Monday, June 27, 2016

Musing Mondays - June 27

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme now hosted at Jenn's new blog Books And A Beat that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:
  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…
THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: What is/are your favorite book cover(s)?

It's been a while since I've done one of these and it's about high time I got back to it. I've missed blogging now that work has taken over my life.

I'm currently reading:

My review was due weeks ago, but I haven't been reading much lately. Our annual trip to North Carolina is coming up, so I will be reading it then. What I have read so far is really good.

Here's the line up of paperback books I am taking on vacation with me. I'm also taking both of my Kindles. 
  • Deep Shadows by Vannetta Chapman
  • Anna's Healing by Vannetta Chapman
  • Joshua's Mission by Vannetta Chapman
  • A Loaded Gun by Jerome Charyn
  • The Strangers on Montague Street by Karen White
  • When Butterflies Came by Kimberley Griffiths Little
  • Iced Chiffon by Duffy Brown
  • While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax
What books are you looking forward to reading this summer?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Book Review: Real Estate Rules! by Debbi DiMaggio

Maybe you're a new real estate agent looking for tips on how to create a successful career. Perhaps you're a seasoned agent who wants to bring her business to the next level. Maybe you just need some ideas on how to sell yourself.

Well, whatever you're looking for, you'll find it in Real Estate Rules!: 52 Ways to Achieve Success in Real Estate by Debbi DiMaggio.

Part of the Rules! books collection, DiMaggio shares the tips and tricks that secured her place in the top one percent of real estate agents nationwide. Broken down into four parts, this helpful guide has the power to transform your business. Empowering and informative, you won't be able to stop the ideas from coming once you've made it to the end of this book. You'll learn how to sell yourself, how to market properties, and get tips on working with clients and how to grow your business.

The adorable illustrations by Steve Hickner provide some light comic relief for what is a very serious subject: how to better position yourself for success in the real estate industry. As a REALTOR®, I truly appreciate DiMaggio's desire to help others succeed. It's evident in every word that she loves what she does.

Let Real Estate Rules! by Debbi DiMaggio inspire you to reach new heights in your real estate career.

Highly recommended!

Paperback: 134 pages
Publisher: Brigantine Media (April 4, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1938406540
ISBN-13: 978-1938406546

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

I read this book for the following challenge:

Monday, June 20, 2016

Book Spotlight & Giveaway: A Loaded Gun by Jerome Charyn

We think we know Emily Dickinson: the Belle of Amherst, virginal, reclusive, and possibly mad. But in A Loaded Gun, Jerome Charyn introduces us to a different Emily Dickinson: the fierce, brilliant, and sexually charged poet who wrote:

My Life had stood—a Loaded Gun—

Though I than He— may longer live
He longer must—than I—
For I have but the power to kill,
Without—the power to die—

Through interviews with contemporary scholars, close readings of Dickinson’s correspondence and handwritten manuscripts, and a suggestive, newly discovered photograph that is purported to show Dickinson with her lover, Charyn’s literary sleuthing reveals the great poet in ways that have only been hinted at previously: as a woman who was deeply philosophical, intensely engaged with the world, attracted to members of both sexes, and able to write poetry that disturbs and delights us today.

A Loaded Gun Excerpt One:

A Loaded Gun Excerpt Two:

Jerome Charyn was born and raised on the mean streets of the Bronx. He graduated cum laude from Columbia College. He has taught at Princeton, Columbia, Stanford, Rice, was Distinguished Visiting Professor at the City University of New York and is currently Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the American University of Paris. Charyn is a Guggenheim Fellow and has twice won fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. His stories and articles have appeared in The Atlantic, Paris Review, Esquire, American Scholar, New York Review of Books, New York Times, Ellery Queen and many other publications. Charyn's most recent books are The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson, I Am Abraham and Bitter Bronx: Thirteen Stories. His latest book is A Loaded Gun: Emily Dickinson for the 21st Century.


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Friday, June 17, 2016

Free This Weekend: Girl of My Dreams by Morgan Mandel

Follow the madcap adventures of a straitlaced assistant who sneaks onto the set of a reality show to win a billionaire.

When the producer discovers her ruse, he’s beside himself with rage. He’d thought better of her, but it looks like she’s only a gold digger.

What’s worse, she’s advancing in the rounds. She may even win the billionaire, but is he the guy she really wants?

File Size: 856 KB
Print Length: 156 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Choice One Publishing Co.; 2014 Updated Edition, First Published in 2008 edition (November 10, 2011)
Publication Date: November 10, 2011
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English
ASIN: B0065R11QO

Purchase here!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Book Blast: Body of the Crime by Jennifer Chase

We're so excited to be hosting Jennifer Chase's BODY OF THE CRIME Book Blast today!  Please leave a comment to let her know you stopped by!

About the Book:


Author: Jennifer Chase

Publisher: JEC Press


Genre: Crime Thriller

Three grisly murders linked to five old cold cases, dubbed the Flower Girl Murders, pushes detectives to their limit to find a clever and extremely brutal serial killer, leaving a California town demanding justice. The District Attorney’s Serial Special Task Force retains the help of the reclusive Dr. Chip Palmer, a forensic expert and criminal profiler, to steer them in the right direction.

Palmer is known for his astute academic interpretations of serial and predatory crimes, along with his unconventional tactics that goes against general police procedures. He is partnered with the tough and beautiful D.A. Inspector Kate Rawlins, a homicide detective transplanted from Phoenix, and the chemistry ignites between the team—turbulent and deadly.

The Flower Girl Murders leaves three homicides, five cold cases, two seasoned detectives, three suspects, and one serial killer calling all the shots. The investigation must rely on one eccentric forensic scientist to unravel the clues to solve the case. But at what cost?

Body of the Crime is available at Amazon.

Book Excerpt:

THE DENSE PINE AND OAK trees made a semi-circle pattern in the
forest. Dried leaves blew in the breeze, swirled around like unique pieces of
confetti, cascading downward, and finally resting on the ground.
The isolated
location seemed serene and picturesque, which lent to the stark contrast of the
woman’s dead body.
Her long brown
hair hung straight and spilled down over her shoulders and slender body. Each
strand appeared to have been carefully washed and combed precisely in place.
The unknown woman wore a light blue button-down sweater that remained in an
orderly fashion with every button fastened, and it was pulled down to cover her
belly. Her arms gently placed over her chest, each finger laced next to the
other. Tucked carefully underneath her hands was a stem with a pale pink flower
that looked like a daisy, now wilted. The victim’s fingernails scrubbed clean,
and her hands lacked any jewelry or identifying marks.
Upon a quick
glance, it seemed that she was merely daydreaming. Looking closely, her fixed
dull eyes gave the undeniable lifeless gaze. The relaxed expression on her face
seemed almost contrived and had a peculiar quality to it—even a ghostly facade.
From the waist
up, the woman looked like she had taken a nap after a morning of running
errands or after coming home from a luncheon with friends. The woman was in a
carefully posed position that told the story of an organized killer who was in
complete control, but that was where the structured behavior of the murderer
abruptly stopped.
In a disturbing
contrast, the horrifying viciousness of what was left of the bottom half of the
body was the aftermath of a long, torturous assault from someone completely out
of control. It suggested a perpetrator who lacked any impulse control and
mental stability. 

About the Author

Jennifer Chase is an award-winning author and consulting criminologist.  She has authored six crime fiction novels, including the multiple award-winning Emily Stone thriller series along with a screenwriting workbook.

Jennifer holds a Bachelor degree in police forensics and a Master's degree in criminology.  These academic pursuits developed out of her curiosity about the criminal mind as well as from her own experience with a violent sociopath, providing Jennifer with deep personal investment in every story she tells. In addition, she holds certifications in serial crime and criminal profiling.  She is an affiliate member of the International Association of Forensic Criminologists.

Visit Jennifer Chase’s website.

Connect with Jennifer on Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Blurb Blitz Lyrical Press Cozy Mysteries by Janet Finsilver and Lynn Cahoon

Fortunes, fineries, and foul play . . .

It’s whale-watching season in Redwood Cove, and B&B manager Kelly Jackson’s battening down the hatches for the tourist rush at Redwood Heights—a Victorian-style estate owned by her boss. And due to recent jewelry thefts, her duties include keeping track of the many dust-covered artifacts spread throughout the property. But when Kelly finds Sylvia Porter’s lifeless body, menial tasks don’t seem so terrible.

Enlisting the help of a ragtag group of brainy retirees, aka the “Silver Sentinels,” Kelly’s on the hunt for clues hidden behind the mansion’s glamorous façade and for a killer who may want to make history of her next!



“Welcome, everyone. My name is Lily Wilson, and I’ll be leading the tour today. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask them. There’s a sign-in sheet on the check-in counter. We’ll be starting at one o’clock, which is in five minutes.” She turned in my direction and said, “I’d like to introduce the manager of one of Resorts International properties, Kelly Jackson. She’s in charge of Redwood Cove Bed-and-Breakfast.”

The members of the group smiled an acknowledgment. A short man in a denim shirt and khaki pants raised his hand. Lily smiled at him and asked, “Is there something you’d like to know?”

He pointed to the entrance to the parlor. “What is that shield above the doorway?”
“Redwood Heights was built by Reginald Brandon. That’s the family coat of arms,” Lily said. “There is an official Brandon crest on file. However, Mr. Brandon wanted to design his own to reflect life in the West. On his shield he chose to put the silhouettes of two rearing stallions, symbols of strength. Rifles instead of swords crossed over the top of them—the weapons of that era. Tall redwood trees filled in the area behind them and were the source of his wealth. You can see his motto for loyalty and honor on the banner.”

I enjoyed her explanation. It added another dimension to an object that had just been an interesting piece.

A tall woman with a long brown braid down her back pointed to a picture. “Is this Mr. and Mrs. Brandon?”

“Yes, that picture is of the Brandons,” Lily replied. “The woman in the picture is the second Mrs. Brandon. As with many wealthy families and historic estates, there are questionable stories in their past. Redwood Heights is no different.”

“How so?” asked the woman.

“We don’t have any pictures of the first Mrs. Brandon. She was the belle of glittering New York high society who found herself in remote Redwood Cove. She disappeared not long after arriving. Some say she ran off with a lover. Rumors cropped up that she took a sizeable amount of Brandon’s money, changed her name, and left to enjoy San Francisco’s growing attractions.”

The cadence of Lily’s voice took the story beyond a runaway wife. Her tilted head and arched eyebrow led you down a path of mystery and intrigue. The visitors moved a little closer.

Lily leaned toward them and whispered, “Some say she never left at all.” Her words lingered in the dead silence.

Everyone was still—frozen in that past time. Goose bumps popped up on my arms. Someone coughed, and the spell was broken.

“After a time, Brandon married again. They had no children and, alas, the house went to a distant cousin.”

I’d been mesmerized by the tale. Snapping out of it, I looked around. Sylvia still wasn’t there.

“The tour will meet in the parlor. Restrooms are down the hallway to your right,” Lily instructed the group.

I walked up the carpeted stairs to the second floor, running my hand over the smooth oak railing. It had taken hundreds of polishings to develop the fine patina and rich glow.

Sylvia’s room was the first door at the top of the staircase. I knocked quietly. When there was no response, I knocked harder. She must really be a sound sleeper. I tried the door, but it was locked. I rushed downstairs, retrieved her room key, and glanced at my watch. If Sylvia hurried, she’d still have time to make the start of the tour. Arriving back at her door, I knocked again.

“Mrs. Porter, it’s Kelly. The tour is starting in a couple of minutes.” I got no response, so I unlocked the door and peeked in. Sylvia was sitting in front of her dressing table, her back to me.

I opened the door a little farther. “Mrs. Porter?” I stepped inside the room. In the filtered light from the curtained windows, Sylvia’s image reflected in the mirror. Her eyes were closed, and her head rested on her shoulder. She must have dozed off before making it into bed for a nap.

My attention was drawn to a brooch on the left side of Sylvia’s blouse as I approached her. I hadn’t noticed it before. It was a lovely piece—a large egg-shaped pearl surrounded by a burst of red.

I touched Sylvia’s shoulder. No response.

“Mrs. Porter?” I gently shook her.

Sylvia’s head rolled forward and hung down. Her dangling hair covered the side of her face.

I gasped, and my heart began to pound. I looked more closely at her. The burst of red wasn’t part of a pin—it was blood.

Janet Finsilver and her husband live in the San Francisco Bay Area. She loves animals and has two dogs—Kylie, a Rhodesian ridgeback, and Ellie, a boxer/coonhound mix. Janet enjoys horseback riding, snow skiing, and cooking. She is currently working on her next Redwood Cove mystery.

The quaint coastal town of South Cove, California, is all abuzz about the opening of a new specialty shop, Tea Hee. But as Coffee, Books, and More owner Jill Gardner is about to find out, there's nothing cozy about murder . . .

Shop owner Kathi Corbin says she came to South Cove to get away from her estranged family. But is she telling the truth? And did a sinister someone from her past follow her to South Cove? When a woman claiming to be Kathi's sister starts making waves and a dead body is found in a local motel, Jill must step in to clear Kathi's name--without getting herself in hot water.


Limping home, I saw Greg’s truck parked at City Hall. I went in through the side door that took me to the police station. Amy kept going, heading home to shower before returning to her job as city hall receptionist.

Greg stood by Esmeralda’s desk and raised his eyebrows when he saw me. “Rough workout? I’m glad I was too busy to go today.”

“Oh, you’ll get yours. Don’t think demon trainer didn’t notice you were gone.”

“Okay. So why are you here?” He pushed a curl back out of my face. “Too far to walk home after the workout?”

“You’re just mean, you know that right?” I sank into the couch. It did feel amazing just to veg for a second or two. Okay, so Greg could have been right about my real motives for the impromptu visit. “Actually, I wanted to know about your call-out last night. I’m assuming this was a murder and not an old guy dying in his sleep.”

“And you deduced that from?” He watched me closely.

Shrugging, I sank deeper into the cushions. No wonder Greg didn’t mind sleeping in his office every so often. The couch was amazing. “No one blabbed, if you’re thinking of blaming Toby. You didn’t call, and you’re still wearing last night’s clothes.”

He chuckled. “You’re right. I guess I’m more transparent than I thought. We don’t know much about the murder, except the guy checked in a few days ago under a false name. Of course, the motel doesn’t ask for any verification or even a credit card. Cash only out there.”

“So he’s not a local.” For some reason, this made me feel better. Sure, it was sad someone had died, but people died all the time. I just didn’t want it to be one of my friends.

“Not that I can tell. But I think it’s the biker who’s been racing up and down Main Street. He fits the description.” Greg shrugged and grinned. “And, there’s a bike parked outside his room. Yep, I’m a trained investigator, I notice these things.”

“Big guy?” I thought about how the elderly woman had almost been smashed by the rider just a few days ago.

“Nope. He’s tall, maybe six feet, but if he weighs more than a hundred fifty soaking wet I’ll buy you dinner.” Greg groaned as he stood and walked across the room to his desk. He pulled me to standing. “I hate it when you do that.”

“Do what?” Now that I was upright, my stomach growled reminding me I hadn’t eaten all day. I dug into my tote and pulled out a protein bar.

“Trick me into telling you more than I should.” He pointed to the door. “Out of here. I’ve got work to do.”

I took a bite of my protein bar as I walked out. Pausing at the door, I turned back to look at him. He was already typing into some document. “I take it I won’t see you for dinner?”

“Not tonight. But I’ll be over on Sunday at the latest.” He paused. “Are you working the festival that day?”

“Just the morning shift. We’re closing the main store and only running the food truck that day.” I adjusted the strap on my tote, feeling the weight on my screaming shoulder blade. I walked out of the office and wondered how bad the murder had been. Just because it was a stranger that lay in the morgue, didn’t mean someone from South Cove hadn’t been involved or known the guy.

Or why else would he have been here?


New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Lynn Cahoon is an Idaho expat. She grew up living the small town life she now loves to write about. Currently, she’s living with her husband and two fur babies in a small historic town on the banks of the Mississippi river where her imagination tends to wander. Guidebook to Murder, Book 1 of the Tourist Trap series, won the 2015 Reader’s Crown award for Mystery Fiction. Visit her at

Buy links:

TEA CUPS AND CARNAGE: amazonkindleAppleGoogle, KoboNook
MURDER AT THE MANSION: amazonkindleAppleGoogle, KoboNook

The authors will be awarding digital copies of all books
on the tour to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter
 during the tour.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Interview with Billie Tekel Elias, Author of PEARL’s Party…and you’re invited

Billie Tekel Elias grew up in Philadelphia. Her parents divorced when she was young and she grew up with her artistic, business-minded, Auntie Mame-like mother. Her father was a Chemistry professor at a local university. After graduating from the top all-girls high school in Philadelphia, she spent her college years at Columbia Engineering, followed by graduate school at Stanford. She began to travel extensively in the 1970s, including a 9-week European backpacking adventure, two cross-country motor trips, and a self-directed family sojourn to the Yucatan Peninsula.

Her career as an engineer, first with the world's largest paper company and later with an international money center bank, spanned seven years. Not aspiring to give the corporation the best years of her life, she quit her career to wander around Africa for a couple months. With the entrepreneurial spirit she inherited from her mother, she was determined to start her own business that would include lots of (tax-deductible) travel. She launched her own costume jewelry import business and now counts 40 countries and 5 continents as places she has visited.

Marriage and the birth of her child put her wanderlust on hold. Billie shifted gears again, embarking on a new venture, working from home as an educational toy consultant. This enabled her to grow a toy business alongside her growing child, and to take time to play with him.  It turned out that high quality and prolonged interactions with a parent spurred the intellectual development of her child, an MIT graduate.

Writing a book marks Ms. Elias' fourth "career."

She blogs at You can also find her online at:

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a section of Philadelphia that was near its northwestern suburbs. Our first home was in a newly developed neighborhood with other young families just like ours -- very homogeneous compared to where I live today (Manhattan).

When did you begin writing?

In high school I was so disinterested in writing that I shied away from choosing a liberal arts college and instead went to engineering school.  I knew I wouldn’t have to do much writing at all there! I didn’t begin writing until late in life, after my 81-year-old mother passed away.

What is this book about?

My book is about the adventurous, fun-filled, and at times challenging, life of my late mother, Pearl. It’s about her relationship with me, her only child, and her escapades with her gay friends, with our many dogs, with her unique businesses and real estate deals.

What inspired you to write it?

After her death, it took me some time to grapple with the loss of my sidekick, confidant and best friend. Writing about the good times we had shared became a cathartic activity and seemed a great way to keep her memory alive. Her home was 100 miles from mine, so clearing it out in preparation for its sale was accomplished over an entire year. With each visit, I unearthed interesting bits of ephemera that gave me ideas for a new book: PEARL’s Party…and you’re invited.  Each item-- like a canceled 1954 check for diaper service, or the business card of a local psychic-- held a story and I didn’t want those stories to die with her. I knew that it would be not only entertaining and nostalgic, but I thought it might give others hope that even if they were divorced, or a single parent, or riddled with cancer that they, too, could squeeze enjoyment out of life.

How is it similar to other books in its genre? How is it different?

It is chronological like many biographies, but I’ve woven into the story the music that was dear to her. Music and dance were a part of her life that gave her much pleasure.  Each chapter is named for a song in the soundtrack of her life, one that related to some aspect of her being. For example, the chapter entitled “Drive My Car” is about the cars she owned, each of which was as unique as she was.

What is the most important thing readers can learn from your book?

Pearl lived life in party-mode and savored every moment. I want readers to see that no matter what curve balls come their way in life, they can embrace them and look at the brighter side. I hope they will think, gheez, if Pearl could do it, so can I! 

Where can readers purchase a copy?

At or on Amazon (paperback and Kindle)

What is up next for you?

I have a few things percolating. 

Since my dad died two years after Mother, I owe him a memoir, too.  He also had a very interesting life: he worked on the Manhattan Project, earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry, and was married three times. In his case, the third time was the charm: 54 years of marriage, till death did them part.

Another project I have partially finished is about my grandfather’s extended Caucasian family who lived in the Orient in the mid- to late-nineteenth century. This will also be non-fiction and chockfull of stories of their wanderings from the Ukraine to India to Japan and China, seeking a better life.  I plan to do a children’s picture book with a study guide on the same topic, using family photos that date back more than a hundred years.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Frank Sinatra’s quote beautifully sums up Pearl’s life:
"You only live once, and the way I live, once is enough."