Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Review (+ Tour GIVEAWAY): Shot in the Dark by Cleo Coyle

Shot in the Dark
By Cleo Coyle
A Coffeehouse Mystery #17
Berkley Prime Crime, 2018


A new smartphone dating game turns the Village Blend into a hookup hot spot, until one dark night, when a gunshot leaves a dead body behind and the landmark coffeehouse becomes the center of a whole new scene–a crime scene.

As Village Blend manager Clare Cosi attempts to finalize a date for her wedding, her ex-husband becomes addicted to making dates through smartphone swipes. Clare has mixed feelings about these quickie matchups happening in her coffeehouse. Even her octogenarian employer is selecting suitors by screenshot! But business is booming, and Clare works hard to keep the espresso shots flowing. Then one dark night, another kind of shot leaves a dead body for her to find.

The corpse is a successful entrepreneur who became notorious for his “hit it and quit it” behavior: prowling for women on dating apps, then devastating his conquests with morning-after insults. Though the NYPD quickly arrests one of his recent victims, Clare finds reason to believe she’s been framed.

Now, with the help of her ex and crew of quirky baristas, Clare starts “swiping” through suspects in her own shop, determined to find the real killer before another shot rings out.

Includes a bang-up menu of tempting recipes.

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My thoughts

“This phone app culture with its swipe-to-meet ethos,
I must admit, is seductive. There’s someone out there who’s perfect
for you. Someone who will finally complete you, make you happy.
You simply have to keep swiping, keep shopping.”
- Madame

Shot in the Dark is another excellent story in Cleo Coyle’s popular coffeehouse series, one that I thoroughly enjoyed. It was great to reunite with Claire and supporting characters – such as fiancĂ© NYPD detective Mike, the gritty and wise Madame, the irritatingly adorable ex-husband Matt, and the Village Blend’s baristas. Shot in the Dark is a well-crafted, intelligently-written story, with complexity and depth.

The story’s social media theme makes it very relevant for today – and a little scary, to be honest. Swiping through a dating app and quickly connecting at a hot spot like the Village Blend just doesn’t seem promising for successful relationships, and Claire’s former mother-in-law didn’t think so either. I loved her comment to Claire, “Sooner or later they’ll understand that shared experiences over time are what create true intimacy and steadfast love.”

There’s delightful touches of humor in the midst of this serious story of murder, drugs and greed, one of my favorites being the character of the octogenarian Madame, who Claire cared deeply for. For me, the murder mystery itself was one of enjoying the unfolding of layers rather than trying to figure out “whodunit” – and it all leads to a spine-tingling finale.

Some story titles are cute, while others are creative, and I thought Shot in the Dark was pure genius in its subtle meanings. After all, it could simply be referring to coffee, or perhaps an actual murder, or maybe even the likelihood of finding the ideal mate through this crazy form of digital dating. I’ll end with another quote from Madame that beautifully reflects the story overall … “Throwing off societal constraints amounts to nothing if it produces nothing; and a life of aimlessness is far from a triumph of the human spirit.”


Note: This is a general market book, so readers can expect a little mild profanity and some suggestive scenes, but nothing too revealing.

I received a copy of this book through Great Escapes Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.


CLEO COYLE is the pseudonym for Alice Alfonsi, writing in collaboration with her husband, Marc Cerasini.

CLEO COYLE grew up in a small town near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After earning scholarships to study writing at Carnegie Mellon and American Universities, she began her career as a cub reporter for The New York Times. Now an author of popular fiction and New York Times bestselling media tie-in writer, Cleo lives and works in New York City, where she collaborates with her husband (also a bestselling author) to pen the Coffeehouse Mysteries for Penguin. Together Cleo and her husband also write the Haunted Bookshop Mysteries under the name Alice Kimberly.

When not haunting coffeehouses, hunting ghosts, or rescuing stray cats, Cleo and Marc are bestselling media tie-in writers who have penned properties for NBC, Lucasfilm, Disney, Fox, Imagine, and MGM. In their spare time, they cook like crazy and drink a lot of java.



April 23 – Babs Book Bistro – REVIEW
April 24 – The Power of Words – REVIEW
April 25 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW
April 26 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW
April 27 – Varietats – REVIEW
April 28 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW
April 29 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW
April 30 – Ms. Cat’s Honest World – REVIEW
May 1 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW
May 2 – A Holland Reads – REVIEW

Monday, April 23, 2018

Review (+ Tour GIVEAWAY): Julie by Catherine Marshall

By Catherine Marshall
Gilead Publishing
Reissue Date: April 17, 2018


Will the dam hold?

Julie Wallace has always wanted to write. Trying to escape the Great Depression, Julie’s father buys the Alderton Sentinel, a small-town newspaper in flood-prone Alderton, Pennsylvania, and moves his family there. As flash floods ominously increase, Julie’s investigative reporting uncovers secrets that could endanger the entire community.

Julie, the newspaper, and her family are thrown into a perilous standoff with the owners of the steel mills as they investigate the conditions of the immigrant laborers. As the Alderton Sentinel and Julie take on a more aggressive role to reform these conditions, seething tensions come to a head.

When a devastating tragedy follows a shocking revelation, Julie’s courage and strength are tested. Will truth and justice win, or will Julie lose everything she holds dear?

Purchase Links*:
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My thoughts

Drama, corruption, suspense, inspiration …

Julie by Catherine Marshall is totally different from the outstanding Christy, yet is a powerfully entertaining read in its own way. This is a character-driven story that shines the light on the Depression years in the small-town community of Alderton, Pennsylvania. It’s really a coming-of-age story of 18-year-old Julie, an idealistic young woman with the goal of being a reporter.

Several years in the writing, this novel is filled with moving and fascinating historical detail. I especially enjoyed the story of Big John, told by family friend Dean. Class divisions are vividly contrasted and we see the controlling power of big business. I found Julie to be an engrossing read and highly recommend it.  [I haven’t quite finished and will update when I do.]

I received an electronic copy of this book through Just Read Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.


Catherine Marshall (1914-1983), “The New York Times” best-selling author of 30 books, is best known for her novel “Christy.” Based on the life of her mother, “Christy” captured the hearts of millions and became a popular CBS television series. Around the kitchen table at Evergreen Farm, as her mother reminisced, Catherine probed for details and insights into the rugged lives of these Appalachian highlanders.

Catherine shared the story of her husband, Dr. Peter Marshall, Chaplain of the United States Senate, in “A Man Called Peter.” A decade after Dr. Marshall’s untimely death, Catherine married Leonard LeSourd, Executive Editor of “Guideposts,” forging a dynamic writer-editor partnership.

A beloved inspirational writer and speaker, Catherine’s enduring career spanned four decades and reached over 30 million readers.



(1) Winner will win …
-- $25 Amazon Gift Card
-- Bookmark Swag
-- Necklace (exact or similar & *subject to change)
-- Print Copy of Julie

(Only Gift Card open internationally. Others open to US Mailing Addresses)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


April 23

April 24

April 25

April 26

April 27

Spotlight (+ Tour GIVEAWAY): Murder at the Mushroom Festival by Janet Finsilver

Murder at the Mushroom Festival
By Janet Finsilver
A Kelly Jackson Mystery #4
Lyrical Underground, 2018


There’s a corpse among the chanterelles!

Redwood Cove Bed and Breakfast manager Kelly Jackson is hosting a cooking class during the Week of the Mushroom festival to attract guests, not drama. But soon after she finishes foraging for an edible mushroom species on sacred Native American land, a local newspaper reporter gets shot dead at the same site. 

With suspicions spreading like fungi in the quaint Northern Californian community over the culprit’s identity, Kelly and a savvy gang of sleuthing seniors known as the “Silver Sentinels” must uncover the truth about the secluded property before a tricky killer prepares another lethal surprise ...

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What others are saying …

“The recurring characters are a tightly knit bunch and the new characters added several dimensions to the story. Several holding high places on the Sentinels suspect list. I really do enjoy the way this active group of senior citizens gets involved in the community and solving murders.”
- Lori Caswell

“This is an entertaining series that has a charming setting, good characters and solid mysteries…This is a series that always leaves me entertained and I continue to enjoy.”
- Petty R

“There are multiple mysteries woven throughout the book and in the end, they all come together and the reader can see how they are related…I look forward to reading the next installment in this series and recommend it to readers who enjoy a clean, well-crafted mystery.”
- RO G’ma


Janet Finsilver is the USA TODAY bestselling author of the Kelly Jackson mystery series. She worked in education for many years as a teacher, a program administrator, and a workshop presenter. Janet majored in English and earned a Master’s Degree in Education.

She loves animals and has two dogs–Kylie and Ellie. Janet has ridden western style since she was a child and was a member of the National Ski Patrol. One of the highlights of her life was touching whales in the San Ignacio Lagoon.

MURDER AT REDWOOD COVE , her debut mystery, was released on October 13, 2015. Her second book, MURDER AT THE MANSION , was released on June 7, 2016. Book 3, MURDER AT THE FORTUNE TELLER’S TABLE , was released on March 14, 2017.


April 16 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
April 17 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW
April 18 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT
April 19 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW
April 19 – A Blue Million Books – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
April 20 – Teresa Trent Author Blog – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
April 21 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT
April 22 – Community Bookstop – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
April 23 – The Power of Words – SPOTLIGHT
April 24 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
April 24 – Cozy Up With Kathy – GUEST POST
April 25 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST
April 26 – Varietats – SPOTLIGHT
April 27 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
April 28 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW
April 29 – Mysteries with Character – REVIEW
April 30 – The Montana Bookaholic – REVIEW


Cover Reveal: The Gold Pawn by L. A. Chandlar

The Gold Pawn

November 1936. Mayor La Guardia’s political future buckles under a missing person case in New York City. Simultaneously, Lane unravels devastating secrets in the outskirts of Detroit. As two crimes converge, judging friends from enemies can be a dangerous game . . .

Finally summoning the courage to face the past, Lane Sanders breaks away from her busy job at City Hall to confront childhood nightmares in Rochester, Michigan. An unknown assailant left Lane with scattered memories after viciously murdering her parents. However, one memory of a dazzling solid gold pawn piece remains—and with it lies a startling connection between the midwestern tragedy and a current mystery haunting the Big Apple . . .

Meanwhile, fears climb in Manhattan after the disappearance of a respected banker and family friend threatens the crippled financial industry and the pristine reputation of Lane’s virtuous boss, Mayor Fiorello “Fio” La Guardia. Fio’s fight to restore order leads him into more trouble as he meets a familiar foe intent on ending his mayoral term—and his life . . .

Guided by overseas telegrams from the man she loves and painful memories, only Lane can silence old ghosts and derail present-day schemes. But when the investigation awakens a darker side of her own nature, will she and New York City’s most prominent movers and shakers still forge ahead into a prosperous new age . . . or is history doomed to repeat itself?

Ready . . .


Set. . .




Coming September 25 from Kensington Books!

Pre-order your copy today!

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About the Author

L .A. Chandlar is the author of the Art Deco Mystery Series with Kensington Publishing featuring Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and a fresh take on the innovation and liveliness of 1930s New York City. Her debut novel, The Silver Gun released August 29, 2017, and the sequel, The Gold Pawn, will release September 25th, 2018. 

Laurie has been living and writing in New York City for 16 years and has been speaking for a wide variety of audiences for over 20 years, including a women’s group with the United Nations. Her talks range from NYC history, the psychology of creativity, and the history of holiday traditions. 

Laurie has also worked in PR for General Motors, writes and fund-raises for a global nonprofit is the mother of two boys, and has toured the nation managing a rock band.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Spotlight (+ Tour GIVEAWAY): Guide Your Mind, Guard Your Heart, Grace Your Tongue

About the Book

Title: Guide your Mind, Guard your Heart, Grace your Tongue  
Author: Carol Burton McLeod  
Genre: Non-Fiction, Christian Living  
Release Date: April 3, 2018

Every single one of us with a beating heart has spoken words “under the influence” of warped feelings and slurred thinking. And we soon wish we had the magical power to take those words back. We especially regret the hurtful words we have spoken to those we love the most and know the best. This book may just be the solution. 

Carol McLeod reveals that before the words are spoken, they brew in our hearts and are formed in our minds. It’s our thoughts and emotions that determine what words come out of our mouths. Guide Your Mind, Guard Your Heart, Grace Your Tongue is an innovative blueprint that will enable you to take control of your thoughts and feelings in order to grace your tongue. You won’t find pat answers here, but rather powerful strategies based on the Word of God to reroute disordered thinking and cure rotten emotions so your words can be humbly grateful instead of grumbly hateful.


About the Author

Carol Burton McLeod is a popular speaker at women’s conferences and retreats through her ministry, Just Joy!, and is the author of a number of books. Carol hosts a daily radio show, “Defiant Joy! Radio,” which is broadcast in major markets across America. 

Her blog, “Joy for the Journey” (formerly “A Cup of Tea with Carol”), has been named in the Top 50 Faith Blogs for Women, and her teaching DVD The Rooms of a Woman’s Heart won a Telly Award for excellence in religious programming.

Enjoy the Book Video

Blog Stops

Genesis 5020, April 18:
Mary Hake, April 19
Multifarious, April 20
Bigreadersite , April 20
Carpe Diem, April 22
Power of Words, April 23 (Spotlight)
Among the Reads, April 23
Beck to Basics, April 26
Artistic Nobody, April 26 (Spotlight)
A Greater Yes, April 30


To celebrate the tour, Whitaker House is giving away the following prizes:

-- Grand Prize: A copy of Guide Your Mind, Guard Your Heart, Grace Your Tongue, “Grace” teapot from Christian Arts Gifts, Whitaker House/Anchor adult coloring book.
-- 1st Place: A copy of Guide Your Mind, Guard Your Heart, Grace Your Tongue, Abba Jerusalem 6” Scented Pillar Candle 
-- 2nd Place: A copy of Guide Your Mind, Guard Your Heart, Grace Your Tongue, and Whitaker House/Anchor adult coloring book.

Click the image above or the link below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!