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

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Weekly Book Mail: 10/15-21/2023


This Week's Book Mail

Once Upon A Book Club - Spooky Halloween Box

Once Upon A Book Club - Sweet Halloween Box

Just The Right Book!

Friday, October 20, 2023

Judge Not by Nikki Stern (VBT: Book Review)

In association with Partners In Crime Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Judge Not by author Nikki Stern!

Book Review

Judge Not by Nikki Stern
Book 4: A Sam Tate Mystery Series
Publisher: Ruthenia Press
Publication Date: October 9, 2023
Format: Paperback - 320 pages
               Kindle - 3648 KB / 302 pages
               Audiobook - 8 Hours 49 Minutes
ISBN: 978-0999548790
ASIN (Audiobook): B0CL5GBL5X
ASIN (Kindle):  B0CH6X41C1
BNID: 978-0999548790
Genre: Mystery 

Buy The Book:
Amazon (Free On Kindle Unlimited)

Buy The Series: A Sam Tate Mystery Series
Book 1: The Wedding Crasher
Book 2: Bird In Hand
Book 3: Freeze Before Burning
Book 4: Judge Not

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 Tours.

Book Description:

Sam Tate returns to track a serial killer with a warped sense of justice.

Five detectives in five states have been brutally executed by a murderer focused exclusively on law officers. When the FBI invites Sam Tate onto its task force investigating the deaths, she gladly accepts. Though once known as a serial-killer catching cop, she’s hit a wall. Her career is stalled, her past tragedies unresolved, her future uncertain. Still, her experiences make her a valuable asset to the Bureau. Unfortunately, they also make her a target.

#1 New York Times bestseller Harlan Coben meets Lisa Gardner in this twisty thriller about rectifying the sins of the past that will keep you on your toes until the very last page.

Praise for Judge Not:

“One of the most compelling new sleuths in the genre” ~ Best Thrillers

“Powerful…poignant…delivers a thrilling climax.” ~ Indie Reader

“High-octane drama” ~ D. Donovan, Midwest Book Reviews

Book Excerpt:

Pat McCready, former patrol deputy and newly minted detective, knocked on her open door. “Got a minute, Lieutenant?”

“Always for you, Detective McCready,” she responded. He was one of her favorites, especially after working closely with him to catch the murderer who executed Arley Fitchett, a beloved local treasure hunter. Enthusiastic and hard-working, McCready turned out to be observant and a damned good shot to boot.

Jax bounded over to the grinning young man, hoping for a romp or at least a head scratch, maybe a treat. McCready glanced at the jar on Sam’s desk. “Can I?” he asked. She nodded.

After offering a biscuit to the dog, who took it back to his bed, McCready grew serious. “I came across some information while I was compiling notes from the domestic complaint last night,” he said.

“If it pertains to that case, you should take it up with Sergeant Gordy. I’ll review everything at our next meeting.”

McCready bounced on his toes, trying to keep his natural enthusiasm in check.

“Lieutenant, it’s not about any of our current cases. It’s more something that relates to your, uh, past cases. I mean, it’s probably nothing, but … ”

Sam felt a momentary flutter. “Okay, Detective. Show me what you’ve found.”

“This all started with my uncle’s brother-in-law, Roy,” McCready began. “He’s from Sacramento, okay? Well, he was, but he’s moved back east to be closer to the family after his divorce. Okay, that may not be relevant,” he added when Sam frowned.

“What is important is that he told a story about a serial killer that was active back when he lived there. This would have been twenty-odd years ago. The guy murdered five teachers over seven months. Stabbed them through the eye and left their bodies right in front of the schools along with some sort of memento, I think a notebook. Pretty grisly. Two Sacramento detectives caught him. California has the death penalty and back then, they used it in this guy, although it took seven years.”

“How is this relevant to me, or rather, to this department?”

McCready put his tablet in front of her. He brought up the website for the Sacramento Bee.

“I decided to research the case on my own time, Lieutenant. Just curious to see how crime-solving was covered in the days before everyone used social media. Then I found this recent obit for one of the lead detectives, name of Jack Frost if you can believe it.”

Sam scanned the article. “Says here he was killed outside his home two months ago,” she summarized. “An ice pick to the eye and a black and white notebook at the scene. Creepy, even perversely clever but not a shock. The man was a homicide detective. He likely investigated plenty of violent crimes during his career. Someone with a grudge decided to take him out using the same method as the serialist.”

“Hold on, Lieutenant, there’s something else I need to show you.” McCready turned the tablet around, brought up a second screen, and turned it back. All the while, he was shaking his foot fast enough that Sam felt her desk vibrate.

Another news site. This one belonged to the Billings Gazette. Curious, she read:

Rosebud County Sheriff’s Office has announced the death of Under Sheriff Mackenzie “Mac” Scott, 38. His body was found on Anika Vista Ranch, north of Lockwood, nearly a week after he went missing. The ranch belongs to the Tubb family. Scott’s neck was reportedly broken and then branded with the ranch logo.
Dillon Tubb, son of owner Carter Tubb, found the body around 6 pm yesterday near one of the cattle pens. The family has disavowed any knowledge of the incident before the discovery.
The death is considered suspicious. “It’s been cool at night, which may have preserved some of the biological evidence,” said a representative from coroner’s office in Billings. “We hope that will aid in our investigation.”
Mac Scott achieved some notoriety when he caught Deke Garrity, aka the Cattleman Killer eight years ago. Garrity was accused of murdering three prominent cattle ranchers by breaking their necks and then branding them because, as he put it, “they needed to be treated the way they treated their animals.” Garrity was sentenced to death and executed last year after his last appeal failed.
“This is a heinous crime,” declared Sheriff Jarrod Greene. “Mac was a dedicated law officer, a loving family man, and a good friend of mine.” He asked that anyone with any information call the department hotline.
We will continue to update this story as information becomes available.

Sam reread the article, aware of McCready’s intense gaze. He wanted a reaction. She wanted to keep a lid on her emotions until she had a chance to examine them.

“This is dated a few days ago,” she observed.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“These two homicides have elements in common, I’ll grant you that. A dead investigator. A duplication of the MO used by a serial killer brought down by the very men who are now victims of someone else. On the other hand, this Montana case isn’t nearly as specific. People’s necks are broken, either by accident or on purpose. As far as branding a victim, that may not be unusual out in Montana. Let me ask you: Have you located any more such incidents?”

“Not as of yet,” McCready admitted.

“Pat, you can do anything you want on your own time, and that includes researching unusual cases. But if you’re in here to ask me if I think there’s cause for further action, I’m afraid I don’t. Nor do I think in any event we’d have any jurisdiction. Do you?”

“No, ma’am, I guess not officially.” McCready reached for his laptop. He looked like a puppy who’d been sent to his crate.

“Look, the similarities between these two homicides could be a fluke, but you keep track. If another detective known for chasing serial killers goes down, let me know. I’ll pass it along to the FBI. Okay? And let’s keep this between us.”

“Yes, ma’am. Thank you.” He rose.

“Shut the door on your way out, please.”

As soon as he left, Sam pulled up a copy of Police Chief Magazine on her computer. There was the statistic she’d seen: 131 law officers killed last year. The article predicted a higher number this year. The detective in California and the undersheriff in Montana were just two.

Not your business, Lieutenant, she reminded herself even as her hand reached for the phone.


Excerpt from Judge Not by Nikki Stern. Copyright 2023 by Nikki Stern. Reproduced with permission from Nikki Stern All rights reserved.

My Book Review:

In Judge Not, the fourth book in the Sam Tate Mystery series, author Nikki Stern engages the reader to catch up with Samantha Tate's latest investigative adventure.

Sam gets drawn into a serial killer case that becomes dubbed The Judge. The sadistic serial killer is on a multi-state killing spree on law enforcement officers who have solved serial killer cases during their careers, and the body count keeps growing. As a consultant to the FBI, Sam joins boyfriend Terry Sloan and the task force members in their investigation into the cases hoping to bring the serial killer to justice before another law enforcement officer becomes the next victim. And just when you think Sam has enough on her plate, her traumatic past keeps haunting her dreams, and suddenly she finds herself having to balance her own private demons along with helping the FBI find the serial killer before more murders are committed. 

Author Nikki Stern provides a multi-layered storyline that has enough mystery, suspense, drama, treachery, secrets, dark traumatic pasts, and intriguing twists and turns that keeps the reader guessing, while weaving an intricate and complicated web of figuring out who the serial killer is, and why he kills the law enforcement officers in a copycat style of the original serial killer cases that they solved. And if that isn't enough to captivate the reader, the author adds a wonderful touch of humor, wit, grit, and a persistence to pursue the trauma of Sam's past, while also having a complicated long-distance romance with FBI Assistant Director Terry Sloan.

Of all the books in this series, I have to admit that Judge Not is my favorite. The police procedural elements of the investigation and the taunting and dangerous cat-n-mouse game with the serial killer kept me engaged and turning the pages as Sam, Terry and the task force members frantically try to bring the serial killer to justice, it just doesn't get any better than that!

Judge Not is an intriguing mystery story intertwined with enough police procedural aspects, realistic characters, witty dialogue and interactions. This fascinating multi-layered storyline draws the reader into the serial killer murder case investigation as Sam assists the FBI task force engage in a frustrating cat-n-mouse game with the serial killer, until the pieces of the investigation puzzle comes together and is dramatically solved. But alas, just when you think Sam's investigative adventure is over, the author leaves the reader with a traumatic cliffhanger ending that will keep them in limbo when Sam is dealing with more grief in her life and the possibility of a new beginning, leaving a suggestion that perhaps there will be a fifth book in the Sam Tate Mystery Series.

Judge Not is the kind of mystery that easily keeps the reader captivated, guessing, on their toes, and wanting more!


About The Author

Nikki Stern is the author of seven books, including four in the award-winning Sam Tate Mystery Series. The latest, Judge Not, is out now. Other works include two non-fiction books and a stand-alone thriller. Nikki also co-authored the interactive murder mystery musicals that make up the Café Noir series, published by Samuel French. When she’s not writing about strong complex women, Nikki supports several philanthropies and attends to the needs of her Cavachon puppy Pepper Ann. Please visit her website and subscribe for updates. No one will sell, share, give away, trade, barter, or clutter your email.

Virtual Book Tour

Tour Participants:

10/11 Review @ Country Mamas With Kids

10/12 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader

10/13 Review @ Novels Alive

10/16 Review @ Nesies Place

10/19 Review @ Celticladys Reviews

10/20 Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews

10/20 Review @ Wall-to-wall Books

Saturday, October 7, 2023

Weekly Book Mail: 10/1-7/2023


This Week's Book Mail

Once Upon A Book Club - Adult Box

Book Of The Month

Aardvark Book Club

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Winter Road by Joanne DeMaio (Book Review)

In association with Author Joanne DeMaio, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Winter Road!

Book Review

Winter Road by Joanne DeMaio
The Winter Novels Series
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: October 2, 2023
Format: Paperback - 258 pages
               Kindle - 1927 KB
               Audible Audiobook - 6 Hours 41 Minutes
               Nook: 746 KB
ISBN: 979-8399947617
ASIN (Audiobook): B0CC6FRMGN
ASIN (Kindle): B0C75BCLQH
BNID: 2940161039113
Genre: Holiday Romance / Winter Novel / Women's Fiction

Buy The Book:

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

Book Description:

From New York Times bestselling author Joanne DeMaio comes a heartwarming novel as beautiful as a home aglow for the holidays.

Home, for Joel Briggs, is the old New England farmhouse on Winter Road. From the front porch, he listens to the barred owls or watches the towering Christmas tree lit up in the yard. It's a quiet road, kind of like his life. Quiet.

Until Faye Weston walks right into it. What begins as a chance encounter one bittersweet winter night turns into a cherished friendship. A friendship that neither wants to jeopardize. Yet they do. Unless, like the Christmas season asks, they choose to believe -- not only in their friendship, but in the winding road of their love story.

My Book Review:

In Winter Road, author Joanne DeMaio transports the reader to the quaint small New England lakeside town of Addison, Connecticut for another heartwarming holiday tale of family, friendship, new beginnings, and finding a chance at unexpected love.

Winter Road is a wonderful holiday story that will tug at the heartstrings and fill the reader with seasonal joy. Author Joanne DeMaio weaves a spellbinding tale set in the quaint New England town of Addison, Connecticut, that captivates the reader's attention with the latest heartwarming holiday romance from her Winter Novels series.

Faye Weston isn't feeling the holiday spirit, her apartment lease was unexpectedly terminated, and she finds herself temporarily staying at her dad's house. As the year comes to an end, Faye's dad tries to rally her spirit and enourages her to write out a list of 35 goals to complete in the new year. 

Joel Briggs is the owner of Joel's Bar and Grille, a popular historical tavern in Addison. Joel is a good guy, who everyone loves in this tight knit lakeside town. He owns a farmhouse on Winter Road, and loves his piece of New England paradise, but he realizes that his life is too quiet, and as the year ends, he realizes that he hasn't found that special someone.

Faye unexpectedly meets Joel when she goes with her dad to the tavern for the New Year's Eve celebration. Joel's tavern has a traditional New Year's Eve sweeping out the old year at midnight with decorative mini whisk corn brooms. Joel finds Faye outside the tavern in tears, and he encourages her to stop crying and join in the tradition. As the new year begins, Faye and Joel go about their lives, but another unexpected second chance meeting eight months later brings them together as neighbors, and a close friendship begins. Can Faye and Joel's friendship grow to something more as the holiday season comes to Winter Road

Winter Road is a wonderful story that has a rich description of the breathtaking holiday decorated small town setting filled with holiday traditions. Faye and Joel find an unexpected chance at love as their story unfolds in a magical way that will make the reader believe in the power of love, family, friendship, new beginnings, and the joy of the holiday season.

There are not enough words that I can express about the simplicity and beauty in which author Joanne DeMaio weaves her heartwarming and multi-layered stories filled with a mixture of love, friendship, family, life's changes, and unexpected special moments, it is simply breathtaking. As the reader follows Faye and Joel's story, the author cleverly interweaves characters and events from the previous books in the collection that provides a seamless continuation of their stories from winter to winter. And as a surprise bonus, the author includes our favorite couple, Jason and Maris Barlow, from the popular Seaside Saga series!

I would be remiss if I didn't mention how the richly vivid description of the town of Addison is phenomenal, you'll yearn to visit the area and experience the quaint lakeside town's holiday tradition and friendly townspeople. Ms. DeMaio has a special gift for transporting the readers into every story that she weaves while leaving them yearning for more!

Winter Road is an enchanting holiday story full of warmth and comfort that will remind the reader of the magic, joy, cheer, and spirit of Christmas. It is a lovely story that will resonate with the reader for a very long time.

Winter Road is the latest installment in The Winter Novels series, each book is a stand alone read, but each book does have intertwining snippets from the previous books, so you'll want to read the whole collection!


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. Winter Road is her newest novel. Currently at work on her next book, Joanne lives with her family in Connecticut.

Author Website
Amazon Author Page