Favorite Quotes on Books and Reading

"A book is a gift you can open again and again." Garrison Keillor

Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood.” Jane Yolen

"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." Oscar Wilde

"Books have furnished, burnished, and enabled my life." Julia Keller

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Book Spotlight: GORE IN THE GARDEN by Colleen J. Shogan


Gore in the Garden

(A Washington Whodunit)
by Colleen Shogan


About the Book



Cozy Mystery
5th in Series
Camel Press (July 16, 2019)
Paperback: 224 pages
ISBN-10: 1603817239
ISBN-13: 978-1603817233
ASIN: B07S4F8XZZ


Purchase Links
Amazon Paperback     Kindle   B&N         Kobo      Smashwords



After her boss narrowly escaped political defeat, Kit Marshall is settling into life as a busy congressional staffer. While attending an evening reception at the United States Botanic Garden, Kit's best friend stumbles upon the body of a high-ranking government official. The chairwoman of a congressional committee asks Kit to investigate, and she finds herself once again in the thick of a murder investigation. The complications keep coming with the unexpected arrival of Kit's younger brother Sebastian, a hippie protestor who seems more concerned about corporate greed than the professional problems he causes for his sister. To make matters even worse, the romantic lives of Kit's closest friends are driving her crazy, diverting her attention from the mystery she's been tasked to solve. The search for the killer requires her to tussle with an investigative journalist right out of a noir novel, a congresswoman fixated on getting a statue of James Madison installed on the Capitol grounds and a bossy botanist who would do anything to protect the plants he loves. When the murderer sends a threatening message to Kit via a highly unusual delivery mechanism, Kit knows she must find the killer or risk the lives of her friends and loved ones.


About the Author





Colleen J. Shogan has been reading mysteries since the age of six. She conceived of the plot of her first mystery, "Stabbing in the Senate," one morning while taking a walk in her suburban Washington, D.C. neighborhood. A political scientist by training, Colleen has taught American politics at Yale, George Mason University, Georgetown, and Penn. She previously worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative staffer in the United States Senate and as the Deputy Director of the Congressional Research Service. She is currently a senior executive at the Library of Congress who works on great initiatives such as the National Book Festival. Colleen lives in Arlington, Virginia with her husband Rob and their beagle mutt Conan. Colleen's first book won the Next Generation Indie Prize for Best Mystery. Her books have been RONE and Killer Nashville finalists in the mystery category.

Author Links
Webpage – www.colleenshogan.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/washingtonwhodunit
Twitter –  www.twitter.com/cshogan276
GoodReads –  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1269678.Colleen_J_Shogan


Giveaway

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS

July 16 – I'm All About Books – SPOTLIGHT
July 16 – Elizabeth McKenna - Author – SPOTLIGHT
July 17 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT
July 18 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – GUEST POST
July 18 – The Book Diva's Reads – SPOTLIGHT
July 19 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
July 20 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
July 21 – Carla Loves To Read – REVIEW
July 21 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
July 22 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
July 23 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
July 24 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT
July 24 – My Reading Journeys - REVIEW
July 25 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
July 26 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT
July 27 – Here's How It Happened – REVIEW
July 28 – Cozy Up With Kathy – GUEST POST
July 29 – The Book Decoder  REVIEW


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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Book Spotlight: Oceanic Dreams Series - Part 1




Good day, my bookish peeps. It's summer and for many of us, our dreams turn to days lounging beachside or perhaps on an ocean liner. Well, today you get to hop aboard the Oceanic Aphrodite and cruise with the Oceanic Dreams series in eight novellas. The Oceanic Dreams series is a multi-author series and each book can be read on its own. Each book will focus on an individual couple and these eight unsuspecting couples just might find true love on the high seas. 


I Saw Him Standing There by Holly Kerr 
Time of My Life by Laura Heffernan 
Circle in the Sand by Tracy Krimmer 
I Thought it Was You by Kirsty McManus 
I Will Follow Him by Holly Tierney-Bedord 
Take a Chance on Me by Delancey Stewart 
Shut Up and Dance With Me by Monique McDonell 
The Best of You by Sophie-Leigh Robbins


Watch the trailer for the Oceanic Dreams series here.


So sit back, relax, learn about the first four books in this series, and don't forget to enter this week's giveaway. Remember to come back next week to rejoin the cruise and learn about the last four books and perhaps enter another giveaway (or two). For now, it's all aboard the Oceanic Aphrodite!




I Saw Him Standing There Oceanic Dreams #1 by Holly Kerr
ISBN: 9781989203033 (paperback)
ASIN: B07QQ2XXTN (Kindle edition)
Release Date: May 20, 2019



This stowaway sets sail for love!

Small-time con artist Siggy needs to get out of town fast. When she's offered tickets on the legendary Oceanic Aphrodite cruise, Siggy jumps at the chance. A week on a luxury cruise ship, with a suitcase full of clothes and all expenses paid? Yes, please! The only catch is that she has to pretend to be someone else.

No problem. Siggy has no intention of getting close enough anyone to discover her secrets.

But this is the Oceanic Aphrodite and love is in the air. When Siggy sees assistant cruise director Will taking tickets, Cupid's arrow hits the target. Luckily, Will's too busy smiling at her to check out her fake passport because he'll toss Siggy off the ship if he finds out about the scam.

Onboard, dolphins and cameras and runaway ferrets bring Siggy and Will together. The more time they spend together, the more Siggy wants to tell him the truth. Cupid's arrow has struck deep but is it worth it for Siggy to stop running?



Purchase Links
Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle      

Meet the author


Holly Kerr writes chick-lit with the sole purpose of showing the world there is more to the genre than pretty shoes and brooding heroes. Except for J.B. in Unexpecting. He can be kind of broody.

When she's not writing, Holly spends time with her kids, watching Star Wars and superhero movies, and training for this marathon she signed up for.

Connect with the author via her website, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, and Goodreads


Giveaway:


Enter to win one Kindle copy of I Saw Him Standing There by Holly Kerr courtesy of the author. This giveaway is open to residents of the United States and Canada only. The ebook will be provided to the winner by the author after the giveaway has ended. To enter please use the Rafflecopter form below. Void where prohibited by law. 

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Monday, July 15, 2019

Guest Post: Christin Brecher - MURDER'S NO VOTIVE CONFIDENCE


Hello, my bookish divas and divos. I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. I spent the weekend reading, of course, in preparation for two local book group meetings this week. One of the many things that I enjoy about book groups and blog tours is that I'm introduced to a lot of books, characters, and authors that I'd probably never know about. As a result, I'm constantly adding books to my ever-growing TBR list (trust me, that's a good thing). I'm especially pleased to welcome today's guest, none other than Stella Wright, the primary character in Murder's No Votive Confidence, the first book in the Nantucket Candle Maker series by Christin Brecher. Ms. Brecher sets this book in Nantucket, a place close to my heart as I lived in Massachusetts for six years. Stella will be providing us with some details about her life and background, so sit back, visit awhile with Stella, follow the rest of the blog tour, and I hope you'll be inspired to grab a copy of the book. 




Hi, Vivian. Thanks for talking with me today. I love your website and the idea of a "blog for the basic reader, by a basic reader." I definitely fall into the category of basic reader. I'm usually busy making candles and selling them at my store in town, the Wick & Flame, so when I have time to read, I want to be inspired by the story and characters.  

Recently, I was caught up in a murder investigation on Nantucket, so my summer reading has turned to mystery. Honestly, my Memorial Day weekend could have been a book in itself.  As some of you may know, I was hired to design a candle-themed wedding on the island for Jessica Sterling, where a two-foot tall, six-inch diameter unity candle was planned to be the centerpiece of the wedding ceremony. In a terrible twist, my candle was used as a murder weapon to kill Simon Sterling, the bride's uncle, rather than as the sign of peace and unity it was meant to be. Even worse, Bill Duffy, salt of the earth, was arrested. Before I knew it, I'd jumped into the case and followed the clues until I found the real killer.

The following weekend, I went to the town library, the Athenaeum, for some advice on mystery books. I watch detective shows when I'm tidying up at home, or have a free night, but I realized I wanted to expand my knowledge of the genre. After some discussion, I was drawn to Agatha Christie and chose one called The Hollow. I was drawn to the book because it is about a murder that takes place at a country house, with many house guests, and even a celebrity neighbor. The premise reminded me a lot of my own Memorial Day mystery. I've taken more Christie books out since. As a Nantucket native, I relate to the British backdrop of small towns, which are often somewhat isolated and whose landscapes are both breathtaking and brutal.  

Next on my list, however, is The 39 Steps by John Buchan, a mystery recommendation I received from one of my candle-making student, Cherry Waddle. Please feel free to share your favorites with me!  


Friday, July 12, 2019

Guest Post: David Marlett - AMERICAN RED


Good day, my fellow book people. Instead of focusing on contemporary fiction, today our sights are turning to history, specifically historical fiction as I welcome the author of the recently released American Red, David Marlett. Mr. Marlett is an award-winning author of historical fiction and today he will be providing us with some background information on how this book came into being. So let's travel back in time with Mr. Marlett and American Red.





Ten years ago, I had heard about the first assassination by bombing in the United States (of the governor of Idaho in 1906), and I was familiar with Clarence Darrow's famous closing argument in the subsequent murder trial. But my interest in tackling this sweeping epic as a historical novel didn't begin until I read J. Anthony Lukas's non-fiction book on the subject, Big Trouble. That lead me to explore more, and with each additional trial transcript and uncovered fact, the closer I came to the story. Soon the characters began to take form, and the plot structure began to reveal itself. But, as it is a big story across a large part of the United States, a significant obstacle was narrowing the story to its key events and characters, finding the arcs, etc., and of course, deciding what I wanted the novel to say.

Even with that narrowing, and the merging (in a couple of instances) of historical characters into single invented ones, etc., American Red still plays host to an ensemble cast—each with unique traits, strengths, quirks, weaknesses. I was once asked whom among them I most enjoyed writing—to which I responded that it was the old Pinkerton, Chief Detective James McParland. He was one of American Red's many actual characters from history—a true-to-life man, bold and brazen—wildly famous at the time for his daring detective work. We find him squinting at the dimming light of his life and career, while rooted in the century that had passed. So, he does what he knows—he takes action—one big gamble, one last major action, convincing himself that the flagrant illegalities he undertakes are balanced by the justice he is trying to bring. I love his single-minded focus in the face of such obvious conflicts of loyalty and duty. That moral struggle and wrestling with mortality is so universal that McParland rises to almost iconic stature.

American Red is unique among historical novels, even those set in American history. Rather than addressing oft-trod paths and characters, American Red ventures into a societal wilderness, a lesser-explored time in American history that seems shockingly familiar, even over a hundred years later. I am hard-pressed to find a comparable book of that time and geographic area. Most historical crime stories of that era focus on mob developments on the east coast, of the first-generation immigrant experience. But American Red tackles the men and women of what was, by then, the end of the Wild West. The march of technological advancement had arrived, and their isolationist world was collapsing, with new international ideas flooding in, seeping out into the far west. To me, this is far more reflective of who/what America would become—as the nation unknowingly raced toward the World Wars and the Depression. Further, American Red provides a glancing, raw image of the unique role of faith of the era, and a candid look at the relationships between men and women. American Red is a tapestry of humanity (not just Americans), both in honor and in horror, both in victory and defeat—and therein do can we see ourselves. 


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

2019 Book 203: WAITING FOR TOM HANKS by Kerry Winfrey

Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey 
ISBN: 9781984804020 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781984804037 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781984890467 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07HLP2MN3 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: June 11, 2019 
Publisher: Berkley


A rom-com-obsessed romantic waiting for her perfect leading man learns that life doesn't always go according to a script in this delightfully charming and funny novel.

Annie Cassidy dreams of being the next Nora Ephron. She spends her days writing screenplays, rewatching Sleepless in Seattle, and waiting for her movie-perfect meet-cute. If she could just find her own Tom Hanks—a man who's sweet, sensitive, and possibly owns a houseboat—her problems would disappear and her life would be perfect. But Tom Hanks is nowhere in sight.

When a movie starts filming in her neighborhood and Annie gets a job on set, it seems like a sign. Then Annie meets the lead actor, Drew Danforth, a cocky prankster who couldn’t be less like Tom Hanks if he tried. Their meet-cute is more of a meet-fail, but soon Annie finds herself sharing some classic rom-com moments with Drew. Her Tom Hanks can't be an actor who's leaving town in a matter of days…can he?




Purchase Links:  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Audible  |  Audiobooks  |  AudiobooksNow  |  Barnes and Noble  |  B&N Nook  |  BookDepository  |  Books-A-Million  |  Downpour Audiobook  |  eBooks  |  Kobo eBook  |  Kobo Audiobook


To say that Annie Cassidy is obsessed with romantic-comedy films is somewhat of an understatement. She majored in film in college and has studied all things romantic-comedy. She has a picture of Nora Ephron in her bedroom beside a picture of her parents. Her ideal man is the actor Tom Hanks, well Tom Hanks as the characters he portrayed in romantic-comedies from the 1990s. This is partially due to the fact that some of Annie's best memories are linked to watching romantic-comedies with her mother as well as the fact that her mother constantly told her that she and her father had the kind of forever love portrayed in films. Sadly, Annie's father died before she was born and then her mother died while she was in high school. Now it seems that Annie is stuck living vicariously through film. Her best friend Chloe is determined to find her real man, but no one can live up to Annie's idealized and fictionalized Tom Hanks. 

Annie is a late twenty-something still living in her parental home in Columbus, Ohio with her mother's brother, Don. She works writing articles for the internet and dreams of finishing her own romantic-comedy loosely based on her BFF's sort of, kind of, almost, love life. Her uncle works part-time at a gaming store and plays Dungeons and Dragons with his friends and attends gaming and other cons. Annie's friend Chloe works part-time in the neighborhood coffee shop, attends college full-time, and lives in the garage apartment at Annie's house. When a Hollywood film comes to town, it is thanks to Chloe and Uncle Don that Annie gets hired as the assistant to the director. After a disastrous run-in with the film's male star, Drew Danforth, Annie is sure that her time on this film is going to be the worst experience of her life. Although Annie and Drew have plenty of misunderstandings, there do seem to be sparks. They only get to spend two weeks together but their non-relationship relationship may just be the real deal until the "great catastrophe" occurs. Is it possible for Annie to rectify the situation and apologize to Drew before it's too late or has she lost her real life "Tom Hanks" forever?

The only thing better than a straight romance or a romantic-suspense read for the summer might be a romantic-comedy. I read Waiting for Tom Hanks in just a few hours over the course of a night and late afternoon (darn you migraine headaches) and thoroughly enjoyed it. One of the reasons for my enjoyment was the mention of one of my favorite indie bookstores (hey, Joseph-Beth Cincinnati), along with all of the great romantic-comedy films that I've watched and loved over the years. I especially enjoyed the interaction between Annie and her friends in the coffee shop: Chloe, Nick, Tobin, and Gary. And the date with Barry was hilarious (trust me when you read the book you'll more than understand). I enjoyed the push-pull relationship between Annie and Drew and their constant struggle to understand one another. Waiting for Tom Hanks is a bit more than a romantic-comedy in my opinion, it's also a little bit of a coming-of-age story, a story about self-awareness and self-realization, a story about family secrets, and yes, romance. For my romance readers, if you're looking for a fun romance read then you'll definitely want to grab a copy of Waiting for Tom Hanks. For those of you looking for a light-hearted read for your vacation or staycation, then I recommend you grab a copy of Waiting for Tom Hanks to read. Seriously, Waiting for Tom Hanks is the type of story that has a little bit of something for everyone (did I mention Wookies?). Happy Reading! 📖


Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Monday, July 8, 2019

2019 Book 201: UNDER CURRENTS by Nora Roberts

Under Currents by Nora Roberts 
ISBN: 9781250207098 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250213273 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781250219336 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07JBQTL3W (Kindle edition)
Publication date: July 9, 2019 
Publisher: St. Martin's Press


For both Zane and Darby, their small town roots hold a terrible secret. Now, decades later, they've come together to build a new life. But will the past set them free or pull them under?

Zane Bigelow grew up in a beautiful, perfectly kept house in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains. Strangers―and even Zane's own aunt across the lake―see his parents as a successful surgeon and his stylish wife, making appearances at their children's ballet recitals and baseball games. Only Zane and his sister know the truth, until one brutal night finally reveals cracks in the facade, and Zane escapes for college without a thought of looking back...

Years later, Zane returns to his hometown determined to reconnect with the place and people that mean so much to him, despite the painful memories. As he resumes life in the colorful town, he meets a gifted landscape artist named Darby, who is on the run from ghosts of her own. 

Together they will have to teach each other what it means to face the past, and stand up for the ones they love.




Purchase Links:  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Audible  |  Barnes and Noble  |  B&N Nook  |  BookDepository  |  Books-A-Million  |  Downpour Audiobook  |  eBooks  |  Kobo eBook  |  Kobo Audiobook


Zane and Britt Bigelow seemed to have an idyllic childhood with the perfect home and parents, but appearances are often deceiving. Their parents, the esteemed Dr. Graham Bigelow and Mrs. Eliza Bigelow, had what can only be perceived as a toxic relationship. Superficially they were perfect and doting parents, but Dr. Bigelow often belittled and demeaned his children in public and private as well as physically abused them along with his wife. He never hit them anywhere where it might show, until one particularly bad beating that ends up with Zane suffering multiple broken bones and being arrested and charged with beating up his sister and assaulting his mother. Fortunately for both Zane and Britt, Britt escapes the hospital, contacts her aunt, gets law enforcement outside of the city of Lakeview involved and Zane is not only exonerated but his parents are arrested for assault, child abuse, and a host of other charges. Zane and Britt are adopted by their loving aunt, change their last name from Bigelow to Walker and move on from their sordid childhood with their father imprisoned for the next 18 years.

Fast forward 18 years, Darby McCray is a divorcee who has recently lost her mother. Without any familial ties to hold her down, she sells her landscaping business and home, and decides to relocate down South. She ends up in Lakeview, North Carolina, immediately feels at home in this small town, establishes her business credentials by landscaping one of the vacation cottages owned by Emily Walker Keller (Zane and Britt's adoptive aunt/mother) and makes this town her new home. Darby is new to Lakeview, but Zane is newly returned to his hometown and the two meet and sparks fly. Zane is a retired prosecutor and new small-town lawyer and Darby is his first client. Turn about seems fair play, so Darby takes on Zane as a client and provides him with plants and landscaping ideas for his new office. Before he knows what hits him, she's talked him into buying the house he's been thinking about and even has him agreeing to all of her landscaping ideas. Just when it seems as if things are smooth sailing for this newly minted relationship, Darby is attacked, then Zane's house and law offices are targets of vandalism. Even though they know why they were the targets of both of these incidents, it seems as if there might be another party out there targeting them and neither of them knows why? Can they identify the culprit before someone else is injured or worse?

For those of you that don't know much about me and my reading habits, let me confess now that I Love reading Nora Roberts and J.D. Robb books. How much do I love reading these books? Well, I generally reread the entire "In Death" series at least once every other year and I'll re-re-read numerous Nora Roberts titles every other year (there are so many, so I try to rotate them). Having said all of that, I was ecstatic when I learned that I was going to be able to read Under Currents by Nora Roberts, thank you St. Martin's Press and Edelweiss+. I sat and read this book in one afternoon yesterday even with an increasingly painful migraine headache looking to spoil the afternoon (hey, that's what pain medication is for and I could still see and if I could still see I could still read!). I enjoyed reading about Zane and Britt's childhood and the background was needed to provided context on their monster parents. And yes, their parents were indeed monsters. I loved Darby and her energy, think the Energizer Bunny without the drum but with plants and charisma galore. There are plenty of characters to love in this story, including Zane, Britt, Emily, Lee (Emily's husband and former Asheville police detective), Roy (Darby's first landscaping hire), and General Zod (Darby's dog). And yes, there are bad guys, Dr. Graham Bigelow, Eliza Bigelow, and more. This story weaves in child abuse, spousal abuse, mental abuse, and much more along with the uplifting stories of love, acceptance, helping your neighbor, and standing up for what's right no matter what. I enjoyed the characters, the action, and the romance. Although there's a certain amount of formula to romance and romantic-suspense novels, as a reader you're never quite sure what twists and turns the writer is going to take to get you to that HEA ending. Nora Roberts is a maestro at romantic suspense, in my opinion at least, and I found Under Currents to be topical, well-crafted, and a pleasure to read. (Can you tell I enjoyed this book?) If you don't already have Under Currents on your TBR list and you're a romance or romantic-suspense reader, I strongly encourage you to do so ASAP! If you're not a romance or romantic-suspense reader, then here's your opportunity to begin. I look forward to reading and re-reading more Nora Roberts in the future. 


Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Guest Post: JT Hunter - A MONSTER OF ALL TIME



Hello, book people. If you follow me on social media, you've probably noticed that I read from a variety of different genres, and enjoy fiction and nonfiction. My first foray into true crime was in the mid-1970s as a teenager when I read Helter Skelter. There's something about reading about the monsters in our society after they've been caught that is intriguing. Perhaps it's because we want to know with hopes we won't be faced with another monster like that one ever again. It is because of my fascination with true crime that I'm incredibly pleased to welcome today's guest, J.T. Hunter, author of A Monster of All Time and more. Mr. Hunter will be discussing this fascination with true crime. I hope you'll enjoy his words of wisdom, follow along with the blog tour, and purchase the book to read. Without further adieu, I give you Mr. J.T. Hunter.



Why True Crime?

Not everyone loves true crime like we do.  Some people don't understand why we enjoy immersing ourselves in a world dedicated to the darker side of human behavior. Is there something wrong with wanting to read about crimes of passion and serial killings? Are those of us who self-identify as true crime junkies lacking the proper moral compass that would guide us away from these depraved interests? Are we some sinister minority that deserves a good whack on the knuckles for even thinking about such things?  

I think not.  

The current wave of commercially and critically successful true crime books, TV series, and movies is testament to the broad appeal and powerful allure of such stories. Why are they so popular? Here's what I believe are two of the primary reasons.

Human Beings are Fascinating Creatures.

As the soon-to-become-monstrous Creature ponders in Frankenstein, how is that human beings are "at once so powerful, so virtuous, and magnificent, yet so vicious and base"? This inherent duality of humanity never ceases to shock or amaze us.  Each of us – every single person on the planet – houses an inner Dr. Jekyll in a perpetual struggle with our personal Mr. Hyde.  

It is this innate duality that draws us to true crime tales. It is what makes serial killers, rapists, child molesters, and even white-collar criminals who conceal their secret selves behind seemingly benevolent masks such compelling subjects.  

My first true crime book, The Vampire Next Door: The True Story of the Vampire Rapist, chronicles the story of John Crutchley, dubbed the "Vampire Rapist" by the media due to his propensity for drinking the blood of his victims. What drew me to Crutchley's story, and what still fascinates me even today, was how he balanced two sides of his life. His Hyde side entailed abducting women, tying them up, and repeatedly raping them. Throughout their confinement, he drained their blood through surgical tubes. He then killed them by strangulation. All this, yet his Jekyll side presented a family man with a wife and young son holding a white-collar job with top-secret security clearance at the Pentagon while working as a computer programmer on weapons communications systems for the U.S. Navy.  

Israel Keyes, the new breed of serial killer whose story is detailed in my book, Devil in the Darkness, similarly hid his dark side behind the mask of a doting father and hard-working business owner. Indeed, after he was finally caught, Keyes gloated to investigators about how he had been able to fool everyone he knew for over a decade. This was a guy who used the entire country as his hunting grounds, burying "kill-kits" containing the tools and the weapons to commit his crimes in multiple states years before returning to use them.

True crime writing giant Ann Rule points to this duality as a determining factor for the crimes she chose to write about. The stories that stood out to her centered on the "psychopathology of the criminal mind," with criminal subjects who wore a "perfect mask" to disguise their inner evil. Exploring the psychology of monsters in disguise, trying to understand how their inner Hyde outbalanced or destroyed its Jekyll counterpart, cultivates a fertile field of fascinating stories.     

No One Wants to be a Victim.

Another reason for reading true crime is the desire to avoid becoming the victim of a horrific crime in the future. Part of this involves learning about serial killers and psychopaths in the hope that doing so will arm the reader with the knowledge of their methods and the wherewithal to avoid falling victim to them. Similarly, learning about the background of violent offenders might reveal clues as to how they became murderers and rapists. To quote Rule again, "we are all tremendously curious about what makes some babies grow up to be savage criminals and others law-abiding citizens."  

When you consider that women make up 75% of true crime podcast listeners, and a similar majority of the readers of true crime books, this reason makes perfect sense. Women fear crime more than men because they are more likely than men to be victims of crime, so it follows that a motivating factor for reading true crime is the desire to acquire survival skills that could be literally life-saving.  

In A Monster of All Time: The True Story of Danny Rolling, the Gainesville Ripper, I include the story of a woman who survived a sexual assault by Rolling (just days before he murdered several other women) by drawing on the lessons she learned while watching her favorite true crime TV show.  Rolling had every intention of killing her that night, but her quick thinking and knowledge of how best to handle the situation saved her. Likewise, as narrated in my book, Deadly Deception, the only young woman to survive an abduction by serial killer Bobby Joe Long did so by learning beforehand about what to do, and just as importantly, what not to do in such a situation. 

Learning what type of person is more likely to be a rapist or murderer, and knowing how such crimes happen, provides a sense of comfort that one may have the ability to avoid crossing paths with a criminal, or to at least survive such an encounter if it were to occur. 

I'll add a third reason, which applies as much to why I write true crime as it does to why I think a good number of readers are drawn to it. And that reason is the hope of helping out with unsolved cases, whether it be to help identify the perpetrator in a cold case or to otherwise help bring some closure to the victims' families. This reason is a particular motivating force for my current project writing about a decades-old cold case involving the abduction and murder of a twelve-year-old girl who never made it home from her bus stop after school one sunny afternoon. 

True crime is a genre that, at its best, rewards its reader with tales of fascinating characters, astounding plots, and universal themes. By sharing stories about monsters, true crime offers us some insight into what it means to be human. By giving us a glimpse into the human heart, it reveals truth that is indeed stranger than any fiction. 




Author Bio:


J.T. Hunter
J.T. Hunter is an attorney with over fourteen years of experience practicing law, including criminal law and appeals, and he has significant training in criminal investigation techniques. He is also a college professor in Florida where his teaching interests focus on the intersection of criminal psychology, law, and literature.



JT's bestselling true crime books include:

Devil in The Darkness: True Story of Serial Killer ISRAEL KEYES
The Country Boy Killer: The True Story of Serial Killer Cody Legebokoff
In Colder Blood: True Story of the Walker Family Murder as depicted in Truman Capote's, In Cold Blood
Deadly Deception: True Story of Tampa Serial Killer, Bobby Joe Long
Death Row Romeo: The True Story of Serial Killer Oscar Ray Bolin
The Vampire Next Door: True Story of the Vampire Rapist and Serial Killer

Catch Up With J.T. Hunter On:


jthunter.org, Goodreads, BookBub, & Facebook!


Monday, July 1, 2019

Character Guest Post: Cheryl Hollon - DOWN IN FLAMES



Good day, my bookish divas and divos. It's always exciting when book people stop by for a visit, YAY! Today's guest is taking a few minutes and stepping off of the pages of the latest addition to the Webb's Glass Shop Mystery series, Down in Flames by Cheryl Hollon, please welcome Savannah Webb. Savannah will be giving us a little background information in what she does, so sit back and prepare to learn a bit about the wonderful world of glass art.



Hi there, I'm Savannah Webb, owner of Webb's Glass Shop on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg, Florida.

I'm so excited about my new flame-working class. It begins on Monday. I'll be teaching six students including my most enthusiastic, troublesome, and absolutely adorable students, the Rosenberg twins, Rachel and Faith. I know they're at least over eighty but you would never know that by witnessing their shenanigans.

Flame-working adds another glass art to my teaching curriculum. There are so many glass shops and museums in downtown St. Petersburg that it's becoming known as the 'Glass Coast' of Florida. 

Getting prepared for this class has been quite a challenge. I took over the storefront bay right next door and remodeled it to accommodate the student workstations. That's a financial risk, but owning the building gives me some flexibility. If it doesn't work out, I'll put the space up for occupancy again. I'm hoping the increased revenue from this class covers my costs.

Each student needs a torch, gas hook-ups, a good work surface, a sturdy work stool, and plenty of elbow room. After all, molten glass will be involved. In addition, I have installed exhaust venting for each station. The construction workers had to cut small holes into the back wall of the new teaching space.

I'm a lot more nervous about this class than anything I've ever taught. As a result, I haven't been sleeping very well at all. You can ask my fiancé Edward about that. Since I get so restless, I also disturb his kitten, Snowy as well as my lovely Weimaraner puppy, Rooney. They're all at the end of their patience with me. I'm glad this class starts in just a few days.

There are so many things that could go horribly wrong. Wish me a little good luck.





Down in Flames

(A Webb's Glass Shop Mystery)
by Cheryl Hollon

About the Book




Cozy Mystery
6th in Series
Kensington (June 25, 2019)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-10: 1496711793
ISBN-13: 978-1496711793
Digital ASIN: B07HVY1GRJ



A fatal hit-and-run in front of Savannah Webb's glass shop proves to be no accident . . .
A highlight of Savannah's new glass bead workshop is a technique called flame-working, which requires the careful wielding of acetylene torches. Understandably, safety is a top priority. But as Savannah is ensuring her students' safety inside, a hit-and-run driver strikes down a pedestrian outside her shop.
The victim is Nicole Borawski, the bartender/manager at the Queen's Head Pub, owned by Savannah's boyfriend Edward. It quickly becomes clear that this was no random act of vehicular manslaughter. Now the glass shop owner is all fired up to get a bead on the driver—before someone else meets a dead end.

Purchase Links:
Amazon | B&N | Kobo


About the Author


CHERYL HOLLEN



Cheryl Hollon now writes full-time after she left an engineering career of designing and building military flight simulators in amazing countries such as England, Wales, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan, and India. Fulfilling the dream of a lifetime, she combines her love of writing with a passion for creating glass art. In the small glass studio behind her house in St. Petersburg, Florida, Cheryl and her husband design, create, and produce fused glass, stained glass, and painted glass artworks. 

Visit her online at http://cherylhollon.com, on Facebook or on Twitter @CherylHollon.


Giveaway

Enter to win 1 of 3 print copies of Down in Flames, A Webb's Glass Shop Mystery, by Cheryl Hollon. This giveaway open to US residents only. Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Giveaway sponsored by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. Void where prohibited by law.

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Friday, June 28, 2019

2019 Book 156: THE WEDDING PARTY by Jasmine Guillory

The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory 
ISBN: 9781984802194 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781984802200 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781984890528 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07JL42SQ6 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: July 16, 2019 
Publisher: Berkley Books



As seen on The Today Show
The new exhilarating romance from The New York Times bestselling author of The Proposal, a Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick! Maddie and Theo have two things in common:
1. Alexa is their best friend2. They hate each other
After an "oops, we made a mistake" night together, neither one can stop thinking about the other. With Alexa's wedding rapidly approaching, Maddie and Theo both share bridal party responsibilities that require more interaction with each other than they're comfortable with. Underneath the sharp barbs they toss at each other is a simmering attraction that won't fade. It builds until they find themselves sneaking off together to release some tension when Alexa isn't looking, agreeing they would end it once the wedding is over. When it's suddenly pushed up and they only have a few months left of secret rendezvouses, they find themselves regretting that the end is near. Two people this different can't possibly have a connection other than the purely physical, right?
But as with any engagement with a nemesis, there are unspoken rules that must be abided by. First and foremost, don't fall in love.





Purchase Links:  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Audible  |  Barnes and Noble  |  B&N Nook  |  BookDepository  |  Books-A-Million  |  Downpour Audiobook  |  eBooks  |  Kobo eBook  |  Kobo Audiobook




The only thing that Maddie Foster and Theo Foster seem to have in common is their friendship with Alexa Monroe. Maddie thinks that Theo is somewhat of a prude given to mansplaining and touting his Harvard degree. Theo seems to think that Maddie's job as a fashion stylist is a waste of time and bordering on the idiotic. To say that these two rub each other the wrong way is a major understatement, but all of that seems to change on the night of Theo's birthday party. Maddie agrees to accompany Alexa and actually has a good time. Halfway through the evening, Alexa runs into Drew (read The Wedding Date to find out more about these two) and the romance that was on-the-rocks seems to be back on steady ground and Alexa leaves with Drew, leaving Maddie alone at the party. Maddie's attempt to exit the party solo goes nowhere as she's walked to her car by none other than the birthday boy. This walk turns into her giving Theo a ride home, a taunt about dancing, and before you know it, Maddie and Theo are tearing up the sheets. The next morning, Maddie and Theo agree that this was an aberration and will never happen again, but it does repeatedly. Before you know, Maddie and Theo are routinely texting. Maddie is cheering Theo on behind-the-scenes with his work projects and Theo is doing the same for Maddie. When Theo is injured by a protester during a campaign speech, it is Maddie that shows up at the hospital, stays all night, and accompanies Theo home ensuring he is well cared for and safe. Just when it seems like things are going great for the two of them, something happens and their relationship is over. This wouldn't be a problem except Alexa is getting married in a few weeks and Alexa is her bridesmaid and Theo is her bridesman. Can you say awkward?! Will they be able to mend fences and admit they love one another without destroying their friend's wedding?

I initially read The Wedding Party a few weeks ago when I was traveling to Florida for my great-niece's high school graduation. Most of you know that I read about a book a day, so I felt it only proper to re-read The Wedding Party before writing this review. Okay, I didn't really have to re-read the book since I had made pretty good notes, I just wanted the excuse to re-read it. I enjoy a good romance as much as I enjoy a good mystery or suspense read, and Ms. Guillory provides witty, sexy, romances to read with highly relatable characters. These characters are super-rich, but they are smart, well-educated, well-spoken, and hard-working. Maddie is a fashion stylist trying to grow her business and is addicted to reality television shows like The Great British Bake Off, Say Yes to the Dress, and more. Although Theo does initially come across as a prudish, mansplaining elitist, he isn't any of those. He is exacting and somewhat of a perfectionist. Yes, he did go to Harvard, but he doesn't look down on anyone that didn't go to an Ivy-league college or college at all. Theo holds himself to higher standards than he'll hold anyone else to and as the public relations person for the mayor of Berkley, he always feels that he must be better than anyone else and never make mistakes. Part of that is due to his insecurity issues and part of that is due to the double-standards held for people of color in many industries (yes, it is a real thing). I enjoyed the push/pull relationship between Maddie and Theo, as well as getting to know a different side to Alexa. Yes, there's a happy ending, this is a romance! If you've read The Wedding Date or The Proposal then I strongly encourage you to grab a copy of The Wedding Party as soon as possible. If you haven't read The Wedding Date or The Proposal and you're a romance reader (I don't know why you haven't read either since I encouraged you to read both of them, but you still have time), then go grab copies of those two books along with a copy of The Wedding Party. Take a long weekend or your vacation/staycation and read all three, you can thank me later. Trust me, you'll be thanking me later. I'll probably be re-reading all three while I wait for the next book from Ms. Guillory, Royal Holiday, scheduled for release later this year. Happy Reading my fellow romance readers!



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