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.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Scheduled To Death by Mary Feliz (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 Scheduled To Death by author Mary Feliz!








Book Review




Scheduled To Death by Mary Feliz
Book 2: A Maggie McDonald Mystery Series
Publisher: Lyrical Underground / Penguin Random House Publisher Service
Publication Date: January 17, 2017
Format: Paperback - 236 pages
               Kindle - 1035 KB
               Nook - 800 KB
ISBN: 978-1601836663
ASIN: B01EQ2N1QM
BNID: 978-1601836656
Genre: Cozy Mystery


Buy The Book:


Buy The Series: A Maggie McDonald Mystery Series
Book 1: Address To Die For
Book 2: Scheduled To Death
Book 3: Dead Storage (Pub Date: July 18, 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:

Professional organizer Maggie McDonald has a knack for cleaning up other people’s messes. So when the fiancée of her latest client turns up dead, it’s up to her to sort through the untidy list of suspects and identify the real killer.

Maggie McDonald is hoping to raise the profile of her new Orchard View organizing business via her first high-profile client. Professor Lincoln Sinclair may be up for a Nobel Prize, but he’s hopeless when it comes to organizing anything other than his thoughts. For an academic, he’s also amassed more than his share of enemies. When Sinclair’s fiancée is found dead on the floor of his home laboratory—electrocuted in a puddle of water—Maggie takes on the added task of finding the woman’s murderer. To do so, she’ll have to outmaneuver the suspicious, obnoxious police investigator she’s nicknamed “Detective Awful” before a shadowy figure can check off the first item on their personal to-do list—Kill Maggie McDonald.


Book Excerpt:



“Hi, Linc,” I said. “Are you settling in at the lab? Dodging reporters?”
He didn’t answer immediately and I grew alarmed. “What’s wrong? Are you there?” As I said the words, I felt sheepish. I’d overreacted. It was probably just a bad connection with a long delay.
“I’m fine, Maggie. I’ve had a little trouble with my bicycle, I’m afraid. I took a tumble and Newton's hurt. I’m reluctant to ask for another favor, but would you be willing to pick us up at the house and take us back to campus? My vet isn’t far from here, but I don’t think Newton will be comfortable walking.”
 “I’ll be right there,” I said, knowing from experience with the kids that it was more important for me to arrive quickly in a crisis than it was to have answers to all my immediate questions.
“Don’t hang up, Maggie. Are you still there?”
“Still here,” I said as I scrambled for my keys and my backpack.
“Do you have an old sheet or a beach towel we can put on the seat for Newt? I don’t want him to stain your car.”
“I’ll find something.” I hung up the phone and tore down the basement steps to the laundry room. I’d cleared out our oldest and most worn sheets before we’d moved, not thinking that moving often requires painting, and painting requires tarps and cleaning rags. But the kids had changed their beds over the weekend, and I’d thrown the clean ones in the dryer this morning. I reached in and grabbed an armful of red and blue plaid cotton and raced back up the stairs. I wasn’t too worried about my car’s upholstery—I knew a million ways to remove bloodstains.
Fresh, clean sheets would be better than old rags or towels at sopping up blood without introducing foreign material into Newton’s wounds. I tried not to worry as I drove as carefully as I could, repeating a police driving-course mantra that Jason Mueller had once told my boys: “Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.”  The phrase had originated in the armed services, he'd told them, and referred to aiming and shooting a firearm. But it applied equally well to driving.

            What he didn’t say was that slow is also really difficult.



My Book Review:

In Scheduled To Death, the second book in the Maggie McDonald Mystery series, author Mary Feliz weaves an intriguing cozy mystery tale that easily draws the reader into following the trials and tribulations of professional organizer Maggie McDonald's latest amateur sleuth adventures. Maggie has been hired by Stanford Professor Lincoln Sinclair to organize his old Victorian home that he is selling, and when she walks through the house, she finds his fiancee, school librarian Sarah Palmer, dead on the floor of his home laboratory.

Rich in detail and vivid descriptions, the story takes place in the small town of Orchard View, California, in the hills above Silicon Valley. This captivating and fast-paced whodunit tale has enough quirky characters, witty humor, drama, a growing list of suspects, intriguing twists and turns, and conspiracy theories that will keep you guessing.

This entertaining cozy mystery tale will keep you engaged as you turn the pages following along with Maggie's latest investigative adventure. You can't help but get caught up in the drama and calamity that ensues as she tries to solve the murder while trying to get her fledgling business Simply Itself Organizing Services started. Maggie's story unfolds with a wonderful balance of comedy, drama, suspense, and intriguing twists and turns that easily kept me guessing, and left me wanting more.

Scheduled To Death is an entertaining cozy murder mystery that will engage you to join in the crazy adventures and trials and tribulations that occur, while providing you with an intriguing mystery to solve.



RATING: 4 STARS 





About The Author




Mary Feliz
 has lived in five states and two countries but calls Silicon Valley home. Traveling to other areas of the United States, she’s frequently reminded that what seems normal in the high-tech heartland can seem decidedly odd to the rest of the country. A big fan of irony, serendipity, diversity, and quirky intelligence tempered with gentle humor, Mary strives to bring these elements into her writing, although her characters tend to take these elements to a whole new level. She’s a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and National Association of Professional Organizers. Mary is a Smith College graduate with a degree in Sociology. She lives in Northern California with her husband, near the homes of their two adult offspring.

Author Website
Amazon Author Page
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Contest Giveaway


On February 10, the author will be giving away five ebook editions of both books to randomly selected names on a newsletter list.

Sign up for the newsletter - http://www.maryfeliz.com/newsletter/



Virtual Book Tour



Tour Schedule:

January 17 – Book Babble – REVIEW

January 18 – View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT

January 19 – Sleuth Cafe – REVIEW, EXCERPT

January 19 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

January 20 – Classy Cheapskate – REVIEW

January 21 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

January 22 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

January 23 – Queen of All She Reads – REVIEW

January 23 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – REVIEW

January 24 – The Power of Words – REVIEW

January 25 – Girl with Book Lungs – REVIEW

January 25 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW

January 26 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST

January 27 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW

January 28 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

January 29 – Lori’s Reading Corner – SPOTLIGHT

January 30 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

January 30 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT




Friday, January 20, 2017

Towhee Get Your Gun by J.R. Ripley (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 Towhee Get Your Gun by author J.R. Ripley!








Book Review




Towhee Get Your Gun by J.R. Ripley
Book 2: A Bird Lover's Mystery Series
Publisher: Lyrical Underground / Kensington / Penguin Random House
Publication Date: January 3, 2017
Format: Paperback - 230 pages
               Kindle - 1021 KB
               Nook - 815 KB
ISBN: 978-1601838339
ASIN: B01E2H1NQG
BNID: 978-1601838322
Genre: Cozy Mystery


Buy The Book:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Google+
Kobo
Goodreads


Buy The Series: A Bird Lover's Mystery Series
Book 1: Die, Die Birdie
Book 2: Towhee Get Your Gun 
Book 3: The Woodpecker Always Pecks Twice (Pub Date: May 16, 2017)
Book 4: To Kill A Hummingbird (Pub Date: July 11, 2017)
Book 5: Chickadee Chickadee Bang Bang (Pub Date: Sept 12, 2017)
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Google+
Kobo
Goodreads


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 Birds & Bees owner Amy Simms volunteers to act in a local production of Annie, Get Your Gun, she finds herself upstaged by a killer waiting in the wings . . .

Who’s got time for birdwatching? Amy has enough to do running her shop, fighting attempts by the town planning commission to demolish her old Victorian house, and rescuing an injured towhee. Yet somehow she allows herself to get roped into performing in the Ruby Lake, North Carolina, community theater’s new musical after some cast members get injured by mysterious mishaps. The production seems plagued by bad luck, but events turn tragic when a member of the company is found murdered in a locked dressing room.

Trading in her binoculars for a magnifying glass, Amy steps into the role of amateur sleuth and soon discovers the victim ruffled a lot of feathers. With a flock of suspects, Amy will need to beat the bushes before the cagey killer takes flight. After all, the show must go on . . .


My Book Review:

In Towhee Get Your Gun, the second book in the Bird Lover's Mystery series, author J.R. Ripley weaves an intriguing cozy mystery tale that follows the latest amateur sleuth adventures of Bird & Bees shop owner Amy Simms. Amy unexpectedly finds herself embroiled in the mysterious mishaps that plague the local community theater, Ruby Lake Theater On The Square (TOTS), and solving the murder of theater crew member Patsy Klein.

Set in the southern town of Ruby Lake, North Carolina, Amy is busy with running Birds & Bees, a birding supply store in an old three story Victorian home with her best friend and business partner Kim Christy. But when mysterious mishaps sideline some of the cast of the theater's production of Annie Get Your Gun, Amy unwillingly finds herself substituting for the wounded actress in the production, which turns tragic with the mysterious death of crew member Patsy Klein, and Amy's cousin Rhonda is implicated as a suspect in the murder. And if that isn't enough, Amy continues to have problems with the town wanting to demolish her Victorian house / shop; rescues a injured Eastern Towhee; and has neighbor issues with Paul Anderson, who is opening a new beer garden next door with partner Craig Bigelow, who happens to be Amy's ex-boyfriend!

Towhee Get Your Gun is an entertaining whodunit tale that has enough quirky characters, witty banter and humor, drama, secrets, clues, frenemies, romance, a growing list of suspects, and intriguing twists and turns that will keep you guessing the identity of the murderer. You can't help but get caught up in the drama and calamity that ensues as Amy tries to balance solving the murder while trying to save her Victorian home/shop from having a date with the wrecking ball. Amy's amateur investigative adventure unfolds with a wonderful balance of comedy, drama, and suspense that easily kept me guessing, and left me wanting more.

Towhee Get Your Gun is an entertaining southern cozy murder mystery that will engage you to join in the crazy adventures and trials and tribulations that occur in Ruby Lake, while providing you with a dose of good ol' southern charm and humor. I really enjoyed the author's rich description of the charming western North Carolina small town of Ruby Lake and it's colorful townsfolk, and his impressive knowledge of birds and flowers. So pull up a rocking chair and set down for a spell with some sweet tea while Amy takes you on her latest madcap adventure!


RATING: 4 STARS 




About The Author




J.R. Ripley
 is the pen name of Glenn Meganck, the critically acclaimed author of the Tony Kozol mystery series. As a member of the Mystery Writers of America, he has chaired the Edgar committee for Best Original Paperback novel and served on the Best Short Story Committee. As a member of the International Association of Crime Writers, he has served on the Hammett Award committee for Best Novel. When not writing books, Glenn is writing songs, often singing them to the consternation of his audience and neighbors, or involved in one of his many passions, none of which have involved any of the dead bodies that seem to keep cropping up in his mysteries. For more information about him, visit glennmeganck.com.


Author Website
Facebook
Twitter
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Contest Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway




Virtual Book Tour




Tour Schedule:


January 9 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW

January 10 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

January 11 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

January 12 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

January 13 – Cozy Up With Kathy – SPOTLIGHT

January 14 – Girl with Book Lungs – SPOTLIGHT

January 15 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &. Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

January 16 – A Date with a Book – REVIEW

January 17 – Turning the Pages – SPOTLIGHT

January 18 – Varietats – REVIEW

January 19 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

January 20 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – REVIEW

January 21 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW

January 22 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT




Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Next Best Thing by Wendi Nunnery (Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for The Next Best Thing by author Wendi Nunnery!







Book Review



The Next Best Thing by Wendi Nunnery
Book 2: The Best Kept Secret Series
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: January 3, 2017
Format: Paperback - 185 pages
               Kindle - 780 KB
               Nook - 256 KB
ISBN: 978-1539017028
ASIN: B01M6VFCU1
BNID: 2940153139159
Genre: YA Romance



Buy The Book:


Buy The Series: The Best Kept Secret Series
Book 1: The Best Kept Secret
Book 2: The Next Best Thing


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 Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.



Book Description:

Four years ago, Emma Fraser’s first love took his own life. Now, twenty years old and in college, Emma and her best friend, Andy, are still mourning the loss of a friend and brother. Nothing is the same as it once was…and things are about to change even more.

Too heartbroken to even consider falling in love again, Emma stays distracted by school and work. Until she meets Landon and, for the first time ever, finds herself believing she might actually have a future with someone. But when Deegan Burke—the man responsible for all of Emma’s heartache—gets out of prison early, Emma is suddenly confronted by her worst fears. And when faced with choices she never thought she’d have to make, Emma discovers that the only person she really wants by her side is the last person she ever expected.


My Book Review:

The Next Best Thing is a compelling story that will pull at the heartstrings and stir the soul.

In The Next Best Thing, author Wendi Nunnery continues the emotional story of Emma Fraser, whose traumatic coming of age story was introduced in The Best Kept Secret. Set in Georgia, it is four years later, and Emma and best friend Andy are now in college, each struggling to move forward in their lives after the death of Jesse, Emma's first love and Andy's brother.

The story has a mixture of rawness, tenderness, and painful reality that will captivate the reader as Emma and Andy's journey into adulthood unfolds. The author takes the reader on an emotional roller coaster ride as they follow Emma and Andy as they navigate the slippery slope of life's experiences, and come to terms with their shared traumatic past, so that they could move forward with their lives.

While The Next Best Thing has its share of heartbreaking moments, it is a powerful and beautifully written story in which the author thoughtfully delves into the importance and reality of heartbreak, grief, guilt, forgiveness, strength, maturity, growth, hope, and love.

The Next Best Thing is a realistic, down to earth, and emotional story that will stay with you for a very long time.


RATING: 5 STARS 





About The Author




Wendi Nunnery is the author of The Mayfield Family Story, The Best Kept Secret, and The Next Best Thing. She is also the founding editor of Lady Literary Magazine and her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Simply Beloved, and Introvert, Dear. Wendi is a proud Georgia Southern University alum and believes colorful language is good for the soul. She lives, loves, and mothers in Atlanta, Georgia.


Author Website
Amazon Author Page
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Contest Giveaway

Win A $20 Amazon Gift Card




a Rafflecopter giveaway




Virtual Book Tour



Tour Schedule:

January 3 – Chick Lit Plus – Review
January 4 – T’s Stuff – Excerpt
January 4 – Books, Dreams, Life – Excerpt
January 5 – Book Lover in Florida – Excerpt
January 10 – Coffeholic Bookworm – Review
January 12 – Rae Reads – Review
January 14 – Dandelions Inspired – Review
January 16 – A Page To Turn – Review
January 16 – Chick Lit Goddess – Review
January 17 – Kendra Loves Books - Review
January 17 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review



Time Out by Suzanne Trauth (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 Time Out by author Suzanne Trauth!








Book Review




Time Out by Suzanne Trauth
Book 2: A Dodie O'Dell Mystery Series
Publisher: Lyrical Underground / Penguin Random House / Kensington
Publication Date: January 17, 2017
Format: Paperback - 240 pages
               Kindle - 1191 KB
               Nook - 967 KB
ISBN: 978-1601837226
ASIN: B01EQ2N1W6
BNID: 978-1601837219
Genre: Cozy Mystery


Buy The Book:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Goodreads


Buy The Series: A Dodie O'Dell Mystery Series
Book 1: Show Time
Book 2: Time Out
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Goodreads



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 Tour.



Book Description:

The amateur actors at the Etonville Little Theatre may be known for chewing the scenery, but restaurant manager Dodie O’Dell has something more appetizing for them to sink their teeth into. She’s been taking bows in her small New Jersey town for her theme menus, designed to complement the local productions. This fall, the community theatre is staging Arsenic and Old Lace, set in 1940s Brooklyn, so Dodie is serving up hot dogs, Italian ices, egg creams, and knishes at the weekend food festival.

All is going well until Antonio Digenza, the ex-Off-Off-Broadway director of the show, dies dramatically while noshing on a knish. As rumors of food poisoning quickly spread, Dodie scrambles to rescue the Windjammer restaurant’s reputation. But when clues point to foul play, she’s faced with a cast of suspects all auditioning for the part of DiGenza’s murderer. She’ll need to act fast to shine a spotlight on the killer—before it’s curtains for another victim . . .



Book Excerpt:

Time Out


By Suzanne Trauth

KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.

Copyright © 2017 Suzanne Trauth
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60183-722-6


CHAPTER 1
It's not always true that "all the world's a stage." Sometimes it's a boxing ring. Right now I had a ringside seat at the Windjammer restaurant in Etonville, New Jersey. A charming little town sitting in the shadow of New York City, it was named after Thomas Eton, one of George Washington's army officers during the American Revolution.
I downed my second glass of seltzer as I watched Benny, the bartender, give a quick swipe to the sticky surface of the glossy wooden bar.
"You missed a spot," I said, pointing to a dollop of barbecue sauce. I pushed my empty glass in his direction.
Benny raised an eyebrow. "Eagle eye. Hey, what's going on next door?" He jerked his thumb in the direction of the Etonville Little Theatre. "I heard there was a real hubbub here at lunchtime today."
Geez. Probably from the dotty Banger sisters. The two elderly women were the gossip mavens of the town. "Lola came in with Antonio. The two of them disagreeing over something. Then Edna stopped in for carryout and Abby tore into her," I said and lowered my voice. "And I'm not even talking about Henry."
Lola Tripper was the reigning diva and acting artistic director of the Etonville Little Theatre, which was deep in the throes of rehearsing its fall play — Arsenic and Old Lace. Antonio Digenza was the guest director trying to create order out of the bedlam of the community theater's rehearsal process. Edna May — dispatcher for the Etonville Police Department — was sharing the leading lady duties with Abby Henderson, manager of the Valley View Shooting Range. They were playing the Brewster sisters. Abby was on probation at the theater, due to unprofessional behavior during the ELT production of Romeo and Juliet, but she had finally accepted the fact that she was less a teenage Juliet and more a matronly sister.
Henry was my boss, the owner-chef of the Windjammer, and in a sulky mood since his cross-town archrival, Italian restaurant La Famiglia, received a four-star review in the Etonville Standard, again, last week.
"Mercury must be in retrograde. Everybody's touchy and having it out with someone. I'm trying to remain neutral. I feel like Switzerland," I said.
I am Dodie O'Dell. Manager of the Windjammer restaurant, BFF to Lola, and her moral support when she's overwhelmed, which she is with just about every ELT production.
"Hi, Dot." Honey bounced out of the kitchen.
I gritted my teeth. I hated being called Dot. Only my great aunt Maureen could get away with that. And she was gone now, so there was no one left to torment me. Except Honey. Benny sniggered and dipped his cloth in soapy water, attacking the bar stain. I turned my attention to Honey — named for her hair, she claimed. As if. It was really mousy brown.
"Uncle Henry wants to know if you have the specials inserts printed for tomorrow." She inclined her head and studied me.
Honey, twenty-two, had been a fixture in the restaurant for the past month, presumably learning all aspects of restaurant management from the kitchen to the dining room, and taking a "gap-semester" away from college. More likely her university was taking a semester break from Honey. She was majoring in Packaging — who even knew there was such a thing — and had nonstop ideas on how to improve the Windjammer's "dissemination presence." Honey had become a pain in my butt, but apparently Henry was making up for some past transgression committed against his brother. Or else he had a long-range plan for his niece? I shuddered. The two of us could not occupy the same space indefinitely.
"I'll pick up the inserts from the printer on my way in tomorrow." I smiled. No sense picking one more fight; tensions in the restaurant were riding high enough.
"Oh, and I don't, like, get this theme-food thing." She propped one hand on her skinny hip, her voice doing that upward sweep that made it seem as if she was asking a question with every sentence.
I counted to five. "What don't you get, Honey?"
She scratched her head. "Who wants to eat stuff like egg creams and nishes?"
"It's k-nishes."
"Whatever. I mean, like, the hotdogs aren't too bad but the other stuff? I'd say ditch it and let's have chicken fingers and mozzarella sticks."
I counted from five to ten. "Honey, the whole point of theme food is to match the theme of the play. Arsenic and Old Lace takes place in Brooklyn in 1940, so we're having New York food from that time." I waited while she processed this.
"Hmmm," she said, acting all important. "I still think chicken fingers are, like, more interesting." She flounced off.
My great aunt Maureen would have said Honey was about as useless as a solar-powered flashlight.
"She's related to Henry?" Benny muttered out of the corner of his mouth.
"We've got five days until the food festival. Henry's not thrilled with my choice of menu."
Theme food to accompany each production of the Etonville Little Theatre had been my idea last year and so far, so good. Dames at Sea and seafood, Italian fare for Romeo and Juliet, beef bourguignon for the French farce. I was pretty impressed with my choice for this show: Nathan's hot dogs, Italian ices, egg creams, soft pretzels, black-and-white cookies, and, of course, knishes. But Henry was smarting from his competitor's recent success, and none of my theme-food dishes were exactly haute cuisine. Never mind. People would flock to the sidewalk kiosks and gobble down the throwback food.
"But at least he's agreed to play along. I just hope Lola's scuffle with Antonio cools down before next weekend. I need the staff and cast out in full costume to make the event festive. Smiling. Looking like this theater thing is a lot of fun."
"Good luck with that," Benny said.
The front door opened and Lola strode in, eyes blazing. "Benny, set me up with a chardonnay and keep them coming."
"Hey, girlfriend, what's up? Rehearsal's over already?"
Lola shook her head and took a healthy gulp of her wine. She closed her eyes. "I've been dreaming about that sip for two hours."
Sip? She must really be rattled.
"I had to get out of there. Or I might have killed someone."
"Like the director?"
"I had no idea he was so ..."
"Obnoxious?" I said.
She pointed her index finger at me. "Yes! Obnoxious! I thought it would be, you know, nice to hire a theater professional. Elevate the artistic profile of the ELT."
"And give him a place to stay."
She grumbled. "I didn't know he'd married a twenty-something."
"Or insist she be cast as the ingénue." I was into theater lingo ever since I helped manage Romeo and Juliet last spring.
Antonio Digenza was a fiftyish, fiercely handsome, egotistical theater acquaintance from Lola's days as an off-off-Broadway ingénue herself. Though she'd never admitted it, I had the impression that, until she found out he was married, Lola might have been crushing on the director. Widowed for ten years, her recent love life had consisted of an on-again, off-again dalliance with Walter Zeitzman, the past artistic director who was currently in the doghouse for playing fast and loose with the box office till. No wonder he was cast as the play's criminal element.
"Still, it was nice that you welcomed Antonio and Tiffany into your home."
Lola dismissed her generosity. "Saved the theater money. You know the ELT budget."
The theater's finances were usually stretched to the point of transparency.
"Besides, we have a history." Her face took on a dreamy look. "I remember nights after long rehearsals when Antonio and I would get together to share a bottle of cheap wine and work on lines. Or at least my lines." She smiled at the memory.
I could imagine what Antonio was working on. Even though Lola had been married at the time.
Lola caught herself. "But with Tiffany around ..." She sniffed and swept her long blond hair behind one shoulder. Lola was forty-four but looked thirty — sophisticated, compelling — and certainly not the mother of a college sophomore. Which she was.
"Tiffany's his wife," I said.
"And a terrible actress." Lola motioned to Benny to top off her glass. "They argue constantly. I didn't mean to eavesdrop last night, but I heard Antonio yelling at Tiffany because she apparently misplaced her cell phone and used his."
"What was the big deal?"
"I don't know. He said she had no business getting into his personal affairs and how did she know his password anyway? And she says ..." Lola shifted her pitch upward, mimicking Tiffany's. "Like, duh, the password's your name and you use it for everything. TONY."
"Hard to think of Antonio as a Tony," I said.
"I've never heard him use that name. Anyway, I can't imagine what he sees in her."
I can, I thought, as I pictured the redheaded bombshell in her leggings and tight-fitting sweaters. "What's he done tonight?"
She waved her hand. "Oh, you know, the regular. Bullying actors, canceling rehearsals, then disappearing —"
"Disappearing? Where to?"
"Who knows? At first it was just once a week. Then twice a week. But he was gone Friday and then again last night. He said he wasn't feeling well."
"Wow. That's odd. Don't you have a 'disappearing clause' in his contract?"
"I don't think the board anticipated this. The contract was a handshake." Lola scratched a dark mark on the bar. "They trusted my judgment." She took a swallow of her wine. "I hope I'm not in trouble."
I could see Lola's point. Antonio was the first guest director, and out-oft-owner, that the Etonville Little Theatre had hired in its twenty-five-year history. Walter usually directed all of the productions. Before him, those duties were handled by the drama coach at Etonville High, until his eyesight got so bad that one night he fell off the stage and landed on an oversized female member of the cast. He broke her arm and she squashed his ego. Walter stepped in.
"Maybe he's just getting anxious? Or needs to clear his head?"
Lola frowned. "I wish it was as simple as that. Usually he comes back by midnight, but yesterday he left midafternoon and didn't get back until this morning."
Yikes. This was a little more than pre-opening jitters.
"What does Tiffany say? I mean she is his wife. She must know —"
My cell clanged and I checked the caller ID. "Hi, Carol. What's up?"
"Just checking in about your hair appointment tomorrow."
Carol Palmieri, my second BFF, was the owner of Snippets, Etonville's popular hair salon and rumor central. If you wanted to know what was going on in town — who was romancing whom, whose house was in foreclosure, who'd fallen off the diet wagon — you spent an hour or so at Snippets.
"Is nine a.m. still good?" My auburn hank of shoulder-length hair needed a reprieve from its ponytail. A trim would do the trick. I usually took my afternoon break between three and five, but with Honey in the restaurant, I was wary of staying away too long and had been skipping my late-day breather.
"That's fine. I've got a new shampoo girl and I'm breaking her in tomorrow."
Lola motioned for my cell. "Hang on for Lola." I handed her the phone.
"Carol, are you going to stop by the theater and talk with Antonio about hair for next weekend?" Lola asked.
Carol was the hair and makeup specialist for the Etonville Little Theatre. No one did an updo like Carol.
"Thursday night at nine? That's fine. I'll try to keep Antonio in the theater until then," Lola said with a smidge of sarcasm. "Never mind, Carol. I'll explain later."
Lola clicked off, downed the rest of her wine, and bravely headed back to rehearsal. I moved to my favorite back booth where I did restaurant business, and faced a stack of bills.

* * *
Two hours later, the bills were paid, the last customer had departed, the floor was mopped, and the receipts bundled for deposit. Henry had gone a half hour ago with Honey in tow; I think they were crowding each other's social life, but he was determined to take his uncle responsibilities seriously.
I turned out the lights, locked the door, and stepped into the autumn night, chilly for early October in New Jersey. Next to summer, fall was my favorite time of year. The crispness of the air, the clear night sky, and the faint smell of burning wood. Somewhere in the neighborhood a fireplace was getting a workout. I gazed upward, trying to locate the North Star at the end of the Little Dipper's handle. Stargazing at night had been one of my pastimes before Hurricane Sandy made short work of my beach life two years ago and sent me up north to Etonville.
I trotted to my red Chevy Metro, one of the last vestiges of my previous life in southern New Jersey. It had over 90,000 miles but still purred like a contented cat. Which reminded me, I had offered to feed my neighbor's kitten, Sammy, while she was visiting her daughter in Ohio. Though I'd fed her this morning, I should probably stop in and check on her just in case —
"Hi," said a voice behind me.
I jumped, dropped my keys, and my heart thudded in my chest. I whipped around.
"Didn't mean to scare you." Bill Thompson leaned down to retrieve the key ring, forcing his shoulder muscles to tighten across the back of his uniform shirt. You'd think I'd be used to his former-football-player physique by now. But no, those rippling muscles did a number on my pulse. He placed the keys in my palm, his fingers brushing my hand.
"What's Etonville's police chief doing on the street so late? Chasing bad guys?"
Bill's quirky grin turned up the corner of the left side of his mouth. "More like chasing paperwork."
"Been there, done that tonight."
He rubbed his eyes. "I've been chained to my desk for the past three hours, so I decided to stretch my legs."
The glow of the street lamp lit up his sandy-colored brush cut, blonder now as a result of the summer sun. The police department was a fifteen-minute walk down Amber Street and up Main to the Windjammer. A little more than a stretch. "You had a busy August."
He scraped the toe of one shoe back and forth like an embarrassed kid. "Yeah. My two-week vacation —"
"To see family in Vermont, right?"
He stared at me, his face a question mark.
"Snippets."
"No privacy in Etonville," he said.
I laughed. "I guess not."
"Then there was our conference. The Association of —"
"— Chiefs of Police. Right. Also Snippets."
He shook his head. "And you were?"
"Down the shore for a week. Feeding fries to the seagulls, getting buried in the sand ..."
He grinned. "Sounds like illegal activity to me."
"It was nice to see the boardwalk rebuilt after Hurricane Sandy."
He turned serious. "I can imagine."
We let the silence settle between us for a moment. I could sense, rather than see, his laser-like blue eyes on me. "Guess I'll head home. Knowing you're on duty makes me feel a lot safer," I said dramatically. "Anyway, you must be getting cold."
"Nah. I used to play in Buffalo with bare arms in zero degrees."
"The Bills, right," I said.
"Speaking of which. Did you talk with Henry about our picnic?"
Bill had agreed to coach Etonville's Youth Football team for the nine- to eleven-year-old crowd. Saturday after next he planned to treat the kids to Henry's cheeseburgers and fries after the game, win or lose.
Between the food festival this weekend and the football picnic the following weekend, the Windjammer was going to be busy the next couple of weeks. Henry was lukewarm about both events — he was more a stay-home-and-cook kind of chef — but I had convinced him that catering to the town was way more Etonville-friendly than a four-star review in the Standard. Honey agreed, mainly because she could practice packaging skills with cardboard, Saran wrap, and Styrofoam. "No problem. We'll have the food on the field by the fourth quarter."
"If the kids make it that long. Last Saturday we were losing thirty-five to nothing after three quarters, and the official called the game." He shook his head. "The NFL was nothing like this."
I unlocked my door and eased behind the steering wheel. "I'll write up the invoice for the burgers."
"Drive carefully."
I nodded and put my Metro in reverse. Bill's figure on the sidewalk grew smaller as I cruised down Main Street. I mused over our relationship ...
Relationship? Is that what we have? I wondered. I coasted past the Etonville Little Theatre, dark at this hour, and Coffee Heaven, an old-fashioned breakfast diner with a handful of red booths, a soda fountain, and a few modern coffee items on the menu. Caramel macchiato was my obsession.





My Book Review:

In Time Out, the second book in the Dodie O'Dell Mystery series, author Suzanne Trauth weaves an intriguing cozy mystery tale that easily draws the reader into following Windjammer restaurant manager Dodie O'Dell's latest amateur sleuth adventure.  Dodie and best friend Lola Tripper, artistic director of the Etonville Little Theatre, try to uncover who murdered Antonio Digenza, visiting theater director, who died after eating a knish prepared by Windjammer restaurant. With rumors of food poisoning swirling around the town, Dodie is determined to find the killer and save the restaurant's reputation.

Rich in detail and vivid descriptions, the story takes place in the quaint small northern New Jersey town of Etonville, nestled in the shadow of New York City. This entertaining and fast-paced whodunit tale will keep you engaged as you turn the pages following along with Dodie's latest investigative adventure. You can't help but get caught up in the drama and calamity that ensues as Dodie and Lola try to solve the murder, while dealing with a zany mixture of restaurant, community theatre, and romance drama.

Time Out has a quirky cast of characters, and a wonderful balance of comedy, drama, secrets, intriguing twists and turns, clues, conspiracy theories, and a growing list of suspects that will keep you guessing and wanting more.

Time Out is an entertaining cozy murder mystery that will engage you to join in the crazy adventures and trials and tribulations that occur, while providing you with an intriguing mystery to solve.



RATING: 4 STARS 





About The Author



Suzanne Trauth
 is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter, and a former university theatre professor. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the Dramatists Guild. When she is not writing, Suzanne coaches actors and serves as a celebrant performing wedding ceremonies. She lives in Woodland Park, New Jersey.


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Tour Schedule:

January 17 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – REVIEW

January 17 – The Editing Pen – INTERVIEW

January 18 – The Ninja Librarian – REVIEW

January 19 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

January 20 – Varietats – REVIEW

January 21 – Shelley’s Book Case – REVIEW

January 22 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW

January 23 – Girl with Book Lungs – SPOTLIGHT

January 24 – View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT

January 25 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST

January 26 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

January 27 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

January 28 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW

January 29 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

January 30 – A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW