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Monday, January 18, 2021

Get to Know Sweet Water by Cara Reinard Better!

 Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this post from the author, from Partners in Crime Book Tours,, for review and posting purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in-kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about them. All opinions are my own. 


sweetwater cover

Book Details:

Genre: Domestic Thriller, Crime Fiction
Published by: Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date: January 1st 2021
Number of Pages: 364
ISBN: 1542024935 (ISBN13: 978-1542024938)

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads




10 quirks about my main character

“If you treat your characters like people, they’ll reward you by being fully developed

individuals.” Don Roff


The writing conferences I’ve attended and MFA classes I’ve taken have stressed the importance

of creating a strong main character, but what makes a strong character?


They must have a clear motivation for what they want and be at least somewhat likeable, but

they must also be believable, which means like all of us, they have faults, and more

importantly—quirks.


Definition of quirk: a peculiar behavioral habit.


We all have them. As you’re sitting here reading this, ask yourself, what’re your quirks?


My main character, Sarah Ellsworth, has lived a mostly charmed life, married to the man of her

dreams in a beautiful, historical home nestled in an exclusive, wooded neighborhood. But the

unexplained death of her teenage son’s girlfriend uncovers all the cracks in her perfect fa├žade.


Sarah’s quirks:

1. She hates getting dressed up. She’s a no-frills girl and blames this on being raised by a

single father.

2. Sarah closes her eyes when she listens to music. She prefers rock.

3. Sarah has a weak bladder.

4. She’s oddly obsessed with her house, as if it’s a living, breathing thing. She even talks to

it sometimes when no one is around…

5. Sarah sees things through rose-colored glasses, sometimes tinting the lies in her life to

make them truths.

6. Sarah never told her husband that the house he purchased once belonged to someone

she knew and that she had made history there long before they moved in.

7. Sarah hasn’t made a real friend since college because she’s guarded who she truly is to

fit the picture of who she thinks people want her to be.

8. She is self-conscious around other females because she didn’t grow up with any in her

own home and she constantly questions her own behavior.

9. Brand names are totally for show. Sarah has no real use for them.

10. Sarah secretly enjoys her father’s crass, blue-collar humor, but pretends not to so

people won’t judge her and suspect she’s less polished than she really is.


About the Author:

Cara Reinard is an author of women’s fiction and domestic. 

She currently lives north of Pittsburgh with her husband, two children, and Bernese mountain dog.

Book Review: A Side of Murder by Amy Pershing

  Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this ebook free of charge, from Kensington Books, via #netgalley, for review purposes on this blog. No compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it, all opinions are my own



 Beautiful Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is known for seafood, sand, surf, and, now…murder.

a side of murder cover

Synopsis:
 
Samantha Barnes was always a foodie.  And when the CIA (that’s the Culinary Institute of America) came calling, she happily traded in Cape Cod for the Big Apple.  But then the rising young chef’s clash with another chef (her ex!) boils over and goes viral. So when Sam inherits a house on the Cape and lands a job writing restaurant reviews, it seems like the perfect pairing. What could go wrong? Well, as it turns out, a lot.
 
The dilapidated house comes with an enormous puppy. Her new boss is, well, bossy.  And the town’s harbor master is none other than her first love.  Nonetheless, Sam’s looking forward to reviewing the Bayview Grill—and indeed the seafood chowder is divine. But the body in the pond outside the eatery was not on the menu. Sam is certain this is murder. But as she begins to stir the pot, is she creating a recipe for her own untimely demise?


Review:

Sometimes books attemot to be modern, and fail in their attempt to be timely. Not the case with this book!  Everyone seems to get their 15 minutes of fame.infamy nowadays via ivideo, don't they? For Sam, it was the end of a fast riding career, or so she thinks.  Putting her cooking expertise into restaurant reviews seems like the handout it is, but it gets her back around food, and that she loves. Course she isn't expecting murder along with her food. Together with her old friends, she is in the middle of a murder case and the more she seems to be pulling herself away from her prior infamy, the more she seems in hot water! A fun quick read, you'l enjoy this book, and its recipes.



About the Author:

Amy Pershing is a lifelong mystery lover and wordsmith. She was an editor, a restaurant reviewer and a journalist before leading employee communications at a global bank. A few years ago (with the final college tuition bill paid), she waved goodbye to Wall Street to write full time (and spend more time sailing on the Cape!). A Side of Murder, the first of the Cape Cod Foodie mysteries, is her debut novel.




Saturday, January 16, 2021

Book Review and Giveaway: Sweet Water by Cara Reinard

 Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this ebook, material and giveaway, free of charge, from Partners in Crime Book Tours,, for review and posting purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in-kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about them. All opinions are my own. 


Tour:  January 1-31, 2021 

sweetwater cover

Synopsis:

What did her son do in the woods last night? Does a mother really want to know?

It’s what Sarah Ellsworth dreamed of. Marriage to her childhood sweetheart, Martin. Living in a historic mansion in Pennsylvania’s most exclusive borough. And Finn, a teenage son with so much promise. Until…A call for help in the middle of the night leads Sarah and Martin to the woods, where they find Finn, injured, dazed, and weeping near his girlfriend’s dead body. Convinced he’s innocent, Sarah and Martin agree to protect their son at any cost and not report the crime.

But there are things Sarah finds hard to reconcile: a cover-up by Martin’s family that’s so unnervingly cold-blooded. Finn’s lies to the authorities are too comfortable, too proficient, not to arouse her suspicions. Even the secrets of the old house she lives in seem to be connected to the incident. As each troubling event unfolds, Sarah must decide how far she’ll go to save her perfect life.


Book Details:

Genre: Domestic Thriller, Crime Fiction
Published by: Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date: January 1st 2021
Number of Pages: 364
ISBN: 1542024935 (ISBN13: 978-1542024938)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

 

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

I reach for my phone inside my purse slung around my neck. It’s dangling behind my back because I had nowhere else to put it while examining the body.

“Sarah, is she breathing?” Martin asks. I turn my head to find him, but it’s too dark.

I stumble, disoriented under the canopy of trees. We’re somewhere off Fern Hollow Road, the closest turnoff to Finn’s pinned iPhone location.

“I d-don’t know,” I sputter, still shocked we found her and not Finn when we parked the car and hiked the rest of the way into Sewickley Heights Park.

“Check her—now. I need to find Finn.” Martin’s voice fades into the forest, and all I want to do is follow him, but I just spoke to my son on the phone. His speech was slurred, and his girlfriend is . . .

“Oh God.” I open my mouth and let out a strangled breath, so sick that I sway to the side.

My eyes water as I kneel beside Yazmin Veltri, a girl I’ve known for only the briefest period. The wetness soaks through the holes in my jeans, settling into my bare kneecaps, ice on bone.

“Yazmin?” I shine my phone’s light in her direction, but I’m stopped by the certain hint of marijuana.

Shit. All these years working with at-risk young women, and I couldn’t see that Finn was dating one.

“Please,” I beg the starlit sky peeking through the trees. “Let her be breathing.”

I sniffle and inhale the truth through the rotting leaves. Something terrible has happened here, and I’m too late. The autumn mist snakes in through my nose, out through my mouth, emitting tiny white puffs of air.

The forest ground is slippery, a feathered blanket beneath my knees, slathering the tops of my shoes.

I hear more hurried footsteps. Martin sounds like a mouse lost in a maze. Has he found Finn? I need to go to him, but my husband told me to stay here.

The branches scratch the tops of my feet as I move closer to her, the fallen leaves collecting between my knees. Yazmin could still be alive. A bitter taste rises in my mouth as I bite my tongue, and I’m close enough to touch her now.

My arm trembles as I place two fingers on the cold flesh of her neck. Not only cold—wet. I can’t see what I’m touching, but I can feel her absence. Right below her jawline, in the space beside her trachea where I know a steady drumbeat should exist, there’s nothing.

No pulse. My heartbeat quickens and plummets. Oh God.

My blood is rushing. Pounding. I’m sweating despite the near-thirty-degree temperature. I dip my head closer to Yazmin’s chest, careful not to tangle my hair with hers. I’ve checked on my kids enough times in the middle of the night to know this girl’s not breathing. I shut my eyes and listen anyway.

Sure enough, the steady rise and fall of Yazmin’s chest is absent along with her pulse.

“She’s dead. We have to call the police,” I announce, loud enough for Martin to hear, but not nearly as loud as the screaming in my head.

Call somebody! Help!

I hear Martin crunch closer, and I turn my back on the girl.

I scoot up on my legs and use my hands to push myself into a crouching position. My breath is heavy, and everything on my body—my hands, my knees—rattles with fear. I hear a cry in the distance.

My son’s cry. And then Martin’s rustling footsteps. Beside me again.

“Where is he?” I ask.

“He’s okay, but . . .” Martin nods to the right. “He’s injured. We need to get him out of here, Sarah.”

“Okay,” I say, but I close my eyes because my head is a ringing bell of stress even though this wooded area is one of the things that drew me to this town. The park is near the country club where we’re members, where Martin’s family have been members for years, and things like this just don’t happen here.

“Let’s go, Sarah!” Martin urges.

My eyes snap open, and I hold up my phone. “Wait. I’m calling 911. For her.”

“No.” Martin swats my hand away with the flick of his strong knuckles. The blood on my palms makes everything slick, and my cell phone goes flying across the forest like a bar of soap in the shower. I slip sideways into a bramble of branches and land on my left hip, staring at my husband’s garish face in the moonlight. He looks unfamiliar, that expression one reserved for when he loses business at work, a rare occurrence. Martin is an innovator, his causes noble. Sometimes I don’t approve of how he does things, but I usually approve of why.

“Damn it.” Martin scrambles to find my phone. Right now, I don’t approve at all.

“Why did you do that?” I ask, but I’m more surprised that he’s hit me than I am by the fact that he doesn’t agree with my decision to call the police.

“It will get reported tomorrow. We need to leave with Finn. Now.”

“What? That makes no sense.”

Martin retrieves my phone, and I’m trying to get his attention, but he’s looking right past me at the gas pipeline in the distance, a clear-cut, inclined path free of foliage about a thousand yards long in the mountainous terrain. Martin and I messed around with sleds one winter on a protected slope of land just like it, and I think maybe Finn and Yazmin planned their own adventure out here tonight and something went terribly wrong.

“Martin.” I try to get up, but my foot slips on a mossy rock.

He grabs my arm. Then drops it. “Watch yourself,” he says, but he doesn’t help me rise. He’s too busy texting.

It’s then that I hear water rushing nearby. The river rocks are indigenous to this area, like everything else woodsy and serene in Sewickley.

Sewickley, the Shawnee word for sweet water, derived from the tribe’s belief that the borough’s shores were a little sweeter on that stretch of the Ohio River, the maple trees that grow at its shores only part of the saccharine story.

“Who’re you texting?” I’m crying and my hands are still wet, but I can’t wipe them. There’s blood all over my palms, and I can’t remember how it got there; head wounds bleed the worst.

“Hold on!” Martin is standing with his back to me now, holding his phone in the air like he’s trying to decide what to do with it, a six-foot silhouette of trepidation. He scratches his dark hair and rubs his cell phone on his sweater-vest, but he doesn’t use it to call anyone, only texts.

“I’m getting legal advice from my father,” Martin says.

His father?

I picture William Sr. texting back from the comfort of one of his high-back chairs inside his home, one of the few estates that make up Sewickley Heights like a richly woven patchwork quilt—the expensive kind sewn together with colonials surrounded by alabaster columns and mile-long driveways.

“Martin?”

William’s house is a fat-thatched Tudor hiding behind manicured bushes, a peek of white here, a slip of brown there, but there’s no hiding from this.

“Of course you have to report it!” I look again—at her—and the blood is already congealing around her open head wound, her neck bent at an awkward angle, a matchstick snapped in half. The rushing water streams just behind her.

Martin’s tugging on my coat. “Get up, Sarah. We have to go.”

“We can’t leave her.” Yazmin’s long black hair is covering the expression on her face, although the one I imagine is stuck there will haunt me more than the one I cannot see. She rests on her back, and it would be an odd way to fall, backward instead of forward, her hands crossed over her chest as if she were thwarting an attack. It reminds me of a tae kwon do block from when Finn used to take classes. We’d enrolled him when he was a child because he was painfully shy, whereas Spencer, his older brother, was frequently mentioned by his teachers as boisterous or exuberant, adjectives used in private schools to describe disruptive overachievers. I might expect Spencer to get into trouble with a girl like this, but not my poor Finny.

I turn toward Martin. He’s speaking, but I’ve stopped listening.

His eyes are pleading. “She’s dead. We can’t help her. Finn was the last person with her.”

“But—”

“He’s on something, Sarah. Drugs.” Martin shakes his head furiously. “This looks bad.”

I can hear what he’s saying, but I’ve retreated into my own body, and I don’t even know who we are right now.

We used to be Martin and Sarah Ellsworth of Blackburn Road.

We were the couple sitting at a corner table at a fancy restaurant, splitting a bottle of wine. Laughing at each other’s jokes.

“We have to do something for her.” My voice is swallowed by the humming sounds of the forest and the flapping of the leaves on the trees, the river. She’s already dead, but we need to make sure she’s at least taken to the hospital so her parents can identify her. Bile rises in my mouth. My heart is beating so fast, drowning out everything else, but I faintly hear Finn’s voice again nearby.

“I’m sorry.” Martin extends his arm to help me up, but I waggle my finger in the air at him, pointing to my hands, reminding my brainy husband that I’m bloodied and pulling me up isn’t a good idea. I must’ve made the mistake of touching Yazmin in the wrong place.

“Right.” He draws his palms back.

My legs won’t work. I gaze up, silently praying. The large enveloping trees of Sewickley Heights tower above us like old wealthy gatekeepers winking in the night.

“I need your help. I can’t move him on my own, Sarah,” Martin reveals.

I close my eyes, wishing it all away. It’s all a bad dream.

“Can we just make an anonymous call from a pay phone or something? For her parents’ sake, at least?”

“You can’t. They’ll try to interview Finn, see the drug use, and assume the worst. He’ll go to jail.” His voice is thick with desperation. “Sarah, this will ruin Finn’s life. This isn’t his fault!” Martin kicks a stone with his worn loafer, a product from one of the posh boutiques that line downtown Sewickley, a mishmash of overpriced things people don’t really need displayed in windowed storefronts on cobblestone streets. There’s a place to reupholster old furniture with patterns better left to die with their original owners, a claw-foot-tub specialist, an herbal spa with enough fresh fruit remedies to double as a bakery, the imported-leather-shoe store.

I bought Martin the shoes he has on now, and he’s worn them down to the soles. He’s practical, a computer engineer and CEO of a robotics start-up in the Strip District. He does things that make sense.

But right now, he’s not making any.

“Maybe she slipped.” My voice is shallow like the night air sneaking away from my lips, but the idea of an accident fills my heart with hope. “We’ll leave an anonymous tip.” If I had my phone, I’d call myself.

I’d explain this is exactly how we found her. She wasn’t even near our son when we discovered her body.

Unless . . . we’ve messed with the scene of the crime so much that we’ve hurt Finn more than helped him. I look down at my bloody hands and cringe. As far as we know, Finn is the last one who saw Yazmin alive. This could be very bad for him. “Shit.”

Martin grabs me by the arm. “We have to go, Sarah. Get up.” I can’t see much of Martin’s face but the stringy blue vein in his forehead that only comes out when he’s upset.

It’s been only minutes, but we need to move—faster.

“We need to go to him,” I say.

“Yes.” Martin nods.

I’m in shock. That’s what’s wrong with me. I blindly follow Martin, adrenaline fueling my limbs. Finn is off the beaten path, and I feel as though I’ve already failed him for taking so long. He’s huddled over a pile of leaves, his knees tucked into his chest like he used to do when he was a little kid. He looks so small right now.

So young.

A little boy who fell off his scooter and skinned his knee. I wish this problem were as easy to fix.

I wipe my hands on my jeans and throw my arms around him.

“I’m here. Mom’s here.” Finn’s crying and I don’t know how to make it better for him. He obviously didn’t mean for the girl to get hurt, but this was no accident either. He’s made a terrible mistake, gotten himself into a horrible predicament. So Finn did what we always told him to do if he was ever in trouble—he called us.

***

Excerpt from Sweet Water by Cara Reinard. Copyright 2021 by Cara Reinard. Reproduced with permission from Cara Reinard. All rights reserved.

 

 Book Review:

Every parents nightmare is a 'date' gone bad. But what if it's more than that? What if it's not just your son's life as he knows it in question, but everything you think you know bout your family? In this book, it's not just a mystery, but how a family unravels back to when things all went wrong. Much like Monday morning quarterbacking, when we look back we can see where the wrong decision was made. But in this book  the author shows, via flashbacks, how in the moment we can get sidetracked and loose our way, and not even realize we took a wrong turn. But now that wrong turn is having issues in the present for sarah and her family. Can she find the courage to right two wrongs and bring justice and peace to everyone? A real page turner, don't miss this one!

flashing Win

Giveaway:

There will be two (2) winners,  each receiving one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. 
The giveaway begins on January 1, 2021 and runs through February 2, 2021. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Cara Reinard. 
Void where prohibited.

 

carla reinard
About the Author:

Cara Reinard is an author of women’s fiction and domestic. 

She currently lives north of Pittsburgh with her husband, two children, and Bernese mountain dog.

 

 

Tour Participants:

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



  

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 

Tuesday, January 12, 2021
Monday, January 11, 2021

Book Review: A Vineyard Morning by Jean Stone

 Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this ebook free of charge, from Kensington Books, via #netgalley, for review purposes on this blog. No compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it, all opinions are my own

                                  

                                  Today we're going from one coast to the other!

In Jean Stone's third Vineyard Novel, a visit from her biological mother threatens to upend bestselling novelist and island transplant Annie Sutton's new life on Martha's Vineyard.

A Vineyard Morning cover

Synopsis

Life is usually quiet during the off-season on Martha's Vineyard, but not for island newbie and bestselling novelist Annie Sutton...

Finally settled into her adopted island home, Annie is looking forward to writing her next mystery, making soap for her new business, and starting renovations on the Inn she plans to open by the summer. She's also enjoying spending more time with local police sergeant John Lyons, the man she's only just gotten comfortable calling her boyfriend. She's even starting to relish her relationship with John's teenage daughter, Lucy. It's probably not the best moment for a visit from the biological mother Annie only recently met. Still, it's high time she got to know the mysterious Donna MacNeish...

But Donna's visit isn't merely a social call--she's come to share some devastating news. Seeking solace in an outing with Lucy, Annie and the teen stumble upon skeletal remains on the Inn's property, a finding that calls a halt to all construction while the police investigate. Desperate for answers, Annie starts asking questions of her own. But when secrets about her own past bring shattering revelations, suddenly everything Annie understands about love and loyalty is tested--and she wonders if the ties that bind her to her beloved community will reach a breaking point...


Book Review

I had read book 1 in this series, but missed book 2. This is book 3, and the author does a good job in giving you just enough background on the characters, so you're not lost from not reading the other books. In this book, Annie and her brother about to have their dream inn completed, when not 1 but 2 whirlwinds descend upon them- a found body on the beach and their mother. Both will call upon them to make sacrifices and to dredge up the past, and not the way they want to. This is a fun little mystery, and even though you know what is gonna happen at the end (you may need some tissues,...), you still want to read to see how it all turns out. A good series, if you're looking for just a few books to read by the fire!


About the Author

Jean Stone is the author of over twenty novels about contemporary women that have been published by Kensington, Random House, and HarperCollins. Her book Good Little Wives (written under her pen name, Abby Drake) has been optioned for a Lifetime TV movie. From Germany to Japan, over a dozen countries around the world have purchased the translation rights to her novels. Jean has taught at a number of writers' conferences and has been a guest lecturer at many colleges and conferences. A native of New England, she has lived on Martha's Vineyard and Cape Cod for several years. Visit her Website at JeanStone.com or her blog, JeanStoneMV.com.


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