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Girls of Mischief Bay: Excerpt and Giveaway

[ 28 ] January 27, 2015

girls of mischief bay bannerPlease join Susan Mallery, author of The Girls of Mischief Bay, as she tours the blogosphere with TLC Book Tours!

I’m very excited to share an excerpt from Susan’s new book with a review to follow in March. I also have a very special California Dreamin’ Prize Package to give away (open to US and Canada residents) – be sure to visit other stops on the tour for more opportunities to win!

girls of mischief bay book coverExclusive excerpt from The Girls of Mischief Bay

“Come on,” Pam teased. “You know you want to.”

“Want to what?” Shannon Rigg asked as she walked into the studio. “I’ve had a horrible morning dealing with a misogynistic idiot from the bank who insisted on continually asking to speak to my supervisor. When I explained I was the CFO of the company, I think he had a seizure.” She paused, her blue eyes dancing with amusement. “I offered to send him a scanned copy of my business card, but he declined. Then I told him that if he didn’t get his act together, I would be moving the company’s four-hundred-million-dollar account to another bank.” She paused for dramatic effect. “I think I made him cry.”

Pam held out her arm, hand raised, for a high five. “You both constantly impress me. Nicole juggles her husband, her five-year-old son and her growing business. You’re busy frightening men who really should know better. I, on the other hand, will pick out my dog’s wardrobe for tomorrow and make biscuits from scratch. It’s sad.”

“I don’t even know what you put in the bowl to make a biscuit,” Shannon admitted as she gave her friend a high five, then turned to Nicole. “Do you?”

“Flour, water, something else.”

Shannon laughed. “Yeah, that’s where I would get lost, too. It’s the something else that always gets you.”

Nicole thought about how Pam had described her. Juggling sounded so perky and positive. Unfortunately most days she found herself cleaning up what had fallen and shattered rather than keeping her plates spinning in the air.

Okay, that was a confused and slightly depressing analogy. She really needed to think more positively. And maybe learn how to make biscuits.

Shannon had on a tailored sleeveless dress and three-inch pumps. Her legs were bare and tanned, her hair a glorious tumbling mass of auburn waves that fell past her shoulders. She wore expensive watches and elegant jewelry. She drove a BMW convertible. If Nicole could pick, she would want Pam for her mother and to be Shannon when she grew up. Only at thirty, Nicole had a feeling she was about as grown-up as she was going to get.

“Wait,” Pam said as Shannon headed for the small dressing room next to the restroom. “I thought we’d go to lunch instead of working out.”

Shannon already had her exercise clothes out of her gym bag. She turned back to Pam. “Not exercise?”

“Sure. We’re the only two today. It’s Friday, my friend. Live a little. Have a glass of wine, mock your uninformed banking friend and unwind.”

Shannon looked at Nicole and raised her eyebrows. “I’m in,” she said. “What about you?”

Nicole thought about her to-do list and the fact that she was behind on the laundry and had a stack of bills to pay and a husband who had walked away from a successful career in computer software to write a screenplay. She thought of the spinning and falling plates and how she spent her life exhausted.

She pulled the tie from her blond ponytail, shook her hair loose, grabbed her keys and her handbag and stood. “Let’s go.”


McGrath’s Pub had been around nearly as long as the Mischief Bay pier and boardwalk. Shannon remembered coming here when she’d been a teenager. The drive in from Riverside had taken about an hour, if there wasn’t any traffic. She and her girlfriends had spent the whole time talking and laughing, imagining the cute boys they were going to meet. Boys who lived by the ocean and surfed and had sun-bleached hair. Boys not like those they knew in high school.

Because back then all it took to get her heart beating faster had been sun-bleached hair and a retro convertible. She liked to think that in the past twenty-plus years she’d matured.

As she followed her friends into the pub, her gaze strayed to the sand and the ocean beyond. It was midday and low tide. No surfers out there now. As it was also a weekday in February, there weren’t any people playing volleyball. Despite the fact that it was probably seventy degrees.

McGrath’s was a three-story building with outdoor dining on the main level. Inside there was a big, open bar. Pam led the way directly to the stairs. They bypassed the second-floor dining room and went up to the top-floor eating area.

“By the window?” Pam asked, already heading in that direction.

The big windows offered a view of the Pacific. Today they were partially open, allowing in some fresh air. When temperatures dropped to anything below sixty-five they could be closed and in the summer, they were removed completely.

Shannon sat across from Nicole. Pam settled next to Nicole and put her tote on the floor next to her chair. The perfectly trained Lulu would stay hidden until they left.

The first time the three of them had played hooky and gone to lunch, Shannon had spent the entire time freaking out about Lulu. Now she saw the strange creature as the mascot for their friendship—odd, unexpected and over time, very comforting.

She turned her attention from thoughts of a Chinese crested to the restaurant location. The view should have captured their attention and left them speechless. Taupe-colored sand led the way to midnight blue water. A couple of sailboats leaned in to capture the light breeze, and in the distance container ships chugged toward the horizon and the exotic ports beyond.

But this was L.A. and amazing views existed around every turn. Whether it was a star sighting at a Whole Foods or the lapping waters of the Pacific. Instead of talking about the beauty of the moment, Pam passed out menus.

Text Copyright © 2015 by Susan Macias Redmond
Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.

california dream prize package

Enter to win the fabulous California Dreamin’ Prize Package! 

Package includes:

A Pacific blue beach towel | Pure Paradise body cream | Luxury moisturizing bath bar from the San Francisco soap company | An autographed copy of Evening Stars by Susan Mallery (the first book with a character from Mischief Bay) | Flip-flop tea candle holder | Map of Mischief Bay | The Girls of Mischief Bay Post-It book |  The Girls of Mischief Bay bookmark | Handy bath mini-tote | Susan Mallery lip gloss | Susan Mallery 3D luggage tag | Susan Mallery pen

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Review: Sleeping Dog by Dick Lochte

[ 1 ] January 26, 2015

sleeping dog book coverReviewed by Jessa Larsen

Sleeping Dog is comedic thriller that puts us in the hands of Leo Bloodworth, a hard-drinking, private investigator with no time for the shenanigans of anybody who is 1% short of absolute serious business. Unfortunately for him, his definition of serious business and that of Serendipity Dahlquist, don’t exactly match up. Serendipity is a strong-willed 14-year-old who lost her dog and is wasting no time getting down to the business of finding exactly who dog-napped him. And unfortunately for the pair, the seemingly shallow case quickly tosses the pair into the underbelly of crime in Los Angeles including dog fighting and Mexican crime families. It’s up to Leo to get to the bottom of it without putting a teenage girl in harm’s way.

From what I understand, Sleeping Dog was first published in the 1980s and re-published in September 2014 as an attempt to freshen the content for the new century in order to appeal to new readers. I didn’t read the original, but the changes that were made here and there definitely added to the charm without being obvious or obnoxious.

The book is written in a back and forth point of view style and it is done really well. It’s a trick to tell the story seamlessly, repeating certain aspects just the right amount without making the reader feel like they’re being beaten with repetition. I don’t often enjoy this style, but Dick Lochte does it well.

As for the characters, I loved the oddball combination of a 14-year-old girl with an old soul and the 50-something year old detective who should probably be retiring, but like a dog with a bone, won’t stop til; he’s gotten all the meat and then some. It was definitely not a duo I expected to work so well together, but by the end, I was in love.

Sleeping Dog is a series that includes Laughing Dog and, later, Rappin’ Dog. I have not had the chance to follow Leo and Serendipity onto their next case, but you can be sure I’ll have it on my wish list.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Jessa lives in Utah with her husband, two kids, two small chihuahuas, and a cat called Number One Boots Kitten. She balances her work as a website admin with her hobbies of watching anime and playing video games.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Meryl L. Moss Media Relations. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: No Strings by Marc SaFranko

[ 1 ] January 26, 2015

no strings book coverReviewed by Rebecca Donatelli

One of the best parts of reading a book is going through the first few pages and immediately knowing if you are going to catch on, sink in and enjoy the ride. SaFranko’s writing style, his humor and sarcasm, comes to life throughout No Strings and even though I did not want to like Richard Martzen’s character, I inadvertently did.

Richard, a typical man who thinks he can go under the radar undetected, hatches a fool-proof love affair with Gretchen. Richard is bored and boring, lonely and has nothing better to do with his time other than create a new life outside of the one he has a responsibility to. He appears to have it all and when they say that “money can’t buy happiness,” Richard lives up to that. The problem with Richard’s plan is that Gretchen goes missing and a mess ensues, turning things deadly.

The book was a quick read for me, suspenseful and somewhat humorous. Richard is unlikeable but SaFranko’s writing style is quite the opposite. This is a classic story of not being able to have your cake and eat it too and who hasn’t wanted both before in life? I read that SaFranco had initially written this as a short story and eventually pursued it further to make it into a novel and I am so glad he did. If you are looking to be sucked in from line one, this is a great read.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Rebecca is passionate and insane, empathetic and aggressive, loud and predictable. She loves reading, writing, shopping and creating. She is what she is and it may not be what the world wants but it is what it is. Love.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Thomas & Mercer. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Peanut Butter and Naan by Jennifer Hillman-Magnuson

[ 3 ] January 26, 2015

peanut butter and naan book coverReviewed by Sarah McCubbin

Strap on your seat belt and hold on to your hat as author Jennifer Hillman-Magnuson invites you to travel along with her average American family to India in her book, Peanut Butter and Naan. But first, imagine having five kids, and living a rather middle class existence. Got it. Now your husband’s job moves him across the country into a into a very upscale development around the corner from famous people like Dolly Parton and others. It’s a bit of a culture shock, but you adjust and enjoy the indulgences of this new life. Just as things are feeling normal though, your husband’s job needs him to go to India for an undetermined number of months, and you decide to take all five kids out of school and join him on the other side of the world for an adventure. Sound fun? This is exactly what happens for Jennifer and her family.

Using bucket loads of wit and sarcasm, her writing style welcomes the reader to feel like they actually took part in this grand undertaking. She writes like your best friend might talk. She doesn’t guard her language, so if you are easily offended, this may not be for you. But if you enjoy candid conversation mixed with humorous stories that wrestles with the nuances of life, you will enjoy the ride.

One of her big anxieties traveling with five children around the world revolved around food. Anyone with kids knows that sometimes they can have fits over unfamiliar dishes, and she was concerned about how her children would take to Indian cuisine. So, in their very limited number of crates, Jennifer packed jars after jar of peanut butter to assure that there would always be something familiar to eat. As it turns out, most of those fears were unfounded as they came to enjoy many amazing dishes which often included the Indian bread naan. But as she shares her fears and her desperate packing strategies, I think other moms will find themselves identifying with the concerns she felt.

As she writes, there is a constant weaving and comparison of typical U.S. experiences when compared to India. From driving habits, city infrastructure and weddings to grocery shopping, cleaning and everything in between, her descriptions are vivid and lively. Near the end of her story she writes, “If you had asked me a year ago if I would be having the time of my life on a dirty, unpaved street, playing a ball game with people I don’t know in a run-down urban neighborhood, I can’t imagine how confused I would have been. Now it seems like the most logical and beautiful thing in the world.” Their experience there led to more than a simple travel book–it is really a humorous and engaging memoir of transformation.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Sarah McCubbin is a homeschooling and foster mom in NE Ohio where she resides with her husband and 7 children. In addition to reading great books, she enjoys gardening, traveling and blogging at Living Unboxed.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by BookSparksPR. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Juliet’s Nurse by Lois Leveen

[ 1 ] January 26, 2015

juliet's nurse book coverReviewed by Colleen Turner

Like just about everyone else who experiences an American public high school education I remember reading Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and really enjoying it even if I found the language rather difficult to get through. After almost 20 years my memory of the intricacies of plot and character development are somewhat blurry but the overall image I retain is of an all-consuming love between two young and naïve members of two feuding families against a backdrop of greed, power and jealousy. Beyond that things get hazy. With Juliet’s Nurse the reader is drawn back into this world of corruption and political rivalries and given the opportunity to view this much-read story from a new perspective, that of Juliet’s wet nurse and strongest advocate, with its world coming to life like never before in a way that is impossible to forget.

When Angelica loses her one day old daughter, a daughter she wasn’t even aware she was pregnant with, she is beyond bereft. Having already buried her sons, who died during the plague, she feels empty even with her caring and always attentive husband, Pietro, by her side. When she is whisked off on the same day she lost her daughter and employed as wet nurse to the newborn daughter of the rich and powerful Cappelletti family, her new charge becomes a balm for her battered heart and her new position as young Juliet’s everything gives her a new purpose in life. Her new life isn’t always safe and happy, however, and her unique position within the walls of the Cappelletti’s home allows her to see the vice and extravagance of a world she was not born into and one she doesn’t much want to be a part of. But her all-consuming love for Juliet keeps her there, ready to defend and do what is right for this daughter of her heart. And when it comes time for Juliet to marry and her young charge goes against the wishes of her father to be with the boy she loves, Angelica will try and do what she thinks is right for Juliet even as events unfold that she could never have anticipated.

I listened to Juliet’s Nurse as an audiobook and found it to be absolutely enthralling! The narrator did an excellent job of giving each character their own voice and perfectly captured the rollercoaster of emotions they all went through throughout the story.  Her inflections and pacing was spot on and had me eager to get back in my car so I could get back to the story that had me completely captivated.

The author did a wonderful job as well, breathing new life into the complicated relationships and allegiances surrounding Romeo and Juliet. Having the focus be on Angelica is just brilliant with her unique and always present position not only within the opulent halls of the Cappelletti household but on the grimy and dangerous streets of Verona. I also loved that the author spent the majority of the story before the events of Romeo and Juliet even occur, giving the reader a better sense of what brought about the strong bond between Angelica and Juliet as well as a greater sense of the actions and jealousies that brought about those fateful days dealt with in Shakespeare’s classic story.

I cannot recommend Juliet’s Nurse enough for those looking for a new spin on a much told story. Historical fiction and classics lovers will just eat this one up and it would also be appealing to anyone looking for a novel with a spitfire of a main character or one that fully encompasses and expands on the world Shakespeare created centuries ago.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Colleen lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband, son, and their dogs Oliver and Cleopatra. When not working or taking care of her family she has her nose stuck in a book (and, let’s face it, often when she is working or taking care of her family as well). Nothing excites her more than discovering a new author to obsess over or a hidden jewel of a book to worship. You can find more of her reviews on her blog.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Mailbox Monday

[ 7 ] January 25, 2015

Welcome to Mailbox MondayMailbox Monday are hosted by Marcia at Mailbox Monday blog

Here are the books that made their way into my mailbox last week:

Paper Review Copies

the damned book coverwandering in exile book covercity 1 book coverdiabolical miss hyde book covergeek girl book coverplaying for the dead book coverkiss of broken glass book coverpoisoned apples book coverkaren memory book coverin his keeping book coverthe american lover book coverbet your life book coverbookseller book coversecrets of midwives book coverthe prey book covermercy louis book coveramerican ghost book coverhold me book covercartoon guide to algebra book cover

Digital Review Copies

twisted innocence book coverlong and faraway gone book coverhuntress moon book coverblood moon book coverwhere they found her book cover

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