Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Body And Bone by L.S. Hawker (Author Guest Post / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Body And Bone by author L.S. Hawker!

Author Guest Post

My Journey to Publication: What a Long, Strange Trip it's Been by LS Hawker

I got my first rejection slip when I was 14.

I wrote a short story that my freshman high school English teacher thought was brilliant. She told me I should try to get it published, so I chose the highest-paying magazine to send it to, and eagerly awaited their inevitable yes.

Oddly enough, Playboy Magazine politely declined to publish my story.

I've always aimed high.

I wrote my first novel that same year, and it was awful. Of course it was—I was 14. Then I took some writer's workshops in college and wrote another one, which was better, but I stuck it in a drawer and told myself, Someday I'm going to try to get this published.

Life went on. I graduated from college, worked in radio and magazine, and then got married. I told my shiny new husband about the manuscript in my drawer and he challenged me to take it out, polish it up, and send it off. So I did. The first place I sent it was the Delacorte Press First YA Novel contest. It finaled, and I made a great contact at Delacorte who gave me names and addresses of editors to send it to. I spent the next two years sending it around to those editors, and got dozens of encouraging handwritten rejections.

But I got discouraged. By this time, I had a toddler, and I didn't have the time or energy to write. So I didn't for six years, during which time I had another baby.

Then 9/11 happened. I sat out on our deck the next day, staring up at the silent, planeless skies weeping, and thought, What if this is it? What if the end is here? What if I never accomplished my heart's deepest desire?

The day after that, I started writing again. I wrote a novel called Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, and everybody loved it. My writers critique group. My friends and family. It won first place in the Pikes Peak Writers Paul Gillette Memorial contest. It finaled in several other contests and made it to the quarter finals in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest. I thought, This is it. It's going to happen now!

It didn't. I pitched it, queried it, changed it, prayed over it. But it wasn't quite right. I have more than 100 rejections on that bad boy. By this time, I'd been in the same critique group for ten years, but the personnel had completely turned over except for me. This new group of writers was determined to get published—they went to seminars and workshops, retreats and conferences, and they dragged me along with them. In 2013, I started a brand-new novel, which was called Deep Forbidden Lake. I pitched it at the 2014 Pikes Peak Writers Conference to Michelle Johnson of Inklings Literary Agency.

She loved the concept and asked to see the full manuscript, which I sent to her two months later. Then…crickets. Nothing.

By this time, I was a grizzled veteran of the literary wars, so I wasn't too upset or surprised about it. I knew it takes a long time to get to yes. In the meantime, a well-known and respected small press asked me to make some changes and they'd consider publishing it. I was overjoyed. But like most small presses, they were understaffed and overworked, and it took many months to get back to me. An offer was imminent, they assured me. But when?

On Super Bowl Sunday 2015, I received an email from Michelle Johnson, asking if I'd be willing to take a phone call. I figured there was only one reason she'd want to talk on the phone on a Sunday—Super Bowl Sunday, no less. So I emailed in the affirmative and she called and offered me representation.

This was one of the happiest moments of my life, but there was still work to do. I told her about the small press, and she said, "We need to get it out to the big five before they come through with an offer so we have some bargaining power." She asked me to make some minor changes, and I stayed up all night making them before returning it to her. She submitted it to the big five and a few others by Tuesday.

Well, folks, my brilliant agent sold my manuscript (eventually renamed THE DROWNING GAME) within fifty days, in a three-book deal to HarperCollins.

This ride has been everything I'd dreamed of and more. I didn't expect for my very first published book to become a USA Today bestseller, or for my second book, BODY AND BONE, to be headed in the same direction.

For all the doom and gloom that writers hear about how difficult it is to get published (it is) and how unlikely your book is to sell once it is published (ditto), it is possible that your wildest dreams can be realized. I am living proof of that.

So the question is: is my book better than yours? Maybe. Am I luckier than most people? Probably. But more than talent or luck, persistence has been the key that finally unlocked that illusive door. The more "no"s you collect, the closer you get to "yes."

And it only takes one yes. 

About The Author

L.S. Hawker grew up in suburban Denver, indulging her worrisome obsession with true-crime books, and writing stories about anthropomorphic fruit and juvenile delinquents. She wrote her first novel at 14.

Armed with a B.S. in journalism from the University of Kansas, she had a radio show called “People Are So Stupid,” edited a trade magazine and worked as a traveling Kmart portrait photographer, but never lost her passion for fiction writing.

She’s got a hilarious, supportive husband, two brilliant daughters and a massive music collection. She lives in Colorado but considers Kansas her spiritual homeland.

Author Website

Book Review

Body And Bone by L.S. Hawker
Publisher: Witness Impulse / HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: eBook - May 3, 2016 / Paperback - June 14, 2016
Format: Paperback - 320 pages 
               Kindle - 1229 KB
               Nook - 814 KB
ISBN: 978-0062435217
BNID: 978-0062435224
Genre: Mystery / Suspense / Psychological Thriller

Buy The Book: 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours.

Book Description:

LS Hawker returns with another atmospheric, twisting tale of suspense that questions the nature of identity and how far a young mother is willing to go to run from the mistakes of her past.

He wants to destroy her reputation.
He wants to destroy her life.
He wants to destroy…her.

Nessa Donati used to be a happily married mother with a successful music blog and satellite radio show. But that was before her husband John relapsed on drugs and went missing. That was before he was presumed dead. And before she was framed for his murder.

When a commenter on Nessa’s blog starts harassing her online, Nessa shrugs it off. Trolls are a part of internet life. But eventually the troll begins threatening her safety and releasing personal details… details only her husband would know.

As Nessa’s life is dismantled piece by piece, her only option is to find John and put a stop to the lies. But when their son becomes a pawn in his twisted game, she must face a disturbing truth: Maybe John isn’t tormenting her, after all. But if he’s not…who is? And how far will this monster go to exact revenge?

Book Excerpt:

Tuesday, May 31
Nessa Donati was going to have to sell her brand spanking new car. And all because the rear-view mirror hung in the perfect position to display an accidental glimpse of her reflection whenever she reached into the back seat. Typically she prepared herself before facing a reflective surface. But when she was caught off guard, without fail, her mother's disappointed, sour Resting Bitch Face stared back at her.
It wasn't that her mother was unattractive. She was, in fact, far more beautiful than Nessa could ever hope to be. It was that her mother had always used Nessa as a mirror in which to see herself without ever truly seeing Nessa.
So the new black Chrysler Pacifica would have to go.
It was nearing sunset when Nessa parked it on Crestview Drive by the Randolph Bridge, which spanned not only the Big Blue River but the northern tip of Tuttle Creek Lake as well. This was the last stop on a four-day camping trip, just Nessa, her three-year-old son Daltrey, and their Wheaton Terrier, Declan MacManus.
She checked on Daltrey, asleep in his car seat, listing to starboard, mouth open. He'd be okay for a moment, and she was glad she wouldn't have to explain what she was about to do. She felt silly enough about it already.
Nessa and Declan MacManus exited the Pacifica, the dog running ahead, while Nessa locked and shut the door.
She walked the eighth of a mile to the river's edge beneath the bridge as sparse traffic droned by overhead, tires making that phut phut phut sound as they traversed the seams in the asphalt. Nessa stood and watched the water flow past, appearing deceptively tranquil until a tree branch rushed by at break-neck speed. Declan sniffed happily around, pausing to mark every object he encountered with a lifted leg.
Nessa looked around to make sure she was alone, then reached into her pocket and withdrew the six-inch-long braid of her husband John's hair. He'd cut it before their wedding five years ago. She had kept it in a velvet box all this time, never dreaming this day would come. She looked at the sky and the water, remembering all their good times on the river. This was the right place to let John's braid go.
The water lapped against her tennis shoes as she wound up and let the braid fly. She watched it arc through the air, hit the rushing water with an inconsequential splash, and disappear. She watched for a moment and let herself cry a little. She needed this sort of closure ritual to move on with her life, like spreading his ashes. Except he wasn't dead. Yet.
Nessa trudged back to the car, Declan MacManus meandering behind her. She unlocked and opened her door, and the dog jumped in and settled in the passenger seat. Nessa noted that Daltrey hadn't even changed position while she was gone.
Nessa started the car, put it in gear, and headed toward home.
Forty minutes later, she parked in the converted hay barn garage behind her house and decided she'd wait until morning to unload the camping gear.
Declan MacManus jumped from the car and ran, whining, toward the other outbuildings, hops vines, and woods beyond, as Nessa climbed into the back to struggle with Daltrey's carseat restraints. She draped him over her shoulder, and took him inside and upstairs to his big-boy bed. There, she pulled off his sandals and kissed his fat little feet before slipping him between the sheets. Good. He was out for the night. She left his door ajar, and went downstairs and out the back door to get their suitcase from the Pacifica.
Outside it was full dark, and the woods buzzed with late-spring insects. When she hit the bottom step, she saw Declan MacManus curled up in front of the outbuilding they called the boathouse. He sprang to his feet as if he'd just noticed royalty entering the room. This slowed Nessa down—what was he doing?—but she continued on to the garage, where she retrieved their luggage. When she closed the garage door, the dog jumped to his feet again, in the exact spot she'd left him.
Nessa stood staring at him, and he gazed expectantly back at her.
And then she saw it. The wooden carriage-house door's lock was gone. In its place was a jagged hole, as if God himself had punched a massive fist through it in a fit of righteous anger.
Nessa froze, her breath captive in her throat.
She set down the suitcase and, after a moment of indecision, pulled out her phone and dialed.
Marlon Webb didn't say hello, just, "With a student." This was his way of saying he could be interrupted only for a very specific kind of emergency.
"Call me back," she whispered. "I'm rethinking that whole restraining order thing."

My Book Review:

In Body And Bone, author L.S. Hawker weaves a chilling psychological thriller that follows the harrowing tale of cyber-stalking and bullying that turns successful music blogger and satellite radio show host Nessa Donati's life upside down.

Body And Bone is a riveting and intense story that is full of intrigue, action, drama, suspense, addictions, murder, and dark secrets. The author takes the reader on one hell of an emotional roller coaster ride as Nessa races against time to find out the identity of the dangerous cyber-stalker. As the reader follows the unraveling of Nessa's tumultuous life, the multitude of suspenseful plot twists and turns and growing list of suspects will keep them captivated and sitting on the edge of their seats, while making sure that they hold their breath as they turn the pages, and easily keeps them guessing what will happen next until the surprising conclusion.

This gritty dark tale deals with serious realistic issues of addiction, rape, dysfunctional family issues, personal demons and secrets, murder, and cyber crime. I would be remiss if I didn't mention how much I enjoyed the 1970-1990s musical references that are interspersed throughout the book.

Body And Bone is riveting psychological thriller that you won't be able to put down, and it will leave you wanting more!


Book Trailer

Contest Giveaway

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for LS Hawker and WitnessImpulse. There will be 3 US winners of one (1) eBook copy of Body and Bone by LS Hawker. The giveaway begins on June 1st and runs through July 3rd, 2016.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Virtual Book Tour

Tour Schedule:

6/02 - Guest Post @ Lazy Day Books
6/04 - Showcase @ Hott Books
6/06 - Showcase @ Fiction Zeal
6/08 - Review @ The Phantom Paragrapher
6/09 - Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews
6/14 - Showcase @ A Bookaholic Swede
6/15 - Guest Post @ Books Direct
6/20 - Interview @ BooksChatter (her own giveaway)
6/22 - Interview @ Deal Sharing Aunt
6/27 - Showcase @ CMash Reads
6/28 - Review @ fundinmental (her own giveaway)
6/29 - Review & Guest Post @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews
6/30 - Review @ Wall-to-wall books
7/01 - Review @ Bookishly Me
7/12 - Interview @ Writers and Authors

Monday, June 27, 2016

Sharpe Shooter by Lisa B. Thomas (Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Sharpe Shooter by author Lisa B. Thomas!

Book Review

Sharpe Shooter by Lisa B. Thomas
Book 1: Cozy Suburbs Mystery Series
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: March 19, 2015
Format: Paperback - 202 pages
               Kindle - 3996 KB
ISBN: 978-1514114346
Genre: Cozy Mystery

Buy The Book:

Buy The Series: Cozy Suburbs Mystery Series
Book 1: Sharpe Shooter
Book 2: Sharpe Edge
Book 3: Sharpe Mind
Book 4: Sharpe Turn (Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2016)

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours.

Book Description:

Burned-out high school teacher Deena Sharpe is ready for a change. She has no idea a fifty-year-old murder case is about to turn her life upside down.

The Perry County Sheriff’s office has found a skeleton in the closet…literally. When they identify the man’s body fifty years after his disappearance, his family turns to Deena to uncover the truth about his murder. The clock begins ticking when she discovers a mysterious writer is about to implicate the victim in his latest conspiracy theory book. She must channel her inner super-sleuth to solve the puzzle and protect her family name. With the help of her off-beat brother and others from the cozy town of Maycroft, Texas, Deena takes on a quest that leads to more questions than answers.

Sharpe Shooter is the first book in the Cozy Suburbs Mystery Series. With antique shopping, car chases, and ghosts in the night, the story will keep you guessing as you follow Deena on her quest for the truth.

Book Excerpt:

Perhaps I should have had a plan before setting myself up to be fired, Deena Sharpe thought as her eyes traveled around the empty classroom. Thriving just days earlier with busy teenagers, so alive that their youth spilled over into the hallway, the room now seemed like an empty tomb awaiting a sarcophagus.

The tap-tap-tap sound coming down the hallway meant Janice Marshall, the assistant principal, was ready for Deena to vacate the building. No one likes the screeching of fingernails on a chalkboard, but most teachers at Maycroft High School would have chosen it any day over the incessant sound of those clicking heels. Like I always say, Deena thought as the annoyance grew louder, there is something fishy about a woman who can stand on her feet all day in high heels. She is not to be trusted.

Luckily, she would never again have to endure Ms. Marshall’s condescension or shoes.

“How much longer are you going to be, Mrs. Sharpe?” She stood in the doorway as though entering might actually infect her with cooties.

“Oh, just a bit longer.” Deena relished her intentional vagueness. Using her gooiest Southern drawl, she added, “You don’t have to wait for me, dear.”

Ms. Marshall smirked, leaned against the door frame as if she herself were the very foundation of the building, and began occupying herself on her cell phone.

Standing over her desk, the perch from which she ruled her flock, Deena slowed her movements, accomplishing two goals: savoring the moment and bugging her watchman. “Is this how you deal with all teachers when they leave this school? Are you worried I might steal this stapler?” She held it up as a visual aid.

Ms. Marshall rolled her eyes. “No, but this is a special circumstance.”

Still holding the heavy black stapler, Deena contemplated bashing her in the head or shoving it somewhere else. She envisioned the headline in the Northeast Texas Tribune: Ex-Journalism Teacher Bludgeons Assistant Principal with Swing Master II.

She dropped it in the box she was filling to take home.

Deena envisioned herself as Lara Croft: Tomb Raider—always ready to fight the good fight. She called it her Walter Mitty Complex. In her mind, she would kick butt and take names; in reality, she would step aside and apologize. Still, she was always looking for ways to unleash her inner Lara. She even took karate at one time but gave up when she got walloped by a six-year-old warrior princess.

Now, surrendering her classroom keys to the principal’s chief stooge seemed like waving a white flag on her career. She still managed a pained, melancholy smile as she headed out of room 106 and down the hallway for the last time. Surprisingly, she felt no sense of relief, her stomach queasy, her chest tight. Instead, she felt the same foreboding she got every year on the eve of the first day of school.

My Book Review:

In Sharpe Shooter, author Lisa B. Thomas weaves an intriguing cozy mystery tale that easily draws the reader into ex-teacher turned amateur sleuth Deena Sharpe's adventure when she tries to uncover the fifty year old cold case mystery behind her late Uncle Matthew's unexplained disappearance and murder, when his skeleton is discovered in the closet of the Perry County Sheriff's Office. Deena takes the reader along on her amateur sleuth adventure as she tries to clear her family's name and uncover the truth behind her uncle's murder.

This captivating and fast-paced whodunit tale has enough quirky characters, witty humor, drama, intriguing twists and turns, and conspiracy theories that will keep you guessing. Rich in detail and vivid descriptions, the story takes place in rural Maycroft, Texas, a picturesque southern town with a lot of heart and charm. The description of the town and its residents was simply wonderful, there's nothing better than down home country charm and living.

This entertaining cozy mystery tale will keep you engaged as you turn the pages following along with Deena's investigative adventure, and you can't help but get caught up in the drama and calamity that ensues as she tries to solve her uncle's murder. Deena's story unfolds with a wonderful balance of comedy, drama, and suspense that easily kept me guessing, and left me wanting more.

Sharpe Shooter is a riveting cozy murder mystery that will engage you to join in the crazy adventures and trials and tribulations that occur, while providing you with a dose of good ol' southern charm and humor.

Sharpe Shooter is the first book in the Cozy Suburbs Mystery Series.


About The Author

Born and raised in Texas, I always knew I wanted to be a writer. Finally, after thirty-three years as a high school Journalism and English teacher, I dusted off the laptop and released my first novel. Having grown up reading Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, and Agatha Christie, I was drawn to the mystery genre.

With two grown children out of the nest, I live a quiet life with my husband and Peekapoo puppy. Besides writing, I enjoy my grandchildren, photography, traveling, and antiquing (aka. buying and selling used junk). Like my main character, Deena, I have an antique booth and enjoy treasure hunting and reselling vintage finds.

Author Website

Contest Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Virtual Book Tour

Tour Schedule:

June 22 – Babs Book Bistro – CHARACTER GUEST POST 
June 22 – FictionZeal – SPOTLIGHT
June 23 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST
June 23 – Deal Sharing Aunt – INTERVIEW
June 24 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW
June 25 – A Blue Million Books – GUEST POST
June 26 – Island Confidential – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
June 27 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – REVIEW
June 28 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW, INTERVIEW
June 28 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

Friday, June 24, 2016

Dead Is Dead by John Lansing (Author Guest Post / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Dead Is Dead by author John Lansing!

Author Guest Post

So, you just spent a year of your life writing your first novel, and now you want to know how to proceed. Should you submit to agents, or publishers, or …?

            Hire an editor.

The most important part of the writing cycle for me has been working with a seasoned editor. I’ve been fortunate enough to collaborate with the same man for all three books in my Jack Bertolino series, and there is continuity, and a trust that has developed over time. He understands my protagonist, understands the pacing needed for a successful thriller, and he understands me. It’s never an easy process, but the work always improves with the effort.

            And don’t use a friend who once took an English lit class, or a family member who reads a lot, or your neighbor who’s a substitute teacher. Find a bona fide editor who has studied that specific area of expertise, because your work can flourish with the experience or bomb without it.

            I’m warning you now, be prepared to check your ego at the door, because as good as an editor is, taking notes, or having someone tear into the baby that you’ve created with your blood, sweat and tears, is a rocky process at best. You can scream, and carry on, and call your editor names you wouldn’t commit to print, but when you take a step back, take a deep breath, and start the rewriting process, you usually find a solution that improves your manuscript.

            If it sounds like I’m too familiar with the histrionics, it’s because I’ve been there and back. My girlfriend has had to occasionally peal me off the ceiling of my office when I have, for example, been advised to revisit a subplot that diminishes my protagonist. He was absolutely correct in his assessment, but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t a gut clencher.

            My editor, John Paine, is quick to say that his notes are only suggestions. And I, the author, am the final arbiter. But I’m to the point where I’ll always try to make his notes work before losing my mind and spinning out of control, or rejecting them. You can always go back to your original manuscript if the notes are too far off your original intention.

The bottom line is, a good editor won’t try to reinvent your wheel. He or she will just make the ride smoother, and your novel more powerful. And with power, comes success.

Now you’re ready to go after that agent.

About The Author

John Lansing, started his career as an actor in New York City. He spent a year at the Royale Theatre performing the lead in the Broadway production of “Grease,” before putting together a rock ‘n’ roll band and playing the iconic club CBGB.

John closed up his Tribeca loft and headed for the West coast where he landed a co-starring role in George Lucas’ “More American Graffiti,” and guest-starred on numerous television shows.

During his fifteen-year writing career, Lansing wrote and produced “Walker Texas Ranger,” co-wrote two CBS Movies of the Week, and co-executive produced the ABC series “Scoundrels.”

John’s first book was Good Cop Bad Money, a true crime tome he co-wrote with former NYPD Inspector Glen Morisano.

The Devil’s Necktie, his first Jack Bertolino novel, became a best seller on Barnes & Noble and hit #1 in Amazon’s Kindle store in the Crime Fiction genre. Jack Bertolino returns in John’s latest novel, Dead Is Dead, the third book in his detective series.

A native of Long Island, John now resides in Los Angeles.

Author Website

Book Review

Dead Is Dead by John Lansing
Book 3: Jack Bertolino Series
Publisher: Gallery Books / Karen Hunter Publishing
Publication Date: May 30, 2016
Format: Paperback - 352 pages
               Kindle - 2101 KB
               Nook - 2 MB
ISBN: 978-1501147562
BNID: 978-1501143564
Genre: Mystery / Suspense / Thriller

Buy The Book:

Buy The Series: Jack Bertolino Series
Book 1: The Devil's Necklace
Book 2: Blond Cargo
Book 3: Dead Is Dead

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours.

Book Description:

From the “pulse pounding” (Kirkus Reviews) writer of TV hit Walker, Texas Ranger comes a riveting Hollywood thriller that will keep you captivated until the shocking conclusion.

Retired Inspector Jack Bertolino gets his first taste of the erratic nature of Hollywood when A-list producer, George Litton, options one of Jack’s recent cases for a film.

Jack is engaged as the film’s technical advisor, which stars It Girl Susan Blake. But more importantly, he’s on hand to keep a protective eye on Susan, who’s being harassed by a disturbing cyber-stalker.

But that’s not all that starts to turn Jack’s world upside-down. When a six-year-old girl is shot dead in the living room of her family home, just blocks from where the movie is being filmed, Jack realizes there are threads connecting the movie, the murder, a brutal gang of brothers, and a terrifying body count.

Will Jack be able to find justice for the young girl and keep Susan safe? Or will this be his last and fatal trip to Hollywood?

Book Excerpt:


Day One

Toby Dirk snugged the smooth wooden stock of his Ruger .22 semiautomatic rifle tight against his shoulder. He sighted in on the small Mediterranean stucco house directly across the street. It was one of many vacation bungalows built in the 1950s on narrow lots. Faded pink paint, overgrown shrubs, and tufts of green grass littering the burnt lawn shouted neglect, or poverty, or renters.

In this case it was poverty. The house was clean, but the home’s decline had outpaced the Sanchezes’ bank account. Toby had known the family for years—solid people, Hispanic, struggling to put food on the table. He had no issues with their youngest boy, Juan, dealing dope.

Juan wasn’t his target.

Venice Beach these days was an eclectic mix of million-dollar designer digs and old-school bungalows from a time when rents were low and the neighborhoods were inhabited by immigrants, blue-collar workers, street gangs, and artists. Gentrification was crowding out many of the longtime residents, but the gangs were ingrained. Their members would have to be jailed or hauled out in pine boxes to make way for the upscale clientele looking for a “teardown.”

Toby listened for signs of life in the house he was using as cover, but the precaution was just reflexive. He knew Mrs. Montenegro wouldn’t return home from her deli until after dark. Through her rangy bamboo hedge he had a clear shot of Juan’s driveway and front door.

Now all he needed was a target.

Tomas Vegas would be dropping off a bag of dope to his newest dealer in less than five minutes. Vegas ran his drug business with precision, just like his iron fist. You could set a clock by his daily rounds.

Unfortunately for Vegas, he’d set up Toby’s girlfriend, Eva Perez, for a nine-month stretch on trumped-up drug and weapons charges. She’d been out on parole for three months now, but she was changed. Damaged. Not the same free spirit. It broke Toby’s heart, and it fueled his rage.

Two men in love with the same woman. She had chosen Toby. Gotten his name tattooed on her shoulder in neat calligraphy. Had been pregnant with his child. Toby was head over heels, crazy in love.

Jealousy’s a bitch, he thought, and Vegas was about to pay the ultimate price. Three shots max, to make sure Vegas wouldn’t get up again. If all went according to plan, Toby would soon be paddling out into the Pacific, catching the late-afternoon swells at Sunset Beach.

Toby, twenty-three, had thick, unruly strands of shoulderlength sandy hair held off his face with a black watch cap. A faint shadow of freckles dusted his high cheekbones, set in a chiseled, angular face. His lean body was sinewy with the long ropy muscles of a surfer. His blue eyes were steady and intelligent. He had tested in the top two percentile in the standardized IQ tests at Venice High, and he had been offered a scholastic scholarship to UC Berkeley. He turned it down. All he was interested in was smoking righteous bud and being an outlaw.

He and his two brothers were doing just fine in that regard. If you played by the rules, you were a sucker. It had killed his father, and he wasn’t going down that dusty trail. He didn’t buy into the old saw that life was a bitch and then you die. Toby was sure of one thing and it guided his life choices.

Dead is dead. There was nothing else. No great beyond. No nothing. You created your own heaven and hell in the only lifetime you’d ever know, so grab life with two fists while you were young enough to enjoy it, fuck it, eat it, drink it, or smoke it.


Juan Sanchez peered out of his bedroom door and then silently closed and locked it. He could hear his mother working at the kitchen stove, banging her long wooden spoon against the aluminum pot, filled with enough black beans, garlic, onions, and rice to feed the family for three days.

Juan stooped down beside the only piece of furniture in his room besides his bed, a scarred wooden four-drawer dresser. He pulled out the tall bottom drawer and set it aside on his threadbare rug. On his hands and knees he strained reaching in, and pulled out a tightly banded roll of greenbacks he had taped to the back panel of the dresser. He slid the money into his pocket, then pushed the drawer back onto its chipped plastic runners until it closed.

Juan glanced nervously toward the door, averting his gaze from the wooden crucifix nailed to the wall over his neatly made bed. He stood sentry at his window, waiting for the pounding of his heart to settle and his dealer to arrive.

The sound of Tomas Vegas’s baffled mufflers preceded his arrival in front of the house.

Juan hurried quietly down the hallway, unnoticed by his mother in the kitchen, and into the living room, where his sixyear-old sister, Maria, was struggling to pull a sweater over her Barbie’s head. The bright-eyed girl looked up at her brother with such love and admiration, it washed over Juan like a bucket of guilt. He grabbed the doll from his baby sister, yanked the sweater’s hole over the mop of long blonde hair, and handed it back to Maria. “Gracias, Juan,” she said with an angelic smile. Juan returned a tight grin, nervously tapped the roll of bills in his pocket, and steeled his nerve.

“C’mon, be a man,” he mumbled as he headed out the door.


Toby adjusted the rifle’s sight, mindful of the half-inch play in the gun’s trajectory. He had chosen his .22 because it was quiet and, from this distance, deadly as a viper. The bullets would rattle around in his target’s chest, kill him dead, but he wouldn’t have to worry about collateral damage.

Toby started a silent mantra . . . and slowed his breathing.

As he visualized a tight cluster tearing into Tomas Vegas, an antique electric-blue Ford Fairlane glided to a stop across the street.

Young Juan Sanchez ran out of the house and reached the curb before the screen door slammed behind him.

Vegas slid out of his car with a studied cool and sauntered up to his newest recruit. With icy cool he checked out the houses behind Juan, up and then down Fourth Street toward Rose. He was preening like a fucking peacock, Toby thought.

The young men fist-bumped, exchanged a few words, and Vegas popped the trunk and pulled out a fat brown grocery bag.

Juan nervously dug in his pocket for the roll of cash, and as Vegas thrust the high-grade weed toward his newest dealer, Toby let out an even breath. Now. Yet just as he squeezed off a round, a car sped by, blocking the play.

He jerked the gun at the last second. The high-velocity .22 LR load flew wide, shattering a front window. Toby instantly readjusted, fired, and then again.

Vegas’s face registered surprise as he dropped the bag, ripped open his shirt, stared down at two tight holes in his chest.

Screaming, Juan dove behind the safety of the Ford.

Loose buds of marijuana spilled onto the street.

Tomas Vegas fell to his knees and keeled forward face-first, stone-dead, in the gutter.

Toby Dirk madly grabbed for the spent shells, palming two from the thick grass. Where was the third one? A primal wail drifted from the target house and chilled him for a beat. Why the hell would anyone shed tears for Tomas Vegas? he wondered as he army-crawled toward the back of the Montenegro house. He had to get out of there before the shit hit the fan. When he was hidden from view, he jumped to his feet and leapt the chain-link fence.

Toby dropped the butt of the rifle into a Whole Foods bag he had stationed in the rear for that purpose. He held the warm barrel discreetly under his arm, close to his body, looking like he’d just gone shopping. He walked swiftly up the hill, being careful not to run, but flying with adrenaline. He tossed the bagged rifle into the rear compartment of his matte-black ragtop Jeep, covered it with a spare wetsuit, jumped in and fired up the engine.

The sound of a distant siren could be heard, along with the plaintive screams of a woman. Still puzzled by this reaction—who would cry for a drug dealer?—Toby Dirk sucked in a lungful of air, clicked on Bob Marley, cranked up the volume, and powered away from the scene of his crime.

My Book Review:

Dead Is Dead is the third book in the Jack Bertolino Series, that transports the reader back into the seedy underworld of crime as they follow private investigator Jack Bertolino on his latest investigative adventure.

Author John Lansing weaves a fast-paced crime thriller set in Los Angeles, and written in the third person narrative, that follows the dangerous quest of retired NYPD narcotics detective now private investigator Jack Bertolino as he serves as a technical advisor on a movie set, and in particular as a bodyguard for up-and-coming actress Susan Blake, who has a stalker after her. Jack is also asked to investigate the gang hit on known drug dealer Tomas Vegas, that also mistakenly took the life of six year old Maria Sanchez. Jack's investigation leads him into the seedy underworld of drug cartels and gangs in Ventura and Hollywood, where he finds himself caught up in a dangerous and deadly world that he thought he had left behind.

Dead Is Dead is a riveting and realistic story that is full of intrigue, action, drama, suspense, murder, and dark humor. Jack's latest investigative adventure easily draws the reader in and keeps them captivated and turning the pages. As the reader follows Jack into the shady world of drug cartels and gangs, the multitude of plot twists and turns will keep them guessing what will happen next. Jack takes the reader on a wild ride when his dangerous adventure takes him into the upscale areas and seedy neighborhoods of various California locales. It is a seedy and gritty world of drugs, gangs, and murder ... all in the pursuit of bringing justice for the murder of an innocent little girl, while also keeping actress Susan Blake safe from a psycho cyber-stalker.

With a multidimensional cast of characters who leap off the pages; gritty dialogue and vivid interactions; richly detailed description of various California locales; and a no-holds-barred storyline that keeps the reader sitting on the edge of their seats and holding their breath as the chilling trail of stalkers, gang crimes, drugs, and murders leads up to an explosive climax; Dead Is Dead is one hell of a thrilling story that you won't be able to put down, and it will leave you wanting more!


Contest Giveaway

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for John Lansing. The giveaway begins on May 15th and runs through June 30th, 2016.

There will be TWO (2) winners for this tour. One winner will receive one $15 gift card from (US Only) the other winner will receive Dead is Dead by John Lansing - US Residents may choose either an eBook copy or a Physical version however Winners outside the US will only be eligible for an eBook version.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Virtual Book Tour

Tour Schedule:

5/16 Guest post @ The Book Divas Reads
5/17 Interview & Giveaway @ BooksChatter
5/19 Showcase @ Sapphyrias Book Reviews
5/22 Guest post @ Books Direct
5/25 Review @ Lets Talk About Books
5/26 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews
6/01 Review @ Just Reviews
6/02 Showcase @ The Pen and Muse Book Reviews
6/02 Review @ Vics Media Room
6/03 Review @ Mystery Suspense
6/04 Showcase @ Hott Books
6/05 Showcase @ Writers and Authors
6/06 Showcase & Giveaway @ Buried Under Books
6/08 Review @ 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too!
6/09 Review @ Deal Sharing Aunt
6/09 Interview, Review & Giveaway @ Rockin' Book Reviews
6/10 Showcase @ Fiction Zeal
6/16 Showcase @ The Reading Frenzy
6/17 Review @ CMash Reads
6/20 Interview @ Jaquo Lifestyle Magazine
6/24 Guest Post & Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews
6/27 Showcase @ Socrates Book Review Blog
6/29 Review @ Curling Up by the Fire

Into the Amish by Erin Brady with Sarah Price (Book Cover Reveal Event)

In association with Goddess Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book cover reveal event for Into the Amish by authors Erin Brady with Sarah Price!

About The Book

Into the Amish by Erin Brady with Sarah Price
Publisher: Price Publishing
Publication Date: June 28, 2016
Format: eBook - 255 pages
               Kindle - 706 KB
Genre: Amish Romance

Buy The Book: 

Book Description:

Emily Lawson had everything going for her: a dream job as an attorney in a major law firm, the perfect apartment with spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline, the best place to get a mani and pedi and the ideal man who also happened to be the most sought-after bachelor in New York City. When she says yes to Arthur Carrington II’s marriage proposal, her life is suddenly turned upside down. Not only is Emily a target of an unrelenting paparazzi, but she feels the pressure to live up to the Carrington name and all of the expectations it carries with it, especially those set by her soon-to-be mother-in-law and renown socialite, Dolores Carrington. But when a disastrous turn of events causes her life to fall apart at the seams, Emily finds herself traveling to Lancaster, Pennsylvania to visit her long-lost Amish cousins and put some distance between herself and the life she thought she wanted. It is there among the Amish where Emily discovers what’s really important and the power of family, faith and following one’s dreams. With the help of a handsome stranger, Jonah Miller, Emily finds herself at a crossroads and knows she must make a decision that will ultimately change the course of her life.

About The Author

Erin Brady is a self-confessed romantic comedy addict who hopes to never find a cure. She spends countless hours re-reading Pride and Prejudice and admits to never getting tired of Darcy's britches. She loves watching rom-com movies because, when it comes down to it, she can't get enough of the "girl meets boy and falls in love" stories. Most importantly, she loves to laugh and finds humor in everything from washing dishes to singing karaoke off-key!

Ms. Brady writes chick lit novels and enjoys every minute of it. All of her novels follow the lives of women who, mindfully or not, end up pursuing their dreams while making mistakes and learning to laugh (and fall in love) along the way. Erin admits that her inspiration for her characters often comes from her own circle of friends, despite her friends' protests otherwise.

Currently, Erin Brady has published five novels: And The Winner Is, Shopping Swap, Holiday Gig and One Last Blind Date, and The Twelve-Step Plan. Her sixth novel, Into the Amish, co-authored with Sarah Price will be released at the end of June 2016.

Author Website

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

All Access by Liberty Kontranowksi (Book Release Day Blitz)

In association with Marching Ink LLC, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book release day blitz for All Access by author Liberty Kontranowski!

About The Book

All Access by Liberty Kontranowski
Book 1: The Fangirl Series
Publisher: Marching Ink LLC
Publication Date: June 22, 2016
Format: eBook - 242 pages
               Kindle - 891 KB
ISBN: 978-0997532715
Genre: Romantic Women's Fiction

Buy The Book:

Book Description:

Every fangirl has a fantasy . . . what happens when that “if only” dream comes true?

Though she’s a single mom wedged firmly into thirty-something territory, author Kallie Reagan’s devotion to rock star Niles Russell knows no bounds. To pay homage to her muse, Kallie writes a smokin’ hot novel featuring a hero who looks and acts an awful lot like Niles — and a heroine who may or may not have a smattering of herself thrown in for fun.

When Niles learns about the book and surprise-texts Kallie, the two deliciously complicated creatives become fast friends . . . and so much more. But trying to define a relationship that’s laced with closeted skeletons, half-truths, and constant question marks proves harder than making it big. If they’re going to progress from Fangirl Infatuation to The Real Deal, these two need to give each other All Access to the most important place of all: their hearts.

About The Author

Liberty Kontranowski is a romantic women’s fiction author who adores all things lovey-dovey with a pinch (or more) of hubba-hubba. When she’s not at the keyboard, she’s taxiing around her three boys, knocking back craft beers with the hubs, blogging, fangirling, and dreaming up more fake people. She also spends an inordinate amount of time drinking coffee and dreaming of the day she can bid adieu to far-too-wintry Michigan and move to a place where she can write with her toes in the sand.

Liberty loves to hear from her readers (and otherwise cool people) so give her a yell. You can find her on Facebook at; on Twitter at; and through her blog at

Author Blog / Website