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I Lost My Nose...In A Good Book

I've been reading ever since I figured out that letters form words. My TBR pile is in serious jeopardy of falling over, but I always manage to find room for one more book.

Still Life In Brunswick Stew by Larissa Reinhart

Still Life in Brunswick Stew (A Cherry Tucker Mystery, #2)Still Life in Brunswick Stew by Larissa Reinhart

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**Still Life In Brunswick Stew** by *Larissa Reinhart*, a 5 Star rated mystery if ever there was one, is the second book in the **Cherry Tucker** mystery series. Move over Stephanie Plum, because there's another interesting and outrageous character on the bookshelves, and she's every bit as entertaining as Stephanie ever has been.

Cherry Tucker comes from Halo, Georgia, which is close to Sidewinder, Georgia, home of the popular Annual Sidewinder Brunswick Stew Cook-Off, an event that becomes bigger each year drawing people from states away to sample the delicious variations on Brunswick Stew as prepared by locals who view this event as their yearly money-maker. Cherry Tucker is an artist. She and her friend Eloise Parker, who makes Raku pottery, have teamed up with an art booth at the Cook-
Off, hoping to sell their handmade wares. Both women are talented in their respective fields, but it's hard to keep their kind of business going in such a small town. Both women need a big name to recognize them and give them the break they need to progress.

Eloise has Crohn's Disease, but that doesn't stop her from liberally sampling the stew at the cook-off since lately she seems to have her disease under control. Her boyfriend, Griffin Ward, wants to take credit for her improvement since he's been giving her doses of his homemade liquid drink most folks agree looks very much like pond scum. Cherry Tucker gives him no credit at all, but then she doesn't like Griffin much since she found out he may be physically abusing Eloise. After eating 6 cups of the Brunswick Stew, Eloise becomes very ill, is taken to the hospital, and within a short time, she dies. At first her disease is blamed, but when lots of other people from the Cook-Off become sick as well, it is discovered that the stew may be at fault for all the sick people. One of the cooks is in a coma as a result of eating the stew which was prepared by him and his family's business. Eloise Parker's father wants answers for why his daughter died, and Cherry is right behind him with her amateur sleuthing skills to get to the bottom of what killed her friend.

Cherry Tucker is a hoot. Just give her a sundress or a pair of flip flops, and she will alter these simple items into fancy going-out-on-the-town wardrobe items. True, not everyone understands Cherry's fashion vision, but that doesn't concern her. She's too busy flashing her panties during an awkward, unplanned front roll-over in church, or battling her grandfather's goat Tater, or trying to figure out what turned her lips to mush when she kisses Luke, or helping poor souls like Hunter Adams, or trying to get information out of her Uncle Will, the town sheriff, or trying to keep track of what may be illegal goings on at the Bear's gorgeous mansion. There's so many well developed characters, it's hard to list them all. Suffice it to say, Larissa Reinhart has a knack for writing people who keep readers entertained and wanting more.

Eventually the mystery behind who was responsible for killing and/or making people sick with food poisoning is solved, but not before we're given more information advancing the stories of key characters, and prompting us to read the next Cherry Tucker Mystery in the series. This is why I've rated **Still Life In Brunswick Stew** with 5 stars. It's a keeper!

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Sara's Game by Ernie Lindsey

Sara's GameSara's Game by Ernie Lindsey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a copy of **Sara's Game** by *Ernie Lindsey* from NoiseTrade.com for which I "tipped the author".

Up until two years ago Sara had a very good life. Then, without any warning, her husband, Brian, vanished from the face of the earth. An extensive search was performed, but no reason for his disappearance ever surfaced. He was simply gone.

He left behind a wife, Sara, and 3 young children, 2 girls and a boy. After two years, Sara managed to put together a life for the children and her, but it is not easy raising three young children by herself and holding down a full time job. However, Sara is nothing if not resourceful. She works in marketing for a company called Lite Pulse which makes computer games. She is very good at her job and has worked her way up in the company at a pretty rapid pace. Of course there are times when she misses her husband and feels frustrated that he has never been found. There are also times she resents his not being there to help with family responsibilities. But over all, Sara has managed to accept what she cannot change and in that frame of mind, she balances her job and her family obligations very well.

That is, until the day that started off like any other day when Sara got to work and received a phone call from her son's school. The children had been playing hide-and-seek, and when they had finished the game, Jacob, Sara's son, was nowhere to be found. No one wanted to panic just yet. It had happened once before when Sara and the children were playing this game at home, and when everyone was ready to stop, Jacob couldn't be found. He had discovered a great hiding place and fell asleep waiting for someone to notice him. He finally turned up when one of his sisters stepped on him. Sara wanted to believe this current incident was just history repeating itself. Until her daughters' school called to say that both her girls were missing. The class had gone to an ice cream shop to celebrate the end of school, but when attendance was taken before returning to the school, neither of the girls was there. Sara immediately left work to go to the schools to straighten all of this out. When she got to her car, she found a note on her windshield that said, "Are You Ready To Play The Game?" This was how Sara was led to the conclusion that her children, all three of them, had been kidnapped.

From that point on, whoever was responsible for abducting the children leads Sara on an exhausting and frustrating journey with clues she has to solve and orders she has to follow if she ever wants to see her children alive again. The first task is designed to humiliate Sara as much as possible. It was hard to imagine what Sara had to be thinking and feeling as she was forced to decide whether she would allow herself to be humiliated in that fashion, and from that point on, the tension builds. It is obvious that the goal of the person who has Sara's children is to punish her severely for something she has done in the past. There is one very obvious person who could be the one behind this scheme, but realistically, it's a stretch to think that this person would go to such lengths and harbor such extreme hatred for Sarah to hatch a plan like this one. However, both Sara and the police detectives on the case agree that the one person they have in mind must be the culprit.

From the time Sara becomes aware her children are missing, the action on this story never lets up; in fact, it only intensifies with each additional chapter or revelation. Lindsey has written a very tense, believable story about testing a woman's endurance and her love for her children far beyond what any mother expects to encounter in raising her children. Fortunately for readers who enjoyed reading about Sara and her family, Lindsey has written two more books featuring these people. I immediately bought both of them. I look forward to reading more from Lindsey in the future. He certainly has a gift for keeping readers on the edge of our seats and delivering first rate storytelling.

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A Swollen Red Sun by Matthew McBride

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The City by Dean Koontz

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The Prediction by Darren Sugrue

The PredictionThe Prediction by Darren Sugrue

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of **the Prediction** by *Darren Sugrue* from **StoryCartel.com** in exchange for an honest review. I couldn't be happier with my choice in this case. Many books available on StoryCartel are written by authors with whom I am unfamiliar, but I have come across some very good books at that site, and will continue to look there for books that might interest me. **The Prediction** turned out to be an outstanding book worthy of 5 Stars, and I will be watching for anything else this author publishes.

**The Prediction** is about several different things, but for me it was mostly about a person's devotion to what he believes in so strongly he will put aside everything else to believe in himself when no one else will.

When the book begins, Daniel Geller has been working as a crane operator for the past 10 years. He is married and has a son, and while being a crane operator is not what he envisioned himself doing for a living for the rest of his vocational life, he accepts his life for what it is. His bills get paid, his family is a happy one, there really isn't anything he wants or needs that he doesn't have. Ten years ago, the situation was different. Daniel submitted his doctoral thesis to the mathematical faculty at Trinity. The thesis was based upon Daniel's ability to predict someone's date of death using involved mathematical equations and data he collected from various places that would have a bearing on a person's life span. The faculty at Trinity decided not to support Daniel's thesis nor did his mentor at that time. Daniel was crushed by their decision. He gave up all his work, left the woman he loved with no explanation, and moved on to what most would consider a humdrum life of merely getting by but not participating in anything other than living one day at a time with little to no enthusiasm. For Daniel, life was something to do until something better came along, although nothing better ever did.

Until the day John Redmond showed up at Daniel's construction site to tell him that a prediction he made 10 years ago came true. A man named Brian Nolan had died exactly on the date Daniel said he would. That prompted Redmond to get in touch with Geller to ask him to work on his thesis again, only this time Redmond would not abandon him. What Daniel didn't know at that first meeting was that Redmond had more than one reason for wanting Daniel to take on his thesis again. That's where things really start to pick up.

I thought the premise for this book was interesting: is it possible to predict someone's date of death factoring in all the variables any individual has. Would it even be possible to get every factor that counts towards life or death? At the same time as Sugrue is writing with that in mind, he's also included some other factors to the story so that there is never a stretch of time that seems slow or boring. The story is told from the viewpoint of 4 different people who all make a big contribution to where the story leads. And where it leads was an emotional upheaval I never expected. There are not many books that have made me cry. This one did.

I have given this book 5 Stars because that's the highest number I can give it. I recommend it to everyone who enjoys very well told stories with relatable people, and high credibility. Thanks to StoryCartel and Darren Sugrue for this super reading treat!

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The Breakup Doctor by Phoebe Fox

The Breakup DoctorThe Breakup Doctor by Phoebe Fox
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a copy of The Breakup Doctor by Phoebe Fox from NetGalley.com in return for an honest review.

Picture this: a woman with an inappropriate picture of a donkey tattooed on her shoulder, and she's wearing pantyhose on her head with snorkel goggles to protect her eyes. Is this the image of a Licensed Professional Mental Health Counsellor, OR is this some demented lunatic recently escaped from the psycho wing of the local "rest home". The correct answer would be the first choice. Her name is Brook Lynn Ogden, and she's very very good at what she does... most of the time. Unless she gets blindsided by a man who leads her to believe one thing while, in fact, the opposite is the truth. This could make anyone a wee bit annoyed, but for Brook, it means she goes completely apeshit for a while. Which explains some of the nutty things she does while still trying to maintain her professional demeanor with her clients.

It all started when the office building Brook and two associates of hers had made their office was suddenly (for Brook) demolished. The two people with whom she shared her business decided that when the building went, so would they. In the short span of one morning, Brook lost her business and her office AND her team in one fell swoop. Fortunately for that crisis she had her friend Sasha to talk her through the rough spots, and she had the support of her boyfriend, Kendall, to encourage her to keep on truckin'. She had recently bought a fixer-upper house which had the potential to be an office when she finished some major renovations, so maybe things weren't so bleak after all. Especially since she and Sasha had this great idea for her to write a column for the local newspaper on relationships and how to survive them. All they had to do was convince Lisa Albrecht, the editor of the paper, that Kendall's column was what the newspaper desperately needed. That proved easier than they thought it would be, so Voila! The Breakup Doctor was born. Before long, Brook was building a client list and producing noteworthy articles people were drawn to read because the general consensus was that she had a good head on her shoulders. Suffice it to say that with that donkey on her shoulder no one actually saw to what the good head was attached because Book carefully kept it covered with a sweater in all kinds of weather.

The book goes on to describe what Brook has to go through both professionally and in her personal life all at the same time. Oh, the mistakes she made! But that's what made The Breakup Doctor such a good read. Phoebe Fox has made Brook an intelligent, professional woman who, in spite of her own faults, really does want to help people over the hurdles of broken relationships by not giving in to stalking, nasty messages, or outright verbal confrontations. And who says that professionals have to be absolutely perfect in order to help guide someone who's hurting through such painful times?

By the end of the book Brook has learned some valuable life lessons and so has the reader. There's lots to think about in the pages of this book, and it could certainly be the basis for some interesting discussions within book clubs or simply friends who like to read the same books. I highly recommend The Breakup Doctor to those who enjoy a little humor with their pathos and may even learn a few relationship tips along the way.

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Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican

Brutal YouthBrutal Youth by Anthony Breznican
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received an ARC from NetGalley.com of Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican in exchange for an honest review.

It is a small miracle that any student at Saint Michael's actually has the time to take classes much less pass any of them given the whole dysfunctional nature of the school. The school charges a tuition which doesn't begin to cover the serious list of repairs that need to be done to the dilapidated building,yet parents still send their children to the place rather than to the public schools for which their tax dollars pay. In spite of Father Mercedes' constant harassment of Sister Maria, the principal of the school, nothing substantial ever gets done to resolve the deteriorating roof leaks nor any of the other structural damage that only gets worse with time. And then comes the incident of The Boy On The Roof that begins a downward spiral no one could have foreseen. The book begins with "Clink" Vickler so called because of the clinking noise the bag he carries with him makes when he moves. (Just a note here: Anthony Breznican MUST have been laughing or at the very least giggle-snorting when he named his characters. I know that's what I did while reading about them.) What began with some hazing from his classmates about the contents of his bag which escalated into name calling, like "animal murderer" Colin Vickler completely lost his cool, went to the roof of the school, and began an incident that eventually affects most of the student body and several of the teachers.

My favorite character in **Brutal Youth** is Hannah Kraut. She manages to convince the entire class that she is a force to be reckoned with, and she keeps hinting about a book she has been keeping that exposes inappropriate behavior from students and teachers. Without ever being very explicit, she has most of the class and a few adults convinced that what she knows will cause extreme havoc should the information ever reach the light of day. And yet there is also a softer side to Hannah that very few people ever get to see, but underneath all that bravado may actually beat a good heart after all. Maybe.

**Brutal Youth** is about bullying in a school that goes beyond name calling or even a random fist fight or two. It showcases just how brutal this practice can be when no one steps in and puts a stop to it. Plus it's spot on in its depiction of the clueless or unconcerned parent. The teenagers depicted in this book have to figure out most solutions to problems on their own because the adults who should be there for them are perpetually out to lunch. That's pretty accurate from what I've observed in my own parenting experience. And yet, despite the seriousness of the main subject, humor is as much a part of this story as the details of the chaos. I thought that was a remarkable feat for the author to pull off, and Breznican seemed to do it effortlessly.

One of the book shelves on my GoodReads site is for "best of 2014". That's one of the categories I will be using for **Brutal Youth** as well as a 5 Star rating. I hope Anthony Breznican plans on writing more stories, because I would really enjoy reading more of his work. I highly recommend **Brutal Youth** to anyone who likes intelligent, well-told stories that stay with the reader after the last page is finished. I plan to read it again, something I rarely do.

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Pretty In Ink by Lindsey Palmer

Pretty in InkPretty in Ink by Lindsey Palmer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received an ARC of Pretty In Ink by Lindsey Palmer from NetGalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

When I began reading Pretty In Ink by Lindsey Palmer, I thought the author had presented herself with quite a challenge. The story is told by a number of people who all get their own portion of the book. So, I wondered how Palmer was going to give each person her own voice separate from everyone else. I thought it would be a daunting task until, as I got further into the book, I realized Palmer knew exactly what she was doing. In fact, each woman had her own personality and quirks that made her different from everyone else, so there was never any confusion for me about who was doing the talking or moving the story forward.

The story takes place at Hers Magazine, and before anything else is accomplished, the Editor-In-Chief is being replaced. This puts all staff jobs in jeopardy because the new EIC will undoubtedly want her own people surrounding her as she essentially makes over the magazine. It was fun to read about how a magazine functions from one issue to the next, and how many different hats one person may wear in writing the articles that supposedly make up what women want to know about cooking, romance, body fitness, and the always relevant (or so magazine editors believe) what's going on with the newest face in Tinseltown. There's fact checking which, depending upon the editor can be rigid and strict or slapdash because who really cares about all those little bits of data anyway. There's also rivalry. Getting a certain position on the Masthead will not last forever as there will always be someone with better ideas who will keep chipping away at the establishment until eventually she gets the brass ring which someone else will begin trying to take from her as quickly as possible.

I enjoyed reading **Pretty In Ink** because it's probably as close as I'll ever get to seeing how a magazine all comes together for the latest issue no matter what obstacles or people get in the way. I look forward to reading more from Lindsey Palmer and hope she has more stories to tell. Her women are hardworking, creative, and juggle home life with work on a daily basis without going completely berserk: exactly the kind of women I enjoy reading about.

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Deadly Assets by Wendy Tyson

Deadly Assets (Allison Campbell Mystery #2)Deadly Assets by Wendy Tyson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received an ARC of **Deadly Assets** by Wendy Tyson from Henery Press in exchange for an honest review. **Deadly Assets** is the second book in the Allison Campbell series, and it is just as good a read as **Killer Image** was. While I don't think it's necessary to have read these books in order to avoid confusion about past events in these character's lives, purely for the reading experience and enjoyment, I'd recommend reading both books.

Allison Campbell owns and runs an image consultant firm in which she takes on clients and shows them how they can improve how they are perceived and how to score well with social media. Campbell and her associate, Vaughn, have made a respectable name for themselves in this venue; what one doesn't cover, the other does, so their operation is run like a well oiled machine. They have been contacted by Francesca Benini of Benini Enterprizes to help the company boost its image in the face of its declining revenue. The business operates both in the US and Europe; the business makes wine and until recently they have been very successful.

At the same time as Allison is contacted by the Beninis, she receives a call from Denise Carr, an agent who is representing Tammy Edwards, an up-and-coming singer who comes from Scranton, PA. Tammy has few if any skills other than her beautiful voice, so Allison will be expected to make her over into someone with crowd appeal. Except that when Tammy and Allison finally begin to communicate, Tammy says she doesn't want the life Denise Carr laid out for her. Tammy wants to go to Julliard and become an opera singer.

Allison has her a work cut out for her with both clients, but she's sure between Vaughn and her they can work for the best interests of both clients. That is until both her clients disappear, and it's quite possible one or both of them were murdered or kidnapped. The more that is revealed about Francesca and Tammy, the more puzzling it becomes as to what happened to either of them. It doesn't seem like there's any connection between the two women.... or is there?

This is where Wendy Tyson is at her best. She's roped me into the story, and since I have no idea who did what to whom, I'm at her mercy to reveal more and more of how all this happened. There are nail biting moments, and there are frustrating times - exactly what any really good mystery novel should have. Tyson also has the ability to keep readers guessing until the very end with a last minute revelation or a twist that keeps the reader focused on the story even after the last page is read.

And then there's the romance side of the book. I don't need graphic descriptions of spit swopping or what acrobatic contortions two people can manage while white water rafting. Tyson tells it just right with just enough electric passion to keep the lights on but without having to burn the whole building down. There's a third book planned for this series, and I am going to be first in line when that becomes available. Wendy Tyson has become one of my favorite authors, and I highly recommend any of the books she's written.

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Line Of Succession by Michael Vandor

Line of Succession - The Price of PowerLine of Succession - The Price of Power by Michael Vandor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of Line Of Succession from StoryCartel.com in exchange for an honest review.

Ever since I read **Advise And Consent** by *Allen Drury* when I was a teenager, my favorite genre has been political fiction. After I finished Drury's series I was disappointed to discover that there were not other novels in this genre that even began to measure up to his. Richard North Patterson came very close with a series of his, but Drury was still the champ, in my opinion. And then along came **Line Of Succession**, and while Drury may still have the edge, Michael Vandor is definitely at the head of the class in this competition. He had me at the Prologue, and he never let go until the very end.

Kathleen Canfield is a United States Senator from California. In her youth, she was a movie star, and even though acting is no longer her profession, she is still identified as a Hollywood personality. She has a Child Care Bill she cares deeply about, and she's been informed that the Speaker of the House will defeat it if it passes the Senate. Her focus is strictly on getting her Bill passed even when the Vice-President is forced to resign because of a fraud conviction. When Kathy receives a call from the White House to meet with the President, she never expects to be told that she is the President's choice as a running mate in the upcoming election. In fact, she's flabbergasted. That is until she begins to understand that the President's plan was to use her and her squeaky clean image to get re-elected. After that is accomplished, she is kept in the background as much as possible. Until the unthinkable happens, and she becomes President.

The Speaker of the House is most distressed about Kathy sliding into a position he wanted for himself, and believed he deserves, no matter what it takes to unseat this woman who simply doesn't have the experience to take over such an important position. And since the United States and Russia are once again locked into a struggle over Bosnia, the United States needs steady, competent leadership at this crucial moment in time. This is where Vandor really shines with his descriptions of the unbearable tension going on between all those in leadership positions who have to give Kathy their best advice and put aside any personal differences for the good of the country. There are some white knuckle moments as Kathy has to consider what is best for the country and not what she herself may want to do in this situation. This is very much like the Cuban Missile Crisis where everyone waited for the other side to blink, and tension ran particularly high.

But that is not all **Line of Succession** has to offer. Kathy has a family who become part of the ongoing stress. Her son is in the military, and her husband has decided he wants to take his surgical skills to Bosnia to help the overworked doctors there. Because of his wife's job, he may be unable to get a VISA to leave this country, and compounding the problems with his status, is getting his wife to approve such a trip for him without Secret Service protection. There is also a daughter who tosses her own problems into the mix in a very creative and destructive way.

I have just one small criticism of this book, and that is I would have liked to have had a better sense of the child care bill Kathy works so hard to have passed in spite of strenuous objection from the Speaker Of The House. His only motivation for rejecting this bill is to keep Kathy in her place: we are never told what is so good or so bad about the bill. Since the child care bill is what got Kathy out from under the radar, I wanted to know what made it so attractive.

All in all **Line of Succession** is a very good novel about what it takes to be involved in government service where juggling priorities is much easier said than done. I hope Michael Vandor has more stories to tell with a political slant. I'm first in line waiting for his next book to appear on my Kindle! Definitely a 5 Star rating.

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Pimp My Booklikes Design Giveaway!

Reblogged from Parajunkee:

It is that time again! Time for a chance to PIMP your booklikes blog. You know you want it!!!


Win a Custom Booklikes Blog Desgin




 Check out the last winner - what do you think? Pimped?


Just enter the giveaway using the hand-dandy rafflecopter widget. Check below for all the deets.


Extra bit of awesome. If this giveaway reaches 1K entries - another winner will be added. That means two people will have their booklikes blog pimped. Here is hoping, right? If I only get 100 entries, I will form a support group for rejected designers. Anyone can join...


UPDATE: I've hit over 1K entries - so I'm now giving away TWO designs. TWO!!!



a Rafflecopter giveaway


Design Giveaway Deets:


  • $150 Value
  • Can not be exchange for another design
  • Design will be completed with specs provided by winner
  • Design will be installed by me, but I will need access to your booklikes account
  • There is no follow or purchase necessary, but it is offered to gain extra entries
  • A winner will be picked within 48 hours of content ending and will be messaged in the Booklikes DMs, if no response is given within 48 hours, another entry will be picked
  • If entries pass 1k another booklikes design will be added.



Small Town Spin by LynDee Walker

Small Town Spin (A Headlines in High Heels Mystery #3)Small Town Spin by LynDee Walker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received an ARC of **Small Town Spin** by LynDee Walker from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Her name is Nichelle Clarke. She's got a toy Pomeranian named Darcy, and she suffers from Spring allergies. In fact, anyone else who got plagued by allergies the way Nichelle does, would take to her bed and tune out the rest of the world until the allergy season ended. But that's not how Nichelle handles anything. She's full speed ahead until her obligations are met or until she ends up in an ER. She's that committed to her job and her life responsibilities.

She works as a columnist at the Richmond *Telegraph*, and she's very good at what she does in spite of the fact that at least one other person on the newspaper staff wants Nichelle's job badly enough to play any dirty trick necessary to give herself an edge. Fortunately, Nichelle is aware of this as is her boss. The editor of the newspaper, however, is another story.

On a day Nichelle is bothered most by her allergy problem and actually considers taking a sick day, she gets a call from a colleague and friend of hers, Grant Parker, a sports columnist. Grant needs a favor, and the only person he trusts enough to ask to do him this favor is Nichelle. He needs someone who has objectivity and common sense in mind when writing about big stories that could be turned into a media nightmare. He believes Nichelle has the sensitivity to do her job while also doing her best to see to it that it doesn't turn into a MSM debacle. It seems that Tony Okerson Junior is dead, and the cause of death as far as local law enforcement is concerned is suicide. Parker is a close friend of Okerson's family, and he wants this news story handled delicately especially since no one close to Tony Junior believes he would have killed himself.

What makes this story full of the prospect of sensationalism is that Tony Junior's father is a famous football player. He's been the 3 time winner of the Super Bowl as Quarterback, and his son had the ability to follow in his father's footsteps if he chose to do that. He was a natural athlete.

In spite of her allergy problems, Nichelle cannot say no to this request from her friend to do the story he doesn't feel he is able to do himself because of how close he is to the whole Okerson family. The first thing she has to do is visit the family to get information she can use in the article she will be writing on this tragedy. That is not an assignment she is looking forward to. She also needs to speak with local law enforcement to find out why they are so sure Tony Junior killed himself.

As the story continues, Nichelle begins to have suspicions of her own about what happened to Tony Junior, and it has nothing to do with suicide. She realizes she cannot get to the bottom of this story by herself, and that's when we find out about Joey and Kyle, the two men in Nichelle's life. It didn't take me long to decide which one I wanted Nichelle to choose and which one to dump. Now all I have to do is wait for more books to find out which one gets Nichelle for himself. Which means that LynDee Walker has got some plotting and publishing to do in the near future!

There are many things I liked about this mystery. First, I knew I would not be disappointed when I saw that it was published by Henery Press. They always have such unique and classy covers for their books which makes it easy to spot one of their authors. I liked that in spite of having a highly competitive job, Nichelle sees no reason to try to compete by wearing business suits and assuming an androgynous character. She's a woman who is quite comfortable being a woman, and I love it that her weak spot is designer shoes. She's smart and creative, but she's also prone to take on a little more than she can handle. Just like most women with whom I've formed a connection over the years. I have not read the two books that came before **Small Town Spin**, but I definitely plan to catch up on what I've missed. I want to see if Shelby Taylor finally gets put in her place. I'd also like to see if Rick Anderson ever gets a clue about what is going on in his newsroom. And then there's the Big Hunk-out... Who will end up with Nichelle? Is it going to be Joey or Kyle OR maybe someone new? Only LynDee Walker knows for sure; the rest of us will just have to be content to wait for the next installment. I'm reserving my spot at the front of the line with readers in place and ready to go!

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Listen To The Squawking Chicken by Elaine Lui

Listen to the Squawking Chicken: When Mother Knows Best, What's a Daughter To Do? A Memoir (Sort Of)Listen to the Squawking Chicken: When Mother Knows Best, What's a Daughter To Do? A Memoir by Elaine Lui
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I received an ARC of The Squawking Chicken by Elaine Lui in return for an honest review. I gave this book 2 Stars because it was very well written. That's all I thought it had going for it.

Elaine Lui has a very unusual mother who has a very unusual background. The mother is the Squawking Chicken about whom Lui has managed to put together enough material to cover a whole book. The Squawking Chicken sees no need to filter anything she says. That others may have sensitive feelings is of no concern to her since she feels justified in speaking her mind whenever and wherever she pleases. As a result, most of the time she comes off as a rotten little brat who never learned the lesson that children should be seen but not heard. However, she's not a child, and she has lived long enough to have learned a few lessons in socially acceptable behavior. It seems to me she simply chooses to ignore any rules of behavior that mean she has to curtail her loud mouth and her disruptive announcements. According to Lui, it isn't that her mother is unaware of how her behavior affects others; she simply believes that she's right in whatever situation she finds herself where criticism would be in order. Lui goes through some convoluted explanations why what her mother says and does is acceptable. If she believes that, I doubt any time spent with a psychiatrist would ever be enough for her to work through the insecurities and lack of self-esteem her mother has managed to pass along.

I did not enjoy reading this book. It was a little bit like having to sit and watch someone pick the wings off flies. It's distasteful and uncomfortable, but I requested this book, so I feel an obligation to finish it no matter how much I dislike what I'm learning. Part of my problem with the book is that I had a mother like The Squawking Chicken. She wasn't Asian, she was Pennsylvania Dutch, and she did not sound like a squawking chicken when she spoke; she sounded more like a Stampeding Pissed-Off Elephant in Heat. There was no wisdom in her edicts; everything in this world revolved around her and others existed only in ways in which she could benefit from them. These women are not the ones we need to read about outside of the horror genre. I would not recommend this book to anyone. Frankly, it's just too pathetic.

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Wall Street West by Christina Guarneri

Wall Street WestWall Street West by Cristina Guarneri

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I received an ARC of Wall Street West by Dr. Cristina Guarneri from NetGalley in return for an honest review. The copy I received was nearly unreadable, but I did read it, and I believe I understood enough of what story there was to review it.

The subtitle of this book is The Journey Of A Mayor. Dr. Guarneri says the story was inspired by real events. I requested this book from NetGalley because the synopsis claimed it was about Wall Street and New York, two subjects about which I enjoy reading. In fact, there was very little about Wall Street or the city of New York. There was no clear focus in the book, but parts of it had to do with a man named Harper who saw himself as a Superman. He ran for Mayor of the borough Wall Street West, and he gave campaign speeches before during and after the election. He pointed out time after time after time that after 9/11 he felt it was his duty to enlist in the armed services, so he joined the Marines and went to Iraq. He won numerous awards and never hesitated to point out that he went on heroic missions. He said he believed it was his duty to give back to the disadvantaged people of his borough, so he involved himself in all kinds of charitable events. He ran a marathon, swam the two mile width of a river, scaled a skyscraper, and entered burning buildings with firefighters in training events. The first 3 he did back-to-back. The only thing he did not do was leap across a tall building in a single bound.

The story was all over the place from meetings in a diner leading to charges of corruption against a woman named Marcy who was never explained in any amount of detail and seemed to have little or nothing to do with the whole case, to Harper's deep thoughts about how he needed to hone his firefighting skills. There were murders but no mystery surrounding who did it, and the circumstances were silly. There was some train ride that made no sense at all, and when one of the characters on this junket believed his life was in danger he went for a long walk, at night, alone. The result of that was not only silly, it was unbelievable.

I don't do spoilers, but I have to say that the last third of the book has a sequence of events so bizarre it defies description. I believe the author wanted to squeeze as many events from the news into her story as possible to make it relevant. The problem is, she didn't concern herself with whether all of those items as she describes them make any sense. Along with the very poor book structure very little makes sense in Wall Street West

I usually close my reviews with a suggestion for who I believe would enjoy the book. I can't think of anyone who could possibly enjoy this one unless it were used for a class on how NOT to write a book.

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City Of The Sun by Juliana Maio

City of the SunCity of the Sun by Juliana Maio
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received an ARC of City Of The Sun By Juliana Maio from NetGalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

On October 6, 1981, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was assassinated while he attended a parade in Egypt. So unexpected was this attack on Sadat that when the murderers climbed into the stands to kill him, he thought they were part of the show and saluted them. I stood in my kitchen watching the event unfurl on my 10-inch black and white tv screen. It was the raw footage of what was supposed to be a parade, but instead became the massacre of an Egyptian President. Sadat had been in the news frequently with Menachem Begin in their joint effort to bring peace to the Middle East. I had followed the progress they were making along with President Jimmy Carter. What I did not know was what part this region of the world had played in WWII. For some reason history classes did not cover much about North African involvement in that war. This book is part of the missing background to that story, and it involves Sadat's inclusion into the war planning and fight for control of that region because of the Suez Canal. There is a love story that takes place in the novel, but for me the book was valuable for the insight into the background and culture of people who had to live in unbelievably stressful situations. Everyone knows the story of the German Jews; such is not the case for other people who also had a Jewish heritage. In any event, I cried while I watched people in the parade viewing stands try to make sense of a chaotic situation. I believed I was watching the possibility of Peace for the Middle East crumble under the boots of assassins. That turned out to be an accurate assessment as current news headlines show us daily.

This story begins with Maya and her family waiting for their steam ship, the El Aziz, to dock into the port of Alexandria, Egypt. Maya, her father, and her brother had been assured that Jews were safe in Egypt, but there were signs of war everywhere. At the same time as Maya and her family were waiting to enter Alexandria, Mickey Connolly an American journalist is trying to stay in Egypt so he can write news stories to let Americans at home know just what the real situation is with the Germans using every means at their disposal to take over areas of North Africa not already under their control. To help them in this endeavor, they have placed a spy, Heinrich Kesner, in a houseboat under the guise of being a Polish officer trying to dodge an assignment that would have put him on the lines fighting. Kesner has managed to intercept encoded messages going to the Americans and he is using this information to track down his assignment: Maya's brother, Eric Blumenthal, because of work Eric was doing in the relatively unknown area of quantum physics. Both the Americans and the Germans want Blumenthal working for them, and it is a matter of who finds him first and brings him into this area of expertise which includes making the atomic bomb.

For me, the love story was secondary to the spy plot. How the people working undercover during that time of intense paranoia among different cultures was fascinating to me. I thought Juliana Maio did a very good job of juggling a love story that seemed doomed from the start with the life experiences of people fighting to preserve a nation from extinction. Maio includes cultural references to layer the story even further with details that were interesting and explained some of the behavior of various diverse groups which otherwise might not have made much sense. It was shocking to read how people from the same ethnic background were often forced to betray one another, making choices on who to save and who to sacrifice for the good of a few very subjective choices.

I rated this book 5 Stars for all the different levels of interest Maio brought to her story: in fact, if 10 Stars would have been an option I would have given it an 11. The history of the Jewish people from Biblical times forward has always been interesting to me, and I appreciate an author doing the research and using as much factual information as possible to tell a story with so many facets. I highly recommend this book to people who enjoy historical fiction along with a good spy plot AND a love story to pull it all together.

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Debbie Doesn't Do It Anymore by Walter Mosely

Debbie Doesn't Do It Anymore: A NovelDebbie Doesn't Do It Anymore: A Novel by Walter Mosley
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

When Bill Clinton was president, as he was either boarding or leaving Air Force One, the press noticed that he carried a book with him. It must have been a very slow news day, because the media was suddenly passionate to know what Clinton was reading. It was a novel, one of the Easy Rawlins mysteries, by Walter Mosley. Mosley was relatively unheard of in those days, but if Bill Clinton was reading him to pass his in-air time, surely he must be a noteworthy author. It was a carefully staged and calculated move on Clinton's part, and it added even more "substance" to the opinion that Clinton was our first Black President. It also shot Walter Mosley into the spotlight as THE author to read. Fast forward to now, and I'll bet the farm that if Bill Clinton were looking for a way to ingratiate himself into the Black Community, **Debbie Doesn't Do It Anymore** wouldn't make the cut for what novel to promote. Although with the Clinton mentality and Mosley's venture into pornographic lit, they'd be a good fit for each other.

DDDIA is about a woman who makes pornographic movies for a living. She is married to Theon who produces the movies and occasionally makes one for his own pleasure. When Debbie arrives home after a hard day of allowing herself to be degraded and humiliated in ways the porn industry loves so much, she finds her husband, Theon, in the bathtub, naked, with an underage teenaged girl on top of him. Both Theon and the girl are dead. There was a slight mishap with the camera Theon was using to film his activities with the young girl. The camera was precariously situated above the duo, and while they were in the throes of simulated passion, the camera got knocked into the bathtub resulting in electrocution for both of them. Debbie now finds herself inundated with debt Theon never told her about, and she never bothered to ask when it came to all those papers she signed without reading them or questioning what their purpose was.

I am certainly no authority on what constitutes a "good" erotic novel as opposed to a bad one because I don't read that particular genre. I requested this book based upon author name recognition. I believe I read one of the Easy Rawlins books and thought it was worth no more than 3 Stars. Apparently Walter Mosley is not the author for me, but DDDIA goes beyond author preference. I don't understand why Mosley chose to write this kind of book when he so obviously doesn't have the knack for churning out such nasty material. Given his reputation, I thought that even if the story wasn't very good, there would be a writing style to carry it. DDDIA reads like a 5th grader wrote it and used the guideline of throwing everything at the wall hoping something will stick. Debbie has no personality to speak of, and she associates herself with the dregs of her world having no clue about what she's getting into. This behavior becomes repetitious at first, and finally downright boring. Debbie never manages to scrounge up any sympathy or even dislike. Even her suicidal thoughts seem contrived and flat.

I rated this book 1 Star because no stars is not an option. I would not recommend this book to anyone.

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