Sunday, July 31, 2016

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Book Review: "A School for Brides," by Patrice Kindl


About the book:
The Winthrop Hopkins Female Academy has one purpose: to train its students in the feminine arts, with an eye toward getting them married off. There are two problems, however. The academy is in a Yorkshire backwater, far from anywhere ... and there are virtually no eligible men.

A School for Brides is the very funny saga of how the eight Winthrop Hopkins girls manage to get around those constraints, and how those of marriageable age snare the man (or future) of their dreams. Set in the same English town as Keeping the Castle, here's the kind of witty tribute to class Regency novels that could only come from the pen of Patrice Kindl!


My thoughts:
I recently reviewed Patrice Kindl's book, Keeping the Castle, and I enjoyed it so much that I purchased A School of Brides, which takes place in the same town of Lesser Hoo, but is a stand-alone novel. (Read my review here.) When a young man passing through Lesser Hoo has an accident with his horse and must recuperate at the girls' school, they are all agog about this handsome arrival, especially when several of his equally eligible friends come to town to cheer him up! Each of the girls at the school has her own, very distinct personality, and approaches the quest for a husband differently. This book is filled with humor and hijinks as each girl heads toward the destiny that awaits her. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and hope that Patrice Kindl pens a third book featuring the residents of Lesser Hoo!

About the author:
Patrice Kindl is the author of Owl in Love and Goose Chase, as well as other award-winning novels. She has shared her 1830s home in a small village in rural upstate New York with a wide variety of creatures: monkeys (she trained them to be aides to quadriplegics), birds, cats, dogs, hamsters, and a son. Her current household contains a singing, dancing, talking parrot, a faithful little black-and-brown dog, an old tiger cat, and a very tolerant husband. Visit her Web site at www.patricekindl.com.



Disclosure: I purchased this book myself. This post contains my Amazon affiliate link, and I will make a small commission for purchases made through this link.

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Spirit of Grace Book Blitz and eBook Giveaway

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Title: The Spirit of Grace
Author: Terry Lynn Thomas
Published: January 16, 2016
Publisher: BlackOpal Books
Genre: Historical Gothic Mystery

Synopsis: Sarah Bennett doesn’t remember the night her mother tumbled down the stairs at Bennett House, despite allegedly witnessing the fatal fall. There was talk of foul play, dark whispers, and sidelong glances, all aimed at Sarah, prompting her family to send her to The Laurels, an exclusive asylum in San Francisco, under a cloud of suspicion. Now, on the one-year anniversary of her mother’s murder, Sarah has been summoned home.

Convinced of her innocence, she returns to Bennett House, hoping to put the broken pieces of her life back together. But when another murder occurs shortly after her arrival, Sarah once again finds herself a suspect, as she is drawn into a web of suspicion and lies.

In order to clear her name, Sarah must remember what happened the fateful night her mother died. But as she works to regain her memory, the real murderer watches, ready to kill again to protect a dark family secret.

The Spirit of Grace is similar to the Gothic style of Victoria Holt and Phyllis A. Whitney.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GoodReads

Excerpt from The Spirit of Grace by Terry Lynn Thomas:

I had just put the silver away and was in the process of laying the used dish towels near the stove so they could dry overnight, when I saw Zeke in the back corridor. Something stopped me from speaking to him or asking what he was doing back here. He must have gone upstairs and come back down again on the servants’ staircase, which no one ever used except Anca and me.

I ducked behind a huge parka and watched as Zeke bent over Grace’s camera bag, unzipped it, and slipped out a black canister of film, all in one quick fluid motion. After he did that, he took another canister of film out of his pocket and slipped that into the camera bag in place of the film he had taken. He didn’t see me standing in the shadows spying on him. He headed back up the stairs, his footsteps quiet as passing time.

I walked back into the foyer and up the main staircase to my own room. Once inside, I locked the door behind me. I changed out of the black dress, fumbling with one hand. The image of Zeke switching the film in Grace’s camera bag ran over and over in my head. I tried to convince myself that he hadn’t been doing anything harmful. Maybe he just needed to borrow some film. But I knew what I had seen. I knew what I had heard this afternoon—Zeke speaking flawless German on the telephone.

The magic I had felt earlier, the possibility of a future with him, had been clouded now. Our future together wouldn’t be a happy one. How could it be? I had fallen in love with a spy.


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About the Author:
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Terry Lynn Thomas married the love of her life, who promised to buy her a horse if she relocated to Mississippi with him. Now that she has relocated, she has discovered that she can be happy anywhere as long as she has her man, her horse and time to write. Terry Lynn devoured novels by Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, and Daphne Du Maurier as a child. These gothic mysteries captured her imagination, never let go, and influence her writing today. When she is not writing or riding her horse, she visits historical houses and cemeteries, hunting for story ideas.

Giveaway Details:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
  • 2 ebook copies of The Spirit of Grace
Giveaway is international.
Ends August 3, 2016, at 11:59 PM EDT


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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Spotlight: "The Ninja's Daughter," by Susan Spann (with Giveaway)

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The Ninja's Daughter: A Hiro Hattori Novel
by Susan Spann

Publication Date: August 2, 2016
Seventh Street Books
eBook & Paperback; 230 Pages
Series: Hiro Hattori Novels/Shinobi Mysteries
Genre: Historical Mystery

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Autumn, 1565: When an actor's daughter is murdered on the banks of Kyoto's Kamo River, master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo are the victim's only hope for justice.

As political tensions rise in the wake of the shogun's recent death, and rival warlords threaten war, the Kyoto police forbid an investigation of the killing, to keep the peace -- but Hiro has a personal connection to the girl and must avenge her. The secret investigation leads Hiro and Father Mateo deep into the exclusive world of Kyoto's theater guilds, where they quickly learn that nothing, and no one, is as it seems. With only a mysterious golden coin to guide them, the investigators uncover a forbidden love affair, a missing mask, and a dangerous link to corruption within the Kyoto police department that leaves Hiro and Father Mateo running for their lives.

In The Ninja’s Daughter, Susan Spann’s poetic voice brilliantly captures the societal disparities, political intrigues, and martial conflicts of sixteenth-century Japan through the persevering efforts of ninja detective Hiro Hattori to solve a murder authorities consider of no consequence.” --JEFFREY SIGER, International Bestselling Author

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | iTunes | Indiebound | Kobo



About the Author

03_Susan Spann

Susan Spann is the author of three previous novels in the Shinobi Mystery series: Claws of the Cat, Blade of the Samurai, and Flask of the Drunken Master. She has a degree in Asian Studies and a lifelong love of Japanese history and culture. When not writing, she works as a transactional attorney focusing on publishing and business law, and raises seahorses and rare corals in her marine aquarium.

For more information, please visit Susan Spann's website. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, July 25
Review at The Readers Hollow
Review & Giveaway at Lampshade Reader

Tuesday, July 26
Review at Reading the Past

Wednesday, July 27
Review at Nerd in New York

Thursday, July 28
Spotlight at Cafinated Reads
Spotlight at Susan Heim on Writing

Friday, July 29
Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Monday, August 1
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Tuesday, August 2
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Review at Booklover Book Reviews

Wednesday, August 3
Guest Post at Diana's Book Reviews

Friday, August 5
Spotlight at The Bookaholic Swede

Sunday, August 7
Review at Carole's Ramblings

Monday, August 8
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, August 9
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Wednesday, August 10
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views

Friday, August 12
Spotlight at Laura's Interests
Spotlight at Life of a Female Bibliophile

Monday, August 15
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Tuesday, August 16
Review at Writing the Renaissance
Guest Post at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Wednesday, August 17
Review at Book Nerd
Interview at Writing the Renaissance

Thursday, August 18
Review at Layered Pages

Friday, August 19
Spotlight at Christy's Cozy Corners

Monday, August 22
Review at Queen of All She Reads
Guest Post & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Tuesday, August 23
Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews

Wednesday, August 24
Review at Beth's Book Nook Blog

Thursday, August 25
Spotlight at The Recipe Fairy

Friday, August 26
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

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GIVEAWAY

One lucky winner will receive a copy of The Ninja's Daughter, by Susan Spann in print or eBook (winner's choice). Open to residents in the US/Canada only.

Rules
– Must be 18 or older to enter.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.

Enter through the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway ends at 11:59 PM EST on Sunday, August 7, 2016.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Promo Blitz: "Scared Witchless," by Amy Boyles



Mystery, Cozy Mystery 
Date Published: June 28, 2016

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A witch. A murder. A wedding dress?

Dylan Apel is having one heck of a summer. She knows her hand-made clothing is special, but magical? Discovering that she's a witch is bad enough, but when Dylan realizes there are folks who’ll kill to possess her witchy powers—that’s enough to make a girl want to hide out in the back of her boutique. Only problem is, Queen Witch is in town, itchin’ to make sure Dylan learns to cast spells, and this witch won’t take no for an answer.

Dylan must learn fast—someone just killed her best client with a poisoned gown meant for Dylan. Was it the tall, mysterious hottie in black, who's suddenly everywhere she goes? After all, the first thing Roman Bane says is he doesn't like witches. Is he here to save her, or kill her?

Dylan is barely getting a handle on her new powers when she finds herself surrounded by witches bossing her this way and that, local police nosing about, and wary clients—death by clothing is not good for business. And the solstice is coming … a time when witch powers are at their peak. Can Dylan survive the chaos long enough to figure out her new life?

EXCERPT

CHAPTER ONE

"If that ain't the other side of stupid, I don't know what is."

Reagan Eckhart, all platinum-blonde ninety-eight pounds of her, shoved a newspaper in my face. I winced, barely avoiding a massive paper cut to the nose.

"Those idiots put you in Arts and Leisure. You should have been on the front page of the Birmingham News." She tapped the newspaper with a single red fingernail. "With as much business as you do, Dylan Apel, you should have been the main story of the day."

"Don't you think technically they should have put me in the business section?" I said.

Reagan fluffed the foot of hair teased up at her crown. At least it looked like a foot. Okay, it wasn't a foot—only six inches. But those were a tall six inches. Big enough to practically be their own person. "Whatever," she mumbled.

The debutante was in rare form today. Reagan was dressed to the nines in a black halter top and pants that resembled Spandex. Personally, I was waiting for her to break out into the chorus of “You're the One That I Want,” √† la Olivia Newton-John. Harry Shaw, her fianc√©—a smallish, bald financial advisor—definitely wouldn't join her if she did. His idea of playing John Travolta probably resembled hot-and-heavy talk about how gross grease and lightning were and why would you want to put the two together?

I grabbed the paper and scrutinized the picture of me and my sisters, Seraphina and Reid. Bright, beaming smiles on our faces, we stood in front of our side-by-side stores—Perfect Fit and Sinless Confections. Seraphina, tall and slender, her hair shimmering like glass in the sunlight, looked absolutely perfect. Even Reid, my eighteen-year-old baby sis, looked cherubic and innocent, her doe eyes and cheeky smile radiating youthful exuberance.

Then there was me. I sighed. It had taken two hours to smooth my hair, and it had still frizzed on the edges. I wasn't as tall or slender as Seraphina. But what I lacked in athletic build, I made up for in curves. Good for me. I might not look statuesque and perfect, but I could put on a slutty dress and have enough T and A to get noticed.

Was that a zit on my cheek?

"When I realized you had this store, Dylan," Reagan said, "and I saw how beautiful the dresses were, I told Harry—I said, 'Harry, that's who's going to design my wedding dress.' Didn't I, hon?"

Harry, nose-deep in the business section, remained silent.

Reagan kicked him.

"Ow!" Harry rubbed his ankle. "What'd you do that for?"

"Didn't I, Harry? Didn't I say that?"

Harry shrank a little, his bald pate looking even balder under the fluorescents. "Yes, of course you did, dear."

Poor guy. He probably wouldn't last a year in the marriage. He'd be whipped, beaten down and likely castrated after two months. 

Did I say that out loud?

"Anyway," Reagan continued, flitting about the room. "I told Harry, Dylan Apel and I were best friends in high school—"

"Mortal enemies," I corrected.

"—and of course she's going to be the one to design my dress." Girlfriend didn't miss one beat. I don't think Reagan listened to what people said. Did she even hear them when they talked?

From the corner my assistant, Carrie Dogwood, snickered. I shot her a look of warning. She turned a deep shade of red and pretended to straighten a rack of sequined gowns.

"Reagan, do you want to see your dress again?" I asked.

"Of course," she squealed. "I can't get enough of it."

Carrie crossed to me. She leaned over, kept her voice low. "Wonder what she'll complain about this time."

I turned away from Reagan. "Hopefully nothing," I whispered. "Can you grab the dress?"

"Sure thing."

An unfinished blue gown caught my attention. The color of a robin's egg, the dress would be the envy of the Silver Springs solstice banquet, what with its deep vee neckline and overlay of chiffon. I needed to finish it before the dance, which was barely two weeks away.

I sighed. I'd been working a lot lately, thanks to Reagan's never-ending changes to her gown. There was less than a week until the wedding, and after that I'd have plenty of time to work on my own dress. That is, if I survived Reagan for a few more days.

I stared vacantly at the gown until a bodiless hand thrust the newspaper into my face once more. Reagan popped up in front of me and wiggled the now crumpled article. "But this reporter nails it. She absolutely gets it right. I could have gone anywhere for my dress, but there's just something about your gowns and your sister's food. It's like I'm transported to another place. I don't know how to describe it."

I had heard the same mantra over and over from clients. There's something about your clothes that I can't put my finger on. It's almost like they're magical.

Yeah. Right. Not that I didn't appreciate the compliment. Believe me, I did. So did Sera. If it weren't for the folks in our lakeside community of Silver Springs, Alabama, we'd be beggars. Hoboes maybe. Vagabonds most likely. And not the good kind. Not the sexy kind you see on the covers of romance novels.

Wait. There weren't hoboes on those. Well, anyway, we'd be dirty, covered in rags that smelled of oil and sweat, with grit under our fingernails that not even the best manicure technician could lift.

"Here's the dress," Carrie said.

Reagan's smile vanished. "Oh."

My dreams, my hopes, my wishes for a beautiful future crashed and exploded like a car careening off a cliff in a 1970s B movie. What could possibly be wrong this time—the hundredth time? I swear, every occasion this girl saw her dress, she found something to criticize. It was a wonder I hadn't strangled her before now.

I smoothed the lines of frustration that were forming on my forehead. "What's the problem?"

Reagan wrinkled her nose. "It's just…well…that's a lot of sequins."

I took a deep, cleansing breath and thought happy thoughts. "Last week you wanted more sequins. You said it didn't have enough bling."

Carrie bit back a giggle.

I flashed her a seething look. I mean, seriously. I knew it was funny, but it was only good service not to laugh at the customer while she's standing right in front of you. At least wait until the door hits her backside as she's leaving.

"Well," Reagan said, "last week there weren't any sequins. What were there? Like five on the whole thing?"

I steepled my fingers beneath my chin. "There were two hundred."

"Oh. How many are there now?"

"Five hundred."

"It's too many. Listen, Dylan, just because we were best friends in high school—"

"Mortal enemies," I said.

"—doesn't mean you can take advantage of me. If this dress isn't to perfection by Saturday, then I'm getting it for free. Right?"

Whoa, Nelly. "I'm sorry?"

Reagan batted her fake eyelashes. "That's just plain old good business. The customer is always right. I mean, we go way back. Too far back to let a little disagreement over some sequins ruin what we had."

I poked the air with my index finger. "Once again, we were mortal enemies. Reagan, you have brain damage when it comes to what high school was like."

A tittering laugh escaped her throat. It sounded like a thousand butterflies taking flight. That was right before I lifted my imaginary rocket launcher, aimed high and fired, sending the beauties crashing to the ground in a blazing explosion.

"You're so melodramatic, Dylan. We had a little disagreement about prom; that was all." 

I crossed my arms. "Reagan, let me remind you of exactly what happened in high school."

"Why don't you do that, since you're so convinced we had nothing to do with each other." Reagan pulled one of her eyelashes. Ouch. Didn't that hurt?

I shook my head and said, "You had Colten Blacklock ask me to prom for the sole purpose of standing me up the night of." I pointed to her and then to me. "You and I—we were never friends, and I'm not giving you this dress for free. We've done a dozen fittings, and you've found something wrong with each and every one. You can either take it or leave it."

Reagan's mouth fell. She swung to Harry. "Are you going to let her talk to me like that?"

Harry squashed the grin on his face and cleared his throat. "Ahem. Well. You have tried the dress on a lot, and Miss Apel has been more than accommodating."

Reagan stomped her foot. "You," she said, wagging a finger at him. "You wait until we get home."

Oh no. I didn't want Harry to be in the dog house because of me. I reached out and rubbed Reagan's arm, trying to soothe the savage bridezilla. "Reagan, I'll lose some of the sequins. Stop by tomorrow and see what you think."

She flashed a tight, bitter smile. "What you have better be good, or I'm taking my business elsewhere. And that means your sister won't be doing the catering, either." She squared her shoulders, swiveled on her heel and stormed out of the shop. Harry gave me an apologetic smile and followed. The little bell above the door tinkled as they left.

"Do you think she'll back out?" Carrie asked.

I shook my head. "Of course not. Not unless she wants a dress off the rack and a cake from Walmart."

Carrie laughed. "She's something else, isn't she?"

"She's certainly something.” I rubbed my neck. Tension latched to the cords of muscle. I'd have a headache pretty soon if I didn't take an ibuprofen. Extending my palm, I gestured for Carrie to hand me the wedding gown. "I guess I'll alter her dress."

Carrie stuffed the layers of silk in my hands and nodded to the blue cross-necked dress. "But when are you going to finish that one?"

I peeked out from behind the mass. "I don't know. We have, what? Two weeks until the summer solstice? I'll work on it soon."

The bell above the door tinkled. Seraphina crashed in, a whirlwind of flour following her. Her blue eyes sparkled with delight. How I envied those eyes. Mine were poo brown. Some said chocolate, but I knew better. Those folks were just being Southern polite.

"Oh my God! Did y'all see the article?" She waved the paper like a flag of surrender.

"I did!"

"It's incredible. The reporter went so far as to say our work is, and I quote…" She scanned the article.

"Where is it? Where did that passage go? Oh, here it is." She jabbed it. "She said our work is 'inspired by the gods themselves.' Ha! You couldn't pay for better advertising."

"You probably could," I said.

Carrie flipped the ends of her chestnut hair. "Listen, y'all, I just got this new gel manicure machine in the mail. Do you mind if I go freshen up these bad boys?" She wiggled her perfect coral nails. To my eyes, they needed no refreshing. But hey, every girl has some sort of vice. Carrie's happened to be that she was ADD about her nails. In the three years she'd worked for me, I'd never seen one chip. Ever. Mine, on the other hand, looked like Godzilla had tried to paint them—there were broken wedges of color that Carrie would have deemed unforgivable.

"Go ahead. We'll be here," I said. She picked up a shipping box and exited to the back.

I hung Reagan's wedding dress on a rack and brushed my hands of any rogue sequins that hadn't been sewn on properly, which was actually impossible since I'd done the work myself. But my grandmother had always taught me to be humble, so that was my attempt.

Sera chewed her bottom lip. "The reporter says, 'Dylan Apel's dresses will transport you to another time and place. A claim I can attest to personally, for I experienced this peculiar phenomenon first-hand when I tried on one of her gowns. When I saw my reflection in the mirror, for a split second I was taken back to the cotillion ball where I met my husband thirty years ago. If that wasn’t enough to put a spring in my step, one bite of Seraphina's baked treats and I was back in my grandmother’s kitchen as she created confections on the stove. Truly a magical experience.'" Sera paused, looked up at me. "Seriously. That's some good stuff."

"Yeah, it’s good,” I said. But the reporter’s description about trying on my clothes bothered me. I shrugged off the uncomfortable feeling and smiled. "Though I have been accused on occasion of drugging my clothes."

Sera frowned. "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard."

The bell tinkled. I stepped forward, my most welcoming smile on my face.

My sister glanced at me. "You look like a piranha. Tone it down."

I settled into a half smile. "Good morning! Welcome to Perfect Fit."

A towering redhead sauntered into the store. Bangles covered both her arms, clinking pleasantly as she walked. Emerald-green eyes fixed on me and Sera. I squirmed. Couldn't help it. At five-five I wasn't short. Not by any means. But this was a tall woman. Five-ten easy. And all that hair. A cloud of silky crimson and honey curls cascaded down her back. I don't even think she had any product in it. It was a totally natural head of hair.

I hated her.

Kidding. But envy did surface.

She smiled brightly. My envy turned into instant like. "Mornin'. I wanted to try on some clothes," she said in a throaty voice, the kind that drove men mad. I'd never seen her before, and Silver Springs was a minuscule town. From the look of interest on Sera's face, I guess she hadn't seen this woman before, either.

I stepped forward. "Absolutely. What are you looking for?"

"Just some regular day-wear stuff."

My time had arrived. I had a knack, a sixth sense really, about clothes and people. In one try I could create an entire body-fitting wardrobe and not even know the size of the person. What can I say? It came naturally to me.

"Are you looking for sportswear or business?"

"Both."

Cha-ching! "Let me pull a few items and see what you think."

"I'm gonna head back," Sera said. "I'm sure there's something I need to make."

I waved. "Bye."

She waved back and left, leaving me to focus on my client. Five minutes later I had two armfuls of pants, jackets, and blouses. "Let me get you in a dressing room. After you're done, come out and see what you think in the three-way mirror."

None of my dressing rooms had mirrors. People thought it weird, but I wanted to be around when my clients saw themselves in my clothing for the first time.

The woman disappeared behind the door, a roomful of clothes at the ready. Two minutes later she reappeared in a pair of jeans and a loose blouse.

"Take a look."

She stepped forward. The air contracted as if the very atmosphere had been sucked away. The mirror shimmered, and the woman's image bowed and straightened. It happened fast, so fast no one ever noticed. No one except for me.

So, this is where I tell you what that's all about. I would if I could. The easiest explanation is that my clothes make people feel great. From what Sera's told me, putting on one of my garments reminds you of an amazing time in your life. For instance—you're a fifty-year-old woman buying a dress for your daughter's wedding. You try something on and poof, you're transported back to the wondrous feeling you experienced at senior prom. Of course, that would be you, not me. My prom stank thanks to Reagan Eckhart.

At least, that’s what I’d always thought. It’s also why the reporter’s story bothered me. She saw her younger self in that mirror. That had never happened before—at least not that I knew of. My clothes blanketed clients in a wondrous feeling. They didn't make anyone see visions.  

Sera's baked goods do something similar. Every time I eat something she's made, I feel amazing, like I could take on the world. One bite of a buttery croissant and I'm totally superwoman. Minus the red cape. And the tights. Now that I think about it, I wouldn't be caught dead in that outfit.

But why are we like that? We're gifted; that's what our grandmother always called it. We have a gift.

"What do you think?" I asked.

She stared at her image. After a long moment her lips curlicued into a smile. She licked the bottom one, her eyes shining.

"Your clothes are breathtaking."

Thirty minutes and three hundred dollars later, I placed the last package in the redhead's hands.

"How'd you hear about us?" I asked.

"I saw the article in the paper."

I clicked my tongue. "Wow. News travels fast." Sweet. Today might be a crazy, busy day.

She smiled, her eyes glittering. "You don't even know the half of it."

"Oh?"

She pinched her brows together, giving her a dark, ominous expression. "In one week I guarantee you won't recognize your life."

An awkward laugh escaped my lips. "Oh. Ha-ha. I hope it's all good."

She shook her head. "That little article that came out about you? The one that was supposed to help your business? Well, you just did the opposite. You stirred up a bed of fire ants." She leaned forward and gave me a stern look. "And in case you need remindin', the sting from a fire ant lasts a long time. Take this as your warnin'."

I was so confused. "What do you mean, a warning?"

"Watch your back."

With that she left, her cloud of hair billowing behind her. I stood stone still. Numb shock tingled over my body, filtering down into my fingers and toes.

What the heck just happened?


After living in Chicago, Louisville and New York, Amy Boyles finally settled in North Alabama with her husband.

Along with writing, she has a passion for cooking ridiculously fattening food and complaining about weight gain. She loves to connect with readers.





Purchase Link

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Cover Reveal: "Murder on Moonshine Hill," by Joan C. Curtis

cover reveal
When Jenna decides to go to this wedding, she expects to dredge up old secrets and old hurts, and she expects to see people from her past -- but she doesn’t expect to stumble on a dead body.

Jenna’s friend is arrested. The wedding is cancelled. And Jenna’s tendency to stick her nose where it shouldn’t be leads her into the path of the killer.

Set in the serene mountains of North Carolina, Murder on Moonshine Hill is filled with suspense, humor, and a quirky cast of supporting characters.

Releases August 23! Pre-order: Amazon / Nook


MURDERMOONSHINE_LARGE

About the author:
joancCurtis
Joan C. Curtis is an award-winning writer who has published 6 books and numerous stories. Readers compare her to the great Southern writer, Fanny Flagg. “She writes characters and a story that will stay with you.”

Her debut mystery/suspense novel, The Clock Strikes Midnight, won the silver medal for fiction/suspense in the Global eBook Awards for 2015 and is a finalist for the Royal Palm Literary Award. The e-Murderer won first place in the Malice Domestic Grants competition for new writers.

Joan has been an avid reader for as long as she can remember. She reads all kinds of books, including women’s fiction, mysteries, biography, and nonfiction. Mystery/suspense with a psychological twist is exactly the kind of book Joan loves to read.

"I write about characters who remind me of myself at times and my sister at times, but never fully so. My stories are told from a woman's point of view with a destiny. Characters drive my writing and my reading."

Having grown up in the South with a mother from Westchester County, New York, Joan has a unique take on blending the Southern traditions with the eye of a Northerner. She spent most of her childhood in North Carolina and now resides in Athens, Georgia.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Trailer Reveal and Paperback Giveaway: "Polaris," by Beth Bowland


Today, Beth Bowland and Month9Books are revealing the trailer for POLARIS, which releases August 16, 2016! Check out the gorgeous trailer and enter to win a paperback of the book!

A quick note from the author:

When I first watched the trailer, I was in awe, tears formed in my eyes, and I was frozen in my seat. I tried to say “OMG,” but only the “O” came out and “MG” got stuck, because at that moment I watched as my story literally took a breath and came to life.

I had such a great time writing Polaris. It combined my love for creating stories and conspiracy theories. I love “What Ifs.” What if there is life on other planets? What if they’re really not so different than we are? And the big ticket question: What if they’re already among us? Polaris takes a quirky but fun spin on an old conspiracy theory, but what if the conspiracy is not a theory…

On to the reveal! 






Title: POLARIS
Author: Beth Bowland
Pub. Date: August 16, 2016
Publisher: Tantrum Books
Format: Paperback, eBook

Bixie, Montana is in the middle of nowhere, not connected to any place, and not needed to get to any destination. But one snowy evening, a lone visitor walking down an old country road changes thirteen-year-old Aaron Martin’s life forever. Aaron thinks he’s being a Good Samaritan by inviting the nearly frozen visitor into his home, but he’s unwittingly initiated “The Game.”

A group of Elders, known as the Council of the Legend, come together from time to time to enjoy a rousing event they playfully call “The Game.” Now, Aaron’s town is the playing board and he and his fellow townspeople are the players.

The rules are simple. Win. Because if Aaron loses, he won’t just lose his family. He’ll lose his very identity.




Beth Bowland, a native Ohioan, has always enjoyed reading and creating stories of her own. As a child, she devoured every book she could get her hands on and spent numerous hours at the library each week. She loves writing stories for tweens and young teens, and her characters are often described as quirky and fun, but always relatable. When she’s not writing, she loves watching HGTV. She has one daughter and resides in Arlington, Texas, with her husband, Phillip.




1 winner will receive a paperback of POLARIS, US Only.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Book Review: "A Beauty Refined," by Tracie Peterson ~ Plus, a Precious Gems Giveaway!


A Beauty Refined
by Tracie Peterson
Genre: Christian Historical Romance
Publisher: Bethany House

About the book:
What does it take to reveal the true beauty of a hidden gem?

Phoebe Von Bergen, the daughter of a German count, is excited to visit America for the first time while her father purchases sapphires in Helena, Montana. Little does she know, however, that her father's intentions -- both for her and the gemstones -- are not what she thinks.

Ian Harper, a lapidary working in Helena, finds the dignified young woman staying at the Broadwater Hotel more than a little intriguing. Yet the more he gets to know her, the more he realizes that her family story is based on a lie -- a lie she has no knowledge of. And Ian believes he knows the only path that will lead her to freedom.

Meeting Ian has changed everything for Phoebe, and she begins to consider staying in America, regardless of her father's plans. But she may not be prepared for the unexpected danger that results when her family's deception begins to unravel.



Read the first chapter here.

My thoughts:
If you're a fan of Christian fiction, this book has plenty of theology. Phoebe was raised with no religious foundation by her father, but when she arrives in Montana, she begins to learn about the Christian faith of the people around her. This becomes especially important when Phoebe needs to figure out how to deal with family secrets that arise and her father's unwelcome plans for her life. She turns to Ian for advice, who insists on complete honesty due to his troubled personal history and religious beliefs. However, this creates a moral dilemma because the full truth could place Phoebe in danger (which it does). This is a book about facing tough decisions and discerning God's will. Despite its historic setting, its issues are timeless and will resonate with contemporary readers.

About the author:
Tracie Peterson is the award-winning author of over eighty novels, both historical and contemporary. Her avid research resonates in her stories, as seen in her bestselling Heirs of Montana and Alaskan Quest series. Tracie and her family make their home in Montana. Visit her on her website and Facebook.

Join Tracie in celebrating the release of A Beauty Refined by entering to win her Precious Gems giveaway (details below) and by attending her author chat party on August 9!




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One grand prize winner will receive:
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 8/9. The winner will be announced at A Beauty Refined Facebook party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Tracie and fellow fans of historical fiction, as well as for a chance to win other prizes!


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RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 9th!



Disclosure: I received a complimentary book from Litfuse to facilitate my honest review. This post contains my Amazon affiliate link, and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase through the link.

Livin' Large in Fat Chance, Texas Book Blitz: Giveaway for a $50 Amazon Gift Card

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Title: Livin’ Large in Fat Chance, Texas
Series: Fat Chance, Texas Book 3
Author: Celia Bonaduce
Published: July 19, 2016
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romantic Comedy

Synopsis:
From ghost town to growing community, it’s been a few years since a group of strangers inherited property in tiny, deserted Fat Chance, Texas. And besides creating businesses, they’ve developed friendships and romances, too. But plans to pave the town may put Dymphna Pearl and her beau, Professor Johnson, on opposite sides of Main Street. In his zeal for the project, he’s making great decisions for Fat Chance, but not for them as a couple. Disgruntled, Dymphna heads back to Los Angeles to collect the rabbits she’s created a special place for in the hot Texas climate. But the professor is in for another surprise…

Professor Johnson didn’t even know about Dymphna’s sister, Maggie, and when he meets her in a most unexpected way, he begins to understand why. In the meantime, Dymphna is off pursuing an exciting venture to let the world know about Fat Chance -- one that will bring a talented new crew to the eclectic group. The kitschy little place they call home is clearly destined for bigger, better things, but with so many changes a-coming, will the same be true for everyone in Fat Chance, including the professor and Dymphna?

Excerpt from Livin’ Large in Fat Chance, Texas by Celia Bonaduce:

Dymphna had to admit, now that Fat Chance had a road, the fact that they could get Professor Johnson’s Outback up to the farm was pure luxury. It would have been hard to sneak off if she needed him to carry her bag up the trail.
            The sun was rising over the farm as Dymphna tucked one small bag into the back of Professor Johnson’s SUV. She felt guilty taking his car, but not guilty enough to stay. The farm was still in shadows, but she was able to make out Thud’s form shooting through the open back and climbing into the passenger seat. He was extremely agile for a large dog. Or at least, extremely determined.
            “Thud!” Dymphna called in a hoarse whisper. “Get out of the car.”
            Dymphna tiptoed over to the passenger side and opened the door. Thud thumped his tail. She grabbed his collar. As soon as she was in range, Thud dealt her a slobbery kiss. Dymphna wiped the drool on her sleeve, grabbed his collar, and pulled. The dog didnt budge.
            “Come on, Thud,” she said. “Get out!”
            She was not usually this stern with the bloodhound, but there was no time to lose. Dymphna had hoped to be gone by the time Wobble, her crabby rooster, crowed. Even though it was still mostly dark, she could hear Wobble flapping around the yard. The rooster was putting his all into it this morning, looking like a vintage Kellogg’s Corn Flakes ad, perched on the fence and flapping his wings in the hazy morning light.
            I’m going to miss you.” Professor Johnson’s voice pierced the fog.
            Dymphna started.
            “I was hoping I wouldn’t wake you,” she said.
            “You didn’t,” Professor Johnson said. “Thud did.”
            Dymphna knew a scowl from her would not matter in the least to Thud, so she didn’t bother.
            I...” She paused, then started again. “I just think it’s easier this way. We said goodbye last night ... and ... I mean, I’ll be back. Soon.”
            “Will you?”
            “I have your car,” she said, trying for a confident smile.
            “And I guess I have your farm,” he said.
            He had a point. While she was gone, Professor Johnson would be here, taking care of her goats and chickens, as well as packing the orders that came in for her jams and jellies. He would also have to keep an eye on Dymphna’s friend Crash the duck, who remained a wild bird but would show up at the farm every now and then to let her know he was fine.
Both of them had agreed that it was time for Dymphna to return to Los Angeles and collect her Angora rabbits. Professor Johnson and Powderkeg had made a climate-controlled environment here on the Fat Farm that was just waiting for the rabbits. When she and Professor Johnson had first started discussing the details of retrieving the rabbits, their relationship was not as strained as it was now. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but it seemed as if when times were tough, the entire town pulled together. When they first got word that the trail was to be paved, it seemed like the answer to their prayers. The asphalt wasn’t even dry before the bickering began. While the town prospered, both sides claimed victory: Professor Johnson’s side thought the uptick in the town’s prosperity was due to the new access to town and would only get better if they continued paving Main Street. Dymphna’s side felt that as long as people were making their way into town, why ruin the historic nature of the place? Folks in the area were well aware of the squabbling among the Fat Chancers and snickered about Team Professor and Team Dymphna. It was idle gossip for those not involved, but tensions were running high at the farm. Neither Dymphna not Professor Johnson took things lightly.
            As the time approached for her to leave for Los Angeles, Dymphna felt she was escaping. Her thoughts turned more and more to her life in Santa Monica, the days before Fat Chance, the years before Professor Johnson. She’d had a good life there, living in the guesthouse of her best friend, Erinn. Erinn was a Broadway playwright who had reinvented herself as a TV producer and documentarian. Erinn’s family had become Dymphna’s family. Fat Chance had completely overwhelmed Dymphna and she’d somehow never made it back to Southern California. Now she was homesick, daydreaming about long walks along the coast, drinking tea at Erinn’s sister’s tea shop in Venice, catching up with how her rabbits were doing from Erinn’s mother, Virginia, who had been watching over the three rabbits that remained in her care. Virginia had moved into Erinn’s guesthouse when Dymphna made the bold move to Texas, but Erinn had said Dymphna would always have a room in the large Victorian on Ocean Avenue that Erinn somehow managed to hang on to, even with her feast-or-famine career.
            Although unspoken, neither Dymphna nor Professor Johnson was sure she was going to come back immediately. Dymphna kept pushing away the thought that she might not come back at all. Tears pricked her eyes. This farm was as close to “home” as any place in her life.
            Of course I’ll come back, she scolded herself.
            “The rabbits will love it here,” Professor Johnson said.
            The sun had made its way over the hills. She could see him clearly now, his T-shirt and sweatpants wrinkled from sleep, his hair wild from last night’s passionate goodbye. Dymphna’s heart lurched when she saw that he was barefoot -- he had obviously run out of the house as soon as he understood what the empty side of the bed meant.
            Of course I’ll come back.
            “Were you going to say goodbye?” he asked.
            She knew if she looked at him, she would see the little boy who no one got to see but her. The little boy who trusted her not to hurt him.
            So she didn’t look. Instead, she tugged again at the dog.
            “Thud, seriously,” she said. “Out.
            “Do you want to take him with you?”
            This is why she had wanted to leave while he was still asleep. He could be such a dear man -- when he wasn’t infuriating her.
             No,” Dymphna said. “He’s been at the farm for years now. I don’t think he’d want to go back to Los Angeles.”
             “But you do?”
            “For a little while,” she said softly.
            “Get out of the car, Thud,” he said evenly.
            The dog jumped out of the passenger side and Professor Johnson closed the door with a solid thwack.
            “It’s a long drive,” she said. “I really better be going.”
            He nodded.
            “I washed the car,” he said.
            “Oh?” Dymphna looked at the Outback. Now that the sun was up, she could see it was sparkling clean.
            “Thank you,” she said.
            She started to put her arms around him. She wanted to hold him and say all the things that she never said. She loved him. He was the best thing that ever happened to her. She would be back. She took a deep breath, but he was the first to speak.
            “If Main Street were paved, the car wouldn’t be completely trashed by the time you got through town,” he said.
            Dymphna kissed him on the cheek, gave Thud a squeeze, and got in the car.


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About the Author:
Celia Bonaduce is an award-winning producer whose credits cover a lot of ground -- everything from field-producing ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to writing for many of Nickelodeon’s animated series, including Hey, Arnold and Chalkzone. If Celia Bonaduce’s last name is any indication, she is proof that TV talent runs in the family.

An avid reader, entering the world of books has always been a lifelong ambition. She is the author of the Venice Beach Romances, including The Merchant of Venice Beach, A Comedy of Erinn, and Much Ado About Mother. Her dream continues with The Fat Chance, Texas Series. Welcome to Fat Chance, Texas and Slim Pickins’ in Fat Chance, Texas are available now! The series continues with book three, Livin’ Large in Fat Chance, Texas, on July 19, 2016.


Giveaway Details:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
  • A $50 Amazon Gift Card
Giveaway is open internationally and ends on July 24, 2016 at 11:59 PM EDT. Enter through the Rafflecopter form below.


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Disclaimer: Susan Heim on Writing is not responsible for Rafflecopter content or prize fulfillment.