Pages

5/15/22

The Feud by Gemma Rogers


 4.5 Stars!

ABOUT THE BOOK -

From the stranger in the car, to the madman at her door...

The day my path crossed with Simon Fox I thought I’d already lost everything but then he ran me off the road with his flash car and belittling jibes.
The men in my life had undermined me for too long.
Enough was enough.
Fuelled by alcohol and the desire to get even, I decided a spot of petty vandalism would make me feel a whole lot better.
Wrong. Very wrong...
I hadn’t realised that Simon Fox was not a man to be messed with.
He showed me just how much I still had left to lose.
Soon I was battling for my home, family and life.

Purchase Link - https://amzn.to/36RoFmq


ABOUT THE AUTHOR -

Gemma Rogers was inspired to write gritty thrillers by a traumatic event in her own life nearly twenty years ago. Her debut novel Stalker was published in September 2019 and marked the beginning of a new writing career. Gemma lives in West Sussex with her husband, two daughters and bulldog Buster.

Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/GemmaRogerNews


MY THOUGHTS -

Another great one by Gemma Rogers! I read The Babysitter in 2021 and loved it (my review - https://wall-to-wall-books.blogspot.com/search?q=gemma), so I knew I had to read this one.

I have to admit, this started out a tad slow, but a third of the way in it started getting better, then about half way I could not stop reading! 

Great character development. I really didn't like Kay the main character at first, but as the book went on I really started  liking her more. She had guts (sometimes stupid, not making the right choices, but guts for sure).

The last half, as I said, is definitely a page turner. I read late into the night not wanting to stop. There were a couple of different stories within this book and I loved them both! Both are tension builders.

Overall a great read. This author is a winner and one that I will for sure be reading again! Highly recommended!

I voluntarily posted this review after receiving a copy of this book from Rachel's Random Resources -  Thank You!!


5/11/22

What They Don't Know by Susan Furlong (with a Giveaway!)

May 9 - June 3, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

What They Don't Know by Susan Furlong Banner

5 + Stars!


Synopsis:

What They Don't Know by Susan Furlong

A picture-perfect suburban life fractures. . . and a darker reality bubbles beneath the surface.

Mona Ellison's life is as perfect as the porcelain dolls lined up on her shelves. She has a successful husband, a loving son, a beautiful home, and a supportive group of girlfriends ever ready for their weekly wine night.

But when Mona’s son gets entangled with the wrong crowd and runs away from home, her blissful suburban world begins to unravel. She tells her friends that boys will be boys, that he’ll be back as soon as his money runs dry . . . but deep down she knows there’s something else going on.

Then the police show up at Mona’s door. A young girl has turned up dead in their quiet town, and her missing son is the prime suspect.

Determined to reunite with her son and prove his innocence, Mona follows an increasingly cryptic trail of clues on social media, uncovering a sinister side of suburbia and unveiling lies and betrayal from those she trusted most. And as Mona spirals further from her once cozy reality, a devastating revelation shatters everything she thought she knew. Now the only thing she’s sure of is that she can’t trust anyone . . . not even herself.

With unrelenting psychological suspense and a wicked twist, What They Don’t Know marries small-town thriller and domestic mystery—suburban paranoia at its best.

What They Don’t Know Book Love:

"Part domestic thriller, part small-town mystery, What They Don’t Know is everything suspense fans want: characters who'll make you think twice, a subversive plot, and pages that seemingly turn themselves the deeper you get into the story. In this portrait of suburban life tinged with malice and intrigue, paranoia lurks just around the corner. Read it at night. Don’t plan on sleep." (Tosca Lee, NYT bestselling author of The Line Between)

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense
Published by: Seventh Street Books
Publication Date: May 17th, 2022
Number of Pages: 286
ISBN: 1645060403 (ISBN13: 9781645060406)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

It was the last Tuesday of the month, our normal book club night, and we were gathered at my house—Selma, Alice, Tara, and me—settled in the living room, Moroccan rug plush beneath us, immersed in the decor’s eclectic mix of whimsy and Old-World aesthetic. This would be our last book club meeting, but it was more than that, really. It was a pulled thread in the carefully woven tapestry of our friendships that had begun in college and endured careers, weddings, our first-borns, and remained constant through affairs, divorces, and much worse …

***

Excerpt from What They Don’t Know by Susan Furlong. Copyright 2022 by Susan Furlong. Reproduced with permission from Susan Furlong. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Susan Furlong

Susan Furlong is the author of eleven novels including SHATTERED JUSTICE, a New York Times Best Crime Novel of the Year. She also contributes, under a pen name, to the New York Times bestselling Novel Idea series. Her most recent novel, WHAT THEY DON'T KNOW, has been praised by reviewers as an engrossing and delightfully creepy read. She resides in Illinois with her husband and children.

Catch Up With Susan Furlong:
www.SusanFurlong.com
Goodreads
BookBub - @SusanFurlongAuthor
Instagram - @susanfurlong
Twitter - @Furlong_Sue
Facebook - @SusanFurlongAuthor

 

MY THOUGHTS -
OH MY GOODNESS!!! Can you say "Best book of the year"? 
Might just be! Definitely going on my top 10 list and might just be #1. This story was absolutely excellent and so, so suspenseful. 

Excellent character development. The main character, Mona, was so believable. She definitely had me feeling sorry for her and rooting for her. I loved her. And the husband was painted as a shady one right from the start.

This was one of those books that has you on the edge of your seat throughout and you never  know what is around the corner. I didn't know what to believe and not believe, who I should trust and who I shouldn't. As soon as I started feeling comfortable, something else would happen that left me feeling uneasy again. It was creepy, but creepy good! Not a book that will take long to read... because you won't want to put it down!

Very highly recommended. Now I am going back and putting ALL her books on my wish list!

I voluntarily posted this review after receiving a copy of this book from Partners in Crime Tours -  Thank You!


Tour Participants:

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

 

 

GIVEAWAY:

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for What They Don’t Know by Susan Furlong. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

 

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Tours

 

5/4/22

The Orientation of Dylan Woodger by Chiuba E Obele (with a GIVEAWAY!)

The Orientation of Dylan Woodger by Chiuba E Obele Banner

April 18 - May 13, 2022 Virtual Book Tour


The Orientation of Dylan Woodger by Chiuba E Obele

ABOUT THE BOOK -

Solving mysteries is never easy. Dealing with an infuriated mob boss and acute amnesia only makes it worse.

Dylan Woodger is a college student who is captured and tortured by the mafia. After amnesia obscures the last three years of his life, Dylan learns that he has stolen three million dollars from a ruthless mafia boss. When, how, and why – he doesn’t remember. But someone betrayed him and gave him a drug that erased his memory. He was then given over to be tortured.

Determined to recover his memory, Dylan begins delving into the events of the past. As he struggles to put the pieces of his past back together, Dylan finds himself wrapped up in a path of vengeance made even more perilous by the presence of assassins, gangsters, and detectives. But as each new piece of the puzzle falls into place, Dylan realizes that no one is who they seem, especially himself. He now has links to rapists, white supremacists, and murders. People who claim to be his friends are hiding secrets from him. And his girlfriend is beautiful, but that’s all he knows about her. Who are these people? And who is Dylan? Even he doesn’t know!

The Orientation of Dylan Woodger is the story of a young man who is torn between his capacity to do evil and his desire to do what’s right. This book explores racism and feminism, and addresses controversial topics such as male rape, hate crimes, and misogyny toward women. The characters are disturbing, but the book aspires to be hopeful, as these characters ultimately succeed in finding some measure of humanity.

There are so many unanswered questions . . . But first, Dylan must survive the torture.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Fischer House Publications
Publication Date: April 19, 2022
Number of Pages: 377
ISBN: 9798985146400
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER 3

WHO WAS I? Dylan J. Woodger

Where was I? I wasn’t sure.
What time was it? I had no clue.
Why was I here? I didn’t know

What I did know, was that it was fucking cold. I could feel undergrowth beneath me. My eyes darted around. There were trees as far as the eye could see. I had a raging headache. I couldn’t move my hands or feet. I looked down at my prone body and saw rope wrapped tightly around my ankles. I couldn’t move my hands — they were tied behind my back. My wrists hurt, and whatever bound them also cut into my arms. I had a pain in my shoulder. It hurt bad. But it was nothing compared to the pain that I would suffer once I fell into the hands of the Utica Mafia.

But we’re not there yet.

In my mind, it was yesterday that my mother dropped me off at Hamilton College. I went to sleep, then woke up in the woods. It was warm and sunny when Mom left me. But now, I woke up in the freezing cold. I thought it was August and I couldn’t figure out how it could get so cold. And why was I tied up? And could the pain in my shoulder be…a bullet wound? But how could it be a bullet wound? I’d never been shot at!

I knew I had to get outta there, or else I’d freeze to death. Most people aren’t experts in rope tying. Usually, the average person without formal training doesn’t know how to do a good job. And this rope tying definitely wasn’t the work of a professional. So I felt confident I could escape. I managed to free my arms with some wriggling though it took more skin off my wrists. Then I focused on freeing my legs. I kicked off my shoes and pulled my feet out of the rope. Once my feet were free, I used my hands to pull the leg bonds down. I was now free, but still clueless. Who had done this to me? One thing I knew for sure: this was the work of an amateur who didn’t know how to properly tie someone up.

Oh, and I noticed something strange about myself. I grew facial hair and had put on some muscle. But when did that happen? I hadn’t looked in a mirror, but I doubted I was the same baby-faced boy my mom had dropped off that morning.

Just then, I heard a group of men shouting out of sync. “Hello, is anybody here? Hello?”

I felt relieved. Did the police send out a search party for me?

I was eager to get out of the cold, and my first instinct was to shout, “Over here!”

That was my first mistake.

As the men approached, their boots crunching on twigs and fallen branches, I rushed over to them. I kept my left arm still — the pain of

moving it alone caused my vision to flash white and my ears to ring. I stumbled a bit, but soon I could see them clear enough. The men wore plain clothes, just any random winter jacket and jeans someone might get at the nearest Walmart. They weren’t uniformed as you would normally expect police to be.

“Thank goodness you’re here. I thought I would freeze to death.”

The men looked at each other in confusion, until one of them finally said, “Are you here with anyone?”

“No,” I replied. “I found myself tied up and managed to escape, just before you got here.”

“This guy is lying to us,” one of them said. “This must be an ambush.”

“An ambush? What are you talking about?” I struggled to keep my voice even. “I just woke up, and I haven’t seen another person until you guys showed up. I’m glad you got here, though. Can you please take me home?”

Just at that moment, one of the men pulled out a gun and pointed it at me. My hands flew out in front of me, and my blood ran cold when I saw the barrel. “Wait, hold on! What are you doing?”

“You better tell us right now. Is this an ambush? ’Cause if bullets start flying, you’ll be the first one to die.”

“No, sir. I promise, this isn’t an ambush.”

“So where’s our money?” he demanded.

I was confused. Then I thought I had pieced it together. “Yeah, okay. You guys obviously want money for going through the trouble of finding me. That’s fair. My mother’s pretty well off, and she probably offered a reward to find me. I’ll make sure you get it. That’s how these things work, right? So can you please take me home now?”

The man kept the gun pointed at me. I heard a click and knew he had cocked it. I realized then, that this was no ordinary search party.

“What’s going on here?” I asked, with fear creeping in.

The man with the gun shouted at me. “Stop playing games and tell us where our money is!”

I furrowed my eyebrows at him. He was an olive-skinned man. I pegged his age at around forty. He was bigger than average with shaggy black hair and unkempt facial hair.

“You’ve got me confused with someone else,” I said. “I don’t have anybody’s money.”

“Nice try, kid, but I’m not a babbeo. Whatever tricks you’re trying to pull, they won’t work. Stop acting like we’re suckers and tell us where our money is! I’m not gonna ask you again.”

Babbeo? I wondered. What language is that? Could it be Italian?

“Look, I already told you that if you take me home, my mom will be glad to help you with some money. Now can we please—”

Before I could finish speaking, the man with the gun slapped me with it. I grabbed my jaw and fell backward. My head exploded with pain.

One of the men said, “Shit, Tony. This guy is useless. Let’s finish him off and get outta here.”

Another man replied, “Wait, Tony. The boss sent us to collect the money. We can’t kill him. We have to make this kid talk.”

“All right,” Tony said. “Let’s take him back to the warehouse. And then we can really start having fun.”

I knew what he meant by “fun.” They were going to torture me. “Help!” I screamed. “Somebody help me!”

A loud bang rang out. Before my ears could even begin ringing, the bullet ripped into my thigh, stopping like red hot steel somewhere inside of me. My vision flashed white, and I fell to the ground. Pain pulsed out from the wound. I wasn’t aware of myself at that moment. Maybe I cried out, or maybe it was more of a scream. What I knew, though, was that Tony had shot me in the leg.

“Shut the fuck up!” he said, waving the gun around. “I better not hear one more word outta you, or the next bullet is going straight through your head. Don’t test me!”

The men grabbed the ropes I had untied and started binding me. All the while, I felt my pants getting soaked with warm blood. My temples pounded with my racing heart as I begged for my life. “Please, you have

to believe me. I haven’t taken anyone’s money!”

One of the men said, “Well, if you didn’t rob us, then explain how you got that bullet wound in your shoulder. Huh?”

The men paused and waited for me to answer. For a moment, I forgot about the pain in my leg. I looked over my shoulder, and I could see someone had bandaged me up.

“I don’t know where I got this from,” I said.

“Don’t lie! I specifically remember shooting someone in the shoulder when the guys who robbed us were running away. You mean to tell me that’s a coincidence?”

“Look, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Please let me go.”

Tony went into a rage and began kicking me relentlessly in the gut. I tried to curl into a ball to protect my stomach which was near impossible thanks to the rope bonds. “Stop pretending to be dumb!” he said. “You’re getting on my fucking nerves!”

“Tony, relax!” one of the men said. “Remember, we gotta keep this guy alive until we know where our money is.”

The men gagged my mouth with a dry kitchen cloth and carried me into their van. Then the van drove off. The windows were tinted black. I tried kicking. I tried screaming. But none of it worked. After they placed me into the van, one of the men pulled a bag over my head. I couldn’t see a thing, but I could still hear them speak. One of them sounded like Tony—a baritone smoker. He was apparently speaking on the phone.

“Yeah, Vinny,” he said. “Tell the boss we found someone…I don’t know who it is…I already told you, I don’t know who he is! It’s just some kid who’s putting on an act.”

I heard Vinny shouting on the other end of the call. “You didn’t even ask him his for fucking name, Tony?”

Tony jerked the bag off my head and yanked the gag from my mouth. “What’s your name, kid?” he asked.

I scrambled for a plan. Should I give him a fake name? What if they catch me in a lie? That wouldn’t be so smart. I thought about whether I should cooperate. Then I simply said, “I’m not saying a damn word.”

At that point, Tony pulled a knife from his pocket and repeatedly stabbed my leg wound. White-hot pain seared through my mind. I nearly passed out from the pain and the sight of blood pouring out of me.

“Stop! Please, stop!” I cried out.

One of the men said, “You could make this a lot easier, kid, if you just tell us your name.”

“Dylan!” I screamed. “My name is Dylan!” “Dylan who?” Tony asked.

“Dylan J. Woodger!”

The pain in my leg was so bad I could barely breathe. I trembled uncontrollably. Soon, I felt lightheaded. “Can you please wrap my leg?” I

begged. “I’m bleeding badly. And I—”

Before I could finish speaking, Tony gagged me again and pulled the bag over my head. He continued talking on the phone.

“Okay, Vinny. He said his name is Dylan…Dylan Woodger…Yeah, we’re on our way to the warehouse, and—”

At that moment, I heard the shriek of a police siren. “Shit!” the driver muttered.

“What is it?” Tony asked

“It’s a cop! We’re being pulled over.”

A wave of obscenities reverberated throughout the van. “Everyone, calm the fuck down!” Tony yelled.

I felt something hard being shoved against my crotch. It was the familiar feel of a gun.

“You better not say a word, kid,” Tony said, “or I’ll shoot you in the balls.”

The van halted abruptly. A minute passed. I heard footsteps outside on the road, the glide of shoes on gravel.

“Hello, Officer,” the driver said calmly, “What seems to be the problem?”

“License and registration,” said the cop.

“Sure. Not a problem.” The driver gave the cop his license and registration.

“Do you know why you’re being stopped?” “Was I speeding?”

“No. Your van has tinted windows. Tinted windows are illegal in the state of New York.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know that,” the driver said. “I just bought this vehicle last week, and the car dealer failed to mention that. I’ll be sure to get the windows changed.” The driver laughed nervously. “So, I guess I’ll take that ticket and be on my way.”

“Not so fast,” the cop said. “I still have a couple of questions to ask you…Where are you coming from?”

“Oh umm…We’re just a few fellas going out hunting in the woods.

We just got finished not too long ago, and now we’re heading home.” “And where’s home?” the officer asked.

“Utica, sir.”

“Well, you’re only allowed to hunt animals between November first and December twentieth. Hunting season ended last week.”

“Yeah, sorry about that.”

“I’d like to check your vehicle.”

“Sure Officer. Go right ahead. I’ll unlock it for you.”

When I heard the rear door unlock, I nearly let out a cheer. It was as if the officer could hear my heart pounding its way through my chest. But as soon as I heard the rear door of the van creak open, a barrage of bullets tore open the air. I heard a body drop to the ground.

One of the men inside the van hissed, “Shit, he’s still moving. He’s probably got a vest on.”

Another man said, “I’ll go finish him off.”

“No! Hold on.” Tony stopped him. He pulled the bag off my head and said to me, “I want you to see what happens to those who get in our way.”

Tony stepped out of the van. Through the open door, I could see the officer on the ground, writhing in pain and begging for his life. “Please,” he said, “Don’t do this…I have three kids and a wife.”

At that point, Tony fired two gunshots straight into the officer’s head. Blood splattered onto the pavement. Tony got back into the van and said to me, “I wanted you to see that, so you know we’re capable of killing anyone. If you fuck with us, you’ll end up joining this guy here.”

***

Excerpt from The Orientation of Dylan Woodger by Chiuba E Obele. Copyright 2022 by Chiuba E Obele. Reproduced with permission from Chiuba E Obele. All rights reserved.

 

Chiuba E Obele

ABOUT THE AUTHOR -

CHIUBA EUGENE OBELE is a poet, writer, and author of The Orientation of Dylan Woodger: A Central New York Crime Story. He can usually be found reading a book, and that book will more likely than not be a crime fiction novel. Chiuba lives and works out of his home in Boston, Massachusetts. When not absorbed in the latest page-turner, Chiuba enjoys spending his summers vacationing with his parents, siblings, and nieces and nephews.

Catch Up With Chiuba E Obele:
ChiubaObele.com
Goodreads
Twitter - @ChiubaE
Facebook - @chiubaobele7

 

MY THOUGHTS -
Boy do I have some thoughts. I have very mixed feelings about this book. Overall - Yes, I did like it and I couldn't stop reading it. Even with all the things I didn't like... I still had to read on. It was like an addiction.
The good, the bad, and the ugly -
The good - It was definitely a fun read. Lots of action and quite a few graphic scenes (which don't really bother me, but may bother some people). It was the kind of book where I HAD to keep reading to find out what was going to happen. There was really not a dull moment. It was very unrealistic, but that didn't bother me! I try to keep in mind that I am reading fiction so it doesn't have to be realistic for me to like it.
The bad - There were a few things that bothered me. I didn't like any of the characters. I do like those characters that you love to hate, but.. I really didn't like ANY of them. And second, without picking it apart - While talking, they kept using each other's names, over and over. People don't do that in normal conversation. I will sit in a room with my friend for an hour and never once mention her name. I don't need to because she is the only one there. I know this is nit-picky but it did bother me.
And now the ugly - A LOT of controversial subjects in this book1 I am not saying it's bad - just ugly! I am very much against racism and I am definitely NOT a Trump supporter, so I agreed with most of what the author was writing. But it still did feel a little ranty/preachy for me.

So, I will end by saying that I did like the book and agreed with most of it. It was fun, exciting, and I even loved the controversary!


I voluntarily posted this review after receiving a copy of this book from Partners in Crime Tours -  Thank You!

Tour Participants:

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

 

 

 

ENTER TO WIN

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for CHIUBA EUGENE OBELE. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

 

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Tours

 

4/27/22

Cry of the Innocent by Julie Bates (with a GIVEAWAY!)

Cry of the Innocent by Julie Bates Banner

April 11 - May 6, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

ABOUT THE BOOK -
Cry of the Innocent by Julie Bates

April 1774 – Within the colonial capital of Virginia, Faith Clarke awakes in the middle of the night to discover a man savagely murdered in her tavern. Phineas Bullard was no stranger. Faith’s late husband had borrowed heavily from the man and left Faith to struggle to pay the debt.

With unrest growing in the American Colonies, the British are eager for a quick resolution at the end of a noose, regardless of guilt. Under suspicion for the crime, she must use every resource at her disposal to prove her innocence and protect those she loves. Her allies are Olivia and Titus, slaves left to her by her late husband’s family, individuals she must find a way to free, even as she finds they also have motives for murder.

Faith seeks to uncover the dead man’s secrets even as they draw close to home. Determined to find the truth, she continues headlong into a web of secrets that hides Tories, Patriots, and killers, not stopping even though she fears no one will hear the cry of the innocent.

Praise for Cry of the Innocent:

"An absorbing, fast-paced, and contemplative whodunit."
Kirkus Reviews

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mystery
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: June 8th 2021
Number of Pages: 258
ISBN: 1953789773 (ISBN-13:978-1953789778)
Series: A Faith Clarke Mystery, #1
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

I

1774

Muffled pounding jolted Faith awake. A few coals glowed from the fire but offered little illumination to the pitch-blackness surrounding the bed. Nearby her son, Andrew slept soundly in a trundle bed undisturbed by the excited barks of dogs outside in the streets of Williamsburg. Her heart jumped as she looked over to the door separating her bedroom from the main hall of the tavern and saw light coming in from the cracks between the door and its frame. A voice hissed outside.

“Mistress, you need to wake up.”

Olivia’s voice held the rich cadence of someone who had been born far from the English colonies. Faith suspected she had come from somewhere in the West Indies, but she had never asked. Given how long it had taken to build trust, she trod carefully.

There was no reason for Olivia to be outside the door. Given the hour, she and her husband, Titus, should be stirring the fires and fixing breakfast before their guests rose with the dawn. Faith’s feet hit the floor, and she gasped at the cold. Grabbing a coverlet for decency, she stumbled to the door, where her head hit the top of the doorframe. Pain struck like a hammer.

Opening the door a little, Faith stared at the other woman. “What’s wrong?”

“There’s a dead man in the private room.” Olivia’s breath came out in silvery puffs that peppered the air. Flour lightly dusted her hands and apron which indicated a sudden interruption from work.

“Are you sure?” Together they had dealt with a number of drunks in the year since the tavern had opened. Seven months since her husband Jon had died, leaving Faith in charge.

“I’m sure. Titus found him when he went to stir the fires before breakfast.”

Cold sweat broke out on Faith’s face as her stomach tied itself in knots. Titus was not one to panic. If he was correct, they had to act fast. Such an incident would only cause trouble.

Outside a rooster crowed warning that dawn paused for no one. Soon her guests would come downstairs for breakfast, and the streets would fill with merchants, slaves and others needing to do business in the capitol. Taking a breath, Faith forced an illusion of calm into her voice.

“Our guests will still expect breakfast. Take care of them. Make use of the boys if you need to. Tell Titus not to let anyone near the private room. I am on my way.” She turned back into her room, stopping by Andrew’s bed when she heard him move restlessly.

“What is it?” He began to stir out of his nest of blankets.

“Go back to sleep. It’s early yet.”

Hurriedly, she threw a skirt and bodice over her shift and stuffed her hair into a mob cap. Grabbing a heavy, woolen shawl, she slipped out down the steps to the backyard. The private room was separated from the main tavern by a narrow alley. It had its own front and back entrance, which made it perfect for meetings and extra work to provide meals and drinks. Side doors opened into the alley, which made delivering food and drink convenient although the walls of both buildings kept the narrow aperture cast in shadows.

Olivia watched her from the doorway of the kitchen, which stood apart from the tavern to lessen the risk of fire. Her son, Joshua, slept upstairs. Faith’s gaze circled the long backyard from where it ended at the path that separated it from the tenement next door to the small barn where animals were just beginning to stir. Something about the quiet made her feel jumpy, as if strange and unfriendly eyes watched. Mist rising from the dew added a ghostly air to the scene. Unnerved, she hurried to the door of the private room. She pulled her shawl closer to combat shivers induced by more than the cold.

The breath left Faith’s body as she took in the scene. However, running from trouble was a luxury no worker could afford. A weak fire from the hearth illuminated a man lying on the floor. The fine pewter of an upended tankard nearby glimmered faintly through the shadows. The room reeked of liquor. Perhaps he had simply passed out. In her few months as mistress of Clarke Tavern, she had handled men worse for drink.

Drunk was preferable to dead. Faith cleared her throat, which was suddenly too dry.

“Please be drunk,” she prayed as she came closer hoping for some indication of life. Reflected light gleamed off the brass buttons of his coat and made threads from his silk stockings gleam like ice. Fine lace covered his belly as the drift of his shirt hung out and onto the floor.

“My lord?” Faith inched forward, frowning. She now remembered who had demanded the use of her private room last night. Phineas Bullard acted like an odious bully sober. God only knew how he would behave drunk.

“Master Bullard!” she yelled, not bothering to be gentle.

The reek of wine made her queasy. She glanced about in disgust. It would take hours to make the room decent again. A bottle of port lay on its side, dripping off the table while a
nearly empty wine bottle lay on the floor. The tavern had very little of that in stock, too little to marinate the floor in it. Finally, fury at the man’s sloth overtook her.

Before reason returned, she grabbed his shoulder and shook it “Get up!”

As she aimed her toe to kick him, Faith stepped into something sticky.

Bending over to examine him more closely, her nostrils filled with the sickly scent of blood and other foul bodily substances. She gagged and backed away. The rising sun streaked in the door, allowing her to see what had not been clear before.

Blood soaked his breeches and collar down to the floorboards; his fine linen shirt savagely sliced into rags, revealing the damage beneath. Drying blood caked his throat and belly. Bullard’s wide open eyes and slack jaw implied the spectacle of his demise shocked him as well. Shaking him had rucked up his shirt exposing what she would have given anything not to see.

As the sun’s rays lit the room fully for the first time, horror overwhelmed her. Life had left him long ago.

“God have mercy.” Faith ran out the door, unable to view the nightmare any longer. Stomach revolting, she retched behind the branches of a bush. Her eyes watered as her stomach clenched into knots and set off another round.

“Miss Faith? Miss Faith!”

She shrieked and whirled around. Titus stood a few steps away. She drew in a relieved breath although she could not stop shaking.

Never had she been so glad to see a familiar face.

Wood chips were scattered in his clothes from where he had been chopping wood for the fires. The fresh scent of pine comforted her assaulted nose. His solid presence as well as the axe he carried, comforted her shattered nerves. Titus would be a formidable detriment to any physical threat.

“Are you ill?”

Faith swallowed nausea and pushed tendrils of hair back up into her cap. She gestured at the open doorway. The thought of what lay inside caused her gorge to rise again. Her nose and throat burned as she struggled to speak. “I will be alright. We need a physician, quickly.”

Titus shook his head. “He’s dead ma’am. No doctor can help him now. Let me get you back to the kitchen. The boys can get the sheriff. Best I stay here until I have had time to look around.” His voice roughened, “He has not been dead long, Miss Faith. Body is not all that cold. We had best not to take any chances. I will feed the chickens for the boys today, and they can go on to school. They should be safe enough in the street.”

Titus walked quietly beside her as they passed the smoke house. A breeze stirred the dead leaves from the nearby street. The big man said nothing as they walked past the barn where the horses shifted about in their stalls. Faith jumped but settled when the big man said, “They’re just waiting for breakfast.” His glance seemed to stop briefly at the small barn where the cow and a few horses resided then continued on their circuit.

Her head whirled as she considered the consequences of what she had seen. Bullard could be an insufferable bully, but she did not want him dead in her tavern. Once the sheriff came, news would spread. The authorities would want answers, and she had none. Given the current strife in the colonies, it was all too easy to find oneself unintentionally wearing a noose.

Taking a deep breath, she tried to put that idea out of her head.

The sun ascended the horizon, lighting the sky, as her feet crossed the threshold of the kitchen. Titus left her there and returned outside. Busy with breakfast preparations, Faith was grateful that Olivia did not mention that her mistress looked terrible and smelled worse. She poured herself a small amount of short beer and rinsed out her mouth. Stepping outside, she spat into the grass away from the walkway before returning to speak.

“Someone killed Phineas Bullard last night. The boys need to get the sheriff. Faith paused to gather her spinning thoughts grateful that Olivia was too busy to turn about and see her.

Her breath came too fast and shallow making her dizzy. She needed to gain control of her wits. Sitting at a nearby bench, she leaned over putting her head in her hands.

This was no time to panic. Too much was at stake. She forced herself to inhale and exhale. Gradually, her head cleared. There was no time to panic. Regardless of how she felt, life continued and with it, the work that survival entailed.

From her seat Faith could see inside the open door of the outdoor kitchen, She watched Olivia stirring the huge stewpot hanging over the fire in the kitchen. Nearby lay a stack of knives with rusty stains waiting for scrubbing. Some looked as if they had been used to separate a carcass. The idea made her gorge rise. Faith frowned. If she did not know better, she would swear Olivia was keeping her back to her. It made little sense but then nothing this morning did. Shrugging, she walked out the door back to the tavern.

Outside the door, Titus lingered carrying a plate covered with a napkin. At her glance, he looked nervous.

Faith smiled. “No worries, Titus. I’m sure you worked up quite an appetite this morning.”

“What? Oh sure, mistress. Quite an appetite.”

He was sweating despite the chill of the predawn air. Faith wondered how much would he had chopped. She felt guilty for sitting when he and his wife had been working. Faith touched his sleeve. “It is of no concern to me Titus.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Faith shook her head as she moved past him. Why would he think her worried about a little food? Surely, he knew her better than that. Normally Titus ate in the kitchen with Olivia. Pushing the distracting thought from her mind, she moved onward, determined to ignore the soft whispers behind her.

She managed to catch the door behind her before it slammed. She hurried down the tavern’s hall to the one private space she possessed. Creaking upstairs warned Faith to hurry. Other sounds told her that there would be chamber pots to empty and clean. Pouring water from the pitcher she had filled last night, she washed her face and combed her hair. This time, she took time to coil her hair and pin it in a respectable manner. Her hands shook as she tidied herself. The steel mirror showed a face pale and frightened.

“God help me,” she whispered before turning to where her son slept. “Andrew, it’s time to rise. I need you and Joshua to go get the sheriff.”

***

Excerpt from Cry of the Innocent by Julie Bates. Copyright 2022 by Julie Bates. Reproduced with permission from Julie Bates. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Julie Bates

Julie Bates grew up reading little bit of everything, but when she discovered Agatha Christie, she knew she what she wanted to write. Along the way, she has written a weekly column for the Asheboro Courier Tribune (her local newspaper) for two years and published a few articles in magazines such as Spin Off and Carolina Country. She has blogged for Killer Nashville and the educational website Read.Learn.Write. She currently works as a public school teacher for special needs students. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Southeastern Writers of America (SEMWA) and her local writing group, Piedmont Authors Network (PAN). When not busy plotting her next story, she enjoy doing crafts and spending time with her husband and son, as well as a number of dogs and cats who have shown up on her doorstep and never left.

Catch Up With Julie Bates:
JulieBates.weebly.com
Goodreads
BookBub - @julibates1
Instagram - @juliebates72
Twitter - @JulieLBates03
Facebook - @JulieBates.author

 

MY THOUGHTS -
I love historical fiction and historical mysteries. I read a lot of different genres but when I read a historical one I always feel like its "going home" to  me, and that is just how I felt with this one. I very quickly felt right at home within the story. 

Very nicely written. The descriptions and character development are excellent. I loved Faith, the main character. She is certainly someone I would have been friends with back then. We share a lot of the same feelings and views. And even though we don't see her much in the story, I also grew close to Stella, the slave girl. This book really did a nice job of taking me way back to the 1700's. I have always been interested in this time period. 

While this is not a fast, action packed story. It is a very nicely paced, interesting mystery. You can tell the author did her homework/research. I am definitely looking forward to reading more by this author!

I voluntarily posted this review after receiving a copy of this book from Partners in Crime Tours -  Thank You!


Tour Participants:

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

 

 

Enter to Win:

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for Julie Bates. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

 

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Tours

 

4/19/22

Into the Forest: The Secret Language of Trees - Susan Tyler Hitchcock

5 STARS!

ABOUT THE BOOK -
For millennia, trees have offered renewal and inspiration. They have provided for humanity on every level, from spiritual sanctuary to the raw material for our homes, books, and food. In this beautiful and revealing book, National Geographic combines legendary photography with cutting-edge science to illuminate exactly how trees influence the life of planet Earth―from our personal lives to the weather cycle. Beautifully illustrated essays tell the stories of the world’s most remarkable trees, from Tane Mahura in New Zealand, the ancient Maori "lord of the forest," to Pando, a single aspen spreading over 100 acres: Earth’s largest living thing. You’ll also discover how an astronaut carried tree seeds to the moon and back; the reason "microdosing" on tree gas is a sure way to boost your immune system; and why playing in the dirt boosts serotonin, happiness hormone.
For nature and science enthusiasts, as well as photography lovers, 
Into the Forest is a beautiful and edifying gift to give or cherish.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR -
Susan Tyler Hitchcock is a writer and editor specializing in science, nature, and history. The author of 13 books, she has also written the text for numerous National Geographic photography books, including Joel Sartore’s Photo Ark series. As senior editor at National Geographic, she has edited both narrative and illustrated reference books for the past two decades. A Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Virginia, she lives near Charlottesville, Virginia. Hometown Ann Arbor, Michigan. Residence Covesville, Virginia.

MY THOUGHTS -
Absolutely gorgeous book! Stunning full color pictures on every page spread. This hard cover book is a great size too, coming in at almost 9x9 square. Can be held easily in your hands without feeling too big. You could spend an hour alone just immersing yourself in these pictures.




But that's not all this wonderful book offers! It is also so interesting and full of fun and educational facts. 
- Plant represent more than half the world's endangered species. 
- Roots can stretch out 2 - 3 times the circumference of the crown of the tree above.
- the "green light" that leaves reflect and counteract pain. (for migraines) the best pain relief came when green light shone into their eyes. 

And even poetry and quotes (which I loved).
"And  if you know God... you would see Him smiling in flowers, then raising and waving His hands in trees." _ Kahlil Gibran "The Prophet"
""Wood, earth, mould, etc.... exist for joy." - Henry David Thoreau

This book has been sitting on my living room table ever since I received it and I have looked through it several times already and am sure I will even more in the future.
Do you have a tree hugger in your family? this would make the perfect gift!

Thank you TLC Book Tours for sending me this book for my honest review!



4/13/22

The Complete Beginner's Guide to Greenhouse Gardening: A Month-by-Month Planting Book to Grow 365 Days a Year - Richard Bray

 


ABOUT THE BOOK -

Grow your own vegetables, herbs and fruit anytime, anywhere.
By the winter solstice, it becomes too cold and dark in many regions for anything much to grow in the garden. This is when a lot of gardeners gear up using a greenhouse. Greenhouse gardening provides the opportunity to extend the growing season, grow plants that normally don’t survive in your region or to jump-start a new growing period. Whatever your reason to start your greenhouse project, this book is the right companion on your journey.

Greenhouse Gardening is the one-stop guide on greenhouse construction, maintenance and planting schedules. After reading this book, you will be able to choose the type of greenhouse that best suits your needs, schedule your planting throughout the year and maintain a healthy garden. Ideally suited for beginners, the book provides a comprehensive overview to start your greenhouse adventure. Inexpensive options and money saving tips are outlined in each chapter to reduce your costs in building and running your greenhouse.

In detail, this book allows you to…
Get a comprehensive overview of greenhouse gardening and gain the confidence to embark upon your own project

  • Learn what greenhouse gardening is all about
  • Get to know the different types of greenhouses and choose the one that suits your needs.
  • Decide if you want to DIY, buy a ready-made kit or get a used greenhouse.


Set up your own greenhouse and save money by using inexpensive building methods

  • Choose the best type of glazing, flooring and construction material for your greenhouse.*
  • Learn how to heat your greenhouse and use ventilation to keep the humidity level just right.
  • Learn how to utilize lighting and irrigate your plants for optimal growth.
  • Get an overview of the essential equipment you need to keep your garden healthy.


Taste the pleasure of your homegrown food with easy to grow herbs, vegetables and fruit

  • Learn how to schedule your plants for year-round gardening.
  • Get an overview of how to grow different herbs, vegetables and fruits in your greenhouse.
  • Integrate hydroponics into your greenhouse.


Identify potential problems with your plants and learn how to overcome them

  • Understand how to maintain your greenhouse and care for your plants.
  • Identify pests and diseases in your greenhouse and learn how to combat them.


Take the first step to running your own greenhouse. To get started, scroll up and grab your copy.

Order yours from Amazon - HERE


ABOUT THE AUTHOR -

Richard's father was a keen gardener and that is where his interest in all natural things began. As a youngster, he enjoyed nothing better than helping his father in the garden.

Nowadays, he finds himself at the opposite end of life. Having had a satisfying career, he now has time to potter around in his garden and take care of his small homestead. Much of the food on his dinner table is homegrown. He likes to experiment with various gardening methods and find new ways to grow bountiful crops year-round.

He wants to share his knowledge and show how easy and rewarding it is to set up your own prosperous garden and apply the healing power of plants. In his opinion, you don’t need a huge budget to get started. When you do get started, you will soon feel, and taste, the benefits of growing your own healthy food.


MY THOUGHTS -

A great resource if you are starting your own greenhouse... and even if you are not! This book just has a lot of very useful information period. I am an avid gardener. I do a pretty large garden every year and also love the "putting up" process. I really appreciate all the lists and charts and will probably end up printing them out.

My husband and I have gone back and forth about getting a greenhouse. We ended up not getting one because I just wasn't fully ready to use one yet, but... someday.

This book is a definite must have in the whole greenhouse process right from the very beginning - choosing what kind to get. I love that the book includes what to plant when and different options on how to plant. Again with lists and charts. :-)

Even if we don't get a greenhouse right away, I know I will be using this book as a reference for my gardening.

I voluntarily posted this review after receiving a copy of this book from the author, Richard Bray -  Thank You!

I also reviewed -  Herbal Antibiotics: Natural Herbal Remedies for Everyday Ailments 

Which I also very highly recommend!


Hey, let me know in the comments - Do you have a veg. garden? Are you lucky enough to already have a greenhouse? Or are you planning to someday get one?