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.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Luna Rising by Selene Castrovilla (Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Jen Halligan PR, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Luna Rising by author Selene Castrovilla!

Book Review

Luna Rising by Selene Castrovilla
Publisher: Last Syllable Books
Publication Date: April 25, 2017
Format: Paperback - 450 pages
ISBN: 978-0991626199
Genre: Women's Fiction

Buy The Book:
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 Jen Halligan PR.

Book Description:

Life begins at thirty-eight for Long Island mom and writer Luna Lampanelli, when she kicks her secretly gay husband to the curb. She's got her freedom, but what she wants is love.

Luna knows she doesn’t need a man to exist, but try telling that to her heart. Against the advice of Sunny, her snarky best friend, and Jiminy, the cautioning voice in Luna’s head that just won’t shut up, Luna sets course to find a mate.

Luna speed and on-line dates her way into several short-lived, surreal relationships. There’s Ari, the humorless Israeli who refuses to assimilate – to America, and to humanity. There’s Alex, the young and handsome ex-crackhead who informs Luna he doesn’t want to be monogamous while they’re in bed. There’s Memphis, the wild-eyed sadomasochist. There’s Red, angry and crippled, who becomes the catalyst for Luna to join Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous.

But before Luna can proceed to recovery, she meets the elusive but oh so appealing Trip. He’s emotionally unavailable and has the Madonna-Whore Complex, but how can Luna (aka “whore”) let him go when she enjoys his dry wit so much, and his naked body even more?

Humorously haunting and packed with unspeakable truths, Luna Rising follows a woman's funny and heart-breaking struggle to relate with un-relatable men and an un-relatable world, and to figure out something even more un-relatable: herself.

My Book Review:

Luna Rising is a compelling women's fiction story that easily draws the reader into the drama and emotions that come with the complexity of life, the dynamics of relationships, learning to confront one's past, heal, and move forward. Set in Long Island, the reader can't help but get drawn into thirty-eight year old Luna Lampanelli's story as she discovers that the life that she has been living is not what she wants anymore, so she embarks on a personal journey of self-discovery and search for love and happiness.

Author Selene Castrovilla weaves an intriguing and humorous debut women's fiction story that will easily keep the reader engaged and turning the pages. This wonderfully realistic story provides much food for thought as Luna's tries to figure out what she really wants in life in order to find love and happiness. Luna's story has a great mixture of humor, drama, angst, heartbreak, and crazy trials and tribulations, but her journey of personal discovery is realistic, compelling, and very empowering, it is the kind of story that anyone can relate to, and you can't help but cheer Luna on as she finds her way and embraces her true self.

Luna Rising is a wonderful debut women's fiction story of personal self-discovery and learning to move forward in one's life.


About The Author

Selene Castrovilla
is the award-winning author of multiple narrative nonfiction picture books and young adult novels. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School and a BA in English from New York University. She lives on Long Island with her two sons and too many cats.

Author Website
Amazon Author Page

Contest Giveaway

Win a $25 Gift Card to Amazon or Book Depository (International) 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Virtual Book Tour Event

Tour Schedule:

Feb 1st – A Nook for Books

Feb 2nd – Her Book Thoughts

Feb 3rd – A Leisure Moment

Feb 7th – Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf

Feb 10th – A Chick Who Reads

Feb 13th – Actin’ Up With Books

Feb 14th – The Invisible Diva

Feb 16th – Reese’s Reviews

Feb 20th – Bookish

Feb 22nd – Jersey Girl Book Reviews

Feb 24th – vvb32 reads

Monday, February 20, 2017

Child's Play by Merry Jones (Author Guest Post / 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 Child's Play by author Merry Jones!

Author Guest Post

When You’re Smiling

By: Merry Jones

When I began to write Child’s Play, I intended to focus on the assumptions we make about others. We all do it. A stranger approaches and we make instant judgments about him or her. On sight, knowing nothing about this person, we decide in a nano-second whether to be cautious, friendly or generous. Whether to smile. Whether to run.

These decisions are based in part on instinct, in part on cultural cues. In part on the assumptions we make based on wardrobe, style, cleanliness, health, posture, and, in our society with its prejudices, on gender, age, size, beauty, ethnicity and race.

The assumptions we make about others, though, do not apply just to strangers. We also make them about acquaintances and friends. The assumptions we make about people familiar to us were the ones I intended to write about. What would we assume about a neighbor who’d just been released from prison for murder? About an ice cream man being way too friendly with children? About a business contact who was being persistently flirtatious? Or about a somber and silent janitor who was lurking in a corner watching pretty young girls hurrying down a school hallway?   

My intention in Child’s Play was to show that our assumptions, no matter how logical and time-tested, can mislead us. That the evidence upon which we base our judgments isn’t always correct and can, in fact, lead us to false, even dangerous conclusions.

In the process of writing the book, though, I became aware of some of my own assumptions. Having recently moved from the suburbs to a dense urban area, I was tuned into the “dangers” of city life. I moved quickly down the street, eyes focused straight ahead, avoiding contact with strangers. But, writing the book, I became aware of the assumption that made me behave that way, the assumption that strangers were at best in a rush and focused on their own affairs, at worst dangerous.

Once I became aware of my behavior, I changed it. I began smiling at strangers. Meeting their eyes. Often, though not always, getting smiles in return. Connecting, though just for an instant.

Smiling at people sounds like a simple, even trivial act. But it feels amazing. I get smiles back from all ages, all races, all sizes and shapes. From people with walkers, people with shopping carts. From people hurrying, loitering, jogging, or waiting. People wearing business clothes, walking pit bulls, pushing strollers, or, I suspect, pushing other things.

I suppose Child’s Play was the catalyst for me to extend myself to others in this tiny way, opening my gaze to meet the eyes of passing strangers and offering them a smile.

A smile. It seems innocuous, insignificant. It’s a fleeting thing, enduring for a mere moment. But the smile forces me to overcome the tendency to look away from those around me. It reaches across the city sidewalk with a wordless acknowledgment, a greeting, a shot of good wishes from one stranger to another, no matter what we might assume about each other.

Some days, as I walk, I count the number of smiles I get back. I feel them as small victories against urban loneliness and isolation, against fear, against prejudice. Against false assumptions.

Child’s Play, of course, is about much more than assumptions. But for me, writing it made me aware of the invisible walls surrounding so many of us. And it motivated me to poke at those walls, puncturing a few, even for the duration of a smile.    

Book Review

Child's Play by Merry Jones
Book 3: Elle Harrison Thriller Series
Publisher: Oceanview Publishing
Publication Date: January 3, 2017
Format: Paperback - 320 pages
               Kindle - 1566 KB
               Nook - 3 MB
ISBN: 978-1608091911
BNID: 978-1608091928
Genre: Mystery / Suspense / Thriller

Buy The Book:

Buy The Series: Elle Harrison Thriller Series
Book 1: The Trouble With Charlie
Book 2: Elective Procedures
Book 3: Child's Play

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

Book Description:

Since her husband’s murder two years earlier, life hasn’t been easy for Elle Harrison. Now, at the start of a new school year, the second grade teacher is determined to move on. She’s selling her house and delving into new experiences―like learning trapeze.

Just before the first day of school, Elle learns that a former student, Ty Evans, has been released from juvenile detention where he served time for killing his abusive father. Within days of his release, Elle’s school principal, who’d tormented Ty as a child, is brutally murdered. So is a teacher at the school. And Ty’s former girlfriend. All the victims have links to Ty.

Ty’s younger brother, Seth, is in Elle’s class. When Seth shows up at school beaten and bruised, Elle reports the abuse, and authorities remove Seth and his older sister, Katie, from their home. Is Ty the abuser?

Ty seeks Elle out, confiding that she’s the only adult he’s ever trusted. She tries to be open-minded, even wonders if he’s been wrongly condemned. But when she’s assaulted in the night, she suspects that Ty is her attacker. Is he a serial killer? Is she his next intended victim?

Before Elle discovers the truth, she’s caught in a deadly trap that challenges her deepest convictions about guilt and innocence, childhood and family. Pushed to her limits, she’s forced to face her fears and apply new skills in a deadly fight to survive.

Book Excerpt:

I was the first one there.
The parking lot was empty, except for Stan’s pickup truck. Stan was the custodian, tall, hair thinning, face pock-marked from long ago acne. He moved silently, popped out of closets and appeared in corners, prowled the halls armed with a mop or a broom. In fourteen years, I couldn’t remember a single time when he’d looked me in the eye.
Wait—fourteen years? I’d been there that long? Faces of kids I’d taught swirled through my head. The oldest of them would now be, what? Twenty-one? Oh man. Soon I’d be one of those old school marms teaching the kids of my former students, a permanent fixture of the school like the faded picture of George Washington mounted outside the principal’s office. Hell, in a few months, I’d be forty. A middle-aged childless widow who taught second grade over and over again, year after year, repeating the cycle like a hamster on its wheel. Which reminded me: I had to pick up new hamsters. Tragically, last year’s hadn’t made it through the summer.
I told myself to stop dawdling. I had a classroom to organize, cubbies to decorate. On Monday, just three days from now, twenty-three glowing faces would show up for the first day of school, and I had to be ready. I climbed out of the car, pulled a box of supplies from the trunk, started for the building. And stopped.
My heart did triple time, as if responding to danger. But there was no danger. What alarmed me, what sent my heart racing was the school itself. But why? Did it look different? Had the windows been replaced, or the doors? Nothing looked new, but something seemed altered. Off balance. The place didn’t look like an elementary school. It looked like a giant factory. A prison.
God, no. It didn’t look like any of those things. The school was the same as it had always been, just a big brick building. It seemed cold and stark simply because it was unadorned by throngs of children. Except for wifi, Logan Elementary hadn’t changed in fifty years, unless you counted several new layers of soot on the bricks.
I stood in the parking lot, observing the school, seeing it fresh. I’d never paid much attention to it before. When it was filled with students, the building itself became all but invisible, just a structure, a backdrop. But now, empty, it was unable to hide behind the children, the smells of sunshine and peanut butter sandwiches, the sounds of chatter and small shoes pounding Stanley’s waxed tiles. The building stood exposed. I watched it, felt it watching me back. Threatening.
Seriously, what was wrong with me? The school was neither watching nor threatening me. It was a benign pile of bricks and steel. I was wasting time, needed to go in and get to work. But I didn’t take a single step. Go on, I told myself. What was I afraid of? Empty halls, vacant rooms? Blank walls? For a long moment, I stood motionless, eyes fixed on the façade. The carved letters: Logan School. The heavy double doors. The dark windows. Maybe I’d wait a while before going inside. Becky would arrive soon, after she picked up her classroom aquarium.
Other teachers would show up, too. I could go in with them, blend safely into their commotion. I hefted the box, turned back to the car. But no, what was I doing? I didn’t want to wait. I’d come early so I could get work done without interruption or distraction before the others arrived. The school wasn’t daring me, nor was I sensing some impending tragedy. I was just jittery about starting a new year.
I turned around again, faced its faded brown bricks. I steeled my shoulders, took a breath and started across the parking lot. With a reverberating metallic clank, the main doors flew open. Reflexively, I stepped back, half expecting a burst of flames or gunfire. Instead, Stan emerged. For the first time in fourteen years, I was glad to see him. Stan surveyed the parking lot, hitched up his pants. Looked in my direction. He didn’t wave or nod a greeting, didn’t follow social conventions. Even so, his presence grounded me, felt familiar.
I took a breath, reminded myself that the school was just a school. That I was prone to mental wandering and embellishing. And that children would stream into my classroom in just three days, whether I was ready or not.

My Book Review:

Second grade school teacher Elle Harrison's life hasn't been the same since the murder of her husband Charlie two years ago. She tries to move forward with her life by putting her house up for sale, but when the first day of the school begins, Elle's life gets a tad bit more complicated when she discovers the dead body of the school's principal. And if that isn't enough, Elle finds out that there is a hit list, and she's next on the list! When dead bodies start to accumulate, Elle is determined to solve the murder mystery, and find the killer before she ends up as the next victim!

In Child's Play, the third book in the Elle Harrison Thriller Series, author Merry Jones weaves an intriguing thriller that engages the reader in solving the mystery all the while keeping them guessing along the way. This is a riveting tale of murder, mystery and suspense set in Philadelphia, and written in the first person narrative with Elle Harrison taking the reader along for the ride on her zany adventure to uncover the mystery surrounding the school murders.

Mixed with humor, danger, paranormal involvement, potential suspects and enough twists and turns that keeps you turning the pages until the surprising conclusion, you'll find yourself recruited as one of Elle's amateur sleuths on a quest to solve the puzzle of the school murders. The author weaves a masterful tale that takes the reader in many directions: between the murder mystery, Elle's psychological backstory, Elle's relationship with her best friends, and the paranormal activity, you can't help but try and keep up with this fast-paced riveting thriller.

With a quirky cast of characters who are very entertaining: from zany Elle and her hilarious best friends Susan, Becky, and Jenny; to ghostly Charlie who communicates with Elle from beyond the grave; to a host of potential suspects who each have a motive for murder; they keep the reader on their toes wondering who really is the murderer.

With witty and humorous dialogue and interactions; an intriguing storyline that takes the reader on a madcap adventure that alternates between the present with Elle's memory flashbacks to the past; and a richly detailed description of familiar Philadelphia landmarks; Child's Play is a tantalizing whodunit mystery thriller that will engage your imagination to the very end!


About The Author

Merry Jones is the author of some twenty critically acclaimed books, both fiction and nonfiction. Her work has been translated into seven languages. Her previous Elle Harrison novels have been The Trouble With Charlie and Elective Procedures. Jones lives with her husband in Philadelphia.

Author Website
Amazon Author Page

Contest Giveaway

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Merry Jones. There will be 1 winner of one $15 Gift Cards AND 3 winners of one (1) eBook copy of Child's Play by Merry Jones. The giveaway begins on January 26th and runs through March 3rd, 2017. 
  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Virtual Book Tour Event

Tour Schedule:
01/26 Blog Talk Radio w/Fran Lewis
01/26 Review @ Just Reviews
02/01 Review/showcase @ Books, Dreams, Life
02/02 Review @ Wall-to-wall books - Giveaway
02/03 Review/showcase @ CMash Reads
02/04 Showcase @ The Pen and Muse Book Reviews
02/05 Review @ Book Babble
02/06 Review @ Buried Under Books - Giveaway
02/07 Interview/showcase @ BooksChatter
02/08 Guest Post/Showcase @ The Book Divas Reads
02/09 Showcase @ Mythical Books
02/14 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews
02/15 Review @ fuonlyknew
02/20 Guest post & Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews
02/21 Interview @ Writers and Authors
02/22 Interview @ Jean BookNerd - Giveaway
02/23 Review @ Books Direct
02/23 Review @ JBronder Book Reviews
02/24 Review & Guest post @ Blog Rockin Book Reviews - Giveaway
2/18 Showcase @ Hott Books

Friday, February 17, 2017

Death In Advertising by Laura Bradford (Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Death In Advertising by author Laura Bradford!

Book Review

Death In Advertising by Laura Bradford
Book 1: Tobi Tobias Mystery Series
Publisher: Lyrical Underground
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Format: Paperback - 212 pages
               Kindle - 959 KB
               Nook - 748 KB
ISBN: 978-1516102075
BNID: 978-1516102068
Genre: Cozy Mystery

Buy The Book:

Buy The Series: Tobi Tobias Mystery Series
Book 1: Death In Advertising
Book 2: 30 Second Death (Pub Date: July 11, 2017)

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

Book Description:

When Tobi Tobias decided to open her own ad agency, having to moonlight in a pet shop wasn’t part of her vision . . . of course, neither was murder.

Sometimes when opportunity knocks, the door you open leads to a closet. That’s certainly the case for Tobi, whose weekends spent cleaning cages in her best friend’s pet shop may soon be over. She’s just landed her first big break—Zander Closet Company needs a catchy campaign slogan ASAP, and Tobi thinks she’s got the right hook to knock ’em dead: “When we’re done, even your skeletons will have a place.”

But when a real dead body topples out of a showcase closet, she’s about to discover there is such a thing as bad publicity. To save her fledgling business and not get killed by the competition, Tobi takes on a new pet project: solving the murder. But with a stressed-out parrot as the only witness to the crime, Tobi will really have to wing it to put the cagey killer behind bars.

Book Excerpt:

Death in Advertising

A Tobi Tobias Mystery

By Laura Bradford

Copyright © 2017 Laura Bradford
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-5161-0207-5

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

A cliché? Perhaps. But a cliché, after all, is a truism. Which, in layman's terms, means whoever coined the desperate measures thing knew what they were talking about.

Frankly, if you ask me, I think the girl (or guy, in the interest of being politically correct) was a genius. How else could you define someone who'd so accurately described my state of mind without ever having met me? I mean, my life was the epitome of desperate times, my recent behavior the poster child for desperate measures.

I'd tried it all:

Nail biting, check.

Increased chocolate consumption, check.

Hiding from the mailman, check.

A lit match, check.

But none of it had worked.

Wait. Let me rephrase a moment. Technically, the lit match worked (along with the smoke detector and ceiling sprinklers) but we won't go there. Besides, it was a temporary fix.

Which brings me to today's final act of desperation. Granted, it hadn't worked when I was five and trying to clean my room, but with age comes wisdom (or stupidity, as my grandfather was fond of saying).

I yanked open the top drawer of my desk and pulled out a white paper napkin left over from yesterday's brown-bag lunch. Laying it carefully atop the mountainous stack of singed envelopes, I squeezed my eyes shut and willed myself to become one with the Amazing Mumford.

"A la peanut butter sandwiches ..."

I opened my eyes slowly and looked at my paper-strewn desk, everything exactly where it had been when I dove off the deep end into insanity (with not so much as a poof of smoke for my efforts). "Damn."

Maybe a top hat would help. Or a moustache ...

"You okay, Tobi?"

I'd been so intent on running through my mental list of magic paraphernalia that I hadn't noticed JoAnna standing in the doorway. But there she was, a strange look plastered on her softly wrinkled face. I knew that look. I'd seen it a lot lately. Mostly in the mirror.

"Oh. Hey. I, um, can expl —"

JoAnna held up her hand, a knowing smile creeping across her face. "No need. I know exactly what you were doing." She strode across the room and stopped in front of my desk, her eyes soaking up the source of my shenanigans in one quick sweep. "Unfortunately, a magic spell isn't going to pay these, sweetie."

I leaned back in my chair and nibbled the inside of my cheek. She had a point. Or —

"Do you happen to have a cape I could borrow?"

She raised an eyebrow at me.

"A wand?"

She shook her head.

"Maybe my cadence was just off."

Judging by her eye roll, I'd say cadence wasn't the issue either.

"Do you have a better suggestion?" I finally asked.

JoAnna folded her arms and lifted her chin. "As a matter of fact, I do."

It was nice to feel the twinge of hope surge through my body at those words. Maybe I hadn't resigned myself to true Eeyore status yet. "Okay, lay it on me."

"Land a campaign."

My left nostril flared, my mouth fell open. It wasn't one of my best looks, but it was all I had at the moment. I mean, land a campaign? What did she think I'd been trying to do the past six months (beyond becoming proficient at finding the minus key on my calculator)?

"Good Lord, Tobi, you can't go in with that face."

I dropped my head into my hands and searched my memory bank for different magic words that would make everything vanish. Including me.

Alakazam, perhaps?

"Okay. I give up. What are you talking about?" I knew my words were muffled, but I just didn't have the energy to pick up my head.

"Ever heard of Zander Closet Company?"

I blew a piece of hair off my forehead in a half-hearted attempt to at least appear as if I were making eye contact. "Zander who?"

"See. They need you as much as you need them."

I tried to stifle the groan before it left my lips, but I wasn't entirely successful. "You lost me, JoAnna. Any chance you could try English this time?"

"Fine. Two very attractive men from Zander Closet Company are sitting in the conference room waiting for you. They're kind of hoping you can turn their company around."

That did it. My head snapped upward and that nostril/mouth thing happened again. Only this time my eyebrow was in on the action.

"Here? Now?"

"Here. Now. Waiting. For you."


"They just showed up. Said they needed to see the head of Tobias Ad Agency. And, sweetie, that's you."

I pushed back my chair and stood, my legs feeling a bit like Jell-O when you first pull it from the fridge.

"Do my eyes look okay? My hair?"

"Yes. Your eyes are beautiful. Your hair looks sensational. But —" JoAnna met me as I came from behind the desk, her hand brushing against my wrist as she plucked a piece of tricolored hair off my sleeve. "There. Now you look perfect. Not a piece of cat fur anywhere."

"Maybe they're animal lovers, and they'll hire me out of a sense of loyalty." At this point I'd take any pity job I could get, just so long as it came with a paycheck.

"Have faith, Tobi. They're going to love you."

I felt a familiar catch in my throat as I looked at JoAnna. I'd been blessed a hundred times over since she'd walked through my door six months ago. She'd come in looking for a secretarial job and quickly became a loyal friend. Her knowledge at getting a business off the ground had allowed me to focus my attention on marketing the agency in the hopes of landing a few big campaigns. She'd done a great job with her tasks. But I'd failed to accomplish mine. Big time.

And now I was faced with the very real possibility that I would have to let JoAnna go. Sure, it would be heartbreaking. But allowing her to stay on without a paycheck was worse.

I grabbed her hand and gave it a quick squeeze. "Cross your fingers, okay?"

"I'll give you my toes too."

I looked up at the ceiling and took a long, slow breath, waiting for a moment to see if Scotty would, you know, beam me up to wherever he takes you. I counted to thirty in my head, just in case he was busy, but nothing happened. Not a big surprise when you considered Scotty's gender. After all, if I've learned anything from my broken engagement to Nick Harmon, it's that you can't count on a man.

Shaking off all sudden yet undeniable thoughts of revenge and torture, I forced myself to focus on the occupants of the room at the end of the hall.

I can do this. I know I can ...

"Here I go."

"I'll hold your calls."

Oh how I wish I could keep from snorting when I laugh. It's one of those less than stellar habits I can't seem to shake. A vice I didn't even know I had until I started moonlighting at the To Know Them Is To Love Them pet shop and Rudder Malone started mimicking the sound from atop his little metal perch.

I looked back at JoAnna. "Ah, that's right. I forgot. The president of Anheuser Busch was supposed to call today, wasn't he? Something about that million-dollar campaign he handed me on a silver platter last week ..."

"It could happen someday." JoAnna waggled her fingers at me. "But it won't if you don't get in there, talk to those men, land their campaign, and keep this place open."

"Is that all I have to do? Seriously? Why didn't you tell me this before?"

Again, with the eye roll. The woman had them down to an art form. "To-bi! Now go!"

When JoAnna syllabized my name like that, it meant she was losing patience. And when she lost that, there was hell to pay. Trust me.

"Okay, okay. I'm going."

I headed toward the conference room at the end of the hallway, but stopped just outside the bathroom door. I'd strategically placed the mirror where it could be used for a quick grooming prior to all client meetings. It wasn't used very often.

I flicked on the light and stared at myself for a moment. My blond hair shimmered in the overhead light and my Carolina Herrera outfit from the resale shop looked surprisingly new. All was good there. But my face was a different story. There wasn't much a brush and well-honed bargain radar could do for the tiny spray of freckles that danced across my cheeks. My parents always said it gave me a sweet look. Which, translated, meant I looked like a kid. And how many business executives wanted to put their company's livelihood in the hands of someone who could pass for a cheerleader minus the pompoms?

I stuck my tongue out at my reflection and then laughed. Sinking ship or not, I was still Tobi Tobias.

Was I still broke? Yes.

Was I still teetering on the edge of homelessness? Yes.

Would I be defeated? No.

At least not yet, anyway ...

I flicked off the switch and looked at the closed door that separated me from the chance to turn things around. For JoAnna. And for me.

"It's now or never."

I turned the handle, plastered a smile on my face, and pulled the door open. The rush of hushed voices inside the room grew silent as both representatives of Zander Closet Company rose to their feet.

"Good afternoon, gentlemen, I'm Tobi Tobias."

It wasn't hard to miss the look of surprise on the face of the taller, better-looking man. It was the same look I'd seen all my life.

The second man had a slightly different expression, but not one I wasn't familiar with. His had nothing to do with the masculine moniker my parents had saddled me with at birth. It did, however, have everything to do with his species' tried-and-true MO — the part that makes them scope women regardless of age or availability (hers or theirs).

Bitter? Moi? Not a chance.

Well ... maybe. Just a little.

But even if I was projecting, I was fairly certain my read on Mr. Roving Eyes wasn't too far off the mark.

While my buddy puffed out his chest to the point of near-button-poppage, the better-looking one grasped my outstretched hand.

"Ms. Tobias, thank you for seeing us without an appointment. I'm Andrew Zander and this is my brother, Gary."

Andrew Zander was a handsome man. He was a good six inches taller than me, so I figured him to be about six feet. His hair was the color of sunlit sand, his eyes an emerald green. The faint lines around his eyes deepened as he smiled, and I suddenly had that Jell-O feeling in my legs again.

"Tobi Tobias, huh?" Gary stole my hand from his brother and held it tightly. "I knew a Kitty Kitrina once."

Reluctantly, I pulled my gaze off Andrew to acknowledge his brother. It wasn't a surprise that Mr. Roving Eyes — I mean, Gary — would know a Kitty Kitrina. In fact, I was pretty sure he knew a lot of women with cutesy little names like that. They were probably all employed just over the Mississippi River in what's known in male circles throughout St. Louis as "The East Side." But it wasn't his boyishly tousled brown hair, thick gold chain, or overly charming eye contact that tipped me off. It was simply the result of a newly tuned radar — a radar that had been draped in naïveté until the day my heart was broken.

But I didn't have to give the guy my heart, just a pitch that would knock his socks off.

"Mr. Zander," I replied as I disengaged my hand.

"You can call me Gary."

I'd only been in the room a grand total of about two minutes, but I could already sense that the Zander brothers were about as opposite as they come. And, if I believed in gambling, I might just be willing to bet the farm on the guess that their relationship with each other was strained. Then again, if I'd had a farm, it would've been repossessed by now.

I motioned to the chairs and invited the men to sit. The dirty look Andrew shot Gary was quick but not missed by me. It was obvious that Andrew was the professional, and Gary the whatever.

"What can I do for you this afternoon?" I sat in a chair across from the two men and employed a trick I'd learned from my days at Beckler and Stanley Ad Agency: I leaned forward, my attention squarely on the prospective client.

"We've got a radio spot coming up on Tuesday, and we are without a slogan thanks to that idiot, John Beckler."

I felt my mouth start to gape at the mention of my former boss but managed to recover before anyone was the wiser.

Andrew cleared his throat and waved his right hand in the air in an obvious attempt to gain control of the conversation from his brother. "I'm sorry, Ms. Tobias, let me give you some quick background."

"Tobi, please. And, yes, background is good."

"We own Zander Closet Company. We specialize in closet organization systems. We opened about six months ago and business has been really slow. I couldn't figure it out for the longest time. I mean, we do just as good a job as these other companies and we're using better materials. Yet no one is calling." I couldn't help but notice the way his emerald-green eyes darkened as he spoke. Mood eyes. Like mine. I tried to focus on his words as he continued. "I was at my wits' end one day and so I did a search on closet companies in and around St. Louis. I figured I'd call some of our competitors and see what kind of deals they were offering. When I flipped to the section for closet companies, I got a glimpse at one of our problems."

Ah, yes, the joys of alphabetical order. A true business killer if there was one.

"It takes a while to weed through the companies who vie for the first spot, doesn't it?" I commented.

Andrew's face brightened. "Exactly. I mean, how many A's can you really put in front of a name?"

"So we need to make you stand out. Make people remember Zander Closet Company." I reached for the pad of paper I kept on the table and pulled a pen from the holder. "Now, what's this about a radio spot and John Beckler?"

"We've got what could be our first real break coming up. You've heard about next week's Home Showcase out in Chesterfield, right?"

Yeah, I'd heard about it. I'd been staring at the ads for weeks, drooling over all the business I didn't have. To Andrew, I said, "Are you one of the businesses being featured?"

"We are. It was a huge coup, but we got in. We're supposed to install one of our premier organization systems into a home owned by Preston and Mitzi Hohlbrook."

This time I was a bit slower when it came to recovering my slackened jaw. "Preston Hohlbrook? As in the Car King himself?"

"The one and the same," Gary interrupted. He drummed his hands on the table and shifted in his seat. "You ever seen those commercials he does sitting on top of the camel? Wearing a crown on his head? Comes across as this hip guy? Well, it's a farce. He's as boring as they come."

It's a good thing Andrew muttered something to his brother at this point because they were too preoccupied to hear me snort. Gary Zander really was a piece of work.

"Yes, Tobi, Preston Hohlbrook from Hohlbrook Motors," Andrew said, shooting daggers in his brother's direction.

"That's great visibility for you."

"It certainly could be. But we've got to get Zander Closet Company in people's heads before the Showcase. Otherwise they won't be looking for our work. And that's why we're here."

I nodded, my thoughts still on the name Gary had uttered earlier. As much as I wanted — no, needed — this job, I had to know if John was involved.

"You mentioned John Beckler before. Is he working on part of your campaign?"

"That lazy sack of —"

"Gary, enough," his brother said.

But for once, I wanted Mr. Roving Eyes to continue. Slimeball or not, Gary Zander obviously had a handle on the personality of my former boss. So good, in fact, that I had to wonder if I'd been a bit rash in my estimation of Andrew's brother.

"Hell, Andrew, he's that and more. We've got 'til Monday afternoon to come up with a slogan that's gonna make us stand out. That's three days. He dragged us around by the ear only to come up with zip."

Sounded like the John Beckler I knew, all right. Sit back, do nothing (or do something incredibly stupid), and then leave the task of damage control to his business partner.

"So you were working with John, but you're not now?" I could feel my cheeks pushing upward, the adrenaline coursing through my body. This was sounding a lot like a chance to show John who was best once and for all.

"We fired him," Andrew said before his brother could speak again. "We should have known better when we met with him and he kept talking about all his other clients instead of focusing on us. And the partner? Mike Stanley? He basically sat there the whole time and didn't say a word. Just kept chewing tobacco through the whole meeting —"

The first few notes of the theme from Jaws interrupted the conversation. I wasn't surprised to see it was Gary's phone. How fitting. Women beware.

My Book Review:

Cozy mystery fans, boy do I have an entertaining new series for you to read!

In Death In Advertising, the first book in the Tobi Tobias Mysteries Series, author Laura Bradford weaves a thoroughly delightful cozy mystery that follows the amateur sleuth adventures of ad agency owner Tobi Tobias.

Tobi has been struggling to get her advertising agency on its feet, when she finally gets her first break coming up with a campaign slogan for client Zander Closet Company. But when a dead body topples out of a showcase closet at the company, Tobi is determined to solve the murder mystery before bad publicity harms the client's business as well as her own fledgling business.

Death In Advertising is an entertaining cozy whodunit filled with enough humor, drama, and intriguing twists and turns that will easily keep the reader engaged and guessing the identity of the killer. Tobi is a sassy lady who I could relate to, and I really enjoyed following her amateur sleuth adventure filled with crazy antics and trials and tribulations. 

With a fun cast of characters, witty advertising slogans that Tobi comes up, and plenty of laugh out loud moments, Death In Advertising is an enjoyable cozy mystery that will leave the reader wanting more. I look forward to reading the next adventure in the series.


About The Author

While spending a rainy afternoon at a friend’s house more than thirty years ago, Laura Bradford (a.k.a. Elizabeth Lynn Casey) fell in love with writing over a stack of blank paper, a box of crayons, and a freshly sharpened number two pencil. From that moment forward, she never wanted to do anything else.

Today, Laura is the national bestselling author of the Amish Mysteries, the Jenkins & Burns Mysteries, and the Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries (written as Elizabeth Lynn Casey). A new cozy mystery series was added to the mix in 2016 with the release of The Emergency Dessert Squad Mysteries. Laura is a former Agatha nominee and the recipient of an RT Reviewer’s Choice Award in romance. In her free time, Laura enjoys making memories with her family, traveling, baking, and visiting the sea lions at the Central Park Zoo. For more information and all the latest book news, visit her website at

Author Website
Amazon Author Page

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Tour Schedule:

February 6 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

February 6 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

February 7 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

February 7 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

February 8 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW

February 8 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

February 9 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

February 9 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW

February 10 – Shelley’s Book Case – REVIEW

February 10 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

February 11 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW  

February 11 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW, GUEST POST  

February 12 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

February 12 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

February 13 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – REVIEW

February 13 – Carstairs Considers – REVIEW

February 14 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

February 14 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

February 15 – The Ninja Librarian – REVIEW, GUEST POST

February 15 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW

February 16 – Varietats – REVIEW

February 16 – Author Annette Drake’s blog – SPOTLIGHT

February 17 – Girl with Book Lungs – REVIEW

February 17 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – REVIEW

February 17 – deal sharing aunt – REVIEW

February 18 – Book Babble – REVIEW

February 18 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW

February 19 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

February 19 – The Power of Words – REVIEW

Decoding 666: The Number Of The Beast by Erika Grey (Book Blast)

In association with Pump Up Your Book, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book blast event for Decoding 666: The Number Of The Beast by author Erika Grey!

About The Book

Decoding 666


Decoding 666: The Number Of The Beast by Erika Grey
Publisher: Pendante Press
Publication Date: May 17, 2016
Format: Paperback - 142 pages
               Kindle - 483 KB
ISBN: 978-1940844084
BNID: 978-1940844084
Genre: Christian / Theology / Prophecy

Buy The Book:

Book Description:

No other passages in Scripture have been more talked about in end time Bible prophecy than those dealing with the mark of the Beast. Revelation 13:18 adds to the horror by posing the Bible’s most mysterious riddle. It states: “Here is wisdom, Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.”

In this Magi Report the riddle is decoded and examined phrase by phrase revealing the deep and seemingly hidden truths in Scripture, such as the frightening significance of being “numbered,” the meaning of 666, how the number will be counted and its shocking role. This commentary provides an overview of current technologies, which fit the prophetic forecasts along with showing how they will be implemented geopolitically.

Quantum computing, D-Wave, nanotechnology, biotechnology, advances in DNA- genetic engineering, holograms, CERN, FAST, transhumanism, and more are highlighted along with their speculated role during the Tribulation.

This report discloses the technologies that match the image and mark of the Beast along with what life will be like under the Antichrist’s police state and the accompanying Biblical references that support technology’s role.

As the technologies have advanced they have helped to provide the full meaning of the prophetic forecasts that relate to technological developments. This report provides a detailed analysis of the mark of the Beast and its road to fulfillment along with the Tower of Babel path that technology is taking and the future discoveries that scientists are anticipating. The analysis reveals why taking the mark guarantees eternity in hell, why it is the unforgivable sin of blaspheme against the Holy Spirit, which is a sin Christians have pondered for centuries. Never before have we been so close to the start of the Tribulation that an expose like this could even been penned.

The Magi Report name is adopted from the Biblical Magi who were analysts and learned men and women in the knowledge and disciplines of their day. At the time of Christ, Herod consulted the Magi who understood the prophetic predictions of the day when there were no living prophets.

The Magi Report delivers careful analysis of Bible Prophecy’s forecasts in light of current events and provides status reports of recently fulfilled predictions, those that remain unfulfilled, geopolitical forecasts and fresh biblical insights.

Book Excerpt:

Chapter 1
What is the Mark of the Beast?
During the Tribulation, which is the seven year period of judgements predicted in Bible prophecy that ends with the battle of Armageddon and the second coming of Jesus Christ, Satan attempts to establish his kingdom here on the earth through a dictator known in evangelical circles as the Antichrist. He is used by God to judge the world for its sin. During his reign the Antichrist will implement a system by which no man can buy or sell unless he wears a mark placed on his forehead or wrist.  This etching in one’s flesh represents the Beast that is the Antichrist, or 666. It will provide him ultimate control in his police state.

Bible scholars theorized before the recent technological strides of the last decade that the mark would be part of a high-tech system that eliminated cash for the buying of goods.  The Antichrist institutes this system midway through the Tribulation.  He launches it as both a technological breakthrough and a prerequisite for life in his totalitarian regime. Revelation refers to the mark in a spiritual context.  Whosoever receives it spends eternity in hell. 

The mark of the Beast prediction this last century was out of touch with the times.  Writers noted the tattooing and numbering of prisoners at Auschwitz concentration camps during World War II to illustrate a use that fit the era.  This all changed in 1985 with the advent of the information and telecommunications revolution. From about 1990 onward we have seen a major spike upward in end time signs. 

Never before in history have we seen Bible prophecy literally unfold before our eyes. The technologies which could fulfil the mark of the Beast prophecy are now in existence.

About The Author

Erica Grey

Erika Grey is an Evangelical Christian author, Bible Prophecy expert, journalist and commentator, features Erika's books, articles and video broadcasts. Erika Grey focuses on current world affairs, and their relation to Bible Prophecy from an analytical and geopolitical view point. Erika first coined the term "geopolitical" in relation to Bible Prophecy, which is now used in writings by renown prophecy teachers. Within Evangelical Christian circles, Erika Grey is the leading authority on the EU and Bible Prophecy, which is evidenced by her exposes and books on the European Union, for which Erika speaks on radio shows across the U.S..

Erika Grey hosts Prophecy Talk" on YouTube. Erika is a member of the society of professional journalists and holds high standards in her reporting of end time news. For this reason Erika sets herself apart from other End Time Bible Prophecy Ministries and labels herself as a Magi, from the Bible meaning wise men or wise women. She models her ministry and work on the Biblical magi who were analysts and learned men and women in the knowledge and disciplines of their day. At the time of Christ, Herod consulted the Magi who understood the prophetic predictions when there were no living prophets.

Virtual Book Blast Event

 Decoding 666 by Erika Grey ~ Virtual Book Blast Event Page

Event Participants:

Friday , February 3 -  The Literature Exchange
Monday, February 6 - The Writer's Life
Friday, February 10 - As The Page Turns
Monday, February 13 - Story Behind The Book
Friday, February 17 - Jersey Girl Book Reviews
Monday, February 20 - Literarily Speaking
Friday, February 24 - The Literary Nook
Monday, February 27 - Book Marketing Buzz
Friday, March 3 - PUYB Virtual Book Club