Sunday, March 31, 2019

"Sleepless Nights" by Cheryl T. Long

Sleepless Nights
by Cheryl T. Long

Sleepless Nights by Cheryl T. Long

Author Cheryl T. Long stops by today to share an excerpt from her latest release, Sleepless Nights. I'm loving this cover! 
For more books by this author, please check out my blog post on The Cherish Story series.

A fun trip before abroad soon turns into a nightmare.
When three long time friends decide to take a trip to South Korea after high school they quickly find themselves right in the middle of a murder mystery. When one of the girls is arrested as a suspect in the crime it’s up to her friends to find out the truth before it’s too late.
But, in a foreign city where they don’t even speak the language the odds are against them and time is running out.
And with more evidence coming out against their friend it’s going to take everything they’ve got to be able to prove her innocence and stay out of jail themselves.
Find out more in this mystery to remember.

Book Video

As my friends and I step off the plane at Incheon International Airport in South Korea, my heart flutters in my chest. This exhilarating feeling of complete and total freedom brings so much joy to me. I am even more grateful for the fact that my friends are here with me. They mean the absolute world to me, and even though we are all dog-tired from twelve hours journey on a cramped plane, the excitement we feel is unbounded. My ears are still heavy and full even after we are well off the plane, but I do not let the painful sensation from air pressure spoil the excitement for being here in the country I have longed to return to.
With my backpack in tow, I stumble in the terminal tunnel that leads to baggage claim. Cameron told me many times on the plane to try to get some sleep. I am just too excited about this trip. Sleep is for the weak, anyway. Cameron loves to play mother to the group, even though she does not realize it half of the time. It is okay though --we love her regardless of the way she is. I know it is because we are everything to her. Shelby and me. We all have a long history of being best friends and I am glad we are. Though all three of us are completely different people, we have one thing that connects us all together overall. A love for travel and adventure. Even if Shelby loves travel more than Cameron and me combined.
"I can't wait to see Seoul," Cameron says, her honey-brown eyes sparkling. "And I can't wait to see The Gyeongbokgung Palace. It’s the one place I'm dying to see the most. What about you, Robyn?" "I don't know," I say as we approach the baggage claim area.
"You really don't know?" Shelby says as she catches up with us. "What about Insadong? You’ve always dreamed about going there. Why not make it a reality now?"
The truth is that I do not even know where to start. It seems like my friends have their own itinerary in place and quite honestly, I don't even want to think of places to see just yet. I'm exhausted, my back hurts. "The only thing I want right now is a pillow and a bed."
"Amen to that. Ay, mi cabeza me duele,” Cameron says, smiling.
"English, please." Shelby smiles innocently at Cameron.
Cameron puts her hand on her hip and shakes her head. "My head hurts. Shelby, I try to teach you Spanish, but you just don't seem to get it."
Shelby shrugs as she drags her rolling carry-on suitcase. "I do know German. My whole family is German. I'm a Fischer for crying out loud. I want Robyn to teach me a little Korean after we are rested enough. Besides, aren't we going to do the Seoul wall later today?”
"Really? Today? It's late as it is." I shake my head. What part of pillow and bed doesn’t she understand?
"Cameron really got me pumped for an adventure. I really want to start my adventure now. Don't you? Well, I figured we would look at it today after we settle in the hotel room. Then we can take it from there," Shelby says as we find the baggage carousel that will bring us our luggage.
"No, " I say. "Not a promising idea."
"Besides, it'll be simple. Go to the wall. Walk around the whole thing for a little bit, then come back to the hotel. Easy as pie."
I do not think Shelby really understands the wall like I do. This place isn't one of those kinds where you see a tour and that's it. From my experience with my Korean grandmother, the wall takes at least a day to circumvent. Not an hour or so like Shelby thinks.
"Girl, I hope you're thinking this through." I say.
"What do you mean?" Shelby asks.
"Well, the place is not as small as you're probably thinking it is and it might not be a good idea to go today. Look at the time, it's already five o'clock in the evening. By the time we get settled, it'll be way past the time--"
"Like I said, we'll see when we get to our room. I really think it would be a good idea to immerse ourselves in the culture immediately. What do you think, Cameron?" Cameron turns to face her.
"Shelby, you're crazy for wanting to go to the wall tonight. We'll do it tomorrow."
Shelby shakes her head. "But I promise it'll be fun tonight and we can do a lot of stuff like go shopping at the Dongdaemun night market. And then we can go to one of those places on the street that serve that soju! I saw so many food videos online that I'm just dying to try it out. Come on, guys. Our first night in Korea is going to have to be a ton of fun. Don't you agree?"
There she goes again, talking a mile a minute when she is too tired to even function properly. As fun as it sounds, it is not like we have a five-day trip planned. We’re staying here for an entire month. This trip is supposed to be about getting into South Korean culture, especially for me to find out more about my grandmother, or my halmeoni as I like to call her.
"I promise guys, it'll be fun." Shelby looks at the both of us with those hopeful, begging eyes. Cameron and I exchange eye contact and I know exactly what we say to each other every time. Shelby's hard to resist when she is being like this. She will refuse to let up unless we cave.
"Fine," I say. "But only on one condition."
"And what's that?"
"You let me get shotgun on the train to Seoul."
Shelby pretends to think for a good second, then looks right at me. "Deal."
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
Sleepless Nights: Ethos Journey was a quick read. The story moved along at a decent pace. Not my usual type of mystery, but I’m glad I gave it a read.” ~ Amanda Boucher
“A daring murder mystery set in South Korea. What was supposed to be a fun trip abroad, quickly spirals out of control and turns into a nightmare for three friends in a foreign land. Finding themselves involved in a murder case is the last thing these long time friends thought would ever happen to them. What's even worse? One of them is suspected of being involved in the crime themselves. Sleepless Nights focuses on what long time friends will do for one of their own when one is suspected of murder far from home. Forced to take matters into their own hands, and not speaking the language, it is tougher then they think, but they are willing to try. Danger, misunderstandings, and mystery around every corner, this novel is a pretty interesting.” ~ Alina Hart
“This was a fast paced, interesting mystery book. It had some twists that were predictable and some twists that were not which kept it entertaining. I found it to be an enjoyable, fast read.” ~ Kierra F.

About the Author
Cheryl T. Long
Cheryl T. Long was born and raised in Philadelphia and has always loved writing stories. While in the fifth grade, Cheryl had a teacher who really sparked her interest in writing. He always told her that her story telling was quite unique for her age. From that moment on, Cheryl had one vision in her mind - give the people around her an imaginative outlet. She is a mother of four beautiful children and enjoys cooking, fishing, and talking.
Cheryl is the author of The Cherish Story series, the self-help books Love Yourself and Facing the Fear of Being Alone, and the mystery Sleepless Nights.


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Friday, March 29, 2019

"Designs On Murder" by Gayle Leeson

Designs On Murder
(Ghostly Fashionista Mystery Book 1)
by Gayle Leeson

Designs On Murder (Ghostly Fashionista Mystery Book 1) by Gayle Leeson

Designs On Murder by Gayle Leeson is currently on tour with Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. The tour stops here today for a guest post by the author, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

For another book by this author, please check out my blog post on Calamity Café.

What if you discovered your lively new friend wasn’t really … alive?
Amanda Tucker is excited about opening her fashion design studio in Shops On Main, a charming old building in historic Abingdon, Virginia. She didn’t realize a ghost came with the property! But soon Maxine “Max” Englebright, a young woman who died in 1930, isn’t the only dead person at the retail complex. Mark Tinsley, a web designer with a know-it-all attitude who also rented space at Shops On Main, is shot in his office.
Amanda is afraid that one of her new “friends” and fellow small business owners is his killer, and Max is encouraging her to solve Mark’s murder a la Nancy Drew. Easy for Max to want to investigate – the ghostly fashionista can’t end up the killer’s next victim!

We took Grandpa Dave’s blue pickup truck back to Shops on Main. When we walked inside, Connie’s door was ajar. She was with a customer, but she waved to us. We waved back before unlocking the door and stepping into my shop.
Max was sitting on the windowsill where I’d left her.  “Good to see you’re back. I was afraid I might’ve scared you off.”
I glanced over at Grandpa because I was about to tell him that Max was here and that she’d just spoken to me, but I could tell by his wide eyes and slack jaw that he could see and hear her too.
Max winked at him. “Who’s the silver fox? Got that expression from the old jewelry gal upstairs. It suits, though. You’re a looker, mister.”
Grandpa blinked a few times and extended his hand. “I’m Dave Tucker. You must be Max.”
Max gave a tinkling laugh. “Darling, I wish I could shake your hand. I wanted to hug Amanda earlier, but I couldn’t do that either.”
“Grandpa, how can you see her?” I asked.
“The same way you can, I suppose.”
“But you said you’d never seen a—” I glanced at the door to make sure we weren’t being overheard. “—a ghost in your life.”
“Max is my first.”
Max placed a hand over her heart. “You make me blush, Dave. I haven’t been anyone’s first in ages.” She laughed again, and he laughed with her.
I merely looked back and forth between them bewildered.
“Why are you surprised that I can see and talk with her?” Grandpa asked me. “You can.”
“But no one else here can.”
“That’s true,” Max said. “Maybe I’m special to the Tuckers. We’ll have to look into it.” She tilted her chin. “The love of my life was a Channing. Are there any Channings in your family?”
“My grandfather on my mother’s side,” said Grandpa Dave.
“Wasn’t George, was it?”
“Yes.” Grandpa’s normally robust voice sounded very small and quiet.
Max got tears in her eyes. “I was running late to meet him the night I fell down the stairs...and died.”
“I’m so sorry,” Grandpa whispered.
Okay, this whole ghost thing was getting weirder by the second. Was it actually possible that Max had dated my great-great-grandfather?
I hated to ruin a strange but sappy moment. All right, no, I didn’t hate to ruin this uncomfortable moment at all.
“So, hey, what do you think about having a small table in front of this window with chairs on either side?” I asked.
They both took the hint, and we started talking about decorating.
Grandpa and I had gone all over Abingdon, Bristol, and even Lebanon, but we’d managed to find some beautiful furniture and accessories for Designs on You. We had also talked on and off all afternoon about how strange it was that both he and I could see Max.
I hurried to the shop the next morning to await the delivery of the round table and upholstered chairs we’d bought to go in the sitting and fitting room.
I noticed there was some commotion on the street. There were police cars in front of Shops on Main, and one officer was directing traffic around an ambulance. I thought there must’ve been a car accident. I took the road leading to the back of the shop, so I couldn’t see exactly what had happened. I parked in the lot and went inside through the back door.
An officer was there, and Frank and Ella were too.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“It’s Mark,” said Ella. “He’s dead.”
“Mark…” I echoed.
“He’s the web designer,” Frank supplied.
“Of course. I met him yesterday. What happened to him? Was it a car accident?”
“Someone shot him,” said Ella, “right in his office.”
“It was actually right in his chest,” said Max.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“Wow, just WOW! Gayle Leeson has written a book that is the total Cat’s Pyjamas! Murder, Ghosts, and Fashion … oh MY!” ~ A Wytch’s Book Review Blog
“Fashion, a saucy ghost, and a bit of romance provide a rich backdrop to an intriguing mystery.” ~ Cozy Up With Kathy
“When you read this book (notice I didn’t say ‘if’!) you will want to read the author’s notes because she provides detail for Max’s actions and reactions based on when she lived in the 20s. I appreciated the research she did for this book and I am sure you will too.” ~ Storeybook Reviews
Designs on Murder is an entertaining cozy mystery. Amanda Tucker and Max Englebright are delightful characters.” ~ The Avid Reader
“As a sucker for a fun ghost story, I can say Gayle Leeson’s Designs on Murder scores on many levels including a spunky entrepreneur and a charming setting. Now that I’ve read the first one, I’ll be counting the days until the next in the series arrives.” ~ Lorna Barrett, author of the New York Times Bestselling Booktown Mysteries
“In Designs on Murder, Gayle Leeson sketches a stylish plot accessorized with a spectral fashionista sidekick. This series debut is a delight!” ~ Diane Vallere, national bestselling author

Guest Post by the Author
Fashion Upheaval In the 1920s
F. Scott Fitzgerald referred to the 1920s as an age of miracles in his essay, Echoes of the Jazz Age. The times were defined as prosperous, spontaneous, and euphoric following WW1 (then known as the Great War). The youth no longer wanted to dress or act like the older generation. They wanted to embrace a new culture.
Corsets and bustles were out. Shorter hemlines and body-skimming styles were in. Egyptian motifs on clothing and jewelry became popular after the King Tut tomb exhibition of 1922. And Coco Chanel ushered in women’s trousers.
Chanel opened her couture house in 1919 and quickly became one of the foremost designers of the Jazz Age. Other designers included Jeanne Lanvin, Paul Poiret, Madeleine Vionnet, and Jean Patou. Elsa Schiaparelli came onto the scene in 1927.
Since Amanda Tucker has a love of vintage fashion in Designs On Murder, I thought Max was the perfect ghostly companion for her. They both love fashion, jewelry, books, and movies. Max even provides design suggestions from time to time. I hope you’ll read the book and let me know what you think of Amanda, Max, and their fashion sense!

About the Author
Gayle Leeson
Gayle Leeson has also written as Amanda Lee and Gayle Trent. As Amanda Lee, she wrote the Embroidery Mystery series, and as Gayle Trent, she writes the Daphne Martin Cake Mystery series and the Myrtle Crumb Mystery series. Going forward, Gayle intends to keep her writing under the Gayle Leeson name. She has a series of women’s fiction novellas set in a shopping mall that has been converted to include micro-apartments (the Kinsey Falls series) and has just begun this new cozy series, the Ghostly Fashionista Mystery series. Another Down South Café Mystery novel is slated for release in August with book two in the Ghostly Fashionista Mystery series scheduled for October.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card and an ebook copy of Designs on Murder by Gayle Lesson (US only).


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Thursday, March 28, 2019

"Unlikely Friends" by Sahar Abdulaziz

Unlikely Friends
by Sahar Abdulaziz

Unlikely Friends by Sahar Abdulaziz

This book blitz and giveaway for Unlikely Friends by Sahar Abdulaziz is hosted by Buoni Amici Press.

Irwin is not only the local Librarian; he’s also a book snob and an all-around grouch. There’s nothing he values more than his privacy. As a loner, he’s happy to be surrounded by books instead of subjected to the incessant blatherings of dysfunctional people.
The one thing Irwin despises more than people is change. He’s content in his predictable, routine existence … until a young girl barrels her way into his dreary life and turns it upside down.
Harper is witty, smart, free-spirited - but most of all, stubborn. Baffled by her need to gain his friendship, Irwin does his best to brush her off, but Harper refuses to budge. In fact, it only makes her latch onto him even more. Friendship, after all, can be found in the most unusual places.

Irwin Abernathy, barely able to conceal the venom oozing out of every pore on his craggy old face, cringed at the slightly hungover, college-aged female with smeared day-old mascara caked beneath her drooping eyelids, making her look like a rabid raccoon.
“I think this belongs to you,” he said, dangling with two fingers the powdery orange Cheeto he had found lodged between the pages of her returned library book.
“Huh? Ha! Right…” She reached over the reception desk to reclaim it, then popped it into her mouth.
Ohmygawd, ewww,” Irwin gagged, struggling to control his retching reflex. He took three rapid panting breaths until the feeling subsided. “You have a late fee,” he griped, his eyes watery but detached. “You owe a dollar-ten.”
“Do I?” The young woman fumbled through her pockets, digging for change, but only managed to collect a combination of pennies, dimes, nickels, a single quarter, and one tortoiseshell button to dump onto the desk. “Hold up,” she said, waving a crooked finger with a nail covered in chipped black polish in the air. “I have more; just give me one-hot-second.”
Irwin glanced over the woman’s shoulder at the long line forming behind her and ever so slightly bit his bottom lip. “No, take your time. Really,” he said, eyes rolling to the ceiling. “I have all day.”
If the young woman heard him, he couldn’t say, and although irritated by her total lack of social decorum, Irwin couldn’t help but be riveted, mesmerized by how easily she plunged her arm into her soft canvas bag, only to belt out a few colorful expletives when she pulled out everything but her wallet.
“Ma’am, if you could step to the side for a moment while I help the next person…”
“Damn it. I know it’s in here somewhere,” the woman mumbled, completely ignoring Irwin’s request, depositing a pen without a cap, a twisted, smooshed granola bar, and a tampon, thankfully still in its original wrapper, onto the desk. “One more second, I swear.” She shook her bag and stuck almost her entire face inside. “Come to mama,” she said, voice muffled. Irwin’s brow furrowed, but even he leaned closer in suspense.
“Ah-ha! Got it,” she crowed triumphantly and gave a cute curtsey to the sarcastic slow clapping taking place behind her and a wide smile to Irwin, who could only stare back dumbfounded. Then she whipped a twenty-dollar bill from her purse and waved it in the air. “I’ll need change.”
Irwin's nostrils flared.
A twenty-dollar bill? What do I look like—a pole dancer?
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“Each character comes to life on the pages. I truly felt I knew Irwin, he was so perfectly drawn. They have flaws and imperfections and yet they have true emotions you feel jumping at you. In a way Unlikely Friends is a coming of age story even for those characters well into adulthood.” ~ Chaz Reads
“This story had me from the first page. I kept thinking I would find a place to put it down so I could get something done - dishes, house cleaning, fixing dinner - but I had to keep reading. Looking forward to more from this author.” ~ kelly green
“Anyone who loves a great story about people who are adrift will laugh, cry, and applaud over how six special people meet and with that, alter their lives forever.” ~ Donelle M. Knudsen
“An exceptionally written cosy small town novel that takes place in the Poconos. […] I grew up in the Poconos and this book had me picturing my town library, the streets and people in it which was very relatable and comforting. I enjoyed every minute of it and you will too!” ~ Anum N.
“The book covers a few difficult topics but will keep you laughing and crying, and falling deeper in love with grouchy Irwin Abernathy and sassy teenager, Harper Leigh as they join together to fulfill many unspoken needs.” ~ DLB

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.

By Lynda Dickson
Irwin is an “aging librarian, who was close to retirement”. He prefers “to exist between the pages of his books, exploring new worlds without the threat of heartache, loss, and personal catastrophe”. Fifteen-year-old Harper spends her spare time at the library, her escape from “The old dilapidated house she called home, with its sagging porch and peeled paint, could have easily been mistaken for abandoned”. She lives there with her mother Olivia. Her father Darren has just been released from prison after serving six years, and Harper’s not happy. Flashbacks reveal what happened six years ago when he was arrested on a number of drug-related charges.
When Irwin finds out about Harper’s troubled family life, he sets out to help her out with the assistance of his neighbor Cornelia. Christopher, the young man Irwin meets at the cemetery, is the sixth member of this group of unlikely friends.
The story is told from the viewpoints of Irwin, Harper, Olivia, Cornelia, and Darren, but there’s some crossover, with things mentioned that that person doesn’t “see”. I love the eccentric Cornelia and Bones the cat (“He sees and understands everything.”) and was half-expecting there to be a chapter from his viewpoint (I would have enjoyed that). But the appearance of Chris about 80% of the way into the book was forced and unnecessary, and he is the only one of the “friends” who doesn’t have a section of the book told from his viewpoint.
Unfortunately, the book tries to be humorous but mostly falls flat. It is also repetitive, with too much recounting of events to other characters and too much telling and not enough showing. The cover - while gorgeous and the thing that made me want to read this book - doesn’t suit the genre. In addition, there are numerous editing errors and it all wraps up a bit too quickly in the end.
Warnings: coarse language, drug use, domestic violence.

Some of My Favorite Lines
“Just one more colorful character to add to the book he never actually intended to write.”
“Although I find your description of me wanting, I do concede to the fact that human interaction isn’t one of my stronger suits.”

About the Author
Sahar Abdulaziz
Sahar Abdulaziz has authored eight books: But You LOOK Just Fine [Health/non-fiction], As One Door Closes (Contemporary Fiction), The Broken Half (Contemporary Fiction), Secrets That Find Us (Fiction/Thriller/Suspense), Tight Rope (Thriller/Political Fiction), Expendable (Psychological suspense), The Dino Flu (Children’s book), and Unlikely Friends (Literary Fiction). Abdulaziz’s work covers a wide range of hard-hitting topics: mood disorders (depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, PPD), domestic violence and sexual assault, marital and family dysfunction, racism, sexism, and prejudice, but most of all–survivorship. Her multidimensional characters have been described as having “substance and soul”.
Originally from New York, Sahar moved to Pennsylvania in 1993 with her growing family. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and a Master of Science degree in Health and Wellness Promotion and Administration, as well as a certification in Community Health Administration. In 1995, she received a Certificate in Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Crisis Intervention Counseling, and shortly after, as a Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Counselor/Advocate. She volunteered for many years as a hotline worker and counselor/advocate. In 2016, Abdulaziz received an award for Community Written Expression at the Second Annual Monroe County Image Awards and in 2018, nominated for the Rabata, “We Are Aisha” Award in the category Writer/Author. Most recently, she has guest co-hosted for Sistah Chat Radio, WESS 90.3 FM, Gynesis Radio, and is a member of the Pocono Liar’s Writer’s Club. Rep’d by Djarabi Kitabs Publishing and Limitless Publishing.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of three Kindle copies of Unlikely Friends by Sahar Abdulaziz (US only).

Amazon (Kindle Unlimited)

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