Review and Giveaway: Trace of Doubt, by DiAnn Mills

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About the book, Trace of Doubt

  • Publisher: Tyndale House
  • Pub Date: September 7, 2021
  • Pages: 432 pages
  • Scroll for the Giveaway!

Cover - Trace of Doubt Fifteen years ago, Shelby Pearce confessed to murdering her brother-in-law and was sent to prison. Now she’s out on parole and looking for a fresh start in the small town of Valleysburg, Texas. But starting over won’t be easy for an ex-con.

FBI Special Agent Denton McClure was a rookie fresh out of Quantico when he was first assigned the Pearce case. He’s always believed Shelby embezzled five hundred thousand dollars from her brother-in-law’s account. So he’s going undercover to befriend Shelby, track down the missing money, and finally crack this case.

But as Denton gets closer to Shelby, he begins to have a trace of doubt about her guilt. Someone has Shelby in their crosshairs. It’s up to Denton to stop them before they silence Shelby—and the truth—forever.

Praise for this book:

“Filled with high stakes, high emotion, and high intrigue.” – LYNN H. BLACKBURN, award-winning author of UNKNOWN THREAT and ONE FINAL BREATH

Trace of Doubt is a suspense reader’s best friend. From page one until the end, the action is intense and the storyline keeps you guessing.” – EVA MARIE EVERSON, bestselling author of FIVE BRIDES and DUST

“DiAnn Mills serves up a perfect blend of action, grit, and heart. . . Trace of Doubt takes romantic suspense to a whole new level.” – JAMES R. HANNIBAL, award-winning author of THE PARIS BETRAYAL

“Well-researched . . . with some surprising twists along the way. In Trace of Doubt, Mills weaves together a tale of faith, intrigue, and suspense that her fans are sure to enjoy.” – STEVEN JAMES, award-winning author of SYNAPSE and EVERY WICKED MAN

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Purchase | Goodreads


Watch the Trailer for Trace of Doubt

 


About the Author, DiAnn Mills

DiAnn MillsDiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She is a storyteller and creates action-packed, suspense-filled novels to thrill readers. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is the director of the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, Mountainside Retreats: Marketing, Speakers, Nonfiction and Novelist with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion for helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

Connect with DiAnn:

Blog Posts | Facebook | Instagram | Youtube | Pinterest | Goodreads  | LinkedIn | BookBub | Twitter


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellDiAnn Mills’ latest novel Trace of Doubt, is an intense thriller that’s equal parts mystery, faith, and love, that keeps you invested from the prologue to the epilogue.

Written in first person, mostly from the point of view of recent parolee Shelby and her neighbor, Denton (who may be more than he seems) this novel has everything – believable characters, a small-town setting, a gripping mystery, a dash of romance, puppies, horses and great coffee, and author Mills has wrapped all of that up in a meaty (432 pages) package that was a pleasure to read.

This book is categorized, in part, as Christian fiction, and it’s easy to see why because Shelby’s strong faith in God is both her her strength and part of the glue that binds her to her two biggest supporters, Edie, who is a landlady and friend, and Amy Jo, who runs the local bakery-cafe, but it’s not at all preachy. Their faith is simply part of these Texas women (and men) , and it’s part of what makes them feel so real. As someone who has always struggled with faith, and doesn’t mesh with organized religion, I appreciated the way the author made it a critical part of the novel, and and recommend this book to readers of all persuasions.

What I loved was the detailed character work that the author put into this novel. I really liked and sympathized with Shelby, and was rooting for her from day one. She’s much more than a classic underdog, and I’d happily share a pot of coffee with her. Denton, also, was drawn with real dimension. He felt like a “weathered” soul to me, and I was as committed to his story as I was to Shelby’s. The  town sheriff, local cop (also Edie’s brother), and parole officer were equally believable characters, and even the townsfolk, both kind and cruel had perfect moments that really let you see them.

I also enjoyed the pacing of this story. It’s an easy read, in terms of being accessible, but it’s also pretty long. At no point did I feel the urge to skip ahead and see what happened, and I felt the clues and twists in the narrative were all placed well, serving the story, and never letting the reader become too complacent.

If this had been JUST a romance, or JUST a mystery, or JUST a redemption story, Trace of Doutbt would still have been a worthy read. That the author combined all three elements into a satisfying and well-crafted whole just makes the whole thing a literary treat.

Goes well with: a cup of coffee with a dollop of half & half, and a lemon tart.


Giveaway

FOUR WINNERS
 Each winner receives a $25 e-gift card to winner’s choice of either Amazon or B&N.
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 9/3/2021)

 

Giveaway Trace of Doubt

 

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Visit the Other Great Blogs on This Tour:

Check out the tour page at Lone Star Literary Life, or visit each blog directly:

8/24/21 Guest Post The Adventures of a Travelers Wife
8/24/21 BONUS Promo Hall Ways Blog
8/25/21 Review The Book’s Delight
8/25/21 Top 7 List The Plain-Spoken Pen
8/25/21 BONUS Promo LSBBT Blog
8/26/21 Guest Post Jennifer Silverwood
8/27/21 Review Carpe Diem Chronicles
8/27/21 Playlist The Clueless Gent
8/28/21 Review It’s Not All Gravy
8/29/21 Guest Post All the Ups and Downs
8/30/21 Top 10 List Reading by Moonlight
8/31/21 Guest Post StoreyBook Reviews
8/31/21 Review KayBee’s Bookshelf
9/1/21 Review The Page Unbound
9/1/21 Top 5 List Chapter Break Book Blog
9/2/21 Review Forgotten Winds
9/2/21 Review Bibliotica

 

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Review: Finding Summer Happiness, by Chris Penhall

Finding Summer Happiness

 

About the book, Finding Summer Happiness

Finding Summer Happiness by Chris PenhallYou won’t find happiness without breaking a few eggs …
Miriam Ryan was the MD of a successful events and catering company, but these days even the thought of chopping an onion sends her stress levels sky rocketing. A retreat to the Welsh village of her childhood holidays seems to offer the escape she’s craving – just peace, quiet, no people, a generous supply of ready meals … did she mention no people?

Enter a cheery pub landlord, a lovesick letting agent, a grumpy astronomer with a fridge raiding habit – not to mention a surprise supper club that requires the chopping of many onions – and Miriam realizes her escape has turned into exactly what she was trying to get away from, but could that be just the thing she needs to allow a little bit of summer happiness into her life?

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (USA) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


About the author, Chris Penhall

Chris PenhallChris Penhall won the 2019 Choc-Lit Search for a Star competition, sponsored by Your Cat Magazine, for her debut novel, The House That Alice Built. The sequel, New Beginnings at the Little House in the Sun was published in August 2020. Her short story, Lily McKee’s Seven Days of Christmas appears in Choc Lit and Ruby Fiction’s Cosy Christmas Treats anthology.

Her new novel, Finding Summer Happiness, which is set in Pembrokeshire in South West Wales was published in May 2021.

Chris is an author and freelance radio producer for BBC Local Radio.
She also has her own podcast – The Talking to My Friends About Book Podcast in which she chats to her friends about books. Good title!

Born in Neath in South Wales, she has also lived in London and in Portugal, which is where The House That Alice Built is set. It was whilst living in Cascais near Lisbon that she began to dabble in writing fiction, but it was many years later that she was confident enough to start writing her first novel, and many years after that she finally finished it!

A lover of books, music and cats, she is also an enthusiastic salsa dancer, a keen cook, and loves to travel. She is never happier than when she is gazing at the sea.

Connect with Chris:

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellSomething I’ve learned in the last few years is that if a book has Chris Penhall as the author, it’s going to be a fabulous read. Finding Summer Happiness, the author’s most recent title completely supports my initial statement. Charming, with a bit of romance and a bit of intrigue, it came into my life when I really needed it, and put a smile on my face.

Protagonist Miriam is quite possibly my favorite Penhall lead so far. Savvy and smart, she’s burnt out with her business, and finally agrees to have her personal assistant arrange a break for her. Six months in a cottage by the sea. When she learns the actual terms of said break, I felt her disappointment, displeasure, and confusion, and wanted to rush in and help her out. Her work ethic and sense of honor merge with her attorney’s advice, and the story really takes off

A former business-owner myself, although not professionally, I really resonated with Miriam, especially since I’ve been through the experience of leaving the corporate world, but I enjoyed the characters of Jim the pub owner, Rhiannon the realtor (sorry, letting agent) and Alan the unwanted sort-of guest, and the largely offscreen Justin. These characters were all funny and interesting and felt the like odd assortment of friends and cohorts many of us tend to collect.

I also appreciated the various guests and villagers who rounded out the story. Penhall has a knack for creating vivid and dimensional characters and communities, and in this book she excels at both. I wanted to knock on the door of Miriam’s rented cottage and demand a seat in her supper club.

This is a light read that is grounded in serious topics, like how to change your life and when to make the leap and follow your dreams.

Goes well with: A rainy day, a glass of wine, and a bowl of onion soup.

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Review & Giveaway: Deadly Business by Anita Dickason

Deadly Business Blog Tour

 

About the book, Deadly Business

  • Pages: 324 pages
  • Publication Date: July 4, 2021
  • Genre: Suspense / Thriller / Crime Thriller
  • Scroll for Giveaway!

Cover Deadly Business by Anita DickasonA Texas Multi-Billion Dollar Lure!

Following a tactical raid at an Oklahoma farm, a phone call sends U.S. Deputy Marshal Piper McKay rushing back to the East Texas cattle ranch where she grew up. Her grandmother, Jennie Layton, is near death from a crushed skull. When local authorities claim the cause of the injury was an accident, Piper isn’t convinced.

Who wants Jennie dead and why? Is the reason connected to a dubious contract Piper finds in Jennie’s desk?

Piper realizes her grandmother isn’t the only one in danger when she barely escapes a deadly attack. Thrust into the middle of a high-stakes, high-risk shell game, Piper’s become the target. The case takes a bizarre turn when Piper unknowingly crosses paths with a Special Ranger. If he can’t derail her investigation, it could cost him his life.

With millions of dollars on the line, nothing will stop a ring of cold-blooded killers, including the murders of a U.S. Marshal and a Special Ranger.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Goodreads


Watch the trailer for Deadly Business


About the author, Anita Dickason

Author Pic DickasonAward-winning Author Anita Dickason is a twenty-two veteran of the Dallas Police Department. She served as a patrol officer, undercover narcotics detective, advanced accident investigator, tactical officer, and first female sniper on the Dallas SWAT team.

Anita writes about what she knows, cops and crime. Her police background provides an unending source of inspiration for her plots and characters. Many incidents and characters portrayed in her books are based on personal experience. For her, the characters are the fun part of writing as she never knows where they will take her. There is always something out of the ordinary in her stories.

In Anita’s debut novel, Sentinels of the Night, she created an elite FBI Unit, the Trackers. Since then, she has added three more Tracker crime thrillers, Going Gone!, A u 7 9, and Operation Navajo. The novels are not a series and can be read in any order.

As a Texas author, many of Anita’s books are based in Texas, or there is a link to Texas. When she stepped outside of the Tracker novels and wrote, Not Dead, she selected Meridian, a small community in central Texas for the location.

Connect with Anita:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Linkedin | Vimeo | Amazon | Goodreads


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellI was privileged to participate in a cover reveal for this novel, Deadly Business, last month, and I was so intrigued by the premise that I begged to review it. I’m glad I did, because this book was literally “unputdownable,” keeping me enthralled from the first page to the last.

Dropping the reader into the middle of a high-stakes action sequence at the very beginning, Anita Dickason could very easily have kept up an unrelenting pace, and this still would have been an entertaining read. Instead, she shows off her range and skill by resolving the initial situation, and then radically changing the tone, sending lead character Piper McKay home to her grandmother’s Texas ranch, where the old woman was found thrown from a horse.

From there, the author interweaves some quintessentially Texan elements like the modern version of cattle rustling, with the universal experiences of worrying about a beloved family member in the hospital, and the intricacies of what happens when U.S. marshals and Special Rangers (which are another Texas-specific element) are not the hunters, but the hunted.

Main character Piper is so vividly drawn that I had to wonder how much of the author herself was in the character. After all, Dickason was the first female sniper on the Dallas SWAT team, and “write what you know” seems to be her oeuvre. But even if she’s purely fictional, it doesn’t matter, because she feels real. She’s the kind of person I’d love to sit around a fire pit with and share a drink and trade stories, though admittedly, my stories are far less action packed.

The somewhat elusive Special Agent Cade Tanner is equally vividly drawn, as is Piper’s grandmother, Jen, who is the heartstring that connects everything and everyone. (I would read a whole novel just about Jen. Just saying.) Some of my favorite scenes were between Piper and Cade, and I’d love to see more of their interactions.

Overall, this novel is a suspense-filled adventure grounded by human stories (with a special nod to Leopold the Bull) crafted with great care and is b. oth gripping and satisfying.

A word to the wise: don’t skip the “story after the story” at the end of the book, where author Dickason gives a short history of cattle thievery and special rangers. It’s not crucial to the plot, but makes a richer experience.

Goes well with: smoked brisket and Shiner bock.


Giveaway

FOUR WINNERS:
1st: Autographed hardcover copy + tote back, mousepad, pen, & bookmark;
2nd: Tote bag, coaster, pen, & bookmark;
3rd & 4th: eBook copy.

(US only; ends midnight, CDT, July 30, 2021) 

 

Giveaway Deadly Business

 

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Visit the Other Great Blogs on This Tour

Click to visit the LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE for direct links to each tour stop, updated daily. Or visit the blogs directly:

7/20/21 Review Bibliotica
7/20/21 BONUS Promo LSBBT Blog
7/21/21 Notable Quotable Missus Gonzo
7/21/21 BONUS Promo Hall Ways Blog
7/22/21 Review It’s Not All Gravy
7/23/21 Author Interview That’s What She’s Reading
7/24/21 Video Excerpt StoreyBook Reviews
7/25/21 Video Excerpt All the Ups and Downs
7/26/21 Review Reading by Moonlight
7/27/21 Guest Post The Plain-Spoken Pen
7/28/21 Review Chapter Break Book Blog
7/29/21 Review Forgotten Winds
7/29/21 BONUS Review Jennie Reads

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Mini Review: Beach House Reunion by Mary Alice Monroe

About the book, Beach House Reunion

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Gallery Books (May 22, 2018)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ May 22, 2018
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 401 pages

Beach House ReunionThe New York Times bestselling author and “skilled storyteller who never lets her readers down” (Huffington Post) returns to her beloved Beach House series with this “authentic, generous, and heartfelt” (Mary Kay Andrews, New York Times bestselling author) tale of new beginnings, resilience, and one family’s enduring love.

Cara Rutledge returns to her Southern home on the idyllic Isle of Palms. Comforting in its familiarity, it is still rife with painful memories. Only through reconnecting with family, friends, and the rhythms of the lowcountry can Cara let go of the past and open herself to the possibility of a new career and love.

Meanwhile, her niece Linnea, a recent college graduate with an uncertain future, leaves her historic home in Charleston, with all its entitlement and expectations, and heads to her aunt’s beach house. On the island, she is free to join the turtle team, learn to surf, and fall in love. Remembering the lessons of her beloved grandmother, Lovie, the original “turtle lady,” Linnea rediscovers a meaningful purpose to her life and finds the courage she needs to break from tradition.

In “this tender and openhearted novel of familial expectations, new boundaries, and the power of forgiveness” (Booklist), three generations of the Rutledge family gather together to find the strength, love, and commitment to break destructive family patterns and to forge new bonds that will endure long beyond one summer reunion.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


Melissa A. BartellMy Thoughts:

The Beach House series has long been a favorite of mine, and this is no exception. Well written with dynamic characters and vivid descriptions of both people and places, this novel is a satisfying read for anyone who loves family stories and beachy settings.

One of the things I love about Mary Alice Monroe is that her books often weave together similar experiences from different generations of the same family. In this case the through-line is sea turtles, and their conservation, and I liked the way the protection of the turtles echoed the maternal protection between the characters.

If you’ve seen the Hallmark movie “The Beach House,” this is the book it was based on. The movie was cozy and entertaining. The book is rich and rewarding.

You will not be disappointed.

Cover Reveal: The Road from Cromer Pier, by Martin Gore

The Road From Cromer Pier - Cover Reveal

About the book The Road from Cromer Pier

Coming July 17, 2021

It’s ten years on from The Road to Cromer Pierand Summertime Special Show Director Karen Wells has two potential headliners, but both have issues. Dare she take the risk? And Karen herself is at a crossroads. Will her mother Janet ever retire and allow her to run the pier theatre?

Meanwhile Janet’s nemesis, businessman Lionel Pemrose still has designs on the pier theatre, but he is facing growing financial problems. Bank manager Peter Hodson is haunted by a past indiscretion, and calls in recently widowed turnaround expert Tom Stanley. Can he keep the indiscretion a secret?

Tom is bereaved and has recently been made redundant from his own firm. He is too young to retire, and after years of long hours, suddenly finds himself unemployed. He pours his energies into the assignment, which could be his last hurrah.
Old enmities, loyalties and past mistakes surface as the future of the pier theatre is once again under threat, and those involved must deal with unresolved issues in their lives.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


About the author, Martin Gore

The Road From Cromer Pier Author PhotoI am a 63 year old Accountant who semi-retired to explore my love of creative writing. In my career I held Board level jobs for over twenty five years, in private, public and third sector organisations. I was born in Coventry, a city then dominated by the car industry and high volume manufacturing. Jaguar, Triumph, Talbot, Rolls Royce, Courtaulds, Massey Ferguson were the major employers, to name but a few.

When I was nine year’s old I told my long suffering mother that as I liked English composition and drama I was going to be a Playwright. She told me that I should work hard at school and get a proper job. She was right of course.

I started as an Office Junior at Jaguar in 1973 at eleven pounds sixty four a week. I thus grew up in the strike torn, class divided seventies. My first career ended in 2015, when I semi retired as Director of Corporate services at Humberside Probation. My second career, as a Non Executive Director, is great as it has allowed me free time to travel and indulge my passion for writing, both in novels and for theatre.

The opportunity to rekindle my interest in writing came in 2009, when I wrote my first pantomime, Cinderella, for my home group, the Walkington Pantomime Players. I have now written eight. I love theatre, particularly musical theatre, and completed the Hull Truck Theatre Playwrite course in 2010. My first play, a comedy called He’s Behind You, is now available on: https://www.silverbirchingtonplays.com/product-page/he-s-behind-you-by-martin-gore

Pen Pals was my first novel, and a second, The Road to Cromer Pier, is now available in all three formats. It was. officially launched on Cromer Pier itself, coinciding with the new season of the Summertime Special Show.

I’m an old fashioned writer I guess. I want you to laugh and to cry. I want you to believe in my characters, and feel that my stories have a beginning, a middle, and a satisfactory ending.

Connect with Martin:

Website | Facebook | Twitter


The Cover: The Road from Cromer Pier

The Road from Cromer Pier12

 

Review: Finding Jo, by Frances Ive

Finding Jo

 

About the book, Finding Jo

Finding Jo Front CoverAt breaking point Jo deserts her dysfunctional family and possessive boyfriend, making an uncharacteristic escape to the Himalayas in a bid for freedom and self-knowledge. The peace she finds there helps her to unravel her turmoil, but unexpected challenges test her new-found equilibrium to the limit.

Finding Jo focuses on relationships between families, lovers and friends, and the resentment and long-held grievances that threaten to destroy them. Jo’s quest for a deeper purpose in life acts as a catalyst to her family, indicating that willingness to change and grow enables people to find happiness.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


About the author, Frances Ive

Finding FrancesA career as a journalist/PR led to health writing for UK nationals newspapers and consumer magazines. Out of the blue I was inspired to write a novel, Finding Jo, which has taken some years to come to fruition, self-publishing in January 2021. I travelled a lot in my 20s and I have drawn on my three months’ trip to India in Finding Jo.

Connect with Frances:

Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellMany times during my read of Frances Ive’s Finding Jo, I felt like I was reading a real-life travelogue and not a novel. This is not a bad thing, as it only makes Jo and the rest of the characters feel more dynamic.

At the same time, Ive’s writing puts you smack in the center of every scene. From Jo’s first steps in India as she’s realizing no one is there to meet her,  to her purchase of a train ticket and beyond, I could feel the heat and hear the noise of begging children, rickshaw drivers seeking clients, and vendors offering their wares (do not drink the green juice!),  and at one point I even checked to make sure my own purse was still on the chair in my mother’s guest room. That’s how vivid the writing is in this novel.

But the dialogue is equally well-crafted. Perhaps it’s the author’s experience as a journalist that has helped her recreate dialogue that gives the essence of different languages without resorting to writing in dialect, or maybe it’s just natural talent, but at no time did I have trouble keeping track of who people were or where they were from.

India is a place of extremes… major cities teeming with people, and then the Himalayas, which are unrelenting and unforgiving. Life, itself, can also be full of extremes. In Finding Jo, highs and lows in both landscape and emotion are represented with care and skill, making a compelling novel that lingers with you long after you’ve finished it.

Goes well with: Chicken tikka masala and garlic naan.


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Review: Sweet Pastries and Sourdough at the Little Duck Pond Cafe, by Rosie Green

Sweet Pastries & Sourdough

 

About the book Sweet Pastries and Sourdough at the Little Duck Pond Cafe

SWEET PASTRIES and SOUR DOUGHLDPC_FRONT_RGB150dpiEllie’s brand new enterprise, the True Loaf Bakery, is finally open and classes are due to start. But when Katja’s ski-ing holiday ends in disaster, a new teacher must be found very quickly. Anita is up for the challenge, but – fresh from a break-up and an operation that’s left her feeling physically and emotionally vulnerable – the last thing she’s looking for when she moves to Sunnybrook is a new relationship. So it’s Sod’s law that she should find herself with not one but two guys vying for her attention. Sven, from Denmark, is a bit of an enigma – but maybe passion lurks beneath his cool reserve? And as for twenty-five-year-old football coach Ross – surely she’d be asking for trouble getting involved with a gorgeous man a decade her junior? (Although her football-mad son Rufus seems to love him.)
Moving in with Bertha proves a real comfort – but can Anita get to the bottom of what’s troubling the older woman?

Anita’s job at the True Loaf Bakery is only temporary, but she finds herself drawn ever deeper into life in the village – especially when she finds a child’s bracelet from long ago, in the rubble of the newly-renovated building. Solving the mystery of who it belongs to takes Anita on a journey of discovery – a journey that might just help her discover what her own heart really needs…

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Purchase | Goodreads


About the author, Rosie Green

Rosie Green Author PicRosie has been scribbling stories ever since she was little.

Back then, they were rip-roaring adventure tales with a young heroine in perilous danger of falling off a cliff or being tied up by ‘the baddies’.

Thankfully, Rosie has moved on somewhat, and now much prefers to write romantic comedies that melt your heart and make you smile, with really not much perilous danger involved at all – unless you count the heroine losing her heart in love.

Her series of novellas is centered around life in a village cafe.

Connect with Rosie:

Twitter


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellSweet Pastries and Sourdough at the Little Duck Pond Cafe is the fifteenth Little Duck Pond Cafe Book, but it’s the first I’ve read. Nevertheless, the characters and setting were all so vivid that I felt as though I’d been visiting the cafe for years.

Part romance, part mystery, this novel is the story of a single mother named Anita seeking to redefine herself after a divorce and being a stay-at-home-mom during her son’s early life. It’s such a relatable story – how many women go through such things? – that stepping into the world Rosie Green has created was as effortless as stepping across the street to visit with a neighbor. Anita is a fantastic lead character: smart, funny, and flawed, as well as supremely real. The first person point of view was the perfect choice for her story.

Sven, Bertha, and especially best friend Ellie, as well as the other characters who live and work in Sunnybrook, were all as dynamically drawn as Anita, and felt like just the sort of people you’d encounter in every day life, and I really appreciated the great affection Ellie and Anita showed for each other. Friendships between women are too often depicted as competitions, and this was, refreshingly not the case with these too.

Author Green’s style is fresh and breezy, accessible without being too shallow, and I liked that she used casual language so well in dialogue and for Anita’s narration. As well, she balances romance and mystery elements without going too far with either.

While I had no issue reading Sweet Pastries and Sourdough at the Little Duck Pond Cafe as a standalone novel, a part of me wishes I’d been reading Green’s work from the beginning so I could appreciate the way her talent has grown.

Goes well with: a cheese danish and a mug of coffee.


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Review & Giveaway: Dire’s Club by Kimberly Packard

BNR Dire's Club

 

About the book Dire’s Club

  • Publisher: Abalos Publishing
  • Publication Date: March 23, 2021
  • Pages: 326 Pages
  • Categories: Action & Adventure / Contemporary / Women’s Fiction
  • Scroll for Giveaway!

Cover Hi Res Dire's ClubDying isn’t just hard on the ones left behind, the regret of unfinished lives weighs heavily on the terminally ill. That’s where Dire’s Club steps in, a specialty travel agency that takes a small group of dying people on one final adventure-so they can be free of guilt, be more than a diagnosis, and find a way to confront life … and death.

Life Coach Charlotte Claybrooke built a successful second career guiding people out of grief, but the impending tenth anniversary of her own heart-wrenching tragedy sets her on a journey to find life among the dying.

Staring death in the face was Jimmy Dire’s business. He met it with a warm hug, a kind word, and a smile. Dire’s Club gave the terminally ill one final, bucket-list adventure before passing on, but dying was expensive. The bills, like Jimmy’s lies, were piling up. It’s only a matter of time before he’s forced to face a different type of death.

A rock god, a telenovela star, a grandmother living her life-long dream, and a young tech genius round out this group of strangers facing death together. But when tragedy strikes, their bond is shattered. Lies and fraud surface, forcing the dying to come together to save someone’s life.

Everybody dies. The lucky ones have fun doing it.

Buy, read and discuss this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


Book Trailer

Dire’s Club trailer from Kimberly Walton on Vimeo.


About the author, Kimberly Packard

Author Pic PackardKimberly Packard is an award-winning author of women’s fiction. She began visiting her spot on the shelves at libraries and bookstores at a young age, gazing between the Os and the Qs. Kimberly received a degree in journalism from the University of North Texas, and has worked in public relations and communications for nearly 20 years.

When she isn’t writing, she can be found rollerblading, doing a poor imitation of yoga or curled up with a book. She resides in North Texas with her husband Colby, a clever cat named Ollie and Tully, the precocious puppy.

Her debut novel, Phoenix, was awarded as Best General Fiction of 2013 by the Texas Association of Authors. Other published works by Kimberly include a Christmas novella, The Crazy Yates, and the sequels to Phoenix: Pardon Falls and Prospera Pass, and her stand-alone titles, Vortex and Dire’s Club. She was honored as one of the Top 10 Haute Young Authors by Southern Methodist University in 2019.

Connect with Kimberly:

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My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellGathering a group of diverse strangers to go on a journey together has been a literary conceit since Chaucer gave us The Canterbury Tales, and there’s a reason for that: it’s a setup that is extremely effective. Kimberly Packard latest novel Dire’s Club, uses a modern twist on that setup, but it does so in a way that is completely new, and results in a story that is fresh, compelling, and surprisingly thought provoking.

The idea of a a club for terminally ill adults to share in each other’s ultimate – and quite literal – “bucket list” item is a fascinating one, and perfect for our health-obsessed modern era. Like a cross between Fantasy Island and Make-a-Wish for adults, Jimmy Dire’s business  is to grant wishes to the terminally ill, and he fits that Mr. Roarke roll well: wealthy, connected, operating legally (mostly), he’s the perfect ringleader, arranging things, but never quite stealing the spotlight. Rather, the first “member” of this group that we meet is the central figure: Charlotte Claybrooke, life coach. Yes, the irony is real. Even more so: Dire has used Claybrooke’s work in his own business.

If Charlotte and Jimmy are the central figures, the other Diers (even the title of the group is a pun) are equally interesting: Levi, the aging rock star, Celeste, a grandmotherly type, Dylan who may or may not be over the proscribed minimum age of 21, and Lourdes, the Mexican telenovela star are all fully realized, though some of their stories are given a bit more depth than others. Truly though, any one of these people could easily be the protagonist in their own novel, and author Kimberly Packard has done her job well, because I want more, of this group, of this concept, of her words.

If all of this sounds a bit grim, especially as you go into this novel knowing that a significant amount of the cast will be dead at the end, fear not. Packard has included a lot of humor into her story. From gallows humor, to sarcasm, to simple organic life moments that make you chuckle, this book is an amazingly lighthearted read, despite the heavy subject.

And then there’s the language. I love it when I encounter language that hooks me, and Packard’s writing did that. The first line that struck me was from Lourdes: “I want to know what it feels like to be alone. To bask in the light of the weaker stars.”  That sentence struck me so hard that I actually texted it to a friend (who just bought the Kindle copy of the book, based on my gushing.)

There’s an old theatre adage, attributed in various forms to the late Edmund Gwenn:  “Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.” In Dire’s Club Kimberly Packard handles both with grace and aplomb.

Goes well with: Grilled sea bass, sauteed spinach and mushrooms, mashed potatoes with Gouda, and a glass of pinot noir, which actually pairs really well with fish.


Giveaway

FIVE WINNERS:
2 Winners: Autographed Paperbacks;
3 Winners: eBook copies

(US only. Ends midnight, CDT, 4/16/2021)

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Spotlight: Stiff Lizard, by Lisa Haneberg

Stiff Lizard Book Blitz

 

About the book, Stiff Lizard

  • Series: A Spy Shop Mystery
  • Publisher: Written Pursuits Press
  • Pages: 364 pages
  • Pub Date: March 13th, 2021
  • Categories: Women Sleuths / Cozy Mystery / Private Investigator / Humor

Stiff Lizard CoverRodent Roger, a popular Galveston Island exterminator, goes missing the day after he tells private investigator and spy shop owner Xena Cali about a concerning uptick in green iguana sightings on the island. They’re crapping in people’s boats and falling from trees. Are the lizards swimming over from Florida to escape the pythons, or is it something more nefarious? Can Xena help untangle the mess before the raucous reptiles take over Galveston?

Ultima Penelope Roger is a best-selling writer of romance novels. The Lizard Liquidators have set up shop on Galveston Island. Herpetologist Quintana Flores, PhD, works on a bizarre cruise ship that sails out of the Port of Galveston. Sasha Barlow is a driven junior reporter who’ll do anything to get the story. Ned “The Pelican Man” Quinn writes a column about bird necropsies. Captain Ethan Slaughter is the head of the Major Crimes team at the Galveston Police Department. Xena and her team will have to partner with and/or battle this cast of characters and others to solve what becomes a disturbing murder investigation.

Stiff Lizard is the third full-length book in the Spy Shop Mystery series. If you like fast-paced crime novels, clever satire, and gritty beach towns, then you’ll love Lisa Haneberg’s humorous and contemporary cozy caper.

Praise for This Book:

“Lisa Haneberg has a wicked sense of humor. She can also write a fast-moving, totally original mystery.” — Alan Rinzler

Lisa Haneberg’s newest entry in the Spy Shop Mystery Series lives up to its predecessors. A good number of laughs, lots of intrigue, a bit of titillation, lots of interesting information, and lots of mystery make for a good read.” – Verified purchaser from Amazon

Buy, Read, and Discuss This Book:

Amazon | Bookshop | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads

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About the author, Lisa Haneberg

Author Pic HanebergLisa Haneberg loves to explore Galveston Island’s gritty back streets, stellar seafood joints, magnificent natural areas, and all points in between. In addition to the Spy Shop Mysteries, she’s a blogger, and has authored over a dozen nonfiction books. She earned an MFA degree from Goddard College and a BS in Behavioral Sciences from the University of Maryland.

Before writing crime fiction, she was a seasoned human resources professional with a strange attraction to gnarly internal investigations. She lives with her husband and dog in Lexington, Kentucky. Lisa once owned a home on Galveston Island and is a frequent visitor.

Connect with Lisa:

FacebookBlog | Twitter | Instagram | Amazon Author Page | Goodreads Author Page

 

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Review: Alfie Carter, by BJ Mayo – with Giveaway

BNR Alfie Carter

 

About the book, Alfie Carter

  • Published by Skyhorse Publishing
  • Pages: 288
  • Published: January 19th, 2021
  • Categories: Southern Fiction / Rural Fiction / Mystery
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

Cover Alfie Carter med resThe seemingly never-ending Cabinda War (1975—) has left multitudes dead in its wake and thousands of children homeless and orphaned.

Jackaleena N’denga, a young Angolan girl, has become the sole survivor of one specifically brutal village massacre carried out by a band of guerrilla boy-soldiers.

Jackaleena’s resilience leads her to an orphanage on the west coast of Africa, known as Benguela by the Sea, where she and other children are taken in and protected. Her brilliant mind and endless questions capture the heart of her mentor, Margaret, who ensures her that her survival thus far—especially being the survivor from her village—must mean she has big things ahead of her. When the opportunity arises, she must find her purpose.

Not without a plan, Jackaleena stows away on a mercy ship that has made its yearly visit to the orphanage and is now preparing to return to America. Her journey takes her across the ocean, into the arms of New York City’s customs officials, and finally into placement in a temporary foster home in Texas.

Enter Alfie Carter—a workaholic, small-town detective who is also battling memories of his past. His life is forever changed when he meets a young African girl looking for her higher purpose.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Skyhorse Publishing | Goodreads


About the author, BJ Mayo

BJ MayoBJ Mayo was born in an oil field town in Texas. He spent the first few years of his life living in a company field camp twenty-five miles from the closest town. His career in the energy industry took him to various points in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Louisiana, Bangladesh, Australia, and Angola West Africa. He and his wife were high school sweethearts and have been married for forty-six years with two grown children. They live on a working farm near San Angelo, Texas.

Connect with BJ:

Website


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellAlfie Carter is one of those novels that should be on everyone’s reading list, because it’s such a well-crafted, compelling story. Actually, it’s two stories that become entangled at the end of the book, but even though Jackaleena’s story begins in Africa and involves some horrific scenes of the type typically only seen in 30-second clips on CNN, and Alfie’s begins with him climbing a mountain to spend some time camping in order to get out of his own head, the themes are the same: identity, purpose, and faith.

As we open, both characters are adults. Jackaleena is an attorney known for her toughness. Alfie is a gritty detective. But the narrative very quickly goes back in time to give us the history of these two powerful characters, and author BJ Mayo handles the time changes and perspective changes with a deft hand. Interestingly, he chose not to begin the novel from the title character’s point of view. Readers don’t encounter him until slightly later. But the reality is that it might be Alfie Carter’s name in the title, but this story really has dual leads.

What I loved about this book was the specific use of language. When Jackaleena is a child in Africa, her thought processes and speech are young, and even though there’s no written dialect, it’s obvious that this isn’t a kid whose first language is English. The rhythm and cadence of her words is different than it is years later when she has largely assimilated into American culture.

Similarly, Alfie Carter feels exactly the way one expects a lifelong Texan to be – I felt like I could hear a rough voice with a slight drawl even when what I was reading were his thoughts and observations.

At times a difficult read, especially because of Jackaleena’s childhood experiences (though Alfie is certainly no stranger to rough times), this novel is one that is grounded in the individual faith of both main characters. It’s never preachy, and there are moments of humor to break up the serious nature of the main story, but that faith, and each characters relationship with it, helps drive the story and should not be overlooked as an integral element of the novel.

Overall, Alfie Carter is the kind of novel that sticks with you long after you’ve finished it, and makes you think about your own reactions, beliefs, and assumptions.

Goes well with: steak cooked over an open fire and a slug of whiskey.


Giveaway

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THREE WINNERS each receive an

autographed copy of ALFIE CARTER.

US only. Ends midnight, CST, March 5, 2021.

 

 

 

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And don’t forget to visit the page for this tour at Lone Star Literary Life.

 

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2/27/21 Review Bibliotica
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