Book Review: Baltimore Blues

Welcome to the TLC Book Tour for Baltimore Blues


Tess Monaghan’s life — like the recessed Baltimore of the late 1990’s in which she lives — is stagnant. On hold. In her late 20’s, her career as a reporter sputtered and stalled when the newspaper employing her ceased publication and she was not hired by its competitor, the Beacon Light. She ekes out a living by renting quarters above her eccentric and free-spirited Aunt Kitty’s niche bookstore and working odd jobs, including for her uncle (who is secretly paying her with his own funds, rather than those of his government employer). Tess is beginning to wonder if she still wants to pursue a career in journalism, although she isn’t pursuing any other career options. She is equally indecision when it comes to romance, having settled into a comfortable yet unsatisfying friends with benefits arrangement with colleague Jonathan Ross, an investigative reporter with the Beacon Light.

The only constants in Tess’s life are her commitment to rowing every morning and her friendship with Darryl “Rock” Paxton, a researcher obsessed with the sport, with whom she eats breakfast each day following their workouts. When Rock tells Tess that his beautiful fiancé, Ava Hill, a would-be lawyer with Baltimore’s preeminent law firm who can’t seem to pass the bar exam, has been even more aloof and mysterious of late than is typical for her, Tess agrees to accept Rock’s generous offer of compensation in exchange for dabbling as an amateur private investigator.

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Guest Post and Giveaway: Hearing Fictional Voices

My special guest today, Joan Steinau Lester, recently published her second novel, Mama’s Child. She describes writing as “totally involving, pleasurable, existing only for itself, not the end product. . . . [W]writing is an activity that fully absorbs me. When I finish, I’m flushed with pleasure.”

Mama’s Child traces the journey of an idealistic young white woman who traveled to the American South as a civil rights worker, fell in love with an African American man, and started a family in San Francisco, a liberal city sure to embrace such a couple — except when it didn’t. Tensions tore their marriage apart when their son and daughter were still young. For Ruby, their biracial daughter, her parents’ divorce further destabilized her already challenged sense of self —- “Am I black or white?” she must ask herself. “Where do I belong?” Is she her father’s daughter alone? As the years pass, the chasm between them widens, even as the mother attempts to hold on to the emotional chord that binds them. It isn’t until Ruby becomes a wife and mother that she begins to
develop compassion and understanding for the many ways that her own mother’s love transcended race and questions of identity.

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Guest Post and Giveaway: The Good Use Of Celebrity and The Celebrity of Good

Gloria Loring is no stranger to daytime television fans or music lovers. However, she is also well-known for her work on behalf of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, serving as its Celebrity Spokesperson and appearing in public service announcements and commercials, as well as hosting telethons and fundraisers.

In her new book, Coincidence Is God’s Way of Remaining Anonymous: Reflections on Daytime Dramas and Divine Intervention, Gloria reveals that while she was starring in Days of Our Lives, she was also dealing her young son’s diabetes diagnosis and the disintegration of her marriage. The book is her “spiritual exploration of how coincidence helped her make sense of life’s challenges and uncertainties.”

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Book Review and Giveaway: Things Your Dog Doesn’t Want You to Know

Welcome to Virtual Author Book Tours’ Blog Tour for Things Your Dog Doesn’t Want You to Know

Imagine your dog penning a diary or journal in which he/she not only recounts the developments in his/her life, but also reveals his/her thought processes. Consider how much easier the life of a dog lover would be if the answers to some of life’s most perplexing questions were finally revealed. For instance, if you understood why your dog ate your new sofa, you would be able to prevent such calamities in the future. And if dog owners really understood why their dog wagged his/her tail, the seven basic rules of food, why dogs chase cars or, perhaps most importantly, “The Bed Rules,” life would be infinitely less complicated.

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Guest Post: Finding Your Breed

Through the telling of 115 short stories related by eleven canine authors, secrets maintained for centuries are finally revealed in Things Your Dog Doesn’t Want You to Know. Those brave storytellers finally clue their people in on all the hairy details, including
why they always dash toward the good rug when they about to vomit, why they eat the furniture and leave their chew toys lying nearby, and why they are perpetually hungry. It is a hilarious little volume that belongs in the library of every dog lover.

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Weight Loss: The Truth No One Wants to Read About

I no longer remember the point at which I simply gave up. But I know it happened. My weight crept up and up and up as the years rolled by. Sure, I successfully dieted — numerous times. But I know now that was the problem: I dieted. And at some point, every diet ended and I reverted to my old habits. Each time, the weight I lost came back — and then some.

During one of those previous diets, I launched a weight loss blog, determined to write about everything I had learned. I was convinced that I had overcome my weight issues once and for all. I also thought that writing about what worked for me would keep me honest and accountable . . . surely the weight would stay off.

The before and after photos: October 10, 2010 vs. June 2, 2012

Sadly, the result was the same. And since few people read my posts and even fewer expressed any interest in my planned read-along and discussion of Fat is a Feminist Issue, the book I still consider a must-read for any woman struggling with her weight, I abandoned the blog, as well as my new-found outlook. Once again, the pounds piled on . . .

In January 2011, I learned about Pacific Medical Weight Loss. As I read the program description, I began to feel something I had not felt vis a vis my weight problem in years: hope. Actually, the program sounded too good to be true, and I had to remind myself that there is no panacea, no magic, no foolproof quick-fix. Still, I determined to investigate whether I was a candidate for the program and, if so, give it an honest effort.

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Guest Post: This Makes Me Uncomfortable

In author Suzanne Jenkins’ first novel, Pam of Babylon, fictional Pam Smith has led a charmed life. She has a beautiful home by the water in tony Babylon, New York. A homemaker, her children have grown and left home, but fifty-something Pam is content in her long marriage to Jack, a successful businessman. Following Jack’s sudden death, however, Pam leans that her husband’s life was not what it seemed. A series of revelations force Pam to deal with loss and disappointment as she discovers that her husband was markedly different than he appeared. Betrayals far worse than any Pam could have imagined force her to retreat to her meticulous beach house to process what she has learned and embrace her future. But first she must learn to forgive.

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Book Review: And When She was Good

Welcome to the Partners In Crime Blog Tour for And When She Was Good


Heloise grew up as Helen Lewis, the product of her mother’s unfortunate devotion to her father, Hector, an abusive adulterer who never divorced his wife. Hector told Helen that she had a “nothing face” and refused to support her as she pursued her education. From his viciousness, and her mother’s refusal to protect her daughter, Helen learned to survive. Now Heloise leads a quiet, unobtrusive life with her eleven-year-old son, Scott, in an upper middle class neighborhood. When anyone inquires, she states that she is a lobbyist, although she is actually the proprietor of an escort service. Heloise has devised an elaborate business model and record-keeping system to ensure that only she and her assistant, Audrey, know the full details about how the service operates. Even her attorney and accountant are not fully apprised. Neither is Tom, the vice cop who has looked the other way and protected her for many years, even while professing his love for her and Scott, for whom he would love to be a father. But Heloise has never said “yes” to Tom’s marriage proposals.

Instead, she pays regular visits to Val, a condemned murderer who is Scott’s biological father. Of course, neither Val nor Scott have any knowledge of each other. Scott believes his father died in an accident before he was born. And when Heloise learned she was pregnant, she managed to escape Val’s clutches for a few months, during which he was tried and convicted. But Heloise knows she can never fully break away from her former pimp and so to protect her son, she visits Val and continues sending him a portion of her income every month. After all, she learned much from him.

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Book Review: The Choice

Welcome to Litfuse Publicity’s Blog Tour for The Choice


Sandy Lincoln has everything going for her. At seventeen, she is a beautiful and popular honors student and cheerleader headed for college and a bright future. But when Brad Donnelly, a charming football player, convinces her to become intimate with him, her life plan is instantly altered. Being a pregnant high school student in tiny Rutland, Georgia in 1974 is scandalous and humiliating — she won’t even be allowed to continue attending the local high school. Worse, Sandy’s parents, Brad’s parents, and even Sandy’s aunt Linda all have ideas about what is best for Sandy and her unborn child. In light of Roe v. Wade, decided just one year earlier, Sandy has many options from which to choose . . . if only the adults advising her would remember that the choice is hers alone, considering that Brad has no interest in being a father and will readily surrender his parental rights.

A chance encounter with an elderly woman leaves Sandy both puzzled and disturbed. The woman tells her that she is carrying twins and the babies must not meet in order to prevent harm from coming to one of them. With no history of twins in her family, Sandy tries to put the woman’s warning out of her mind, convinced that her message was just nonsense. Sandy moves in with her aunt Linda and enrolls in an alternative high school where she continues to excel academically. Ultimately, she selects two families to adopt her fraternal twin boys, convinced that the boys must grow up separately to remain safe and healthy.

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Last Days of Freedom Giveaway Hop

The days are already growing shorter and the neighborhood children have been back in school for a couple of weeks. Hard to believe that summer is rapidly drawing to a close already! Of course, in California’s beautiful San Joaquin Valley, there will still be plenty of sunshine and warm weather. Here in Lodi, the grapes are ripening on the vines and the harvest will begin soon, meaning that fresh, sweet grapes will be plentiful. Most evenings, the breezes from the San Joaquin Delta rustle softly through my oak trees and I delight in relaxing on my patio with a good book and a bowl of fresh, juicy grapes with my beloved Sophie by my side.

Visiting a black sand beach along the Hana Highway, Maui

I’ve had a wonderful summer. The highlight was my first trip, with three of my best girlfriends, to Maui! We had so much fun in that topical paradise! We snorkeled, traversed the entire Hana Highway, shopped in the local stores, and, naturally, relaxed on the beach and by the pool with a few good books. I can’t wait to go back for another blissful vacation on the beautiful shore.

In honor of all the blessings that we celebrate this time of year, I am participating in the Last Days of Freedom Giveaway Hop, hosted by Inspired Kathy at I am a Reader, Not a Writer and Jess at The Elliott Review.

Until August 23, 2012, at 12:01 a.m., you are invited to enter to win a $15 Amazon gift certificate!

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Book Review: Love Finds You in Mackinac Island Michigan

Welcome to Litfuse Publicity’s Blog Tour for Love Finds You in Mackinac Island Michigan


The Bissette family is on the verge of homelessness. Arthur Bissette’s factory is about to be shut down by the bank and seized, along with the family home in Chicago and summer cottage on Mackinac Island, Michigan. It is June 1894 and Arthur, along with his wife, Deborah, and their only child, Elena, will again spend the summer on Mackinac Island. But this summer Deborah is determined that financier Chester Darrington, the wealthiest and most desired bachelor, will become Elena’s fiancee, securing their family’s future. Deborah is aware that they have fallen on hard times, but her husband has not informed her of the extent of their precarious financial situation.

Elena is nineteen, beautiful, intelligent, and quite bored with the societal obligations placed upon her. She dreams of meeting the man meant for her and marrying for love, rather than financial security. But she is also a dutiful, devoted daughter who understands that it is up to her to assist her parents by marrying well.

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Book Review: Inescapable

Welcome to Litfuse Publicity’s Blog Tour for Inescapable


Lttle Charity, age six, has never known her father. That’s because her unmarried mother, Lizzie Engel, left the tiny little Mennonite community of Kingdom, Kansas, shortly after her birth. Settling in Kansas City, Lizzie first took a job as a waitress before joining the staff of Harbor House, a shelter for abused woman. But when the director, Sylvia, suffered a heart attack, she was replaced by Reba. It seems that Reba, jealous about her boyfriend’s perceived interest in Lizzie, has altered the books to make it appear that Lizzie embezzled money from the organization, forcing her to leave her employment in shame.

Worse, a strange man driving a beat-up car and wearing a baseball cap has been stalking Lizzie. Coincidentally — or not — about the same time she noticed him parked outside her apartment building, she began receiving hand-written threatening notes.

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Book Review and Giveaway: Lost Girls

Welcome to Pump Up Your Book’s Virtual Book Tour for Lost Girls


Chelsea King was a vivacious, accomplished, and extremely popular high school senior who expressed her goals and ambitions with eloquence and insight far beyond her years. She was good girl who had never been in any sort of trouble and never given her parents cause to worry, checking in with them regularly as to her schedule and whereabouts. So when she went jogging in accordance with her usual after-school routine, her parents, Kelly and Brent, had no reason to believe that she would not be home at the usual time. When she neither returned nor answered her cell phone, they knew immediately when something was wrong. The discovery of her abandoned car containing her purse and telephone confirmed their suspicions.

One year earlier, fourteen-year-old Amber Dubois had also gone missing without a trace. Amber loved books and wrote poetry. She was passionate about animals and left home that morning with a check entitling her to claim the lamb that was so excited about raising. But she never attended her classes that day.

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Guest Post: Why I Felt Compelled to Write Lost Girls

It is my honor to welcome acclaimed true crime author Caitlin Rother to Colloquium today. She has penned eight fiction and nonfiction works, including Dead Reckoning, in which she recounted the story of Tom and Jackie Hawks, the couple from Newport Beach, California, who lost their lives when they were thrown overboard, tied to the anchor of yacht, by Skylar Deleon and his accomplices. She also chronicled the demise of Kristin Rossum in Poisoned Love. Rossum, addicted to crystal meth while employed in a toxicology lab, was found to have poisoned her husband in order to prevent him from exposing her drug addiction and affair with her boss.

Lost Girls chronicles the desperate searches for two teenage girls, Chelsea King and Amber Dubois, by San Diego-area authorities. Eventually, John Albert Gardner stood trial for their murders and received a life sentence. He was a convicted sex offender who violated the terms and conditions of his parole several times, but was not returned to prison. Because of his previous conviction, Gardner was ineligible to enter many mental health programs and facilities, even though he reported feeling out of control and likely to hurt someone. The case resulted in legislation designed to prevent similar cases by providing stronger protections for California children.

Why I Felt Compelled to Write Lost Girls

Caitlin Rother

First, I have a confession to make. After writing Body Parts, a book about serial rapist-killer Wayne Adam Ford, I really didn’t think I’d ever be able to stand getting into the head of another man like him, let alone one who had molested, raped and killed teenagers. I also have a standing rule: I cannot and will not write stories about young murdered children. I just can’t stomach it.

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