Bookish Ramblings: Fall Book Events

Photo by carmela dinardo on Pexels.com

Good day, book people. I hope you’re all able to find some time to read this weekend. I’m on my way to a regional book festival in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The Bookmarks Festival of Authors and Books has events happening this weekend, with most presentations occurring today. I’m excited to see and hear Grady Hendrix, Jason Mott, Vanessa Riley, Farrah Rochon, Kaia Alderson, Anne Bogel, and more. This is my first in-person festival since 2019 and it’s an interesting mix of in-person and virtual. If you’re interested in learning more, please visit Bookmarks. BTW, if you’re ever in Winston-Salem when the festival isn’t happening, you’ll probably want to stop by the Bookmarks Bookstore.

Next month I’ll be participating in two virtual bookish events. Up first is the West Virginia Book Festival. Although preliminary plans were for an in-person festival this year, plans changed. This event will still take place but will be virtual rather than in-person. This year’s author lineup includes Colson Whitehead, Jon Scieska, Josh Malerman, Melinda Falgoust, and Kara Vuic, as well as West Virginia authors Eric Eyre, Denise Giardina, Homer Hickam, Brett Armstrong, Cat Pleska, Bonnie Proudfoot, David Mould, JoAnn Dadisman, Joe Geiger, and Judi Tarowski. The WV Book Festival will be taking place on October 22nd and 23rd. You may want to mark your calendars for this event.

And last, but not least, is the first Black Readers Con. This con will be taking place virtually on October 30th and 31st. There are 45 speakers lined up to appear over 19 sessions across the two days. “Join the Black book community of Bookstagrammers, Booksellers, Book Bloggers/Reviewers, and Book Clubs.” The purpose of this event is “to enhance and amplify the voices of Black Readers and the Book Clubs they love.” I’ll not only be attending this event, but I’ve been kinda/sorta working with the organizers and will be assisting behind the scenes. I initially learned of this event through one of my online book clubs, Mocha Girls Read and via posts on Instagram. Quick shout out to everyone that has worked tirelessly to make this event happen. Thank you, Mocha Girls Read, Black Men Read, Books & Brown Sugar Co., Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books, and #BeeJacksCorner. For those of you that are big Romancelandia fans, I have two words for you: Beverly Jenkins!

Will you be participating in any upcoming bookish events? Let us know. Until next time, Happy Reading y’all!

Bookstore Romance Day

Bookstore Romance Day logo, heart shape with "Bookstore Romance Day" lettered forming the left side of the heart and stacks of books in indigo forming the right side of the heart.

Love is In the Air

It’s time to celebrate love, all shades of love. Today, Saturday, August 21, 2021, is Bookstore Romance Day. This is the third year of celebrating romance in fiction. According to the website:”Bookstore Romance Day is a day designed to give independent bookstores an opportunity to celebrate Romance fiction—its books, readers, and writers—and to strengthen the relationships between bookstores and the Romance community.”

If you’re looking for some romance fiction ideas, I have a few suggestions for you. I’ve been a romance reading diva since the pandemic began. Okay, I’ve always read romance fiction, but I’ve gone into overdrive with the romance fiction since the pandemic began. I enjoy romantic suspense, romantic comedy, historical romance, as well as contemporary romance. Steamy romance or mild romance, I’ll read them all.

First, up is my all-time favorite author, the incomparable, the Slayer of Words, the Queen…Beverly Jenkins! I’ve recommended her books in the past and I sincerely hope you’ve taken my recommendations and read her Blessings series (soon to be a television series [we hope]). This series, more inspirational with hints of romance, begins with Bring On the Blessings, A Second Helping, Something Old, Something New, A Wish and a Prayer, Heart of Gold, For Your Love, Stepping to a New Day, Chasing Down a Dream, Second Time Sweeter, and On the Corner of Hope and Main. If you enjoy historical romance, then I encourage you to grab copies of Ms. B’s Indigo and Vivid, especially the 25th anniversary editions.

Next up is Jasmine Guillory and her Wedding Date series. This series includes: The Wedding Date, The Proposal (one of my favorites), The Wedding Party, Royal Holiday (another favorite because the main female character is named Vivian!), Party of Two, and While We Were Dating (a new favorite). All of these books offer great romance with touches of comedy that just make for wonderful reads. I love them all and so does my 86-y.o. mother!

I also recommend the Bromance series by Lyssa Kay Adams. This series features men learning how to be better husbands or significant others by reading romance novels. The series has plenty of serious moments, but it is also packed with a lot of laughs. Start with book one, The Bromance Book Club, then Undercover Bromance, followed by One Crazy Stupid Bromance, and the latest release Isn’t It Bromantic?.

And for something a little different, I highly recommend you grab copies of Ayesha at Last and Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin. These are great romance stories that feature Muslims as the lead characters and have just as much drama and comedy as seen in other romance reads. Come on people, read diversely! I’m not just saying that because I’m a Black Muslim woman from Appalachia or a Muslim Affrilachian, I’m saying that as a book diva!

Of course, there are a number of other authors that I read and can recommend to you. A partial list includes S.K. Ali, Sandra Brown, Alyssa Cole, Lori Foster, Linda Howard, Sarah Jio, Susanna Kearsley, Sandra Kitt, Alexa Martin, JJ Murray (only male on this list), Alisha Rai (I have read and can highly recommend the Modern Love series: Girl Gone Viral, The Right Swipe, and First Comes Like), Juno Rushdan, JD Robb & Nora Roberts, Sharon Sala, Meg Tilly, Sarah Title, Lauren Willig (love the Pink Carnation series), and more.

If you want to learn more about virtual events happening today, please click here. Please note that registration may no longer be available, but you can watch missed events on YouTube.

And remember, Love is Love! Now, go out to your favorite indie bookstore and treat yourself to a romance book or two.

Happy Reading, y’all!

Migraine Awareness Month and #ShadesForMigraine Day

June is National Migraine Awareness Month on a purple background with a purple awareness ribbon

Happy Monday, book people. Normally, I post about books or bookish things on this blog. Today, I’m doing something a little different. For those that have followed this blog for a while, you might recall that I periodically state that my reading (and sometimes writing of reviews) gets interrupted by severe migraine episodes. Although I’ve been dealing with migraine for 42 years, I am now what is classified as a chronic migraineur. Chronic migraine is defined as 15+ migraine days per month and it is estimated that at 4 million people have chronic migraine. Sadly, I’m in that small percentage of chronic migraineurs that actually experiences a headache every single day (yes, every day for 15 years now).

Migraine impacts more than you know and is much more than a headache. People with migraine often have a second chronic disease such as depression/anxiety, autoimmune disorders, IBS, or fibromyalgia. It is estimated that 90% of people with migraine have a family history of migraine disease. Migraine is the number one cause of disability for women between 25-50 years of age. Migraine is actually an umbrella term representing a genetic, multisystem neurological disorder known for headaches, but migraine can also affect mood, gastrointestinal function, balance, sleep, cause facial pain and more.

June is Migraine and Headache Awareness Month (along with Pride Month and Caribbean Heritage Month). And today, June 21st is #ShadesForMigraine Day. I am taking part in #ShadesForMigraine because in addition to head pain, I also suffer from severe light sensitivity issues as do most migraine sufferers. (In addition to light sensitivity, I also deal with noise sensitivity, smell sensitivity, nausea, vertigo, and allodynia [extreme sensitivity to touch especially my hair].) Raising awareness for this debilitating disease is easy! I’m challenging my blog readers to take part today, all you have to do is follow these simple steps:

  • Wear your shades on June 21
  • Post a photo wearing your shades on social media with #ShadesForMigraine
  • Spread the word and challenge three others to take part too!

Here are a few headache and migraine facts for you to consider:

  1. 60 million people with migraine in the United States
    (Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, 2019)
  2. Cluster headache is the most painful condition someone can have
    (Burish et al., 2020, #)
  3. 9 million – 30 million people in the United States have New Daily Persistent Headache
    (NDPH) (Yamani & Olesen, 2019, #)
  4. Migraine is the 2nd leading cause of global disability
    (GBD, 2017)
  5. People with cluster headache are 20% more likely than average to experience suicidal ideation
    (Koo et al., 2021)
  6. Headache disorders often disable without head pain (e.g. sensory, vertigo, GI, cognition)

Burish, M. J., Pearson, S. M., Shapiro, R. E., Zhang, W., & Schor, L. I. (2020, December 18). Cluster headache is one of the most intensely painful human conditions: Results from the International Cluster Headache Questionnaire. Headache. 10.1111/-head.14021

GBD. (2017). Global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and years lived with disability for 328 diseases and injuries for 195 countries, 1990-2016: a systematic analysis for the Globacl Burden of Disease Study. Lancet, 390, 1211-1259.

Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. (2019). GBD Compare. Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Retrieved May 11, 2021, from https://vizhub.healthdata.org/gbd-compare/#

Koo, B. B., Bayoumi, A., Albanna, A., Abusuliman, M., Burrone, L., Sico, J. J., & Schindler, E. A. D. (2021, April 20). Demoralization predicts suicidality in patients with cluster headache. Journal of Headache Pain, 22(1), 28. 10.1186/s10194-021-01241-7

Yamani, N., & Olesen, J. (2019). New daily persistent headache: a systematic review on an enigmatic disorder. Lancet, 20(80). https://thejournalofheadacheandpain.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s10194-019-1022-z#:~:text=The%20prevalence%20of%20NDPH%20estimated,in%20some%20has%20migraine%20features.


If you or a loved one has migraine and you’d like more information, please visit https://shadesformigraine.org for links to a number of national and international migraine and headache partners. Other sites to visit for migraine information include, but aren’t limited to: https://migraine.com/, https://migrainedisease.org, https://headachemigraine.org, and https://migrainedisorders.org.

Happy Reading, y’all!

Book Spotlight: RACHEL TO THE RESCUE by Elinor Lipman

Rachel to the Rescue by Elinor Lipman
ISBN: 9781785632556 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781785632570 (ebook)
ASIN: B08LHG61N8   (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Lightning Books
Publication Date: October 16, 2020



Will Rachel Klein bring down the President? Or will he manage to do that all by himself?

Rachel Klein is sacked from her job at the White House after she sends an email criticizing Donald Trump. As she is escorted off the premises she is hit by a speeding car, driven by what the press will discreetly call ‘a personal friend of the President’.

Does that explain the flowers, the get-well wishes at a press briefing, the hush money offered by a lawyer at her hospital bedside?

Rachel’s recovery is soothed by comically doting parents, matchmaking room-mates, a new job as an aide to a journalist whose books aim to defame the President, and unexpected love at the local wine store.

But secrets leak, and Rachel’s new-found happiness has to make room for more than a little chaos. Will she bring down the President? Or will he manage to do that all by himself?

Rachel to the Rescue is a mischievous political satire, with a delightful cast of characters, from one of America’s funniest novelists.

Purchase Link #CommissionEarned:   IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  BookDepository  |  eBooks  |  !ndigo  |  Kobo eBook

Praise:


“A sweet, daffy comedy.” – Slate

“With the light, frothy touch that her fans have come to expect from her witty comedies, Lipman dreamily integrates the tastelessly tawdry world of the Trump administration with the upbeat buoyancy of modern love in this timely political satire.” – Booklist


Meet The Author:

Elinor Lipman is the author of 11 humorous novels about contemporary American society; essay and short story collections, and a book of rhyming political tweets. Born and raised in Lowell, Massachusetts, she graduated from Simmons College where she studied journalism. She lives in Manhattan and received the New England Book award for fiction in 2001. Her first novel, Then She Found Me, was adapted for the screen, starring Helen Hunt, Bette Midler, Colin Firth, and Matthew Broderick. Her fourth novel, The Inn at Lake Devine was adapted for the off-off-Broadway stage by Tongue in Cheek Theater. In 2011-2012, she held the Elizabeth Drew chair in creative writing at Smith College.


Connect to the author via her Website, Facebook, and Twitter.


This spotlight brought to you by Wunderkind PR.

Book Showcase: A MURDER IS FOREVER by Rob Bates

A Murder is Forever

by Rob Bates

December 1, 2020 – January 31, 2021 Tour



Synopsis:

Max Rosen always said the diamond business isn’t about sorting the gems, it’s about sorting the people. His daughter Mimi is about to learn that some people, like some diamonds, can be seriously flawed.

After Mimi’s diamond-dealer cousin Yosef is murdered–seemingly for his $4 million pink diamond–Mimi finds herself in the middle of a massive conspiracy, where she doesn’t know who to trust, or what to believe. Now she must find out the truth about both the diamond and her cousin, before whoever killed Yosef, gets her.

“[A] sprightly debut …. Bates, who has more than 25 years as a journalist covering the diamond business, easily slips in loads of fascinating information on diamonds and Jewish culture without losing sight of the mystery plot. Readers will look forward to Mimi’s further adventures.” – Publishers Weekly


Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Camel Press
Publication Date: October 13th, 2020
Number of Pages: 281
ISBN: 1603812229 (ISBN13: 9781603812221)
Series: The Diamond District Mystery Series
Purchase Links:  Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

A MURDER IS FOREVER

By Rob Bates

 

CHAPTER ONE

As Mimi Rosen exited the subway and looked out on the Diamond District, she remembered the words of her therapist: “This won’t last forever.”

She sure hoped so. She had been working on Forty-Seventh Street for two months and was already pretty tired of it.

To outsiders, “The Diamond District” sounded glamorous, like a street awash in glitter. To Mimi, who had spent her life around New York, Forty-Seventh Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues was a crowded, dirty eyesore of a block. The sidewalk was covered not with glitz, but with newspaper boxes, cigarettes, stacks of garbage bags, and, of course, lots of people.

Dozens of jewelry stores lined the street, all vying for attention, with red neon signs proclaiming “we buy gold” or “50 percent off.” Their windows boasted the requisite rows of glittery rings, and Mimi would sometimes see tourists ogling them, their eyes wide. She hated how the stores crammed so many gems in each display, until they all ran together like a mess of kids’ toys. For all its feints toward elegance, Forty-Seventh Street came off as the world’s sparkliest flea market.

Mimi knew the real action in the Diamond District was hidden from pedestrians, because it took place upstairs. There, in the nondescript grey and brown buildings that stood over the stores, billions in gems were bought, sold, traded, stored, cut, appraised, lost, found, and argued over. The upstairs wholesalers comprised the heart of the U.S. gem business; if someone bought a diamond anywhere in America, it had likely passed through Forty-Seventh Street.

Mimi’s father Max had spent his entire life as part of the small tight-knit diamond dealer community. It was a business based on who you knew—and even more, who you trusted. “This business isn’t about sorting the diamonds,” Max always said. “It’s about sorting the people.” Mimi would marvel how traders would seal million-dollar deals on handshakes, without a contract or lawyer in sight.

It helped that Forty-Seventh Street was comprised mostly of family businesses, owned by people from a narrow range of ethnic groups. Most—like Mimi’s father—were Orthodox, or religious, Jews. (“We’re the only people crazy enough to be in this industry,” as Max put it.) The Street was also home to a considerable contingent of Hasidic Jews, who were even more religious and identifiable by their black top hats and long flowing overcoats. Mimi once joked that Forty-Seventh Street was so diverse, it ran the gamut from Orthodox to ultra-Orthodox.

Now Mimi, while decidedly secular, was part of it all. Working for her father’s diamond company was not something she wanted to do, not something she ever dreamed she would do. Yet, here she was.

She had little choice. She had not worked full-time since being laid off from her editing job a year ago. She was already in debt from her divorce, which had cost more than her wedding, and netted little alimony. “That’s what happens when you divorce a lawyer,” said her shrink.

Six months after she lost her job, Mimi first asked her father for money. He happily lent it to her, though he added he wasn’t exactly Rockefeller. It was after her third request—accompanied, like the others, by heartfelt vows to pay him back—that he asked her to be the bookkeeper at his company. “I know you hate borrowing from me,” he told her. “This way, it isn’t charity. Besides, it’ll be nice having you around.”

Mimi protested she could barely keep track of her own finances. Her father reminded her that she got an A in accounting in high school. Which apparently qualified her to do the books at Max Rosen Diamond Company.

“We have new software, it makes it easy,” Max said. “Your mother, may she rest in peace, did it for years.”

Mimi put him off. She had a profession, and it wasn’t her mother’s.

Mimi was a journalist. She had worked at a newspaper for nine years, and a website for five. She was addicted to the thrill of the chase, the pump of adrenaline when she uncovered a hot story or piece of previously hidden info. There is no better sound to a reporter’s ears than someone sputtering, “How did you find that out?”

“It’s the perfect job for you,” her father once said. “You’re a professional nosy person.”

She loved journalism for a deeper reason, which she rarely admitted to her cynical reporter friends: She wanted to make a difference. As a girl, she was haunted by the stories they told in religious school, how Jews were killed in concentration camps while the world turned its head. Growing up, she devoured All the President’s Men and idolized pioneering female muckrakers like Nellie Bly.

Being a journalist was the only thing Mimi ever wanted to do, the only thing she knew how to do. She longed to do it again.

Which is why, she told her therapist, she would tell her father no.

Dr. Asner said she understood, in that soft melancholy coo common to all therapists. Then she crept forward on her chair.

“Maybe you should take your father up on this. He’s really throwing you a lifeline. You keep telling me how bad the editorial job market is.” She squinted and her glasses inched up her nose. “Sometimes people adjust their dreams. Put them on hold.”

Mimi felt the blood drain from her face. In her darker moments—and she had quite a few after her layoff—she had considered leaving journalism and doing something else, though she had no idea what that would be. Mimi always believed that giving up her lifelong passion would be tantamount to surrender.

Dr. Asner must have sensed her reaction, because she quickly backtracked.

“You can continue to look for a journalism job,” she said. “Who knows? Maybe working in the Diamond District will give you something to write about. Besides,”— here, her voice gained an edge—”you need the money.” That was driven home at the end of the forty-five minutes, when Dr. Asner announced that she couldn’t see Mimi for any more sessions, since Mimi hadn’t paid her for the last three.

By that point, Mimi didn’t know whether to argue, burst into tears, or wave a white flag and admit the world had won.

It was a cold February morning as Mimi walked down Forty-Seventh Street to her father’s office, following an hour-plus commute from New Jersey that included a car, a bus, and a subway. With her piercing hazel eyes, glossy brown hair, and closely set features, Mimi was frequently told she was pretty, though she never quite believed it. She had just gotten her hair cut short to commemorate her thirty-eighth birthday, hoping for a more “mature” look. She had always been self-conscious about her height; she was five foot four and tried to walk taller. She was wearing a navy dress that she’d snagged for a good price on eBay; it was professional enough to please her father, who wanted everyone to look nice in the office, without being so nice that she was wasting one of her few good outfits. She was bundled up with multiple layers and a heavy coat—to protect against the winter chill, as well as the madness around her.

Even though it was before 9 AM, Forty-Seventh Street was, as usual, packed, and Mimi gritted her teeth as she bobbed and weaved through the endless crowd. She sidestepped the store workers grabbing a smoke, covering her mouth so she wouldn’t get cancer. She swerved around the stern-looking guard unloading the armored car, with the gun conspicuously dangling from his belt. And she dodged the “hawker” trying to lure her into a jewelry store, who every day asked if she had gold to sell, even though every day she told him no.

Finally, Mimi reached her father’s building, 460 Fifth, the most popular address on “The Street.” After a few minutes standing and tapping her foot on the security line, she handed her driver’s license to the security guard and called out, “Rosen Diamonds.”

“Miss,” growled the guard with the oversized forehead who’d seen her three days a week for the past two months, “you should get a building ID. It’ll save you time in the morning.”

“It’s okay. I won’t be working here for long,” she chirped, though she wasn’t quite sure of that.

Next stop, the elevator bank. Mimi had an irrational fear of elevators; she was always worried she would die in one. She particularly hated these elevators, which were extremely narrow and perpetually packed. She envied those for whom a subway was their sole exposure to a cramped unpleasant space.

As the car rose, one occupant asked a Hasidic dealer how he was finding things.

“All you can do is put on your shoes. The rest is up to the man upstairs.”

Only in the diamond business. Mimi’s last job was thirty blocks away, yet in a different universe.

At each floor, dealers pushed and rushed like they were escaping a fire. When the elevator reached her floor, Mimi too elbowed her way to freedom.

As she walked to her father’s office, she marveled how the building, so fancy and impressive when she was a kid, had sunk into disrepair. The carpets were frayed, the paint was peeling, and the bathroom rarely contained more than one functioning toilet. If management properly maintained the building, they’d charge Midtown Manhattan rents, which small dealers like her father couldn’t afford. The neglect suited everyone.

She spied a new handwritten sign, “No large minyans, by order of the fire department.” Mimi produced a deep sigh. She had long ago left her religious background behind. Somehow, she was now working in a building where they warn against praying in the halls. She was going backward.

Perhaps the dealer in the elevator was right. You could only put on your shoes and do your best. She grabbed her pocketbook strap, threw her head back, and was just about at her father’s office when she heard the yelling.

“I’m so tired of waiting, Yosef! It’s not fair!”

Max’s receptionist, Channah, was arguing with her boyfriend, Yosef, a small-time, perpetually unsuccessfully diamond dealer. Making it more awkward: Yosef was Mimi’s cousin.

Channah and Yosef had dated for nearly eighteen months without getting married—an eternity in Channah’s community. Still, whenever Channah complained, Mimi remembered how her ex-husband only popped the question after three years and two ultimatums.

“Give me more time,” Yosef stuttered, as he tended to do when nervous. “I want to be successful in the business.”

“When’s that going to happen? The year three thousand?”

The argument shifted to Yiddish, which Mimi didn’t understand, though they were yelling so fiercely she didn’t need to. Finally, tall, skinny Yosef stormed out of the office, his black hat and suit set off by his red face. He was walking so fast he didn’t notice his cousin Mimi standing against the wall. Given the circumstances, she didn’t stop him to say hello. She watched his back grow smaller as he stomped and grunted down the hall.

Mimi gave Channah time to cool down. After a minute checking in vain for responses to her latest freelance pitch—editors weren’t even bothering to reject her anymore—she rang the doorbell. She flashed a half-smile at the security camera stationed over the door, and Channah buzzed her in. Mimi hopped into the “man trap,” the small square space between security doors that was a standard feature of diamond offices. She let the first door slam behind her, heard the second buzz, pulled the metal handle on the inner door, and said hello to Channah, perched at her standard spot at the reception desk.

Channah had long dark curly hair, which she constantly twirled; a round, expressive face, dotted with black freckles; and a voluptuous figure that even her modest religious clothing couldn’t hide.

“Did you hear us argue?” she asked Mimi.

“No,” she sputtered. “I mean—”

Channah smiled and pointed to the video monitor on her desk. “I could see you on the camera.” Her shoulders slouched. “It was the same stupid argument we always have. Even I’m bored by it.”

“Hang in there. We’ll talk at lunch.” Mimi and Channah shared a quick hug, and Mimi walked back to the office.

She was greeted by her father’s smile and a peck on the cheek. If anything made this job worthwhile, it was that grin. Plus the money.

“How are things this morning?”

“Baruch Hashem,” Max replied. Max said “thank God” all the time, even during his wife’s sickness, when he really didn’t seem all that thankful.

Sure enough, he added, “We’re having a crisis.”

Mimi almost rolled her eyes. It was always a crisis in the office. When Mimi was young, the family joke was that business was either “terrible” or “worse than terrible.”

Lately, her dad seemed more agitated than normal. As he spoke, he puttered in a circle and his hands clutched a pack of Tums. That usually didn’t come out until noon.

“I can’t find the two-carat pear shape.” He threw his arms up and his forehead exploded into a sea of worry lines. “It’s not here, it’s not there. It’s nowhere.”

Max Rosen was dressed, as usual, in a white button-down shirt and brown wool slacks, with a jeweler’s loupe dangling on a rope from his neck. His glasses sat off-kilter on his nose, and two shocks of white hair jutted from his skull like wings. When he was excited about something, like this missing diamond, the veins in his neck popped and the bobby-pinned yarmulke seemed to flap on his head.

Mimi stifled a laugh. That was the crisis? Diamonds always got lost in the office. As kids, Mimi and her two sisters used to come in on weekends and be paid one dollar for every stone they found on the floor. “They travel,” Max would say.

It was no surprise that things went missing in that vortex of an office. Every desk was submerged under a huge stack of books, magazines, and papers. The most pressing were placed on the seat near her father’s desk, what he called his “in-chair.”

When Mimi’s mother worked there, she kept a lid on the chaos. After her death, Max hired a few bookkeepers, none of whom lasted; two years later, the job had somehow fallen to Mimi.

Eventually, Channah found the two-carat pear shape, snug in its parcel papers, right next to the bathroom keys. The only logical explanation was that Max was examining it while on the toilet.

Max sheepishly returned to his desk. Mimi loved watching her father at work. She was fascinated by how he joked with friends, took grief from clients, and kept track of five things at once. It felt exotic and forbidden, like observing an animal in its natural habitat.

For the most part, they got along, which was no small thing. Over the years, there had been tense moments as he struggled to accept that she was no longer religious. Lately, he rarely brought the topic up, and she didn’t want him to. Her split from her non-Jewish ex probably helped.

On occasion, the old strains resurfaced, in subtle ways. Max’s desk was covered with photos—mostly of Mimi’s mom and her religious sisters and their religious broods. One time when Max was at lunch, Mimi tiptoed over to glance at them, and—not incidentally—check how many were of her. It made her feel silly, yet she couldn’t help herself. She was a professional nosy person.

She got her answer: out of about twenty photos, Mimi was in three, an old family photo and two pics from her sisters’ weddings. That was less than expected. She tried not to take it personally. She had no kids and her marriage was a bust. What was there to show off?

Mimi spent most of the morning deciphering her father’s books—a task made more difficult by his aging computer system, which regularly stalled and crashed. Her father’s “new” software was actually fifteen years old.

Sometimes she wished he gave her more substantial tasks to do. While her father would never say it, he didn’t consider the diamond industry a place for women, as it had always been male-dominated—even though, ironically, it catered mostly to females. That was fine with Mimi. She didn’t want to devote her life to a rock.

At 1 PM, Channah and Mimi headed for Kosher Gourmet, their usual lunch spot. Mimi always joked, “I don’t know if it’s kosher, but it’s not gourmet.”

In the two months Mimi had worked for her father, she and Channah had become fast friends, bonding over their shared love of mystery novels, crossword puzzles, and sarcastic senses of humor.

Channah was not Mimi’s typical friend. She was twenty-three and her parents were strictly religious, even more than Mimi’s. She commuted to Forty-Seventh Street every day on a charter bus from Borough Park, a frum enclave in Brooklyn. The Diamond District was her main exposure to the wider world. She reminded Mimi of her younger, more religious self, under her parents’ thrall yet curious what else was out there.

Mimi was not Channah’s typical friend either. During their lunches, Channah quizzed her on the taste of non-Kosher food (it didn’t taste any different, Mimi told her); sex (“When the time comes,” Mimi said, “you’ll figure it out”); and popular culture (“Can you explain,” Channah once asked, “why Kim Kardashian is famous?” Mimi just said no.) Today, as usual, they talked about Yosef. 

“I don’t get it.” Channah wrapped sesame noodles around her white plastic fork. “I love him. He loves me. Why not get married?”

Mimi took a sip from her Styrofoam cup filled with warm tap water. She preferred bottled water but couldn’t afford it. “Have you thought of giving Yosef an ultimatum? Tell him if he doesn’t marry you by a certain date, that’s it.”

“Yosef wouldn’t take that seriously.” Channah turned her eyes to her tray.

“Why not?”

“Cause I’ve done that already. Three times! I backed down every time.” Her fork toyed with her food. “I believe it is beshert that Yosef and I will end up together. I’ve thought so since I first met him at your father’s office, and he smiled at me. What choice do I have?” Her elbow nudged her tray across the table.

“I understand why he’s waiting. He wants to be a steady provider. That’s a good thing, right?”

Actually, Mimi found it sexist. She didn’t say that, because she found many things in Channah’s world sexist.

“He just needs to sell that pink,” Channah said, spearing a dark brown cube of chicken.

Mimi took a quick sip of water. “That pink” was an awkward subject.

One month ago, Yosef had bought a three-point-two carat pink diamond. It was the biggest purchase of his career, the kind of high-risk move that could make or break his business. Max was overjoyed. “Do you know how rare pink diamonds are?” he exclaimed. “And it’s a three-carater! Sounds like a great buy!”

That was, until Yosef proudly presented it to his uncle Max, who inspected it under his favorite lamp, muttered “very nice,” and quickly handed it back.

It was only after Yosef left that Max dismissed his nephew’s score as a strop, a dog of a diamond, the kind of unsellable item that gathered dust in a safe.

“It has so many pepper spots,” Max lamented. “The color’s not strong at all. No one will buy that thing.”

“Maybe he got it for a good price,” Mimi said.

“I’m sure whoever sold it to him said it was the bargain of the century. Anytime someone offers me a metziah, that’s a sign they can’t sell the stone. There’s a saying, ‘your metziah is my strop.'” His face sagged. “I wish he talked to me first. That stone is worthless. I don’t have the heart to tell him.”

When Channah brought up the big pink at lunch, Mimi didn’t want to dwell on the subject. “What’s happening with that?” she asked, as casually as possible.

“Didn’t you hear?” Channah jerked forward. “It got the highest grade possible on its USGR cert.”

“You’ll have to translate.” Mimi tuned out most diamond talk.

“Cert is short for certificate, meaning grading report. The USGR is the U.S. Academy for Gemological Research, the best lab in the industry.”

Mimi just stared.

“That stone’s worth four million dollars.”

That Mimi understood. “Wow.” A lot of money for a dog of a diamond.

“Four point one million, to be exact.” Channah laughed. “Don’t want to leave that point one out!” 

“I thought that stone was—”

“Ugly?” Channah chuckled. “Me too! I don’t understand how it got that grade. I guess it doesn’t matter. As your father says, ‘today the paper is worth more than the diamond.'” She slurped some diet soda.

“Is Yosef going to get four million dollars?”

“Who knows? He isn’t exactly an expert in selling such a stone. Your father convinced him to post it on one of the online trading networks. Someone called him about it yesterday.”

“That’s great!”

“Hopefully. If anyone could screw this up, Yosef could.” Channah’s mouth curled downward. “I keep checking my phone to see if there’s any news.” She flipped over her iPhone, saw nothing, and flipped it back. “The way I figure, if he sells that stone, he’ll have to marry me. Unless he comes up with some new excuse. He wouldn’t do that, right? Not after all this time. Would he?”

Mimi struggled to keep herself in check. She was dying to shake Channah and scream that if Yosef wasn’t giving her what she wanted, it was time to move on. She didn’t. Yosef was her cousin. Mimi was in no position to critique someone else’s love life. She always told people hers was “on hold.” It was basically non-existent.

Plus, she remembered how, weeks before her wedding, her friends warned her that her fiancé had a wandering eye. That just strengthened her resolve to marry him, even though in retrospect, they were right. “With situations like that,” her therapist said later, “I always recommend not to say anything. Just be a supportive friend.”

Mimi waited until Channah stopped speaking. She touched her hand. “I’m sure it will work out,” she said.

***

Excerpt from A Murder is Forever by Rob Bates. Copyright © 2020 by Rob Bates. Reproduced with permission from Rob Bates. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

Rob Bates has written about the diamond industry for over 25 years. He is currently the news director of JCK, the leading publication in the jewelry industry, which just celebrated its 150th anniversary. He has won 12 editorial awards and been quoted as an industry authority in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and on National Public Radio. He is also a comedy writer and performer, whose work has appeared on Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update segment, comedycentral.com, and McSweeneys. He has also written for Time Out New York, New York Newsday, and Fastcompany.com. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and son.


Catch Up With Rob Bates:


Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways! Click here to view A Murder Is Forever by Rob Bates tour participants. 

Enter To Win!:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Rob Bates. There will be one (1) winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card and there will be three (3) winners of one (1) Physical OR eBook (WINNER’s Choice!!) edition of A Murder Is Forever by Rob Bates (US and Canada ONLY). The giveaway begins on December 1, 2020 and runs through February 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

Click here to enter using the Rafflecopter form.


Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

Guest Post: Connie di Marco – THE MADNESS OF MERCURY

Monday greetings, book people. I’ve learned over the years that some authors base their characters on real people (often composites of family and friends), and others may simply read a news article about some event and think “hmm, that might make for a good story.” Connie di Marco is one of the few authors that created a character and then found out that her character bore a striking resemblance to a real person. Learn more about this and her book, The Madness of Mercury, as Ms. di Marco visits with us today. Thank you, Ms. di Marco, for joining us today and giving us some insight into your character. I’ll now turn the blog over to you.

THE REAL ASK ZODIA by Connie di Marco


Julia Bonatti, my crime-solving astrological sleuth in the Zodiac Mysteries, writes an advice column, AskZodia, for her hometown newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle. Julia’s column stretches reality quite a bit because how many big-city newspapers would have space for a ‘Dear Abby’ type of feature?  

Julia enjoys the work, but sometimes really struggles with some of the letters to Zodia. Some are sad, some are heartbreaking and some are just plain worrying. And Julia worries a lot about what she’s sending out into the universe in her column. Here’s one example:  

Dear Zodia ~
My birthday is September 13, 1974 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I’ve been married for 26 years. I’m very unhappy and confused. I care about my husband, he’s a good person, but to be honest, I’m bored. Bored with him and with married life. I’ve been thinking about telling him I want a divorce, but I’m really afraid what this will do to him. Please tell me what to do.
~ Growing Older

Dear Growing Older ~
Your sign off name says a lot. You’re afraid life is passing you by and soon it will be too late for adventure. What you’re not telling me, and I know because Neptune is opposing your Sun sign, and over the last year or so, opposed your Venus, is that you are attracted to someone else. Here’s the thing about Neptune transits: they can lend a great aura of mystery or fantasy. Much if not most of this is not real. Think very carefully about your choices because, in time, you may regret leaving your marriage.  
Wishing you well ~
~ Zodia

And here’s another:

Dear Zodia ~
I’m at my wit’s end. My mother’s new boyfriend is a complete creep.  He makes me very uncomfortable whenever he’s in our house. I don’t want to be alone with him, and so far I haven’t been, but I’m afraid to be in the same room with him when my mother’s not there. I’ve tried to talk to her about this, but she thinks I’m imagining things and trying to make her life difficult. I don’t know what to do. What should I do?  
My birthday is May 6, 2004 in Berkeley at 3:20 p.m.
~ Creeped Out

Dear Creeped Out ~
Trust your instincts, no matter what anyone says. Unfortunately, there are bad people in the world, predators, and some of them date women with young children for that very reason. By all means, speak out about your concerns. Your transits show a Pluto aspect to your Moon, this may indicate the difficulties between you and your mother right now, but no matter what astrology can tell you, always trust your instincts.
~ Zodia

But here’s the odd thing — I never ever wondered if there was a real AskZodia. I no longer live in San Francisco but manage to visit a few times a year, so I don’t often get to read the Chronicle. But one day at a street fair, I glanced at a newspaper and spotted the Chronicle’s Astro column. I was stunned! Why hadn’t I discovered this before? There is a REAL AskZodia! His name is Christopher Renstrom, not Julia Bonatti and he’s a famous astrologer, a real one, unlike Julia! 


I’d be willing to bet Christopher would have no problem responding to AskZodia questions. After all, he has a terrific new book out — The Cosmic Calendar: Using Astrology to Get in Sync with Your Best Life. So I’m sure he’d offer some great advice and solve all of these AskZodia problems.  

If you’d like some real-life astrology, check out Christopher’s website [http://rulingplanets.com], follow him on Facebook [https://www.facebook.com/christopher.renstrom], and Twitter @rulingplanets [https://twitter.com/rulingplanets/]. You won’t regret it! 
 
And if you’d like to enjoy a good astrological murder mystery, don’t miss Julia’s first adventure in The Madness of Mercury!  



The Madness of Mercury

by Connie di Marco

December 1-31, 2020 Tour



Synopsis:


San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti’s life is turned upside down when she becomes a target of the Reverend Roy of the Prophet’s Tabernacle. The Reverend, a recently-arrived cult preacher, is determined to drive sin from the city, but his gospel of love and compassion doesn’t extend to those he considers an “abomination unto the Lord.” Julia’s outspoken advice in her newspaper column, AskZodia, has put her at the top of the Reverend’s list. While the powerful Mercury-ruled preacher woos local dignitaries, his Army of the Prophet will stop at nothing to silence not just Julia, but anyone who stands in his way.

Driven out of her apartment in the midst of a disastrous Mercury retrograde period, she takes shelter with a client who’s caring for two elderly aunts. One aunt appears stricken with dementia and the other has fallen under the spell of the Reverend Roy. To add to the confusion, a young man claiming to be a long-lost nephew arrives. The longer he stays, the more dangerous things become. One aunt slides deeper into psychosis while the other disappears. Is this young man truly a member of the family? Can astrology confirm that? Julia’s not sure, but one thing she does know is that Mercury wasn’t merely the messenger of the gods – he was a trickster and a liar as well.

Book Details

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Suspense Publishing
Publication Date: October 9, 2020
Number of Pages: 268
ISBN: 0578752654 (ISBN13: 9780578752655)
Series: Zodiac Mystery #1
Purchase Links:  Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads


Author Bio:

Connie di Marco is the author of the Zodiac Mysteries featuring San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti. The Madness of Mercury, the first book in the series was re-released in October 2020.

Writing as Connie Archer, she is also the author of the national bestselling Soup Lover’s Mysteries from Berkley Prime Crime. You can find her excerpts and recipes in The Cozy Cookbook and The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. Connie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and Sisters in Crime.


Catch Up With Connie di Marco:  ConniediMarco.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Twitter, and Facebook!



Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways! Click here to view The Madness Of Mercury by Connie di Marco blog tour participants.

Enter To Win!:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Connie di Marco. There will be two (2) winners each receiving one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on December 1, 2020 and runs through January 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

Click here to enter the giveaway.


Guest Post: Bluette Matthey – TWO MURDERS TOO MANY



Good day, my bookish peeps. It’s hard to believe that it’s the second Friday in December of 2020. This year has seemed to drag on and on and on since the pandemic began in late-February. One of the many things that I’ve actually enjoyed about this year, is learning more about the authors that write the books that have provided me with hours of reading pleasure throughout this year. Today I’m pleased to welcome a new-to-me author to the blog as a guest. Bluette Matthey is the author of the Hardy Durkin Travel Mystery series as well as the recently released mystery, Two Murders Too Many. Sit back, relax, and travel along with Ms. Matthey’s character Hardy Durkin as she describes her travels as an author. Thank you, Ms. Matthey, for taking time out of your busy schedule to stop by today and share with us your experiences or life as an author. 

My Life as an Author by Bluette Matthey
or
Where In The World Is Hardy Durkin?



I’ve been hooked on mysteries since third grade and traveling at least as long. My dad was forever getting us up at two or three in the morning to start off on a trip to Florida, or Canada, or to head out West from our Ohio farm. So, I decided to merge my two passions and began writing the Hardy Durkin Travel Mystery series, international mysteries, with amateur sleuth Hardy Durkin as my hunky protagonist.  

Traveling inspires me to write. It feeds the part of me that wishes it had been born in a different century. The thrill and wonderment of discovering and exploring something totally new, experiencing something so beautiful that it astounds, or beholding a thing so ancient I marvel it still exists … all resonate and beckon, drawing me on.

Instead of the London-Paris-Rome circuit (all fantastic places), I chose to use less-known locales as settings for my mysteries. My books are heavily researched for authenticity, which includes a boots-on-the-ground approach, so I get to enjoy visiting all the places I write about. I’ve had some amazing experiences, eaten wonderful regional foods, met lovely people, and taken some pretty interesting treks.  

Hardy Durkin owns an outfitter business specializing in European treks.  He is also a crack marksman, trained in signals intelligence, who speaks four languages. I’ve duplicated some of his easier hikes (I’m not as fit as he is). I hiked into the Hermitage of San Bartolomeo (11th century) near Roccamorice, Abruzzo, Italy, aware I was the only human around for miles as I trekked through the Majella National Park. Animal scat along the trail reminded me there were bears, wolves, and other beasts present. I climbed to the top of Rocca Calascio, built in the 10th century by the Romans as a watchtower and the highest fortress in the Apennines. This was for my second book, Abruzzo Intrigue.

Dalmatian Traffick took me to the Balkans, where I visited Croatia, Montenegro, and Albania. I didn’t hike to the Ostrog Monastery, but took my life, literally, in my hands and drove there. Mostly one-lane, snaking up the mountain of Ostroška Greda with the mountain wall on one side and a drop-off that increased at an alarming rate on the other, and no guard rails, anywhere. Perhaps a row of rather insignificant rocks placed beside the road, or an occasional tree, but nothing substantial to keep you from plummeting over the edge into eternity. The guide books tell you to hire a taxi, but driving in Montenegro is almost a blood sport and I opted to control my own fate, so I drove slowly and steadfastly, praying that no cars would come from the other direction.


Walking the streets of Ajaccio, Corsica, one night while working on Corsican Justice, I was drawn into a small, unremarkable bar by polyphonic singing, the a cappella music whose harmonious chords express the heart of Corsican culture. Deeply moving, other-worldly, listening to the exquisite music was a time-travel journey for my soul that spanned ages, leaving an imprint I cherish.


Black Forest Reckoning took me to Baden-Baden, Germany, where I spent half a day in the Friedrichsbad Spa, Roman baths that are a monument to Old World pampering, followed by a meal to remember at Schneider’s Weinstube. That was before spending the night at Gasthaus Zum Lowen in Staufen, where Faustus met his end when the devil came to collect his due.


Exploring the traboules of Old Lyon, France, was part of stepping back in time with the Knights Templar in Engadine Aerie. I also was a guest at the annual Engadine Skimarathon, which features prominently in Engadine Aerie. Dangerous conditions at the time prevented me from hiking into the eternal ice of the Morteratsch Glacier.  


Hardy’s next adventure takes him to the Hérault region of the South of France in Homicide Hérault where he joins forces with his old friend Alain Clotiers, a Legionnaire from Corsica.


I invite you to discover where in the world is Hardy Durkin … he can be a tough guy to keep track of.


My newest release, Two Murders Too Many, is a break from my Hardy Durkin series and is an adaptation of true and terrible events that took place in the small Midwest town of Shannon. My father was a masterful storyteller, and Two Murders Too Many wraps itself around many of my father’s tales in this small town’s history. Even small towns have an underbelly of secrets and human darkness where potential monsters dwell. 


I have also developed a travel app for the South of France, Potty PochePotty Poche is a unique travel app for Provence and the Languedoc-Roussillon written in five languages and highlighting must-see destinations for the two regions. Potty Poche can be purchased on Apple Apps and Google.

See you out and about,
Bluette Matthey

Two Murders Too Many
by Bluette Matthey
December 1-31, 2020 Tour



Synopsis:

Barn burning in a sleepy farming community is a serious enough matter, but a grisly murder or two in a small midwest town is a showstopper. Throw in a serial blackmailer who has his claws in some of the town’s leading citizens and you have one big recipe for disaster.


Charlie Simmons, newly sworn in as Shannon’s policeman, takes on the challenge of investigating this cauldron of crimes in stride, untangling one thread after another from the fabric of the town of Shannon to find the simple truth.

Book Details:
Genre:
Mystery
Published by: Blue Shutter Publishing
Publication Date: October 21st, 2020
Number of Pages: 254
ISBN: 978-1-941611-16-6
Purchase Links:  Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Smashwords | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Bluette Matthey is a product of the melting pot of America’s settlers, with her ancestry rooted in the Swiss, German, and English cultures. She is a keen reader of mysteries who loves to travel and explore, especially in Europe. Bluette currently lives in Béziers, France, with her husband and band of loving cats. Other books by Bluette Matthey include the Hardy Durkin Travel Mystery series: Corsican Justice, Abruzzo Intrigue, Black Forest Reckoning, Dalmatian Traffick, and Engadine Aerie.



Catch Up With Bluette Matthey On BluetteMatthey.com, Goodreads, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways! Click here to view Two Murders Too Many by Bluette Matthey blog tour participants. 

Giveaway!:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Bluette Matthey. There will be five (5) winners for this tour. Each winner will receive an eBook of Two Murders Too Many by Bluette Matthey. The giveaway begins on December 1, 2020, and runs through January 2, 2021. Void where prohibited. Click here to enter.

Book Showcase: SLIGHTLY MURDEROUS INTENT by Lida Sideris


Slightly Murderous Intent
A Southern California Mystery
by Lida Sideris
December 7 – 18, 2020 Tour



Synopsis:

There’s a shooter on the loose who keeps missing his target. But that doesn’t stop him from trying again…and again. It’s up to Corrie Locke, rookie lawyer and spunky sleuth, to find the gunman before he hits his mark, Assistant Deputy D.A. James Zachary, Corrie’s hunky and complicated frenemy.


When Corrie is stuck with more questions than answers, she enlists a team with various strengths, from weapons to cooking skills, to help her find the shooter. Her computer whiz boyfriend Michael is onboard. So is former security guard Veera. Toss in an over-the-hill informant and a couple of feuding celebrity chefs and Corrie’s got her very own A-Team. Okay, maybe it’s more like a B-Team.


Can Team Corrie hunt down the shooter before he scores a bulls-eye?



Book Details:
Genre: Traditional Mystery with some Humor
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: October 20th, 2020
Number of Pages: 280
ISBN: 9781947915930
Series: A Southern California Mystery, #4 | Each can be read as a Stand-Alone book


Purchase Links:  Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads



Read an excerpt:


The last of my patience dripped onto the concrete floor beneath my feet. My fists clenched, my jaw tightened and my stomach rumbled like the start of an avalanche. I’d officially reached the cracking point.

“Today was V-day for us. Victory with a big fat V.”

Los Angeles Senior Deputy District Attorney Bruce Beckman stood at the head of our table, arms raised high. The first two fingers of each hand formed a “V”. Meanwhile, everyone’s dinner sat in front of them. Everyone’s, that is, but mine. All I had was an empty plate and an empty stomach.

“Where’s our server?” I whispered. The beachside diner was packed. “Did they run out of food?”

Beckman dropped his pose and glared at me so fiercely, my cheeks glowed from the heat.

“Sorry,” I mumbled. What did he expect? His mac n’ cheese was half-eaten. I licked my lips.

“The case came close to swinging in the opposite direction,” Beckman continued. “We couldn’t have won today’s trial without this guy.” Beckman gestured toward the deputy D.A. sitting next to him.

I half stood and peered past the other diners.  No sign of our server. “Slacker,” I mumbled. I slammed my napkin down beside my plate.

“Have some of mine,” Michael whispered. “Please, Corrie.”

If anyone else had offered, I would’ve cleaned his plate in thirty seconds. But Michael was my oldest friend slash newest boyfriend, and I loved him dearly from his dark floppy hair to the Chuck Taylors on his feet. We sat in a crowded hipster restaurant in Santa Monica, a hop, skip, and a jump from the sparkling Pacific Ocean. Michael had barely touched his burger, waiting on my dinner with me. His stomach growled right alongside mine.

“Obviously, I picked the right man for the job,” Beckman said. “And gave him a few tips. Quite a few, actually.” He chuckled.

Weak laughter trickled around the table, followed by a groan. Did that come from me? Beckman shot me his signature scowl. I managed a shadow of an apology, and his attention returned to the man on his left.  My hunger pangs took a brief hike while I assessed the object of Beckman’s praise. Assistant Deputy D.A. James Zachary flashed a grin. He was a sight for sore eyes. Or any eyes, for that matter.

“Thanks to James,” Beckman continued, “defense counsel didn’t stand a chance.”

Cheers erupted. I clapped and wriggled around in my seat. My stomach rumblings grew even louder. That’s what happened when my last meal was breakfast.

“I’ll be back,” I whispered to Michael and shoved away my chair. We sat around a table of five. Three of us were members of the world’s oldest profession. The oldest after toolmakers, farmers, the military, and doctors. We were lawyers. I was the only lawyer unaffiliated with the D.A.’s office.

“Wait.” Michael took my hand.

Michael Parris wasn’t a lawyer, but he was the associate dean of the computer science department of a private tech college near downtown L.A.  Michael’s lips were moving but shouting voices, clanging dinner plates and background music swallowed up his next words.

“What?” I leaned in closer, sniffing a sweet combo of sandalwood and fresh laundry that made my empty insides tingle.

He wiped his mouth on a napkin and said, “Stay here. I’ll go to the kitchen. Help yourself to my burger while you wait. I promise I won’t return empty-handed.”

“No, you stay. I want to make sure they get my order right.” I touched his shoulder. “Be back soon.”

We locked stares and his hazel eyes softened. “Two minutes. If you’re not back, I’m coming after you.”

I’d insisted my table mates eat without me, figuring my meal was on its way…fifteen minutes ago. I aimed for the kitchen, wading sideways between packed tables when I bumped into our server. She tried to push past, but I blocked the way.

“I’m still waiting,” I told her.

“No, you’re not,” she said. “You got served.”

“Crispy chicken sandwich with spicy slaw and chili cheese fries, hold the onions. It’s not on our table.” I pointed my thumb over my shoulder.

“I brought all the orders out personally.”

“Not mine.”

“You wanna talk to the manager?”

“I demand to talk to the manager.”

She tipped her head and pitched it to one side. “Big Sam’s up front by the cashier.”

I moved out of her path, and she hustled past. I continued my sideways trek, filing between chairs and dodging scurrying servers. Nearly closing time and the place was still hopping. I slowed and looked back at the kitchen. Maybe I’d get somewhere if I talked to the cook. I was about to swivel around when I spotted a manager-type; a stocky guy with a shaved head and goatee, chatting up a group of wannabe diners near the bar.

I headed for him and waited behind the blonde hostess. The cash register drawer popped open with a ping. She plucked wads of bills from beneath the drawer and shoved them into a vinyl bank bag.

“Excuse me,” I said.

She jumped and turned to me, zipping up the bag and pushing it behind her. “Yeah?” Long bangs stabbed at her eyes.

I pitched my chin toward the stocky guy. “That the manager?”

“He owns the place. Big Sam Neely.” Her attention went back to the bag. She unzipped it and continued stuffing bills inside.

I navigated closer to Big Sam and leaned against a pillar, waiting for a chance to butt into the conversation. Meanwhile, a lanky dude in a dark gray hoodie and faded jeans edged his way inside. His clothes were baggy; his hood was up and over his head. Only his nose, mouth, and tinted shades were visible. Sunglasses at night weren’t unusual in L.A. I stared out at the room. A couple of diners wore shades. The guy in the hoodie flitted past me. He threw out his anchor near the hostess. My heartbeat quickened. The cash drawer still gaped open. I elbowed my way back toward him, half-expecting the guy’s hand to dart out and grab the bank bag, but he ignored the money. Instead, he eased forward and stared out toward the back of the diner. My gaze dropped to the lower left side of his jacket. The bottom edge had latched onto the large violin-shaped leaf of an ornamental ficus, exposing the top of his jeans. My heart hammered against my chest. The grip of a revolver stuck out of his pocket.

***

Excerpt from Slightly Murderous Intent by Lida Sideris. 

Copyright © 2020 by Lida Sideris. 
Reproduced with permission from Lida Sideris. All rights reserved.




Author Bio:

Lida Sideris’ first stint after law school was a newbie lawyer’s dream: working as an entertainment attorney for a movie studio…kind of like her heroine, Corrie Locke, except without the homicides. Lida was one of two national winners of the Helen McCloy Mystery Writers of America Scholarship Award for her first book. She lives in the northern tip of Southern California with her family, rescue dogs, and a flock of uppity chickens. 




To learn more about Lida, please visit her at:
www.LidaSideris.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!





Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews and giveaways!

Click here to view Slightly Murderous Intent by Lida Sideris Tour Participants.

Giveaway!!:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Lida Sideris. There will be three (3) winners. Two (2) winners will each receive one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card and One (1) winner will receive a copy of Slightly Murderous Intent by Lida Sideris (US only ~ choice of print or eBook). The giveaway begins on December 7, 2020, and runs through December 20, 2020. Void where prohibited.


Click here to enter.




Book Spotlight: GROUNDS FOR MURDER by Tara Lush

Grounds for Murder, A Coffee Lover’s Mystery, by Tara Lush
ISBN: 9781643856186 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781643856193 (ebook)
ASIN: B0871KTTMC   (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: December 8, 2020

Barista Lana Lewis’s sleuthing may land her in a latte trouble as Tara Lush launches her new Coffee Shop mysteries.

When Lana Lewis’ best — and most difficult — employee abruptly quits and goes to work for the competition just days before the Sunshine State Barista Championship, her café’s chances of winning the contest are creamed. In front of a gossipy crowd in the small Florida town of Devil’s Beach, Lana’s normally calm demeanor heats to a boil when she runs into the arrogant java slinger. Of course, Fabrizio “Fab” Bellucci has a slick explanation for jumping ship. But when he’s found dead the next morning under a palm tree in the alley behind Lana’s café, she becomes the prime suspect.


Even the island’s handsome police chief isn’t quite certain of her innocence. But Lana isn’t the only one in town who was angry with Fabrizio. Jilted lovers, a shrimp boat captain, and a surfer with ties to the mob are all suspects as trouble brews on the beach.


With her stoned, hippie dad, a Shih Tzu named Stanley, and a new, curious barista sporting a punk rock aesthetic at her side, Lana’s prepared to turn up the heat to catch the real killer. After all, she is a former award-winning reporter. As scandal hangs over her beachside café, can Lana clear her name and win the championship — or will she come to a bitter end?

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned:   IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  BookDepository  |  eBooks  |  !ndigo  |  Kobo Audiobook  |  Kobo eBook

Advance Praise

“Lana’s voyage of self-discovery, along with her New Age-y father, quirky hire Erica, and feisty puppy Stanley, portend future fun for readers.”
Publishers Weekly
“A good read for a chilly weekend indoors.” 
New York Journal of Books
“Lush manages to braid the Florida-osity of things into a solid murder mystery…A compelling read.”
The Gabber
“A wonderful series debut that is a silky-smooth blend of humor, mystery and romance with a feisty heroine and a delicious island setting.”
—Peg Cochran, USA Today bestselling author
“It doesn’t matter if you like your coffee hot or cold, you’ll love Grounds for Murder. Tara Lush brings the quirky town of Devil’s Beach to life. You can almost smell the coffee and feel the heat. A sure winner!”
—Joyce Tremel, author, Brewing Trouble mysteries
“A most delightful addition to your cozy mystery library.”
—Harper Kincaid, author, To Kill a Mocking Girl 
“Tara Lush brews a fun Florida mystery, topped with a sweet frothy romance. Enjoy this blend of sunshine and quirky characters.”
—Elaine Viets, award-winning author, Dead-End Job mysteries

Meet The Author

Tara Lush is a Florida-based novelist and journalist. She’s an RWA Rita finalist, an Amtrak writing fellow, and the winner of the George C. Polk award for environmental journalism. For the past decade, she’s been a reporter with The Associated Press, covering crime, alligators, natural disasters, and politics. She also writes contemporary romance set in tropical locations. Tara is a fan of vintage pulp fiction book covers, Sinatra-era jazz, 1980s fashion, tropical chill, kombucha, gin, tonic, seashells, true crime podcasts, Art Deco, telenovelas, street art, coconut anything, strong coffee, and newspapers. She lives on the Gulf Coast with her husband and two dogs.



Connect to the author via her Website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

This book spotlight brought to you by Meryl Moss Media

Book Spotlight: A DEADLY EDITION by Victoria Gilbert


A Deadly Edition: A Blue Ridge Library Mystery

by Victoria Gilbert

About A Deadly Edition

Cozy Mystery

5th in Series

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books 

Release Date: December 8, 2020

Hardcover: 368 pages

ISBN-13: 978-1643854762

Kindle ASIN: B085N3KN7L


Purchase Links:  Amazon – B&N – Kobo – IndieBound

“‘Til death do us part’ could be closer than the bride realizes in Victoria Gilbert’s tantalizing fifth Blue Ridge Library mystery.”

The pursuit to acquire a rare illustrated book turns deadly, and on the eve of her upcoming wedding, library director Amy Webber is drawn into a web of treachery and betrayal that could derail her happy day–and maybe just claim her life.

Planning a wedding can be murder–sometimes literally. At a party celebrating their upcoming nuptials, Taylorsford, Virginia library director Amy Webber and her fiancé Richard Muir discover the body of art dealer Oscar Selvaggio–a bitter rival of their host, Kurt Kendrick.

Both had been in a heated battle to purchase a rare illustrated volume created by William Morris’s Kelmscott Press, so suspicion immediately falls upon Kurt. Amy knows that Kurt has a closet-full of skeletons from his past–but she can’t believe he’s guilty of murder.

Amidst an avalanche of wedding preparations, Amy begins an investigation with the help of her aunt Lydia Talbot and the new mayor of Taylorsford, Sunshine “Sunny” Fields. Much to Lydia’s dismay, her boyfriend, art expert Hugh Chen, becomes convinced of Kurt’s guilt and launches an investigation of his own. As the case hits painfully close to home, the stakes become impossibly high–and the danger all too real.


About Victoria Gilbert

Raised in a historic small town near the Blue Ridge Mountains, Victoria Gilbert turned her early obsession with books into a dual career as an author and librarian.


Victoria writes the Blue Ridge Library Mystery series, the Booklover’s B&B series, and the upcoming Hunter and Clewe traditional mystery series for Crooked Lane Books. She has also published fantasy with Snowy Wings Publishing.

A member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, Victoria is represented by Frances Black at Literary Counsel. She lives near Winston-Salem, NC with her husband, son, and some very spoiled cats.

Author Links

Website (includes blog): http://victoriagilbertmysteries.com/

Blue Ridge Library Mystery series:

Booklover’s B&B series:

Giveaway

This is a tour-wide giveaway for one (1) print copy of A Deadly Edition by Victoria Gilbert. This giveaway is open to US residents only. If the Rafflecopter form isn’t displayed below, please click here to enter. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

TOUR PARTICIPANTS


December 6 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT
December 6 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW
December 6 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – SPOTLIGHT
December 7 – The Book Diva’s Reads – SPOTLIGHT
December 7 – CelticLady Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
December 7 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT
December 8 – Dee-Scoveries – SPOTLIGHT
December 8 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
December 8 – The Bookwyrm’s Hoard – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW
December 9 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW
December 9 – Jane Reads – GUEST POST
December 9 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT
December 10 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT
December 10 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT
December 10 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW  
December 11 – Thoughts in Progress – SPOTLIGHT
December 11 – View from the Birdhouse – REVIEW
December 11 – Cassidy’s Bookshelves – SPOTLIGHT
December 12 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW
December 12 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
December 13 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW
December 13 – Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic – SPOTLIGHT
December 13 – I Read What You Write – SPOTLIGHT

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