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

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Liar's Dice by Gabriel Valjan (VBT: Book Review)

In association with Partners In Crime Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Liar's Dice by author Gabriel Valjan!

Book Review

Liar's Dice by Gabriel Valjan
Book #4: A Shane Cleary Mystery Series
Publisher: Level Best Books
Publication Date: March 14, 2023
Format: Paperback - 246 pages
               Kindle - 1716 KB
               Nook - 1 MB
ISBN: 978-1685122065
BNID: 978-1685122072
Genre: Mystery / Historical Crime Fiction / PI Mystery / Noir Fiction

Buy The Book:

Buy The Series: A Shane Cleary Mystery Series
Book 1: Dirty Old Town
Book 2: Symphony Road
Book 3: Hush Hush
Book 4: Liar's Dice

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 Book Tours.

Book Description:

Boston might be white with snow, but there’s nothing but a winter’s darkness for Shane Cleary, a former cop, veteran, and reluctant PI. There’s an international war within the mafia over drugs, and he has been asked to find the nephew of the local crime boss. When federal agencies descend on the city and order the police department to stand down on a homicide, the BPD reaches out to Shane for answers.

Shane’s past in Vietnam comes to haunt him when the corpse of a veteran is found on Boston Common, frozen to death in front of the State House. Then, a former army buddy comes to town looking for justice. His presence endangers all that Shane holds dear.

Shane must come to terms with a side of himself he thought he had left behind. The mounting body count and circumstances compel him to play a game of Liar’s Dice. Can he deceive and detect deception around him? Protect those he loves, while he solves the cases?

Praise for Liar’s Dice:

“Gabriel Valjan writes like a poet but his PI Shane Cleary packs a wallop worthy of Mickey Spillane.” -
Clea Simon, Boston Globe bestselling author of Hold Me Down

“Gabriel Valjan is the godfather of organized crime fiction and Liar's Dice is all the proof you need.” - James L’Etoile, author of the Detective Nathan Parker series

“Gritty, smart, sharply written, Valjan’s Liar’s Dice is a welcome addition to the canon of fine PI fiction.” - Reed Farrel Coleman, New York Times bestselling author of Sleepless City

“A fast-paced mystery that kept me flipping the pages, needing to find out what would happen next. Shane Cleary is a complex, brilliantly written protagonist. A terrific read.” - Hannah Mary McKinnon, internationally bestselling author of Never Coming Home

“Warning: Pick up a copy, turn the page, and you’ll be hooked. Liar’s Dice ticks the boxes: an interesting tale that’s economical and tight, descriptions that are full and rich, dialogue that’s real, and characters that spring to life. Gabriel Valjan just has a way of making every word count.” - Dietrich Kalteis, winner of the 2022 Crime Writers of Canada Award of Excellence for best novel

“Gabriel Valjan crafts a vivid portrait of 1970s Boston to life in Liar's Dice. Shane Cleary deserves to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the city’s other famous PIs—a haunted but compassionate character who cuts through a swath of Mob crime with Valjan’s trademark wit and style.” - James D.F. Hannah, Shamus-winning author of Behind The Wall Of Sleep and She Talks To Angels

As much an intricately plotted mystery as a deep exploration of the dark side of Boston in the 1970s, this latest installment of the critically-acclaimed Shane Cleary series takes an unflinching view of the once powerful Boston mafia, while Shane deals with the aftermath of his time in Vietnam. Richly drawn characterization and a well-plotted mystery will have you eagerly awaiting what comes next in this enticing series! - Edwin Hill, author of The Secrets We Share

Book Excerpt:

Chapter 1

Thou Shalt Not Say No

I heard the slap of the Boston Globe on our doorstep.

It was seven-thirty and Bonnie had already kissed me goodbye. It was a kiss. A long, slow kiss to make a man lose his dignity. I begged her to stay home, to play hooky from work and give the boys in the office a reprieve. She told me she couldn’t. I watched her walk out the front door. Her perfume may have hinted of spring but the mercury in the thermometer said winter.

The phone rang and interrupted my trip to the front door for the paper. I answered on the second ring.

“Glad you’re still there,” she said.


“I’m at a payphone on Comm. Ave.”

“Forget something?”

“I noticed a Cadillac parked across the street when I left.”

“It’s a car that stands out, I’ll give you that, but what’s the problem?”

“The man inside the car. He’s getting out.”

“I thought I was the PI and you were the lawyer.”

“I’m serious, Shane.”

“So am I. Okay, I’ll play. Describe him to me?”

“Six-six. Menacing. Dark winter coat. He’s headed to our door. Wait, he’s stopped.”

“He stopped?”

“To light a cigarette, but he’s not having any luck. He keeps trying with his lighter.”

“Tony Two-Times.”

“That’s Tony Two-Times? Not exactly subtle, is he?”

“It goes with the job description.”

“Oh my god, Shane. He’s reached into his jacket.” I’d never heard Bonnie’s voice hit that note, not even during sex, though in my defense, this was panic and not ecstasy. We were nearing our anniversary, and I suppose months of cohabitation or what the Census Bureau calls POSSLQ or Person of Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters had eroded her tough exterior.

“Never mind,” she said. “It’s a newspaper. I thought he might’ve had a gun.”

“Go to work, Bonnie.”

I did the rude thing and hung up on her. It’s not that I wanted to do it, but Tony Two-Times, uninvited and unannounced, was not the same thing as the guy at your door with the news you’ve won the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes. Tony was a ‘friend’ and the mob always sent your friend to kill you. I moved fast and pulled my .38 out of the holster, hidden under a coat on the rack. I opened the door and kept the revolver behind my back.

The cold air punched my lungs and my eyes watered. I found Tony doubled over, picking up my Boston Globe. When he stood upright, he blocked the wind and the sun. An unlit cigarette stuck to his lower lip. “You gonna invite me in, or what?”

I stepped aside, back against the door. He pressed the paper into my chest. I put a hand over it. He paused before he stepped in. His dark eyes bore into me. “Relax, Cleary, and saddle the Colt you’re hiding behind you.”

“You could’ve called.”

“This conversation is best in person, face to face.”

“If you say so, Tony.”

“I say so. I’ve gotta job for you.”

Tony had tapped one foot against the other to knock off any snow, salt, or sand. He took the cigarette from his lips and pocketed it. He wiped his feet on the small mat, and took off his hat and coat and hung them on the coat rack. I holstered my sidearm and directed him to the kitchen. He walked down the hallway, talking. “You really thought you needed to draw your piece on me?”

“You weren’t what I expected with the morning paper.”


Excerpt from Liar's Dice by Gabriel Valjan. Copyright 2023 by Gabriel Valjan. Reproduced with permission from Gabriel Valjan. All rights reserved.

My Book Review:

In Liar's Dice, book four in the Shane Cleary Mystery Series, author Gabriel Valjan takes the reader back to 1970s Boston to follow the latest investigative case of ex-Boston cop turned PI Shane Cleary. 

In this installment of the series, Shane is asked to find Sal, the nephew of Mr.B., the mob boss of Boston's Italian North End. There is an undercurrent of a potential territory feud that has it's sights on Boston, and Mr.B. isn't pleased with this development, especially when it involves bringing distrbution of cocaine into the city by the Canadian mob, the Boston Irish Southie Winter Hill Gang, and the NY five families. And if that isn't enough, Jimmy Hoban, a Vietnam veteran and advocate for veterans, the mentally ill, and the homeless, has been found frozen on the street, which draws Shane's attention since he is also an Army Vietnam veteran. And to make matters worse, tension in the city increases when three Boston Police Officers are shot dead, and the Feds show up. Shane has a lot on his plate, but it just gets more intense when an old Vietnam Army buddy shows up, and Shane's memories of Vietnam surface when his buddy Hunter is in town on a personal mission. Shane gets caught up in a dangerous game of Liar's Dice, a game of guesses, bluffs, and deception. Can Shane put the pieces of the puzzle together, and solve the interwining cases that are wrecking havoc in Boston? 

Liar's Dice is a riveting crime story that easily draws the reader in from the start. The author provides the reader with a fascinating and richly detailed crime thriller set in 1970s Boston. Told in the first person narrative by Shane, this gritty noir story has enough drama, secrets, deception, tension, greed, murder, and surprising twists and turns that keeps the reader guessing if Shane will be able to uncover enough evidence to solve the various cases that are plaguing Boston. Shane deals with hostility from his ex-police brethren, crooked cops, mobsters, and wealthy individuals who try to hinder his every move. Trouble always seem to find Shane, it's the hazard of his job and it comes with the territory, but it doesn't deter him from finding the truth. 

This suspenseful storyline is about intertwining cases that Shane slowly puts the pieces of the puzzle together, uncovering the underlying mafia tension, drug deals, and corruption in Boston that will keep the reader guessing. With an intriguing cast of characters, a great description of Boston and the throwback to the 1970s decade, and flashbacks to Shane's military past, Liar's Dice takes the reader on one heck of a thrilling rollercoaster ride!

Liar's Dice is a well-written, fast paced crime thriller story that left me interested in finding out what Shane's next investigative adventure will be in the continuation of the series.


About The Author

Gabriel Valjan writes historical crime fiction. He is the recipient of the Macavity Award for Best Short Story and he has been listed for the Bridport and Fish Prizes, the Agatha, Anthony, Derringer, and Silver Falchion Awards. He lives in Boston’s South End and answers to a tuxedo cat named Munchkin.

Author Blog - Gabriel's Wharf
Amazon Author Page

Virtual Book Tour Event

Tour Participants:

03/19 Review @ Leanne bookstagram

03/20 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader

03/21 Review @ Blogging with A

03/22 Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews

03/23 Review @ Celticladys Reviews

03/23 Review @ mokwip8991

03/24 Review @ Melissa As Blog

03/24 Review @ Novels Alive

03/25 Review @ Coffee and Ink

03/26 Review @ Guatemala Paula Loves to Read

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Weekly Book Mail: 3/12-18/2023

This Week's Book Mail

Authentic Books

Just The Right Book!

The Book Drop

Romance Reveal Book Box

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Weekly Book Mail: 3/5-11/2023


This Week's Book Mail

Books & Treasures

Recycle Read Repeat

The Book Drop

Aardvark Book Club

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

The Barlows by Joanne DeMaio (Book Review)


Book Review

The Barlows by Joanne DeMaio
Book #17: The Seaside Saga Series
Publisher: Joanne DeMaio
Publication Date: March 1, 2023
Format: Paperback - 258 pages
               Audiobook - 7 Hours 9 Minutes
               Kindle - 1972 KB
               Nook - 677 KB
ISBN: 979-8846507944
ASIN (Audiobook): B0BN2G5PMX
ASIN (Kindle): B0B61KZQN6
BNID: 2940186717881
Genre: Women's Fiction

Buy The Book:

Buy The Series: The Seaside Saga Series
Book 1: Blue Jeans and Coffee Beans 
Book 2: The Denim Blue Sea
Book 3: Beach Blues
Book 4: Beach Breeze
Book 5: The Beach Inn
Book 6: Beach Bliss
Book 7: Castaway Cottage
Book 8: Night Beach
Book 9: Little Beach Bungalow 
Book 10: Every Summer
Book 11: Salt Air Secrets 
Book 12: Stony Point Summer 
Book 13: The Beachgoers 
Book 14: Shore Road 
Book 15: The Wait 
Book 16: The Goodbye 
Book 17: The Barlows 
Book 18: The Visitor (Publication Date: May 15, 2023)

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 The Barlows, Book 17 of The Seaside Saga

Jason and Maris. To the residents of Stony Point, they're simply known as the Barlows. Their home is a shingled New England cottage on the bluff, where salt air breezes stir and gulls cry and spirits roam. But like wisps of sea fog, darkness has touched upon their lives this summer. Will light and love return to their old weathered cottage by the sea? 

And The Seaside Saga continues.

My Book Review:

In The Barlows, the beach friends' story continues where The Goodbye left off. Author Joanne DeMaio transports the reader back to the tranquil seashore town of Stony Point, Connecticut. The story picks up in early September, where our beach friends lives are like the tides, sometimes they keep moving and changing. 

In The Barlows, 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.

The Barlows is an intricate story of interweaving friendships and ever changing life events. It is a wonderful story that continues to demonstrate the power of the magical sweet salt air that will cure what ails you. In this installment in The Seaside Saga Series, the author continues to weave a story that focuses on the reunion of Jason and Maris' marriage; Elsa's attempt to apologize to Celia and her ongoing predicament in deciding who to choose in the love triangle with Cliff Raines and Mitch Fenwick; and the continued blossoming secret relationship between Celia Gray and Shane Bradford.

In this seventeenth installment in the series, the author continues to keep the reader engaged as the beach friends continue to deal with ongoing and new issues. 

Maris and Jason find their way back to each other, only to have Maris experience a near miss accident with a deer, which brings the beach friends and family to their cottage to checkup on them; while Elsa's still feeling angst over deciding between Cliff and Mitch, and how she will deal with the tension between her and Celia; and how Shane and Celia strenghten their blossoming love in a long-distance romance. 

I loved how this installment's main focus is on Jason and Maris' reunion, and how a scary incident provides a life lesson and strengthens their love, and shows them and the beach friends how to embrace and live in the moment. As the beach friends embrace Maris and Jason and each other in good and bad times, life's surprises and changes shows them how some things are trivial, and how it's the people in their lives that are most important.

I also love the ongoing love triangle between Elsa, Cliff, and Mitch, the men sure man-up their efforts in this segment! Finally, Shane and Celia express their love for each other, but a long distance romance is tough on the heart. 

At the end of the book, the author teases her readers with another cliffhanger ending: waiting on how Elsa, Cliff, Mitch, Celia and Shane's relationships will turn out, oh but there's more, she leaves the reader with a suspenseful cliffhanger ending that will leave the reader with a feeling of dread when something has happened to Shane back in Maine. I guess we'll just have to wait and see what is revealed in The Visitor, the eighteenth installment of the series ... sigh. 

In this installment in the series, the reader follows along with the beach friends' lives that are full of friendship, love, secrets, regrets, challenges, heartbreak, grief, surprises, and second chances. As you read this installment, the beach friends continue along in their life journey in Stony Point.

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, The Barlows.

The Seaside Saga Series is a heartwarming series of stories of friendship, family, painful secrets, 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, Cliff, and Shane as their lives change like the tide's ebb and flow on their little tranquil coastal town.


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 Barlows is her newest novel. She is currently at work on her next novel. Joanne lives with her family in Connecticut.

Author Website
Amazon Author Page

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Weekly Book Mail: 2/26-3/4/2023


This Week's Book Mail

The Ripped Bodice 

Once Upon A Book Club - Adult Box

Book Of The Month 

Monday, February 27, 2023

Cold Light Of Day by Elizabeth Goddard (VBT: Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Partners In Crime Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Cold Light Of Day by author Elizabeth Goddard!

Book Review

Cold Light Of Day by Elizabeth Goddard
Book 1: Missing In Alaska Series
Publisher: Revell
Publication Date: February 7, 2023
Format: Hardcover - 329 pages
               Paperback - 336 pages
               Audiobook - 9 Hours 45 Minutes
               Kindle - 8836 KB
               Nook - 10 MB
ISBN (HC): 978-0800742720
ISBN (PB): 978-0800742041
ASIN (Audiobook): B0BP9CQZPM
ASIN (Kindle): B0B6Q6PXBQ
BNID: 978-1493439775
Genre: Romantic Suspense

Buy The Book:

Buy The Series: Missing In Alaska Series
Book 1: Cold Light Of Day
Book 2: Shadows At Dusk

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.

Book Description:

Police Chief Autumn Long is fighting to keep her job in the quiet Alaska town of Shadow Gap when an unexpected string of criminal activity leaves her with a wounded officer, unexplained murders, and even an attack on her own father. Despite her mistrust of outsiders, she turns to Grier Brenner, a newcomer who seems to have the skills and training Autumn needs to face this threat to her community.

Grier is in Alaska for the same reason so many others are–to disappear–when Chief Long enlists his help. He emerges from the shadows and proves his mettle, but his presence in her life could be a deadly trap for them both. If his secret is exposed, all will be lost. And he’s not sure even Autumn could save him. As the stakes rise and the dangers increase, Autumn and Grier must rely on each other to extinguish the deadly threats. 

Praise for Cold Light of Day: 

“Thrilling!” DiAnn Mills, author of Concrete Evidence 

“An exhilarating, page-turning race to the finish!” Carrie Stuart Parks, bestselling author of Relative Silence 

“Gripping and hard-hitting.” James R. Hannibal, award-winning author of Elysium Tide 

“Elizabeth Goddard has created a novel that immerses the reader in small-town Alaska. From the first page, it’s a race to stay alive and solve a number of ever-spiraling mysteries. I highly recommend this novel.” Cara Putman, award-winning author of Flight Risk and Lethal Intent 

“A simmering romantic suspense with an explosive ending. Once more Goddard proves she is a master storyteller and deserving of her place as one of the best Christian romantic suspense authors of our time.” Mary Alford, author of Among the Innocent

My Book Review:

In Cold Light Of Day, book one of the Missing In Alaska Series, author Elizabeth Goddard transports the reader to Shadow Gap, Alaska for an intriguing Romantic Suspense story that will keep the reader guessing and turning the pages.

Autumn Long is the police chief in Shadow Gap, Alaska. Autumn took over the position two years ago when her dad, then police chief Miles Long, suffered a permanent disability from an accident and had to retire. Now Autumn is fighting to keep her job due to local politics within the city council.  

Grier Brenner is a newcomer to Shadow Gap. He's been in town for a few months, and has come there to disappear, lay low and live off the grid, and he doesn't want to attract any unwanted attention. 

But when criminal activity and unexplained murders occur in the town, Autumn reaches out to Grier for his assistance, and he reluctantly teams up with her, and they are determined to find out who is behind the recent criminal activity, especially when buried secrets and a connection between their pasts puts a target on both of their lives. 

Author Elizabeth Goddard weaves a fast-paced and suspenseful tale written in the third person alternating narrative that follows police chief Autumn Long and Grier Brenner as they team up to investigate and solve the recent criminal activity and unexplained murder cases, while dealing with threats and danger that lurk around every corner. 

I loved reading this action-packed story. Autumn and Grier's investigation kept me intrigued as their unlikely partnership brings two people with a lot of buried secrets and past baggage together, especially when a connection behind their pasts puts them both in danger. And if that isn't enough, Autumn and Grier have a potential romantic connection that they both try to deny.

The reader will be easily drawn into this well written story with its richly descriptive setting and plot that will keep them guessing as family dysfunction and buried secrets, possible motives, and clues are uncovered during the investigation. Just when you think you figured out who is targeting Autumn and Grier, the author provides enough intriguing twists and turns that keeps the reader in suspense and guessing until the surprising conclusion. 

Cold Light Of Day has enough drama, tension, action, dark secrets, angsty romance, and unexpected twists and turns that will take the reader on one heck of a thrilling roller coaster ride.


About The Author

Elizabeth Goddard is the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of more than fifty novels, including Cold Light Of Day and the Rocky Mountain Courage and Uncommon Justice series. Her books have sold over one million copies. She is a Carol Award winner and a Daphne du Maurier Award finalist. When she’s not writing, she loves spending time with her family, traveling to find inspiration for her next book, and serving with her husband in ministry.

Contest Giveaway

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for Elizabeth Goddard. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited. The giveaway is for: 1 Gift Package including a Physical Copy of Cold Light of Day

Virtual Book Tour Event

Tour Participants:

02/20 Review @ Novels Alive

02/20 Review @ Savings in Seconds

02/21 Showcase @ Cassidys Bookshelves

02/22 Review @ Inkwell Inspirations

02/22 Showcase @ Books, Ramblings, and Tea

02/23 Guest post @ The Book Divas Reads

02/23 Showcase @ BOOK REVIEWS by LINDA MOORE

02/24 Showcase @ Silvers Reviews

02/25 Review @ Reading Is My SuperPower

02/26 Review @ The Adventures of a Traveler’s Wife

02/27 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader

02/27 Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews

02/28 Review @ Reads & Screens

02/28 Review @ Rozierreadsandwine


03/02 Guest post @ The Mystery of Writing

03/02 Review @ Urban Book Reviews

03/03 Review @ Lynchburg Reads

03/03 Review @ Paws. Read. Repeat

03/04 Review @ mokwip8991

03/05 Review @ coffee&ink

03/06 Review @ Splashes of Joy

03/06 Showcase @ Im Into Books

03/08 Review @ Wall-to-wall Books

03/09 Review @ Avonna Loves Genres

03/10 Review @ Guatemala Paula Loves to Read

03/11 Review @ leannebookstagram

03/12 Review @ melissas_bookshelf

03/12 Showcase @ The Mystery Section

03/15 Review @ elaine_sapp65

03/15 Review @ Read Review Rejoice

03/15 Showcase @ The Authors Harbor

03/16 Interview @ Book World Reviews

03/16 Review @ Celticladys Reviews

03/17 Interview @ Read Review Rejoice

03/17 Review @ Melissa As Blog

03/18 Guest post @ Mythical Books

03/20/Review @ Bring on Lemons