August 31, 2015

To Win Her Heart and To Win Her Trust by Mackenzie - Spotlight

Title: To Win Her Trust 
Author: Mackenzie Crowne 
Publisher: Lyrical Shine 
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Format: Kindle 

  Can she trust this player with her heart? 

 Ever since experiencing a childhood trauma, reclusive artist CC Calhoun has suffered from panic attacks. But when a fateful kiss from handsome wide receiver, Kevin “Tuck” Tucker, is enough to stop one of those episodes cold, she wonders if guarding her heart has been the right choice. Will going on a test date with Tuck open her to trusting someone for the first time in years? Or will she wind up being just another notch in the football player’s bedpost? 

Tuck has a reputation for charming women into bed, but after his kiss with CC, he’s left aching for more. When he proposes a second date, his attraction to the sexy blonde looks like the makings of true love—something he’s never quite believed in—until now. But when Tuck discovers CC’s childhood secrets, will the pro athlete be tough enough to stay by her side—or will he betray her hard-earned trust? 

  PRE-ORDER INFORMATION To Win Her Trust is available for pre-order at
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      Title: To Win Her Heart 
Author: Mackenzie Crowne 
Publisher: Lyrical Shine 
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Format: Kindle 

In order to protect her, they’ll both have to let their guards down…

Country music’s It Girl Jessi Tucker is fed up with her family’s stifling security measures. The threat of a dangerous stalker has gotten the men in her life—including her football star cousin, Tuck Tucker—monitoring her every move. To get the freedom she yearns for, Jessi hatches a plan to recruit Max Grayson, Tuck’s sexy brawler best friend, to play the role of her new boyfriend. But if her scheme works, will she be forced to hide her true romantic feelings for the sake of her independence? Or will she finally steal the heart of her dream man?...

Max has been pining for Jessi for years and would do anything to protect her, but a professional cage fighter with too many skeletons in his closet has no business being with one of America’s sweethearts. Yet while Max does his best to keep Jessi at arm’s length, the Tucker family persuades him to accept her offer.

Max believes he can keep Jessi safe from danger, but can he shelter her from his own dark secrets, the media’s unforgiving spotlight—and a mutual desire that’s harder to resist each day…
  PRE-ORDER INFORMATION To Win Her Heart is available for pre-order at
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Wife, mother and really young grandmother, Mackenzie Crowne shares her home with her high school sweetheart husband, a neurotic Pomeranian, and a blind cat. She calls Arizona home because the southwest feeds her soul. Her love of the romance genre has been a lifelong affair, both as a reader and a writer. A bout with breast cancer sharpened her resolve to see her stories shared with others. Today, she’s a seven-year survivor, living the dream. Her friends call her Mac. She hopes you will too. Visit her website at, find her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter at  

August 30, 2015

Mailbox Monday - August 31st

Mailbox Monday is a gathering place for readers to share what came in their mailbox. This meme has a permanent home at Mailbox Monday and was created by Marcia at To Be Continued I am linking up to Mailbox Monday 

This was a light book week for me but that is ok. 

To review:

A Haunted Yarn Mystery Series
#1 Last Wool and Testament
#2 Dyeing Wishes
#3 Spinning in Her Grave
#4 Plagued by Quilt
#5 Knot the Usual Suspects - published 9/1/15

A Ghostly Southern Mystery Series
#1 A Ghostly Undertaking
#2 A Ghostly Grave
#3 A Ghostly Demise
#4 A Ghostly Murder - published 9/25/15

An Antique Hunsters Mystery Series
#1 Murder by the Spoonful

Ladies of the Manor Series
#1 The Lost Heiress published 9/8/15


Thunder Point Series
#1 A New Hope
#2 One Wish
#3 The Homecoming
#4 The Promise
#5 The Chance 
#6 The Hero
#7 The Newcomer 
#8 The Wanderer
#8 Wildest Dreams

Murder by the Spoonful by Vicki Vass

I received this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

Published: June 9, 2015
Number of pages: 258
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: An Antique Hunters Mystery #1

Anne Hillstrom is hunting antiques, a diet that works and her Great Aunt Sybil's killer. This book tells the story of Anne and CC, two estate sale bloggers and antique hunters, who get more than they bargain for when they discover a killer who is hunting the antique hunters.

What did I think of this book:
I was excited to jump into this new series as I enjoy mysteries and antiques so I thougt this would be a great mix and I was not disappointed. This was the first book I have read by this author and I have to say that I enjoyed her writing style and I look forward to more books in this series. I liked the way Anne and CC worked together not only hunting antiques but in solving the mystery. It was fun that there were two mysteries going on at once. There were so many twists and turns that I was not able to figure out who did it until the end of the book. I like that because it makes me want to read faster to see what happens next. Along with the mystery there is even a bit of humor, romance and friendships. In my opinion the author did a good job in her descriptions of the settings, character development and the story line in general. I think she is off to a good start for this series. 

About the author:
With a passion for shopping and antiques, Vicki Vass turned in her reporter's notebook to chronicle the adventures of Anne and CC, two antique hunters who use their skills to solve a murder case.

Vicki has written more than 1,400 stories for the Chicago Tribune as well as other commercial publications including Home & Away, the Lutheran and Woman's World. Her science fiction novel, The Lexicon, draws on her experience in Sudan while writing about the ongoing civil war for World Relief.

She lives in the Chicago area with her husband, writer and musician Brian Tedeschi, son Tony, Australian shepherd Bandit, kittens Terra and Pixel, seven koi and Gary the turtle.

A Ghostly Demise by Tonya Kappes

I received this book from the published in exchange for a fair and honest review

Published: August 25, 2015
Number of pages: 288
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: A Ghostly Southern Mystery #3

The prodigal father returns—but this ghost is no holy spirit

When she runs into her friend's deadbeat dad at the local deli, undertaker Emma Lee Raines can't wait to tell Mary Anna Hardy that he's back in Sleepy Hollow, Kentucky, after five long years. Cephus Hardy may have been the town drunk, but he didn't disappear on an epic bender like everyone thought: He was murdered. And he's heard that Emma Lee's been helping lost souls move on to that great big party in the sky.

Why do ghosts always bother Emma Lee at the worst times? Her granny's mayoral campaign is in high gear, a carnival is taking over the town square, and her hunky boyfriend, Sheriff Jack Henry Ross, is stuck wrestling runaway goats. Besides, Cephus has no clue whodunit…unless it was one of Mrs. Hardy's not-so-secret admirers. All roads lead Emma Lee to that carnival—and a killer who isn't clowning around.

What did I think of this book:
I enjoyed this book just as much as I did the first too. I like the Southern sass of Emma Lee. In my opinion you will need to read these books in order so you don't miss out on anything. This book just keeps me wanting craving for more. The author's writing style is enjoyable and flows very well. Again this is another haunted book which makes the book that much more enjoyable to me. There are plenty of gossips in this story and that makes it that much more interesting in trying to find out whodunit. It was exciting to go back and "visit" with old friends. I am looking forward to the next book in this series.

About the author:
I am the author of twenty-six novels placed in and around small towns in Kentucky and thanking God for my chance to speak. Some have a little mystery and some have a little romance, but all have southern charm. When I'm not writing, I'm reading or gardening or cooking. Love to drink coffee, shoot the breeze with people and most of all, be with my husband and four boys - not always necessarily in that order. My most recent, A GHOSTLY DEMISE (the third book in the Ghostly Southern Mystery series with William Morrow) will be out on August 25th. Love to have company so come visit at or on Facebook. And by the way, serious huge hugs and thanks for everything - your kind words, posts and emails. Writing saves me, but without your support it wouldn't mean as much. xxoo Tonya

A Ghostly Southern Mystery Series
#1 A Ghostly Undertaking
#2 A Ghostly Grave
#3 A Ghostly Demise
#4 A Ghostly Murder - coming in September

Knot the Usual Suspects by Molly MacRae

I received this book in exchange for a fair and honest review:

Published: September 1, 2015
Number of pages: 352
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: A Haunted Yarn Shop Mystery #5

In the latest from the bestselling author of Plagued by Quilt, Kath Rutledge yarn bombs Blue Plum, Tennessee—and gets tangled up in the mystery of a bumped-off bagpiper.

It’s time for Handmade Blue Plum, an annual arts and crafts fair, and Kath and her knitting group TGIF (Thank Goodness It’s Fiber) plan to kick off the festivities with a yarn bombing. But they’re not the only ones needling Blue Plum. Bagpiper and former resident Hugh McPhee had just returned after a long absence, yet his reception is anything but cozy. The morning after his arrival, he’s found dead in full piper’s regalia.

Although shaken, Kath and her knitting group go forward with their yarn installation—only to hit a deadly snag. Now, with the help of Geneva, the ghost who haunts her shop, Kath and TGIF need to unravel the mystery before someone else gets kilt!

What did I think of this book:
I am a fan of cozy mysteries and if they include a haunted aspect to the book that makes them that much more enjoyable for me. This book was a quick read and I was able to read it in two days. I enjoy getting the chance to visit all of my friends in the TGIF group. It would be such fun to attend the craft show. I like when the mystery keeps me guessing until the last of the book and this did just that. It seems that Kath always gets knotted up in some sort of adventure trying to figure things out before the police do. If you enjoy knitting, mystery, and ghosts then this is the book for you. I suggest you start with book one so that you don't miss out on any of the adventures that Kath and her group have gone through. I look forward to the next book in this series. 

About the author:
Molly MacRae writes the award-winning Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries published by Penguin Random House. The books star Kath Rutledge, a textile preservation specialist, who inherits her grandmother's yarn and fabric shop in Blue Plum, Tennessee, and ends up with a depressed ghost on her hands. Think of it as the series that puts the woo-woo in the wool.

Molly spent twenty years in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in northeast Tennessee, where she managed the Book Place, an independent bookstore; may it rest in peace. Before the lure of books hooked her, she was the curator of the history museum in Jonesborough, Tennessee's oldest town. Her short stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine for more than twenty years, and she won the Sherwood Anderson Award for Short Fiction. Molly lives with her family in Champaign, Illinois, where she connects children with books at the public library.

A Haunted Yarn Shop Mystery Series
#1 Last Wool and Testament
#2 Dyeing Wishes
#3 Spinning in Her Grave
#4 Plagued by Quilt
#5 Knot the Usual Suspects

August 29, 2015

Sand and Sun by Dani Jace - Spotlight

Title: Sand and Sin
Author: Dani Jace
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Romance Erotica
Format: Kindle

The heart has a mission of its own…

Wounded in more ways than one, Navy SEAL Jax Taylor only understands short-term commitments. And when he walks into the Trident Bar in Virginia Beach, beautiful bartender Peri Halstead sizes him up right away. But that doesn’t stop her from teasing him with her sultry sarcasm, or taking him home—after she finds him passed out cold in the parking lot…

Soon enough, Jax is recovering at Peri’s in return for doing some handyman work, and the sexy sparks are flying—in almost every room in the house. Peri tells herself she deserves some fun, especially now that she’s a single mom with a cheating ex to deal with. But when it’s time for her and Jax to go their separate ways, the miles between them—and the danger that’s about to touch both their lives—has them wondering if Jax can learn to love more than the mission…

About the author:

Dani Jace enjoys writing headstrong, flip-flop casual heroines and everyday heroes who work with their hands―and other body parts. Claiming the Outer Banks of North Carolina as her second home, she includes the scenic and legendary chain of barrier islands as a setting for many of her tales. When not working on her next novel, she’s dipping her toes in the ocean, reading or checking out the newest action flick. Her husband, son and black Lab, plus her many imaginary characters make life complete. Please visit her at, or Twitter: @dani_jace. You can also email her at

Tour Participants

Ten Days in August by Kate McMurray - Spotlight

Title: Ten Days in August
Author: Kate McMurray
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Historical Romance
Format: Kindle

From the Lower East Side to uptown Manhattan, a curious detective searches for clues on the sidewalks of New York—and finds a secret world of forbidden love that’s too hot to handle…

New York City, 1896. As the temperatures rise, so does the crime rate. At the peak of this sizzling heat wave, police inspector Hank Brandt is called to investigate the scandalous murder of a male prostitute. His colleagues think he should drop the case, but Hank’s interest is piqued, especially when he meets the intriguing key witness: a beautiful female impersonator named Nicholas Sharp.

As a nightclub performer living on the fringes of society, Nicky is reluctant to place his trust in a cop—even one as handsome as Hank. With Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt cracking down on vice in the city, Nicky’s afraid that getting involved could end his career. But when he realizes his life is in danger—and Hank is his strongest ally—the two men hit the streets together to solve the crime. From the tawdry tenements of the Lower East Side to the moneyed mansions of Fifth Avenue, Nicky and Hank are determined to uncover the truth. But when things start heating up between them, it’s not just their lives on the line. It’s their love…

About the author:
Current President of the Rainbow Romance Writers Chapter of the Romance Writers of America, Kate McMurray has published several best-selling male/male novels including Rainbow Award-winner Show and Tell and Across the East River Bridge. She has been writing stories since she could hold a pen. She started writing gay romance after reading a book and thinking there should be more love stories with gay characters. Her first published novel, In Hot Pursuit, came out in February 2010, and she’s been writing feverishly ever since.

When she’s not writing, Kate works as a nonfiction editor. She also reads a lot, plays the violin, knits and crochets, and drools over expensive handbags. She’s a tiny bit obsessed with baseball and lives in Brooklyn, NY, with a pesky cat.

Tour Participants

August 28, 2015

The Great Estate by Sherri Browning

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Published: August 4, 2015
Number of pages: 352
Genre: Romance
Series: Thornbrook Park #3

If you're a fan of Downton Abbey, don't miss the fascinating Edwardian world of Thornbrook Park.

Pulled apart by past mistakes...

Sophia Thorne was young and inexperienced when she married the dashing Earl of Averford . . . and through dark and troubled times, their relationship nearly came to an end. Now she's determined to transform herself into the fiery, ardent lover she always wanted to be, giving them a second chance at love . . . before they're lost to each other forever.

Driven by a passion neither could deny...

It took nearly losing Sophia for Gabriel to realize he had allowed his love for his great estate to distract him from his beautiful wife. But that time is over. Despite all the obstacles standing in their way, Gabriel vows to teach Sophia what it is to truly love . . . and to be loved by a husband devoted heart and soul to her every desire.

What I thought about this book:
I loved this book just as much as the first one. This entire series has been one of my favorite series I have read and I look forward to each of the books in this sereis. I am not sure if there is going to be another one or not but I hope so. I really like the author's writing style. Her books read so fast for me. I really like the way Sophia has changed from book one to now. I like her a lot now. It was so nice to see how much Gabriel did to make sure that his wife would love him again. They way they both were working towards the same goal was so sweet even though they seemed to misunderstand each other at times. As always Aunt Agatha was one of my favorite characters and this time we get to meet Gabrial's mother Teresa who at first I was not sure if I would like but I found I do like her. There are some unexpected things that happen in this book but I can't mention or it will spoil the story. Highly recommended series. 

Thornbrook Park Series
#1 Thornbrook Park

#2 An Affair Downstairs

#3 The Great Estate

The Collector by Anne-Laure Thieblemont - Review and Giveaway

I received this book from La Frence Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Published: August 11, 2015
Number of pages: 211
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Series: Marion Spicer Art Thriller #1

Some people collect art, others collect trouble. Marion Spicer spends her days examining auction catalogues and searching for stolen works of art. She is a top-notch investigator when it comes to eighteenth-century art. But for her it’s just a job and her life is well ordered. All this changes when she inherits a huge and very prestigious collection of pre-Columbian art from a father she never knew. There are conditions attached: she must first find three priceless statues. That is when her troubles begin. Her father’s death sparked much greed, and Marion finds herself facing the merciless microcosm of Paris art auctions and galleries, with its sharks, schemes, fences, traps, scams, and attacks. Her quest draws her into a world where people will kill for a love of beauty

What did I think of this book:
I was impressed with this author's writing and this book. The author did a good job of working the art into the story line and I felt as if I learned a little by reading this book. You can tell she knows what she is talking about. She used her experience in this field to help the reader know more about this subject and to make her descriptions of things like the gems really stand out. One thing I liked about this book was the suspense, mystery, thrills, secrets and a little history all rolled into one story. Marion was a person who trouble definately does follow. I thought the story flowed and kept me wanting to find out what happens next. This is a good start to a new series and I am looking forward to the next book. 

About the author:
An art reporter and trained gem specialist, Anne-Laure Thiéblemont is known for her investigations into stolen art and gem trafficking. She currently works as a magazine editor, and splits her time between Paris and Marseille.

About the translator:
Sophie Weiner is a freelance translator and book publishing assistant from Baltimore, Maryland. After earning degrees in French from Bucknell University and New York University, Sophie went on to complete a master’s in literary translation from the Sorbonne, where she focused her thesis on translating wordplay in works by Oulipo authors. She has translated and written for web-based companies dedicated to art, cinema, and fashion as well as for nonprofit organizations. Growing up with Babar, Madeline, and The Little Prince, Sophie was bitten by the Francophile bug at an early age, and is fortunate enough to have lived in Paris, Lille, and the Loire Valley.
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August 27, 2015

The Plain Choice by Sherry Gore

I received this book from Book Look Bloggers in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

Published: August 25, 2015
Number of pages: 192
Genre: Amish, Biography, Non-Fiction

True story of a woman who left the English life to become Amish. As a young adult, Sherry Gore dreamed of a radio career, but instead a series of devastating mistakes left her wrecked and alone. Then one morning she walked into a church and the truth of Jesus’s forgiving love shattered her world—and put it back together again. Soon, the life Gore remade for herself and her children featured head coverings, simple dress, and a focus on Jesus Christ. Only then did she realize that there were others like her: the Amish.

Plain Choice is a provocative memoir of Gore’s journey toward God through the Amish community. One of the few people to successfully join the Amish from the outside, Gore learned how to live off the land and make it, grow it, or do without it. She learned the adventure of the horse and buggy life and began to thrive on faith, family, and pie. And when her teenage daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumor, she learned, again, how bright God’s light can shine when everything else seems dark.

What did I think of this book:
This was a very interesting book to read. I thought the author did a good job telling her story. There were  many things that I learned about Sherry that I did not know. I have enjoyed Sherry's books and it was nice to get to know her story. You felt as if you were sitting down with a new friend and she was telling you her story over a cup of tea. I think if you enjoy her books you will also enjoy this story of her life. I think Sherry is a strong woman and has overcame things and found a way to make her life better for her. This is a very inspiring story. 

About the author:
Sherry Gore is the the author of two cookbooks, "Simply Delicious Amish Cooking" and "Me, Myself and Pie" and co-author of the novel "Made with Love.” She is also a weekly scribe for the national edition of the Amish newspaper, The Budget, established in 1890. The National Geographic Channel featured Sherry prominently their documentary series, Amish: Out of Order. Sherry's culinary adventures have been seen on NBC Daytime, the Today Show, Mr. Food Test Kitchen and more. Sherry is a year-round resident of beautiful, sun-kissed Sarasota, Florida, the vacation paradise of the Plain People. She has three children and is a member of a Beachy Amish Mennonite church. When not spending time with her family, writing, or eating, Sherry is a cooking show host, and an official pie contest judge.

A Reluctant Bride by Kathleen Fuller

I received this book from Book Look Bloggers in exchange for a fair and honest review

Published: September 8, 2015
Number of pages: 320
Genre: Amish Fiction
Series: An Amish of Birch Creek #1

When tragedy strikes an independent Amish woman, she must accept a marriage proposal from the man she vowed never to marry.

As the oldest daughter in an Amish family, Sadie's life was mapped out since the day she was born. She would join the church, marry an Amish man, and eventually she and her husband would take over her family's store. But when her parents unexpectedly die in a buggy accident, her life goes into a tailspin. Determined to keep her parents' legacy alive, Sadie works harder than ever to provide for herself and her younger sisters.

However, the bishop is unwilling to let a young woman manage the property and business all on her own. He gives Sadie two choices: marry his son, Aden, or relinquish the business and land to the community. Not willing to give up on her dream, she weds Aden, resigning herself to a loveless marriage.

But while working with Aden at the store, Sadie realizes he isn't the same boy who had betrayed her in the past. In fact, she begins to look forward to the time they spend together, getting to know the man with a kind heart and gentle smile. Just when Sadie starts to let her guard down and perhaps develop feelings for her new husband, several dangerous secrets are revealed. Now everything Sadie has worked so hard to protect is threatened, and she must find a way to save her family-and herself.

What did I think of this book:
This book is a good start to a new Amish series. As we all know I enjoy reading Amish fiction and this book was not a disappointment. I felt bad for Sadie losing her parents in a buggy accident but she was a strong woman and was able to go on. The bishop was not one of my favorite people because he gave her an ulimatium in order to keep her property and business. It was a journey to watch how Sadie and Aden learning to like each other while Aden helped her keep things going. This book has plenty of secrets as well as some romance to keep the story moving at a nice pace. The author did a good job developing the characters and leaves you wanting to know more about some of the secondary characters. I look forward to more books in this series. 

About the author:
Kathleen is the best-selling author of over thirty books, including the Hearts of Middlefield Series and the A Middlefield Family Series. She lives with her husband and three children in Northeast Ohio. Kathleen loves to hear from readers.

Author's website:

August 25, 2015

Tropical Depression by Jeff Lindsay - Spotlight and Giveaway

Published: August 25, 2015
Number of pages: 256
Genre: Mystery
Series: Billy Knight Thriller #1

NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Jeff Lindsay mastered suspense with his wildly addictive DEXTER series. Before that, however, there was former cop and current burnout Billy Knight. When a hostage situation turns deadly, Billy loses everything—his wife, his daughter, and his career. Devastated, he heads to Key West to put down his gun and pick up a rod and reel as a fishing boat captain. But former co-worker Roscoe McAuley isn't ready to let Billy rest.
When Roscoe tells Billy that someone murdered his son, Billy sends him away. When Roscoe himself turns up dead a few weeks later, however, Billy can't keep from getting sucked back into Los Angeles, and the streets that took so much from him.
Billy's investigations into the death of a former cop, and his son, will take him up to the highest echelons of the LAPD, finding corruption at every level. It puts him on a collision course with the law, with his past, with his former fellow officers, and with the dark aftermath of the Civil Rights Movement. Jeff Lindsay's considerable storytelling gifts are on full display, drawing the reader in with a mesmerizing style and a case with more dangerous blind curves than Mulholland Drive.

About the author:
Jeff Lindsay is the award-winning author of the seven New York Times bestselling Dexter novels upon which the international hit TV show Dexter is based. His books appear in more than 30 languages and have sold millions of copies around the world. Jeff is a graduate of Middlebury College, Celebration Mime Clown School, and has a double MFA from Carnegie Mellon. Although a full-time writer now, he has worked as an actor, comic, director, MC, DJ, singer, songwriter, composer, musician, story analyst, script doctor, and screenwriter.

Where to find the author:

Purchase links for the book:

Be sure to stop by Partners in Crime to enter the giveaway to win an e-copy of Troprical Depression by clicking here

You can see all the tour participants by stopping by Partners in Crime

Read and Excerpt:
Somebody once said Los Angeles isn’t really a city but a hundred suburbs looking for a city. Every suburb has a different flavor to it, and every Angeleno thinks he knows all about you when he knows which one you live in. But that’s mostly important because of the freeways.

Life in L.A. is centered on the freeway system. Which freeway you live nearest is crucial to your whole life. It determines where you can work, eat, shop, what dentist you go to, and who you can be seen with.

I needed a freeway that could take me between the two murder sites, get me downtown fast, or up to the Hollywood substation to see Ed Beasley.

I’d been thinking about the Hollywood Freeway. It went everywhere I needed to go, and it was centrally located, which meant it connected to a lot of other freeways. Besides, I knew a hotel just a block off the freeway that was cheap and within walking distance of the World News, where Roscoe had been cut down. I wanted to look at the spot where it happened. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t learn anything, but it was a starting place.

And sometimes just looking at the place where a murder happened can give you ideas about it; cops are probably a little more levelheaded than average, but most of them will agree there’s something around a murder scene that, if they weren’t cops, they would call vibes.

So Hollywood it was. I flagged down one of the vans that take you to the rental car offices.

By the time I got fitted out with a brand new matchbox—no, thank you, I did not want a special this-week-only deal on a Cadillac convertible; that’s right, cash, I didn’t like credit cards; no, thank you, I did not want an upgrade of any kind for only a few dollars more; no, thank you, I didn’t want the extra insurance—it was dark and I was tired. I drove north on the San Diego Freeway slowly, slowly enough to have at least one maniac per mile yell obscenities at me. Imagine the nerve of me, going only sixty in a fifty-five zone.

The traffic was light. Pretty soon I made my turn east on the Santa Monica. I was getting used to being in L.A. again, getting back into the rhythm of the freeways. I felt a twinge of dread as I passed the exit for Sepulveda Boulevard, but I left it behind with the lights of Westwood.

The city always looks like quiet countryside from the Santa Monica Freeway. Once you are beyond Santa Monica and Westwood, you hit a stretch that is isolated from the areas it passes through. You could be driving through inner-city neighborhoods or country-club suburbs, but you’ll never know from the freeway.

That all changes as you approach downtown. Suddenly there is a skyline of tall buildings, and if you time it just right, there are two moons in the sky. The second one is only a round and brightly lit corporate logo on a skyscraper, but if it’s your first time through you can pass some anxious moments before you figure that out. After all, if any city in the world had two moons, wouldn’t it be L.A.?

And suddenly you are in one of the greatest driving nightmares of all recorded history. As you arc down a slow curve through the buildings and join the Harbor Freeway you are flung into the legendary Four-Level. The name is misleading, a slight understatement. It really seems like a lot more than four levels.

The closest thing to driving the Four-Level is flying a balloon through a vicious dogfight with the Red Baron’s Flying Circus. The bad guys—and they are all bad guys in the Four-Level—the bad guys come at you from all possible angles, always at speeds just slightly faster than the traffic is moving, and if you do not have every move planned out hours in advance you’ll be stuck in the wrong lane looking for a sign you’ve already missed and before you know it you will find yourself in Altadena, wondering what happened.

I got over into the right lane in plenty of time and made the swoop under several hundred tons of concrete overpass, and I was on the Hollywood Freeway. Traffic started to pick up after two or three exits, and in ten minutes I was coming off the Gower Street ramp and onto Franklin.

There’s a large hotel right there on Franklin at Gower. I’ve never figured out how they break even. They’re always at least two-thirds empty. They don’t even ask if you have a reservation. They are so stunned that you’ve found their hotel they are even polite for the first few days. There’s also a really lousy coffee shop right on the premises, which is convenient if you keep a cop’s schedule. I guessed I was probably going to do that this trip.

A young Chinese guy named Allan showed me up to my room. It was on the fifth floor and looked down into the city, onto Hollywood Boulevard just two blocks away. I left the curtain open. The room was a little bit bigger than a gas station rest room, but the decor wasn’t quite as nice.

It was way past my bedtime back home, but I couldn’t sleep. I left my bag untouched on top of the bed and went out.

The neighborhood at Franklin and Gower is schizophrenic. Two blocks up the hill, towards the famous Hollywood sign, the real estate gets pretty close to seven figures. Two blocks down the hill and it’s overpriced at three.

I walked straight down Gower, past a big brick church, and turned west. I waved hello to Manny, Moe, and Jack on the corner: it had been a while. There was still a crowd moving along the street. Most of them were dressed like they were auditioning for the role of something your mother warned you against.

Some people have this picture of Hollywood Boulevard. They think it’s glamorous. They think if they can just get off the pig farm and leave Iowa for the big city, all they have to do is get to Hollywood Boulevard and magic will happen. They’ll be discovered.

The funny thing is, they’re right. The guys that do the discovering are almost always waiting in the Greyhound station. If you’re young and alone, they’ll discover you. The magic they make happen might not be what you had in mind, but you won’t care about that for more than a week. After that you’ll be so eager to please you’ll gladly do things you’d never even had a name for until you got discovered. And a few years later when you die of disease or overdose or failure to please the magic-makers, your own mother won’t recognize you. And that’s the real magic of Hollywood. They take innocence and turn it into money and broken lives.

I stopped for a hot dog, hoping my sour mood would pass. It didn’t. I got mustard on my shirt. I watched a transvestite hooker working on a young Marine. The jarhead was drunk enough not to know better. He couldn’t believe his luck. I guess the hooker felt the same way.

The hot dog started to taste like old regrets. I threw the remaining half into the trash and walked the last two blocks to Cahuenga.

The World News is open twenty-four hours a day, and there’s always a handful of people browsing. In a town like this there’s a lot of people who can’t sleep. I don’t figure it’s their conscience bothering them.

I stood on the sidewalk in front of the place. There were racks of specialty magazines for people interested in unlikely things. There were several rows of out-of-town newspapers. Down at the far end of the newsstand was an alley. Maybe three steps this side of it there was a faint rusty brown stain spread across the sidewalk and over the curb into the gutter. I stepped over it and walked into the alley.

The alley was dark, but that was no surprise. The only surprise was that I started to feel the old cop adrenaline starting up again, just walking down a dark alley late at night. Suddenly I really wanted this guy. I wanted to find whoever had killed Roscoe and put him in a small cell with a couple of very friendly body-builders.

The night air started to feel charged. It felt good to be doing cop work again, and that made me a little mad, but I nosed around for a minute anyway. I wasn’t expecting to find anything, and I didn’t. By getting down on one knee and squinting I did find the spot where the rusty stains started. There was a large splat, and then a trickle leading back out of the alley to the stain on the sidewalk.

I followed the trickle back to the big stain and stood over it, looking down.

Blood is hard to wash out. But sooner or later the rain, the sun, and the passing feet wear away the stains. This stain was just about all that was left of Roscoe McAuley and when it was gone there would be nothing left of him at all except a piece of rock with his name on it and a couple of loose memories. What he was, what he did, what he thought and cared about—that was already gone. All that was hosed away a lot easier than blood stains—a lot quicker, too.

“I’m sorry, Roscoe,” I said to the stain. It didn’t answer. I walked back up the hill and climbed into a bed that was too soft and smelled of mothballs and cigarettes.

August 23, 2015

Mailbox Monday - August 24

Mailbox Monday is a gathering place for readers to share what came in their mailbox. This meme has a permanent home at Mailbox Monday and was created by Marcia at To Be Continued I am linking up to Mailbox Monday 


Trick or Deceit by Shelley Freydont
Celebration Bay Mystery #4

Montmartre Mysteries by Jean-Pierre Alaux & Noel Balen
Winemaker Detective Series #8

Decorum by Kaaren Christopherson

The London Game by Alyssa Linn Palmer
Le Chat Rouge Series #3


The Final Frontiersman by James Campbell

Ruth's Journey by Donald McCaig

August 21, 2015

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Published: February 1, 1996
Number of pages: 207
Genre: Non-fiction

In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a party of moose hunters. How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.

Immediately after graduating from college in 1991, McCandless had roamed through the West and Southwest on a vision quest like those made by his heroes Jack London and John Muir. In the Mojave Desert he abandoned his car, stripped it of its license plates, and burned all of his cash. He would give himself a new name, Alexander Supertramp, and , unencumbered by money and belongings, he would be free to wallow in the raw, unfiltered experiences that nature presented. Craving a blank spot on the map, McCandless simply threw the maps away. Leaving behind his desperate parents and sister, he vanished into the wild.

What I thought about this book:
I really wanted to like this book more than I did. It was an interesting story about how one man went to Alaska and never came back. The parts of the book that talked about Christopher and his journey were good to read. With that being said the parts of the book that talked about other people who have perished on their journeys and some of the "technical" things were boring to me. There is a lot of reading packed into this little book. I am glad that I read the book but at the same time I felt as if I struggled through it. I still do not know what was going through Christopher's mind going out into the wilds of Alaska unprepared.