Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Jack Templar and the Last Battle Blast


Jack Templar and the Last Battle by Jeff Gunhus

In the last book of the Jack Templar series, Jack and his friends race to stop Ren Lucre before he launches this Creach army against humankind. But the Lord of the Lesser Creach and the Lord of the Zombies hold the last two Jerusalem Stones Jack needs to have any chance of success. To make matters worse, the Oracle predicts that one of their group will die in the upcoming fight, and Jack discovers betrayal among those he trusts most. Even so, Jack must find the courage to lead his friends into battle. Either they collect the Stones in time to defeat Ren Lucre or die trying. It’s "Do your duty, come what may" no matter the cost. The fate of the world hangs in the balance.

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Before the witch could move, a shadow crashed through the hole in the collapsed roof, snarling and growling. Simultaneously, the cottage door flew open, nearly ripping from its hinges, and something ran into the room moving faster than I could track it. A second later, a person flew in from a side window, landing on the floor with a grunt, rolling and then popping up into a fighting stance.

This last addition was Will, sword pulled, ready for a fight. The other two took me a second because my mind still wasn’t used to their appearance. Daniel had dropped in from the roof, but he was in his werewolf form. Up on his hind legs, he clawed the air in front of him, lines of saliva dripping from his long snout. The shadow that had rushed in from the door was Eva. She stood near the fire, but even in the glow of the flames, her skin appeared pure white, almost translucent. Her posture was perfect, her back slightly arched. Chin out, she stared down the witch as if challenging her to one-on-one combat.

“What took you guys so long?” I asked. “Oh, I don’t know. You sneaking out without telling anyone. And then trying to cover your tracks,” Will said. “You’re a real bonehead. You know that, right?” “He knows,” Eva said. “Everyone knows.” “Thanks,” I said. “I kind of liked it better when it was just me and Bella.” “Really, looked to me like she was about to let you have it. If you want, we could just leave and –” “Enough,” the witch yelled, sending the flames higher in the fireplace. “This changes nothing. You think you are any match for me?” “I don’t know,” Eva said. “You’re looking pretty beat up to me.

I feel like I might be able to get a little payback for last time.” Daniel snarled, chomping the air with his teeth in agreement. The last time we’d had a run-in with Bella of the Woods, she’d easily mopped the floor with Eva and Daniel. I wondered if her ragged appearance meant she was less powerful now – or just more desperate and dangerous.

“We don’t have to do this,” I said. “We all want the same thing.” “That’s where you’re wrong, Templar,” the witch said. “You want to save your friends. Save your father. Save the world by stopping Ren Lucre’s mad plan to start an open war against humans all over the world. All I want is to have my son back.” I lowered my sword, hoping to buy more time. “You can’t get him back,” I said softly. “I think you must know that by now, even if you don’t want to admit it. Look at all of your attempts,” I said, pointing to the stack of Talib heads against the wall. They all stared, wide-eyed, their mouths opening and closing like fish out of water gasping for air.

“That’s not your son. Not really. And you know it never will be.” The witch hunched over slowly as if each word I said made her chest ache more. I decided to make my final appeal. “I said this to you last time I was here. If you can’t bring your son back, at least let me take my best shot at avenging his death. Let me have the Jerusalem Stone back so I can continue my quest to defeat Ren Lucre once and for all.”

The witch’s head twitched to the side as if she heard a new noise. Her lips curled into a cruel grin. “Sorry, Jack. That’s not what I had in mind.” With a high-pitched scream, she pointed her hands at Eva and Daniel. The two of them blew backward as if a battering ram had run into them. That instant, Will was on the move. He was in the air as the witch turned to him, but he’d been just fast enough. He landed both feet on the witch’s chest, kicking her backward.

The dozens of Talib heads opened their mouths, and their screams joined the witch’s. I lunged forward, ducking as she spun around, the hand with the Jerusalem Stone stretched out toward me. I felt a surge of energy pass over my head like a solid thing. No doubt, if I hadn’t ducked, it would have taken my head clean off my shoulders. I rolled onto the ground and used my momentum to crash into the witch’s legs. It wasn’t the most graceful move, but it worked. The witch tumbled over, her hand with the Jerusalem Stone smashing into the stone hearth. The Stone rolled out of her hand and into the fireplace.

“Bella, don’t!” I yelled. Too late.  
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Author Jeff Gunhus

Jeff Gunhus is the USA TODAY bestselling author of thriller and horror novels for adults and the middle grade/YA series, The Templar Chronicles. The first book, Jack Templar Monster Hunter, was written in an effort to get his reluctant reader eleven-year-old son excited about reading. It worked and a new series was born. His books for adults have reached the Top 30 on Amazon, have been recognized as Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Finalists and reached the USA TODAY bestseller list. After his experience with his son, he is passionate about helping parents reach young reluctant readers and is active in child literacy issues.

As a father of five, he leads an active life in Maryland with his wife Nicole by trying to constantly keep up with their kids. In rare moments of quiet, he can be found in the back of the City Dock Cafe in Annapolis working on his next novel or on JeffGunhus.com.

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Back In The Saddle Book Review & Giveaway

I have a really wonderful western style like love story to share with you called Back In the Saddle written by Ruth Logan Herne that I think all of you would enjoy reading!

The Prodigal Is Coming Home  
It’s been a long time since Colt Stafford shrugged off his cowboy legacy for shiny Manhattan loafers and a promising career on Wall Street. But when stock market manipulations leave him financially strapped, the oldest son of legendary rancher Sam Stafford decides to return to the sprawling Double S ranch in Gray’s Glen, Washington. He’s broke, but not broken, and it’s time to check in with his ailing father, and get his legs back under him by climbing into the saddle again.

He doesn’t expect to come home to a stranger pointing a loaded gun at his chest— a tough yet beautiful woman that Sam hired as the house manager. Colt senses there’s more to Angelina Morales than meets the eye and he’s determined to find out what she’s hiding...and why.

Colt’s return brings new challenges. Younger brother Nick has been Sam’s right-hand man at the ranch for years and isn’t thrilled at having Colt insert himself into Double S affairs. And the ranch’s contentious relationship with the citizens of Gray’s Glen asks all the Stafford men to examine their hearts about what it truly means to be a neighbor.  And as Wall Street recovers, will Colt succumb to the call of the financial district’s wealth and power—or finally the courage to stay in the saddle for good?
Purchase your copy on Amazon 

My Thoughts:

As you guys know, aside from Amish love stories, I think any kind of good, relatable love stories are the next best thing and this one is one of those with a few doses of deep trouble for Angelina and all those around her. She came to the Double S ranch to escape some very bad people and she is going to need all the help she can get from the Stafford's.

Of course, all three brothers are a handful, but what else is new? Guys being guys is what makes this story fun to read and unpredictable. Then adding a very sick father into the mix, and you have a tear jerker along with a love story blooming at the same time.

I think all of you will enjoy reading this truly awesome book and how a family should come together and how forgiveness works, especially when you have a tough but great woman pushing the buttons to get things done! Right, girls??? We really know who is in charge, don't we?

Happy Reading!

About the Author:
Ruth Logan Herne

Best-selling, multi-published author Ruth Logan Herne is the author of over thirty novels and novellas through traditional publishers and her own independent works. She loves God, her family, country, coffee, chocolate and dogs, and wishes possums would leave the cat food on the side porch alone. With over 3/4 million books in print, Ruthy is living her dream of touching hearts and souls by writing the kind of books she likes to read. She is also part of Mighty Finn Creations with her photographer/editor daughter Beth Jamison, and their new series "The Adventures of The Mighty Finn" has just released.

She loves chatting with readers through her website blog and hanging with readers and writers in Seekerville... www.seekerville.blogspot.com where coffee is always hot, fresh and good! She loves playing in the kitchen, too, with a wonderful group of regionally-inspired inspirational authors at the Yankee Belle Café.

Catch up with her on:  Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest |

Here is another great book that I thought you guys might like to read so I will be giving away my own paperback copy of Back in The Saddle! Open in the Continental U.S. only. Good Luck Everyone!

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Disclosure: Mary Bearden personally reviewed these products. I did not receive any monetary compensation for my review, just a sample product. "I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review." All opinions are mine and belong to me solely. My thoughts and opinions may differ from yours.

Digital Projection Alarm Clock Giveaway

Welcome to the Digital Projection Alarm Clock Giveaway!!

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Amy & Aron's Real Life Reviews

A special shout out to me Co-Hosts Deliciously Savvy and IMHO Views, Reviews, & Giveaways.

Thanks for all that you do!!

Sponsored By: Big Red Rooster 

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~1 Winner~
Open to US
Winners Choice of Alarm Clock
Cat, Dog, Dinosaur, or Rocket

Check out Amy & Aron's Real Life Reviews review of this  awesome Digital Projection Alarm Clock.

Don't want to wait for the giveaway to end? 
Get yours on Big Red Rooster Products

Thank you to all of the bloggers promoting this giveaway. All of our giveaways are so much fun when we do it all together.

Now for the fun stuff. This giveaway is open to US. There are daily bonus entries so please check back tomorrow. Share it with your family and friends, they'll want to enter to win too!!

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An Unbroken Heart Book Review & Giveaway

I recently read this really great Amish book called An Unbroken Heart written by Kathleen Fuller and I think you will love it as much as I did!

An argument. A crash. In an instant, Joanna’s world is changed forever.

One minute, Joanna Schrock was arguing with her parents, and the next, her parents’ lives were claimed in a hit-and-run buggy accident. Her body is broken, but her heart is in even deeper pain— after all, how do you cope with your parents’ deaths when your last words were spoken in anger?

After an extended stint in a physical rehabilitation center, Joanna re-enters her Amish life. But nothing is the same—not even her feelings for Andrew Beiler.

Joanna has loved Andrew since the age of twelve, and her feelings have not changed throughout the years. She is thrilled when Andrew wants to get married, but she wonders whether it’s love he’s feeling, or pity. As the couple’s wedding date approaches, Joanna isn’t overcome with the deep joy she was hoping to feel; instead, she’s wracked with anxiety and guilt.

Joanna hears God whispering to her, Be strong and courageous, but she’s afraid that courage looks a lot like walking away from her dreams and into the plan of her Heavenly Father.

If Joanna takes the first step toward healing, will it cost her everything she’s ever wanted? Or could God be changing the desires of her heart?
Purchase your copy on Amazon 

My Thoughts:

I am sure that there are quite a bit of other people out and about that love reading Amish love stories because they are some of the what I call "purist love stories", because of their ways and their religion, it's hopefully one of the better role models we can all learn from to make our lives richer.

I really liked this book as it follows the beautiful parts of what true love looks like in this community and hopefully, it can teach our young adults especially, but they can also be guides for other age groups also. With the divorce rate so high these days, especially in Hollywood, I welcome the change of pace that these Amish love stories set.

I truly envy the confidence in which some of these Amish characters are so sure of themselves when the moment arrives and there is no doubt in their minds that they truly love the other person with all their heart and soul. I especially respect the way these are written because with all the books that I have read, they really take it seriously when asking God for guidance. I think we could all use a little more of that in our lives!

Happy Reading!

About the Author:

Kathleen Fuller

I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, and currently live in Geneva, Ohio. I've been married to James for 22 wonderful years (really, they have been wonderful!) We have three terrific children, three dogs, and have raised cattle, pigs, and chickens at various times over the years. We would have gone into the goat business, but I had to draw the line somewhere.

I started writing in 2000, and published my first short story a year later. Since then I have authored several short stories, novellas, novels, and have done a lot of freelance non-fiction work. I have also worked as an editor. I have a Masters degree in Special Education, emphasis on teaching the blind and visually impaired, and a Bachelors in Early Childhood/Elementary Education. I have taught all age groups ranging from age 4 to age 21.

A few of my favorite things: my relationship with Christ, chocolate (of course!), autumn, a satisfying book, good friends, a sense of humor, people who don't take themselves seriously, haunting melodies, NFL football, and did I mention chocolate?

Check out her: Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter |

This was such a delight to read that I thought I would pass my paperback copy to one lucky reader! Open in the Continental U.S. only. Good Luck Everyone!

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Disclaimer: Mary Bearden personally reviewed these products. I did not receive any monetary compensation for my review, just a sample product from BookLook Bloggers. All opinions are mine and belong to me solely. My thoughts and opinions may differ from you.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Salute To Our Veterans Giveaway

This post contains affiliate links and if clicked and a purchase made I may receive a small commission to help support this blog.

Salute To Our Veterans

Welcome to the Salute To Our Veterans Giveaway!

We want to tell all our Veterans Thank You for all you have done for this country!

3 Winners will win over $900 rv of prizes!

Hosted by:

Michigan Saving and More

Co Hosted by:

I want to thank all the wonderful bloggers that help promote these contests! Please visit and follow them so we all can have great contests for our followers!



Remember: You are not eligible if you have won from any sponsor in the last 12 months, this includes contests on other websites.
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 This giveaway is in no way endorsed, affiliated, or associated with Facebook, Twitter or any other Social Media Networking Site. You are not eligible if you have won a prize from any of the sponsors in the last 12 month. This Giveaway is valid in the Continental United States Only and Entrants must be 18+ years of age to enter. This giveaway event will end at 11:59 PM (EST) 11/11/16. The winners will have 48 hours to email their information back to las93063 at gmail dot com or a new winner will be drawn, you may want to put this email address as safe as it could go to spam. The sponsors are each responsible for shipping of the above prizes.

No blog associated with this contests are responsible for prize fulfillment. If you would like to be a sponsor in a giveaway like this please email Laura Smith at las930 (at)gmail (dot) com. If you take an entry you must stay following for the entire contest or you will be disqualified.

Also we all “love it if you like us” on Facebook! If you like our blogs on social media it helps us bring you only the best giveaways and more of them!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Growing Up Gourmet: 125 Healthy Meals for Everybody and Every Baby Giveaway

Welcome to the Growing Up Gourmet: 125 Healthy Meals for Everybody and Every Baby Giveaway

Sponsored by: Growing Up Gourmet 

Garlic, cinnamon, cardamom, sage, basil—you’ll be amazed by what your baby will eat! Here are 125 healthy, delicious, kitchen-tested, and pediatric dietician-approved baby food recipes that will nurture your child’s adventurous palate and guarantee smiles from everyone at the dinner table.

Growing Up Gourmet is a total guide to your baby and toddler’s diet. Jennifer Carlson built her business, Baby Gourmet, into one of the top-selling organic baby food brands in North America—and she’ll show you how to make nutritious, delicious, home-cooked meals that will complement your child’s development schedule and make everyone else in the family happy too. Her mouth-watering recipes reduce picky eating and introduce your baby to the wide world of textures and tastes, from veggies such as kale and fennel, to grains such as amaranth and spelt, to herbs and spices such as turmeric and ginger that will help you avoid added sugar, salt, colorings, and preservatives.

As a busy mother of two, Jen understands that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by feeding struggles and the sheer mass of parenting information, not to mention the challenges of finding time to make wholesome, flavorful meals from scratch. In this essential guide, she clearly lays out everything you need to know about feeding your baby: when to wean; how to get the right nutrients at every stage; how to deal with finicky eating habits; which foods will treat gassiness, colic, constipation, low iron, or poor sleep; and how to adapt your special dietary considerations for your child.

As daunting as it may seem, there are shortcuts and techniques to make it all manageable, whether you’re cooking for a single little one or a family of five and counting.

Now for the giveaway: One lucky person will win a Growing Up Gourmet: 125 Healthy Meals for Everybody and Every Baby Book. This is open to US and ends 11/02/16 @ 11:59 pm est. To enter, Simply do the tasks on the Giveaway Tools widget below and you're set to have a chance to win! Remember you can't win if you don't enter. It only takes one entry to win!

Good Luck, Thanks for entering!

Disclaimer: Please note that SaraLee's Deals Steals and Giveaways are not responsible for prize fulfillment.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus Giveaway

This post contains affiliate links if clicked on I may receive a small commission to support this blog.

Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus Giveaway

Welcome to the Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus Giveaway

Hosted by: Michigan Saving and More

Sponsored by: Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus

The winner will receive the same package as I received HERE.

Downy Wrinkle Release Plus

See the review HERE.
Get coupons for Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus HERE.
Also available on Amazon HERE.

This giveaway is in no way endorsed, affiliated, or associated with Facebook, Twitter or any other Social Media Networking Site. You are not eligible if you have won a prize from the sponsor in the last 12 month. This Giveaway is valid in the Continental United States. Entrants must be 18+ years of age to enter. This giveaway event will end at 11:59 PM (EST) 11/06/16. The winners will have 48 hours to email their information back to las93063 at gmail dot com or a new winner will be drawn, you may want to put this email address as safe as it could go to spam. The sponsors are responsible for shipping of the above prizes. No blog associated with this contest are responsible for prize fulfillment. If you would like to be a sponsor in a giveaway like this please email Laura Smith at las930 (at)gmail (dot) com or contact the owner of the blog you are entering on! Please remember if you take an entry you must continue to follow that person/blog/company until the end of the giveaway.

We “LOVE” it if you like us!

Dropprice $175 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Dropprice $175 Amazon Gift Card

Welcome to the Dropprice $175 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

Dropprice $175 Amazon Gift Card

Dropprice is an innovative startup that rewards moms for being social. Essentially, they empower moms to drop prices of kids & baby products with a click. The price continues dropping as more moms click “Drop the price”. Every week new promotions are launched and moms drop prices by sharing them on social media. See the chart below to understand the power moms have and how important it is to share with other moms. In today’s promotion for the Comotomo Baby Bottle, it started out at $29.99 and for each mom that clicks, the price drops a bit. The price will continue to

Dropprice $175 Amazon Gift Card

The price will continue to drop for each mom that participates. You can choose to share on social media to get more moms to click “Drop the price”, or you can “Buy Now” at the current price. Keep in mind that when the price gets low, they usually sell out and you will no longer have the chance to buy that item. As an added bonus every item on Dropprice ships for free! Do you want to give it a try? This is such a fun and exciting way for moms to save lots of money by collaborating with each other. If you would like to have a chance to win a $175 Amazon gift card, you can experience dropping the price by following the instructions below.

Giveaway: Win a $175 Amazon Gift Card

All you have to do is help moms drop the price of this Baby Bottle and you will be entered to win a $175 Amazon gift card. Just click “Drop the price” on the entry form below for a chance to win. For even more entries, share it on your social media networks via the entry form — every time one of your friends also clicks to drop the price, you’ll automatically receive additional giveaway entries! This giveaway ends on 10/24/2016; you must be a US Resident and be 18 years or older to enter. Winners are randomly selected and contacted via email; the winners will be listed at the top of the entry form when the giveaway ends.

 Click here if you don’t see the entry form below.


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Great Meal Suggestions For The Fall

How to Celebrate Fall in Your Kitchen

Fall is the favorite time of year for many people. The cooler weather is a chance to change up the wardrobe and the beautiful colors are a great reason to enjoy time outdoors. There are also many food-related reasons to enjoy fall. Harvest season is full of delicious produce and it's a chance to move from light summer dishes to hearty comfort foods. Fall is also the perfect time to enjoy hot drinks, whether it's a good cup of tea or the seasonal pumpkin drink at your local coffee house.

If you want to celebrate all things fall in your own home, the best place to start is in the kitchen. Change up your normal cooking routine to try new things, and find a way to cook even on nights when your family is busy with school-related activities. You can also enjoy using both apple and pumpkin in a variety of desserts and breakfast pastries. If you're ready to embrace the cold weather and spend some time in your kitchen, here are some suggestions.

Have a Fall Cocktail Party

Whether you want to invite the entire neighborhood, or just celebrate with your family, having a night full of hot drinks and tasty snacks can be a great way to host a relaxing party. You can make hot cider in a crock pot and mull red wine for adult guests. Hot cocoa is another timeless favorite, and you can make several types of finger foods for everyone to enjoy. If a cocktail party isn't your thing, make it a game night instead and have every guest bring a favorite game and plate of snacks.

Try a New Spin on Classics

Fall is a great time to dive back into comforting meals like meatloaf and mashed potatoes, and hearty soups and stews. If you enjoy trying out new recipes, you can take some of those classic flavors and make them in a new way. You could make mini individual meatloaves and change out white potatoes for sweet potatoes. Or skip the hours of preparation required for classic lasagna and make skillet lasagna instead. You can also change up taco night and make chicken tortilla soup instead.

Try a Hot Breakfast

There's nothing like a filling breakfast to start the day, especially when you'll be out in the cold weather. No matter how busy your mornings are, you can find ways to make a hot breakfast for everyone. Break out the slow cooker again and make overnight oats that are ready in the morning. Or spend a few hours assembling and freezing breakfast burritos so your kids can have a grab-and-go breakfast on school mornings. If you love enjoying brunch on the weekend, try your hand at cinnamon rolls that rise overnight and are ready for the oven in the morning.

Pack Your Lunch

Bringing your lunch from home is a great way to stick to a healthy diet and save money. A Thermos lets you bring leftover soup from last night's dinner. You can also try packing scrambled eggs or chili in an insulated container. Sandwiches are always good options, but you don't have to stick with ham and cheese every day. Try an all-vegetarian option or make a cheese melt if your office kitchen has a toaster oven. You can enjoy the seasonal produce by bringing along an apple or pear with your lunch.

Stick to a Healthy Diet

While fall is the perfect time to indulge in comfort foods and the occasional pumpkin treat, it's important to maintain a healthy diet overall. That way you can enjoy the season and the upcoming holidays without dreading the resolution diet in January. Choose Buy as many things fresh as you can and then choose healthy pre-made options like low-cholesterol, egg-free mayo from Hampton Creek.

Try switching to natural sweeteners rather than relying on refined sugar for all your baking projects. Plan meals with a balance of protein, vegetables and carbs so you'll avoid sugar crashes and cravings.
Celebrate fall by hosting a cocktail party or modifying your family's favorite recipes to fall-friendly forms. Take the time to make a hot breakfast and pack your lunch every day. It's also a good idea to practice moderation by making healthy food choices often and indulging in comfort foods and treats occasionally.  

Fall is a wonderful time of year to spend time in your kitchen trying new things and enjoying the produce of the season.

Disclaimer: All opinions are mine and belong to me solely. My thoughts and opinions may differ from you.   

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Eyeshine Book Review

Eyeshine by Cy Wyss
on Tour March 1-31, 2016

Book Details:
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Published by: Nighttime Dog Press, LLC
Publication Date: November 2015
Number of Pages: 200

PJ Taylor is a reporter with a difference. Each night she turns into a black tabby cat from sundown to sunup.

In this first adventure, follow PJ as she chases thieves, drug dealers, and even a murderer.

Will PJ solve the mysterious drowning death of cantankerous old coot Chip Greene? Or will a local special needs boy end up taking the blame?

Be prepared for twists and turns along the way as PJ applies all her feline senses to this diabolical situation.
My Thoughts:
I actually loved this story! Yes, it's a little quirky that she turns into a black cat at night and people can only see her during the day as a human, but it was funny, had a hilarious murder plot and was a mystery all rolled into one!
Of course, her story about why she couldn't be out at night was a little off balance because I would have thought that her friends and her family would then say, well, we will come see you then so you don't have to leave home. But, no one I guess ever invited themselves over, so no one got suspicious.
It's a really fun story to read and even though it does have a murder involved, it was not a mean and vicious murder, just a kind of misunderstanding of what really happened. Otherwise, I would have ranked this a pretty good comedy!
It's a refreshing story and gives you a break from all the drama of other murder mysteries plus a side of the supernatural.
Happy Reading!

Read an excerpt:

People called Brooke Annabeth Taylor “PJ,” which stood not for pajamas but for Peeping Jane. She’d been a photographer and reporter for as long as the town could remember—at least since grade school—and her reportage was known for the most candid and impossible photos, like Peter Parker’s but from nearer the ground. Her job was made more difficult by her moniker because once people found out what it was, they shied away and wouldn’t tell her the secrets that are a reporter’s stock-in-trade. As she got older, it got harder and harder to convince anyone to give her a story. Now, at thirty, she was no longer “kitten cute” and able to wile her way easily into subjects’ confidence. Still, she managed to find a way.
With her penetrating amber eyes and easy smile, people found her disarming. She loved her relationship as a freelance reporter with the town’s paper, and all the vagaries that life entails, such as being a night owl and an absolute bulldog for the truth. If she could have chosen her own moniker, it would have likely combined these: Owl Dog. It was particularly inappropriate, however, because she turned not into a bird or canine every night, but into a cat.
She had been a black tabby from sundown to sunup since shortly after puberty. She often wondered why other people didn’t morph into alternate beings for the dark hours, but was admonished very early on by a loving mother to never, never, ever speak a word of it to anyone. PJ liked to think that was because her mother had a similar power and had suffered, but it could have been due solely to the woman’s intelligence and sense of practicality.
PJ’s father had died when she was ten. The man was a scientist, an absent-minded chemist, and PJ was of two minds about his awareness. On the one hand, his cleverness meant surely he wouldn’t have been fooled by a mere wife, no matter how adept at deception; on the other hand, his absentmindedness meant sometimes he forgot to wear shoes. So it wasn’t a stretch to think he might have no inkling about the bizarreness of his wife or daughter.
At sixteen, with PJ in limbo between childhood and womanhood, her mother suffered a tragic and debilitating stroke that took her life within months. PJ then moved in with her much older brother and his family. By then, she had become as adept as her mother at hiding her talent, in spite of the fact her brother was an FBI agent by that time, at twenty-nine, and extraordinarily difficult to deceive. It helped that after he witnessed firsthand the transformation from girl to cat, he immediately went into a long-lasting shock that consisted of utter denial. Instead of considering how her unique power could assist him in his life of crime fighting, he grounded her for a month and kept her largely confined to her room, especially after sundown.
PJ forgave Robert for locking her up, only because of her natural optimism and sense of personal grandeur. Honestly, grudges were beneath her, as were most things mere mono-modal humans did. She focused on her schoolwork and got all A’s that semester. Much later she discovered her brother had to take a polygraph test every year he was employed with the all-knowing government agency. PJ realized Robert had so thoroughly put the image of his sister becoming a black tabby cat out of his mind that he had convinced himself it wasn’t even a hallucination—it simply hadn’t existed at all. There’s no need to lie if you’re a true believer, and that was the most effective path for a forced deceiver. So PJ kept her secret, and Robert kept his job.
Fourteen years later, PJ was irrevocably known as Peeping Jane and Robert had traveled the country and come back in his forties to set up a one-man field office in Mayhap, Indiana. One day, PJ was out with her best friends Clara Goodwind and Vicky Donnerweise at the Mayhap Spring Festival when the sun dipped low on the horizon, threatening to bring the stars closer and the day to an end.
“PJ, why do you always leave just when things are getting interesting?” Clara said.
She was a buxom woman with big hazel eyes and bright red hair. Her wardrobe favored items with cats in evidence or implied by pithy sayings, such as “Meow Happens,” which her pink tube top currently sported. The woman was Taft County’s prime cat rescuer, with a warren of dedicated chicken-wire pens covering her backyard and a full-time feeding schedule. When she wasn’t volunteering at the county’s humane shelter, she was ensconced in a network of gossips centered at the Mayhap Memorial Library. Clara was an assistant librarian but party to all the good stories the town could provide. PJ found her an invaluable source. If it happened, or was going to happen, Clara knew about it and would talk.
Vicky stood with arms akimbo and watched PJ inhale an elephant ear. She was a striking woman with hair even blacker than PJ’s and blue eyes where PJ’s were yellow. Vicky was tall and muscular, like a man, but lither and hourglass-shaped inside the bulky kit she wore for law enforcement. She was one of Taft County’s deputies, second in their force only to Sheriff Curtis Denning, whom she happened to be married to.
“Land’s sake, PJ, how do you eat like that? You know I’m active all day, but I can’t eat three of those things without being ten pounds fatter tomorrow. Do you just stay up all night on the treadmill or what?”
A loud cry of enjoyment crescendoed from the fairway before PJ could answer, which was just as well since her mouth was filled with fried dough and she wouldn’t have gotten more than a grunt or two out. She didn’t have the heart to enlighten her friend. Every night, indeed, she ran the treadmill of being feline. She wandered miles in the summertime, searched every nook and cranny of the county, chased rodents and vermin, and napped only fitfully and with one eye open under the shifting moon.
She popped the last of the ear into her mouth and said, “It’s genetics. Some people are luckier than others.”
Vicky and Clara groaned.
Clara adjusted her pink-rimmed glasses and slurped her sno-cone. “At least I managed to keep myself to just one Devil Dog. And sno-cones have no calories after noon—everyone knows that.” Clara was constantly watching her figure, which didn’t seem to keep her from growing more buxom by the year. At the rate she was going, she would be a round octogenarian with a radiant smile in fifty years. PJ thought things could be worse.
“So you two coming two weeks from today or what?” Vicky said.
She was having a cookout, a common occurrence in the warmer months, and the Taylors and Goodwinds were regular fixtures. Everyone knew the cookouts were as much a bid to stuff the people of Taft County with reasons why the Denning clan should hold on to the sheriff-hood for the indefinite future, but everyone came anyway. Vicky’s ribs were legendary, and Curtis’s beer was as tasty and free flowing as anyone’s ever was. Today was Saturday, and two weeks from today was going to be the first big Donnerweise-Denning BBQ of the season.
“Yeah, I’ll be there,” PJ said. “At least until sunset.”
Vicky rolled her eyes. “Because you turn into a pumpkin at sunset, right? We’ll never get to see nighttime you. Isn’t Doc Fred helping you with that?”
Doctor Fred Norton was Mayhap’s most celebrated, and only, psychiatrist. Apparently he was a third cousin twice removed to the iconic Oprah Winfrey and had once listened to her problems with aplomb, inspiring her to go on and listen eternally to others. He was given a brief mention in a book of hers, which was now out-of-print. For Mayhap, that was all it took to secure one’s place in the annals of town history. He even had a special shelf in the library to display his pamphlets on the pluses of positive putation, despite the brochures containing more than their fair share of buzz non-words.
PJ’s cover story for disappearing every evening, no matter the weather or event, was a rare and debilitating overreaction to darkness. Everyone thought she ran home to sit in a bright room under full-spectrum lights so she could make it through the dark hours with her psyche intact, her odd and entrenched phobia notwithstanding. Doc Fred made a perfect corroborator. His acute sense of professional delicacy meant he could never confirm nor deny PJ’s hints that he was treating her without success for her illness. Perhaps he had spent the last decades sketching her case study, which would no doubt be picked up by the professional societies should it ever come to a positive conclusion.
“Sorry,” PJ said to Vicky, “I’m not going to talk about it.”
“Oh, right. Shrink’s privilege and all that.”
“Well, get going,” Clara said. “I don’t want to have to carry around any pumpkins your size after dark, if you turn into one.”
“Alrighty. Toodles, people.”

Author Bio:

Cy WyssI live and write in the Indianapolis area. After earning a PhD in Computer Science in 2002 and teaching and researching for seven years, I’ve returned to the childhood dream of becoming an author. I better do it now because I won’t get a third life.

Behind me, I have a ton of academic experience and have written about twenty extremely boring papers on query languages and such, for example this one in the ACM Transactions on Databases. (That’s a mouthful.)

Now, I write in the mystery/thriller/suspense genres and sometimes science fiction. I know for some people databases would be the more beloved of the options, but for me, I finally realized that my heart wasn’t in it. So I took up a second life, as a self-published fiction author.

Online, I do the Writer Cy cartoon series about the (mis)adventures of researching, writing, and self-publishing in today’s shifting climate. I also love to design and create my own covers using GIMP.

Disclosure: Mary Bearden personally reviewed these products. I did not receive any monetary compensation for my review, just a sample product. All opinions are mine and belong to me solely. My thoughts and opinions may differ from yours.