Posted in Reading, reviews

Book Review: “The Devil’s Dance”

 

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today reveling in the fact that I have the whole summer off. I plan on doing a lot of writing this summer. I’m hoping to get three books finished. I know. Huge goal. Let’s see if I can do it. 🙂 One of them is almost done and I must say this story has evolved so much from the one I originally started with. I’m ecstatic to finish it and start the editing process.

I’m also planning on doing a lot of reading. I just finished an awesome debut novel and I thought I’d share it with you. If you like crime thrillers then you’ll love Kristen Lamb’s novel “The Devil’s Dance.” The cover and blurb are below.

 

The Devil's Dance by [Lamb, Kristen]

 

When Romi Lachlan’s fiancé disappears with half-a-billion dollars stolen from his company, she finds herself broke, blackballed, and the FBI’s prime suspect.

Forced to take refuge with her crazy-as-a-bag-of-cats family at the Cactus Flower trailer park in Bisby, Texas, Romi’s sure her life can’t get any worse until Special Agent Benjamin Sawyer shows up, determined to recover the money and put her away.

It turns out that persuading the hard-nosed G-man she’s innocent is the least of her worries. The body count in Bisby is rising, and Romi must uncover the secret to the town’s newfound prosperity before the secret buries her.

Grab your copy of this intense mystery-thriller today!

Praise for The Devil’s Dance:
“Kristen Lamb is a word demon. Sardonic, humorous and afoul of propriety, her fiction takes no prisoners. This is fun stuff, written by a born novelist with a maverick sensibility.” Joel Eisenberg, Hollywood producer & award-winning novelist

My Thoughts:

This story opens with Romi Lachlan in the unemployment office frustrated because she can’t seem to find a job. She’s an independent woman with a soft heart and I immediately liked her. In the beginning she’s unaware of the person pulling the strings behind the scenes. She believes the reason she can’t find a job is related to the fact her fiancé embezzled millions from his company and ran off with the cash, leaving her and everyone else holding the bag.

She decides to return home to her family and finds things have changed in the small town where she grew up. That’s when FBI agent Ben Sawyer reappears, following her from Dallas. He believes she’s just laying low until things cool down and then she’s going to meet up with her fiancé. They’ll disappear together with all the money and live happily ever after.  This is the furthest thing from the truth as far as Romi’s concerned, but she can’t seem to get that through Ben’s thick skull.

However, his inability to see the truth is the last thing on Romi’s mind when people start dying in Bisby.  Ben and Romi become an unlikely team as the body count starts to rise. There are plot twists that keep you guessing and you won’t want to put this book down. I won’t give any more of the story away, but check it out. It’s the perfect summer read!

How about you? Have you read any good books lately? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you and I’m putting my TBR pile together for this summer so I’m looking to make additions to it!  🙂

 

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Posted in promotion

“Lark Singer” is here!

Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you! Today is release day for “Lark Singer!” The second book in the Starlight Chronicles! Here’s an excerpt just for you!

Continue Lark’s journey toward a bright future while she finds answers to questions of her past.

LarkSinger 500x750Lark Singer is seventeen years old and already on the way to a brilliant music career. As she and her band, Starlight, gear-up for an upcoming, life-changing band competition, though, life seems to be throwing her a few curve balls. The mysteries of her past seem to be unraveling, and she’s no longer certain she wants to know those answers, or how knowing about her past will affect her difficult relationship with her mother. And when her best friend, Bean, changes things between them, all her plans for a musical future are placed in jeopardy. How can she balance her unraveling personal life to keep her musical goals on track?

Chapter One

THE GUYS ARE impatiently waiting for me. Bean’s foot jiggles so fast; it appears as if a current of electricity runs through him. We have to be down at Pearl’s by seven.
We’re all geeked about playing on stage, I can tell. Performing at Pearl’s gives us the face time we need for when it’s really going to count. The real event — the competition — is only a few weeks away. I pick up my pace, we have three hours to jam and grab some food before we go on stage.
“Come on, Chickie,” he says, gesturing with his sticks as he settles into position behind his drums.
Rushing forward, I plug in my amp. As I crank out a few chords to warm up, that old energy buzzes through my veins. After a couple of licks, I’m ready and my nimble fingers tingle. I’m wired. I love playing in front of a live audience. “Which one are we jamming on?” I look over at Bean and wait for his answer.
His brow creases as he tries to decide. “This one here.” He holds up the lead sheet and waves it impatiently in the air.
I squint to see it. It’s the one we titled “Secrets.” Pointing to the lead sheet sitting on Stevie’s stand, I get into position. I had taken a few minutes and titled Stevie’s lead sheets for him the other day.
He nods. “Thanks.”
Bean slams his sticks together and counts out. “One… two… three.”
We’re off, filling the garage with musical energy. My body’s rigid, as if every muscle’s flexed and ready for action. Screaming chords fill the air, as my nimble fingers crank on my Gibson. I feel like I’m a live electrical wire, popping and snapping with unrestrained energy.
When we’re done with that song, no one speaks. Instead, Bean holds up another lead sheet and then we’re off again. Tonight’s performance is going to be epic. I can tell just by how we’re coming together. I grin in spite of my intense concentration; my confidence is growing by leaps
and bounds. We are so ready for this competition that I can feel it all the way down to my bones.
After the second song, I hold up my hand and say, “Our sound smokes. But don’t you think we should play some of the music we’re going to be performing tonight?”
Bean snorts. “Yeah. Probably.”
We take a few minutes and discuss some of the songs we want to play. We usually crank out tunes that were big hits in the seventies and eighties, a lot of Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, and Rolling Stones. They’re more mellow than what we’ve been playing, but they’re still good melodies and the crowd at Pearl’s digs that classical sound. Playing this type of music broadens our musicianship, but there’s nothing like cranking out our own songs. After choosing a few of the harder tunes we immediately start jamming.
We’ve chosen “Hotel California” by the Eagles. It’s a dark tune about moving to California and I love the melody. My guitar howls out the chords and I feel that quiver inside as I sing the lyrics. After cranking out three more Eagles’ songs, we change it up for a few Fleetwood Mac and Rolling Stones songs. They’re great dance tunes and we know we’ll get people out on the floor with these.
After the last melody, we take a break. The garage seems to hum with the absence of our music. As if it was vibrating at a rapid rate and is slowly winding down because the music stopped. We all take swigs from the water bottles Bean brought out earlier and then sit in the folding chairs by the wall.
“What time is it?” Stevie asks, screwing the cap back on his water bottle.
“Time to get going,” Bean answers after a quick glance at his watch. “My brother should be here any minute to help me get my drum set down to Pearl’s.”
“Cool. I guess I’ll ride down with Francine.” I grimace as I say this and Bean exchanges a look with Stevie.
“I’ve got my parents’ Toyota for the night. You could ride with me,” Stevie offers with grin and a shrug.
“Awesome.” I smile at him as my heart swells with gratitude for my band mates. The truce between Francine and me has been extended, mainly because I’ve been
avoiding her and there hasn’t been an opportunity to wage another war. So I welcome any opportunity to keep the avoidance plan going.
A horn sounds off in front of the house. Moving to the garage door opener, I press the button. The Brown Turd sits in the driveway, rumbling and vibrating.
“There’s my ride,” Bean says. “Can I get some help?”
No one talks as we all gather around Bean’s drum set and help him disassemble it. It takes us about fifteen minutes to get everything in the car, but when we’re done, Bean’s satisfied with our work. He gives me a wink and says, “I’ll see you down there, Chickie.” Shifting his focus to Stevie, he says, “Later, dude.” They exchange a quick knuckle bump, and then Bean jumps in the car.
As they pull out of the driveway, Stevie gives me a nudge. “Come on. Let’s get going.”
I follow him back to the garage, where we grab our equipment and stow it in the backseat of his parents’ green sedan. Then we hustle inside and grab our coats. On my way out the door, I glance at my watch and realize we’ll just have enough time to eat before we play. Since we don’t charge for our performance, the owner of Pearl’s gives us our meal on the house. We’re okay with that because we need the face time and the food at Pearl’s is epically awesome.
After we climb into the car, Stevie starts it and pulls away from the curb. “What’re you going to get?” he asks after adjusting his mirror.
I tilt my head and think about it before I answer. “Probably a wet burrito.” I smile and face him. “How about you?”
“That does sound pretty good. I’ll probably get one of those too.”
We share a giddy laugh and then zoom down the road. I love Friday nights at Pearl’s, the relaxed atmosphere and the friendliness of the staff. The owner of the bar, whose actual name is Marge, always welcomes us with a smile. Her grandmother, the original owner, was Pearl.
Marge is a rotund woman with big boobs and an even bigger heart. When I was a young girl, I’d been afraid of her. Afraid that I’d get lost in that big pillowy chest and suffocate.
I snicker every time I think about that now and chalk it up to irrational fears of childhood.
As we pull into the parking lot behind the bar, I turn to Stevie and say. “Hey, did Bean tell you we have a name for the band?”
Stevie shakes his head as he puts the car in park and shuts it off. “Nope. What is it?”
“Starlight.”
Stevie grins and fiddles with his glasses. He repeats the name a couple of times, then turns to me, and says, “I like it.”
I let out a squeal of delight. “I do too.”
Stevie laughs because I’m not the type of girl that squeals. I’m much more levelheaded, but I can’t help it. We have our songs picked out and we have a name for the band. And the fact that we’re getting face time tonight is just frosting on the cake.

  Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Lark-Singer-Starlight-Chronicles-Book-ebook/dp/B00QPD8GQQ

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lark-singer-lisa-orchard/1120868410?ean=2940149846207

Posted in Guest Author

Please Welcome Astraea Press Author Lynn Spangler!

Hello Everyone! I hope all is well with you! I’ve got Lynn Spangler as a guest today and she’s sharing her new release “Whiskey Whispers of the Past”. It looks like a great story and I’ve got it on my TBR Pile. 🙂 Take it away Lynn and share your story with us!

I want to thank Lisa for having me on her blog today!

Today I’m going to tell you about the heroine of my book Whiskey Whispers of the Past. Her name is Kendra Strafford. She is a kind, understanding person who doesn’t assume a person, mainly the hero Chance, is what they appear to be. Kendra delves deeper into a person’s personality and sees what is under the surface. She doesn’t assume a person is either good or bad by what had transpired in their past.

Kendra is a candle maker by trade, a love she’s had since she was a teenager. Nothing makes her happier than turning simple, plain wax into a scented, colorful masterpiece.

I’d love to try my own hand at candle making. While researching the craft for my book, I learned a thing or two. The process seems gratifying. I like to make jewelry and decorate wreaths so stepping into the realm of candles isn’t that far of a stretch. But alas, that’s a project for another day.

Thank you, Lisa, for letting me tell you and your blog readers a little about Kendra and myself in the process.

WhiskeyWhispersofthePast200x300_zps4aafd211Kendra thought her life was her store; Chance thought his revolved around his addiction. What if they’re both wrong?

Looking for a new start, Chance Daniels moves from hectic, big city living to a small town in South Central Pennsylvania. He decides opening his own music store on Main Street will help him beat the demons of his alcoholism. He discovers the beautiful business owner from across the street may be the lift he needs to beat his addiction. But little does he know that parts of his past unbeknownst to him are about to come to light. Chance receives strange objects in the mail and the woman he falls in love with is nearly run down by a crazed driver.

Kendra Strafford, owner of Strafford’s Candle Creations, finds herself drawn to the tall, handsome man from Los Angeles after starting a standing weekday coffee date with him. She can’t help but fall in love with him, despite his addiction and the strange happenings that seem to surround him.  Her own brush with death only draws her closer to Chance.

Was her accident just an accident or was it part of a more devious scheme arising from Chance’s hidden past and will they overcome the bizarre occurrences besieging them to explore their developing love?

Excerpt:

“I hear someone is looking at the old Donaldson’s building.”

Kendra peered out the front window of her candle shop, Strafford’s Candle Creations, toward the brick façade of the adjacent building. She saw the local real estate agent and her good friend, Nancy Lewis, walking toward the old structure. The converted row house had once contained Donaldson’s Hardware Store, which had been a fixture of Main Street, right across from Kendra’s establishment.

“Oh, yeah? I wonder what business someone would put in there,” her assistant Deanna commented.

Kendra frowned as she sipped the now lukewarm coffee then set the cup on the glass shelf beside her. “I don’t know. Rumor has it it’s someone new to the area. A guy looking to make a fresh start, from what Nancy told me. She said the buyer told her he needed a change of pace and a new locale. Why he’d end up in such a place as Jonerstown is beyond me. This area isn’t known as a hotbed of business like York or Harrisburg.”

“I don’t know. Jonerstown is a nice town. Perhaps its charm won him over.”

Kendra nibbled her lip — a habit of hers when deep in thought. “Maybe.” A quick glance at her watch indicated it was nearly time to open the shop. “How’s our merchandise looking? Do we need to restock anything?”

“No, we’re good. I took care of that chore last night while you were in the dungeon replenishing our inventory.”

Kendra stepped to the counter, which was tucked in the back corner of the sales floor. “Really? A dungeon? Where I come from it’s commonly called a basement. Hand me the duster. It’s time to open and I haven’t completed the dusting yet.”

Glancing around her shop, she surveyed the three rows of gleaming glass shelves filling two walls of the sales floor. Floor units graced the center of her shop, reflecting the brilliance of the morning sun against the ceiling of the store. The shelves were stocked with candles in a vast array of sizes, shapes, colors, and scents. She inhaled, marveling at the combination. Oh, how she loved the fruits of her labor. Every day her wares brought a feeling of warmth and pride.

She strode to the storefront, unlocked the door, flipped the Closed sign to Open, and went about dusting the shelves while rearranging a candle or two along the way.

“Wow. You’ve got to see the guy meeting up with Nancy.”

Kendra spun around, gazed out the window again, and was greeted by a pleasant surprise. The man shaking Nancy’s hand stood about six feet tall at a guess. He was dressed in well-worn blue jeans and a black t-shirt that fit snugly over his arms and chest. “Hmm. At least we’ll have some eye candy to stare at. He reminds me of a boxer with the trim, muscular build.”

“I like the spiky hair sticking out in every which direction. Too bad we couldn’t see his face.”

Yeah, too bad. The body is killer.

Buy links:

Amazon

Astraea Press

Barnes and Noble

Thanks for stopping by everyone and if this story appeals to you, snatch it up! It’s $1.99! 🙂

Posted in Guest Author

Please Welcome Billie Thomas–Author of “Murder on the First Day of Christmas”!

 

Please give a warm  welcome to Billie Thomas! She’s the author of “Murder on the First Day of Christmas”.  Take it away Billie! 🙂

 

Steph

 

 

 

 

The Story Behind the Story.

By Billie Thomas, author of Murder on the First Day of Christmas

We’ve all heard (and cheerfully discarded) the writing advice “write what you know.” While true to a degree, we’d all prefer to let our imaginations drive our stories rather than our SAT scores. But writing who you know – in other words having a thorough, personal and intimate understanding of your characters – is advice I believe in wholeheartedly. Luckily, when it comes to the core relationship in my Chloe Carstairs mystery series – the relationship between Chloe and her mother Amanda – I have a lifetime of inspiration from which to draw.

My mom and I have always been big mystery fans and we traded books back and forth endlessly. No matter how our relationship was going at the time (can you say ‘rollercoaster’?), our love of mysteries was always neutral ground. So when I set out to write one, I knew Mom would be my biggest fan and toughest critic. The idea of a fun, funny mystery with a mother-daughter relationship much like our own, appealed to both of us, and our relationship was the perfect inspiration. The first draft was a joy to write. I’d work on a chapter, send it to my mom, she’d make suggestions and I’d rewrite. Easy. Fun. Maybe even therapeutic.

Sadly, my mom died unexpectedly of an aneurism at the end of 2011 and never got to see Murder on the First Day of Christmas get published in December 2012. While the book is the perfect tribute to her, I still have 5 things I wished I’d thanked her for more explicitly. It’s by no means an exhaustive list, but a heartfelt one and one that shapes everything I write.  

 

She gave me a life-long love of books.

My best Christmas present ever – even better than my go-cart or Commodore 64 – was a library card in my stocking. I was seven or eight at the time and when I gravely signed the back, I knew this was a Big Deal. It’d be years before I figured out how big. We went to the library every Saturday and I could pick out as many books as I wanted. By the time I was nine, Mom and I had an unofficial book club where Nancy Drews, Judy Blumes and eventually, Agatha Christies were enthusiastically traded and discussed. Reading and writing have been constant joys in my life and my Mom deserves all the credit.

She turned off the TV.

For several years, the TV remained mostly dark in my house. My parents watched the news and “60 Minutes.” My sister and I could only watch one hour a day during the school year and slightly more during the summer. That was it. No daytime TV at all except a few Saturday morning cartoons. Yeah, I hated having to fake-laugh when kids recounted SNL sketches, but that dark TV helped make me creative, healthy and able to entertain myself.

She cooked.

My mom wasn’t a fancy cook, but some of my favorite meals were hers. Spaghetti. Pot roast. Pork chops with a ring of crispy onions on top. Fried chicken for my birthday. She kept it all pretty healthy. Breakfast, always, sugar cereals, never. A side salad at every meal. Family dinners were the standard and we read Trivial Pursuit cards at the table. I don’t know why. She also understood that it was sometimes necessary to delay breakfast till ten when Taco Bell opened. Loved that.

She taught me to be a girl’s girl.

I don’t know how she managed this, since my dad was her whole world, but Mom always stressed the importance of cultivating friendships with girls and never letting guys come before them. (Husbands notwithstanding.) She said the only woman you couldn’t trust or respect was one that didn’t trust or respect other women. I completely agree.

She was willing to be the bad cop.

Any journals I kept before 1988 only had two or three entries in them, all detailing with Anne Frank-caliber anguish show stupid, cruel, unreasonable, lame, wrong or mean my mom was. Once I called her a “bourgeois bitch” – I can’t imagine why, but suspect it’s because I had recently learned the word bourgeois. I’m sure I communicated those feelings in thousands of other ways over the years. She didn’t care. Even if it hurt her feelings, she didn’t let it stop her from enforcing rules, teaching discipline and saying no when she needed to. You only have to meet or work alongside someone who thinks the world is their juice box to know why that’s important.

As I said, not an exhaustive list. I hope Mom’s somewhere where she knows these things and is proud of the job she did raising me. I miss her every day and am thankful I have the series to work on because it makes me feel close to her. If I ever hear that a daughter loved Murder on the First Day of Christmas and passed it along to her mom, or vice versa, saying “this is so us”, I will be thrilled. I’ll bawl my eyes out, probably, but sometimes I do that when I’m thrilled.

About Murder on the First Day of Christmas:

Murder-on-the-First_final3

http://www.amazon.com/Murder-Christmas-Carstairs-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B00APPOR40/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_t_2

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/murder-on-the-first-day-of-christmas-billie-thomas/1113992722?ean=2940016095981

Finding a severed hand at a client’s house might throw lesser decorators off their games. But Chloe Carstairs and her mother, Amanda, won’t let a little thing like murder keep them from decking the halls. With a body under the partridge’s pear tree and a dead Santa in a sleigh, they have to crack the case before the killer strikes again – this time much too close to home.

Filled with laugh-out-loud humor, romance and a delightfully difficult mother-daughter relationship, this new series from Billie Thomas offers a fast-paced caper as these two southern ladies try to keep their very merry Christmas from turning into the Noel from hell.

Connect with Billie Thomas and her protagonist Chloe Carstairs at:

www.chloegetsaclue.com

https://twitter.com/ChloeGetsAClue

www.facebook.com/chloe.cartairs.73

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6877693.Billie_Thomas

Thanks for being my guest today Billie! You’re story sounds like a great read and I’ve got it on my TBR pile. 🙂