Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Body of the Crime by Jennifer Chase (VBT: Author Guest Post / Book Review)

In association with Pump Up Your Book Virtual Book Publicity Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Body of the Crime by Jennifer Chase!

Author Guest Post

When is a Crime Scene Staged?

For anyone who loves writing murder mysteries or reading them. Have you ever wondered when is a crime scene staged? There are many reasons.  

The most difficult task is to recognize some of the subtle appearances to indicate that a crime scene has been staged. Fires are an example of a type of potential staged crime scene; it’s usually to cover up a previous crime that had been committed such as murder or insurance purposes for profit.

Every detective or forensic investigator must use their own subjective skills along with experience to determine if a crime scene has been staged. It’s important to preserve all evidence and document everything in proper order. Notes, sketches, and photographs are extremely helpful to help determine staged crime scenes.    

These signs from burglary and/or homicide investigations should alert detectives that something is potentially suspicious: 

No sign of a forced entry
Forced entry is clearly evident
No search for any valuables is apparent
No items have been stolen
Only one particular item has been stolen
Drawers have been pulled out and dumped to make it look like a “ransacked” (out of ordinary) appearance
Drawers have been pulled out carefully and neatly stacked in order to protect certain items
The victim had life insurance   
Victim’s death was profitable for family members other than life insurance

To simply illustrate what a staged crime looks like, investigators must look for any evidence that appears as if it doesn’t belong.

Points of Entry

This is the most common staged crime scene element, usually an open or broken window.  Examine these areas closely and determine whether or not it’s plausible or if there are other trace evidence such as blood, fingerprints, broken glass, etc.

Weapons Left or Removed

A firearm is the most common staged crime scene weapon. Was this weapon left initially? Did it cause the injury? What’s its purpose?

Movement of Body

One of the least common staged elements is the movement of the body to a secondary crime scene. Examine the clothing, shoes, bloodstains, and hair of the victim to determine if the body has been moved and why. Rigor mortis (stiffening of joints), livor mortis (pooling of blood), blood and trace evidence, along with any type of drag marks can help assist the investigator to determine if the body has been moved.

About The Author

Jennifer Chase is a multi-award-winning crime fiction author and consulting criminologist. Jennifer holds a bachelor degree in police forensics and a master’s degree in criminology & criminal justice. These academic pursuits developed out of her curiosity about the criminal mind as well as from her own experience with a violent sociopath, providing Jennifer with deep personal investment in every story she tells. In addition, she holds certifications in serial crime and criminal profiling. She is an affiliate member of the International Association of Forensic Criminologists. 

Her latest book is the mystery suspense, Body of the Crime.

Author Website
Author Amazon Page

Book Review

Body of the Crime by Jennifer Chase
Book 1: Chip Palmer Forensic Mystery Series
Publisher: JEC Press
Publication Date: May 20, 2016
Format: eBook - 397 pages
               Kindle - 1230 KB
Genre: Mystery / Suspense / Thriller

Purchase Link:
Amazon - Free on Kindle Unlimited 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Pump Up Your Book Virtual Book Publicity Tours.

Book Description:

Three grisly murders linked to five old cold cases, dubbed the Flower Girl Murders, pushes detectives to their limit to find a clever and extremely brutal serial killer, leaving a California town demanding justice. The District Attorney’s Serial Special Task Force retains the help of the reclusive Dr. Chip Palmer, a forensic expert and criminal profiler, to steer them in the right direction. 

Palmer is known for his astute academic interpretations of serial and predatory crimes, along with his unconventional tactics that goes against general police procedures. He is partnered with the tough and beautiful D.A. Inspector Kate Rawlins, a homicide detective transplanted from Phoenix, and the chemistry ignites between the team—turbulent and deadly. 

The Flower Girl Murders leaves three homicides, five cold cases, two seasoned detectives, three suspects, and one serial killer calling all the shots. The investigation must rely on one eccentric forensic scientist to unravel the clues to solve the case. But at what cost?

Book Excerpt:

I HATED THE CURIOUS AND often skeptical looks, which came from the audience in the gallery. I gently eased my body into the chair and faced them directly. It felt more like I was a participating target in a firing squad than a courtroom proceeding.
Shifting from side to side in the cushioned seat, I fidgeted with my tie. It was the only thing I could do under the circumstances.
I waited patiently trying not to nervously tap my fingers.
At least the chair was comfortable as I rested my forearms and hands on the armrest. It was not easy to avoid looking at the two burly sheriff deputy bailiffs stationed at the back corners of the room. They watched everyone with an extreme somber, statue-like presence. I was not even sure if they actually blinked or not.
All eyes in the courtroom fixated on me.
The room fell into complete silence. The audience readied themselves waiting for the show to begin. At least that was what I had imagined in my own mind.
I realized when the prosecutor had finally called my name to testify and the bailiff escorted me into the courtroom that I had forgotten to change my shoes. Dirt and mud had affixed deep into the crevices of the heavy-duty rubber soles, which donated little chunks of dried soil as I walked from the back of the courtroom to the witness area. There were little piles of mountain soil left behind with every stride. It looked like I had stolen shoes from a homeless person.
It was only yesterday that I had taken an extra-long walk down a wooded path that was barely passable even for the native wildlife, but I did not let the rugged terrain scare me out of adding another specimen to my collection of California sediment. In the process, my shoes sunk deep into the mud. At one point my foot had slipped from the left shoe and then plunged my sock-clad foot directly into the sticky muck.
I was all too aware of how disheveled I looked only two months before my fortieth birthday. It was not appealing. My appearance did not give the impression that I was an expert at anything, but somehow I managed to muddle through with an air of authority.
Crime scenes never lied, and it was my job to explain the scientific facts to the non-scientific community; but in the end, it was up to the jury to make the right choice of guilt or innocence. Twelve good people ultimately shouldered the justice burden, and I was just the messenger of facts—good or bad.

My Book Review:

In Body of the Crime, Dr. Chip Palmer, a forensic expert and criminal profiler is brought in to help the District Attorney’s Serial Special Task Force investigate three murders with possible ties to a series of five cold case serial killings dubbed the Flower Girl Murders. Chip is partnered with D.A. Inspector Kate Rawlins, a homicide detective transplanted from Phoenix, to solve the murders and bring justice that the Monterey County community is demanding.

Body of the Crime is a fast-paced chilling mystery suspense thriller that will captivate the reader's attention and leave them sitting on the edge of their seat. The author weaves a complex and multi-storyline tale that is well written and interspersed with a first-person narrative from the Flower Girl serial killer that is very intriguing and keeps the reader guessing what will happen next with every clue and gripping twist and turn. The attention to detail in regard to the criminal investigation is first rate, the author utilizes her experience in the criminology and forensic areas to provide a story that diehard crime thriller fans crave. The characters are realistic, their complex personalities and interactions with each other gave the story depth and made it that much more powerful and compelling. I loved Chip and Kate's characters, their strong personalities and dedication to solving the serial killings had me cheering for them as the investigation progressed.

As a fan of mystery suspense thrillers, Body of the Crime satisfied everything that I expect to find in a really good suspense thriller. It gave me goosebumps, it made me gasp and cringe, it made me hold my breath, and most importantly it drew me into the investigations along with Chip and Kate, and left me wanting more. I look forward to reading the next installment of the Chip Palmer Forensic Mystery Series!


Virtual Book Tour

Tour Schedule:

Monday, March 5
Book Feature & Tour Kick Off at PUYB Virtual Book Club
Book Teaser Featured at PUYB Book Teasers
Tuesday, March 6
Guest Blogging at Lynchburg Mama
Wednesday, March 7
Book Featured at C.A. Milson’s Author Blog
Thursday, March 8
Interview at The Writer’s Life
Friday, March 9
Guest Blogging at Sheila’s Guests and Reviews


Monday, March 12
Book Featured at La libreria di Beppe
Tuesday, March 13
Book Featured at Mello & June, It’s a Book Thang!
Wednesday, March 14
Guest Blogging at Lori’s Reading Corner
Thursday, March 15
Interview at The Pulp and Mystery Shelf
Friday, March 16
Book Review & Guest Blogging at Jersey Girl Book Reviews


Monday, March 19
Book Featured at The Bookworm Lodge
Tuesday, March 20
Book Featured at Bound 2 Escape
Wednesday, March 21
Book Review at Books for Books
Thursday, March 22
Book Review at Sefina Hawke’s Books
Friday, March 23
Book Featured at Book Bloggin’ Princess


Monday, March 26
Book Review & Interview at tfaulc Book Reviews
Tuesday, March 27
Book Review at Rainy Day Reviews
Wednesday, March 28
Book Review & Guest Blogging at That’s What She’s Reading
Thursday, March 29
Book Review at Stormy Nights Reviewing & Bloggin’
Friday, March 30
Book Review at Books Are Love

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Tic Tac Love by A.M. Willard (VBT: Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Foreword PR & Marketing, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Tic Tac Love by A.M. Willard!

Book Review

Tic Tac Love by A.M. Willard
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: March 14, 2018
Cover Design: MadHat Books
Format: Paperback - 260 pages
               Kindle - 1813 KB
               Nook - 376 KB
ISBN: 978-1985092150
BNID: 2940159140517
Genre: Romantic Comedy

Purchase Links:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Foreword PR & Marketing. 

Book Description:

For as long as I can remember, I've been in love with Paxton West. I've planned our wedding in my head a million times. What our babies would look like. How we would grow old together and still play our favorite game— Tic-Tac-Toe.

However, we have one problem.

Paxton doesn't believe in true love, soul mates, or happily ever after. Oh, did I also tell you he doesn't want kids? It also means I can't explain to him that he's the only guy for me, or about my—our—current situation.

The past started with a game of X's and O's.

Then came the miles and miles that kept us apart.

Next came tequila shots... 

They're never a great idea. Now, more than ever, the future scares the crap out of me. If my plan backfires, I could not only lose my best friend but the love of my life.

Dang those tequila shots.

Book Teasers:

Book Excerpt:

Stepping out into the hallway, I head toward my door with my shoes and keys in my hand. All I can think of at this moment is stripping down out of these clothes and face-planting into my pillow where I can sleep the many drinks off. Right as I open the door, I hear the faint ding echoing down from the elevators. Shrugging it off, I enter my apartment and lock up behind me. I guess I find it odd that someone else would be wandering the halls this late or early. I’m never out at this time and have no idea what the neighbors do after I fall asleep. A new male neighbor moved in a few weeks ago. I already had the pleasure of bumping into him while trying to not spill my coffee one morning. I still deny that it was his looks that threw me off.
I drop my keys into the bowl next to the door before heading straight to my room where I lose my heels and strip out of my shirt and bra. Right as I unbuckle my jeans, I hear a faint knock, so low that I’m not sure if it’s my door or a bump against the wall from next door. Knock… knock… echoes again. I grab my shirt from the floor, slide it over my head, and go to investigate the sound that’s causing the hairs on my neck to stand. Rounding the kitchen island, my feet dig into the ceramic tile as the lock on my door twists. I’m frozen in place… Unable to move anything on my body as I hold my breath waiting to see what’s happening. It’s now that my mind races with all the horror movies I’ve screamed at over the years. The ones where the girl is either running up the stairs to hide from the intruder instead of outside to safety. Or where they just stand there as if a target is placed on their chest. Just pick one, because I’m that girl at this moment. My face is frozen, ice coursing through my veins. The hairs on the back of my neck are at full attention as if we are standing to pledge to the flag. My eyes stare straight ahead as the door opens in slow motion. Saying a little prayer, I close my eyes and wait for what’s going to happen next. Fear overtakes me, consuming my body, mind—everything.
“Belle, what are you doing?” I hear his voice, but then I’m afraid to open my eyes. Could it be possible that two people in this world have the same husky voice that makes me weak in the knees?
With my eyes still squeezed shut, my other senses go on high alert. The drop of a bag, the tap-taps of a set of shoes against the tile grow louder and louder as the person gets closer to me. “Belle, open your eyes and breathe before you pass out.”
Slowly, I do as he instructed. That’s the moment that I lean against the counter for support as I thank God that it wasn’t a killer that had a key to my place. Paxton’s face scrunches up as he reaches over for me.
“What were you doing?”
“I thought you were here to kill me; I was bracing myself for the worst.”
“What have I told you about watching those horror movies, huh? You let them get to you, and why would a killer use a key?”
“I don’t know; they could’ve made a copy when I wasn’t paying attention, or it could’ve been the security guard—who knows… What are you doing here?”
“Not the welcome I thought I’d receive, but my plans changed. You were more important to come see.”
I let Paxton’s statement set in before I smile up at him. Stepping closer, I wrap my arms around his neck and breathe him in. The faint hint of the stale airport, his earthy spice, and lemon soothes my nerves.
“Are you just getting home?” he inquires, and I notice his voice hints to a bit of jealousy. That confuses me as he’s never been the jealous type. One to worry about my well-being—yes, but not curious about where I’ve been or with whom.
“I am,” I answer as I pull away from him and step over to the fridge. Opening it up, I grab a bottle of water before glancing back over to Paxton. His hands are gripping the edge of the countertop, face blank not revealing any indication of what he’s thinking. “Want something to drink or eat?” is the only thing that I can think to ask.
“No, I’m good. I think I’m just going to head to bed.”
“Paxton,” I let his name slip from my mouth to stop him. He slows his stride over to his bags, turns to look at me and, before I can say anything else, wanders over to me.
“Belle, get some sleep, and we’ll chat in the morning,” is all he says before placing a kiss on top of my head. I stand here in the middle of my kitchen with a bottle of water in my hand, watching his back retreat from me to the spare bedroom. I’m not sure how long I stand here, confused and unable to move. It’s the sound of the shower turning on that breaks me from my thoughts. Causing me to realize that this isn’t a dream. Instead of sulking from the blow off that I just received from Paxton, I force myself to go to my room. Closing the door behind me, I pad over to my dresser, pulling out a pair of boxers and a top to change into. The sound of the water still running through the pipes on the other side of my bedroom causes my heart to beat faster. I can’t explain the way I feel right now. How I’m confused about what I should be feeling. I’m blaming the amount of alcohol that’s in my system. It’s not like he’s never showered here before. It’s more the fact that he blew off an assignment to come see me. That’s something Paxton’s never done. Work has always come first for him. No matter what, he’s never turned down a job; well, for as long as I known him. My head hits the pillow, but my eyes refuse to close. The wheel’s spinning a million times faster than it ever does. With the water off, the apartment is quiet, and I can hear his footsteps down the hall and how they stop outside my door before going to his. The door clicks shut, finalizing that there won’t be a conversation tonight. Unless I pull a trick out of the old handbook.
I roll over, grab my phone from the nightstand, and power it up for the first time since I shut it off in the elevator. It’s then that I notice the messages from Paxton. I listen to his voicemail and read through his text. I can’t scroll up to where I left the short, clipped response to him canceling this weekend.
Me: Are you okay? I know you’re tired, but something seems off.

I could crawl into bed and lie next to him, but taking the chicken way out of this is better tonight. I don’t trust my mouth, and I’m pretty sure that I’d slip up and say something that I’d regret tomorrow. I’m sobering up, but the way he made my heart restrict tonight from the pain that was washed over his face out of concern for me is causing me to expect the worse. Did he come here to tell me something’s wrong? Was that why he canceled his trip?

My Book Review:

If you are looking for a sassy friend to lovers romantic comedy to while away a cold winter afternoon, then look no further, Tic Tac Love by author A.M. Willard is just what you need!

In Tic Tac Love, author A.M. Willard weaves an enjoyable tale with a wonderful mixture of romance and comedy that follows the best friends to lovers (soulmate) story of Annabelle Quinn and Paxton West.

Belle and Pax have been best friends since the age of ten. From the beginning, their hearts always belonged to each other, especially as demonstrated by their favorite game of tic-tac-toe, where Pax is the x and Belle is the o. But as the years go by they kept their feelings for each other hidden from each other. Fast-forward sixteen years later, twenty-six-year-old Belle and Pax finally decide to express their long-held feelings. Belle and Pax's story is told in alternating first-person perspective and set in my favorite city - New York City. The reader can't help but get drawn into Belle and Pax's story and empathize with them as their unrequited love causes angst, drama, misunderstandings, and enough quirky trials and tribulations that will keep the reader giggling as they turn the pages.

I really enjoyed reading Tic Tac Love. It is a fun and relatable story, and you can't help but sympathize with Belle and Pax as they try to change their longtime relationship from best friends to lovers. Add in the mix a host of quirky characters (friends Brooke, Miranda, Jace, and Brodie) who try to help Belle and Pax realize that they really are soulmates, and you have a truly fun romantic comedy that will have you laughing out loud and leave a smile on your face!


About the Author

Bestselling Author, A.M. Willard resides in Savannah, Georgia. She joined the Peach State many years ago after leaving the crystal blue waters and sugary white sand behind from the Panhandle of Florida. She's also known for being a wife, mother, and caretaker for her farm animals. A.M. loves anything sassy, glittery, and is a sucker for the Hallmark Channel. That last one might be the reason she believes in soulmates or it could be because she married her high school sweetheart for twenty years ago.

After releasing her first novella series back in 2014, A.M. set out on a new goal to bring her readers a broad range of romantic stories from her desk. This includes Romantic Comedy, Contemporary Romance, and from time to time some Sexy Romance. A.M. is an active member of RWA (Romance Writers of America).

Author Website
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Amazon Author Page
BookBub Author Page

Contest Giveaway

Win A $25 Amazon Gift Card

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Shepherd's Calculus by C.S. Farrelly (VBT: Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for The Shepherd's Calculus by C.S. Farrelly!

Book Review

The Shepherd's Calculus by C.S. Farrelly
Publisher: Cavan Bridge Press
Publication Date: September 28, 2017
Format: Paperback - 272 pages
               Kindle - 2259 KB
               Nook - 634 KB
ISBN: 978-0998749303
BNID: 2940158679810
Genre: Political Thriller

Purchase Links: 
Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author/publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours.

Book Description:

When journalist Peter Merrick is asked to write a eulogy for his mentor, Jesuit priest James Ingram, his biggest concern is doing right by the man. But when his routine research reveals disturbing ties to sexual abuse and clues to a shadowy deal trading justice for power, everything he believed about his friend is called into question. With the US presidential election looming, incumbent Arthur Wyncott is quickly losing ground among religious voters. Meanwhile, Owen Feeney, head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, is facing nearly a billion dollars in payments to victims of sex abuse. When Feeney hits on a solution to both men’s problems, it seems the stars have aligned. That is until Ally Larkin—Wyncott’s brilliant campaign aide—starts to piece together the shocking details. As the election draws closer and the stakes get higher, each choice becomes a calculation: Your faith, or your church? Your principles, or your candidate? The person you most respect, or the truth that could destroy their legacy?

When the line between right and wrong is blurred, how do you act, and whom do you save?

Book Excerpt:

When Peter Merrick’s cell phone rang around ten on a Monday morning, his first instinct was to ignore it. Anyone who knew him well enough to call that number would know he had a deadline for the last of a three-part series he was working on for the Economist. It was his first foray into magazine writing in some time, and he’d made it clear to his wife, his editors, and even the family dog that he wasn’t to be disturbed until after the last piece was done and delivered.
Several months had passed since his return from an extended and harrowing assignment tracking UN peacekeeping operations on the Kashmiri border with Pakistan, where violent protests had erupted following the death of a local Hizbul Mujahideen military commander. The assignment had left him with what his wife, Emma, solemnly declared to be post-traumatic stress disorder. It was, in his opinion, a dubious diagnosis she’d made based on nothing more than an Internet search, and he felt those covering the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan deserved greater sympathy. He’d been a bystander to tragedy, he told anyone who asked, not a victim.
One morning as he’d stood drinking strong Turkish coffee on the terrace of his apartment in Jammu, he watched as a car bomb detonated in front of the school across the road. No children were killed. It was a Saturday, and teachers had gathered there to meet with members of a French NGO dedicated to training staff at schools in developing nations. The arm landed on his terrace with a loud thud before Peter realized what it was. Pinned to the shoulder of what remained of its shirt was a name tag identifying Sheeraza Akhtar, presumably one of the teachers. At the time, he marveled at his complete lack of reaction to the torn limb, at the way his response was to read the letters on the tag, grab a pen, and start writing down details of the event—a description of jewelry on the woman’s hand, the streak of half-cauterized flesh running from where it tore from the arm socket to the bottom of her palm, the way smoke curled from the remains of the school’s front entrance, and the pitiful two-ambulance response that limped its way to the scene nearly twenty minutes after the explosion.
Even now as he recalled the moment, he wouldn’t describe what he felt as horror or disgust, just a complete separation from everything around him, an encompassing numbness. His wife kept telling him he needed to talk to someone about what he was feeling. But that was just the point, he thought, even if he couldn’t say it to her. He couldn’t quite articulate what he was feeling, beyond paralysis. Making the most rudimentary decisions had been excruciating since his return. It required shaking off the dull fog he’d come to prefer, the one that rescued him from having to connect to anything. The pangs of anxiety constricting his chest as he glanced from the screen of the laptop to his jangling cell phone were the most palpable emotional response he’d had in recent memory. The interruption required a decision of some kind. He wasn’t certain he could comply.
But in keeping with the career he had chosen, curiosity got the better of him. He looked at the incoming number. The area code matched that of his hometown in central Connecticut, less than an hour from where he and Emma now lived in Tarrytown, but his parents had long since retired to South Carolina. He made his decision to answer just as the call went to voice mail, which infuriated him even more than the interruption. For Peter, missing something by mere minutes or seconds was the sign of a journalist who didn’t do his job, who failed to act in time. Worse, he’d allowed a good number of calls to go to voice mail while under his deadline, and the thought of having to sift through them all made him weary. The phone buzzed to announce a new message. He looked again from his screen to the phone, paralyzed by the uncertainty and all-consuming indecision he’d begun exhibiting upon his return from Kashmir. After several minutes of failed progress on his article, the right words refusing to come to him, he committed to the message.
He grabbed the phone and dialed, browsing online news sites as inconsequential voices droned on. His editor. His sister. His roommate from college asking if he’d heard the news and to call him back. Finally, a message from Patricia Roedlin in the Office of Public Affairs at his alma mater, Ignatius University in Greenwich, Connecticut. Father Ingram, the president of the university, had passed away unexpectedly, and the university would be delighted if one of their most successful graduates would be willing to write a piece celebrating his life for the Hartford Courant.
The news failed to register. Again, a somewhat common experience since his return. He tapped his fingers on the desk and spotted the newspaper on the floor where Emma had slipped it under the door. In the course of their ten-year marriage, Peter had almost never closed his office door. “If I can write an article with mortar shells falling around me, I think I can handle the sound of a food processor,” he had joked. But lately that had changed, and Emma had responded without comment, politely leaving him alone when the door was shut and sliding pieces of the outside world in to him with silent cooperation. He picked up the newspaper, scanned the front page, and moved on to the local news. There it was, in a small blurb on page three. “Pedestrian Killed in Aftermath of Ice Storm.” The aging president of a local university was the victim of an accident after leaving a diner in Bronxville. His body was found near the car he’d parked on a side street. Wounds to the back of his head were consistent with a fall on the ice, and hypothermia was believed to be the cause of death.
To Peter’s eye the name of the victim, James Ingram, stuck out in bold print. An optical illusion, he knew, but it felt real. He reached for the second drawer on the right side of his desk and opened it. A pile of envelopes rested within. He rooted around and grasped one. The stamp was American but the destination was Peter’s address in Jammu. The script was at once shaky and assured, flourishes on the ending consonants with trembling hesitation in the middle. Folded linen paper fell from the opened envelope with little prompting. He scanned the contents of the letter, front and back, until his eyes landed on the closing lines.

"Well, Peter my boy, it’s time for me to close this missive. You may well be on your way to Kabul or Beirut by the time this reaches you, but I have no small belief that the comfort it is meant to bring will find its way to you regardless of borders.
You do God’s work, Peter. Remember, the point of faith isn’t to explain away all the evil in this world. It’s meant to help you live here in spite of it.
Benedictum Nomen Iesu,
Ingram, SJ

Peter dialed Patricia Roedlin’s number. She was so happy to hear from him it made him uncomfortable. “I’d be honored to write a piece,” he spoke into the phone. “He talked about you to anyone who would listen, you know,” she said. “I think he would be pleased. Really proud.” He heard her breath catch in her throat, the stifled sobs that had likely stricken her since she’d heard the news.
“It’s okay,” he found himself saying to this complete stranger, an effort to head off her tears. “I can’t imagine what I’d be doing now if it weren’t for him.” He hoped it would give her time to recover. “He was an extraordinary man and an outstanding teacher.”
Patricia’s breathing slowed as she regained control. “I hope to do him justice,” Peter finished. It was only when he hung up the phone that he noticed them, the drops of liquid that had accumulated on the desk where he’d been leaning forward as he talked. He lifted a hand to his face and felt the moisture line from his eye to his chin. After several long months at home, the tears had finally come.
Excerpt from The Shepherd's Calculus by C.S. Farrelly. Copyright © 2017 by C.S. Farrelly. Reproduced with permission from C.S. Farrelly. All rights reserved.

My Book Review:

In her debut novel, The Shepherd's Calculus, author C.S. Farrelly weaves a compelling political thriller that delves into the intriguing intersection of politics and religion. It is a multi-layered tale that masterfully interweaves how power and money influence political and religious choices and decisions. Mix in deception, hidden agendas and dark secrets, political posturing, Church corruption, and the sobering child sexual abuse cases by priests, and you have an intriguing tale about a tangled and devious web created by political players and church leaders to each get what they want at any cost.

As a fan of political thrillers, I was fascinated by the author's interweaving of politics and religion. I was intrigued by the variety of cut-throat political campaign strategies utilized to get the votes in their candidate's favor. As a Catholic, I thought that the author's examination of the Catholic Church's history of maintaining silence in regard to the traumatically scandalous child sexual abuse cases by priests until it was brought to light by the unified voices of the survivors, and how the Church continued to cover it up in an attempt to avoid the serious propensity and monetary backlash, was very sobering, disturbing, and thought-provoking.

The Sheperd's Calculus is a well-written and compelling political thriller. It has realistic characters, and a believable political and religious opportunistic pairing with enough drama and intriguing plot twists that will keep the reader engaged and turning the pages until the surprising conclusion.


About The Author

C.S. Farrelly

C.S. Farrelly was raised in Wyoming and Pennsylvania. A graduate of Fordham University (BA, English), her eclectic career has spanned a Manhattan investment bank, the NYC Department of Education and, most recently, the British Government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. She was a 2015 Presidential Leadership Scholar and obtained a master’s degree from Trinity College Dublin, where she was a George J. Mitchell Scholar.

She has lived in New York City, Washington, D.C., Ireland, and England. An avid hiker, she camped her way through East Africa, from Victoria Falls to Nairobi. She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her family.

The Shepherd’s Calculus is her first novel.

Author Website
Amazon Author Page

Contest Giveaway

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for C.S. Farrelly. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Giftcard. The giveaway begins on February 1, 2018 and runs through April 2, 2018. Void where prohibited.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Virtual Book Tour

Tour Schedule:

02/01 Interview @ BooksChatter 
02/02 Review @ The World As I See It 
02/02 Showcase @ Bound 2 Escape 
02/02 Showcase @ The Bookworm Lodge 
02/02 Showcase @ Tome Tender 
02/03 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader 
02/04 Interview @ Mythical Books 
02/05 Guest post @ Writers and Authors 
02/05 Showcase @ The Pulp and Mystery Shelf 
02/06 Review @ Quiet Fury Books 
02/08 Showcase @ Books, Dreams, Life 
02/09 Interview @ A Blue Million Books 
02/13 Blog Talk Radio with Fran Lewis 
02/13 Guest post @ Loris Reading Corner 
02/13 Review @ Just Reviews 
02/14 Review @ Booklove 
02/16 Showcase @ The Book Divas Reads 
02/21 Review @ Bookishly me 
02/22 Review @ Lazy Day Books 
02/27 Guest post @ 411 on Books, Authors, and Publishing News 
03/01 Showcase @ Buried Under Books 
03/02 Excerpt @ Suspense Magazine 
03/12 Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews 
03/12 Review @ CMash Reads
03/13 Interview/showcase @ CMash Reads 
03/13 Showcase @ The Reading Frenzy 
03/15 Review @ Mystery Suspense Reviews 
03/26 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

We Love Small Town Romance Blog Tour (VBT: Book Reviews / Contest Giveaway)

In association with I Am A Reader, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the We Love Small Town Romance Blog Tour featuring Marrying The Wedding Crasher by Melinda Curtis and Always The Hero by Anna J. Stewart! 

Book Review

Marrying the Wedding Crasher by Melinda Curtis
Book 1: A Harmony Valley Novel Series
Publisher: Harlequin Heartwarming
Publication Date: March 1, 2018
Format: Paperback - 384 pages
               Kindle - 1331 KB
               Nook - 1 MB
ISBN: 978-1335633538
ASIN: B074SJ9971
BNID: 978-1488084966
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Buy The Book:
Barnes & Noble

Buy The Series: A Harmony Valley Novel Series
Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author/publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by I Am A Reader.

Book Description:

This bachelor’s pretend girlfriend just made a shocking discovery—

She’s pregnant!

Although they dated for only a month, Harley O’Hannigan just agreed to be Vince Messina’s plus-one at a Harmony Valley wedding. Big mistake, given her deepening feelings for the tall, dark, unavailable bachelor. And what about Vince’s long-buried family history? Then there’s the growing secret that could transform this pretend relationship into the real thing…

Praise For Melinda Curtis:

"Wonderfully entertaining!" Jayne Ann Krentz, NYT Bestseller (referring to Playing for Love)

"Reading Slade and Christine's story reminded me of why I enjoy romance. SEASON OF CHANGE has found a place on my keeper shelf!" Brenda Novak, NYT Bestseller

Book Excerpt: 

Warm hands engulfed hers, not the slightest bit vengeful. “Harley?” A gentle voice, one she should be able to identify if her head didn’t feel like someone had stuffed it with thick insulation. “You’re safe. He’s gone.”

Harley opened her eyes on a shuddering breath. A familiar face greeted her.

Vince. They both worked for Jerry, remodeling houses.

Vince. Friendly black eyes, a sturdy nose, and black hair. That black hair. It had required a second glance when they’d first met. He had fantastic hair. The kind of hair Disney gave its princes.

Her heart was racing for the exit and her hands had started to tremble in his. Vince’s hands, not Dan’s.

Vince. He drove an old truck, not a new Ferrari. He’d offered her carrots once when he’d heard she’d forgotten her lunch on a remote job site. He’d bought her a drink after work one day, which had led to him buying her dinner—more than once—and then the infamous weekend away where he’d learned she’d quit being an architect. Not that he’d understood Harley and her inability to pick herself up after one undisclosed setback. He may have been seven years older than her, but that didn’t mean he could be judgmental about her career choices.

Note to self... I’m not safe with Vince, either.

“Hey.” Vince gave her hands a gentle squeeze. “Are you with me?”

With him? She would’ve followed him anywhere a few weeks ago, before the let-me-tell-you-what-to-do-with-your-life debacle.

Vince moved to sit next to Harley, tucking her beneath his arm, next to his bulky tool belt. “Breathe in. Breathe out.”

Sounded easy enough, but that heart of hers was hammering against her lungs, making her pant. Vince holding her wasn’t helping her recovery. Not that she moved away from him. Not one inch.

“Like this.” Vince took Harley’s hand and placed her palm on his sturdy chest.

She could feel his heartbeat nearly as fast as hers, but she could also feel him fill his lungs with air.

“Breathe in. Breathe out.” Vince was big and warm and calm, and completely different than Dan.

He’d never be a slave to fashion. He’d never take credit for someone else’s work. He’d never put his hands on a woman with intent to do damage.

In a distant part of her brain, somewhere where things weren’t pounding, Harley’s mother recited one of her Southern lectures. Life is hard, baby girl. You need to find yourself a big, strong man to lean on when times get tough.

Finding big, strong men was something of a specialty of Harley’s. It was finding the ones she could lean on forever that eluded her.

My Book Review:

Marrying The Wedding Crasher is a heartwarming contemporary romance story that follows the unexpected relationship of Harley O'Hannigan and Vince Messina.

Vince Messina needs a date for his younger brother Joe's wedding. Vince has been able to keep his brothers at arm's length about his personal life for years. But there is no getting out of going back home to Harmony Valley, California, so Vince asks his ex-girlfriend and co-worker Harley O'Hannigan to be his date after he let it slip to his brothers that he has a girlfriend. From the day that Vince and Harley met there was a strong connection and mutual attraction between them. But a misunderstanding and Vince's personal baggage and tough exterior waylaid the development of their relationship. Can a seemingly harmless wedding invitation to a family wedding change Vince and Harley's pretend relationship into a real one ... or will family secrets and emotional baggage keep them from reigniting the romance that they once briefly shared? 

Author Melinda Curtis weaves a wonderful tale full of pain, angst, drama, humor, and tender romantic moments that easily draws the reader into Harley and Vince's story. The dramatic development of their relationship makes this story worth the read, as their connection is put to the test by serious personal issues in their lives. You can't help but feel for Vince as he struggles with his past emotional baggage, and cheer for Harley and Vince on as they try to move beyond a pretend relationship with a few surprises along the way! 

Marrying The Wedding Crasher has an intriguing cast of characters who are realistic, flawed, and easy to relate to; witty dialogue and engaging interactions; and a wonderful storyline that will take you on a beautiful journey towards a happily-ever-after. 

If you are looking for a hopeful and heartwarming love story that follows the unexpected journey of two people who learn to let go of their pasts and open themselves up to a healing and loving relationship, then Marrying The Wedding Crasher is the story for you!


About The Author

Author Melinda Curtis is an award-winning, USA Today Bestseller of over 40 romances. She writes sweet romance for Harlequin Heartwarming, sweet romantic comedies and sexy sports contemporary romances. When not working on DIY projects around their home, Melinda and her college sweetheart enjoy watching Duke men's basketball and visiting their three kids and one grandchild. Sign up for her mailing list to receive two free reads.

Always the Hero by Anna J. Stewart
Book #4: Butterfly Harbor Stories Series
Publisher: Harlequin Heartwarming
Publication Date: March 1, 2018
Format: Paperback - 384 pages
               Kindle - 1879 KB
               Nook - 2MB
ISBN: 978-1335633552
BNID: 978-1488084980
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Buy The Book:
Barnes & Noble

Buy The Series: Butterfly Harbor Stories Series
Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author/publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by I Am A Reader.

Book Description:

He never relied on anyone but himself...but he needs her now!

Butterfly Harbor deputy Matt Knight wants two things: to date Lori Bradley and the chance to adopt Kyle, a troubled teen. Wounded in Afghanistan, Matt knows he can't move forward anchored to the past. But once he regains the guarded hotel manager's trust, will his need to protect those he loves cost him a future with this extraordinary woman?

Praise for Anna J Stewart:

“The talented Anna J Stewart delivers every time.” ~NYTimes Bestselling Author Brenda Novak

“Anna J. Stewart will tug at your heartstrings more than once while leaving you utterly besotted with her characters.” ~The Romance Reviews

Book Excerpt:

Matt Knight was all about doing right by people. Especially those he cared about. But there wasn’t any moving forward, not with his life, not with Lori, as long as he was still anchored to the past.

The phone rang. Before Matt could reach for the receiver, Jasper answered.

“It’s for you, Matt. A Chris Walters?”

“That’s Kyle’s caseworker,” Matt said as he picked up his extension. “Chris? Kyle okay?”

“Doing well, actually.” The social worker’s encouraging words belied the tension in his voice. “We’re still on track for an early release. For now at least.”
“What’s that mean?” Matt squeezed the receiver so hard his fingers tingled. “What’s going on?”

 “The judge in charge of Kyle’s case is retiring. His replacement is reviewing all the cases ahead of time and, well, since we’re jumping beyond fosterage to adoption, she has some concerns about your living situation.”

“What’s wrong with my living situation?” Matt asked. “I’ve got a room ready for him, he’ll have a part-time job with the sheriff’s department, and most importantly he’ll have more stability than he’s known in years.”

“I’m on your side, remember? You don’t have to convince me. She’s not denying your petition, Matt, but she has suggested a female influence in the house wouldn’t be a bad thing for Kyle. And given your marital status...”

“That’s about to be resolved.” Matt looked down at the papers on his desk. “I filed the divorce papers and am getting ready to sign them as we speak.”

“Okay. We’ll have to see how that plays with the judge.”

“Given Kyle’s last female influence was too hopped-up on prescription meds to give him a second thought, I wouldn’t think this would be any judge’s first concern.” Matt hated to speak ill of Kyle’s mother, but the truth was the truth.

“It’s a concern, Matt. And the judge only suggested it would be in your and Kyle’s best interest if there was someone in your life to help bring a bit of balance. Even if it’s just a girlfriend, which brings me to what we talked about before. She’s going to want to call Lori as a character witness.”

“Lori? How does she know about Lori?” The last time his heart had pounded this hard he’d been dodging bullets.

“Because I listed her in my report. You said you were dating her, that you thought it was getting serious. Are you telling me something’s changed?”

Changed? Other than Matt all but ignoring her the last few weeks while he got his head on straight and cleared the emotional deck? “No, nothing’s changed,” Matt blurted before his brain could catch up with the panic seizing his chest. He’d made a promise to Kyle, and Matt Knight never made a promise he couldn’t keep. “We’ve been seeing each other for a while, off and on.” Most recently off. All the more reason to remedy that.

“She’s completely on board with me taking Kyle in.”

“So you’re okay with her listed as a character witness? She’ll back up your statement should the judge want to call her in during Kyle’s hearing?”

“Yeah, of course.” Matt swallowed the lie. Well, it wasn’t a lie exactly. Lori did know about Kyle but Matt’s current relationship with her might be a bit, well, up in the air. “Have they set a date yet for the hearing?”

“Um, yeah. Hang on, I’ve got that right...” The sound of shuffling papers scraped against Matt’s ear. “Three weeks from Monday. Looks like the judge has us penciled in for two in the afternoon.”

Matt scribbled the date on his calendar, noting that was the same day as the big welcome dinner that opened the Butterfly Festival. That would take some juggling given it was all hands on deck in town for the department. “I’ll be there.” Somehow. “I thought I’d come up and see him in a couple of weeks. Need to figure out my days off.”

“You’re on the visitor’s list for anytime,” Chris said. “I’m glad you told me about Lori. This will go a long way with this judge in approving Kyle’s placement.”

“I hope so.” With Kyle’s troubled past, the only other placement option for him would be a group foster home or to extend his stint in the detention center he currently resided in. “Let me know if there are any more changes.”

“You got it.”

Matt hung up. Why was it, even when he had the best of intentions, he ended up messing things up? At least now he had even more of a reason to apologize to Lori. As much as he wanted her back in his life, he needed her.

Kyle needed her. Unease settled in his gut like a stone. He hated lying. To anyone.

But especially to Lori Bradley.

“Everything okay?” Jasper asked. “Is Kyle still getting out?”

“He sure is.” Matt picked up his pen, clicked it open and scratched his name on the divorce decree. A few seconds later, he set the sealed envelope on the counter, where it would go out in the afternoon mail.

My Book Review:

Always The Hero is a tender contemporary romance story of overcoming past emotional baggage, insecurities, and personal trust issues in order to get a chance at finding true love. 

From the day that Army Veteran/ Sheriff Deputy Matt Knight and Assistant Hotel Manager Lori Bradley meet there is a strong connection and mutual attraction between them. But Matt and Lori both have past emotional baggage along with trust and insecurity issues that stand in the way of the development of their budding romantic relationship.When Matt and Lori team together in the planning of the annual Monarch Festival held in their small coastal town of Butterfly Harbor, their relationship is put to the test, but a sense of community spirit from their families, friends, and neighbors help this couple overcome the obstacles in their way in order to get a chance at finding love. 

Author Anna J. Stewart weaves a wonderful tale full of pain, angst, drama, humor, and tender romantic moments that easily draws the reader into Matt and Lori's story. The slow building development of their relationship makes this heartwarming story worth the read, as their connection is put to the test by serious personal issues in their lives. You can't help but feel for both Matt and Lori as they struggle with their past emotional baggage and personal issues, and cheer them on as they embark on a personal journey of discovering love.  

Always The Hero has an intriguing cast of characters who are realistic, flawed, and easy to relate to; witty dialogue and engaging interactions; a small coastal town setting rich in description that makes you want to visit; and a compelling storyline that will take you on a hauntingly beautiful journey where you will experience the full gamut of emotions.

If you are looking for a hopeful and heartwarming love story that follows the unexpected journey of two people who learn to let go of their pasts and open themselves up to a healing and loving relationship, then Always The Hero is the story for you!


About The Author

USA Today and national bestselling Author Anna J. Stewart writes sweet to sexy romance for Harlequin's Heartwarming and Romantic Suspense lines. Early obsessions with Star Wars, Star Trek, and Wonder Woman set her on the path to creating fun, funny, and family-centric romances with happily-ever-afters for her independent heroines. Anna lives in Northern California where she deals with a serious Supernatural & Sherlock addiction, surrounds herself with friends and family and tolerates an overly affectionate cat named Snickers (or perhaps it's Snickers who tolerates her). When she's not writing books or her monthly blog for USA Today’s Happy Ever After, you can find her at fan conventions or at her local movie theater, or building her client list for her content editing services.

Contest Giveaway

Blog Tour Giveaway $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway Ends 3/18/18 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. 

The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announce here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. 


Virtual Book Tour

Blog Tour Schedule:

March 5th 
I Am A Reader - Spotlight 
A Writer's Life - Spotlight 
Laura's Interests - Spotlight 

March 6th 
Bargnhtress - Spotlight 
Bonnie Phelps, Author - Spotlight 
The Avid Reader - Spotlight 
T's Stuff - Spotlight 
My Devotional Thoughts - Spotlight 
Susan Heim on Writing - Spotlight
Remembrancy - Review 
Wishful Endings - Review

March 7th 
Rainy Days and Pajamas - Spotlight 
Bookworm Lisa - Spotlight 
The Eco Lifestyle - Spotlight 
Diana's Book Reviews - Spotlight 

March 8th 
Room With Books - Spotlight 
Hearts & Scribbles - Spotlight
Queen of All She Reads - Spotlight 
BookHounds - Spotlight 
StoreyBook Reviews - Spotlight 
Thoughts of a Blonde - Spotlight 
Among the Reads - Review 
Rockin' Book Reviews - Spotlight 
Kindle and Me - Review

March 9th 
Heidi Reads... - Spotlight 
Paulette's Papers - Spotlight 
Tianna Holley, Author - Spotlight 
Bunny's Review - Review 
books are love - Spotlight 
Kerrific Online - Review