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Review & Giveaway: Bombshell by Pamela Fagan Hutchins


BOMBSHELL
(What Doesn’t Kill You, #9)
An Ava Romantic Mystery

by
PAMELA FAGAN HUTCHINS
  Genre: Romantic Mystery / R-Rated
Date of Publication: July 11, 2017
Number of Pages: 236

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Temp worker by day, lounge singer by night, single mom Ava is having a hard time breaking up with her long-distance boyfriend and making it without the support of her parents on the island of St. Marcos. Things improve dramatically when she lands a too-good-to-be-true job at a virtual currency exchange, where she meets a seriously sexy man, and goes to work for a boss so incredible he sponsors her on a trip to New York to record a demo. But when Ava stumbles across the raped and murdered body of a young woman, she recognizes her from a shared trauma back in their school days. Ava is devastated and throws herself into avenging the girl’s death. From that moment on, it’s one bombshell after another, going off closer and closer to Ava and the people she cares about most.


PRAISE FOR BOMBSHELL:
“Just when I think I couldn’t love another Pamela Fagan Hutchins novel more, along comes Ava. She’s smart and sassy, with a story full of juicy plot twists. I enjoyed Bombshell from cover to cover!” — Marcy McKay, author of Pennies from Burger Heaven 

“To finally get a whole book of Ava’s beautiful voice and attitude was so much fun. And then to see that her outer armor was mixed with the very real insecurities and struggles that we can all relate to was magical. She personifies bombshell in every sense of word and I can’t wait to have her voice in my head again in Stunner.” — Tara Scheyer, Grammy-nominated musician, Long-Distance Sisters Book Club
“Entertaining, complex, and thought-provoking.” — Ginger Copeland, power reader 

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Review
It took me a few pages to realize that the typesetter didn’t leave off letters or entire words, but that the dialect was islander – as in Virgin Islands islander. Once I got past that little bump, I immediately fell in with Ava and her crazy life. I’m a little older than her, but I can totally relate to having a small child and working thankless temporary jobs when all you want to do is be a singer.
Kudos to Hutchins for believability and clarity. I could feel the oppressive St. Marcos heat and humidity. I could see how all the colorful characters soaked in the lovely sight of the voluptuous siren Ava. I could smell Ava’s aluminum-free deodorant failing her (been there done that!). And I could feel the repulsion from slimy men’s fingers trying to cop a feel.
I am also impressed with the progression of events and how it all ended. I knew the book is a mystery, but I was so wrapped up in Ava’s present situation that I didn’t even bother to try to figure out who was killing the dancers and why. Hutchins had me fanning myself over sensuous descriptions one moment to clenching my jaw as Ava remembers childhood predators. It was difficult to pry myself away from the present to look that far ahead.
If I actually tried, would I have solved the mystery? Probably not. The baddie(s) were so off my radar because of the circus that Ava has spiraling around her. And I admired her strength and bravery so much throughout the novel.
The only time my admiration faltered was when she actively pursued her music career. Maybe I’m a little jealous of a fictional character? Or maybe I’m annoyed that she finally had a stable job with which to support her child and she was being reckless with it by pursuing a pipe dream. She already didn’t spend much time with her daughter (who might have a slight developmental delay), and a life in the limelight would mean she would spend even less time with her. Sorry, stuffy mom rant ends here.
I really liked the end and encourage you to read the previous books to know even more about Ava and the people in her life. I look forward to reading any other Ava books that come out in the future.
Grab yourself a glass of red and settle in for a loooong night of reading. 😉

Pamela Fagan Hutchins writes overly long e-mails, award-winning and best-selling romantic mysteries, and hilarious nonfiction from deep in the heart of Nowheresville, Texas and way up in the frozen north of Snowheresville, Wyoming. 

Her What Doesn’t Kill You romantic mystery series is Janet Evanovich meets Sandra Brown and a smidge of Alice Hoffman’s practical magic, featuring a revolving lineup of interrelated female amateur sleuths. She is passionate about great writing and smart authorpreneurship as well as long hikes with her hunky husband and pack of rescue dogs, riding her gigantic horses, experimenting with her Keurig, and traveling in the Bookmobile.
WEBSITE   BLOG   PINTEREST
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AWARDS

2017 WINNER Silver Falchion Award, Best Mystery

2016 WINNER USA Best Book Award, Cross Genre Fiction
2015 WINNER USA Best Book Award, Cross Genre Fiction
2014 USA Best Book Award Finalist, Cross Genre Fiction
2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarter-finalist, Romance
2013 USA Best Book Award Finalist, Business: Publishing
2012 Winner of the Houston Writers Guild Ghost Story Contest
2012 WINNER USA Best Book Award, Parenting: Divorce
2011 Winner of the Houston Writers Guild Novel Contest, Mainstream

 

2010 Winner of the Writers League of Texas Manuscript Contest, Romance
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FIVE SIGNED COPIES OF BOMBSHELL
November 1-November 10, 2017
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CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

1-Nov
Character Interview
1-Nov
Guest Post 1
2-Nov
Review
3-Nov
Video Interview
3-Nov
Guest Post 2
4-Nov
Review
5-Nov
Review
6-Nov
Excerpt
6-Nov
Guest Post 3
7-Nov
Review
8-Nov
Scrapbook Page
8-Nov
Scrapbook Page
9-Nov
Guest Post 4
10-Nov
Review
10-Nov
Review


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Excerpt & Giveaway: Badlands by Melissa Lenhardt

BADLANDS
Sawbones, Book 3
by
MELISSA LENHARDT
!!NEW RELEASE!!
  Genre: Historical / Western / Action-Adventure / Romance
Publisher: Redhook
Date of Publication: June 27, 2017
Number of Pages: 416

Outlander meets post-Civil War unrest in the conclusion to Melissa Lenhardt’s fast-paced historical series.

Laura’s worst fears have been realized: Kindle has been taken into custody and she is once again on the run. The noose awaits her in New York, but Laura is realizing that there are some things worse than death. Finally running out of places to hide, it may be time for Dr. Catherine Bennett to face her past.
PURCHASE LINKS:
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Excerpt from Badlands by Melissa Lenhardt

Chapter One, Part 3

Continued from the Lone Star Book Blog Tours July 5, 2017 stop of the Badlands tour.
A tall man with a hat pulled low walked behind the woman, jostling her and breaking our gaze. A small strip of his white collar showed between his longish dark hair and the navy-blue coat he wore. Buff colored pants were tucked into the top of his cavalry boots, well worn and dusty from the trail. He held a Remington rifle loosely in his right hand and favored his left leg. A stream of smoke trailed behind his head and I knew he held a thin cigar between his teeth.

I dropped the notebook. It was Kindle, come to find me. Rosemond hadn’t been lying about helping me on Kindle’s behalf. I grasped the open window and yelled, “Kindle!”

My voice was barely a whisper, and the man continued on without stopping, down the steps of the platform and into town. I stumbled across the compartment and opened the door on the third try. Ricocheting down the hall on legs I could scarcely feel, I tripped down the stairs and fell onto the platform on my hands and knees. The redheaded woman was next to me, helping me up with strong thin hands. I stripped my arm from her grasp and tried to run in the direction the man went, but stumbled again. Why wouldn’t my legs work?

“Let me help you.” The woman lifted me up, put an arm around my waist and walked me in Kindle’s direction while I craned my neck searching for him. The steel gray sky was thick with the earthy smell of impending rain.

“There.” I pointed at a saloon down the street and the woman dutifully carried me along. We navigated through horses, wagons and pedestrians, drawing our own peculiar interest; an ugly woman holding a carpet bag in one hand and her other arm around a pale, ill woman. I reached for the porch column and pulled myself up the step. I rested my cheek against the coarse wood, hoping for a well-spring of strength to propel me inside the saloon, and into Kindle’s arms.

“You can’t go into a saloon,” the woman said.

I stumbled through the open door and stood for a moment, letting my eyes adjust to the dark. A card game at a table to the right of the door. A bartender polishing a glass behind planks of wood resting on two cracker barrels. A cracked mirror behind him. The jagged reflection of a thin women with disheveled hair and bruises beneath her eyes. My mouth watered as the oaky scent of whisky drifted around me. I followed the sound of a woman’s laughter coming from the back.

“Hey!”

Finding my legs, I made it to the hallway in the back and stripped open the canvas curtain door of the first room. Empty. I moved to the room across the hall, startling two women in various states of undress. I went to the next room and ripped open the curtain. Kindle had his back to me, facing the naked woman on the bed, her hand between her splayed legs. My stomach lurched with nausea. “Kindle?” My voice was barely a whisper.

“She your wife?” the whore said.

The man turned and appraised me. A thin mustache hung limply from his upper lip, framing a cruel mouth and taking no attention away from his pockmarked olive complexion.

“That dope fiend? Hell no.” The man grabbed my arm and threw me out the door and straight into the bartender who lifted me up, and tossed me over his shoulder like I was a bag of leaves. He stalked through the saloon and dropped me on the ground outside in the middle of the only puddle in the street. With shaking arms, I pushed myself into a sitting position, horse piss dripping from my jaw, and looked up into the ugly woman’s face. The sun was behind her head, masking her expression.

“I told you not to go in there.” I took her offered hand. She pulled me up and released me quickly. She flicked the excess urine from her hand, bent down and wiped it on the bottom of her skirt. “Was it him?”

I shook my head.She sighed. “I’m sorry.”The train whistle screamed and the train labored forward toward California. “You’ve missed your train.”

Though my brain was fuzzy with laudanum and I wanted nothing more than to lie down in the middle of the street and sleep, I understood the import of the train leaving without me. I was free of Rosemond and could return to Kindle. I managed to smile. “So I have.”

My happiness was short lived.

“Laura!”

Rosemond in her ridiculous blue dress stalked toward us holding a flour sack, her powdered, pox-scarred face a mask of fury. The ugly woman turned around and stood shoulder to shoulder with me. “Who’s that?”

“My kidnapper.”


Melissa Lenhardt is the author the Jack McBride mystery series, as well as the Laura Elliston historical fiction series. Her debut mystery, STILLWATER, was a finalist for the 2014 Whidbey Writers’ MFA Alumni Emerging Writers Contest, and SAWBONES, her historical fiction debut, was hailed as a “thoroughly original, smart and satisfying hybrid, perhaps a new subgenre: the feminist Western” by Lone Star Literary Life. A lifelong Texan, she lives in the Dallas area with her husband and two sons.

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1stBadlands paperback;       2ndBadlands eBook; 
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June 27-July 6, 2017
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CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
6/27
Notable Quotable 1
6/27
Notable Quotable 2
6/28
Review: Blood Oath
6/28
Review: Badlands
6/29
Review: Blood Oath
6/29
Review: Badlands
6/30
Review: Blood Oath
6/30
Review: Badlands
7/1
Review: Blood Oath
7/1
Review: Badlands
7/2
Badlands Excerpt 1
7/3
Bonus Review
7/4
Bonus Review
7/5
Badlands Excerpt 2
7/6
Badlands Excerpt 3
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Review: Lost Path to Solitude by Maria Elena Sandovici

LOST PATH TO SOLITUDE

 

(A Follow-Up to Dogs With Bagels)


by 


Maria Elena Sandovici
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Date of Publication: February 12, 2016
# of pages: 315
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Once you leave home, can you ever return? Two characters, mother and daughter, contemplate this question in Lost Path to Solitude. Twenty-five years after leaving Romania in order to follow the man she loves to New York, Maria Pop still struggles with accepting her decision. She is determined to go back and recapture the poetry and joy of life in Bucharest, even at the expense of risking her marriage. Meanwhile, her daughter, Liliana, second-guesses her own choice of moving to a small town in Southeast Texas, ironically called Solitude, where she finds herself lonely, bored, and nostalgic for the fast pace of life in New York City. Facing the claustrophobic social climate of a town that goes to bed early, as well as the constrictions of her emerging academic career, Liliana longs for something that would give her existence meaning. The parallel soul-searching and the frustration they experience does little to bring mother and daughter closer. Instead, as each struggles with finding her own place in the world, they become increasingly critical of each other. Will their relationship survive the growing pains they each must suffer in their quest for self-fulfillment?

Review
If I don’t judge a book by its cover, I have a tendency to judge it by its synopsis. At first glance, I decided rather quickly that this book would be interesting but not something that I could relate to. I was very wrong.
I’m the same age as Liliana but our lives have followed very different paths. She’s single due to a broken engagement 10 years prior and on track for tenure at the university she works for. I’m married with a kid and working from home. But we both struggle with the question of whether that is all there is to us. And throw in the drama with our mothers, and I think that Liliana and I could hang out all day after a yoga class.
On the surface, it might seem I could relate more to Liliana’s mother, Maria. She studied to be a librarian and a string of events prevented her from working in the field. I actually quit working as a librarian to raise my son. Ok, well, maybe we don’t have as much in common as I thought. But we do have that existential crisis thing going for us like Liliana. Also, when she makes the decision to stop speaking to Liliana, I can definitely relate. If only my family were like hers, letting the two quarrelers be and not getting in the middle.
I don’t know a lot about Romania and its people, but it was interesting how much the culture and people seem to parallel people in the Philippines (my parents’ homeland). I thought it was hilarious that the family from America was expected to bring back gifts that could probably be purchased in Romania. Or that you had to stay with family when you visited rather than stay at a hotel even though it might be uncomfortable or inconvenient. Don’t even get me started on the sexism, religious fanaticism, and general hypocrisy. When you’re in the thick of it, it’s not pleasant. But when you read about it or think about it in retrospect, it’s pretty entertaining. It’s nice to know that this translates across so many cultures. I wouldn’t want anyone to feel left out.
In a funny coincidence, just the other day my brother-in-law, who is a flight attendant, was explaining to me the difference between Texans and New Yorkers. Both BIL and book pointed out that New Yorkers are very straight forward and don’t sugarcoat things and waste your time like Texans often do. How New Yorkers can be misconstrued as rude because of this, whereas Texans seem sweet even when they insult you with a “Bless your heart.” This might not be earth shattering news, but I felt like it deserved a mention since I felt like New York and Texas were sort of characters as well. Romania, too, of course. But like I’ve said previously, I know nothing of Romania.
Sandovici writes a great tale. My only nitpick on this book is that I wished she put the name of the character at the beginning of each section when she switched perspectives. I sometimes had to read a whole page before figuring out who it was about, and then circling back to the start of the section so that I fully understood what was happening.
I applaud her writing style because of the subtle things. Like Maria’s broken English when she’s speaking to her kids, non-Romanian friends, and strangers. But then her vast vocabulary and colorful dialogue when speaking to her husband and those who do speak Romanian. It’s these little things that speak volumes about an author’s abilities.
Maria Elena Sandovici moved to Texas on a Greyhound bus in the summer of 2005. It would be the beginning of a great adventure. Born in Bucharest, Romania, a place she loves and where she returns often, she’d spend the requisite time in Manhattan to call herself a New Yorker, but also to know she was looking for something else. Her debut novel, Dogs with Bagels, is very much a New York story: the story of an immigrant family forging new identities for themselves in the city that never sleeps. 

Her second novel, Stray Dogs and Lonely Beaches, is the story of a young woman traveling the world in search of herself. This theme persists in Lost Path to Solitude, her third novel, in which characters suffering an identity crisis are caught in a search for the ideal place to call home. Three locales dominate the story: New York City, Bucharest, and an imaginary, caricaturized town in Southeast Texas, called Solitude.In addition to writing fiction, Maria Elena Sandovici paints every day. She has a studio at Hardy and Nance Studios in Houston, and also shows her daily watercolors on her blog, Have Watercolors Will Travel, accompanied by essays about whatever inspires or obsesses her at any given moment.

To support her art and writing, she teaches Political Science at Lamar University. She is also the well-behaved human of a feisty little dog. 

Her favorite places in Texas are Houston and Galveston. 

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GIVEAWAY! TWO WINNERS EACH RECEIVE  COPIES OF BOTH DOGS WITH BAGELS & LOST PATH TO SOLITUDE

 

  May 23 – June 1, 2016
Check out the other great blogs on the tour!  

5/23   Missus Gonzo  –  Review
5/24   It’s a Jenn World – Author Interview #1
5/25   Country Girl Bookaholic  – Promo
5/26   Forgotten Winds  — Review
5/27   Texas Book Lover  – Guest Post #1
5/28   My Book Fix Blog – Excerpt
5/29   Hall Ways BlogReview
5/30   The Page Unbound – Author Interview #2
5/31   StoreyBook Reviews      – Review
6/1     A Novel Reality– Guest Post #2
 
 
 
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