Excerpt and Giveaway: Paper Targets by Patricia Watts

BNR Paper Targets

 

About the book, Paper TargetsCover Paper Targets 1

  • Suspense / Literary Fiction / Women’s Fiction
  • Publisher: Atmosphere Press
  • Pages: 324 pages
  • Publication Date: May 3, 2022
  • Scroll down for a giveaway!

Everyone knew that Roanne never got angry­—until the night she killed her ex-husband and herself.

Roanne, a nice, suburban lady in her sixties who works at a Hallmark shop and volunteers at the Food Bank in Round Rock, Texas, calls her lifelong friend, Connie, confesses to murder, then puts the gun to her own head. Connie, spurred by Roanne’s last words about a lifetime of unspoken rage, sets aside her work as a cozy mystery writer and cupcake shop owner to confront the men who have stolen her dignity while she remained silent, including a bully brother, a rapist, and an ex-spouse. On a journey to reclaim her inner power and to make peace with the loss of her treasured friend, Connie’s mission is to avoid the same tragic path as Roanne, but she takes along a gun, just in case.

With pathos and humor, Paper Targets, by Patricia Watts, calls us to speak our own narratives, even when it is uncomfortable or risky, and shows us the magnificence of a friendship that transcends time.

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About the author, Patricia WattsAuthor Photo Watts

Patricia Watts worked as a journalist for more than 20 years for newspapers in Texas, Hawaii, and Alaska. Following her news career, she tried her skill as a paralegal and then spent ten years investigating discrimination cases for the Alaska Human Rights Commission. Her novels include: Ghost Light and The Big Empty, crime mysteries co-written with Alaska author Stan Jones; The Frayer, suspense noir; and Watchdogs, a steamy thriller. Her home base is San Diego. She earned her B.A. in journalism at Humboldt State in California. She is the mother of a son and daughter and has eight grandchildren.

Connect with Patricia:

Website | Amazon | BookBub | Goodreads | Reedsy Discovery

 

 


Read an excerpt from Paper Targets

February 2019

A slurp and a gulp. The knock of something solid against the surface next to the phone. Common noises on the other end of the line—she’s taking a drink, setting down a glass.

Then—the ear-splitting boom of a gunshot, the shallow thud of a weight hitting the floor.

I scream her name.

No noises now.

My best friend is dead.

 

XTRA IG 1At Roanne’s funeral reception, the eagerness for answers was thicker than the abundant short ribs set out next to the potato salad and baked beans. The guests had no appetite. They wanted to sink their teeth into why Roanne chose to die the way she did. And they were all looking to me, her closest friend for fifty years.

People had driven to Round Rock from other parts of Texas or from farther away to spend the morning at the church, midday at the cemetery, and the afternoon gathered at the home of Roanne’s sister, Darla.

They leaned out and asked, “Why, Connie?” as I walked through Darla’s living room, taking small, deliberate sips from a glass of iced tea, avoiding eye contact, unable to respond.

Roanne had called me that night, at three minutes after eleven. I’d hit the TV “off” button, was headed to bed; I had stayed up too late again, hooked on my latest Netflix binge. The words we had exchanged played back to me with every shiver and stab to my heart that I had felt then:

“I got the bastard,” she said. From the hollow sound of her voice, I knew her phone was on speaker. “Straight through the balls.” Her words shook.

“Ro? You’re scaring me, girl,” I said. “Got who?”

She was breathing hard, with a sharp, staccato, “Uh, uh …”

“Is someone with you?”

“Not anymore. Just me, myself, and I,” she said between a snicker and a sob.

“Are you at home? I’ll come get you.” My adrenalin was pumping. Something terrible had happened or was about to happen, but what? I could make the ninety-five-mile drive from San Antonio to Round Rock in an hour and ten. I switched my phone to speaker and pulled a pair of leggings on under my nightshirt.

“Don’t bother, I’ll be done soon.” She breathed in, a deep reverse sigh, like she was struggling to find the strength to get the words out. “The anger. You take it and take it, and one day you see there’s no way out. You’re trapped.”

“You’re angry? With whom?”

“With Johnny, with the whole goddamn male establishment, my daddy, the school bullies, the boss, the superintendent, the judge, the lovers, husband, ex-husband, the smartass at Home Depot, the whole lot of  ’em, every Tom, Dick, and Harry.”

Her words seemed silly and frightening. “That’s a bunch to take on by yourself. Why don’t we talk about it, regroup?” I needed to get between her and whatever it was that was galloping, like my heartbeat, toward her. Couldn’t you find someone’s location on a cell phone? But you had to set that up, and I had had no reason to before.

“Now what would Judd do?” she said.

I pulled the name from the past through my memory to the present. It didn’t fit in the moment. “Judd? Mr. Asher from senior social studies?”

“You know what I really liked about Mr. Asher?”

“He looked like David Cassidy?” Giggle, Roanne. Be okay, Roanne.

“Exactly, that too.” I pictured her smiling through the pain in her voice. “He seemed to have all the answers, didn’t he? Only he wanted us to figure things out on our own.”

I stepped into my running shoes, left the laces untied. “What does Mr. Asher have to do with—”

“Figure it out for yourself. Speak up, Con. Don’t let them have the final say.” Roanne’s words slurred and trailed off. “It’s too late for me, but—”

“Hang on, it’s never too late.” I could feel the bad ending like the anticipation of an icy finger about to touch the back of my neck, raising goose flesh. I picked up my keys and purse. I headed for the garage. Keep talking, Roanne, please keep talking. “Tell me where you are, sweetie.”

Another intake of air. A gap of silence. A gulp. The boom. “Roanne!”

 


Enter a giveaway for Paper Targets

TWO WINNERS:

First Prize: Autographed copies of Paper Targets,

The Frayer, and The Big Empty;

Second Prize: Copy of Paper Targets.

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Book Spotlight & Giveaway: A Shot in the 80% Dark, by Amber Royer

Banner: A Shot in the 80% Dark

 

About the book, A Shot in the 80% Dark

Cover A Shot in the 80 Percent Dark(Book 4 in the Bean to Bar series)

  • Cozy Mystery / Culinary Mystery /Woman Sleuth
  • Publisher: Golden Tip Press
  • Date of Publication: July 15, 2022
  • Number of Pages: 285 pages
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

Felicity Koerber’s bean to bar chocolate shop is thriving. Despite everything she’s been through with the murders she’s helped solve, Felicity is ready to take on new challenges. So when a local museum offers her a contract to create a chocolate replica of a gigantic sailing ship sculpture for a gala celebrating Galveston’s history, she jumps at the chance to combine chocolate-crafting with art.

The project is fun – right up until there’s not just one but two dead artists on the scene, and Felicity has to change gears back to detective. Logan, Felicity’s business partner and previous bodyguard, and Arlo, Felicity’s ex who is now the cop investigating the case, are split on which victim they think was actually the intended one. Felicity may have to take some chances, both emotionally and in luring out a killer, to determine the truth.

Can she find out how Galveston’s history relates to the murders, unmask a killer, and prepare 2,000 chocolate desserts for the gala all at the same time?

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

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About the Author, Amber Royer

Author Pic Amber Royer

Amber Royer writes the Chocoverse comic telenovela-style foodie-inspired space opera series and the Bean to Bar Mysteries. She is also the author of Story Like a Journalist: a Workbook for Novelists, which boils down her writing knowledge into an actionable plan involving over 100 worksheets to build a comprehensive story plan for your novel. She also teaches creative writing and is an author coach.

Amber and her husband live in the DFW Area, where you can often find them hiking or taking landscape/architecture/wildlife photographs. If you are very nice to Amber, she might make you cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes, of course! Amber blogs about creative writing technique and all things chocolate.

Connect with Amber:

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter   |  Amazon | Goodreads | Instagram | Youtube

 

Bean to Bar Series


My Thoughts

MissMelissWhether it’s the yellow and green parrot repeating “Allez vous-en, allez vous-en! Sapristi! That’s all right!” in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, or Renoir the cockatoo’s rather dire warning, “If you do that, I’ll kill you,” in this fourth installment of Amber Royer’s Bean to Bar mysteries, A Shot in the 80% Dark, talking birds never bode well.

Indeed, within a relatively few pages of her receipt of a copy of Treasure Island, Felicity Koerber, professional chocolatier and amateur detective, has stumbled into another murder.

This book takes place in Galveston, Texas, a touristy island community that Felicity calls home, and that has a rich maritime tradition. (It’s also, I recently learned, one of the major ports immigrants came through in the early twentieth century. But that’s just a random fact.)

As with the other books, this can easily be read as a standalone novel, though reading the earlier books does lend context. The key elements are chocolate (of course), maritime history, pirate lore, the local art scene, and how they merge when Felicity agrees to design and create a chocolate copy of a found-materials pirate ship sculpture for an event at the art museum. Only Amber Royer could take these disparate threads and weave them into a cohesive whole, and she does so with her usual deftness.

Mainly character driven, this story has a love triangle with Felicity, her first love Arlo, and her partner Logan, the latter two of whom have become friends. As well, there is an entire cast of art gallery staffers and artists each with their individual personalities and interpersonal conflicts that mix and match to create conflict, suspicion, and delightful drama.

In A Shot in the 80% Dark, Amber Royer has created a snappy, interesting read that remains unpredictable to the end.

In fact, the only flaw in this novel is that it doesn’t come with a supply of organic chocolate to nibble while reading.

Goes well with: an iced mocha made with unsweetened espresso chocolate.


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Autographed copies of A SHOT IN THE 80% DARK

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Review: The House on the Hill, by Chris Penhall

 

About the book, The House on the Hill The House on the Hill by Chris Penhall

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Ruby Fiction (a Choc Lit imprint) (June 28, 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 247 pages

The House on the Hill: A Summer in the Algarve

Layla is calm, in control and is definitely not about to lose her serenity for the man next door!
Surely it can’t be hard to stay peaceful at one of the oldest yoga and mindfulness retreats in the Algarve, surrounded by sea, sun and serenity? Mostly, owner Layla Garcia manages it – with the help of meditation and plenty of camomile tea, of course.
But keeping her grandparents’ legacy alive is stressful, and Layla has become so shackled to the work that, for her, The House on the Hill is fast becoming ‘The Fortress on the Hill’.
Then writer Luke Mackie moves to the villa next door, bringing with him a healthy dose of chaos to disrupt Layla’s plans, plus a painful reminder of a time when she was less-than-serene. But could his influence be just what Layla needs to ‘dance like no-one’s watching’ and have the fun she’s been missing?

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Click to Purchase | Goodreads


About the author, Chris PenhallThe House on the Hill Author

Chris 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. Both are available in paperback, e-book and audio and are part of the Portuguese Paradise series. Finding Summer Happiness, which is set in Pembrokeshire in South West Wales is available in e-book, audio and paperback, and The House on the Hill – A Summer in the Algarve, the third novel in the Portuguese Paradise series, is published in e-book on 28th June 2022.

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 | Instagram | Twitter


My Thoughts

MissMelissWhenever I acquire a new Chris Penhall title, I know I’m in for a great read. The third installment in her Portuguese Paradise series, The House on the Hill did not disappoint.

This multi-generational novel focuses on Layla and her Aunt Minnie who run a yoga retreat in Lagos. Each is competent, vivacious, dimensional, but neither has a love interest who will stick – at least when we meet them. But this isn’t a book just about romantic love. It’s about the love we have for our true passion, whether it’s health food (Layla), dance (Minnie) or yoga and general wellness (both). It’s also about the familial love that exists between aunt and niece, and the strong friendships each forms in their community.

Okay, yes, there’s also romance.

What I love about all of Penhall’s books is that they’re never too fluffy. Yes, they exist in a somewhat heightened version of reality where the bougainvillea flowers are a bit bigger, the limoncello is a bit stronger, and the sun shines a bit brighter, but overall the events in The House on the Hill, as with the author’s previous works, are plausible. And that makes the reading so much better, because you can be an armchair tourist in Layla’s (or Minnie’s) life, and never have to expend energy on willful suspension of disbelief.

What really sells this book is the way the author differentiates these characters of such disparate ages. Layla is more focused, and uses more contemporary language, while Minnie is slightly scattered and uses slightly “vintage” syntax. It’s subtle, but it really makes each woman truly breathe.

I should mention that the actual house is also a character in a way, as it plays host to the bulk of the story, and is really the heart of the family  – both blood and chosen – that Layla and Minnie have created in Portugal.

I recommend this book for anyone who wants a summer read that feels like a summer vacation. It’s well written, perfectly paced, and leaves the reader truly satisfied (but not so much so that a fourth book in this series wouldn’t be welcome).

Goes well with: a fruit plate that includes pinapples, passion fruit, and plums. Or a green smoothie.


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Review and Giveaway: Pictures of the Shark, by Thomas H. McNeely

BNR Pictures of the Shark

 

About the book, Pictures of the Shark

  • Short Stories / Southern Fiction / Coming of Age
  • Publisher: Texas Review Press
  • Date of Publication: July 12, 2022
  • Number of Pages: 205 pages
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

Cover Pictures of the SharkA sudden snowfall in Houston reveals family secrets. A trip to Universal Studios to snap a picture of the shark from Jaws becomes a battle of wills between father and son. A midnight séance and the ghost of Janis Joplin conjure the mysteries of sex. A young boy’s pilgrimage to see Elvis Presley becomes a moment of transformation. A young woman discovers the responsibilities of talent and freedom.

Pictures of the Shark, by Houston native and Dobie Paisano award-winning author Thomas H. McNeely, traces a young man’s coming of age and falling apart. From the rough and tumble of Houston’s early seventies East End to the post-punk Texas bohemia of late eighties Austin, this novel in stories examines what happens when childhood trauma haunts adult lives.

PRAISE FOR PICTURES OF THE SHARK:

  •  “McNeely’s brilliant stories are filled with delicious menace and heartbreaking hope.” – Pamela Painter, author of What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers and Fabrications: New and Selected Stories
  • “In these gorgeously crafted interlinked stories, Thomas McNeely demonstrates once again an uncanny ability to illuminate the darkest emotional corners of his characters with a vision that is as tender and compassionate as it is unflinching.” – Antonio Ruiz-Camacho, author of Barefoot Dogs
  • “With masterful prose, McNeely draws you down into emotional depths where your ambivalence and confusion show you at your most profoundly human. These stories hook you quickly and deeply and keep you even after they end. – C.W. Smith, author of Steplings, Buffalo Nickel, and Understanding Women

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

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About the author, Thomas H. McNeely

Author Photo McNeelyThomas H. McNeely is an Eastside Houston native. He has published short stories and nonfiction in The Atlantic, Texas Monthly, Ploughshares, and many other magazines and anthologies, including Best American Mystery Stories and Algonquin Books’ Best of the South. His stories have been shortlisted for the Pushcart Prize, Best American Short Stories, and O. Henry Award anthologies. He has received National Endowment for the Arts, Wallace Stegner, and MacDowell Colony fellowships for his fiction. His first book, Ghost Horse, won the Gival Press Novel Award and was shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize in Writing. He currently teaches in the Stanford Online Writing Studio and at Emerson College, Boston.

Connect with Thomas:

WEBSITE  |  FACEBOOK  |  TWITTER | AMAZON  | GOODREADS

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My Thoughts

MissMelissI love short stories. I mean, I love novels and biographies, but it takes a special kind of talent to tell a complete story in a relatively few words. In his eight-story collection, Pictures of the Shark, Thomas H. McNeely shows that he has a great amount of talent, and is using it wisely.

To be honest, he had me at the word “scraggly,” used to describe someone’s beard. I use that word, but most people I know (and most people I read) do not, so when I saw that word in the opening story, “Snow, Houston, 1974,” I knew that I would love the language this author uses, and I was not wrong. His stories are somber, even dark, but his prose rises from the page, and grabs you by the wrists demanding that you pay attention.

I found myself shivering when six year old Buddy Turner experiences his first snow in 1974. Having lived through two extreme winter storms in Texas (Dallas county, in my case, but still rare) I was hit in the gut with the description of the aftermath:

“Now, the weatherman reported gas fires and burst water mains and houses whose roofs had caved in. Some neighborhoods, he said, were without electricity or telephones. Buddy began to worry about Grandma Liddy. Grandma Liddy and he made plans to buy a cassette recorder with cigarette coupons, to write President Nixon and ask him why he lied, to build a miniature city out of matchboxes and toilet paper rolls. They had already started the city, chalking streets on the threadbare carpet in his mother’s old room.”

It’s simple language, matter of fact, and almost Hemingway-esque at times, but it’s effective.

In addition to McNeely’s use of language, I also appreciated his ability to find and convey the emotional tone of every piece. The early stories in Buddy’s life (though not necessarily in the book, as it jumps around in time a little) have threads of hope running through them. The stories where Buddy is older and disillusioned feel darker and have a bitter quality. The pieces where we see Buddy as a young man are laden with sadness and wasted possibilities. And yet, not a single story was dull or made me want to skim it. Rather, I was riveted. “Hester,” especially, had me fascinated because it’s really the only story where we have another perspective, and see Buddy through another person’s eyes.

Speaking of people, Buddy, his mother (Margot) and his father (Jimmy) are the central characters, and each one is interesting on their own. Buddy, of course, is the boy whose family is unhappy, and who seems to know too much and not enough, afraid of becoming his father, but also so close to doing so. Everything I learned about Margot made we wish for a collection from her perspective – her youth and young womanhood. Jimmy is a perfect tragic figure, and some of the scenes, where he seems about to resort to violence, but doesn’t, had me flashing back to my own memories of an abusive partner my mother once had.

In fact, the only reason I didn’t read all eight of these stories in one sitting was that the emotions were so vivid and plausible that I had to step away.

In the beginning of his book, Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy wrote, “All happy families resemble one another, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” In Pictures of the Shark, Thomas H. McNeely has given us a visceral look at an extremely unhappy family, and shown us how that unhappiness echoes through all their lives. This is made most evident in the final entry in this collection, “Little Deaths:”

“I’d come to the University as a National Merit Scholar, but now lived off my mother’s credit card. I never visited my mother, because she reminded me both of my rotten childhood and my receding promise: my AP classes, my high school English honors, the expectation even by my family that I would become a writer.”

Buddy Turner may never have become a successful author (or maybe he did, that’s for another collection) but his creator, Thomas H. McNeely has given us a masterpiece in gray tones and grim feelings.

Goes well with: black coffee and anisette toast.


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2 winners: autographed copy of Pictures of the Shark
2 winners: autographed copy of Pictures of the Shark

+ editorial critique of an excerpt (up to 20 pages) from an unpublished short story or novel.
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Book Spotlight and Giveaway: Deadly Keepsakes, by Anita Dickason

BNR Deadly Keepsakes Blitz

 

About the book, Deadly KeepsakesCover Deadly Keepsakes

  • A Tori Winters Mystery
  • Now available for Pre-order – Coming July 10th
  • Publisher: Mystic Circle Books
  • Number of Pages: 360 pages
  • Scroll down for giveaway

The past becomes the future. Secrets that can kill! 

After someone tries to kill her, Tori Winters is on the run. Looking for a place to hide, a mysterious phone call about a vague inheritance seems to be the answer. After all, who would think of looking for her in Granbury, a small quaint Texas town. Instead, her life is about to spin into an existence where nothing is as it seems. The historic house she inherits has secrets. Ones she’s been warned can kill. A stranger in a strange town, who can she trust? There is the kindly lawyer and his son, or the disinherited step-grandson. What secrets do they hide? Tori’s newfound fortune may not be a blessing. It could become her death warrant.

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About the author, Anita Dickason

Author Photo DickasonAward-winning Author Anita Dickason is a twenty-two-year 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, which are not a series and can be read in any order, and Deadly Business, a crime thriller.

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.

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Book Spotlight and Giveaway: It’s a Mad, Mad Murder by Cindy Vincent

BNR Mad, Mad Murder

 

About the book, It’s a Mad, Mad Murder

  • Series: Maddie Montgomery
  • Cozy Culinary Mystery / Women Sleuths / Amateur Sleuths
  • Publisher: Whodunit Press
  • Date of Publication: November 15, 2021
  • Number of Pages: 303 pages
  • Scroll down for Giveaway

Cover Mad Mad Murder Things are a little too hot to handle for famous culinary-mystery author, Maddie Montgomery, in her normally quiet neighborhood set in the Houston suburb of Abbott Cove. Especially after her neighbor, Randall Rathburn, has a heart attack and rams his vintage car into a light pole. Though his death is ruled an accident, another of Maddie’s neighbors insists that Randall was murdered, and he implores her to investigate. But Maddie isn’t on board with the half-baked idea, not until she attends the over-the-top funeral where she develops some suspicions of her own. That’s when she decides to take the leap from crime writing to crime solving. After all, she doesn’t exactly want a killer running around her cul-de-sac . . .

But the murder of her neighbor isn’t the only mystery she’s got cooking. When her publisher goes belly-up and her agent happily dumps her in favor of younger, dystopian authors, Maddie boils over into a full-blown career crisis. And while she tries to simmer down, her new role as amateur sleuth only stirs the pot even more. Then from car chases to stakeouts, and from a neighbor who owns a suspicious amount of spy gadgetry to a widow who seems a little too merry, Maddie’s first case has her head spinning like the beaters on her handheld mixer. And soon Maddie finds that solving a crime in “real life” is a lot more difficult . . . and a lot more dangerous . . .

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

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About the author, Cindy Vincent

AuthorPhotoCindy copy_1Cindy Vincent is the award-winning author of the Buckley and Bogey Cat Detective Capers, and the Tracy Truworth, Apprentice P.I., 1940s Homefront Mysteries. She is also the creator of the Mysteries by Vincent murder mystery party games and the Daisy Diamond Detective Series games for girls. She lives in Houston, Texas with her husband and an assortment of fantastic felines.  Cindy is a self-professed “Christmas-a-holic,” and she starts the planning for her ever-expanding, “extreme” Christmas lights display sometime in the early spring.

Connect with Cindy:

WEBSITE  ◆ BUCKLEY AND BOGEYFACEBOOK  ◆ AMAZON  ◆  GOODREADS


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THREE WINNERS! 

1ST PRIZE:

Signed copy of It’s a Mad, Mad Murder, a sweetheart-neckline apron, a set of multicolored, Farberware measuring cups, and a set of stainless steel, oblong measuring spoons.
2ND & 3RD PRIZES:

Signed copies of It’s a Mad, Mad Murder and novella, Yes, Carol . . . It’s Christmas!, which features a heroine trying to get back home to Texas.
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 5/26/2022)

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Review and Giveaway: Fatal Code by Natalie Walters

Fatal Code Blog Tour

 

About the book, Fatal Code

  • Series: The Snap Agency (Book 2)
  • Fiction / Christian / Suspense / Romance
  • Publisher: Revell
  • Date of Publication: May 1, 2022
  • Number of Pages: 320 pages
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

Cover Hi Res Fatal CodeIn 1964, a group of scientists called the Los Alamos Five came close to finishing a nuclear energy project for the United States government when they were abruptly disbanded. Now the granddaughter of one of those five scientists, aerospace engineer Elinor Mitchell, discovers that she has highly sensitive information on the project in her possession–and a target on her back.

SNAP agent and former Navy cryptologist Kekoa Young is tasked with monitoring Elinor. This is both convenient since she’s his neighbor in Washington, DC, and decidedly inconvenient because . . . well, he kind of likes her.

Natalie Walters sucks you into the global race for space domination in this perfectly paced second installment of her SNAP Agency romantic suspense series.

Praise for this book:

Fatal Code is reminiscent of cold war spy thrillers and riveted me to the page as I rooted for Kekoa and Elinor to expose secrets, survive danger, and fall in love.” — Elizabeth Goddard, bestselling author of the Rocky Mountain Courage series

“Warning: once you pick it up, you won’t be able to put it down!” — Andrew Huff, author of the Shepherd Suspense series

“Enough suspense to make you need warm milk and a cozy blanket to calm you down.” — Jaime Jo Wright, author of The Souls of Lost Lake and the Christy award-winning novel The House on Foster Hill

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

AmazonBaker Book House | Christianbooks.com | Barnes and Noble|Other Revell Affiliates | Goodreads


Author Pic WaltersAbout the author, Natalie Walters

Natalie Walters is the author of Lights Out, as well as the Harbored Secrets series. A military wife, she currently resides in Texas with her soldier husband and is the proud mom of three. She loves traveling, spending time with her family, and connecting with readers.

Connect with Natalie:

WEBSITE  ◆  FACEBOOK  ◆  TWITTER  ◆ AMAZON  ◆  GOODREADS ◆ BOOKBUB ◆ INSTAGRAMPINTEREST


My Thoughts

MissMelissLeaping into a series at book two is always a little bit risky. There’s the worry about whether or not the characters and situations will make sense without the back story of the first book.

Well, readers who are leaping into the world of The Snap Agency with Natalie Walker’s second book in the series, Fatal Code, need not worry. All the necessary information comes out in this well-paced story that combines the suspense of the race for aerospace dominance with enough romance to keep things interesting and a really witty overall voice.

Not that this is a comedy. It’s not. But Natalie Walters wonderfully captures the gentle humor of every-day situations. An example of this is when the vibrant and dimensional lead character Kekoa Young muses that he’s just finished a deadly-dangerous assignment but is dreading speaking to his father on the phone.

XTRA Praise 1

His concern over the fact that he’s got to “babysit” his neighbor Elinor, whom he is attracted to is also very plausible. It’s this human factor that makes Fatal Code so enjoyable.

In fact, it’s the byplay between the characters that really grabbed me. The scenes where Kekoa and his colleagues are bantering about food choices while also going over mission notes is the perfect depiction of workplace relationships, and really sold me on the whole premise.

I’m a sucker for anything to do with aerospace, and I love character-driven stories. This novel checked both of those boxes. I also enjoyed the audiobook version, which I’ve been listening to all week (the narrator is great, and has a little bit of an Asian lilt in her voice that really sells the Kekoa’s Hawaiian origin.) because the story is just delightful.

Intriguing, entertaining, romantic, and suspenseful, Natalie Walters’ second The Snap Agency novel, Fatal Code has it all.

Goes well with: A hamburger with eggs and gravy.


Giveaway

TWO WINNERS! 

Each receive copies of Lights Out and Fatal Code!
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 5/20/2022)

Giveaway Fatal Code

 

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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 POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY, 

or visit the blogs directly:

5/10/22 BONUS Series Spotlight Hall Ways Blog
5/10/22 Review Jennifer Silverwood
5/11/22 Review StoreyBook Reviews
5/11/22 BONUS Promo LSBBT Blog
5/12/22 Excerpt Chapter Break Book Blog
5/13/22 Review The Plain-Spoken Pen
5/14/22 Deleted Scene 1 All the Ups and Downs
5/15/22 Deleted Scene 2 KayBee’s Book Shelf
5/16/22 Author Interview The Page Unbound
5/17/22 Review Shelf Life Blog
5/18/22 Top 9 List Boys’ Mom Reads
5/19/22 Review Bibliotica

 

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Review: The Storm Girl, by Kathleen McGurl

The Storm Girl

 

About the Book, The Storm Girl

Cover: The Storm GirlThe gripping new historical novel from the USA Today bestselling author of The Girl from Bletchley Park and The Forgotten Secret.

A heartbreaking choice. A secret kept for centuries.

1784. When Esther Harris’s father hurts his back, she takes over his role helping smugglers hide contraband in the secret cellar in their pub. But when the free traders’ ships are trapped in the harbour, a battle between the smugglers and the revenue officers leads to murder and betrayal – and Esther is forced to choose between the love of her life and protecting her family…

Present day. Fresh from her divorce, Millie Galton moves into a former inn overlooking the harbour in Mudeford and plans to create her dream home. When a chance discovery behind an old fireplace reveals the house’s secret history as a haven for smugglers and the devastating story of its former residents, could the mystery of a disappearance from centuries ago finally be solved?

Sweeping historical fiction perfect for fans of Lucinda Riley, Kathryn Hughes and Tracy Rees.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (UK) | Amazon (US) | Goodreads


About the author, Kathleen McGurl

Kathleen McGurlKathleen McGurl lives near the coast in Christchurch, England. She writes dual timeline novels in which a historical mystery is uncovered and resolved in the present day. She is married to an Irishman and has two adult sons. She enjoys travelling, especially in her motorhome around Europe but home is Mudeford, where this novel is set.

Connect with Kathleen:

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

MissMelissThe Storm Girl is my first Kathleen McGurl nsovel, but it won’t be my last.

A dual-timeline story, this book follows Esther, in 1784, beginning with an opening faintly reminiscent of Alfred Noyes’s “The Highwayman,” though it quickly moves beyond that trope. Our historical heroine is no lovestruck maiden idly braiding her hair in moonlit windows; rather she is a vibrant and dimensional young woman, acting with her own agency.

Similarly, recent divorcee Millie, our present day heroine, is bright and curious, and game for minor adventures. We first meet her as she is rescuing kittens (and a mama cat) from a blocked off fireplace, and her helper Nick, sparks her love of a good mystery when he suggests that said fireplace would be worth restoring (something she was already considering.)

Both women end up tangled in a mystery involving smuggling, which we modern audiences think of as a romantic form of crime, but is really very violent and dangerous, still, the puzzle that begins in the past is resolved in the present in a gripping story that is well plotted and perfectly paced.

What I especially loved about this book was that the author captures the language and tone of each period with great accuracy. You really don’t need to be told the date of each chapter; rather the writing makes it obvious where the story is in time.

I also loved that there were equal parts suspense and romance. Nothing ever got TOO tense or TOO fluffy; instead there was balance, and that made for a delightful read.

I’ve long been a fan of parallel narratives. Now I’m a fan of Kathleen McGurl and The Storm Girl as well.

Goes well with: hot tea and blueberry cobbler with a dash of firelight.

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Spotlight and Giveaway: Turn To Me, by Becky Wade

BNR Turn to Me

 

About the book, Turn to Me (a Misty River romance)

  • Series: A Misty River Romance
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
  • Date of Publication: May 3, 2022
  • Number of Pages: 416 pages
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

Cover Turn to MeHis promise will cost him far more than he imagined. 

Guilt has defined Luke Dempsey’s life, but it was self-destructiveness that landed him in prison. When his friend and fellow inmate lay dying shortly before Luke’s release, the older man revealed he left a string of clues for his daughter, Finley, that will lead her to the treasure he’s hidden. Worried that she won’t be the only one pursuing the treasure, he gains Luke’s promise to protect her until the end of her search.

Spunky and idealistic, Finley Sutherland is the owner of an animal rescue center and a defender of lost causes. She accepts Luke’s help on the treasure hunt while secretly planning to help him in return–by coaxing him to embrace the forgiveness he’s long denied himself.

As they draw closer to the final clue, their reasons for resisting each other begin to crumble, and Luke realizes his promise will push him to the limit in more ways than one. He’ll do his best to shield Finley from unseen threats, but who’s going to shield him from losing his heart?

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

AmazonBaker Book House | BookBub | Goodreads


About the author, Becky Wade

Author Photo Wade © Emilie Hendryx of E.A. Creative PhotographyBecky Wade is the 2018 Christy Award Book of the Year winner for True to You. She is a native of California who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and moved to Dallas. She published historical romances for the general market, then put her career on hold for several years to care for her children. When God called her back to writing, Becky knew He meant for her to turn her attention to Christian fiction. Her humorous, heart-pounding contemporary romance novels have won three Christy Awards, the Carol Award, the INSPY Award, and the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award for Romance. Becky lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband and three children.

Connect with Becky

WEBSITE  |  FACEBOOK  | BECKY’S CHEER SQUAD  | TWITTER  |  AMAZON  |  GOODREADS  | BOOKBUB | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST

Connect with Bethany House Publishers

WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | TIKTOK | GOODREADS


Giveaway

 TWO WINNERS! 

AUTOGRAPHED COPIES OF TURN TO ME!
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 5/12/2022)

Giveaway Turn to Me

 

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Review and Giveaway: Comfort Zone, by Kimberly Fish

BNR Comfort Zone

 

About the book Comfort Zone

  • Genre: Contemporary / Second Chance Romance / Women’s Fiction
  • Publisher: Fish Tales Publishing
  • Date of Publication: November 1, 2021
  • Number of Pages: 289 pages
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

Cover Comfort ZoneThe award-winning author of Comfort Songs, Comfort Plans, and Comfort Foods digs into the life of single-mom Anna Weber, an appraiser who gives value to other people’s found treasures. On assignment to research a handwritten sheet of music, Anna helps a stranded motorist, only to discover she’s rescued retired NFL quarterback Jack Moses. His confidence and fascination for solving problems makes him impossible for Anna to ignore even as they both dart along separate deadlines to save the finances at an inner-city school. Little does Anna know that as she wrestles with secrets from her past and a suspicious approach to people, Jack is running too—dodging women, pro athletes, and a future with no definable end zone.

As a nemesis threatens Anna’s young daughters, these two unlikely partners discover that it’s in stepping back from years of self-sufficiency that Anna and Jack can find the best treasure of all: a series of sweet, second chances.

Praise and Awards for this book:

“Kimberly Fish’s Comfort books are wonderful, charming stories set in the Texas Hill Country. Fans of small towns family relationships will enjoy these feel-good books. Two thumbs up!” – Jan Moran, USA Today bestselling author of Seabreeze Inn. 

Comfort Zone is a Literary Titan Gold Award winner and a Reader Views Bronze Award winner in romance. It was also a runner-up in the regional fiction category of the New England Book Festival awards.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


About the author, Kimberly Fish

Author Photo FishKimberly Fish has been a professional writer in marketing and media for over thirty years, with regular contributions to area newspapers and magazines. As an accidental historian, she wrote two novels, The Big Inch and Harmon General, both based on factual events  in Longview, Texas that changed world history. Kimberly also offers a set of contemporary women’s fiction, based in the Texas Hill Country, that reveal her fascination with characters discovering their grit and sweet, second chances; all four of these novels have won distinguished awards

Connect with Kimberly:

Website | Facebook  |  Twitter I  Amazon  |  Goodreads | YouTube | Instagram | Pinterest | BookBub


XTRA Comfort Zone series graphic

My Thoughts

MissMelissOpening a new Kimberly Fish novel – especially a Comfort Stories novel – is more than just the beginning of a good read. It’s a road trip back to the fictional home town we all wish we were from. It is, as described in this latest installment, Comfort Zone, “a town of free-thinkers,” full of entrepreneurial spirit, a love of art and nature, and kind hearts.

In this visit to Comfort, TX, we meet Anna, an appraiser of relics and treasures, and Jack, a retired NFL football player. It would be easy to predict that a gift to the local school brings them together and things progress from there, but that would be a gross simplification of this story,  which is more than a second-chance romance, but a nuanced character study of two people who have been banged about a bit by life and circumstance.

I really loved getting to know Jack and Anna (and her two daughters). Anna’s job, especially, fascinated me. Part detective, part storyteller… I’d love to spend an hour or two just hearing the tales she might tell. All four of these new characters were as real and dimensional, with plausible flaws and anxieties, as anyone you might meet at a local coffee shop (or taco truck, or lavender farm), and I especially appreciated the way Anna observed her friend Lacy’s romance with local celebrity chef Rudy, which relationship was the focus of the previous entry into the Comfort Stories collection, Comfort Foods.

My favorite character, however, has got to be Comfort itself. It’s a slightly idealized small town, and it’s not difficult to imagine the various women (and men) in Anna’s friend-circle getting together to share their overlapping lives and businesses. Comfort is one of those places you just know has wide sidewalks, friendly dogs, excellent coffee, a decent bookstore, and real mail in the mailboxes.

If you enjoy romances between working adults, stories where there’s enough mystery to keep the plot going without being a whodunnit – mysteries of discovery and self-discovery – and a cup or two of cozy life, then the Comfort series as a whole, and this novel, Comfort Zone, specifically, will satisfy your heart and mind. More than that, you’ll feel like you’ve visited the hometown you were never actually born in.

Goes well with: a farmhouse breakfast – dark roast coffee, toast, eggs, and bacon.


Giveaway

 ONE WINNER!

Autographed copy of Comfort Zone,
hand-painted note card from artist Elaine McMillan,
and NFL official Silver Series football signed by Jack Moses.
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 4/29/2022)

 

Giveaway Comfort Zone

 

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Visit the Other Great Blogs on This Tour

or Visit the tour page at Lone Star Literary Life.

4/19/22 Review Jennie Reads
4/19/22 BONUS Promo Hall Ways Blog
4/20/22 Review Bibliotica
4/20/22 BONUS Promo LSBBT Blog
4/21/22 Review Carpe Diem Chronicles
4/22/22 Review StoreyBook Reviews
4/23/22 Review Reading by Moonlight
4/24/22 Review Rox Burkey Blog
4/25/22 Review Book Fidelity
4/25/22 BONUS Promo All the Ups and Downs
4/26/22 Review The Plain-Spoken Pen
4/27/22 Review It’s Not All Gravy
4/28/22 Review Forgotten Winds

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