Thursday, January 31, 2019

Book Review, Giveaway: Revenge on the Rye by Alice Castle

Revenge on the Rye 
by Alice Castle

 Amazon US / UK / AU / CA  

Beth Haldane, SE21’s answer to Miss Marple, thinks she is going for a carefree stroll on Peckham Rye with her best friend, Katie, and her annoying new puppy, Teddy. But before Beth knows it, she is embroiled in her most perplexing mystery yet.

Strange events from her family’s past, present-day skulduggery in the art world, and the pressures of moving school in south London threaten to overwhelm Beth. Will she be able to piece together the puzzle before her son’s crucial interview at Wyatt’s? Or will Beth’s insatiable curiosity finally drag down all her dreams for the future?

Join Beth, her irascible on-off boyfriend, Detective Inspector Harry York of the Metropolitan Police, and the dog walkers of Peckham Rye in a tale of murder, mayhem – and bloody revenge.

My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

So, you’re telling me there’s a bit of a #MeToo movement building up in the park against young Teddy here? … Perhaps you might want to think about getting him, erm, done? I’m not sure what age they need to be to have the op, but that would definitely sort out his hormones, I should think. Even a Dachshund isn’t going to look that irresistible if you’ve had your danglers cut off, I dare say.

‘Liquorice? Oh, is that your dog?’ looking under the bench at the little wiry-haired creature… ‘He’s very cute,’ said Beth dutifully, looking at Liquorice doubtfully. She supposed it was like being presented with other people’s babies. No matter how much they resembled Winston Churchill sucking a lemon, you were still obliged to say how utterly gorgeous they were.

Beth sometimes wondered how she’d grown to adulthood with such a light hand on the parental tiller. Her father had always been at work. She remembered trying to get into the garage, as a small child, as that was the place her father disappeared to every morning and the spot he emerged from every night. With her child’s logic, she assumed he spent his days shut away in there, and already she could see why he might want to.

Delving in the bread bin, she made the unwelcome discovery that she only had white sliced, which she was pretty sure Katie equated with crack cocaine. More horrifying still, one slice had a tiny fleck of blue on one edge. Mould! Hastily chopping off all the crusts and hurling them in the bin dealt with that problem. And penicillin was good for you, right?

… such an oily charmer, he’s totally the type to sell a double bed to the Pope. I’d take every word he said with a mine of salt.

Bursar looked as though he had been poured into his suit but had forgotten to say ‘when’. 

My Review:

While she appeared to have started with an exceptional skill set and an enviable level of innate ability, Alice Castle continues to hone her craft as each new installment of this pleasantly entertaining and enticing series has proven to be even better than the last.  Each cunningly plotted tale has provided ample servings of clever wry humor, engaging storylines, endearingly flawed and intriguing characters, and an unusual and unpredictable murder mystery.  I am besotted with this quirky collection of characters; several of which reappear in each interconnected book.  I am also totally enamored with this series and keenly await each new tale. 

The main character of Beth is a pint-sized, pixie boot wearing young widow and single-mom with an insatiable curiosity, a somewhat short attention span, and a tenacious tendency to follow her own instincts.  I adore her!  She is as prone to daydreaming and being easily side-tracked as she is to stumbling into crime scenes and discovering murder victims.  Her domestic skills and time sense are humorously haphazard yet she somehow keeps her beloved young son and well-adored pets fed and content, and is fortunate enough that her work output is largely unmonitored and her frequent absences go unnoticed.  Beth generally intends to show up at her office, yet she just cannot seem to keep herself from careening off-track to snoop and delve into the lives of those unfortunate creatures she has found without a pulse.  All despite the rigorous admonitions from her overworked and jaded police detective paramour to cease and desist.           

In addition to providing high-quality entertainment, Ms. Castle has gifted me with a toy box full of new terms and idioms and for my Brit Word List with: in bits - to be very upset; titchy – a small person; chuntering – talk or grumble monotonously; swish – fashionable; inside gen – information; and Bonio – a popular brand of dog biscuit.  What would I ever do without my blessed Mr. Google?  

Empress DJ

About the Author

Before turning to crime, Alice Castle was a UK newspaper journalist for The Daily Express, The Times and The Daily Telegraph. Her first book, Hot Chocolate, set in Brussels and London, was a European hit and sold out in two weeks. 

Death in Dulwich was published in September 2017 and has been a number one best-seller in the UK, US, France, Spain, and Germany. A sequel, The Girl in the Gallery was published in December 2017 to critical acclaim. Calamity in Camberwell, the third book in the London Murder Mystery series, was published this summer, with Homicide in Herne Hill following in October 2018. Alice is currently working on the sixth London Murder Mystery adventure. Once again, it will feature Beth Haldane and DI Harry York.

Alice is also a top mummy blogger and book reviewer via her website.

Social Media Links


Win a signed copy of Revenge on the Rye 
(Open Internationally) 

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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Book Review: Catastrophe Queen by Emma Hart


One hot mess. One hot boss. One too many hot encounters...

Catastrophe Queen, an all-new hilarious office romantic comedy from New York Times bestselling author Emma Hart is available now!


It’s not you. It’s me.

No, seriously. It is me. Not only does my name literally mean “unfortunate,” but that’s the story of my life.

Everything I touch turns to cr*p. An apartment fire—that I swear I was not responsible for—means I’m living back at home with my s*x-mad parents. Yay, me!

Which is why I need my new job as personal assistant to Cameron Reid to get back on my feet. Three months in this job and I can move back out and, hopefully, remember to turn off my flat iron once in a while.


On paper, my job is easy. Make coffee. Book appointments. Keep everything in order.
Until I walk in on my boss, half-naked, wearing nothing but the kind of tiny white towel that dreams are made of.

Now, nothing is easy—except our mutual attraction. But he’s my boss, and you know what they say about mixing work and pleasure: unless you do p*rn, it’s just not worth it.

Or is it?


Download your copy today!
Add to GoodReads:


My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

There was no doubting that I was blushing this time around. You could fry eggs on my cheeks.

“Eddie! Nobody wants to see those gnashers! They’re bad enough in your mouth when you smile like a serial killer!” Aunt Grace shouted, reaching over with the straw from Mom’s glass of water and prodding the dentures with it.

You mean my tall, thin, blonde-haired, blue-eyed colleague who could charm a condom onto a monk?

I wanted to check him out like a library book.

I was so single that my vagina had pretty much sewn itself up in anticipation of never getting laid again.

She insisted on you coming in so she could check you out and ask you everything including the size of your penis. She said, and I quote, “Never marry a man with a small penis.”

I wore my second-best dress which happened to be a little black number that gave me the confidence of a thousand witches ready to rise against humanity.

You are the dramatic one… You got one small cut from the broken mug this morning and declared that you were bleeding out.

My Review:

While reading this highly amusing and cleverly penned tale, my reading was frequently interrupted with giggle-snorts and full on laughing aloud.  This was my introduction to the highly comedic Emma Hart but I was a quick convert to her cult.  I was totally enamored with her agile wit, snappy writing style, and adorable characters.  Mallory had a sassy and keenly observant nature but was a Calamity Jane type and a hazard to herself as well as objects and others nearby, as she was accident-prone and a trouble magnet.  She also had a wickedly keen sense of humor, a flair for drama, a vivid imagination, a highly eccentric and loquacious family who excelled at squabbling, and a crush on her handsome new boss who appeared more than able to hold his own with her during exchanges of clever quips and verbal sparring. The storylines were highly appealing and pleasantly engaging while the writing was crisp and cunningly comical.  I adored every well-chosen word and grieved reaching the final page.  

Empress DJ

About Emma Hart

Emma Hart is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over thirty novels and has been translated into several different languages. She is a mother, wife, lover of wine, Pink Goddess, and valiant rescuer of wild baby hedgehogs. Emma prides herself on her realistic, snarky smut, with comebacks that would make a PMS-ing teenage girl proud. Yes, really. She's that sarcastic. 


Connect with Emma
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Book Review: Second Chance by L.B. Dunbar

Second Chance
by L.B. Dunbar

Amazon US / UK / CA / AU 

Another romance over 40 from L.B. Dunbar

Can one sexy silver fox face the woman he once left behind but never let go?


A widow at forty-four, her husband left her a letter.

Contact Denton.

Once upon a time, the three of them had been best friends.

Mati Rath isn’t sure she should look back.

Her heart isn’t ready, or so she thinks.


A pleading phone call forces him to make a decision.

I’ll be there.

Yet, he hasn’t been home in twenty-seven years.

Denton Chance isn’t sure he should return.

The past still haunts his heart.

A desire that never left them, along with circumstances beyond their control, brings the past to the present.

Can one sexy silver fox face the woman he once left behind but never let go?

Sometimes love deserves a second chance.

My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

My now best friend Cora tells me I need to get back out there. I don’t know where there is—or where I’d go.

I’m not certain how to categorize what just happen. It was the best non-sex-sex I’ve ever had.
My Review:

I have adored this series and author but I struggled more than a bit with this installment as it was a full-on angst-fest with near constant conflict, neither of which will ever be among my favorite tropes. I seek an emotional balance in my world but find I am willing to put aside my discomfort for exceptional wordsmiths such as the skilled raconteur known as L.B. Dunbar.  The two main characters were each struggling with old regrets as well as recent losses and ongoing grief, as such, the tone was understandably heavy and other than occasional lashings of levity and bone-melting sensual scenes, it remained a chest squeezing read with thirty years worth of secrets and memories, wistful longings, resentments, disappointments, heartbreak, domestic and child abuse, family drama, and the emotional seesaw of their current indecisiveness and ambiance.  Welcome respites from the ratcheting tension were found in the comedic flair of the family drama and observant insights of southern small-town living and pettiness, sassy and clever banter, and the breakneck speed of gossip.  

Empress DJ

 About the Author:

L.B. Dunbar has been accused of having an over-active imagination. To her benefit, this imagination has created over twenty novels, including a small-town world (Sensations Collection), rock star mayhem (Legendary Rock Star series), MMA chaos (Paradise Stories), rom-com for the over forty (The Sex Education of M.E. and After Care), and a suspenseful island for redemption (The Island Duet). Her alter ego, elda lore, creates magical romance through mythological retellings (Modern Descendants). Her life revolves around a deep love of reading about fairy tales, medieval knights, regency debauchery, and strong alpha males. She loves a deep belly laugh, a strong hug, and an occasional margarita. Her other loves include being a mother to four grown children and wife to the one and only.


Books. Kissing included.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Book Review: The Hiding Place by C.J. Tudor

The Hiding Place
by C.J. Tudor

Amazon US / UK / CA / AU / B&N

Hardcover: 288 Pages

Publisher: Crown (February 5, 2019)

The thrilling second novel from the author of The Chalk Man, about a teacher with a hidden agenda who returns to settle scores at a school he once attended, only to uncover a darker secret than he could have imagined.

Joe never wanted to come back to Arnhill. After the way things ended with his old gang–the betrayal, the suicide, the murder–and after what happened when his sister went missing, the last thing he wanted to do was return to his hometown. But Joe doesn’t have a choice. Because judging by what was done to that poor Morton kid, what happened all those years ago to Joe’s sister is happening again. And only Joe knows who is really at fault.

Lying his way into a teaching job at his former high school is the easy part. Facing off with former friends who are none too happy to have him back in town–while avoiding the enemies he’s made in the years since–is tougher. But the hardest part of all will be returning to that abandoned mine where it all went wrong and his life changed forever, and finally confronting the shocking, horrifying truth about Arnhill, his sister, and himself. Because for Joe, the worst moment of his life wasn’t the day his sister went missing.

It was the day she came back.

With the same virtuosic command of character and pacing she displayed in The Chalk Man, C. J. Tudor has once again crafted an extraordinary novel that brilliantly blends harrowing psychological suspense, a devilishly puzzling mystery, and enough shocks and thrills to satisfy even the most seasoned reader.

“Some writers have it, and some don’t. CJ Tudor has it big time – The Hiding Place is terrific in every way.” –LEE CHILD

“With The Hiding Place, CJ Tudor has proven that she is a true master at creating perfectly dark, highly propulsive, and tightly coiled mysteries that are utterly impossible to put down. From page one, the reader is pulled in with a gathering sense of dread, and taken on an addictive, thrilling ride to the very last page.” –AIMEE MOLLOY, New York Times Bestselling author of The Perfect Mother

My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

Gloria might look like a delicate china doll. But the only doll she has anything in common with is Chucky.

Simon is a bloody awful teacher, but one thing he excels at is getting under other people’s skin. If you have an Achilles’ heel, he’ll find it and nip at it like a starving terrier.

We’re all still children inside. The same fears, the same joys. We just get taller, and better at hiding things.

There are no such things as white lies. Lies are never black or white. Only gray. A fog obscuring the truth. Sometimes so thick we can barely see it ourselves.

… something changed in her, that night, when we went down there. Maybe something changed in all of us. Maybe guilt and regret weren’t the only things we brought back.

My Review:

The Hiding Place was ingeniously crafted, wickedly paced, and brilliantly executed.  I cannot recall the last time I was so raptly attentive or willingly read anything so mesmerizingly creepy.  I tumbled right into this complex and twisted tale of deceit, regrets, and dark humor.  It was chillingly realistic.  I was taut with tension, hair sticking straight up, shoulders in my ears, and chewing my fingers; yet I didn’t dare put my Kindle down for fear of what would happen to the character next if I abandoned him to his own devices.  The storylines were cleverly contrived and the writing was whip-smart and loaded with clever snark while it beckoned unremittingly with ruthless intrigue and cunning misdirections. 

I was right there beside the irreverently flippant and rabidly waspish Joe the entire time - sometimes I was on his shoulder, other times I was behind his eyes and rattling around in his cranium.  Ms. Tudor’s sharply honed words kept me present, fully tethered, and constantly on edge.  I smelled the vile dankness of evil, heard the skittering of the hoards of insects, and felt his deep desperation and loathing as well as more than a few icy prickles of fear and anxiety.  I was so fully engaged I even experienced a sense of claustrophobia while he was crawling through the dark tunnels. 

After reading The Chalk Man, I postulated the hypothesis of C.J. Tudor being an evil genius; a theory she has more than proven. Luckily for us, in addition to her gifted intellect she also possesses exceptionally strong word voodoo, and I for one, cannot get enough of it. 

Empress DJ

About the Author:

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C. J. TUDOR is the author of The Chalk Man, and lives in Nottingham, England, with her partner and three-year-old daughter. Over the years she has worked as a copywriter, television presenter, voice-over, and dog walker. She is now thrilled to be able to write full-time and doesn’t miss chasing wet dogs through muddy fields all that much.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Book Review: The Way You Love Me (Angel Falls #2) by Miranda Liasson 

The Way You Love Me
(Angel Falls #2)
by Miranda Liasson

Amazon US / UK / CA / AU 
B&N / iBooks / Kobo / GPlay

"Emotional, heartwarming romance you can't put down."-- Lori Wilde, New York Times bestselling author on Then There Was You

A heartwarming story about love, family, and taking risks that matter

Gabby Langdon has always tried to make people happy. She even went to law school to please her father, and now she's a highly successful-albeit bored-attorney. But Gabby secretly dreams of being a writer, so for once she does something for herself-she signs up for a writing class taught by best-selling novelist Caden Marshall. There's only one problem: her brooding, sexy professor is a distraction she can't afford if she's finally going to get the life she truly wants.

Recently divorced and suffering from the world's worst case of writer's block, Caden is in Angel Falls to get his life back on track. He's focused on teaching and providing a stable and loving home for his young daughter, Ava. The last thing he needs is to jeopardize his new job, which means keeping plenty of distance between himself and his talented new student-no matter how tempted he is by Gabby's beauty, kind heart, or the sparks that fly whenever they're together. 

Angel Falls series:
Then There Was You
The Way You Love Me

My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

"I haven’t been out in the sun much this summer, Nonna. But now that I’m partner, I’ll get some color.” She was lying through her teeth. She might never see the light of day again.

“When you’re eighty-nine years old,” Nonna said, “you can have all the donuts you want.” “Aren’t you, like, only eighty, Nonna?” Rafe asked. “I don’t know, but I’m old enough to have another donut if I want one.” … Nonna licked some cream off her thumb. “Don’t ever let anyone tell you not to eat donuts,”

As he leaned toward her, she couldn’t help noticing that he smelled delicious, like some spicy man soap that made her want to sneak into his bathroom and inhale the bar.

Cade gave his dad a look. The water under their combined bridges could drown someone.

My Review:

I am grooving on this Angel Falls series, The Way You Love Me was another delightfully satisfying and disarming read that would be easy to follow regardless of whether the first book was read or not, although I can highly recommend and enjoyed reading Then There Was You as well.  I am always struck by the agile and insightful quality of Ms. Liasson’s writing.  Her storytelling is so smooth, lushly described, and easy to follow that it rolls seamlessly with keen visuals through my gray matter.  She deftly tucks in clever levity, thoughtful details, and other extra special touches that elevate the caliber from good to exceptional while providing additional texture and vibrancy to her characters as well as a highly pleasurable reading experience.  And I adored these enticing characters as much as I did their engaging storylines.  I particularly enjoyed the creativity of the full grovel experience and the amusing unpredictability of the elderly Nonna.        

Empress DJ

Author Bio:

Miranda Liasson loves to write stories about everyday people who find love despite themselves because there’s nothing like a great love story. And if there are a few laughs along the way, even better! She’s a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart winner and an Amazon bestselling author whose heartwarming and humorous small–town romances have won accolades such as the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence and have been Harlequin Junkie and Night Owl Reviews Top Picks.

Connect with Miranda: 

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon | Newsletter | Bookbub | Pinterest | Blog

Book Review: One Hundred Lifetimes (An Aspen Cove Romance Book 7) by Kelly Collins

One Hundred Lifetimes(An Aspen Cove Romance Book 7)by Kelly Collins

Amazon US / UK / AU / CA  / B&N

Kelly Collins invites you back to Aspen Cove, the charming mountain town where dreams never die and love lives on forever... 

Poppy Dawson has spent her entire life wanting what she can’t have—namely Mark Bancroft, Aspen Cove’s deputy sheriff. Growing up the daughter of a cattle rancher, there was no time for silly things such as love. But after watching her terminally ill mother wither, Poppy realizes that life is not only unpredictable, it’s short. She has to decide if she’ll settle for the life laid out for her or the life she desires. 

Abandoned by his no-good father at the age of eight, Mark Bancroft has spent over twenty years trying to redeem his family name. He’s been a good man. An honest man who’s been in love with Poppy Dawson ever since he can remember. But when his father stole everything from the Dawson’s and left town, he took Mark and Poppy’s future with him. Done carrying the burden of his father’s crimes, Mark sets out to win her heart, but first, he must win her father’s respect.
Can a decades’ old family feud be ended for love? Find out in One Hundred Lifetimes. 

My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

Some girls were always a bridesmaid and never a bride. Poppy had never been either.

She was sadly inexperienced when it came to all things men. Her knowledge about relationships came from the Hallmark Channel or the books she managed to pick up on her occasional trips to Copper Creek.

“I think it would look great. That and flower boxes and flower beds. A picket fence out front to keep your litter of children under control,” she teased. He jingled the cuffs he’d placed back on his belt. “I’ve got cuffs. Or we could buy lots of duct tape and rope.”

I’m mortified. Even the damn chickens get more action than me, and there’s only one rooster.

… she liked to chat with Mark, who was too kind to shut her up and leave. It didn’t hurt that he was easy on the eyes. Mrs. Brown was old, she wasn’t dead.

At some point, you make your own family. If people didn’t move on from their parents, no one would have populated the world. Or everyone would be inbred with three eyes and two noses.

My Review:

This was a fun read that was equal parts humor, romance, and family drama.  Kelly Collins expertly captured the small town feel and tendencies of eccentric characters, the wildfire speed of gossip, long memories, and narrow thinking; as well as the positive aspects of community cohesiveness and support such as delivering food and assistance in times of loss.  Poppy and Mark were endearing and lovable characters but her father was an odious piece of work, he was a selfish and bitter jackass on a good day and totally vile or repugnant when riled.  He was an unpleasant reminder of what I so merrily moved away from when I last glimpsed the small town of my youth in the dust from my rear view mirror.  I always get a kick out of Ms. Collins’ personal style of pithy humor, which she so deftly tucks into her sweet and steamy tales.  Her books are pleasantly entertaining and easy to follow.  While the appealing stories easily interconnect and provide tasty updates on the earlier featured characters, each book stands strong on their own while keeping your appetite teased and a bit hungry for more. 

Empress DJ


Kelly Collins writes with the intention of keeping the love alive.

Always a romantic, she is inspired by real-time events mixed with a dose of fiction. She encourages her readers to reach the happily ever after but bask in the afterglow of the perfectly imperfect love.

Kelly lives in Colorado with her husband of twenty-five years. She loves hockey, shiny objects and has a new-found appreciation for green smoothies.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Book Review: Fenella’s Fabulous Fountain Fondue (Scott Family Short Stories #3) by Amanda Paull

Fenella’s Fabulous Fountain Fondue

(Scott Family Short Stories #3)

by Amanda Paull

 Amazon US / UK / AU / CAB&N  

It’s the day of the party. Laura and Ben are in love. But could a posh marshmallow put the kibosh on their relationship?

They’ve survived Scott Family mayhem twice so far, and now Laura and Ben’s relationship is rock solid. They are having a wonderful time at the Grand Hotel, relaxing in the spa and putting the final touches to Ben’s mother’s 85th birthday party preparations. It’s all going to plan.

Fenella loves her party. The two families get along fabulously. It’s a marvelous do. What could possibly go wrong?

Download the third Scott Family Short Story today to discover whether the Scotts have a cheeky little surprise of their own for long-suffering Ben and Laura.

My Rating:

Favorite Quote:

Well, at least my family aren’t snobs. You wouldn’t find any of them insisting on stupid posh marshmallows from Snootytoff and Stuck-Upingtons… Anyway, who calls their mother “Mother” for goodness sake? You sound like Norman Bates in Psycho. Why don’t you just don a shawl and one of “Mother’s” dresses and get into her highfalutin chair?

My Review:

The cyclone of chaos known as the family Scott are at it again, and their shamelessly unrepentant and uncouth behavior has reached a dangerous pitch which may just be the undoing of Laura and Ben’s romance.  Exposing her patient and kind boyfriend to her witless and asinine family seems like cruel and unusual punishment for the gentle and sweet man, he should be running for the hills.  I adore Ms. Paull’s clever sense of humor and comedic storytelling.  

Empress DJ

About the Author

 Amanda Paull is a writer of humorous romantic fiction. She lives in the North East of England with her husband and works in the public sector. The inspiration for her stories comes from real life, which she tries to show the funnier side of by embellishing to the hilt.

Amanda's Website:

Social Media Links – Twitter: