May 31, 2016

A Killer Ball at Honeychuch Hall by Hannah Dennison

I received this book in exchange for a fair and hone review

Published: May 3, 2016
Number of pages: 286
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Honeychurch Hall Mystery #3

When antique dealer Kat Stanford stumbles upon the partially mummified body of a young woman in an abandoned wing at Honeychurch Hall, suspicion falls on those who had been living there many years ago. And it appears that the deceased had been murdered. Given her mother Iris’s checkered past, Kat is not surprised to learn that Iris knew the victim.

Meanwhile, the unexpected appearance of former lothario Bryan Laney sets female hearts aflutter. Despite the passing years, time has not dampened his ardor for Iris, but the feeling is not reciprocated.

With stories of hidden treasure and secret chambers, past and present collide. As Kat becomes embroiled once more in her mother’s mysterious and tumultuous bygone days, she comes to realize that life is never black and white, and sometimes it is necessary to risk your own life to protect the lives of the ones you love.

What did I think of this book:
This was the first book in this series that I have read and the first book by this author. I did enjoy it and was able to read it as a stand alone but will be going back to read the first two in the series. I found the characters to be likeable and I even liked that there was a bit of history thrown into the story. The author did a good job of keeping you guessing up until the end of the book which always good in a mystery book. I also enjoyed the setting of this book - the nice little English town sounds like one that would be a nice getaway - as long as no murders happen while you are there. You also get a little of the Downton Abbey feel while reading this book only in a modern way. If you love English stories as I do then this is a fun book for you to pick up. I am looking forward to more books in this series. 

About the author:
HANNAH DENNISON began her writing career as a trainee reporter for a small West Country newspaper in Devon, England. Hannah is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, the Willamette Writers, British Crime Writers' Association and Toastmasters International. Hannah Dennison is an especially big hit with librarians. Coincidentally her mother is a docent at Greenway, Agatha Christie's summer home, which has been turned into a museum. She is the author of Murder at Honeychurch.

29 Gifts by Cami Walker - Review

Published: November 1, 2009
Number of pages: 256
Genre: Memoir/Self-Help

At age thirty-five, Cami Walker was burdened with multiple sclerosis, a chronic neurological condition that made it difficult for her to walk, work, or enjoy her life. Seeking a remedy for her depression, she received an uncommon prescription from an African medicine woman: give to others for 29 days.

29 Gifts is the insightful story of the author's life changes as she embraces and reflects on the naturally reciprocal process of giving and receiving. By day 29, not only had Walker's health and happiness improved but she also had created a worldwide giving movement.

More than a memoir, 29 Gifts offers inspiring lessons on how a simple daily practice of altruism can dramatically alter your outlook on the world.

What did I think of this book:
I listened to the audio verson of this book instead of reading it. I thought the narrator did a good job although I am not sure if it was the author herself or someone else - either way she was good. That is my problem with audio books is that if I don't like the narrator then I can't get through the book. The concept of the 29 gifts in 29 days is a very nice concept. You can read more about this concept on Cami's website: as well as hear other's stories. This book tells Cami's story of how once she found out she has multiple sclerosis and was in tremendous pain looked for anything that could help her and through a friend learned about 29 gifts. The idea is that you give away 29 gifts in 29 days and it will all come back to you. The gifts can be something as simple as giving your time to listen to a friend or as big as giving a donation of money to someone. The whole idea seems like a great idea. I enjoyed following along on Cami's journey of her gift giving. 

May 28, 2016

The Penderghast Puzzle Protectors by Jule Seedorf - Guest Post and Giveaway

Published: January 20, 2016
Number of pages: 270
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Brilliant Minnesota Mystery #1

Jezabelle Jingle and her neighbors in the Penderghast section of Brilliant, Minnesota, have a mystery on their hands. Someone is stealing sections of hardwood floors in their homes and the thefts may be connected to a long-hidden treasure left by the founders of Brilliant. Not only that, there’s a dead body in a basement to add to the mix. Can Jezzie and her quirky friends figure out the puzzle and find the treasure before some other, unknown person–maybe the murderer–beats them to the punch? Or will the town’s Chief of Police, Hank Hardy, prevent the group from their sleuthing? Anything can happen in the strange little town of Brilliant, Minnesota. After all, brilliant minds create brilliant finds!

About the author:
Julie Seedorf is a Minnesotan. She calls dinner, supper, and lunch, dinner. She has had many careers over her lifetime but her favorite career was that as mother to her children. In later life she became a computer technician, opening her own business. In 2012 Julie signed a contract with Cozy Cat Press for her Fuchsia, Minnesota Series. Books included in that series areGranny Hooks a Crook, Granny Skewers A Scoundrel, Granny Snows A Sneak and Granny Forks A Fugitive.

Closing her computer business in January 2014 Julie has transitioned to becoming a full time writer adding free-lance work for various newspapers, along with continuing her column Something About Nothing, which is now in book form in a book of the same name released in early 2015. Her children’s series, Granny’s In Trouble gives her grandkids a hint of the young Grandma underneath the wrinkles.

Her books are light and fluffy and highlight the fact that in the midst of life we have to find the humor in bad situations to keep us going. “We all take ourselves too seriously and we need to have a little fun.” Julie secretly yearns to be like the Granny characters in her books.

In February 2016 the first book in the Brilliant Minnesota Series was released titled the Penderghast Puzzle Protectors. She also is part of a group mystery by Cozy Cat Press Authors titled “Chasing the Codex.” Julie’s serious side is revealed in a story included in the Anthology, We Go On – Anthology for Veterans where the proceeds will go to Veteran’s Charities.

Visit her website at

Her blog http://sprinklednotes is a little scattered like Granny but lends itself to wisdom and occasional flip flops about life.

You will also find her on Facebook at and on Twitter at julieseedorf@julieseedorf and her character Granny has her own Facebook page, Enjoy the moments; they may carry you through a lifetime.

Author Links

Purchase Links 

Guest Post:
Thank you Angela for being my host today on my blog tour.

We live in a world where it is difficult to tune out the news. We live in a world where it is difficult to find time to breathe and take time for ourselves, especially if we have a family and work commitments. I find myself running in circles trying to take care of the details in my life and it is not hard to put myself last on my list of priorities.

I have learned over the years that somewhere –somehow–if only for a moment, I need to take time out of my busy world for me. An illness and broken bones at different times taught me living my life in a hurry can be hazardous to my health. During one of those times my writing career was born.

Writing cozy mysteries wasn't something I planned but taking the time to concoct a fictional town with a fictional fun older character took me out of the real world and into a world of laughter, if only for a few moments. I wanted to share that fun and fantasy with others and take them away for a time of relaxation. I did that with my Fuchsia Minnesota Series.

The Penderghast Puzzle Protectors, the first book in my Brilliant MInnesota Series, led me down another road. In actuality The Penderghast Puzzle Protectors should have been the first book and the first series because the first few chapters were written before my Fuchsia Minnesota series, but the time didn't seem right so the pages sat in a drawer waiting to be discovered again. I felt the time was now right to began another series while keeping Granny and Fuchsia alive in my other series. I dug in my files and found the old chapters I had written years ago and they seemed to fit.

Of course I had no idea what I was going to name the book or the series. It happens that way with most of my writing as the stories take on a life of their own, making my fingers move, and writing their own story without my having any idea where it will lead. I had to watch carefully or Jezabelle Jingle would begin acting like Granny in my first series and I wanted them to both be quirky but with different characteristics.

I was surprised when my supporting characters in The Penderghast Puzzle Protectors became quirkier than Jezabelle, my main character. Yes, there are many surprises in store for me when I write.

I always wanted to be an author but I was born in a time where writer and author were something to be used as a hobby and not a career. I was born to a family and society where common sense was the order of the day and imagination was deemed as silly and blonde. I was also a blonde, strike two. Yet my imagination took me away from the harsh realities of life if only for a few minutes. My imagination got me through and kept me living. For a short time I lost my dreams and when dreams die it almost feels like your life is gone too.

It is a different time and a different world in 2016. Imagination and creativity are valued. But I feel the world is grittier and so my goal is to take my readers to a place of imagination, laughter and joy to help them navigate the real world when they put their book down. My goal is silliness and smiles and mystery, and facts that aren't really facts, but figments of a writers imagination.

Take it away. Use your imagination any day. If it makes you smile, it's all worthwhile.


Tour Participants

May 23 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW
May 23 – T’s Stuff – SPOTLIGHT
May 24 – The Girl with Book Lungs – SPOTLIGHT
May 25 – Lori’s Reading Corner – GUEST POST
May 26 – Island Confidential – INTERVIEW
May 27 – Omnimystery News – INTERVIEW 
May 28 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST
May 29 – Shelley’s Book Case – REVIEW, GUEST POST
May 31 – LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW
June 1 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – COZY WEDNESDAY – GUEST POST
June 2 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW, GUEST POST
June 3 – Author Annette Drake’s blog – INTERVIEW
June 4 – Book Babble – REVIEW
June 5 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

May 26, 2016

The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson - Review and Giveaway

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

Published: May 17, 2016
Number of pages: 320
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: Medival Fairy Tale #2

Inheriting the new title of margrave means Reinhart has two weeks to find a noble bride. What will happen when he learns he has fallen for a lovely servant girl in disguise? Find out in the new medieval fairy tale, The Beautiful Pretender, by Melanie Dickerson. Despite Avelina’s best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can’t deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse—far deadlier—consequences. Will Avelina be able to stop the evil plot? And at what cost? 

What did I think of this book:
I enjoyed getting the chance to read the second book in this medieval series. This book will grab your attention from the first page. This book is written so both young adults and adults alike will enjoy it. I thought the author did a good job with the descriptions and the character development. Another thing I liked about this book is that there is a little adventure and romance so you get a little of all the good things as you are reading it. Even though this is the second book in this series it can be read as a stand alone. 

About the author:
Melanie Dickerson is the author of The Healer's Apprentice, a Christy Award finalist and winner of the National Reader's Choice Award for Best First Book. Melanie earned a bachelor's degree in special education from the University of Alabama and has been a teacher and a missionary. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Huntsville, Alabama.

Join Melanie in celebrating the release of The Beautiful Pretender by entering to win her Once Upon a Kindle giveaway!
beautiful pretender - 400 

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of The Beautiful Pretender
  • A Kindle Fire tablet
  • A $25 Amazon gift card
  • The choice between a Funko POP Disney Beauty or Beast doll
beautiful pretender - prize collage 

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry! The giveaway ends on June 7th. The winner will be announced June 8th on Melanie's blog.

beautiful pretender - enter banner

May 24, 2016

Promised to the Crown by Aimie K. Runyan - Review and Giveaway

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

Published: April 26, 2016
Number of pages: 352
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: Daughter of New France #1

Bound for a new continent, and a new beginning.

In her illuminating debut novel, Aimie K. Runyan masterfully blends fact and fiction to explore the founding of New France through the experiences of three young women who, in 1667, answer Louis XIV’s call and journey to the Canadian colony.

They are known as the filles du roi, or “King’s Daughters”—young women who leave prosperous France for an uncertain future across the Atlantic. Their duty is to marry and bring forth a new generation of loyal citizens. Each prospective bride has her reason for leaving—poverty, family rejection, a broken engagement. Despite their different backgrounds, Rose, Nicole, and Elisabeth all believe that marriage to a stranger is their best, perhaps only, chance of happiness.

Once in Quebec, Elisabeth quickly accepts baker Gilbert Beaumont, who wants a business partner as well as a wife. Nicole, a farmer’s daughter from Rouen, marries a charming officer who promises comfort and security. Scarred by her traumatic past, Rose decides to take holy vows rather than marry. Yet no matter how carefully she chooses, each will be tested by hardship and heartbreaking loss—and sustained by the strength found in their uncommon friendship, and the precarious freedom offered by their new home.

What did I think of this book:
As we all know I am a fan of historical fiction books so I thought it would be fun to read a new book about something which I am unfamiliar with. It was very intersting to learn about the women who set out to help settle Canada for their king. I thought the author did a good job in her first book with making the characters come alive on the pages as well as her descriptions were vivid. You can tell that she did some research when writing this book. I can not imagine the hardships that these women had to go through in their new ventures. They had to be tough. This was just the first book in a trilogy and I am looking foward to the other two books as we learn more about the women who are settling Quebec. 

About the author:
Aimie K. Runyan, member of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and Women's Fiction Writers Association, has been an avid student of French and Francophone Studies for more than fifteen years. While working on her Master's thesis on the brave women who helped found French Canada, she was fortunate enough to win a generous grant from the Quebec government to study onsite for three months which enabled the detailed research necessary for her work. Aimie lives in Colorado with her husband and two children.

“An engaging, engrossing debut.”—Greer Macallister, USA Today bestselling author of The Magician’s Lie

“An absorbing adventure with heart.”—Jennifer Laam, author of The Secret Daughter of the Tsar

Two copies of Promised to the Crown by Aimie K. Runyan are up for grabs! To enter, please use the GLEAM form below.

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on May 31st. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, April 26

Wednesday, April 27

Thursday, April 28
Interview at Book Nerd
Interview at Books and Benches

Friday, April 29

Saturday, April 30

Monday, May 2
Review at A Book Drunkard

Tuesday, May 3

Wednesday, May 4
Interview at A Literary Vacation

Thursday, May 5

Friday, May 6

Monday, May 9

Tuesday, May 10
Review at A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, May 11

Thursday, May 12
Interview at Creating Herstory

Monday, May 16

Tuesday, May 17
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Thursday, May 19
Interview at The Book Connection

Monday, May 23

Tuesday, May 24
Review at A Holland Reads

Wednesday, May 25

Thursday, May 26

Friday, May 27
Review at Bookramblings

Monday, May 30
Review at Broken Teepee

Tuesday, May 31

May 23, 2016

The Gilded Cage by Judy Alter - Spotlight and Giveaway

Published: April 18, 2016
Number of pages: 313
Format: Paperback and Ebook
Genre: Historical Fiction

Born to a society and a life of privilege, Bertha Honoré married Potter Palmer, a wealthy entrepreneur who called her Cissy. Neither dreamed the direction the other’s life would take. He built the Palmer House Hotel, still famed today, and become one of the major robber barons of the city, giving generously to causes of which he approved. She put philanthropy into deeds, going into shanty neighborhoods, inviting factory girls to her home, working at Jane Addams’ settlement Hull House, supporting women’s causes.

It was a time of tremendous change and conflict in Chicago as the city struggled to put its swamp-water beginnings behind it and become a leading urban center. A time of the Great Fire of 1871, the Haymarket Riots, and the triumph of the Columbian Exposition. Potter and Cissy handled these events in diverse ways. Fascinating characters people these pages along with Potter and Cissy—Carter Harrison, frequent mayor of the city; Harry Collins, determined to be a loser; Henry Honoré, torn between loyalties to the South and North; Daniel Burnham, architect of the new Chicago—and many others.

The Gilded Cage is a fictional exploration of the lives of these people and of the Gilded Age in Chicago history.

"The Gilded Cage is a wonderful recreation of early Chicago and the people who made it what it is. Central character Cissy Palmer is a three-dimensional, real, vibrant person. The Gilded Cage is fiction, but firmly based on fact—the Chicago Fire, the prisoners from the War Between the States interred in Chicago, the newcomer Potter Palmer, the explosive growth of wealth in a prairie town, deep poverty adjacent to great riches—the American experience laid bare. You don’t have to be a Chicagoan to love this book." -Barbara D’Amato, author of Other Eyes

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Praise for the book:
“The Gilded Cage is a wonderful recreation of early Chicago and the people who made it what it is. Central character Cissy Palmer is a three-dimensional, real, vibrant person. The Gilded Cage is fiction, but firmly based on fact—the Chicago Fire, the prisoners from the War Between the States interred in Chicago, the newcomer Potter Palmer, the explosive growth of wealth in a prairie town, deep poverty adjacent to great riches—the American experience laid bare. You don’t have to be a Chicagoan to love this book.” -Barbara D’Amato, author of Other Eyes

About the Author:
Judy Alter is the award winning author of fiction for adults and young adults. Other historical fiction includes Libbie, the story of Elizabeth Bacon (Mrs. George Armstrong) Custer; Jessie, the story of Jessie Benton Frémont and her explorer/miner/entrepreneur/soldier/politician husband; Cherokee Rose, a novel loosely based on the life of the first cowgirl roper to ride in Wild West shows; and Sundance, Butch and Me, the adventures of Etta Place and the Hole in the Wall Gang.
For more information visit Judy Alter’s website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Goodreads.

This giveaway is open to the US only and is for one paperback copy of The Gilded Cage. The winner will be drawn randomly by Rafflecopter. Once the winner is drawn they will be emailed and have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be drawn. *It is mandatory that you leave a comment to win, if you do not your name will be thrown out. Thank you and good luck


Chapter One

The smell. He would never forget the smell. It crept into the railroad car and clung to his clothes and the prickly plush seats on which he’d sat and slept for two days. It was almost strong enough that he thought he could reach out and touch it. A whiff of animal odors, a hint of sewage, but mostly a swamp-like mustiness, oppressively heavy.

The train pulled into a siding somewhere in Chicago, and Potter Palmer prepared to get off. But a mocking voice inside his own head urged him to stay on the train until it went back east rather than get off in a place that smelled foul. He hesitated, peering uncertainly out the window to see only an empty, muddy field with small buildings in the distance. In his mind, he saw Lockport, New York, with its neat frame homes with white picket fences, carefully tended shops, lovely old trees. Or New York City—he could take the train back to the city and carve a sophisticated life for himself there. Then, with sudden determination, he picked up his luggage and stepped from the train. He had made up his mind his future was in Chicago, and he’d be a fool, he thought, if he didn’t even give it a try. But a part of him admitted it didn’t look promising.

Even as a child in the Quaker village of Potters Hollow, New York, Potter Palmer had longed for activity, for complexity, and the comings and goings of people. The gentle souls of Potters Hollow, including his own family, led quiet, tranquil lives. No one planned to leave the village; indeed, no one ventured beyond its boundaries any more often than necessary. Potter had known discontent almost since he was old enough to think, but he kept it to himself. A hard worker, he was offered a partnership in the local mercantile store before he was twenty, but it could not hold him. Within a few years, he opened his own store in nearby Lockport, then enjoying a modest boom of sorts. But Lockport was an old and settled town, and his discontent grew, even before the town’s boom fizzled. Potter Palmer was a careful man, though, and he studied his choices and in effect made a life plan. New York and Philadelphia were ruled out—too old, too established, not the places to offer opportunity to newcomers. Cleveland? Pittsburgh? Mere specks on the map. Too dull.

He studied whatever he could find in newspapers about Chicago and, finally, like a man playing pin the tail on the donkey with his career, determined that was where he would make his new start. No, a bad smell wasn’t going to stop him.

It was 1852, he was twenty-six years old, and he was going to make a fortune. By then, Chicago had the telegraph, gaslights, the Michigan and Illinois Canal that brought oceangoing ships from Montreal, and it was a growing railroad center. A man could make his fortune there.

In Iroquois, the name “Chicago” means “Place of the Bad Smell” or “Place of the Wild Onion.” Wild onions grew in abundance in the swampy marshlands where the Chicago River met Lake Michigan. In the late 1830s, Chicago had a population of slightly over four thousand. Potter half regretted that he hadn’t arrived ten years earlier, completely overlooking the fact that he had been a young teenager at the time.

By 1850, a series of canals connected Chicago to several shipping ports and it was becoming a trade center, land values were still rising, and a boom was on in Chicago. It was indeed the place for a man like Potter Palmer.


When Palmer stepped from the train, several local men leaned against an empty freight car on an adjoining track. Their clothes were ragged, their hair unkempt, and their faces sullen, the expression in their eyes flat and dead. Palmer presumed they were waiting for work, loading the car. If I fail, he thought, pray God I save enough money to go back east before I end like those men. And then, I won’t! By God, I will not fail!

Palmer knew the men were watching, and he turned to look at them. They never acknowledged his stare nor flinched under it. He decided against trusting his luggage to any of them. He looked for a depot but saw only an open field, an apparently empty shack, and, some distance away, a muddy road where a few draymen waited with their wagons. He turned back to the conductor.

“Is there a stationmaster?”


“Can you help me arrange to get my trunk to the Sherman Hotel?”

The conductor nodded. “See that wagon over there? The one pulled by the dark brown draft horse? Driver is Ed Johnson. You tell him Jake Barney told him to come get your trunk and take good care of it.” The conductor liked the way this man looked at a person when he spoke, with a direct clear gaze.

“Thanks.” Potter reached into his pocket for a tip, but the conductor waved him away with a cheery, “You’ll be needin’ that in this town.”

There was a wooden walkway of sorts, but by the time Palmer reached the roadway, which was almost as deep in mud as the side of the train track, his pants were wet to his knees and clung uncomfortably to his legs. He hailed Johnson and made the arrangements, paying the drayman in advance. But when Johnson motioned for him to climb up on the seat, Palmer shook his head. “I’ll walk. I want to see the city. Which way to the business district?” He plopped his leather grip into the wagon.

Johnson smothered a grin at the idea of a business district and nodded his head to the north. Palmer set off at a determined pace, ignoring the mud as best he could. He followed a plank sidewalk, but passage there was almost as treacherous as in the mud. Loose boards threatened to fly up as he stepped on them, and he was forced to dodge an occasional gaping hole beneath which the mud and muck lurked. A horseman in a hurry came too close to the edge of the sidewalk and threw mud so high it landed on Palmer’s coat. There was a distinct wet chill in the air, and Palmer shivered as the cold dampness penetrated his clothes. Garbage flowed in a trough along the edge of the street, and at one point he saw pigs running loose, feasting on the sewage. The smell was still with him. What have I gotten myself into?

He walked by buildings that seemed to squat on the ground. There was no space between them and the spongy ground on which they sat. Palmer realized that they had no foundations, no cellars, no sewers. Horses and carts made mud-like hash of the street, and horse dung was mixed in with the mud. But the ground itself, that spongy, mucky wetland, dominated. It gave off the smell of the swamp—or the wild onion.

It was not a long walk to the center of the city, though the chill air and his damp clothes made it seem endless. At Courthouse Square, near Madison and State streets, the courthouse dominated the landscape, an imposing brick building with a tall bell tower. But Palmer looked with more interest at the strange mixture of buildings around it. The marble-fronted Sherman Hotel on one corner, his destination, looked solid and respectable. Opposite the hotel was the First Baptist Church, its tall steeple rivaling the courthouse bell tower in height. But along the far side of the square a vacant prairie stretched, mostly mud with a few wild grasses. At the corner of Randolph and Washington, tumbledown two-story frame houses threatened to sag under their own weight at any moment. In the second-story window of one of these buildings, he saw a sign reading “Carter Harrison, Lawyer.”

“Not much of an advertisement for a lawyer,” he said to himself.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, May 23
Excerpt & Giveaway A Holland Reads

Wednesday, May 25

Friday, May 27
Review at In a Minute

Monday, May 30
Review at Book Nerd

Tuesday, May 31

Wednesday, June 1

Thursday, June 2
Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Monday, June 6

Tuesday, June 7
Guest Post at The True Book Addict

Wednesday, June 8
Spotlight & Giveaway at It’s a Mad Mad World

Monday, June 13
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, June 15
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Thursday, June 16
Review at The Lit Bitch

Friday, June 17

May 22, 2016

Death at a Fixer-Upper by Sarah T. Hobart - Guest Post

Published: May 17, 2016
Number of pages: 255
Format: Kindle
Series: Home Sweet Home Mystery

In Sarah T. Hobart’s wickedly funny and fast-paced Home Sweet Home mystery series, small-town real estate agent Sam Turner discovers it’s bad for business when her clients keep dropping dead.

Newly armed with her real estate license, Sam Turner loves Arlinda, her quirky seaside hometown in Northern California. But life by the beach isn’t exactly a breeze: She and her teenage son, Max, are being evicted from their apartment, her long absent ex-husband unexpectedly resurfaces, and her possibly romantic relationship with sexy Chief of Police Bernie Aguilar is, well . . . complicated. All Sam wants is a quick and easy sale. What she gets instead is a killer headache—or three.

Sam’s trying to drum up interest in 13 Aster Lane, a rambling Victorian fixer-upper that’s more than a little neglected—and possibly haunted—so when a trio of offers arrive out of the blue, she can’t help thinking it’s too good to be true. But after a new client drops dead on the property, she fears she’s lost more than a commission. Before Sam’s out of house and home, she must unmask a killer targeting her clients, or the only property she’ll be moving will be plots—at the local cemetery.

About the author:
Sarah Hobart is a real estate agent and former newspaper reporter in Northern California, where she lives with her husband and two children in a majestic fixer-upper overlooking State Highway 101.

Purchase Links:

Praise for the book:
Death at a Fixer-Upper is a sassy and sarcastic page turner that keeps you guessing until the end…
~Laura’s Interests

I would have to say that Sarah Hobart has a way with words. The opening page set the mood and pace of the story and it just ran from there.
~I Read What You Write!

This is a fantastic new cozy series about a real estate agent (which sort of hits home since hubby is in that business).
~Storeybook Reviews

This cozy mystery is a little snarkier and steamier than some in the genre, which takes some getting used to, but the story is well-paced and the mystery is spot on.
~Reading Is My SuperPower

Guest Post:
“There’s Something in the Water”

 The Home Sweet Home mystery series is set on California’s North Coast, and when people hear “California” and “coast,” they automatically think soft ocean breezes, palm trees, lots of balmy sunshine, and miles of beaches with white sand so fine it ends up in all sorts of intimate and uncomfortable places.

But that doesn’t describe Arlinda, Sam Turner’s home town. To get there, you have to drive five hours north of the civilized world, almost to the state line but not quite as far as the maximum-security prison. When you see the setting sun dappling the bay and touching the Arlinda Waste Treatment Plant with gold, you’ve arrived.

Let’s talk about that “balmy” weather: to grow some of the world’s tallest redwoods, you need moisture, and lots of it. Rain? Better carry an umbrella from September to June, and it wouldn’t hurt to keep an inflatable raft in your car. The North Coast summer is like winter in most other places: cold and gray, cloaked in fog.

We do have beaches, though: miles and miles of them. They’re rocky and desolate and beautiful. And the surf is magnificent, towering waves that bite away at the shoreline and gobble up big chunks year after year. Hard to believe anyone would venture into the 40-degree water, but the local surfers do, togged out in four-mil neoprene wetsuits.

Sam Turner doesn’t surf—at least, not yet. She may be reckless and headstrong in a lot of ways, but she knows there’s more than hypothermia lurking in those cold gray ocean waves. In a word, sharks.

Just a few short years ago, a surfer off the North Coast was attacked by a great white. The shark pulled him under, took a mammoth bite out of his surfboard, ruined his wetsuit and left the poor guy with so many staples in his body he’ll never be able to make it past airport security again. But he survived—and yes, he told our local television newswoman, he’s going back out there!

See, that just doesn’t make sense to me. I saw “Jaws” in the seventies along with millions of others, and we came away from the theater vowing to stay out of any water not decently chlorinated as God intended. Why on earth would anyone choose to bob around in the great white’s soup bowl like a tasty seal-shaped cracker? Especially after one’s already taken a bite out of you? This is natural selection in action.

Of course, surfers are a unique breed. They’re wired in a way the rest of us aren’t. According to their philosophy, a bad day surfing is better than a good day of doing almost anything else.

I know this because my adorable husband, Mr. W, is a surfer. And he’s been after me to try it for years. He even went out and bought me a wetsuit. Finally, in a moment of weakness, I agreed.

It took three strong men who swore their eyes were closed to stuff me into the wetsuit, and after it was all zipped up I couldn’t bend from the waist and looked like a Teletubby. Mr. W lashed me to the roof of our VW bus and drove to the beach. “You’re going to love this,” he said as he rolled me onto the sand.

Over the course of the next hour, I swallowed six gallons of seawater, went head-first into the sandy bottom twice and peed in my wetsuit when a seal bobbed up twenty yards away. I was bruised and battered, and one particularly devilish wave drove my board into the top of my foot, which fortunately was numb from the icy water. But glory be, on my last run of the day I popped up at the right time, stayed on my feet and rode my board all the way to shore. Pretty sweet, indeed.

But I wasn’t converted. In fact, I developed a massive bump on my foot where the board had struck. When it got bigger than a half dollar and I couldn’t lace my shoe, I went to the local foot doctor, Dr. Tarsus.

“Looks like a ganglion cyst,” he said.

“My God. How long do I have?”

He smiled condescendingly. “That’s a fancy name for a minor herniation of the tendon. I recommend we treat this surgically. You can schedule it at the front desk on your way out.”

I drove home and looked up the condition on the internet. One site told me I could reduce the hernia by striking it with a heavy object, such as a large book.

Well, we have plenty of books here. Webster’s New Unabridged Dictionary seemed like a possibility. Then I found Business Management Strategies and Practices for the New Millennium and I knew my troubles were over. I lugged the book to Mr. W. “Hit me,” I said.

“I can’t.”

“You have to. Right there on the bump.”


“This is your fault,” I told him in exasperation. “If you hadn’t dragged me out surfing against my will . . .”


That was the end of the cyst. But it was also the end of my surfing career.

Because in my opinion, those who don’t learn from history are liable to be eaten by it.

Tour Participants:
May 16 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW
May 16 – View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT
May 17 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW, INTERVIEW
May 18 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW
May 19 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW
May 21 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST
May 22- A Holland Reads – GUEST POST
May 23 – Queen of All She Reads – REVIEW
May 23 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT
May 24 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW
May 25 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW
May 26 – The Girl with Book Lungs – REVIEW
May 27 – Classy Cheapskate – REVIEW
May 28 – Book Babble – REVIEW
May 29 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

May 21, 2016

1906 by James Dalessandro - Review and Guest Post

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

Published: February 24, 2005
Number of pages: 368
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: Paperback

Now available in paperback, James Dalessandro's "riveting account of corruption, greed, and murder in the City by the Bay" (Dallas Morning News) was a best-seller in hardcover and production has begun on a major motion picture. Set during the great San Francisco earthquake and fire, this page-turning historical novel reveals recently uncovered facts that forever change our understanding of what really happened. Narrated by a feisty young reporter, Annalisa Passarelli, the novel paints a vivid picture of the Post-Victorian city, from the mansions of Nob Hill to the underbelly of the Barbary Coast to the arrival of tenor Enrico Caruso and the Metropolitan Opera. Central to the story is the ongoing battle fought even as the city burns that pits incompetent and unscrupulous politicians against a coalition of honest police officers, newspaper editors, citizens, and a lone federal prosecutor. James Dalessandro weaves unforgettable characters and actual events into a compelling epic.

What did I think of this book:
I have not heard much about the the story of the San Francisco earthquake but I enjoy history so I thought I would give this book a chance. I am happy to say that I enjoyed this book. You can tell that the author did his research when writing this book. The story kept me engrossed with the twists in the story line. There was not only history involved but adventure as well. The author did a good job in making the reader really understand what the people were going through during this time. I can't not imagine it. Another thing that I liked was how the story was told through the eyes of a female reporter. A very engaging story. 

About the author:
James Dalessandro was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and started writing poems and short stories at age six. He attended Valley Forge High School, studied journalism at Ohio University, and screenwriting at UCLA Film School. After seeing a documentary on the Beat Poets, he packed his bags and hitchhiked to San Francisco, but upon his arrival, was told he was "10 years too late to be part of it." At age 23, he founded The Santa Cruz Poetry Festival, with Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Ken Kesey; serving as its director from 1973 - 1977. At the time, it was the nation's largest annual literary festival, bringing together the likes of Charles Bukowski, William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, and Gary Snyder to the seaside town of Santa Cruz, CA; breaking attendance records, with 2,000+ people gathering at the Civic Auditorium each night. Ferlinghetti later said, "James Dalessandro has given a rebirth to American poetry. He's one of the new breed of populist poets who has something to say, quite clearly, about life on the wild side."

He moved to Los Angeles in 1980 to pursue a career in screenwriting, selling his first screenplay to Motown while still a student at UCLA. He wrote more than 75 trailer campaigns, mostly for Columbia Pictures. After selling more than a dozen screenplays, and his first novel, BOHEMIAN HEART (St. Martin's Press, 1993), an update of the classic Noir San Francisco Detective Thriller, he returned to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1995.

James has published four books: "Canary In A Coal Mine" (poetry); "Bohemian Heart; "Citizen Jane" (true crime), and "1906," a novel about the great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire. In 2005, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution he wrote and proposed, on behalf of himself and historian Gladys Hansen, asking that the "official" death count of 478 people be amended to reflect the factually accurate count of "3,000 plus victims;" an event that made international news. On April 18, 2006, the documentary, "The Damnedest, Finest Ruins," which James wrote, directed and produced, was presented at the 100 year Commemorative, drawing more than 50,000 people to the streets of San Francisco. The documentary was picked up by KQED/PBS of San Francisco, and now airs on their channel, "TRULY CALIFORNIA."

In September 2009, the Hallmark Channel aired "Citizen Jane," a film about the story of Jane Alexander, a Marin County, California woman who spent 13 years tracking down and helping to convict the man who murdered her 88-year-old aunt. Dalessandro wrote the teleplay and served as one of the films producers.

In 2010, "PLAYBOY" Magazine published his 7,000 word article, "PETROSINO vs. THE BLACK HAND," the true story of a NY Shoeshine boy who was drafted into the NYPD, to fight crime in Italian run neighborhoods; beginning what would ultimately turn into an astonishing 26-year-career on the force. James sold a mini-series based on the "PETROSINO" article, to the FX Channel, where he was hired to develop the Pilot episode and Series Bible, with the help of his friend Bobby Moresco, Oscar-winning writer of "CRASH" and "MILLION DOLLAR BABY."

In April of 2015, the Digital/Kindle edition of "1906" was released on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes Books. Within two hours, it rose to #1 in Historical Fiction/Thriller/Suspense, and #2 in Literary Fiction. It remained in the Top 10 for several weeks, and Top 100 for more than two months. James is currently represented by David Saunders, co-owner and Head of Literary at the APA Agency in Los Angeles.

Dalessandro has lectured at the Cinequest Film Festival and the Screenwriting Expo in Los Angeles, CA. He formerly taught "Screenwriting as a Pro" at Fort Mason Art Center in San Francisco, CA. He currently teaches Advanced Screenwriting at Academy of Art University in San Francisco, CA.

James is married to the former Kathleen "Katie" Callies and has an adopted son, Jeremy Christopher Katevas. He lives in Marin County, California.

Video Link:
This is a video from a PBS documentary by James Dalessandro

Guest Post:
I was obsessed wanted to be a writer from the age of 6, when I started writing poetry and short stories. In college at Ohio University, I saw a documentary on the Beat Poets – Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginbsberg, Jack Kerouac – and soon hitchhiked to San Francisco to join the literary revolution. I arrived 10 years too late. So I founded the Santa Cruz Poetry Festival, invited my heroes, and created what Ferlinghetti called “a new birth to American poetry.” He and Ken Kesey became life long friends.

After a stint at UCLA film school and a roller coaster screenwriting career – lots of sales, few movies made - I returned to my fist love. Literature. And my adopted home, San Francisco.

I wanted to capture the spirit and remarkable history of San Francisco in fiction, the way the E.L. Doctorow had done in New York. My first novel, Bohemian Heart, was a contemporary update of the Noir detective fiction of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. I used the assassination of gay activist/politician Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone as a back story. I tried to do everything detective fiction usually does not. My character, Frankie Fagan, is a long-haired, motorcycle riding, opera loving private detective whose family of honest cops have been fighting a family of Boss Tweed-like power brokers since the Gold Rush. Frankie had a history, a political opinion, a heart-breaking romance – things that P.I. fiction often avoids.

Instead of cranking out numerous adventures for the same character, I wanted to use his family’s long, colorful history to paint portraits of epic struggles indigenous to San Francisco’s ever evolving political and cultural landscape.

Hence I discovered 1906 and the great San Francisco Earthquke and fire, the greatest disaster in American history. The “official story” surrounding it, I learned, was a pile of lies and cover ups that lasted almost a century.

The day before the 7.9 earthquake struck, the entire city administration – the mayor, police chief, political boss and all 18 of the city’s supervisors – were being indicted on massive corruption charges. The plot to nail them was hatched in Theordore Roosevelt’s oval office six months earlier, as test of his ability to end urban corruption in American.

I learned that the earthquake’s official death count of 478 was a lie concocted by city officials to keep from scaring away investors during restoration. The real number above 6,000. Officials claimed the U.S. Army marched in and kept order and used dynamite to stop the fire. They didn’t. Hundreds of soldiers looted stores, got drunk on the job, shot a few hundred innocent people as suspected looters. Every time they dynamited a wood frame building, the fiery debris started hundreds of fires. The city burned for three days.

What was lost – beside the truth – was the wildest and wickedest city in America. One hundred live theaters, three opera house, 17 cable car lines, 29,000 buildings. Enrico Caruso, the Italian tenor who was the Elvis Presley of his generation, sang at the lavish Opera House five hours before the earthquake struck. He had performed with a revolver tucked in his costume in case the city’s rabid fans attacked him onstage. He barely escaped the burning city, 36 hours later, muttering “ ‘ell of a place, I never sing here again.”

But more than a disaster – and correcting the lies of the “official record” – I wanted to paint a story book city that is no more. I love historical fiction that transports us and allows us to walk those streets, hear the sounds and smell the smells. I love the great social novels that help correct a lie or an injustice. I believe in historical fiction. I despise historical fraud. I use fiction merely to fill in the gaps and put the little guys and gals, the over looked ones, back into the story.

In January, 2005, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on my resolution to set aside the aberrant 487 person death count and recognize a figure of “over 3,000.” My documentary film, “The Damnedest, Finest Ruins” – now playing on – carries restored silent film and archival photographs never before seen, and tells what really happened. Research and accuracy are everything to me. That and a good yarn well told.

Historical fiction can not only inform, it can reform. I’ve often been asked how I managed to make an imprint on a story this vast. “No one else did,” is always my reply.

There are stories like this that have yet to be told. I tell aspiring writers to go find them. James Dalessandro

Decanting a Murder by Nadine Nettmann - Spotlight and Giveaway

Published: May 8, 2016
Number of pages: 264
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: A Sommelier Mystery #1

Katie Stillwell focuses on two things in her life: work and practicing for her Sommelier Certification with her blind tasting group. The exam was supposed to be the hardest part of her week, but that was before a body was found at an exclusive Napa Valley winery party.

When all the evidence points to Katie’s best friend, the outspoken and independent Tessa, Katie drops everything to clear Tessa’s name. Using her deductive wine skills, she tries to track down the real killer. But when repeated attempts are made on her life, Katie discovers that everyone’s secrets must be uncorked―including her own.

About the author:
Nadine Nettmann, a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers, is always on the lookout for great wines and the stories behind them. She has traveled to wine regions around the world including Chile, South Africa, Spain, Germany, and every region in France. When she’s not visiting wine regions or dreaming up new mysteries, her travel articles have appeared in AAA Hawaii, New Mexico Journey, Modern Luxury Hawaii, and Inspirato. Nadine is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers. She lives in California with her husband.

Author Links :

Purchase Links

Praise for the book:
I LOVED this book…ok, maybe because it has to do with wine and the wine country in California, but it was also a very engaging book with several twists and turns that I didn’t see coming…
~Storeybook Reviews
The mystery was really good as well as the characters… if you are a fan of cozies then you will like this one.
~Books, Movies, Reviews. Oh my!
This Debut will tickle your taste buds and a murder that will keep you guessing until the very end.
~Shelley’s Book Case
A highly enjoyable crime thriller set in the wine-lands of the Napa Valley.
~Jemima Pett, Author
I was not surprised to learn that the author herself is a certified sommelier. Her knowledge of wines and wineries is extensive, which comes through in the writing of the book, and makes it that much more interesting.
~Book Babble
…well written and engaging, and I would recommend it to anyone that enjoys wine and cozy mysteries…
~Tea and A Book
… that is what the reader takes away upon closing the cover of this excellent story, just how much the author’s love for her subject, her passion, shines through in her characters.
Decanting a Murder was both enjoyable & exciting to read.
~Back Porchervations
The plot included a few red herrings and twists, keeping the suspect list broad until the pieces fell together. All in all, an enjoyable cozy mystery.
~Cassidy Salem Reads & Writes

Tour Participants
May 9 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW
May 9 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT
May 10 – Books, Movies, Reviews. Oh my! – REVIEW
May 11 – Ashleyz Wonderland – REVIEW no post
May 11 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW
May 12 – Shelley’s Book Case – REVIEW, GUEST POST
May 13 – Mythical Books – SPOTLIGHT
May 14 – Jemima Pett, Author – REVIEW 
May 14 – Tea and A Book – REVIEW
May 15 – Book Babble – REVIEW
May 16 – deal sharing aunt – INTERVIEW
May 16 – Student of Opinions – REVIEW
May 17 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW
May 18 – Cassidy Salem Reads & Writes – REVIEW
May 19 – Musings and Ramblings – GUEST POST
May 20 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, INTERVIEW
May 21 – LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW
May 21 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT
May 22 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – REVIEW