, share it!  It helps the content creator with a virtual pat on the back.  And you can show your desire to find things of interest to your own readers.

One thing I hope you leave before you go is a comment with the best book you have read so far this year.  I need something to get the 50 Tastes of Yuck out of my mouth.


This post was actually written on October 20, 2015, as part of my participation in the "Blog Ahead Challenge" hosted by Anna at Herding Cats and Burning Soup and Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.