blog tour · book review · chick-lit · Contemporary Romance · self discovery · women's fiction

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Flying Solo

Flying Solo

by Zoe May

Rachel Watson has it all worked out. By 30, she’s ticked off most of the goals on her Life List. She’s a homeowner, a partner at her law firm, she has a gorgeous boyfriend, lots of hobbies and loads of good friends. The only thing that’s missing is a ring on her finger.

According to her Life List, Rachel should be getting hitched around now, so when her boyfriend, Paul, plans a romantic date, Rachel’s pretty confident he’s going to propose. Except Paul has other ideas. He’s jetting off to India to find himself.

Distraught, Rachel doesn’t know what to do. Not one to easily admit defeat, she embarks on a mission to win him back.

Flying solo to India is definitely not on Rachel’s Life List, but could her trip teach her some unexpected lessons about love, life and herself? Could she realise that perhaps her Life List wasn’t exactly what she wanted, after all?

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B082K48FX8/

US – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B082K48FX8/

 

Author Bio

Zoe May is an author of romantic comedies. Zoe has dreamt of being a novelist since she was a teenager. She worked in journalism and copywriting in London before writing her debut novel, Perfect Match. Having experienced the London dating scene first hand, Zoe could not resist writing a novel about dating, since it seems to supply endless amounts of weird and wonderful material!

Perfect Match was one of Apple’s top-selling books of 2018. It was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Joan Hessayon Award, with judges describing it as ‘a laugh out loud look at love and self-discovery – fresh and very funny’.

As well as writing, Zoe enjoys walking her dog, painting and, of course, reading! She adores animals and if she’s not taking a photo of a vegan meal, she’s probably tweeting about the dairy industry. She is half Greek and half Irish and can make a mean baklava. Zoe has a thing for horror films, India, swimming, hip hop and Radiohead. She has an encyclopaedic knowledge of handbags having spent several years working in fashion copywriting and could probably win Mastermind if this was her specialist subject!

Zoe loves to hear from readers, you can contact her on Twitter and Instagram at: @zoe_writes. Zoe’s Facebook page is: http://www.facebook.com/zoemayauthor/

She posts updates and blogs on her website, http://www.zoemayauthor.co.uk

Social Media Links 

https://www.twitter.com/zoe_writes

https://www.instagram.com/zoe_writes

https://www.facebook.com/zoemayauthor/

My Review

Just when I needed a lighthearted, fun book to read, along came Flying Solo. A perfect beach or holiday read.

When lawyer Rachel’s plan to be married by the time she’s 30 still hasn’t come true, it becomes her focus; the only thing missing from her list of goals. So, to be told by her boyfriend Paul that he’s off to India to find himself (when she’s expecting a proposal) brings her dream crashing around her. He’d invited her to a meal at the place where they had their first date and not only does he not remember it in the same way, he can barely look her in the eye.

Stunned by the whole state of affairs, Rachel decides to take matters into her own hands and follow Paul to India, convince him that he’s made a mistake, and win back his heart. (At this point, you kinda wonder whether it’s worth it, but you run with it because this is her story and she has to do what she thinks is right – whether delusional or not)

Arriving in India with her designer wardrobe, Rachel is nothing but hilarious (on her first day, she actually dresses up as Princess Jasmine) It goes to show how deluded she was when the thought of packing for India crossed her mind – assuming it did! Nothing is as she expects, even though she checked out the place online. Poor Rachel is not ready for this, nor did she realise how big the place was, and suddenly the idea of even finding Paul is a remote possibility.

Luckily, Seb is on hand to help out the damsel in distress, and Paul is soon out of mind …until she runs across him, scratchy beard, mini dreadlocks and all with a younger woman in tow. Rachel comes to her senses and realises Paul is not the man for her, and moves on to enjoy her holiday.

A side-story about the owner of the ashram being a scammer inspires Rachel to get involved and prepare to save the day by convincing her boss that this would be a good case to increase the law company’s profile. This gives her purpose once more, and with Seb nearby, life is looking so much better.

With plenty of gorgeous imagery the author creates the perfect atmosphere for Rachel to discover herself and move on from Paul (who proves to be an even bigger jerk later in the story  – she had a lucky escape!)  The activities, the people, the food, the budding romance between Rachel and Seb …all these things make it an easy read, full of fun and humour, and proving the point that the best-laid plans are frequently not the best, in fact they’re barely mediocre …

A most enjoyable story and highly recommended to fans of romantic comedy and chick-lit that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

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book review · cover reveal · mystery · relationships · romance

Cover Reveal ‘n’ Book Review – Buried Treasure

 

Buried Treasure

“I found Buried Treasure a compelling read. It was so many things: a love story, a hunt for clues to lost secrets, and a fascinating look at how our past experiences shape us, and how we can heal even after damage. The characters were wonderfully well drawn. ”

Jane thinks he sees her as shallow and ill-educated. Theo thinks she sees him as a snob, stuffy and out of touch.
Within the ancient precincts of the university the first encounter between the conference planner and the academic is accidental and unpromising. Just as well there’s no reason for them ever to meet again. But behind the armour they’ve each constructed from old scars, they’ve more in common than divides them. Both have an archaeological puzzle they are driven to solve. As their stories intertwine, their quest to uncover the past unearths more than expected.

 

 

Author Bio

Gilli Allan began to write in childhood – a hobby pursued throughout her teenage. Writing was only abandoned when she left home, and real life supplanted the imaginary kind.
After a few false starts she worked longest and most happily as an illustrator in
advertising and only began writing again when she became a mother.

Living in Gloucestershire with her husband Geoff, Gilli is still a keen artist. She draws and paints and has now moved into book illustration.
All of her recent books TORN, LIFE CLASS, FLY or FALL and BURIED TREASURE have gained ‘Chill with a Book’ awards.
Following in the family tradition, her son, historian Thomas Williams, is now also a writer.

Links 

BURIED TREASURE

mybook.to/BURIEDTREASURE

Find Gilli’s other books TORN, LIFE CLASS and FLY or FALL at 

author.to/GILLIALLAN

Contact Gilli at

http://gilliallan.blogspot.com/

https://www.facebook.com/gilli.allan.1

https://twitter.com/gilliallan

My Review

The title of this book caught my attention, together with the mention of an archaeological puzzle.  I expected mystery and red herrings, but wasn’t ready for the slow-burning, burgeoning romance that ensued, particularly between the two main characters Jane and Theo.

The prologue instantly intrigued, but then, if I’m honest, I struggled to get into the crux of story.
For the first 20% (Kindle reader here 😉 ) neither Jane nor Theo “excited” me to the extent that I cared enough about them.  Early chapters contained a lot of flashbacks and backstory which made it hard to follow. I was constantly flicking back to get facts straight in my head.

Things became much more interesting after that, though, so my perseverance paid off. The couple, with such different backgrounds and life experiences, seemed incompatible – or, possibly they fulfilled the old adage that opposites attract. They clearly had different treasures to uncover, and all that earlier backstory made sense of their behaviour and expectations.

I loved the detail of the archaeological explorations – as I knew I would – and that aspect of the story shone for me with a believable, and obviously well-researched setting. Much as I chose to read this book for the mystery of finding treasure, it became a much more character-focused story with a solid, emotional element running through it.

A story that proved to be much more than it said on the cover.

 

 

As always,

 

book review · Felicia Denise · must-read · mystery · short story · thriller & crime

Book Review ‘n’ Recommendation – Malice and Forethought

 

Malice and Forethought cover

 

Malice and Forethought:

Short Stories of Malice and Murder

by Felicia Denise

Cover Design: perry elisabeth design

Genre: Crime Thriller / Suspense / Short Stories

Release Date: June 1, 2020


Malice – noun; mal·ice | ˈma-ləs

1 : desire to cause pain, injury, or distress to another
//
2 : intent to commit an unlawful act or cause harm without legal justification or excuse
//ruined her reputation and did it with malice

Everyone is capable of malice and no one is immune to its outcome.

A Hint of Malice – When her last living relative commits suicide after having her identity and assets stolen, a grieving niece longs for justice.

Burned – When the masterminds behind a major drug operation get off with a slap on the wrists, a frustrated police detective warns them their wealth cannot shield them from everything.

The Marshall Sisters – After seeing her sister mistreated by far too many men, Leslie Marshall is proud of Paula for standing up for herself and accompanies her on a cold winter’s night to confront her boyfriend, but even Leslie isn’t ready for the new, assertive Paula.

The Watcher – Shamed into exile by his family because of his sexual fetish and hanging on to the shreds of his sanity, a man plots the ultimate date night with his new neighbor.

What’s done in the dark always comes to the light.

99c / 99p

KINDLE UNLIMITED

https://geni.us/Malice

Malice 3D mockup

~~~

About the Author

After writing as a hobby for most of her life, at the urging of a good friend, Felicia took on the challenge of NaNoWriMo in 2015, writing what would become her first published work, In the Best Interest of the Child. It was released in the fall of 2016. Free, a Novella, which began as a three-installment series on her website, was published as a short story in May 2017.

Currently working on projects in several genres, Felicia plans to release book 2 of In the Best Interest of the Child – Family Matters, as well as anthologies of her suspense and women’s fiction short stories in 2020.

A long-time blogger, she also features books by indie authors daily on her blog, Nesie’s Place.

Felicia lost her husband of nearly 36 years of May of 2019 and is a strong advocate and supporter of the National Kidney Foundation. She has three adult children, four grand-pups, and as one of nine children, she has too much extended family to even go into!

In her free time-when not reading-Felicia sews and enjoys experimenting with new dishes in the kitchen. She always has a cup of robust coffee and far too many pun jokes nearby.

~ Stalk Felicia on Social Media ~

Author Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon Author Page

Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads | Newsletter

~~~

~~~

My Review

Some time ago, I read the author’s first book, “In the Best Interest of the Child”, and so I knew she could tell a story that pulled at the heartstrings. But let me tell you, whoa …does she have a dark side. And, you know what, it’s DELICIOUS! 😉

In A Hint of Malice, Jessalyn Hunter sets out to avenge her aunt’s death because, in her words, “Put in the right situation, anyone can kill.” And Jess was in that zone … the scumbag gigolo protected by his privileged family connections had it coming.

Vigilante justice served up beautifully for one newly stone-cold dead guy.

Burned tells the story of a stake-out in Creighton, where a multi-million dollar drugs haul puts the spotlight on an arrogant millionaire businessmen when his son is caught up in the raid. Soon-to-be-retired cop, Pat Sinclair understands that when drug barons don’t get what they paid for, then someone has to pay. Unfortunately for the wealthy tycoon, he doesn’t grasp the danger around the corner and opts to ignore the cop’s warning.

You know, some people just cannot be helped!!!

I love, love , love The Marshall Sisters. Doing what sisters do, Leslie Marshall takes on a supportive role as her older sibling, Paula, finally calls time on her relationship with Allen Bailey, a serial cheat and love-rat. What Leslie doesn’t know, however, is exactly how she is lending her support to Paula …not until the news anchor mentions those blue trash bags used to clean up the scene.

What a great twist!

Finally, The Watcher brings an end to this wonderful collection of sinister tales. Disowned by his family and exiled from Chicago, Hart Stanhope refuses to accept the new life imposed upon him. How dare they suggest his act was any worse than their own! He walks away from anything they’ve touched and starts over …watching his new neighbour and determined to make her his. But Penny Driver sees him watching her and she’s ready for him in a way he never suspects.

Turning the tables has never been so much fun.

Packed with twists and shocks aplenty, these stories are bound to entertain. Felicia Denise is a master at creating characters who draw you into their world and make you root for them. Indeed, she does that here, but she also dishes up some unsavoury characters who you would not wish to even share a lift with, let alone any substantial part of your life. Yet these are not caricatures, these are people we can all recognise, and each carries a secret that stains their lives and burns a hole in their soul. Acts of malice are their only escape …and their stories make for great reading.

Be sure to get your copy, and revel in the darkness.

As always,

 

 

books · cosy · crime · ebooks · FREE books · Free copies · Giveaways · mystery · suspense · thriller & crime

FREE Books – Mystery & Crime (plus: Win a $25 giftcard)

If you’re a fan of mystery and crime books, then this is going to be right up your street.

Find your next crime or mystery novel among these FREE ebooks.

From cozy mystery to cold cases, suspense to hard-boiled police procedural, there is sure to be something to take your fancy.

You’ll be asked to sign-up to the authors’ newletters in return for your free book(s), but you can unsubscribe at any time. Although, hopefully you’ll be keen to see what else these authors have to offer and newsletter subscribers tend to get access to advanced copies and other freebies. Oh, and did I mention there’s a chance to win a $25 giftcard too.

What have you got to lose?

 

Follow this link for more details. You may even find you next new favourite author too.

Many thanks to Book Cave and author, Christer Tholin for organising this awesome deal.

 

PS – the prequel to my cold cases cosy mystery series is included in this promotion. This story is currently only available to my newsletter subscribers, so if you’re interested, please check out “Never Forgotten” under my pen name bea kendall.

As always,

 

 

Audiobook · detective · female detective · Female sleuths · mystery

Audiobook Tour ‘n’ Review – 15 Minutes

Author: Larissa Reinhart

Narrator: Joan Dukore

Length: 10 hours 26 minutes

Publisher: 1969

Released: May 28, 2020

Genre: Mystery; Amateur Detective

Continue reading “Audiobook Tour ‘n’ Review – 15 Minutes”

blog tour · book review · justice · mystery · thriller & crime

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Mystery/Thriller
Date Published: July 17, 2020
Publisher: Blue Fortune Enterprises LLC, Cactus Mystery Press
 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png
Check your email. Help is out there…
When Sherry and Beth discover what their boyfriends have been up to, they want in on the action. Working as vigilantes and providing justice for wrongs committed is a noble thing to do, but the women decide the stakes need to change.
Once again, the conflict is personal.
This follow-up to Roundabout Revenge follows former Professor Phil Philemon as he and his friends continue to seek elusive justice for victims who may not have been able to speak for themselves. Lurking in chat rooms, the group finds a large number of women who have been sexually harassed on the job. Sexually harassed in horrible ways. Harassed until their jobs, their reputations, and their sanity is on the line. And what they find is that the story of he said-she said is not always one that ends well.
But not everything goes as planned, and soon the four friends need to come to terms with a larger reality, including a crime of arson and an FBI investigation.

My Review

This book follows on from Roundabout Revenge, which I haven’t read. This might explain one of my misgivings which I’ll come to later.

The kind of “vigilante justice” that is served up here is done so in a novel way, and makes for a great concept. Very much in line with the #MeToo movement, the justice-seekers set out to ensure that women’s voices are heard. After identifying those they wish to help through a private chat room, they install cameras in the women’s workplaces to catch the perpetrators of sexual harassment in the act, they then set up a foolproof process which enables the women to file complaints knowing there is video evidence to support their grievances.

And it works like a dream … in fact, I’d go so far as to say it works too well. There are a few instances where things happened a tad too conveniently, meaning they always got away with installing the cameras without being caught. I can let that go as creative licence though as they needed to have some success to keep the story going. What I did feel, however, that the introduction of each new case proved to be a repetition of the last one, with the process being explained once (or twice) too often. This led to me skimming through to the action, as by case number three I knew the process all too well and will regard sprinkler systems differently from hereon.

The fact that the women had to resort to threats of exposing their company to get any action to be taken is an absolute crime in and of itself, but it perfectly sums up the situation many find themselves in.

My earlier misgiving centres on the misconception by the vigilante team that breaking and entering was their only crime. It glossed over completely the preamble that Phil and Ralph had been poisoning people in their first forays into exacting revenge justice. Maybe this is where not reading the first book became an issue, but based on what I knew about them I couldn’t dismiss their crimes so easily. Am I glad they helped those women? Absolutely? Was breaking and entering to install cameras their own crime? Not in my book!

I enjoyed the subplot of Phil’s lunch club discussing diverse topics like immigration and climate change, and when it came to them discussing Phil’s covert activities that was particularly good fun. I reckon Phil enjoyed that too 😉

Once the team’s activities piqued the interest of the FBI, the pace picked up dramatically, as did the tension – I read through those final chapters at ease wondering if they’d get away with it … you’ll have to read to find out. Overall it was a quick and absorbing read based on an interesting and topical concept.

About the Author

Robert Archibald was born in New Jersey and grew up in Oklahoma and Arizona. After receiving a BA from the University of Arizona, he was drafted and served in Viet Nam. He then earned a M.S. and Ph.D in economics from Purdue University. Bob had a 41-year career at the College of William & Mary. While he had several stints as an administrator, department chair, director of the public policy program, and interim dean of the faculty, Bob was always proud to be promoted back to the faculty. He lives with his wife of 47 years, Nancy, in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Contact Links
Purchase Links

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blog tour · book review · contemporary fiction · crime · police procedural · thriller

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Broken Silence

Broken Silence

When DS Felicity Springer is reported missing after a police training conference, the countdown to find her begins…

On her way home after an exhausting weekend, with colleagues she can’t wait to escape, Felicity notices something odd about the white van in front of her. A hand has punched through the car’s rear light and is frantically waving, trying to catch her attention.

Desperate to help, Felicity dials 999 and calls it in. But whilst on the phone, she loses control of the car on the icy road, crashing straight into the vehicle ahead.

Pinned in the seat and unable to move, Felicity feels a sudden whoosh of cold air across her face. Someone has opened the passenger door… and they have a gun.

With Felicity missing and no knowledge of whether she is dead or alive, DS Nikki Parekh and DC Sajid Malik race to find their friend and colleague.

But Felicity was harbouring a terrible secret, and with her life now hanging in the balance, Nikki can only hope that someone will come forward and break the silence…

Purchase Links

E book https://www.amazon.co.uk/Broken-Silence-absolutely-gripping-thriller-ebook/dp/B083Z3ZZ61

Paperback https://www.amazon.co.uk/Liz-Mistry-2-3/dp/0008358370

Author Bio 

Born in Scotland, Made in Bradford sums up Liz Mistry’s life. Over thirty years ago she moved from a small village in West Lothian to Yorkshire to get her teaching degree. Once here, Liz fell in love with three things; curries, the rich cultural diversity of the city … and her Indian husband (not necessarily in this order). Now thirty years, three children, two cats (Winky and Scumpy) and a huge extended family later, Liz uses her experiences of living and working in the inner city to flavour her writing. Her gritty crime fiction police procedural novels set in Bradford embrace the city she describes as ‘Warm, Rich and Fearless’ whilst exploring the darkness that lurks beneath.

Struggling with severe clinical depression and anxiety for a large number of years, Liz often includes mental health themes in her writing. She credits the MA in Creative Writing she took at Leeds Trinity University with helping her find a way of using her writing to navigate her ongoing mental health struggles. Being a debut novelist in her fifties was something Liz had only dreamed of and she counts herself lucky, whilst pinching herself regularly to make sure it’s all real. One of the nicest things about being a published author is chatting with and responding to readers’ feedback and Liz regularly does events at local libraries, universities, literature festivals and open mics. She also teaches creative writing too. Now, having nearly completed a PhD in Creative Writing focussing on ‘the absence of the teen voice in adult crime fiction’ and ‘why expansive narratives matter’, Liz is chock full of ideas to continue writing.

In her spare time, Liz loves pub quizzes (although she admits to being rubbish at them), dancing (she does a mean jig to Proud Mary – her opinion, not ratified by her family), visiting the varied Yorkshire landscape, with Robin Hoods Bay being one of her favourite coastal destinations, listening to music, reading and blogging about all things crime fiction on her blog, The Crime Warp.

Social Media Links 

FB https://www.facebook.com/LizMistrybooks/

Twitter @LizMistryAuthor

Website: https://www.lizmistry.com/

My Review

This is a real find! As my first book by Liz Mistry, I know I’ll be reading much more of her work from here on.

DS Felicity Springer leaves the conference centre feeling wiped-out, as though she’d drunk too much when she’s convinces she hadn’t but can barely remember what happened at all. To avoid the likelihood of being stopped by police on her way home she takes the back roads. the weather is awful but she makes out a hand sticking out of the rear light on the van in front of her and, ever the policewoman, decides to pursue. Still not feeling great, she puts in a call to the police but then drops her phone …

The police are alerted to Springer’s call, and when she doesn’t reply they race to track her vehicle …only to find it empty apart from her bag and some blood.

Nikki Parekh and her colleague Saj Malik are charged with finding her, a daunting task given that Nikki and Felicity aren’t exactly bosom buddies. But Springer’s disappearance is not the only crime occurring in Bradford over the coming days. Bodies are found in remote locations, fires break out throughout the city and the emergency services are overwhelmed. It appears there’s a new Mister Big in town and he intends to make his mark.

This is a gritty novel that had me enthralled from the outset. It covers contemporary themes such as homophobia, sexism, racism and the story revolves around modern-day slavery. It’s compelling and utterly addictive. 

Highly recommended! Readers who enjoy fast-paced stories with intriguing and interesting characters will enjoy this tense slice of reality. An amazing story. 

For more news and reviews, check out these blogs: 

As always,

 

blog tour · book launch · cosy · mystery

Release Blitz – Hairballs & Homicide

A Kitty Beret Cafe Mystery, Book 1

Cozy Mystery

Release Date: June 26, 2020

 

photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png

When Ellie Warren opens the Kitty Beret Café, her life revolves
around finding forever homes for rescued cats and serving lattes. That is,
until a woman’s body is discovered behind her shop—the same
woman who’d thrown a hissy fit with Ellie in front of lots of
witnesses. With Ellie’s cat, Templeton, supplying clues and the help
of handsome Detective Simon Dare, she’s on the prowl for the murderer.
Will Ellie discover the identity of the culprit before the murderer sinks
their claws into her?

 

 

 About the Author

Ruth J. Hartman spends her days herding cats and her nights spinning
mysterious tales that make you smile. She, her husband, and their cats love
to spend time curled up in their recliners watching old Cary Grant movies.
Well, the cats sit in the people’s recliners. Not that the cats couldn’t get
their own furniture. They just choose to shed on someone else’s.

Ruth, a left-handed, cat-herding, farmhouse-dwelling writer uses her sense
of humor as she writes tales of lovable, klutzy women who seem to find
trouble without even trying.

Ruth’s husband and best friend, Garry, reads her manuscripts, rolls his
eyes at her weird story ideas, and loves her in spite of her penchant for
insisting all of her books have at least one cat in them.

 

Contact Links 

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Promo Link

 

Purchase Link

Amazon

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Audiobook · blog tour · book review · mystery · paranormal · series

Audiobook Review – The Soul Searchers Mysteries: Donn’s Shadow

Audiobook Series Blog Tour: The Soul Searchers Mysteries by Caryn Larrinaga

Author: Caryn Larrinaga

Narrator: Jessica McEvoy

Length: 9 hours 51 minutes

Series: The Soul Searchers Mysteries, Book 2

Released: March 2020

Publisher: Twisted Tree Press

Genre: Supernatural Cozy Mystery

Mackenzie Clair finally has this whole ghost-hunting psychic thing figured out. The Soul Searchers are a hit, she’s got pet-parenting down, and she even has a plan to banish the poltergeist running amok at a lakeside cabin. Best of all, Donn’s Hill feels like home. But not everyone loves the town as much as Mac.

A world-famous paranormal debunker thinks the psychics in Donn’s Hill are lying about their abilities. His determination to destroy the Soul Searchers threatens Mac’s livelihood, and when a killer strikes, the sheriff’s suspicions threaten her freedom.

Mac needs all the help she can get to find the real murderer and clear her name… even if that help comes from beyond the grave.

Buy on Audible

Caryn Larrinaga is a self-described horror evangelist and paranormal junkie. Her debut supernatural mystery novel, DONN’S HILL, won the League of Utah Writers 2017 Silver Quill Award in the adult novel category and was a 2017 Dragon Award finalist. Her short fiction has won multiple honors and been featured in local and international anthologies. Watching scary movies through split fingers terrified Caryn as a child, and those nightmares inspire her to write now. She lives near Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband and their clowder of cats. Visit http://www.carynlarrinaga.com for free short stories and audiobooks.

WebsiteTwitterFacebookInstagramGoodreads

Narrator Bio

Between peddling video games and teaching yoga in her home state of Arizona, Jessica McEvoy attempts to conduct a career as a professional voice actress. This, however, is moderately undermined by the fact that she records in a dimly lit closet with her microphone balanced on a stack of old board games (Junior Scrabble and Powerpuff Girls Monopoly form a strong foundation), but she hopes that no one holds that against her.

Though her main work consists of narrating audiobooks, her first dive into the voice world was through the NoSleep podcast after answering a post from the LibriVox forums. Having been raised on horror movies and scary stories, she was beyond excited to be able to work on the show. Many stories, tortured screams, deranged villains, and creepy little girl giggles later, Jessica hopes to work on the podcast for seasons and seasons to come.

Twitter

 

Yay! At long last the audiobook for Donn’s Shadow landed in my inbox. Was I excited? Of course. Book One was amazing in every aspect, and it was great to see the same narrator was back.

As before, this was well written,  totally absorbing and cunningly mysterious. This time, the author introduced a touch of horror, which made me wary since I’m no horror fan usually. Luckily, this was done in such a way that the story was intriguing enough to keep my attention, and the horror elements didn’t overwhelm the mystery; rather the tension ratcheted up several notches.

When the team set up ready to film at the lakeside after a spirit had previously harmed an innocent adventurer, they are rudely interrupted by the one man Mac had taken an instant dislike to. Raziel, a famous psychic debunker, arrived in Donn’s Hill determined to out those he considered frauds. Such was his determination that he had Mac and the team on his radar too. So, when he was found murdered, Mac’s name was quickly added to the suspect list. And, clearing her name proved more difficult than she expected.

The characters were well written, and Mac’s past was developed further with some letters from her mom to Gabriela (a character from book one now awaiting trial for murder / manslaughter). Continuity from book one means reading or listening the first in the series is advised, as this is a series in every sense of the word but especially with character development. As before, Striker outclassed the human contingency, and some new characters cropped up with interesting businesses …well, Donn’s Hill is not the place for your regular entrepreneur 😉

The mystery was very well written, and the ending was another winner. This author knows how to finish a story with a flourish. Another great paranormal mystery, with superb narration. I really hope there’ll be another in the series.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

Plugging you into the audio community since 2016.

Sign up as a tour host here.

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blog tour · Partners in Crime Tours · series · Spotlight

A Spotlight on “Tooth for Tooth” (plus giveaway)

Tooth for Tooth

by JK Franko

on Tour June 1 – July 31, 2020

Synopsis:

Tooth for Tooth by JK Franko

What would YOU do?

What would you do if you got away with murder? Would you stop there? Could you?

Susie and Roy thought that they committed the perfect crime.

Their planning was meticulous. Their execution flawless.

But, there is always a loose end, isn’t there? Always a singing bone.

Now, while enemies multiply and suspicions abound, their perfect world begins to crumble.

The hunters have become the hunted.

IN THIS BLISTERINGLY RELENTLESS SEQUEL TO HIS DEBUT SHOCKER, EYE FOR EYE, J.K. FRANKO TAKES READERS ON A BREATHTAKING JOURNEY OF CAT AND MOUSE

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Crime, Legal
Published by:Talion Publishing
Publication Date: April 4th 2020
Number of Pages: 400
ISBN: 9781999318819
Series: Talion Series, #2
Purchase Links: Amazon || Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

PROLOGUE

Before meeting Susie and Roy, I had never met a murderer. But then, I had also never lied to the police or destroyed evidence. I had never seen the inside of a jail cell. And I had most certainly never been complicit in a homicide.

I have to reluctantly admit that I am a better person for the experience. I now appreciate that murderers really are just regular people like you and me. Indeed, I have come to consider Susie and Roy more than mere patients… they are friends. And I think back on our time together with nostalgia—fondness, even.

This did not happen overnight. It was a process.

What would you do if you found out that your neighbor was a murderer? Would you double-check that you’d locked your doors every night? Keep an eye out for strange comings and goings? Would you ultimately put your house up for sale, not disclosing what you knew about the folks next door to potential buyers?

For most people, being in the proximity of a killer is neither pleasant nor desirable.

Imagine how I felt about having not one but two as-yet-undetected murderers as my patients. Sitting with each of them for hours every week. Trying to guide them toward more moderate conflict resolution techniques. And failing.

Well, I’m here to tell you that despite the complexities inherent in that situation, I found my path to inner peace and happiness.

I know. I may have said elsewhere that, as a psychologist, I’m not a big believer in “happily ever after.” But my thinking has evolved.

I’ve come to believe more in choices—in the power of decision. This is the key nugget of wisdom I have taken away from this whole mess: We are not what happens to us. We are what we choose.

And I am pleased to report, for the first time in years, that I can finally say I am happy.

You have to understand that my unhappiness was not due to lack of trying. Chalk it up to naiveté—but, at first, it was difficult to process everything Susie and Roy told me and still be happy.

It’s hard to put a positive spin on murder.

Selfishly, I was overwhelmed by the fear that they might turn on me. They had shared everything about their crimes with me in meticulous detail. It was manifestly apparent that I was the weak link. The one person who could bring them down.

I was not just a loose end.

I was the loose end.

And, though I tried, I could not initially find peace under these circumstances. But, as I said earlier, happiness is a choice. And it was a choice that I made which finally ended my torment and brought me to a place where I could be at peace—even though everything ended tragically: my relationship with Susie and Roy, their marriage, the whole mess.

For you to understand the rest of my journey with Susie and Roy, I must share with you something that happened years ago at an ostensibly happy event. I say ‘ostensibly’ because it was a wonderful night for almost everyone concerned.

There were two people at that event who figure in this story—in my story.

The first is Sandra Bissette. For her, the night in question was the beginning of what would become a successful career in politics and law.

For the other, Billy Applegate, the night would end in tragedy.

PART ONE

Billy Applegate

1974

Everybody loves a party.

And there’s nothing quite like an election night party. What makes an election night celebration different?

The guest of honor. You see, all parties—birthdays, anniversaries, wakes—feature a guest of honor. But an election night party is a completely different animal because it isn’t about any one person or couple. It’s not even about the candidates.

At an election night party, the guests of honor are the attendees.

The people who gather to watch election results together are all of one mind. Of one spirit. They are like pack animals, all focused on the same outcome. They all share the same heroes and the same enemies.

If their candidates win, they all win. And a “win” means real-world changes for them—tax breaks, preferential government spending, judicial appointments—and money in their pockets.

Now, that’s a party.

This particular election night party took place in Maryland in 1974. To be precise—because I can be—this party was held on the night of the 1974 midterm elections, on Tuesday, November 5th.

It was a good year for Democrats.

This was the first national election after Watergate. Nixon’s resignation had severely damaged the Republicans’ chances in the election. Gerald Ford was just three months into his presidency, having taken over from Richard Nixon a few months earlier. And, of course, having pardoned Nixon in September, Ford had destroyed his own hopes for re-election and added to the national animus against Republicans.

This election night party took place in a spacious colonial-style home decorated in red, white, and blue, with American flags hanging from the windows and banisters. It featured a spacious living and dining area. The kitchen was large and well-equipped. There was a generous backyard with a comfortable deck and a terrace around the pool. All four bedrooms—aside from one guest bedroom—were upstairs.

There was even a “pin the tail on the donkey” game set up near the bar, for those with a sense of humor. No one actually played.

This house belonged to Dan and Annette Applegate, two proud and active members of the Democratic party in Maryland.

Dan’s family had always been active in politics. His grandfather had been a state representative. His father had served as a county judge for most of his career. Dan—born Daniel Parsons Applegate IV—was the fourth generation of Applegates admitted to the Maryland bar. While he would never actually serve in public office, he understood the value of political contacts and actively cultivated them.

This party was part of that effort.

Dan was dressed in a three-piece, tan wool suit, a white Brooks Brothers shirt, and a burgundy silk tie. The lapels and tie were wide, and the shirt collar oversized—all very fashionable at the time. Annette wore a slim, gold-belted, navy blue flare-leg pantsuit with a pale blue silk blouse and a pair of simple gold earrings. Apropos for the gathering, and it went quite nicely with all the flags, she’d decided.

Their twelve-year-old son, Billy Applegate, was in dark green overalls with a white shirt and blue Keds. A handsome boy, Billy had inherited his mother’s cornflower blue eyes and his father’s thick sandy blond hair, which he wore in a neatly trimmed surfer cut.

Billy was an only child. His parents doted on him, as did his grandparents since he was the only grandchild in both families. Even so, Billy was a good boy and knew to stay out of the way when his parents had guests, though he stayed close enough to be in the mix and see what was going on. He was at the age where he still enjoyed watching the grown-ups. Spying on them. In fact, he was familiar with many of the faces that night from other events of this kind. It was a small community.

Tonight, Tuesday night, the guests were arriving early, many coming over straight after work before polling places even closed.

It was going to be a long night.

The band played. Alcohol flowed. Anticipation and excitement were in the air at the prospect of big Democrat wins. And, after everything Nixon had put the nation through, how could voters not want a change?

In the living room, a handsome mahogany console TV with a big twenty-five-inch-diagonal color screen announced results as they came in. Dan was loitering by the avocado green Trimline rotary phone, mounted on the kitchen wall, that rang periodically with live information. The spring-coiled, twelve-foot receiver cord allowed him to pace anxiously as he fielded calls from the few Democrats charged with providing up-to-the-minute results from county polling.

Remember, this was back in the days before computerized voting machines. Back then, voters travelled to their precinct’s designated polling station and used a machine to punch holes in their ballot. These were then collected and transported to a central counting center where the ballots were put through a counting machine which tabulated the results that were then released to the public.

Dan relayed results to his guests, with each ring of the phone bringing more good news. More cheering and more drinking.

It was a good year to be a Democrat.

At the peak of festivities, there were over 250 guests in and around the property, to the point where the party overflowed onto the street, which was not a problem. No one was going to complain, as most of the neighbors were in attendance. And these were all good white folk. The police were kind enough to block off both ends of the street and make sure that those who’d had too much to drink made it home safely.

Inside, the house was a political orgy. Supporters rubbed elbows with candidates. Candidates rubbed elbows with incumbents. Incumbents rubbed elbows with donors. And lobbyists rubbed elbows with everyone except each other.

There were a number of judges in attendance. Several city council members hovered by the buffet, and a few state representatives were sprinkled through the crowd.

It was into this whirlwind of excitement that Sandra Bissette arrived.

At a time when men still ran everything in politics, Sandra hoped to make a name for herself. The fact that she was a Yale-graduated lawyer didn’t hurt, nor did the fact that she had both the figure and the looks of Jackie Kennedy.

Sandra was the daughter of lifelong Democrats, and her father happened to be the county sheriff. Although Sandra was not part of the elite set in Maryland, she was making her way. She was two years into working as an associate at a top law firm after having done a couple of high-level summer internships in D.C.

That night, Sandra was primarily interested in meeting two people: one was Annette Applegate. Although Sandra knew that both Dan and Annette were active in the Maryland Democratic party, Dan was known to be a snob—his career consisted of riding on his family’s coattails. Annette was universally recognized as the nicer of the two. Annette knew everyone, and everyone loved Annette. It was with her that Sandra was hoping to build a connection.

The second person who Sandra had added to her charm offensive for the evening was Harrison Kraft—another young Yale lawyer who, unlike her, was connected in all the right ways. Having graduated a few years ahead of her from law school, Harrison was running for state representative. He checked all the right boxes— family pedigree, education, professional credentials. There was no doubt the man was going places. Sandra had heard good things about him as a person and was interested in seeing for herself.

It was a little after 9:00 p.m.—Dan had just announced the results from Precinct Four in Montgomery County when Sandra saw an opening. Annette was by the buffet chatting with Howard Patrick, an older lobbyist—handsy, and a bit of a bore. Sandra straightened her back, raised her chin, and approached.

“Hello Howard,” she said with a big smile.

“Sandra! Hello, my dear. Don’t you look beautiful tonight?” “Why, thank you, Howard. Ever the charmer,” she said, allowing him to kiss her hand.

“Have you met our hostess, Annette Applegate?”

As Sandra turned to greet Annette, she noticed that the woman was looking past her, over her shoulder.

“Um, excuse me, young man!” Annette said, eyebrows raised and pearly white teeth dazzling.

Sandra turned and followed Annette’s gaze to a young boy in green overalls filching shrimp from the buffet. She guessed he was just shy of being a teenager.

“Aw, crap,” said Billy as he chewed.

“Come here, you,” Annette said, narrowing her eyes in mock disapproval.

The boy hesitated as he took in the young woman, the fat old man, and his mother, who stood waiting for him expectantly with her hands on her hips. He’d never seen the young woman before. She was new.

Unconsciously, he slowly moved to return the three shrimp in his sticky hand to the platter.

“With the shrimp, silly,” his mother said, shaking her head. Billy moved toward her, chewing rapidly so he could stuff
the other shrimp into his mouth.

Howard put his hand against the small of Sandra’s back, a little too low, and harrumphed to her under his breath, “Better seen, not heard. That’s how it used to be.”

Sandra tried to smile and fought the instinct to pull away.

Howard’s breath smelled of scotch and cigarettes.

Annette overheard, but ignored the old lobbyist’s comment.

“I suppose I don’t need to ask if you’ve had dinner? I left meatloaf for you in the kitchen.”

“I know. But, Mom, these shrimp are amazing.”

“And the meatballs?” asked Annette, looking over Billy toward the platter on the buffet.

Billy blushed. “Those, too.”

“Well, it’s getting a bit late for you,” Annette said, ruffling her son’s fair hair and then kissing him on the forehead, making him squirm. “Finish up the shrimp and get to bed.”

“What about Dad?” Billy asked, looking around. Annette’s face darkened, and she sighed. “I’ll send him up for a goodnight kiss. But you come along now, young man.” She put her hands on her son’s shoulders and steered him towards the stairs. “Excuse me for a moment,” she said over her shoulder.

Shit, thought Sandra as she twisted politely away, getting the old lobbyist’s hand off her lower back as he struck up a conversation. While she tried to focus on what he was saying, it was all she could do not to stare at the green thing wedged in between the man’s tar-stained teeth.

It took her ten minutes to extricate herself from Howard, thanks to Alan Watts—a wiry man who was only modestly more interesting. His family ran a small chain of grocery stores. Alan had asked her out a while back, and though she’d declined, he still had hopes—she could tell.

After a few more minutes of polite conversation, Sandra fell back on “old reliable” with a forced smile. “Excuse me, gentlemen… ladies’ room.”

Once she was sure she had escaped, she continued to work the room. About half an hour later, as she accepted another glass of white wine from a passing waiter, she felt a hand pressing low on the small of her back.

Oh fuck, not again.

“Yes, Howard?” She turned, fake smile firmly in place, to find Annette Applegate standing behind her.

“Gotcha!” laughed Annette.

Sandra laughed, both from relief and from delight at the inside joke made by the woman to whom she’d hoped to ingratiate herself.

This is going to be a great night.

While Sandra and Annette chatted amiably, many other members of the party were well beyond civility.

The drinking had begun five hours earlier, but there was more than just alcohol flowing. Other substances were being abused. It was all very discreet, of course. Most were partaking solely for recreational purposes, but a few were ingesting more heavily. Beyond alcohol and drugs—and most hazardous of all, given that it was infecting everyone to some degree and was in ample supply—was the potent and dangerous combination of two psychological stimulants, victory and power.

You see, politics doesn’t attract only “normal” people. As in every part of society, there is a spectrum. And politics, too, has its outliers. The smug and the superior. The arrogant and the snide. And the sociopaths.

Victory and power are dangerous to all, but more so to the sociopath.

Do not consume alcohol or operate heavy machinery while taking…

For these select few, the alcohol, drugs, and victory combined with power was toxic. It created a euphoria that knew no rules.

No limits.

No fear.

* * *

Upstairs, Billy had fallen asleep with the soothing press of his mother’s goodnight kiss still fresh on his cheek.

A small nightlight plugged into a wall socket illuminated his bedroom, casting a warm glow on a baseball snuggled in a catcher’s mitt that lay in a corner next to a wooden Adirondack baseball bat.

On one end of his small dresser sat a model airplane—a Douglas A-20 Havoc that he’d built with his grandfather. It was a replica of the plane Gramps had flown during World War II. The model was flanked by a teddy bear that Billy claimed he’d outgrown but refused to give away. The other end of the dresser was reserved for the little boy’s current prized possession—Rock’em Sock’em Robots. A gift from his parents for his birthday.

The room was quiet, the party sounds muffled.

Suddenly, the door opened, spilling light into the little boy’s room along with the blare of music and the chaotic chatter of voices. Then, just as quickly, the door shut, returning the room to calm semi-darkness.

Billy was groggy and didn’t try to open his eyes. Instead, he just spoke out loud. “Dad?”

He felt the bed sag as his father sat next to him in a cloud smelling of alcohol and cigars.

Then he felt dry lips on his forehead. The kiss made him smile sleepily.

A hand stroked his head and his hair as Billy snuggled into his pillow and drifted back to sleep.

Suddenly, the same hand that had been stroking his hair gently clamped over his mouth. It was a man’s hand, but it was soft. Clammy. It was not his father’s….

Billy tried to sit up, but the hand squeezed harder, the man leaning into him, pushing him down and pinning him to the bed as a second hand groped at him, pulling away his sheets.

Billy didn’t know what to do. He was terrified. He opened his eyes, but with just the little nightlight on, he couldn’t see anything other than the vague shape of the form pressing down on him. He could smell booze and food on the man’s warm breath.

Tears came as the vise over Billy’s mouth forced him to suck air noisily through his nose as the groping continued—searching, finding, fondling, stroking, then reaching, penetrating, sending a hot shard of searing pain through his body. Inside.

He tried to fight, but couldn’t. The hands were too strong. The body too heavy. He felt sick. The stench of cigars, food, and alcohol on fetid breath was nauseating. And he was scared. Terrified. In pain.

Bile rose in Billy’s throat. But the hand over his mouth prevented him from vomiting. He gagged, then swallowed everything back down.

His body began to convulse.

To thrash.

As it did, the second hand stopped.

The man’s weight eased on top of his body, no longer pinning him down. The hand over his mouth loosened slightly, and Billy felt the other stroking his hair. He wanted to move, but he was paralyzed with fear.

The whole ordeal lasted minutes, but it felt like hours.

Then the presence leaned over and whispered, “Sleep. Sleep.

You were dreaming. Go back to sleep.”

The weight lifted from the bed, and as it did, the hand fell away from Billy’s mouth, leaving him shivering in the aftermath.

The door opened, first slightly. Through the crack, the man looked out into the hall as the babble of music and voices invaded the bedroom. Then the door swung fully open, and as it did, Billy saw the man clearly in the light from the hallway. The image burned itself into his memory. The image of a stranger whose identity he would eventually learn.

The door closed and the crowd cheered as the band started playing—“You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.”

And Billy Applegate cried himself into a fitful sleep.

***

Excerpt from Tooth for Tooth by JK Franko. Copyright 2020 by JK Franko. Reproduced with permission from JK Franko. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

JK Franko

J.K. FRANKO was born and raised in Texas. His Cuban-American parents agreed there were only three acceptable options for a male child: doctor, lawyer, and architect. After a disastrous first year of college pre-Med, he ended up getting a BA in philosophy (not acceptable), then he went to law school (salvaging the family name) and spent many years climbing the big law firm ladder. After ten years, he decided that law and family life weren’t compatible. He went back to school where he got an MBA and pursued a Ph.D. He left law for corporate America, with long stints in Europe and Asia.

His passion was always to be a writer. After publishing a number of non-fiction works, thousands of hours writing, and seven or eight abandoned fictional works over the course of eighteen years, EYE FOR EYE became his first published novel.

J.K. Franko now lives with his wife and children in Florida.

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