Guest Post: Valerie Burns – TWO PARTS SUGAR, ONE PART MURDER

Good day, my bookish peeps. I’ve traveled to more than 25 states here in the US (and working on visiting more). I’m not a huge fan of living in small towns (I enjoy all of the cultural options found in larger cities/towns), but there’s nothing quite like the scenery found in cities and towns around the great lakes. I’m incredibly honored to welcome back to the blog, Valerie Burns (aka VM Burns), author of Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder. Ms. Burns will be sharing her thoughts on a coastal Michigan town that’s the setting in her latest series. I hope you’ll enjoy learning more about this fictional town and perhaps grab a copy of Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder so you can visit as an armchair traveler. Thank you, Ms. Burns, for joining us today. The blog is now all yours.

Where in the World is New Bison, Michigan?
by Valerie Burns

 

My new Baker Street Mystery series is set in the town of New Bison, Michigan. Never heard of it? That’s because it doesn’t exist. New Bison is a fictional town that I created based on the city of New Buffalo, Michigan. What’s special about New Buffalo? And, why use a fictional town?

New Buffalo is a small, quaint town, located 70 miles east of downtown Chicago at the mouth of the Galien River on Michigan’s west coast just north of the Indiana border. It’s also right on the Lake Michigan shoreline.

The state of Michigan is known for a lot of things, Motown Music, motor city, and home of one of the five great lakes, Lake Michigan. Over the years, the state has experienced its share of economic booms and busts. Many towns around Southwestern Michigan were once home to industries that supported Detroit’s automotive industry. However, as manufacturing migrated from the Midwest to the South and abroad, Michigan’s economy suffered. The state, and particularly Southwestern Michigan, was forced to reinvent itself. Home to one of the five great lakes and more than 129 lighthouses (44 of which are on Lake Michigan), Michigan exploited its natural resources (Pure Michigan if you’ve seen the commercials). Also important to the regional marketing is the fact that only forty nautical miles separate New Buffalo, Michigan from downtown Chicago. That’s 70 miles if you’re traveling by land. Lake Michigan, beaches, and small historic towns make Southwestern Michigan appealing, especially for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the Windy City. Lake Front property in Southwestern Michigan was also considerably less expensive than in Chicago, another point in Michigan’s favor.

Of the five great lakes, Lake Michigan is the second largest when it comes to volume, but the only one of the five that is entirely within the United States. Lake Michigan isn’t the cleanest of the Great Lakes, but clarity isn’t always a great thing when it comes to fish. Decades ago, the murky waters of Lake Michigan weren’t very appealing for swimming and kayaking, but the marine life thrived, and Lake Michigan enjoyed a robust $7-billion-dollar fishing industry. Concerted efforts to clean Lake Michigan and the emergence of invasive mussels which remove green algae (the base of the food chain), has devastated the lake’s marine life. Today, the shores of Lake Michigan have crystal clear water, clean sandy beaches, and quaint lighthouses, but the effects of the clean water on the fishing industry is yet to be determined.

When looking for a location for my new cozy, I felt New Buffalo was perfect. So, why did I change the name? I changed the name from New Buffalo to New Bison because I write murder mysteries. People will die here. The last thing I want for the town of New Buffalo, is to be avoided as dangerous. Although, there are no guarantees. Even Cabot Cove, Maine is a fictional city, the UK Daily Mail still labeled it as “The most dangerous place on earth…” (https://bit.ly/3zDrlPi). Cabot Cove, home to fictional author and amateur sleuth, Jessica Fletcher, had more than its share of murders, despite the lovely New England charm. Anyone familiar with Southwestern Michigan will recognize that New Bison is based on New Buffalo. I hope readers will be intrigued by descriptions of the quaint downtown, sandy beaches, beautiful Lake Michigan sunsets, and friendly locals. Pick up a copy of my new Baker Street Mystery, Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder, and get acquainted with New Bison, Michigan.

Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder (A Baker Street Mystery)
by Valerie Burns

About Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder

Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder (A Baker Street Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Michigan
Kensington Cozies (August 30, 2022)
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 272 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1496738225
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1496738226
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09MZTN6YC

In this delectable new cozy mystery series, social media maven Maddy Montgomery’s perfectly ’grammable life has come undone, and she’s #StartingOver in a tiny town with one giant problem—a killer on the loose . . .

When Maddy Montgomery’s groom is a no-show to their livestream wedding, it’s a disaster that no amount of filtering can fix. But a surprise inheritance offers a chance to regroup and rebrand—as long as Maddy is willing to live in her late, great-aunt Octavia’s house in New Bison, Michigan, for a year, running her bakery and caring for a 250-pound English mastiff named Baby.

Maddy doesn’t bake, and her Louboutins aren’t made for walking giant dogs around Lake Michigan, but the locals are friendly and the scenery is beautiful. With help from her aunt’s loyal friends, aka the Baker Street Irregulars, Maddy feels ready to tackle any challenge, including Octavia’s award-winning cake recipes. That is, until New Bison’s mayor is fatally stabbed, and Maddy’s fingerprints are found on the knife . . .

Something strange is going on in New Bison. It seems Aunt Octavia had her suspicions, too. But Maddy’s going to need a whole lot more than a trending hashtag to save her reputation—and her life.

Purchase Links

About Valerie Burns

Valerie (V. M.) Burns is the author of the Mystery Bookshop Mystery series. Her first book, The Plot is Murder, was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Debut Novel. She is the author of the Dog Club Mystery Series, the RJ Franklin Mysteries, a three-time finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards, and an Edgar Award-nominated short story. Her newest series, Baker Street Mysteries, will release later this year, and her Pet Detective Mystery series will release in 2023. Valerie is on the board of Sisters in Crime and the Southeastern Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. She is also a member of Dog Writers of America, Crime Writers of Color, and International Thriller Writers. She is a manager for a Fortune 100 company and a mentor in the Writing Popular Fiction Program at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA. Born and raised in northwestern Indiana, Valerie currently lives in the southeastern United States with her two poodles. Readers can visit her website at vmburns.com.

Author Links

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/v-m-burns

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vmburnsbooks/

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16534140.V_M_Burns

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vmburnsbooks/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/vmburns

Website: vmburns.com

 

TOUR PARTICIPANTS

August 22 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

August 22 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT

August 23 – The Mystery Section – GUEST POST

August 23 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

August 24 – Mochas, Mysteries and Meows – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

August 24 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

August 25 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

August 25 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

August 26 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

August 26 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

August 27 – The Book Diva’s Reads – GUEST POST

August 27 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

August 27 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

August 28 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

August 28 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

August 29 – Lady Hawkeye – SPOTLIGHT

August 29 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog – SPOTLIGHT

August 30 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT

August 30 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

August 31 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

August 31 – Sneaky the Library Cat’s Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

September 1 – Mysteries with Character – REVIEW

September 2 – Baroness Book Trove – REVIEW

September 2 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT, RECIPE

September 3 – The Mystery of Writing – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

September 3 – StoreyBook Reviews – CHARACTER GUEST POST

September 4 – BookishKelly2020 – SPOTLIGHT

 

Giveaway

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Book Review: TO CATCH A RAVEN by Beverly Jenkins

 

 

TO CATCH A RAVEN by Beverly Jenkins book coverTo Catch a Raven, Women Who Dare #3, by Beverly Jenkins
ISBN: 9780062861740 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780062861757 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062861825 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B09MV846YB (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B09MD9MKDG (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Avon Books
Release Date: August 23, 2022
Genre: Fiction | Romance | Historical Romance

“A living legend.” — Julia Quinn

The newest novel in USA Today bestselling author Beverly Jenkins’s compelling Women Who Dare series features a fearless grifter who goes undercover to reclaim the stolen Declaration of Independence.

Lying and cheating may be sins to some people, but for Raven Moreaux, it is a way of life. She comes from a long line of grifters and couldn’t be prouder…Until she’s forced to help the government.

A former Confederate official is suspected of stealing the Declaration of Independence, and Raven, posing as his housekeeper, is tasked with getting it back. Her partner is the too handsome Braxton Steel. Masquerading as a valet/driver, Brax is also supposed to be her “husband.” He has his own reasons for doing this job, but when their pretend marriage ignites into fiery passion, they’ll have to put everything—including their hearts—on the line.

 Purchase Links #CommissionEarned:   IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible | Audiobooks.com | Barnes and Noble | B&N NOOK Book | BookDepository.com | Bookshop.org | Downpour Audiobook | eBooks.com | !ndigo | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook

To Catch a Raven is the third book in the “Women Who Dare” series and is set mainly in the post-Civil War South. The female main character, Raven Moreaux, is a member of a family known as grifters, con artists, and thieves based out of Louisiana. Raven’s family has struggled with poverty, but they all work together to achieve a united goal of uplifting the family. The male main character, Braxton Steel, is from a leading Black New England family of entrepreneurs. He grew up with servants and wealth and has never known anything but privilege. To say that he was shocked to learn to about his father’s prior associations with the Moreaux family is a major understatement. Now Braxton must work along with a known grifter/con artist in an effort to save his father from possible prosecution. But he knows nothing about grifting and frowns upon even the thought of doing something illegal or underhanded. Braxton learns that he shouldn’t be so quick to judge and that all is not what it seems with Raven Moreaux and her family. These two are forced to work together but each one learns valuable lessons from the other regarding pride, prejudices, and presumptions.

I found To Catch a Raven to be an enticing and fast-paced read. I enjoyed the dynamics between Raven and Braxton. Ms. Jenkins has incorporated quite a bit into this story beyond the search for a natural treasure. Just a few of the things a reader should check off on your Romancelandia Bingo card when reading this book include: enemies-to-lovers, one bed, older couple-second chance romance, fake marriage, fake royals, fake nuns, mice in a bag, a broken bed, a young girl with second sight, Alice in Wonderland, ice skating, Confederate money with a woman’s face, laudanum, betrayal, and more. What’s amazing to this reader is that all of these elements, (SPOILER ALERT: along with a bullying Pinkerton agent receiving her comeuppance), are combined in such a manner that nothing seems out of place within the telling of this tale. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that I loved reading this story. The relationship between Raven and Braxton is sassy, steamy, and sexy, not to mention sweet. Their quest to find a stolen document takes them from Louisiana to the Carolinas and the journey allows both to learn from one another. Yes, this is a romance. And yes, there’s a HEA. But in addition to the romance story, Ms. Jenkins provides fascinating tidbits of history and it’s always a pleasure learning about our hidden history. If you enjoyed reading Rebel and Wild Rain, the first two books in this series, then I strongly encourage you to get a copy of To Catch a Raven to read. In addition to my print and digital copy, I purchased a second print copy for my 87-y.o. mother. I can only hope that you enjoy reading this series as much as I have, and I can’t wait to re-read this series (along with a few other favorite Beverly Jenkins books).

Happy Reading, y’all!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book 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.”

Giveaway

Told y’all that I LOVED this book, well I’m going to share the love with one lucky reader. I’m giving away one digital copy of this book, winner’s choice of Kindle or eBook copy. To enter the giveaway please use the Rafflecopter form below or click HERE. This giveaway begins at 12:01 AM ET on 08/26/2022 and ends at 11:59 PM ET on 08/31/2022. The winner will be selected and notified by 10:00 AM on 09/01/2022.

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Book Showcase: RIVER OF ASHES by Alexandrea Weis & Lucas Astor

River of Ashes

by Alexandrea Weis & Lucas Astor

August 1-31, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

River of Ashes by Alexandrea Weis & Lucas Astor

*Apple’s Most Anticipated Books for Summer in Mysteries & Thrillers*

SOME TRUTHS ARE BETTER KEPT SECRET. SOME SECRETS ARE BETTER OFF DEAD.

Along the banks of the Bogue Falaya River, sits the abandoned St. Francis Seminary. Beneath a canopy of oaks, blocked from prying eyes, the teens of St. Benedict High gather here on Fridays. The rest of the week belongs to school and family—but weekends belong to the river. And the river belongs to Beau Devereaux. The only child of a powerful family, Beau can do no wrong. Star quarterback. Handsome. Charming. The “prince” of St. Benedict is the ultimate catch. He is also a psychopath.

A dirty family secret buried for years, Beau’s evil grows unchecked. In the shadows of the haunted abbey, he commits unspeakable acts on his victims and ensures their silence with threats and intimidation. Senior year, Beau sets his sights on his girlfriend’s headstrong twin sister, Leslie, who hates him. Everything he wants but cannot have, she will be his ultimate prize. As the victim toll mounts, it becomes clear that someone must stop Beau Devereaux. And that someone will pay with their life.

River of Ashes is a Southern Gothic, Psychological Thriller inspired by true events in the vein of V.C. Andrews with elements of Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn and You by Caroline Kepnes. River of Ashes addresses social issues including sexual violence and bullying.

Praise for River of Ashes:

River of Ashes offers an inside look into the mind of a psychopath—a cautionary tale that the scariest monsters are the ones you know but never suspect.”

Pearry Teo, PhD; Award-Winning Director of The Assent, Executive Producer of Cloud Atlas

“A psychological portrait akin to Lord of the Flies.”

Midwest Book Review

“If Gillian Flynn and Bret Easton Ellis had a book baby, it would be River of Ashes.”

~Booktrib

Book Details:

Genre: Southern Gothic / Psychological Thriller / Coming-of-Age
Published by: Vesuvian Books
Publication Date: August 2nd, 2022
Number of Pages: 284
ISBN10: 1645480984 (paperback)
ISBN13: 9781645480983 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781645480990 (eBook)
ASIN: B09V1KRX5J (Kindle edition)
Series: St. Benedict #1
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble | B&N Nook Book | BookDepository.com | Bookshop.org | eBooks.com | !ndigo | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Leslie turned off Main Street and headed along the single-lane road. The storefronts gave way to homes with colorful gardens and oaks draped with tendrils of Spanish moss. Then the houses grew sparse and disappeared as greenery hugged the side of the road. Leslie slowed to avoid a pothole and heard the rush of the Bogue Falaya River through the open windows.

The trees thinned, revealing the two stone spires of The Abbey. Apprehension snaked through her as she pictured Beau, her sister, and all the unsettling things she associated with the derelict church.

A wall of dense red buckeye bushes swaying in the breeze shrouded the road. Leslie drove through an opening someone carved out long ago. A cleared lot lay hidden beyond the dense hedge, surrounded by thick pines and oaks, with paths leading down a steep embankment to the river’s edge.

Leslie got out of the car, listening to the sweet refrain of birds in the trees. “No one’s here today.”

“It’s still too early. Everybody from school likes to come after dark.” Derek led her to a pine-straw-covered path and to the shore of the rushing river.

Something moved in the dense underbrush. Leslie walked ahead, trying to get a better look. “What’s that?”

She crossed several broken branches until she stumbled on something nestled in the foliage. The stench of rotting flesh hit her nose. She gagged and slowed to a stop.

“Wait, be careful.” Derek swept aside a few leafy twigs to get a better look.

Flies covered the bloated belly of a white-tailed deer. Deep grooves slashed into what remained of the deer’s neck. The poor animal’s hindquarters appeared torn away.

Leslie crept closer. “What could do such a thing?”

Derek took her hand and backed out of the brush. “I bet it was the wild dogs.”

Leslie let him lead her away from the stench. “What wild dogs?”

He stopped outside of the brush. “They’re around here. A couple of weeks ago, Mom said some hunters came in the diner and reported seeing them.”

“Where did they come from?” Leslie’s voice shook.

Derek guided her to a path curving down a long slope. The roar of the river grew louder.

“There are lots of stories. I heard they were left behind when the monks abandoned the place. Legend has it that when they appear, death is near.”

A shudder ran through her.

Derek tugged Leslie’s hand. “Come on.”

The path widened, and a beach came into view. The outcropping of white sand had a collection of green picnic tables, red barrel trash cans, and fire pits along the river’s edge. Around the beach, thick brush covered the shore with limbs from pine trees dipping into the water. The sun sparkled on the gentle waves.

Leslie followed him along the shoreline until they came to a rusted iron gate with a No Trespassing sign secured to it. The sign, decorated with crosses and swirls, marked the entrance to The Abbey grounds. Stepping through the open gate, she peered up at the imposing structure.

Two spires of white limestone, shaped like the tip of a sword, cut into the blue sky. A structure of red brick and limestone, the front windows and doors secured with loose scraps of plywood, sat in the middle of a field of high grass. The squat stone building of cloisters behind The Abbey remained intact. The Benedictine monks, who had run the seminary and were responsible for the preparation of future priests, demolished the dormitories, refectory, and library after they abandoned the site. The rest remained because, in the South, it was considered bad luck to tear down churches.

“Some place, huh?” Derek let go of her hand and ventured across the high grass.

A wave of panic shot through Leslie.

The grounds, unkempt after years of neglect, were a hodgepodge of weeds, overgrown trees, and vines.

Why would people come here at night?

“You ever wonder why those monks just up and left?” Leslie was uncomfortable with the eerie quiet. Even the birds had stopped singing. “Everyone says they got a better offer from the seminary in New Orleans, but it seems funny a bunch of people abandoned the place for no reason.”

Derek parted a thick pile of tall grass with his shoe. “My mom told me it was falling apart when she was a kid, and the Archdiocese didn’t have the money to fix it. So, they packed up the school and sent the monks and all the staff to New Orleans.”

“I read once that the structure dates back to the early 1800s, when the Devereaux family built it as a private church.” Leslie eyed the empty belfry atop one of the square-shaped towers. “You’d think they’d want to save it.”

Derek nudged her with his elbow. “Maybe the ghost drove them away.”

Beau’s tale had been in the back of her mind the whole time, but Derek’s comment spooked the crap out of her. “By ghost, do you mean the lady in white?”

“Yep.” He scanned the land around them. “They say she appears when the moon is full or during storms.”

The thought of being alone in such a disturbing place terrified her. “Have you ever seen the ghost?”

Derek searched the thick foliage ahead of them. “Nah. I’ve never seen anything.”

Granite steps appeared as they drew near the entrance.

Leslie kicked herself for letting him talk her into coming to this place. “What about the wild dogs? Have you seen them around The Abbey?”

“Not to worry, love, I’ll protect you from ghosts, wild dogs, and Beau Devereaux.” He climbed the steps, encouraging her to join him. “But I have to draw the line at your mother. There’s no way I’m taking her on in a fight.”

On the porch, beneath the cracked and chipped stone arch above the doors, she waited while Derek wrestled with the plywood covering the entrance. Despite the creep factor, the lush green trees surrounding them had a soothing effect. Leslie breathed in the fresh pine scent and mossy aroma of the tall grass. Then a fly zipped past her face.

Thud.

She turned and discovered Derek had pushed a large piece of plywood securing the door out of the way, leaving a nice-sized gap to crawl through.

“How did you do that?”

Derek held the plywood to the side for her. “The loose boards have been rigged to open easily.”

Leslie dipped her head and looked through the doorway. “You sure it’s safe?”

“I wouldn’t bring you here if it wasn’t, love.”

His smile won over her fears.

Once inside, it took a moment for her eyes to adjust. Pinpoints of light shone on a floor covered with clumps of debris. In the roof, thousands of holes, some big and some small, littered the space between the bare beams where parts of plaster had fallen away. Birds’ nests of light-colored hay and twigs nestled against blackish beams and shadowy eaves, creating a patchwork design on the ceiling. It reminded Leslie of the quilt her grandmother had made for her as a child.

Derek appeared, shining a beam of light on the floor.

She pointed at the flashlight. “Where did you get that?”

“Me and the guys have been here a few times. We’ve stashed stuff around the place. We even have sleeping bags and water bottles socked away.”

Here she was a nervous wreck while his friends had turned it into their personal campground. Leslie’s skin crawled at the idea of spending the night in such a place. “I don’t know why you guys come here.”

He took her hand, and the beam bounced on the dusty floor. “I don’t get why you’re so freaked out. It’s just an old building. There’s nothing sinister about it.”

Beau’s words about taking her to The Abbey sent a shiver down her spine. Any girl would be at his mercy in such a place. She questioned her sister’s choices, knowing she’d been there with Beau.

Derek swung the light across the floor, shining it on dozens of rotted pews, leaves, twigs, crumbled plaster pieces from the ceiling, and skeletons of dead birds. “Lots of animals use this place as shelter. I’ve seen possums, raccoons, deer, and once, I swear I saw a black leopard running out the back.”

Leslie became even more uneasy about being in the building. “You wouldn’t happen to have a shotgun in your stash.”

“The animals don’t bother me, just the people.”

Their footfalls echoed through the vast structure as they ventured farther. Leslie kept expecting someone or something to jump out from the shadows. Her only distraction was the intricate carvings atop the arches and the paintings on the walls. Men and angels exchanged timid glances as rays of light from parting clouds shined down.

Paintings of Noah and the flood, Adam and Eve, and other Genesis stories were barely visible on the white plaster covering the arches along the central aisle. In one spot, where the roof remained intact, she could make out the image of Moses holding the Ten Commandments. His eyes stood out the most. It was like they carried the burning wrath of God.

Shivering, Leslie looked ahead to a white archway marking the entrance to the altar. The gleam of the limestone appeared pristine. She got closer to the most sacred part of the old church, and her sense of dread rose. She spun around to face the scattered, rotting pews behind them.

“What is it?” Derek asked, taking her hand.

His voice rattled inside the hollows of the church, adding to her anxiety. They stood under the circular dome where the altar had once been, and then a low growl came from a shadowy corner.

The air left her lungs. Her senses heightened. Seconds ticked by while she listened for other sounds. “Tell me you heard that.”

Derek raised his finger to his lips and nodded to a door on his left.

***

Excerpt from River of Ashes by Alexandrea Weis & Lucas Astor. Copyright 2022 by Alexandrea Weis & Lucas Astor. Reproduced with permission from Vesuvian Books. All rights reserved.

Meet Our Authors:

Alexandrea Weis

Alexandrea Weis

Alexandrea Weis, RN-CS, PhD, is an IPPY Award-Winning author, advanced practice registered nurse, and wildlife rehabber who was born and raised in the French Quarter. She has taught at major universities and worked with victims of sexual assault, abuse, and mental illness in a clinical setting at many New Orleans area hospitals. She is a member of the International Thriller Writers Organization and Horror Writers Association. The Strand Magazine said, “Alexandrea Weis is one of the most talented authors around, and in a short time her novels are destined to stand along with authors such as Stephen King, Gillian Flynn, Joyce Carol Oates, and Jeffery Deaver.”

Catch Up With Alexandrea Weis:
AlexandreaWeis.com
StBenedictSeries.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @AlexandreaWeis
Instagram – @AlexandreaWeis
Twitter – @AlexandreaWeis
Facebook – @AuthorAlexandreaWeis

Lucas Astor

Author Lucas Astor is an award-winning author and poet with a penchant for telling stories that delve into the dark side of the human psyche. He likes to explore the evil that exists, not just in the world, but next door behind a smiling face. Astor currently lives outside of Nashville, TN.

Catch Up With Lucas Astor:
LucasAstor.com
Instagram – @lucasastorauthor

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Bookish Ramblings: Bookstore Romance Day 2022

Love is In the Air – 2022

It’s time to celebrate love, all shades of love. August 20, 20221, is officially Bookstore Romance Day. This is the fourth 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.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m always up for grabbing a good romance book to read (okay, I’m always up for grabbing any good book to read). Contemporary romance, romantic suspense, romantic comedy, or historical romance, I’m always up for the HEA (happy ever after) or HFN (happy for now). Steamy romance or mild romance, it’s all good. If you’re not a romance reader, I hope my recommendations will help you become a Romancelandia convert.

No list is complete without my all-time favorite author, the incomparable, the Slayer of Words, the Queen…Beverly Jenkins! I’ve repeatedly recommended her books to you in the past and I sincerely hope you’ve taken my recommendations. Where do you start? I suggest beginning with her Blessings series (soon to be a television series [we hope]). This series, 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. You definitely don’t want to miss out on her “Women Who Dare” series: Rebel, Wild Rain, and the soon-to-be-released, To Catch a Raven.

If you haven’t read anything by Lyssa Kay Adams, now is a good time to start. The Bromance series features men learning how to be better husbands or significant others by reading romance novels. This is one series you’ll want to read in order, so start with book one, The Bromance Book Club, then on to Undercover Bromance, followed by One Crazy Stupid Bromance, and Isn’t It Bromantic?. Make sure you add A Very Merry Bromance to your list for reading later this year.

Another favorite 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). New additions to Ms. Guillory’s list of works include By The Book, released earlier this year, and Drunk On Love scheduled to be released next month.

I can’t say enough good things about Ayesha at Last and Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin. These are fantastic 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! Again, 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!

Need more author suggestions, here’s a partial list for you of authors I’ve read and can strongly recommend: 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), Vanessa Riley, J.D. Robb & Nora Roberts, Farrah Rochon, Juno Rushdan, Sharon Sala, Meg Tilly, Sarah Title, Tia Williams, Lauren Willig (love the Pink Carnation series), and more.

Bookstore Romance Day is also providing a host of virtual events, please click here to learn more. Registration may no longer be available for some events, but you can always watch any missed events on YouTube.

Let’s celebrate romantic love in all its forms, as well as support our beloved romance authors and indie bookstores. Love is Love! I hope you’ll be able to spend some time at your favorite indie bookstore today and treat yourself to a romance book or two.

Bookstore Romance Day heart-shaped logo

I’m super excited and pleased to announce that there are two indie bookstores in West Virginia participating in Bookstore Romance Day this year. I’ll be heading to Booktenders in Barboursville, West Virginia to grab some books. Who knows, I might also buy a few from WordPlay in Wardensville, West Virginia as well.

Happy Reading, y’all!

Guest Post: Katharine Schellman – DEATH AT THE MANOR

Happy Monday, my bookish peeps. I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and were able to find some time to read. After having an allergic reaction to some coconut, I spent most of Saturday and Sunday heavily medicated and reading. I enjoy reading mysteries, suspense thrillers, romance, and romantic suspense, but there’s a special place in my heart for gothic romance (hey, Jane Eyre is one of my all-time favorite reads!). Whether a story is a traditional gothic tale or gothic-inspired, count me in. I’m very pleased to welcome, Katharine Schellman, author of Death at the Manor to the blog today. Ms. Schellman will be defining gothic storytelling and providing us with a list of suggested gothic reads. I hope you’ll take note and add a few of these titles to your TBR or TBRR (to-be-re-read) list, along with Death at the Manor. Thank you, Ms. Schellman, for stopping by and sharing your insight into gothic stories.

A Gothic Reading List
by Katharine Schellman

If you’ve read one of the Lily Adler Mysteries before, you might have noticed a slightly different flavor in Lily’s third adventure. With a wandering ghost, a run-down manor full of unsettling residents, and a romance brewing, it has a distinctly Gothic feel to it.

That isn’t by accident. During the nineteenth century, when Death at the Manor is set, the Gothic romance was wildly popular. These books were often mysteries that reflected a fascination with the supernatural, the grotesque, or the horrific.

Death at the Manor is still a traditional mystery, but parts of it borrow heavily from the Gothic canon. So what makes a book truly Gothic? It’s a genre that can vary a lot, especially in its modern version, but you’ll usually see a few elements in common.

1. The threat of supernatural events or creatures, such as ghosts, monsters, or vampires
2. Dark, ruined settings, such as old castles, monasteries, or haunted houses, often with secret passages and trap doors
3. A feeling of fear or claustrophobia
4. The past intruding on the present, often through curses, prophecies, omens, or portents
5. Themes of vengeance, imprisonment, or murder
6. Doomed or persecuted romance

The tropes of Gothic writing could easily become overblown and absurd, but they served an important role in the history of literature. Books about ghosts, fear, vengeance, and persecution gave women something other than the marriage plot to write and read about. And they allowed writers and readers to explore the darker side of the social expectations, taboos, and power structures that shaped their lives.

If you’d like to brush up on your Gothic reading, here’s a starter list for you:

1. The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
2. Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole
3. The Old English Baron by Clara Reeve
4. Zofloya by Charlotte Dacre
5. The Giaour by Lord Byron
6. The Wanderer by Frances Burney
7. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
8. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
9. The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe
10. The Grey Woman by Elizabeth Gaskell

And of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. It’s not a Gothic tale itself, and like Austen’s other works, it doesn’t stray far from the marriage plot. But it’s a brilliant satire of the Gothic genre, which can only be fully appreciated once you’ve read some of the books she was spoofing. ♦

Death at the Manor

by Katharine Schellman

August 8 – September 2nd, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Death at the Manor by Katharine Schellman

 

The tortured spirits of the dead haunt a Regency-era English manor—but the true danger lies in the land of the living in the third installment in the Lily Adler mysteries, perfect for fans of Deanna Raybourn.

 

Regency widow Lily Adler is looking forward to spending the autumn away from the social whirl of London. When she arrives in Hampshire with her friends, the Carroways, she doesn’t expect much more than a quiet country visit and the chance to spend time with her charming new acquaintance, Matthew Spencer.

But something odd is afoot in the small country village. A ghost has taken up residence in the Belleford manor, a lady in grey who wanders the halls at night, weeping and wailing. Half the servants have left in terror, but the family seems delighted with the notoriety that their ghost provides. Intrigued by this spectral guest, Lily and her party immediately make plans to visit Belleford.

They arrive at the manor the next morning ready to be entertained—only to find that tragedy has struck. The matriarch of the family has just been found killed in her bed.

The dead woman’s family is convinced that the ghost is responsible. Lily is determined to learn the truth before another victim turns up—but could she be next in line for the Great Beyond?

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mystery
Published by: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: August 9th, 2022
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN10: 1639100784 (Hardcover)
ISBN13: 9781639100781 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 9781639100798 (eBook)
ISBN: 9781666613636 (Digital Audiobook)
ASIN: B0B13RB3XG (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B09LGVHT9S (Kindle edition)
Series: Lily Adler Mystery #3
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible Audiobook | Audiobooks.com | Barnes and Noble | B&N NOOK Book | B&N Audiobook | BookDepository.com | Bookshop.org | Downpour Audiobook | eBooks.com | !ndigo | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Katharine Schellman

Katharine Schellman is a former actor, one-time political consultant, and now the author of the Lily Adler Mysteries and the Nightingale Mysteries. Her debut novel, The Body in the Garden, was one of Suspense Magazine’s Best Books of 2020 and led to her being named one of BookPage’s 16 Women to Watch in 2020. Her second novel, Silence in the Library, was praised as “worthy of Agatha Christie or Rex Stout.” (Library Journal, starred review) Katharine lives and writes in the mountains of Virginia in the company of her husband, children, and the many houseplants she keeps accidentally murdering.

Catch Up With Katharine Schellman:
KatharineSchellman.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @katharineschellman
Instagram – @katharinewrites
Twitter – @katharinewrites
Facebook – @katharineschellman

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Book Showcase: THE WITCHES OF MOONSHYNE MANOR by Bianca Marais

THE WITCHES OF MOONSHYNE MANOR by Bianca Marais cover, blue background with title in yellow print above yellow cauldronThe Witches of Moonshyne Manor by Bianca Marais
ISBN: 9780778386995 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 9780369722454 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488215506 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B09VYH1XRQ (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B09SD4NCGB (Kindle edition)
Release Date: August 23, 2022
Publisher: MIRA Books
Genre: Fiction | Magical Realism | Feminism

A coven of modern-day witches. A magical heist-gone-wrong. A looming threat.

Five octogenarian witches gather as an angry mob threatens to demolish Moonshyne Manor. All eyes turn to the witch in charge, Queenie, who confesses they’ve fallen far behind on their mortgage payments. Still, there’s hope, since the imminent return of Ruby—one of the sisterhood who’s been gone for thirty-three years—will surely be their salvation.

But the mob is only the start of their troubles. One man is hellbent on avenging his family for the theft of a legacy he claims was rightfully his. In an act of desperation, Queenie makes a bargain with an evil far more powerful than anything they’ve ever faced. Then things take a turn for the worse when Ruby’s homecoming reveals a seemingly insurmountable obstacle instead of the solution to all their problems.

The witches are determined to save their home and themselves, but their aging powers are no match for increasingly malicious threats. Thankfully, they get a bit of help from Persephone, a feisty TikToker eager to smash the patriarchy. As the deadline to save the manor approaches, fractures among the sisterhood are revealed, and long-held secrets are exposed, culminating in a fiery confrontation with their enemies.

Funny, tender and uplifting, the novel explores the formidable power that can be discovered in aging, found family and unlikely friendships. Marais’ clever prose offers as much laughter as insight, delving deeply into feminism, identity and power dynamics while stirring up intrigue and drama through secrets, lies and sex. Heartbreaking and heart-mending, it will make you grateful for the amazing women in your life.

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Indiebound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | AppleBooks | Audible Audiobook | Audiobooks.com | Barnes and Noble | B&N NOOK Book | BookDepository.com | Books-A-Million | Bookshop.org | Downpour Audiobook | eBooks.com | Google Play Books | !ndigo | Libro.fm Audiobook | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook | Target

Read an excerpt:

1

Saturday, October 23rd
Morning

Half an hour before the alarm will be sounded for the first time in decades—drawing four frantic old women and a geriatric crow from all corners of the sprawling manor—Ursula is awoken by insistent knocking, like giant knuckles rapping against glass. It’s an ominous sign, to be sure. The first of many.

Trying to rid herself of the sticky cobwebs of sleep, Ursula throws back the covers, groaning as her joints loudly voice their displeasure. She’s slept in the buff, as is her usual habit, and as she pads across the room, she’s more naked than the day she was born (being, as she is, one of those rare babies who came into the world fully encased in a caul).

Upon reaching the window, the cause of the ruckus is immediately obvious to Ursula; one of the Angel Oak’s sturdy branches is thumping against her third-floor window. Strong winds whip through the tree, making it shimmy and shake, giving the impression that it’s espousing the old adage to dance like no one’s watching, a quality that rather has to be admired in a tree. Either that, or it’s trembling uncontrollably with fear.

The forest, encroaching at the garden’s boundary, looks disquieted. It hangs its head low, bowing to a master who’s ordered it to bend the knee. As the charcoal sky churns, not a bird to be seen, the trees in the wood whisper incessantly. Whether they’re secrets or warnings, Ursula can’t tell, which only unsettles her further.

That infernal billboard that the city recently erected across from the manor property—with its aggressive gigantic lettering shouting, ‘Critchley Hackle Mega Complex Coming Soon!’—snaps in the wind, issuing small cracks of thunder. A storm is on its way, that much is clear. You don’t need to have Ivy’s particular powers to know as much.

Turning her back on the ominous view, Ursula heads for the calendar to mark off another mostly sleepless night. It seems impossible that after so many of them—night upon night, strung up after each other seemingly endlessly—only two remain until Ruby’s return, upon which Ursula will discover her fate.

Either Ruby knows or she doesn’t.

And if she does know, there’s the chance that she’ll want nothing more to do with Ursula. The thought makes her breath hitch, the accompanying stab of pain almost too much to bear. The best she can hope for under the circumstances is that Ruby will forgive her, releasing Ursula from the invisible prison her guilt has sentenced her to.

Too preoccupied with thoughts of Ruby to remember to don her robe, Ursula takes a seat at her mahogany escritoire. She lights a cone of mugwort and sweet laurel incense, watching as the tendril of smoke unfurls, inscribing itself upon the air. Inhaling the sweet scent, she picks up a purple silk pouch and unties it, spilling the contents onto her palm.

The tarot cards are all frayed around the edges, worn down from countless hours spent jostling through Ursula’s hands. Despite their shabbiness, they crackle with electricity, sparks flying as she shuffles them. After cutting the deck in three, Ursula begins laying the cards down, one after the other, on top of the heptagram she carved into the writing desk’s surface almost eighty years ago.

The first card, placed in the center, is The Tower. Unfortunate souls tumble from the top of a fortress that’s been struck by lightning, flames engulfing it. Ursula experiences a jolt of alarm at the sight of it for The Tower has to signify the manor; and anything threatening their home, threatens them all.

The second card, placed above the first at the one o’clock position, can only represent Tabitha. It’s the Ten of Swords, depicting a person lying face down with ten swords buried in their back. The last time Ursula saw the card, she’d made a mental note to make an appointment with her acupuncturist, but now, following so soon after The Tower, it makes her shift nervously.

The third, fourth and fifth cards, placed at the three o’clock, four-thirty and six o’clock positions, depict a person (who must be Queenie) struggling under too heavy a load; a heart pierced by swords (signifying Ursula); and a horned beast towering above a man and woman who are shackled together (obviously Jezebel). Ursula whimpers to see so many dreaded cards clustered together.

Moving faster now, she lays out the sixth, seventh and eighth cards at the seven-thirty, nine and eleven o’clock positions. Ursula gasps as she studies the man crying in his bed, nine swords hovering above him (which can only denote Ursula’s guilt as it pertains to Ruby); the armored skeleton on horseback (representing the town of Critchley Hackle); and the two bedraggled souls trudging barefoot through the snow (definitely Ivy). Taking in all eight sinister cards makes Ursula tremble much like the Angel Oak.

Based on the spread, Ursula absolutely should sound the alarm immediately, but she’s made mistakes in the past—lapses in judgment that resulted in terrible consequences—and so she wants to be a hundred percent certain first.

She shuffles the cards again, laying them down more deliberately this time, only to see the exact same shocking formation, the impending threat even more vivid than before. It couldn’t be any clearer if the Goddess herself had sent a homing pigeon with a memo bearing the message: Calamity is on its way! It’s knocking at the window, just waiting to be let in!

And yet, Ursula still doesn’t sound the alarm, because that’s what doubt does; it slips through the chinks in our defenses, eroding all sense of self until the only voice that should matter becomes the one that we don’t recognize anymore, the one we trust the least.

As a result of this estrangement from herself, Ursula has developed something of a compulsion, needing to triple check the signs before she calls attention to them, and so she stands and grabs her wand. She makes her way down the hallway past Ruby’s and Jezebel’s bedrooms at a bit of a clip before descending the west wing stairs.

It’s just before she reaches Ivy’s glass conservatory that Ursula breaks out into a panicked run.

Excerpt from The Witches of Moonshyne Manor by Bianca Marais.
Copyright © 2022 by Bianca Marais.
Published by arrangement with MIRA Books
All rights reserved.

Meet the Author

Bianca Marais author photo by Brendan Fisher
Bianca Marais – credit Brendan Fisher

Bianca Marais cohosts the popular podcast The Sh*t No One Tells You About Writing, aimed at emerging writers. She was named the winner of the Excellence in Teaching Award for Creative Writing at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies in 2021. She is the author of two novels, Hum If You Don’t Know the Words and If You Want to Make God Laugh, as well as the Audible Original The Prynne Viper. She lives in Toronto with her husband and fur babies.

 
Connect with the author via Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Website

This excerpt is brought to you by MIRA Books

 

Guest Post: David Rabin – IN DANGER OF JUDGMENT

Whew, we’ve made it to another Friday, my bookish peeps. I’m looking forward to the weekend because I get more reading done (as if a book-a-day wasn’t enough for any book lover!). As most of you know by now, I’m an avid reader and enjoy reading from a variety of different genres. Regardless of genre, my fiction preferences are for a well-crafted storyline with a believable plot as well as realistic characters. I’m in awe of the great skill and talent to craft an entrancing read, whether it’s story or character driven. Today’s guest, author David Rabin, will share how he crafted the characters in his character-driven thriller, In Danger of Judgment. I hope you’ll enjoy what he has to say and add In Danger of Judgment to your growing TBR list. Thank you, Mr. Rabin, for joining us today, the blog is now all yours.

HOW I CREATED MY CHARACTERS
By David Rabin

My slogan is “Character-Driven Crime Thrillers.” The books I’ve enjoyed most were those with characters I bonded with and wanted to spend time with, characters so charismatic and fascinating that I wanted to buy the next book so I could spend more time with them. When it came time to conceive my debut novel, I created the characters first and then crafted a story I thought would be a good vehicle for those characters.

First, an introduction to the story to get you oriented. In Danger of Judgment follows two Chicago police detectives in 1987 as they investigate a series of drug-related murders that pull them into a much larger conspiracy originating fifteen years earlier during the Vietnam War. As they dig deeper and try to prevent a drug war, they’re caught in a conflict between a drug lord and a man seeking revenge against him.

Now, on to the characters. I wanted to present multiple points of view because each character can bring something different to the story—different pieces of the plot and different personalities expressing themselves.

The two heroes are the detectives: Marcelle DeSantis and William “Bernie” Bernardelli. I wanted two protagonists because I like the dynamic of characters playing off each other. To pull it off, I had to make them different but complementary.

Marcelle is in her late twenties, brilliant and tough. As a female detective in the Violent Crimes division of the Chicago Police Department in the 1980s, she has to deal with sexism from within and without the law enforcement community.

Bernie is twenty years older than Marcelle and has been a Chicago cop for nearly three decades. He’s the book’s moral center, someone who’s seen it all and has learned to adapt to the horrors of his job without losing his sense of empathy and desire to help others. He and Marcelle have a mentor-protégé/uncle-niece relationship.

One of the lessons I learned when reading comic books during my youth was the importance of great villains. The best villains were as well-developed and interesting as the heroes, and I didn’t want a mustache-twirling Snidely Whiplash (yeah, I’m dating myself now).

The villain is Robert Thornton and he’s the subject of a six-decade backstory. He has a Ph.D., briefly taught as a college professor, served in the OSS during World War Two, spent several years with the CIA, worked as a mercenary in Asia and Africa, and when we see him in the main story, is the chief enforcer for a Southeast Asian heroin cartel. He’s erudite, articulate, unflappable, and has all the social graces, but has devolved from being a hero early in his life to being utterly amoral. I designed him to be not just a formidable adversary but to be equal parts charming and revolting.

The book has two secondary characters, again with the goal of presenting different perspectives and personalities. John Shepard is an accountant who’s a special agent with the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation division, assigned to work with Marcelle and Bernie to take down Thornton. He’s another complementary character—he suffers from tic and generalized anxiety disorders, which prevent him from developing relationships.

The other secondary character, Ed Stepanek, was the most fun to write. Ed lives in suburbia, is well-liked by his neighbors, dotes on his lawn, kills people for a living, and has a tenuous relationship with reality. Rational characters come with restrictions—once we establish their personality, we expect them to stay within certain boundaries of behavior. But with Ed, I gave myself permission to make him as plumb crazy as I wanted.

It took me twenty-eight years to get from the book’s conception to its publication, and I lived with these characters every day during that span. I’m excited to finally be able to present them to the world. ♦

In Danger of Judgment

by David Rabin

August 8 – September 2, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

In Danger of Judgment by David Rabin

 

When a covert operation during the Vietnam War ends in tragedy, one of its members resolves to kill the man who betrayed it to the enemy. Now, fifteen years later, he’ll finally get his chance.

 

Chicago, 1987. Home of mediocre baseball teams, gangs that rule the streets, and a Mexican drug cartel that supplies the city with heroin. Chicago Police Detective Marcelle DeSantis and her partner, Bernie Bernardelli, are working a series of heroin-related murders, and their job just got more complicated. The man who sabotaged the Vietnam operation, Robert Thornton, is now the chief enforcer for a Southeast Asian heroin cartel, and after fifteen years overseas he’s arrived in Chicago to eliminate the reigning cartel and seize control of the city’s heroin trade.

Racing to stop a drug war, Marcelle and Bernie don’t realize they’re about to be caught in a deadly crossfire: another man is circling in the wings, one of Thornton’s soldiers from Vietnam, who’s preparing to exact his long-sought revenge against his former mentor. He’s the last person anyone would ever suspect, and when he finally makes his move, the paths of these four people will explosively converge.

Praise for In Danger of Judgment:

In Danger of Judgment does a masterful job of juggling multiple, full-blooded characters through high-octane storytelling as they make their way to a shocking, violent ending. David Rabin is a name that is sure to become familiar among lovers of best-selling, full-throttle thrillers”

––David Shawn Klein, award-winning author of The Money

“Mr. Rabin brings a fresh set of characters to the tried-and-true crime drama, and his breezy narrative style and crackling dialogue kept me turning the pages well past my bedtime.”

––Ronald Aiken, author of Death Has Its Benefits and former president of The Atlanta Writers

“Kudos to Mr. Rabin on the high quality of the prose, the thrilling plot with a twist and surprise ending, and the extensive research that went into this novel. I highly recommend it.”

––Jill Caugherty, author of Waltz in Swing Time

“Well-developed characters drive Rabin’s taut thriller. . . . the story builds to a lengthy, sensational final act, brimming with well-earned suspense.”

––Kirkus Reviews

“A stunning debut, David Rabin’s In Danger of Judgment is an engrossing page-turner. Shocking twists barrel full-speed into an action-packed and tense crime thriller readers won’t see coming… Builds an intricately-plotted crime thriller that’s cinematic and wildly compelling. The author’s prose is concise and ‘unputdownable,’ skilled at giving a tangible sense of the time period these characters inhabit.”

––IndieReader

Book Details:

Genre: Crime Thriller
Published by: Black Rose Writing
Publication Date: August 4th, 2022
Number of Pages: 369
ISBN10: 1685130593 (Hardcover)
ISBN13: 9781685130596 (Hardcover)
ISBN13: 9781685130008 (Paperback)
ASIN: B09ZVPW2NN (Kindle edition)
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon (hardcover) | Amazon (paperback) | Amazon Kindle | Barnes and Noble | BookDepository.com | Bookshop.org | Goodreads | Black Rose Writing

Don’t Miss this Video Trailer

Author Bio:

David Rabin

DAVID RABIN was born in Chicago and raised in its Lakeview neighborhood. He later moved to Atlanta, where he worked as a trial lawyer for thirty-three years. Now retired, he writes fiction, runs a competitive shooting program, and competes in rifle sports, including the discipline of Highpower Rifle, in which he holds two High Master classifications. He and his wife, a former clinical social worker, have two grown sons. In Danger of Judgment is his first novel.

Catch Up With David Rabin:
DavidRabinAuthor.com
Goodreads
Facebook – @DavidRabinAuthor

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Book Spotlight: A DARK AND STORMY TEA by Laura Childs

A Dark and Stormy Tea (A Tea Shop Mystery)
by Laura Childs

About A Dark and Stormy Tea

A Dark and Stormy Tea (A Tea Shop Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
24th in Series
Berkley
Release Date: August 9, 2022
Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 320 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0593200896
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 9780593200896
Digital ISBN : 9780593200902
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09LH6VG4P

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A possible serial killer on the loose sends tea maven Theodosia Browning into a whirlwind of investigation in this latest installment of the New York Times bestselling series.

It was a dark and stormy night, but that was the least of Theodosia Browning’s troubles. As she approaches St. Philips Graveyard, Theodosia sees two figures locked in a strange embrace. Wiping rain from her eyes, Theodosia realizes she has just witnessed a brutal murder and sees a dark-hooded figure slip away into the fog.

In the throes of alerting police, Theodosia recognizes the victim—it is the daughter of her friend, Lois, who owns the Antiquarian Bookshop next door to her own Indigo Tea Shop.

Even though this appears to be the work of a serial killer who is stalking the back alleys of Charleston, Lois begs Theodosia for help. Against the advice of her boyfriend, Detective Pete Riley, and the sage words of Drayton, her tea sommelier, amateur-sleuth Theodosia launches her own shadow investigation. And quickly discovers that suspects abound with the dead girl’s boyfriend, nefarious real estate developer, private-security man, bumbling reporter, and her own neighbor who is writing a true-crime book and searching for a big ending.

INCLUDES DELICIOUS RECIPES AND TEA TIME TIPS!

About Laura Childs

Laura Childs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. In her previous life she was CEO/Creative Director of her own marketing firm and authored several screenplays. She is married to a professor of Chinese art history, loves to travel, rides horses, enjoys fundraising for various non-profits, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.

Laura specializes in cozy mysteries that have the pace of a thriller (a thrillzy!) Her three series are:

The Tea Shop Mysteries – set in the historic district of Charleston and featuring Theodosia Browning, owner of the Indigo Tea Shop. Theodosia is a savvy entrepreneur, and pet mom to service dog Earl Grey. She’s also an intelligent, focused amateur sleuth who doesn’t rely on coincidences or inept police work to solve crimes. This charming series is highly atmospheric and rife with the history and mystery that is Charleston.

The Scrapbooking Mysteries – a slightly edgier series that take place in New Orleans. The main character, Carmela, owns Memory Mine scrapbooking shop in the French Quarter and is forever getting into trouble with her friend, Ava, who owns the Juju Voodoo shop. New Orleans’ spooky above-ground cemeteries, jazz clubs, bayous, and Mardi Gras madness make their presence known here!

The Cackleberry Club Mysteries – set in Kindred, a fictional town in the Midwest. In a rehabbed Spur station, Suzanne, Toni, and Petra, three semi-desperate, forty-plus women have launched the Cackleberry Club. Eggs are the morning specialty here and this cozy cafe even offers a book nook and yarn shop. Business is good but murder could lead to the cafe’s undoing! This series offers recipes, knitting, cake decorating, and a dash of spirituality.

Laura’s Links: Website | Facebook

Tour Participants

August 8 – Angel’s Guilty Pleasures – SPOTLIGHT

August 8 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

August 9 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

August 9 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – REVIEW

August 9 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

August 10 – The Book Diva’s Reads – SPOTLIGHT

August 10 – Lady Hawkeye – SPOTLIGHT

August 11 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW

August 11 – The Book’s the Thing – SPOTLIGHT

August 12 – eBook Addicts – SPOTLIGHT

August 12 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW

August 13 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog – SPOTLIGHT

August 13 – Baroness Book Trove – REVIEW

August 14 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

August 14 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

August 15 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

August 15 – Diane Reviews Books – GUEST POST

August 16 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

August 16 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

August 17 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

August 17 – I Read What You Write – SPOTLIGHT

August 18 – Reading Is My SuperPower – GUEST POST

August 18 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

August 19 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

August 20 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

August 20 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

August 21 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

August 21 – Girl with Pen – SPOTLIGHT

Giveaway

Enter to win 1 of 2 print copies of A Dark and Stormy Tea by Laura Childs, giveaway hosted by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. See the Rafflecopter form for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

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Book Showcase: LITTLE DIRT ROAD and JUICED by Ted Mulcahey

Join the O’Malleys, along with their ever-vigilant German Shepherd, Emma, on Whidbey Island as they take on criminals, embezzlers, drug lords, and murderers, putting themselves right in the center of all the danger. With the help of their friend, Bellevue Detective Bill Owens, will they come out on top?

LITTLE DIRT ROAD by Ted Mulcahey book coverLittle Dirt Road: Bad Men on Whidbey Island, The O’Malley Adventures – Book 3, by Ted Mulcahey
ISBN: 9781735493244 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781735493251 (eBook)
ASIN: B09QFLG6PR (Kindle edition)
Release Date: January 12, 2022
Genre: Fiction | Mystery | Cozy Mystery

The O’Malleys are doing what? How is it possible that dangerous complications arise from their simple vacation in wine country? With their recent move to South Whidbey Island, only the O’Malley’s would stumble upon drug smugglers, embezzlers, and murderers amongst the locals. The quirky, pastoral island, reachable by a less than speedy ferry from Mukilteo or the narrow, deteriorating Deception Pass bridge, is no match for the wicked men about to visit.

A notorious drug lord and a nondescript enforcer with freakish hell-raising skills invade the peaceful Pacific Northwest island—where not even the friendly locales and free-roaming long-eared rabbits can soften his homicidal heart.

Weeding through the facts and surprisingly connected characters with their trusted friend, Bellevue Detective Bill Owens, the narrative swirls from Mexico to Canada and throughout Puget Sound. It’s a heart-racing and outrageously offbeat adventure for two innocent people, proving once again that trouble will find the O’Malleys without the slightest amount of effort on their part.

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Indiebound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes and Noble | B&N NOOK Book | BookDepository.com | Bookshop.org | !ndigo eBook | Kobo eBook

JUICED by Ted Mulcahey book coverJuiced: Bad Men on Whidbey Island, The O’Malley Adventures – Book 4, by Ted Mulcahey
ISBN: 9781735493268 (paperback)
ASIN: B09VJPNDCF (Kindle edition)
Release Date: March 13, 2022
Genre: Fiction | Mystery | Cozy Mystery

Juiced is a fun, thrilling adventure involving secret, breakthrough research

An invention that can save the planet?

Somehow, someway the O’Malleys have found themselves in the thick of things once again. On peaceful, bucolic Whidbey Island, they become entangled in a corporate plot to stifle a paradigm-shattering discovery, one that promises to upend conventional thinking, topple markets, and create an entirely new industry.

Kevin and Jenne, along with scientists from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, find themselves pitted against a band of bumbling criminals who will stop at nothing to get what they want—including arson and murder.

It’s another rollicking adventure for the retired interior designers ably assisted by their favorite detective, the FBI, and Emma, their ever-vigilant German Shepherd Dog.

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Indiebound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes and Noble | BookDepository.com | Bookshop.org

 

Read an excerpt:

ALERT: Mild Profanity

It was one of those dark, rainy afternoons in the Pacific Northwest. Four-thirty, and already the headlights were bouncing off the slick, shiny freeway.

I was on my way back to Whidbey Island. Playing golf in Seattle in late November was not for the faint of heart. Bundled up with rain gear, umbrella stuck on the push golf cart, wet khakis tucked into even wetter socks, we had slogged through eighteen holes of betting and swearing.

Usually, the Wednesday round was followed by more swearing, drinking wine, and playing gin rummy, but today was different. Today was Jenne’s birthday. It was the big one, double nickels. Well, sort of a big one.

Of course, she told me to stay, have fun and enjoy myself – no big deal. When you’ve been married more than once, you absolutely know for sure that birthdays are a big deal. Unless, that is, you don’t care if your sexual activities are curtailed for, say, a month or two.

Well, not this husband. No sir. I managed to make the 5:30 ferry. And also had the foresight to stop at Walgreens and select a lovely greeting card. From Hallmark. I figured the card with a heartfelt message, along with the bouquet purchased at the Star Store when I drove through Langley, would put me in Jenne’s good graces.

It should have been a wonderful evening.

But it wasn’t.

I made the right onto Little Dirt Road. About five hundred yards up the hill, on the unpaved surface, I turned on the crushed gravel driveway leading to our tidy, shingled home. We live on a bluff that normally overlooks Saratoga Passage. Tonight it was dark and rainy.

And there were no lights on in the house or on the grounds.

This seemed odd. I negotiated the six steps to the porch in the dark. Emma was inside, barking as only a German shepherd can, when anything, and I mean anything, is perceived as a threat.

“Easy girl, easy. It’s me.” She quieted only slightly until I opened the door—it was unlocked—and she calmed down. I flicked the lights on, rubbed behind her ears, and stupidly called out Jenne’s name. She’s not here, you dope. She wouldn’t be sitting in the dark. I walked to the kitchen counter. There was a note in her writing. “Went for a walk in case you get home early. Back around 4:30.” It was followed by a little heart and a smiley face.

What the fuck? It was 6:45. Still not accepting reality, I dialed her cell. The sounds of “The Irish Washerwoman,” her ringtone, came from the little nook with the fireplace, just off the kitchen.

This was strange. Even though she always thought she had forgotten her phone, she seldom did.

I stood there, searching my mind but coming up with nothing. Her car was in the courtyard, her phone in the house. Where the fuck is she?

We didn’t know that many people on the island. We knew our neighbors and a few others, but few were close friends. The only people Jenne was close to lived off-island. And they did not come up in this crappy weather.

One thing was certain, if she left around 3:30, she sure as hell wasn’t still on her walk.

I walked across the dark, grassy area separating us from our neighbors, Tim and Raye. I knocked on the door, perhaps a little too forcefully.

“Kevin. Hi, good to see you.” Tim was a gentle soul and a terrific neighbor, always there if you needed him, and highly considerate in every way.

“Hi, Tim. Have you seen Jenne? When I got home, the house was dark. She left a note saying she’d be back at 4:30. Do you know where she could be?”

“Geez, Kev, no, I don’t. I did see her a little before five. She was headed down the street. I thought it a bit odd because it was getting dark, but that was about it.”

“She was headed south?”

“Yes.”

“She always goes the other way on her walks and finishes by coming up the hill. She says it feels good to stretch out at the end of it.”

“Well, I don’t know about that, but I’m sure she was headed down. Is there anything I can do?”

“Thanks. Not yet. Let me think about it first.”

Tim’s face showed genuine concern. “You know we’re here if you need anything.”

“I do, Tim. Thanks.”

I went back home and stood in the kitchen. “Emma, what do you think? Where the hell is your mom?”

The ninety-pound black and tan animal looked directly at me and twisted her head to the left. “Ah, I wish you could talk, kiddo.”

If Tim saw Jenne go back down the hill, maybe she was going to one of the homes on Saratoga Road. For some reason. To someone’s house, she didn’t know. Sure.

“Emma. Let’s go. Get in the truck.” Before I went entirely off the deep end, I figured a drive around the area might be productive. Maybe Emma could be of some help. Maybe.

We drove slowly down the hill, past Tim and Raye’s house and past the Robinsons, who lived on the opposite corner. Most of the properties were well over an acre. As a result, there weren’t many homes nearby.

After turning right on Saratoga, where there was no traffic, thankfully, we crept as slowly as possible. I rolled down the rear windows in case Emma caught a scent.

We passed three homes. Emma acted as though this was a simple trip to the store. Maybe even treats if she behaved.

On the left was a huge vacant field where sheep occasionally grazed. Beyond that was a long, straight two-track that served as a driveway for a home hidden by tall firs and cedars.

During our walks, we’d always speculate as to who lived there. Occasionally we would see an island car chug and sputter down the drive. Island cars are beaters that nobody would ever take on the ferry. They frequently break down, and hell hath no fury greater than ferry patrons missing the boat because some yahoo couldn’t start their fucking car.

Excerpt from Juiced by Ted Mulcahey.
Copyright © 2022 by Ted Mulcahey.
Printed with permission. All rights reserved.

Meet the Author

Ted Mulcahey author photo

Ted Mulcahey has lived throughout the US, for the past 35 years in the Pacific Northwest. He’s an Army vet, sales and marketing VP, entrepreneur, business owner, avid reader, one of nine children, a former caddie, and lover of dogs and golf. The last twenty-five years were spent in partnership with his wife Patte, the owners of a highly respected and published hospitality interior design firm in the Seattle Area. They’re now living on Whidbey Island and enjoying its rural bliss.

Ted writes about things he’s seen and places he’s been. He tries to incorporate the personality traits of people he’s known into his fictional characters, although none of them exist in reality. Many of the locations are real but the names have been changed.

Connect with the author via his website.

 

This excerpt and tour brought to you by Author Marketing Experts

 

Book Showcase: MURDER BACKSTAGE by Nupur Tustin

Murder Backstage: A Joseph Haydn Mystery
by Nupur Tustin

About Murder Backstage

Murder Backstage: A Joseph Haydn Mystery

When murder propels him backstage, Haydn is forced to confront a deadly killer. . .

When the Burgtheater’s impresario unexpectedly meets his maker, Joseph Haydn is relieved to learn no one expects him to look into the matter. The impresario was murdered—and the Salzburger believed to be the killer is already behind bars.

But the impresario’s untimely death is not without consequences. Haydn’s employer insists he take over the dead man’s duties. Handling the tedious technical details of putting on an opera is bad enough. Confronting the suspicious behavior backstage is even worse.

Is an innocent man being sent to the gallows? Haydn is plagued by the question when his brother Michael confirms his worst fears. The Salzburger arrested for the murder is none other than Leopold Mozart—father of the well-known child prodigy currently in Vienna.

Now, egged on by Michael—a close friend of the Mozarts—Haydn must prove Leopold innocent. Or risk his brother’s ire forever!

Historical Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Setting – In Vienna’s Burgtheater in the eighteenth century.
Foiled Plots Press (July 6, 2022)
Print length ‏ : ‎ 348 pages
Print ISBN : 9798986399508
Digital ISBN : 9798986399515
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0B34548N5

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Apple iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo eBook || NTUSTIN/SHOP: https://ntustin.com/product/murder-backstage

 

Praise for the Joseph Haydn Mysteries:

“Tustin orchestrates a concerto of intrigue and deception . . .”– Anna Lee Huber, Lady Darby Mysteries

“A standout in the genre of historical mysteries . . .”– Midwest Book Reviews

Read an excerpt:

Vienna, 1770. Joseph Haydn is in the city with his employer and his orchestra, invited by Empress Maria Theresa to perform his latest opera, Le pescatrici, in the Vienna’s Burgtheater. It is a great honor, spoiled now by the news of impresario Giuseppe Affligio’s death:

“What is the matter, brother?” Johann’s slight figure drew closer, his gray eyes wide with concern.

The music had stopped. The two singers, the entire orchestra, and his Konzertmeister, Luigi Tomasini, gazed upon Haydn expectantly.

“It is Affligio, I suppose,” Luigi guessed.

Haydn nodded, too overwhelmed to speak.

“He refuses to hire another soprano, does he not?” The Konzertmeister lowered his violin and bow and turned to face Haydn. “And rather than settle the dispute himself like a man, seeks like a coward to involve the Prince in the matter?”

It was a reasonable surmise. The impresario had been a source of constant trouble in the matter of singers. Three good sopranos were needed for the opera, but only two—one of them barely passable—had been made available to Haydn. As for the third, Affligio had been adamant that Haydn should content himself with a contralto.

“No, that is not the trouble,” Haydn corrected his Konzertmeister.

“Not Affligio, brother?” Johann looked confused. “I thought you indicated that it was.”

“It is Affligio,” Haydn said, passing the handkerchief over his brow again. “He seems to have chosen this precise moment to meet his Maker.”

Luigi’s jaw dropped open and even Johann—normally imperturbable—gaped at Haydn in stunned disbelief.

“You cannot mean the man is dead?” Johann’s eyes widened as Haydn nodded.

“Dead!” Fräulein Bologna gasped at the same time, her voice ascending to its highest range. “How can that be?”

Even Loretta Renier glanced up from the small mirror in which she had been admiring her features. The color, Haydn noticed, had fled from her cheeks.

“You must be mistaken, Herr Kapellmeister.” A small frown marked her forehead.

Haydn shook his head. “I wish that were the case. But I am afraid he is gone.”

“And His Serene Highness wishes you to examine the matter, no doubt,” Luigi said.

The crease in Loretta Renier’s smooth, white brow deepened.

“Why should His Serene Highness wish any such thing?” she demanded, looking, if anything, paler than before.

Her beautiful blue eyes moved sharply from Luigi’s handsome features to Haydn’s more homely, pockmarked face.

“If Herr Affligio has taken ill and unfortunately met his demise—”

“Nonsense!” Fräulein Bologna was quick to dismiss her colleague’s assumption. “How could the poor man have taken ill all of a sudden? He was in good spirits but two nights ago.”

“Perhaps he ingested something that disagreed with him, then,” Fräulein Renier persisted. “An unfortunate incident, a mischance. Why should anyone be expected to look into it? And why, of all people, should it be Herr Haydn?”

Luigi grinned. “Because Haydn is cursed with an unusual perspicacity when it comes to such matters. The Empress herself is aware of it. If Affligio’s killer is to be caught, then our Joseph is the man to do it.”

Loretta Renier’s lips pressed into a thin line. “Well, I don’t believe anyone killed Herr Affligio.” She drew her shoulders back and met Haydn’s gaze squarely.

“You’ll find we were all too dependent upon him to want him dead.”

The singer’s uncalled-for belligerence took Haydn aback. Loretta Renier could not have acted more put out if he had openly accused her of being a murderess.

Excerpt from Murder Backstage by Nupur Tustin.
Copyright © 2022 by Nupur Tustin.
Published by Foiled Plots Press.
All rights reserved.

Meet the Author

A former journalist, Nupur Tustin misuses a Ph.D. in Communication and an M.A. in English to orchestrate mayhem in Joseph Haydn’s Austria and to paint intrigue in her Celine Skye Psychic Mysteries about a psychic who takes on the outrageous and still unsolved Gardner Museum theft! In addition to being a storyteller and avid mystery fan, Nupur is a wife and homeschooling Mom who’s recently become a Christian.

Author Links

Website: https://ntustin.com Get Two Complimentary Mystery Anthologies and two 50% Off Coupons When You Sign Up!
Blog: https://ntustin.com/blog
GoodReads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/61229641-murder-backstage
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/murder-backstage-a-joseph-haydn-mystery-joseph-haydn-mystery-series-book-4-by-nupur-tustin
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/ntustinauthor

 

TOUR PARTICIPANTS

August 3 – The Book Diva’s Reads – SPOTLIGHT WITH EXCERPT
August 3 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
August 4 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog – SPOTLIGHT
August 4 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
August 5 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT WITH EXCERPT
August 5 – Eskimo Princess Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
August 6 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW
August 6 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
August 7 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT
August 8 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT WITH EXCERPT
August 8 – eBook Addicts – SPOTLIGHT WITH EXCERPT
August 9 – Cozy Up With Kathy – SPOTLIGHT WITH EXCERPT
August 9 – Books Blog – SPOTLIGHT
August 10 – Christa Reads and Writes – SPOTLIGHT
August 10 – Nellie’s Book Nook – REVIEW
August 11 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
August 11 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW
August 12 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT
August 12 – Baroness’ Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT

Giveaway

Enter to win a print copy of Murder Backstage by Nupur Tustin. This giveaway is hosted by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. See the Rafflecopter form for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

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