Book Showcase: A GAME OF CONES by Abby Collette

A Game of Cones (An Ice Cream Parlor Mystery) by Abby Collette

About A Game of Scones

A Game of Cones (An Ice Cream Parlor Mystery)

Cozy Mystery 2nd in Series

Publisher: Berkley (March 2, 2021)

Paperback: 352 pages

ISBN-10: 0593099680

ISBN-13: 978-0593099681

Digital ASIN: B089S6SPKB

In this charming mystery series set in an ice cream shop, no case is too cold to crack!

Bronwyn Crewse is delighted that Crewse Creamery, the ice cream shop her family has owned for decades, is restored to its former glory and serving sweet frozen treats to happy customers in the picturesque small town of Chagrin Falls, Ohio. But when a big city developer comes to town intent on building a mall, a killer with a frozen heart takes him out.

After literally stumbling across the body, one of Win’s closest friends becomes the prime suspect, and to make things worse, Win’s aunt has come to town with the intention of taking command of Crewse Creamery. Even though Win has a rocky road ahead to help her friend and keep her ice cream shop, it’ll take more than a sprinkle of murder to stop her from solving the crime and saving the day.

About Abby Collette

Abby L. Vandiver, also writing as Abby Collette, is a hybrid author who has penned more than twenty-five books and short stories. She has hit both the Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller list. Books one and two, A Deadly Inside Scoop and A Game of Cones, from her latest cozy series, An Ice Cream Parlor Mystery, published by Penguin Berkley, is out now.

Author Links
Website: www.authorabby.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorabbyl.vandiver
Twitter: www.twitter.com/abbyvandiver
Instagram: www.instagram.com/abbylvandiver

Purchase Links:
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Book Showcase: THE DAY LINCOLN LOST by Charles Rosenberg



The Day Lincoln Lost by Charles Rosenberg
ISBN: 9781335145222 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781488055799 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488208461 (digital audiobook)
ISBN: 9781094104683 (Audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B082YDB7D4   (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B07XC2XV63   (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Hanover Square Press
Publication Date: August 4, 2020


An inventive historical thriller that reimagines the tumultuous presidential election of 1860, capturing the people desperately trying to hold the nation together—and those trying to crack it apart.

Abby Kelley Foster arrived in Springfield, Illinois, with the fate of the nation on her mind. Her fame as an abolitionist speaker had spread west and she knew that her first speech in the city would make headlines. One of the residents reading those headlines would be none other than the likely next president of the United States.

Abraham Lincoln, lawyer and presidential candidate, knew his chances of winning were good. All he had to do was stay above the fray of the slavery debate and appear the voice of reason until the people cast their votes. The last thing he needed was a fiery abolitionist appearing in town. When her speech sparks violence, leading to her arrest and a high-profile trial, he suspects that his political rivals have conspired against him.

President James Buchanan is one such rival. As his term ends and his political power crumbles, he gathers his advisers at the White House to make one last move that might derail Lincoln’s campaign, steal the election and throw America into chaos.

A fascinating historical novel and fast-paced political thriller of a nation on the cusp of civil war, The Day Lincoln Lost offers an unexpected window into one of the most consequential elections in our country’s history.





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Read an Excerpt


Chapter 1


Kentucky

Early August, 1860



Lucy Battelle’s birthday was tomorrow. She would be twelve. Or at least that was what her mother told her. Lucy knew the date might not be exact, because Riverview Plantation didn’t keep close track of when slaves were born. Or when they died, for that matter. They came, they worked and they went to their heavenly reward. Unless, of course, they were sold off to somewhere else.

There had been a lot of selling-off of late. The Old Master, her mother told her, had at least known how to run a plantation. And while their food may have been wretched at times, there had always been enough. But the Old Master had died years before Lucy was born. His eldest son, Ezekiel Goshorn, had inherited Riverview.

Ezekiel was cruel, and he had an eye for young black women, although he stayed away from those who had not yet developed. Lucy has seen him looking at her of late, though. She was thin, and very tall for her age—someone had told her she looked like a young tree—and when she looked at herself naked, she could tell that her breasts were beginning to come. “You are pretty,” her mother said, which sent a chill through her.

Whatever his sexual practices, Goshorn had no head for either tobacco farming or business, and Riverview was visibly suffering for it, and not only for a shortage of food. Lucy could see that the big house was in bad need of painting and other repairs, and the dock on the river, which allowed their crop to be sent to market, looked worse and worse every year. By now it was half-falling-down. Slaves could supply the labor to repair things, of course, but apparently Goshorn couldn’t afford the materials.

Last year, a blight had damaged almost half the tobacco crop. Goshorn had begun to sell his slaves south to make ends meet.

In the slave quarter, not a lot was really known about being sold south, except that it was much hotter there, the crop was harder-to-work cotton instead of tobacco and those who went didn’t come back. Ever.

Several months earlier, two of Lucy’s slightly older friends had been sold, and she had watched them manacled and put in the back of a wagon, along with six others. Her friends were sobbing as the wagon moved away. Lucy was dry-eyed because then and there she had decided to escape.

Others had tried to escape before her, of course, but most had been caught and brought back. When they arrived back, usually dragged along in chains by slave catchers, Goshorn—or one of his five sons—had whipped each of them near to death. A few had actually died, but most had been nursed back to at least some semblance of health by the other slaves.

Lucy began to volunteer to help tend to them—to feed them, put grease on their wounds, hold their hands while they moaned and carry away the waste from their bodies. Most of all, though, she had listened to their stories—especially to what had worked and what had failed.

One thing she had learned was that they used hounds to pursue you, and that the hounds smelled any clothes you left behind to track you. One man told her that another man who had buried his one pair of extra pants in the woods before he left—not hard to do because slaves had so little—had not been found by the dogs.

Still another man said a runaway needed to take a blanket because as you went north, it got colder, especially at night, even in the summer. And you needed to find a pair of boots that would fit you. Lucy had tried on her mother’s boots—the ones she used in the winter—and they fit. Her mother would find another pair, she was sure.

The hard thing was the Underground Railroad. They had all heard about it. They had even heard the masters damning it. Lucy had long understood that it wasn’t actually underground and wasn’t even a railroad. It was just people, white and black, who helped you escape—who fed you, hid you in safe houses and moved you, sometimes by night, sometimes under a load of hay or whatever they had that would cover you.

The problem was you couldn’t always tell which ones were real railroaders and which ones were slave catchers posing as railroaders. The slaves who came back weren’t much help about how to tell the difference because most had guessed wrong. Lucy wasn’t too worried about it. She had not only the optimism of youth, but a secret that she thought would surely help her.

Tonight was the night. Over the past few days she had dug a deep hole in the woods where she could bury her tiny stash of things that might carry her smell. For weeks before that, she had foraged and dug for mushrooms in the woods, and so no one seemed to pay much mind to her foraging and digging earlier that day. As she left, she planned to take the now-too-small shift she had secretly saved from last year’s allotment—her only extra piece of clothing—along with her shoes and bury them in the hole. That way the dogs could not take her smell from anything left behind. She would take the blanket she slept in with her.

She had also saved up small pieces of smoked meat so that she had enough—she hoped—to sustain her for a few days until she could locate the Railroad. She dropped the meat into a small cloth bag and hung it from a string tied around her waist, hidden under her shift.

Her mother had long ago fallen asleep, and the moon had set. Even better, it was cloudy and there was no starlight. Lucy put on her mother’s boots, stepped outside the cabin and looked toward the woods.

As she started to move, Ezekiel Goshorn appeared in front of her, seemingly out of nowhere, along with two of his sons and said, “Going somewhere, Lucy?”

“I’m just standing here.”

“Hold out your arms.”

“Why?”

“Hold out your arms!”

She hesitated but finally did as he asked, and one of his sons, the one called Amasa, clamped a pair of manacles around her wrists. “We’ve been watching you dig in the woods,” he said. “Planning a trip perhaps?”

Lucy didn’t answer.

“Well, we have a little trip to St. Louis planned for you instead.”

As Ezekiel pushed her along, she turned to see if her mother had been awakened by the noise. If she had, she hadn’t come out of the cabin. Probably afraid. Lucy had been only four the first time she’d seen Ezekiel Goshorn flog her mother, and that was not the last time she’d been forced to stand there and hear her scream.




Excerpt from The Day Lincoln Lost by Charles Rosenberg. 
Copyright © 2020 by Charles Rosenberg. 
Published by Hanover Square Press. 
All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.





Meet The Author

Photo by Deborah Geffner



Charles Rosenberg is the author of the legal thriller Death on a High Floor and its sequels. The credited legal consultant to the TV shows LA Law, Boston Legal, The Practice, and The Paper Chase, he was also one of two on-air legal analysts for E! Television’s coverage of the O.J. Simpson criminal and civil trials. He teaches as an adjunct law professor at Loyola Law School and has also taught at UCLA, Pepperdine, and Southwestern law schools. He practices law in the Los Angeles area.




Connect to the author via his Website, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.




This excerpt and tour brought to you by Hanover Square Press

Book Showcase: BLUE MOON by Wendy Corsi Staub


Blue Moon


by Wendy Corsi Staub


on Tour July 25th – August 26, 2016



Synopsis:


Blue Moon by Wendy Corsi Staub

New York Times bestselling author Wendy Corsi Staub returns to Mundy’s Landing—a small town where bygone bloodshed has become big business.

Hair neatly braided, hands serenely clasped, eyes closed, the young woman appeared to be sound asleep. But the peaceful tableau was a madman’s handiwork. Beneath the covers, her white nightgown was spattered with blood. At daybreak, a horrified family would discover her corpse tucked into their guest room. The cunning killer would strike again . . . and again . . . before vanishing into the mists of time.

A century ago, the Sleeping Beauty Murders terrified picturesque Mundy’s Landing. The victims, like the killer, were never identified. Now, on the hundredth anniversary, the Historical Society’s annual “Mundypalooza” offers a hefty reward for solving the notorious case.

Annabelle Bingham, living in one of the three Murder Houses, can’t escape the feeling that her family is being watched—and not just by news crews and amateur sleuths. She’s right. Having unearthed the startling truth behind the horrific crimes, a copycat killer is about to reenact them—beneath the mansard roof of Annabelle’s dream home…



Book Details:


Genre:  Thrillers, Suspense
Published by:   William Morrow, Mass Market
Publication Date:  July 26th 2016 
Number of Pages:  448
ISBN:   0062349759 (ISBN13: 9780062349750)
Series: Mundy’s Landing #2
Purchase Links: Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Goodreads



Read an excerpt:

Prologue

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Mundy’s Landing, New York

“Here we are,” the Realtor, Lynda Carlotta, announces as she slows the car in front of 46 Bridge Street. “It really is magnificent, isn’t it?”

The Second Empire Victorian presides over neighboring stucco bungalows and pastel Queen Anne cottages with the aplomb of a grand dame crashing a coffee klatch. There’s a full third story tucked behind the scalloped slate shingles, topped by a black iron grillwork crown. A square cupola rises to a lofty crest against the gloomy Sunday morning sky. Twin cornices perch atop its paired windows like the meticulously arched, perpetually raised eyebrows of a proper aristocratic lady.

Fittingly, the house—rather, the events that transpired within its plaster walls—raised many an eyebrow a hundred years ago.

Annabelle Bingham grew up right around the corner, but she stares from the leather passenger’s seat as if seeing the house for the first time. She’d never imagined that she might actually live beneath that mansard roof, in the shadow of the century-old unsolved crimes that unfolded there.

For the past few days, she and her husband, Trib, have taken turns talking each other into—and out of—coming to see this place. They’re running out of options.

Real estate values have soared in this picturesque village, perched on the eastern bank of the Hudson River midway between New York City and Albany. The Binghams’ income has done quite the opposite. The only homes in their price range are small, undesirable fixer-uppers off the highway. They visited seven such properties yesterday and another this morning, a forlorn little seventies ranch that smelled of must and mothballs. Eau d’old man, according to Trib.

Magnificent isn’t exactly the word that springs to mind when I look at this house,” he tells Lynda from the backseat.

She smiles at him in the rearview mirror. “Well, I’m not the professional wordsmith you are. I’m sure you can come up with a more creative adjective.”

Annabelle can. She’s been trying to keep it out of her head, but everything—even the tolling steeple bells from nearby Holy Angels Church—is a grim reminder.

“Monolithic,” pronounces the backseat wordsmith. “That’s one way to describe it.”

Murder House, Annabelle thinks. That’s another.

“There’s certainly plenty of room for a large family,” Lynda points out cheerily.

Optimism might be her strong suit, but tact is not. Doesn’t she realize there are plenty of families that don’t care to grow larger? And there are many that, for one heartbreaking reason or another, couldn’t expand even if they wanted to; and still others, like the Binghams, whose numbers are sadly dwindling.

Annabelle was an only child, as is their son, Oliver. Trib lost his older brother in a tragic accident when they were kids. Until a few months ago, Trib’s father, the last of their four parents to pass away, had been a vital part of their lives. He’d left them the small inheritance they plan to use as a down payment on a home of their own—a bittersweet prospect for all of them.

“I just want Grandpa Charlie back,” Oliver said tearfully last night. “I’d rather have him than a new house.”

“We all would, sweetheart. But you know he can’t come back, and wouldn’t it be nice to have a nice big bedroom and live on a street with sidewalks and other kids?”

“No,” Oliver said, predictably. “I like it here.”

They’re living in what had once been the gardener’s cottage on a grand Hudson River estate out on Battlefield Road. The grounds are lovely but isolated, and they’ve long since outgrown the tiny rental space.

Still . . . are they really prepared to go from dollhouse to mansion?

“There are fourteen rooms,” Lynda waxes on, “including the third-floor ballroom, observatory, and servants’ quarters. Over thirty-five hundred square feet of living space—although I have to check the listing sheet, so don’t quote me on it.”

That, Annabelle has noticed, is one of her favorite catchphrases. Don’t quote me on it.

“Is she saying it because you’re a reporter?” she’d asked Trib after their first outing with Lynda. “Does she think you’re working on an article that’s going to blow the lid off . . . I don’t know, sump pump function?”

He laughed. “That’s headline fodder if I ever heard it.”

Lynda starts to pull the Lexus into the rutted driveway. After a few bumps, she thinks better of it and backs out onto the street. “Let’s start out front so that we can get the full curb appeal, shall we?”

They shall.

“Would you mind handing me that file folder on the floor back there, Charles?” Lynda asks Trib, whose lanky form is folded into the seat behind her.

He’d been born Charles Bingham IV, but as one of several Charlies in kindergarten, was rechristened courtesy of his family’s longtime ownership of the Mundy’s Landing Tribune. The childhood nickname stuck with him and proved prophetic: he took over as editor and publisher after his dad retired a decade ago.

But Lynda wouldn’t know that. She’s relatively new in town, having arrived sometime in the last decade. Nor would she remember the era when the grand homes in The Heights had fallen into shabby disrepair and shuttered nineteenth-century storefronts lined the Common. She’d missed the dawning renaissance as they reopened, one by one, to form the bustling business district that exists today.

“Let’s see . . . I was wrong,” she says, consulting the file Trib passes to the front seat. “The house is only thirty-three hundred square feet.”

Can we quote you on it? Annabelle wants to ask.

“I can’t imagine what it cost to heat this place last winter,” Trib comments, “with all those below-zero days we had.”

“You’ll see here that there’s a fairly new furnace.” Lynda hands them each a sheet of paper. “Much more energy efficient than you’ll find in most old houses in the neighborhood.”

Annabelle holds the paper at arm’s length—courtesy of advancing farsightedness—and looks over the list of specs. The “new” furnace was installed about fifteen years ago, around the turn of this century. The wiring and plumbing most likely date to the turn of the last one.

“Oh, and did I mention that this is the only privately owned indoor pool in town.”

She did, several times. Some potential buyers might view that as a burden, but Lynda is well aware that it’s a luxury for Annabelle, an avid swimmer.

Still, the house lacks plenty of key items on her wish list. There’s a ramshackle detached garage instead of the two-car garage she and Trib covet. There is no master suite. The lot is undersized, like many in this historic neighborhood.

“You’re never going to find exactly what you want,” Lynda has been reminding her and Trib from day one. “You have to compromise.”

They want a home that’s not too big, not too small, not too old, not too new, not too expensive, not a rock-bottom fixer-upper . . .Goldilocks syndrome—another of Lynda’s catchphrases.

This house may be too old and too big, but it isn’t too expensive despite being located in The Heights, a sloping tree-lined enclave adjacent to the Village Common.

Its owner, Augusta Purcell, died over a year ago, reportedly in the same room where she’d been born back in 1910. Her sole heir, her nephew Lester, could have sold it to the historical society for well above market value. But he refused to entertain a long-standing preemptive offer from the curator, Ora Abrams.

“I’m not going to cash in on a tragedy like everyone else around here,” he grumbled, adamantly opposed to having his ancestral home exploited for its role in the notorious, unsolved Sleeping Beauty case.

From late June through mid July of 1916, a series of grisly crimes unfurled in the relentless glare of both a brutal heat wave and the Sestercentennial Celebration for the village, founded in 1666.

Forty-six Bridge Street was the second home to gain notoriety as a crime scene. The first was a gambrel-roofed fieldstone Dutch manor house just around the corner at 65 Prospect Street; the third, a granite Beaux Arts mansion at 19 Schuyler Place.

No actual homicide took place inside any of the three so-called Murder Houses. But what had happened was profoundly disturbing. Several days and several blocks apart, three local families awakened to find the corpse of a young female stranger tucked into a spare bed under their roof.

The bodies were all posed exactly the same way: lying on their backs beneath coverlets that were neatly folded back beneath their arms. Their hands were peacefully clasped on top of the folded part of the covers. Their long hair—they all had long hair—was braided and arranged just so upon the pillows.

All the girls’ throats had been neatly slit ear to ear. Beneath each pillow was a note penned on plain stationery in block lettering: Sleep safe till tomorrow. The line was taken from a William Carlos Williams poem published three years earlier.

The victims hadn’t died where they lay, nor in the immediate vicinity. They’d been stealthily transported by someone who was never caught; someone who was never identified and whose motive remains utterly inexplicable to this day.

Ghastly death portraits were printed in newspapers across the country in the futile hope that someone might recognize a sister, a daughter, a niece. In the end, their unidentified remains were buried in the graveyard behind Holy Angels Church.

Is Annabelle really willing to move into a Murder House?

A year ago, she’d have said no way. This morning, when she and Trib and Oliver were crashing into porcelain fixtures and one another in their tiny bathroom, she’d have said yes, absolutely.

Now, staring up at the lofty bracketed eaves, ornately carved balustrades, and curve-topped couplets of tall, narrow windows, all framed against a blood red foliage canopy of an oppressive sky . . .

I don’t know. I just don’t know.

“Since you both grew up here, I don’t have to tell you about how wonderful this neighborhood is,” Lynda says as the three of them step out of the car and approach the tall black iron fence that mirrors the mansard crest.

A brisk wind stirs overhead boughs. They creak and groan, as does the gate when Lynda pushes it open. The sound is straight out of a horror movie. A chill slips down Annabelle’s spine, and she shoves her hands deep into the pockets of her corduroy barn coat.

The brick walkway between the gate and the house is strewn with damp fallen leaves. For all she knows, someone raked just yesterday. It is that time of year, and an overnight storm brought down a fresh barrage of past-peak foliage.

Yet the grounds exude the same forlorn, abandoned atmosphere as the house itself. It’s the only one on the block that lacks pumpkins on the porch steps and political signs posted in the yard.

Election Day looms, with a heated mayoral race that reflects the pervasive insider versus outsider mentality. Most residents of The Heights back the incumbent, John Elsworth Ransom, whose roots extend to the first settlers of Mundy’s Landing. Support for his opponent, a real estate developer named Dean Cochran, is stronger on the other side of town, particularly in Mundy Estates, the upscale townhouse complex he built and now calls home.

A Ransom for Mayor poster isn’t all that’s conspicuously missing from the leaf-blanketed yard. There’s no For Sale sign, either.

Trib asks Lynda if she’s sure it’s on the market.

“Oh, it is. But Lester prefers to avoid actively soliciting the ‘ghouls’—not the Halloween kind, if you know what I mean.”

They do. Plenty of locals use that word to describe the tourists who visit every summer in an effort to solve the cold case. The event—colloquially dubbed Mundypalooza—has taken place every year since 1991. That’s when, in conjunction with the seventy-fifth anniversary of the cold case, the historical society first extended a public invitation: Can You Solve the Sleeping Beauty Murders?

So far, no one has—but every summer, more and more people descend to try their hand at it. The historical society sponsors daily speakers, panel discussions, and workshops. Even Trib conducts an annual seminar about the sensational press coverage the case received in 1916.

He turns to Annabelle. “That’s something we’d have to deal with if we bought this place.”

“You’re right. We’d be inundated with curiosity seekers. I don’t think I want to—”

“Just in the summer, though,” Lynda cuts in quickly, “and even then, it’s not a big deal.”

“This house will be crawling with people and press,” Annabelle points out.

After all, a Murder House isn’t just branded by century-old stigma; it bears the brunt of the yearly gawker invasion. No local resident escapes unscathed, but those who live at 46 Bridge Street, 65 Prospect Street, and 19 Schuyler Place are inundated.

“Let’s just walk through before you rule it out,” Lynda urges. “A comparable house at any other address in this neighborhood would sell for at least six figures more. I’d hate to have someone snatch this out from under you.”

The odds of that happening are slim to none. Lester, who insists on pre-approving every showing, requests that prospective buyers already live locally. Not many people fit the bill, but Annabelle and Trib passed muster and they’re here. They might as well look, even though Annabelle is sure she doesn’t want to live here after all. She’d never get past what happened here during the summer of 1916, let alone what will happen every summer forever after, thanks to Mundypalooza.

They step through the massive double doors into the dim, chilly entrance hall. So far, so not good.

Before Annabelle can announce that she’s changed her mind, Lynda presses an antique mother-of-pearl button on the wall. “There, that’s better, isn’t it?”

They find themselves bathed in the glow of an elegant fixture suspended from a plaster medallion high overhead. Surprisingly, it is better.

There’s a massive mirror on the wall opposite the door. In it, Annabelle sees their reflection: Lynda, a full head shorter even in heels, bookended by herself and Trib, who could pass for siblings. They’re similarly tall and lean, with almost the same shade of dark brown hair and light brown eyes—both attractive, if not in a head-turning way.

Their eyes meet in the mirror, and he gives her a slight nod, as if to say, Yes, let’s keep going.

“Just look at that mosaic tile floor!” Lynda exclaims. “And the moldings on those archways! And the woodwork on the grand staircase! We haven’t seen anything like this in any of the houses we’ve looked at, have we?”

They agree that they haven’t, and of course wouldn’t expect to in their price point.

Annabelle can picture twelve-year-old Oliver walking through those big doors after school, dropping his backpack on the built-in seat above the cast-iron radiator with a Mom? I’m home. As she runs her fingertips over the carved newel post, she envisions him sliding down the banister curving above.

The long-dormant old house stirs to life as they move through it. One by one, doors creak open. Spaces beyond brighten courtesy of wall switches that aren’t dime-a-dozen rectangular plastic levers. These are period contraptions with buttons or brass toggles or pull-pendants dangling from thirteen-foot ceilings. Lynda presses, turns, pulls them all, chasing shadows from the rooms.

Annabelle’s imagination strips away layers of faded velvet and brocade shrouding the tall windows. Her mind’s eye replaces Augusta’s dark, dusty furnishings with comfortable upholstery and modern electronics. Instead of mustiness and cat pee, she smells furniture polish, clean linens, savory supper on the stove. The ticking grandfather clock, dripping faucets, and Lynda’s chirpy monologue and tapping footsteps are overshadowed by the voices Annabelle loves best, echoing through the rooms in ordinary conversation: Mom, I’m home! What’s for dinner? I’m home! How was your day? I’m home . . .

Yes, Annabelle realizes. This is it.

This, at last, is home.




Wendy Corsi StaubWendy Corsi Staub

USA Today and New York Times bestseller Wendy Corsi Staub is the award-winning author of more than seventy novels and has twice been nominated for the Mary Higgins Clark Award. She lives in the New York City suburbs with her husband and their two children.


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2016 Book 233: THE HUMMINGBIRD by Stephen P. Kiernan

The Hummingbird by Stephen P. Kiernan
ISBN: 9780062369550 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780062369567 (ebook)
ASIN: B00R1K3V94 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: June 28, 2016 (paperback release)
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks


Deborah Birch is a seasoned hospice nurse whose daily work requires courage and compassion. But her skills and experience are tested in new and dramatic ways when her easygoing husband, Michael, returns from his third deployment to Iraq haunted by nightmares, anxiety, and rage. She is determined to help him heal, and to restore the tender, loving marriage they once had.

At the same time, Deborah’s primary patient is Barclay Reed, a retired history professor and expert in the Pacific Theater of World War II whose career ended in academic scandal. Alone in the world, the embittered professor is dying. As Barclay begrudgingly comes to trust Deborah, he tells her stories from that long-ago war, which help her find a way to help her husband battle his demons. 

Told with piercing empathy and heartbreaking realism, The Hummingbird is a masterful story of loving commitment, service to country, and absolution through wisdom and forgiveness. 



Deborah Birch is a caring hospice nurse and only wants to make things easier for the dying and their families. She is also a loving wife and has no  idea how to help her husband, Michael, heal from the psychological wounds he suffers as a result of fighting in Iraq. Barclay Reed is a former college professor and dying from kidney cancer. Deborah enters at the end of Barclay’s life in The Hummingbird by Stephen P. Kiernan.

Deborah begins her time with each client by reviewing their records in the office and gently caressing her totem, a small wooden hummingbird. That hummingbird is a symbol and a reminder “…to see the person behind the problem.” Deborah has had difficult patients and difficult families to tend to in her years as a hospice nurse, but Barclay Reed is perhaps one of the most tragic. Mr. Reed, or Professor Reed as he has Deborah call him, is dying without friends or family. His 30+ year career ended in a huge scandal, so he isn’t even leaving behind the legacy of his good name. To say the Professor Reed is somewhat cantankerous is a major understatement. He wants what he wants, how and when he wants it. Sadly, in his quest to get what he wants he has gone through three hospice agencies and numerous hospice nurses. Deborah is determined to provide him not only what he wants but what he needs. Over the course of Professor Reed’s final weeks, Deborah learns more about the man and his final work that caused the scandal, The Sword. What is the lesson Deborah will learn from assisting Professor Reed?


“If you think of a person, anyone, even someone you dislike, if you imagine for a moment how one day they will lose everything—family and home and pleasures and work—and people will weep and wail when they die, you cannot help it: You feel compassion for them. Your heart softens. What’s more, every single human being is going to experience this same thing, without exception: Every person you love, everyone you hate, your own frivolous struggling self. It is the central lesson of hospice: Mortality is life’s way of teaching us how to love.” The Hummingbird, pp.195-196


You might think a story about a soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a dying professor might be overly sad and morbid, but The Hummingbird is simply a darn fine story. Mr. Kiernan takes the current happenings between Deborah, Professor Reed, and Deborah’s husband Michael and alternates it with the story of a Japanese WWII pilot that firebombed Oregon and returned as a guest of the city years later. Michael is just as trapped by his sense of guilt over his actions as a sniper, as well as a sense of honor by serving his country as the Japanese pilot was in the past. Deborah must decide if she believes the Professor’s story and if she can find something that might allow her to help her husband. I thoroughly enjoyed rereading The Hummingbird and found it, once again, to be a riveting read. The first time I read it I stayed up all night and vowed not to repeat my allnighter the second time around. I failed; the story gripped me just as much the second time and I wound up staying up all night to finish reading it. I enjoyed the characters, the storylines, and the settings. Mr. Kiernan has a deft way of writing that pulls me into his stories with just a few pages. The Hummingbird deals with death, dying, and the trauma of war in a realistic yet sensitive manner. If you read The Curiosity then you’ll definitely want to read The Hummingbird. If you haven’t read The Curiosity, what are you waiting for . . . read it and then read The Hummingbird. I’m looking forward to reading more from Mr. Kiernan in the future. (I’ll probably be rereading his books until a new one arrives. Yes, they are both just that good!)


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



Photo credit: Noah Kiernan

About Stephen P. Kiernan

Stephen P. Kiernan is a graduate of Middlebury College, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. During his more than twenty years as a journalist, he has won numerous awards, including the Brechner Center’s Freedom of Information Award, the Scripps Howard Award for Distinguished Service to the First Amendment, and the George Polk Award. He is the author of The Curiosity, his first novel, and two nonfiction books. He lives in Vermont with his two sons.


Find out more about Stephen at his website and connect with him on Facebook.



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Book Showcase: MURDER RUN by Shelly Frome


Murder Run


by Shelly Frome


on Tour May 1-31, 2016





Murder Run by Shelly FromeIn this crime novel, a wayward handyman grapples with the suspicious death of his employer, a fragile choreographer who secluded herself in the Litchfield Hills. As the fallout mounts, the reader is taken to various locales in and around Manhattan, an escapade in Miami Lakes and back again to the hills of Connecticut until this twisty conundrum is finally laid to rest.



Book Details:


Genre:  Crime Fiction, Mystery
Published by:   Sunbury Press
Publication Date:   August, 2015
Number of Pages:  239
ISBN:   1620066165 (ISBN13: 9781620066164)
Purchase Links: Amazon Kindle Unlimited  Barnes & Noble  Goodreads

Read an excerpt:


CHAPTER ONE



“Wake up, pal, we got a situation . . . Hey, I’m talkin’ here. Maybe she makes it, maybe she don’t. I’m sayin’ you better move it!”

The voice came out of the past. The words cut into the here-and-now of the Connecticut night.

Left with just the dial tone, Jed Cooper hung up, got off the cot and tried to get his bearings. Though he’d been house-sitting this junk trailer for a while, he still had to grope around to find the pull cord for the lights. He waited a few seconds more and punched in the unlisted number of the “she” the guy must’ve been talking about.

It was busy.

He reached for his jeans, work boots and a pullover sweater, got dressed and called her number again. No luck. He hit redial three more times and gave up.

Scuffing past the frayed wires hanging across the water-stained ceiling, banging into the space heaters as he jerked open the little frig, he took a few swigs of bottled water and thought it over. There was no hope of getting a bead on who the street-wise caller was. And there was still only one person who could possibly need him at this hour and was close by. Plus, chances were the guy had disconnected her phone.

Jed straggled out into the March dampness, skirted around the rusty snow plow blade and hurried up the path. He slid behind the wheel of the Chevy pickup, cranked the old motor, gave it hardly any time to idle and took off onto Green Hill Road.

Off the beaten path in the Litchfield Hills there were no street lights. Under the misty cloud cover, his brights only made matters worse. And way out here his cell phone was useless.

Taking the dips and rises as best he could, he began to have second thoughts. Granted the guy had to be talking about Miss Julie. Putting aside what in God’s name he was doing at her place, what if he was laying in wait? And even if he’d split, what were the repercussions? Could Jed just tear into a single woman’s hidden drive this late at night? And then what? Check things out, or call up to her window to see if she was okay? Or, hoping no one had spotted him, ring her bell? Suppose he got no answer?

Besides, there were too many incidents already on his record. One more, and he’d had it.

But then again, she’d gotten so skittish today she didn’t even let him finish his chores. Told him to put down the chainsaw and completely changed her mind about clearing the drive. “If I can see the road, someone can see me,” she said. “I want you to go up to the attic and put a latch on the crawl space.”

But why? What was that all about? She didn’t say, wouldn’t tell him.

His pondering tapered off as he dealt with the pitted lane. Straining his eyes, he took an immediate left onto Nonnewaug Road coursing past the stands of maples.

For a second he caught a glimpse of what could’ve been a Lincoln parked by the side of the road. Not just any Lincoln though–a Continental, the vintage one with the single blade fenders and squared-off hood. It was another flickering memory out of the past but had no bearing right now. Or did it?

Focusing hard, keeping his mind on what he was doing, he made a sharp right. Gearing down, he spun his wheels navigating the muddy patches, shot forward as he cleared, eased onto the gravel, jerked the hand brake and killed the motor. He got out onto the drive at the side of the weathered cape, glanced up and spotted a flitting shadow under the gabled window. He’d wired-in motion detecting flood lights for her that should’ve lit up the area but nothing snapped on.

He thought of calling out. He thought of rushing over to the road to see if the Lincoln was still parked there partially hidden under the trees. He thought of putting this whole thing down to some kind of hoax.

Just as he was about to honk the horn and damn well do something, he heard the cellar door slam shut.

Yelling out, Jed reflexively ran around to the back in time to see a burly shape make for the tree line. Which was a stupid move, slogging through underbrush and waist-high weeds and briars. Plus, whoever it was had a hitch in his stride and couldn’t possibly know where he was or what he was doing.

Jed took off after him. But, despite everything, the guy kept changing direction. Like a gimpy street kid ducking down a dark alley and then darting here and there through the traffic. Like Jed himself used to do way back then.

Rushing straight ahead, Jed tripped over a tangle of bittersweet roots, warded off the sprays of honeysuckle lashing across his face and kept going until it finally dawned on him. Even if he caught up, the guy outweighed him and could take him out with a few punches. He was obviously leading Jed on, away from the house and it didn’t much matter in which direction.

Jed turned around and headed back for the cellar. Banging into things, he brushed past the mess the guy had made, located the breaker panel, flipped the switches and climbed the stairs as the lights came back on. He called her name as he passed the kitchen and cut around the dining room but there was no answer.

© 2015 Shelly Frome


Author Bio:


Shelly Frome

Shelly Frome is a member of Mystery Writers of America, the film columnist at Southern Writers Magazine, a professor of dramatic arts emeritus at the University of Connecticut, a former professional actor, and a writer of crime novels and books on theater and film. His fiction includes Sun Dance for Andy Horn, Lilac Moon, Twilight of the Drifter, and Tinseltown Riff. Among his works of non-fiction are The Actors Studio and texts on the art and craft of screenwriting and writing for the stage. Murder Run, his latest crime novel, was recently released. He lives in Black Mountain, North Carolina.


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Book Excerpt: SCAR TISSUE by MC Domovitch



Scar Tissue by M.C. Domovitch
ISBN: 9781522914525 (paperback)
ASIN: B01804GD6M (Kindle edition)
Publication date: February 10, 2016


When successful model Ciara Kelly wakes up in hospital, remembering nothing of the weeks she has been missing, her only clues are the ugly words carved into her skin. According to the police she was a victim of the Cutter, a serial killer who has already murdered three women. For her protection the police and her doctors give a press conference, announcing that because her amnesia is organically caused, her memory loss is permanent. But, whether her memory returns or not is anybody’s guess. 

Overnight, Ciara’s glamorous life is gone. Her scars have killed both her modelling career and her relationship with her rich boyfriend. With nothing to keep her in New York, she returns to her hometown of Seattle, moves in with her sister and goes about building a new life. But when her sister lets it slip that Ciara’s memory is returning, the killer comes after her again. If Ciara is to stay alive, she must keep one step ahead of the Cutter.




Read an excerpt:


I don’t want to die.

That single thought pounded through her mind as she hurtled through the woods. The blackness had dropped all at once, and now the trees were merely darker shadows against a dark night. The rain came down hard. Lightning cracked, sounding so much like a gunshot that she muffled a scream. But she had not been hit. She was still alive. She ran on.

Branches and bushes whipped at her, scratching her arms and legs. She tripped over an exposed root and crashed to the ground, but was back on her feet in an instant. 

A brilliant flash of lightning was followed by thunder. Ka-boom. Everything that had been black a moment ago became white. Had she been spotted? No, surely not. 

A crunching sound came from her right. She whipped her head toward it and picked up her pace. Her breathing was ragged, short puffs of steam in the frigid April air. It couldn’t have been more than fifty degrees. Sweat and rain mixed with the dirt and blood from her countless wounds and ran down her face and neck in rivulets. Thanks to the adrenaline pumping through her veins, she was numb to the cold and the pain, but she would feel it later—if she got out of here alive. 

Please God, let me live. 

But she’d had no real food for days, no water except the occasional sip. Her body couldn’t keep going much longer. She was close to collapsing.

Must. Keep. Going.

If she wanted to stay alive, she needed to put as much distance as possible between herself and her captor. She had no idea how long she’d been running or in which direction she was going. Had her kidnapper even noticed she’d escaped? Was that monster already on her trail, getting closer with every passing second? A horrendous thought came to her. She could be running in a circle, her every step bringing her closer to her jailer. A sob escaped her throat. 

Dear God. Please. Please. 

She squinted, trying to see through the inky night. There had to be a road, a house, something, and then she saw them. Some distance away there were lights, and her last vestiges of hope crashed.

Flashlights.

Had a posse been formed? Were they closing in on her? In her panic, she tripped and came down hard, again. This time she thought she might have broken an arm. She was crying now. She’d come so close. But she would be caught. And she would die. 

She looked up at the lights moving through the trees, and blinked. Could her imagination be playing tricks on her? She stared, and in a moment of clarity she understood. Those weren’t flashlights. They were headlights. Headlights meant cars, and cars meant a road. Just ahead, maybe a few hundred yards farther, lay safety.

She had to keep going. She struggled to her feet, cradling her sore arm. She made her way, pushing through brambles and bushes until she came to a steep embankment. She crawled up and then over the guardrail. A car whizzed by, blaring its horn. 

“Wait. Stop!” she yelled at the next one when it was still a distance away, but it drove by too. “Help me!” she shouted after it. She limped into the road, determined to make the next one stop. Tires screeched. There was a thud. And then she went flying through the air, coming to a bone-crushing thump on the hard pavement. 

Through the mist in her mind she heard the sound of running footsteps, then a woman’s voice. “Oh, my God. Is she dead?”

A man’s voice, pleading. “I swear. It wasn’t my fault. She ran right in front of me.”

The woman again. “I think she’s still breathing. Call an ambulance. Now!” She leaned into her. “What’s your name, sweetheart?”

The words came to her from a great distance, growing further and further away, until they were only a faint echo. She drifted into nothingness.




Meet the author:

Monique was born in the small town of Hearst Ontario, the oldest of ten children. “You can’t imagine the pressure,” she says, laughing. “Anything I did wrong—and I did plenty—was sure to lead my siblings into a life of sin. I therefore accept the blame for any wrongdoings by all member of my family.”

When she was twenty years old she moved to Montreal, where she became a successful model, winning the prestigious Modeling Association of American Contest and continuing on to an international career. During this time, she worked with many top photographers and graced many designer runways. “Modeling was a wonderful career,” she says. “I met so many interesting and talented people. I travelled all over the world. After ten years of facing cameras and audiences, I became very comfortable with the public. I had no idea at the time, just how much this ability would serve me later in life.”

When Monique retired from modeling, she founded Beauties Modeling Agency in Montreal. Through her tutelage, many Canadian models gained international renown. “I wanted to accept my age rather than try desperately to look young for an unforgiving camera. That was the main reason I retired from modeling when I was still young.”

Later, she became a financial adviser and planner, and soon found herself hosting her own national television show about personal finance. After four years on the air, the series ended and Monique soon retired from her financial career, remarried and embarked on her new career in writing. Her success was almost instant. She was signed on by an agent within months of finishing her first novel and soon signed two contracts for a total of six books. MC Domovitch is the author of nine books. She writes cozy mystery under the names Carol Ann Martin, humorous mysteries as Monique Domovitch, and edge-of-your-seat suspense as MC Domovitch. She lives with her physician husband and their dogs.

Connect with the author:

Website     |     Blog     |     Facebook     |     Twitter     |     Goodreads 



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 Scar Tissue

Book Showcase: THE GOOD TRAITOR by Ryan Quinn


The Good Traitor


by Ryan Quinn


on Tour April 5 – May 13, 2016




The Good Traitor by Ryan Quinn

The US ambassador to China is killed in a suspicious plane crash just days after a news article links Chinese spies to US business interests. The American intelligence community is left scrambling to investigate possible connections between the crash and a series of other high-profile deaths.

On the other side of the world, ex-CIA operative Kera Mersal returns to the United States determined to clear her name after being branded a traitor for exposing illegal government surveillance. There, former colleague and fellow fugitive J. D. Jones contacts her with a new assignment: find out who is staging accidents to murder news sources. As the news site continues to publish stories about top-secret CIA programs and Chinese government corruption, Mersal reunites with old allies to uncover the truth and prove her loyalty to her country once and for all. But Mersal’s investigations put her on the trail of a sinister hacker whose own motives may influence a vaster—and more deadly—geopolitical conspiracy than either of the world’s two largest superpowers is prepared to handle.



Book Details:


Genre:  Thriller
Published by:   Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date:   April 5, 2016
Number of Pages:  334
ISBN:   978-1503954625
Purchase Links: Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Goodreads



Author Bio:


Ryan Quinn

A native of Alaska, Ryan Quinn was an NCAA champion and an all-American athlete in skiing while at the University of Utah. He worked for five years in New York’s book-publishing industry before moving to Los Angeles, where he writes and trains for marathons. Quinn’s first novel, The Fall, was an award-winning finalist for the 2013 International Book Awards.  


For more, please visit:


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Join In:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Ryan Quinn. There will be 1 winners of 1 $10 Amazon.com US Gift card. The giveaway begins on April 5th and runs through May 13th, 2016.

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