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Friday, August 23, 2019

LSBBT BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: The Bird Boys by Lisa Sandlin (Mystery/Noir)

A Delpha Wade and Tom Phelan Mystery
Genre: Gentle Noir / Mystery / Women Sleuths
Date of Publication: August 20, 2019
Number of Pages: 306

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The new novel from award-winning author Lisa Sandlin catches up with the almost-murdered secretary Delpha Wade (The Do-Right, 2015, set in 1973) as she’s released from a hospital in order to be tucked into the back seat of a police cruiser.

Her boss, P. I. Tom Phelan, sets out to spring her. He needs her back in his investigation business, where he’ll soon be chasing a skulking grand larcenist and plotting how to keep a ganjapreneur out of the grabby hands of a brand new agency, the D.E.A.

Delpha digs through old records and knocks on strange doors to unravel the dangerous case of two brothers with beaucoup aliases—verifying that sometimes truth is not true, but murder is always murder.


Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“What makes this crime novel soar is the humanity and humility of its main characters. It is by turns exciting, tender, suspenseful, observant, and gently funny. Readers will eagerly await the next installment.” 

Booklist, Starred Review
“Sandlin’s sequel soars on the wings of its spot-on evocation of a time and place and its utterly compelling central characters... A first-rate series crying for word-of-mouth support.”

Kirkus, Starred Review
“Proving that anything old can be new in the right, talented hands, Sandlin has crafted an outstanding series that readers will want to follow and savor.”

Robert Faires, Austin Chronicle
"I confess that as a Beaumonster who remembers that city in the early seventies, the book has a special appeal; Sandlin gets so many details just right. But you don't have to have lived there to be captivated by The Bird Boys. Its characters, wit, exquisite prose, and sense of redemption are so richly crafted that they'll stick to most anyone like, well, a shirt to your skin on an August afternoon in Beaumont."

I received a copy of this book for free. This is my honest and thoughtful review.

As a huge fan of the mystery genre, I was immediately drawn to the synopsis and the cover. Dark, creepy, and eerie looking, and following a near miss from a serial killer, I was excited to get started on this one. Unfortunately, there quickly seemed to be something that I wasn't connecting with, and I have to believe that it was the "noir" conventions that were just not for me. Nihilism and cynicism colored the mood, and everyone seemed to be entangled in a web of doom and gloom of their own making. While Tom and Delpha try to do the best they can for their clients who are bent on self-destruction themselves, a cloud of fatalism cast its shadow and followed everyone around. 

Overall, the storytelling is striking, and I can acknowledge the definite appeal this series has to a wide audience; I just need a little more optimism in my reading. I can absolutely appreciate and understand what makes this series so special and an entertaining and enthralling read for many; however, for me, it was slightly too literary for my taste and attention span right now. 

"Soon as the office was cleared for business, Phelan trashed the yellow crime tape and hired industrial cleaning guys to blast the blood from the wood floor, patch up the stain. He'd paid them extra to work on the weekend. Still smelled funky though. Bleachy - and underneath, a whiff of something live, gone over. He pushed up the windows and let Beaumont's August heat K.O. his stuttering AC unit."

Personal preference aside, this is a fantastically modern call back to the classic detective story. Set in 1970s Beaumont, the story is incredibly atmospheric and intensely descriptive, capturing the setting of this town in such a gripping way that in a sense it becomes its own character as well. Having grown up in a coastal refinery town myself, I could smell the oil burning and feel the heat and humidity resonating off the page. Every word matters, and the author uses language stylistically to not just captivate with her descriptions, but create strong dialogue and internal conversation. Yet, for me, the narrative became overwhelmed with too many words that implied more than it seemed to just come right out and say. I found myself getting lost and ultimately feeling detached towards a story that I initially assumed would work for me. 

"The library drew her, and not just for the books - the building, rough limestone blocks, a towered and turreted castle fit for a river king. Close behind the castle ran the slow brown Neches."

Not surprisingly, the scenes revolving around case research and the library were phenomenal! Book lovers will definitely be transfixed by the author's ability to envelope readers in the complete essence of the bookish experience. 

The reading experience is deeply personal to each of us, and what may not work for me may be the exact right read for you. This original voice weaves together a compellingly gritty character study that remains steadfast to its thematically bleak truth. Definitely begin with the first book, THE DO-RIGHT, to fully embrace this edgy and wholly intelligent genre.

Lisa Sandlin is the author of The Do-Right, winner of the Shamus Award from the Private Eye Writers of America and the Hammett Prize from the International Association of Crime Writers. Her new mystery thriller The Bird Boys is set in 1973 in the same town she was born, Beaumont, Texas. Her previous books are The Famous Thing About Death and Message to the Nurse of Dreams, Cinco Puntos Press; In the River Province, SMU Press; and You Who Make the Sky Bend, Pinyon Publishing.


THREE WINNERS: Choice of eBook or Print Copies of THE BIRD BOYS
August 20-30, 2019
(International - eBooks only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway  Best of luck!

Many thanks to Lone Star Book Blog Tours and Lisa Sandlin! It was a pleasure reading, reviewing, and hosting! And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions and extras!

Author Interview

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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

BOOK BLAST: Apples and Alibis by Gayle Leeson (Cozy Mystery)

Apples and Alibis
A Down South Cafe Mystery #4
Gayle Leeson

Genre: Cozy Mystery
  Publisher: Grace Abraham Publishing
  Date of Publication: August 13, 2019
Number of Pages: 188

That’s the last time Amy agrees to do a favor for a stranger… Down South Cafe owner, Amy Flowers is in over her head. Operating a cafe while hosting the first Farmers’ Market in Winter Garden has her swimming in apples. And when an elderly woman calls the cafe, pleading for a delivery for her upcoming party, Amy relents, feeling compelled to help the desperate customer. But when she arrives, the woman is slumped over her kitchen table, and Amy is catapulted into the middle of a small town crime. Guilt-ridden for not arriving earlier to save the woman, she sets out to unravel the mystery surrounding the woman. Now, between running the cafe and dealing with the chaos of the farmers’ market, Amy is squeezing in a murder investigation, a run-in with her boyfriend’s mom, and her own mother’s quirky life decisions. Life can’t get any worse…or can it? This cafe owner needs a break–in the case.


Kerry Vincent, Hall of Fame Sugar Artist, Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show Director, and Television Personality says the series is “a must read for cake bakers and anyone who has ever spent creative time in the kitchen!”
Says Dean Koontz, #1 New York Times bestselling author, “One day I found myself happily reading . . . mysteries by Gayle Trent. If she can win me over . . . she’s got a great future.”
The Embroidery Mystery series features a heroine who recently moved to the Oregon coast to open an embroidery specialty shop. Marcy Singer left her home in San Francisco, along with the humiliation of being left at the altar, in order to move to Tallulah Falls and realize her dream of owning her own shop. She takes along her faithful companion, a one-year-old Irish wolfhound named Angus O’Ruff. She makes many new friends in Tallulah Falls, but she also makes a few enemies. Thankfully, her best friend Sadie MacKenzie and her husband Blake run the coffeehouse right down the street from Marcy’s shop, the Seven-Year Stitch; and Detective Ted Nash always has her back.
Publishers Weekly says, “Fans of the genre will take kindly to Marcy, her Irish wolfhound, Angus O’Ruff, and Tallulah Falls. This is a fast, pleasant read with prose full of pop culture references and, of course, sharp needlework puns.”
Pat Cooper of RT Book Reviews says, “If her debut here is any indication, Lee’s new series is going to be fun, spunky and educational. She smoothly interweaves plot with her character’s personality and charm, while dropping tantalizing hints of stitching projects and their history. Marcy Singer is young, fun, sharp and likable. Readers will be looking forward to her future adventures.” (RT Book Reviews nominated The Quick and the Thread for a 2010 Book Reviewers’ Choice Award in the Amateur Sleuth category)

Gayle Leeson is a pseudonym for Gayle Trent. I also write as Amanda Lee. As Gayle Trent, I write the Daphne Martin Cake Mystery series and the Myrtle Crumb Mystery series. As Amanda Lee, I write the Embroidery Mystery series.
I live in Virginia with my family, which includes her own “Angus” who is not an Irish wolfhound but a Great Pyrenees who provides plenty of inspiration for the character of Mr. O’Ruff. I’m having a blast writing this new series!


And be sure to check out the other great blogs participating in the blast:

Babs Book Bistro             
Literary Gold    
Nadaness In Motion      
Reading Is My SuperPower        
Laura’s Interests             
Mysteries with Character            
My Devotional Thoughts             
Book Babble     
Melina’s Book Blog        
Maureen’s Musings       
Brooke Blogs    
Sapphyria’s Books          
Carla Loves To Read       

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

LSBBT BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: A Glitter of Gold by Liz Johnson (Christian Romance/Mystery)

Georgia Coast Romance #2

   Genre: Contemporary Christian Romance / Mystery
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: August 6, 2019
Number of Pages: 368

Scroll down for the giveaway!

Discover a treasure worth more than all the pirate gold in the world.

Anne Norris moved to Savannah, Georgia for a fresh start. Now her pirate-tour business is flagging and paying the rent requires more than wishful thinking.

When she discovers evidence of a shipwreck off the coast of Tybee Island, she knows it could be just the boon she needs to stay afloat. She takes her findings to local museum director Carter Hale for confirmation, but things do not go as planned. Carter is fascinated with the wreck, the discovery of which could open the door to his dream job at a prestigious museum. But convincing Anne to help him fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle is no easy task. And working with Carter means that Anne will have to do the one thing she swore she'd never do again: trust a man.

"Both an exciting treasure hunt and penetrating exploration of overcoming mistakes Johnson's excellent novel will captivate readers." -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, STARRED REVIEW


I received a copy of this book for free. This is my honest and thoughtful review.

After my rave review of last year's A SPARKLE OF SILVER, I could not wait to start reading this next installment! Once again, Liz Johnson has completely blown me away and cemented herself as an author on my insta-buy list! 

Even though this is the second book in the series, it can very well be read as a stand-alone. The story follows two new characters, Anne and Carter, in their quest for information about a sunken ship off the coast of Savannah that occurred over 250 years ago.

Anne is attempting to reset her life following poor decision making and consequential mistakes, while Carter is struggling to keep the small museum he curates afloat. When Anne finds the hilt of a sword on the beach after a hurricane, she enlists Carter's help to determine its value. She quickly discovers that he has a vested interest in the item as well, having read about its description in the diary of a crew member who worked on board the ship for some time before it went down. Carter has spent much of his life trying to prove to his family, colleagues, and academia that the diary is in fact a piece of history and not a fantastic work of creative writing. Once Anne arrives, both of their lives are fundamentally changed.

"No matter how hard she tried to smile at Carter's silly joke, it didn't change who they were. She was a woman with a past she'd rather forget and name she could do without. He was a man with a name he didn't seem to want yet couldn't help but own."

The author's beautiful yet casual writing style is completely engaging and becomes incredibly immersive with the inclusion of the diary entries and letters sprinkled across the narrative. Readers will become just as excited as Anne to discover the truth behind the crew member's involvement on the Catherine. It's really a meta moment! Just as Anne is excited to return to the diary to find out more, readers will look forward to reading what Anne is reading and the pages will fly! The author is able to effortlessly weave the plot and historical subplots together so that everything becomes integral to the story and builds these interwoven relationships into a rich and multilayered story that kept me turning the pages long into the night! 

"It sounds to me like you're carrying some heavy shame. And here's what I know. Grace is better than shame. Every time."

As with the previous book, so many genres come together to weave a layered story that any reader can enjoy. Filled with elements of mystery, suspense, romance, and history, the author's deft storytelling also crafts a captivating spiritual message about forgiveness and redemption.

This is an intensely heartwarming story that gracefully captures the power of second chances and the magic of uncovering true love. The picturesque descriptions of this coastal community will have you believing the sand is really in between your toes and the oppressive heat is beating down. So stay cool inside with this atmospheric read or take with you on your vacation to close out the summer and find some treasure of your own!

Liz Johnson is the author of more than a dozen novels, including A Sparkle of Silver, A Glitter of Gold, The Red Door Inn, Where Two Hearts Meet, and On Love’s Gentle Shore, as well as a New York Times bestselling novella and a handful of short stories. She makes her home in Phoenix, Arizona.
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Instagram  |  Goodreads  |  Pinterest


GRAND PRIZE: Copies of both Georgia Coast Romance Series Books + $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card
SECOND PRIZE: Copy of Glitter of Gold + $10 Starbucks Gift Card
THIRD PRIZE: Copy of Glitter of Gold + Tote Bag AUGUST 6-16, 2019
(U.S. Only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway  Best of luck!

Many thanks to Lone Star Book Blog Tours and Liz Johnson! It was a pleasure reading, reviewing, and hosting! And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions and extras!

Scrapbook Page
Bonus Post
Author Interview

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