Literary Blog Hop Winner

The Literary Blog Hop has ended. First I want to express my gratitude to Judith at Leeswammes’ Blog for organizing another great blog hop. Second, I want to thank everyone that stopped by and entered. 

And now for the winner…congratulations to Paula B.! Paula B. has won a paperback copy of The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford.

Showcase: SLINGSHOT by Matthew Dunn


by Matthew Dunn

on Tour June 25 – July 31, 2013


Book Details:
Genre:  Fiction
Published by: William Morrow / HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: June 25, 2013
Number of Pages: 416
ISBN: 9780062038029
Purchase Links:    


Master spy Will Cochrane must catch a missing Russian defector as well as one of Europe’s deadliest assassins in this action-packed follow-up to Sentinel, written by real life former field officer Matthew Dunn. 


Will Cochrane monitors the nighttime streets of Gdansk, Poland—waiting for the appearance of a Russian defector, a man bearing a top secret document, who Will believes is about to step out of the cold and into the hands of Polish authorities. But suddenly everything goes sideways. The target shows up, but so does a team from Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) hell-bent on keeping the man from walking. Then, in a hail of crossfire, a van speeds into the melee and snatches the defector out from under them all. Everyone wants the man and the codes he carries—but now he’s gone and it’s up to Will and his CIA/MI6 team to find him before the Russians. 


Will tracks both the missing Russian and his kidnappers, believing the defector has his own warped agenda. But soon it’s apparent that the real perpetrator could be someone much more powerful: a former East German Stasi officer who instigated a super-secret pact between Russian and US generals almost twenty years ago. An agreement, which if broken for any reason, was designed to unleash the world’s deadliest assassin. 


Then Will learns that the Russians have tasked their own ‘spycatcher’—an agent just as ruthless and relentless as Will—to retrieve the document. Now Will knows that he faces two very clever and deadly adversaries, who will stop at nothing to achieve their aims

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

Berlin, 1995 Each step through the abandoned Soviet military barracks took the Russian intelligence officer closer to the room where men were planning genocide.

Nikolai Dmitriev hated being here.

And he loathed what he was about to do.

The barracks were a labyrinth of corridors and rooms. Icy water dripped over the stone walls, covered with paintings of Cold War–era troops and tanks; the air was rank with must; the officer’s footsteps echoed as he strode onward, shivering despite his overcoat and fur hat. Previously, the complex would have housed thousands of troops. Now it resembled a decaying prison.

He turned into a corridor and was confronted by four men. Two Russians, two Americans, all wearing jeans, boots, and Windbreakers, carrying silenced handguns. The Special Forces men checked his ID and thoroughly searched him. It was the seventh time this had happened as he’d moved through the barracks. Two hundred Russian Spetsnaz operatives and an equal number of U.S. Delta, SEALs, and CIA SOG men were strategically positioned in the base to ensure that every route to his destination was defended. Their orders were clear: kill any unauthorized person who attempted to get near the men in the room.

The men motioned Nikolai forward.

Reaching the end of the corridor, he stopped opposite a door. Extending his hand to open it, he hesitated as he heard a high-pitched noise. Glancing back, two rats in a stagnant pool of water and grease were ripping skin and flesh off the dying carcass of another screeching rat, neither predator attempting to fight the other for the meat; instead they seemed to be cooperating. He wondered if he should turn around and leave while there was still time. Everything about his presence here was wrong. But he was under orders.

He entered.

It was a large mess hall. Ten years ago, he would have seen long trestle tables and soldiers eating their meals. Now it was bare of any furnishings save a rectangular table and chairs in the center. Graffiti covered the walls, most of it crude, deriding the Soviet Union. Cigarette smoke hung motionless in the stagnant air. Rainwater poured from cracks in the high ceiling onto the concrete floor.

Sitting on one side of the rectangular table were a U.S. admiral, a U.S. general, and a CIA officer. Opposite them were two Russian generals. Between them were two files, and ashtrays. None of the men were in uniform; the presence in Germany of America’s and Russia’s most powerful military commanders was secret.

As was the presence of the intelligence officers. Nikolai himself was Head of Directorate S—the SVR’s division with responsibility for illegal intelligence, including planting illegal agents abroad, conducting terror operations and sabotage in foreign countries, and recruiting Russians on Russian soil. The CIA officer at the table was Head of the Special Activities Division—responsible for overseas paramilitary activities and covert manipulation of target countries’ political structures.

At the head of the table was a small, clean-shaven, middle-aged man with jet black hair. Dressed in an expensive black suit, a crisp, woven white silk shirt, and a blue tie that had been bound in a Windsor knot, the man removed his rimless circular glasses, polished them with one end of his tie, and smiled. “Always late for the party, Nikolai.”

Nikolai did not smile. “A party requires salubrious surroundings. You’ve chosen unwisely, Kurt.”

Kurt Schreiber nodded toward the vacant chair next to one of the Russian generals. “Sit, and shut up.”

Nikolai said with contempt, “You’ve no authority over me, civilian.”

Kurt chuckled. “When you and I were colonels in the KGB and Stasi, you’d have called me comrade.”

Nikolai sat and nodded. “Different times, and I’d have been lying to your face.”

Kurt’s shrill, well-spoken words were rapid: “The Russian premier chose me to chair this meeting. Not you.” He placed his manicured fingers together. “That is telling.”

“I agree. It tells us how low we’ve stooped.” Nikolai looked at the Americans. “Have the protocols been drawn up?”

“They have.” Admiral Jack Dugan nodded toward the Russian generals. “It took us two days.”

General Alexander Tatlin lit a cigarette. “It was worth the effort.” The Russian exhaled smoke. “The results are precise.”

“Seems to me,” CIA officer Thomas Scott said, eyeing Nikolai with suspicion, “that you’re not comfortable with this.”

Nikolai laughed, his voice echoing in the bare hall. “How can any sane man be comfortable agreeing to this?”

“Kurt Schreiber’s idea is brilliant.”

“It’s psychotic.” Nikolai looked at Schreiber and repeated in a quieter voice, “Psychotic.”

U.S. general Joe Ballinger pointed across the table. “Schreiber’s right. The act has to shock the fuckers into submission. Man comes at you with a knife; you defend yourself with a gun. Trouble is—we haven’t got anyone on our side of the fence who’s got the balls to do another Hiroshima or Nagasaki. So we make the decision, and it’s a sane one—as uncomfortable as it may make us.”

Nikolai frowned. “You haven’t reported the true meaning of the protocols to your president?”

The U.S. commander shook his head. “Nope, and we’re never going to. Nor are subsequent presidents going to find out.” He gestured toward his two American colleagues. “We’re the only Americans who’ll know the secret. No one else stateside would ever agree to this plan.”

“And that’s because they lack my . . . imagination.” Kurt withdrew two ink pens, handed one to General Leon Michurin and the other to Admiral Dugan. “Signatures, please.”

The Americans signed a sheet of paper inside one of the files; the Russian generals did the same in their files; they exchanged documents, countersigned, and moved both files in front of Nikolai.

The SVR officer stared at the two files. All that was needed to make this official was his signature on both documents.

“Nikolai, we’re waiting.” Kurt’s tone was hard, impatient.

Nikolai looked at the men opposite him; ordinarily they were his enemies. He pictured the two large rats, feasting at opposite ends of the third rodent.


The Russian intelligence officer shook his head. “This is wrong.”

“And yet the alternative isn’t right.”

“If I sign this, millions of people could die.”

“Not millions, you fool.” Schreiber smiled. “Hundreds of millions.”

Nikolai couldn’t believe this was happening. He’d always hated Kurt Schreiber. The man was undoubtedly highly intelligent, but also untrustworthy, manipulative, and cruel, and since the collapse of East Germany he had made millions through illegal business ventures. Now he had the ear of the Russian president, and that made him more dangerous than when he’d been a Stasi officer. “How can you live with yourself?”

Schreiber shrugged. “I view the deaths as necessary statistics. I suggest you do the same.”

Nikolai was tempted to respond but knew there was no point.Schreiber would not listen to reason.

Pure evil never did.

Nikolai gripped the pen, momentarily closed his eyes, muttered, “Forgive me,” and signed both documents.

“Excellent.” Kurt reached across, grabbed both files, shoved one at the Russian generals, the other at the Americans. The former Stasi colonel smiled. “The protocols for Slingshot are now in place, ready for use should ever the need arise.”

“Great.” General Tatlin stubbed his cigarette out. “So now we can get out of this shithole.”

“Not yet.” Kurt placed his hands flat on the table. “How can we ensure that no one in this room ever reveals the secret of what’s missing in the files?”

Thomas Scott huffed. “Slingshot won’t work if one of us talks. We’ve agreed that.”

Kurt stared at nothing. “We have, but we need more than agreement.”

“What are you proposing?”

“Insurance.”Kurt looked at the men before resting his cold gaze on Nikolai. “Time can erode a man’s resolve. But fear can keep him resolute.”

“Speak plainly.”

Kurt nodded. “One day, one of you may wake up with a crisis of conscience and decide that he can no longer carry the burden of this secret. That can’t happen. So, my solution is simple and effective. The Russian president has authorized me to activate an assassin. He will be deployed as a deep-cover sleeper agent, and his orders are to kill any of you”—he looked at the CIA officer and smiled—”who talks.”

General Tatlin lit another cigarette and jabbed its glowing tip in the direction of Schreiber. “You expect us to live our lives with a potential death sentence hanging over us?”

Schreiber interlaced his fingers. “Yes.”

Dugan laughed. “Take a look around this base, Schreiber. We’re the kind of men who like to have impenetrable security wherever we go.”


“Damn right.” The admiral’s tone was now angry. “Send out your assassin, for all we care. But you’re going to need better insurance than that.”

“There is no better insurance.”

Nikolai wondered why Schreiber looked so smug. “Who’s the assassin?”

The sound of rainwater striking the concrete floor seemed to intensify as Schreiber momentarily closed his eyes. “You know of him by the code name Kronos.”

“Kronos!” Nikolai’s stomach muscles knotted. “Why was he selected for this task?”

Before Schreiber could answer, General Ballinger asked, “Who the hell is Kronos?”

Nikolai looked at the American commanders as he began to sweat. “He was a Stasi officer, tasked on East Germany’s most complex and strategic assassinations. Since the collapse of communism, he’s been on the payroll of Russia. He’s . . . he’s our most effective killer. One hundred and eighty three kills under his belt. Always successful.” As he returned his attention to Schreiber, he felt overwhelming unease. “Why was he selected?”

Schreiber opened his eyes. “Because the Slingshot secret is so vital. We needed our very best assassin to ensure that”—he swept his arm through air—”no amount of impenetrable security can protect a man who might betray us.” Schreiber checked his watch and looked toward one of the far corners of the mess hall. In a loud, clipped tone, he called out, “Show them.”

Nikolai and the others immediately followed Schreiber’s gaze. At first nothing happened. Then, movement from within the shadows at the corner of the room.

A big man stepped into the light.

Standing directly underneath one of the streams of water pouring down from the ceiling.

Was motionless as he allowed the icy rain to wash over his head.

His handgun held high and trained on them.


Schreiber smiled and looked at the others. “Not only did Kronos get past all of your men, he did so with very precise timing. I ordered him not to enter this room until one minute ago, so that the contents of our discussion would remain confidential to only the men around this table. Since then, he’s been pointing his weapon at you.”

General Michurin slammed a fist down onto the table. “How dare you make fools of us!”

Schreiber responded calmly, “It wasn’t my intention to make fools of you. Rather, to demonstrate to you that you do indeed have a potential death sentence hanging over you.” He darted a look at Kronos. “Give them what they need.”

Nikolai felt fear course through him as he watched the German assassin take measured steps toward the table, his gun still held high. Though Nikolai was one of only a handful of SVR officers who was cleared to know all about the Kronos operations, he didn’t know the assassin’s real name. Moreover, this was the first time that he’d been in the presence of the man. Kronos was well over six feet tall, muscular, had black hair, and was wearing clothes identical to those Nikolai had seen worn by the base’s protection detail.

Kronos lowered his weapon, withdrew a piece of paper from his jacket, tore it in half, and slapped one piece of paper on Admiral Dugan’s chest before moving to the other side of the table and doing the same with the other bit of paper on General Michurin.

Schreiber spoke to the Americans. “I suggest you bury your paper deep in the vaults of the CIA.” Then to the Russians, “Put yours in the SVR vaults.” He cupped his hands together. “Never combine them, unless there is reason to do so.”


“One of you needs Kronos to put a bullet in your head.”

“You . . .”

“Enough, admiral!” Schreiber composed himself. “The relevance of the two pieces of paper will be made known to you if the need arises. Until that time, Kronos will vanish. No one, not even me, will know of his location. He’ll wait for years, decades if necessary, until he is . . . needed.”

Thomas Scott shook his head. “Our men have been here for three days.” The CIA officer felt disbelief. “And when they arrived, they searched the entire base.”

General Ballinger shrugged. “There’s no way he could’ve penetrated the base today. He must have entered the complex before our men arrived and hid in a place they failed to search.”

“That’s the only possible explanation.” Admiral Dugan pointed at Schreiber. “Next time we’ll be more thorough.”

Schreiber grinned, though his expression remained cold. “Kronos—show them where you were two and three days ago.”

The German moved around the table, placing a photograph each in front of the Russians and Americans. Incredulity was on all of the men’s faces as they stared at the shots.

Each showed the inside of their homes in America or Russia.

A local newspaper clearly showing the day’s date.

And Kronos pointing the tip of a long knife toward family photos.


Kronos retrieved each photo, placed them in a pile in the center of the table, and lit them with a match.

Schreiber watched the flames rise high. “Our meeting is concluded. You will take the Slingshot protocols back to your respective headquarters. You will secrete the torn papers as instructed. You will keep your mouths shut. Otherwise, my assassin will find and kill you.”

Kronos stepped away from the men, hesitated, then turned to face them. In a deep voice, he said, “Gentlemen, I left all of your men alive, though I must apologize for the harm I had to cause some of them.”

Then he disappeared into the shadows.

Author Bio:

As an MI6 field officer, MATTHEW DUNN recruited and ran agents, coordinated and participated in special operations, and acted in deep-cover roles throughout the world. He operated in environments where, if captured, he would have been executed. Dunn was trained in all aspects of intelligence collection, deep-cover deployments, small-arms, explosives, military unarmed combat, surveillance, and infiltration. 
Medals are never awarded to modern MI6 officers, but Dunn was the recipient of a rare personal commendation from the secretary of state for work he did on one mission, which was deemed so significant that it directly influenced the success of a major international incident.
During his time in MI6, Matthew conducted approximately seventy missions. All of them were successful. He lives in England, where he is at work on the fourth Spycatcher novel.

Catch Up With the Author:

Tour Participants

Book 137: INTO THE DARK Review

Into The Dark by Rick Mofina
ISBN:  9780778315001 (paperback)
ISBN:  9781460315101 (ebook)
ASIN:  B00BV2WCCU (Kindle edition)
Publication date: June 25, 2013 
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA


Claire Bowen, a haunted psychologist, devotes her life to helping troubled women rebuild theirs. But her dream of a family with her new husband, Robert, a pilot and local hero, begins to crumble as disturbing revelations from his past emerge.


Detective Joe Tanner, struggling to overcome his wife’s death while raising their little girl alone, heads the task force formed to stop the monster who has resurfaced with a chilling message.


In the wake of five cold-case murders across Los Angeles, one of Claire’s most promising patients vanishes. Gut instinct tells Tanner the truth is within his grasp, while Claire is torn between guilt and terror over what’s to come. As time runs out, both are pulled deeper and deeper into an unspeakable darkness.

Claire Bowen was a first-hand witness to the abusive relationship between her parents. She even saw her father kill her mother and younger brother before ultimately killing himself. She’s now in a happy relationship with her husband, Robert Bowen, and dedicates her psychology practice to helping abused women. Now it appears that Claire is caught between one of her patients and her estranged abusive husband. When that patient disappears and the police launch their investigation into the patient, the patient’s husband, and Claire’s practice, more questions are raised than answered. Claire turns to her best friend, a private investigator, to obtain some of those answers. Will answers be found before more bodies are found?

On the surface it appears that Claire and Robert Bowen have the perfect relationship. Robert is loving, attentive, supportive, and hard-working. Unfortunately the more the police search for clues into the murders and Claire’s practice, the more unanswered questions arise about Robert and his background. Claire begins to suspect that maybe it isn’t possible to ever fully know the person you’re in love with and those questions could lead to her demise.

Into the Dark is a fast-paced read that pulled me in from the very beginning. I enjoyed the way Mr. Mofina revealed the warped character of the murderer layer by layer, building the suspense. Even when the murderer is fully revealed, the questions of why, how, and for how long remained. None of the women presented are weak women, but they do have moments of weakness that added to their vulnerability factor. I found all of the characters to be very well-developed and realistic, even the bad guys. If you enjoy a well-written mystery-suspense story with a dark but charismatic bad guy, then Into the Dark may be the perfect read for you.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Everybody Has Everything by Katrina Onstad
ISBN:  9781455522927 (paperback)
ISBN:  9780771068799 (ebook)
ASIN:  B00AFHH9EI (Kindle edition)
Publication date: June 25, 2013 
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

After years of unsuccessful attempts at conceiving a child, Ana and James become parents overnight, when a terrible accident makes them guardians to 2-year-old Finn. Suddenly, two people who were struggling to come to terms with childlessness are thrust into the opposite situation-responsible for a small toddler whose mother’s survival is in question. 

Finn’s crash-landing in their tidy, urban lives throws into high relief some troubling truths about their deepest selves, both separately and as a couple. Several chaotic, poignant, and life-changing weeks as a most unusual family give rise to an often unasked question: Can everyone be a parent?

Ana and James have been married for a number of years and trying to become parents for most of those years. The last pregnancy ended with a miscarriage. Just when it seemed they were becoming used to the idea of never becoming parents, their lives take a dramatic turn. They become foster-parents to the two-year-old child of their dear friends, Marcus and Sarah’s son, Finn when a tragic accident results in the death of Marcus and nearly-fatal injuries to Sarah.

It appears that Ana had become not only at peace with the notion of never becoming a parent, but almost happy that she would never have to disrupt her life and career with motherhood. Ana isn’t overly maternal but she does seem to border on being obsessive-compulsive about her habits and lifestyle. She appreciates having a home that isn’t exactly child-friendly. She actually enjoys the regimentation of being a research lawyer. Now that she is faced with being a surrogate mother to a two-year-old, she isn’t quite sure why she ever considered being a mother in the first place. Is it possible the maternal instinct will eventually kick in? Will she ever be completely comfortable around Finn?

While Ana is dealing with the inner turmoil of not being maternal, James is quite happy in his role as surrogate father to Finn. Unbeknownst to Ana, James has already established a relationship with Finn and often took him on outings to give his mother a much-needed break. Now that James is unemployed from his career in television, he is able to commit most of his time to Finn and seeing to his needs. 

Everybody has Everything seems to be about just the opposite, not being able to have everything. In Ana’s mind having everything seems to mean having a marriage, career and family. If she doesn’t have all of these components in her life then she is somehow deficient in the eyes of society. She is very happy with her career and relatively satisfied with her marriage, but should she want more? James is dissatisfied with his lack of a career and is searching for something to redefine himself. His relationship with Ana isn’t as strong as it once was and he also seems to be struggling for a balance there as much as with his career options. I found Everybody Has Everything to be a relatively quick read, but I couldn’t really connect with the characters. It didn’t make sense to me that if Ana wasn’t really ready for motherhood, she’d spend so much time, money and effort on getting pregnant in the first place. James came across as mature in some instances and in others he reminded me more of an immature young man than someone approaching his early forties. He was a good father figure to Finn and seemed to relish the time spent with him. He was also a good friend to both Marcus and Sarah. I liked the premise of Everybody Has Everything, I just think it got a little lost along the way . . . or at least it seemed to for me.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Book 133: SWEET SALT AIR Review

Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinsky
ISBN:  9781250007032 (hardcover)
ISBN:  9781250020383 (ebook)
ASIN:  B009LRWJ48 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: June 18, 2013 
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Charlotte and Nicole were once the best of friends, spending summers together in Nicole’s coastal island house off of Maine. But many years, and many secrets, have kept the women apart. A successful travel writer, single Charlotte lives on the road, while Nicole, a food blogger, keeps house in Philadelphia with her surgeon-husband, Julian. When Nicole is commissioned to write a book about island food, she invites her old friend Charlotte back to Quinnipeague, for a final summer, to help. Outgoing and passionate, Charlotte has a gift for talking to people and making friends, and Nicole could use her expertise for interviews with locals. Missing a genuine connection, Charlotte agrees.

But what both women don’t know is that they are each holding something back that may change their lives forever. For Nicole, what comes to light could destroy her marriage, but it could also save her husband. For Charlotte, the truth could cost her Nicole’s friendship, but could also free her to love again. And her chance may lie with a reclusive local man, with a heart to soothe and troubles of his own.

Charlotte Evans and Nicole Carlysle have been friends since childhood. Their best memories were spent with Nicole’s family in Quinnipeague, Maine. The last memory of the summer house was when Nicole married Julian. Unfortunately Charlotte doesn’t have good memories of that event and her secret has kept her away from her best friend for more than ten years. Now Charlotte is a renowned travel writer and her travel keeps her on the move, a true globetrotter  Nicole has a wonderful marriage and has made a success as a blogger promoting the merits of sourcing local foods and the farm-to-table movement. Now that Nicole is protecting a secret of her own, she craves the companionship of her best friend in what may be her final summer at Quinnipeague. Fortunately Charlotte agrees to spend the summer on Quinnipeague and help Nicole write a cookbook based on local cuisine. Can their friendship survive the revelation of their darkest secrets?

Sweet Salt Air is much more than a novel about the friendship between two women. It is a story about secrets, friendship, and family, as well as the lengths people will go to in order to protect those secrets and relationships. Charlotte has kept a secret from Nicole because she doesn’t want to cause problems between Nicole and Julian nor does she want to lose her best friend. Julian is forcing Nicole to keep a secret about his health and while she’s happy to be a support system for her husband, she doesn’t have anyone to lean on for support during his illness. Charlotte and Nicole are both fighting deadlines . . . the deadline for the cookbook draft and the unspoken deadline hanging over their heads relating to Julian’s health. If those issues weren’t enough to deal with, they both must deal with the inherent privacy issues surrounding the legends of one of the Quinnipeague’s own and the source for most of the local herbs. I enjoyed all of the characters and felt they were incredibly realistic, including the reclusive loner turned author and love interest for Charlotte. In addition, the setting of coastal Maine came to life and was ideal for the action. Ms. Delinsky has provided a great read that incorporates friendship, family drama, and romance into one nice package with Sweet Salt Air. If you’re looking for something delightful to read this summer, then I can recommend adding Sweet Salt Air to your reading list.

Watch the book trailer:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Book 132: THE 9TH GIRL Review

The 9th Girl by Tami Hoag
ISBN:  9780525952978 (hardcover)
ISBN:  9781101606599 (ebook)
ASIN:  B0096SOUF8 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: June 18, 2013 
Publisher: Dutton Adult

“Kovac had seen more dead bodies than he could count: Men, women, children; victims of shootings, stabbings, strangulations, beatings; fresh corpses and bodies that had been left for days in the trunks of cars in the dead of summer. But he had never seen anything quite like this . . . “


On a frigid New Year’s Eve in Minneapolis a young woman’s brutalized body falls from the trunk of a car into the path of oncoming traffic. Questions as to whether she was alive or dead when she hit the icy pavement result in her macabre nickname, Zombie Doe. Unidentified and unidentifiable, she is the ninth nameless female victim of the year, and homicide detectives Sam Kovac and Nikki Liska are charged with the task of not only finding out who Zombie Doe is, but who in her life hated her enough to destroy her. Was it personal, or could it just have been a crime of opportunity? Their greatest fear is that not only is she their ninth Jane Doe of the year, but that she may be the ninth victim of a vicious transient serial killer they have come to call Doc Holiday.


Crisscrossing America’s heartland, Doc Holiday chooses his victims at random, snatching them in one city and leaving them in another, always on a holiday. If Zombie Doe is one of his, he has brought his gruesome game to a new and more terrifying level. But as Kovac and Liska begin to uncover the truth, they will find that the monsters in their ninth girl’s life may have lived closer to home. And even as another young woman disappears, they have to ask the question: which is the greater evil–the devil you know or the devil you don’t?

The 9th Girl by Tami Hoag is the fourth book in the Kovac and Liska series and it starts off with a bang. It’s New Year’s Eve and a limo driver is escorting a group of young men and women around town. The party in the back of the limo is getting a little wild and frisky and the driver is more interested in the happenings in the back of the limo until a car hits a pothole and a body pops up out of the trunk falling into the street in front of the limo. Detectives Sam “Kojak” Kovac and Nikki “Tinks” Liska are called to the gruesome scene. Is this young lady a victim of the serial killer they’ve been tracking for the past year or something far worse?

Over the course of a week, detectives Kovac, Liska and their team must try to identify someone without a face and very few remaining teeth. Their only hope is a small tattoo on the girl’s back. Since this body was so publicly revealed and has been sensationalized, it makes their case just a little harder rather than easier. The only recourse is to track missing persons that fit the profile and this leads a little too close to home for Nikki, as the girl may be a friend of her eldest son. If that wasn’t bad enough, her son has been getting into fights, something completely unlike him, and he refuses to confide in her. Nikki’s at her wits ends trying to unravel the mystery of her extremely quiet and introverted son and his problems and this case. To make matters worse it appears that the missing girl isn’t liked by too many people at her school or by her parents, and the only person truly missing her is Nikki’s son.

I found The 9th Girl to be a fascinating read into family dynamics, bullying, abuse and serial killers. Each book in this series provides slightly more insight into the personal lives of detectives Kovac and Liska. This book incorporated the use of social media and online journalism in an effort to discover the identity of the deceased. The incorporation of a pseudo anti-bullying campaign through the use of a tattoo promoting acceptance and the international anti-bullying campaign spearheaded by mixed martial artist Georges St. Pierre gave the story a nice little twist. The 9th Girl features truly bad guys (a serial killer), negligent and absentee parents, bullies, school cliques (featuring mean girls and male bullies), ignorant and ineffective school administrators, and more. If you enjoy a good multilayered mystery-suspense read, then you should definitely add The 9th Girl to your reading list.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Book Spotlight and Excerpt: THE PORTRAIT by Hazel Statham

The Portrait by Hazel Statham
ISBN:  9781477815526 (paperback)
ASIN:  B00B1AJLR6 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: January 22, 2013
Publisher: Montlake Romance

Ms. Statham’s thoughts on the inspiration behind writing The Portrait:

Inspiration comes from many varied sources but for The Portrait it came from a song in the film Hawks. The film is about two terminally ill young men who escape from the hospital for one final fling before the inevitable end. The song has the words “I want to be the man that you think I am” in it as the young man wants a girl to perceive him as he was when she knew him before his illness, not as he is now. I thought this very poignant and applied it to a young noble returning from the Battle of Salamanca with life changing injuries, which he thinks would be abhorrent to a new bride.

Severely injured at the battle of Salamanca, Edward Thurston, the new Earl of Sinclair, returns home to his beloved Fly Hall. Determined not to present his prospective bride with the wreck he believes himself to have become, he decides to end his betrothal, unaware that Lady Jennifer, for vastly differing reasons, has reached the self-same decision.

Throughout the campaigns, Edward was often seen relying greatly on a miniature he carried, and it is to this token he clings upon his return. Will he eventually find happiness with the girl in the portrait, or will he remain firm in his resolve not to wed? Reason dictates one course, his heart another.

Book Spotlight and Excerpt: 

About the book:

England 1812 Severely injured at the battle of Salamanca, Edward Thurston, the
new Earl of Sinclair, returns home to his beloved Fly Hall. Determined not to
present his prospective bride with the wreck he believes himself to have become,
he decides to end his betrothal, unaware that Lady Jennifer, for vastly
differing reasons, has reached the selfsame decision. Throughout the campaigns,
Edward was often seen relying greatly on a miniature he carried, and it is to
this token he clings upon his return. Will he eventually find happiness with the
girl in the portrait, or will he remain firm in his resolve not to wed? Reason
dictates one course, his heart another.

Book Excerpt:

It was a bittersweet homecoming.  The journey had left him unbelievably weary but the mere sight of the house, seen from its parkland approach, gave him a peace of mind he had not experienced for some while.  He wished nothing more than to be within its familiar, welcoming portals.

  His wounds still plagued him, and at times, he swore he could still feel the fingers of his left hand moving.  Alas, he

d heard of other like cases amongst his fellow wounded and knew this to be nothing more than the effects of the amputation, which would disappear with time.  Hed been assured that the angry scarring to his body, where the cannon ball had torn his flesh, would fade.  Even now, the slight paling of the scar across his left cheek, gave evidence of this.  

The eyes remained the same, bright and alive, only the humor once seen there having waned.  Stubble sprang from his cheeks and chin and his dark hair curled at the nape of his neck, proving him in need of a barbers services.  Hed lain abed in a convent on the Portuguese border along with others wounded in the encounter and such niceties had, by necessity, been overlooked.

As the coach rounded the final bend in the driveway and the house came fully into view, he reached into his greatcoat pocket and took out an elegantly framed miniature of a young lady with smiling eyes and dark curls.

“You see, my love, we finally arrive,” he said in hushed tones, before carefully replacing it.  He had carried the miniature with him throughout the campaign, and it was only the sight of her face, during his delirium, that had prevented his senses from deserting him.  In the convent, his reliance on the portrait had been noted, but wisely none had commented, so fiercely did he protect it.

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About the author:

Hazel Statham lives in England and has been writing on and off since she was
fifteen. Initially she was influenced by Austen, the Brontes, and Sabatini but
when Hazel turned seventeen, Georgette Heyer opened up the romance and elegance
of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. She immediately knew she had found
her eras and wanted nothing more than to re-create them in her work. Hazel lives
with her husband, Terry, and a beautiful Labrador named Mollie.

Stay up to date with the author via her:





To be in with a chance of winning a H/B copy of Consequence or a small item of jewellery. (e.g. pearl earrings) please leave a comment below with your email addie ANY comment you make during the tour on ANY post counts as an entry into the giveaway! The giveaway ends 30 June and one random commenter from the entire tour will be picked, emailed and announced on the Dilly Dally PR site. GOOD-LUCK!

Book Spotlight & Excerpt: LAST TRAIN TO OMAHA by Ann Whitely-Gillen

The Last Train to Omaha by Ann Whitely-Gillen
ISBN:  9780991832507 (paperback)
ISBN:  9780991832514 (ebook)
ASIN:  B00BMAIRB6 (Kindle edition)
Publication Date:  February 28, 2013

After a horrific accident claims the life of his best friend at the age of eighteen, James Milligan vows to never let anyone get close to him again. 

As a prominent Chicago architect nearly two decades later, James still lives as a shadow of his former self: shutting out those who love him most, navigating his life in a veil of solitude and drowning himself in anxiety and guilt. 

As a volunteer at a palliative care hospital, James is most comfortable assisting dying veterans through their final hours. However, when charismatic war veteran Martin Diggs and charming nurse Rebecca Doyle enter his life, complacency and routine are threatened. Faced with yet another life-altering event, James is forced to inescapably choose between a life of pity and an existence he’d long considered impossible.


The night’s warm breeze flows across the fields near Princeville’s West Hillock Cemetery, carrying the smell of fresh tobacco up into the country air and over to North Rice Road. James and Stephen are walking back from a bonfire party to celebrate their last week of summer vacation together. As they stagger along towards the town of Edelstein, they enjoy their unique brand of playful banter. James can’t help but think about a young girl he was eyeing all night. He can’t stop talking about her sweeping dark hair, smoky eyes, and more than ample chest.

Stephen takes off his black and white Bob Dylan t-shirt and dangles it over his head to simulate the girl’s long hair. He starts winking and smacking his lips at James, and then mocks a young woman’s walk and talk.

James falls to the ground, rolling with laughter. When he stills, he lies on his back and stares up at the clear night sky. Stephen staggers over and lies down beside him. He puts his headphones on and starts singing along to his favorite Beatles song, which is playing on his new Walkman—a graduation present from his parents.

James has his eyes closed and his arms crossed behind his head. He can’t stop thinking of the girl. Stephen takes off his headphones and places them over James’s ears, then turns up the volume. The song fills the night for James, but he can faintly hear Stephen’s voice speaking through the music. Without removing the headphones or opening his eyes, James turns his attention to registering what Stephen is saying. At first he is confused and thinks he is misunderstanding his best friend’s words. But soon there is no doubt in James’s mind: Stephen is confessing his love for him. James doesn’t know how to react, so he pretends that the music is too loud for him to understand what Stephen’s saying.

Deep in his heart, James has always known how deeply Stephen loved him, and as much as Stephen’s poorly veiled affections were at times uncomfortable for James, they were also very reassuring. He was loved by at least one man in his life, even if it wasn’t his father. And James felt that Stephen understood him more than anyone else on the planet. They were bonded in mind, heart, and spirit. He closes his eyes tightly and wonders what he should do. He knows that Stephen indulged in a lot of booze and pot at the bonfire, which is usual for him, but it also makes him unruly if things don’t go his way. James knows his friend well, and knows that he must tread carefully.

About the author:

Ann Whitely-Gillen resides in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada with her husband and four children. Ann is also an accomplished musician and vocalist. She is currently working on the screenplay for Last Train to Omaha and the storyboard for her next novel entitled Egan’s Will.

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Website     |     Facebook     |     Goodreads     |     

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Also available at:  iBooks and Indigo

GRAB(ook) Club Discussion: MEASURE OF LOVE by Melissa Ford

If you’re anything like me, you enjoy reading and participating in book clubs. I belong to two local book groups and have tried to participate in a variety of online book groups of the years. Regrettably the online book group participation has never seemed to work out due to time constraints, etc. Well, author Melissa Ford is offering something a little different. The GRAB(ook) Club has each member post one question related to the book of the month, the June book is Ms. Ford’s Measure of Love, and then club members hop from one blog to another, reading and answering questions. 

I’ve read, enjoyed, and reviewed both of Ms. Ford’s books:  Life from Scratch and Measure of Love. One of the many things I’ve enjoyed is the complexity of the male-female relationships as well as the female-female relationships. In Life from Scratch, we see Rachel and Adam divorcing and Rachel attempting to move on with her life. She becomes quite dependent on her best friend Arianna as her support system while she searches for balance as a newly single woman. By the end, Rachel is pretty confident in herself and her new found abilities (namely cooking and blogging) and winds up back with her ex. In Measure of Love, we see Rachel and Adam in a new committed relationship and eager to build a new life together. Ms. Ford shows that it isn’t as easy in fiction as in real life. So here’s my question: 

Do you have any serious regrets about any of your past breakups? If so and you’re single/divorced/widowed, etc., do you wish that you could start again with that ex? Please post your response by commenting.

After you answer my question, please click over to read the rest of the book club questions for Measure of Love (  You can get your own copy of Measure of Love by Melissa Ford at bookstores including Amazon (

Book Spotlight & Excerpt: LOVE IN TRANSLATION

Love In Translation by Sara Palacios
ISBN: 9780988937826 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780988937802 (ebook)
ASIN: B00BEMZ2OW (Kindle edition)
Publication date: February 6, 2013

Still reeling from an unexpected breakup, Emily nurses her broken heart by spending time with her best friends and taking one-too-many vodka shots. After one long night, she takes a hard look inside herself and doesn’t like what she sees. She realizes that she has sacrificed too much in her failed relationships from the past and vows to never settle for anything less than almost-perfect again. As she picks up the pieces and regains her confidence, a sexy Spanish chef moves in across the hall and knocks her off her feet. What ensues is an unexpected and tantalizing affair that opens her eyes – and her heart – to a whole new world and leaves her feeling sexier than she has ever felt.  Emily finally sees how easy love is supposed to be. Is happily-ever-after actually possible? Just when she starts to think so, she realizes that sometimes life gets more complicated before it gets easier. And complicated is an understatement when Steven (her best and oldest friend in the world) confesses his love for her. Everything spirals out of control as Emily must make a choice between love and friendship, and in doing so, possibly risk it all. 

LOVE IN TRANSLATION is a modern day love story about following your heart to unexpected places and taking chances in life…because sometimes you will find exactly what you are looking for. 


We finish lunch and I make my way back to my apartment. I notice that most of the boxes that were stacked up in the hallway earlier are now gone, and there are only a few remaining. There is still no sight of my new neighbor. 

I maneuver through the remaining boxes and then fumble around in the bottom of my purse for my keys. 

I feel a soft tap on my shoulder and jump.  

I turn around and my heart begins to race. A gorgeous man stood in front of me. His eyes are deep brown, his hair is long and a silky shade of chocolate and his skin is glistening and tan.

My mouth goes dry. I stand there speechless, and staring upward because he is a few inches taller than me. The view from down here is actually very, very nice.

“Hola,” he says in a deep Spanish accent. Then he smiles; his lips curving slightly up toward the right side of his mouth. 

He is getting more gorgeous by the second. 

I stare a little longer while I muster up the courage to say something. “Hi!” I say sweetly. I try to remain calm, “My name is Emily. Are you my new neighbor?” I ask, feeling like a complete idiot for stating the obvious.  

“Neighbor, sí,” he says as he nods enthusiastically and smiles nervously. He points at himself, “Andres,” he pauses, waiting for a reaction, “Andres Antonio Guadalupe Ramos,” he says with pride. I watched his mouth closely as he said this – rolling his tongue around the Rs in his first and last name – and felt the hair on my arms stand up.  

I point at myself and tell him that my name is Emily, even though I am pretty sure that he got that the first time. 

Andres stood there smiling. I can tell that he is nervous, which is good because I am nervous too. I look at him curiously, “Do you speak English?” I ask nice and slow. I’m not trying to offend him, but judging by his introduction and the pointing to his chest, I assume that he isn’t fluent.

He pauses for a second, and then pinches the air with his right index finger and thumb. “Un poco,” he says, indicating that he only knows a little. 

This is going to be difficult since I only know a little bit of Spanish. It’s been years since I’ve said anything en español that wasn’t off a menu.  I make a mental note to go to the bookstore as soon as humanly possible to get some books to brush up on my conversation skills. 

I took Spanish in high school, which meant I pretty much only learned nouns. I can tell you that a “cat” is a “gato,” and that a “mountain” is a “montaña,” but that is about it. Unfortunately.

I decided in college that I wanted to study French in case I ever wound up in Paris. Well, I haven’t ever been to France, let alone Europe, so that was obviously a mistake. I should have taken Spanish just like everyone told me to, but no, I didn’t listen. If I had only known then that 10 years later I would be holed up in my hallway with my gorgeous neighbor who only spoke Spanish, then I might have changed my mind. It was another case of, “if I had only known then what I know now.” 

I shyly glance up at Andres, hoping that he will say something more, but he doesn’t. He just stands there smiling. I am dying to know more about him, and although I am usually the shy one, I can’t imagine how he feels. I know that I am going to have to be the one to initiate the conversation. 

I think back to my junior and senior years of high school. I try a little harder to remember specifics from Spanish class. At first, I draw a blank, then suddenly, out of nowhere, several key introductory phrases pop into my head. 

“¿De dónde eres?” I ask, excited to remember how to ask where he is from. 

His smile grows wider, “You speak-a Spanish?” he asks in choppy English. 

I smile sweetly and tell him that I, too, only speak “un poco.” 

He laughs and says something I definitely don’t understand. He then follows with, “Soy de España, de Madrid.” 

My earlier guess was right. He isn’t from around here, but boy am I excited to have him as my new neighbor. 

He looks at me eagerly. 

Another question pops in my head. 

“¿Dónde trabajas?” I ask, curious to see if my question about his current work situation would lead me to any more information.

His smile widens, and now I have a full view of his perfect white teeth. “En un restaurante, soy un cocinero,” he says proudly.

This conversation is getting difficult. I can’t think of what a “cocinero” is for the life of me, and he knows it too. He looks around anxiously. “Un momento, por favor,” he says as he rushes inside his apartment. There are several large clanks and then within a matter of seconds, he is back in the hall, a cooking pan in hand. He holds it out for me, and then points at himself once again. “Cocinero,” he says eagerly again, and this time I nod, now fully understanding what he has just said. He is a chef, and he works in a restaurant.  

I rummage for something more to say, for another question or two, but my mind is blank. We are both eager to converse with one another, but since I can’t remember any more Spanish, we fumble through a few more questions and that’s all. It is a little awkward standing in the hallway in silence, but, luckily his phone rings and he excuses himself. 

I am upset that I couldn’t remember more things to ask. 

Hopefully, we’ll have better luck in the future.

About the author:

Sara Palacios is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a major in Advertising and a minor in English Literature. It was during her time in college that she really fell in love with the written word and ventured into writing her own stories. In addition to writing, Sara spends a majority of her time reading the works of other authors. She reads most genres  – but thoroughly enjoys chick-lit, women’s and historical fiction. When she isn’t busy reading or writing, Sara enjoys spending time with family and friends. She is happily married, the owner of two precious doggies and a new mom to a handsome baby boy. Sara is also an avid animal-lover, runner, yoga enthusiast and wannabe vegan.

Connect with the author:

Email:  sararpalacios[at]gmail[dot]com     |     Facebook      |     Twitter 

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