Sunday, August 24, 2014

Miranda Warning (A Murder in the Mountains Book 1)~ Heather Day Gilbert


  • Series: A Murder in the Mountains Novel
  • Paperback: 364 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (May 27, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1499154879
  • ISBN-13: 978-1499154870

This book is also available as an ebook.



Child of the Appalachian mountains, Tess Spencer has experienced more than her share of heartache. The Glock-wielding, knife-carrying housewife knows how to survive whatever life throws at her. But when an anonymous warning note shows up in her best friend Miranda’s mailbox—a note written in a dead woman’s handwriting—Tess quickly discovers that ghosts are alive and well in Buckneck, West Virginia. Hot on a cold trail, she must use limited clues and her keen insight into human nature to unmask the killer...or the next victim might be Tess herself. Tinged with the supernatural and overshadowed by the mountains' lush, protective presence, this twisting psychological mystery is the first in A Murder in the Mountains series.

My take on this book:
Miranda Warning by Heather Day Gilbert provides more twists and turns than the winding country roads of West Virginia which is the setting for this suspense filled, page turning mystery. Several of the residents of the tiny town of Buckneck, WV hold more than a few secrets. A suicide that happened forty years ago is a story in itself, but when Tess Spencer's best friend Miranda gets a letter from the deceased woman one can't help but wonder what is going on! Miranda is dating the deceased woman's husband and plans to marry him. Tess isn't going to let any harm come to her friend and decides to check into a few things, soon though she finds herself in the middle of a forty year old mystery, that someone wants left buried!  It doesn't take long for the action to rev up and Tess finds herself on the bad end of a few threats herself. Tess wants to get to the bottom of the decades old lies that surround the mystery she is trying to solve. But the more clues she uncovers the more questions she has. As the web of deceit starts to unravel Tess finds her own life on the line!


Miranda Warning is a captivating read that grabs you by the hand and jerks you along for a suspense filled page turner that provides more questions than answers as the plot unfolds!  Heather Day Gilbert weaves a story that shifts from past to present, and honestly had me wondering a few times whether the past story was being shared by a ghost or a  person. It was so well done that I found myself believing the web of deceit that the character wanted everyone to believe. An intricately woven plot kept revealing bits of the puzzle while continuing to build the suspense and danger . On more than one occasion I would think I knew what might be coming next only to be totally blindsided as the author headed in another direction. As all of the pieces of the mystery fall together Ms. Gilbert provides one final shocker at the end that felt right even though it was the last thing I expected. Along with a page turning plot I found the characters to be very well fleshed, it was interesting to learn about Tess and where she came from. Thomas and Tess were perfect for each other, the author certainly captured the realism of marriage, the good and bad, pregnancy hormones and all! I found myself laughing at them on more than one occasion  but honestly it was endearing to see how the entire Spencer family interacted. More than a few interesting secondary characters kept the plot from lagging. It's always a joy to read a book that takes place in my home state, it was fun to recognize some of the places that she mentioned in her story. The spiritual threads that are woven into the story had some of the characters questioning their faith,while others find their way back to what they believe. Miranda Warning was a page turner for me, and I can only hope Heather Day Gilbert is working on the next installment in the Murder in the Mountains Series!

Reviewed for Readersfavorite.com

Willow Springs ~ Carolyn Steele




  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc. (August 12, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1462114571
  • ISBN-13: 978-1462114573



This book is also available as an ebook.






 August 10, 2014

Husbands. Crissa had to suppress a shudder at the thought. If I had wanted a husband, I would have stayed in Boston. Indeed, Crissa considered Willow Springs to be the nearest thing to her idea of purgatory. She certainly did not plan to stay here long.

Swedish immigrant Crissa Engleson fled Boston hoping to start a new life, unknown and unencumbered, on the American frontier. The quiet gold mining town of Willow Springs in the Utah desert seemed the perfect spot—until the intrigue of her past and rivalries of the town’s leading families enveloped her.

Unaware that a relentless bounty hunter is pursuing her, Crissa falls in love with Drake Adams, a handsome Pony Express rider and the son of an influential mine owner. While Drake returns Crissa’s interest, their courtship is thwarted by the pursuit of one of Drake’s rivals, who may be motivated more by malice than by love.

To realize her dreams, Crissa must confront her painful past and fight for her future head-on.

My take on this book:
The cover of Willow Springs certainly captured my eye, it's beautiful, and the historical setting had me anxious to read Willow Springs. Well I will say I was pleasantly surprised by the caliber of this book. The writing was very descriptive, creating strong characters, some good others bad, and some were a bit of both if that makes sense. The  plot grabbed me from the beginning with plenty of twists, a bit of suspense and while I knew there would be a romance, I will say the story was far from  predictable. I really found myself liking the character of Crissa. Instead of learning about her past in the beginning it is slowly revealed which kept me riveted  but also made me want everything to work out for her. The relationship that I hoped would develop with Drake kept me guessing, and of course with another man interested in her added another layer to the story.
Well drawn  characters and a fast paced plot with plenty of twists along with a great blending of  suspense and tension made this a book that I couldn't put down once I started reading it. I will say the author touches on a few tough subjects such as rape and prostitution but handles them very well, while maintaining a good clean read. Anyone who enjoys historical romance really should give Willow Springs a try. 

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review.


CarolynSteele_AuthorAbout the author: 
Born and raised in Utah, Carolyn Steele was introduced to western novels at a very young age by her grandfather, the son of a gold miner. She has been writing technical and marketing communications for most of her adult life. Her nonfiction articles have appeared in numerous national magazines. She earned her undergraduate degree in Communications from the University of Utah. Married and living in Salt Lake City, Utah, Carolyn loves researching obscure history then weaving it into stories. She also enjoys family dinners with her children and grandchildren, photography, travel, golf, reading, and all forms of needlework.  
Visit Ms. Steele at her website: http://www.carolyn-steele.com/ Facebook/ Twitter/ 


Follow along on the Cedar Fort Tour to read what others are saying about Willow Springs.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Gabe Kincaid ~ Caroline Clemmons ~ Blog tour with review and giveaway

  • Series: The Kincaids
  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (April 16, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1496062485
  • ISBN-13: 978-1496062482


This book is also available as an ebook.




Gabe Kincaid has reasons to hate lies and those who tell them. He moved from Austin to Kincaid Springs and joined his great uncle’s law firm. Gabe believes he’s happy and pushes aside those moments of loneliness, of wishing for more. He strongly believes in the law, in justice, and obeying rules. Doing what’s right is fulfilling, isn’t it? Then why is he so fascinated with a circus fortuneteller who spins tales faster than a cowboy whirls his lariat? 


Katie Worthington poses as Dorothy Duncan in a small-time circus. If she isn’t behind the scenes mending costumes or in the circus kitchen, she’s disguised as the fortuneteller, Maharani Shimza, Mystic of the East. Even so, she worries about being killed by the men pursuing her. She fears a brawl at her fortune telling tent that sends her into the Kincaid’s protective custody will end with her exposure and death. Then, a death at the circus implicates her. How can she escape when that attorney pops up every time she turns around?    

Will Gabe and Katie let the sparks between them ignite into a passionate romance or will her secrets destroy their chance at a happily ever after?

My take on this book:
As a fan of historical romance I am always looking for my next good read and Gabe Kincaid fit the bill perfectly! A fast paced plot from the beginning that packs plenty of twists kept me reading! Katie Worthington comes from a family of influence, but when her grandfather is murdered she finds herself on the run to save her own life. She changes her name and joins up with the circus, and it doesn't take long before she finds herself working as a fortune teller!  The circus is the perfect place to hide, but something happens that jeopardizes her cover. Gabe Kincaid is a lawyer who wants to help her, but knows she is hiding something. That doesn't stop the feelings from sparking between the pair though!

Once I started reading this book I couldn't put it down. I was immediately drawn into Katie's story and wanted the best for her. The circus was an interesting twist, allowing the readers to meet some interesting characters.Gabe was a wonderful character, upstanding and handsome what's not to love with him! Ms. Clemmons  knows how to weave mystery, romance and suspense together to make a page turning plot that held my attention to the final page! While this is the fourth book in The Kincaid series it can easily be read as a stand alone work, I hadn't read any of the previous books and had no problems being swept up in the story. That said I enjoyed this fast paced story so much that I intend to go back and read the first three books in the series!

Read an excerpt:

The sheriff dropped into his chair and threw his hat on his desk. “I hate the circus.” He met the woman’s glare. “Not the people in it, mind, but their appearance in town makes normal folks do crazy things.” He pointed at the three young men. “Your parents are gonna be mighty mad at you three. No madder than I am, but I hope the father of each of you busts your hide.”


He opened his desk drawer and took out paper. After dipping his pen in the inkpot, he wrote “July 16, 1888” at the top of the sheet. “Start with you, young lady. I want your name and place of residence.”

She flashed a haughty look. “I’m Maharani Shimza, Mystic of the East and fortune teller.” With a theatrical gesture, she posed with one hand in the air. “I am a gypsy queen and live with the circus people. Shall I tell your fortune, sheriff?”

He leveled a gaze at her. “If you’re a gypsy queen, I’m Queen Victoria. Real name and place of permanent residence.”

Resignation replaced her haughtiness. “I’m Dorothy Duncan from Boston, Massachusetts.”

Gabe believed she lied. She had a deep Southern accent. He’d place her in Georgia or South Carolina.

Ben wrote her information on the paper. “How long have you been with the circus?”

“Two years, almost. And I do live with the circus.”

“Nearest relative?”

Absolute fear shone from her eyes. “I’m an orphan.”

Gabe figured there was an interesting story there and one she didn’t want to share. A simple question from a sheriff shouldn’t create that kind of reaction. Interesting.

About the author:
Caroline Clemmons is an Amazon bestselling author of historical and contemporary western romances whose books have garnered numerous awards. Her latest release is GABE KINCAID, book four of her popular Kincaid series. A frequent speaker at conferences and seminars, she has taught workshops on characterization, point of view, and layering a novel. 

Caroline is a member of Romance Writers of America and the Romance Writers chapters of Yellow Rose, From The Heart, and Hearts Through History. Her latest publications include the acclaimed historical Men of Stone Mountain series: BRAZOS BRIDE, HIGH STAKES BRIDE, and BLUEBONNET BRIDE and the audio books of BRAZOS BRIDE and HIGH STAKES BRIDE. 

Caroline and her husband live in the heart of Texas cowboy country with their menagerie of rescued pets. Prior to writing full time, her jobs included stay-at-home mom (her favorite), secretary, newspaper reporter and featured columnist, assistant to the managing editor of a psychology journal, bookkeeper for the local tax assessor and—for a short and fun time—an  antique dealer. When she’s not indulging her passion for writing, Caroline enjoys reading, travel, antiquing, genealogy, painting, and getting together with family and friends. 

Find her on her blog: http://carolineclemmons.blogspot.com/

website:http://www.carolineclemmons.com/

 Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/authorcarolineclemmons

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/carolinclemmons

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/Caroline_Clemmons

Google+:  https://plus.google.com/+CarolineClemmons/posts

WattPad: http://www.wattpad.com/user/CClemmons?utm_source=wp_widget

Shelfari:http://www.shelfari.com/caroline_clemmons 

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/caroclemmons/

Caroline will be awarding a $25 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $10 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn host.

Follow along on the tour to read what others are saying about Gabe Kincaid!



August 11: Love Saves the World
August 12: Kahleena MacCarthy
August 12: Room With Books
August 13: Nancy Adams
August 14: Imagine a World
August 15: Bunny's Review
August 18: 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, and Sissy, Too!
August 19: Queen of All She Reads
August 20: Long and Short Reviews
August 21: Punya Reviews...
August 22: WV Stitcher
August 25: Musings of a Writer
August 26: Laurie's Thoughts and Reviews
August 27: BookSkater
August 28: Ari Reads
August 29: Booklover Sue


Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Christian Survival Guide by Ed Cyzewski


  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Kregel Publications (June 23, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0825443318
  • ISBN-13: 978-0825443312






No One Plans to Lose Their Faith
We all think we’ll be the kind of Christian who follows the straight and narrow, ending our days with the relief of knowing we were ultimately good and faithful servants. The truth is, many of us struggle with our faith. Some even fall away from their faith.
What enables some to survive as Christians when so many others have faltered?
Most importantly, how can followers of Jesus keep the faith in the midst of today’s most pressing questions?
A Christian Survival Guide provides a lifeline for followers of Jesus who are tired of pat answers but need a solid foundation for their faith. Written in a conversational style, this book takes on big questions without getting bogged down in big theological terms.
“Cyzewski approaches each topic with candor, sharing stories that make it easy to relate to the topic at hand. While many of the topics are complex, he provides a point of entry into each and raises thoughtful questions about how much importance Christians can assign to aspects of the discussion…. What emerges… is an accessible and thoughtful work that is well suited to those new to Christian faith and practice.”
Publisher’s Weekly, May 2014
My take on this book:
A Christian Survival Guide is a thought provoking look at several topics that many Christians ~ and non Christians for that matter grapple with, such as prayer, faith,hell, and whether the Bible is real.Written in a down to earth easy to digest style that allows for ease of understanding, while providing useful information that just might help guide someone toward the answers they are looking for. The book is actually broken down into two sections the first on shares christian beliefs while the second section deals with christian practices.Instead of reading this book from cover to cover I found myself jumping around a bit, the chapter titles are catchy,and I actually found myself drawn to a few of the chapters because of the title. One of my favorites had to be The Holy Spirit~ Flames of tongue tied fire~ which touched on spiritual warfare and also talked briefly about spiritual gifts. The author also includes a list of books to use for further reading which tied into each chapter.  Overall I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a thought provoking book that discusses many issues that they may be struggling with.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review.


About the author:
EdC200Ed Cyzewski (MDiv Biblical Theological Seminary) is the author of A Christian Survival Guide: A Lifeline to Faith and Growth, Coffeehouse Theology: Reflecting on God in Everyday Life, and The Good News of Revelation. He is a freelance writer who has contributed to numerous magazines and book projects. He blogs about writing  and prayer at www.edcyzewski.com.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Spiritual Renewal Study Bible


  • Hardcover: 1376 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan; Special edition (December 25, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310417376
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310417378



Experience New Growth and Transformation in Your Spiritual Walk
Are you experiencing a hunger to know God more completely in your life? Do you long for a deeper connection with him? If so, then the NIV Spiritual Renewal Bible—the recipient of the 1999 ECPA Gold Medallion Award—is for you. Using a time-tested process honed over decades of counseling and teaching, Stephen Arterburn employs 7 core principles of spiritual renewal and refreshment, connecting you more closely with God’s Spirit through his Word and helping you to develop the deep, satisfying change you desire in your spiritual life. 
Features:
• 66 book introductions focused on the thematic study and spiritual renewal aspects of each Bible book
• Text notes highlight renewal themes as they emerge from the text of the Bible
• Multi-feature character profiles assess how different personalities managed different challenges in their walk with God
• Spiritual keys devotional reading plan: Two cycles (OT and NT) of 49 devotions each lead the reader through 7 keys of spiritual renewal with 7 devotions for each key
• Spiritual disciplines essays that describe the various disciplines of the faith such as prayer, Scripture reading, and others
• Spiritual disciplines profiles: one-page articles that describe how certain characters of the Bible employed the various Spiritual disciplines in their lives

My take on this book:
The Spiritual Renewal Study Bible is perfect for someone needed to recharge their spirit. I really like the size of this Bible, it isn't overly thick or heavy. There isn't a presentation page with this one, which is something I always look for. I like that the font is a nice size which is easy on the eye, while I liked the brown print, on what I would consider a cream colored page  I wish the print had been a bit bolder, my copy looks a bit washed out. A great plus is God's words are written in red, something that I always appreciate. There are several useful features with this Bible such as plenty of study notes, as well as spiritual discipline profiles that are ten page articles that describe how certain Biblical characters employed various spiritual disciplines. The spiritual disciplines devotionals will help with spiritual renewal. Anyone who needs a plan on how to grow in your faith might find the Spiritual Renewal Study Bible useful, in my opinion it's the perfect Bible for starting your spiritual journey. A great gift for a new christian or anyone looking to grow in their spiritual walk with God.

A complimentary copy of this Bible was provided for review.

The Modern Life Study Bible


  • Hardcover: 1984 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (January 21, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140167514X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401675141






As members of the modern age, we sometimes feel disconnected from the world of the Bible. But if we look closely, we can see that although cultures change, our basic challenges stay the same. We still struggle with issues like community, justice, economic stress, political tensions, and cultural and ethnic differences. We still wonder who God is, how to discern His will, and how we fit into His plan.
Using historical context and fresh insights backed by biblical scholars, The Modern Life Study Bible explores the timeless truths that connect the people and stories of the Bible to the opportunities and demands we face today. God is at work in our world, inviting us to experience His presence.
With innovative, full-color illustrations, maps, and diagrams, along with special information on occupations of the Bible, profiles of people and places, theme indexes, and inspirational biographies of believers who put their faith to work, The Modern Life Study Bible will draw you in, helping you to know and embrace what it means to follow Christ in today’s world.
Features include:
  • More than 2,400 concise articles and book introductions
  • More than 220 full-color maps
  • Hundreds of  diagrams, tables, and illustrations
  • 66 inspirational biographies
  • Indexes to aid navigation and study
My thoughts on The Modern Life Study Bible:
I have been using this Bible for  a few months and really like it. First of all I will say it is a bit of a chunkster but that's ok because it is filled with several study aides that I found quite useful. The first thing I always look for is a presentation page and this Bible has it! Next the print size always determines whether or not a Bible will be used by me, and with this one the print is easy on the eye. I also like the colorful pages, which allow the different study features to stand out. Some of my favorite features include the focus articles which explore various scripture passages, their significance and their relevance in modern life. Insight articles provide information about the text or cultural context of various Biblical passages, these insights lead to clearer understanding which allow the reader to better understand what they might be reading. Place and person profiles are interesting summaries of people and places in the scripture. The Life Studies are one page biographies of sixty-six followers of God from all over the world, from various walks of life, and various times periods. I also found the section titled Themes to Study really steered me toward a few Bible studies that hadn't occurred to me. Overall, if you're looking for a Study Bible that is easy to use and will allow you to dig a bit deeper into the word I think The Modern Life Study Bible might be for you. The NKJV makes it an easy Bible to read and understand, and the 9 point text is easy on the eye.

A complimentary copy of this Bible was provided for review.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Seasons of Tomorrow~ Cindy Woodsmall


  • Series: Amish Vines and Orchards (Book 4)
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: WaterBrook Press (April 15, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307729982
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307729989


This book is also available as an ebook.





As love restores Rhoda, a sudden tragedy is the test of faith she never saw coming.
More settled in her heart than ever before, Rhoda Byler feels a newfound confidence living in the Old Order Amish settlement she helped establish in Orchard Bend, Maine. Time has helped to heal the wounds of Rhoda’s recent severed relationship, and she finds that even her unusual gift of profound intuition is less of a burden as she continues to seek God’s wisdom for her future. She is happy to be working alongside the King family and the love of her life as they tend and nurture the settlement’s orchard.
Yet when Leah King’s involvement with Englischer Landon Olson becomes known outside of the Maine community, her disregard of the Ordnung could threaten all the Orchard Bend Amish are building. In the midst of addressing the discord, a shocking tragedy challenges the young settlement like never before, threatening to uproot Rhoda’s peace and the future of everything she holds dear.
When several members of Orchard Bend Farms are displaced, the estranged King brother is called upon to return. Can those who founded the new Amish community in Maine unite Or will the lingering pain of past hurts and present struggles result in the end of their dreams?

My take on this book:
I have been hooked on Cindy Woodsmall's writing for several years. There is something about the way she creates her characters allowing me to feel as if I become a part of their lives, but she doesn't make their lives perfect instead she makes them real, they have heartaches and triumphs. Seasons of Tomorrow is the fourth book in the Amish Vines and Orchards series and I really couldn't wait to reconnect with the characters, even though I was saddened because it is the final book in the series. This book begins right where the last one left off, which drew me right back to Maine into the lives of the characters. One is wondering whether she should remain Amish, Leah is really on the fence, but romance may help her decide which path to take. Samuel and Rhoda seem to be on the path to love while Jacob leaves in order to heal a broken heart. Reconnecting with familiar characters, while meeting a few new ones kept  the plot zipping along, and a few twists thrown in kept me guessing. Overall, this is a series that should really be read in order otherwise one would be lost as to the relationships between the characters. Anyone who enjoys an Amish read that just happens to have romance, life changing issues and leaves you feeling as if you are reading about real people will certainly enjoy this book and the entire series. 

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Under The Heavens ~ Amish Horses Series ~ Thomas Nye


  • Paperback: 412 pages
  • Publisher: CrossLink Publishing (December 3, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936746794
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936746798






Lenny happened to notice his blurry reflection on the windowpane. He knew it was his image; nevertheless, he couldn't recognize his own face. Those almond-shaped eyes and dark-brown hair belonged to him, yet, inside, he felt disconnected from his past, having never known his own father. Grandpa had insisted, "Leonard, needs to come spend a summer at the home-place ..." A teenage boy, struggling with his identity, reluctantly leaves his modern, city-life behind and enters the slow-paced, mysterious world of the Amish. Grandpa teaches Lenny to farm with draft horses, a tranquil experience that seeps into his soul, changing his perspective. A neighbor girl appears while he is working in the fields, weaving a romance in the fabric of his summer. Lenny discovers that everyday on an Amish farm is an adventure. Thunderstorms rumble above, as a fragile relationship, between an Amish family and their non-Amish visitor, begins to unravel. Daybreak in a cow pasture, plowing with horses, enchanting moonlit buggy rides, and picturesque sunsets are all part of life, Under the Heavens.

My take on this book:
Lenny Gingerich can't help but wonder about who he really is. You see he never knew who his father was, so his step grandfather, who happens to be Amish thinks that he needs to come and spend the summer at his farm, so that he can teach him a bit about his heritage. When he arrives the first thing he sees is his grandfather's huge horses, and while Lenny loves horses feels a bit intimidated by them. He also feels a bit out of  place on the Amish farm, that is until his grandfather assigns him to a summer job of being the Horse Boy, he will be responsible for taking care of the horses, and will also learn how to drive and handle them. Lenny's summer is one of changes, as he learns to farm with horses he also learns several valuable life lessons as well.

Thomas Nye certainly captures the heart with the story of Lenny Gingerich, a young man who feels like he doesn't really belong. As a stepson it seems that he has a good relationship with his father, but he still wonders who he really is. While he has visited the Amish farm before spending the summer there had him feeling homesick, but as the summer moves on, he finds himself adjusting. The author really brings farm life alive, I really felt like I was visiting the Gingerich farm, rich detail allowed me to envision the day to day going on that goes along with taking care of animals and having a farm. I have visited a few Amish farms so I could easily envision those big Percheron horses, and how intimidated Lenny must have felt in the beginning. As an avid Amish fiction reader Under The Heavens was a unique read,because it isn't the typical amish romance. Instead it feels like a coming of age story for young Lenny. Readers get an accurate look at the slower pace of Amish life, while also learning about farming and horses. A quick easy read, even though the book is 400 pages, I found myself zipping thru the pages to see what might develop next. Overall, a story that will appeal to anyone who enjoys a coming of age story that takes readers on a journey to an Amish farm.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Murder Strikes a Pose ~ Tracy Weber ~ Review and Giveaway

Murder Strikes a Pose

by Tracy Weber

on Tour August 2014




Book Details:


Genre: Cozy Mystery
Published by: Midnight Ink
Publication Date: January 8, 2014
Number of Pages: 288
ISBN: 978-0738739687
Purchase Links:


Synopsis:
When George and Bella—a homeless alcoholic and his intimidating German shepherd—disturb the peace outside her studio, yoga instructor Kate Davidson’s Zen-like calm is stretched to the breaking point. Kate tries to get rid of them before Bella scares the yoga pants off her students. Instead, the three form an unlikely friendship.
One night Kate finds George’s body behind her studio. The police dismiss his murder as a drug-related street crime, but she knows George wasn’t a dealer. So Kate starts digging into George’s past while also looking for someone to adopt Bella before she’s sent to the big dog park in the sky. With the murderer nipping at her heels, Kate has to work fast or her next Corpse Pose may be for real.

My take on this book:
If I had to describe the main character Kate Davidson in one word I think it would be quirky! Often funny, even when she really doesn't mean to be, the author's descriptions of several scenes really had me laughing out loud, but I think it was the way that she took Bella in and gave her a home, even though it was just until she could find a permanent home really cemented her character in my heart! The friendship that developed between her and George, along with Bella, propelled her tenacious spirit into action because she wanted justice for her friend, even though everyone else dissuaded her. The author provides a solid who dun it that really wasn't easy to solve because there were more than a few suspects, or at least Kate thought there was. I love that Bella wasn't just a secondary character that was mentioned occasionally, instead she plays a prominent role in the story. Cozy mystery readers are really going to enjoy Murder Strikes a Pose, but anyone who enjoys a fast paced, page turning, not so easy to solve murder that has plenty of laughs, a bit of romance, and very enjoyable characters will find this and more woven into the pages of this one. While the author does a great job of wrapping up the story, she left me hoping that this book might become a series, because I would love to see more from these characters.

Read an excerpt:

I laid my body on the cool wood floor, covered up with a blanket, and prepared to die.
Metaphorically, that is.
Corpse Pose’s ten-minute rest always soothed my stressed-out nerves, and for once I didn’t feel guilty about the indulgence. My to-do list was blank, Serenity Yoga’s phone was silent, and I had a whole blissful hour between clients to do my favorite activity: practice yoga.
Even my eclectic Greenwood neighborhood seemed uncharacteristically quiet, lulled by Seattle’s rare afternoon sun. The residents of the apartments above the yoga studio were off at their day jobs; the alcohol-addicted patrons of the block’s two dive bars slept off their Jim Beam breakfasts; the soccer moms shopping at next door’s upscale PhinneyWood Market purchased the day’s supplies in unusual silence.
I wiggled my toes under a Mexican blanket, covered my eyes with a blue satin eye pillow, and inhaled deeply. The ooey-gooey smell of Mocha Mia’s chocolate caramel cake wafted from across the street and filled my nostrils with sweet toffee-scented bliss—my all-time favorite aromatherapy.
Paradise. Simply paradise.
I released my weight into the earth and silently coached myself, exactly as I would one of my students. OK, Kate. Feel your body relax. Notice the random fluctuations of your mind and—
A vicious snarl ripped through the silence, startling me out of my catnap. I sat straight up, eye pillow falling to the floor with an undignified thump.
What the heck?
When had a dog fighting ring moved into the neighborhood?
A dog fight was the only plausible explanation for the commotion outside. Bursts of deep, frantic barking were followed by high-pitched yelping, all punctuated by the peace-shattering sounds of angry yelling. The phrases I could make out confirmed my suspicions. This had to be a dog fight, albeit one-sided.
“Control your dog!”
“Get that vicious beast out of here!”
And even a simple, “What the hell?”
I closed the door between the yoga room and the studio’s lobby, hoping to block out the intrusive sounds. Snarls, shouts, and an occasional ear-piercing shriek continued to reverberate right through the wall.
Undaunted, I imagined that the sounds were merely clouds floating across my mental horizon. Most of those clouds were dark and ominous, like the deep thunderclouds preceding a hailstorm. But every so often I heard a soft voice, more like the fluffy clouds of childhood summers. I couldn’t quite make out his words, but I could tell that the speaker was a man. From his tone, I assumed he was trying to calm beasts both human and animal.
It wasn’t working.
Neither, for that matter, was my attempted meditation.
I’d obviously have to shift tactics.
I tried drowning out the clamor with low, soft chanting. Then I increased the volume. But even as I belted out Om Santi, my favorite mantra for peace, I felt my jaw start to tighten. My fingernails bit deeply into my palms. My shoulders crept up to my ears.
An entirely different mantra began pounding through my head: Don’t get me angry; you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.
A series of yelps and the words “I’m calling the cops!” zapped me like a cattle prod. I leapt from my mat and stormed across the floor, determined to put a stop to that infernal racket. I hurled open the door and came face-to-face, or rather face-to-snout, with the source of the commotion. Not more than five feet away from the studio’s entrance stood a paunchy, dark-haired man and the biggest, skinniest, meanest-looking German shepherd I had ever seen. Don’t get me wrong. I like dogs. I love them, in fact. It’s their human counterparts I could sometimes do without. But this frothing breast was no Rin Tin Tin. A long line of drool oozed from its mouth. Its sharp white teeth glinted in the sunlight, and its black wiry topcoat still stood on end from the prior scuffle. The dog was obviously rabid. I didn’t recognize the man standing next to the frightening creature, but I did recognize his activity. He worked as a vendor for Dollars for Change, a well-regarded local newspaper that published articles about homelessness and poverty while employing those same homeless individuals as salespeople. Ordinarily I would have welcomed one of their vendors outside my business. If nothing else, supporting the paper demonstrated yoga’s principles of kindness and compassion. But this was not an ordinary circumstance. I absolutely could not allow that disgusting dog to raise a ruckus outside my studio. The prenatal class would have a fit. Suffice it to say that pregnancy hormones didn’t always leave expecting moms in the best of moods. My moms-to-be liked their yoga practice. They needed their yoga practice. And they needed to be serene while doing it. If a noisy dog fight disturbed their peaceful experience, I’d be the one getting barked at.
Thinking less than yogic thoughts, I marched up to the pair, determined to put a stop to the chaos.
“What in the world’s going on out here?”
The human half of the dastardly duo held a leash in one hand, newspapers in the other. He smiled at me and said, “Sorry about all the noise. I’m George, and this here’s Bella. What’s your name?”
“Kate Davidson, but—”
“Well, nice to meet you, Kate. I’d shake your hand, but mine are full, so Bella will have to do it instead.”
The vicious beast walked up and calmly sniffed my hand. I prayed she wasn’t about to ingest my fingers.
“Bella, say hello!”
Upon hearing her owner’s command, the giant hairy monster-dog immediately went into a perfect sit and sweetly offered me her paw. Maybe she wasn’t rabid after all. Just huge and ill-mannered.
“Don’t mind Bella,” he continued. “She’s very friendly to people. She just doesn’t like other dogs much. She’d be fine if people kept their unruly mutts to themselves, but they think if their rude dog wants to play, Bella has to as well.” He shook his head in disgust. “I don’t understand some people!”
I tried to interrupt, to tell him that his dog was the problem, but he didn’t give me the chance.
“Bella and I are new to this neighborhood, and we’re supposed to sell papers near the market. I tried setting up by the north entrance, but there’s a pet store at that end. Pete’s Pets, I think it’s called? The owner was a nice enough guy and all, but selling there was a disaster with all those dogs going in and out. Bella wasn’t happy at all.” He shrugged. “So I guess we’re going to have to hang out here instead.”
I bit the inside of my lip and considered my options. Up close, George wasn’t exactly the paragon of health I wanted standing outside my business. His friendly smile exposed yellowed teeth in need of significant dental care, and if the sharp, ammonia-like smell was any indication, neither he nor Bella had taken a bath in quite some time. At three-thirty in the afternoon, I could smell whiskey on his breath, and I suspected this most recent drink hadn’t been his first of the day. It would also likely be far from his last. I only knew one thing for certain: if George didn’t frighten my students away, his loud, intimidating, fur-covered companion would.
I needed them to leave, but honestly, I didn’t want to say it out loud. After all, I taught yoga for a living. People expected me to be calm and collected at all times. I wasn’t allowed to be mean, or even irritated, for that matter. I hesitated as I tried to come up with the perfect words to make him want to move, if not out of the neighborhood, then at least across the street.
Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately), one of my favorite students picked that very moment to walk up with her five-month-old Lab pup, Coalie. “Hey, Kate!” she said. “I hoped I’d run into you! Do you still have space in your Core Strength class tonight?” Coalie was as rude and friendly as Labs everywhere. She couldn’t stop herself if she tried. She ran up to Bella, wiggling her entire body with glee, and covered Bella’s muzzle in sloppy wet puppy kisses.
Bella wasted no time. Faster than a 747 and stronger than a freight train, Bella pinned Coalie to the ground between her front legs, snarling and air-snapping on either side of Coalie’s neck. I heard the sound of canine teeth chomping together and imagined soft puppy bones shattering between them. My student screamed. Coalie yelped. George grabbed Bella’s collar while I reached in between razor-sharp teeth to pull Coalie from the jaws of death. The three of us wrestled the two dogs apart, but not before my student almost died of heart failure.
“What’s wrong with you?” she yelled. “Keep that vicious monster away from my baby!”
George quickly apologized, but said, “No damage done. Bella was just teaching that pup some manners.” He pointed at Coalie. “See, it’s all good!”
Coalie, oblivious with joy, seemed unscathed and ready to dive in again. Tail wagging and butt wiggling, she pulled with all her might, trying desperately to get back to Bella.
Bella had other plans. She sat next to George, glaring directly at that pup with a patented Clint Eastwood stare. Go ahead, she seemed to say. Make my day. My soon-to-be-former student ran off as quickly as her legs would move, dragging the still-happy puppy behind her.
“See you in class tonight!” I yelled to her rapidly retreating back. I doubted I’d be seeing her any time soon.
Yoga reputation be damned. I had to get rid of this guy.
I put my hands on my hips and stood nice and tall, taking full advantage of my five-foot-three-inch frame. “Look. I can’t let you stay here with the dog. She’s obviously frightening people. You have to leave.” I paused a moment for emphasis, then added, “Now.”
George stood a little taller, too. “Look yourself, lady. The last time I checked, I’m standing on city property. I have every right to be here. You don’t own this sidewalk, and you can’t stop me from making a living on it.” He glared at me, sharp eyes unblinking. “We Dollars for Change vendors are licensed, and no matter how much you don’t like us, the city says we can be here.”
“There’s no ‘us’ I don’t like,” I replied, frustrated. “It’s your dog. And you may have every right to be here, but the dog is another story. What do you think Animal Control will do if I report a vicious dog attacking people outside my store?”
George stepped back, pulling Bella closer. Seattle had the toughest dangerous dog laws in the nation. We both knew what would happen if I made that call. “You wouldn’t do that!” he said. “Bella’s never hurt anyone.”
I planted my feet stubbornly. “Try me.”
George gave me a wounded look and gathered his papers, shoulders slumped in depressed resignation. “OK, we’ll go. But I thought you yoga people were supposed to be kind.” He shuffled away, shaking his head and mumbling under his breath. Bella followed close by his side.
“Crap,” I muttered, watching their slow departure. “Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap.” He was right. Like all good yoga teachers, I had extensively studied yoga philosophy and tried to live by it. The teachings were clear: A yogi should respond to suffering with active compassion. And George was clearly suffering, whether he realized that fact or not.
Threatening to call the cops on George’s dog may have been active, but it wasn’t all that compassionate, to him or to Bella. I felt like a cad. My solution probably wasn’t what the teachings had in mind, but it was the best I could come up with on short notice. “Hang on there a minute!” I yelled as I ran to catch up with him. Out of breath, I said, “You’re right. I overreacted, and I’m sorry. How many papers do you have left to sell today?”
George stopped walking. When he turned to look back at me, his eyes sparkled with an unexpected hint of wry humor. “About thirty.”
The calculations weren’t difficult. I wasn’t completely broke—yet—but thirty dollars wasn’t a drop in the bucket. On the other hand, my Monday evening classes were popular, and I had to get this guy away from the front door. Mentally crossing my fingers that the toilet wouldn’t break again, I said, “Wait here. I’ll be right back.” I hurried back to the studio and grabbed thirty dollars from the cash box.
“If I buy all of your papers, will you be done for the day?”
“Yes ma’am, and that would be very kind of you.” He gave me a broad, yellow-toothed smile. “Bella and I appreciate it very much.” He took the money, left the papers, and wandered off, whistling. Bella happily trotted behind him.
“Well, that wasn’t so difficult,” I said, patting myself on the back. “I should follow the teachings more often!” I went back inside and finished my considerably shortened practice. I chose to ignore the quiet voice in my head telling me I’d just made a huge mistake.

Author Bio:

My writing is an expression of the things I love best: yoga, dogs, and murder mysteries.

I'm a certified yoga teacher and the founder of Whole Life Yoga, an award-winning yoga studio in Seattle, WA. I enjoy sharing my passion for yoga and animals in any form possible.

My husband and I live with our challenging yet amazing German shepherd Tasha and our bonito flake-loving cat Maggie. When I'm not writing, I spend my time teaching yoga, walking Tasha, and sipping Blackthorn cider at my favorite local ale house.

I am a member of Sisters in Crime, The Pacific Northwest Writers Association, and the Dog Writers Association of America.


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