#Review “Gray is the New Black (Guerilla Grannies, Mission 1)” by Jo Michaels

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5/5 Stars!

Grannies come in all shapes, colors, sizes, and ages. Yet still blue-haired, little old ladies come to mind at the mere mention of the word.

Fuhgeddaboudit.

While two of the group are grandmothers… and Pearl has blue hair… there isn’t anything granny-like about this group of fifty-something lifelong-friends.

Though they’ve lived normal lives apart and experienced too many of life’s milestones—betrayal, loss, divorce, and widowhood—Pearl, Ethel, Opal, Minerva, and Alma are back together now, living on the outskirts of Atlanta.

And they’re bored.

So what do a ballistics expert, a chemical engineer, an edged weapons expert, a martial arts master, and a former member of law enforcement do for excitement? They find a crime to solve before the police can muck up the works.

It’s while solving a bank robbery that this snarky, irreverent team of badass boomers come to the attention of a secret government agency and are recruited into service. Far-fetched? Okay, a bit, but it’s a good look for this group.

Gray is the New Black is such a fun read because the characters are so relatable. These women are not prim and proper matrons of society. They talk about aches and pains and aging, but they also discuss flirting, dating and sex. Especially Ethel! Insults and f-bombs are part of the endless banter but without rancor or spitefulness. These women are family and the deep love and respect they have for each other is the running thread through the story.

Bits and pieces of each woman’s life are shared as the story unfolds and while some questions are answered, I couldn’t help but want to know more.

I volunteered to read an ARC of Gray is the New Black as part of a book tour, but 1-clicked a copy even before I finished, and I’ve preordered book two. This is Golden Girls meets James Bond meets Mission Impossible and I’m here for it!

Enjoy!

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coverGuerrilla Grannies, Book 1
Women’s Action/Adventure Comedy
Date Published: December 9, 2019
 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png
These aren’t your typical grannies.
Pearl Etta Riggs just buried her husband of a million years (no, not literally, but it felt that way sometimes), and her dear friends are trying to find a way to cheer her up. So, they meet for coffee and cheesecake at their favorite place, the Cheesy Cream Café. Ah, the taste of childhood.
Ethel spots the story of a local bank robbery in the paper, and pitches solving it as “it will give us something to do.” She begs, she pleads, and she… Flirts with the waiter?
Alma, always the level-headed one, cites the fact that the man may be one of those panty-sniffing rapists for the reason they shouldn’t. Consider that she was raised by a Southern Baptist preacher and always naysays; her friends rarely listen to her sage advice.
Opal and Minerva are all in, as usual, and they work with Ethel to wear Pearl down. Eventually, she caves, gets Alma on board, and…
You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens after that. What? Did you expect the author to give it all away in the blurb?
It’s a crazy thrill ride full of laughs and shenanigans as these women take the law into their own hands. What happens after is anyone’s guess.
After all, gray is the new black.

Purchase Links

Amazon

~~~

 Excerpt
Chapter 1
“Pearl, your husband just died. You could use some cheering up. We should do this.” Ethel put her forearms on the table, her hands clasped and her eyebrows wiggling, a smile on her face so big it turned her crow’s feet into eagle talons.
“He was such a good man.” Pearl’s heart constricted, and she dabbed at her eyes with the tissue again, trying to ignore the growing desire for action and adventure tickling the back of her mind. We could, but I’m not sure we should. We’re too damned old…
“It’s really warm in here. Why don’t you take off that hat, honey?”
That question snapped her out of her thoughts. She’d considered removing the thing several times earlier in the day, but she wasn’t sure how her friends were going to react to her new hairdo. Sighing, she relented, pulling the black, wide-brimmed cap off and closing her eyes, preparing herself for the onslaught.
Opal giggled behind her hand.
“You look like a couple of blue Easter eggs got busy on your head. What the hell did you do?” Ethel’s mouth was hanging open.
Indignation rose inside Pearl, and she squared her shoulders. “Like you have any room to talk. Your damned lavender streaks look like a grape-eating bird shit on your head.”
“Maybe, but that’s what I was going for.”
“Ladies. Calm down,” Alma said, patting their hands. “It’s not that bad.”
“The hell it isn’t,” Ethel muttered. “Makes her look like a school marm. An old one.”
Pearl stuck out her tongue.
“Hush, you two. You’re ruining my reminiscing.” Misty-eyed, Opal gazed around the diner, a soft smile on her lips. “I missed this place. Memories of our teen years came flouncing back through my head immediately with the smell of the coffee, the creaminess of the cheesecake, and even the waitresses shouting orders. I know we’ve been here several times since I moved back, but it never gets old. We didn’t have anything like this in Japan. Over there, it was mostly tea houses.”
“We remember.” Minerva pressed her lips together.
“Oh, yeah. I try to block that period out.” The smile disappeared.
“You always were an old softy.” Taking a long drink of her coffee and closing her eyes, Minerva reached out to pat Opal’s hand, seeming keen on changing the subject before she lost control of her emotions completely. “But I know what you mean. There was nothing that compared to this in Florida, either.”
Ethel ignored them and went back to her nagging, stabbing the front page of the newspaper for emphasis. “We have the skills, ladies. It’s not like it would be a difficult case to crack. Look at this loser.” She held up the paper and pointed at the man’s grainy security-footage photo.
He had a scruffy beard and a terrible haircut. Not an incredibly nefarious-looking fellow, but not very welcoming, either.
It was tempting, and Pearl was on the verge of saying yes when Alma butted in again.
“No. Noooo. Absolutely not, Ethel. You want us to go running all over the great state of Georgia trying to find a man that only made off with”—she squinted at the print and gulped—“half a million dollars?”
“There’s no such thing as only half a million dollars, sweetie. And yes, I do. Not only will it cheer Pearl up, but it’ll give our rusty educations some badly needed workouts.” Gently, Ethel lifted her cup and took a dainty sip of the strong brew. She sighed and put it back down. “I like my coffee like I like my men: sweet and white. Damn. This is good. Best coffee in Georgia!”
“Move your wrinkled old ass so I can go to the bathroom. This stuff’s going right through me.” Opal shoved, trying to get out of the booth.
With both feet planted firmly on the floor, Ethel pulled one side of her mouth into her cheek and lowered her eyelids halfway. “Or maybe I just want to sit here and see how long it is before you piss yourself.”
“You’re such a grouchy old bitch.” Minerva winked over her cup. “I love it.”
“Come on, Ethel. Let Opal out before she has to change her diaper.” Alma chuckled.
“Fine, fine.” Ethel scooted to the end of the bench and stood as she rolled her eyes. “Ow!”
“That’s what you get!” Opal retorted as she sprinted for the ladies’ room.
“What’d she do?” Minerva asked.
“Pinched me on the ass. Hard.”
Everyone laughed.
One of the waiters came over and asked if anyone needed anything.
Ethel leaned forward, her elbows on the table, coffee cup between her raised hands, and ticked her head at him, indicating that he should lean closer.
Pearl watched in earnest as the young man leaned down and put his ear close to Ethel’s mouth. Her lips moved, and her eyes sparkled.
His eyes widened, his face turning bright red as his jaw dropped.
When he straightened again, she winked at him, and he mumbled something under his breath before rushing away. She chortled, sipping her coffee, a look on her face like she was the cat that got the cream. “Where were we?”
“What was that about?” Minerva asked. “What did you say to that poor boy?”
“I don’t tease and tell.”
“Ethel, really; he’s half your age!” Alma turned bright red.
“Yes. Yes, he is. I figure, if I can grab ‘em young, they won’t keel over like my husband did.”
“You really have to let yourself off the hook about Leo, sweetie.” Minerva put her hand on Ethel’s. “He just had a bad ticker.”
“Yeah, right. He was only thirty-five and fit as a fiddle. Not really enough time to develop heart problems.”
Gazing at the other women, Pearl gave thanks they were back in her life. It was rare to find so many amazing women, and she loved having all of them around again after so many years apart. Her heart filled with the love of friendship and comradery they’d forged, and she stabbed her chocolate cheesecake gently, putting it in her mouth, the flavor bringing back so many memories.
“Can I get back in, or is your replacement hip not high-tech enough to get you to your feet again?” Opal crossed her arms over her bosom and cocked her head to one side.
In a huff, Ethel scooted out again and got to her feet. “My hips are all mine, thank you very much. Not a single shred of titanium in my…” Her face turned red, and she sat back down.
Opal, Minerva, and Alma knit their brows.
Pearl could barely breathe she was laughing so hard, but she forced an inhale so she could speak. “You almost lied!”
“Shut up.”
When the questioning looks of the others landed on her, she held up one finger and pulled herself back together. “Just think about it.”
A collective gasp went up.
“When?” Opal asked.
“How?” Minerva added.
“Did it hurt?” Alma’s face was so red it was bordering on purple.
Ethel grimaced. “About two years ago. You don’t want to know. Yes. A lot.” Slapping the newspaper again, she caught Pearl’s gaze. “Please? If not for me, do it for them.” Gesturing at the other three, Ethel stuck out her bottom lip. “Look how old and decrepit they’re getting. This will give them new life.”
Alma pressed her lips together and shook her head a tiny bit from side to side as she gave that look she was best known for. They were going to get into trouble if they went along with it, and Ethel would be the ringleader, as she always was.
A war broke out inside Pearl. She wanted to do it, but she knew they really shouldn’t. Nothing good ever came of Ethel’s ideas—well, rarely.
As though she could read their thoughts, she huffed and crossed her arms over her chest. “Y’all are no fun anymore. It’s not like we don’t have the skills. I was an upstanding officer of the law until a few years ago.”
“Seven, if you’re counting.” Alma smirked.
She got a look from Ethel that would’ve melted a car. “Fine. Seven, but Pearly is a chemical engineer! She could make us some knockout gas or something.” Turning, she continued as she pointed at each lady in turn. “You’ve knocked down whole buildings in huge cities without a single hiccup, you’re a freaking ninja, and there’s no one on the planet better with a blade than Minerva.”
“Gotta know how to use them if you’re gonna make them.” Minerva winked.
“I’m not a ninja,” Opal muttered into her coffee cup.
“Okay, martial arts master.” A laugh burst out of Ethel. “And a master of disguise, am I right?”
“That was way back in the eighties. I’m not even sure how to use all the newfangled stuff on the market.”
“So you’ll brush up on your skills!” She turned back to Pearl. “Please?”
“I’m afraid we simply can’t right now. We’re all too old, anyway.”
“Why can’t we, moneybags? Did Mansfield not leave you enough cash? And like hell we’re old. Gray is the new black, bitches.”
No one said a word for a long time, as though they were all sharing Pearl’s thoughts. It was an interesting idea, and she didn’t want to go home and sit in her newly empty house without Manny. There were too many crushing memories contained in those walls. Construction was nearly complete on the new house in Manny’s most recent development, Shady Pines, and she wondered if it would be better to occupy herself with something else until everything was done. Nearly all the houses were built already, there were only about ten to go, so she wouldn’t be busy with an agent on site yet. It had been Manny’s dream to build a whole neighborhood before letting anyone see it.
Her fingernails tapped the tabletop. Finally, she inhaled, but her pending speech was cut off by Alma once again.
“Ethel, you’re crazy as a Bessie bug. Forget it. No way. If I have to be the voice of reason, then so be it. We’re absolutely not doing this.”
“But, Alma, wh—”
She held up a hand and shook her head. “We don’t know what kind of criminal that man is. He might be a murderer or one of those crazy, panty-sniffing, rapist guys. When it comes down to it, we’re just five old women. Flesh versus gun, the firearm always wins—as you well know.”
Ethel’s hand moved to her shoulder, rubbing the place she’d been shot in the line of duty.
A phone ringing brought the conversation to a halt. Heart beating too fast, Pearl dug through her bag and pulled out the offending device, flipping it open and putting it to her ear. Her daughter, Katarina, was on the other end.
“Hey, Mom. Any idea when you’ll be home?”
“In a few minutes. Alma and I were just about to leave.”
“Okay. Do you want me to cook dinner?”
“No thanks, baby girl. I just had cheesecake. I’m all set.”
Katarina laughed. “You and that cheesecake. Be safe driving. I’ll see you soon.”
“I will. Love you.”
“Love you, too.”
After flipping the phone closed, Pearl threw a twenty on the table, put her hat back on, and bumped Alma’s hip. “We need to leave. Katarina called.”
“That girl. You’d swear you were ninety the way she checks up on you all the damned time.” Ethel rolled her eyes.
Nothing would’ve given Pearl more satisfaction in that moment than smacking the shit out of something, but she held her temper. “She just cares.”
“Yeah, cares about losing her free babysitter.”
“Stop it! I love my grandchildren!”
“I never said you didn’t, but you’re in too deep. Your daughter and her husband can afford daycare.”
“Not today; okay, Ethel? Not today.”
Lines around Ethel’s face softened. “Okay. Sorry.”
“Y’all get up and give me and Alma hugs!”
Everyone squeezed Pearl extra tightly and told her to be safe.
Alma led the way to the car and got in on the passenger’s side, putting her seatbelt on right away.
She’d always been the levelheaded, law-abiding, church-going one. Any time there was trouble worth getting into, she’d shut Ethel right down with a snarky remark or soundbite of wisdom from dear old Daddy. What made Alma even more insufferable was, they’d avoided a lot of bad situations because of her naysaying. Her daddy had been a Baptist preacher, and he’d always threatened her with the wrath of God if she misbehaved. Though, if she ever wanted something badly enough, she always did it. Pearl knew that, and she planned to use it to her advantage.
Solving a local bank robbery was becoming more tempting by the minute. She was positive her crew of misfits could pull it off without a hitch. Everyone but Alma got excited when it was first brought up, and their eyes took on that gleam like when they were younger and were about to do something they’d never forget.
Pearl started the Caddy and put it in reverse after clipping her own seatbelt into place to avoid getting yet another speech about proper vehicle safety. As she backed up, she plotted a way to make Alma agree to take on the bank robbery case.
They were well on the road to home when Pearl started talking again, deciding the best way to get what she wanted was to use the new widow angle and a little fast talking. “You know, I’m not sure I want to be in that big old house by myself all day every day.” She glanced to the right. “Without Manny there, it’ll sure feel empty.”
“I can stay with you a couple of days if you want.”
Damn. “No, no. Kat will be there today and tomorrow with her family. I just meant when they leave.”
“Won’t you still have the kids every day?”
Damn! She’d forgotten about that. “I was thinking I’d ask if they can start daycare.”
“Really?”
“Mmhm. Ethel’s right. I deserve to have a proper retirement from raising kids.”
“You just have the one, like me. Not like it was that hard.” Alma smirked.
“I’m not saying it was hard, just that I’m tired of babysitting. Plus, it’s all I can do to lift that baby anymore.” Even as the words left Pearl’s mouth, she regretted them. Elizabeth was the sweetest baby ever, even more so than her mother had been.
“Pearl, I know what you’re doing.”
Alarm bells rang in Pearl’s head, and she sat up straighter behind the wheel. Trying to sound like she had no idea what was going on, she asked, “Oh? What’s that?”
After a deep sigh, Alma shook her head and closed her eyes. “Fine. If you want to do the bank robber thing, I’m in.”
“Really?”
“Yes, but just so you know, this isn’t a good idea, and it’ll probably end badly, but I’ll do it. For you. We really could use some flexing of our skills. I know I’m itching to blow something up.”
Pearl wanted so badly to squeal like a schoolgirl in that moment, but she kept her face as stoic as possible. “Well, if you insist. Wouldn’t want you blowing up things without supervision.”
“That’s not what I said!”
“Oh, look. You’re home!” She put the car in park and grinned. “Love you! I’ll call Ethel and tell her! Meet at my house at ten tomorrow morning! I’ll have Enrich make us brunch!”
Alma closed the door, and Pearl sped away, her cellphone already in her hand.
“Ethel? Alma’s in.”
 photo Gray is the New Black on ipad and iphone_zpscdpnnvkz.jpg

~~~

About the Author

 photo Gray is the New Black Author Jo Michaels_zpssgymhjib.jpgJo Michaels loves writing novels that make readers gasp in horror, surprise, and disbelief. While her browser search history has probably landed her on a list somewhere, she still dives into every plot with gusto, hoping “the man” will realize she’s a writer and not a psychopath about to go on a rampage. Her favorite pastimes are reading, watching Investigation Discovery, and helping other authors realize their true potential through mentoring. She’s penned the award-winning Pen Pals and Serial Killers series and the best-selling educational book for children, Writing Prompts for Kids, which has rocketed the kids that use it into several awards of their own.

Most of Jo’s books feature the places she’s lived: Louisiana, Tennessee, and Georgia. That’s given her a special amount of insight to what makes those locations tick. Her works are immersive and twisty, and she wouldn’t want it any other way.
Contact Links

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RABT Book Tours & PR

#Review “The Wedding Crasher: A Sam Tate Mystery” by Nikki Stern

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5/5 Stars!

Murdered young women, a serial killer with a penchant for wedding dresses and who kills annually, a frustrated female sheriff carrying way too much baggage and drinking too much, an FBI agent haunted by his own past, and a stunning plot twist mesh together to make The Wedding Crasher a suspense-filled ride… and an excellent read!

Sheriff Samantha Tate’s worst fears are realized when a murdered young woman is found in the woods, laid out under trees… in a wedding dress and missing her ring finger.

She’s victim number five, and the second in Sam’s county since she became sheriff.

The new investigation brings the Wedding Crasher task force together… again, and FBI Agent Terry Sloan back into Sam’s life, and thoughts.

Sam Tate is a great, edgy character, flawed to the hilt. But despite the death of her fiancé and her own traumatic connections to weddings, she’s a top of the line sheriff and investigator. Sam’s a woman walking in the footsteps of the last sheriff in a southern town full of powerful good old boys who consider her little more than a mere annoyance.

That’s a mistake.

The Crasher investigation stalls to a standstill again, but Sam’s got her hands full with – someone taking shots at her outside her home and her nightmares growing more intense. What can’t she remember from twenty-five years ago? Her therapist is being blackmailed, then she disappears. Two more local women are murdered—one a Pickett County deputy—and Sam has far too many suspects for these unrelated Crasher murders. Or are they?

Detective Abdi Issen is a great supporting character, and though she only appears briefly, Sam’s landlady, Cora Granville, is a hoot!

The Wedding Crasher more than delivers an unpredictable plot for suspense and thriller readers, and the twists and turns will keep conspiracy lovers on the edge of their seats. Even women’s fiction readers will find Sam’s story unputdownable.

And that ending? Yeah… I’m ready for the next book!

Enjoy!

~~~

Synopsis:

A brunette in a bridal gown turns up in Pickett County, Tennessee, throat slit and ring finger missing. She’s the latest victim of the Wedding Crasher, a serial killer who murders women just weeks before their weddings.

Samantha Tate is Picket County’s yoga-loving, poker-playing new sheriff, a former Nashville homicide detective who struggles with her inner demons. To catch the meticulous murderer, Sam will have to follow her instincts and ignore her worst impulses. Can she stop the Wedding Crasher before another bride-to-be dies?

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery

Published by: Ruthenia Press

Publication Date: May 8, 2019

Number of Pages: 340

ISBN: 978-0-9995487-3-8

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

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#BookTour “The Wedding Crasher: A Sam Tate Mystery” by Nikki Stern

on Tour June 1-30, 2019

cover ~~~

 

Synopsis:

A brunette in a bridal gown turns up in Pickett County, Tennessee, throat slit and ring finger missing. She’s the latest victim of the Wedding Crasher, a serial killer who murders women just weeks before their weddings.

Samantha Tate is Picket County’s yoga-loving, poker-playing new sheriff, a former Nashville homicide detective who struggles with her inner demons. To catch the meticulous murderer, Sam will have to follow her instincts and ignore her worst impulses. Can she stop the Wedding Crasher before another bride-to-be dies?

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery

Published by: Ruthenia Press

Publication Date: May 8, 2019

Number of Pages: 340

ISBN: 978-0-9995487-3-8

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

~~~

Read an excerpt:

The dead woman lay in the clearing like a macabre version of Sleeping Beauty. She was dressed in a long-sleeved, high-necked ivory gown, set off by luminescent pearl drop earrings and a matching necklace that almost hid the dried blood around her throat. Her head rested on a satin pillow, her silky walnut hair spread behind her like a fan. The right hand held a bouquet of wilted flowers and rested on her chest underneath the left, absent the fourth finger. The ring finger. Sheriff Sam Tate stood to one side of the grim tableau, arms folded, and took it all in: the victim; the tall white-haired man who knelt by the body; the deputy who walked the scene in throwaway boots, snapping pictures; the pale young man in running gear sitting on a rock, head almost to his knees; the uniformed officer who squatted beside him. Sam had dressed in her standard uniform of pressed black slacks and a spotless white shirt. A shaft of early-morning sun bounced off the polished badge at her left breast pocket. On her right wrist, she wore a utilitarian watch. Three small studs twinkled along one earlobe, her single visible concession to a rebellious streak. She’d pulled her unruly dark locks into a tight braid. Ray-Bans shielded her green eyes, though not the line that formed between her brows. One of the victim’s low-heeled white pumps had dropped off to reveal a slim ankle in hosiery. Stockings, not pantyhose, held up by an old-fashioned garter. Sam didn’t need to look. He’s back, she thought, adding a curse for good measure. *** Excerpt from The Wedding Crasher by Nikki Stern. Copyright 2019 by Nikki Stern. Reproduced with permission from Nikki Stern. All rights reserved.

~~~

Author Bio:

Nikki Stern

Nikki Stern is the author of the inspirational HOPE IN SMALL DOSES, a 2015 Eric Hoffer Montaigne Medal finalist, and the thriller THE FORMER ASSASSIN, a 2018 Kindle Book Review category finalist. Her essays are included in three anthologies and she co-authored the interactive Café Noir murder mystery series, published by Samuel French. Eight of her short stories have been published in various online journals and she was a Mark Twain Royal Nonesuch finalist for her short story Long Away and Far Ago. Nikki is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America.

Catch Up With Nikki Stern On: nikkistern.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Twitter, & Facebook!

~~~

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

~~~

Enter To Win:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Nikki Stern. There will be 2 winners of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card each. The giveaway begins on June 1, 2019 and runs through July 2, 2019. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

~~~

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

PICT Button

#BookTour “The Wedding Crasher: A Sam Tate Mystery” by Nikki Stern

on Tour June 1-30, 2019

cover ~~~

 

Synopsis:

A brunette in a bridal gown turns up in Pickett County, Tennessee, throat slit and ring finger missing. She’s the latest victim of the Wedding Crasher, a serial killer who murders women just weeks before their weddings.

Samantha Tate is Picket County’s yoga-loving, poker-playing new sheriff, a former Nashville homicide detective who struggles with her inner demons. To catch the meticulous murderer, Sam will have to follow her instincts and ignore her worst impulses. Can she stop the Wedding Crasher before another bride-to-be dies?

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery

Published by: Ruthenia Press

Publication Date: May 8, 2019

Number of Pages: 340

ISBN: 978-0-9995487-3-8

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

~~~

Read an excerpt:

The dead woman lay in the clearing like a macabre version of Sleeping Beauty. She was dressed in a long-sleeved, high-necked ivory gown, set off by luminescent pearl drop earrings and a matching necklace that almost hid the dried blood around her throat. Her head rested on a satin pillow, her silky walnut hair spread behind her like a fan. The right hand held a bouquet of wilted flowers and rested on her chest underneath the left, absent the fourth finger. The ring finger. Sheriff Sam Tate stood to one side of the grim tableau, arms folded, and took it all in: the victim; the tall white-haired man who knelt by the body; the deputy who walked the scene in throwaway boots, snapping pictures; the pale young man in running gear sitting on a rock, head almost to his knees; the uniformed officer who squatted beside him. Sam had dressed in her standard uniform of pressed black slacks and a spotless white shirt. A shaft of early-morning sun bounced off the polished badge at her left breast pocket. On her right wrist, she wore a utilitarian watch. Three small studs twinkled along one earlobe, her single visible concession to a rebellious streak. She’d pulled her unruly dark locks into a tight braid. Ray-Bans shielded her green eyes, though not the line that formed between her brows. One of the victim’s low-heeled white pumps had dropped off to reveal a slim ankle in hosiery. Stockings, not pantyhose, held up by an old-fashioned garter. Sam didn’t need to look. He’s back, she thought, adding a curse for good measure. *** Excerpt from The Wedding Crasher by Nikki Stern. Copyright 2019 by Nikki Stern. Reproduced with permission from Nikki Stern. All rights reserved.

~~~

Author Bio:

Nikki Stern

Nikki Stern is the author of the inspirational HOPE IN SMALL DOSES, a 2015 Eric Hoffer Montaigne Medal finalist, and the thriller THE FORMER ASSASSIN, a 2018 Kindle Book Review category finalist. Her essays are included in three anthologies and she co-authored the interactive Café Noir murder mystery series, published by Samuel French. Eight of her short stories have been published in various online journals and she was a Mark Twain Royal Nonesuch finalist for her short story Long Away and Far Ago. Nikki is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America.

Catch Up With Nikki Stern On: nikkistern.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Twitter, & Facebook!

~~~

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

~~~

Enter To Win:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Nikki Stern. There will be 2 winners of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card each. The giveaway begins on June 1, 2019 and runs through July 2, 2019. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

~~~

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

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#Review “Below the Fold (Clare Carlson Mystery)” by R.G. Belsky

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5/5 Stars!

What a head-slammer! Every time I thought I had figured out who the murderer was, I ran right into a wall!

A woman is found murdered in an ATM vestibule in New York City. But she was homeless and just another anonymous lost soul living on the streets. Her death barely registers a blip on anyone’s radar and will never be solved.

But this story calls out to TV news director Clare Carlson. No one is born homeless. The woman had a life and Clare wanted to tell that story. Her news team puts together well-received segments on the tragic life of Dora Gayle—a college-educated woman who loved life and poetry, but for whom a broken heart and giving up her infant daughter for adoption were probably the early beginnings of the downward spiral that led to Dora being brutally stabbed to death by a stranger.

But Dora’s story is soon forgotten because life goes on.

Another murder occurs that’s sure to be high profile. A young, female investment banker is beaten to death in her toney apartment. She was involved in a major embezzlement and bank fraud case and had recently agreed to testify against her co-conspirators.

The story has Clare’s attention, but she’s floored when she learns what was found near the body—a note with five names which includes a media mogul (and Clare’s boss), a politician, a ruthless attorney, a cop involved in scandal… and Dora Gayle.

No one knows how the people on the list are connected, including the people on the list. Clare’s boss gives her free rein to investigate and report in hopes of finding some answers or at least clearing his name.

Clare Carlson is damn good at her job. Despite being a Pulitzer Prize winner, she’s about the story, not the glory. She dives into the investigation interviewing anyone on the list… and anyone else who’ll talk to her.

Clare’s also glad for the distraction because it takes her mind off the daughter she gave up for adoption. I liked Clare. She’s not smug and arrogant or annoying. She’s committed to her job and a true professional. But she’s not without her flaws. She has three past marriages under her belt and having the hots for a married cop was not a good look for her. But, she got her hand smacked and her feelings hurt and just has to get over herself. One day.

Suspicion surrounds everyone on the list and a few others, but it’s revelations from the past that open… and close the door on the case.

When Clare and crew take a step back and recalculate—sort of like Siri—they realize they went for the easy, and wrong solution.

She relaunches her investigation being more methodical, but as she digs deeper, the suspect list grows, and the plot twists are fast and furious!

Well-paced and detailed, the author does a great job in this read of baiting and distracting and heightening the suspense, only to smack the reader with yet another plot twist—I think I’m bruised.

Below the Fold must be read to the last page to have all those pesky loose ends tied up, and it is so worth it. There was only one guy I felt didn’t get his comeuppance, but there’s always book 3, right? Crime fiction and mystery lovers will read this in one sitting and I highly recommend you do.

Enjoy!

This is book 2 in the Clare Carlson series, and I wanted to get Clare’s full backstory and decided to purchase book 1, Yesterday’s News. Imagine my surprise finding out I already own it! (Don’t judge me—I buy a lot of books!)

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Synopsis:

Every human life is supposed to be important. Everyone should matter. But that’s not the case in the cutthroat TV news-rating world where Clare Carlson works. Sex, money, and power sell. Only murder victims of the right social strata are considered worth covering. Not the murder of a “nobody.”

So, when the battered body of a homeless woman named Dora Gayle is found on the streets of New York City, her murder barely gets a mention in the media. But Clare―a TV news director who still has a reporter’s instincts―decides to dig deeper into the seemingly meaningless death. She uncovers mysterious links between Gayle and a number of wealthy and influential figures. There is a prominent female defense attorney; a scandal-ridden ex-congressman; a decorated NYPD detective; and―most shocking of all―a wealthy media mogul who owns the TV station where Clare works. Soon there are more murders, more victims, more questions. As the bodies pile up, Clare realizes that her job, her career, and maybe even her life are at stake as she chases after her biggest story ever.

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Book Details

Genre: Mystery

Published by: Oceanview Publishing

Publication Date: May 2019

Number of Pages: 357

ISBN: 978-1-60809-324-3

Series: Clare Carlson #2

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

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Enter To Win!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for R.G. Belsky. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on May 01, 2019 and runs through June 02, 2019. Void where prohibited.

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#BookTour “Below the Fold (Clare Carlson Mystery)” by R.G. Belsky

Below The Fold by R.G. Belsky~~~

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Synopsis:

 

Every human life is supposed to be important. Everyone should matter. But that’s not the case in the cutthroat TV news-rating world where Clare Carlson works. Sex, money, and power sell. Only murder victims of the right social strata are considered worth covering. Not the murder of a “nobody.”

So, when the battered body of a homeless woman named Dora Gayle is found on the streets of New York City, her murder barely gets a mention in the media. But Clare―a TV news director who still has a reporter’s instincts―decides to dig deeper into the seemingly meaningless death. She uncovers mysterious links between Gayle and a number of wealthy and influential figures. There is a prominent female defense attorney; a scandal-ridden ex-congressman; a decorated NYPD detective; and―most shocking of all―a wealthy media mogul who owns the TV station where Clare works. Soon there are more murders, more victims, more questions. As the bodies pile up, Clare realizes that her job, her career, and maybe even her life are at stake as she chases after her biggest story ever.

~~~

Book Details

Genre: Mystery

Published by: Oceanview Publishing

Publication Date: May 2019

Number of Pages: 357

ISBN: 978-1-60809-324-3

Series: Clare Carlson #2

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

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Read an excerpt:

OPENING CREDITS THE RULES ACCORDING TO CLARE Every human life is supposed to be important, everyone should matter. That’s what we all tell ourselves, and it’s a helluva noble concept. But it’s not true. Not in the real world. And certainly not in the world of TV news where I work. Especially when it comes to murder. Murder is a numbers game for me. It operates on what is sometimes cynically known in the media as the Blonde White Female Syndrome. My goal is to find a murder with a sexy young woman victim to put on the air. Sex sells. Sex, money, and power. That translates into big ratings numbers, which translates into more advertising dollars. These are the only murder stories really worth doing. The amazing thing to me is not that there is so much news coverage of these types of stories. It’s that there are people who actually question whether they should be big news stories. These critics dredge up the age-old argument about why some murders get so much more play in the media than all the other murders that happen every day. I don’t understand these people. Because the cold, hard truth—and everyone knows this, whether they want to admit it or not—is that not everybody is equal when it comes to murder. Not in life. And certainly not in death. It reminds me of the ongoing debate that happens every time Sirhan Sirhan—the man who killed Robert F. Kennedy—comes up for a parole hearing. There are those who point out that he’s already served fifty years in jail. They argue that many other killers have served far less time before being paroled. Sirhan Sirhan should be treated equally, they say, because the life of Robert F. Kennedy is no more or less important than the life of any other crime victim. Me, I think Sirhan Sirhan should be kept caged up in a four-foot by six-foot cell as long as he lives—which hopefully will be to a hundred so he can suffer every minute of it. For God’s sakes, people, he killed Robert—freakin’—Kennedy! And so, to those who think that we in the media make too big a deal out of some of these high-profile murder stories, I say that’s completely and utterly ridiculous. I reject that argument completely. I won’t even discuss it. * * Now let me tell you something else. Everything I just said there is a lie. The truth is there really is no magic formula for murder in the TV news business. No simple way to know from the beginning if a murder story is worth covering or not. No easy answer to the question of how much a human life is worth—or what the impact will be of that person’s death by a violent murder. When I started out working at a newspaper years ago, I sat next to a veteran police reporter on the overnight shift. There was an old-fashioned wire machine that would print out police slips of murders that happened during the night. Most of them involved down-market victims in bad neighborhoods whose deaths clearly would never make the paper. But he would dutifully call the police on each one and ask questions like: “Tell me about the body of that kid you found in the Harlem pool room—was he a MENSA candidate or what?” Or, “The woman you found dead in the alley behind the housing project—any chance she might be Julia Roberts or a member of the British Royal Family?” I asked him once why he even bothered to make the calls since none of these murders seemed ever worth writing about in the paper. “Hey, you never know,” he said. It was good advice back then, and it still is today. I try to teach it to all my reporters in the TV newsroom that I run now. Check every murder out. Never assume anything about a murder story. Follow the facts and the evidence on every murder—on every crime story—because you can never be certain where that trail might take you. Okay, I don’t always follow my own advice in the fast-paced, ratings-obsessed world of TV news where I make my living. And usually it does turn out to be just a waste of time. But every once in a while, well . . . Hey, you never know. *** Excerpt from Below The Fold by R.G. Belsky. Copyright © 2019 by R.G. Belsky. Reproduced with permission from R.G. Belsky. All rights reserved.

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Author Bio:

R.G. Belsky R. G. Belsky is an author of crime fiction and a journalist in New York City. His newest mystery, Below The Fold, is being published in May 2019 by Oceanview. It is the second in a series featuring Clare Carlson, the news director for a New York City TV station. The first Clare Carlson book, YESTERDAY’S NEWS, came out in 2018. Belsky previously wrote the Gil Malloy series – THE KENNECONNECTIONION, SHOOTING FOR THE STARS AND BLONDE ICE – about a newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News. Belsky himself is a former managing editor at the Daily News and writes about the media from an extensive background in newspapers, magazines and TV/digital news. He has also been a top editor at the New York Post, Star magazine and NBC News. Belsky won the Claymore Award at Killer Nashville in 2016. He has finished as a Finalist for both the Silver Falchion and David Awards. And his first Clare Carlson book, YESTERDAY’S NEWS, was named Outstanding Crime/News Based Novel by Just Reviews in 2018 and was a Finalist for Best Mystery of 2018 in the Foreword INDIES Awards. His previous suspense/thriller novels include LOVERBOY and PLAYING DEAD. Belsky lives in New York City.

Catch Up With Our R.G. Belsky On: rgbelsky.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Twitter, & Facebook!

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Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

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Enter To Win!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for R.G. Belsky. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on May 01, 2019 and runs through June 02, 2019. Void where prohibited.

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#Review “Justice for Belle” by Didi Oviatt

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Justice for Belle cover

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4/5 Stars!

Quirky.

The one word that best describes everyone in Justice for Belle.

Although for Ahnia Airington, bonkers works too.

A literary sensation with a bestseller at 18, Ahnia is a one-hit-wonder now in her thirties who eats too much, drinks too much, and obsesses too much over the bad thing she did as a teenager… which inspired her bestseller.

She sits in public places now people-watching and characterizing strangers as murderers, complete with choice of weapon. But she still isn’t writing.

It’s easy to feel sorry for Ahnia. At first. She has the ultimate case of writer’s block and can’t even complete an outline for a new book.

However, any empathy I had for her dissipated quickly when it became obvious she’s one of those writers who allow writer’s block to define their lives, leaving them unable to move on and work, be responsible and accountable, or adult in any sense of the word. To be fair, her writing muse is definitely unusual.

Ahnia is also dealing with buckets of guilt, and not so much from the bad thing she did as a teenager—because, you know, that wasn’t her fault—but because she lost her mother as a result, which led to her widower father marrying the horrid Dorothy, and made her good-guy brother, Tim, an accessory.

Short of a life-altering thrill, Ahnia will never write again… enter Mac.

Though her defenses were up at first, Ahnia becomes too preoccupied with Mac too quickly. When she watched him propose to a woman who could have been her twin, Ahnia should have run away like she was on fire.

But nope. She falls under his sway… and he drags her down the rabbit hole.

Good pacing and build-up in this short read, and nice TWISTY climax.

Justice for Belle is too short in the sense it does not tie all the loose ends up for me, and I don’t need a pretty bow when a couple of tight knots will suffice.

Justice for Belle is good suspense with plenty of quirks, but the quirks keep you reading.

Enjoy!

 

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Blurb:

Ahnia, has a very dicey past, one that is scratching under the surface, just dying to get out. She’s hit rock bottom, broke and desperate to be on top again. When she finds herself partnering up with man she hardly knows, and who’s utterly untouchable, she’s forced out of her comfort zone and left to question her own sanity. Will Ahnia and Mac’s dangerous business move be a success? Or, will Ahnia find herself in the clutches of an unforgiving force, brought about by her childhood sin? In this nail biting thrill ride, no one is as they seem… and no one is truly safe with those they trust.

Amazon US    Amazon UK    Amazon CA    Amazon AU

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JFB 3D