October 17, 2017

Cookies, Corpses and the Deadly Haunt - Guest Post


Book details
Cozy Mystery 1st in Series 
Self Published Print 
Length: 164 pages 

Book description
House flippers Jack & Juniper agree to lend and help prep their latest purchase—The Doctors House—an old Victorian mansion to act as the eerie setting for the town’s Halloween bash, they’re expecting to find missing floor boards, and pesky bats, not the ghostly specter of the murdered Doctors Wife.

But when the head of the council is found stuffed in a trunk in the attic, it appears history is repeating.

As June and the team, carry on with party preparations, they unravel a century of family secrets, whispers of lunacy—and the number one suspect goes on the run. But the victim’s family insists that the ball must go on, even with a killer on the loose. With Halloween fast approaching, June sees the woman in white and wonders if keeping the killer out was ever really a possibility. Now she’s desperate to unmask the killer before the Annual Halloween Bash turns into even more of a deadly haunt…

Meet the author - Rachael Stapleton
Rachael Stapleton lives in a Second Empire Victorian home with her husband and two children in Ontario, Canada and enjoys writing in the comforts of aged wood and arched dormers.

Author Links Webpage Blog Facebook @RaquelleJaxson Amazon GoodReads 

Guest post
Guest Blogger: Author Rachael Stapleton 

Buying a historic house often means acquiring a fixer-upper. But if you’re anything like me and my hubby then it’s worth it! Details like original crown moulding, fireplaces, and wide floorboards make all the difference. And they are usually unspoiled by previous renovations—you just have to uncover them. Rip out that old carpet and knock down that dropped ceiling and Voila! It’s an exciting opportunity to bring an old house back to life. Two years ago, my husband and I decided purchase this second empire Victorian with a mansard roof and thus my Haunted House Flipping Series was born.

That’s right, Jack and Juniper’s spooky old house in Cookies, Corpses & the Deadly Haunt is based on my own home although I have no secret passages—none that I’m willing to share, anyway. In order to adjust I found myself writing about these house-flipping characters who were renovating just as we were.

Check out some of our renos below and soak up the tips.

Tip #1. Be prepared to throw on an extra sweater

If you want a historic home, you’re going to have to forfeit some of the creature comforts that come with 21st century living. Older house, have irregularities and they tend to be drafty. The good news is you don’t need air conditioning; those old houses stay cool on the hottest of summer days. 

Tip #2. Watch out for water damage

Keep an eye out—especially around the ceilings, floors, and windows—for signs of water damage. Just a couple of months ago, my hubby and I woke to see part of our ceiling dangling down. Apparently the attic window was leaking. Luckily it was minor and my husband’s a pro at handling situations like these. However, we weren’t quite as lucky in my library. We put the roof off a little too long and had to rip out all the insulation but we planned to spray foam anyway. Water damage has long-term effects like dry rot. Also, bugs love wet environments so you always want to stay on top of that.

Here’s a pic of my library/writing room before renovations and right now.

Tip #3. Start with the roof, windows, and masonry

It might be tempting to pick out kitchen cabinets and paint swatches right away, but the first stages of the renovation should be practical rather than aesthetic.

Demolition work and new floor in the Christmas room. At least that’s what we called it ‘cause it was painted red and green. Yuck! See pic below. This addition was put on at some point during 20th century which meant we could expose the brick. I love exposed brick. We added barn wood to the ceiling and knocked a hole in the wall to make a kitchenette in the next room.

Here’s the before and after of my new quirky kitchen.

I’m happy to have found this house with all its history and this town with all its quirks and I’m so grateful that it inspired this mysterious tale. I hope you enjoy Cookies, Corpses & the Deadly Haunt too.

Rachael Stapleton

October 10 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW 
October 10 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT 
October 11 – Socrates' Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT 
October 11 – Queen of All She Reads – REVIEW 
October 12 – Laura's Interests – REVIEW 
October 12 – Valerie's Musings – REVIEW, INTERVIEW 
October 13 – Cozy Up With Kathy - REVIEW, INTERVIEW 
October 14 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT 
October 15 – Nadaness In Motion – REVIEW 
October 16 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW 
October 17 – Reading Authors – REVIEW 
October 18 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST 
October 19 – Sapphyria's Books – REVIEW 
October 20 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST 
October 21 - The Montana Bookaholic – REVIEW 
October 22 – Readeropolis – INTERVIEW 
October 23 – A Blue Million Books – GUEST POST 
October 23 – Mochas, Mysteries and Meows – REVIEW

The Case of the Clobbered Cad by Debra E. Marvin - Guest Post, Giveaway, Excerpt and Review


Book details
Cozy Mystery 2nd in Series 
Journey Fiction (August 4, 2017) 
Paperback: 302 pages 
ISBN-13: 978-1946892027 
E-Book ASIN: B0749K9NZX

Book description
Inspired by the famous Girl Detective, the members of the Olentangy Heights Girls' Detective Society, affectionately known as the Nosy Parkers, spent their formative years studying criminology, codes, and capers. Unfortunately, opportunities to put their unique skills to work were thin on the ground in the post-war boom of their little corner of suburbia and they eventually grew up to pursue more sensible careers. Until...

Heather Munro’s youthful devotion to The Girl Detective led to a passion for digging around in history. Now pursuing her Master's Degree in Celtic Studies, Heather must balance exploring Edinburgh with her determination to excel in her all–male classes at the University. Unfortunately, on her first night working in the Archives room, she discovers the dead body of a visiting professor, the same would-be lothario she’d hoped never to see again.

As clues come to light, it’s clear someone hopes to frame Heather for the murder. Besides her quirky landlady, whom can she trust? How can she clear her name? The police and the American Consul have plenty of suspects, but only two seem to have both motive and opportunity: Heather and the quiet Scottish historian she longs to trust.

Meet the author - Debra E. Marvin 
Debra E. Marvin tries not to run too far from real life but the imagination born out of being an only child has a powerful draw. Besides, the voices in her head tend to agree with all the sensible things she says. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Sisters in Crime, and serves on the board of Bridges Ministry in Seneca Falls, NY. She is published with WhiteFire Publishing, Forget Me Not Romances, and contracted with Journey Fiction, and a judge for the Grace Awards for many years. Debra works as a program assistant at Cornell University, and enjoys her family and grandchildren, obsessively buying fabric, watching British programming and traveling with her childhood friends. 

Buy Links Amazon B&N kobo 

My thoughts
This was a good book that I spent a weekend deep in reading. I liked that it was set in Scotland and that it had a strong female lead. I felt as if the author did a good job getting the time period right in this book from other things I have read about this era. I also thought she did a good job with the descriptions and the characters especially Heather was well developed. Heather had to be on her toes since she was the one to find the body. She went on quite the journey to find the real killer. I liked the little twists the author gave us. This is the second book in a series and although I have not read the first one I did not feel lost at all. 

Guest post
The Girl Detective 

While many of us automatically think of Nancy Drew, there were plenty of sleuthing heroines in the early part of the 20th century. Horatio Alger provided a model of stories providing young readers with a protagonist they could relate to. In his case, young boys learned through experience and lots of adverbs! But those tales became the catalyst for a number of youthful heroes and heroines written for youth.

Nancy Drew was the most famous of the girl heroines but there was also Vicki Barr, Trixie Belden, Ginny Gordon, Kay Tracey and Cherry Ames. Do you remember them?

Many of us fondly recall reading one book after another in these series. Why? Our heroines used their wits, had an interesting lifestyle full of adventure and—oh my—a touch of danger. They found a way to live by the rules yet outsmart the villain and they often did it on their own without having to hand over the decisions to their male counterparts, or getting a run in their hosiery. These mostly teenager heroines rarely dealt with murders and were kept busy by ‘misadventure’: stolen goods, missing persons, low-life villains. Thankfully there were charts, maps, old diaries and letters to help them along the way!

Have any of you gone back to read these stories? I did. While working on the plot and characters of The Case of the Clobbered Cad, I listened to a series of audiobooks read by the actress Laura Linney. My warm memories of Nancy Drew books were altered as I (now a grandmother) traveled along with Nancy!

Nancy had unlimited funds, very little in the way of rules, far too much good luck, and a father who might now be considered quite lax. Nancy wouldn’t have had much luck finding adventure if she wasn’t able to hop in her sports car and drive off to remote, touristy areas. She didn’t have to take time off of work, or check her debit card balance before paying for gas, or forget to charge her cell phone. Other than worrying her housekeeper, she only had to occasionally check in with a busy father who kindly admonished her to be careful!

The writing was predictable, full of clichés, and over the top. Just like Banana Splits, we ate it up! Nancy went from danger to danger with hardly a concern of being kidnapped (again) or barely missing death (again). And she had Ned Nickerson, her friend George, and those really cute skirt and sweater sets!

My publisher Jennifer Farey, author Lisa Richardson, and I talked quite a bit about how we could incorporate that world of girl detectives into stories for a modern audience. I hope you find The Nosy Parker Mysteries an entertaining read!


October 9 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT 

October 9 – View from the Birdhouse - SPOTLIGHT 
October 10 – Laura's Interests - REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST 
October 11 – The Ninja Librarian - REVIEW 
October 12 – Reading Is My SuperPower - REVIEW 
October 13 – Island Confidential - GUEST POST 
October 13 – The Power of Words - REVIEW 
October 14 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – INTERVIEW 
October 15 – Cozy Up With Kathy – INTERVIEW 
October 15 – StoreyBook Reviews - GUEST POST 
October 16 – My Reading Journeys - REVIEW 
October 17 – A Holland Reads - REVIEW* , GUEST POST 
October 18 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews - REVIEW 
October 18 – The Journey Back – INTERVIEW 
October 19 – Celticlady's Reviews - SPOTLIGHT 
October 20 – Jane Reads - REVIEW*, GUEST POST 
October 21 - 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! - SPOTLIGHT 
October 22 – Brooke Blogs - CHARACTER GUEST POST

October 16, 2017

Dog Trouble by Galia Oz - Guest Post and Excerpt

Book details
Author: Galia Oz
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 144
Genre: Children's book for young readers, ages 8-12

Book description
Readers who have graduated from Junie B. Jones and Ivy & Bean will fall head over heels for feisty Julie and her troublesome new dog.

Julie has only had her dog for two weeks, but she is already causing all sorts of problems. For starters, she is missing! Julie suspects the school bully Danny must be behind it. But it will take some detective work, the help of Julie’s friends, and maybe even her munchkin twin brothers to bring her new pet home.

Wonderfully sassy and endlessly entertaining, the escapades of Julie and her dog are just beginning!

Julie’s adventures have sold across the globe and been translated into five languages. Popular filmmaker and children’s author Galia Oz effortlessly captures the love of a girl and her dog.

"A funny exploration of schoolyard controversy and resolution.” –Kirkus Reviews

"Will resonate with readers and have them waiting for more installments.” –Booklist

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

My puppy, Shakshuka, disappeared. It happened when my dad was away on a business trip and my mom was in one of her worst moods ever because Max and Monty had both just had their vaccinations and they both had reactions and they didn’t sleep all night. Max and Monty—­I called them the Munchkins for short—­ were babies and twins and also my brothers, and every­ one knew that if there were two babies in the house, no one was going to pay any attention to a dog, even if she was only a baby herself.

At night, I lay awake in bed and I was cold, and I remembered that once on TV I saw pictures of a hun-gry dog that was really skinny whose family went on

a vacation and left him tied to a tree. And they said that the SPCA couldn’t take care of all the dogs that were abandoned by their families. And I thought about Shakshuka, who was gone and might be tied to a tree at that very minute, hungry and missing me.

The next morning in class, Brody told me there was no way that Shakshuka had been stolen. “No way, ­Julie!” he said. “Why would anyone bother? You could get five dogs like her, with spots and stripes, for less than ten dollars.” Or maybe he said you could get ten dogs like her for less than five dollars. Brody said things like that sometimes, but most of the time he was okay. When Max and Monty were born, he said that was it, no one at home would ever pay attention to me again, and when I cut my hair short, he said it was ugly.

I turned my back on Brody and pretended to listen to Adam. He sat at the desk next to mine and spent his whole life telling these crazy stories.

Adam said, “My father won f‑f-­fifty thousand, do you get it? In the lottery. He’s g‑going to buy me an i‑P‑P . . .” People didn’t always listen to Adam because he stuttered, and they didn’t always have the patience to

wait until he got the word out. This time Brody tried to help him finish his sentence.

“An iPod?”

“N‑not an i‑P-­Pod, you idiot. An i‑P-­Pad.”

Brody called Adam “Ad-­d-­d-­dam” because of his stutter, and because he liked to be annoying. But he was still my friend, and that was just how it was, and anyway, there were lots of kids worse than he was.

I cried about Shakshuka during morning recess and Danny laughed at me because that was Danny, that was just the way he was, and Duke also laughed, obvi-ously, because Duke was Danny’s number two. But at the time I didn’t know that they had anything to do with Shakshuka’s disappearance and kept telling my-self that maybe they were just being mean, as usual.

That Danny, everyone­ was afraid of him. And they’d have been nuts not to be. It was bad enough that he was the kind of kid who would smear your seat with glue and laugh at you when you sat down; that he and his friends would come up and offer you what looked like the tastiest muffin you’d ever seen, and when you opened your mouth to take a bite you discovered it was really a sponge. But none of that was important. The problem was, he remembered everything­ that anyone had ever done to him, and he made sure to get back at them. The day before Shakshuka disappeared, Mrs.

Brown asked us what a potter did, and Danny jumped up and said that a potter was a person who put plants in pots, but Mrs. Brown said that was not what a potter did. And then I raised my hand and said that a potter was a person who worked with clay and made pottery.

Danny, who sat right behind me, leaned forward and smacked my head, and I said, “Ow.” It wasn’t too bad, but the teacher saw him and she wrote a note he had to take home to his parents. That shouldn’t have been so bad either, but later, when school got out, he grabbed me in the yard and kicked me in the leg. I went flying and crashed into the seesaw, where I banged my other leg as well.

Danny said, “If you hadn’t said ‘Ow’ before in class, the teacher wouldn’t have given me a note. Now because of you I’m suspended. That was my third note.”

Our school had this system that every time a kid hit another kid, he got a note he had to take home to his parents, and if it happened three times his par-ents had to come to school and the kid got sent home. My mother said it was mainly a punishment for the parents, who had to miss a day of work and come to school.

I could have told on him for kicking me in the yard as well. My bag flew off my shoulder and landed right

in the middle of a puddle, and Mom was really angry at me when I got home because we had to take out all the books and leave them out to dry and we had to wash the bag. I really could have told on him, but there wouldn’t have been any point. It would just have meant another note for him, another kick for me.

Thanks but no thanks.

In the evening, when the Munchkins went to sleep, Mom took one look at me and burst out laughing and said she wished that you could buy a doll that looked just like me, with scratches on her right knee, black dirt under her fingernails, and a mosquito bite on her cheek.

“It’s not a bite, it’s a bruise,” I told her. “And any-way, who would buy a doll like that?”

“I would,” said Mom. “But what happened to you? Take a look at your legs—­how on earth . . .”

“Ow! Don’t touch.”

“You look as if you were in a fight with a tiger.” That was so close to the truth that I blurted out the whole story about what happened with Danny. And I was really sorry I did that because that was the reason Shakshuka disappeared. Mom spoke to Mrs. Brown and she must have told her I was black-­and-­blue after Danny pushed me because the next day at school Mrs. Brown took me aside and told me that I had to let her know whenever something like that happened because otherwise Danny would just keep on hitting me, and other kids too, and we had to put a stop to it. Mrs. Brown meant well, but I knew that when it came to Danny, I was on my own.

Later, at the end of the day, Danny caught me again, this time when I was right by the gate. Maybe someone saw me talking to the teacher and told him. Suddenly I was lying on the ground with my face in the dirt. I must have shouted because Danny told me to keep quiet.

Then he said, “Tell me what you told Mrs. Brown!” “Let me get up!” I yelled.

“First tell me what you told her.”

“Let me get up!” My neck was all twisted, but somehow I managed to turn to the side and I saw two first graders walking out of the building toward the gate.

Danny must have seen them too because he let me go, and when I stood up he looked at me and started

laughing, probably because of the dirt on my face, and I decided I’d had enough of this jerk. I saw red, no matter where I looked I saw red, and without think-ing about what grown-­ups always taught us—­that we shouldn’t hit back because whoever hit back would be punished just like the one who started it—­I threw a plant at him.

At the entrance to our school there was this huge plant. The nature teacher once told us that it grew so big because it always got water from this pipe that dripped down into it, and also because it was in a pro-tected corner.

It was a shame about the plant, it really was. And it didn’t even hit him. It crashed to the ground halfway between us. Then Mrs. Brown came. And without even thinking I told her that Danny knocked me down and then threw the plant at me.

“But it didn’t hit me,” I said, and I looked Danny straight in the eye to see what he’d say.

Danny said I was a liar, but Mrs. Brown took one look at my dirty clothes and she believed me. And be-cause of me he got into serious trouble. They didn’t only make his parents come to school and suspend him for a day—­after the incident with the plant they also told him he’d have to start seeing this really horrible counselor every Wednesday. The kids who knew him said his office stunk of cigarettes and he was a real bore.

That was why Danny found a way to get back at me. He said, “Just you wait.” That was exactly what he said: “Just you wait.” And I did wait because I knew him. But Shakshuka didn’t wait and she couldn’t have known how to wait for what ended up happening to her.

Meet the author - Galia Oz
Galia Oz was born in Kibbutz Hulda, Israel, in 1964. She studied film and Television in Tel Aviv University 1984-87.

Her award winning series of 5 books titled DOG TROUBLE was published in France, Spain and Brazil – and recently in the US by CROWN BOOKS Random House. The series is a steady seller in Israel for over 10 years (selling over 150,000 copies).

Oz has directed several documentaries, all screened in international film festivals, and in Israeli leading television channels.

Over the years, Galia Oz has been meeting thousands of readers in Israeli elementary schools, and taught creative writing and classic children's literature to kids in public libraries.

Galia Oz is married and has two kids, a dog and a cat, and they all live in Ramat Hasharon, just outside Tel-Aviv.

Visit her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009378865434.

Guest Post
"I wanted to mow down the politically correct" /Galia Oz, about DOG TROUBLE!

A few words about me
I was born in a small communal village called a kibbutz, in Israel. The surroundings were beautiful, the air was clean, the doors were never locked and secrets were hard to keep. As a child, I never stopped reading. The real world had very clear boundaries - the fields surrounding the kibbutz were the physical boundary, and the fact that we were a small class of eight was the social boundary. But in my mind, I could be in Dicken’s foggy Victorian London, on the Mississippi with Huckleberry Fin, or in the Swedish countryside alongside Pippi Longstocking, my childhood hero, the strongest girl in the world.

Although my own kids were raised in a far more conventional way, some of the free spirit of the kibbutz did trickle into the world of Dog Trouble!

Why write children’s literature
At the time of writing, I felt this need that I couldn’t quite put to words. It was only later that it became clear to me: I wanted to mow down the politically correct and the "moralizing" prerequisite of children's literature. I wasn’t willing to write too happy of an ending that ties up all the loose ends. A children's book is not a truck that needs to carry life lessons, and children are not pets that need to be trained. They deserve to read complex texts, which reflect a broken and imperfect reality. In other words: Literature.

About Dog Trouble!
I wanted to write a story that would be sophisticated enough for my kids, one that reflects the real world, its inhabitants and their dilemmas. The first story almost wrote itself: Julie’s dog disappears and she goes looking for it. Her friends try to help her solve the mystery, but sometimes they get in her way. Once the first book was published, the characters already had lives of their own. If you were to wake one of them in the middle of the night, it was obvious how they’d react. Each one has a clear, distinctive personality. I was only there to get them out of bed.

A few words about Julie, our protagonist
Julie is a little bit of everybody: sociable but not too sociable, family-oriented but knows when she needs a break, independent but knows when to rely on others, compassionate but not about to be taken for a ride. Anyone can identify with Julie - both boys and girls. When I started writing, I was aware that girls read books about boys, but that boys don’t always read books about girls. Yet still, I gave a girl-protagonist the center stage. I turned her into a narrator, and I allowed her to be assertive. In retrospect, I think writing this character was the most political thing I have done.

The secret behind Dog Trouble!
I would like to think that what distinguishes the Dog Trouble! series is its “temperature.” Although the world can be tough, it is also full of love and warmth. Each of these children is surrounded by a band of friends, and although none of them is the paragon of perfection, they all show real solidarity toward one another. The dialogue between them, even when it contains conflict, remains inclusive and humorous.

Moreover, there seems to be an unwritten code that dictates that protagonists in children's literature cannot be mean, petty, manipulative or violent. And if they are, they must be punished, or admit their guilt or at least show some remorse. But that’s not how the world works, and that is not the case in Dog Trouble! Sometimes it’s easy to look down on those who are weaker than you. The unpopular kids don't always stand up for themselves; sometimes they’re willing to take a few hits just to get in the good graces of the popular kids. Why should we be sanctimonious and pretend that there is always a way to repair such realities? I portray societal reality, for better or for worse. I don’t have to put a bandage on it. And, in my experience, children don't fall apart when they see their hardships reflected in the pages of a book. On the contrary, there is something reparative about hearing, or in this case reading, the truth.

All five books in the Dog Trouble! series have become bestsellers and have remained among the most popular children's books in Israel over the past decade. The series won a literary prize and has been translated and published in France, Spain and Brazil.

October 15, 2017

Goats of Anarchy by Leanne Lauricella - Review

Book details
Hardcover: 138 pages
Publisher: Rock Point (March 15, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1631062859
ISBN-13: 978-1631062858

Book description
Get ready to party—the goats are back in town! Based on the popular Instagram account, Goats of
Anarchy takes you on a tour of Leanne’s goat rescue farm, a place where special-needs goats can heal, grow, and butt heads to their hearts’ content.

Join Pocket, Ella, Chibs, Lyla, Prospect and Polly--the goat who took the Internet by storm with her adorable duck costume--as they rumble, snuggle, pig out, dress up, and even teach you a few goat yoga moves to loosen your haunches. Whether they’re learning to walk or just romping around the farm, these horned and hooved heartbreakers will have you grinning ear to ear as they chew the scenery—literally!

Meet the author - Leanne Lauricella
When she left New York City for the wilds of New Jersey in 2011, Leanne Lauricella knew nothing about animal sanctuaries. She started her Instagram account, @goatsofanarchy, shortly after getting her first two goats, Jax and Opie. Today, Leanne’s Instagram has over 280,000 followers, and is the winner of the 2016 People’s Voice Webby Award for Animal-Based Social Media Account.

My thoughts
I thought this was a very cute book. It was not only a picture book but a feel good story about each of these rescued goats. The author is a lifesaver for this poor little goats that all have had some sort of injury or illness that she has rescued them from. Some of their stories are heart wrenching. Then you have pictures of adorable goats. This was a good way to pass an afternoon. I have now become an Instagram follower so I don't miss any pictures of these cute little animals. 

A Spoonful of Sugar by Brenda Ashford - Review

Book details
Listening Length: 12 hours and 9 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Random House Audio
Audible.com Release Date: April 2, 2013
Whispersync for Voice: Ready
Language: English

Book description
Brenda Ashford is the quintessential British nanny. Prim and proper, gentle and kind, she seems to have stepped straight out of Mary Poppins. For more than six decades Nanny Brenda swaddled, diapered, dressed, played with, sang to, cooked for, and looked after more than 100 children. From the pampered sons and daughters of lords ensconced in their grand estates, to tough East End evacuees during the war, Brenda has taught countless little ones to be happy, healthy, and thoroughly well bred. In this delightful memoir, Brenda shares her endearing, amusing, and sometimes downright bizarre experiences turning generations of children into successful adults.

From the moment Brenda first held her baby brother, David, she was hooked. She became a second mother to him, changing his nappies, reading him stories and giving all the love her warm heart had. Knowing a career caring for children was her only calling in life, Brenda attended London's prestigious Norland Institute, famous for producing top-class nannies. It was a sign of privilege and taste for the children of the well-to-do to be seen being pushed in their Silver Cross prams by a Norland nanny - recognizable by their crisp, starched black uniforms with white bib collars, and their flowing black capes lined with red silk. The skills these trainees were tested on daily? Lullaby-singing, storytelling, pram-shining, bed-making, all forms of sewing, minor cooking, and medical aid - including the best way to help the medicine go down.

In A Spoonful of Sugar, Brenda recalls her years at Norland, her experiences during the war (after all, even if bombs are dropping there's no reason to let standards slip) and recounts in lovely detail a life devoted to the care of other people's children.

Sprinkled throughout with pearls of wisdom (children can never have too much love, and learn how to sew a button, for goodness' sake) this delightful memoir from Britain's oldest living nanny is practically perfect in every way.

Meet the author - Brenda Ashford
Brenda Ashford is a graduate of Norland College, a world-famous institute for British nannies. For 62 years, she cared for more than 100 children, making her Britain's longest-serving nanny. She lives outside London.

My thoughts
This was one of the best books I have read this year or should I say listened to. Of course I liked the narrator as she had an English accent which I could listen to all day long. It was interesting to not only hear about Brenda's adventures as a Nanny but to hear how she views changes of her time as a nanny and how a nanny's position is today. I also enjoyed hearing about her personal life and her younger years. There was one part that brought tears to my eyes and I have a lot of respect for her after hearing her story. I wish she would write more books as I think they would be enjoyable. I highly recommend this book.

Death Overdue by Allison Brook - Review

I received this book free from the publisher. All opinions are my own

Book details
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Crooked Lane Books (October 10, 2017)
Hardcover: 336 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1683313861

Book description
Carrie Singleton is just about done with Clover Ridge, Connecticut until she’s offered a job as the head of programs and events at the spooky local library, complete with its own librarian ghost. Her first major event is a program presented by a retired homicide detective, Al Buckley, who claims he knows who murdered Laura Foster, a much-loved part-time library aide who was bludgeoned to death fifteen years earlier. As he invites members of the audience to share stories about Laura, he suddenly keels over and dies.

The medical examiner reveals that poison is what did him in and Carrie feels responsible for having surged forward with the program despite pushback from her director. Driven by guilt, Carrie’s determined to discover who murdered the detective, convinced it’s the same man who killed Laura all those years ago. Luckily for Carrie, she has a friendly, knowledgeable ghost by her side. But as she questions the shadows surrounding Laura’s case, disturbing secrets come to light and with each step Carrie takes, she gets closer to ending up like Al.

Now it’s due or die for Carrie in Death Overdue the delightful first in a new cozy series by Allison Brook.

Meet the author - Allison Brook
Allison Brook is the pseudonym for Marilyn Levinson, who writes mysteries, romantic suspense and novels for kids. She lives on Long Island and enjoys traveling, reading, watching foreign films, doing Sudoku and dining out. She especially loves to visit with her grandchildren on FaceTime.

Author Links
Website: http://www.marilynlevinson.com
My Amazon page: http://amzn.to/K6Md1O
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marilyn.levinson.10?ref=ts&fref=ts
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/161602.Marilyn_Levinson
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MarilynLevinson
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/marilev/

Purchase Links
Amazon B&N

My thoughts
Oh how I love a good cozy mystery especially one that has a library and it haunted. This book has all the makings for the start of a good new series. You have two mysteries to solve in this book. The fifteen year old one of Laura Foster and the most recent one of Al. I think Al was done in as he had figured out what happened to Laura. Then Carrie starts looking into the murder and now she needs to watch her back. I liked the twists the author put in the story two keep you interested. The only negative that I would have to say about this book is that I would have liked more of the ghost. But that was not enough to keep me from enjoying this book and looking forward to the next book in the series. This is the perfect book to read this time of year.

Tour Participants

October 14 – Babs Book Bistro – REVIEW
October 14 – Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – SPOTLIGHT
October 14 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW
October 14 – Island Confidential – GUEST POST
October 15 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW
October 15 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST
October 15 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
October 15 – A Holland Reads – REVIEW
October 16 – The Bookwyrm’s Hoard – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST
October 16 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW, INTERVIEW
October 16 – The Ninja Librarian – REVIEW
October 16 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW, GUEST POST
October 17 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW
October 17 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW
October 17 – Mochas, Mysteries and Meows – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW
October 17 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW, INTERVIEW
October 18 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW
October 18 – Varietats – REVIEW, GUEST POST
October 18 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – REVIEW
October 18 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
October 18 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW
October 19 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
October 19 – Bea’s Book Nook – REVIEW
October 19 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW,
October 20 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW
October 20 – Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf – REVIEW
October 20 – A Cozy Experience – REVIEW
October 20 – That’s What She’s Reading – GUEST POST

October 14, 2017

Murder on the Toy Town Express by Barbara Early - Guest Post and Two Giveaways

Book details
Cozy Mystery 
2nd in Series 
New York Crooked Lane Books (October 10, 2017) 
Hardcover: 304 pages 
ISBN-13: 978-1683313090 

Book description
Liz McCall has come to love running her father’s vintage toyshop back home in East Aurora, NY, so when the Train and Toy Show comes to town, she’s all aboard for a fun toy-filled weekend. The only hitch is that her childhood bully Craig McFadden, now local business rival, has set up a booth next to hers. But the fun and games are over when Craig falls from the ceiling in a publicity stunt gone wrong.

What was initially thought to be a fatal accident proves much more sinister. Pulled into the case by her feelings for both Ken, the police chief, and Jack, her high school sweetheart whose brother is one the prime suspects, Liz dives headfirst into the investigation. But as she digs deeper, she’s shocked to learn her father may have been the intended target.

The trouble train is barreling down and Liz may have just bought herself a first class ticket in Murder on the Toy Town Express, Barbara Early’s delightful second installment in her Vintage Toyshop mysteries.

Meet the author - Barbara Early
Barbara Early earned an engineering degree, but after four years of doing nothing but math, developed a sudden allergy to the subject and decided to choose another occupation. Before she settled on murdering fictional people, she was a secretary, a school teacher, a pastor’s wife, and an amateur puppeteer. After several years living elsewhere, she and her husband moved back to her native Western New York State, where she enjoys cooking, crafts, classic movies and campy seventies television, board games, and posting pictures of her four cats on Facebook. She writes the Vintage Toyshop series and the Bridal Bouquet Shop Mysteries (as Beverly Allen).

Author Links 

Author Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/cUh3Wn 

Guest post
If you write enough blog posts, sometimes you run out of ideas. So I asked my Facebook friends what about my books THEY would like to READ about, and they asked me about toys. I guess that makes sense, since I write a series about a vintage toyshop. In particular, they wanted to know what was my favorite, and what toys I wished I had.

Well, my favorite toys always involved some type of creative expression. My Lite Brite might have been my absolute favorite. I also had a small electric organ, and I taught myself to play a few songs. I loved paint by number and those watercolor books. Blocks were a given, but I always wished I had more to make something even bigger. And coloring books and crayons were a staple of my childhood. I taught myself to read and write copying cereal and ketchup labels at the kitchen table. I don’t recall a particular toy I pined over. (I think I wanted them all. I was a covetous little brat!)

Was that my inspiration to write? Probably not. Unlike many authors who talk about how they were writing ever since they put pencil to paper—usually right in between weaning and potty training—I can’t recall having any such inclination. I remember a friend in junior high saying she wanted to write a book, and I said, “Hey, that’s a good idea. Sounds like fun.” But she got mad, accused me of copying her, so I gave up the idea. Oh, that adolescent angst!

I think the inspiration to write came many years later, when I realized that crafting a novel was almost a natural extension of those playful activities I enjoyed as a child. You build a plot layer upon layer, like a complex lego project. You create characters in broad strokes, and then add more subtle shading, like the paint-by-number pictures. Setting is put in place, piece by piece, then comes to life, like turning on the light on that Lite-Brite. And dialog is like that old organ, just tweaking it until it “sounds right.”

I started writing for my own enjoyment, creating truly dreadful fan fiction for the TV show Monk, but soon found myself studying it, copying the structure, watching how the writers did things, taking notes from what I saw, and then trying it myself—much like sitting at the kitchen table copying labels.

So while I didn’t start writing when I was young, maybe the signs were all there, after all.

What toys did you enjoy? Do those early choices reveal anything about the adult you became?

Giveaway #1

Giveaway #2
Prize is a brightly colored vintage toyshop tote bag, key ring, train whistle, bookmarks, and assorted fun toyshop swag (color and selection will vary)

October 9 – Socrates' Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT 
October 9 – A Blue Million Books - CHARACTER INTERVIEW 
October 10 – Babs Book Bistro - SPOTLIGHT, GIVEAWAY 
October 10 – Island Confidential - CHARACTER INTERVIEW 
October 11 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews - INTERVIEW, GIVEAWAY 
October 11 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW 
October 11 – Writing Pearls – REVIEW 
October 12 – The Power of Words - REVIEW, GIVEAWAY 
October 12 – Blogger Nicole Reviews - SPOTLIGHT, GIVEAWAY 
October 13 – StoreyBook Reviews - GUEST POST, GIVEAWAY 
October 13 – My Reading Journeys - REVIEW, INTERVIEW, GIVEAWAY 
October 13 – Teresa Trent Author Blog – GUEST POST 
October 14 – A Holland Reads - GUEST POST, GIVEAWAY 
October 14 – Laura's Interests - REVIEW, GIVEAWAY 
October 15 – Melina's Book Blog – REVIEW 
October 15 – Sleuth Cafe - SPOTLIGHT, GIVEAWAY 
October 16 – View from the Birdhouse - REVIEW, GIVEAWAY 
October 16 – Cozy Up With Kathy - REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST 
October 17 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW 
October 17 – Brooke Blogs - CHARACTER GUEST POST, GIVEAWAY 
October 18 – Celticlady's Reviews - SPOTLIGHT, GIVEAWAY 
October 18 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews - SPOTLIGHT, GIVEAWAY October 18 – Valerie's Musings - REVIEW, INTERVIEW