Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Welcome To Moonlight Harbor by Sheila Roberts (VBT: Book Review)

In association with Pump Up Your Book Virtual Book Publicity Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Welcome To Moonlight Harbor by Sheila Roberts!

Book Review

Welcome To Moonlight Harbor by Sheila Roberts
Book 1: Moonlight Harbor Series
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Publication Date: April 17, 2018
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, Audio Book, eBook - 400 pages
               Kindle - 3171 KB
               Nook - 3 MB
ISBN: 978-0778368052
BNID: 978-1488032851
Genre: Women's Fiction

Purchase Links:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author/publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Pump Up Your Book Virtual Book Publicity Tours.

Book Description:

Once-happily married Jenna Jones is about to turn forty, and this year for her birthday – lucky her – she’s getting a divorce. She’s barely able to support herself and her teenage daughter, but now her deadbeat artist ex is hitting her up for spousal support…and then spending it on his “other” woman. 

Still, Jenna is determined follow her mother’s philosophy – every storm brings a rainbow. And when she gets a very unexpected gift from her great Aunt Edie, things seem to be taking a turn for the better. Aging aunt Edie is finding it difficult to keep up her business running The Driftwood Inn, so she invites Jenna to come live with her and run the place. It looks like Jenna's financial problems are solved!

Or not. The town is a little more run-down than Jenna remembered, but that's nothing compared to the ramshackle state of The Driftwood Inn. Aunt Edie is confident they can return it to its former glory, though Jenna feels like she’s jumped from the proverbial frying pan into the beach fire.

But who knows? With the help of her new friends and a couple of handsome citizens, perhaps that rainbow is on the horizon after all. Because, no matter what, life is always good at the beach.

Book Excerpt:

To Do:
Clean office
Dentist at noon
Drop Sabrina off at Mom’s
Meet everyone at Casa Roja at 6
Or just tell them I’ve got bubonic plague and cancel

The four women seated at a corner booth in the Mexican restaurant were getting increasingly noisier with each new round of drinks. Cinco de Mayo had come and gone, but these ladies still had something to celebrate, as they were all dressed in slinky tops over skinny jeans and body-con dresses, killer shoes, and wearing boas. There were four of them, all pretty, all still in their thirties. Except the guest of honor, who was wearing a black dress, a sombrero and a frown. She was turning forty.
It was going to take a while for her to get as jovial as the others (like about a million years) considering what she’d just gotten for her birthday. A divorce.
“Here’s to being free of rotten scum-sucking, cheating husbands,” toasted Celeste, sister of the guest of honor. She was thirty-five, single, and always in a party mood.
The birthday girl, Jenna Jones, formerly Jenna Petit, took another sip of her mojito. She could get completely sloshed if she wanted. She wasn’t driving and she didn’t have to worry about setting a good example for her daughter, Sabrina, who was spending the night with Grandma. Later, if they could still work their cell phones, the gang would be calling Uber and getting driven home and poured into their houses or, in the case of sister Celeste, apartments, so there was no need to worry about driving drunk. But Jenna wasn’t a big drinker, even when she was in a party mood, and tonight she was as far from that as a woman could get.
What was there to party about when you were getting divorced and turning (ick!) forty? Still, that mojito was going down pretty easily. And she was inhaling the chips and salsa. At the rate she was going she’d be getting five extra pounds for her birthday as well as a divorce.
“Just think, you can make a whole new start,” said her best friend Brittany. Brittany was happily married with three kids. What did she know about new starts? Still, she was trying to put a positive spin on things.
“And who knows? Maybe the second time around you’ll meet a business tycoon” said Jenna’s other bestie, Vanita.
“Or someone who works at Amazon and owns lots of stock,” put in Celeste.
“I’d take the stock in a heartbeat,” Jenna said, “but I’m so over men.” She’d given up on love. Maybe, judging from the chewed fingernails and grown-out highlights in her hair, she’d given up on herself, too. She felt shipwrecked. What was the point of building a rescue fire? The next ship to come along would probably also flounder.
“No, you’re over man,” Brittany corrected. “You can’t give up on the whole species because of one loser. You don’t want to go through the rest of your life celibate.” She shuddered as if celibacy was akin to leprosy.
“Anyway, there’s some good ones out there somewhere,” said Vanita, who, at thirty-six, was still single and looking. “They’re just hiding,” she added with a guffaw, and took another drink of her Margarita.
“That’s for sure,” Celeste agreed, who was also looking now that This-is-it Relationship Number Three had died. With her green eyes, platinum hair, pouty lips and perfect body, it probably wouldn’t take her long to find a replacement. “Men. Can’t live with ‘em, can’t ...” Her brows furrowed. “Live with ‘em.”
Jenna hadn’t been able to live with hers, that was for sure, not once she learned Mr. Sensitive Artist had another muse on the side - a redhead who painted murals and was equally sensitive. And had big boobs. That had nothing to do with why they were together, Damien had insisted. They were soul mates.
Funny, he’d said the same thing to Jenna once. It looked like some souls could have as many mates as they wanted.
Damien Petit, handsome, charming... rat. When they first got together Jenna had thought he was brilliant. They’d met at a club in the U District. He’d been the darling of the University of Washington Art Department. He’d looked like a work of art, himself, with brooding eyes and the perfectly chiseled features of a marble statue. She’d been going to school to become a massage therapist. She, who had never gotten beyond painting tiles and decorating cakes, had been in awe. A real artist. His medium was un-recyclable detritus. Junk.
Too bad she hadn’t seen the symbolism in that back when they first got together. All she’d seen was his creativity.
She was seeing that in full bloom now. Damien had certainly found a creative way to support himself and his new woman - on spousal support from Jenna.
Seriously? She’d barely be able to support herself and Sabrina once the dust settled.
Nonetheless, the court had deemed that she had been the main support of the family and poor, struggling artist Damien needed transitional help while he readied himself to get out there in the big, bad world and earn money on his own. Her reward for being the responsible one in the marriage was to support the irresponsible one. So now, he was living in the basement of his parent’s house, cozy as a cockroach with the new woman, and Jenna was footing the bill for their art supplies. Was this fair? Was this right? Was this any way to start off her fortieth year?
Her sister nudged her. “Hey, smile. We’re having fun here.”
Jenna forced a smile. “Fun.”
“You can’t keep brooding about the junk jerk.”
“I’m not,” Jenna lied.
“Yeah, you are. I can see it in your eyes.”
“I know it’s not fair you have to pay him money,” put in Brittany, “but that’s how things work today. You know, women’s rights and all. If men can pay us spousal support we can pay them, too.”
“Since when does women’s rights give your ex the right to skip off like a fifteen-year old with his new bimbo and you pay for the fun?” Jenna demanded.
It was sick and wrong. She’d carried him for years, working as a massage therapist while he dabbled away, selling a piece of art here and there. They’d lived on her salary supplemented by an annual check at Christmas from his folks, who wanted to encourage him to pursue his dream of artistic success, and grocery care packages from her mom, who worked as a checker at the local Safeway. And the grandparents, God bless them, had always given her a nice, fat check for her birthday. Shocking how quickly those fat checks always shrank. Damien drank up money like a thirsty plant, investing it in his art ... and certain substances to help him with his creative process.
Maybe everyone shouldn’t have helped them so much. Maybe they should have let Damien become a starving artist, literally. Then he might have grown up and manned up and gotten a job.
They’d had more than one discussion about that. “And when,” he’d demanded, “am I supposed to do my art?”
“Evenings? Weekends?”
He’d looked heavenward and shaken his head. “As if you can just turn on creativity like a faucet.”
One of Jenna’s clients was an aspiring writer with a family, who worked thirty hours a week. She managed to turn on the faucet every Saturday morning.
There was obviously something wrong with Damien’s pipes. “I need time to think, time for things to come together.”
Something had come together all right. With Aurora Ansel, whose mother had obviously watched one too many Disney movies.
Jenna probably should have packed it in long before Aurora came slinking along, admitted what she’d known after only a couple of years into the marriage that it had been a mistake. But after she’d gotten pregnant she’d wanted desperately to make things work, so she’d kept her head down and kept ploughing forward through rough waters.
Now she and Damien were through and it still didn’t look like clear sailing ahead. Sigh.
“Game time,” Celeste announced. We are going to see who can wish the worst fate on the scum-sucking cheater. I have a prize for the winner.” She dug in her capacious Michael Kors purse and pulled out a Seattle Chocolates chocolate bar and everyone, including the birthday girl let out an “ooh.”
“Okay, I’ll go first,” Brittany said. “May he fall in a dumpster looking for junk and not be able to climb out.”
“I’ll drink to that,” Jenna said, and did.
“Oh, that’s lame,” scoffed Vanita.
“So, you think you can do better?” Brittany challenged.
“Absolutely,” she said, flipping her long, black hair. “May he wind up in the Museum of Bad Art.”
“There is such a thing?” Jenna asked.
“Oh, yeah.” Vanita grinned.
“Ha!” Celeste crowed. “That would serve him right.”
Jenna shook her head. “That will never be happen. To be fair, he is good.”
“Good at being a cheating scum sucker,” Celeste said and took a drink.
Vanita tried again. “Okay, then, how about this one? May a thousand camels spit on his work.”
“Or a thousand first-graders,” added Celeste, who taught first grade.
“How about this one? May the ghost of Van Gogh haunt him and cut off his ear,” Brittany offered.
Vanita made a face and set down the chip she was about to bite into. “Eeew.”
“Eew is right,” Jenna agreed. “But I’m feeling bloodthirsty tonight so I’ll drink to that. I think that one’s your winner,” she said to her sister.
Celeste shook her head. “Oh, no. I can do better than that.”
“Go for it,” urged Brittany.
Celeste’s smile turned wicked. “May his ‘paint brush’ shrivel and fall off.”
“And to think you teach children,” Jenna said, rolling her eyes.
Nonetheless, the double entendre had them all laughing uproariously.
“Okay, I win the chocolate,” Celeste said.
“You haven’t given Jenna a chance,” pointed out Brittany.
“Go ahead, try and beat that,” Celeste said, waving the chocolate bar in front of Jenna.
“I can’t. It’s yours.”
Their waiter, a cute twenty-something Latino, came over. “Are you ladies ready for another drink?”
“We’d better eat,” Jenna said. Her mojito was going to her head.
Celeste overrode her. “We’ve got plenty of night left. Bring us more drinks,” she told the waiter. “And more chips.” She held up the empty bowl.
“Anything you ladies want,” he said, and smiled at Jenna.
Celeste nudged her as he walked away. “Did you hear that? Anything you want.”
“Not in the market,” Jenna said firmly, shaking her head and making the sombrero wobble. Tonight she hated men.
But, she decided, she did like mojitos, and her second one went down just fine.
So did the third. Olé.

Saturday morning, she woke up with gremlins sandblasting her brain and her mouth tasting like she’d feasted on cat litter instead of enchiladas. She rolled out of bed and staggered to the bathroom where she tried to silence the gremlins with aspirin and a huge glass of water. Then she made the mistake of looking in the mirror.
Ugh. Who was that woman with the ratty, long, blond-gone hair? Her bloodshot eyes were more red than blue and the circles under them made her look a decade older than what she’d just turned. Well, she felt a decade older than what she’d just turned.
A shower would help. Maybe.
Or maybe not. She still didn’t look so hot, even after she’d blown out her hair and put on some make-up. But oh, well. At least the gremlins had taken a lunch break.
She got in her ten-year-old Toyota (thank God they made those cars to run forever - this one would have to) and drove to her mother’s house to pick up her daughter.
She found her mother stretched out on the couch with a romance novel. Unlike her daughter, she looked rested, refreshed, and ready for a new day. In her early sixties, she was still an attractive woman, slender with a youthful face and the gray hairs well hidden under a sandy brown that was only slightly lighter than her original color.
“Hello, birthday girl,” Mom greeted her. “Did you have fun last night?”
As the night wore on she’d been distracted from her misery. That probably counted as fun, so she said, “Yes.”
“Looks like you could use some coffee,” Mom said, and led her into the kitchen.
“How’s my baby?” Jenna asked.
“She’s good. She just got in the shower. We stayed up late last night.”
Jenna settled at the kitchen table. “What did she think of your taste in movies?”
“She was impressed, naturally. Every girl should have to watch Pretty in Pink and Jane Eyre.”
“And?” Jenna prompted.
“Okay, so I showed her Grease. It’s a classic.”
“About hoods and ho’s.”
“I don’t know how you can say that about an iconic movie,” Mom said. “Anyway, I explained a few things to her, so it came with a moral.”
“What? You, too, can look like Olivia Newton John?”
Mom shrugged. “Something like that. Now, tell me. What all did you girls do?”
“Not much. We just went out for dinner.”
“Dinner is nice,” Mom said, and set a cup of coffee in front of Jenna. She pulled a bottle of Jenna’s favorite caramel flavored creamer from the fridge and set it on the table and watched while Jenna poured in a generous slosh. “I know this is going to be the beginning of a wonderful new year for you.”
“I have no way to go but up.”
“That’s right. And you know...”
“Every storm brings a rainbow,” Jenna finished with her.
“I firmly believe that.”
And Mom should know. She’d had her share of storms. “I don’t know how you did it,” Jenna said. “Surviving losing dad when we were so young, raising us single-handedly.”
“Hardly single-handedly. I had Gram and Gramps and Grandma and Grandpa Jones, as well. Yes, we each have to fight our own fight, but God always puts someone in our corner to help us.”
“I’m glad you’re in my corner,” Jenna said. “You’re my hero.”
Jenna had been almost five and Celeste a baby when their father had been killed in a car accident. Sudden, no chance for her mom to say good-bye. There was little that Jenna remembered about her father beyond sitting on his shoulders when they milled with the crowd at the Puyallup Fair or stood watching the Seafair parade in downtown Seattle, that and the scrape of his five o’clock shadow when he kissed her goodnight.
What stuck in her mind most was her mom, holding her on her lap, sitting at this very kitchen table and saying to Gram, “He was my everything.”
That read well in books, but maybe in real life it wasn’t good to make a man your everything. Even the good ones left you.
At least her dad hadn’t left voluntarily. Her mom had chosen a good man. So had Gram, whose husband was also gone now. Both women had picked wisely and knew what good looked like.
Too bad Jenna hadn’t listened to them when they tried to warn her about Damien. “Honey, there’s no hurry,” Mom had said.
Yes, there was. She’d wanted to be with him NOW.
“Are you sure he’s what you really want?” Gram had asked. “He seems a little...”
“What?” Jenna had prompted.
“Egotistical,” Gram had ventured.
“He’s confident,” Jenna had replied. “There’s a difference.”
“Yes, there is,” Gram had said. “Are you sure you know what it is?” she’d added, making Jenna scowl.
“I’m just not sure he’s the right man for you,” Mom had worried.
“Of course, he is,” Jenna had insisted, because at twenty-three she knew it all. And Damien had been so glamorous, so exciting. Look how well their names went together - Damien and Jenna, Jenna and Damien. Oh, yes, perfect.
And so it was for a time... until she began to see the flaws. Gram had been right, he was egotistical. Narcissistic. Irresponsible. Those flaws she could live with. Those she did live with. But then came the one flaw she couldn’t accept. Unfaithful.
Not that he’d asked her to accept it. Not that he’d asked her to keep him. Or even to forgive him. “I can’t help how I feel,” he’d said.
That was it. Harsh reality came in like a strong wind and blew away the last of the fantasy.
But, here was Mom, living proof that a woman could survive the loss of her love, could climb out of the rubble after all her dreams collapsed and rebuild. She’d worked hard at a job that kept her on her feet all day and had still managed to make PTA meetings. She’d hosted tea parties when her girls were little and sleepovers when they became teenagers. And, in between all that, she’d managed to make time for herself, starting a book club with some of the neighbors. That book club still met every month. And Mom still found time for sleepovers, now with her granddaughter.
Surely, if her mom could overcome the loss of her man, Jenna could overcome the loss of what she’d thought her man was.
Mom smiled at her and slid a card-sized envelope across the table. “Happy birthday.”
“You already gave me my birthday present,” Jenna said. Mom had given her a motivational book about new beginnings by Muriel Sterling with a fifty-dollar bill tucked inside. Jenna would read the book (once she was ready to face the fact that she did, indeed, have to make a new beginning) and she planned to hoard the fifty like a miser. You could buy a lot of lentils and beans with fifty bucks.
“This isn’t from me. It’s from your Aunt Edie.”
“Aunt Edie?”
She hadn’t seen her great aunt in years, but she had fond memories of those childhood summer visits with her at Moonlight Harbor – beach combing for agates, baking cookies with Aunt Edie while her parrot Jolly Roger squawked all the silly things Uncle Ralph had taught him, listening to the waves crash as she lay in the old antique bed in the guest room at night with her sister. She remembered digging clams with Uncle Ralph, sitting next to her mother in front of a roaring beach fire, using her arm to shield her face from the heat of the flame as she roasted a hot dog. Those visits had been as golden as the sunsets.
But after getting together with Damien, life had filled with drama and responsibilities, and, after one quick visit, the beach town on the Washington Coast had faded into a memory. Maybe she’d spend that birthday money Mom had given her and go see Aunt Edie.
She pulled the card out of the envelope. All pastel flowers and birds, the outside read For a Lovely Niece. The inside had a sappy poem telling her she was special and wishing her joy in everything she did, and was signed, Love, Aunt Edie. No Uncle Ralph. He’d been gone for several years.
Aunt Edie had stuffed a letter inside the card. The writing was small, like her aunt. But firm, in spite of her age.
Dear Jenna,
I know you’ve gone through some very hard times, but I also know that like all the women in our family, you are strong and you’ll come through just fine.
Your grandmother told me you could use a new start and I would like to give it to you. I want you to come to Moonlight Harbor and help me revamp and run The Driftwood Inn. Like me, it’s getting old and it needs some help. I plan to bequeath it to you on my death. The will is already drawn up, signed and witnessed, so I hope you won’t refuse my offer.
Of course, I know your cousin Winston would love to get his grubby mitts on it, but he won’t. The boy is useless. And besides, you know I’ve always had a soft spot for you in my heart. You’re a good girl who’s always been kind enough to send Christmas cards and homemade fudge for my birthday. Uncle Ralph loved you like a daughter. So do I, and since we never had children of our own you’re the closest thing I have to one. I know your mother and grandmother won’t mind sharing.
Please say you’ll come.
Love, Aunt Edie
Jenna hardly knew what to say. “She wants to leave me the motel.” She had to be misreading.
She checked again. No, there it was, in Aunt Edie’s tight little scrawl.
Mom smiled. “I think this could be your rainbow.”
Not just the rainbow, the pot of gold as well!

My Book Review:

Welcome to the picturesque coastal town of Moonlight Harbor, Washington!

In Welcome To Moonlight Harbor, the first book of the Moonlight Harbor series, author Sheila Roberts provides her readers with a heartwarming story that follows forty-year-old divorcee Jenna Jones as she embarks on a journey to rebuild her life in Moonlight Harbor.

On her fortieth birthday, Jenna Jones celebrates her birthday and divorce from her cheating, deadbeat, wannabe artist husband Damien Petit. As her reward for being the responsible one in the marriage, the court deemed that since she was the main support and wage earner for the family, they awarded spousal support to her struggling artist ex-husband and new girlfriend until he could get on his feet. Financially strapped and not sure what to do to stay afloat, Jenna receives a birthday card and note from her Great Aunt Edie, who asks her to come to Moonlight Harbor and help her renovate and run her motel, The Driftwood Inn. Aunt Edie has already bequeathed the motel to Jenna in her will, and hopes that she won't refuse her offer. Jenna hasn't visited Moonlight Harbor in a long time, but she has fond childhood memories, and Jenna knows that this is just what she needs to rebuild her life if she could only convince her surly fourteen-year-old daughter Sabrina.

Moonlight Harbor is a coastal town whose lifeblood depends on tourism. Jenna is excited to see Aunt Edie and get started on the motel's renovation project, that is until she arrives to find the motel and her aunt's house in a rundown ramshackle condition. Aunt Edie is convinced that they can restore The Driftwood Inn to its former glory, and with a little luck and a lot of help and support from the friendly coastal town community, Jenna may get that new beginning after all!

Welcome To Moonlight Harbor is a delightful story that flows seamlessly and is engaging and fun. It has a lot of humorous scenes that will keep you entertained. I really enjoy the author's descriptive style of writing, she has a way of drawing the reader into the story, you feel like you have been transported into Jenna's life and the lives of the townspeople of Moonlight Harbor. It's a whimsical story about family and friends, of community spirit, and of course there is romance thrown into the mix. I loved how each chapter begins with Jenna's daily to-do list, I think it was a great lead into each chapter.

With a lovable cast of characters, humorous dialogues and interactions, and a richly detailed description of the town of Moonlight Harbor, Welcome To Moonlight Harbor is a lighthearted story full of second chances, love, laughter, community spirit, and friendship that will leave you wanting to return to Moonlight Harbor for another enjoyable visit.


About The Author

Sheila Roberts lives on the water in the Pacific Northwest. Her books have been printed in several different languages and have been chosen for book clubs such as Doubleday as well as for Readers Digest Condensed books. Her best-selling novel ON STRIKE FOR CHRISTMAS was made into a movie and appeared on the Lifetime Movie Network, and her novel THE NINE LIVES OF CHRISTMAS was made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel. 

When she's not making public appearances or playing with her friends, she can be found writing about those things near and dear to women's hearts: family, friends, and chocolate.

Virtual Book Tour

Tour Schedule:

Monday, March 12
Book Featured at PUYB Virtual Book Club
Book Teaser Feature at PUYB Book Teasers
Interview at tfaulc Book Reviews
Interview at Sheila’s Guests and Reviews

Tuesday, March 13
Book Review at The World As I See It

Wednesday, March 14
Book Review at Books for Books

Thursday, March 15
Book Review at Sefina Hawke’s Books

Friday, March 16
Book Featured at Lisa Book Blog@LEL


Monday, March 19
Book Review at Book by Book

Tuesday, March 20
Book Review at Jersey Girl Book Reviews

Wednesday, March 21
Book Featured at Confessions of an Eccentric Bookaholic

Thursday, March 22
Book Featured at The Writer’s Life


Monday, March 26
Book Review at Moonlight Rendezvous

Wednesday, March 28
Interview at Dawn’s Reading Nook

Friday, March 30
Book Review at Reviews by Crystal


Monday, April 2
Interview at Shannon Muir’s Mystery of Character

Tuesday, April 3
Book Review at Lynchburg Mama

Wednesday, April 4
Interview at T’s Stuff

Thursday, April 5
Book Review at Stacking My Bookshelves

Friday, April 6
Interview at Lori’s Reading Corner
Book Review at Simply Kelina


Monday, April 9
Book Review at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Tuesday, April 10
Book Review at Melina’s Book
Book Review at The Book Connection
Book Review at That’s What She’s Reading

Wednesday, April 11
Book Review at Ashley’s Bookshelf

Thursday, April 12
Book Review at Literarily Speaking
Book Review at Stormy Nights Reviewing & Bloggin’

Friday, March 16, 2018

Body of the Crime by Jennifer Chase (VBT: Author Guest Post / Book Review)

In association with Pump Up Your Book Virtual Book Publicity Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Body of the Crime by Jennifer Chase!

Author Guest Post

When is a Crime Scene Staged?

For anyone who loves writing murder mysteries or reading them. Have you ever wondered when is a crime scene staged? There are many reasons.  

The most difficult task is to recognize some of the subtle appearances to indicate that a crime scene has been staged. Fires are an example of a type of potential staged crime scene; it’s usually to cover up a previous crime that had been committed such as murder or insurance purposes for profit.

Every detective or forensic investigator must use their own subjective skills along with experience to determine if a crime scene has been staged. It’s important to preserve all evidence and document everything in proper order. Notes, sketches, and photographs are extremely helpful to help determine staged crime scenes.    

These signs from burglary and/or homicide investigations should alert detectives that something is potentially suspicious: 

No sign of a forced entry
Forced entry is clearly evident
No search for any valuables is apparent
No items have been stolen
Only one particular item has been stolen
Drawers have been pulled out and dumped to make it look like a “ransacked” (out of ordinary) appearance
Drawers have been pulled out carefully and neatly stacked in order to protect certain items
The victim had life insurance   
Victim’s death was profitable for family members other than life insurance

To simply illustrate what a staged crime looks like, investigators must look for any evidence that appears as if it doesn’t belong.

Points of Entry

This is the most common staged crime scene element, usually an open or broken window.  Examine these areas closely and determine whether or not it’s plausible or if there are other trace evidence such as blood, fingerprints, broken glass, etc.

Weapons Left or Removed

A firearm is the most common staged crime scene weapon. Was this weapon left initially? Did it cause the injury? What’s its purpose?

Movement of Body

One of the least common staged elements is the movement of the body to a secondary crime scene. Examine the clothing, shoes, bloodstains, and hair of the victim to determine if the body has been moved and why. Rigor mortis (stiffening of joints), livor mortis (pooling of blood), blood and trace evidence, along with any type of drag marks can help assist the investigator to determine if the body has been moved.

About The Author

Jennifer Chase is a multi-award-winning crime fiction author and consulting criminologist. Jennifer holds a bachelor degree in police forensics and a master’s degree in criminology & criminal justice. These academic pursuits developed out of her curiosity about the criminal mind as well as from her own experience with a violent sociopath, providing Jennifer with deep personal investment in every story she tells. In addition, she holds certifications in serial crime and criminal profiling. She is an affiliate member of the International Association of Forensic Criminologists. 

Her latest book is the mystery suspense, Body of the Crime.

Author Website
Author Amazon Page

Book Review

Body of the Crime by Jennifer Chase
Book 1: Chip Palmer Forensic Mystery Series
Publisher: JEC Press
Publication Date: May 20, 2016
Format: eBook - 397 pages
               Kindle - 1230 KB
Genre: Mystery / Suspense / Thriller

Purchase Link:
Amazon - Free on Kindle Unlimited 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Pump Up Your Book Virtual Book Publicity Tours.

Book Description:

Three grisly murders linked to five old cold cases, dubbed the Flower Girl Murders, pushes detectives to their limit to find a clever and extremely brutal serial killer, leaving a California town demanding justice. The District Attorney’s Serial Special Task Force retains the help of the reclusive Dr. Chip Palmer, a forensic expert and criminal profiler, to steer them in the right direction. 

Palmer is known for his astute academic interpretations of serial and predatory crimes, along with his unconventional tactics that goes against general police procedures. He is partnered with the tough and beautiful D.A. Inspector Kate Rawlins, a homicide detective transplanted from Phoenix, and the chemistry ignites between the team—turbulent and deadly. 

The Flower Girl Murders leaves three homicides, five cold cases, two seasoned detectives, three suspects, and one serial killer calling all the shots. The investigation must rely on one eccentric forensic scientist to unravel the clues to solve the case. But at what cost?

Book Excerpt:

I HATED THE CURIOUS AND often skeptical looks, which came from the audience in the gallery. I gently eased my body into the chair and faced them directly. It felt more like I was a participating target in a firing squad than a courtroom proceeding.
Shifting from side to side in the cushioned seat, I fidgeted with my tie. It was the only thing I could do under the circumstances.
I waited patiently trying not to nervously tap my fingers.
At least the chair was comfortable as I rested my forearms and hands on the armrest. It was not easy to avoid looking at the two burly sheriff deputy bailiffs stationed at the back corners of the room. They watched everyone with an extreme somber, statue-like presence. I was not even sure if they actually blinked or not.
All eyes in the courtroom fixated on me.
The room fell into complete silence. The audience readied themselves waiting for the show to begin. At least that was what I had imagined in my own mind.
I realized when the prosecutor had finally called my name to testify and the bailiff escorted me into the courtroom that I had forgotten to change my shoes. Dirt and mud had affixed deep into the crevices of the heavy-duty rubber soles, which donated little chunks of dried soil as I walked from the back of the courtroom to the witness area. There were little piles of mountain soil left behind with every stride. It looked like I had stolen shoes from a homeless person.
It was only yesterday that I had taken an extra-long walk down a wooded path that was barely passable even for the native wildlife, but I did not let the rugged terrain scare me out of adding another specimen to my collection of California sediment. In the process, my shoes sunk deep into the mud. At one point my foot had slipped from the left shoe and then plunged my sock-clad foot directly into the sticky muck.
I was all too aware of how disheveled I looked only two months before my fortieth birthday. It was not appealing. My appearance did not give the impression that I was an expert at anything, but somehow I managed to muddle through with an air of authority.
Crime scenes never lied, and it was my job to explain the scientific facts to the non-scientific community; but in the end, it was up to the jury to make the right choice of guilt or innocence. Twelve good people ultimately shouldered the justice burden, and I was just the messenger of facts—good or bad.

My Book Review:

In Body of the Crime, Dr. Chip Palmer, a forensic expert and criminal profiler is brought in to help the District Attorney’s Serial Special Task Force investigate three murders with possible ties to a series of five cold case serial killings dubbed the Flower Girl Murders. Chip is partnered with D.A. Inspector Kate Rawlins, a homicide detective transplanted from Phoenix, to solve the murders and bring justice that the Monterey County community is demanding.

Body of the Crime is a fast-paced chilling mystery suspense thriller that will captivate the reader's attention and leave them sitting on the edge of their seat. The author weaves a complex and multi-storyline tale that is well written and interspersed with a first-person narrative from the Flower Girl serial killer that is very intriguing and keeps the reader guessing what will happen next with every clue and gripping twist and turn. The attention to detail in regard to the criminal investigation is first rate, the author utilizes her experience in the criminology and forensic areas to provide a story that diehard crime thriller fans crave. The characters are realistic, their complex personalities and interactions with each other gave the story depth and made it that much more powerful and compelling. I loved Chip and Kate's characters, their strong personalities and dedication to solving the serial killings had me cheering for them as the investigation progressed.

As a fan of mystery suspense thrillers, Body of the Crime satisfied everything that I expect to find in a really good suspense thriller. It gave me goosebumps, it made me gasp and cringe, it made me hold my breath, and most importantly it drew me into the investigations along with Chip and Kate, and left me wanting more. I look forward to reading the next installment of the Chip Palmer Forensic Mystery Series!


Virtual Book Tour

Tour Schedule:

Monday, March 5
Book Feature & Tour Kick Off at PUYB Virtual Book Club
Book Teaser Featured at PUYB Book Teasers
Tuesday, March 6
Guest Blogging at Lynchburg Mama
Wednesday, March 7
Book Featured at C.A. Milson’s Author Blog
Thursday, March 8
Interview at The Writer’s Life
Friday, March 9
Guest Blogging at Sheila’s Guests and Reviews


Monday, March 12
Book Featured at La libreria di Beppe
Tuesday, March 13
Book Featured at Mello & June, It’s a Book Thang!
Wednesday, March 14
Guest Blogging at Lori’s Reading Corner
Thursday, March 15
Interview at The Pulp and Mystery Shelf
Friday, March 16
Book Review & Guest Blogging at Jersey Girl Book Reviews


Monday, March 19
Book Featured at The Bookworm Lodge
Tuesday, March 20
Book Featured at Bound 2 Escape
Wednesday, March 21
Book Review at Books for Books
Thursday, March 22
Book Review at Sefina Hawke’s Books
Friday, March 23
Book Featured at Book Bloggin’ Princess


Monday, March 26
Book Review & Interview at tfaulc Book Reviews
Tuesday, March 27
Book Review at Rainy Day Reviews
Wednesday, March 28
Book Review & Guest Blogging at That’s What She’s Reading
Thursday, March 29
Book Review at Stormy Nights Reviewing & Bloggin’
Friday, March 30
Book Review at Books Are Love

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Tic Tac Love by A.M. Willard (VBT: Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Foreword PR & Marketing, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Tic Tac Love by A.M. Willard!

Book Review

Tic Tac Love by A.M. Willard
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: March 14, 2018
Cover Design: MadHat Books
Format: Paperback - 260 pages
               Kindle - 1813 KB
               Nook - 376 KB
ISBN: 978-1985092150
BNID: 2940159140517
Genre: Romantic Comedy

Purchase Links:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Foreword PR & Marketing. 

Book Description:

For as long as I can remember, I've been in love with Paxton West. I've planned our wedding in my head a million times. What our babies would look like. How we would grow old together and still play our favorite game— Tic-Tac-Toe.

However, we have one problem.

Paxton doesn't believe in true love, soul mates, or happily ever after. Oh, did I also tell you he doesn't want kids? It also means I can't explain to him that he's the only guy for me, or about my—our—current situation.

The past started with a game of X's and O's.

Then came the miles and miles that kept us apart.

Next came tequila shots... 

They're never a great idea. Now, more than ever, the future scares the crap out of me. If my plan backfires, I could not only lose my best friend but the love of my life.

Dang those tequila shots.

Book Teasers:

Book Excerpt:

Stepping out into the hallway, I head toward my door with my shoes and keys in my hand. All I can think of at this moment is stripping down out of these clothes and face-planting into my pillow where I can sleep the many drinks off. Right as I open the door, I hear the faint ding echoing down from the elevators. Shrugging it off, I enter my apartment and lock up behind me. I guess I find it odd that someone else would be wandering the halls this late or early. I’m never out at this time and have no idea what the neighbors do after I fall asleep. A new male neighbor moved in a few weeks ago. I already had the pleasure of bumping into him while trying to not spill my coffee one morning. I still deny that it was his looks that threw me off.
I drop my keys into the bowl next to the door before heading straight to my room where I lose my heels and strip out of my shirt and bra. Right as I unbuckle my jeans, I hear a faint knock, so low that I’m not sure if it’s my door or a bump against the wall from next door. Knock… knock… echoes again. I grab my shirt from the floor, slide it over my head, and go to investigate the sound that’s causing the hairs on my neck to stand. Rounding the kitchen island, my feet dig into the ceramic tile as the lock on my door twists. I’m frozen in place… Unable to move anything on my body as I hold my breath waiting to see what’s happening. It’s now that my mind races with all the horror movies I’ve screamed at over the years. The ones where the girl is either running up the stairs to hide from the intruder instead of outside to safety. Or where they just stand there as if a target is placed on their chest. Just pick one, because I’m that girl at this moment. My face is frozen, ice coursing through my veins. The hairs on the back of my neck are at full attention as if we are standing to pledge to the flag. My eyes stare straight ahead as the door opens in slow motion. Saying a little prayer, I close my eyes and wait for what’s going to happen next. Fear overtakes me, consuming my body, mind—everything.
“Belle, what are you doing?” I hear his voice, but then I’m afraid to open my eyes. Could it be possible that two people in this world have the same husky voice that makes me weak in the knees?
With my eyes still squeezed shut, my other senses go on high alert. The drop of a bag, the tap-taps of a set of shoes against the tile grow louder and louder as the person gets closer to me. “Belle, open your eyes and breathe before you pass out.”
Slowly, I do as he instructed. That’s the moment that I lean against the counter for support as I thank God that it wasn’t a killer that had a key to my place. Paxton’s face scrunches up as he reaches over for me.
“What were you doing?”
“I thought you were here to kill me; I was bracing myself for the worst.”
“What have I told you about watching those horror movies, huh? You let them get to you, and why would a killer use a key?”
“I don’t know; they could’ve made a copy when I wasn’t paying attention, or it could’ve been the security guard—who knows… What are you doing here?”
“Not the welcome I thought I’d receive, but my plans changed. You were more important to come see.”
I let Paxton’s statement set in before I smile up at him. Stepping closer, I wrap my arms around his neck and breathe him in. The faint hint of the stale airport, his earthy spice, and lemon soothes my nerves.
“Are you just getting home?” he inquires, and I notice his voice hints to a bit of jealousy. That confuses me as he’s never been the jealous type. One to worry about my well-being—yes, but not curious about where I’ve been or with whom.
“I am,” I answer as I pull away from him and step over to the fridge. Opening it up, I grab a bottle of water before glancing back over to Paxton. His hands are gripping the edge of the countertop, face blank not revealing any indication of what he’s thinking. “Want something to drink or eat?” is the only thing that I can think to ask.
“No, I’m good. I think I’m just going to head to bed.”
“Paxton,” I let his name slip from my mouth to stop him. He slows his stride over to his bags, turns to look at me and, before I can say anything else, wanders over to me.
“Belle, get some sleep, and we’ll chat in the morning,” is all he says before placing a kiss on top of my head. I stand here in the middle of my kitchen with a bottle of water in my hand, watching his back retreat from me to the spare bedroom. I’m not sure how long I stand here, confused and unable to move. It’s the sound of the shower turning on that breaks me from my thoughts. Causing me to realize that this isn’t a dream. Instead of sulking from the blow off that I just received from Paxton, I force myself to go to my room. Closing the door behind me, I pad over to my dresser, pulling out a pair of boxers and a top to change into. The sound of the water still running through the pipes on the other side of my bedroom causes my heart to beat faster. I can’t explain the way I feel right now. How I’m confused about what I should be feeling. I’m blaming the amount of alcohol that’s in my system. It’s not like he’s never showered here before. It’s more the fact that he blew off an assignment to come see me. That’s something Paxton’s never done. Work has always come first for him. No matter what, he’s never turned down a job; well, for as long as I known him. My head hits the pillow, but my eyes refuse to close. The wheel’s spinning a million times faster than it ever does. With the water off, the apartment is quiet, and I can hear his footsteps down the hall and how they stop outside my door before going to his. The door clicks shut, finalizing that there won’t be a conversation tonight. Unless I pull a trick out of the old handbook.
I roll over, grab my phone from the nightstand, and power it up for the first time since I shut it off in the elevator. It’s then that I notice the messages from Paxton. I listen to his voicemail and read through his text. I can’t scroll up to where I left the short, clipped response to him canceling this weekend.
Me: Are you okay? I know you’re tired, but something seems off.

I could crawl into bed and lie next to him, but taking the chicken way out of this is better tonight. I don’t trust my mouth, and I’m pretty sure that I’d slip up and say something that I’d regret tomorrow. I’m sobering up, but the way he made my heart restrict tonight from the pain that was washed over his face out of concern for me is causing me to expect the worse. Did he come here to tell me something’s wrong? Was that why he canceled his trip?

My Book Review:

If you are looking for a sassy friend to lovers romantic comedy to while away a cold winter afternoon, then look no further, Tic Tac Love by author A.M. Willard is just what you need!

In Tic Tac Love, author A.M. Willard weaves an enjoyable tale with a wonderful mixture of romance and comedy that follows the best friends to lovers (soulmate) story of Annabelle Quinn and Paxton West.

Belle and Pax have been best friends since the age of ten. From the beginning, their hearts always belonged to each other, especially as demonstrated by their favorite game of tic-tac-toe, where Pax is the x and Belle is the o. But as the years go by they kept their feelings for each other hidden from each other. Fast-forward sixteen years later, twenty-six-year-old Belle and Pax finally decide to express their long-held feelings. Belle and Pax's story is told in alternating first-person perspective and set in my favorite city - New York City. The reader can't help but get drawn into Belle and Pax's story and empathize with them as their unrequited love causes angst, drama, misunderstandings, and enough quirky trials and tribulations that will keep the reader giggling as they turn the pages.

I really enjoyed reading Tic Tac Love. It is a fun and relatable story, and you can't help but sympathize with Belle and Pax as they try to change their longtime relationship from best friends to lovers. Add in the mix a host of quirky characters (friends Brooke, Miranda, Jace, and Brodie) who try to help Belle and Pax realize that they really are soulmates, and you have a truly fun romantic comedy that will have you laughing out loud and leave a smile on your face!


About the Author

Bestselling Author, A.M. Willard resides in Savannah, Georgia. She joined the Peach State many years ago after leaving the crystal blue waters and sugary white sand behind from the Panhandle of Florida. She's also known for being a wife, mother, and caretaker for her farm animals. A.M. loves anything sassy, glittery, and is a sucker for the Hallmark Channel. That last one might be the reason she believes in soulmates or it could be because she married her high school sweetheart for twenty years ago.

After releasing her first novella series back in 2014, A.M. set out on a new goal to bring her readers a broad range of romantic stories from her desk. This includes Romantic Comedy, Contemporary Romance, and from time to time some Sexy Romance. A.M. is an active member of RWA (Romance Writers of America).

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