Thursday, June 30, 2022

Little Sister by Gytha Lodge

Why would you harm your little sister? 

Keely and her sister were in foster care since their mother died and both left the care home they were in without permission, but Keely is the only one who makes it into the public eye and tells the police her story.

Where is her sister Nina? 

Keely won’t tell the police why Nina wasn’t with her, but seeing Keely covered in blood made DCI Jonah Sheens and his team know it is urgent to find her as soon as possible. 

The team was definitely challenged as Keely was hinting at clues to her sister's whereabouts as she told her story about their days in foster homes and as the team tried to interpret and figure out the clues they knew Keely was weaving into the story.

Her story is chilling, and her personality is frightening.  

She grins when she sees the team thinking they have figured out a clue, and she enjoys seeing that her tricks worked to lead them in the wrong direction.  

Keely is a tough one...manipulative, angry, unlikeable, brilliant, and cruel.

The reader is frustrated along with the police team as they try to figure things out and figure out where her sister is before it is too late.

Those readers who
“really” enjoy guessing will not want to miss this twisty, creative read.

Ms. Lodge brilliantly kept us at bay and created another amazing thriller.  5/5

**Be aware that child abuse is part of the story line**

This book was given to me by the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Spotlight of The Precious Jules by Shawn Nocher



Shawn Nocher’s latest novel THE PRECIOUS JULES is a story about family bonds, heart breaking decisions, and struggling to do what is right amidst great challenges. 


Ella Jules isn’t like her other siblings. 
After her family made the difficult decision to commit her to Beechwood Institute, a home for housing mentally challenged individuals, at eight years old, Ella’s future is no longer in her own hands. 
Years later when Beechwood Institution decides to close its doors Ella’s parents are asking for her to return back home to live with them.
This request not only brings up lingering trauma to the other five Jules children but brings distress to Lynetta, Ella’s caretaker for the past several decades, who loves Ella. 

With the intent to convince their parents against this decision, the five Jules children pack their bags and head home to where the memories of Ella lie.
With its flawed characters and hidden secrets, THE PRECIOUS JULES will have you questioning what selfishness and selflessness looks like amidst difficult situations. 



Shawn Nocher (pronounced No-Shay) is a mentee of Michael Glaser, Elise Levine, William Black, and Richard Bausch. Shawn Nocher's writing has appeared in Newsweek, Electric Literature, Writer’s Digest, SmokeLong Quarterly, Pithead Chapel, and Glimmer Train
She graduated with an MA in writing from Johns Hopkins and is currently teaching in their graduate program. A Hand To Hold In Deep Water, her debut novel published in 2021, and her second novel, The Precious Jules, will be published by Blackstone in June 2022.


Tuesday, June 28, 2022

The Second Husband by Kate White

What could have caused the police to re-open the cold murder case of Emma's husband?  She was cleared as a suspect back then.

Did she marry again too soon afterward his passing?

Emma knows she had wished something would happen to her mostly abusive husband, but no one must know that.  She did a pretty good job of faking her sorrow when he died.

Now that she was married to a successful man and a success herself, what could possibly have made them re-open the case? 

Does Emma know something she doesn’t want the investigators to know?  Or does someone else know something that she isn’t aware of?

Who can she trust to know her true feelings?

But is there really anything else to tell?

Who is the person behind the murder?  There are many characters it could be.

Those are the questions that make readers of THE SECOND HUSBAND curious and turning the pages.

Ms. White keeps you guessing and wondering who the murderer is in this marvelous, twisty, hard-to-put-down gem. 5/5

This book was given to me as a PDF by Wunderkind-PR for an honest review.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Spotlight of Rebecca of Salerno by Esther Erman


Historical mystery picks up where Ivanhoe left off 200 years ago.

A unique extension of a literary classic, author Esther Erman has blended historical romance and mystery in her new novel, Rebecca of Salerno: A Novel of Rogue Crusaders, a Jewish Female Physician, and a Murder.

Inspired by the 1820 novel Ivanhoe, which introduced us to the legend of Robin Hood through the side character of Locksley, Erman highlights Rebecca from the novel.

Rebecca shines with adventure and female empowerment as a beautiful, brilliant, and brave jewish woman, who after falling deeply in love with a man she couldn’t marry, vowed to stay single and have a career as a healer.

At the time, none of this was normal for a jewish woman.

(She Writes Press, August 2, 2022) 



With grace and verve, Esther Erman revives the character of Rebecca of Ivanhoe fame, bringing that valiant and resourceful heroine to Salerno. Trained as a physician in this medieval oasis of tolerance and learning, Rebecca hopes to leave her memories of England behind. However, embroiled in an attempt save a rabbi falsely accused of murdering a Crusader, she once again learns how expendable her fellow Jews are when faced with antisemitic sentiment.”– Michelle Cameron, award-winning author of The Fruit of Her Hands and Beyond the Ghetto Gates

“In Rebecca of Salerno, Erman creates a rich historical tapestry rife with fascinating characters and an intriguing, page-turning story. Readers will be dazzled by the descriptions of life and school in medieval Salerno and fall in love with the smart, passionate Rebecca as she pursues her dreams—and justice—in this satisfying mystery.”– Hannah Jayne, Best Selling Author of Truly, Madly, Deadly and The Girl in the Headlines

“Ms Erman writes a compelling story of a passionate Jewish heroine solving a murder mystery in the brutal setting of the Crusades. The depth of her knowledge of the customs and language of this period is unsurpassed. A book to be read with relish by lovers of historical fiction.”– Neil Kaplan, Author - Acquiring Polish Citizenship by Descent

“...The reader discovers a strong, brave woman who, while pursuing a path to become a healer in the face of great odds, holds on tenaciously to basic Jewish values like the pursuit of justice. How her values are tested is a constant theme in the narrative. We are privy not only to Rebecca’s actions and words but to her thoughts and inner struggles as well. This is a compelling story.”– Rabbi Sheldon Lewis, author of Torah Of Reconciliation and Letters Home: A Jewish Chaplain's Vietnam Memoir

“Rebecca of Salerno gives voice to one of literature’s overlooked heroines, the courageous, intelligent, big-hearted Rebecca of Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe.  In telling Rebecca’s story, Esther Erman deftly weaves a wealth of historical detail about the lives of Jewish women in medieval Europe into a gripping, fast-paced tale of vengeance, love, and healing… Erman’s masterful achievement left me feeling moved and inspired.”– Professor Juliet Shields, Dept. of Humanities, Northumbria University, author of Nation and Migration

“...Erman has produced a superb work of historical fiction. It is everything the genre begs for: romance, intrigue, and a captivating mystery…Rebecca of Salerno is not only an enjoyable read, it is a history lesson for Jews and gentiles alike.”– Sara Zeff Geber, PhD, Free-lance author


Broken-hearted after fleeing England and her ill-fated love for the Christian knight Ivanhoe, Rebecca discovers the medical school in Salerno, where Jews, Christians, and Moslems—men and women—can study together. 

Still in thrall to Ivanhoe, she resists traditional and societal demands on women to wed and bear children, instead building her life as a physician. 

But the dawn of the thirteenth century brought political changes that threatened the security of Jewish life in the Kingdom of Sicily.

When a rabbi is falsely accused of murdering a crusader, Rebecca and Rafael, the man who loves her, throw themselves into pursuing justice and protecting their community.



Like her heroine, Rebecca, Esther Erman was a refugee. A naturalized citizen, she early developed a passion for language, which led to her earning a doctorate in language education, writing her dissertation about the Yiddish language, and working with international students on many levels.

A multi-published author, Esther now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband. 

When they’re not traveling—especially to be with family in other parts of the US and in England—she loves to bake, quilt, and add to her monumental book collection. 

Find out more about them at 


Mailbox Monday - 6/27/2022


Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week.


Warning:  Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists.


Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia @A Girl and Her Books, has a permanent home now at  MAILBOX MONDAY.


Here is a shout out to the administrators:

Velvet @ vvb32reads

Serena @ Savvy Verse and Wit

Martha @ Reviews By Martha’s Bookshelf


THANKS to everyone for keeping Mailbox Monday alive.



I hope you had a good mailbox.


On Monday, June 20, I received:

1.  THE WAYS WE HIDE by Kristina McMorris, courtesy of Sourcebooks Landmark and NetGalley.


On Tuesday, June 21, I received:

1.  KILLER STORY by Matt Witten, courtesy of Oceanview Publishing and NetGalley.


2.  THE PERSONAL ASSISTANT by Kimberly Belle, courtesy of Harlequin and NetGalley.


On Thursday, June 23, I received:

1.  THE PRISONER by B. A. Paris, courtesy of Kejana Ayala of St. Martins and NetGalley.


On Sunday, June 26, I received:

1.  SHE'S MISSING by K. E. Heaton, courtesy of the author and Amazon.

2.  UNDER A VEILED MOON by Karen Odden, courtesy of the author and NetGalley.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Featuring The Lost of Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister

Food, family, relationships, recipes....a wonderful combination, and a marvelously wonderful book...REVIEW HERE.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Spotlight and Interview of Belinda by Mark Zvonkovic



I couldn't put it down!" - Jenn Bouchard, author of FIRST COURSE
“Zvonkovic’s third novel is a compelling legal drama with heart, driven by character and offering complex corporate scheming and suspense. In Belinda, Zvonkovic layers in the tension and twists that will keep even a casual legal thriller reader’s interest piqued.” —BookLife Reviews
“When the past bleeds into the present, a lawyer and an ex-spy reunite, risking the unknown in this entertaining romantic thriller."—Clarion Reviews
“5 STARS! Belinda is a well-written, fun, and thrilling read which I read in one sitting, and yes, it's worth it!”—NetGalley Reviewer 
“A spy thriller meets legal fiction meets romance novel.” — Kirkus Reviews


Zvonkovic’s third novel is a compelling legal drama, driven by character and offering complex corporate scheming and suspense.

Belinda Larkin is married to her career, but after thirty years of work her firm is requesting that she retire.

When she gets a call from a former law partner and lover Jay Jackson, she finds herself whisked away to his beach house on
the Mexican-California border.

Unaware that her lover’s past is catching up to him, Belinda is thrown into the center of a tense legal battle between corrupt lawyers that will turn everything she knows about herself and Jay on its head.

Zvonkovic writes with a strong sense of character, including glimmering moments with punchy dialogue and a wonderfully
tumultuous reunion between Jay and Belinda, while managing to keep the various threads of the story neatly entwined and examining pressing themes of corruption, justice, and what a life adds up to.

There’s lots of heart, along with the suspense, as Belinda faces hard choices–and the possible rekindling of romance. The choice to jump between time periods and locales (one chapter is set in 2017 in California, the next in 2015 in France) makes for a sometimes jarring experience, as the suspense gets slightly derailed as the reader reorients themselves to each setting.

Despite a slow build-up, Zvokonvic layers in the tension and twists that will keep even a casual legal thriller reader’s
interest piqued.

However, an adolescent preoccupation with his female characters’ breasts proves distracting, with an unflattering description of Belinda’s passage into old age toward the end of the novel feeling unsympathetic, especially after readers have spent some 200 pages with her.

Still, Zvokonvic endeavors to capture what life in a law firm might be like for a powerful woman, noting “The men at her firm weren’t lecherous, but she often felt her body was on display” and other insights that enrich this thriller.

Takeaway: A compelling legal drama with both heart and suspense.

"BELINDA captures characters on the edges of uneasiness as they contemplate their next steps and life choices. 


Corruption and bad behavior are rampant, but there is also redemption through the possibility of romance once thought to be lost forever.


With unexpected shocks and twists, BELINDA captivates and thrills. 



Mark Zvonkovic is a writer who lives in Rosarito Beach, Baja California Mexico, with his wife Nancy and their two dogs Finn and Cooper. 
He has written three novels, and he also writes book reviews and essays that appear in online publications. 
Before retiring to Mexico, Mark practiced law for thirty-five years at three multinational law firms in Houston, Texas and New York City.
He attended college at Southern Methodist University and Boston University, and his law degree is from SMU School of Law. 
Mark grew up as an oil company brat and lived in Latin America, Texas, and New York.



1.    What was the inspiration for this book?
Character development is a focus of all of my writing. I think every person is a story of sorts, and I enjoy telling the story. I practiced law for thirty five years so I had a lot of material to use in the creation of the stories of the characters in Belinda. It was like combining all the ingredients in a very complicated recipe.

2.    And what about Belinda Larkin? Is there a real life version of her?
Oh no! She is an amalgam of many peoples I’ve known, some for many years and some only casually. Many of them weren’t even lawyers. But that’s how all of my characters are created. They start as fused together impressions and evolve with their story into people. And, of course, sometimes creative license leads to exaggeration. I mean, could a man, even a lawyer, be as entirely despicable as Patrick Brashner? But Belinda Larkin is a modern woman who is not going to make a life transition on account of anyone telling her what to do.

3.    How long did it take you to write Belinda?
A little more than two years. But I was wading my way through being a recovering lawyer during that time. I worked with an excellent editor for most of that time. At one point the novel was twice as long as it turned out. That was how I learned about the principal characters, by writing much more background material about them than was needed in the end.

4.    Where can readers find out more about you?
Information about me and my earlier novels can be found at The site also contains book reviews I have written, most of which have been published in Midwest Book Review. I have an author’s page on Facebook and also one on Goodreads.

5.    How did your past as a lawyer affect your writing of Belinda?
Primarily it was a hindrance. My editor said more times than I can remember, Stop Writing Like a Lawyer. Exactitude was definitely not my friend. It wasn’t always necessary to say how many coffee spoons were on the table. And I certainly didn’t approach it like I was writing a contract. One thing I never did as a lawyer was put my head back, close my eyes, and imagine dialogue. Perhaps, if I had, I might have been a better negotiator?

6.    What do you like most about your novels?
What keeps me writing is my love of making up characters that I hope readers will connect with. I want my characters, like Belinda Larkin, Raymond Hatcher and Larry Brown in my three novels, to move readers and get invested in what they think and feel. It’s a reason why some of these characters appear in several novels. None of the novels is meant to be a sequel of another, except to the extent that a reader is granted access to more about the lives of the characters who reappear.

7. Do you have a favorite character?
My favorite character changes when my curiosity leads me back to their personalities and life events. Obviously, Raymond Hatcher is the one I’ve thought about the most. He is the common element across the novels. But I’ve been thinking a lot about Larry Brown lately, as well as Vera, the young Croatian woman who was Raymond’s first love. In everybody’s life feelings and past events come to the surface, and the insights that accompany them can be both exhilarating and painful.