Thursday, August 28, 2014


Clam Wake

by Mary Daheim

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: William Morrow
Publication Date: 8/12/2014
Number of Pages: 240
ISBN: 9780062317728
Purchase Links:


Innkeeper and irrepressible sleuth Judith McMonigle Flynn and cousin Renie face off against a cold-blooded killer in a beach community in this delightfully charming Bed-and-Breakfast mystery from USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Mary Daheim.

With the holidays gone and Hillside Manor almost empty, Innkeeper Judith McMonigle Flynn has a bad case of the blues. A housesitting stint at her aunt and uncle’s retirement home on Whoopee Island with cousin Renie seems like the ideal pick-me-up. Surrounded by retirees in the off-season sounds peaceful and pleasant--or so the duo thinks. But it isn’t long before a dead body pops up in their vicinity. Not surprising in an area full of older folks—until they learn it wasn’t a bad ticker that did in the victim, but a very sharp knife. With clouds of suspicion hovering over her and Renie, Judith reluctantly begins sleuthing—if only to prove they didn’t commit the crime.

But what she finds is puzzling. The victim reputedly didn’t have an enemy in the world--except for the killer. Digging for clams and answers, the cousins discover that retirement can be deadly—at least among the eclectic, eccentric residents of Obsession Shores.

Author Bio:

Seattle native Mary Richardson Daheim lives three miles from the house where she was raised. From her dining nook she can see the maple tree in front of her childhood home. Mary isn’t one for change when it comes to geography. Upon getting her journalism degree from the University of Washington (she can see the campus from the dining nook, too), she went to work for a newspaper in Anacortes WA. Then, after her marriage to David Daheim, his first college teaching post was in Port Angeles where she became a reporter for the local daily. Both tours of small-town duty gave her the background for the Alpine/Emma Lord series. Mary spent much of her non-fiction career in public relations (some would say PR is fiction, too). But ever since she learned how to read and write, Mary wanted to tell stories that could be put between book covers (e-readers were far into the future and if she hadn’t seen her daughter’s iPad, she might not know they exist). Thus, she began her publishing career with the first of seven historical romances before switching to mysteries in 1991. If Mary could do the math, she’d know how many books she’s published. Since she can’t, she estimates the total is at least 55. Or something. See below—count ‘em if you can. At the time of her husband and mentor’s death in February 2010, David and Mary had been married for over 43 years. They have three daughters, Barbara, Katherine and Magdalen, and two granddaughters, Maisy and Clara. They all live in Seattle, too. Those apples don’t move far from the tree…literally.

Catch Up With the Author:

My thoughts...

Business has slowed down for Innkeeper Judith Flynn and she decides to spend some time with her cousin while housesitting for her aunt & uncle. Hoping for a relaxing vacation after the holidays she finds the area peaceful though full of eccentric retirees. When a resident is murdered Judith and cousin Renie start searching for clues only to find they should've stayed out of it.

This is one of those cozy mysteries that you feel good about when finished. Well written and enjoyable characters, fun to read. I liked it.

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Monday, August 25, 2014


When federal agent Aaron Yazzie is assigned to protect the only witness to a drug cartel execution, he hides Kailyn Eudailey in the safest place he knows . . . the vast, untamed wilderness of the Navajo Reservation.

Transporting Kailyn to New Mexico may not be as easy as Aaron would like. Kailyn is a high-maintenance Southern belle who is determined to assert her independence at every step. Although Aaron's job is to protect her from the dangers that could get them both killed, Kailyn is getting to him. As an undercover agent, Aaron has grown adept at playing many roles. But will he be able to embrace his true identity and God’s plan for his life in order to keep Kailyn alive?

My thoughts...

A fast paced drama with a great storyline and excellent setting. The descriptions are vivid, the plot exciting... it's the perfect book for an afternoon read. Yes, I said afternoon because I read it in one sitting.

Kailyn witnesses a murder by drug cartel and agrees to testify which puts her in mortal danger. An agent working undercover takes her life into his own hands by attempting to keep her alive since the Witness Protection didn't work. She's an independent woman and makes the agent's job interesting for sure.

There's lots of excitement, loved the characters and the beautiful cover.

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, August 24, 2014


Literary Awards for Cracks in the Sidewalk -
Amazon Family Saga Bestseller
FPA President’s Book Award
Royal Palm Literary Award

A powerful story that is a heart-wrenching reminder of how fragile relationships can be. Cracks in the Sidewalk is based on a true story.

Claire McDermott is a wife, a mother, a grandmother... Her only daughter is gravely ill... Her son-in-law is resentful and angry... Her grandchildren are missing...

After years of writing letters, hoping to find the children, hoping to bring them back, Claire receives a reply...a dog-eared gray envelope is stuffed into her mailbox, but will it bring hope or simply put an end to the waiting?

Can a single letter change the lives of four people? Claire McDermott and her grandchildren are about to discover letters are a journey of the heart which can ultimately deliver people to their destination.

See what readers are saying! -

Reviewed By Samantha Rivera for Readers' Favorite

Elizabeth is a woman whose sole purpose in life is to be a good wife and mother. She has no care in the world but to accomplish these goals and she works hard at them despite the treatment she is given at the hands of her husband. When Elizabeth falls ill suddenly during her pregnancy with their last child, her husband determines to have nothing to do with her. Unfortunately that means her children (including her newborn son) will also have nothing to do with her. It's almost a year before Elizabeth is finally able to see her young children again, but even then things are not what they might seem in Cracks in the Sidewalk.

Cracks in the Sidewalk is the type of book that you can't stop thinking about long after you put it down. Elizabeth is a woman that any woman would be proud to be. She is able to roll with the punches and even when people behave in a reprehensible way towards her she is incapable of truly hating them and can only feel sorry for the love they don't have. Her plight is one no mother would ever want to find herself in, but at the same time it is one that will draw you in. This is a heart-wrenching story but it is also a beautiful one of love and devotion and forgiveness. For Elizabeth's children and her mother it is also a story of miracles and of overcoming any obstacle life may put in your way. An excellent book by Bette Lee Crosby.

A moving, emotional story...when I read this book I felt so moved, I was crying at the end...writing flowed beautifully...depth of characters and insight kept me turning pages.-Bria Burton

A compelling story...Well written, with a realistic, compassionate telling, Cracks In the Sidewalk will bring readers into the family, happy to be a part of it.-Angie Mangino

Get your copy at any of these retailers:


Friday, August 22, 2014


When successful New York editor Jen Gibbs discovers a decaying slush-pile manuscript on her desk, she has no idea that the story of Sarra, a young mixed-race woman trapped in Appalachia at the turn of the twentieth century, will both take her on a journey and change her forever.

Happy with her life in the city, and at the top of her career with a new job at Vida House Publishing, Jen has left her Appalachian past and twisted family ties far behind. But the search for the rest of the manuscript, and Jen’s suspicions about the identity of its unnamed author, will draw her into a mystery that leads back to the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains . . . and quite possibly through the doors she thought she had closed forever.

Amazon Purchase Link: The Story Keeper
Tyndale Publishers (September 1, 2014)
My Rating: 5/5 stars

My thoughts...

This is probably my favorite Lisa Wingate book, I love the setting, the characters, the storyline. As I read page after page I could visualize each scene. I would love to dig into that slush-pile and read till my heart's content!

Right after Jen begins a new job with a top publisher in New York City an old manuscript appears on her desk. Knowing this came from the slush-pile that everyone is warned not to touch she isn't sure what to do at first but curiosity overcomes and she reads it which leads her into an exciting but sometimes frustrating search for the author and right back to the place she never wanted to return.

Difficult subjects are handled, we meet Jen's annoying (sometimes maddening) family and of course the author of the manuscript. Amazing story, superbly written.

I read this book through Lisa's "Sisterhood of the Traveling Book".

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Twenty-five years ago, Monica Stanton gave up a baby girl for adoption. Now, the thing Monica didn’t dare hope for has happened: Jessica has reentered her life . . . and brought a little drama and competition with her. Jessica is willing to meet her birth mother, but she wants the reunion to air on a reality TV show. Monica would rather chew glass than appear on TV. But she’ll swallow her pride—and a few other unsavory items—if that’s what it takes to reconnect.

As if getting to know her grown daughter while competing on a remote island isn’t hard enough, Monica is further confused when Jessica’s long-lost birth father shows up, complicating both her relationship with her daughter and the attraction Monica has to the hunky reality show host. The fruit-basket upset of emotions, accusations, and regrets might make for good TV, but will it destroy the family in the process?

My thoughts...

This book has it all... grief, laughter, reconnecting with a child you gave up for adoption. Monica had good reason for giving up her daughter, she was unable to provide... going hungry. Though a hard thing to do she knew it was best for her baby. Now Monica has agreed to go on a reality show to meet her daughter who has been looking for her.

I enjoyed this book very much, once mother and daughter meet they begin an exciting adventure which had me smiling as I turned pages. This is another Alee hit!

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Christian Survival Guide FREE DOWNLOAD TODAY ONLY!

No one ever plans to fail in their faith. We all think we'll be the kind of Christian who follows the straight and narrow, ending our days with the relief of knowing we were ultimately a good and faithful servant. So why do so many leave that road? What enables some to survive as Christians when so many others have faltered?

With A Christian Survival Guide, Ed Cyzewski steps up to be your trail guide and provide some possible answers. He addresses some of the biggest, toughest questions in Christianity, including:

Disturbing Bible stories
Hell and what it means
Does the Bible have to be "true"?
The question of evil
Money and the church
Evangelizing when no one wants to listen
Candid and wry, Cyzewski deals with the tension of hard questions without resorting to empty answers, clichés, relativism, or the smug certainty that can so often drive seekers and strugglers further away.

My thoughts...

Some of the topics included in the book are hell, sin, and the Holy Spirit. The author answers questions people have asked about the Bible and living the Christian life. I think it's a good book for a new Christian, there's sections on putting things into practice which is interesting . A quick easy read with subjects to think about and discuss.

I received a copy of this book free from Kregel Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Download your copy here!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Meet Me in Barcelona 

About the Author

Mary Carter is a freelance writer and novelist.  Meet Me in Barcelona is her eighth novel. Her other works include:  Three Months in Florence, The Things I Do For You, The Pub Across the Pond, My Sister’s Voice, Sunnyside Blues, She’ll Take It, and Accidentally Engaged.  In addition to her novels she has written six novellas: Return to Hampton Beach in the anthology, Summer Days, A Southern Christmas in the upcoming 2014 anthology Our First Christmas, A Kiss Before Midnight in the anthology, You’re Still the One, A Very Maui Christmas in the New York Times best selling anthology Holiday Magic, and The Honeymoon House in the New York Times best selling anthology Almost Home. Mary currently lives in Chicago, IL with a demanding labradoodle. She wishes she could thank her gorgeous husband, but she doesn’t have one. In addition to writing she leads writing workshops.
For More Information

About the Book:

A surprise trip to Barcelona with her boyfriend, Jake, seems like the perfect antidote to Grace Sawyer's current woes. The city is dazzling and unpredictable, but the biggest surprise for Grace is discovering who arranged and paid for the vacation.

Carrie Ann wasn't just Grace's foster sister. Clever, pretty, and mercurial, she was her best friend—until everything went terribly wrong. Now, as she flees an abusive marriage, Carrie Ann has turned to the one person she hopes will come through for her. Despite her initial misgivings, Grace wants to help. But then Carrie Ann and Jake both go missing. Stunned and confused, Grace begins to realize how much of herself she's kept from Jake—and how much of Carrie Ann she never understood. Soon Grace is baited into following a trail of scant clues across Spain, determined to find the truth, even if she must revisit her troubled past to do it.

Mary Carter's intriguing novel delves into the complexities of childhood bonds, the corrosive weight of guilt and blame, and all the ways we try—and often fail—to truly know the ones we love.

For More Information

Title: Meet Me in Barcelona
Author: Mary Carter
Publisher: Kensington
Pages: 352
Genre: Mainstream fiction
Format: Paperback/Kindle/MP3 CD, Audiobook, MP3 Audo, Unabridged
Purchase at AMAZON
A surprise trip to Barcelona with her boyfriend, Jake, seems like the perfect antidote to Grace Sawyer's current woes. The city is dazzling and unpredictable, but the biggest surprise for Grace is discovering who arranged and paid for the vacation.

Carrie Ann wasn't just Grace's foster sister. Clever, pretty, and mercurial, she was her best friend—until everything went terribly wrong. Now, as she flees an abusive marriage, Carrie Ann has turned to the one person she hopes will come through for her. Despite her initial misgivings, Grace wants to help. But then Carrie Ann and Jake both go missing. Stunned and confused, Grace begins to realize how much of herself she's kept from Jake—and how much of Carrie Ann she never understood. Soon Grace is baited into following a trail of scant clues across Spain, determined to find the truth, even if she must revisit her troubled past to do it.

Mary Carter's intriguing novel delves into the complexities of childhood bonds, the corrosive weight of guilt and blame, and all the ways we try—and often fail—to truly know the ones we love.

Book Excerpt:
Carrie Ann. The words felt like two gunshots to the chest. Just hearing that name come out of her mother’s mouth made Grace’s heart start tripping. She almost shot out of her chair. “I’m Grace,” she said. “Gracie Ann.” Her voice cracked. “Dad?” she said.
“She’s confused, honey. The past and the present, it’s just one big, ugly glob.” Pinpricks of shame began forming at the base of Grace’s spine.
 “I’m not confused,” Jody said. “Carrie Ann came to visit me.”
“My God,” Grace said. This time she did shoot out of her chair. Carrie Ann was the only girl foster child the Sawyers had ever taken in. At first she had been like a sister to Grace.
“Who is she married to now?” Jody said. “I can’t remember.”
“Pay no attention to her, Gracie,” Jim said.
“Why can’t I remember?” Jody pressed on her temples with her index fingers, as if she could squeeze the memory out of her head.
Grace took a step toward her mother. “When did she come and visit you, Mom?”
          “Grace, I told you she didn’t,” Jim said. “Don’t egg your mother on.”
“I’m not egging her on, Dad, but if Carrie Ann was here, I want to know about it.”
Her father whacked his newspaper on the side of his chair. “I told you she wasn’t! And I should know. I’ve been sitting right here!”
“She’s still such a pretty girl,” Jody said. “She asked about you, Grace. She asked me all sorts of questions about you.”
Jim got up and threw up his arms. “She’s out of her mind!” He began to pace.
“Dad,” Grace said. “Hush.” Her mother suddenly became very still, which meant she was listening. Grace took her father by his arm and led him back to his chair.
“I’m sorry. She won’t remember me saying it.”
“That’s not the point.”
“I can’t help it. Carrie Ann this - Carrie Ann that. I thought we’d put that nuisance behind us for once and for all. Is this what it comes to? Reliving your worst nightmare?”
“I’ve never heard you speak so harshly about Carrie Ann,” Grace said. Her mom was the one who used to say the worst things about Carrie Ann. She said Carrie Ann was evil. She said Carrie Ann was a curse that would follow all of them to their graves. Once she even said there wasn’t enough Lysol in the world to get rid of that stain. And each insult cut into Grace like her mother was saying it about her. Her sister. Of sorts. Her own Dickens-like drama.  Carrie Ann was the best thing that had ever happened to Grace, and she was the worst. She’d been out of their lives for nearly fifteen years. And Grace had spent every one of them trying, and failing, to put the past behind her. She turned to her father.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Tell you what?”
“That Mom's been talking about her.”
“Because I don’t want to dredge up all that nonsense. It’s her damn medication. I keep telling the doctor it’s making her worse, and he won’t listen to me.” Her father slammed his fist on the arm of the chair. “These people think just because we’re old that we’re stupid. She wouldn’t be so forgetful if she cut down on some of those pills. How do I know that? Because she’s my wife.  Because I’ve been married to this woman for forty-four years. You know what he said to me?”
“That snot-nosed doctor, that’s who!”
“What did he say?”
“Put me in my place. In front of my wife. ‘You’re a psychotherapist, correct? Not a psychiatrist? You don’t prescribe medication?’ That’s what the snot-nosed so-called doctor actually said to me. Can you believe that? Some twenty-year-old who just started wiping his own ass. I’m telling you she’s on too many pills! Makes her soupy. He won’t listen to me!”
“It’s okay, Dad. Calm down. It’s okay.”
“I can’t bear hearing her talk about Carrie Ann.  Your mother's the one who told us never to mention Carrie Anne's name again." 
Forbid us. Forbid us to ever mention her name again. “I know, Dad. I’ll talk to the doctor. Calm down.”
“I always wanted to go to Spain,” Jody said. She turned off the television and patted the side of the bed. So she’d heard and understood the conversation. God, the brain was a mysterious thing.
Grace went over and sat down. “You never told me that.”
“I would hardly share that with a stranger.”
I’m your daughter! She wanted to shout. But her mother couldn’t help it.
“Just keep talking,” her father said. “At least she’s not dredging up ghosts, or drooling over naked stud muffins.”
And now  Grace couldn't believe her father had just said “naked stud muffins.” Maybe getting away for a bit wasn’t such a bad idea. Grace turned back to her mother. “Why did you always want to go to Spain?”
“My mother went to Spain. All by herself. When she was in her seventies.”
“I know,” Grace said. It had been just after Grace’s grandfather had died. Her grandparents were supposed to take the trip together. Everyone thought Annette Jennings would cancel the trip. Instead, she buried her husband and packed her bags. Little Annette who had never been outside of her home state. Grace had had many conversations with her grandmother about that trip. She was proud of her too.
“It was really something,” Jim said. “Because in those days seventy wasn’t the new fifty or whatever the kids say today. Seventy was seventy.”
“Tell me about it,” Grace said.
Jody Sawyer straightened up, and her eyes seemed to take in more light. “Well, it’s not like it is now. Women didn’t travel alone back then. Wasn’t that brave? My mother sent me a postcard from Madrid of a beautiful tango dancer in a red dress. The dress was made of actual material—beautiful red silk right on the postcard. I’ll never forget it. She’d only written one sentence on the back. ‘Robert would’ve loved the landing.’ My father was very picking with landings and always impressed when the pilot pulled off a smooth one. Anyway. As soon as I got that postcard I knew my mother was going to be all right. ‘Robert would have loved the landing.’ After she died I spent hours just touching that silky red dress with the tips of my fingers and imagining my mother dancing in the streets of Spain.”
Jody Sawyer looked up and swayed her upper body slightly as if watching her faraway self dance. Then she looked down at her hands, twisting the bed sheet. “Look how ugly and wrinkled I am now.”
“You’re not ugly and wrinkled, Mom. You’re beautiful.”
“I wish I had that postcard now.” Her mother looked up into space. “I lost it.”
Grace hesitated. Did she, or didn’t she?  Grace opened the bedside drawer and took out the postcard. Her mother was right. The dress was silky. Grace handed it to her mother and watched her eyes light up. Next her mother gently outlined the edge of the dancer’s dress with the trembling tip of her right index finger. Her fingernail was misshapen, the peach paint flaking. Grace would have to see if they could bring in a manicurist.
Jody looked at Grace, her eyes clear and bright. “Gracie Ann you have to go. Film everything. I’m dying to see Barcelona through you.” Grace must have looked stricken, for her mother laughed and then put her hand over her heart. “Sorry, no pun intended.” Like antennas being manipulated for a clearer signal, sometimes her mother tuned in perfectly. Jody Sawyer laughed again, and Grace couldn’t help but laugh with her.
“Make me feel like I’m there,” Jody said, closing her eyes. “Help me shut out this hospice. Let me see beautiful Barcelona.” She took Grace’s hand and held it. “Do it for me. I’ll feel like I’m with you. Bring a camera. And your guitar,” she added. “You never know.” When Grace still didn’t answer, her mother opened her eyes, and lifted Grace’s chin up with her hand like she used to do when Grace was a child. “Be brave, Gracie Ann. Just like my mother.”
“Like my mother too,” Grace whispered back.

Mary Carter is giving away 3 books including My Sister's Voice, Three Months in Venice and Sunnyside Blues!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one set of three books by Mary Carter.
  • This giveaway begins August 4 and ends on October 31.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Monday, November 3.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

THE CONFESSION by Robert Whitlow

In Holt Douglas's line of work, there's nothing sweeter than a confession of guilt.

Assistant D.A. Holt Douglas makes his living exposing lies and sending criminals to jail in Ashley County, Georgia. His job is always easier when defendants, instead of remaining silent, blame someone else or try to excuse their actions. With a confession in his hand, Holt knows a guilty plea will soon follow.

But lurking in Holt's past is a dark secret that could end his successful career and possibly his relationship with Angelina, his hoped for fiancé.

When Holt reopens a cold case involving the death of the town's wealthiest businessman-allegedly killed by a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest-Holt doesn't believe it was suicide. Instead, he suspects murder.

As he investigates, Holt's own guilt threatens to destroy him and the cause of justice he's sworn to serve. While he knows his own confession could absolve him of his sin, it could cost him his future. Will he survive long enough to uncover the true crime that this small southern town has been hiding?

My thoughts...

I probably have every one of Whitlow's novels, he's one of my favorites. Loved this book as well. The storyline is gripping and his characters are memorable.

Asst. D. A. Holt Douglas is ridden with guilt over an accident that happened when he was younger, he was driving and his friend was killed. Holt told police his friend was driving. The thing is this memory has been repressed. Something triggers it and the rest of the story is awesome.

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Jones Men: 40th Anniversary Edition ENTER TO WIN!

The Jones Men: 40th Anniversary Edition

by Vern E. Smith

Book Blast on August 4th, 2014

Book Details:

Genre: Crime
Published by: Rosarium Publishing
Publication Date: May 2014
Number of Pages: 264
ISBN: 978-0989141185
Purchase Links:



To become the King, you have to take the crown. It won't be given up lightly. Heroin kingpin, Willis McDaniel, has been wearing that particular piece of jewelry for far too long, and youngblood, Lennie Jack, thinks it would look really good on his head. When a junkie tells Jack about a big delivery, the young Vietnam vet makes his move. Feeling his empire crumble, McDaniel puts the word out to find whoever's responsible. The hunt is on, the battle is engaged, and the streets of Detroit run red with blood.

In 1974 Vern E. Smith took the crime fiction world by storm with his debut novel, The Jones Men. Heralded as "a large accomplishment in the art of fiction" by the New York Times, The Jones Men went on to be nominated for an Edgar Award and became a New York Times Notable Book. The art of crime fiction has never been the same since.

Read an excerpt:

For Bennie Lee Sims’ wake, Lennie Jack chose the sky-blue Fleetwood with the chromed-up bumpers and the bar-line running from the trunk to the dash, dispensing six different liquors with chaser.

Joe Red brought the car to a halt in front of Fraser’s Funeral Parlor on Madison Boulevard. He backed it in between a red El Dorado with a diamond-shaped rear window and a pink Lincoln with a leopard-skin roof.

Lennie Jack wore a medium-length Afro and had thick wide sideburns that grew neatly into the ends of a bushy moustache drooping over his top lip. He got out of the passenger seat in a manner that favored his left shoulder. He had on a cream-colored suede coat that stopped just below the knee, and a .38 in his waistband.

Joe Red was shorter and thinner and younger than Lennie Jack. He got his nickname for an extremely light complexion and a thick curly bush of reddish brown hair; it spilled from under the wide-brimmed black hat cocked low over his right ear. He had on the black leather midi with the red-stitched cape; he had a .45 automatic in his waistband.

They came briskly down the sidewalk and went up the six concrete steps to the entrance of Fraser’s.

An attendant in a somber gray suit and dark tie greeted them at the door.

“We’re here for Bennie Sims,” Joe Red said.

“Come this way,” the attendant said.

He guided them down a narrow hallway past a knot of elderly black women waiting to file into one of the viewing rooms flanking the hall on either side. The hallway reeked of death; the women wept.

They passed three more doors before the attendant led them left at the end of the hall and down a short flight of stairs. A single 60-watt bulb illuminated the lower level. The attendant went past the row of ebony- and silver-colored caskets stacked near the staircase and stopped at a door in the back of the room.

“They’re in there,” he said. He turned and headed back up the stairs. Lennie Jack rapped softly at the door. They stood a few feet back from the doorway to be recognizable in the dim light.

The door cracked.

“This Bennie Lee?” Lennie Jack said.

“Yeah, this it,” said a voice behind the crack.

A man with wavy black hair in a white mink jacket and red knicker boots let them in. He relocked the door.

The room smelled of cigarette smoke. A row of silver metal chairs had been stacked in a neat line on one side, but most of the people come to pay their respects were scattered in the back in tight little clusters, talking and laughing.

At the front of the long room, near a small table of champagne bottles, Bennie Lee Sims’ tuxedo-dad body lay in a silver-colored coffin with a bright satin lining.

His face was dusty with a fine white powder.

Lennie Jack walked over to the coffin. He dipped his fingers in the silver tray of cocaine on top and sprinkled it over Bennie Lee.

Joe Red stepped up behind him and tried to find a spot that wasn’t covered. He finally decided on the lips and scattered a handful of the fine white crystalline powder around Bennie Lee’s mouth and chin.

They moved through the crowd, shaking hands and greeting people. Almost everybody had come to see Bennie Lee off.

The Ware brothers were there: Willie, the oldest at twenty-four; Simmy, who was twenty; and June, who often swaggered as if he were the elder of the clan but still had the baby-smooth face and look of wide- eyed adolescence. He was seventeen.

Pretty Boy Sam was standing in one corner with his right foot resting on one of the metal chairs. He had smooth brown skin and almost girlish features, topped off by a pointed Van Dyke beard. His good looks masked a violent temper.

Pretty Boy Sam had worn his full-length brown mink and brought his woman to pay his respects to Bennie Lee Sims, who had two neat bullet holes right between the eyes and underneath all the cocaine on his face.

Slim Williams was there with his woman. He was a tall, thin dark-skinned man whose left eye had been destroyed by an errant shotgun blast. He now wore a variety of gaily colored eye patches the way he had heard Sammy Davis did when he lost his eye. He had on a patch of bright green and red plaid and stood conversing on one side of the room with Hooker, Woody Woods, and Mack Lee.

Willis McDaniel was not there, but then, he never came. He had probably never considered it, but it was a source of irritation to the others.

Joe Red said, “Hey Jack, he the man. He don’t hafta come see nobody off if he don’t wanta come. Ain’t none of these people thinkin’ bout makin’ him come. Who gon make him come?”

“Why he can’t come like the rest of the people?” Lennie Jack said. “Has anybody ever thought of that, you reckon? He too big now to bring his ass out here to see a dude off? He probably had him ripped anyway. I don’t understand how these chumps let an old man like that just get in there and rule.”

“Now we both know how he got it,” Joe Red said. “He took it. He say, ‘Look, I’m gon be the man on this side of town cause I got my thing together and I got plenty big shit behind me. Now what you motherfuckers say?’ Everybody say, ‘You the man, Mister McDaniel.’ That’s the way he did it.”

“That is the way to take it from him, too.” Lennie Jack said. “We gon get lucky pretty soon. I think he can be had and I know just the way to do it. I got some people working on it. The first thing they teach you in the war is to fight fire with fire, you know?”

He took the tiny gold spoon on the chain around his neck and scooped a pinch of cocaine off the tray Joe Red handed him. He brought the spoon up to his right nostril and sniffed deeply.

The crowd was beginning to drift to the corner of the room where Slim Williams was holding court. Slim was thirty-seven, and much older than most of his audience. Lennie Jack was twenty-six, and Joe Red had just turned twenty-one three days ago.

Slim Williams had diamond rings on three fingers of his left hand, and he was waving them around in a dazzling display and talking about Joe the Grind.

“Joe used to walk into a bar with his dudes with him–he always carried these two dudes with him everywhere he went. He’d walk into a place fulla people and say, ‘I’m Joe the Grind, set up the bar! All pimps and players step up to the bar and bring your whores with you.’”

Slim Williams chuckled. “Then Joe would talk about ‘em. He used to say, ‘You ain’t no pimp, nigger. What you doin’ up here? I ain’t buying no drinks for you. Sit down!’”

Slim Williams laughed; so did everybody else.

“Joe used to rayfield a chump bag dude too,” Slim Williams said. “He used to tell ‘em ‘Just cause you got eight or nine hundred dollars worth of business don’t mean you somebody.’ Then Joe would throw a roll down that’d choke a Goddamn mule and tell the chump: ‘Looka here boy, I just had my man sell forty-two thousand dollars worth of heh-rawn, and I got twenty more joints to hear from fore midnight. Gon sit down somewhere, you don’t belong up here with no big dope men.”

They laughed again and somebody passed the coke tray.

June Ware took his pinch and squared his toes in the eighty-dollar calfskin boots from Australia, via Perrin’s Men’s Shoppe on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

“What happened to Joe, Slim?” June Ware said.

“Oh, somebody shot ‘im in the head in an after-hours joint,” Slim Williams said. “And lemme tell you, youall shoulda been there to see Joe’s wake. It put this thing to shame. Compared to Joe’s, this thing ain’t nothing. This light-weight. They say there was coke in the block wrapped in foil and pure heh-rawn set out on silver trays with diamonds in the sides.

“So they partied all night till twelve the next day, then they all went to Joe’s funeral. After the funeral was over, everybody got on the plane with his woman and went to Jamaica for two days.”

“Say what?” June Ware said.

“Yeah, that’s the truth,” Slim Williams said. “And you shoulda seen that funeral too. They say a broad came over from Chicago in a white-on-white El Dorado, and she was dressed in all white with a bad-ass mink round her shoulders. Then when she came out of the hotel the next day for Joe’s funeral, they say she was in all black. She went to the graveyard and threw one hundred roses on Joe. Then she got in her ride and split. Don’t nobody know who she was. When they had Joe’s funeral march, there was one hundred fifty big pieces lined up for blocks down Madison Boulevard. They pulled a brand new Brough-ham behind the hearse, and when the march was over they took the car out to the trash yard and crushed it.”

“Goddamn Slim!” June Ware said.

Mack Lee, who was twenty-two years old and decked out from the top of his big apple hat to the tip of his leather platforms in bright lavender, came their way with his woman on his arm.

The woman looked about nineteen; she wore diamond-studded earrings and a matching bracelet. She carried a tray of glasses and an unopened bottle of champagne.

“We oughta drink a toast to Bennie Lee,” Mack Lee said, “and ask the Lord how come he made him so stupid.”

The laughter rippled through the room; Mack Lee popped the cork in the champagne bottle and poured the rounds.


Author Bio:

A native of Natchez, Miss., Smith is a graduate of San Francisco State University, and the Summer Program for Minority Journalists at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He began his journalism career as a reporter for the Long Beach, Calif. Independent Press-Telegram.

From 1979 until 2002, Smith served as the Atlanta Bureau Chief and as a national correspondent for Newsweek.

Vern Smith's work as a journalist, author and screenwriter spans four decades.

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Saturday, August 2, 2014

Murder Strikes a Pose & a giveaway!

Murder Strikes a Pose

by Tracy Weber

on Tour August 2014

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Published by: Midnight Ink
Publication Date: January 8, 2014
Number of Pages: 288
ISBN: 978-0738739687
Purchase Links:

Tour Info:

Book Formats: Physical (very limited) & eBook
Hosting Options: Reviews, Guest Posts, Interviews
Giveaways: Available With Review + tour wide kindle giveaway!!


When George and Bella—a homeless alcoholic and his intimidating German shepherd—disturb the peace outside her studio, yoga instructor Kate Davidson’s Zen-like calm is stretched to the breaking point. Kate tries to get rid of them before Bella scares the yoga pants off her students. Instead, the three form an unlikely friendship.

One night Kate finds George’s body behind her studio. The police dismiss his murder as a drug-related street crime, but she knows George wasn’t a dealer. So Kate starts digging into George’s past while also looking for someone to adopt Bella before she’s sent to the big dog park in the sky. With the murderer nipping at her heels, Kate has to work fast or her next Corpse Pose may be for real.

Read an excerpt:

I laid my body on the cool wood floor, covered up with a blanket, and prepared to die.

Metaphorically, that is.

Corpse Pose’s ten-minute rest always soothed my stressed-out nerves, and for once I didn’t feel guilty about the indulgence. My to-do list was blank, Serenity Yoga’s phone was silent, and I had a whole blissful hour between clients to do my favorite activity: practice yoga.

Even my eclectic Greenwood neighborhood seemed uncharacteristically quiet, lulled by Seattle’s rare afternoon sun. The residents of the apartments above the yoga studio were off at their day jobs; the alcohol-addicted patrons of the block’s two dive bars slept off their Jim Beam breakfasts; the soccer moms shopping at next door’s upscale PhinneyWood Market purchased the day’s supplies in unusual silence.

I wiggled my toes under a Mexican blanket, covered my eyes with a blue satin eye pillow, and inhaled deeply. The ooey-gooey smell of Mocha Mia’s chocolate caramel cake wafted from across the street and filled my nostrils with sweet toffee-scented bliss—my all-time favorite aromatherapy.

Paradise. Simply paradise.

I released my weight into the earth and silently coached myself, exactly as I would one of my students. OK, Kate. Feel your body relax. Notice the random fluctuations of your mind and—

A vicious snarl ripped through the silence, startling me out of my catnap. I sat straight up, eye pillow falling to the floor with an undignified thump.

What the heck?

When had a dog fighting ring moved into the neighborhood?

A dog fight was the only plausible explanation for the commotion outside. Bursts of deep, frantic barking were followed by high-pitched yelping, all punctuated by the peace-shattering sounds of angry yelling. The phrases I could make out confirmed my suspicions. This had to be a dog fight, albeit one-sided.

“Control your dog!”

“Get that vicious beast out of here!”

And even a simple, “What the hell?”

I closed the door between the yoga room and the studio’s lobby, hoping to block out the intrusive sounds. Snarls, shouts, and an occasional ear-piercing shriek continued to reverberate right through the wall.

Undaunted, I imagined that the sounds were merely clouds floating across my mental horizon. Most of those clouds were dark and ominous, like the deep thunderclouds preceding a hailstorm. But every so often I heard a soft voice, more like the fluffy clouds of childhood summers. I couldn’t quite make out his words, but I could tell that the speaker was a man. From his tone, I assumed he was trying to calm beasts both human and animal.

It wasn’t working.

Neither, for that matter, was my attempted meditation.

I’d obviously have to shift tactics.

I tried drowning out the clamor with low, soft chanting. Then I increased the volume. But even as I belted out Om Santi, my favorite mantra for peace, I felt my jaw start to tighten. My fingernails bit deeply into my palms. My shoulders crept up to my ears.

An entirely different mantra began pounding through my head: Don’t get me angry; you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.

A series of yelps and the words “I’m calling the cops!” zapped me like a cattle prod. I leapt from my mat and stormed across the floor, determined to put a stop to that infernal racket. I hurled open the door and came face-to-face, or rather face-to-snout, with the source of the commotion. Not more than five feet away from the studio’s entrance stood a paunchy, dark-haired man and the biggest, skinniest, meanest-looking German shepherd I had ever seen. Don’t get me wrong. I like dogs. I love them, in fact. It’s their human counterparts I could sometimes do without. But this frothing breast was no Rin Tin Tin. A long line of drool oozed from its mouth. Its sharp white teeth glinted in the sunlight, and its black wiry topcoat still stood on end from the prior scuffle. The dog was obviously rabid. I didn’t recognize the man standing next to the frightening creature, but I did recognize his activity. He worked as a vendor for Dollars for Change, a well-regarded local newspaper that published articles about homelessness and poverty while employing those same homeless individuals as salespeople. Ordinarily I would have welcomed one of their vendors outside my business. If nothing else, supporting the paper demonstrated yoga’s principles of kindness and compassion. But this was not an ordinary circumstance. I absolutely could not allow that disgusting dog to raise a ruckus outside my studio. The prenatal class would have a fit. Suffice it to say that pregnancy hormones didn’t always leave expecting moms in the best of moods. My moms-to-be liked their yoga practice. They needed their yoga practice. And they needed to be serene while doing it. If a noisy dog fight disturbed their peaceful experience, I’d be the one getting barked at.

Thinking less than yogic thoughts, I marched up to the pair, determined to put a stop to the chaos.

“What in the world’s going on out here?”

The human half of the dastardly duo held a leash in one hand, newspapers in the other. He smiled at me and said, “Sorry about all the noise. I’m George, and this here’s Bella. What’s your name?”

“Kate Davidson, but—”

“Well, nice to meet you, Kate. I’d shake your hand, but mine are full, so Bella will have to do it instead.”

The vicious beast walked up and calmly sniffed my hand. I prayed she wasn’t about to ingest my fingers.

“Bella, say hello!”

Upon hearing her owner’s command, the giant hairy monster-dog immediately went into a perfect sit and sweetly offered me her paw. Maybe she wasn’t rabid after all. Just huge and ill-mannered.

“Don’t mind Bella,” he continued. “She’s very friendly to people. She just doesn’t like other dogs much. She’d be fine if people kept their unruly mutts to themselves, but they think if their rude dog wants to play, Bella has to as well.” He shook his head in disgust. “I don’t understand some people!”

I tried to interrupt, to tell him that his dog was the problem, but he didn’t give me the chance.

“Bella and I are new to this neighborhood, and we’re supposed to sell papers near the market. I tried setting up by the north entrance, but there’s a pet store at that end. Pete’s Pets, I think it’s called? The owner was a nice enough guy and all, but selling there was a disaster with all those dogs going in and out. Bella wasn’t happy at all.” He shrugged. “So I guess we’re going to have to hang out here instead.”

I bit the inside of my lip and considered my options. Up close, George wasn’t exactly the paragon of health I wanted standing outside my business. His friendly smile exposed yellowed teeth in need of significant dental care, and if the sharp, ammonia-like smell was any indication, neither he nor Bella had taken a bath in quite some time. At three-thirty in the afternoon, I could smell whiskey on his breath, and I suspected this most recent drink hadn’t been his first of the day. It would also likely be far from his last. I only knew one thing for certain: if George didn’t frighten my students away, his loud, intimidating, fur-covered companion would.

I needed them to leave, but honestly, I didn’t want to say it out loud. After all, I taught yoga for a living. People expected me to be calm and collected at all times. I wasn’t allowed to be mean, or even irritated, for that matter. I hesitated as I tried to come up with the perfect words to make him want to move, if not out of the neighborhood, then at least across the street.

Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately), one of my favorite students picked that very moment to walk up with her five-month-old Lab pup, Coalie. “Hey, Kate!” she said. “I hoped I’d run into you! Do you still have space in your Core Strength class tonight?” Coalie was as rude and friendly as Labs everywhere. She couldn’t stop herself if she tried. She ran up to Bella, wiggling her entire body with glee, and covered Bella’s muzzle in sloppy wet puppy kisses.

Bella wasted no time. Faster than a 747 and stronger than a freight train, Bella pinned Coalie to the ground between her front legs, snarling and air-snapping on either side of Coalie’s neck. I heard the sound of canine teeth chomping together and imagined soft puppy bones shattering between them. My student screamed. Coalie yelped. George grabbed Bella’s collar while I reached in between razor-sharp teeth to pull Coalie from the jaws of death. The three of us wrestled the two dogs apart, but not before my student almost died of heart failure.

“What’s wrong with you?” she yelled. “Keep that vicious monster away from my baby!”

George quickly apologized, but said, “No damage done. Bella was just teaching that pup some manners.” He pointed at Coalie. “See, it’s all good!”

Coalie, oblivious with joy, seemed unscathed and ready to dive in again. Tail wagging and butt wiggling, she pulled with all her might, trying desperately to get back to Bella.

Bella had other plans. She sat next to George, glaring directly at that pup with a patented Clint Eastwood stare. Go ahead, she seemed to say. Make my day. My soon-to-be-former student ran off as quickly as her legs would move, dragging the still-happy puppy behind her.

“See you in class tonight!” I yelled to her rapidly retreating back. I doubted I’d be seeing her any time soon.

Yoga reputation be damned. I had to get rid of this guy.

I put my hands on my hips and stood nice and tall, taking full advantage of my five-foot-three-inch frame. “Look. I can’t let you stay here with the dog. She’s obviously frightening people. You have to leave.” I paused a moment for emphasis, then added, “Now.”

George stood a little taller, too. “Look yourself, lady. The last time I checked, I’m standing on city property. I have every right to be here. You don’t own this sidewalk, and you can’t stop me from making a living on it.” He glared at me, sharp eyes unblinking. “We Dollars for Change vendors are licensed, and no matter how much you don’t like us, the city says we can be here.”

“There’s no ‘us’ I don’t like,” I replied, frustrated. “It’s your dog. And you may have every right to be here, but the dog is another story. What do you think Animal Control will do if I report a vicious dog attacking people outside my store?”

George stepped back, pulling Bella closer. Seattle had the toughest dangerous dog laws in the nation. We both knew what would happen if I made that call. “You wouldn’t do that!” he said. “Bella’s never hurt anyone.”

I planted my feet stubbornly. “Try me.”

George gave me a wounded look and gathered his papers, shoulders slumped in depressed resignation. “OK, we’ll go. But I thought you yoga people were supposed to be kind.” He shuffled away, shaking his head and mumbling under his breath. Bella followed close by his side.

“Crap,” I muttered, watching their slow departure. “Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap.” He was right. Like all good yoga teachers, I had extensively studied yoga philosophy and tried to live by it. The teachings were clear: A yogi should respond to suffering with active compassion. And George was clearly suffering, whether he realized that fact or not.

Threatening to call the cops on George’s dog may have been active, but it wasn’t all that compassionate, to him or to Bella. I felt like a cad. My solution probably wasn’t what the teachings had in mind, but it was the best I could come up with on short notice. “Hang on there a minute!” I yelled as I ran to catch up with him. Out of breath, I said, “You’re right. I overreacted, and I’m sorry. How many papers do you have left to sell today?”

George stopped walking. When he turned to look back at me, his eyes sparkled with an unexpected hint of wry humor. “About thirty.”

The calculations weren’t difficult. I wasn’t completely broke—yet—but thirty dollars wasn’t a drop in the bucket. On the other hand, my Monday evening classes were popular, and I had to get this guy away from the front door. Mentally crossing my fingers that the toilet wouldn’t break again, I said, “Wait here. I’ll be right back.” I hurried back to the studio and grabbed thirty dollars from the cash box.

“If I buy all of your papers, will you be done for the day?”

“Yes ma’am, and that would be very kind of you.” He gave me a broad, yellow-toothed smile. “Bella and I appreciate it very much.” He took the money, left the papers, and wandered off, whistling. Bella happily trotted behind him.

“Well, that wasn’t so difficult,” I said, patting myself on the back. “I should follow the teachings more often!” I went back inside and finished my considerably shortened practice. I chose to ignore the quiet voice in my head telling me I’d just made a huge mistake.

Author Bio:

My writing is an expression of the things I love best: yoga, dogs, and murder mysteries.

I'm a certified yoga teacher and the founder of Whole Life Yoga, an award-winning yoga studio in Seattle, WA. I enjoy sharing my passion for yoga and animals in any form possible.

My husband and I live with our challenging yet amazing German shepherd Tasha and our bonito flake-loving cat Maggie. When I'm not writing, I spend my time teaching yoga, walking Tasha, and sipping Blackthorn cider at my favorite local ale house.

I am a member of Sisters in Crime, The Pacific Northwest Writers Association, and the Dog Writers Association of America.

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My thoughts...

An entertaining, fast moving, cozy mystery with characters that will keep you smiling. Combine yoga, dogs, and a heart for the homeless and you have Kate... an irrationally humorous young woman. She investigates a murder using techniques learned from her father who is a cop. She's untrained and bumbles her way through. Though unrealistic it is a fun book.

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Friday, August 1, 2014


Grace Flaherty had given up hope of ever seeing her husband again. After all, it'd been over a year since he went missing in combat. So when he strides through the door of her bakery in downtown Christmas one sunny afternoon, she can hardly believe her eyes. But her happily-ever-after is going to take some effort - because Jack has no memory of his family.

All Jack Flaherty remembers about Christmas is that he couldn't wait to leave town. Now he's a local hero with a wife and son he doesn't know. Even as he struggles to rekindle the romance with his wife, he knows in his heart what he wants: a second chance at love.

My thoughts...

Where to start.... let's see... I liked the characters which is important to me. They're hurting yet need healing. I liked the storyline, sad and touching. I liked the town of Christmas, CO. Everyone is friendly.

Grace's husband, Jack, has been MIA for over a year. When he left for his tour they were having marital problems, they said things to each other that were hurtful and really didn't mean. Grace has kept them inside and allowed them to fester.

When Jack is found alive he is suffering from amnesia. Grace attempts to let the past remain in the past. There's another problem though and her name is Maria. She is determined to win Jack's heart.

This is a wonderfully written book, I had to keep reading way past my bedtime it was so good.

I won a copy of this book in Goodreads Giveaway.


A mysterious painting breathes hope and beauty into the darkest corners of Auschwitz---and the loneliest hearts of Manhattan.

Manhattan art dealer Sera James watched her world crumble at the altar two years ago, and her heart is still fragile. Her desire for distraction reignites a passion for a mysterious portrait she first saw as a young girl---a painting of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes.

In her search for the painting, Sera crosses paths with William Hanover, the grandson of a wealthy California real estate mogul, who may be the key to uncovering the hidden masterpiece. Together, Sera and William slowly unravel the story behind the painting's subject: Austrian violinist Adele Von Bron.

A darling of the Austrian aristocracy, talented violinist, and daughter to a high-ranking member of the Third Reich, Adele risks everything when she begins smuggling Jews out of Vienna. In a heartbeat, her life of prosperity and privilege dissolves into a world of starvation and barbed wire.

As Sera untangles the secrets behind the painting, she finds beauty in the most unlikely of places: in the grim camps of Auschwitz and in the inner recesses of her own troubled heart.

My thoughts...

A wonderfully written debut novel telling the story of Adele in 1942 and Sera in current day. Adele was a young violinist that was imprisoned in a concentration camp for smuggling Jews out of Vienna. Her story will warm your heart, in the midst of the horrors she used her violin to bring joy to others and glory to God.

Cambron's glides back and forth between past and present so well. She has given depth and realism to her characters and told a story with passion and grace. I highly recommend this book!

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.