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Posted by on August 3, 2015 in Uncategorized


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?


It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is a meme begun by Sheila at Book Journey. Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts have given it a kidlit focus.

It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

I’m so far behind on all my reading that I’m almost embarrassed to post anything. I’m an elementary school librarian, so I do get a lot of reading done, but my own personal reading goals have really taken a hit this year.

Over the long, but not long enough, Thanksgiving Break I did manage to read a couple of books. I finished My Teacher Is An Idiom by Jaimie Gilson, which did not live up to my expectations.  I started The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman. Rather interesting, but I’ve not finished it yet, so I’m withholding final judgement.

I did get caught up on one of my all time favorite authors: Cleo Coyle. I didn’t realize that I was two books behind! How did that happen? Her new coffee house books are always released around my birthday so I treat myself each year by buying the new book. Over the break I finished Billionaire Blend and Once Upon a Grind. I loved both of them and other than being told that the dog we were fostering is now OUR dog, reading these books was the highlight of my break.


51ALJ27h-KL._SX317_BO1,204,203,200_I’m currently reading Dead to the Last Drop which will be released tomorrow. I received an ARC as part of The Great Escapes Tour for the book. Be sure to stop back on Friday, December 4th, my stop on the tour. And yes, even though I received an ARC, I did order a copy of the finished book. Have to make sure my collection is complete.

Next up on the reading deck: Yarned and Dangerous by Sadie Hartwell.


What are you reading?


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Posted by on November 30, 2015 in Uncategorized


Great Escapes Tour: Death Before Decaf by Caroline Fardig – Guest Post



If you enjoy Coffee House Mysteries, there’s a new series for you to check out. Death Before Decaf is the first in the Java Jive Series by Caroline Fardig.  

Today Caroline joins us to give us a little insight into Pete, the owner of Java Jive and Juliet’s long time best friend.

Q&A with Pete Bennett from DEATH BEFORE DECAF

CF: Hi, Pete. Thanks for sitting down with me today.

Pete: No problem. I thought it wouldn’t hurt to have a little positive exposure for Java Jive.

CF: Right. Your coffeehouse has been in the spotlight a lot lately.

Pete: You can say that again. I’m ready for things to get back to normal.

CF: I’ve heard business is thriving because of the press Java Jive has received for being the scene of a murder.

Pete: Yeah, business has been a lot better, but I still hate the reason for it.

CF: I’d heard Java Jive was struggling for a while, especially after your father, the owner, passed away. What made you decide to take the reins and keep the coffeehouse going instead of selling it?

Pete: The place meant the world to my pop, and I grew up here. There was no way I could let it go.

CF: What about your other job? I hear you’re a pretty successful audio engineer on Music Row. How do you balance working two jobs and still have time for a life?

Pete: *laughs* I’m lucky to have two jobs I absolutely love, so none of it feels like work to me. Java Jive has always been my second home, and the people there are my family.

CF: How much time have you spent there over the years?

Pete: Hmm. Twenty years times several hours per day times… That’s way too much math for a musician.

CF: I totally understand. I hear your new manager is doing a great job with the place.

Pete: *smiles* Yeah, Jules is the best.

CF: When you met Juliet at Java Jive during college, did you ever expect she’d be running the place for you?

Pete: No, I thought I’d be watching her singing sold-out concerts all over the world. She has an amazing voice.

CF: What happened? Why is she working in a coffeehouse instead?

Pete: Aw, you know, that’s kind of personal. Let’s just say I’m working on trying to persuade her to give performing another chance.

CF: Fair enough. Did you ever dream she’d be a person of interest in a murder investigation?

Pete: *laughs* Jules may have a hot temper, but she’d never hurt a fly. The fact that the police were looking at her for this was ridiculous, so I wasn’t really that worried.

CF: You and Juliet seem pretty close. Did you two ever date?

Pete: *blushes* Now you’re getting really personal. No comment.

CF: Now I’m even more intrigued. Since she’s back in town, do you see the two of you giving a romantic relationship a chance in the future?

Pete: Would you stop saying that? You’re going to get me in trouble with my girlfriend. I’m sorry, but I gotta bounce. Thanks for the interview…I think.

Thanks Caroline. It’s always nice to learn more about a character. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I think Pete should explore his true feelings about Juliet.


Death Before Decaf:
A Java Jive Mystery

Publisher: Alibi (November 17, 2015)
Random House LLC



Perfect for fans of Janet Evanovich and Diane Mott Davidson, Caroline Fardig’s captivating new mystery novel takes readers behind the counter of a seemingly run-of-the-mill coffeehouse . . . where murder is brewing.

After her music career crashes and burns spectacularly, Juliet Langley is forced to turn to the only other business she knows: food service. Unfortunately, bad luck strikes yet again when her two-timing fiancé robs her blind and runs off with her best waitress. Flushing what’s left of her beloved café down the toilet with her failed engagement, Juliet packs up and moves back to her college stomping grounds in Nashville to manage an old friend’s coffeehouse. At first glance, it seems as though nothing’s changed at Java Jive. What could possibly go wrong? Only that the place is hemorrhaging money, the staff is in open revolt, and Juliet finds one unlucky employee dead in the dumpster out back before her first day is even over.

The corpse just so happens to belong to the cook who’d locked horns with Juliet over the finer points of the health code. Unimpressed with her management style, the other disgruntled employees are only too eager to spill the beans about her fiery temper to the detective on the case. Add to the mix a hunky stranger who’s asking way too many questions, and suddenly Juliet finds herself in some very hot water. If she can’t simmer down and sleuth her way to the real killer, she’s going to get burned.

fardig 001_edited-1More About This Author

Caroline Fardig is the author of Death Before Decaf and the Lizzie Hart series. She worked as a schoolteacher, church organist, insurance agent, funeral parlor associate, and stay-at-home mom before she realized that she wanted to be a writer when she grew up. Born and raised in a small town in Indiana, Fardig still lives in that same town with an understanding husband, two sweet kids, two energetic dogs, and one malevolent cat.




Author Links


Purchase Links:

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Posted by on November 23, 2015 in Uncategorized


CG 12 Days of Christmas Swap


I just signed up for the CG 12 Days of Christmas Swap. I participated last year and it was truly a wonderful experience.

The objective is to get to know your partner and send them a fantastic package with goodies that meet their style/preferences/favorite things about the holiday. It’s a fun way to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas with 12 different goodies.

For more information on the rules and how to sign up, check out CG Swaps 12 Days of Christmas.

Check back later in December for the big reveal!

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Posted by on November 12, 2015 in Uncategorized


The Girl Who Could Not Dream by Sarah Beth Durst

the girl who could not dream

FTC Disclosure: I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Imagine you could not dream. Everyone else dreams when they sleep, but not you. Wouldn’t you be curious? If you could somehow find a way to have a dream, wouldn’t you give it a try?  That’s just what Sophie does and it changes everything.

Goodreads SummarySophie loves the hidden shop below her parents’ bookstore, where dreams are secretly bought and sold. When the dream shop is robbed and her parents go missing, Sophie must unravel the truth to save them. Together with her best friend—a wisecracking and fanatically loyal monster named Monster—she must decide whom to trust with her family’s carefully guarded secrets. Who will help them, and who will betray them?

My thoughts:  This is a great book about facing fears, being different and building friendships. For those young readers who enjoy a bit of a scary tale, it is just right. Yes there are monsters and talk of nightmares, but it is not graphic. And the focus of the story is on facing your fears and doing what you think you can’t do.  I was only a few pages into the story when I knew I had to order it for the school library. I talked just a little about the book with The Book Detectives (my 4th and 5th grade Book Club) and they immediately wanted to know when there would be a copy for them to check out.

Recommended Ages: School Library Journal says Grades 4 – 6 and that seems about right.

It’s a great addition to any school or classroom library.

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Posted by on November 8, 2015 in Uncategorized


A Dickens of a Murder by Joyce and Jim Lavene – Great Escapes Tour – Review


A Dickens of a Murder
by Joyce and Jim Lavene

A DICKENS OF A MURDER by authors Joyce and Jim Lavene, is one of their most fun and original books to date!
~Lisa K’s Book Reviews

First in a brand-new series, the popular cozy authors Joyce and Jim Lavene bring life to a small and quiet community as eccentric bibliophile Simon Canterville and business partner, long-time librarian Lisa Wellman…
~Mallory Heart Reviews

Interesting cozy mystery with a paranormal element. Well written with a good story

I’m hooked on this new series.
~Cozy Up With Kathy

A Dickens of A Murder is a charming whodunnit that will please the bibliophile that lives in all of us.
~Moonlight Rendezvous

book concept 2.1A Dickens of a Murder
(Canterville Book Shop Mystery 1)

Cozy Mystery
Print Length: 208 pages
Publisher: J. Lavene (November 3, 2015)
ASIN: B015269QSI


Christmas at Canterville!

Lisa Wellman and Simon Canterville are surprised to find a dead man on their roof in the midst of rushing to open the Canterville Book Shop in time for the holidays. And not just any dead man – Ebenezer Hart – the man who opposed the book shop opening in Olde Town, Portsmouth, Virginia.
What might be more surprising is when Daniel Fairhaven – Lisa’s ex – turns up at the door of the three-story Victorian house to head the police investigation. She hasn’t seen him in years but the sparks start to fly as soon as they are in the same room together.

Simon and Lisa are obviously the best suspects for the murder. Each of them had something to gain by Hart’s death. Then an attempt on Simon’s life throws that theory into a tailspin.
But the biggest surprise yet comes when the ghost of Charles Dickens turns up to help Lisa with the murder investigation – and writing the mystery novel she has been working on for years.
Without a doubt, Daniel and Dickens in Lisa’s life means trouble. And there’s still the matter of trying to get the book shop open with a killer on their heels.

I just love this picture of Joyce and Jim

About The Authors – 

Joyce and Jim Lavene write award-winning, bestselling mystery fiction as themselves, J.J. Cook, and Ellie Grant. They have written and published more than 70 novels for Harlequin, Berkley, Amazon, and Gallery Books along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. They live in rural North Carolina with their family.

Author Links

Purchase Link


My thoughts:  It is with a heavy heart that I write this review. By now most, if not all of you, know that Joyce passed away unexpectedly in October. I never met Joyce, except through her books. The writing world lost a bright star. I always know that when I pick up book Joyce and Jim that it’s going to be a good read. There books have always been “for me” reads. As a school librarian, I’m always reading something for school. As a blogger I’m always reading something for review.  Not everything that lands on my reading stack is enjoyable. But it is a given that a Lavene book will be a great read. That’s why I always try to sign up for Their Great Escape Tours.

A Dickens of a Murder is no exception. I loved the book. It has so many of the story elements that I truly enjoy: mystery, a book store, and a struggling author who just happens to be a former librarian. It’s one of my dream worlds.

The mystery is well crafted with plenty of twists and turns, along with a complicated love interest to add a bit of spice. I enjoyed reading about Lisa’s writing and Dickens was a bit of a comic relief. I don’t know if Jim will continue this series now.  The idea of a book store haunted by famous authors is a book nerd’s dream. But even if there are no further books, A Dickens of a Murder is a great stand alone read – certainly one you don’t want to miss. Please visit the tour page for a chance to win a print copy of the book.

And Jim – my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. My heartfelt thanks to you and Joyce for the many hours of enjoyable reading you gave me over the years. It will always be a treasured memory.

Check out the other blogs on the tour for more reviews.

Tour Participants

November 3 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – Review

November 3 – The Mysterious Ink Spot – Guest Post

November 4 – Mallory Heart Reviews – Review

November 4 – Frankie Bow  Interview

November 5 – MysteriesEtc – Review

November 5 – Mythical Books – Guest Post

November 6 – Moonlight Rendezvous – Review

November 6 – Cozy Up With Kathy – Review, Interview

November 7 – Shelley’s Book Case – Review

November 7 – Booklady’s Booknotes – Guest Post

November 8 – LibriAmoriMiei – Review

November 8 – Tea and A Book – Review

November 9 – StoreyBook Reviews – Review

November 9 – readalot – Review

November 10 – fuonlyknew – Review

November 10 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – Review

November 11 – Book Splurge – Review

November 11 – Christa Reads and Writes – Review

November 12 – Mochas, Mysteries and Meows – Review, Interview

November 12 – THE SELF-TAUGHT COOK – Review

November 13 – Back Porchervations – Review

November 13 – Melina’s Book Blog – Review

November 14 – Community Bookstop – Review

November 15 – Brooke Blogs – Review

November 16 – View from the Birdhouse – Review

November 16 – Student of Opinions – Review

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Posted by on November 7, 2015 in Uncategorized


2015 Swapoween Reveal


Halloween is a tough time of year for me. When I was a kid, I loved Halloween. Who wouldn’t: dressing up and all that chocolate? I was raised by my Granny. Her birthday is on Halloween. So it was even more special. But when she died it quit being fun. When the children came along, some of the fun came back, but this year both of the boys are grown and out doing their own thing. So, I decided to find something to help chase away the blues.

I’ve participated in several of the swaps hosted Chaotic Goddesses. This is my second Swapoween. It was a great way to get me through the Halloween doldrums.

My partner was the delightful Ruth over at My Devotional Thoughts. Be sure to check out her blog.


Ruth sent me some wonderful things. I’m sorry the picture is so dark, you can’t see the adorable black kitten. I love pumpkins so she sent a cute stuffed pumpkin and a set of dancing pumpkins.

Like Ruth, I love chocolate, especially Reeses Peanut Butter Cups. But, I’ve been trying (very unsuccessfully) to go Paleo – so no Halloween Candy for me. I had told Ruth about all the dogs we have in our house. We have three that belong to us (maybe a fourth one, if I can convince the trainer to let him stay) and we foster service dogs. At any given time we have up to 6 dogs in our home. So since she couldn’t send me treats, Ruth very thoughtfully sent pumpkin flavored treats for the dogs. They LOVE them. I’m going to have to find out where she got them so I can get more.

Thanks Ruth for making my Halloween a little brighter.

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Posted by on November 3, 2015 in Uncategorized


Great Escapes Tour – Happy Homicides 13 Cozy Mysteries for the Holidays by Joanna Campbell Slan and 12 other authors


It is my pleasure to welcome Lois Winston (one of the authors in Happy Homicides) to the blog today.

  1. When did you first decide you wanted to be an author?

Many authors will tell you they’ve always known—from the time they were children—that they wanted to write books. That wasn’t the case with me. The “need” to write hit me much later. One day a story popped into my head, and the characters wouldn’t leave me alone. I finally wrote the story down, thinking that would get it out of my system. Instead, I discovered the writing bug had sunk its teeth into me, and I had to keep writing. That first story, after many revisions, became the award-winning romantic suspense Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception, the second book I sold.

  1. What is your writing schedule like?

I wish I could say I write every day for X number of hours. I try. Really! But often life gets in the way. For instance, as I’m writing this, I have a houseful of sweet rugrats staying with me for a week and a half. I won’t be getting any writing done (other than answering these interview questions) until they leave. My normal goal is to write 1,000 words a day. I’m going to have a lot of catching up to do once they leave!

  1. What do you like to do when you are not writing?

My absolute favorite thing to do is go to the theater. I love Broadway musicals. If it weren’t for the fact that I can’t sing, dance, or act, I would have been a Broadway star. Lack of talent is such a bummer! Luckily, I live a stone’s throw from NYC and can indulge my theater habit on a regular basis. I also know the secret to scoring half-price tickets in advance from the comfort of my office. Otherwise, I’d probably go broke.

  1. What is your favorite children’s book?

Tough question. I love Peter Pan. I’ve seen all the various iterations of the story in movies, TV, and theater (Finding Neverland with Matthew Morrison and Kelsey Grammer is fabulous, BTW, if you happen to get to NYC,) but I honestly don’t remember if I ever read the book when I was a child. I think I must have. I was always a voracious reader. As a preteen I read all the Cherry Ames books and for a time wanted to become a nurse. Those early mysteries probably influenced my decision to start writing mysteries.

  1. What is your favorite adult book?

I’m a huge fan of the late Ariana Franklin. I loved her Mistress of the Art of Death series, but the book that I would read over and over again (if my TBR pile wasn’t stacked so high) is City of Shadows. It takes place in Berlin between the first and second World War and incorporates the mystery of the Russian princess Anastasia Romanoff.

Interesting side note: Having just read the above, you might be wondering if this book in any way influenced the creation of Anastasia Pollack, the amateur sleuth in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series. It didn’t. I read City of Shadows well after I wrote the first book in the series.

  1. If you were not a writer, what would you be?

If I could magically develop performing talent, I’d star on Broadway, but since that’s never going to happen, thanks to my tin ear, two left feet, and a total inability to memorize anything, I’d be an astronaut—if I could find a way to overcome my motion sickness and claustrophobia…

  1. What is your favorite treat?

Edible? Chocolate-raspberry gelato.

  1. If you could have a meal with any author (living or dead) who would it be and what would you eat?

Hmm…another tough question. There are so many authors, past and present, I’d love to meet. It’s hard to choose just one. I think I’d have to go with a nonfiction author and say Eleanor Roosevelt. The woman was amazing for what she accomplished over the course of her life when most women were relegated to being just wives and mothers.

As for the meal, I think I’d be so absorbed in listening to her that I’d ignore the food on my plate. However, being a gracious hostess, I’d definitely plan to feed my guest. For the first course I’d serve a pear, spinach, and goat cheese salad with champagne vinaigrette. The main course would consist of broiled scallops, asparagus, and twice-baked potatoes. For dessert I’d serve French macarons, gelato, and vanilla lattes.

Thank you for joining us today. It’s always fun learning about authors. 

Happy Homicides – 13 Cozy Holiday Mysteries
by Joanna Campbell Slan and 12 more Cozy Authors

12 authors combine to ring in the holidays (and not just Christmas!) with Cozies for every taste, and authors you can rely on to deliver the thrills and ratchet a suspenseful plot while making readers empathize with the characters ( in some gorgeous settings, too). Don’t miss out!

Wonderful stories by a superb group of authors, you cannot go wrong with HAPPY HOMICIDES. It’s a must have collection for every mystery reader.
~Lisa K’s Book Reviews

This was a great book full of so many great stories we meet different people who are celebrating Christmas like Cara Mia Delgatto and her shop and how she helps someone with Christmas gifts…
~Community Bookstop 

If you enjoy Christmas stories and mysteries, this anthology will be a great way for you to get into the holiday spirit.
~The Self Taught Cook 

Each short story/novella will help get you in the mood for Christmas. There is a lot of variety here…definitely something for everyone.

Each story, though not a full length novel, was so well written it felt complete. That shows the talent of these authors, giving you a beginning, middle, and end, in a limited amount of words.

There are 13 stories in this collection. Some of the authors were familiar to me and there series I read. Some of them I have never heard of before but I now want to read…

Happy Homicides Cover FinalHappy Homicides Bonus Final

Happy Homicides & Happy Homicides Bonus


A holiday bonanza! A collection of traditional mysteries to celebrate the holidays, written by by thirteen bestselling and award-winning authors. Heartwarming, brain puzzling, craft-centered, and character driven reads that’ll keep you entertained for hours. Nearly 800 pages of reading material, plus a special Recipe and Craft Bonus.

Included are:

Kiki Lowenstein and the Rowan Branch – (Joanna Campbell Slan) When Horace Goldfader is accused of murder, Kiki learns how difficult it can be to maintain peace on earth—and to keep her deathbed promise to her late friend, Dodie.

Cara Mia Delgatto and the Misdirected Gifts  — (Joanna Campbell Slan) Two waylaid items cause Cara to take a break from her booming retail business and follow her heart. Can a sprinkling of holiday magic create a “happily ever after” ending for all involved? 

The Christmas Dog — (Joyce and Jim Lavene) A woman running from her deadly past finds hope, and a dog, at Christmas.

and more.

joanna campbell slanAbout This Author

Joanna Campbell Slan is the award-winning author of the Kiki Lowenstein Mysteries (an Agatha Award Finalist) and two other mystery series. Her stories in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series has been read and loved by millions. Her books reviving the classic heroine Jane Eyre have won the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award. In her past life, Joanna was a television talk show host, an adjunct professor of public relations, a sought-after motivational speaker, and a corporate speechwriter. She is married to David Slan, CEO of Steinway Piano Gallery-DC. The Slans make their home on Jupiter Island, Florida. Visit Joanna’s website at

Author Links







Purchase Links –

My thoughts: This is a must read for anyone who loves holiday related mysteries. The short story format makes it easy for you to get a taste of several different authors and their mysteries. It would make a great stocking stuffer for any mystery lover. 

I have one e-copy to give away. Just leave a comment with your favorite thing about the holidays for a chance to win. Deadline for commenting is midnight on October 28th.

Also be sure to visit the tour page for the rafflecopter giveaway of a $50 Easy gift card.

Check out the other stops on the tour:

Tour Participants

October 15 – Michelle’s Romantic Tangle – Guest Post

October 16 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy,  &, Sissy, Too ! – Spotlight, Giveaway

October 16 – Mallory Heart Reviews – Review

October 17 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – Review, Guest Post, Giveaway

October 18 – Community Bookstop – Review, Giveaway

October 19 – THE SELF-TAUGHT COOK – Review, Giveaway

October 19 – MysteriesEtc – Review, Giveaway

October 20 – fuonlyknew – Review, Giveaway

October 20 – Book Babble – Spotlight

October 21 – A Year of Jubilee Reviews – Review

October 21 – Griperang’s Bookmarks – Interview, Giveaway

October 22 – readalot – Review, Giveaway

October 23 – A Fold in the Spine – Review

October 24 – Booklady’s Booknotes – Review, Interview, Giveaway

October 25 – StoreyBook Reviews – Review, Giveaway

October 26 – Cassidy Salem Reads & Writes – Review, Giveaway

October 27 – Laura’s Interests – Review, Giveaway

October 27 – Cozy Up With Kathy – Guest Post, Spotlight

October 28 – Bubble Bath Books – Review


Posted by on October 24, 2015 in Uncategorized


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