Monday, November 27, 2017

Hanging Out at Literary Rambles

Natalie Aguirre interviewed me for her always awesome blog, Literary Rambles. Click on over and check it out.


Friday, November 24, 2017

Best Books of November

Since it's the last Friday of the month, it's time to tell you all about the great books I read this month.




I carried Halloween over into November with the first book I read this month, which was a fun tale about my #1 favorite holiday. This one was by an author I have the privilege of hanging out with at writing events. Jessica Young is just all kinds of AWESOME!



Super Spooktacular was the fifth book in the adorable Finley Flowers series, but one look at the cover and I knew this was the one I had to read! You don't have to read these in any particular order. In Super Spooktacular, Finley uses her creativity to come up with the perfect Halloween costume. But when that costume goes missing, she has to be even more creative. Not only did I instantly fall in love with little Finley, but I think this book teaches important lessons about finding creative solutions to problems.

I was fortunate to be seated next to the following author at a book fair recently. Lorie Langdon learned of my love for true crime and told me about her mystery/thriller. I downloaded it as soon as I got home!



Gilt Hollow kicks off by introducing us to Ashton, a teenage boy who finds himself stuck in jail for a crime he didn't commit. But soon Ashton is released and on his way home, to Gilt Hollow, where beautiful Willow Lamott now lives in his house with her family. The complicated but intense relationship between Ashton and Willow makes this a book you won't be able to put down. On top of that is the mystery of what really happened the day his friend died. If you like intense suspense novels, you'll love this book!

My next two books are actually part one and two of a series. I downloaded part two before realizing it was a sequel--so I stopped and rushed back to the first one! C.D. Gallant-King's books pull you right in, so I didn't want to miss any of the story.



Fantasy isn't really my thing, but you can't help but enjoy every word of C.D. Gallant-King's work, no matter what the subject! With Tentacles Under a Full Moon, we meet a group of misfit heroes that are both hilarious and admirable. You can't help but root for them, while you're smiling at the author's wit!



Revenge of the Lycanterrancephalopod is probably one of the most memorable book titles I've ever seen. The saga continues in yet another short, but hilarious, book about heroes taking on an evil beast. My only complaint was I wanted to read more!

What are you reading this month?

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Piper's Big Birthday Party!

Today's a big day in Piper Morgan's world. It's her book birthday! Book #5 comes out...and it's set at a birthday party, which means there's plenty of...



and...



and...


Thanks for celebrating with us!



Blurb:


Piper tries to plan the perfect party in the fifth book of the charming Piper Morgan series.

Piper is excited to help her mom plan a big party for another girl her age. After all, who doesn’t love a good party? But when Piper and her mom arrive, they are in for an unpleasant surprise: A spoiled little girl, a huge mansion, and a list of impossible demands from the birthday girl that includes a real-life princess and grape jelly beans. How will they ever pull off the show-stopping party that Emmy is demanding? It seems like no matter what they suggest, Emmy is never happy. Can Piper help her mom pull off the best party ever? Or will the party turn into a big fat mess?


Buy Links:

Monday, November 13, 2017

Mystery Monday: Holly Bobo Update

It's Monday, which means it's time for another...



Sometimes mysteries have resolutions. Those resolutions may not be pretty, but it's important to pay attention to them. After all, for every solved case, there are many other unsolved cases that may have similar explanations...


Such is the mystery of the sudden disappearance of Holly Bobo. I profiled this case here after we'd at least learned that her remains had been found and an arrest had been made. But we didn't know for sure who had killed (or how) until the case went to trial.



Holly was a college student who still lived with her parents in the tiny town of Darden, Tennessee. On the morning of April 13, 2011, she woke up early to study for an exam. Her last phone call that morning was at 7:42 a.m.--after that, all texts and calls went unanswered.



At 7:46 a.m., a neighbor heard a scream and called his mom, who relayed the information to Holly's mom, who was at work. At 7:50 a.m., Holly's brother Clint, who was the only other person at home with her, was awoken by dogs barking. He looked out the window and saw Holly and a male kneeling, facing each other. He could hear voices and said it sounded like she was upset. He heard her say, "No, why?"


A shot of the carport where Holly was last seen

Thinking the male he saw was Holly's boyfriend, Clint called his mom, who told him that wasn't the boyfriend. She told her son to "get a gun and shoot him." While Clint's mom called 911, Clint saw the man and Holly walk off toward the woods together. That was the last he saw of them.



More than three years later, Holly's partial remains were found 20 miles away by hunters. Also in 2014, the first arrests occurred in the case. 


Dylan Adams, Zach Adams, and Jason Autry
Zach Adams, his brother Dylan, and his friend Jason Autry were arrested and charged in the case. Zach was the first to go on trial in September. On September 22nd, Zach was found guilty of first-degree murder, especially aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated rape. He was sentenced to life without parole, along with two consecutive terms of 25 years. Despite no DNA linking anyone to the murder, the overwhelming number of witness testimonials made it difficult to doubt Zach was connected. (Although some still doubt it...)



The details of the crime are horrific (***WARNING***), serving as a reminder that sometimes mysteries are better off unsolved. What emerged was that Shayne Austin, who committed suicide in 2015, is believed to have been the one to kidnap Holly, taking her to his house where at least Zachary (and likely others) raped her. According to Autry's testimony, he showed up after the fact, hoping to buy drugs from Shayne Austin. Instead, he ended up helping Zachary dispose of Holly's body, only to find out she wasn't completely dead yet. Without getting into more detail than necessary, Adams resolved that problem with a gunshot...




The only good thing that comes of this is that Holly's family finally has answers...and justice. However, Holly's mother had to listen to details on what a group of boys did to her daughter. Two of the boys were once students of Holly's mother, who is a second-grade teacher.



Do you like to hear the resolution of unsolved mysteries? Or do you feel it's better not to know?

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Introducing Out of Tune (Paperback Edition) by Gail Nall

I love when I get to introduce a book I've already read! In this case, it's the paperback release of a book that combines country music with traveling the country in an RV. What could be more fun? Scroll down to read all about Gail Nall's brand new paperback and buy your copy.



Blurb:

A country music hopeful puts her Nashville dreams on hold when she moves into an RV to travel across the country with her family in this charming M!X novel from the author of Breaking the Ice.

When twelve-year-old Maya’s parents sell their house and move the family into the world’s ugliest RV to travel the country, Maya’s only goal is to get back home—and fast. No way is she going to miss the chance to audition for Dueling Duets, the singing competition show that’s going to surely propel her—and her cowboy-hatted crush—to country stardom.

Operation Maya Goes Home, or OMGH, turns out to be more complicated than she had expected, so Maya sets out on a secret one-day, one-hundred-mile bike ride through Yellowstone National Park with her know-it-all little sister, a cute nature boy, and blue-haired, earbud-addicted Shiver (a.k.a. the most annoying girl ever). Somewhere between the worst muscle ache she’s ever experienced and losing half of their group to a flat tire, Maya starts wondering if maybe, just maybe, it’s possible to find home in the last place you expected.

Buy Links:



Bio:


Gail Nall lives in Louisville, Kentucky with her family and more cats than necessary. She once drove a Zamboni, has camped in the snow in June, and almost got trampled in Paris. Gail is the author of the middle grade novels OUT OF TUNE, BREAKING THE ICE, YOU'RE INVITED and YOU'RE INVITED TOO (co-authored by Jen Malone), and BEST. NIGHT. EVER. (co-authored), all available from Aladdin/S&S. She's also the author of the young adult novel, EXIT STAGE LEFT, available from Epic Reads Impulse/Harper. Blog contributor at Kidliterati. SCBWI PAL member. Represented by Brent Taylor of TriadaUS. Visit Gail at www.gailnall.com.



Author Links:

Monday, November 06, 2017

Mystery Monday: Lee Cutler

It's Monday, which means it's time for another...



When a young person disappears, the pain that person's parents suffer can be heartbreaking. Such is the case with Lee Cutler, who disappeared on October 20, 2007. His mother has never stopped searching for answers.



Lee Cutler's mother

Lee Sterling Cutler was a high school senior at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Illinois. On the evening before his disappearance, he had dinner with friends and his mom in celebration of a friend's 18th birthday. Afterward, he asked his mom if he could sleep over at a friend's house. His goodbye hug was, as his mom said, "Longer than usual."


Lee Cutler

The next morning, Lee was scheduled to work his job at the mall. When his mother didn't hear from him, she stopped by his store to see him. The manager said he never showed up for work.



Friends initially weren't concerned, since Lee was known to go off on his own to think and meditate. But the next day, his locked car was found approximately 200 miles from his home at a rest stop. Lee loved hiking and camping and had visited this location before.


Where Lee's car was found. Source: Disappeared, Discovery I.D.

In the days that followed, it came out that he'd suffered from anxiety and had been suicidal in the past. The night before his disappearance, he sent text messages stating that his thoughts of suicide were resurfacing.



Local police began a search of the area where Lee's car was found. They soon discovered a makeshift campsite, filled with belongings that were identified as Lee's. There was a box of cold medicine, some Advil P.M., and letters to his parents and girlfriend. Although the notes didn't specifically mention suicide, the letter to his mom stated, "finally, I'll get to sleep." He apologized for being a coward. The letter was tucked into a paperback copy of Into the Wild, a book about a man who sought adventure in the wilderness and eventually died.


Campsite. Source: Disappeared on Discovery I.D.

Lee's body was never found, but his wallet and car keys were in the nearby river. His family and friends believe he still might be missing and authorities think if he was in that immediate area, they would have found him.



Do you believe Lee committed suicide? Or could he still be out there somewhere? Was it murder?

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Best Celebrity Halloween Costumes: 2017 Edition

Every year, I showcase the best celebrity Halloween costumes of the year. Halloween is my favorite holiday and the costumes are always so fun. So here, in order, are my favorite Halloween costumes from all of this year's festivities.

#10: Gabrielle Union and Dwayne Wade as Milli Vanilli




#9: Adam Levine and Behati Prinsloo



#8: Neil Patrick Harris and Family as Circus Performers



#7: Aubrey Plaza as Wednesday Addams



#6: Kim Kardashian and Jonathan Cheban as Sonny and Cher



#5: Jason Derulo as The Night King from Game of Thrones



#4: Rita Ora as Poison Ivy



#3: Demi Lovato as Selena



#2: Heidi Klum as Michael Jackson from Thriller


And this year's winner is...

#1: LeBron James as Pennywise



Which costume is your favorite?

Monday, October 30, 2017

Best Books of October

Since it's the last Friday of the month, it's time to tell you all about the great books I read this month.




This month was a mix of fun and spooky releases, which is perfect in my world! First up was this adorable book by one of my favorite people, Ronni Arno.



One thing that is severely lacking in most middle grade novels is the crappy parent. Molly in the Middle handles this topic in a unique way--while still being fun to read. Molly is the proverbial middle child, always squeezed out of everything. When she gets the chance to finally stand out, she jumps at it, but how much of herself is she willing to give up for the popularity she's always wanted? Molly's longtime friendship with a boy with Muscular Dystrophy, as well as the impending divorce of her self-absorbed parents, make this an impactful read.

Coming in at the end of the month was this awesome middle grade from Hillary Homzie. It has a super-fun cover that makes you want to head to your nearest coffee shop.



I had so much fun reading Pumpkin Spice Secrets. Hillary perfectly captures the feeling of being twelve years old and having your first crush. But Maddie has a dilemma: her BFF has a crush on the same guy. The author set up perfectly the obstacle, showing how important "belonging" in her clique of friends is to Maddie. This is a light, fun read that will make you realize why you love reading middle grade fiction!

Next up is a book I've been reading about on Twitter for the better part of a year, so I couldn't wait to read it. Lindsay Currie writes for my publisher, Aladdin, and the cover of this one is just too cute to resist, especially in October!



Horror is a hard genre to pull off, but with The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street, the author NAILED IT! Seriously. Adult authors could take a note on how to write horror from reading this book. Lindsay adds the perfect amount of spookiness throughout the book in a way that reminds you how a good ghost story should read. I wish there were more books like this!

I was so excited to read Kelly Hashway's latest book, since it's a sequel to a book I read not so long ago. It's always fun to check back in with characters you bonded with the first time around.



Secrets We Keep reintroduces us to Maddie, a successful novelist and amateur sleuth. When someone is murdered at New Year's party, Maddie and her boyfriend, Trevor, are once again drawn into the mystery. Kelly has a knack for building the suspense while also keeping readers guessing until the end.

I admittedly haven't had the opportunity to read much in the new adult genre, so I'm always excited when I get to. This month I had the privilege of digging into Jennifer Lane's most recent release.



Over the years, I've grown to appreciate the beauty of short stories and novellas. Packing conflict, character development, and all of the other complications that go into a good story is VERY challenging in a shorter format. With Swim Recruit, Jennifer Lane handles this beautifully, taking us from A to Z and all points in between in just 36 pages. The book also tackles a very important issue that I can't describe without giving away the story! Definitely give this one a read.

What are you reading this month?

Friday, October 27, 2017

Scary October: Lavinia Fisher

It's October, which means every Friday, I bring you a new spooky story!



In the history of serial killers, the vast majority have been white and male. A very, very, very small number of them have been female. Lavinia Fisher is often recognized as the world's first female serial killer. But was she?




Lavinia and her husband lived in Charleston, South Carolina, where they owned the Six Mile Wayfarer House, which was reportedly near the Marsh and Cooper River.




The Six Mile Wayfarer House was an inn that was open to travelers. Occasionally, the local police would receive reports of people disappearing after staying there, but the Fishers were popular locally. Nobody ever suspected that there might be something going on at the inn. But legend says there was...


Locals say that Lavinia would poison guests, then drop them through a trap door under their beds after they'd fallen asleep. However, despite what you'll find online, there's no actual proof that Lavinia ever killed anyone. She was arrested in 1819 and the official account of her arrest states that she and four others beat a man "in a most inhuman manner." He got away and the next morning, that same group beat a traveler, cut his head in several places, and robbed him. Lavinia, her husband, and three others were arrested and held in this jail:


Despite appeals, Lavinia Fisher and her husband were hanged for the "highway robbery" of David Ross, a charge that had been downgraded from attempted murder. Until the very last minute, Lavinia was sure she would be pardoned.


Lavinia Fisher's ghost is one of Charleston's most famous. People have reported many sightings at the jail where her cell was. On tours, women are advised to cover or remove their jewelry, since Lavinia reportedly likes things that sparkle.


Her ghostly presence is often seen from the outside, standing in this window:


Check out last week's post on the University of Montevallo. And if you have suggestions for next year's Scary October, leave them in comments!