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Excerpt & Giveaway: Stolen Obsession by Marlene M Bell

 

STOLEN OBSESSION
Annalisse Series, Book 1
by
Marlene M Bell
Genre: Spicy Romantic Mystery
Publisher: Ewephoric Publishing
Date of Publication: March 20, 2018
Number of Pages: 284

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PEOPLE DIE, BUT LEGENDS LIVE ON.
Manhattan antiquities appraiser Annalisse Drury dreams of a quiet life on the family farm among the sheep she loves, when her best friend is murdered. The police assume robbery is the motive because her friend’s expensive bracelet is missing. But the 500-year-old artifact is rumored to carry an ancient curse, one that unleashes evil upon any who dare wear the jewelry created for the Persian royal family—and Annalisse believes her friend is the latest victim.
Weeks later, Annalisse sees a necklace matching the stolen bracelet at a gallery opening. Convinced the necklace is part of the deadly collection, Annalisse begs the gallery’s owner to destroy the piece, but her pleas are ignored— despite the unnatural death that occurs during the opening. With two victims linked to the jewelry, Annalisse is certain she must act.
Desperate to keep the gallery owner safe, Annalisse reluctantly enlists the owner’s son to help—even though she’s afraid he’ll break her heart. Wealthy and devastatingly handsome, with a string of bereft women in his wake, Greek playboy Alec Zavos dismisses Annalisse’s concerns—until his parents are ripped from the Zavos family yacht during their ocean voyage near Crete.
Annalisse and Alec race across two oceans to save his mother, feared dead or kidnapped. As time lapses, the killer switches mode and closes in on the man who’s meant for Annalisse with the lifestyle she wants most.
But when it’s her turn as the hunted, will she choose to save Alec and his mother, or sacrifice everything to save herself?

Hold on for a heart-thumping adventure through exotic lands in this fast moving, romantic suspense mystery by Marlene M Bell.

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EXCERPT: Chapter Six, Part Two

From Stolen Obsession

By Marlene M Bell

 

Click to read part one on Lone Star Book Blog Tours 3/2/18 blog stop!

Annalisse walked over to the officer while he bagged and sealed the card.

“This message could just be a prank,” he said.

“I’m no detective, but Ismail lives means something to someone. Do you know what information Agent Norcross wants?”

“You have a translation?” Mooney removed a notepad from his breast pocket. “I wouldn’t worry, Ms. Drury. Harry was a very simple man and had few close friends. That brother-in-law of his could barely string three comprehensible words together. We’ll talk to him again when he’s sober.”

“It’s unusual to find him snockered this early, but he’s alcoholic and won’t admit it.”

Norcross joined them, with Alec and Generosa in tow.

Generosa offered, “The guest book showed one-hundred-eighty-three guests at my party. Any one of them could’ve left the card.”

“Was anything inside the case missing?” Norcross asked. “Or anywhere else?”

Annalisse replied, “Chase cleared all of the jewelry displays after the party. Isn’t that right, Gen?”

Generosa nodded slowly at Annalisse. “I don’t leave jewelry displayed at night. It’s always locked in my safe.”

“And you know Chase Miller?” The agent addressed Annalisse. Her honeyed twang seemed out of place, but she had the practiced intimidating look down perfectly.

“Yes. I’ve explained the relationship. You spoke with him about Sam that day, too, remember?”

“Of course. Yes.” Norcross scratched something in her notebook and turned to Generosa. “How about the security system? Any issues when you opened this morning?”

“Colum, you followed us out last night when we closed. Chase set the alarm—come to think of it, the security panel didn’t beep today like it normally does when we unlock. I thought it was odd.” Generosa pointed at the alarm panel.

Mooney walked beneath one of the matte black motion detectors near the door. “These units should show an active red light. This one doesn’t.”

“I’ll check the one upstairs.” Alec moved to the bottom of the steps. “Dark here, too.”

Mama Mia. My system’s off. For how long? I’m sure it was working last night.”

“Detective, let’s bring in a tech team. No one touches anything.” Norcross took the mystery card from Mooney, studied it front and back, then stashed it in her jacket. “Damn Mafia.”

“Good lord! Here in my shop? I don’t deal with garbage business types.” Generosa’s shoulders sagged. “I can’t tell Pearce. He’ll be worried sick.”

Alec moved close to Annalisse; she felt his warmth on her skin.

“How do you know we had a break-in, Agent Norcross? Couldn’t someone have stayed behind after Mom’s party and fooled around with the alarm as a joke? It was nuts around here.”

“The security company should’ve notified the station of a breach. A joke, no. He, or she, may have tried to destroy the security video and found a way to circumvent the alarm and detectors. Gen, we’ll need the names from the catering company and all guests who signed in. Including those invited who may not have attended,” Mooney said.

“None of this makes any sense. Nothing’s been stolen. All for a silly note? Colum, really.”

“That’s it, then. Mom, the gallery closes.”

“But, son, that’s foolish. It’s an insignificant scribble.”

“We won’t open again until every inch of this gallery’s been scoured,” Alec said. “We had a death here and with all that Annalisse told us—”

Both Mooney and Norcross alerted.

“About the loss of her friend. That’s all I meant.” He chewed the corner of his lip.

“I’d post a security guard, too. Your card is more than scribbles, Miss Generosa, if I may call you by your first name. We believe Carradine’s death was no accident and the card you found—let’s just say, fits a certain profile we’ve been monitoring. I spoke out of turn earlier, about the Mafia. I’m sorry.” Norcross looked at her watch. “We’ll take the card down to forensics.”

“Gen, my partner knows a reliable man. Ex-military. He moonlights as security when he isn’t working as a private dick,” Mooney added.

“I still can’t believe Harry had any enemies. That poor, poor man.” Generosa swiped an eye.

The detective handed her a tissue from inside his jacket.

Alec took Annalisse aside while Generosa and the officers wandered to the middle of the foyer. “Are you all right?”

“I will be.” She gripped the seam on her jeans to hide the shakes. “There’s lots Norcross is keeping to herself. She’s uncovered more about Sam. How can we be sure other people weren’t exposed to the same poison as Harry?”

“We can’t be.”

“Shouldn’t Gen notify her guests?”

“Of their possible poison exposure?” He dimpled one cheek. “Let’s wait and see what develops before we open a legal nightmare. Harry could’ve been poisoned before he got here.”

“True. Blabbing to the world without knowing the facts wouldn’t be smart.” She glanced at her watch and gasped. “Crap. Chase is going to send out the military. It’s nearly nine. Here comes Gen.”

 

To be concluded with part three on Lone Star Book Blog Tours 3/9/18 blog stop!

 

Marlene M Bell is an acclaimed artist and photographer as well as a writer. Her sheep landscapes grace the covers of publications such as, Sheep!, The Shepherd, Ranch & Rural Living and Sheep Industry News. Ewephoric, her mail order venture, began in 1985 out of a desire for realistic sheep stationery. A color catalog of non-fiction books and sheep-related gifts may be requested at www.marlenembell.com or www.texassheep.com.

Marlene and her husband, Gregg reside on a wooded ranch in East Texas with their 50 head of Horned Dorset sheep, a lovable Maremma guard dog named, Tia, and 3 spoiled cats who rule the household.

 ║ Website║ Facebook Twitter   ║ LinkedIn ║ Google+ ║ Blog 

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VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

3/1/18
Notable Quotable
3/1/18
Notable Quotable
3/2/18
Review
3/2/18
Excerpt 1
3/3/18
Review
3/4/18
Review
3/5/18
Author Interview
3/5/18
Excerpt 2
3/6/18
Review
3/7/18
Guest Post
3/7/18
Author Interview
3/8/18
Review
3/9/18
Scrapbook Page
3/9/18
Excerpt 3
3/10/18
Review
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Review & Giveaway: The Secret Room by John Alexander

THE SECRET ROOM
(Amber-Autumn Series, #4)

by
JOHN ALEXANDER
  Genre: Children’s Mystery / Chapter Book
Date of Publication: October 14, 2017
Number of Pages: 159

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Amber and Autumn, elementary school sisters, don’t seek out problems to solve, but they often find themselves engaged in uncovering truths, solving mysteries, and helping others in the process. Autumn’s natural curiosity, combined with her boldness, leads her to push for answers to anything she does not understand. Amber, her older sister, more cautious and easily spooked, prefers to let Autumn drive ahead to solve mysteries which come their way, but her keen skills of observation often lead to the resolutions they seek.

In The Secret Room, the girls, during their stay at a  B&B, discover a long-forgotten room in the attic and uncover its secrets. The story takes place at the House of Seasons, a bed-and-breakfast in historic Jefferson, Texas. Their quest to uncover secrets takes the girls on a journey through Jefferson history including a cemetery, a river boat tour, and even an evening ghost walk.




PRAISE FOR THE SECRET ROOM:
“Great book, really enjoyed reading.  I’d guess a target audience would be 7 to 13-year-olds. Thank you for allowing me the honor to preview your book.  I look forward to purchasing your published work.” — Joseph (Teen Beta reader)

The Secret Room is a fun read. Not only is it a mystery; it also contains some of the history of Jefferson, Texas, and the surrounding area, as well as pictures of some special places there. Children and adults will enjoy reading it, just as I did.  — Carol (Adult Beta Reader)

“Overall I thought it was a great book. I would be excited to read the next book in the series.” –Madeline (4th grade Beta Reader)

 “The whole time I liked the suspense and the mystery side of it.” – Beta Reader

“I relate more to Amber because she doesn’t like a situation without light and she doesn’t like doing scary things first. She sends her little sister in to do it first and I do that. Amber is the older sister and so am I.” – Beta Reader

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300b2-review
At the risk of sounding ageist and/or sexist, I am impressed when authors can write from a completely different generation’s or opposite gender’s point of view. Alexander pulls it off effortlessly and tells a great mystery with some history woven in. Given the popularity of series such as American Girls and The Boxcar Children, I think he picked a great niche.
I don’t know if all of the books in the Amber-Autumn Series feature black and white photos like this one, but I love how they add more depth to the story and a bit of creepiness to it; much like the photographs in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. While the photos in the Ransom Riggs series are truly odd and creepy, I like how The Secret Room’s photos are just scenic but still somehow send a shiver down your spine.
I wonder if this series is similar to The Boxcar Children in that the first book is sort of the origin story and the following books just assume that you have read the first one. Either way, I found it interesting that this book doesn’t clue you in to what these girls look like, what their ethnicity might be. I don’t know if Alexander did this intentionally, but I could see how doing so would allow little girls to insert themselves into the story. The ambiguity distracts me as an adult, but as a kid I think I would appreciate it.
The writing style is clean and the characters are believable. I noticed that all of the main characters are women. As an adult, I can’t help but wonder if this was intentional and what it might be indicative of.
I recommend this book especially to kids who solve mysteries easily. I double dare them to guess the ending.

John writes chapter books that appeal to elementary school children to capture their imagination and help them discover the love of reading early in life. John lives in Frisco, Texas with his beautiful wife and his King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, Charlie Brown.
John spent his childhood in a small town in east Texas. He attended college at the University of Texas earning a BS in Physics and a BA in Math (minor in Computer Science). His years in the high-tech industry, most of it on the “bleeding edge,” allowed him to develop new technology with software.
John had the privilege of co-authoring two editions of CallManager Fundamentals. The two books sold over 23,000 copies, exceeding the publisher’s goal of 8,000. Having discovered his love for writing while still working in high tech, he began writing fiction in his spare time and published The Enclave, a mystery / suspense novel, in 2010.
After leaving high-tech in 2014, he now spends full time pursuing his writing passion. He loves writing books that help children discover early in life that reading is a fun adventure. He recently released illustrated editions of the first three books in the Amber-Autumn mystery series: Christmas Garden Illustrated, Grandfather’s Blessing Illustrated, and Golden Campout Illustrated. The Secret Room is the fourth book in the series.
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GRAND PRIZE: Signed copies of all four Amber-Autumn series books + $10 Starbucks Gift Card
TWO RUNNERS-UP: Signed copy of The Secret Room
November 27-December 6, 2017
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CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

11/27/17
Book Trailer
11/27/17
Excerpt
11/28/17
Review
11/29/17
Author Interview
11/29/17
Guest Post
11/30/17
Review
12/1/17
Notable Quotable
12/1/17
Notable Quotable
12/2/17
Review
12/3/17
Review
12/4/17
Sneak Peek
12/4/17
Excerpt
12/5/17
Review
12/5/17
Author Interview
12/6/17
Review
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Notable Quotable & Giveaway: Death in D Minor by Alexia Gordon

DEATH IN D MINOR

by
ALEXIA GORDON
  Genre: Paranormal Mystery / African American Sleuth
Publisher: Henery Press
Date of Publication: July 11, 2017
Number of Pages: 236
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Gethsemane Brown, African-American musician and expatriate to an Irish village, solved a string of murders and got used to living with a snarky ghost. She can rest easy now. Right? Wrong. The ghost has disappeared, her landlord’s about to sell to a developer, and her brother-in-law’s come to visit. She scrambles to call her spectral roomie back from beyond and find a way to save the cottage from destruction. But real estate takes a backseat when her brother-in-law is accused of stealing a valuable antique. Gethsemane strikes a deal with an investigator to go undercover at a charity ball and snoop for evidence of a forgery/theft ring in exchange for the woman’s help clearing him. At the party, she accidentally conjures the ghost of an eighteenth-century sea captain, then ends up the prime suspect in the party host’s murder. She races to untangle a web of phony art and stolen antiques to exonerate herself, then the killer targets her. Will she bring a murderer to justice, or will her encore investigation become her swan song?


PRAISE FOR DEATH IN D MINOR:
Gethsemane Brown is everything an amateur sleuth should be: smart, sassy, talented, and witty even when her back is against the wall. In her latest adventure, she’s surrounded by a delightful cast, some of whom readers will remember from Gordon’s award-winning debut and all of whom they won’t forget. Gordon writes characters we want resurrected.
n  Cate Holahan, author of The Widower’s
Wife and Lies She Told
Erstwhile ghost conjurer and gifted concert violinist Gethsemane Brown returns in this thoroughly enjoyable follow-up to last year’s Murder in G Major. Facing eviction from the historic seaside cottage she calls home, Gethsemane must clear her brother-in-law’s name – as well as her own – when a priceless artifact goes missing and the wealthy dowager to whom it belonged is “helped” over a high balcony railing.  With the help of a spectral sea captain she accidentally summoned, Gethsemane tries to unravel the mystery as the murderer places her squarely in the crosshairs.
n  Daniel J. Hale, Agatha Award-winning author

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NotableQuotable
Dquote

A writer since childhood, I put literary endeavors on hold to finish medical school and Family Medicine residency training. Medical career established, I returned to writing fiction. I completed SMU’s Writer’s Path program in Dallas, Texas. Henery Press published my first novel, Murder in G Major, book one of the Gethsemane Brown mysteries, in September 2016. Book two, Death in D Minor, releases July 11, 2017.
Murder in G Major won the Lefty Award for Best Debut Novel, was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best New Novel, and was selected one of Suspense Magazine’s Best Debuts. I listen to classical music, drink whiskey, and blog at www.missdemeanors.com, voted one of Writers’ Digest magazine’s 101 best websites for writers, and featured on Femmes Fatales.            
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October 25-November 3, 2017
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CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

25-Oct
Review
25-Oct
Notable Quotable
26-Oct
Top 5 List
27-Oct
Review
27-Oct
Playlist 1
28-Oct
Review
29-Oct
Excerpt
30-Oct
Author Interview
30-Oct
Review
31-Oct
Playlist 2
1-Nov
Review
1-Nov
Top 5 List
2-Nov
Notable Quotable
2-Nov
Notable Quotable
3-Nov
Review


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Arthur Zarr’s Amazing Art Car by Cathey Graham Nickell

ARTHUR ZARR’S AMAZING ART CAR
by Cathey Graham Nickell
illustrated by Bill Megenhardt
Genre: Children’s Picture Book/Outsider Art
Publisher: Twenty-Eight Creative
Date of Publication: November, 2015
# of pages: 40

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Arthur Zarr is a quiet man with few friends. His life is rather plain, and his car is plain, too. But not for long! When Arthur gets a creative idea to add everyday objects to his car’s plain exterior, he’s noticed for the first time. Neighbors and other bystanders add their own artistic flair to the car, too. What happens when he enters his bedazzled vehicle in the town’s art car parade? Mr. Zarr finds happiness and makes friends by building an amazing art car. In this whimsical story, children learn about recycling, community, friendship building, and the power of imagination. The book includes a “History of Art Cars” page for readers who’ve never heard of this creative form of artistic expression. It also has a subtle ABC theme, as Arthur Zarr adds objects to his art car in alphabetical order! This is the first—and so far, the only—children’s book published about an art car. Suitable for all ages but especially ages 4-8. Illustrated by Houston graphic artist, Bill Megenhardt.
 Praise for Arthur Zarr’s Amazing Art Car:

“Nickell’s book is a treat for sight, sound, and sense, for readers and artcarfans (no, you won’t find the word in your dictionary just yet, anyway) of all levels.”
Lone Star Literary Life.

 

“A wonderful story of art, opening up to the joys of life, and celebrating the artist in everyone.”—Lynette Wallace, Executive Director, Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, Houston, Texas.

 


“Cathey Nickell’s book will help fuel the desire to make positive changes in our world through artistic endeavor.”—Alicia Duplan, Assistant Director, Art Car Museum, Houston, Texas.

 

“Cathey’s story. . . is both engaging and warm. By the end, I found myself rooting for Mr. Zarr. I even felt a small twinge of disappointment when he didn’t win the trophy. Artcar Nation highly recommends this book. Give it to all the children you know.”— Paul McRae, Artcar Nation.

 

ReviewI had the privilege of getting my hands on a signed copy of this wonderful picture book. And since this one is especially for children, I read it for the first time ever with my 3 year old son. Beside the occasional Eric Carle book, this is the longest book I’ve ever read to him. So I wasn’t expecting his attention span to keep up with me, but I definitely wanted to get his reaction.

The kiddo was super psyched about the new book I was going to read to him and loved the cover already. In the first few pages, Arthur Zarr’s solitude is emphasized by the colorless world around him. At first, only Arthur is in color. But the color spreads to his groceries from the Farmers Market to the first objects that he glues to his plain car. My son kept touching the colored illustrations, but he occasionally pointed at things that were still in black and white. I thought it was interesting how the uncolored drawings seemed so simple (like a talented child artist’s rendering) but then the addition of color added so much depth and maturity. Unfortunately, my son’s attention drifted before the color started to take over the story and Arthur made more connections with people in his community. I powered through and read aloud, even though he was jumping on the bed. I knew he was paying some attention though because he would randomly repeat words that I read in sing song.

I was so distracted by the kiddo’s shenanigans that I didn’t even notice that the objects Arthur Zarr put on his car were in alphabetical order. DOH! But I loved loved LOVED the alphabet at the end of the story comprised of the objects that they stand for. I also enjoyed reading about the history of art cars, since I didn’t know their origin story.

I read the book a second time around on my own so that I could write a proper review. I liked the ratio of text to illustration, since some books seem to have too little or too much of one or the other. I liked the repetitive aspect of the “plain car” and “quiet man”, and how the descriptions changed, as he changed. I loved how his world grew larger and brighter with each new interaction. And the ending was wonderful, too, because it didn’t end in a way that most children’s books do. I’m not going to ruin it for you. But trust me, it gets you right in the feels.

The publishing information in the back of the book says the audience is ages 3-9, but I have to agree with the recommended ages 4-8 provided on this tour. I know my son is still immature when it comes to story time, but the amount of text in this book is more appropriate for a school-aged story time.

BUY LINKS

ALSO AVAILABLE AT THESE BRICKS & MORTAR STORES:
BEER CAN HOUSE, 222 Malone St., Houston, Texas (weekends only). 
BERINGS Baby and Kids Dept., 3900 Bissonnet St. and 6102 Westheimer Rd., Houston, Texas.
BETWEEN THE COVERS BOOKSTORE, 224 W. Colorado Ave., Telluride, Colorado.
BLUE WILLOW BOOKSHOP, 14532 Memorial Dr., Houston, Texas.
BRAZOS BOOKSTORE, 2421 Bissonnet St., Houston, Texas.
CONTEMPORARY ARTS MUSEUM, 5216 Montrose Blvd., Houston, Texas.
THE JUNG CENTER BOOKSTORE, 5200 Montrose Blvd., Houston, Texas.
TOY FAIR at Pierremont Mall, 4801 Line Ave., Shreveport, Louisiana.


Cathey Graham Nickell is an author, mother, and wife living in Houston, Texas. She is best known as the seeing-eye-person for her little blind dog named Cricket. Cathey launched her first children’s picture book, Arthur Zarr’s Amazing Art Car, in November 2015. She doesn’t drive an art car herself, but she has a habit of covering the back of her SUV with bumper stickers! Cathey also snaps pictures of art cars—which are plentiful in Houston—when she sees them. Her all-time favorite car was the bright-yellow Volkswagen Beetle that her grandmother drove in the 1970s. 

Cathey draws from her experience as a former newspaper reporter and public relations professional. After taking a few years off to raise four children, Cathey started freelance writing again in 2012 when a non-profit organization called the Institute for Spirituality and Health hired her to research and write its six-decade history. Uniting Faith, Medicine and Healthcare: A 60-Year History of the Institute for Spirituality and Health at the Texas Medical Center was published in 2015. The book is used as a marketing and communications tool, and all financial proceeds benefit the Institute (not Cathey). Cathey graduated from Baylor University with a BA in Journalism in 1985. She earned a Master of Arts from Louisiana State University-Shreveport in 2013. Find her online where she blogs about her writing and publishing adventures.

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$20 CASH & an Author and Illustrator 
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Check out these other great blog stops on the tour!

3/7     Hall Ways Blog  – Review
3/8     Because This is My Life Y’all – Author Interview
3/10   Books and Broomsticks — Review
3/11   The Librarian Talks – Excerpt
3/12   The Page Unbound – Review
3/13   Texas Book Lover – Guest Post
3/14   The Crazy Booksellers – Promo
3/15   Missus Gonzo  — Review
3/16   A Novel Reality  — Author Interview
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