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, May 13, 2016

Necklaces & Nooses by Laina Turner (Author Guest Post / Book Review)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Necklaces & Nooses by author Laina Turner!

Author Guest Post

A question I get asked a lot is how long have you known you wanted to be a writer. I can definitively say, since the 2nd grade when I was in Mrs. Pierce’s class. Sitting in alphabetical order between Don Stevens and Michele Yuresko.

How do I remember that you ask when I can barely remember what I did a few hours ago? I have no idea, I just do.

Now I’m not exactly sure what defining moment made me realize in 2nd grade that I wanted to be a writer, I just remember I did.

A friend and I would spend our time making up stories and writing them down. I was an avid reader, even at that time, reading far above my age level. I was an only child so reading and making things up was my favorite pastime since I didn’t have siblings to play with.

At the time, I was really into The Black Stallion series by Walter Farley. This series spanned 20 books ranging from the first in 1941 to the 20th in 1983.

On a side note, my mother had also been a fan as a little girl, and it was an awesome thing to share.

Plus my family had horses so you can imagine as a little girl I was all about the horses (and still am). I was also a huge Trixie Belden mystery series fan, started by Julie Campbell Tatum (later finished under publishing house name Kathryn Kenny) and spanning 39 books and 38 years, which fueled my love of mystery books.

On another side note, my mother read these, and now my 9-year-old daughter is. How freakin cool is that?

In grade school, these were the types of books I tried to emulate. When Francis Ford Coppola produced the movie The Black Stallion in 1979 I made my parents take me to see it several times and then tried to write Ford a letter with my story ideas that I thought would make awesome movies. Needless to say I never got a response but I haven’t stopped writing and it’s just as fun now as it was 35 years ago (oh God has it really been that long since 2nd grade).

I’m lucky in the sense that I earn a living making things up. BEST. JOB. EVER!

About The Author

As a child Laina Turner thought she would either be a truck driver (thanks to Jerry Reed in Smokey and the Bandit) or work at Taco Bell (her favorite restaurant as a child).

As she grew older she realized her talents lay in academics and business and for the last several years has been a business consultant and college professor where she uses the analytical side of her brain and not the side that makes up stories.

Through all her career choices she has continued to have a passion for writing. This stemmed from childhood whereas an only child she developed a vivid imagination spending most of her time making things up and thinking the Incredible Hulk lived in her closet.

Proud of her vast experiences in life from barrel racing to being on the dance team for a semi pro basketball team to being a mom of 2 amazing kids, she tells her family and friends that no one is safe from their escapades slipping in to her books.

Taking the plunge to write books (cozy mysteries and chick lit) that she actually let people read in 2010, she has worked her way up to being a real author, having 5 fans (maybe 6 now). Her blog, Writing is a Lifestyle, was launched to share the daily fun in the life of a Real Housewife of the Midwest along with the musing of other fabulous ladies.

Author Website

Book Review

Necklaces & Nooses by Laina Turner
Book 2: The Presley Thurman Mysteries Series
Publisher: Five Seas Ink
Publication Date: October 19, 2011
Format: eBook - 240 pages
               Kindle - 1818 KB
               Nook - 743 KB
ISBN: 978-1452446004
BNID: 2940150856165
Genre: Cozy Mystery

Buy The Book:

Buy The Series: The Presley Thurman Mysteries Series
Book 1: Stilettos & Scoundrels
Book 2: Necklaces & Nooses
Book 3: Handbags & Hooligans
Book 4: Mistletoe & Murder
Book 5: Gems & Gunshots
Book 6: Cupids & Crooks
Book 7: Tiaras & Texans
Book 8: Vows & Victims
Book 9: Accessories & Alibis
Book 10: Romance & Revenge
Book 11: Bats & Bling
Barnes & Noble

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 Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.

Book Description:

When Presley’s boss is found hanging she thinks its suicide until the police discover its homicide. Who would want to kill a the owner of a high end women's boutique? Presley's not sure but she’s determined to find out.

Book Excerpt:

My boss was one of the most high-strung women I’d met, but she was a smart businesswoman and knew her stuff when it came to fashion. I had a lot of respect for her. Considering the majority of the clientele at Silk were high-strung and high maintenance too, I figured one of the reasons she was so successful was that it took one to know one. The people who shopped there, mostly women of course, with a few husbands and boyfriends who knew what kind of gifts their ladies liked, loved how everyone at Silk catered to their every whim. Silk provided the best customer service of any boutique I knew, and it was evident by the clientele. My boss had incredibly high standards and at times it drove her employees crazy, but it worked. We had a large amount of repeat business from women who claimed to wear only clothes that came from Silk. And ours was a small world; we would have heard if they were going somewhere else.

I continued through the alley and then turned left once I got to Park Street, which was one block off the great shopping mecca in Chicago, the Magnificent Mile. A magnificent mile of shopping, that is. It was the bane of my existence, or at least of my credit cards. I was a bit of a shopaholic. Okay, a lot of a shopaholic. I couldn’t help it, I was a slave to fashion. I loved clothes, shoes, and accessories. My favorite time of the month was when my In Style magazine came through the mail.

I reached for the door with my key to unlock it, and with the pressure of my hand it swung open.  That’s weird, I thought. I knew I’d locked it and set the alarm when I left thirty minutes ago, since I was the last person out the door. So I figured that meant Solange was here. The owner, whose real name was Sally, made everyone call her Solange because she felt it was more representative of who she was: high-end, high maintenance, and unique. We employees went along with it, but balked when she wanted to change our names too. She tried for a long time to convince us, but none of us were receptive to the idea, and she finally gave up. Solange often spent time at the boutique when it wasn’t open, so I wasn’t surprised she would be here. She sometimes kept strange hours.

“Solange? Yoo-hoo, Solange, are you in here?” No answer, but if she was in the back office she might not have heard me. I walked through the store to the break room and grabbed my wallet where I had left it on top of the Coke machine. Still annoyed with myself that I had forgotten it in the first place, I stuck it in my vintage pearl-colored Coco Chanel purse that I had found at Goodwill. It was my best find to date. Someone must have been cleaning out a relative’s closet and had no idea it was worth a lot of money, because who would take a Coco Chanel bag to Goodwill? Their ignorance was my gain, and it was one of my most prized possessions.

“Solange,” I called again. I didn’t want to scare the heck out of her by sneaking up on her. I walked toward the office, and the light wasn’t on. Surely she wasn’t sitting in the dark. That would be strange even for her. I pushed the office door open.

“Solange?” She wasn’t there. Hmmmm. I started to get a little nervous. Maybe I was being na├»ve, but since the door was open, I didn’t think anyone had broke in. Solange often forgot to lock the door at night when she was here. I was always chastising her about it, though it was like the pot calling the kettle black, as I forgot all the time too. I guess someone could have followed her in, which was why we really needed to remember to lock the door. This wasn’t a bad area, but you could never be too careful. The only other person who had a key besides us, was a part-time employee Edie Thomas, who was on vacation in Costa Rica for a month. So it had to be Solange who was here.

I called out one more time, but no answer. I flipped the rest of the lights on in the stockroom and walked up and down the racks of clothing to see if she was hiding back here, but no Solange. The only other place she could have been were the fitting rooms, and why she would be sitting in a dark fitting room after hours ignoring me was beyond me. But then again, sometimes I didn’t understand a lot she did.

We had three fitting rooms, two in the back right corner of the store and one large one up front for the important clients. All of our fitting rooms were nice, but the extra roominess of the front room made all the ladies ask for that one first. Since I was at the back of the store, I thought I would start with those. Nothing! That was strange. Maybe I did leave the door unlocked. If that was the case, thank goodness I came back.

As I walked up to the front, I noticed I forgot to straighten the jewelry and would have to get that in the morning before Solange flipped out, if she hadn’t already noticed. That woman had an eagle eye even in the dark, I had to give her that. She always wanted everything to be perfect. Rightfully so, she knew how to run a business.

I opened the door to the premiere fitting room, and my jaw dropped. My hand slipped from the door, and I stood rooted to my spot. “Oh shit,” I whispered. Didn’t look like I would be getting in trouble for not straightening the accessories, because I was looking at my boss hanging from the light fixture in the special fitting room!

Ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod. I was freaking out, no I couldn’t freak out. Call 911, you idiot and then freak out. I dialed 911, and at the same time dragged the fitting room chair over to Solange, and climbed up on it to see if she had a pulse and if I could get her down. Trying to hold the phone to my shoulder at the same time wasn’t an easy task.

“911 what’s your emergency?” the operator droned. I would not want to have her job.

“I need an ambulance at 5649 Park Street. I just found my boss, and she’s hung herself.” My words came out all jittery and stammering. “I mean, she’s hanging, I…”

“Do you know how long she has been there?” the voice continued calmly.

“Well, I got here about five minutes ago. You see, I forgot my wallet and I couldn’t get out of the parking garage and—”

The operator cut me off. “Ma’am, I understand. Can you tell if she’s still breathing?”

I tentatively reached over to her neck to feel for a pulse. I didn’t feel anything, but I also failed CPR in the eighth grade, so what did I know? However, she didn’t have the rosy color of someone still alive, and she was very cold and clammy to the touch. “I don’t think so. I can’t find a pulse.”

“Okay, ma’am, help is on its way. Please stay on the line until the medics get there.”

God, I hoped that was soon. I waited for what seemed like forever, but in reality was probably about five minutes or so, hearing sirens twice, which were false alarms—this was Chicago after all—before the medics charged through the door. I was grateful when they pushed me away and took over. I stood just outside the fitting room in shock. I couldn’t believe this was happening.

“What’s your name?” one of them asked.

“Presley. Presley Thurman.”

“Okay, Presley. Don’t leave. The police will be here soon to take a statement from you.”

I must have looked nervous at this.

“Don’t worry, it is standard procedure,” he said over his shoulder as he walked back over to where his partner was working on Solange.

“Okay.” I watched in morbid fascination as they effortlessly cut her down and put her on a stretcher.

“No sense in rushing this one to the hospital,” one of the medics said in a low voice to the other. “No pulse, and it’s obvious her throat is crushed. Who would have thought a necklace was so strong?”

A necklace! My ears perked up at this, and I peered over at Solange’s body without trying to seem like I was rubbernecking at a car accident. Holy crap, he was right. Wrapped around her neck several times was one of our most expensive necklaces. It was our thirty-six-inch triple strand of pearls and crystal. Swarovski, of course. It retailed for twenty eight thousand, and trust me, there wasn’t a very high markup on that piece. It was one of the pieces Solange was most proud of. What seemed odd was that she loved that necklace but would never have worn it with the outfit she had on. Her pale pink linen shirt was too casual for the necklace.

My Book Review:

In Necklaces & Nooses, the second book in The Presley Thurman Mysteries Series, the reader follows the latest investigative adventures of fashionista / amateur sleuth Presley Thurman.

Author Laina Turner weaves an entertaining cozy mystery with a chick lit twist that follows Presley Thurman as she gets herself embroiled in a new murder investigation. Told in the first person narrative, Presley is back in Chicago and is now working in fashion retail at a high-end boutique called Silk. This job is right up her alley and she couldn't be happier, especially since she has a penchant for fashion. But when Presley forgets her wallet at the boutique and has to go back to retrieve it, she finds boutique owner Solange Smith hanging from the light fixture with an expensive thirty-six inch triple strand of pearls and Swarovski crystal necklace wrapped around her neck. As the last person to see Solange alive, Presley once again finds herself caught up in a murder investigation, and she is determined to help handsome detective Wally Landon find the killer.

Necklaces and Nooses is an intriguing cozy mystery that is filled with enough crazy trials and tribulations that easily keeps the reader guessing. Just when you think Presley has gotten herself together and is happy with her new job, the death of her boss has this sassy lady kicking into amateur sleuth mode, and if that isn't enough, there is also the distraction with her attraction towards Detective Wally Landon, that makes it really hard for her to resist his charms. And even though there is someone who is out to stop Presley's investigation, she is determined to help Willie find the real killer with the help of her best friends Anna and Jared, even when danger is around the corner.

Necklaces & Nooses has a good mixture of humor, mystery, and a touch of romance that will easily keep the reader engaged as they follow Presley's latest amateur investigative adventures. There is a lot that goes on between the pages of this story, the intriguing twists and turns will keep the readers on their toes, especially with the variety of crazy situations that pop up, but Presley's humorous shenanigans, and the intrigue and suspense behind the mystery of who really killed Solange will keep you guessing right to the very end!


Virtual Book Tour

Tour Schedule:

May 2 – Caroline Fardig – Q&A
May 2 – Kelly’s Nerdy Obsession – Review
May 3 – The Mystery Tavern – Excerpt
May 4 – Living Life With Joy – Q&A & Excerpt
May 9 – Chick Lit Plus - Review
May 12 – Turning Another Page – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
May 12 – Have Books Will Read – Excerpt
May 13 –Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
May 13 – Around the World In Books – Excerpt
May 13 – A Page to Turn – Review

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