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.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Trace Of Doubt by DiAnn Mills (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 Trace Of Doubt by DiAnn Mills!








Book Review




Trace Of Doubt by DiAnn Mills
Publication Date: September 7, 2021
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Format: Hardcover - 432 pages
               Paperback - 432 pages
               Audio Book - 8 Hours 50 Minutes
               Kindle - 11181 KB / 412 pages
               Nook - 5 MB
ISBN (HC): 978-1496451842
ISBN (PB):  978-1496451859
ASIN (Audible): B09D413C6S
ASIN (Kindle): B08XRZ1GCL
BNID (Nook): 978-1496451873
Genre: Christian Fiction / Romantic Suspense 



Buy The Book:



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



Book Description:

Bestselling and award-winning author DiAnn Mills delivers a heart-stopping story of dark secrets, desperate enemies, and dangerous lies.

Fifteen years ago, Shelby Pearce confessed to murdering her brother-in-law and was sent to prison. Now she’s out on parole and looking for a fresh start in the small town of Valleysburg, Texas. But starting over won’t be easy for an ex-con.

FBI Special Agent Denton McClure was a rookie fresh out of Quantico when he was first assigned the Pearce case. He’s always believed Shelby embezzled five hundred thousand dollars from her brother-in-law’s account. So he’s going undercover to befriend Shelby, track down the missing money, and finally crack this case.

But as Denton gets closer to Shelby, he begins to have a trace of doubt about her guilt. Someone has Shelby in their crosshairs. It’s up to Denton to stop them before they silence Shelby—and the truth—forever.


Praise for Trace of Doubt:

“Well-researched… with some surprising twists along the way. In Trace of Doubt, Mills weaves together a tale of faith, intrigue, and suspense that her fans are sure to enjoy.” – STEVEN JAMES, award-winning author of SYNAPSE and EVERY WICKED MAN

Trace of Doubt is a suspense reader’s best friend. From page one until the end, the action is intense and the storyline keeps you guessing.” – EVA MARIE EVERSON, bestselling author of FIVE BRIDES and DUST

“DiAnn Mills serves up a perfect blend of action, grit, and heart… Trace of Doubt takes romantic suspense to a whole new level.” – JAMES R. HANNIBAL, award-winning author of THE PARIS BETRAYAL

“Filled with high stakes, high emotion, and high intrigue.” – JLYNN H. BLACKBURN, award-winning author of UNKNOWN THREAT and ONE FINAL BREATH



Book Excerpt:


PROLOGUE

SHELBY

Would I ever learn? I’d spent too many years looking out for someone else, and here I was doing the same thing again. Holly had disappeared after I sent her to the rear pantry for potatoes. She’d been gone long enough to plant and dig them up. I needed to get those potatoes boiling to feed hungry stomachs.

I left the kitchen to find her. The hallway to the pantry needed better lighting or maybe fewer corners. In any event, uneasiness swirled around me like a dust storm.

A plea to stop met my ears. I raced to the rear pantry fearing what I’d find.

Four women circled Holly. One held her arms behind her back, and the other three took turns punching her small body. My stomach tightened. I’d been in her shoes, and I’d do anything to stop the women from beating her.

“Please, stop,” Holly said through a raspy breath. For one who was eighteen years old, she looked fifteen.

“Hey, what’s going on?” I forced my voice to rise above my fear of them.

“Stay out of it, freak.”

I’d run into this woman before, and she had a mean streak. “What’s she done to you?” I eyed the woman.

“None of your business unless you want the same.”

“It’s okay, Shelby. I can handle this.” Holly’s courageous words would only earn her another fist to her battered face.

And it did.

“Enough!” I drew my fists and stepped nose to nose with the leader.

The four turned on me. I’d lived through their beatings before, and I would again. I fell and the kicks to my ribs told me a few would be broken.

A whistle blew, and prison guards stopped the gang from delivering any more blows to Holly or me. They clamped cuffs on the four and left Holly and me on the floor with reassurance help was on its way.

I’d been her age once and forced to grow up fast. No one had counseled me but hard knocks, securing an education, and letting Jesus pave the way. I’d vowed to keep my eyes and ears open for others less fortunate.

Holly’s lip dripped blood and a huge lump formed on the side of her head. I crawled to her. “Are you okay?”

“Not sure. Thank you for standing up for me. I thought they would kill me. Why do they do this? I’ve never done a thing to them.”

“Because they can. They want to exert power, control. Stick by me, and I’ll do my best to keep you safe.”

CHAPTER 1

I tightened my grip on the black trash bag slung over my shoulder containing my personal belongings—parole papers, a denim shoulder bag from high school, a ragged backpack, fifty dollars gate money, my driver’s license at age sixteen, and the clothes I’d worn to prison fifteen years ago.

The bus slowed to pick me up outside the prison gates, its windshield wipers keeping pace with the downpour. The rain splattered the flat ground in a steady cadence like a drum leading a prisoner to execution. I stepped back to avoid the splash of muddy water from the front tires dipping into a pothole. Air brakes breathed in and out, a massive beast taking respite from its life labors.

The door hissed open. At the top of the steps, a balding driver took my ticket, no doubt recognizing the prison’s release of a for- mer inmate. He must have been accustomed to weary souls who’d paid their debts to society. The coldness glaring from his graphite eyes told me he wagered I’d be locked up again within a year. Maybe less. I couldn’t blame him. The reoffend stats for female convicts like me soared high.

For too many years, I imagined the day I left prison would be bathed in sunlight. I’d be enveloped in welcoming arms and hear encouraging words from my family.

Reality hosted neither.

I moved to the rear of the bus, past a handful of people, and found a seat by myself. All around me were those engrossed in their devices. My life had been frozen in time, and now that I had permission to thaw, the world had changed. Was I ready for the fear digging its claws into my heart?

The cloudy view through the water-streaked window added to my doubts about the future. I’d memorized the prison rules, even prayed through them, and now I feared breaking one unknowingly.

The last time I’d breathed free air, riding the bus was a social gathering—in my case, a school bus. Kids chatted and laughter rose above the hum of tires. Now an eerie silence had descended.

I hadn’t been alone then.

My mind drifted back to high school days, when the future rested on maintaining a 4.0 average and planning the next party. Maintaining my grades took a fraction of time, while my mind schemed forbidden fun. I’d dreamed of attending college and exploring the world on my terms.

Rebellion held bold colors, like a kaleidoscope shrouded in black light. The more I shocked others, the more I plotted something darker. My choices often seemed a means of expressing my creativity. While in my youth I viewed life as a cynic. By the time I was able to see a reflection of my brokenness and vowed to change, no one trusted me.

All that happened . . .

Before I took the blame for murdering my brother-in-law. Before I traded my high school diploma and a career in interior design for a locked cell.

Before I spent years searching for answers.

Before I found new meaning and purpose.

How easy it would be to give in to a dismal, gray future when I longed for blue skies. I had to prove the odds against me were wrong.

***

Excerpt from Trace of Doubt by DiAnn Mills. Copyright 2021 by DiAnn Mills. Reproduced with permission from DiAnn Mills. All rights reserved.




Book Trailer:





My Book Review:

In Trace Of Doubt, author DiAnn Mills transports the reader to Valleysburg, Texas for an intriguing Christian Romantic Suspense story that will keep the reader guessing and turning the pages.

Shelby Pearce is paroled after serving fifteen years in prison for the murder of her brother-in-law Travis Stover. She's looking for a fresh start in the small town of Valleysburg, Texas, hoping for a second chance to be a productive and contributing member of the community, and the opportunity grow her custom made jewelry business. But someone is determined to stop her from doing just that.

FBI Special Agent Denton McClure has been on the Pearce case since the beginning. Fifteen years later, he is still in pursuit of the missing five hundred thousand dollars from Travis Stover's non-profit organization account. He's given the undercover assignment in Valleysburg, and he's determined to expose Shelby and locate the stolen money. But when Shelby comes under numerous threats from an anonymous person, he starts to question Shelby's guilt, and is determined to find out who is targeting Shelby, get the truth, and crack this case once and for all. 

Author DiAnn Mills weaves a fast-paced and suspenseful tale written in the first person alternating narrative that follows ex-con Shelby Pearce, FBI Special Agent Denton McClure, and Sheriff Wendall team up to track down the person who is trying to silence Shelby over the missing money, and prove Shelby's innocence beyond a trace of doubt. 

I loved reading this action-packed story. Shelby and Denton's investigation kept me intrigued as their unlikely partnership in finding the person threatening her life brings two people with a lot of baggage together, and how an unexpected attraction sparked between them mixed with humor and a new-found acceptance of Christian faith helped build trust between them during the investigation, and a chance at truth and redemption as well. 

The reader will be easily drawn into this well written story with its richly descriptive plot that will keep them guessing as family dysfunction and secrets, possible motives, and clues are uncovered during the investigation. 

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


RATING: 5 STARS  







About The Author



DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She weaves memorable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. DiAnn believes every breath of life is someone’s story, so why not capture those moments and create a thrilling adventure?

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, Mountainside Marketing Conference, and the Mountainside Novelist Retreat with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.


Author Website
Amazon Author Page
Barnes & Noble Author Page
BookBub Author Page
Facebook
Twitter
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Goodreads




Contest Giveaway

Win $25 Amazon or B&N Gift Card





This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for DiAnn Mills. There will be 2 winners who will each receive one gift card. Winners may select either Amazon or Barnes & Noble. (U.S. ONLY). The giveaway runs September 1 through October 3, 2021. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 



Virtual Book Tour Event




Tour Participants:


09/01 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader

09/02 Guest post @ Novels Alive

09/03 Showcase @ Books, Ramblings, and Tea

09/05 Guest post @ The Adventures of a Travelers Wife

09/08 Review @ Wall-to-wall books

09/09 Guest post @ The Book Divas Reads

09/10 Interview @ Quiet Fury Books

09/13 Review @ Splashes of Joy

09/14 Review @ Novels Alive

09/14 Review @ sunny island breezes

09/15 Review @ Inkwell Inspirations

09/15 Showcase @ The Reading Frenzy

09/16 Review @ Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!

09/16 Review @ Avonna Loves Genres

09/17 Review @ Savings in seconds

09/18 Showcase @ Brooke Blogs

09/20 Interview @ I Read What You Write

09/21 Showcase @ The Bookwyrm

09/23 Interview/showcase @ CMash Reads

09/24 Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews

09/26 Review @ Read Review Rejoice

09/27 Review @ Totally Addicted to Reading

09/27 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews

09/28 Review @ A Room Without Books is Empty

09/28 Review @ Margaret Yelton

09/29 Review @ Nesies Place

09/29 Review @ The World As I See It

09/30 Review @ Pat Fayo Reviews








Wednesday, September 8, 2021

The Murderess Must Die by Marlie Parker Wasserman (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 Murderess Must Die by author Marlie Parker Wasserman!






Book Review



The Murderess Must Die by Marlie Parker Wasserman
Publisher: Level Best Books
Publication Date: July 6, 2021
Format: Paperback - 260 pages
               Kindle - 7534 KB
               Nook - 11 MB
ISBN: 978-1953789877
ASIN: B097S2K27F
BNID: 978-1953789815
Genre: Historical Crime Fiction


Buy The Book:


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:

On a winter day in 1898, hundreds of spectators gather at a Brooklyn courthouse, scrambling for a view of the woman they label a murderess. Martha Place has been charged with throwing acid in her stepdaughter’s face, hitting her with an axe, suffocating her with a pillow, then trying to kill her husband with the same axe. The crowd will not know for another year that the alleged murderess becomes the first woman in the world to be executed in the electric chair. None of her eight lawyers can save her from a guilty verdict and the governor of New York, Theodore Roosevelt, refuses to grant her clemency.

Was Martha Place a wicked stepmother, an abused wife, or an insane killer? Was her stepdaughter a tragic victim? Why would a well-dressed woman, living with an upstanding husband, in a respectable neighborhood, turn violent? Since the crime made the headlines, we have heard only from those who abused and condemned Martha Place.

Speaking from the grave she tells her own story, in her own words. Her memory of the crime is incomplete, but one of her lawyers fills in the gaps. At the juncture of true crime and fiction, The Murderess Must Die is based on an actual crime. What was reported, though, was only half the story.


Praise for The Murderess Must Die:

A true crime story. But in this case, the crime resides in the punishment. Martha Place was the first woman to die in the electric chair: Sing Sing, March 20, 1899. In this gorgeously written narrative, told in the first-person by Martha and by those who played a part in her life, Marlie Parker Wasserman shows us the (appalling) facts of fin-de-si├Ęcle justice. More, she lets us into the mind of Martha Place, and finally, into the heart. Beautifully observed period detail and astute psychological acuity combine to tell us Martha’s story, at once dark and illuminating. The Murderess Must Die accomplishes that rare feat: it entertains, even as it haunts.
Howard A. Rodman, author of The Great Eastern

The first woman to be executed by electric chair in 1899, Martha Place, speaks to us in Wasserman’s poignant debut novel. The narrative travels the course of Place’s life describing her desperation in a time when there were few opportunities for women to make a living. Tracing events before and after the murder of her step-daughter Ida, in lean, straightforward prose, it delivers a compelling feminist message: could an entirely male justice system possibly realize the frightful trauma of this woman’s life? This true-crime novel does more–it transcends the painful retelling of Place’s life to expand our conception of the death penalty. Although convicted of a heinous crime, Place’s personal tragedies and pitiful end are inextricably intertwined.
Nev March, author of Edgar-nominated Murder in Old Bombay

The Murderess Must Die would be a fascinating read even without its central elements of crime and punishment. Marlie Parker Wasserman gets inside the heads of a wide cast of late nineteenth century Americans and lets them tell their stories in their own words. It’s another world, both alien and similar to ours. You can almost hear the bells of the streetcars.
Edward Zuckerman, author of Small Fortunes and The Day After World War Three, Emmy-winning writer-producer of Law & Order

This is by far the best book I have read in 2021! Based on a true story, I had never heard of Mattie Place prior to reading this book. I loved all of the varying voices telling in the exact same story. It was unique and fresh and so wonderfully deep. I had a very hard time putting the book down until I was finished!
It isn’t often that an author makes me feel for the murderess but I did. I connected deeply with all of the people in this book, and I do believe it will stay with me for a very long time.This is a fictionalized version of the murder of Ida Place but it read as if the author Marlie Parker Wasserman was a bystander to the actual events. I very highly recommend this book.
Jill, InkyReviews


Book Excerpt:


Mattie

Martha Garretson, that’s the name I was born with, but the district attorney called me Martha Place in the murder charge. I was foolish enough to marry Mr. William Place. And before that I was dumb enough to marry another man, Wesley Savacool. So, my name is Martha Garretson Savacool Place. Friends call me Mattie. No, I guess that’s not right. I don’t have many friends, but my family, the ones I have left, they call me Mattie. I’ll tell you more before we go on. The charge was not just murder. That D.A. charged me with murder in the first degree, and he threw in assault, and a third crime, a ridiculous one, attempted suicide. In the end he decided to aim at just murder in the first. That was enough for him.

I had no plans to tell you my story. I wasn’t one of those story tellers. That changed in February 1898, soon after my alleged crimes, when I met Miss Emilie Meury. The guards called her the prison angel. She’s a missionary from the Brooklyn Auxiliary Mission Society. Spends her days at the jail where the police locked me up for five months before Sing Sing. I never thought I’d talk to a missionary lady. I didn’t take kindly to religion. But Miss Meury, she turned into a good friend and a good listener. She never snickered at me. Just nodded or asked a question or two, not like those doctors I talked to later. They asked a hundred questions. No, Miss Meury just let me go wherever I wanted, with my recollections. Because of Miss Meury, now I know how to tell my story. I talked to her for thirteen months, until the day the state of New York set to electrocute me.

We talked about the farm, that damn farm. Don’t fret, I knew enough not to say damn to Emilie Meury. She never saw a farm. She didn’t know much about New Jersey, and nothing about my village, East Millstone. I told her how Pa ruined the farm. Sixty acres, only thirty in crop, one ramshackle house with two rooms down and two rooms up. And a smokehouse, a springhouse, a root cellar, a chicken coop, and a corn crib, all run down, falling down. The barn was the best of the lot, but it leaned over to the west.

They tell me I had three baby brothers who died before I was born, two on the same day. Ma and Pa hardly talked about that, but the neighbors remembered, and they talked. For years that left just my brother Garret, well, that left Garret for a while anyway, and my sister Ellen. Then I was born, then Matilda—family called her Tillie—then Peter, then Eliza, then Garret died in the

war, then Eliza died. By the time I moved to Brooklyn, only my brother Peter and my sister Ellen were alive. Peter is the only one the police talk to these days.

The farmers nearby and some of our kin reckoned that my Ma and Pa, Isaac and Penelope Garretson were their names, they bore the blame for my three little brothers dying in just two years. Isaac and Penelope were so mean, that’s what they deserved. I don’t reckon their meanness caused the little ones to die. I was a middle child with five before me and three after, and I saw meanness all around, every day. I never blamed anything on meanness. Not even what happened to me.

On the farm there was always work to be done, a lot of it by me. Maybe Ma and Pa spread out the work even, but I never thought so. By the time I was nine, that was in 1858, I knew what I had to do. In the spring I hiked up my skirt to plow. In the fall I sharpened the knives for butchering. In the winter I chopped firewood after Pa or Garret, he was the oldest, sawed the heaviest logs. Every morning I milked and hauled water from the well. On Thursdays I churned. On Mondays I scrubbed. Pa, and Ma too, they were busy with work, but they always had time to yell when I messed up. I was two years younger than Ellen, she’s my sister, still alive, I think. I was taller and stronger. Ellen had a bent for sewing and darning, so lots of time she sat in the parlor with handiwork. I didn’t think the parlor looked shabby. Now that I’ve seen fancy houses, I remember the scratched and frayed chairs in the farmhouse and the rough plank floor, no carpets. While Ellen sewed in the parlor, I plowed the fields, sweating behind the horses. I sewed too, but everyone knew Ellen was better. I took care with all my chores. Had to sew a straight seam. Had to plow a straight line. If I messed up, Pa’s wrath came down on me, or sometimes Ma’s. Fists or worse.

When I told that story for the first time to Miss Emilie Meury, she lowered her head, looked at the Bible she always held. And when I told it to others, they looked away too.

On the farm Ma needed me and Ellen to watch over our sisters, Tillie and Eliza, and over our brother Peter. They were born after me. Just another chore, that’s what Ellen thought about watching the young ones. For me, I liked watching them, and not just because I needed a rest from farm work. I loved Peter. He was four years younger. He’s not that sharp but he’s a good-natured, kind. I loved the girls too. Tillie, the level-headed and sweet one, and Eliza, the restless one, maybe wild even. The four of us played house. I was the ma and Peter, he stretched his

back and neck to be pa. I laughed at him, in a kindly way. He and me, we ordered Tillie and Eliza around. We played school and I pranced around as schoolmarm.

But Ma and Pa judged, they judged every move. They left the younger ones alone and paid no heed to Ellen. She looked so sour. We called her sourpuss. Garret and me, we made enough mistakes to keep Ma and Pa busy all year. I remember what I said once to Ma, when she saw the messy kitchen and started in on me.

“Why don’t you whup Ellen? She didn’t wash up either.”

“Don’t need to give a reason.”

“Why don’t you whup Garret. He made the mess.”

“You heard me. Don’t need to give a reason.”

Then she threw a dish. Hit my head. I had a bump, and more to clean.

With Pa the hurt lasted longer. Here’s what I remember. “Over there.” That’s what he said, pointing. He saw the uneven lines my plow made. When I told this story to Miss Meury, I pointed, with a mean finger, to give her the idea.

I spent that night locked in the smelly chicken coop.

When I tell about the coop, I usually tell about the cemetery next, because that’s a different kind of hurt. Every December, from the time I was little to the time I left the farm, us Garretsons took the wagon or the sleigh for our yearly visit to the cemetery, first to visit Stephen, Cornelius, and Abraham. They died long before. They were ghosts to me. I remembered the gloom of the cemetery, and the silence. The whole family stood around those graves, but I never heard a cry. Even Ma stayed quiet. I told the story, just like this, to Miss Meury. But I told it again, later, to those men who came to the prison to check my sanity.

Penelope Wykoff Garretson

I was born a Wyckoff, Penelope Wyckoff, and I felt that in my bones, even when the other farm folks called me Ma Garretson. As a Wyckoff, one of the prettiest of the Wyckoffs I’m not shy to say, I lived better than lots of the villagers in central New Jersey, certainly better than the Garretsons. I had five years of schooling and new dresses for the dances each year. I can’t remember what I saw in Isaac Garretson when we married on February 5, 1841. We slept together that night. I birthed Stephen nine months later. Then comes the sing-song litany. When I was still nursing Stephen, Garret was born. And while I was still nursing Garret, the twins were born. Then the twins died and I had only Stephen and Garret. Then Stephen died and I had no one but Garret until Ellen was born. Then Martha. Some call her Mattie. Then Peter. Then Matilda. Some call her Tillie. Then Eliza. Then Garret died. Then Eliza died. Were there more births than deaths or deaths than births?

During the worst of the birthing and the burying, Isaac got real bad. He always had a temper, I knew that, but it got worse. Maybe because the farm was failing, or almost failing. The banks in New Brunswick—that was the nearby town—wouldn’t lend him money. Those bankers knew him, knew he was a risk. Then the gambling started. Horse racing. It’s a miracle he didn’t lose the farm at the track. I didn’t tell anyone, not even my sisters, about the gambling, and I certainly didn’t tell them that the bed didn’t help any. No time for shagging. Isaac pulled me to him at the end of a day. The bed was always cold because he never cut enough firewood. I rolled away most days, not all. Knew it couldn’t be all. So tired. There were no strapping boys to

help with the farm, no girls either for a while.

As Garret grew tall and Ellen and Mattie grew some, I sent the children to the schoolhouse. It wasn’t much of a school, just a one-room unpainted cottage shared with the post office, with that awful Mr. Washburn in charge. It was what we had. Isaac thought school was no use and kept Garret and the girls back as much as he could, especially in the spring. He needed them for the farm and the truth was I could use them for housework and milking and such too. Garret didn’t mind skipping school. He was fine with farm work, but Ellen and Mattie fussed and attended more days than Garret did. I worried that Garret struggled to read and write, while the girls managed pretty well. Ellen and Mattie read when there was a need and Mattie was good with her numbers. At age nine she was already helping Isaac with his messy ledgers.

I was no fool—I knew what went on in that school. The few times I went to pull out Garret midday for plowing, that teacher, that Mr. Washburn, looked uneasy when I entered the room. He stood straight as a ramrod, looking at me, grimacing. His fingernails were clean and his collar was starched. I reckon he saw that my fingernails were filthy and my muslin dress was soiled. Washburn didn’t remember that my children, the Garretson children, were Wyckoffs just as much as they were Garretsons. He saw their threadbare clothes and treated them like dirt. Had Garret chop wood and the girls haul water, while those stuck-up Neilson girls, always with those silly smiles on their faces, sat around in their pretty dresses, snickering at the others. First, I didn’t think the snickering bothered anyone except me. Then I saw Ellen and Mattie fussing with their clothes before school, pulling the fabric around their frayed elbows to the inside, and I knew they felt bad.

I wanted to raise my children, at least my daughters, like Wyckoffs. With Isaac thinking he was in charge, that wasn’t going to happen. At least the girls knew the difference, knew there was something better than this miserable farm. But me, Ma Garretson they called me, I was stuck.

***

Excerpt from The Murderess Must Die by Marlie Wasserman. Copyright 2021 by Marlie Wasserman. Reproduced with permission from Marlie Wasserman. All rights reserved.




My Book Review:

In The Murderess Must Die, author Marlie Parker Wasserman provides the reader with a riveting historical crime fiction tale that is based on the true crime case of Martha Place, who was convicted of the murder of her stepdaughter Ida Place, and was the first woman to die in the electric chair in Sing Sing Prison on March 20, 1899. 

The story revolves around the last thirteen months of Martha's life while in Sing Sing Prison, she tells her life story before and after the murder to a missionary and prison guards while awaiting the date set for her execution. Told in the first person narrative, Martha tells of her difficult childhood growing up in a poor family on a farm in East Millstone, New Jersey; her disastrous first marriage and having to give her son up for adoption; to her second marriage to William Place, and the events that led up to the murder of her teenage stepdaughter Ida Place; and the subsequent trial that consisted of an inept defense and a biased 1898 justice system, conviction, and execution. Intertwined within Martha's account are the alternating first person perspectives from people who knew Martha. 

In The Murderess Must Die, the author provides a riveting story that easily draws the reader into Martha's story. You can't help but get drawn into this complicated, fascinating, and multi-layered story. From the true crime aspect, I couldn't help but Google Martha Place on Wikipedia, which provided the accuracy of the case that the author depicted in her book, while interweaving the historical fiction aspect of Martha's own voice from the grave. This is a compelling story that narrates Martha's difficult life story, and the subservient place women held in the 1890s male dominated society and criminal justice system. 


RATING: 5 STARS 





About The Author



Marlie Parker Wasserman writes historical crime fiction, after a career on the other side of the desk in publishing. The Murderess Must Die is her debut novel. She reviews regularly for The Historical Novel Review and is at work on a new novel about a mysterious and deadly 1899 fire in a luxury hotel in Manhattan.





Contest Giveaway

Win A $15 Amazon Gift Card



This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Marlie Parker Wasserman. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (U.S. ONLY). The giveaway runs from August 16th until September 10, 2021. Void where prohibited. 








08/16 Guest post @ Novels Alive

08/16 Review @ Dont Judge, Read

08/17 Interview @ Dont Judge, Read

08/17 Showcase @ The Bookwyrm

08/18 Showcase @ Im Into Books

08/19 Showcase @ Silvers Reviews

08/20 Review @ Books to the Ceiling

08/21 Showcase @ Books, Ramblings, and Tea

08/22 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader

08/23 Review @ Reading Authors Network

08/24 Review @ sunny island breezes

08/25 Guest post @ The Book Divas Reads

08/25 Interview @ A Blue Million Books

08/26 Review @ Kritters Ramblings

08/27 Showcase @ I Read What You Write

08/27 Showcase @ Quiet Fury Books

08/28 Showcase @ Reading A Page Turner

08/30 Review @ Pat Fayo Reviews

09/01 Review @ Lauras Interests

09/02 Interview/showcase @ CMash Reads

09/02 Showcase @ The Book Connection

09/03 Review @ Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!

09/06 Review @ Booking With Janelle

09/06 Showcase @ Brooke Blogs

09/07 Interview @ Cozy Up With Kathy

09/07 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews

09/08 Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews

09/08 Review @ Nesies Place

09/09 Review @ A Room Without Books is Empty

09/09 Review @ curlygrannylovestoread

09/10 Review @ Cozy Up With Kathy

09/10 Review @ Novels Alive






Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Dad: A Novel by Steven Manchester (Book Review)




Dad by Steven Manchester
Publisher: The Story Plant
Publication Date: Sept 14, 2021
Format: eBook - 1520 KB / 336 pages
               Hardcover - 336 pages
               Nook - 2 MB
ISBN: 978-1611883084
ASIN: B08QDX75TM
BNID: 978-1945839535
Genre: Father & Son Family Relationships / Literary Fiction


Buy The Book: (Pre-Order: Pub Date 9/14/2021)



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


Book Description:

Three generations of dads, playing traditional roles in each other's lives, arrive simultaneously at significant crossroads. The decisions they make and the actions they take will directly - and eternally - affect each other. 

After a life of hard work and raising children, Robert is enjoying his well-deserved retirement when he discovers that he has an illness he might not be able to beat. At 19, Jonah is sprinting across the threshold of adulthood when he learns, stunningly, that he's going to become a father. And Oliver - Robert's son and Jonah's dad - has entered middle age and is paying its demanding price. While reconciling the time and effort it has taken him to reach an unfulfilling career and an even less satisfying marriage, he realizes that it's imperative that he keep it all together for the two men who mean everything to him. 

When different perspectives lead to misunderstandings that remain unspoken - sometimes for years - it takes great strength and even more love to travel beyond the resentment. Dad: A Novel chronicles the sacred legacy of fatherhood.



My Book Review:

Every once in a while an author comes along who writes novels that are so powerfully compelling, poignant, and thought provoking, that they pull at the heartstrings and stir the soul. For me, that author is Steven Manchester and his latest novel, Dad.

Dad is a wonderful story about the complicated dynamics of father/son family relationships that will simply pull at your emotional heartstrings. Author Steven Manchester weaves a richly descriptive tale that follows the emotional journey of the legacy of fatherhood experienced at different stages of life that spans three generations of Earle men: grandfather Robert, son Oliver, and grandson Jonah. The Earles' journey is filled with a multi-layered complexity filled with humor, animosity, unresolved dysfunctional father/son issues, regrets, healing of old wounds, new life experiences, and an emotional second chance to renew the bonds between fathers and sons. 

Grandfather Robert is seventy-two and enjoying the fruits of retirement, until he is diagnosed with a terminal disease. Robert wants to take stock of his life, and find a way to make up for all the lost time he squandered by putting other people before his own son Oliver. 

Son Oliver is struggling through a middle-life crisis, always worrying about his marriage, job, his relationship with his father Robert, and his parenting skills with daughter Layla and son Jonah. His father's terminal prognosis prompts Oliver to find a way to fight for his marriage, change his parental relationship with his kids (especially Jonah), let go of old resentments, and get the father-son relationship that he always wanted with his Dad before he passes away. 

Grandson Jonah is nineteen and living a carefree lifestyle living in his parents' basement, and has grown up addicted to playing video games. He's in his first year of college and is still undecided on a major, he feels lost and doesn't want to study, he unrealistically fantasizes that he can make a career out of competitive video gaming e-sports. All that changes when his girlfriend Marissa tells him that she's pregnant, and suddenly he is faced with a life-changing event: becoming a grownup with upcoming responsibilities. 

The reader will be easily captivated and drawn into the Earles' sentimental and touchingly realistic journey. The author does a wonderful job of intertwining the Earles' father/son relationships in an alternating third person narrative that delves into their complex pasts with the difficulties that they face in their present lives. You can't help but get swept away and experience the full gamut of emotions as the Earles face a crossroad in their lives as they hash out their unresolved dysfunctional family dynamic, while considering the intense and difficult choices of how to deal with their current life issues. Grandfather Robert is the catalyst that brings the Earle men together with his wisdom, tough love, and humor. Funny how father/son relationships ebb and flow as life events can bring family members together with a mending and bonding of relationships with an added touch of heart. 

I would be remiss if I didn't mention how much I really loved that author Steven Manchester provides the reader with a fresh breath of air with his amazing story that delves into the not that often written about dynamic of father/son relationships. Kudos on an beautifully poignant story. 

Dad is an powerful and compelling story written from the heart. It is a must read that will make you ponder your own family dynamic (especially the father/son relationships), stir your soul, and resonate with you for a very long time.


RATING: 5 STARS 





About The Author




Steven Manchester is the author of the #1 bestsellers Twelve MonthsThe Rockin' ChairPressed Pennies and Gooseberry Island; the national bestsellers, AshesThe Changing Season and Three Shoeboxes; and the multi-award winning novels, Goodnight Brian and The Thursday Night Club. His work has appeared on NBC's Today Show, CBS's The Early Show, CNN's American Morning and BET's Nightly News. Three of Steven's short stories were selected “101 Best” for Chicken Soup for the Soul series. He is a multi-produced playwright, as well as the winner of the 2017 Los Angeles Book Festival and the 2018 New York Book Festival. When not spending time with his beautiful wife, Paula, or their four children, this Massachusetts author is promoting his works or writing.


Author Website
Amazon Author Page
Apple iBooks
BookBub
Facebook
Twitter
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Monday, August 16, 2021

Kill All Your Darlings by David Bell (Book Review)

 




Kill All Your Darlings by David Bell
Publisher: Berkley Books / Penguin Random House
Publication Date: July 6, 2021
Format: Hardcover - 416 pages
               Paperback - 416 pages
               Audiobook - 12 Hours 33 Minutes
               Kindle - 2573 KB
               Nook - 2 MB
ISBN (HC): 978-0593198667
ISBN (PB): 978-0593198674
ASIN (Audiobook): B08N8ZJTY7
ASIN (Kindle): B08MBPPXC3
BNID: 978-0593198681
Genre: Thriller



Buy The Book:



Disclaimer: I bought a copy of the book from my monthly Just The Right Book! subscription.



Book Description:

After years of struggling to write following the deaths of his wife and son, English professor Connor Nye publishes his first novel, a thriller about the murder of a young woman.

There's just one problem: Connor didn't write the book. His missing student did. And then she appears on his doorstep, alive and well, threatening to expose him.

Connor's problems escalate when the police insist details in the novel implicate him in an unsolved murder from two years ago. Soon Connor discovers the crime is part of a disturbing scandal on campus and faces an impossible dilemma--admit he didn't write the book and lose his job or keep up the lie and risk everything. When another murder occurs, Connor must clear his name by unraveling the horrifying secrets buried in his student's manuscript.

This is a suspenseful, provocative novel about the sexual harassment that still runs rampant in academia--and the lengths those in power will go to cover it up.

When a student disappears and is presumed dead, her professor passes off her manuscript as his own--only to find out it implicates him in an unsolved murder in this new thriller from the USA Today bestselling author of The Request.



Book Excerpt: https://a.co/cZXmbw3



My Book Review:

In Kill All Your Darlings, author David Bell takes the reader behind the scenes of a riveting thriller as college English Professor Connor Nye tries to clear his name after he plagarizes a novel that is eerily similar to an unsolved murder, while engaging in a dangerous and deadly cat and mouse game with the real killer. 

Kill All Your Darlings is a riveting thriller that easily draws the reader in from the start. The author provides the reader with a fascinating, multi-layered, and richly detailed story set in the small college town of Gatewood, Kentucky. This exciting story takes the reader on an exhilarating roller coaster ride as the reader follows Connor's struggle to move on with his life since the traumatic deaths of his wife and son five years ago. Connor needs to gain tenure to keep his job, and after the disappearance of college student Madeline O'Brien two years ago, he takes her manuscript as his own, and it is published by a major New York publisher. But there is just one little problem, Madeline shows up in town after the book is published and wants Connor to make things right. And if that's not enough, the police take an interest in Connor after his (Madeline's) novel is eerily similar to an unsolved murder that occurred two years ago. Connor has to decide between the risks of coming clean with what he's done or keeping silent, while also unexpectedly discovering a series of covered up sexual harrassment by professors towards female students. Connor and senior college student Rebecca Knox find themselves in a very dangerous cat-n-mouse game with people who want to keep everything buried at all costs. 

There is enough drama, secrets, deception, tension, and surprising twists and turns that definitely will keep the reader sitting on the edge of their seat, and guessing how this story will turn out. I loved the drama and complexity of the multi-layered story told in the past and present timelines with alternating first and third person narratives by Connor, Madeline, and Rebecca. The reader can't help but feel for Connor, Madeline, and Rebecca as their stories unfold. The interweaving of the tension and drama, coupled with the unexpected twists and turns that Connor encounters as he goes down the dangerous path of putting the pieces of the puzzle together, while taking the risks that it put on his own life and career is so intense that it keeps the reader on edge until the surprising conclusion. It just doesn't get any better than that!

Kill All Your Darlings is a well-written, fast paced, and intense thriller that will leave the reader wanting more!



RATING: 5 STARS  





About The Author



David Bell is a USA Today bestselling and award-winning suspense novelist. His most recent thriller from Berkley/Penguin is KILL ALL YOUR DARLINGS. His previous novels include THE REQUEST, LAYOVER, SOMEBODY'S DAUGHTER, BRING HER HOME, SINCE SHE WENT AWAY, SOMEBODY I USED TO KNOW, THE FORGOTTEN GIRL, NEVER COME BACK, THE HIDING PLACE, and CEMETERY GIRL. He is currently a Professor of English at Western Kentucky University.








Friday, August 6, 2021

With Neighbors Like These by Linda Lovely (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 With Neighbors Like These by author Linda Lovely!








Book Review





With Neighbors Like These by Linda Lovely
Publisher: Level Best Books
Publication Date: July 13, 2021
Format: Paperback - 326 pages
               Kindle - 6778 KB
               Nook - 7 MB
ISBN: 978-1953789457
ASIN: B097F8DSL5
BNID: 978-1953789464
Genre: Mystery / Cozy Mystery



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:

MANAGING AN HOA IS MURDER…

He championed shooting deer inside the HOA’s nature sanctuary. Now his corpse is posed curbside, cradling a trophy deer head. The theatrical murder panics residents, and Ted Welch asks Kylee Kane, retired Coast Guard investigator, to help his HOA management firm calm fears. Kylee agrees. Her own mother is getting death threats over her crusade to protect the deer.

HOA=DOA TERROR REIGNS…

When a belligerent owner in another HOA is murdered, terror reigns. The Sheriff’s Department blames Ted for letting HOA feuds spiral into homicide. Kylee discovers links between the victims and suspects a recently-pardoned general is next. Authorities and the arrogant general dismiss her warning. Can she foil the third act in the crafty killer’s death-as-theater game or will she be the next corpse on display?


Praise for With Neighbors Like These:

“Linda Lovely delivers another twisty mystery with the perfect mix of wry humor and quirky characters. Anyone looking for a fun, fast page-turner, here it is!”
–Tami Hoag, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“HOA communities seem deceptively safe, but the mix of gossip and politics in rule-bound groups can be a fertile breeding ground for murder. For the gutsy Kylee Kane, a fact-finding gig in South Carolina’s Lowcountry turns increasingly complex and dangerous. With Neighbors Like These offers a distinctive setting, a tenacious female sleuth and captivating suspense.”
–Katherine Ramsland, bestselling author of How to Catch a Killer

“Low Country murder, intrigue, and even a little romance abound in With Neighbors Like These. Kylee Kane is a welcome addition to the genre, and author Linda Lovely knows how to stir the pot with crackling dialogue and a tidy little mystery. Highly recommended!”
–Richard Helms, Derringer and Thriller Awards winning author of Brittle Karma


Book Excerpt:


ONE

Kylee Kane
Friday, September 25, 6:30 p.m.

“Mom, are we eating at the kitchen table?”

Silence.

Not again.

I look outside. Mom’s standing by the mailbox, tugging on the blue stocking cap that keeps her nearly-bald head warm.

Crap. I said I’d get the mail. She’s a stubborn old cuss. While her skin now looks like wrinkle-mapped parchment, those cagey blue eyes still flash.

Mom stops midway to the house to read something. A postcard? She looks up. Her expression is one I rarely see. Fear? Distress? Definitely bad news.

Ted’s Mustang pulls into the drive, and Mom stuffs whatever worried her into a pocket. Ted jumps out, and Mom’s thin arms embrace him.

Thirty years ago, Ted was my kid brother’s pimpled, bratty best friend, a snot-nosed pest. Last year, when we met up again in the Lowcountry, I couldn’t believe it. These days he could model for GQ. A lot happens when decades pass between sightings.

I open the front door. Mom’s slightly out of breath as Ted helps her up the stairs. While her cancer’s in retreat, chemo has taken a toll.

Ted glances my way and grins.

“Hi, Kylee. See you’re still having trouble getting your mother to behave. Bet you long for those Coast Guard days when you could give orders and know they’d be obeyed.”

“Yep, some days I’m sorry I retired,” I answer.

Mom waves her hand like she’s shooing flies. “Let’s talk about something interesting. Ted, what do you hear from your son?”

“Grant’s great, sends lots of love. Says your care package made life worth living last week. Freshman year’s tough at the Citadel.”

At six-feet, Ted towers over my five-foot-two mother. Though he’s forty-seven, three years my junior, only a hint of silver threads his thick black hair. His hazel eyes seem to change color with his mood or maybe it’s just the light. Tonight, they’re green.

Ted looks worried as he studies Mom. He was eight when his own mother died. After that Mom included him in all our family activities. He loves Mom as much as I do.

During our kitchen table dinner, he regales us with tales of HOA intrigue to lift Mom’s spirits. Since his management company has more than a dozen homeowner associations as clients, his supply of stories seems endless.

“Once upon a time, there were three neighbors,” he begins. “RulesALot is convinced his neighbor, DoggyDo, is harboring three mutts, one more than the two-pet-per-household limit. Since he can’t see over his hedge to prove it, RulesALot launches a spy drone. A pilot he’s not. His drone crashes in ToplessTina’s backyard, who’s suing him as a Peeping Tom. Of course, there’s only one question on every male owner’s mind: Did the drone snap photos of Tina’s tatas before it nosedived?”

Ted’s eyebrows wiggle up and down, and Mom laughs. “Your HOA stories are certainly entertaining.”

“Believe me, the stories are a lot funnier if you’re not expected to wade into the middle of the skirmishes. Never dreamed HOAs would be tougher to manage than U.S. embassies on hostile soil.”

Mom fiddles with her napkin. “Speaking of neighborhood feuds, I have a confession. I figured you’d be scolding me by now, Ted, since you manage our HOA …”

Ted and I look at each other. Uh oh.

“What did you do?” Ted asks.

“I told the moron Hullis Island directors I’ll sue if they don’t let us vote on what happens to our deer. Emailed copies to all 1,123 owners.”

I reach across the table and squeeze Mom’s hand. Though I agree with her, she needs to focus on regaining strength, not leading a crusade. “Oh, Mom, kicking over a hornets’ nest isn’t part of your cancer recovery regimen.”

Mom’s eyes narrow. “Hey, everyone else bitched and nothing happened. Figured a lawsuit threat might make their little sphincters tighten, and they’d pay attention.”

Mom switches to a fake, shaky geezer voice. “I’m a little old lady, their nightmare plaintiff. Who’s going to go off on some sick, elderly lady?”

Ted’s eyebrows lift. “Exactly what did your email say?”

“Told ’em their plan to shoot our almost-tame deer with no vote on who, what, when, or how was plain wrong. Hullis Island is a nature sanctuary. They can’t unilaterally declare an open hunting season without an island vote to change our covenants.”

Ted shakes his head. “Myrt, I told the board the same thing, though a bit more diplomatically. The directors sided with Cliff, the board president, and his expert, some lawyer drinking buddy, who found a no-vote loophole after they’d tipped a few.”

He shrugs. “Welch HOA Management offers advice, but we’re hired help. Clients call the shots.”

“What loophole?” I butt in. “Don’t the covenants require a vote on any change to the island’s status as a nature sanctuary?”

Ted nods. “Cliff’s citing a provision that allows killing protected animals if they pose a threat to human life.”

I roll my eyes. “What? They say zombie deer are preparing to ambush humans? That exception allows trapping rabid raccoons or aggressive alligators, not shooting starving deer.”

“I cornered Barb Darrin, a director I thought had sense,” Mom says. “Her justification? Deer carry ticks, a health hazard, and they can crash into golf carts.”

Mom sighs. “Everyone agrees the herd’s out of control. Doesn’t give these arrogant SOBs the right to sanction a Wild West killing spree. Sure as shoot, some bozo will mistake a human or a big dog for a deer and fire away. You won’t be able to throw a rock without hitting some guy in camo with a high-powered rifle.”

Ted taps his spoon against his coffee mug. “Myrt, what aren’t you telling us?”

“Well…” She shrugs. “Seems one wannabe deer killer has no qualms about threatening old ladies.” She pulls the crumpled card from the pocket of her baggy sweater. “Found this love note in my mailbox.”

Good grief. That’s what she stuffed in her pocket.

Ted snatches what looks like some movie-maker’s idea of a ransom note. Black-and-white newsprint cut and pasted on a postcard.

“What a nice closing line.” Ted reads, “‘It’s time us hunters declare open season on diseased deer and busybody bitches like Myrtle Kane.’” He turns the card over to look at the front. “Did this come in an envelope?”

“No, just lying in the box.”

“Mom! This is dangerous. Either I’m moving back in with you or you’re coming to live with me.”

“Nonsense,” she scoffs. “It’s pure bluster. Took a year to convince you I’m healthy enough to live alone. Anyway, I get seasick just thinking about sleeping on your boat. No-sir-ee, you can’t dynamite me out of this house.”

Ted raises his palm in a hold-it gesture. “Myrt, do you think Dan Finley pasted this up?”

She shakes her head. “While I’m convinced he’s our Grass Slayer, it’s not his MO to cut up newsprint and issue threats. More his style to use that big commercial sprayer of his to ruin the Quaids’ lawn tonight.”

I frown. “The Quaids who live cattycorner? What does Finley have against them?”

“They’re one of the couples leading the ‘Save Bambi’ drive.”

“But why would Finley do something tonight?”

“The Quaids are in Savannah for their son’s wedding,” Mom answers.

Ted sets down his mug. “You may be right about Finley seizing the opportunity.”

Mom chimes in. “The deer have cost him big bucks. The poor starving creatures devour plants like I eat chocolates. Plants he’s guaranteed. His nursery and landscaping business is hurting. He blames folks like the Quaids, who put out buckets of corn to keep the deer alive.”

“Last week, herbicide messages were left on the lawns of two other deer lovers who were out of town,” Ted adds. “Dead yellow grass shows up quite nicely against a field of green Bermuda blades.”

“What kind of messages?” I ask.

Mom shrugs. “One lawn read, ‘Up yours!’ He was more artistic on the other lawn, drew a fist with an extended middle finger.”

I laugh in spite of my worries that Finley might be Mom’s new enemy.

Mom purses her lips. “Sure, it sounds like juvenile hijinks, but the anger’s palpable. Folks who golfed or played bridge together no longer speak. That’s why I’m adamant we need a vote. Then, win or lose, everyone has a say, and we can move on. It’s called democracy.”

“Speaking of democracy, I propose a kitchen vote,” Ted says. “All in favor of Kylee and me staking out the Quaids’ yard tonight raise your hands. That overgrown lot across the street offers a view of their place. Maybe we can catch Dan Finley at work.”

While I’m skeptical a one-night stakeout will succeed, that vacant lot also offers a perfect view of Mom’s mailbox. And I’m all for hanging around to catch anyone delivering hate mail.

Ted and I raise our hands. Mom harrumphs.

“Just what will you do if Dan Finley does drop by?” she asks.

“Video him doing the evil deed.” Ted smiles. “My new phone takes excellent photos in low light.”

Mom grumbles, but won’t argue with our kitchen table vote, a Kane family tradition.

“Just when do you intend to sneak off in the woods?”

Ted glances at his watch. “Say an hour? I doubt Finley would chance a drive-by while folks are still drifting home from dinner at the club.”

“Good. I’ll change into some old clothes and sneakers I left here before I was evicted.”

Ted looks ready for a Southern Living picture shoot in his tan chinos, button-down shirt, and polished loafers. “You sacrificing your HOA meeting duds for this outing?”

His hazel eyes twinkle. “Nope,” Ted answers. “I was a Boy Scout. Your dad, our scoutmaster, taught us well. I have running clothes in the trunk.”

***

Excerpt from With Neighbors Like These by Linda Lovely. Copyright 2021 by Linda Lovely. Reproduced with permission from Linda Lovely. All rights reserved.




My Book Review:

In With Neighbors Like These, author Linda Lovely transports the reader to the lowcountry area of Beaufort, South Carolina, for an intriguing mystery story that will keep the reader guessing and turning the pages.

When neighborly feuds over the HOA Hullis Island community's status as a nature sanctuary overrun by herds of deer sparks incidents that turns into a murder, retired Coast Guard Inspector Kylee Kane joins up with childhood friend Ted Welch, owner of Welch HOA Management Company, investigating a rash of murders that start occurring in HOA communities that are Welch clients. Add in the threatening notes sent to Kylee's mom Myrtle over her stance on the deer issue, and you have a pair of ex-military who is determined to find the killer, but the killer's motive for murder is a personal case of revenge. Follow Kylee and Ted as they embark on an investigation where a crafty killer engages them in a dangerous cat and mouse game. 

In With Neighbors Like These, author Linda Lovely weaves a slow-building and suspenseful story that follows Kylee and Ted as they pursue a killer's methodical murder plan of revenge before any more murders occur on any more unsuspecting victims. Told in an alternating first person narrative by Kylee and the killer, Kylee and Ted engage in a deadly cat-n-mouse game that slowly plays out as Kylee puts the puzzle pieces together, while the killer is confident that the revenge plans will outsmart them and the police. 

I loved reading this riveting story. The author provides the reader with a fascinating killer profile known as "The Twin," which allows them to follow the killer's very detailed revenge murder plan. And if that's not enough to keep the reader engaged, Kylee and Ted's investigation kept me intrigued as they slowly put the pieces of the puzzle together. The reader will be easily drawn into this richly descriptive plot that will keep them guessing the identity of the killer, as the motive, murder plan, and clues are uncovered, and a surprise ending that brings this gripping story full circle. 

I would be remiss if I didn't mention how much I love reading stories set in the lowcountry setting of the Carolinas. The author does an amazing job of providing a richly vivid description of the lowcountry islands, and the quirky characters that reside within the various HOA communities. The book is a mixture of cozy mystery because of the humor and quirky characters who provide a growing list of suspects and finger pointing, intertwined with a classic mystery whodunit puzzle that keeps the reader engaged and guessing from beginning to end. 

With Neighbors Like These has enough drama, tension, action, dark secrets, intrigue, and unexpected twists and turns that will take the reader on one heck of a thrilling roller coaster ride.



RATING: 5 STARS  





About The Author



A journalism major in college, Linda Lovely has spent most of her career working in PR and advertising—an early introduction to penning fiction. With Neighbors Like These is Lovely’s ninth mystery/suspense novel. Whether she’s writing cozy mysteries, historical suspense or contemporary thrillers, her novels share one common element—smart, independent heroines. Humor and romance also sneak into every manuscript. Her work has earned nominations for a number of prestigious awards, ranging from RWA’s Golden Heart for Romantic Suspense to Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion for Best Cozy Mystery. A long-time member of Sisters in Crime and former chapter president, Lovely also belongs to International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America. For many years, she helped organize the Writers’ Police Academy. She lives on a lake in Upstate South Carolina with her husband, and enjoys swimming, tennis, gardening, long walks, and, of course, reading.






Contest Giveaway

Win A $10 Amazon Gift Card



This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Linda Lovely. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (U.S. ONLY). The giveaway runs July 12 through August 8, 2021. Void where prohibited.


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Virtual Book Tour



Tour Participants:


07/12 Guest post @ Novels Alive

07/13 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader

07/14 Guest post @ The Book Divas Reads

07/14 showcase @ Books, Ramblings, and Tea

07/14 Showcase @ The Reading Frenzy

07/15 Guest post @ I Read What You Write

07/16 Interview @ Author Elena Taylors Blog

07/17 Review @ The Book Review Crew

07/17 Showcase @ Im All About Books

07/19 Showcase @ Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!

07/20 Review @ Buried Under Books

07/20 Review @ sunny island breezes

07/21 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews

07/22 Review @ Cassidys Bookshelves

07/23 Interview @ A Blue Million Books

07/25 Review @ Margaret Yelton

07/26 Review @ Quiet Fury Books

07/27 Interview @ Cozy Up With Kathy

07/28 Showcase @ CMash Reads

07/29 Review @ BooksChatter

07/30 Review @ Cozy Up With Kathy

07/31 Review @ @ rozierreadsandwine

08/03 Review @ @ jay. rae. reads

08/04 Showcase @ 411 ON BOOKS, AUTHORS, AND PUBLISHING NEWS

08/04 Showcase @ The Authors Harbor

08/05 Review @ A Room Without Books is Empty

08/06 Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews