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.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Castaway Cottage by Joanne DeMaio (Book Review)




Book Review





Castaway Cottage by Joanne DeMaio
Book 7: The Seaside Saga Series
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: Paperback - May 12, 2018 / eBook - May 15, 2018
Format: Paperback - 408 pages
               Kindle - 2180 KB
               Nook - 851 KB
ISBN: 978-1717066213
ASIN: B07C726YJC
BNID: 2940159152688
Genre: Women's Fiction


Buy The Book:


Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review.


Book Description:

From New York Times bestselling author Joanne DeMaio comes a novel that knocks on a shabby cottage door, opening to an unforgettable summer.

Every cottage tells a story. It's a saying Jason Barlow returns to as an architect designing New England beach homes. The latest cottage story he hopes to tell rises from the Stony Point sand: the last-standing cottage on the beach. It's the sole survivor--something Jason can relate to--as surrounding cottages washed out to sea in long-ago hurricanes.

The owners aren't budging, though, keeping Jason's proposed renovation at bay. But with some help from the beach friends, the tide turns for Jason's new venture. Problem is, that weathered cottage on the beach? It holds secrets darker than its gray sea-worn shingles. And secrets don't stay buried in this little Connecticut beach town; they wash ashore or get dug up from the sand.

Castaway Cottage reunites the beloved Stony Point crew for a surprising summer by the sea, one that will leave you wanting more with the friends by the shore.


Book Excerpt: (Select The Preview Button)



My Book Review:

Another summer season is in full swing at the seashore town of Stony Point, Connecticut. So grab your beach towel, chair, and umbrella and soak up some sun as you catch up with our favorite beach friends.

In Castaway Cottage, author Joanne DeMaio transports the reader back to the tranquil seashore town of Stony Point, Connecticut, where the reader catches up with the lives of friends: Maris, Jason, Eva, Matt, Kyle, Lauren, Elsa, Cliff, Nick, Paige, Vinny, and Celia.

Just like the ebb and flow of the tide, life brings issues and changes to one's life, but the bonds of friendship, sea air, and salt water are cleansing, they cure what ails you. For this group of old friends, this summer season brings happiness, some bittersweet painful memories, and a mystery with a touch of deeply held secrets. As time heals all wounds, so does the sea air, and this group of friends lives by the credo: "salt air, not a care" and "cast away your troubles straight into the sea." The shimmering denim blue sea with its calming effect will offer them another summer season of hope, love, family, friendship, heartache, mistakes, forgiveness, redemption, and blissful new beginnings.

The reader will catch up with the friends as many changes have been occurring since their last visit: Elsa's newly renovated beach inn, Ocean Star Inn, is getting ready for the grand opening in September with Celia's help. Meanwhile, Maris continues to complete her late brother-in-law Neil's manuscript, while husband Jason is busy preparing for his new cottage renovation program on the local public television station, and he is vying for the approval from Mitch and Carol Fenwick to renovate their beach cottage and feature it on his cottage renovation program. Finally, there is Kyle and Lauren, who purchased a cottage in Stony Point and have moved in with the promise of making new beach memories. While these are all happy times for the beach friends, there are also a mixture of sad times and even a mystery develops: it is fast approaching the first year anniversary of Elsa's son and Celia's fiance Sal's death, Maris and Jason will be celebrating their second wedding anniversary but also the tenth anniversary of Jason's brother Neil's death, Kyle and Lauren will celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary with a renewal of vows ceremony, and the Fenwick's have a fifty year mystery concerning their cottage's history on their hands. But alas ... mistakes, secrets, past painful issues, and a surprising cliffhanger will leave the reader's mouth gaping and impatiently waiting for the next installment in The Seaside Saga Series. So now that I have whet your interest in the beach friends latest comings and goings, drive under the railroad trestle and enter the enchanting beach town of Stony Point ... pull up a beach chair ... and visit with the close-knit longtime friends in author Joanne DeMaio's delightful novel, Castaway Cottage.

Castaway Cottage is a heartwarming story of friendship, family, new beginnings and second chances. Author Joanne DeMaio weaves a wonderful tale written in the third person narrative, that is set in the present with flashbacks to the past. The reader is transported to the tranquil seashore town of Stony Point, Connecticut, where they follow along with Celia, Maris, Eva, Matt, Jason, Kyle, Lauren, Nick, Elsa, and Cliff as a new summer season dawns on their little tranquil coastal town.

Author Joanne DeMaio easily captivates her readers' attention with this beautifully written tale through a seamless and flowing storyline, and with a wonderful description of a tranquil beach setting that wraps itself around the reader like a sun-warmed beach towel. The characters draw you into their lives with a strong emotional pull, their complexities and flaws are true-to-life, it is easy to relate to them with compassion, empathy, and hope. With a mixture of intrigue, suspense, drama, humor, heartache, hidden secrets, romance, and a strong bond of friendship, this story takes you on a fun-filled roller coaster ride that will keep you smiling as you turn the pages. I would be remiss if I didn't mention how much I looked forward to catching up with this special group of close-knit friends. It's like you're a summer visitor, and the beach friends envelop you in a warm hug and offer up enough smiles, laughter, and fun-filled beach bliss as their summer adventures unfold.

I really enjoyed reading this latest installment, the element of mystery, suspense, drama, and deep secrets revolving around the history of the Fenwick's cottage, and Kyle and Lauren's upcoming vow renewal ceremony easily kept me turning the pages. But alas, author Joanne DeMaio has teased her readers with an unexpected and very surprising cliffhanger ending that will simply leave them wanting more!

Castaway Cottage is an intricate story of interweaving friendships and life events. It is a wonderful story that demonstrates the power of the magical sweet salt air that will cure what ails you, and it will resonate with you long after the last word has been read.


RATING: 5 STARS 




About The Author




Joanne DeMaio is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary fiction. She enjoys writing about friendship, family, love and choices, while setting her stories in New England towns or by the sea. The Beach Inn is her ninth novel. Currently at work on her next book, Joanne lives with her family in Connecticut.


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Sunday, June 10, 2018

This Could Change Everything by Jill Mansell (Book Review)

 



This Could Change Everything by Jill Mansell
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: June 5, 2018
Format: Hardcover - 416 pages
               Paperback - 352 pages
               Kindle - 352 pages / 1813 KB
               Nook - 352 pages / 1 MB
ISBN: 978-1492664222
ASIN: B079JYX6YP
BNID: 978-1492664239
Genre: Chick Lit / Contemporary Romance / Women's Fiction



Buy The Book:
Amazon - US
Amazon - UK
Barnes & Noble
Goodreads



Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author/publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.



Book Description:

International bestseller Jill Mansell crafts the perfect summertime tale, filled with love, friendship, and the power of redemption. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll never want the story to end.

All it takes is one email to end her relationship, get her kicked out of her apartment, and just about ruin her life. Essie Phillips never meant for her private rant about her boss to be sent to everyone in her address book, but as soon as it goes viral, her life as she knows it is over. Solution: move to a new town, find a new job, make new friends. If only it were as simple as that...


Book Excerpt:   http://a.co/27FbHM9



My Book Review:

In This Could Change Everything, author Jill Mansell weaves a lighthearted British romantic tale of friendship, love and second chances.

Set in Bath, the reader is easily drawn into this witty and caring story as they follow a group of friends who help each other navigate the trials and tribulations of life and love.

Twenty-five-year-old Essie Phillips wrote a Christmas round robin newsletter that was meant only for her best friend Scarlett's eyes ... but when the email is mistakenly sent to everyone on her email list, Essie's world is turned upside down, and she is forced to move forward in a new direction.

Thirty-two-year-old Conor McCauley is an ex-attorney who changed his career to pursue his passion for landscaping fulltime and photography on the side. What Conor is missing in life is a romantic relationship, and a series of events will lead him to a chance at finding true love.

Lucas Brook is the owner of the Red House pub. Lucas' pub is successful, but a troubled family past affects his chance of having a fulfilling life, that is until he unexpectedly meets Essie and events lead to a chance at happiness and love.

Finally, we have eighty-three-year-old Zillah Wash, who is the center of this group of friends. Zillah is the enchanting grande dame of their street, but she has demons from the past that haunt her, and her guilt drives her to atone for her past misbehavior by providing last wishes for terminally ill people.

Together this endearing group of friends will learn that choices made could change everything! The awesome message that the author provides the reader is this wonderful quote that Scarlett states in the book: "Every day, we do things that are capable of changing everything, and that's what makes life exciting." No truer words have been spoken, this quote will make the reader ponder about the choices and decisions that they make in their lives, and how that change/decision can ultimately change everything ... especially if it's for the better!

This Could Change Everything is a wonderful story that will keep the reader engaged as they follow each of the friends' personal journeys. I really enjoyed following each of the friends' journeys as they struggled to overcome life issues and find the determination to move forward with their lives. There was a great mixture of emotion, drama, and humor mixed in this story, you can't help but feel like you are transported right into the middle of the friends' lives! I would be remiss if I didn't mention how much I enjoyed Zillah's journey the most, this cheeky older lady made me smile and I couldn't help but appreciate her dedication to providing terminally ill people with a final wish, that act of kindness simply stirs the soul!

This Could Change Everything is a lighthearted and sweet story that has enough emotional depth, drama, romance, and witty banter, that is a delightfully entertaining must-read summer tale for chick lit, romance, and women's fiction fans.


RATING: 5 STARS 







About The Author




Jill Mansell
lives with her partner and children in Bristol, and writes full time. Actually that’s not true; she watches TV, eats fruit gums, admires the rugby players training in the sports field behind her house, and spends hours on the internet marveling at how many other writers have blogs. Only when she’s completely run out of displacement activities does she write.

Jill Mansell's books have sold over ten million copies and her titles include: Making your Mind Up, Fast Friends, Good at Games, Sheer Mischief and Solo, among many others.


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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Hiding by Jenny Morton Potts (VBT: Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Hiding by author Jenny Morton Potts!





Hiding by Jenny Morton Potts
Publisher: Cahoots Publishing
Publication Date: PB - January 19, 2018 / eBook - February 1, 2018
Format: Paperback - 323 pages
               Kindle - 1459 KB
ISBN: 978-1976862816
ASIN: B078XK95S1
Genre: Psychological Thriller 


Buy The Book: 


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:

Keller Baye and Rebecca Brown live on different sides of the Atlantic. Until she falls in love with him, Rebecca knows nothing of Keller. But he’s known about her for a very long time, and now he wants to destroy her.

This is the story of two families. One living under the threat of execution in North Carolina. The other caught up in a dark mystery in the Scottish Highlands. The families’ paths are destined to cross. But why? And can anything save them when that happens?


Book Excerpt:



Excerpt | Hiding by Jenny Morton Potts



Chapter 2
Death Row
June 2021
There was a walk now. They passed doors, like random choices. They all looked the same, all the color of pale nicotine. But some of those doors were in the business of living and some were not. As you walked past them, you could feel hope slipping away. Which door? Which one? It was like a game the devil might play as you entered hell. Eventually the passengers reached the end of their journey and were shown into another room which was similar in size to the last but with what looked like a window on one side. The window was dark for the moment, with a black blind pulled down and opposite, there was a gallery with seating. The seating was slightly raked, like a theatre. They were here for a performance.
‘That’s 11.30 gone now,’ someone said from the far end.
‘Show must go on.’ Keller mumbled.
There was a crackle and then an audio test from the speaker in the corner. Keller imagined that President Descher had arranged a televised viewing and that all over the State the people could see and hear this: factory workers, grandmothers, schoolchildren, stopping what they’re doing and watching. From the audio speaker, Keller recognized words from the phonetic alphabet, then the date, today, June 23rd, 2021, the location, the prisoner’s name and number HCI 72259-931 and the time scheduled for execution.
Keller knew that the duration for the poison to act was ten minutes maximum and that the ratio to be injected was set against the inmate’s weight and height.
Somewhere behind him, Keller could hear mumbling about the victims’ families and an officer explained that they were seated separately, in another viewing room. He imagined that the families’ room was crowded since eight victims had lost their lives that day.
At 11.45 am, the time was announced once more on the speaker and the blind was pulled up manually, revealing the execution chamber. Keller had forgotten who was seated directly next to him now, but whoever it was flinched.
The prisoner was already strapped onto the gurney. There was a sheet over his body but you could see where the constraint buckles jutted up into the clean white cotton. His left arm was exposed however and the intravenous tube was already in. He was clean shaven. Keller had never seen him without a beard. He could almost pretend he did not know him.
Three Harfield guards came into the chamber now. They did not look at the window, which to them was a mirror. Who would want to see themselves doing what they were about to do, even if it was their duty. The three guards were each handed a syringe. The content of one of the syringes was deadly and the other two contained a harmless fluid. The guards would never know who among them administered the lethal injection.
The condemned man’s chest began to rise and fall. He blinked rapidly and his Adam’s apple bulged in his throat, as he struggled to find an impossible place between dignity and the screaming of his nerves to stay alive.
Keller murmured, ‘There is nothing to do now but die.’
A man in the chamber who had been out of their view moved into sight. He was dressed in a plain dark suit. He identified himself as Warden James and held up a chart. His hand was steady enough, his white knuckles though suggested a very tight grip on that chart.
Keller stared down at the inmate who seemed to be staring back, though Keller knew that the glass was one way and that all the condemned could see was a reflection of his own final scene. All the same, their eyes met.
Warden James turned to the prisoner. ‘Is there anything you would like to say or read before we administer this lethal injection?’
‘Yes.’
Keller frowned down at the neighboring lap. It was the redhead next to him, the Ph.D. student, twisting that engagement ring. The girl who more than likely had it all, the girl who could not cope without her cell, was barely coping at all. Keller could feel her trembling against the length of his torso and the anger in his veins burned. The young woman held her hand up to her mouth and whispered into it, ‘God, dear God.’
The Warden lowered his eyes to Prisoner HCI 72259-931 on the gurney and blinked several times. He said to the inmate, ‘Go ahead, what do you want to say.’
‘I would like to ask a question.’
‘What is your question?’
‘I would like to ask a question and have it answered.’
Warden James looked around the room at the other officials.
‘Go ahead and ask your question.’
‘Not until you tell me that I will have an answer.’
Keller smiled and nudged the redhead. ‘You see? Make the most of every goddamned moment.’
The young woman was on the edge of her seat and on the edge of tears.
In the chamber, the suits and uniforms huddled and muttered amongst themselves and the Warden came free of the pack once more.
‘We shall try to answer your question. And cannot commit beyond that. I ask you therefore again, is there anything you would like to say?’
The inmate tried to lift his head but the strap across his brow was held tight. He cleared his throat and said in that thick Carolina accent that Keller thought he’d forgotten but which now reignited in his memory and ripped through his heart.
‘I want to know if my son can see me.’
***
Excerpt from Hiding by Jenny Morton Potts. Copyright © 2018 by Jenny Morton Potts. Reproduced with permission from Jenny Morton Potts. All rights reserved.








My Book Review:

In Hiding, author Jenny Morton Potts weaves a riveting psychological thriller that easily draws the reader in with its dark storyline that follows the complex connection between Rebecca Brown and Keller Baye.

The story begins in 2007 with the tragic death of Rebecca Brown's parents in an auto accident. At the age of four, Rebecca and her brother Austen and sister Colette were sent to live with their paternal grandparents in Scotland. But the siblings' family history is held in secrecy; their grandparents refuse to answer any questions about what has happened in the past.

In 2021, Keller Baye plans revenge after watching his imprisoned father be put to death in a North Carolina jail. Keller crosses the pond with a new identity in search of Rebecca, who is now a grown woman and a successful standup comedian. Keller plans to destroy Rebecca's life.

This captivating and gritty tale is rich in detail and vivid descriptions and has intriguing and suspenseful twists and turns that leaves the reader with no other option than to keep turning the pages to find out what happens next. As a diehard fan of psychological thrillers, I must admit that this story exceeded my expectations. The dark intensity of the alternating storylines and the complexity of the intertwining connection between Rebecca and Keller's families kept me thoroughly riveted and so engrossed, that I literally had to finish the story in one sitting.

With a complex and realistic cast of characters, the author does a phenomenal job of delving into both families' long-held secrets, lies, and betrayals; Rebecca's quest for the truth; and Keller's need to stalk and plan revenge for his father's death. The author transports the reader into this fast-paced white-knuckle storyline with her creative interweaving of a psychological cat-n-mouse game between the characters that leaves the reader's heart palpating while holding their breath until the surprise ending. It just doesn't get any better than this!

Hiding is one heck of an adrenaline rush that is a must-read for the true diehard psychological thriller junkie!


RATING: 5 STARS 




About The Author




Jenny Morton Potts is a novelist, screenplay writer, and playwright. After a series of 'proper jobs', she realized she was living someone else's life and escaped to Gascony to make gîtes. Knee deep in cement and pregnant, Jenny was happy. Then autism and a distracted spine surgeon wiped out the order. Returned to wonderful England, to write her socks off.

Jenny would like to see the Northern Lights but worries that’s the best bit and should be saved till last. Very happily, and gratefully, settled with family.

She tries not to take herself too seriously.


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Contest Giveaway

Win A $20 Amazon Gift Card




This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Jenny Morton Potts. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on May 1 and runs through June 2, 2018.


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Virtual Book Tour



Tour Schedule:

05/01 Review/Showcase @ CMash Reads

05/02 Showcase @ Lauras Interests

05/03 Review @ Tales of a Book Addict

05/04 Showcase @ Bound 2 Escape

05/05 Review @ The World As I see it

05/06 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader

05/07 Showcase @ The Pulp and Mystery Shelf

05/08 Interview @ Quiet Fury Books

05/09 Guest post @ Aurora Bs Book Blog

05/10 Interview @ BooksChatter

05/10 Review @ Lilly's Book World

05/11 Interview @ A Blue Million Books

05/12 Showcase @ Mythical Books

05/14 Review @ Alinas Reading Corner

05/15 Excerpt @ Suspense Magazine

05/16 Review @ everywhere and nowhere

05/19 Guest post @ Loris Reading Corner

05/22 Review @ Stacking My Book Shelves!

05/23 Review @ Cheryl's Book Nook

05/25 Showcase @ The Bookworm Lodge

05/27 Guest post @ That's What Shes Reading

05/28 Review @ Simply Kelina

05/29 Review @ That's What Shes Reading

05/30 Interview @ Quiet Fury Books

05/30 Review @ A Room Without Books is Empty

05/31 Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews

08/01/18 Blog Talk Radio w/Fran Lewis

08/01/18 Review @ Just Reviews



Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Victim Of The System by Steve Hadden (VBT: Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for The Victim Of The System by author Steve Hadden!







Book Review



The Victim Of The System by Steve Hadden
Publisher: Telemachus Press, LLC
Publication Date: PB - March 28, 2018 / HC & eBook - April 3, 2018
Format: HC - 332 pages / PB - 330 pages / Kindle - 1007 KB 
ISBN: 978-1948046046
ASIN: B07BMHTMK3
BNID: 978-1948046046
Genre: Thriller


Buy The Book:



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:

Twenty-two years ago, Ike Rossi’s life was shattered when his parents were murdered in cold blood. He surrendered his football scholarship and returned home to find their killer and raise his nine-year-old sister. Now, the crime of a local ten-year-old genius, Jack Cole, threatens to unearth old wounds rather than provide the closure Ike desperately wants.

When Ike meets Jack inside the Pittsburgh courthouse, he doesn’t see a murderer but instead a boy who has been victimized by a system that has left them both without justice. Despite knowing the case will resurrect the painful demons of his parents’ unsolved murders, Ike agrees to clear Jack’s name. The court of public opinion and the district attorney have an airtight case. Worse, taking Jack’s side thrusts Ike into the crosshairs of the most powerful family in Pittsburgh, the Falzones.

Now, with only days before the trial, Ike confronts the Falzones’ crumbling empire to find the shocking evidence that could save Jack. At the same time, he races to decipher a series of cryptic clues from Jack’s dead father that could hold the key to his son’s freedom. But each step closer to the truth draws them further into danger, and as three fractured families collide, Ike is forced to choose between saving Jack-and saving himself.

The Victim of the System is an intriguing and entertaining thriller about the justice system, closure and the abyss between them.



Book Excerpt:


Excerpt | The Victim of the System by Steve Hadden

CHAPTER 1
Jack Cole knew they were coming for him next. He waited in the dense shrubs with a vengeful patience. He reminded himself he was here for a reason-one that justified the action. He fought back the dark sensation that this was wrong. Thou shalt not kill had been drilled into him at Saint John’s. But this was the only way to end it to be safe.
His hand shook as he gripped the heavy rifle and took aim at the front door of the mansion across the private cul-de-sac. He settled the jitter with the thought that this man had killed his dad.
He leaned back against the tree and braced for the kick. Then, through the bushes, he saw a sliver of light widen as the front door opened. He dropped his head and took aim through the scope. He’d been watching the lawyer’s house for days.
The thick door swung open and his target stepped out, closing the door behind him. Jack hesitated when he came face-to-face with him through the scope. Still, he steadied the heavy rifle and squeezed the trigger.
The blast slammed his back against the thick tree. The kick felt stronger than it had when he’d fired it on his first hunting trip with his father, just two months ago. As he scrambled to regain his balance, he saw his prey-the man responsible for destroying what was left of his family-fall against the front door of the red brick home, his white shirt splattered with blood and his face paralyzed in shock. Blood smeared as the man grabbed at the door, apparently reaching for someone inside. Finally, the attorney collapsed with his contorted body wrapped around his large legal briefcase.
Jack stood and froze, shocked by the carnage he’d unleashed. When the door swung open and a panicked woman rushed out, he came to his senses.
In seconds, Jack secured and covered the rifle and began his escape. Halfway down the cul-de-sac, he was sure someone had called 911. As he calmly pulled the red wagon his father had given him on his ninth birthday, he heard the police cars responding. They raced through the expensive suburban homes toward 1119 Blackbird Court.
The two cars turned onto the cul-de-sac and slowed when the patrolmen passed a mom and her children standing in their driveway, gaping at the terrifying scene. At the deep end of the cul-de-sac, the police cars screeched to a stop. Their doors sprang open and two officers swept the area with their guns drawn. The other two rushed to the porch. The woman cradled the man’s body, screaming wildly. Blood coated the porch and covered the woman’s face and arms.
Jack fought the urge to run and wandered out of the cul-de-sac. Two other police cars and an ambulance raced past. Over his shoulder, he saw the paramedics rush to the porch. Then Jack turned the corner and lost sight of what he’d done and he began to cry.
Six Months Later
CHAPTER 2
Ike Rossi hated this place. Not because something had happened here. Instead, it was something that hadn’t. It represented failure. A rotting failure that he placed firmly on his own shoulders. While it had been twenty-two years, the wound was as raw as it was on that dreadful day he’d tried to forget for most of his adult life. Now, after years of dead ends, he was here once again to close that wound.
He waited on the hard bench in the massive lobby of the Allegheny County Courthouse flanked by murals of Peace, Justice, and Industry. Despite their ominous presence, he ignored them. He’d never found any of those here.
As nine a.m. approached, the lobby swelled with people making their way to their destinies. Their voices and the clicks of their best shoes echoed through the massive honeycomb of thick stone archways as they wound up the network of stairs leading to the courtrooms on the floors above. Nameless faces all carried their tags: anger, sadness, fear, and arrogance. Those who were above it all, those who feared the system, and those who just saw money. While he’d always heard it was the best system on earth, he was painfully convinced that justice deserved better.
Three benches down, Ike’s eyes locked on a small boy who was crying and leaning into a woman’s side as she tried desperately to comfort him. When he recognized Jack Cole from the flood of news reports over the last six months, he didn’t feel the prickly disdain that had roiled in his gut as he watched the initial reports on TV. At first, he’d condemned the ten-year-old boy as another killer-one who took the life of someone’s parent. But as the case unfolded he’d discovered the boy had lost his father. The constant wound Ike kept hidden in his soul opened a little wider. He knew what it was like to lose a parent.
According to the reports, Jack Cole’s father had committed suicide as a result of a nasty divorce from Brenda Falzone Cole, the estranged daughter of one of the richest families in the country. Jack, a genius ten-year-old, had shot and killed his mother’s family law attorney-not exactly what Ike expected from a kid. When he was finally identified in the video from a neighbor’s security camera and questioned, he shocked investigators by admitting the act.
Claiming he didn’t have a choice under Pennsylvania law, the prosecutor was trying the boy as an adult. Jack faced a murder charge. Due to his young age, both sides wanted to fast-track the trial. It was scheduled to start next Monday, just a week away.
The boy looked up and caught Ike’s gaze. Despite his best efforts, Ike couldn’t look away. Tears streamed down Jack’s face, but at the same time, his eyes begged for help. A mix of fear and generosity accumulated deep in Ike’s chest. He knew the boy sought the same help he’d sought for himself years ago, but the prospect of exhuming that pain warned him to stay away.
Still, yielding to a magnetic force that had no regard for his own protection, Ike stood, smiled, and walked to the boy, ignoring the condemning stares from the people eyeing Jack. Reaching into his jacket pocket, he pulled out a small Rubik’s Cube he carried to amuse distressed kids on long flights to distant oil provinces.
He stopped in front of the pair and asked the woman, “May I?” while he showed her the toy. The dried streaks down her cheeks told him she shared the boy’s pain. He recognized her from the news reports but didn’t want to remind her that millions of people were now witness to her custody battle with Jack’s mother’s family and the progression of her devastating pretrial defeats at the hands of the district attorney.
“Oh, that’s so kind of you,” she said, nodding gently.
Ike gave Jack the toy and sat beside him. Jack’s smallish build and timid posture made it hard to believe he was ten-and he’d killed someone.
Jack sniffled and wiped his nose with the back of his arm.
“Here, honey,” the woman said as she handed him a Kleenex. Jack wiped his nose and immediately began twisting the cube, ignoring Ike.
“I’m Lauren Bottaro,” the woman said. “This is Jack. I’m his aunt.”
Ike reached out. “Ike Rossi.”
Her eyes flamed with familiarity. She seemed stunned. “You’re Ike Rossi?”
Jack handed the cube back to Ike. “Done!”
Ike wasn’t sure what startled him more, the look on Lauren’s face or the fact that Jack had solved the cube in less than a minute. “That’s great, Jack.” Ike offered Jack a high-five, but Jack awkwardly hesitated. Finally, he slapped it and Ike returned the toy. The tears were gone, replaced by a proud smile. Ike looked back at Lauren, who’d apparently caught herself staring at him.
She seemed to regain some composure, and a serious expression swept across her face.
“Mr. Rossi, can I ask what you do, now?”
Ike hesitated, hearing more than just that question in her voice.
He looked up and saw Mac Machowski, grinning.
“I’ll tell you what he does.”
Ike could have kissed Mac for the timely rescue.
Mac counted on his thick gnarled fingers. “He fixes things that can’t be fixed. He keeps fat cats from getting kidnapped-or killed if they do and he’s the best damn investigator I’ve ever seen.”
Ike noticed Jack had stopped playing with the Rubik’s Cube and was listening intently to Mac, along with Lauren.
Ike smiled. “Mac, I’d like you to meet Lauren and Jack.”
Mac tipped the bill of his Pirates cap to Lauren. “Ma’am.” Then, extending his meaty paw, he knelt painfully and came face-to-face with Jack. “Nice to meet you, young man.”
Jack nervously looked away but reached for Mac’s hand and shook it.
“Jack. What do you say?” Lauren said.
Jack faced Mac. “Nice to meet you, sir.”
Mac’s joints creaked as he reached to the floor and pushed himself up. “You ready there, partner?” he said to Ike. “We gotta catch him before he leaves the courthouse at nine.”
As Ike stood, Lauren rose with him. “So you’re a detective?”
Ike threw a nod toward Mac. “He is a retired homicide detective. I’m a private security and investigative services consultant in the oil and gas business.”
Lauren tipped her head back, as if enlightened. “That makes sense now.”
“What makes sense?” Ike said.
“I saw your name written on my brother’s day planner.”
The claim jolted Ike. “My name?”
Lauren nodded again. “Did you speak to him?”
“No, I’ve never talked to your brother.” Ike was sure investigators would have checked the planner, but he’d never been questioned.
Jack reached up and tugged on Ike’s forearm. “Can you help me?”
Those eyes were begging again.
Lauren gently pulled Jack’s hand from Ike’s arm. “I’m sorry,” she said. “He’s been through a lot.”
Jack kept his eyes, now wet again, locked on Ike. “My dad wouldn’t do that to me. He wouldn’t kill himself.”
Ike was frozen by Jack’s stare. It was as innocent as any ten-year-olds. A primal desire to protect Jack stirred in Ike’s heart. He didn’t want to believe the kid-but he did.
Lauren hugged Jack. “It’s okay, honey.” She looked back at Ike and Mac. “We have no right to ask you th-“
A thick, towering woman with dark brown hair and a stone-cold stare wedged into the space between Mac and Lauren. She studied Mac, then Ike. “What’s going on here, Lauren?”
Ike immediately recognized her from the news reports. Jenna Price represented Jack. For the last two months she’d been billed as a hopeless underdog, and the string of losses so far-other than prevailing at the bail hearing-supported that label. A basketball player-turned-lawyer, she was battling a DA who so far showed little mercy. She worked with her father in their tiny firm, and every talking head said she didn’t stand a chance.
Lauren said, “Jenna, this is Ike Rossi and Mac … I’m sorry?”
“Machowski,” Mac said as he shook Jenna’s hand.
Jenna gripped Ike’s hand and held it as she spoke. “My dad said you were the greatest quarterback ever to come out of western Pennsylvania.”
Ike always had one answer to that comment to quell any further discussion of his accolades. “That was a long time ago.”
“What are you doing now?” she asked.
Jack leaned around Lauren and nearly shouted, “He’s a detective. He can help us!”
Lauren hugged him tight again. “Shhh.”
“A detective?” Jenna said.
“A private security and investigative services consultant.”
Jenna nodded and held her gaze but said nothing.
“We gotta go now,” Mac said, looking at his watch.
Ike stepped back from Jenna. “Stay strong, Counselor.” He nodded to Lauren. “Ms. Bottaro.” Then Ike offered a handshake to Jack.
Jack sheepishly held out the Rubik’s Cube for Ike. Immediately, Ike felt Jack’s awkwardness.
“You keep that, Jack.” Ike raised his hand for another high-five. Jack took the cue this time and slapped it. “Ladies,” he said, turning with Mac and walking down the hall.
As they reached the stairs at the end of the corridor, Ike glanced over his shoulder. He could see Jack edging around the two women to keep his eyes on Ike, with the Rubik’s Cube clutched in his hand. Ike turned back to the stairs.
“You okay?” Mac said. Ike nodded and started up the stairs to meet a man he despised. A man who might finally deliver the key to his parents’ murder.
***
Excerpt from The Victim of the System by Steve Hadden. Copyright © 2018 by Steve Hadden. Reproduced with permission from Steve Hadden. All rights reserved.








My Book Review:

In The Victim Of The System, author Steve Hadden weaves a riveting thriller that follows private investigator Ike Rossi as he investigates the case of ten-year-old Jack Cole, who is going on trial for first-degree murder of a family law attorney. For Ike, this isn't your normal run of the mill investigation, it is an investigation that opens up painful memories of his own parents' unsolved murder from twenty-two years ago, and he can see so much of himself in young Jack that he feels compelled to help Jack clear his name in the justice system. But there are people who want to stop Jack at all costs, and when Ike begins his investigation, he puts his own life in jeopardy. So who will come out as the victim of the system, or will justice prevail?

Author Steve Hadden provides a multi-layered storyline that has enough mystery, suspense, drama, treachery, secrets, legal interactions, and intriguing twists and turns that easily keeps the reader guessing. He weaves an intricate and complicated web that interconnects three groups: Ike's parents' unsolved murder; Jack's father's death and his belief that someone is out to get him next; and Jack's maternal family, the very wealthy Falzone family who want to keep long-held secrets buried deep and protect their business and fortune at all costs. What ensues is a captivating unraveling of secrets and truths that come from beyond the grave in a series of code messages that hold the key to the answers Ike is pursuing.

The Victim Of The System is an exciting and fast-paced thriller that has realistic characters; witty dialogue and interactions; rich descriptions of the setting that transports the reader to Pittsburgh and its landmark locales; and a multi-layered storyline that easily draws the reader into the interconnection between the main characters as the pieces of the investigation puzzle surprisingly comes together.

The Victim Of The System is the kind of thriller that easily keeps the reader captivated, guessing, on their toes, and wanting more!


RATING: 5 STARS 
                                  




About The Author



Steve Hadden was born in Columbus, Ohio but spent much of his childhood in North Severna Park, Maryland. Building a short-wave radio with his father (an electrical engineer), frequent trips to the US Naval Academy, and the gift of a chemistry set sparked his interest in chemistry and mathematics at an early age. At the end of elementary school, Steve’s family moved to Columbus, Indiana where he developed his love for basketball and where his favorite book was Stranger Than Science by Frank Edwards. Two years later, Steve moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where his junior high school creative writing teacher sparked his interest in writing. Steve attended North Allegheny High School and fell in love with Clive Cussler’s Raise the Titanic.

He attended Penn State, graduated with a degree in chemical engineering, and began a career in the oil and gas business, where he’s worked in engineering, management, and advisory roles. He’s traveled to intriguing places around the world and met fascinating people. His experience in the oil and gas business ultimately led to the idea for his first thriller, The Sunset Conspiracy. His interest in biology and science formed the foundation for his next four thrillers, Genetic Imperfections and The Swimming Monkeys Trilogy. He returned to his hometown of Pittsburgh with his latest thriller, The Victim of the System, a story with a mind-bending scientific twist.

Steve now lives in the foothills of the Cascades outside of Seattle. When he’s not working on his next intriguing thriller, Steve is hiking the trails with his wife and two Labrador retrievers, playing guitar or piano, reading great books, listening to music and consulting on business matters.






Contest Giveaway

Win A $15 Amazon Gift Card


This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Steve Hadden. There will be 2 winners of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on May 1 and runs through June 2, 2018.

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Virtual Book Tour



Tour Schedule:

05/02 Excerpt @ Suspense Magazine

05/02 Showcase @ Mythical Books

05/03 Review @ The World As I See It

05/04 Showcase @ CMash Reads

05/05 Interview @ A Blue Million Books

05/06 Showcase @ Bound 2 Escape

05/07 Review @ Cheryl's Book Nook

05/08 Showcase @ The Pulp and Mystery Shelf

05/09 Showcase @ The Bookworm Lodge

05/10 Guest Post @ Writers and Authors

05/11 Showcase @ Stacking My Book Shelves!

05/13 Interview @ A Bookworms Journal

05/14 Showcase @ Brooke Blogs

05/15 Interview @ Quiet Fury Books

05/16 Review @ Stormy Nights Reviewing & Blogging

05/17 Guest Post @ Loris Reading Corner

05/18 Review @ BooksChatter

05/21 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews

05/29 Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews

05/30 Review @ A Room Without Books is Empty







Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Six: Kristy by Samantha March (Book Review)



The Six: Kristy by Samantha March
Book 1: The Six Series
Publisher: Marching Ink LLC
Publication Date: PB - May 9, 2018 / eBook May 23, 2018
Format: Paperback - 174 pages
               Kindle - 2384 KB
ISBN: 978-0997532760
ASIN: B07D8XSZ8N
Genre: Chick Lit / Women's Fiction



Buy The Book:
Amazon
Goodreads



Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review.



Book Description:


Kristy Martin is twenty-something, single and living it up in Chicago. She has a crew of close girlfriends to keep her social calendar active, and is celebrating finally securing employment in her chosen field. While always free-spirited, Kristy is getting tired of the revolving door – or more accurately, bed – of random guys and failed dates, and comes up with a plan to get her act together when it comes to the opposite sex. That idea is quickly shot down by her bestie Breely Laver and replaced with a bet she can’t refuse – a free trip to Paris with her yoga instructor BFF if she can go six months without sex.

Enter in charming, sexy, delicious Grey Grahl. Kristy tries to navigate a spicy new relationship without giving away her bet, while also dealing with an incredibly sensitive crisis at her job. Her first year as a full-time elementary school guidance counselor starts off with a devastating situation with a young student, and Kristy finds herself struggling to stay above water in both her professional and personal life. With her girlfriends as a support system, Kristy navigates troubled times at the school and agrees to come clean with Grey.

This first book in a six-part girlfriend series introduces you to Kristy, Breely, Nora, Lauren, Tinsley, and Scarlett, and takes readers on six individual stories about relationships, career choices, personal conflict and the bond of friendship.




My Book Review:

In The Six: Kristy, the first book in The Six, a six-part girlfriend series, author Samantha March introduces the readers to twenty-five-year-old Kristy Martin and her five best girlfriends: Breely Laver, Nora Wellington, Lauren Begay, Tinsley Thompson, and Scarlett Walsh.

The reader follows Kristy as she begins her first year as an elementary school guidance counselor and how she deals with some very serious social issues, in addition to the quirky friendship dynamic amongst the six girlfriends, and a decision made in changing her personal relationships with guys - she is tired of hookups and one-night stands, and is looking for a serious relationship with the right man, aka "the one"!

What a fun start to a new friendship series! Author Samantha March weaves an entertaining chick lit / women's fiction tale that embraces the bonds of female friendships, and the pursuit of personal life goals and choices while in the mid-late twenties. Set in Chicago and told in the first person narrative, I loved following Kristy's story from starting a fulltime career as an elementary school guidance counselor to the challenges in her personal life. You can't help but admire how she handles the serious social issues at school and snicker at the challenge that best friend Breely throws her way - no sex for six months and she'll take Kristy on an all expenses paid trip to Paris! Kristy accepts that deal, but who knew that it would turn out to be a sexually frustrating challenge when she meets twenty-six-year-old occupational therapist assistant Grey Grahl, the man who might turn out to be "the one" that she's been looking for!

I thoroughly enjoyed the blossoming relationship between Kristy and Grey, their quick connection and how they handled the "no-sex challenge" had me giggling and left me smiling. I would be remiss if I didn't mention how much I enjoyed getting to know a bit about each of the six friends. The author gives the reader enough of an insight into each of the girls' lives that it makes you want to get to know them more. The girls are so different, but they complement each other so well, it makes you think about your own little group of girlfriends. Finally, at the end of the story, the author gives you a tantalizing look into Scarlett's story ... hmmm ... so it leaves you wondering if she will be the focus of book number two.


RATING: 5 STARS 







About The Author




Samantha March is a published author, blogger, and has been passionate about creating stories since a young girl. After starting her blog ChickLitPlus in 2009, she set out to make a childhood dream a reality and published her debut novel in 2011. She now has six published novels – Destined To Fail, The Green Ticket, Up To I Do, A Questionable Friendship and Defining Her – and one holiday novella, The Christmas Surprise, and Kristy, book 1 in The Six series. In addition to her bookish pursuits, she is also a beauty blogger with a growing Youtube channel and shares her love for makeup and beauty in review and tutorial videos. When she isn’t reading, writing, or creating videos, you can find her cheering for the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Cubs. Samantha currently lives in Iowa with her husband and Vizsla Aries.


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Amazon Author Page
Chick Lit Plus - Blog
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Friday, May 18, 2018

The Flower Girl Murder by Keith Hirshland (VBT: Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Virtual Author Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for The Flower Girl Murder by author Keith Hirshland!






Book Review



The Flower Girl Murder by Keith Hirshland
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: eBook February 12, 2018 / PB February 15, 2018
Format: Paperback - 256 pages 
               Kindle - 413 KB
ISBN: 978-0692046685
ASIN: B079T329P3
BNID: 978-0692046685
Genre: Crime - Police Procedural / Mystery / Suspense / Thriller


Buy The Book:


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 Virtual Author Book Tours. 


Book Description:

Daisy Burns was a likable, devoted wife and mother who spent her spare time volunteering at school events. Everyone loved Daisy. So why would someone shoot her three times and dump her body behind a Planned Parenthood chapter in North Carolina?

With no witnesses and few leads, Raleigh detective Marc Allen turns to the press for help—specifically, veteran news anchor Lancaster Heart. Heart agrees to broadcast the police department’s plea for information in his nightly newscasts.

Elderly viewer and longtime social worker Blanche Avery is positive she recognizes the photograph on the television as an older version of her friend Daisy— the young, heavily pregnant girl she met years before who made the decision to give her child up for adoption.

When Tanner Goochly Jr.—a member of a notorious crime family—becomes the victim of another point-blank shooting, Allen races to discover the connection between the murders. Could it be that Daisy was somehow involved with an illegal enterprise, or was she hiding something else, another secret to be discovered?

The body count is rising, and the suspect pool is widening. As Allen’s investigation reaches a fever pitch, he realizes that a mother’s choice could have killer consequences.


Book Excerpt:



The Flower Girl Murder

Chapter Thirty-five

It was another night of disquieted sleep for Blanche Avery. The visage of the murdered woman seemed to take up permanent residence on the inside of her eyelids, staring sadly back at her whenever the old woman climbed in bed and closed her eyes. Daisy Burns’s death weighed heavily on her mind and even more so on her heart. Blanche was no fool; she knew the world was an unkind place, but she always tried (and sometimes felt she succeeded) to keep the anger, arguments, indignities, and outright violence at arm’s length. Most of it was confined inside the electronic box, and she could watch from the comfort of her favorite living room chair. Her real world was full of sadness; she witnessed it every day. Homeless men and women on the streets, having lost their way and fallen through society’s cracks. Children, some in groups, others alone, on corners or at playgrounds during the time of day when Blanche was certain they should be seated at desks, facing teachers writing on blackboards, in school. Even the dogs and cats she visited on a weekly basis at the shelter near her home. She always stopped in with a smile or a treat, hoping the beagle or the mutt or the calico kitty would be gone, off to a for-real home with loving masters, but it rarely was. But Blanche also knew sadness and strife were not murder. Hardship didn’t have to be permanent. She felt, deep in her heart, there was always hope to be found in life. An opportunity to make the next day better than the last one. But there was no hope in death, no next day for the sorry soul whose life had been stolen. When Blanche prayed, she occasionally even said a prayer for the executioner, but mostly she just wondered how anyone could do such a thing to another living soul. She knew it happened, but having it happen to someone she knew broke her heart. She turned her head to look at the small clock on the bedside table: 3:40 a.m. She knew sleep would not return, but it seemed too early to get up. She got up anyway. After sliding her feet into the new slippers her son had given her for her birthday, she eased into her robe and headed for the kitchen. She flipped on the light and sat down at the small wooden table in the center of the room. A pen and pad of paper, a recent addition, rested on one corner. With a slightly trembling hand, Blanche reached for them both. In the weeks since learning of the young woman’s murder, she had taken to putting pen to paper, finding a place to transfer the jumble of thoughts that disrupted her sleep in the middle of an increasing number of nights. She was surprised, at first, at the sharpness of her mind when it came to recalling the details that were now decades old. She relived the heartbreak of that poor young woman. She harkened back with specific detail to the joy on the faces of the man and especially the woman who would become new parents. And she remembered the child. She could close her eyes and feel the newborn’s soft skin on her cheek, sense the tiny fingers gripping the first two of her left hand. The smell of powder and preciousness invaded her nostrils. Sitting at the kitchen table with hours until sunrise, Blanche Avery cried, and Blanche Avery wrote the words she hoped would explain, then justify, her life while retelling the story of theirs.



My Book Review:

In The Flower Girl Murder, author Keith Hirshland weaves a riveting mystery/police procedural tale that follows Raleigh N.C. Detective Marc Allen, and veteran news anchor Lancaster Heart as they investigate the unexplained murders that start to pile up in their town.

Author Keith Hirshland provides a multi-layered storyline that has enough mystery, suspense, drama, treachery, secrets, and intriguing twists and turns that keeps the reader guessing, while weaving an intricate and complicated web of what the motive of the murders could have been, and the spectrum of possible participants who could have been involved in committing them. And if that isn't enough to captivate the reader, the author adds a wonderful touch of humor and a bit of romance into the mix to keep them entertained.

The Flower Girl Murder is an exciting police procedural/crime mystery story that has realistic characters; witty dialogue and interactions; rich descriptions of the setting that transports the reader to Raleigh, NC, Reno, NV, and Aspen, CO; a fascinating behind the scenes intertwining of police procedural and investigative techniques and the news station on-air news stories and CTA (call to action) segments; and a multi-layered storyline that draws the reader into the interconnection between the main characters as the pieces of the murder investigations puzzle comes together and is solved.

The Flower Girl Murder is the kind of mystery that easily keeps the reader captivated, guessing, on their toes, and wanting more!


RATING: 5 STARS 
                                  






About The Author



Award-winning author, Keith Hirshland is an Emmy Award-winning sports television producer with more than three decades of experience producing shows that aired on ESPN and ESPN2. Among the first forty people to be hired by the Golf Channel in 1994, Hirshland was in the middle of the action when it premiered in 1995. He provided his talents for the golf network for close to two decades.

The Flower Girl Murder is Hirshland’s second novel and third book. Big Flies, his first mystery novel, was published in 2016. It is the winner of the New Apple Awards: Solo Medalist Award and runner-up for the 2016 Shelf Unbound Best Indie Book of the Year.  Cover Me Boys, I’m Going In: Tales of the Tube from a Broadcast Brat is a memoir about his experiences in the television industry. It was Book Talk Radio Club’s Memoir of the Year”.

Hirshland lives in New Jersey with his wife and Bernese mountain dog.






Contest Giveaway

Win An eBook Or PB Copy Of
The Flower Girl Murder
By: Keith Hirshland




Giveaway: The Flower Girl Murder by Keith Hirshland This giveaway is for one print copy or ebook copy of the book. The print copy is available to the U.S. only but the ebook is available worldwide. This giveaway ends on June 29, 2018 at midnight Pacific time. Entries are accepted via Rafflecopter only.


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Virtual Book Tour



Tour Schedule:

Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus May 1 Interview

Dawn Bound 2 Escape May 2 Excerpt

Aurora  Amazon Review May 3 Review

Lu Ann Rockin’ Book Reviews May 4 Review

Lillie Amazon Review May 7 Review

Sherry My Reading Journeys May 10 Review

Stephan Amazon Review May 14 Review

Kathleen Jersey Girl Book Reviews May 18 Review

Carl Brookins Books LLC May 23 review

Liz Devoted Mommy of 3 May 24 Review & Excerpt

Sal Bound 4 Escape June 7 Guest Review

Shannon The Pulp and Mystery Shelf June 11 Interview

Jess JBronder Book Reviews June 22 Review

Mindy A Room Without Books is Empty June 28 Review