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.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Search For Purple Cows by Susan Call (Book Review)

In association with The B&B Media Group, Inc., Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for A Search For Purple Cows by author Susan Call!





A Search For Purple Cows by Susan Call
Publisher: Guideposts Books
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
Format: Paperback - 232 pages / Kindle - 1140 KB / Nook - 959 KB
ISBN: 0824934415
ASIN: B00EKIOVNK
Genre: Christian Nonfiction / Memoir 


BUY THE BOOK: A Search For Purple Cows


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 The B&B Media Group, Inc.


Book Description:

A wife and mother's amazing journey from darkness into a life fully restored in God's light. A whimsical comment from a kind stranger, 'Be sure to search for purple cows,' brings hope to a woman and her children fleeing from a life filled with trouble. In A Search for Purple Cows, Susan Call reveals to the world how painful a relationship can be when love deteriorates into a cycle of abuse and betrayal. Her moving memoir chronicles how she first met her husband, a handsome, stylish, generous man with whom she worked. Eventually they fell in love, married, and had two children. Their life seemed idyllic -- they had a beautiful home and everything a family could desire. But soon, inside those walls, Call was tormented by her husband's alcoholism, domestic abuse, and infidelity that cast her family into a world fraught with fear and despair. God found her in the midst of her pain, and showed her, through the unlikely source of a Christian radio station, that a journey toward Him was possible even in the most unthinkable circumstances. Call eventually found the strength to move on and start anew.

Written with candor and grace, A Search for Purple Cows will leave you laughing, crying, and believing that God is present and able, ready to bring hope and healing.


Book Excerpt:


The phone rang first thing in the morning. My children were just finishing their breakfast. “We’re ready whenever you are,” the caller said.

I checked my watch, looking at my four-year-old, Ryan, eating his Cheerios, and my six-year-old, Jennifer, sipping her juice, our babysitter putting the milk away as though it were a normal day and I’d be heading off to work any moment now.

Today, nothing would be normal, and part of me feared that nothing would ever be normal again. “I’m ready,” I said to the caller. As ready as I’ll ever be, I thought.

I called our babysitter out into the foyer. “I need you to take the children to the park this morning,” I said, keeping my voice low. “Stay there for an hour, then bring them home. I have a few friends coming over to help me pack. We have to leave. We’ll be driving all day to get far enough away.”

I explained more, trying to keep the edge of fear out of my voice, telling myself that she must have known. She’d been with us a year. She would have sensed the tension in the house, heard the raised voices, the irrational outbursts.

But what a terrible way to have to say goodbye. Once we were gone, really gone, who knew if we’d even see her again?

We hugged and she went to the playroom to get a few things for the kids. Moments later, they bounded out the door with her, having no idea their world was about to be turned upside down. I watched them go. I was really going to do this. It was time.

The house was eerily quiet. I’d picked this date because I knew my husband, Joe, would be away on business. He wouldn’t be here to stop me.

I looked out the front window. A small U-Haul truck was pulling into the driveway. A car pulled up behind it.

A few friends descended on the house like a SWAT team, putting things in boxes, wrapping up crystal, stacking books, filling up suitcases, packing toys. No one spoke much. They knew how urgent this was. We had to act fast.

I went through rooms and gathered every picture I could find of Jennifer and Ryan. Family photo albums, two-for-one specials still in their boxes, school portraits, envelopes full of negatives. It was wrenching, but we couldn’t risk leaving behind an image that Joe could post somewhere and use to track us down.

The U-Haul was for the things we’d put in storage. What we’d need for the next few weeks—or months—went into our car. “That goes there...that there,” I told my team. “Thank you. I’m so grateful.” More than they could ever know. Then they vanished, the U-Haul disappearing down the street.

I stood in the kitchen, dreading telling the children. I hated uprooting them like this. I wished I could have warned them, but I had no choice. It was too big a secret for them to keep.

They bounced in from the park, their faces flushed. I had lunches made, and their favorite books were already in the backseat of the car. The babysitter and I exchanged glances, then she left me alone with them. She knew how hard this would be.

I knelt down, pulling Jennifer and Ryan close. “Things are going to be different today,” I said, “and for a long time. The car’s all packed. Mommy’s not going to work today. We’re going on a trip...”

I couldn’t believe we were actually doing this. But then, I couldn’t believe I had been trapped in an abusive marriage, a woman like me. I had a good job with a good company. Good education.

I’d come from a loving family, my parents happily married. I’d connected with a church and was no stranger to prayer, but lately all my prayers had been, God, give me strength to get through the day.


My Book Review:

A Search For Purple Cows is an inspirational story of one woman's personal journey of survival from an abusive marriage, and having the strength and faith to rebuild her life.

In her poignant memoir, author Susan Call documents her emotional journey of living and escaping from a very tumultuous marriage to an alcoholic, that was filled with a traumatic cycle of domestic abuse and infidelity. In her memoir, the author documents the stages of her life from her upbringing to portraying the illusion of a perfect marriage and family life that was really a facade that masked its tumultuous reality. After eight years of living in a marriage that was unraveling due to her husband's behavior, Susan was forced to make an emotionally difficult decision to leave the marriage for the safety of her children and herself. Through her strength, hope and faith, Susan demonstrates that any person can escape, overcome, and heal from the dark times, and move forward as they rebuild their life.

A Search For Purple Cows is one woman's powerful testimony of how she transformed her life. You can't help but feel compassion for Susan and her family as they courageously escaped a very dangerous family life for one that is now stable, happy and loving. Through her courage, strength, and faith, Susan is not a victim but a survivor, and her admirable ability to show forgiveness and understanding is truly inspirational. This is a wonderful story that is a testament to the true beauty of God's grace, and sheds light of empowerment for others to follow if they find themselves facing similar difficult life challenges.


RATING: 4 STARS ****




About The Author



I’m a Christian woman with an exciting life’s journey. Through the challenges of my life, I’ve developed strength, wisdom, and a deep faith that inspires others. I enjoy writing and speaking to audiences of all ages, sharing my story of resilience and overcoming life’s challenges. I love finding inspiring wisdom in every day life.

A new expanded edition of my memoir A Search for Purple Cows is now available from Guidepost Books. For those who know my story, it was a much anticipated release. For those who haven’t yet heard my remarkable journey, it is one that will both inspire and stir your spirit. It will challenge you to shift your life’s focus, to seek forgiveness, and to find hope – no matter how difficult life has been or is now. Named as the grand prize winner of Inspiring Voices Book Publishing Contest, A Search for Purple Cows is a story of betrayal, abuse, finding faith, the power of forgiveness, and the joy of redemption.

I hold a Masters in Science Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Eastern Nazarene College in Massachusetts, and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Computer Science from Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania. I have studied in Sweden at Vilundaskolan and Uppsala University and speak conversational Swedish.

When I’m not sharing my story, I enjoy pursuing my hobby of photography. It is a pastime that enables me to slow down and appreciate the people and places that are part of my journey. I’m a very proud mother of her two children, wife and step-mother.


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A Christmas Carol 2: The Return Of Scrooge by Robert J. Elisberg (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 A Christmas Carol 2: The Return Of Scrooge by author Robert J. Elisberg!








Book Review



A Christmas Carol 2: The Return Of Scrooge by Robert J. Elisberg
Publisher: Third Road Press
Publication Date: November 28, 2012
Format: Paperback - 156 pages / Kindle - 292 KB 
ISBN: 0615727573
ASIN: B00AG87KSG
Genre: Holiday / Humor


BUY THE BOOK: A Christmas Carol 2: The Return Of Scrooge


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 Pump Up Your Book! Virtual Book Publicity Tours. 


Book Description:

It’s five years to the day after dear old Ebenezer Scrooge has passed away and left his thriving firm to his former clerk, Bob Cratchit. However, Bob’s overly-generous benevolence with lending and charity-giving has driven the company into the ground, on the verge of bankruptcy. And so the ghost of Scrooge returns one Christmas Eve to teach Cratchit the true meaning of money, with the help of visitations of three spirits – not all of whom are happy to be there. (It is Christmas Eve, after all, and they have other plans.) Making the swirling journey through Christmases past, present, and yet-to-be all the more of a chaotic ride for Cratchit are the dozens of characters from other Dickens novels woven throughout the story, together for the first time. God bless them, most everyone.

And it’s all augmented with footnotes of letters between Mr. Dickens and his publisher, along with notes from Dickens’s own hand and scholarly research. At least that’s what the editor tells us, though we’re a little skeptical of his honesty.


My Book Review:

With the Christmas holiday season just around the corner, I couldn't help but get a head start by reading the thoroughly entertaining novella, A Christmas Carol 2: The Return Of Scrooge by author Robert J. Elisberg. According to the author, this humorous novella is based on "the original long-lost manuscript by Charles Dickens," with some subtle wit and comedic revisions added into the mix.

The story picks up five years after Ebenezer Scrooge has passed away, and his trusted former clerk Bob Cratchit has run Scrooge and Marley into the ground with his over-benevolence in lending and charity-giving. Scrooge returns as a ghost on Christmas Eve to teach Cratchit the true meaning of money with the comedic help of some notable characters from other Dickens' novels.

The author is obviously very knowledgeable of Charles Dickens' work, as he brilliantly weaves a humorous story which includes annotated footnotes interwoven throughout the story that helps readers who are not familiar with Dickens' classic novels. The author's subtle wit provides the reader with an amusing tongue-in-cheek and laugh-out-loud funny sequel to the classic Dickens A Christmas Carol. I couldn't help but snicker as I turned the pages, the witty dialogue and humorous interactions between the characters are hilarious, what more could a reader ask for than to be entertained by a contemporary twist on a classic story that leaves a smile on their face?

A Christmas Carol 2: The Return Of Scrooge would be the perfect addition to any reader's collection of Christmas stories that are annually read during the holiday season. It is a lighthearted fun book for readers of all ages.


RATING: 4 STARS ****




About The Author




Robert J. Elisberg has been a commentator and contributor to such publications as the Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Daily News, Los Angeles Magazine, C/NET and E! Online, and he served on the editorial board for the Writers Guild of America. He has contributed political writing to the anthology, Clued in on Politics, 3rd edition (CQ Press).

Among his other writing, Elisberg wrote the comic novella, A Christmas Carol 2: The Return of Scrooge, which reached #2 on Amazon’s Hot List for Humor/Parody. His most recent novel is the swashbuckling adventure, The Wild Roses. He co-wrote a book on world travel. Currently, he writes a tech column for the Writers Guild of America, west. He also co-wrote the song, “Just One of the Girls” for the Showtime movie Wharf Rat, and wrote the book for the stage musical Rapunzel!.

Born in Chicago, he attended Northwestern University and received his MFA from UCLA, where he was twice awarded the Lucille Ball Award for comedy screenwriting. Not long afterwards, Elisberg sold his screenplay, Harry Warren of the Mounties. He was on staff of the international animated series, Flute Master, and co-wrote three of the Skateboy films based on it. He also co-wrote the independent film, Yard Sale. Most recently, he wrote an adventure screenplay for Callahan Filmworks.


AUTHOR WEBSITE
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A Christmas Carol 2: The Return Of Scrooge by Robert J. Elisberg ~ Virtual Book Tour Page: Pump Up Your Book! Virtual Book Publicity Tours




Virtual Book Tour Schedule




Tour Schedule:

Monday, October 7 – Book Review at Bibliotica
Tuesday, October 8 – Book Review at Miki’s Hope
Wednesday, October 9 – Book Review at Splashes of Joy
Thursday, October 10 – Book Review at Giving N Sharing
Friday, October 11 – Book Review at Shhh…Not While I’m Reading
Monday, October 14 – Book Review at Authors and Readers Book Corner
Tuesday, October 15 – Book Review at I’d Rather Be at the Beach
Thursday, October 17 – Book Review at Queen of All She Reads
Friday, October 18 – Book Review at Deal Sharing Aunt
Tuesday, October 22 – Book Review at Inside BJ’s Head
Wednesday, October 23 – Book Review at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Thursday, October 24 – Book Review at Reviews From the Heart
Friday, October 25 – Book Review at WV Stitcher
Monday, October 28 – Book Review at Blooming With Books
Tuesday, October 29 – Book Review at 4 the Love of Books
Wednesday, October 30 – Book Review at The Book Connection
Thursday, October 31 – Book Review at Jersey Girl Book Reviews




Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Nightlife by Matthew Quinn Martin (Book Review)

In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Nightlife by author Matthew Quinn Martin!








Book Review



Nightlife by Matthew Quinn Martin
Publisher: Pocket Star
Publication Date: October 21, 2013
Format: eBook - 384 pages / Kindle - 4104 KB / Nook - 5 MB 
ISBN: 1476746893
ASIN: B00C0CPCU4
Genre: Horror / Thriller


BUY THE BOOK: Nightlife


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:

For centuries an ancient evil has slept beneath the streets of New Harbor. This Halloween, it wakes up.

An action-packed debut horror novel from talented new writer Matthew Quinn Martin, Nightlife pits a feisty bartender and a mysterious loner against bloodthirsty terrors as alluring as they are deadly.

Nightclub bartender and serial heartbreaker Beth Becker might be a cynic. But when her best friend goes missing Halloween night, Beth knows it’s up to her to find out what happened.

Her quest will take her on an odyssey through the crumbling city of New Harbor, Connecticut. Along the way she meets a homeless prophet warning of something he calls the “Night Angel”…a bloodthirsty creature that has been feeding on the forgotten. And she will form an unlikely bond with a hunted stranger who knows all too well what is stalking the streets at night.

He reveals to her to the hideous truth about the nightmare creatures that have haunted mankind’s imagination for eons––creatures the world calls vampires. Together they are the only hope for New Harbor, but to defeat what lurks in the shadows they are going to have to conquer something far stronger than fear––their own desires.


Book Excerpt:


Beth was alone. She looked down at the wallet still in her hands. Behind a scratched plastic window was a picture of her and Ryan, both of them smiling at her from happier times.

Had he gone missing the same as Zoë? What was happening? She shook her head. Maybe she’d finally gone around the bend. Could she really have just seen a man get shot, bleed white, and then liquefy into nothingness—and all because of a box of salt?

“Get a grip, Becker.” She reached for the nearest bottle, not even sure what was in it, and poured herself a full glass. “You’re seeing things.” She was about to take a sip when she heard the sound of footsteps from the shadows. She turned to spot a faint outline form in the blackness, almost as if it was born from it. It was a man, and the slightest flicker gleamed from his eyes as he moved into the light. Beth’s glass slipped from her grasp, shattering on the floor as she saw just who it was. “Ryan!” she called out, rushing over. “Oh, my God, Ryan!”

But something about him made her stop just shy of the slick spreading out on the floor where the corpse had been lying only minutes before. She looked at Ryan. Something wasn’t right. His hair was different, longer, the way he wore it back when they’d first started dating. He was dressed in clothing he’d thrown out years ago. The same clothing he’d had on in the photo in her wallet. His gaze landed on her, and in that moment, Beth had never wanted him more. Those eyes—so inviting, so mesmerizing, so . . . hungry. He shifted closer. He had yet to speak a single word.

“Ryan,” she said. “I was so worried.” But even as she spoke the words—even as she felt that if she’d just let him take her in his arms, all her troubles would disappear—she knew something was terribly wrong. She started to inch backward. “Ryan, why don’t you say something? You’re scaring me.”

He sniffed the air, almost gulping at it. Then he cocked his head at an angle that didn’t seem natural—or even human. Suddenly, he leaped for her, covering the three yards between them in a single bound.

She dodged. He missed her by inches. But he now stood between her and the door, cutting off any possible escape. He moved closer, hands grasping for her. Beth ducked around a table and shoved forward with all her strength, crushing him against the wall. Ryan screamed. It was that same high-pitched wail she had heard coming from the man who’d been shot. The one Jack said was “hardly a man.”

Ryan pawed at the table, sending it flying end over end as if it was made of papier-mâché. Planks splintered against the brick wall. Beth swept up a board. She hit him hard, right across the face. The board cracked in half, and her hand sang with a dull thwack. It did nothing. He simply shook it off and stepped forward, closing the gap between them as he pegged her against the bar. His hands clamped down on her. His grip was like quick-drying cement. She couldn’t move.

Beth’s knees began to give out as a heady brew of terror and desire overtook her. She felt the hard press of his hand pushing back her head, exposing her throat. She felt herself giving in. She wanted to go where Ryan had gone, to see what he’d seen, to become whatever it was he’d become.



My Book Review:

I usually don't read books from the horror genre, but since Halloween is one day away, I found myself in the mood for a good horror thriller, and Nightlife by author Matthew Quinn Martin did not disappoint me. Set in the college town of New Harbor, Connecticut, the story revolves around a legendary bloodthirsty creature who has been preying upon the unsuspecting townspeople, and an unlikely trio of strangers who embark on a quest to hunt the creature down.

After a close encounter with the evil creature, homeless Vietnam Vet Gil Gibbons proclaimed himself to be a prophet with a message to spread to the residents of New Harbor: beware of the Night Angel. Inside a church, Gil comes across Jack Jackson, a haunted loner who is on a vampire hunt for the killer of his girlfriend twelve years ago. Gil anoints Jack as The One who will destroy the Night Angel. Meanwhile streetwise bartender Beth Becker is searching for her roommate Zoe Rakoczy, who disappeared from the bar on Halloween night. When Gil, Jack and Beth meet, they team up and embark on a dark harrowing quest to hunt down the Night Angel (vampire).

In his debut novel, author Matthew Quinn Martin weaves a dark riveting tale that keeps the reader sitting on the edge of their seats in suspense. This slow building horror story gradually sucks the reader in (well it is a vampire story, lol) and gains momentum as the unlikely trio embark on a quest to hunt down the bloodthirsty Night Angel. I really enjoyed following Gil, Jack and Beth on their quest, each of them were intriguing characters with troubled pasts. I couldn't help but cheer them on as their action-packed adventure takes them into the bowels of New Harbor in search of the legendary vampire who has terrorized the townspeople for so long. The author does a great job of balancing the darkness of the storyline with humorous dialogue and interactions between the characters, but just when the reader gets comfortable, the author weaves in some more gory twists and turns that keeps them on their toes.

With an intriguing cast of characters and a dark storyline filled with enough gruesome bloodsucking gore and suspenseful creepiness that will raise the hair on your arms, Nightlife is the perfect story to read if you like to get a good scare on!


RATING: 4 STARS ****



About The Author



Matthew Quinn Martin was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania and raised in New Haven, Connecticut. However, it wasn’t until he moved to Manhattan that he realized he was a writer. These days, he lives on a small island off the North Atlantic coast of the United States where it gets quiet in the winter…perhaps too quiet.


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Nightlife by Matthew Quinn Martin ~ Virtual Book Tour Page: Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours




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Monday, October 28, 2013

A Secondhand Murder by Lesley A. Diehl (Author Guest Post / Book Review)

In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for A Secondhand Murder by author Lesley A. Diehl!






Author Guest Post

Call the Police!
By: Lesley A. Diehl
Author of A Secondhand Murder


Several years ago at a conference a mystery writer who writes a series featuring a detective said she didn’t understand why anyone would use an amateur sleuth as a protagonist. Hmmm, I thought. Agatha Christie did it with Miss Marple, and the books still make for a great read. However, I know what the speaker meant. How can someone who has no access to the crime scene, evidence such as DNA and fingerprints and no authority to interview witnesses or suspects solve a murder? I think it depends upon the writer using several devices including those used by Agatha Christie.

Many homicide detectives will agree that crimes are often solved by a combination of brain work and foot work. I guess Sherlock Holmes deductive reasoning and Hercule Poirot’s little grey cells still figure in crime detection. In Miss Marple’s case, age worked for her, giving her the experience necessary to understand the human psyche. We know these approaches work. What else can the writer do with an amateur sleuth?

None of my amateur sleuths are as old as Miss Marple. Wisdom that comes of age is something they may grow into, yet they do have other resources. Eve Appel, my protagonist in A Secondhand Murder, uses her contacts among police authorities to help her in solving a murder. One of her best friends is a newly appointed homicide detective, and the man in Eve’s life is a private detective. Susan Wittig Albert employs the same approach in her Texas Hill Country herbalist mysteries where she pairs her protagonist with the town’s leading police officer, a woman nicknamed “Smart Cookie”, as well as marries the herbalist to a former Texas Ranger. Mary Daheims’s newspaper editor is engaged to and finally marries the town’s sheriff. Eve gets additional legal help from another, less likely source, a mobster by the name of Nappi Napolitani. Who better knows the criminal mind than a mob kingpin?

Because identifying the killer is less often based upon forensic evidence in a cozy mystery, but more upon reasoning and evidence gleaned through talking to suspects and witnesses, cozies rely upon the character of the protagonist to solve the crime. A tenacious personality is always a plus for an amateur snoop. All of mine have this in spades and can be said to be snoopy women who don’t know when to keep their noses out of a good crime. For example, knowing that she cannot get the police to execute a search warrant, Eve calls on Nappi’s knowledge of breaking and entering to help her get into a house to take a look around. For Eve, crossing over the line into something a bit illegal is no concern. Albert’s and Daheims’s heroines share this don’t-back-down quality also.

The juxtaposition of a sassy woman inserting herself into the investigation and her police detective lover telling her to butt out creates great tension in the course of the crime investigation and can make for some humorous moments. It also lays the foundation for a relationship that the reader knows will continue to provide an exciting read.

All of these approaches create an amateur sleuth who can follow the clues, her own instincts and solve the crime…with a little help from her friends who are cops.




About The Author



Lesley A. Diehl retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in upstate New York. In the winter she migrates to old Florida--cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office. Back north, she devotes her afternoons to writing and, when the sun sets, relaxing on the bank of her trout stream, sipping tea or a local microbrew.

AUTHOR WEBSITE
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A Secondhand Murder by Lesley A. Diehl ~ Virtual Book Tour Page: Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours





Book Review



A Secondhand Murder by Lesley A. Diehl
Book 1: An Eve Appel Mystery Series
Publisher: Camel Press
Publication Date: September 15, 2013
Format: Paperback - 260 pages / Kindle - 1586 KB / Nook - 302 KB
ISBN: 1603819355
ASIN: B00F4GS71Y
Genre: Cozy Mystery


BUY THE BOOK: A Secondhand Murder


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:

Spunky and outspoken Eve Appel moves from Connecticut to rural Florida intent on starting a new life, free of drama, and more importantly, her soon-to-be ex-husband. The rural Florida town of Sabal Bay, situated only an hour from West Palm, proves to be the perfect spot for her consignment store. Thanks to the recent economic downturn, Florida’s society matrons need a place to discreetly sell their stuff and pick up expensive-looking bargains. But Eve’s life, and her business with it, is turned upside down when a wealthy customer is found stabbed to death in a fitting room. As accusations fly and business slows, Eve decides to take things into her own hands. With the help of an unlikely bunch of friends—including her estranged ex, her best friend, a handsome private eye, and a charming mafia don—she struggles to find answers and save lives. Through a maze of distorted half-truths, dramatic cover-ups, and unrequited passions, Eve learns just how far the wealthy will go to regain what they have lost.

A Secondhand Murder is Book 1 of the Eve Appel Mysteries Series.


Book Excerpt:


It was still early so I strode back into the restaurant, indicated to the hostess I wanted a booth and ordered the breakfast buffet. Anger paired with disbelief gave me a hearty appetite. Returning to my booth after loading my plate with eggs, bacon, pancakes, pastries and a slice of toast, I noticed someone had joined me for breakfast. He was seated with his back to me as I approached the booth but I recognized the sun-streaked hair curling over his collar. My favorite PI. I almost dropped my plate.

“Hi.” I tried for nonchalant but sounded more like a hormone-addled teenager.

“Saw you come in. I guess you had an early morning chitchat with the local gendarmes.”

“To be continued this afternoon at the station.”

“Fingerprints?” He stirred a packet of sugar into his coffee.

 “Nope.” The tingle in my tummy was more than simple hunger for food. I tried to satisfy it by stuffing a large forkful of pancake into my mouth. I nodded and swallowed. “Like anyone would be dumb enough to leave their prints.” “Certainly, we know you’re smart.”

“I had no reason to kill Mrs. Sanders. That would be like killing the golden goose.”

“You didn’t like her very much, did you?”

I dropped my fork on the plate. “What do you mean? I hardly knew the woman.”

“So you say, but my sources indicate that’s not the whole story.” He stared at me. Last night I thought those azure eyes looked inviting. Now they looked more like ice. He smiled.

“You said you were investigating Mrs. Sanders. Sounds like you’re trying to nose into my affairs. Why?”

“Don’t get mad. I’m not accusing you of murder, you know.” He took a sip of coffee.

“I’m not mad.” I was a little miffed, peeved even, but not really mad. Okay, I was mad.

“Oh yes you are, and when you get angry, you stick your chin out and turn your head ever so slightly to the right. Your cheek twitches, probably from clenching your teeth. Did you know that?”

I had lost my appetite. I grabbed my purse and slid out of the booth. “I don’t recall inviting you to join me for breakfast. I just remembered I have an important appointment.”

“That would be ...?” He also stood.

“That would be none of your business.”

I stalked out of the restaurant, then remembered as I approached my car that I had forgotten to pay my bill. Damn. Now I’d have to go back in there and face him again. I gritted my teeth, stuck out my chin and slammed through the door. He turned from the counter, credit card in hand.

“Don’t worry about it. I got it. Your treat next time.”

“There won’t be a next time.” I spun around and pushed open the door. By the time he reached his car, I was already starting my engine, wondering what the man knew about Mrs. Sanders and me.


My Book Review:

In A Secondhand Murder, the first book of the Eve Appel Mystery Series, author Lesley A. Diehl weaves an entertaining cozy mystery that will keep the reader laughing-out-loud. Set in the rural town of Sabal Bay, Florida, and written in the first person narrative, the reader follows the madcap adventures of Eve Appel and best friend Madeleine Boucheau, as they try to solve the murder of a West Palm socialite that occurred in the dressing room during the grand opening of their consignment shop, Second to None. When Eve is targeted as the suspect in the murder, she is determined to find out who the real murderer is with the help of a gang of amateur sleuths: best friend Madeleine, a sexy PI named Alex Montgomery, her estranged husband Jerry, a shady mobster, and some hot cowboys. Can Eve and her quirky gang of misfits solve the murder mystery?

This was such a fun book to read! I really enjoyed following sassy Eve, clutzy Madeleine, and the rest of the quirky cast of characters on their zany adventure to solve the murder mystery. The author easily draws the reader into the story with a mixture of drama, mischief, and suspense that keeps them guessing what would happen next. The author does a great job of providing clues about the murder mystery, while adding a sexy romance between Eve and Alex into the mix. I really enjoyed the lighthearted humor that is so prevalent throughout the story.

A Secondhand Murder is a fast-paced cozy mystery that has enough drama & mischief, suspenseful twists and turns, and a slow-building romance that is sure to keep the reader entertained. It is an enjoyable story that will tickle your funny bone.


RATING: 4 STARS ****





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Tour Schedule:






Black Widow by Marlene Sanchez (Virtual Book Cover Reveal Event)

In association with Author Marlene Sanchez, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book cover reveal event for Black Widow!

BLACK WIDOW

RELEASE DATE: APRIL 22, 2014


NEW_BW11_SAMPLE

Cover Photo © Kim Pace Photography
Cover Model: Coleen Breslin


Reyna Montoya, a.k.a. Black Widow, is a top assassin. She’s good at what she does and gets the job done with precision. However, the recurring nightmare of seeing her parents murdered when she was sixteen in Cuba is a constant reminder of her ultimate plan… to find the killer and avenge her parents.

Nicolas Vargas fled Cuba with her after the murder, vowing to take care of her and help keep her safe. He is a self-taught computer genius and chemist and her best friend. After more than fifteen years of working closely together, the unrequited sexual tension between them is getting harder and harder to ignore. Would it ruin their friendship or make their bond stronger? However, Reyna is torn. Viper, Black Widow’s handler, is hot as hell and the sparks between them could burn them both.

As Reyna gets closer to her parents’ killer the distraction of two men is dangerous, and the true identity of the murderer could destroy them all.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR




Marlene Sanchez was born in New York and raised in Miami. Her family and friends are an important part of her life, a constant inspiration, and keep her motivated to succeed in pursuing her dream. She has had a passion for writing since her ninth grade English teacher put it all into perspective for her. “Write how you speak and write what you know.” She credits her teacher every chance she gets for giving her a love of writing!
Marlene writes mystery/suspense with a sprinkle of romance. Her love of crime and legal dramas, and of course The Godfather, has opened her eyes to the wonderful world of mystery/suspense. The action and thrill is what keeps her fingers gliding across the keyboard, as her brain explodes with ideas about the next unfortunate victim.

She is a strong, independent woman because her Cuban mother raised her right. Her main characters embrace that same attitude; strong Cuban American women that take no “caca” from anyone.

Marlene has a couple of books under her belt, with several in the works to release in 2014. She hopes to someday be a household name, at least in her own home if nowhere else. She just wants her sons to be proud of her, that’s reward enough… Yeah right, she wants the fame and fortune too.


Follow Author Marlene Sanchez:


Friday, October 25, 2013

Virtual Book Tour Events: Week of 10/27-11/2/13



Virtual Book Tour Events: Week of 10/27-11/2/13


Monday 10/28/13



In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

Author Guest Post / Book Review

Book Description: A Secondhand Murder


Spunky and outspoken Eve Appel moves from Connecticut to rural Florida intent on starting a new life, free of drama, and more importantly, her soon-to-be ex-husband. The rural Florida town of Sabal Bay, situated only an hour from West Palm, proves to be the perfect spot for her consignment store. Thanks to the recent economic downturn, Florida’s society matrons need a place to discreetly sell their stuff and pick up expensive-looking bargains. But Eve’s life, and her business with it, is turned upside down when a wealthy customer is found stabbed to death in a fitting room. As accusations fly and business slows, Eve decides to take things into her own hands. With the help of an unlikely bunch of friends—including her estranged ex, her best friend, a handsome private eye, and a charming mafia don—she struggles to find answers and save lives. Through a maze of distorted half-truths, dramatic cover-ups, and unrequited passions, Eve learns just how far the wealthy will go to regain what they have lost. A Secondhand Murder is Book 1 of the Eve Appel Mysteries Series.







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Black Widow by Marlene Sanchez



In association with Author Marlene Sanchez

Virtual Book Cover Reveal Event

Book Description: Black Widow


Reyna Montoya, a.k.a. Black Widow, is a top assassin. She’s good at what she does and gets the job done with precision. However, the recurring nightmare of seeing her parents murdered when she was sixteen in Cuba is a constant reminder of her ultimate plan… to find the killer and avenge her parents.

Nicolas Vargas fled Cuba with her after the murder, vowing to take care of her and help keep her safe. He is a self taught computer genius and chemist and her best friend. After more than fifteen years working closely together the unrequited sexual tension between them is getting harder and harder to ignore. Would it ruin their friendship or make their bond stronger?

But Reyna is torn. Viper, Black Widow’s handler is hot as hell and the sparks between them could burn them both. As Reyna gets closer to her parents’ killer the distraction of two men is dangerous, and the true identity of the murderer could destroy them all.







Wednesday 10/30/13


Nightlife by Matthew Quinn Martin



In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours 

Book Review

Book Description: Nightlife 


For centuries an ancient evil has slept beneath the streets of New Harbor. This Halloween, it wakes up.

An action-packed debut horror novel from talented new writer Matthew Quinn Martin, Nightlife pits a feisty bartender and a mysterious loner against bloodthirsty terrors as alluring as they are deadly.

Nightclub bartender and serial heartbreaker Beth Becker might be a cynic. But when her best friend goes missing Halloween night, Beth knows it’s up to her to find out what happened.

Her quest will take her on an odyssey through the crumbling city of New Harbor, Connecticut. Along the way she meets a homeless prophet warning of something he calls the “Night Angel”…a bloodthirsty creature that has been feeding on the forgotten. And she will form an unlikely bond with a hunted stranger who knows all too well what is stalking the streets at night.

He reveals to her to the hideous truth about the nightmare creatures that have haunted mankind’s imagination for eons––creatures the world calls vampires. Together they are the only hope for New Harbor, but to defeat what lurks in the shadows they are going to have to conquer something far stronger than fear––their own desires.










Thursday 10/31/13


A Christmas Carol 2 by Robert J. Elisberg



In association with Pump Up Your Book! Virtual Book Publicity Tours

Book Review

Book Description: A Christmas Carol 2


It’s five years to the day after dear old Ebenezer Scrooge has passed away and left his thriving firm to his former clerk, Bob Cratchit. However, Bob’s overly-generous benevolence with lending and charity-giving has driven the company into the ground, on the verge of bankruptcy. And so the ghost of Scrooge returns one Christmas Eve to teach Cratchit the true meaning of money, with the help of visitations of three spirits – not all of whom are happy t be there. (It is Christmas Eve, after all, and they have other plans.) Making the swirling journey through Christmases past, present, and yet-to-be all the more of a chaotic ride for Cratchit are the dozens of characters from other Dickens novels woven throughout the story, together for the first time. God bless them, most everyone.

And it’s all augmented with footnotes of letters between Mr. Dickens and his publisher, along with notes from Dickens’s own hand and scholarly research. At least that’s what the editor tells us, though we’re a little skeptical of his honesty.






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A Search For Purple Cows by Susan Call



In association with The B&B Media Group, Inc.

Book Review

Book Description: A Search For Purple Cows


A wife and mother's amazing journey from darkness into a life fully restored in God's light. A whimsical comment from a kind stranger, 'Be sure to search for purple cows,' brings hope to a woman and her children fleeing from a life filled with trouble.

In A Search for Purple Cows, Susan Call reveals to the world how painful a relationship can be when love deteriorates into a cycle of abuse and betrayal. Her moving memoir chronicles how she first met her husband, a handsome, stylish, generous man with whom she worked. Eventually they fell in love, married, and had two children. Their life seemed idyllic -- they had a beautiful home and everything a family could desire. But soon, inside those walls, Call was tormented by her husband's alcoholism, domestic abuse, and infidelity that cast her family into a world fraught with fear and despair. God found her in the midst of her pain, and showed her, through the unlikely source of a Christian radio station, that a journey toward Him was possible even in the most unthinkable circumstances. Call eventually found the strength to move on and start anew.

Written with candor and grace, A Search for Purple Cows will leave you laughing, crying, and believing that God is present and able, ready to bring hope and healing.










Friday 11/1/13


Spirits of Christmas by Nicky Wells



In association with Author Nicky Wells

Virtual Book Release Day Event / Book Review

Book Description: Spirits Of Christmas


At one time, up-and-coming rock singer Jude had it all: a great band, a platinum record, a loving girlfriend. This Christmas, however, he is well down the road towards spontaneous self-destruction. Unwitting at first, Jude has progressively alienated his band and driven away the love of his life. Tonight, the night before Christmas Eve, he has broken the final taboo during a disastrous gig. Yet Jude doesn't see how badly his life has derailed, not until a ghostly procession of legends passes through his bedroom with a series of vivid and powerful wake-up calls. Will the Spirits help Jude put the friendship, love, and rock music back into his Christmas?

Spirits of Christmas is a modern-day rock'n'roll adaption of Charles Dickens' classic A Christmas Carol. This novella will enchant romance readers, rock lovers, fans of ghost stories, and everybody who adores the festive season.




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Weak At The Knees by Jo Kessel



In association with Goddess Fish Promotions

Author Guest Post / Book Review / Contest Giveaway

Book Description: Weak At The Knees


“We got so busy living life that we forgot to live our dreams.”

Danni Lewis has been playing it safe for twenty-six years, but her sheltered existence is making her feel old ahead of time. When a sudden death plunges her into a spiral of grief, she throws caution to the wind and runs away to France in search of a new beginning.

The moment ski instructor Olivier du Pape enters her shattered world she falls hard, in more ways than one.

Their mutual desire is as powerful and seductive as the mountains around them. His dark gypsy looks and piercing blue eyes are irresistible.

Only she must resist, because he has a wife – and she’d made a pact to never get involved with a married man.

But how do you choose between keeping your word and being true to your soul?

Weak at the Knees is Jo’s debut novel in the new adult, contemporary romance genre – a story about love, loss and relationships, set between London and the heart of the French Alps.



The Preservationist by Justin Kramon (Author Guest Post / Book Review)

In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for The Preservationist by author Justin Kramon!








Author Guest Post

A Movie About Writers


Why don't they make more movies about writing? A writer's day is filled with adventure. You sit in a room. You stare at a screen. Sometimes you press a couple buttons. Then, more often than not, you press a button to erase what you'd done with the other buttons you'd pressed. Riveting stuff. If they made a movie like Rocky about a writer, what would the end look like? Perhaps a pale, malnourished fellow, beaded with sweat, victoriously tapping out the words "The End" and hitting Save in Microsoft Word. Describing it, though, somehow it seems less cinematic.

Or maybe they could make a version of Top Chef called Top Writer, where each week groups of writers are given a challenge, such as team-writing a suspenseful story about a cantaloupe and an aardvark. Imagine the intrigue. At the judges' table, someone might throw you under the bus for being the one who wrote the scene where the aardvark loses his virginity. And speaking of judges, who would be the host of Top Writer? Maybe this famous writer. I think she's really got a line to the people.

Maybe I'm not making the best case for these bold new ventures in entertainment. Maybe I'm too close to this material. Maybe the problem is that, as a writer, I'm too pale and malnourished myself. Or maybe there's a different kind of entertainment that people look to books to provide, something that perhaps takes longer, but the taking longer allows you to linger and notice, exposing you in a different way to the strangeness of life. I don't know. For now, I'll keep plugging away at that script about the writer/action hero. I'm thinking of calling it Write Hard. Or maybe Phrases of Fury. Or maybe Save the Semi-Colon. What do you think? Do any of those have a ring?



About The Author



Justin Kramon is the author of the novels Finny (Random House, 2010) and The Preservationist (Pegasus, 2013). A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he has received honors from the Michener-Copernicus Society of America, Best American Short Stories, the Hawthornden International Writers' Fellowship, and the Bogliasco Foundation. He lives in Philadelphia.


AUTHOR WEBSITE
FACEBOOK
GOODREADS
The Preservationist by Justin Kramon ~ Virtual Book Tour Page: Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours




Book Review



The Preservationist by Justin Kramon
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover - 336 pages / Kindle - 437 KB / Nook - 534 KB
ISBN: 1605984809
ASIN: B00EP6PBFE
Genre: Psychological Thriller 


BUY THE BOOK: The Preservationist


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:

To Sam Blount, meeting Julia is the best thing that has ever happened to him. Working at the local college and unsuccessful in his previous relationships, he’d been feeling troubled about his approaching fortieth birthday, “a great beast of a birthday,” as he sees it, but being with Julia makes him feel young and hopeful. Julia Stilwell, a freshman trying to come to terms with a recent tragedy that has stripped her of her greatest talent, is flattered by Sam’s attention. But their relationship is tested by a shy young man with a secret, Marcus Broley, who is also infatuated with Julia.

Told in alternating points of view, The Preservationist is the riveting tale of Julia and Sam’s relationship, which begins to unravel as the threat of violence approaches—and Julia becomes less and less sure whom to trust.


Book Excerpt:


Chapter 1
Julia

Of all the places Julia Stilwell thought she might be on a September afternoon, less than a year after the accident, this was the last she would have imagined. College. A freshman headed out on a first date. It was too normal. She felt like she’d snuck into the wrong movie, like any minute a guy in a little hat would come running up the aisle, shine a flashlight in her eyes, and ask to see her ticket.

But here she was, ten minutes to two, fixing her hair, getting her shoes on, smiling at her reflection so she could paint blush on her cheeks, going back and forth in her mind about whether to bring a backpack or a purse. It was all the usual stuff girls do before dates, but to Julia it felt like a test, a set of pictures she had to line up in the right order. Wrong answer sends you back to go. It was a blessing her roommate Leanette was in class and not around to witness the chaos of these final preparations. Leanette had dates every weekend and went to all the parties, and Julia was sure this fussing would have seemed amateur to her, like a kid playing with an adult’s makeup kit.

In the end, she decided on a messenger bag. She slung it over her shoulder, flipped the lights off, and left the room.

Outside, it was gorgeous. Cloudless and warm, the air felt like a shirt just out of the dryer. Julia lived in an off-campus dorm, and though the building was musty, with cinder block walls and a dull gray carpet that gave off a smell like boiled milk, there was a pretty courtyard out here, a cement bench, a trellis wrapped with vines and bright flowers. She took a long breath, enjoying the weather and her anticipation, perched for a moment on the fragile edge of happiness.

Julia was headed to campus, and she decided to take the path through the woods. She could have gone through town, but didn’t know whom she’d run into, and whether they’d ask what she was up to. The date with Marcus didn’t have to be a secret, but for some reason she wanted to keep it to herself, like a note in her pocket.

Before the accident, it would have been different. Julia would have had to tell Danny and Shana about how Marcus had asked her out, making little jokes to play it down. They wouldn’t have let her get away with the secrecy. In high school, when she wasn’t practicing the trumpet, Julia had spent most of her free time with these friends. She knew everything about them, from what they’d gotten on their last history tests to what their boyfriends had whispered in their ears the first times they’d had sex.

Julia had always been a bit of an oddball, with her quirky sense of humor, the flat way she delivered jokes that caught people off guard and sometimes made them smile, sometimes give her confused looks. She was never a star in the classroom, and didn’t go in for all the primping and social striving most of the girls did. She didn’t need it; her music and her plans for the future had been enough. They’d given her distance, kept her insulated from the storms of teenage social life. When her friends were worked up over a boy or a conflict with parents, Julia was always the first to jump in with a silly line to relieve the tension. She wore thrift store T-shirts and frayed corduroys and didn’t try to be the prettiest or the smartest or the most popular, just didn’t care that much about it.

But all of that was gone, that old life. She didn’t talk to any of those people anymore. She’d gotten rid of her cell phone, tossed it into a lake, actually. Burial at sea.

Marcus had suggested they meet at two-thirty, since the snack bar would be less crowded then, between lunch and dinner. As usual, Julia was early. She couldn’t help it. She’d always been the type to arrive ten minutes before a meeting, and none of the tricks she pulled to delay herself ever seemed to work. If she were ever sentenced to execution, she’d probably arrive ten minutes early for that, just to get a good seat.

She tried to slow down, scraping her shoe soles on the dirt and rocks in the woods.

As a way to distract herself, she started thinking about how the date had come about. “You have this way about you,” Marcus had said that night in the library, when they were working on the counterpoint project. “It’s like you live in your own self-contained world. I’ve been wanting to know what’s going on in there since the first time I saw you.” After he said it, he smiled in a teasing way, and she wasn’t sure if he was being genuine. She almost made a quick joke back, her habit. Nothing going on in here. My world’s in a budget crisis. But then she noticed he was blushing, all the way from his ears down to the base of his neck. There was something reassuring about his discomfort. Seeing it, she’d felt a protective tenderness for him, the way you might watching a child pedal a bike up a steep hill.

“You want to get lunch on Thursday in the snack bar?” he’d said after that, so casually anyone listening would have thought he’d just tossed out the offer, not even caring what her answer would be. But he’d given a specific day. He’d mentioned the snack bar, as if an off-campus date would have been too much to ask.

“I’d love to,” Julia had said. “But are you going to be there?”

And Marcus had smiled.

When she got near the top of the hill, where the woods let out, Julia heard a train clacking away from the station at the base of campus. She checked her watch: ten minutes early. Of course. She walked onto the train platform, into the warm bright sunshine.

That was when it happened, suddenly, in the midst of all that sparkling weather. It was as if someone had pulled the plug on the day, and all the excitement just drained out, like water from a tub.

She knew what it was, this feeling. She’d told El Doctor about it, these aftershocks, as she thought of them, reminders of events she couldn’t change, events she would have preferred to snip out of the cloth of her memory. She closed her eyes, and there it was again, her brother’s face, pale with shock at what he was witnessing, his lips opening and closing, making no sound, until finally he’d asked, “Is that mine?”

But she couldn’t do this now, couldn’t let herself get dragged under. If you want to move forward, you have to stop looking back. Positive thinking, positive results. She stood straight, pushed her shoulders back, breathed, fixed the strap of the messenger bag like a seatbelt across her chest, and continued across the tracks, up the tree-lined path to campus.

Inside the snack bar, Julia couldn’t spot Marcus. She looked around at all the tables and booths. Most were empty. At one table, two women in suits were smiling over something one of them had said, then they got up to leave, carrying stacks of paper. Inside a booth, three muscular-looking boys sat talking over empty plates and balled napkins.

They made Julia nervous, these people. The way they moved and talked and smiled seemed foreign, like they were all doing a dance she’d never learned. The thought surfaced again that maybe she wasn’t fit to be here, at a college, so soon, no matter what El Doctor said.

But it’s best not to overthink things. That’s how you get yourself into trouble. When you stop and think about how vulnerable you are, or how strange the world is, it’s easy to end up feeling confused and lonely.

In the corner, next to the doors where people walked in to order their sandwiches, a man in a red shirt and white apron was standing beside a trashcan. Julia recognized him as the guy who usually made her sandwiches. She remembered thinking more than once that he was cute. He had shaggy brown hair, and could have passed for a student if he were a couple years younger. He always smiled when he saw Julia, and offered her an extra handful of chips or a second spear of pickle with her order. She didn’t know if he did that for other girls, but it was such a simple and plainly sweet gesture that it charmed her. A pickle for your thoughts, my dear.

When she looked at him, though, smiling, ready to wave, he looked down, like he was embarrassed. She wasn’t sure if maybe he didn't recognize her, or was surprised at meeting her without the lunch counter between them, or if he was just socially awkward, but whatever it was, she felt disappointed. She wanted to give him a signal that it was okay to be friendly, wave to her when she came in. I won’t bite.

She didn’t have a chance to do anything, though, because just as she was considering it, Marcus walked in.


My Book Review:

The Preservationist is a heart pounding dark psychological thriller that keeps the reader sitting on the edge of their seats. Set in Pennsylvania, author Justin Kramon weaves a riveting tale that follows the intricate love triangle between Julia Stilwell, Sam Blount, and Marcus Broley. Told in alternating points of view, the readers follows the blossoming relationship between eighteen year old college freshman Julia Stilwell and thirty-nine college snack bar employee Sam Blount, and how the relationship starts to unravel when college student Marcus Broley becomes infatuated with Julia and wants her for himself.

This fast paced edgy tale has enough suspenseful twists and turns that keeps the reader on their toes as they try to guess what would happen next. Julia, Sam and Marcus each have issues and dark secrets in their lives that makes their intertwined relationships intriguing as the tension builds and obsession, deception and trust becomes an issue. You can't help but get caught up in this chilling story of obsession as the tangled web that these three people weave becomes destructive. The suspense is palpable and keeps the reader turning the pages until the satisfying yet very twisted ending.

The Preservationist has all the elements that psychological thriller fans crave. Author Justin Kramon provides the reader with an intriguing dark tale that takes the reader on one hell of a heart pounding roller coaster ride.


RATING: 4 STARS ****




The Preservationist - Book Trailer




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