Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Welcome Christy Effinger!

Today, I'm pleased to feature author Christy Effinger. Her poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in various print and online publications.

But today, we're here to talk about her latest novel. Released on August 29, 2014, "Say Nothing of What you See" is a Paranormal New Adult.

Christy offers us some information about this novel.

When her aunt steps off a grain elevator into the emptiness of a prairie evening, Mira Piper loses her one protector. Chloe, her flighty mother, impulsively drags her daughter to Bramblewood, an isolated spiritualist retreat in northern Michigan, run by the enigmatic Dr. Virgil Simon.

Chloe plans to train as a medium, but it's Mira who discovers she can communicate with the dead. When her mother abandons her, Mira discovers a darker aspect to Bramblewood: the seemingly kind doctor has a sinister side and a strange control over his students.

Then one winter's day Troy Farrington arrives, to fulfill his mother's dying wish and deliver her letter to the doctor. But calamity strikes and he finds himself a captive, tended by a sympathetic Mira. Haunted by her dead aunt and desperate to escape Bramblewood, Mira makes a devil's deal with Dr. Simon. But fulfillment comes with a steep cost...betrayal. 

And Christy is generously allowing us to take a peek inside. Here's an excerpt:

“You are absolutely stunning, Mira.”

I stole another glance in the mirror. The material was a rich, shimmery gold that fell from my shoulders in folds of liquid light. It looked like something a Greek goddess might wear. Oh, how I wished the girls from Amberville High School could see me in this dress!

“When you came here,” said Dr. Simon, “I had a vision of you like this. I looked at the girl before me, but I saw the woman you are now.”

“Thank you,” I murmured, gesturing toward the piles of clothes on my bed. “You’ve been so generous. I know you’ve spent a good deal of money on me—”

“Money means nothing,” he interrupted abruptly. “I have more than I could ever spend, more than I know what to do with. Don’t consider the cost.”

His tone was brusque, and I wondered if I had offended him.

But the next moment Dr. Simon smiled. “I think of you as my charity case. You were like a doll thrown out in the garbage. I simply rescued you from the trash, cleaned you up, and dressed you in something decent. But the beauty was present all along.” He touched my cheek. “Here.” Then he touched my forehead. “Here.” Then he touched my chest. “And here.”

I knew he was referring to my heart, but even so, his hand on my chest made my face warm with discomfort.

“You blush so easily,” he laughed. “You’ll never be able hide anything, Mira, with such a transparent face.”

“That’s all right,” I said, taking a small step back. “I don’t have anything to hide.”

"Say Nothing of What you See" can be purchased at:

The Wild Rose Press:



I was able to get in touch with Christy and ask her a few questions. Check out her 'for fun' questions at the end of the interview.

Starr for QueenWriter News (QW): Tell us a bit about your background that we won't find in your bio.
Christy Effinger (CE): For as long as I can remember, I have loved the written word. My first job at sixteen was shelving books at the public library. In college, I worked as a writing tutor while majoring in English, and in graduate school I taught freshman composition as part of my master’s degree. After grad school, I taught English for several years at an urban community college. Through all of this, my dream was to one day be a professional writer with a book of my own in print. I am finally living that dream. 

QW: Tell us what inspired you to write "Say Nothing of What You See."

CE: I’ve long been interested in cults, communes, and other fringe groups. The follower mentality perplexes me. Why will some people do whatever they’re told, even to the point of mistreating others? The fascinating thing about humans is that we can rationalize anything.

Say Nothing began as an exploration into power, control, and jealousy—but also love, which is stronger than the other three. Stronger than anything, really.

QW: Other than the synopsis of your book, tell us why you think readers will enjoy it.

CE: A reviewer at Tome Tender called it, “A tale of darkness and despair at the hands of a madman . . . fabulous reading.” I hope readers looking for a suspenseful story set in an eerie atmosphere will enjoy this book.

QW: Your website indicates you also write short works, such as poetry. Where do you get your inspiration for your poetry?

CE: My poetry is much more personal than my fiction. Most of my poems are interpretations or reflections on what happens to me in real life.

QW: What other short works have you written, published or not?

CE: Besides poetry, I’ve written short stories, flash fiction, and short essays. My short work has been published in print and online literary journals. I’ve compiled a list with hyperlinks on my website.

QW: Do you believe in writer's block? If so, has this happened to you? And if so, what do you do to get past it?

CE: I do believe in writer’s block, but I’ve always managed to work through it and find my way again. Writer’s block has never caused me any long-term paralysis. (I hope I didn’t just jinx myself!)

QW: What's next on your writing list? Are you currently penning this or is this in the 'thinking' stage?

CE: I’m currently editing my WIP, so I’ve begun thinking about my next project. It’s still in the planning stage. I hope to begin writing it soon.

For fun:

QW: Complete the following sentence: "If I had one day to do something other than writing, I would ..."

CE: I would spend the day at the beach with my husband, fruity rum drinks, and a good book.

QW: Name two things you hate and two things you love.

CE: I hate soggy bread and being stuck in traffic. I love windy spring days and bubble baths.  
QW: You can bring one book, one movie, and one music CD to a remote island. What would those be?

CE: The book: "Good Poems," an anthology edited by Garrison Keillor. The movie: Young Frankenstein. The CD: Ceremonials by Florence + the Machine. 

Thank you, Christy, for taking time to speak with me and your readers and fans. Christy lives near Indianapolis. If you want to know more about Christy and her work, you can visit her at: 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Welcome, Author Chrys Fey!

Today, I am pleased to bring author Chrys Fey to QueenWriter News and her readers and fans. 

Chrys is a lover of rock music just like Dani Hart in "30 Seconds." She tells us that "Whenever she's writing at her desk, headphones are always emitting the sounds of her musical muses--especially that of her favorite band, 30 Seconds to Mars, the inspiration behind the title.

"30 Seconds" is her second eBook with The Wild Rose Press. Her debut, "Hurricane Crimes," is also available on Amazon.

What is "30 Seconds" all about? Here's the inside scoop:

"When a woman finds herself in the middle of a war between a police force and the Mob, 30 SECONDS is a long time."

When Officer Blake Herro agreed to go undercover in the Mob, he thought he understood the risks. But he's made mistakes and now an innocent woman has become their target. He's determined to protect her at all costs.

The Mob's death threat turns Dr. Dani Hart's life upside down, but there is one danger she doesn’t anticipate. As she's dodging bullets, she's falling in love with Blake. With danger all around them, will she and Blake survive and have a happy ending, or will the Mob make good on their threat?

Chrys offered us a look inside the pages:

She panted with fear. What if they see the chest? What if we get caught? What if my breath stinks and I’m breathing right into Officer Hottie’s face? She shut her mouth and let oxygen flow through her nose.
Her eyesight slowly adjusted to the darkness and she could see Officer Herro’s silhouette. His head was turned and he was listening to the thuds of heavy boots getting louder; the intruders were coming their way.
Then the thunder of footsteps sounded right next to them. “There’s no one here, Red,” someone announced.
“Look for documents,” a man ordered, who Dani could only assume was Red. “I want the name of the person I’m going to kill.”
A moment later, there was a reply. “All the mail is addressed to a Dr. Hart.”
Hearing her name said aloud by one of the men who had ransacked her place made her want to gasp. Her mouth fell open and her breath was reversing into her lungs, but before she could make a sound, Officer Herro lowered his lips to hers, silencing her. Stunned, she could only lie beneath him with her eyes wide and her body tense. She couldn’t believe he was kissing her. She wanted to push him back, but knew if she did he might hit the inside of the chest, giving away their hiding place. That was when she realized he was kissing her so she wouldn’t gasp.
She let her body relax. After her initial shock faded, she was able to feel his lips. They were comforting and caused a reaction deep inside her. She couldn’t stop her lips from reacting to his. It was an innocent connection, a soft touch of lips. Until his hand slid from her shoulder to her neck and the kiss deepened into something else.

"30 Seconds" is available for purchase at the following locations:

The Wild Rose Press: 

But what about Chrys? We've heard the information on her latest novel and know where we can get it, but what about the author? Well, I was able to interview her. Here's what she has to say:

QueenWriter (QW): Question for your protagonist: Who do you consider your supporting character? And why?

Chrys Reys (CR): Hello, everyone, Dani Hart here. I am the heroine of Chrys Fey’s novella, "30 Seconds," a story detailing my thrilling account as a target for the Mob. I kid you not. Anyway, I’d say Blake is my supporting character, although he wouldn’t be too happy to hear me say that since he’s the hero and the hunky police officer who “saved” my life. But still, this is my story. He’ll have his own. Oops! I’m not sure if I was supposed to spill that secret...sorry, Chrys!

QW: Tell your readers what inspired you to create “30 Seconds.”

CR: I had a dream where I was spinning in a swivel chair to loud rock music when hands stopped the rotation and lips touched mine. I opened my eyes to find a sexy officer in full uniform who said, “I shouldn’t have done that.” Following his statement, I woke up and pondered a story idea where a woman falls in love with a police officer even though she knows she shouldn’t. Enter Dani and Blake. My dream even made it as a scene in "30 Seconds."

QW: You seem to write in several genres. Which is your favorite and why?

CR: That’s tough. I love romantic-suspense (like "30 Seconds") because it is the best of both worlds, but I also have a passion for the supernatural/paranormal. If I can blend all three into a story, I do.

QW: What is one thing—ie. character trait, style, voice, etc.—that you carry through all of your novels?

CR: All of my heroines are women of steel. I just love tough female characters!

QW: Many authors state a particular character in their book(s) reflect a trait of their own. Do any of your characters show a trait belonging to you?

CR: My heroines (Beth in "Hurricane Crimes" and Dani in "30 Seconds") have my anger. That makes me sound like I have anger management issues (I don’t), but I like to vent my anger through my characters and let them say and do what I won’t say or do. I had a lot of fun doing this with Dani, a witty and sarcastic character with a great sense of humor.

QW: Is there one book or one author that stands out in your mind that may have influenced your writing?

CR: Nora Roberts. From an early age, her books became my sources of reference, and she sort of became an invisible mentor to me.

QW: Other than your blog, is there other marketing you do? What is it?

CR: I utilize Facebook and Goodreads, my favorite social media platforms.

QW: The ‘always’ questions: What’s on your agenda now and in the future? Do you have a new book release you can tell us about?

CR: Well, "30 Seconds" is my newest release, but I hope to publish the sequel to "Hurricane Crimes" at the end of 2015. And since Dani already spilled the beans...I am planning on a prequel to "30 Seconds" from Blake’s perspective.

For fun:

QW: Tell us something fun about you that readers wouldn’t get a chance to know.

CR: I don’t usually listen to rap music, but I can rap all the lyrics to Eminem’s Lose Yourself.

QW: If you have three wishes (rub a genie’s bottle), what would they be?

CR: 1. To adopt.
2. To go to Ireland.
3. To buy my mom a house.

Discover Chrys's writing tips on her blog, and connect with her on Facebook. She loves to get to know her readers! You can find her at:

Please feel free to post any comments here. And if you know of anyone who would like to follow the QueenWriter News' Blog, share the link! I will be having more guest authors appearing soon!

Thank you, Chrys for taking time out of your busy schedule to appear here and to talk to your fans and readers. Much success to you!

Friday, October 10, 2014

FB Author Page

I've changed my author page address on FB. It's www.facebook.com/AuthorStarr. If you haven't made it  over there yet to 'like' me, hop on over. I've also made many changes to the page!

Thursday, September 25, 2014


This announcement comes with partial happiness and partial melancholy. I have retired at Executive Editor of Suspense Magazine. While I ruminate and reminisce about the years I've given to the magazine, I recall that mostly I must thank you, the contributors to and the fans and readers of the magazine. Without you, the magazine could not have been successful. So thank you all for your years of readership.

My retirement as Executive Editor is allowing me the opportunity to further and more completely devote my time writing and delivering to everyone tales of enjoyment.

The Other Side series is proving to be more successful than I hoped. Some of you may have already seen the Press Release about signing with The Wild Rose Press, the Black Rose line. I am looking forward to working with them and bringing to my fans and readers more delightful paranormal dilemmas. So stay tuned for more announcements.

As always, feel free to email me directly at sreina@queenwriter.com with any questions or of course, submit your comments here. 

Starr Gardinier Reina

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Book Review "The Sum of his Worth"

“The Sum of his Worth” by Ron Argo

In today’s day and age, we don’t think about the prejudices of races. Yes, there are some who do not get along with others, but we don’t worry about segregation and the beatings and killings associated with breaking the rules.
“The Sum of his Worth” takes the reader on a journey when blacks and whites wouldn’t think about mixing in the south. Even though laws were trying to be changed to overcome these prejudices, there are those in the Deep South that refused to consider blacks anything but dispensable. Lynching was part of life for the white man in Alabama and Georgia.
Sonny Poe—a sixteen-year-old—meets Dr. Joe, and they are two white guys in the heart of the south. Sonny already has friends from the neighboring town Ash, who are black. He doesn’t see a problem with it, but does understand how being seen with blacks could affect him and his friends. But Sonny is rebellious and refuses to treat blacks any differently than the whites and Dr. Joe is trying to change the way people think. And some people in the Alabama town consider that to be traitorous and go after both Sonny and Dr. Joe with killing on their minds. They group together the KKK and try to murder Sonny, Dr. Joe, and any black person who thinks to try to rise above their unfortunate status. Will Sonny and Dr. Joe both die trying to do what’s right?
Argo has woven a story that unfortunately, was a little too close to the truth to think of as fiction. This well-written novel will have you gasping and flinching at the corruption and vileness. A very poignant novel, written in the voice of those of the 60s. Well done, Argo.

Reviewed by Starr Gardinier Reina, author of “The Other Side: Melinda’s Story”

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Starr Signs with Wild Rose

Press Release

Award Winning Author Starr Gardinier Reina Signs With The Wild Rose Press

“The Other Side: Trent’s Story” slated for publication by the Black Rose line

Tarzana, CA; September 7, 2014:  Starr Gardinier Reina announced today that she has signed with The Wild Rose Press in their Black Rose imprint.

Her second book in her Other Side series—“The Other Side: Trent’s Story”—is a further saga of protagonists Trent Miller and Melinda James, told in the first person narrative of Trent Miller and supporting characters.

“It’s a dark paranormal,” Starr says, “that, I’m told, gives readers creepy chills along the spine.” In her first book, “The Other Side: Melinda’s Story,” Melinda James was essentially captive in an insane asylum—Skyview Haven—through no fault of her own. The book conveys Melinda’s journey told in her voice to a psychiatrist, beginning when her father ‘died’ to her eventual release from Skyview.  Her harrowing ordeal leaves the reader wondering what’s real and what’s not. Starr asks the readers: “If I tell you the story, will you believe me?” and it’s what Melinda asks of her psychiatrist. Melinda’s father is dead. He tries to warn her from the ‘Other Side’ that killers want something only she can give them. They are beginning to get too close for comfort. Does the ‘Other Side’ exist or is it all in Melinda’s mind? As portals open and close, Melinda must find a way to understand that the voices speaking are sending dire warnings. She is out of time. They are desperate to take what they feel is theirs and will stop at nothing to get it.

Now, Trent Miller picks up his own story in “The Other Side: Trent’s Story.” Going from what he believes is his own delving down the insanity tunnel, Trent narrates his story about just how much evil there is in the world, and how we don’t even realize it. Melinda James is finally out of Skyview Haven and is living her life. This second book series focuses on Melinda James’s life after the institution with Trent Miller, a young man she befriended. Trying to get her life back on track, Melinda shares a house with Trent as roommates when unspeakable acts begin to happen, and they are not of this universe.  Melinda and Trent call a priest and attempt a house blessing, but that has the reverse effect and things go from bad to worse. An evil entity is out to get them and they don't know why.  Melinda is haunted, harassed, possessed, and finally kidnapped. And Trent must save her while trying to keep himself alive. Trent travels down into what he figures must be Hell, battling evil while trying to save Melinda, and also trying to protect the Other Side from evil entering the sacred grounds.

Starr says that, “I believe creativity is limited to one’s imagination. The Other Side series beckoned me from deep within the recesses of my psyche; begging to be written.” She is now working on the third book in this series, which will be told in the viewpoint of evil at its most wicked.

Please follow Starr at www.twitter.com/SGReina, www.facebook.com/pages/Starr-Gardinier-Reina/192142470838341 and check her blog at www.qw-blog.blogspot.com and websites at www.queenwriter.com and www.editing.queenwriter.com for release date information. “The Other Side: Trent’s Story” will be available at Amazon, Nook, Itunes and all major digital release retailers.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Book Review "The Edge of Normal"

“The Edge of Normal” by Carla Norton

Pay it forward. A term many of us have come to know and have done, I’m sure, at least once. That’s what Reeve LeClaire is doing in “The Edge of Normal.” Reeve is a past victim trying to overcome her kidnapping and torture as a teenager. Now in her early twenties, she’s still seeing Dr. Lerner on a weekly basis. But he leaves town in order to counsel another young girl, whose situation is eerily similar to Reeve’s nightmare from ten years prior.
Reeve gets a call from Dr. Lerner while he’s away. The family of the newest victim wants her to come and speak to their daughter Tilly. Since Reeve has been through the acclimation back into society after a brutal assault, they think her strength may help Tilly. Albeit hesitantly, Reeve agrees to try and assist the young girl.
Helping Tilly is more than an emotional trial for Reeve. She has to relive what the monster did to her in order for Tilly to come to terms with what’s happened. But then Tilly reveals to Reeve things about two other young missing girls, Hannah and Abby. Reeve is bound to keep Tilly’s secret, but knows she needs to do something. She goes out on her own and tries to find evidence that the police haven’t located. She makes headway, but now it’s her life that hangs, once again, in the hands of another.
An absolute thrill from page one to the end. I must admit that just before the end, I thought, “Oh, no. Norton is going to disappoint me. She can’t do this.” For just a second, I wanted to put the book down. Boy, am I glad I didn’t! Wow! Norton blew me away! You will not believe the ending; just when I thought it was over and I don’t get…never mind. I can’t say anymore without giving it away. Suffice to say, you have to read this book!

Reviewed by Starr Gardinier Reina, author of “The Other Side: Melinda’s Story” 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Book Review "Whitey on Trial"

“Whitey on Trial” by Margaret McLean and Jon Leiberman

Corrupt men and crooked law enforcement battle in the courtroom. It is fact that James Bulger (Whitey) is a violent, power-hungry, cold and calculated man. And unfortunately, it is fact that representatives of our government aided this man and many other gangsters to get what they wanted. Forget that innocent people were killed in the crossfire, these gangsters and law enforcement personnel—such as John Connolly, FBI agent, who now sits in federal prison, John Morris, FBI agent, and many others—looked out for themselves. Their personal agenda meant more to them than human beings.
And it wasn’t just murder—as if that wasn’t bad enough—it was also bribery, blackmail, and a multitude of other crimes that some of us cannot even imagine, that spurred these despicable people to continue on a path of others’ destruction. Anything to gain wealth and power for themselves.
“Whitey on Trial” is a non-fiction accounting of what went on at Whitey’s trial. But it also examines our own government’s actions as well. Some say the representatives of our government were just as evil as Whitey’s reign of terror. Witness after witness and bereaving family members, one after the other, spoke of the brutal conduct of Whitey, Stephen Flemmi, and the Winter Hill gang’s accomplices.
Judge Casper said during Whitey’s sentencing, “…I wished that we were watching a movie, that what we were hearing was not real…,” but unfortunately, “…we were hearing about the real inhumane things that human beings did to other human beings, seemingly without remorse and without regret.” Yes, it’s sad that what went on was not that of fiction, but real life horror. It turned my stomach to see the abuse of power and the corruption that can occur to those who swore to protect citizens.
I commend authors McLean and Leiberman for an unbiased accounting and one that is well-written.

Reviewed by Starr Gardinier Reina, author of “The Other Side: Melinda’s Story” 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Book Review "Badlands"

“Badlands” by Jill Sorenson

It’s been a little while since I’ve read a great romantic suspense. I’m glad I picked this one up. “Badlands” has it all: suspense, danger, and definitely romance.
Penny Sandoval is the daughter of a presidential candidate and has a young son. She is kidnapped and unfortunately, her son Cruz is taken as well. Her friend and bodyguard Owen Jackson tries to stop the kidnapping and ends up getting involved. And...it’s Owen’s own brother Shane who’s responsible.
The three of them are at the mercy of Shane and his cohorts. They want money in exchange for Penny and Cruz’s lives. But what about Owen? Both Shane and Owen are ex-convicts, hardened by a harsh upbringing, but Owen has retained his ability to still care. Shane on the other hand, is too cynical to overcome his past.
Penny witnesses Owen’s beating and believes he’s dead. The first chance she gets, she escapes with Cruz. But they’re in the Badlands, an austere, unforgiving desert, and they have very little water and no food.
Owen isn’t dead and manages to escape and find Penny and Cruz. He must keep them alive, but at what cost? Will he have to kill his own despicable brother, who despite everything he’s done, he still loves? Will Owen have to make a choice: a woman and son that he loves or his own blood?
If they all survive, will Penny want him, an ex-convict with seemingly nothing to offer? Penny is unaware of Owen’s true past. While she knows of his prison stint, she has no idea what he endured while there or anything about his cruel father’s unrelenting punishment. Things that can break a man and turn him sour to some of life’s wonderful things, such as love. If Penny sees him for who he truly is, will she want him?
Sorenson tells a story of unconditional love, sacrifice, peril, and heartache. You won’t want to miss this romantic suspense.

Reviewed by Starr Gardinier Reina, author of “The Other Side: Melinda’s Story”

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Book Review - "The Ghoul Next Door"

“The Ghoul Next Door” by Victoria Laurie

Don’t worry, this book is only about a bunch of ghosts. Well, maybe you should worry a bit, ghosts connote happy spirits. The ghosts in this book are not them.
Psychic medium M.J., her psychic boyfriend Heath, and her childhood friend and partner in ghoul-hunting Gil (the team), are all targets for one evil entity. So evil, in fact, the murders go back about thirty years. And the three of them need to find out how one is related to others.
M.J.’s ex-boyfriend Steven is now engaged. And his fiancée Courtney has a brother Luke, who’s in trouble. It seems he’s being haunted and intermittently possessed by an evil entity that relishes the taste and smell of blood. And it all starts and ends with one house on Stoughton Street.
Luke thinks he’s going crazy when furniture is rearranged at his rental on Stoughton. Then he sees shadows. He can’t sleep or eat, so Courtney intervenes. Steven talks M.J. and her entourage into helping Luke. The team sets cameras up and watches Luke while he’s sleeping. Nothing happens until he suddenly gets up, stares into the cameras like one possessed, and quickly leaves the house before they can get to him. A woman ends up being murdered a few doors down and Luke is accused and arrested for crime.
M.J., Heath, and Gil won’t give up. They know (hope—they go back and forth in their thoughts here) Luke is innocent and set out to prove it. But their tools of the trade—bubble vests, magnets, and stakes—may be not enough to protect the evil from invading their minds while trying to stop it from taking over and killing again.
What a fun book! It’s witty and a quick read. If you haven’t picked up Laurie’s work yet, I suggest you do!

Reviewed by Starr Gardinier Reina, author of “The Other Side: Melinda’s Story”

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Book Review - "Death of a Dyer"

“Death of a Dyer” by Eleanor Kuhns

Set in 1796, Kuhns has done her research as this book is in keeping with the times.

Will Rees, a weaver by choice, a farmer by trade, and a widower who sets about solving crimes, centers his days on the murder of his childhood friend, Nate Bowditch. Rees hadn’t spoken with Nate for many years, since they were children themselves, but he still is affected deeply by Nate’s death. So when his assistance is requested to find out what happened to Nate, he’s unable to say no.

While trying to keep peace at his home with his son David and his housekeeper (or is she?) Lydia, Rees hunts down clues and questions those who he suspects to be involved in Nate’s murder. He begins at Nate’s farm and discovers that everything is not what it seems. Nate’s wife Molly is cold, the help is secretive, and Nate’s son Richard is missing. Richard ran after being accused of killing his father. It’s now Rees’s job to either prove Richard innocent or show his guilt.

Secrets kept for years are brought to light and people close to Nate and Rees are stunned by what is revealed. This is a very well-written and entertaining historical novel.

Reviewed by Starr Gardinier Reina, author of “The Other Side: Melinda’s Story” 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Book Review - "A Biscuit, a Casket"

“A Biscuit, a Casket” by Liz Mugavero

I love animals, but not more than Stan (Kristan) Connor. Disillusioned by the corporate world, particularly after losing her job, Stan moves to Frog Ledge. Here, she starts her own business making wholesome, organic pet treats. She becomes a hit with the residents of the small town. Particularly with Jake, a bar owner Stan has her eye on.
She does more than just make treats for animals. Somehow, she gets roped into having parties for dogs and cats, complete with costumes. Setting up for a party on a dairy cow farm which is also hosting a haunted evening, corn maze and all, Stan is brought into something scarier than just pop-up ghosts and an eerie maze. The farm’s owner Hal Hoffman is found dead in the corn maze, stabbed with an old sickle.
Hal’s wife Emmalee is understandably upset. The neighbors and co-op members all pull together to help with the farm chores and to bring solace to Emmalee. Emmalee pleads with Stan to help with the books and accounting because Stan used to be in ‘finance.’ Not really, but close enough for this group. Great. Just what Stan wants. But she knows she should have neighborly spirit and agrees.
Stan can’t help herself and immerses herself into the murder investigation, much to the dismay of Jessie, Jake’s sister and trooper. But it’s not all fun and games. There’s a murderer out there and Stan lands right in the middle of the manure pile, literally. Then her mother, Patricia, unexpectedly shows up for a ‘visit,’ and Stan knows there’s more to Patricia’s appearance than what she’s saying. But Stan doesn’t have time to figure it out. She has to concentrate on her orders for pet treats, solving Hal’s murder, throwing animal parties, and hopefully dating Jake...and staying out of muck that she seems to keep falling into.
A laugh-out-loud and absolutely fun and quick read. Recommended!
Reviewed by Starr Gardinier Reina, author of “The Other Side: Melinda’s Story” 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Book Review - "Going Twice"

“Going Twice” by Sharon Sala

Death and destruction are everywhere. Tornados and storms hit with a vengeance and many lose their lives. But there are those who survive only to be pulled from the wreckage and killed by a madman. Hershel, the Stormchaser, is out to make everyone pay for the death of his wife Louise. Help didn’t come quick enough when the horrible storms hit and they were stuck on the roof of their ravaged home. Louise died. Hershel blames the government and everyone who didn’t come to their aid.
It’s not Hershel’s nor the FBI team’s first go-round. Tate, Wade, and Cameron butt heads with Hershel a year prior when he first began his lonely road of retribution. The FBI team wasn’t able to catch him then and now Hershel is back again, just as the storms are.
Only this time FBI Agent Jo Luckett is added to the team. Jo is Wade’s ex-wife and it makes for some uncomfortable situations. They lost their unborn baby years ago and guilt, anger, hurt, and betrayal tore them apart. Do they still love each other and will it be enough to mend old wounds?
Hershel is angry about Jo’s presence. It screws up his team. She wasn’t part of the hunt last year and now that she is, Hershel is thrown for a loop. He must get rid of her. Will Jo and Wade finally settle their long and hurtful animosity or will Hershel kill Jo before she and Wade can make amends?
These are a few questions I had while zooming through this book. There are tense situations throughout, as well as astonishment as I read Hershel’s dialogue with his dead wife. He’s part crazy and part intelligent. The mixture of the two makes for one hell of a thriller.
If Sala was going for a terrorizing, thrilling, hard to put down, intense novel, she hit the nail on the head. I cannot wait for the next installment in this series.

Reviewed by Starr Gardinier Reina, author of “The Other Side: Melinda’s Story” 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Book Review - "The Pickled Piper"

“The Pickled Piper” by Mary Ellen Hughes

Piper Lamb is starting new. After leaving her fiancé—well, actually he left her to travel the world to ‘find himself,’ which gave Piper the out she needed—she moves and sets up shop in Cloverdale. Thinking she’d have a quiet life running her pickling shop, Piper’s world is anything but quiet.
She decides to join other shop owners and sets up a pickling booth at the town’s fair and does pretty well. Until a dead body—Alan Rosemont’s—is found in her pickle barrel. To say that it kind of sours her pickling is yes, a pun and probably crass, but it’s also the least of her worries.
Her only and faithful employee Amy is seeing Nate, who gets accused of murdering Alan. Piper tries to help Amy by helping Nate prove his innocence. But apparently, someone doesn’t want Piper figuring out too much. She becomes the target of some annoying and then deadly warnings.
Then it gets worse for Nate when more dead bodies are found. Piper figures they have to relate to each other and doesn’t stop trying to convince the sheriff and everyone else that Nate is not guilty.
Running a pickling shop and hunting down a killer keep her busy during the day. But so does trying to make her ex-fiancé understand they are over while getting cozy with a new man.
You’ll smile, you’ll root for Nate, you’ll tell Piper to move on with her new life and leave the old behind, and you’ll turn the pages while tension mounts up as one person after another becomes suspect—at least in Piper’s eyes. And you will not, assuredly, figure out who the actual murderer is until after Piper does.
Lots of fun. It makes for a great beach read!

Reviewed by Starr Gardinier Reina, author of “The Other Side: Melinda’s Story” 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Book Review - "Those who Wish me Dead"

“Those who Wish me Dead” by Michael Koryta

Young Jace Wilson needs to prove his classmates wrong; he's not afraid of heights. He leaps from a tall ledge into dangerous waters to show those who made fun of him that he's not a chicken.
But what he finds is more than courage. He swims next to dead bodies then witnesses a murder. Since then, he has been on the run. The men know who he is and they need to kill him before he can testify against them. He goes into witness protection, but it's not enough. So, his parents agree to take him off the grid; into the Montana mountains where surely, no one will find him. But they do.
And the thriller is on. Jace hopes to rely on Ethan, the man in charge of teaching young boys survivor skills. Ethan finds out that the killers have burned his home and sent his wife Allison to the hospital, barely escaping death. Ethan vows to keep her safe. But safe is not what she is.
Jace realizes the men have found him on the mountain, so relying on the skills Ethan showed him, he goes solo into the mountains in order to keep Ethan and the other boys from harm.
What ensues is a treacherous race between escaping the killers and outrunning a forest fire. But Jace isn't alone. Hannah, the firefighter in the tower, comes to his aid. Ethan is forced by the killers to find Jace in the mountains.
More than outstanding, this book will have you jumping from one chapter to another as the fire races across the mountains, as Jace and Hannah try to survive, and while Ethan tries to keep both killers away from Jace.
This thriller had me glued to the words, not wanting to do anything else but finish this book. Koryta pens a novel that will leave you gasping along with the characters.
This is excellent and one I recommend. Absolutely without a doubt--5 STARS.

Reviewed by Starr Gardinier Reina, author of “The Other Side: Melinda’s Story” 

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