‘Queen of Hearts’ by Rhys Bowen

rb qoh1STORY: Lady Georgiana Rannoch, thirty-fifth in line for the British throne, knows how to play the part of an almost royal—but now she’s off to Hollywood, where she must reprise her role as sleuth or risk starring in an all-too-convincing death scene

My mother, the glamorous and much-married actress, is hearing wedding bells once again—which is why she must hop across the pond for a quickie divorce in Reno. To offer my moral support, and since all expenses are paid by her new hubby-to-be, Max, I agree to make the voyage with her.

Crossing the Atlantic, with adventure in the air and wealthy men aboard, Mother all but forgets about Max and matrimony—especially when movie mogul Cy Goldman insists on casting her in his next picture.

Meanwhile, I find myself caught up in the secret investigation of a suspected jewel thief. Lucky for me, the lead investigator happens to be my dashing beau, Darcy!

Mother’s movie and Darcy’s larceny lead everyone to Cy’s Hollywood home, where the likes of Charlie Chaplin are hanging about and there’s enough romantic intrigue to fill a double feature. But we hardly get a chance to work out the sleeping arrangements before Cy turns up dead—as if there wasn’t enough drama already…

REVIEW: Lady Georgiana (Georgie) Rannoch, is a cousin to His Majesty and thirty-fifth in line to the British throne.  So, you would think she lives an easy life, right?  Not so much.  Actually, she spends most of her time with relatives and now she is staying with some elderly ladies in their large home.  Although she is eating well, she is completely bored.
When her mother arrives unexpectedly, she is whisked away to go with her on a sea voyage to New York and then on to Reno.  Her mother is well known as a movie star from the silent movie past who has retained her figure and her beauty.  Her current husband is a wealthy American man living on a ranch.  This is not the life her mother desires.  So, she is off to Reno to get a quickie divorce from him so she can marry another man with whom she has lived. Her mother is notorious for never sharing money with Georgie which leaves her constantly having to scrimp.
Georgie’s long time boyfriend, Darcy O’Mara, is always on one government mission after another which means their time together is rather limited.  When Georgie meets up with him on the ship, she is delighted but told that he is working incognito now on a secret mission.
We follow Georgie and her sullen and rather uncouth maid, Queenie, along with her mother to New York where they shop for some clothes before leaving on the last leg of their journey. It is a real boon to Georgie when her mother agrees to buy Georgie some well-needed clothes.
After a train ride to Reno, they realize that they have arrived in a dusty, sparse city which is quite unappealing.  By the time her mother has set up residency for her six-week period to get her divorce, they meet Cy Goldman of Goldman Pictures in Hollywood.  Familiar with Georgie’s mother, he insists she go to Hollywood to act in a movie he is making.  It would be the first talkie movie for her.
Hollywood finds Georgie enjoying the nice weather and meeting many well-known movie stars.  When they are all invited to a weekend holiday at Mr. Goldman’s huge mansion high on a cliff, things turn tragic and Mr. Goldman is murdered.  This is where Georgie again dons her sleuth’s hat and works to solve the mystery.
Once again, Rhys Bowen has penned another great Royal Spyness Mystery.  I am a huge fan of them and love the characters.  There are lots of chuckles and the book is sprinkled with well-known people such as Charlie Chaplin and the well-known and disliked Mrs. Simpson.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and look forward to even more from Ms. Bowen.
Connie for b2b

‘Big Little Lies’ by Liane Moriarty

lm bllSTORY: Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal. . . 
A murder…  a tragic accident… or just parents behaving badly?
What’s indisputable is that someone is dead. But who did what?

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:   Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.   New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

REVIEW: This novel is set in the small seaside town of Pirriwee in Sydney Australia and the story centers around the parents of children attending Pirriwee Public (elementary) School.  We first meet several mothers of rising kindergarten students as it leads up to the first day of school.  On the first day of school, one little girl accuses a little boy of trying to choke her and the uproar begins.  Some parents are on one side and some on another.  We get to know the individual mothers, their children, fathers, and school personnel.  Each of these characters have been perfectly portrayed by the author.
I have compared the book to one I read recently that centered around the humor of “playground politics” – “The Hive” by Gill Hornby.  This was a great read, however, “Big Little Lies” is much deeper than that.
As the story progresses toward the big Trivia night, we learn that a tragedy has happened but we don’t know what.  The answer is toward the end of the book of course so you have to hang in there and get to it.  Believe me, it’s definitely worth waiting for.
The lives of some of these mothers are laid open for readers to examine and see how they really live versus how others may think they live.  Many obstacles faced by these families are ones that many of us face today.  One, as you will learn, is much worse than the usual.
To me, reading each page was like unwrapping yet another layer to get down to a deep, dark secret.  The book was written so smoothly and in a totally engrossing manner.  I didn’t want to stop reading for a second and before I knew it, I had devoured a near-500 page book.
I’m trying to be very careful to not give out any spoilers here.  I just hope that you will open this novel and learn the secret.  I promise you that it will be a book you long remember.
Connie for b2b
Complementary copy received from Chick Lit Central

‘The Wife, The Maid, and The Mistress’ by Ariel Lawhon

al twtmatmSTORY: A tantalizing reimagining of a scandalous mystery that rocked the nation in 1930-Justice Joseph Crater’s infamous disappearance-as seen through the eyes of the three women who knew him best.

They say behind every great man, there’s a woman. In this case, there are three. Stella Crater, the judge’s wife, is the picture of propriety draped in long pearls and the latest Chanel. Ritzi, a leggy showgirl with Broadway aspirations, thinks moonlighting in the judge’s bed is the quickest way off the chorus line. Maria Simon, the dutiful maid, has the judge to thank for her husband’s recent promotion to detective in the NYPD. Meanwhile, Crater is equally indebted to Tammany Hall leaders and the city’s most notorious gangster, Owney “The Killer” Madden.

On a sultry summer night, as rumors circulate about the judge’s involvement in wide-scale political corruption, the Honorable Joseph Crater steps into a cab and disappears without a trace. Or does he?

After 39 years of necessary duplicity, Stella Crater is finally ready to reveal what she knows. Sliding into a plush leather banquette at Club Abbey, the site of many absinthe-soaked affairs and the judge’s favorite watering hole back in the day, Stella orders two whiskeys on the rocks-one for her and one in honor of her missing husband. Stirring the ice cubes in the lowball glass, Stella begins to tell a tale-of greed, lust, and deceit. As the novel unfolds and the women slyly break out of their prescribed roles, it becomes clear that each knows more than she has initially let on.

With a layered intensity and prose as effervescent as the bubbly that flows every night, The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress is a wickedly entertaining historical mystery that will transport readers to a bygone era with tipsy spins through subterranean jazz clubs and backstage dressing rooms. But beneath the Art Deco skyline and amid the intoxicating smell of smoke and whiskey, the question of why Judge Crater disappeared lingers seductively until a twist in the very last pages.

REVIEW: This well-known story is one that is new to me.  I was not familiar with the disappearance of Judge Joseph Crater in August 1930 but I soon became captivated by the story.  Followers of the TV show, “Boardwalk,” would probably enjoy this novel.

During this time period, there was a lot of corruption surrounding gangsters, law enforcement officials and a group called Tammany Hall.  When Judge Crater went missing, there were three women in his life who had direct association with him and could have been his killer.  

Crater’s wife, Stella, knew he was a ladies man but spends much of her time at her summer home in Maine.  Their maid, Maria, keeps the home in New York clean and was privy to some of the shady dealings in the judge’s life.  In addition, his girlfriend, Ritzi, a showgirl, was the last person to see him alive.

The story switches back and forth among these three women and the events leading up to Crater’s disappearance and afterward.  Combined with documented facts plus the author’s supposition of what might have happened has put together an interesting puzzle that keeps the reader guessing to the end.

If you like a good mystery and are interested in the gangster life in New York in the 1930’s, this would be a good read for you.  I enjoyed it and liked how the author put a personal face to each of the women involved in this riddle.

Here is the Wikipedia background of this famous story:  

Connie for b2b

‘The Winter People’ by Jennifer McMahon

jmcm twpSTORY: The New York Times bestselling author of Promise Not to Tell returns with a simmering literary thriller about ghostly secrets, dark choices, and the unbreakable bond between mothers and daughters . . . sometimes too unbreakable.

West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie. Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara’s farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that suddenly proves perilous when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished without a trace. Searching for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea’s diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother’s bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara’s fate, she discovers that she’s not the only person who’s desperately looking for someone that they’ve lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.

REVIEW: Sara Harrison Shea lived in West Hall, Vermont.  In 1908, she was savagely murdered.  She was only 31.  The story goes that she was married and the mother of two deceased children.  The loss of her children affected her deeply.  Her son passed away when he was a baby.  However, when at age 9, her daughter, Gertie, was found dead at the bottom of a well, her sanity was pushed over the edge.  People say that Sara’s ghost is still with us.

Ruthie Washburne now lives in Sara’s house with her Mom and her little sister.  Her father passed away recently and her Mom has always been very strict with her.  Her parents have preferred to live their lives in a  private way and have even eschewed many modern necessities such as the internet.  While Ruthie doesn’t believe the ghost stories about Sara, she is very wary of the thick woods behind the house.  When one day her mother vanishes, she and her sister, aided by her boyfriend, begin a search for her. They find a diary of Sara’s and other items in the house that takes them deeper into a story that opens a world of fear that terrifies Ruthie.

The tale of Sara reaches out even further to touch the lives of Katherine and Gary.  They had lost their young son to leukemia a few years back and are grief stricken.  Gary seems to be the one having the most difficult time with the loss.  When one day he fails to return home, Katherine finds that he has been killed in an auto accident in an an area unknown to her – West Hall, Vermont.  Katherine is determined to uncover the mystery of why he was there.

All of these lives weave together to find all the pieces of Sara’s diary and uncover the truth that has been hidden for such a long time.

This story was magnificent.  It switches back and forth from present day to 1908 as the reader learns new clues that solves this mystery in an edge-of-the-seat way.  I highly recommend it!

*Connie for b2b

*Book provided by my local library.


Interview & Giveaway with Jeri Cafesin, author of ‘REVERB’

Recently Jeri contacted me through my RR@H email and wondered if I wouldn’t mind reading her novel ‘REVERB’. I had so much on my ‘plate’ that I thought maybe I should check this book on Amazon before I commit to something. Its blurb was intriguing enough but what really hooked me was the first sentence of the book, so I told her that I’d be happy to do it. To say that this book is well-written is just not quite enough. I’m going to say that it is brilliant. It’s deep. It’s unique. You can find my review of it here.

We’re honored to have Jeri with us today so grab a cup of chai, coffee or any beverage that you like, sit back, relax and let’s find out more about Jeri and her work.

b2b: Welcome to b2b Jeri Cafesin (by the way how do you pronounce your name)? In order for me to remember its spelling I’ve separated it in two words: café & sin. Is that the correct way of pronouncing it?

JC: You got it. Cafe (but I don’t know how to get the little dash over the e), and Sin. But the name is not referring to a place to eat, or sin, which I don’t believe in anyway. Indifference to suffering and willful ignorance are the greatest evils by far. Sin is a religious construct.

The name is a pseudonym, made up from my maiden name when I first started writing. Wanted to keep fine writing separate from my copy writing.

b2b: Got it. I also agree with you on the indifference. Well said! Before I begin this interview, I want to thank you for stopping by, and just to give you a heads up: This is my first interview here or anywhere else, so good luck to both of us!

JC: This is my third. The link to my very first interview is on my Bio page because I kept trying to come up with content, think of something to say about myself, and couldn’t come up with anything beyond the obvious—that I’m a writer and a mom and a wife (the writer and the wife always after the mom).

The writer part of me has spent my lifetime watching and interviewing others, trying to make myself as anonymous as possible, fade into the background. It’s…interesting, being on the other end of that when I do a reading or even an online interview like this.

b2b: I think every mom out there will relate to your answer. Once you become a mother, everything else is secondary.

I have to tell you that the title of your novel ‘REVERB’ had me stumped. I had no clue about what the word meant, so I ran it by my husband and so he’d explained it to me. Tell us how did you come up with it and why that word?

JC: Reverb is a fairly common word with musicians but means several things. Short for reverberation, it’s an electronic effect added to music, but it’s also something else. My son plays electric guitar and he gets feedback, the music he’s playing loops in the amp and comes back at him distorted. This is also considered ‘reverb.’ James Whren, the protagonist of the novel, learns what we put out there, what we give is what we get back.

b2b: How true. I love that metaphor.

Some authors write at certain times of day or week. What’s your typical writing schedule and what gets your creative juices flowing? If you have any tips to help other aspiring new authors out there, feel free to share!

JC: When the kids are in school (YEA! Can’t wait for them to go back there!!!), I get them out of the house by 8:00 in the morning, and after going through email and a quick bit of social networking, FB and Twitter…etc., I write. I don’t stop until I have to pick them up for school around 2:30 most days. Lunch is some dry toast or nuts so I don’t have to take time to eat. Story and characters still linger in my head when I’m dealing with the kids and household things that need to get done, but I’m done with writing for the day. Usually read at night (what I want to after reading with the kids). Reading helps me see structure, what I want to emulate, what I don’t. Reading a lot helps me be a better writer.

b2b: I honestly enjoyed every aspect of this book. What inspired it and who did you envision as James?

JC: Glad you enjoyed the read! (You wrote the word ‘brilliant,’ about Reverb above, and I’m hoping you mean it in the British sense where everything is just brilliant. ;) This morning my daughter told DH and I between giggles she likes to pretend she’s a rock star inside her head. Unknown to her, I did too, hence James Whren.





b2b:  How cute! When I said ‘brilliant’ I meant “having or showing great intelligence, talent, and quality”. All of the above definitely apply to your novel.

Some authors give too much space to their secondary characters that often times they take over the story. Some do just the opposite. In my opinion you’ve achieved a wonderful balance and gave us just the right amount. Enough to wonder who they are and want more of them. Tell us more about them and if any (Kate in particular) would be having their own story?

JC: Very good. :) Ah, Kate. She’s the lead in my first novel Disconnected, which I’m now on the 4th year of rewriting (with 13 years between the first draft and this one). In Reverb, Kate finally came off the page and told me her story, with a satisfying and liberating ending [for women] at that!

b2b: Now that makes me happy to hear. I thought she had a lot of spunk! Looking forward to her story.

Cover Art in my humble opinion is really very important and that guy on the cover of ‘REVERB’ looks so familiar. He reminded me of Seth Gabel, the actor from ‘Dirty Sexy Money’ series. Who is the Dude on the cover and how much input are you allowed during this process?

JC: Ouch. Sore subject for me. Publisher wanted the current cover. I didn’t. Providing a photograph of a man on the book cover robs the prose of creating an image of masculine beauty. Though we know James is often perceived as beautiful, at least physically, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and in Reverb should be the construct of the reader.

I executed several other book covers, my latest I’m looking to get enough comments on to submit to my publisher in hopes of using it instead of the current guy. Read the novel, and if you agree the cover is not what it should be, follow the link to newest book cover and leave a quick comment. I don’t think she’ll believe me with anything less than 50 in favor of the new cover.

b2b: I actually like both!

Do you let someone read your work during your writing process? Who and why? Or do you wait ‘till it’s finished, then you let someone read it…and who?

JC: I work with writing groups, in person and online like Zoetrope, Urbis L.A., where [mostly] writers read and critique other writers. I read it aloud, again and again. When I finish I usually have my husband read it first. He’s anal about spelling and grammatical structure, and, of course, I’m, well, not, so he helps me clean up. He’s my first editor, before the book editor from the publishing house. Professional, or friends that read a lot, it’s important for me to get the readers view and take-away of the story to make sure I’m telling the characters stories instead of my own.

b2b: Jeri, have you been writing for long and what else is out there for us to read from you? I think we’d like to know more about your journey into the publishing world. How hard is it to break through?

JC: “Break through.” We all have a different measure of that, to be sure. What’s yours?…To be read? By how many? 500, 5,000, 10,000,000? Mine is to make a living on fine writing alone (novels, essays and such); not a huge sum (even minimum annual wage would be good), but provide me with enough to justify quitting my ‘real’ job in advertising.

My journey in making up stories began as far back as I can remember with my stuffed dog, Checkers. At breakfast I used to make up elaborate tales of going in the night to Disneyland with my foot long blue and white checkered fabric mutt; or maybe sneaking out for a midnight surf off Malibu, with Checkers hanging ten off the front of my board.

I started keeping diaries when I was five. Switched to journals, you know those spiral binders we used for school. I loved having them everywhere, by the bed, in the bathroom, the car, with a pen stuck down the center of the metal spiral, and I wrote in them all the time. Now I can hardly hand-write anymore. I’ve been typing into a computer for so long I’ve become clumsy with a pen. I generally think as fast as I type, but when I have to use a pen I really have to focus on my hand movements to write now.

b2b: Well now you got me thinking. Am I a writer? In writing this Blog would I be considered as such?! I wouldn’t mind 10,000,000 people reading my blog! LOL!!

It is very difficult for me to choose my favorite author or a book, how about you? Are you willing to fess-up?

JC: Hard to choose with so much great writing out there. Favorite author is hard for me because I was taught not to fall for the artist but the art. So a few favorite books, this minute, off the top, which if you asked tomorrow the answers would be different: The Martian Chronicles, The Fountainhead, The Magus, The Collector, Crime and Punishment, Knockemstiff, Childhood’s End, The Godfather, Something Wicked This Way Comes, The End of the Affair, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy…

b2b: Those are some great books! I only read one of those, but now I’ll be checking the other ones you mentioned.

What do you like to read and what’s on your TBR now?

JC: DH and kids buy me books for every present worthy occasion. Usually contemporary commercial fiction. Just finished Stranger on the Planet, and I’m just beginning Matched, and after that is Attachments and The Other Life.

b2b: Now, that ends up our ‘professional’ portion of this interview. Are you ready to get personal? Or are you going to chicken out on me?

JC: Humm…

b2b: …I take that to be a yes so, let’s get Personal:

Tell us a bit about yourself, something personal that you’d like us to know…anything that makes you comfortable…or not…like how many times did you fall in love?

JC: Never fell in love, except for with my kids, from the day they were born, but I’m taking it you mean adult love. Worked at love twice in my life, (maybe three times but I knew it was a mistake from the beginning), and I’m married to my second journey into love. Everyday we prove to one another we’re here for each other and I’m more in love with my husband. I’m a firm believer Love is an action. The word itself is meaningless unless shown.

b2b: Once more, very well put. Saying the words and not backing it with an ‘action’ is meaningless.

Jeri, you’ve been so gracious today. Thank you for sharing with us. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed having you here and I wish you all the luck. You have an awesome talent, please keep at it.

JC: Thanks for having me on bookworm2bookworm!! Questions? Leave a comment here or on my site with your email and I’ll get back to you…



Jeri will be giving away 1 signed printed copy of her ‘REVERB’ novel

& two PDF forms of it.

All you need to do is:

Become a b2b subscriber.

Post a comment or question

(here or on JC’s website, with your email address).

If uncomfortable with that, send me or Jeri an email.

Tweet or share the post.

“REVERB” by J. Cafesin

STORY: James Whren is brilliant, beautiful and taken—with himself, or more precisely his genius for creating music.

On the eve of his brother’s funeral, his father turns his life upside down, and James is left abandoned in hell with no one real to save him.

His odyssey to freedom takes him beyond the looking glass, to the view from friends and lovers.

Humbled and alone, James escapes to the Greek island of Corfu. But instead of solace there, loneliness almost consumes him.

Until Elisabeth and her son Cameron.

REVIEW: I’ll not ruin my review of this book with any spoilers, so I’m not going to go into too much detail about it. I want you to experience it as I did. I want you to feel what I felt reading it. I will admit that it had me at the edge of my chair, couch or on my feet! And if you’re a ‘nail biter’, be ready to lose a few of those as well!

From the first sentence I just knew that I was in for a ride. This is not just a very well written story. This is a clever story. Every sentence of it has depth including the dialogue. The author took me straight into not just James’ head, but into his heart. I couldn’t help but feel what he felt, and every word he spoke. Ms. J. Cafesin has built the complex character of James with such meticulous care and gave him breath so that he became real to me.

The dialogue is sharp, too real and altogether refreshing. The story as well as the plot are a tad predictable, however in no way does it take away from the suspense or the excitement of it. Make no mistake; this is one hundred percent character driven story that will have you tied up in knots. Add to that a bunch of wonderful secondary characters like Kate ‘the pot smoking’ chick that gets into a car accident with our hero; Martin and John, his Gay friends; Julia and Stephen, the ‘ex’ and his Accountant; Howard ‘Harvard’ Miller, his father’s best friend and secretary-director. And of course Edward Whren, a father whose love for his sons either went too deep or not deep enough. We see James through their eyes and our love and compassion for this man just keeps growing.

Once the author introduces Elizabeth and her infant son Cameron into the story this thriller becomes a genuine love story. The relationship is built slowly and once again with such care that it feels real and not forced. Their falling in love is gradual and the reader feels the build up, so when they finally admit it to each other, I felt joy and was grinning from ear to ear.

Can you tell I liked this book?! If you like contemporary romance or a psychological thriller you just can’t miss this one. It is THAT good!