Saturday, November 30, 2019

Scarlet Fever: A Novel ("Sister" Jane) by Rita Mae Brown



Scarlet Fever: A Novel ("Sister" Jane) by Rita Mae Brown

About Scarlet Fever

 
Cozy Mystery 12th in Series
Ballantine Books (November 26, 2019) 
Hardcover: 304 pages 
ISBN-10: 0593130006 
ISBN-13: 978-0593130001
Digital ASIN: B07P8J8KVM

Winter blizzards bring a flurry of cases to solve in this riveting new foxhunting mystery featuring “Sister” Jane Arnold and her incorrigible hounds from New York Times bestselling author Rita Mae Brown.
Frigid February air has settled into the bones of the Blue Ridge Mountains, making for a slow foxhunting season, though “Sister” Jane Arnold’s enthusiasm is not so easily deterred. With the winter chill come tweed coats, blazing fireplaces—and perhaps another to share the warmth with, as the bold hunting scarlets worn by the men in Sister Jane’s hunting club make the hearts of women flutter—until someone’s stops entirely.
Harry Dunbar, a member of the Jefferson Hunt club with a penchant for antique furniture, is found with his skull cracked at the bottom of the stairs to a local store. There are no telltale signs of foul play—save for the priceless (and stolen) ErtĂ© fox ring in his pocket. Sister and her hounds set out to uncover the truth: was this simply an accident—a case of bad luck—or something much more sinister?
Steeped in the deep traditions of Virginia horse country and featuring a colorful cast of characters both two- and four-legged, Scarlet Fever is another spirited mystery from Rita Mae Brown.

With literally hundreds of characters having input, you will enjoy this book best if you have some familiarity with the series from previous reads. It does stand alone, especially if you care about horses, hunting or old southern tradition.
We hear from the perspective of horses and hounds and even from the foxes themselves, as several hunt packs traverse the landscape of Old Family Virginia.
The tradition and pageantry are beautifully descriptive and warmly welcoming despite chill winds and bone freezing rains.  Rife with complications of human relationships, scandal and tradition intermingle along with elements of greed and human frailty.
When a man, neither old not frail, slips and dies, people wonder, could it have been intentional?
When a brilliant man suffers with dementia and causes property damage as well as becomes violently mischievous, the community  does their best to support him and his family.
So much is going on one must concentrate to catch it all.
There is also a unique piece of furniture of interest.
A fascinating series but enjoyed most when you read it start to each successive book.

About Rita Mae Brown



Rita Mae Brown is the bestselling author of the Sneaky Pie Brown mysteries; the Sister Jane series; the Runnymede novels, including Six of One and Cakewalk; A Nose for Justice and Murder Unleashed; Rubyfruit Jungle; and In Her Day; as well as many other books. An Emmy-nominated screenwriter and a poet, Brown lives in Afton, Virginia, and is a Master of Foxhounds and the huntsman.

Author Links
Purchase Links - Amazon - B&N - Kobo - IndieBound




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Thursday, November 28, 2019

Speak No Evil by Liana Gardner

Speak No Evil

by Liana Gardner

on Tour October 1 - November 30, 2019

Synopsis:

Speak No Evil by Liana Gardner
What if every time you told the truth, evil followed?

My name is Melody Fisher. My daddy was a snake handler in Appalachia until Mama died. Though years have passed, I can still hear the rattle before the strike that took her from me.

And it’s all my fault.

Since then, I’ve been passed around from foster home to foster home. I didn’t think anything could be as bad as losing Mama.

I was wrong.

But I will not speak of things people have done to me. Every time I do, worse evil follows. Now, the only thing I trust is what saved me years ago.

Back when I would sing the snakes calm …

Book Details:

Genre: YA Mystery
Published by: Vesuvian Books
Publication Date: October 1st 2019
Number of Pages: 285
ISBN: 1944109366 (ISBN13: 9781944109363)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Uncle Harlan slammed my bedroom door open. “You’re going to learn to show the Lord respect, girl.” He grabbed my neck and forced me to walk in front of him.
My neck hurt where he dug his fingers in.
He took me outside and shoved me toward the shed. He slipped the key in the lock and removed it from the hasp. The door creaked as it opened and then he thrust me through.
“I’m not going to allow you to follow your mother’s footsteps. You’ll learn to make peace with snakes and not show them any fear. Or else.”
He grabbed a snake case from the shelf, put it on the ground, and opened it. He stepped backward out of the shed and swung the door shut. The latch clicked. Uncle Harlan on one side of the door, and the snake and me locked inside.
“I’ll come get you in time for school in the morning.”
His footsteps receded.
Light filtered through the cracks in the shed slats. In the dim light, the snake coiled in the corner, its tongue flicking out periodically. I slowly lowered to the ground and hugged Raksha Waya tight.
The inside of the shed was slightly warmer than outside. Staying warm might be a bigger problem than keeping the snake calm. It ignored me and remained coiled, but the cold seeped into my bones. I scanned the shelves. There had to be something in here I could use to help keep warm.
A tarp sat on a shelf on the opposite side of the shed from the snake. But I might not be tall enough to pull it down. Standing on tiptoes, I grabbed a corner and tugged. My fingers slipped. I set Rakkie on a lower shelf, then reached with both hands and tugged.
The weight of the tarp almost knocked me over as I caught it.
Making sure to keep my movements small so I didn’t threaten the snake, I unfolded the tarp and spread it out. Then I grabbed Rakkie and carefully crawled under a corner. Once settled with Rakkie on my lap, I pulled it over us and tucked it under my chin.
The hours passed as the light changed and moved through the shed. My tailbone ached and my back hurt from sitting still for so long. Twilight came. Surely Uncle Harlan didn’t really mean to leave me here with the snake all night.
When the darkness was complete and I could no longer see my hand in front of my face, I faced the hard truth—Uncle Harlan meant it. I’d spend the night locked in a small space with a pit viper.
While my toes still felt frozen, the rest of me was warmer with the tarp. My eyes drooped and closed. Then I heard it.
Hiss. Rattle. The whisper of something dragging across the floorboards.
The snake was on the move. The slight rattle as it slithered through the shed made my heart pound. I froze.
***
Excerpt from Speak No Evil by Liana Gardner. Copyright © 2019 by Liana Gardner. Reproduced with permission from Liana Gardner. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

Liana Gardner
Liana Gardner is the multi-award-winning author of 7th Grade Revolution (most recently the recipient of a 2018 Nautilus Book Award) and The Journal of Angela Ashby. The daughter of a rocket scientist and an artist, Liana combines the traits of both into a quirky yet pragmatic writer and in everything sees the story lurking beneath the surface.
Liana volunteers with high school students through EXP (expfuture.org). EXP unites business people and educators to prepare students for a meaningful place in the world of tomorrow. Working in partnership with industry and educators, EXP helps young people EXPerience, EXPand, and EXPlore.
Engaged in a battle against leukemia and lymphoma, Liana spends much of her time at home, but her imagination takes her wherever she wants to go.
Liana is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

Catch Up With Liana Gardner On:
lianagardner.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Twitter, & Facebook!







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Wednesday, November 27, 2019

A Forgiven Friend by Sue Featherstone and Susan Pape



A Forgiven Friend: Lies, Loss, and Love, But Always Friendship
Friendship will always come first.

There’s only one way out from rock bottom and that’s up, and Teri Meyer is finally crawling out from the worst time of her life – no thanks to her best friend Lee. But no matter, she’s finally found love – real love with a real man, a successful man, a man who accepts all her flaws. Teri’s never felt like this before, and yet it’s changing her in ways she doesn’t understand.



And there’s only one person who can help, one person who truly understands Teri.

It seems that no matter how hard Lee Harper tries, there’s a battle awaiting her at every turn these days, and she’s tired. And as if she needs the extra stress, Teri continues to create constant and unnecessary drama. But Lee’s the only one who really knows what’s going on under Teri’s hard, convoluted exterior, and that’s why she’s always been there for her.

But the question is: will Teri be there when Lee needs her most?

The brilliant and entertaining final book in the unique FRIENDS trilogy dishes out another dose of rib-tickling mayhem for our favourite thirty-something professional women.





How much more complicated can life be when your best friend is in a relationship with your ex-husband and quite possibly pregnant with a child he isn't at all excited about having?
Especially when you know about it, he doesn't and your mouth seems to have difficulty with impulse control? That mouth also seems to have its own way no matter the situation - romance, job interview, funeral  and more.
This could be tragic but it ends up being a hysterically funny, brilliant read. I loved the energy and the language.  We see situations from alternating perceptions. Sometimes vastly different. Doors will be slammed in faces but when the chips are down, who does one call?

 I did read this as a stand alone but immediately went and purchased the other books in the series.

Purchase Links

Breaking Price News!!


A Falling Friend (book 1) will be #FREE from November 18 - 22 (UK, AUS and US)


A Forsaken Friend (book 2): 99c/p from November 18 - 25 (UK and US)









Biographies: Sue Featherstone and Susan Pape
Sue Featherstone and Susan Pape are both former newspaper journalists with extensive experience of working for national and regional papers and magazines, and in public relations.
More recently they have worked in higher education, teaching journalism – Sue at Sheffield Hallam and Susan at Leeds Trinity University.

The pair, who have been friends for almost 30 years, wrote two successful journalism text books together – Newspaper Journalism: A Practical Introduction and Feature Writing: A Practical Introduction (both published by Sage), before deciding to turn their hands to fiction.
The first novel in their Friends series, A Falling Friend, was released in 2016. A Forsaken Friend followed two years later, and the final book in the trilogy, A Forgiven Friend, published on November 19.

Sue, who is married with two grown-up daughters, and the most ‘gorgeous granddaughter in the whole world’, loves reading, writing and Nordic walking in the beautiful countryside near her Yorkshire home.

Susan is married and lives in a village near Leeds, and, when not writing, loves walking and cycling in the Yorkshire Dales. She is also a member of a local ukulele orchestra.

They blog about books at https://bookloversbooklist.com/
 Follow them on Twitter: @SueF_Writer and @wordfocus





Tuesday, November 26, 2019

VanOps: The Lost Power by Avanti Centrae

VanOps: The Lost Power by Avanti Centrae Banner

 

 

VanOps: The Lost Power

by Avanti Centrae

on Tour November 4, 2019 - January 10, 2020

Synopsis:

VanOps: The Lost Power by Avanti Centrae
Da Vinci Code meets Tomb Raider in this award-winning thriller that #1 NYT's author James Rollins called, "Full of action and suspense."

Spain 1057: During a thunderous battle, the first King of Aragon wrestles Alexander the Great's priceless Egyptian weapon from the Moors, but finds it holds a terrifying and mysterious power.

A thousand years later, on a hushed, fog-shrouded, Napa morning, gunshots and the sound of breaking glass rip through the silence. Maddy Marshall, an app designer and aikido instructor, and her twin brother, Will Argones, an engineer, quickly run toward the sound. Horrified, they discover a sniper's bullet has found its human target.

Before the pool of blood on the living room floor is dry, the twins are sent on an arcane quest to recover Alexander's ancient weapon. Joined by a VanOps covert agent, they soon discover the rifle's sights are now set on them. No place is safe, a wrong move means death, and even a simple phone call is off limits if they are to survive.

From a medieval Spanish castle, they follow a time-worn trail, starting at a secret warren under the streets of Jerusalem. But if the killer finds the weapon first, it will be used to cripple the United States' eye-in-the-sky early warning systems, allowing the Russians to swoop in and prey on the vulnerable nation.

Can Maddy learn to wield the power of the dangerous weapon in time to stop the Russian scheme? Failure means the fragile world peace will be forever shattered…

Critical Praise for VanOps: The Lost Power

"Avanti Centrae’s VanOps: The Lost Power opens a tantalizing new series that combines historical mystery and cutting-edge science into a masterwork of international intrigue—with the promise of more to follow. Written with a dynamic, cinematic style and full of action and suspense, here’s a book that defines page-turner. Don’t miss this riveting debut!”
~ James Rollins, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Crucible
“Just a good ole’ fashioned rip-roaring adventure from start to finish. Enjoy the ride.”
~ Steve Berry, New York Times best-selling author
“A high-stakes, daring adventure charged with suspense and mystery!”
~ Ann Charles, USA TODAY bestselling author of the Deadwood Mystery Series
“The writing is superb. Easy to read and captivating. There is a mixture of mystery and action that keeps me turning pages. Readers who like Indiana Jones, or the books by James Patterson, Tom Clancy, and Vince Flynn, will enjoy Centrae’s first installment in her VanOps series.”
~ John Bernstein, Professional Reviewer

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Black Opal Books
Publication Date: November 9th 2019
Number of Pages: 308
ISBN: 1644371960 (ISBN13: 9781644371961)
Series: VanOps #1
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER 1

Napa Valley, California, June 25, 8:56 a.m., Present Day
Through the crosshairs of his long-barreled sweetheart, Ivan scanned the wood-casement window of the vineyard’s stone-walled residence, and waited for his intended target to walk into view. His movements were slow and meticulous.
Lying in the loft of an old barn, he calculated range, altitude, temperature, barometric pressure, wind speed, and humidity. His skin was irritated by the coarse hay that surrounded him, but he ignored the sensation and focused on his calculations. Click. He made a minor adjustment on his rifle to account for the drop of the round due to air density. And another for windage.
Although misty rivers of fog swirled into gray whirlpools around the winery, the computer enhanced scope of his Springfield EBR allowed him to visually lock onto the home’s large bank of windows. Human movement flickered behind the glass.
He didn’t want to pull the trigger. Nevertheless, Ivan waited for the perfect moment, the perfect shot.

CHAPTER 2

8:57 a.m.
As she headed toward her father’s vineyard, Maddy drove as fast as she dared down a familiar tree-lined Napa country lane. Today, she didn’t recognize the road. It looked eerie and unnatural. The area was draped in sheets of fog from yesterday’s unseasonable rain, and the silver half-light gave the trees an ethereal patina.
“Sensei, would you kill someone if you had to?” AJ asked. Surprised, Maddy frowned. “I’m not a sensei yet, remember?” She paused for a moment before she replied to his query.
“Where did that question come from?”
“We were talking about it in the locker room at the dojo after class. We know aikido is about non-violence, but what if you don’t have a choice?” His voice dropped to a dramatic whisper. “What if it was kill or be killed?”
Maddy shook her head. The things children thought about. “I would always look for another way.”
She glanced over at AJ, glad she’d brought him along today. His ears stuck out and his face was dotted with freckles. She found him adorable.
“Okay. Can martial arts masters light paper on fire with just their hands?”
Maddy halted the car at a stop sign and peered through the swirling patchy-dense fog, trying to get her bearings while she figured out how to answer this question. The mist distorted everything. She turned right.
Without warning, a smothering mass of black rustling feathers flew toward the car. She flinched in her seat and slammed on the car brakes. Her heart pounded. She stopped breathing and scanned the road ahead of her. After a long moment, she realized with chagrin that she had just scared a bunch of ugly, red-faced black turkey vultures into flight by turning onto a new road after a stop sign.
She took a deep breath. It wasn’t like her to be so jumpy. She was, after all, shodan, a first-dan black belt. But the sudden movement of wings, obscured through the morning’s foggy haze, had pulled her off balance. Maddy gave the car some gas and it inched forward down the road.
Maddy looked over at AJ. “Are you okay?” AJ laughed. “I’m okay. But that scared you!”
“Did not!” Maddy replied, twisting her ponytail.
“Did too—I saw you jump! And you smashed on the brakes.”
Maddy grinned for a moment at the childish banter and AJ’s creative language. It could be a happy day, in spite of everything. She loved AJ, she and Vincent had even talked about adopting him. Vincent, her former fiancĂ©. Of course, that was before the breakup. Since then, she’d been feeling brittle, and the nightmare last night didn’t help. The dream was gut-wrenching. Although the sensation had faded in the dim light of morning, much of it lingered like a bad relationship. That dream was probably why she was on edge and had jumped at the thrashing wings.
She looked at the dash clock—only a few minutes late. Heart still beating faster than normal, she turned down the long shadowy driveway of the once proud vineyard.

CHAPTER 3

9:02 a.m.
Up in the old barn, Ivan was close to the target, only seventy meters from the glass curtain that separated him from his quarry. Although the misty morning limited his visibility, he felt confident in his ability to execute the task Baron Sokolov had assigned to him.
Ivan recalled much longer-range kills. Two months ago, from a nearby skyscraper, he’d eliminated a traitorous spy during a French soccer match, piercing the man’s forehead as directed. His record was just under two thousand meters, one hundred fifty meters shy of the longest recorded sniper kill in history. But he reminded himself to stay vigilant and cautious, traits that had earned him medals as one of Russia’s most accurate shooters.
Being watchful was his nature. It was the silver lining of his disorder, congenital analgesia, which made him insensitive to pain. My gift from Mother, he thought.
Ivan wondered where on his body he would mark this job. His left arm was covered in sets of hash marks—scars, where he had marked his kills. He started scarring himself in school to impress the other children, and in time it had become a blood ritual after a task to remind himself to be careful, that he too could die. After this morning, it would be time to add another scar. At one hundred and fifty-five confirmed kills, he had scars on both thighs, both arms, and was running out of room for the marks.
Soon he would catch up to the kills his grandmother had recorded during World War II. After Germany had invaded, she had volunteered for the military and had one hundred and seventy-nine confirmed kills to her credit. Impressive. He remembered how she had taught him to shoot when he was young. She had a fondness for killing rabbits and he could still picture their crimson blood sprayed on the bright Siberian snow. However, patience was her favorite lesson and it had served him well.
A puff of wind tugged at a windmill in the distance, and the melancholy creak of metal scratching metal disturbed the morning silence. He held his breath and listened for any sound to indicate he’d been discovered. There was nothing further, only an unnatural, muted quiet.
Focused on his breathing and the window, he continued to wait for a clean shot.
He was tired of killing, but he had to do his job. This last job. Or his son would die.

CHAPTER 4

9:05 a.m.
Maddy’s car hit a pothole on the vineyard’s long gravel driveway. It annoyed her that Dad hadn’t said what was so urgent, and she’d been too distracted with the breakup to call him back.
As she drew closer to the house, she was irritated to see Will was playing fog-fetch with the dog in the front yard. What is he doing here? Did dad call all the siblings? Bella, too? Will waved, walked toward an obnoxious sky-blue convertible that must be a rental, and opened the trunk.
Maddy parked by Will’s car, near the house. She wished Dad would get the place painted. It was overdue and made the house look dilapidated in the gloom. Barking, her dad’s middle-aged golden retriever ran up to the car.
“A dog! Can I play with the dog?” AJ asked, true excitement in his voice.
“Sure, just don’t head too far into the vineyard,” Maddy replied. “His name is Squirrel.”
AJ bounded from the car and ran off, chasing the dog through the murky, fog-bound yard.
Will closed the trunk of the Mustang, moved around to the side of the car, and watched AJ and the dog playing. Dressed in his usual style, he wore tan cargo shorts, leather sandals, and a dark-blue Ralph Lauren polo shirt. Ever prepared for disaster, he had a small flashlight hanging from the front of his shorts, and she figured he had a knife in his pocket. He was holding two small travel bags and managed to cradle a book in his hand. Without a doubt, a geeky physics book.
Maddy had avoided prolonged contact with Will since their senior year in high school when he had pulled that awful prank. She had turned her back on him then, and her face flushed with the memory. As she opened her car door, she stood and swung her hair out of her face. Then she shut the door and walked over to him. It was so foggy and quiet, she didn’t even hear songbirds.
Maddy tried to keep the annoyance out of her voice. “Hello, Will.”
After they’d spent time apart, she was always surprised at the strength of their emotional bond. She couldn’t believe he was happy to see her—he had no shame! She had felt some connection to her boyfriends, Vincent included—I hate you right now, Vincent—and sometimes to her students at the dojo. But the connection was always strongest with Will, her twin, like it or not. He felt content now. She had almost missed his charm.
Will flashed his irksome, boyish, lopsided grin. “Hey, Maddy, it’s good to see you! Did you have a safe drive?”
To meet her, he walked around toward the front of the car. She noted his dark curly hair looked ruffled and a little shorter than the last time she’d seen him. His green eyes looked pinched, as if he were worried about something.
Dad sometimes teased that they all had Spanish olives for eyes, but she enjoyed sharing the feature. She just wished she’d been blessed with Will’s long eyelashes, instead of having to create them every day with mascara.
Maddy studied Will’s face. She noticed that the scar on his chin was almost hidden by a fashionable new beard that he’d grown since she’d seen him last year at Christmas dinner. The scar was always a painful reminder of the childhood accident that killed their mother.
As he put down the bags, he scratched the beard, casually leaned back against the hood of the Mustang, and crossed his long lanky legs.
She knew protocol called for a hug, and considered it. Rejecting the idea, she also ignored his worrywart question about the safe drive. “Did you leave Maria in Brazil?”
Maddy could tell from his eyes that Will didn’t understand her cold shoulder, and she didn’t care. He had never made amends for that thoughtless stunt back in high school and she wasn’t going to let him off the hook.
“No, I brought her with me,” he replied.
Remembering her nightmare, Maddy’s gut clenched. She tried to ignore it.
“We’ve both been working too hard.”
Instead, she lashed out, her voice rising more than she intended. “Was that wise? Bringing her? Do you even know what Dad wants?”
Will took a deep breath. “Gee, sis, simmer down. I thought I was the worrier of the family.” He met her gaze. “Maria was up for a change of scenery so we planned a romantic wine-country vacation. You know, the train, mud baths, that sort of thing? We might even stop by Safari West. Besides, you brought company.” He nodded toward AJ. “Who’s the little guy?”
“His name is AJ. He’s a foster kid from the dojo and it’s his birthday.” She watched AJ and the dog play a spontaneous game of tag. “Is that all Dad wants with us? A vacation? He sounded concerned on the message he left me. And didn’t mention you’d be here, or Bella. Is she coming? He didn’t even say why he wanted me to come, which just seems odd. Did you talk with him?”
“Bella is on her way, but no, we didn’t talk before I came up. I hope nothing is wrong. We just got here and haven’t had a chance to visit much, but he did mention he had some disconcerting news.” He paused. “You feel upset. What are you not telling me? What’s the big deal?”
On days like today, Maddy hated that the emotional bond between them worked both ways. She didn’t feel like telling him anything, especially about the dream. Irritated, she looked around for a way out of the conversation but didn’t see one. The sun was hidden, the vineyard foggy and subdued, like it was holding its breath.
She clenched her teeth and took a deep breath of her own. “I had a dream last night.”
Now his tone sharpened a notch. “What kind of dream?”
“A bad one. Maria was in it. I woke up early and it’s stuck with me since.”
“Tell me,” he demanded.
“I don’t know…there was blood on her face.”
She remembered another dream she had when they were six. The night before their mom died. She knew by the look on his face that he was remembering that dream, too.
“Blood on Maria’s face—” he frowned, thinking, questioning.
“Yes, it was horrible. Splattered like a Pollock painting. I don’t remember much else. But the feeling is still with me.” Her mood picked up a little, having gotten it off her chest. “It’s probably nothing. I just wish you hadn’t brought her.”
“Interesting,” he said. “You haven’t had one of those dreams in a while, have you? A real one?”
“No,” she said. “It’s been a few years and the last was about a boyfriend cheating on me. The dream ended that relationship.”
Will put his hands on his hips. “How is Vincent?” She grimaced.
Irritated, Maddy turned and headed up the sidewalk toward the house. Will grabbed the bags and his book, and followed her, his feet padding on the concrete.
As they walked, she remembered the lush landscaping that had been here once. It had provided a jumbled, colorful contrast to the acres and acres of straight green vines in the fields. Her father’s landscapers, back when he could afford them, had done well in this entry area. She couldn’t see it, but she inhaled the light scent of gardenia, and she recognized remnants of some sort of native grass, night-blooming jasmine, pansies, and roses. Vincent had brought her roses only three weeks ago. Bastard.
“I see,” Will said. “So…maybe this dream was a reaction to whatever is going on there?”
“Maybe—” she said. “I hope so.” Then she added, “Let’s go see what Dad wants.”

CHAPTER 5

9:15 a.m.
Ivan tugged on the two-stage trigger, testing it. He was used to his Soviet bolt-action SV-98, but in the interest of time and ease of entry into the country, he had purchased a black-market rifle in the States. He was pleased with his choice, and glad it had come with a suppressor. The Enhanced Battle Rifle was decent—he tested it out yesterday in an isolated vineyard he found for the purpose. The rifle was a little heavy, but he liked the trigger-shoe modification the prior owner had done, as it gave the pull a more natural feel.
He drew his attention back to the wood-casement window and twice glimpsed the oblivious inhabitant, dancing his way to death. A minute ago, the sound of car tires on gravel had come to him through the fog, so his partner, on lookout, should be reporting in.
On cue, a voice in his head broke the morning stillness, “Green Prius has parked at the front of the house.” The sniper appreciated that he could hear his partner’s Russian voice clearly through the high-tech device, as he was old enough to remember missions without such advanced technology.
“Driver?” he subvocalized the question, also in Russian, into the tiny molar microphone that had been custom formed to fit his teeth.
“She’s female, young, maybe thirty. Slim, with an olive complexion. Has sexy long dark hair in a ponytail, and is tall. Pretty tall for a woman. Rape-bait if you ask me. Dressed in jeans and a snug purple T-shirt,” his partner said.
On this job, his partner was here as much to keep an eye on him as to help, Ivan knew. The man’s simple mind and cruel nature were evident every time they worked together. The idiot had caused them to run late this morning. This part of the job should have been over an hour ago. Now it was getting complicated.
“That’s not what we’re here for,” Ivan hissed.
“Maybe. If so, you need to take your shot.” A few beats later his partner continued, “She was talking to the tall man next to the blue sports car. They look alike. Now they’re headed to the front door.”
There was a long pause. The sniper adjusted his hold on the rifle, concentrating. He’d read the dossiers on Maddy Marshall and her twin brother, Will Argones. Argones was an engineer, no real threat. But the Marshall woman. A world-class athlete and national ski champion who had been a favorite for Olympic gold, she’d used her lightning-fast reflexes to become a warrior in an unusual martial art. And she was gifted with a keen intelligence. A dangerous combination. In another time and place, he’d have been interested in her as a mate.
He swore. Based on his orders, their arrival meant he had run out of time.
A low whistle pierced his ear.
“Ivan, she’s got long legs. You know I like long legs, right? Why don’t we stick around and have some fun?”
“You’re a pig and the baron was clear in our instructions,” the sniper replied, with heat in his tone.
“You’re a bore. Oh, she had a kid with her in the car.”
“A kid? What kid?” The dossier didn’t mention a child! That wasn’t part of the deal. I may go down in flames if the baron makes me shoot a kid. This target is one thing but
“How do I know what kid? He looks like he’s eight or nine. Red hair, big ears. He’s playing with the dog in the vineyard.” Ivan hoped the kid and dog were off in a different direction. At home, Ivan’s son might be playing with his own dog. But that thought was dangerous. “Just make sure they don’t come this way.”
His attention back on the window, Ivan finally got a complete look at one of the other inhabitants: a short, dark-skinned woman. She wore a pale pink blouse above a blue skirt and Ivan prayed she would get out of the way. He didn’t like killing women. However, he knew that, whether he liked it or not, the latter part of the baron’s plan already called for its share of female bloodshed.
The older man, near a black sofa, came into Ivan’s sights for a brief moment. It appeared that he and the younger woman were moving into the room with all the windows. Ivan knew it was time.
Ivan was glad now they’d chosen a fast getaway car. “I must focus—go get the car ready.”
The older man came completely into view. He was tall, clean-shaven, tan-skinned, with owlish glasses. His receding black hair was streaked with gray, and he wore slacks and a white button-down shirt. Yes, finally.
But the woman was directly behind the target! Move, he willed to her. Please.
This was the best shot he had. Time had run out! He had no choice but to urge her to move at the last minute.
He took a slow, steady breath and tugged again on the two-stage trigger. Only this time, it wasn’t a test.

CHAPTER 6

9:20 a.m.
AJ and Squirrel, done with the chase and on to a game of fetch, ran around the side yard, enjoying the grass and the feel of morning in the dense, wet fog. AJ loved all things nature.
Feeling happy today made him miss his parents. He had vague memories of joyful times when they took him to his grandparent’s Ukrainian dairy farm. When the Russians came and killed his grandparents, his parents and he had fled to San Francisco. Then, one day, his mom and dad had been caught in the crossfire of a convenience store holdup while stopping for milk. That’s what he’d gathered, no one had told him.
Since his parents’ death he’d been in foster care, because all of his family back in Ukraine were dead, too. He didn’t like his foster family because they ignored him, but he loved Maddy and did whatever his foster creeps asked so that he could go to the dojo. Maddy treated him the way his mom used to, warm and caring.
Today, he was full of pleasure—hanging out with Maddy, getting to chase a dog outside. More than anything, he wanted a real family again. And a dog, just maybe not one named Squirrel. Someday, he’d get a big dog to protect him and name it Rufus, or Damien.
AJ threw a stick and tried out the new name, “Damien, fetch!”
After several minutes of chasing the stick in the side yard, AJ decided they should play a new game in the rows of vines.
“C’mon, Damien,” he called as he ran into the shadows, followed by the panting dog.
The morning was blissfully perfect as they ran up and down the rows. Then a loud crack sounded from the direction of the barns, like a tree branch breaking. He called his new canine friend and they headed off to investigate.
***
Excerpt from VanOps: The Lost Power by Avanti Centrae. Copyright 2019 by Avanti Centrae. Reproduced with permission from Avanti Centrae. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

Avanti Centrae
International award-winning author who blends intrigue, history, science, and mystery into nonstop thrillers.
Avanti Centrae is the author of the international award-winning VanOps thriller series. An avid world-traveler, she's studied aikido, been a river raft guide, and thrives on adventure. Her book, The Lost Power, took home a genre grand prize blue ribbon at the Chanticleer International Book Awards, and an Honorable Mention at the 2018 Hollywood Book Festival. She resides in Northern California with her family and German Shepherds.

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Monday, November 25, 2019

A Bad Hair Day Cookbook: Recipes from Nancy J. Cohen's Cozy Mystery Series



A Bad Hair Day Cookbook: Recipes from Nancy J. Cohen's Cozy Mystery Series 

by Nancy J. Cohen

 

About the Book

 
 
A Bad Hair Day Cookbook: Recipes from Nancy J. Cohen's 
Cozy Mystery Series
Cozy Cookbook Orange Grove Press (November 19, 2019)
Paperback: 324 pages 
ISBN-10: 099979325X
ISBN-13: 978-0999793251
Digital ASIN: B07XSH6C7B 

Are you having a bad hair day? Whip out your whisk, snatch up your spoon, and prepare your palate. Inside the pages of this cookbook are recipes that will bring you good cheer.
Enjoy 160+ tasty recipes from Nancy J. Cohen’s popular Bad Hair Day cozy mystery series. Included in this cookbook are excerpts, cooking tips, and anecdotes written by hairstylist and savvy sleuth Marla Vail. From appetizers to desserts, Marla offers cooking tips and tricks along with commentary about the dishes she prepares for her family. Whether you’re a skilled cook or an eager novice, this cookbook will unravel the mystery of cooking. Put on your apron and plan to make some killer recipes. Bonuses Include:
•Meet the Sleuth •Introduction by Marla Vail •Cooking Tips •Excerpts from Series Titles •Themed Menu Suggestions •“A Sabbath Dinner” by Nancy’s Mother For Home Cooks, Food Lovers, Mystery Fans and Cookbook Collectors Recipes are listed in these categories: APPETIZERS BEVERAGES BREADS SAUCES SOUPS ENTREES – BEEF ENTREES – LAMB ENTREES – POULTRY ENTREES – FISH ENTREES – VEGETARIAN SIDE DISHES DESSERTS
“Reading through this cookbook has revived my interest in getting back in the kitchen.” Rhonda Gilliland, Author and Editor of the Cooked to Death Series
“Designed for busy cooks who may not be out solving crimes, but whose time is equally challenged.” Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review
“Mysteries and cookbooks belong side by side on readers’ shelves. A Bad Hair Day Cookbook serves up both food and justice.” Christine A. Jackson, Ph.D., Author of Myth and Ritual in Women’s Detective Fiction


Delicious and non-intimidating recipes for the whole family to enjoy. 
PLUS we get to read wonderful excerpts from some of my favorite cozy mysteries as well.

I always enjoy getting to know more about the characters in my favorite series. Here we are hearing from Marla Vail about the food and traditions and sometimes even what can go not quite perfectly.
I especially appreciated the menus for Themed meals and special events.

I use my oven more in cooler months and look forward to trying more of the recipes and reading cozy mysteries while they cook and bake.

About Nancy J. Cohen



Nancy J. Cohen writes the Bad Hair Day Mysteries featuring South Florida hairstylist Marla Vail. Titles in this series have been named Best Cozy Mystery by Suspense Magazine, won a Readers' Favorite gold medal, placed first in the Chanticleer International Book Awards and third in the Arizona Literary Awards. Nancy’s instructional guide, Writing the Cozy Mystery, was nominated for an Agatha Award and won a gold medal at the President’s Book Awards from the Florida Authors and Publishers Association. 
When not busy writing, Nancy enjoys cooking, fine dining, cruising, visiting Disney World, and shopping.

Author Links Website: https://nancyjcohen.com
  Blog: https://nancyjcohen.com/blog
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  LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nancyjcohen
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  Pinterest: https://pinterest.com/njcohen/
  BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/nancy-j-cohen
  Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/nancyjcohen


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Saturday, November 23, 2019

Lottie Sparkles' Magical Discovery



Lottie Sparkles Magical Discovery

Who wouldn't like a magical jacket?




Lottie Sparkles is a little girl who loves everything sparkly,mainly clothes. Anything plain or dirty is a disgrace in Lottie s mind! When Lottie is sent to spend time with her lovely grandparents in the countryside, she is furious because that essentially means smelly animals, lots of puddles and hard work!But what she certainly didn't count on was coming face to face with a magical object.






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https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/47859208-lottie-sparkles-magical-discovery?from_search=true



Lottie loves sparkly things, especially clothing. When her parents send her to the country to spend time with her grandparents, all Lottie sees is dullness and mud. Her grandmother presents Lottie with a pet, an experiment gone wrong.  When all of Lottie's clean, bright, sparkly wardrobe is stolen and destroyed by the animals, she pouts and hides away in her bedroom.
Finally, all she has left to wear are the plain, DULL clothing her grandparents offer. So what could it hurt to go explore the dusty attic?
That is where the magic happens.
Lottie must open her eyes to possibility and learn to have fun.
Maybe her grandparents knew better after all.

While there is no great moral in this book, Lottie still loves and depends upon her sparkly things at the end, but she does find happiness and may be open to new experiences next time she goes to visit.



Author Bio –



The author loves everything sparkly and glittery but hopefully,she says, she is not a diva like Lottie from her book. Aside from all the glitz and glamour,she is a collector of magical books, tea sets, movies and a huge fan of chocolate. She has two little girls also known as "The Little Book-Fairies" with a BIG imagination.
Social Media Links –





TURKEY BASTED TO DEATH

Turkey Basted to Death (The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series) 

by Jodi Rath

 


Cozy Mystery 2.5 in the Series - A Holiday Book 
MYS ED LLC (November 15, 2019) 
Number of Pages 133 pages
Digital ASIN: B07WRJXBLX


Thanksgiving is here, and Jolie Tucker has had quite the year! She is ready to sit back and relax with family and friends. But this is Leavensport, OH—so get ready for intense therapy sessions, dysfunctional family holiday gatherings, uninvited guests, and an inner-city teen advocate found DEAD—stabbed in the ear with the turkey baster!
Welcome to Leavensport, OH, where DEATH takes a DELICIOUS turn!


When Thanksgiving comes along two subjects come easily to mind - food and family.
This traditional cozy mystery easily mixes both and delivers a full meal to the table.

When the town is required to add a few extra guests to a community dinner, and murder shows up as an uninvited guest, Jolie and Ava can not resist looking for the reasons.
Various romantic elements are included but a good portion of the book focuses on therapy for Jolie and her journaling to unearth the roots of her beliefs and responses.

Some of the book may make certain readers uncomfortable. Introspection often does.
Topics of belonging and acceptance are central to the plot.

Secrets will be uncovered and the pot may boil over.



About the Author


Moving into her second decade working in education, Jodi Rath has decided to begin a life of crime in her The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series. Her passion for both mysteries and education led her to combine the two to create her business MYS ED, where she splits her time between working as an adjunct for Ohio teachers and creating mischief in her fictional writing. She currently resides in a small, cozy village in Ohio with her husband and her seven cats.
Author Links:
 Webpage: https://www.jodirath.com/
  FB: https://www.facebook.com/jodirath
FB Author Page: Author Jodi Rath
  Twitter @jodirath
  Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard
 Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/jodi-rath
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jodirath/
  • Monthly Newsletter Link: http://eepurl.com/dIfXdb Get Short Story “Sweet Retreat” for free by subscribing to my monthly newsletter. Subscribe to my newsletter to receive free flash fiction, A Mystery a Month, serial scenes from series, and deleted scenes).
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Friday, November 22, 2019

The Fever Cabinet (Professor Molly Mysteries) by Frankie Bow


The Fever Cabinet (Professor Molly Mysteries) by Frankie Bow

About The Fever Cabinet

 
Cozy Mystery 9th in Series
Hawaiian Heritage Press (August 20, 2019)
(November 20, 2019, all formats) 
Print Length: 209 pages 
ASIN: B07VFD3D26

An abandoned hospital, an antique contrivance, and a very modern murder . . .
All Professor Molly wanted to do was teach literature. Instead she's just been named chair of her department at Mahina State University, and her department has been relocated to a run-down former asylum. She's buried in paperwork and her dean has assigned her to mentor the department's new "star", the prickly Fiona Spencer.
Fiona Spencer had her own reasons for relocating from Oxford to join the faculty at remote Mahina State University. She is willing to put up with the broken air conditioning and constant construction noise in the College of Commerce building (formerly the Territorial Inebriates' Asylum). She can even tolerate her annoying department head, Molly Barda. But when she finds a body in her office, clamped into an antique medical device, it's all a bit much. Especially when she becomes a murder suspect.
Now Fiona and Molly have to work together to find a solution. And the answer won't be found in the back of the textbook.


Professor and Department Head (and new mother) Molly Barda has her hands full as her offices at Mahina State University are undergoing a MAJOR renovation (behind schedule and over the non-existent budget.) Is it even possible that the building, an old hospital, is haunted? She also was the fortunate one to get a new hire into her department but that came with extra responsibilities, including making sure the new hire, Dr. Fiona Spencer, from Oxford, England, felt welcomed, included, and did not immediately turn tail and run. Even the locals consider Mahina State to be less than a "real" college. Dr. Spencer's reasons for joining the faculty are personal, some of which are connected to her husband's position as Head Master at a neighboring boys academy.
Secrets abound, almost as many as the obstacles and difficulties Molly and Fiona must face as they attempt to figure out what is behind all the dark things happening at both educational institutions.
They must join forces to survive.

If you have read any of the previous books in this series and have a feel (or an ear) for the jargon and local flavor, you may enjoy this book more. Molly and Emma are very strong characters. The addition of new, very interesting people gives this book a fresh boost of energy.


About Frankie Bow


 Like Professor Molly, Frankie Bow teaches at a public university. Unlike her protagonist, she is blessed with delightful students, sane colleagues, and a perfectly nice office chair.
She believes if life isn’t fair, at least it can be entertaining.
In addition to writing murder mysteries, she publishes in scholarly journals under her real name.
Her experience with academic publishing has taught her to take nothing personally.
  Author Links Twitter https://twitter.com/Frankie_Bow
  Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7809288.Frankie_Bow
  Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/frankie_bow/
  Facebook https://www.facebook.com/frankie.bow.1
  LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/frankiebow/
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/frankie_bow/

  Purchase Links - Amazon - Apple - B&N - Kobo

 

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