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, September 24, 2022

Weekly Book Mail: 9/18-24/2022


This Week's Book Mail

September - The Book Drop

September - Harlequin Essential Romance & Suspense Collection

October - Romance Reveal Book Box

October - Literati Book Club

September - Bubbles & Books 

Friday, September 23, 2022

Fallout by Carrie Stuart Parks (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 Fallout by Carrie Stuart Parks!

Book Review

Fallout by Carrie Stuart Parks
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: September 13, 2022
Format: Paperback - 336 pages
               Audiobook - 7 Hours 18 Minutes
               Kindle - 3103 KB
               Nook - 4 MB
ISBN: 978-0785239857
ASIN (Audiobook): B09V1WJRNY
ASIN (Kindle): B09N92MR2Z
BNID: 978-0785239864
Genre: Suspense

Buy The Book:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book via NetGalley 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:

Her carefully crafted life is about to be demolished.

After a difficult childhood, Samantha Williams craves simplicity: jigsaw puzzles, lectures at the library, and the students she adores in her role as an elementary art teacher in the dusty farming community of LaCrosse, Washington.

But when an SUV crashes into the school where she teaches, her entire world is upended. She manages to keep all of the children safe, but her car isn’t so lucky. Oddly, her purse—containing her driver’s license, credit cards, and other identification—is missing from the wreckage.

After authorities discover that the driver in the school accident was shot seconds before the crash, Samantha quickly becomes entangled in increasingly strange events that have her looking over her shoulder.

Samantha has long tried to forget the tragedy of her past, but the twisting maze she discovers between the murdered driver, a deadly secret government project, and an abandoned town can’t be ignored. Those involved are determined to keep these secrets buried, and they’ll use any means necessary to stop Samantha’s search for truth.

Praise for Fallout:

“An intriguing story based on events around a part of Washington. Tight timeline with tons of action. Twists and turns that will keep readers engaged and guessing. I enjoyed this book and recommend it to those who want a whisper of romance included with the mystery.” - Cara Putman

Book Excerpt:


Hanford, Washington
November 23, 1988

The November wind blew across the almost-barren plain, attempting to leach any warmth from the man’s black wool coat. He pulled the woolen balaclava higher on his nose and wished he’d worn goggles. The wind raised icy tears that blurred his vision.

Snow clung to the scant protection offered by basalt outcroppings and meager shrubs.

The moon provided weedy light, enough to avoid the sagebrush and tumbleweeds, but not enough to reveal the ground squirrels’ burrows. He’d fallen twice.

He paused for a moment to check his compass. He figured he’d covered about six of the eight miles. There was little chance he’d be detected. He’d approached the area by boat on the Columbia River, which flowed down the eastern side of the remote facility in South Central Washington State. Though the site was massive—570 square miles—the roads were heavily patrolled. After all, the Hanford Nuclear Reservation was the largest producer of postwar nuclear weapons.

Hanford’s creation of the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, had provided the turning point in World War II. Afterward, the plant morphed into a Cold War arsenal against the Soviet Union until the last nuclear reactor finally shut down just a year ago.

He’d chosen the date carefully—Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. All the staff and workers would have left early in preparation for the holidays. Only a minimal number of employees would be working, and they’d not be inclined to venture into the frigid night.

Though he’d been on the Hanford Site since he’d left the river, his goal was the Hanford Tank Farms. The tanks held 53 million gallons of the highest-level radioactive waste found in the United States. He would be targeting the SY Tank Farm, three double-shelled waste storage units built between 1974 and 1976, located at the 200 West site. The tanks at this location were each capable of holding 1.16 million gallons of nuclear waste.

He shifted the backpack slightly. The bomb, made with C-4, was safe enough from his jostling cross-country run. It took a detonator to set off the explosion, which he’d rig once the materials were in place.

The tanks themselves were built of one-foot-thick reinforced steel and concrete and had been buried under eight feet of dirt, but the hydrogen from the slurry had built up in these particular tanks to dangerous levels. He didn’t need to reach the tanks themselves, only disable the exhaust vent and the temperature thermocouple assembly. He knew no maintenance work was going on around the tanks that might create a spark or heat, so chance of discovery was extremely slim.

He paused for a moment to catch his breath. He’d paddled down the treacherous icy river, then jogged for miles, but his fury fueled his drive. In February of 1986, the Department of Energy had released nineteen thousand pages of documents describing the declassified history of the Hanford operations. Hints of a darker truth were written between the lines, and more evidence came out in the batch of documents released the following year. Everyone else would have missed it, but he’d been able to piece the sequence of events together.

They’d grown rich while he’d been discarded like so much trash.

Now was his time to get even.

He’d use the threat of the bomb to force the acknowledgment of their role and his own innocence. Anything less than the possibility of a Chernobyl-size disaster would lead to a governmental cover up.

A massive press conference. Facts and figures. Undeniable evidence.

In the meantime, he’d personally take care of those directly responsible.

He increased his pace. Soon now.

He knew this part of the facility well.

He found the location he’d identified before, knelt beside the various ports, detectors, and vents, and swiftly assembled the parts according to the bomb-maker’s directions. All that was left was the trigger mechanism. He’d placed it in a secure box inside his backpack.

The box was gone.

He ran his hands over the backpack again. Then again. Then a third time. It was gone. Did I forget to pack it? No. It was here in this backpack when he’d left home.

He broke out in a clammy sweat and rocked back on his heels. How could this have happened? Where had it dropped out? Could it be back in the boat? Somewhere on the ground between here and the river’s edge? Separated from him when he fell?

Calm down. He had a backup. Even if he didn’t find the trigger, all it would take is a reasonable-sized explosion on the surface to start the process.

If it took the rest of his miserable life, he’d carry out his plan. They wouldn’t get away with it. Not this time.


September 2015

Bam! Bam! An engine roared, growing louder, closer.

I glanced up from the shading technique I was demonstrating for my elementary-school art class.

A black Suburban was barreling across the parking lot directly at my classroom.

“Run!” I screamed.

The children didn’t hesitate, bolting for the door. I shoved the last boy outside toward the gym just as the Suburban smashed into the side of the building and plowed into the room. The portable classroom moved with a screech. Desks, chairs, books, glass, and chunks of the wall and ceiling exploded in a cacophony of sound and movement. Metal fragments, shattered glass, and hunks of wood pelted me. I found myself outside next to the gym doors, not knowing how I got there. I curled up and covered my head, praying nothing would crash down on me.

Hissssssssss. The stench of an overheated engine and hot rubber made me gag.

The crushed front of the Suburban had shoved the classroom into a covered storage shed before punching through the opposite wall. Fluids hissed and dripped from under the smashed hood, right beside me. The shed had collapsed onto the SUV.

I was shaking so hard I didn’t think I could get my legs to work. The children.

Don’t worry about the children. Someone will help them. Someone will help me. I just needed to stay put. I’m safe here.

But they wouldn’t respond to someone calling to them. I taught them to be cautious.

If I move, the roof will come down on me. I’ll be crushed. Stay put and be safe. Someone will come for me.

But my students are frightened. I need to help them. Heavenly Father, help me.

I placed my hands on the ground. White powder drifted down on my head. Carefully I crawled away from the SUV.

The beam shifted, sliding sideways.

My crawl became a scramble.

The beam shrieked as it slid across the metal desk holding it up.

I plunged, then rolled away.

The roof of the shed slammed against the ground, sending up more dust and powder.

Leaning against the school, I waited until I could catch my breath. The glass in the door to the gym beside me had shattered. I couldn’t see anything of the driver. I slipped through the frame, wincing at the stabs of pain from the hurtled projectiles.

Ahead of me was a second door leading to the front of the school. A quick glance into the gym showed it empty. I was pretty sure the children had raced through both sets of doors, scattered, and found safety. I’d trained my class of first-through-third graders on what to do in case of an emergency or active shooter. The school board had rolled their eyes at me, assuring me that this was covered in the student handbook and that school shootings wouldn’t happen in a sleepy farming community like LaCrosse, Washington, population 330.

I’d finally convinced them. They allowed the drills and the self-defense class I offered on Tuesday evenings.

Fortunately, my art class was an after-school event, and the rest of the school was essentially empty. We met in a portable building because some of the classrooms were under repair for water damage.

I staggered outside. Mr. Parsons, the school maintenance man, rushed over to me.

“Samantha? Sam? Miss Williams? Are you all right? You’re bleeding. What happened?”

“Help me find the children first.”

“They’re fine. They ran as you taught them.” We looked around the manicured lawns in front of the school buildings.

“Olly olly oxen free!” I called out, voice shaking. I cleared my throat and tried again. “Olly olly oxen free!”

Slowly my class emerged from their hiding places. I counted them as they appeared. Please, Lord . . . Five, six, seven, eight . . . nine. All present and accounted for. My stomach tightened on what could have happened, would have happened, if even one of them had paused to ask, Why run?

“Aren’t you supposed to just say ‘all clear’?” Mr. Parsons asked.

“I know the handbook says that, but anyone could access the emergency plans and use them against the children.”

Several of the children had tear streaks running down their faces, but as soon as they caught sight of me, they started to giggle.

“Miss Williams, you’re all white!”

“You have stuff all over you!”

“You should see yourself!”

I looked down. I was indeed covered in a white powder, probably from the recently installed smashed Sheetrock and insulation. “Oh my. It looks like I’ve turned into the magical snowman.”

“Nooo!” The giggles grew louder. “It’s not winter!”

I bent forward to be on eye level with most of them. “Maybe I’ve become Belle, the white Great Pyrenees from Belle and Sebastien?

“That’s a dog.” The giggles became high-pitched laughter.

I grinned at them. “How about Casper, the friendly ghost?”

The kids were now laughing so hard they couldn’t answer for a moment. Finally Bethany gasped out, “You’re not dead.”

Thank You, Lord. I straightened. “Well then, if I’m not a snowman, dog, or ghost, I must be Miss Williams, and you know what that means.” As they eagerly lined up, I said, “‘I am not afraid of storms . . .’”

“‘For I am learning how to sail my ship,’” the children finished.

Leave it to children’s books. As they approached me, each one gave me a sign as to what type of interaction they wanted. Hands out to the side, a hug. Hand held up in the air, a high five. Closed hand, a fist bump. Right hand sideways, a handshake.

They all wanted hugs.

So did I.

Bethany was the last in line. I tried not to hug her the longest. Teachers aren’t supposed to have favorites.

The school buildings rested on a hill facing the town park. The wail of sirens and stream of cars and trucks announced the arrival of help and parents. I moved my small huddle of children around to the front toward the parking lot so their folks could find them. The parents, once reunited with their son or daughter, peppered me with questions.

“What happened?”

“Was anyone hurt?”

“Was that a drunk driver?”

“Are you okay?”

As I stumbled through various versions of “I don’t know,” a deputy from the Whitman County Sheriff’s Department strolled over. He had to be at least six foot three inches tall, with silver hair, thick black eyebrows, and dark brown eyes that looked like they’d ferret out the facts of any case. He smelled of cigarettes. His name tag said R. Adams. “Ma’am. Looks like you were in the building when the accident happened.”

“Yes. Is the driver—”

“Come with me.” He had a slight New York accent. We walked to the gym, then around to the back side where the accident happened. I had to trot to keep up with him.

“Do you know if the driver is okay?”

His long stride covered a lot of ground. “We don’t know yet.”

The raised gravel parking area near the gym was filling with the LaCrosse ambulance, volunteer fire department, and sheriff’s department vehicles. People were rushing around like ants in a disturbed mound. The Suburban was completely buried under the collapsed roof, and a large group of men and women were working to clear the debris.

Deputy Adams led me to the ambulance where an EMT waited. “Are you hurt?”

“I don’t think—”

“You have a cut on your head.” The EMT had me sit while he checked me over.

Deputy Adams kept an eye on the rescue efforts as he pulled out a small notebook. “You got all the children out safely?”

I winced as the EMT removed a sliver of glass from my hairline. “By the grace of God, yes. They’re all on their way home.”

He nodded and gave me a slight smile, softening his face. “Absolutely. How many people were in the SUV?”

“I don’t know.” I told him about what sounded like gunfire and the sound of an engine and getting the children clear of the room. I left out my cowering in the debris.

“Gunfire? Are you sure?”

“It could have been backfire.”

He looked around, then motioned for an officer to come over. They spoke for a few moments before the man left.

I glanced over at the gathered first responders, parents, and neighbors. What if—

“When did you first see the SUV?” Deputy Adams asked.

I pointed. “He, or whoever was driving, must have come up either First or Hill Avenue, crossed this lot, then shot straight into the building.”

A farmer drove up on a John Deere tractor and began lifting larger chunks of rubble with the bucket.

After the deputy took my name, address, and phone number, he handed me a business card. “I’ll be contacting you soon for your statement. You might want to head home as soon as possible. We want to clear the area.” He strolled away.

More people had arrived and pitched in to free the SUV and its occupants. A truck with a Miller Construction sign on the side parked next to us. Men in hard hats, work boots, and lime-green safety vests got out and set to work.

A pregnant woman in her thirties with long, dark hair pulled into a french braid drifted over and hovered nearby. When the EMT finished putting a bandage on my head and moved away, she approached me. “Hi. I’m Mary Thompson. I overheard you talking to that deputy. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?”

“I guess. You’re a reporter?”

“No. Copywriter for a medical company in Spokane.” She rolled her eyes. “Boooooring. You’re Samantha Williams?”

I nodded.

“Well, Samantha—”

“Call me Sam.”

She grinned. “Sam then. You saved all those children. You’re so brave. I would have been scared out of my mind.”

Warmth burned up my neck and across my cheeks. “I . . . ah . . . so . . . um . . . what brought you to LaCrosse from Spokane?” I stood. “That’s 86.9 miles from here.”

“I was already here.”

An officer started herding the onlookers away from the crash. “Move on, folks. Nothing for you to do here.”

“Come on,” Mary grabbed my elbow and pulled me into the shade under a tree.

My brain was buzzing from the adrenaline and all the activity. “I’m sorry. I’m a little—”

“I bet you are. I guess I should start at the beginning. I’m following the story about the body they found last week. And the one they just found.” She waved her hand at the construction workers.

“Bodies?” I knew I was out of touch with the news. I didn’t own a television, computer, or phone. “What bodies? Wait . . . I’m not sure I want to know.” My legs started to buckle.

“Let me help you.” Mary grabbed my arm and helped me sit on a patch of grass. She sat next to me. “Can I get you something or—”

“No, I’ll be fine. Just a little woozy.”

“Take your time.”

Most of the onlookers had now moved around to the front of the school. With nothing to see, they started wandering back to their homes or cars.

She cleared her throat. “So do you want to talk about what just happened or—”

“No. You go ahead. You said there was a body . . . or was it two? Here at the school?”

“No, of course not. I followed someone to here and . . .” She paused at my expression. “I’m not weird or a stalker.” She twisted her lips. “As you can see, I’m pregnant. The baby’s father, my husband, Mike, disappeared two months ago. I reported it to the police but they’re not doing anything. I mean, he could be dead!”

I blinked at her. “Why would you think that?”

“Mike had—I guess you’d call it a wild streak. He had . . . questionable friends. Some issues with drugs in the past, stuff like that.” She absently rubbed her stomach. “I thought the baby would . . . redirect him.” She looked at me. “He’s a good man, just impulsive. And he’d never leave me. Not now. Not without telling me . . . something.”

I took a deep breath. The shaking threatened to start again. “So you thought one of the bodies—”

“Could be Mike.” She swiped a hand across her eyes. “That deputy.” She pointed to Deputy Adams. “I was told he was the investigator on the case. I’ve been following him around trying to get him to talk to me, but he says it’s an active case and won’t talk about it. I followed him here to the school earlier—he has kids here that he was picking up—and was giving it one last go around.”

“Did you find out anything?”

“No. Not yet.” She reached into her purse and pulled out a leather-bound notebook. “I keep track of everything.” She flipped it open and fanned the pages, displaying a mass of tightly written notes. “I won’t give up until I know for sure.”


Excerpt from Fallout by Carrie Stuart Parks. Copyright 2022 by Carrie Stuart Parks. Reproduced with permission from Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved.

My Book Review:

In Fallout, author Carrie Stuart Parks transports the reader to the farming town of LaCrosse, Washington, for an intriguing suspense tale that will keep the reader guessing and turning the pages.

The story centers around Samantha Williams, an elementary school art teacher, who gets caught up in a dangerous situation when a car careens out of control and into her art classroom. The driver of the car, Dr. Beatrice Greer, an art therapist was shot and killed. Dr. Greer and passenger Dr. Dustin "Dutch" Van Seter, an anthropologist are employed with Clan Firinn, a privately owned and funded facility located outside of Pullman, Washington, that specializes in offering hope and rehabilitation to law enforcement and first responders suffering from PTSD and other disorders arising from their work. Dutch asks Sam to help draw a facial recognition from a skull from a body that was found at Alderman Acres, a new housing development owned by Clan Firinn, which leads her to getting drawn into the investigation. When mysterious events occur and danger lurks around every corner, Sam wonders if her own troubled past is connected to the events as she tries to find the truth, especially when she becomes a target by someone who is determined to keep deep secrets buried at all costs.

Author Carrie Stuart Parks weaves a fast-paced and suspenseful tale written in alternating first (Sam) and third person narrative (Dutch) that follows Sam and Dutch as they get dragged into a dangerous investigation that has placed a target on her life, and a threat of danger lurks around every corner. 

The reader is easily drawn into this well written story with its richly descriptive plot and setting. It is filled with enough family drama and secrets, motives, possible suspects, action, government Cold War secrets, and intriguing twists and turns that definitely keeps the reader guessing until the surprising conclusion.

This was a really intense story to read! The author does a wonderful job of providing enough clues to engage the reader, and I found myself so caught up on trying to figure out who is behind all the incidents around the area. I loved how Sam was able to go beyond her troubled and shadowy past to help Dutch put all the pieces of the puzzle together, I was absolutely stunned by the conclusion! I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I also loved reading about Sam and Dutch's backstory, both are broken people who have to overcome their traumatic pasts and learn to move forward. 

Fallout will definitely take suspense readers on one heck of a thrilling roller coaster ride.


About The Author

Carrie Stuart Parks is a Christy, multiple Carol, and Inspy Award–winning author. She was a 2019 finalist in the Daphne du Maurier Award for excellence in mainstream mystery/suspense and has won numerous awards for her fine art as well. An internationally known forensic artist, she travels with her husband, Rick, across the US and Canada teaching courses in forensic art to law-enforcement professionals. The author/illustrator of numerous books on drawing and painting, Carrie continues to create dramatic watercolors from her studio in the mountains of Idaho.


Contest Giveaway

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Carrie Stuart Parks and Thomas Nelson. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited. 

Giveaway info: There will be THREE (3) US ONLY winners for this tour. EACH winner will receive a physical copy of Fallout by Carrie Stuart Parks.

Virtual Book Tour 

Tour Participants:

09/12 Review @ Urban Book Reviews

09/12 Showcase @ Book Reviews by Linda Moore

09/13 Review @ Sunny Island Breezes

09/14 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader

09/14 Review @ From the TBR Pile

09/15 Review @ Novels Alive

09/16 Review @ Lynchburg Reads

09/17 Review @ Reading Is My SuperpPower

09/18 Review @ Cassidys Bookshelves

09/19 Showcase @ Nesies Place

09/20 Review @ Splashes of Joy

09/21 Showcase @ Books, Ramblings, and Tea

09/22 Showcase @ Im All About Books

09/23 Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews

09/25 Review @ Paws. Read. Repeat

09/26 Review @ Tea. And. Titles Bookstagram

09/26 Showcase @ Silvers Reviews

09/27 Review @ Inkwell Inspirations

09/28 Review @ Wall-to-Wall Books

09/28 Showcase @ 411 On Books, Authors, And Publishing News

09/29 Review @ Read_BetweenTheCovers

09/30 Review @ Brooke Blogs

10/01 Guest post @ The Mystery of Writing

10/02 Review @ Debjanis Thoughts

10/02 Review @ Guatemala Paula Loves to Read

10/03 Interview @ I Read What You Write

10/04 Review @ Sharon Beyond The Books

10/05 Review @ Mokwip8991

10/05 Review @ The Page Ladies

10/06 Review & Podcast @ Books to the Ceiling

10/06 Review @ A Room Without Books is Empty

10/06 Review @ Celticladys Reviews

10/07 Review @ Books Blog

10/07 Review @ Melissa As Blog

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

The Damned Lovely by Adam Frost (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 Damned Lovely by Adam Frost!

Book Review

The Damned Lovely by Adam Frost
Publisher: Down & Out Books
Publication Date: May 2, 2022
Format: Paperback - 340 pages
               Kindle - 997 KB
               Nook - 291 KB
ISBN: 978-1643962535
BNID: 2940161031155
Genre: Crime / Mystery

Buy The Book:

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

Book Description:

“She wasn’t pretty but she was ours…”

Sandwiched between seedy businesses in the scorching east LA suburb of Glendale, The Damned Lovely dive bar is as scarred as its regulars: ex-cops, misfits and loners. And for Sam Goss, it’s a refuge from the promising life he’s walked away from, a place to write and a hole to hide in.

But when a beautiful and mysterious new patron to the bar turns up murdered, Sam can’t stop himself from getting involved. Despite their fleeting interaction, or perhaps because of it, something about her ghost won’t let go…

Armed with the playbook from the burned-out ex-cops, Sam challenges the police’s theory on the killing, butting heads with hardened detectives and asking questions nobody wants to answer. As his obsession takes hold so does his sense of purpose—as if uncovering the truth about the killer might heal some part of his own broken life. But the chase sets him on a collision course with a crooked charity, violent fundamentalists, corrupt cops, brazen embezzlers and someone dangerously close to home—all who want to make sure the truth never comes out.

Praise for The Damned Lovely:

“The Damned Lovely is the LA crime story born anew, an addictive mystery and a love letter to the careworn and forgotten places of Los Angeles—Los Angeles as it is right now. Adam Frost is a crime writer with a sharp new voice, telling a tale about the one thing everyone in Los Angeles has: desire. Desire for truth, for justice, for love, or maybe just a place to call home. Highly recommended.”

Jordan Harper, Edgar Award-winning author of She Rides Shotgun

“Frost’s crackling debut novel belongs on the shelf right next to Joseph Wambaugh and Michael Connelly. Crisp prose. An intricate plot worthy of Raymond Chandler, packed with scruffy, lovable, and lived-in characters that leap off the page. Frost brings a fresh voice and much-needed new blood to LA crime fiction.”

Will Beall, author of L.A. Rex and creator of CBS’s Training Day

“An unputdownable and suspenseful whodunnit: anchored in the quandary of manifesting destiny in grief and lost opportunity.”

Blake Howard, producer and host of the One Heat Minute podcast and Film Critic

“Every bourbon-soaked sentence in this endlessly entertaining first novel proves Joseph Wambaugh dipped Adam Frost by his ankle into the L.A. river. Roll over Michael Connelly, tell Raymond Chandler the news.”

Adam Novak, author of Rat Park and Take Fountain

Book Excerpt:

I took a sip and checked my phone. Waiting for the screen to siiiing. Praying. Hoping.

She held her ground and I lost the fight.

The empty telephone. Reminding me, I had no excuses. To be in a better place. To be successful.

I was an American.

I was white.

I grew up safe and surrounded by love.

There was money for birthday parties and proper schools.

I had a college degree in communications.

I’d traveled to Southeast Asia. Seen Europe. Touched down in South Africa. I had a sweet girl who liked to cook and wanted a ring. We had an apartment in West Hollywood with good light.

I’d found a marketing gig early and wrote ad copy for seven years. Logos. Corporate promos. Internet ribbons. Microcopy drawl. Quippy garbage that paid the rent and then some.

I was on the right track.

Until I broke. Crashed the cart and pulled the plug on my world of California lies.

Staring into those smiling faces across a Doheny dinner table one night.

The masquerade of happiness.

The Instagram sham.

There was no substance. No truth. No intent for anything more than gain.

I had sealed the truth for years. Locked and bottled that depression south, convinced I could kick it. Convinced the gnaw would pass.

Things are great, I kept saying. Things are great.

But something about those faces on that very Doheny night popped the cork and shattered the glass. I called it out. I let it rip ugly. These weren’t my friends. They were assets. Nothing more.

This wasn’t love. This was compliance on rails.

I needed something pure. Something with purpose and mine all mine. That I truly adored.

So I quit the girl who liked to cook. Lost the apartment with the light and moved to Glendale. Where it was cheaper. Where there was no good light.

And worst of all. I was compelled by a force inside my bones to write something real. Something long and from the heart. Something maybe even wise.

This, more and more it seemed, may have been a grave mistake.

It was in no way working out.

Still, I refused to believe in misery. An honest rut is all. It’ll turn around soon. It has to. Because when you’re going through hell in Glendale, keep going. Right?

So. Soldier on. Live with intent and drown those voices out.

Drown. Them. Out. Soldier!

Swish. Swish.

A red Trojan alpha bro was swipin’ right at the bar. Americana run off sipping a sea breezer with a skinny lime. Slice and I shared a healthy glare of disdain when Jewels crossed behind me and nodded to stool 9.

“She’s baaaack,” Jewels cooed.

And there she was. Hiding her green eyes under a black felt fedora and a worn-out paperback of To the Lighthouse. She had dark brown hair pinned low at the back. Wore a simple tight white V-neck tee exposing that soft skin around her collarbones. She sat straight. With her legs crossed in black jeans that pinched in at her waist and exposing a band of flawless smooth lower back. She kept her face down. Never spoke to a soul beyond ordering a drink. And never looked at her phone. Not once. Not once had I seen her look at her phone. Instead, she just buried her eyes in that book. Drowning out the world with a Negroni and Woolf’s words like some kinda mystery from a different era. She’d been in four times now by my count. And it was consistent. Early in the afternoon. Same drink. Same book. Alone. Like an oasis in this godforsaken Glendale desert.


Excerpt from The Damned Lovely by Adam Frost. Copyright 2022 by Adam Frost. Reproduced with permission from Adam Frost. All rights reserved.

My Book Review:

In The Damned Lovely, author Adam Frost transports the reader to Glendale, California, for an intriguing dark noir crime thriller that will keep the reader guessing and turning the pages.

Welcome to The Damned Lovely, a seedy dark dive bar in Glendale, California, that is the home of ex-cops, misfits, and loners. Sam Goss, is one of the misfits that frequents the bar, for the past nine years he's been a down-n-out struggling author and ride share driver living in Glendale, who gave up his promising life and career in marketing writing ad copies for seven years in West Hollywood. Sam fills his days drinking, and trying to write in a back room of the bar he calls "the box" that he rents from Jules, a retired cop and owner of The Damned Lovely. 

The story centers around Sam's amateur sleuth adventure, as he is drawn into investigating the murder of an intriguing bar patron in a black fedora named Josie Pendleton, a twenty-two year old woman who sits at the bar and reads a novel, not talking to any of the other bar patrons. Josie was abducted in Glendale after spending time at the bar, and was found raped and strangled to death in a stolen car by a jogger. Police investigation thinks there is a connection to Josie's murder with two other recent murders of women in their early twenties, a similar MO that could possibly be the work of a serial killer they dub the Glendale Grabber. Sam's interest in Josie leads him to look into her life, and he falls down the rabbit hole into a dangerous investigation that challenges the police's theory of how she died. Sam's obsession in finding the truth into Josie's murder leads him to finding danger around every corner, even in the dark seedy dive bar that has become his second home. Learning that he can't trust anyone, follow along as Sam puts the pieces of the puzzle together and finds out the truth behind Josie's death.

In his debut novel, author Adam Frost weaves a slow-building and suspenseful dark gritty noir tale written in the first person narrative that follows Sam Goss as he investigates the recent murder of twenty-two year old bar patron Josie Pendleton, and is determined to find the truth and seek justice. 

The reader is easily drawn into this riveting dark noir crime story with its richly descriptive plot. It is filled with enough drama, secrets, motives, possible suspects, and intriguing twists and turns that definitely keeps the reader guessing until the surprising conclusion.

This was a really intriguing story to read! Sam takes the readers along on his investigation with daily journal style chapters within a three month timeline from Monday, July 6th to Tuesday, October 20th. The story provides a fascinating cast of characters, a dive bar deep with history and character, enough clues to engage the reader, suprising twists and turns, and danger around every corner, especially when there are people who don't want the truth to come out. I found myself so caught up on following Sam's investigative pursuit of putting the pieces of the puzzle together and solving Josie's murder, while also learning the pasts of Sam and the other bar patrons, it's like a bar full of broken and down-n-out people that form a tight little bar family. Through Sam's obsessive investigation, he learns valuable life lessons as the truth is uncovered. I was absolutely stunned by the conclusion! 

The Damned Lovely will definitely take the readers on one heck of a thrilling roller coaster ride.


About The Author

Adam Frost was born and raised in Vancouver. He began as an actor, and now works as a television writer and producer, best known for the crime shows Tribal and Castle. He lives on the east side of Los Angeles. He’s also one helluva T-ball coach.

Contest Giveaway

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for Adam Frost. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.


Virtual Book Tour

Tour Participants:

08/30 Showcase @ Nesies Place
09/01 Interview @ I Read What You Write
09/05 Showcase @ Silvers Reviews
09/07 Showcase @ The Authors Harbor
09/08 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews
09/12 Guest post @ Novels Alive
09/19 Review @ Melissa As Blog
09/20 Showcase @ Books, Ramblings, and Tea
09/21 Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews
09/21 Review @ Feliciaisbooked
09/22 Review @ Quiet Fury Books
09/22 Showcase @ Lisa-Queen Of Random
09/23 Review @ Guatemala Paula Loves to Read
10/17 Podcast interview @ Blog Talk Radio
10/17 Review @ Just Reviews

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Typecast by Andrea J. Stein (Book Review)


Book Review

Typecast by Andrea J. Stein
Publisher: Girl Friday Books
Publication Date: September 13, 2022
Format: Paperback - 364 pages
               Kindle - 5759 KB
               Nook - 5 MB
ISBN: 978-1954854659
BNID: 978-1954854666
Genre: Women's Fiction

Buy The Book:

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

Book Description:

Callie Dressler thought she’d put her past where it belonged—behind her. But when her ex-boyfriend brings their breakup to the big screen, she can no longer deny that their history has been looming over her all along.

At thirty-one, Callie Dressler is finally comfortable in her own skin. She loves her job as a preschool teacher, and although living in her vacant childhood home isn’t necessarily what dreams are made of, the space is something she never could have afforded if she’d stayed in New York City. She knows her well-ordered life will be upended when her type A, pregnant sister, Nina; adorable four-year-old niece; and workaholic brother-in-law move in, but how could she say no when they needed a place to crash during their remodel? As Nina pointed out, it’s still their parents’ house, even if their mom and dad have relocated.

As if adjusting to this new living situation isn’t enough, the universe sends Callie another wrinkle: her college boyfriend—who Callie dumped ten years earlier for reasons known only to her—has a film coming out, and the screenplay is based on their real-life breakup. While the movie consumes her thoughts, Callie can’t help wondering if Nina and her friends are right that she hasn’t moved on. When a complication with Nina’s pregnancy brings Callie in close contact with Nina’s smart and funny architect, Callie realizes she’d better figure out whether she wants to open the door to the past—or risk missing out on her future.

My Book Review:

In her debut novel, Typecast, author Andrea J. Stein transports the reader to Brook Hill, New Jersey, to follow the journey of self-discovery for thirty-one year old preschool teacher Callie Dressler.

For the past seven years, Callie Dressler has been living in her parent's house, and going about her life as a preschool teacher. Her life is upended when her older pregnant sister Nina, husband Michael, and four year old daughter Zoe move in with her temporarily while their house undergoes renovations. And if that isn't enough to send her in a tizzy, she finds out in her college alumni newsletter that her ex-college boyfriend Ethan Rendel, a Hollywood screenwriter, has written a screenplay for a feature film called Rerouting that is based on their breakup ten years ago. Faced with upheaval on the homefront, and wondering about her past and choices made, Callie embarks on a journey of self-discovery, and learns to put the past behind her in order to move forward with her life. 

In Typecast, author Andrea J. Stein easily captivates her readers' attention with this wonderful story that engages the reader to follow along as Callie's journey of self-reflection about her past: the choices made and roads not taken, leads her down the path of self-discovery, and a coming to terms with the past, and coming full circle. 

Callie's story is told alternating with the past (college years) and present in a seamless and flowing storyline, and with engaging characters who draw you into their lives with a strong emotional pull, along with their complexities, flaws and secrets.

Throughout the story, Callie is challenged with family issues in the present, while revisiting her past college relationship with Ethan, and the choices that she made ten years ago, and how in the present she discovers that her life has been in a rut, and that it's time to put the past where it belongs, and move forward with her life. I couldn't help but feel an emotional tug as Callie's past unfolds, you just can't help but feel Callie's angst, and have compassion for her, it will definitely pull at your heartstrings. I love how the alternating past / present storyline goes hand-in-hand, it kept the story moving along with surprising twists and turns that will leave you with a smile on your face. 

The reader will be kept engaged as this wonderful story unfolds. With a cast of interesting characters, Typecast is a compelling story about love, friendship, family, relationships, and second chances in life. 


About The Author

Andrea J. Stein is a lifetime lover of books. Born in Brooklyn, she was raised in New Jersey before attending a small, quirky liberal arts college and a large, preppy university, both in New York State. A book publicist by profession, she lives with her husband and sons in suburban New Jersey—where the boys attended preschool at a place much like Bouncy Castles. She spends an inordinate amount of time taking pretty photos of books. Things that make her happy include strong tea, turtles, sunshine, sheep, and the ocean.