Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Shadow Fall by Laura Griffin (Spotlight, excerpt, review and GIVEAWAY) TBT

Shadow Fall
The Tracers #9
By: Laura Griffin
Releasing September 22, 2015
Pocket Books  

In the ninth romantic suspense novel in the New York Times bestselling Tracers series, author Laura Griffin brings back her elite cadre of forensic experts as they hunt down the most brutal serial killer yet.

Special Agent Tara Rushing arrives at a grisly murder scene and quickly discovers she’s got a serial killer on her hands. The killer is meticulous, making sure to wipe up even the smallest traces of evidence…but the Delphi Center experts are on the case.

The local sheriff has a suspect all picked out—ex-Marine and current security expert Liam Wolfe. Despite all her digging, Tara knows very little about Liam when she shows up at his sprawling Texas compound, which serves as headquarters for Wolfe Security, and she’s surprised by her intense physical reaction to him.

As she and Liam grow closer, Tara finds herself depending on his skills and expertise to help her track a killer. But when another body turns up, Tara must decide if she can trust the man who’s quickly stealing her heart.

The ninth novel in the Tracers series that combines gripping plot twists with spine-tingling romance, Shadow Fall once again proves that “Laura Griffin gets better with each book” (The Romance Reviews).

Tara looked out the window again and realized her pulse was still thrumming. He unnerved her. It wasn’t just his size, it was his attitude. Maybe she was self-conscious because he’d caught her off guard. She was definitely embarrassed that she’d pulled her weapon on him.
She adjusted the vent and got a waft of hot air. His attitude bothered her, but she liked his truck. It smelled like leather and earth and felt deliciously warm. She forced herself to ignore the flutter of nerves generated by being alone in the dark with him. The nerves weren’t from fear but something else. And she wondered which was worse, being afraid of a man she was investigating or being attracted to him?

“You shouldn’t come out here alone.”

She looked at him. “Why not?”

“We’ve got more than a few meth heads around here. You don’t want to walk up on something, not without backup.”

She watched his face in the dimness, uneasy with the protective tone of his voice.

“We confirmed the ID today,” she said.

“I know.”

That ticked her off.

“Won’t be long till the media has it,” he added.

“Where are you getting your information?”

He didn’t answer.

“And the other day,” she said, “how’d you know we were here, me and M.J.? Are you having us tailed?”

Even if he was, he’d probably never admit it. But she at least needed to ask and get his reaction. Shadowing investigators could definitely be considered suspicious behavior.

Although she had to be honest with herself. She didn’t consider him a real suspect. Despite his links to the victim, she simply didn’t feel it.

“I’m guessing you filmed us approaching your property and ran my plate,” she said.

The corner of his mouth lifted. “Nothing that cloak-and- dagger.” He glanced at her. “I’m friends with Crystal.”

“Who’s Crystal?”

“She waited on you at the Waffle Stop. Bright red hair, eyebrow ring.”

She turned to face the window. “Small-town grapevine. And here I’ve been all impressed with your spying abilities.”

“You should be.” He pulled up to her Explorer and parked. “We’re the best there is.”

She looked at him in the darkness, so confident it bordered on arrogance. And the crazy thing was she believed him. She bought into it completely—he was that good.

His eyes locked on hers, and the air between them felt charged with electricity. His gaze dropped to her mouth, and her heart skittered. Was he going to kiss her? He eased closer, watching her, making her heart pound.


Goodreads Series Link

Buy Links:  AmazonB & N | iTunes | Kobo  

Author Info

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author LAURA GRIFFIN started her career in journalism before venturing into the world of romantic suspense. She is a two-time RITA Award winner (for the books Scorched and Whisper of Warning) as well as the recipient of the Daphne du Maurier Award (for Untraceable). Laura currently lives in Austin, where she is working on her next book.



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My review:
5 out of 5 stars

Shadow Fall by Laura Griffin is part of the ‘Tracers’ series and follows FBI Special Agent Tara Rushing who is thrust into a murder investigation that threatens to spiral out of control.  She must deal with not only the hostility and lack of cooperation by the local law enforcement, but also with the uncomfortable feelings evoked by a potential suspect, Liam Wolfe.  The quest to solve the case necessitates that she work with all kinds of resources, and involving the experts at the Delphi Center gives her a wealth of information, but she must rely on her instincts and her guts to catch a killer and distinguish between those who would help and those who would harm, and lives depend on her making the right call.

This exciting romantic suspense story is one of those that captures the attention immediately and ratchets up the tension to keep one enthralled throughout the entire journey.  The characters are revealed with the author’s usual dexterity, with additional layers gradually added to give them depth and charisma.  I love that the heroine is a warrior driven to protect, unique in her inclusion on a SWAT team, and capable of impressing and surprising the hero.  Her tenacity and ferocity make her a perfect addition to the series and the mystery and quiet competence that surround the hero makes him a wonderful foil for her.  I also appreciate that some of the secondary characters manage to be distinctive and I hope that they get larger roles in subsequent stories as I would love to learn more about them.  Sadly, some of those in the background are almost stereotypical but I get the feeling that this is intentional, in order to confuse the issues in places.  One should be forewarned that there is a fair degree of violence but this is one of those stories that keeps the reader captivated and a little jumpy in the best way and compelled to lose sleep in order to see what happens.  This is a great addition to an excellent series and I look forward to reading addition stories featuring these fascinating folks.

© Night Owl Reviews

I received a copy of this title in return for an honest review.

 The first four in the series...


 My review for Snapped is at this link

The next four in the series...


My review for Twisted is at this link
My review for Scorched is at this link
My review for Exposed is at this link
My review for Beyond Limits is at this link

(can you tell I like the series?)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Gollywhopper Games: Friend or Foe by Jody Feldman (review)

The Gollywhopper Games: Friend or Foe, written by Jody Feldman and illustrated by Victoria Jamieson, is a children’s story that follows the adventures of Zane Braycott as he competes in the annual contest. The series of tasks that he must complete requires excelling in both mental and physical skills as well as a competitive spirit that combines teamwork and strategy as well as self-confidence. Only one person can win the Gollywhopper Games, but what will it take to be that person and is Zane willing to focus on something other than his beloved football long enough to compete?

  I think that a good children’s book is one that tells an engaging story while encouraging creativity and mental exercise and this book definitely does both. It was entertaining to solve puzzles right along with Zane, and a relief that one could just plow ahead for the answer if one was feeling lazy (or lost, lol) about trying to figure out what was being asked. The combination of mental and physical challenges make me wish these games really existed because I think that they would be both fun and educational, and would encourage children to exercise both sets of muscles (mental and physical). The underlying story is all too relevant a subject, as Zane has to face the potential repercussions of brain injury resulting from head trauma, but the message that being well-rounded is a bonus is artfully conveyed. I was pleased that a gamut of attitudes toward gamesmanship and the spirit of competition were described (with delightfully satisfying results for some attitudes) even as I was enthralled by the games themselves. The asides that deal with the machinations of the adults weren’t quite as necessary as far as I was concerned, but I don’t know whether this is an ongoing series that addresses the sabotage. This was a fun read with delightful illustrations that I think will be appreciated by both adults and youngsters, and I would love to read more by this author.
© Night Owl Reviews 

I received a copy of this title in return for an honest review. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Signs of Life by Melanie Hansen (Promo, Excerpt, Review) TBT ADULT titl

Enter to Win a
$50.00 Amazon eGift Card

Resilient Love #2
Melanie Hansen
Releasing Sept 28th, 2015
Dreamspinner Press

Successful lawyer Jeremy Speer has it all—a loving husband, a beautiful home, and a cherished dream that’s about to become reality. He’s learned not to take happiness for granted, meeting the challenges of life and love head-on with unwavering commitment and fierce devotion. A series of tragic events leave Jeremy shattered, adrift on a sea of unimaginable pain. He’s able to piece his life back together, but instead of embracing it, he merely exists, using isolation and punishing physical exertion to keep the world at bay.

High school teacher Kai Daniels has a heart for at-risk kids—he was one himself, and a teenage brush with the law and some troubled years behind bars left him scarred inside and out. With courage, hard work, and the support of friends, he’s built a fulfilling life that leaves no time for a relationship.

An intense encounter with Kai at a gay club ignites a spark in Jeremy that he thought was extinguished forever, but he’s unwilling to destroy the fragile peace he’s managed to create, and he leaves Kai humiliated and disappointed. Things should have ended there, but a bizarre occurrence brings the two together in a way neither of them expected.


Jeremy almost flinched as the man’s eyes met his, but somehow he managed not to. There was something vaguely familiar about him, which was why Jeremy had been watching him in the first place, but he was positive they’d never met; this man was unforgettable. When Jeremy had first walked into the club, so noisy and crowded, he’d almost turned around and left. It was a mad impulse that led him here in the first place, and it had been so long since Jeremy was impulsive that he felt shaken and out of his depth. That fact alone had stiffened his resolve to stay for at least a little while; then he’d gotten a glimpse of the beautiful, exotic man, and nothing could have convinced him to leave.

The first thing that struck Jeremy was how confident he seemed, how he held himself. Here was a man who knew who he was and was comfortable in his own skin. He was simply dressed in a tight black graphic T-shirt and jeans, but when he’d stood up from his stool to dig his wallet out of his back pocket to pay for his drink, Jeremy’s mouth watered as the jeans slid down to ride low on the man’s slim hips, showing a slice of muscled belly.

His shoulders were broad, his torso slim and compact yet rippling with muscle under the tight shirt. Long, lean legs were showcased by the soft, worn jeans, black boots completing the look. As Jeremy stood at the edges of the sheltering crowd and stared, he noticed the leather bracelets and silver rings the man sported on his wrists and hands, his eyes following the corded forearms up to a tattoo that was just visible on his right bicep, the lower edge of it peeking out of the sleeve of the shirt.

Jeremy edged closer, lust surging through him, his eyes drinking in thick black hair, carelessly styled, and a nose that had been broken before but did nothing to detract from the man’s startling good looks. As he tilted his head back to take a long swallow of his beer, Jeremy’s mouth watered at the arch of his throat, the muscles working as he swallowed, a pair of sinful lips wrapped around the tip of the bottle like Jeremy suddenly wanted them wrapped around the tip of his cock, drinking him down as Jeremy emptied his balls against the back of his throat….

Then the man’s eyes met his, the predatory heat in them making Jeremy’s knees weak. As the man licked his lips, Jeremy noticed with a jolt he was sporting a hoop through the lower one, emphasizing the plump fullness of it, and the simmering lust ramped up into raging hunger. Helplessly Jeremy moved closer, the man holding his gaze, the eyeliner he had lightly applied around his amazing golden eyes making him look even more exotic, dangerous.

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Melanie Hansen has spent time in Texas and Florida prisons…for work. She’s been in a room with a 17-year-old mass murderer who was also one of the most soft-spoken and polite teenagers she’s ever met. After a 13-year career as a court reporter, she can tell many stories both hilarious and heartbreaking.

She grew up with an Air Force dad, and ended up marrying a Navy man. After living and working all over the country, she hopes to bring these rich and varied life experiences to her stories about people finding love amidst real-life struggles.

Melanie left the stressful world of the courtroom behind and now enjoys a rewarding career transcribing for a deaf student. She currently lives in Arizona with her husband and two sons.


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Check out the first in the Resilient Love Series


My review:

4.75 out of 5 stars

Signs of Life by Melanie Hansen is part of the ‘Resilient Love’ series and is a sequel to “Everything Changes”. This story follows Jeremy Speer who has had to cope with horrendous tragedies, with varying degrees of success. He crosses paths a couple of times with Kai Daniels, under far different circumstances, but each time is memorable. Kai has had his own demons to deal with, and the hot sexy man he is attracted to is very clear about what he is willing to accept and what his boundaries are. Life tends to throw its share of curveballs, however, and each man has to decide whether what he thinks he wants is truly what will work for the two of them.

The word I would use to describe this story is intense. There is intense emotionalism, intense intimacy, and intense relationships. This is one of those tales that plummets down and takes its characters through a crucible that threatens to destroy them before allowing them to gingerly explore whether they can even reach for happiness. The secondary characters are also intriguing and it was delightful to get a chance to see Jase and Carey from the first book in the series and I look forward to reading Loren’s story. The heartbreaking issues of abuse and the terrible cycle of poverty and oppression are sensitively depicted and I suspect that anyone reading this tale will need several tissues, just as I did. I was enthralled by the combination of angst and searing intimacy and I look forward to reading more chapters in this compelling series.

A copy of this title was provided to me for review.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Cozy mystery authors at the Redondo Beach Public Library

One of the umpteen mailing lists I am on is for the Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore.  I was really sad when their Redondo Beach location closed, but they have graciously continued to have get-togethers that link readers and authors and the Redondo Beach public library generously provides a venue, so I was delighted to discover that there was going to be a meeting while I was in town and available to attend.  Even more fun, one of my elderly friends, a play-aunt, agreed to come with me. 

I was a little apprehensive because I hadn't been to this library before, and of course, despite the fact that we left what I considered more than early enough, we ran into problems with traffic...both on the freeway and on the streets!  Despite this, we were virtually the first to arrive...which, of course, made me nervous because it meant I couldn't skulk in the back.  It turns out my play-aunt (a former teacher) prefers the front row--so we compromised by sitting in the second one, lol.

I was delighted to discover that four different authors were presenting their books and were going to talk about the cozy mystery genre as well.  Another cozy mystery author also joined the audience during the presentation, so I had the pleasure of meeting all five of them!

They discussed some of the common elements, including a small-town setting, a non-graphic murder, a unifying theme such as a handicraft, cooking, or a profession, and discovered that they all had heroines who had either just broken off a relationship or were recovering from a failed one. Several of the authors have animals who also feature prominently in the stories, which is always a wonderful bonus for me.

I have several cozy mystery authors who I have been following for years, so it was fun to have some of the elements that characterize the genre pointed out and I was delighted to learn about new titles to add to the TBR mountain!  I had the opportunity to chat with Linda O. Johnston in the Writerspace chatroom earlier in the week, but the rest of these fun ladies were new to me. 

This the panel who spoke:  Ellen Byron, Diana Vallere, Linda O. Johnston, and Marty Wingate.  Some of their books are featured below (with links to AMZ, I am an affiliate, so, if you purchase them through the link, I will get a very small percentage)

Bite the Biscuit (A Barkery & Biscuits Mystery)

Knock on Wood (A Superstition Mystery)

Linda O. Johnston

Between a Rock and a Hard Place: A Potting Shed Mystery (Potting Shed Mystery series Book 3)

Marty Wingate

Crushed Velvet (A Material Witness Mystery)

Pillow Stalk (A Madison Night Mystery Book 1)
(very cute pun on Doris Day and her movies)

Diana Vallere
(she also provided tape measures for the audience!)

Plantation Shudders: A Cajun Country Mystery

Ellen Byron

Ellen's swag:

And, guess what?  It turns out they were holding a drawing for a door prize, which was a basket including everything ranging from a cupcake-shaped pincushion to tote bags to an alligator cookie cutter...and guess who won?

What a surprise!

I also had the opportunity to meet the lovely Connie Archer

Ladle to the Grave (A Soup Lover's Mystery)

What a great day!

And don't forget, if you want a chance to win a set of historical romance books by Meredith Duran (U.S. residents only), leave a comment at this link by the end of 9/30/2015 (Pacific time)