Book Spotlight and Giveaway: The Killer Enigma by Breakfield and Burkey

BNR Killer Enigma

 

About the book, The Killer Enigma

  • Series:  Magnolia Bluff Crime Chronicles (Book 16)
  • Cozy Mystery / Suspense / Cozy Mystery Series
  • Publisher: ICABOD Press
  • Coming August 19, 2023
  • Scroll down for giveaway!

Enough is Enough – JJ rumbled when the paparazzi invaded dinner.

JJ and Jo realize privacy doesn’t exist for them. They return to Magnolia Bluff to check on their friends and recapture the small-town anonymity.  In Magnolia Bluff, no one suspects their fame.
They discount the status of urban legends in favor of acceptance and a quiet, peaceful life. After all, a supermodel needs time and space to recharge between jobs. A geek wants time to adore his wife.

Does Magnolia Bluff hold the answers to their prayers?

Will their desires get clouded by a hidden secret?

Past, present, and future collide in a perfect storm no one expected. JJ and Jo take action to uncover the truth. Chief Tommy Jager likes them but feels they’re a lightning rod for trouble and disruption.

Who will live or die to prevent the truth from being exposed? The answers may be in the graveyard with fresh flowers on the gravestone.

Their friends are targets   –   Their dreams are broken   –   They must fight

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authors photo killer enigma. the 2About the authors, Breakfield and Burkey

Charles Breakfield is a 25+ year technology expert in security, networking, voice, and anything digital. He enjoys writing, studying World War II history, travel, and cultural exchanges. He also enjoys wine tastings, wine-making, Harley riding, cooking extravaganzas, and woodworking. 

Rox Burkey is a 25+ year applied technology professional who excels at optimizing technology and business investments for customers worldwide with a focus on optimized customer experiences. She writes white papers and documents with a marked preference for fiction.

Together they create award-winning stories that resonate with males and females, young and experienced adults, and bring a fresh new view to technology possibilities today.

Connect with Breakfield and Burkey:

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Rox Burkey Social Media:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS | BOOKBUB


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TWO WINNERS

FIRST: Signed copy

SECOND: eBook copy
(US only; ends midnight, CST, 8/24/23)

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Book Review and Giveaway: Things Get Ugly by Joe R. Lansdale

BNR Things Get Ugly

 

About the book, Things Get Ugly: The Best Crime Stories of Joe R. Lansdale Cover Things Get Ugly

  • Crime Fiction / Mystery / Short Stories
  • Publisher: Tachyon Publications
  • Date of Publication: August 15, 2023
  • Number of Pages: 352 pages
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

Edgar Award winner Joe R. Lansdale (the Hap and Leonard series) returns to the piney, dangerous woods of East Texas. In this career retrospective of his best crime stories, Lansdale shows exactly why critics continue to compare him to Elmore Leonard, Donald Westlake, Flannery O’Connor, and William Faulkner.

  • In the 1950s, a young small-town projectionist mixes it up with a violent gang.
  • When Mr. Bear is not alerting us to the dangers of forest fires, he lives a life of debauchery and murder.
  • A brother and sister travel to Oklahoma to recover the dead body of their uncle.
  • A lonely man engages in dubious acts while pining for his rubber duckie.

In this collection of nineteen unforgettable crime tales, Joe R. Lansdale brings his legendary mojo and witty grit to harrowing heists, revenge, homicide, and mayhem. No matter how they begin, things are bound to get ugly—and fast.

Praise for this book:

“A terrifically gifted storyteller.” -– Washington Post Book Review  

“One of the best crime writers in the business.” — Ace Atkins, New York Times bestselling author of The Revelators  

“While Lansdale’s work is as varied as the regions of Texas, there is one common link through it all: his brilliant storytelling.” –- Grimdark Magazine

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About the author, Joe R. Lansdale Author Photo Lansdale

Joe R. Lansdale (Savage Season, The Donut Legion) is the internationally bestselling author of more than fifty novels, including the popular, long-running Hap and Leonard novels. Many of his cult classics have been adapted for television and film, most famously the films Bubba Ho-Tep and Cold in July and the Hap and Leonard series on Sundance TV and Netflix. Lansdale has written numerous screenplays and teleplays, including for the iconic Batman: The Animated Series. He has won an Edgar Award for The Bottoms and ten Stoker Awards, and he has been designated a World Horror Grandmaster. Lansdale, like many of his characters, lives in East Texas, with his wife, Karen.

Connect with Joe:

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My Thoughts MissMeliss - 2023

In the second introduction to this collection of short stories, Things Get Ugly, the author, Joe Lansdale, states that he doesn’t use trigger warnings, which I appreciated, though I’d argue that that is a form of trigger warning. Still, if you haven’t read any of Lansdale’s previous work (I haven’t), you should know that his use of coarse language, rough sex, and extreme violence makes Stephen King’s work seem PG-13. So, yes, these stories are gritty, earthy, violent. They combine horror, noir, and pulp-fiction. They will push you to the edge of your comfort zone, and leave you feeling a little squeamish. But good writing and good storytelling should provoke a reaction.

They are also BRILLIANT. Lansdale’s writing is vivid and visceral. Even when I was confronted by content I would not typically choose (the first entry in this collection, “The Steel Valentine” would require an entire page of entries at Does the Dog Die, if it were included there), I could not stop reading. The characters leap off the page, capture you in a strangle-hold, and do not let go until you’ve finished their story.

For the most part, these are not people I’d want to meet, but the stories are quirky, original, and interesting. Sure, some of them, like the afore-mentioned “The Steel Valentine” feel like the violence is almost gratuitous, but then there’s “The Ears,” which is the kind of Hitchcock -meets-O. Henry thriller that I love, and “Billie Sue,” which manages to be poignant in places. “Santa at the Cafe” is perfectly layered, and truly funny, while “Dead Sister,” is a truly unique take on ghouls (and may I take a moment to applaud the author for understanding the ghouls and zombies are totally different things?) .  And then there’s “Mr Bear,” which introduces us to a side of Smokey Bear (yes, that Smokey Bear) that I almost wish I could un-read, except that as dark and twisted as it is, it’s also perfect.

Things Get Ugly includes nineteen stories in all, each with a short introduction from the author. I’m not going to review every one of them. They may not be everyone’s cup of tea – or fifth of gin – but they’re definitely worth the time spent reading, and you can tell that the author put care into every word. The beauty of short story anthologies is that you can read one, skip around in the book, or even keep it for bathroom reading (though if you’re like me, your feet will fall asleep if you do that).

Goes well with: A juicy steak and a glass of Scotch.


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THREE WINNERS:

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Things Get Ugly & Born for Trouble

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08/08/23 Bibliotica Review
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08/10/23 The Book’s Delight Review
08/11/23 Forgotten Winds Review
08/12/23 Jennie Reads Review
08/13/23 The Real World According to Sam Review
08/14/23 It’s Not All Gravy Review
08/15/23 StoreyBook Reviews Review
08/15/23 Chapter Break Book Blog Excerpt
08/16/23 Rox Burkey Blog Review
08/17/23 Boys’ Mom Reads Review

 

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Book Review and Giveaway: Whiskey On Our Shoes, by Tonya Preece

BNR Whiskey on Our Shoes

 

About the Book, Whiskey on Our Shoes Cover Whiskey On Our Shoes

  • Genre: Contemporary Romance / New Adult
  • Publisher: Champagne Book Group
  • Page Count: 238 pages
  • Publication Date: February 12, 2023
  • Scroll down for a giveaway!

Eva dodges the fans, media, and gossip that follow her supermodel mom and rock star family members by wearing disguises. After an aimless gap year, she struggles to figure out what she wants from life. She moves in with her famous guitar god brother in Austin while he recovers from a drunken stage stunt accident and tries to stay sober. When a hot Texas cowboy named Alex takes Eva by surprise, she risks her safety and security of anonymity by letting him into her unconventional life.

Alex is captivated by Eva and promises to protect her privacy. Yet he has a secret of his own—the fling he had with an older woman is fraught with scandalous potential for him and now Eva. He broke free of that mistake months ago, or so he thought. As things heat up with Eva, his old flame returns and won’t leave him alone.

Just when Alex thinks he has the reins on the situation, his ex teams up with a gossip reporter hell-bent on invading Eva’s privacy. The resulting exposé, with a sly spin on a recent encounter with his ex, is Alex’s worst nightmare, and Eva’s unsure what to believe. Can she face the world with Alex at her side or will she return into hiding?

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

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Author Photo PreeceAbout the Author, Tonya Preece

Tonya Preece writes romance and contemporary young adult fiction and incorporates music into all her books in one way or another.

She lives near Austin, TX where she’s a small business manager for a forensic engineering firm.

She and her husband enjoy traveling, live music, wine, and spoiling their fur babies.

Connect with Tonya:

Website | Instagram | Amazon | Goodreads | BookBub | Twitter | Facebook


My Thoughts MissMeliss - 2023

Tonya Preece’s novel, Whiskey On Our Shoes, is an upbeat, fast-tempo novel that explores the different relationships people have with the truth. Eva’s truth is wrapped up in her identity, as the daughter of a famous model and sister of a rockstar. Alex’s truth is tied into an act from his past (something he, as a college sophomore, is barely old enough to have). The greater truth, once the two meet, is in how they will live their lives going forward.

Author Preece incorporates music into all her work, and in this case, she’s given us Lor (short for DeLorean) – Eva’s rockstar brother – as an obvious insertion. Lor is essentially the third lead character in this story, as he is both catalyst to Eva and Alex’s relationship and serves as a chorus to both young people as the story goes on. As well, the author’s use of dialogue felt a lot like improvisational riffing between the characters, the way all good conversations do. I really enjoyed the way the rhythms of each character’s speech wove in and out of the greater whole. It’s this, as much as the story, that made the novel for me.

The story itself was well-written, and felt like it could easily be a television show (multicamera, no laugh track) with organic moments of humor that helped to break the mood when tension got too high. Even though some of the situations felt a bit heightened, Preece kept everything grounded in emotional truth. As well, the three core characters were genuinely likable despite their flaws.

Overall, Whiskey On Our Shoes is a fast read, fresh enough for the new adult market, but suitable for adult readers also.

Goes well with: Asian stir fry and iced green tea.

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Grand Prize: autographed paperback & $10 Amazon gift card;

2nd Prize: autographed paperback;

3rd Prize: eBook

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#Book #Review and #Giveaway: Dreams of Arcadia, by Brian Porter

BNR Dreams of Arcadia

 

About the Book, Dreams of Arcadia Cover Dreams of Arcadia

  • Genre: Contemporary Fiction
  • Publisher: Legacy Book Press
  • Date of Publication: June 27, 2023
  • Number of Pages: 222 pages
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

Veterinarian Nate Holub takes a job in his father’s Texas hometown, wondering if a city boy has what it takes to be a country vet. As he struggles to adapt, Nate reconnects with his family and discovers that his father’s accidental death thirty years earlier was much more complicated than he realized.

Nate delves into the past, afraid of what he might find. He encounters a resentful cousin, a wary town patriarch, a reclusive uncle, a beguiling hidden garden, and a mysterious illness. Nate is drawn to the Holub family farm, where he seeks refuge in nature and tries desperately to reach Viola, his inscrutable grandmother. The farm is a place that haunts his memory, a place where dark secrets dwell.

Dreams of Arcadia is a touching portrait of an American family. It explores the enduring ties that hold us together and bind us to the land.

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About the Author, Brian Porter Author Photo Porter

Brian Porter lives in College Station, Texas, where he works as a veterinary pathologist.

He previously worked in private veterinary practice and once taught high school chemistry.

Dreams of Arcadia is his first novel.

Connect with Brian:

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My Thoughts MissMeliss - 2023

On the surface, Brian Porter’s debut novel Dreams of Arcadia is a simple story of a man returning to his rural roots. But in the deft hands of this virtuoso storyteller, Nate Holub’s story is more than merely simple. Rather, it explores the complex relationships we all have with the places where we grew up, the people who raised us, and the dreams that were dear to us, some of which never came true, and some of which evolved into unexpected choices. In this case, we have a “big city” veterinarian who has returned to his rural Texas hometown to discover new facets of himself, and the father who died thirty years before. Nate is a father himself, which adds depth to the story. In addition to discovering truths about his family, he must also provide a strong foundation for his girls – one that is tied to the land he came from,
but not necessarily beholden to it.

I’ve worked in pet rescue, so I’m a sucker for an animal story, even when it’s really a people story, as Dreams of Arcadia is.  In this case, I felt making Nate a veterinarian was a wise choice. Moments with the animals and vet staff interjected light and humor when they were needed, but also provided poignant counterpoint at times. I got a kick out of Nate limiting a local farmer on the amount of medicine he’d provide, so he wouldn’t treat the entire rural community. I also think Nate’s rapport with animals also softened some aspects of the story, like his relationship with his cousin Wink – who seems to have an issue with him – and with his aging grandmother Viola and his aunt Ruthie and her family.

I appreciated the pacing of this novel. Nothing was rushed, but neither did the story feel like it was too slow. Rather, this was the literary equivalent of a balmy summer day. You know crisper weather is lurking behind the sunny skies but you have time to savor the light and heat. I also loved the vivid descriptions of the land, especially the gardens  – including one that’s essentially secret – where Nate finds himself. The land in this novel is truly a character in its own right. Part family drama, part “All Creatures Great and Small – Texas edition,” and part mystery, this book has elements to please any reader, and what’s better is that they form a cohesive whole and satisfying story.

Goes well with a summer salad with garden fresh greens, nuts and berries, and a glass of sweet tea.

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06/27/23 Shelf Life Blog Excerpt
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06/28/23 Reading by Moonlight Review
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06/29/23 Chapter Break Book Blog Notable Quotables
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07/01/23 Jennie Reads Review
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07/03/23 The Plain-Spoken Pen Review
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Book #Review and #Giveaway: Watermelon Tattoo by Tony Burnett

CBNR Watermelon Tattoo

 

About the book, Watermelon Tattoo Cover Watermelon Tattoo 1

  • Genre: Psychological Thriller / Suspense
  • Publisher: Watertower Press
  • Date of Publication: February 14, 2023
  • Number of Pages: 300 pages
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

Naïve but charismatic farm girl, Jacquelyn Benderman, has her life perfectly planned until her town blames her for the accidental death of the local high school’s star running back. Feeling like a pariah, she flees to Austin, Texas where her luck seems to change. Her rapid rise to stardom as a blues diva is derailed when an anonymous stalker begins systematically murdering her associates, leaving the police to suspect her.

As Y2K approaches, she wrestles with the guilt of falling for her roommate, a Romanian folk singer who survives as a call-girl, while the show band she sings with rehearses for a national tour.

Can she protect her new lover from danger? Will the world end at midnight? Is there no hiding place when everyone knows who you are?

Praise for this book:

“Burnett has created an unconventional and magnetic character who makes a memorable first impression.” Kirkus Reviews

“Bodies, wrecked and loved, Wiccan handfasting, sex work, guns, watermelons, and music—lots of music—light up this thrilling nail-biter.” –Lesley Bannatyne, author of Unaccustomed

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

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About the author, Tony Burnett Author Photo Burnett

Award-winning poet and songwriter Tony Burnett is the Executive Director of Kallisto Gaia Press. He served as President of the Writers’ League of Texas from 2013 to 2017. His poetry, short fiction, and environmentally focused nonfiction appear in over 70 publications. His previous books include the story collection, Southern Gentlemen and a full-length poetry collection, The Reckless Hope of Scoundrels. He resides in rural central Texas with his trophy wife and several rescue dogs who pay him no mind unless hungry. His hobbies include poking wasp nests with short sticks and wandering aimlessly about. He hopes you enjoy meeting his imaginary friends.

Connect with Tony:

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My Thoughts MissMeliss - 2023

Watermelon Tattoo, the new novel from award winning poet and songwriter Tony Burnett, is probably the most intense book I’ve read this year. It’s gritty. It’s earthy. It’s sex-positive and some of the humor is scatological. It’s set against Y2K so there’s no texting culture. It’s also poignant and engaging, and at times it’s even heart-warming. It’s the kind of novel only a musician could write, because it takes many seemingly discordant notes and combines them into a distinctly American – distinctly Texan – symphony.

This novel gives us a dynamo of a lead character in Jaqui Benderman. She’s the only daughter of a widower who is renowned for the Black Diamond watermelons he grows, and while she wants to be a dutiful daughter, she also wants to live her own dreams of being a singer, and I love that she took ownership of those dreams early in the story. Yes, there are times when she’s still a bit of a lost little girl, but she always has her vision.

Her childhood friend Langley provides the countermelody in the story, adding another perspective but never taking over the lead. He’s important to the plot and important to Jaqui and her growth as a person and an artist, but he’s definitely a supporting player, not the lead.

Then there’s Sarge – Jaqui’s father. He drinks too much and is still mourning her long-dead mother, but his heart is in the right place. When Jaqui eventually introduces him to her Romany girlfriend, Katrine, his acceptance of their relationship is beautifully written, resoundingly real, and a model for the way every parent should be when their child finds love.

While there is a mystery (albeit not a terribly cryptic one) that runs through Watermelon Tattoo, of “who wants Jaqui dead,” the real draw – for me, at least – is just following Jaqui’s journey and seeing the behind-the-scenes parts of the Austin music industry. Even though Jaqui prefers torch songs (same, girl, same) to head-banging metal, this story has a strong sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll vibe.

If you haven’t grasped that this novel is absolutely meant for adults, let me make it plain that it is. There is a lot of alcohol use, both recreationally and as a form of self-medication for both Jaqui and her father. There is drug use. There is a lot of sex (m/f and f/f).  Another author may not have handled this much material so deftly, but Burnett has a coherent vision, and has composed a story that is so well-grounded in emotional truth that this ride, while wild, is worth every breathless second.

Goes well with: tequila-soaked watermelon cubes served with mint and lime.


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05/30/23 Boys’ Mom Reads Review
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05/31/23 StoreyBook Reviews Review
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06/01/23 Reading by Moonlight Review
06/02/23 The Real World According to Sam Review
06/03/23 Jennie Reads Review
06/04/23 The Book’s Delight Spotlight
06/05/23 Forgotten Winds Review
06/06/23 Chapter Break Book Blog Spotlight
06/07/23 The Plain-Spoken Pen Review
06/08/23 The Clueless Gent Review
06/08/23 Bibliotica Review

 

 

 

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Review and Giveaway: Sweet Comfort, by Kimberly Fish

BNR Sweet Comfort

 

Cover Sweet ComfortAbout the book Sweet Comfort (Comfort & Joy #1)

  • Genre: Women’s Fiction / Cozy Mystery / Later-In-Life Romance / Sweet Second-Chance Romance
  • Publisher: Fish Tales
  • Page Count: 359 pages
  • Publication Date: January 21, 2023
  • Scroll down for a giveaway!

Welcome to the hometown everyone wants to call their own.

Gloria Bachman, a retired bank executive, has eight weeks to flip a location on Comfort’s High Street into a boutique chocolate shop. Defying expectations for “women of a certain age,” Gloria rediscovers talents and a sharpening of skills. If only she could read people as well as she does a spreadsheet. Even with the renovation in good hands, the subsequent struggle to name the shop brings Gloria and her business partner into conflict with a shady citizen. While Gloria is capable of remaining in her retirement rut while opening a business, two competing social groups try to lure her into their networks, causing Gloria to wonder if she ever knew Comfort at all. A murder rocks the community and revives investigative instincts honed by years in the banking industry.

Mason Lassiter, a disgraced CEO, has his own dramas to escape and the offbeat town seems the perfect place to recover his self-esteem. What was to be a quick reversal of fortunes becomes a quest to right a deeply felt injustice. Fascinated by the women driving the energy of Comfort, he extends his stay to find out why the small town is the backdrop to their best tales. Tangling with his neighbor Gloria becomes his favorite pastime and the key to unlocking the mystery of his past—if he can convince her to trust him.

Chocolate and joy become the glue bringing an unlikely cast together, which just might change Gloria’s and Mason’s course for the better. With characters familiar from previous Comfort novels and introducing fresh names, Sweet Comfort will entertain those who like their stories seasoned with coziness and sweet, second chances.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


Author Photo FishAbout the author, Kimberly Fish

Kimberly 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 novels and novellas, based in the Texas Hill Country, that reveal her fascination with characters discovering their grit and sweet, second chances; all four of the novels have won distinguished awards. Sweet Comfort is her latest novel, the first book in the Comfort and Joy Trilogy.

Connect with Kimberly:

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

 

 


My Thoughts

MissMelissIt’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Kimberly Fish and the wonderful town she’s created in Comfort, TX. Reading one of her books is like a visit to a beloved hometown, and I’m always eager for another installment in the goings-on there. With Sweet Comfort, the first in a spinoff trilogy, not only did I get to revisit one of my favorite fictional towns, but I also got to have the vicarious experience of opening a chocolate shop, and seeing a woman closer to my own age in a plausible romance  – not that I dislike reading about twenty- and thirty-year-olds, but representation matters, and as a woman in the prime of middle age (even if I sometimes still get carded), I love it when authors tackle romance between more mature adults.

But author Fish did more than merely tackle the second-chance romance. With Gloria and Mason, she has given us two people who are perfectly imperfect, reflecting the real concerns we get into when we are older, stuck in our patterns, and both willing to change but afraid of what that change might entail. Gloria Bachman is my new hero, and I would be happy to sit down at a cafe with her and sip coffee or a glass of Prosecco. She’s got a good heart, but can be a little bit prickly. She’s strong in business, but less confident in her personal affairs, and, like many of us, often keeps herself on the fringes of the social whirl, rather than in the thick of it. I really related to her, and not just because my first career was also in finance. She’s so well drawn, that she could be any of a dozen women I actually know, or a composite of all of them.

I also liked the character of Mason Bachman, bruised by life, and trying to turn things around. It’s rare for male characters to be written so sympathetically even when they also have slight antagonistic tendencies, but with Lassiter everything just works. But then, I expect no less from this author, whose knack for creating dimensional characters is one of the things I’ve come to expect from her writing.

And then there’s Kali and the chocolate shop. First, I loved the dual process stories of creating chocolates and also renovating the storefront where they will be sold. My family has owned diners, small markets, and craft/souvenir stores, and the need to make changes while still maintaining the integrity of a specific building and the flavor of the town are things that resonated with me. Fish gave us enough detail that we could see everything happening but never made this book feel like a how-to guide.

As mentioned earlier, Sweet Comfort is the first in a new trilogy, but the text contained a peek at book two, which, I’m excited to say, features both Gloria and the town of Comfort.

Bottom line: This is a satisfying read that is especially satisfying for those readers of a certain age. The only thing that would improve it is if it came with samples of truffles.

Goes well with: chocolate bombe and espresso.


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Two winners each receive a signed copy of Sweet Comfort plus a box of Sweet Shop USA candies!

(US only; ends midnight, CST, 3/31/23)

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Book Review and Giveaway: Survival, by Lisa Harris

BNR Survival

 

Cover Book 1 SurvivalAbout the Book, Survival

  • Series: Fallout (Book 1)
  • Dystopian / Science Fiction / Mystery / Christian
  • Publisher: Adrenaline-Fueled Fiction
  • Pages: 236 pages
  • Publication Date: October 19, 2021

In today’s world, law enforcement agencies across the country rely on forensic tools, DNA testing, and crime labs. But what if that technology was suddenly no longer available? No one in the small, west Texas town of Shadow Ridge knows what took down the power grid, or when it’s going to be back up, but everyone knows exactly where they were the moment it went down. And now, with no electricity, no internet, and no modern technology, the men and women responsible for keeping the town safe are going to have to learn how to fight crime all over again.

When one of the men in charge of storing food for the town of Shadow Ridge is found murdered execution style, it’s up to Jace McQuaid to find the killer. What he discovers is a group of organized raiders who are stealing supplies and selling them on the black market—and the survival of the town depends on stopping them.

Morgan Addison’s estranged brother, Ricky, shows up at her house demanding weapons and confirming her fears that he’s a part of the outlaws. Tensions are raised further when Ricky kidnaps her son to ensure his safe passage out of town. Jace must find a way to save Noah and ensure the survival of Shadow Ridge.

Praise for this book:

  • “An adrenaline rush of a read! Summed up in one word: Unputdownable!” ~Kav, Amazon reviewer
  • “Once again Lisa Harris has created a creative world full of intrigue, suspense, and action! This book is irresistible! I can’t wait to finish with the rest of the series!” ~Dawn, Amazon reviewer
  • “Excellent. Lisa Harris at her best.” ~Chipchucker, Amazon reviewer
  • “The book starts with a bang and does not slow down.” ~Grandaddy A, Amazon reviewer
  • “This is an absolute must read!!” ~Carlien, Amazon reviewer

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

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Author Photo HarrisAbout the Author, Lisa Harris

LISA HARRIS is a USA Today bestselling author, a Christy Award finalist for Blood Ransom, Vendetta, and Port of Origin, Christy Award winner for Dangerous Passage, and the winner of the Best Inspirational Suspense Novel for 2011 (Blood Covenant) and 2015 (Vendetta) from Romantic Times. She has fifty plus novels and novellas in print. She and her husband currently live in Texas.

Connect with Lisa:

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Website | Goodreads | Amazon

 

 

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MissMelissMy Thoughts

The first book in Lisa Harris’s Fallout Series, about life in a small Texas town after an EMP event knocks out the power grid is a fascinating combination of mystery, science fiction, and good old hometown drama. Her take on the common post-apocalyptic trope is a fresh one – the blending of police work and a touch of romance really add depth to the concept. More importantly, this novel is as much character-based as plot-based.

The lead characters of Jace McQuaid, the reluctant lawman, and Morgan Addison, the sister of one of the villains of the piece, are both well drawn and interesting. I liked that Jace questioned his unintended role in the town’s law enforcement, and I also liked that the relationship between Morgan and Jace was formed from a strong friendship, and that romance was secondary to the main plot, adding color, but never overshadowing the mystery. The supporting characters were also well-drawn, but I think my favorite was Hope, the town doctor, who reminded me very much of Doc Baker from the Little House on the Prairie series, but female. Her description of her newly acquire4d extra goat and chickens as payment for her services was both amusing and poignant. I confess to an audible “awww’ during a crucial scene between Jace and Morgan’s young son.

I want to applaud the author’s choice NOT to make solving the EMP problem or reestablishing electricity a core plot point. As this is the first book in a series, and there are several titles listed as coming in the future, doing so would have ruined her setup, first of all, but would also have taken us out of the bubble that a single, small town can be. Having a finite area and a limited number of characters makes for tighter storytelling, and Harris is an amazing storyteller.  Details like the fact that the library had become a local meeting place and an information exchange really made this version of Texas feel real, and I loved that she had townspeople researching and growing medicinal herbs.

While this book is very entertaining as a piece of fiction, I also found it extremely thought-provoking. Our world where HOAs dictate what we can grow in our own yards has moved far away from the practice of kitchen gardens, but such gardens can be literal lifesavers in the event of a real emergency. (This is not an endorsement of people becoming urban or suburban chicken farmers because of a temporary spike in the price of eggs.) I’m not the type to become a prepper, but I feel like I should plant the zucchini and tomatoes I’ve been contemplating sooner rather than later. After all, we cannot survive on basil alone.

Overall, this novel is a very promising opening to what I hope will be a successful series. It was well-paced and perfectly crafted, and I will happily read more in this world.

Goes well with: hot tea and homemade blueberry pie.


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THREE WINNERS!

1st: Spa Basket; 2nd: Shower Steamers; 3rd” Facial Masks

(US only; ends midnight, CST, 2/24/23)

What would you miss most if the grid went down? While not as essential as toilet paper or air-conditioning during a Texas summer, I think the McQuaid heroines from this series would love a bit of self-care—and so would I. – Author Lisa Harris

 

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02/14/23 Review It’s Not All Gravy
02/14/23 Review Forgotten Winds
02/14/23 Bonus Series Spotlight Hall Ways Blog
02/15/23 Review Book Fidelity
02/15/23 Review Bibliotica
02/16/23 Review Reading by Moonlight
02/16/23 Bonus Promo LSBBT Blog
02/17/23 Audio Review Chapter Break Book Blog
02/17/23 Review The Clueless Gent
02/18/23 Review Jennie Reads
02/19/23 Review The Plain-Spoken Pen
02/20/23 Review StoreyBook Reviews
02/21/23 Review Boys’ Mom Reads
02/21/23 Review Writing and Music
02/22/23 Review Shelf Life Blog
02/22/23 Bonus Sneak Peek All the Ups and Downs
02/23/23 Review The Book’s Delight
02/23/23 Audio Review Rox Burkey Blog

 

 

 

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Book Spotlight: Cover Reveal and Pre-Order for Murder’s Legacy, by Anita Dickason

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Cover Murder's Legacy 1-20-23About the book, Murder’s Legacy

  • Now available for pre-order
  • Series: Tori Winters Mysteries, book 2
  • Mystery / Women Sleuths
  • Publisher: Mystic Circle Books
  • Coming February 16, 2023
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Secrets that defy time!

An inconceivable disaster brings Tori Winters’ plans for the historic house she inherited to a traumatic standstill. A section of the escape tunnel built by her great-grandfather, a notorious Dallas gangster, has collapsed. Within the rubble, there is a gruesome discovery. A skeleton with a bullet hole in the skull.

The shocking cave-in triggers an ominous scheme to condemn her property as accusations arise that the tunnel is dangerous.

Embattled, Tori soon discovers that more than the destruction of the house is on the line. It seems she can’t escape the past. It keeps clawing its way into her life with deadly consequences.

Who hides in the shadows with a motive for murder?
And … is Tori the target?

Pre-order this book here:

Murder’s Legacy Pre-Order

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About the Author, Anita Dickason

Author Photo Anita 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 and the Tori Winters Mysteries series, she set them in the small Texas communities of Meridian and Granbury, respectively.

Connect with Anita:

 WEBSITE  |  FACEBOOK  |  TWITTER  AMAZON  |  GOODREADS | BOOKBUB | PINTEREST | LINKEDIN

YouTube: AN AUTHOR’S WORLD | BOOK CINEMA

 

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Tori Winters Series tote bag + personalized coffee mug
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Review and Giveaway: The Covey Jencks Mysteries Omnibus Audiobook by Shelton L. Williams

BNR Covey Jencks Audio Omnibus

 

About the book: The Covey Jencks Mysteries: Love and Murder Deep in the Heart of Texas Cover Audio Love and Murder

  • Narrated by Stephen E. Lookadoo, Jr.
  • Mystery / Amateur Sleuths / West Texas
  • Listening Length: 17hrs, 44 minutes
  • Publication Date: July 27, 2022
  • Scroll down for giveaway!

Shelton Williams’s book The Covey Jencks Mysteries: Love and Murder Deep in the Heart of Texas is more than a collection of mysterious tales of murder and investigation. By bringing to life these characters, the author has highlighted the global issues of racism, drug abuse, political extremism, and women trafficking.

In the midst of it all is our protagonist, hell-bent on finding out what secrets he may find out if he stepped into the dark shadow of Odessa.

This omnibus edition of the Covey Jencks Mysteries includes newly edited versions of Covey Jencks, Covey and JayJay Get Educated, and The Chinese Murder of Edward Watts. It also includes a new preface from the author and foreword by Charles E. Morrison.

Buy, listen to and/or read, and discuss this book:

Audible | Amazon Audiobook | Amazon Paperback | Amazon Kindle | Author’s Website | Goodreads


About the author, Shelton L. Williams Author Pic Shelley Williams

Shelton L. Williams (Shelly) is founder and president of the Osgood Center for International Studies in Washington, DC. He holds a PhD from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and he taught for nearly 40 years at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. He has served in the US Government on 4 occasions, and he has written books and articles on nuclear proliferation. In 2004 he began a new career of writing books on crime and society. Those books are Washed in the Blood, Summer of 66, and now the three books in the Covey Jencks series. All firmly prove that he is still a Texan at heart.

Connect with Shelly:

Website | Amazon | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

 

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My Thoughts MissMeliss

Having read the original Covey Jencks novel, which I did not review, and the second, Covey and Jay Jay Get Educated, which I did, I was curious to hear the audiobook, with all three books narrated by the same person, and presented in one, neat, bundle. I was not disappointed. While I’m a rare audiobook-listener and generally only listen to books I’ve read in print, I’m falling more in love with the medium. As I had not read the third book in this collection, The Chinese Murder of Edward Watts, I was a bit concerned about following the plot, but these books are so perfectly paced and well plotted, and balance humor and more serious scenes so well, that I had no issues.

As a refresher, the first book introduces us to Covey Jencks and his partner in solving crime (among other things), JayJay Qualls and sees them solving a case in Jencks’s hometown of Odessa, Texas where he recently returned. It involved Mexican gangs and a Boston mobster, and set the tone for the sarcasm-laced, deeply respectful and affectionate relationship between the two leads. The second book sees Covey and JayJay  finding the truth behind the death of one of Covey’s friends as well as other mayhem on a college campus, and the third involves a trip to China to solve a murder that involves characters there and in the USA, including a group of Chinese gangsters.

What all three novels have in common, aside from Covey and JayJay, are the deft uses of language, and the way author Williams imbues his stories with social consciousness and uses them to discuss everything from immigration and racism to sexism and sex trafficking. He does this while never making the reader – or listener – feel hammered to death by a cause, or overdoing the darker aspect of these subjects, but wrapping them in mysteries laced with humor and wry turns of phrase that are completely engaging.

As audio books, each of these has been released on its own, albeit with diffrerent narrators. What makes this omnibus audiobook edition so special is that the same narrator is with us all the way through. A good narrator can make or break and audiobook. In this case, Stephen E. Lookadoo’s folksy warmth only enhances the source material. He sounds like someone Covey Jencks would know; he sounds like someone the author would know. He has that kind of familiar voice that makes you think you’ve heard him before – and maybe you have – but even when he’s playing a down-home hick he never seems uneducated. He also used just enough accent and pitch change to evoke the different characters without sounding forced or fake. A lot of male narrators turn female characters into caricatures; Lookadoo does not.

The combination of Williams’s vivd storytelling and Lookadoo’s narration gives the listener the perfect blend of substance and style. The vocal performance is perfectly matched to the relatively quick pace of these novels, and you never feel breathless from trying to keep up, or bored because things are too slow.

At nearly eighteen hours, this omnibus is a meaty undertaking. Personally, I prefer longer audiobooks because I can live with them for several evenings and really absorb the story. In this case, that time gives us three distinct, yet still connected, mysteries that were fantastic in print, an even better in this format.

Goes well with: cold beer – Shiner is good – and a plate of ribs, cole slaw and mac-n-cheese.


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THREE WINNERS:

Each receives an audiobook edition of

THE COVEY JENCKS MYSTERIES:

LOVE AND MURDER DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS

(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 10/31/22.)

 

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Book Spotlight and Giveaway: The Flower Engima by Charles Breakfield & Rox Burkey

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About the book, The Flower Enigma

Cover Flower EnigmaBook 5 of the Magnolia Bluff Crime Chronicles

  • Small Town Mystery / Suspense / Amateur Sleuths
  • Publisher: ICABOD Press
  • Pages: 198 pages
  • Publication Date: August 20, 2022
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Imagine a romantic getaway in the Texas Hill Country

JJ, a cyber guru, whisks his girlfriend, Jo, away for a vacation. No paparazzi. Magnolia Bluff is the perfect destination. Flower B&B is prettier than the pictures on the website.

The evangelizing podcast creators are demanding answers about the town’s newest resident, Mateo Hernandez. The enormous wall he erected has convinced the ladies he’s hiding nefarious activities behind a dubious attorney. Local authorities don’t believe laws are broken and discount the women as meddling gossips.

When the couple checks into Flower, the podcast show-in-progress is interrupted by a cyberattack. JJ, the techno-geek, can’t resist helping. At each subsequent event in the series, he uncovers more serious issues than cyberwarfare.

JJ and Jo can’t avoid this roving series maelstrom. It gets personal when they’re attacked and warned to leave town. No one can conceive the depth of the crimes behind Mateo’s walls.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

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About the authors, Breakfield & Burkey

Breakfield and BurkeyBreakfield is a technology expert in security, networking, voice, and anything digital. He enjoys writing, studying World War II history, travel, and cultural exchanges. Charles is a fan of wine tastings, winemaking, Harley riding, cooking extravaganzas, and woodworking.

Connect with  Breakfield

LinkedIn | Amazon

Burkey is an technology professional who excels at optimizing technology and business investments. She works with customers all over the world focusing on optimized customer experiences. Rox writes white papers and documentation, but found she has a marked preference for writing fiction.

Connect with Burkey:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | LinkedIn | Amazon

Together these Texas authors create award-winning stories that resonate with males and females, as well as young and experienced adults. They bring a fresh new view to technology possibilities today in exciting stories. Visit their website for more information and free stuff.

Connect with Breakfield and Burkey

The Enigma Series | Twitter | Facebook | Medium | Instagram


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Autographed copy of The Flower Enigma

(US only, ends midnight, CDT, 8/25/22.)

 

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