Book Review – LOBSTER BOY: The Bizarre Life and Brutal Death of Grady Stiles Jr.

Lobster Boy

Meet Grady Stiles Jr., a carnival “freak show” character known as The Lobster Boy and his offbeat colleagues–The World’s Only Living Half Girl, Midget Man, The Electrified Girl, and the Human Blockhead. And then look beneath the carnival tent flaps at the dark underworld and personal life of The Lobster Boy and the events leading up to his brutal murder. Learn how and why author Fred Rosen risked his own life in the pursuit of justice in this revised and updated WildBlue Press True Crime Classic!

Amazon / Amazon UK


My Review:

This book is, unfortunately, one of those instances where the writing doesn’t live up to the story.

Willette noticed something else. Not only were the man’s legs stunted with pointed extremities in place of feet, but his hands appeared to be claw-like, with what might have been fingers deformed into two large digits.

Later, Willette would discover that Grady Stiles, Jr., was known on the carny circuit as Lobster Boy.

Let’s begin with the good stuff. The content is fascinating and the author obviously put a lot of time into the research. We’re taken through three generations of a dysfunctional family. We’re shown what life is like for families who are part of traveling carnivals, particularly back when physical disabilities were considered human oddities that people would pay to see – and mock.

Now on to the bad stuff. The writing is truly terrible. We have constant misused tenses, with inappropriate shifts between present and past. The sentence structure is often awkward and uncomfortable to read. Much of the story, particularly during the cover of the trial, is nothing more than a recitation of facts. This quickly becomes repetitive and dull, as if we’re reading a trial transcript.

There is a certain amount of subjectivity in Rosen’s account of this story. He clearly has a vested stake in the trial, as he proudly injects himself into the center. This is done with a sense of self-righteousness, in the name of justice. He also makes several statements that show his ignorance and prejudice on certain topics.

In the media room, the reporters were scrambling. I’d thrown them a curve and they had to figure out how to play it.

I read a lot of true crime and, while the facts of this case are disturbing, that’s to be expected. The details, though, felt chosen for effect. I couldn’t help but think we were missing something. We were shown a kind of one-sided view. For one thing, I think the author missed an important opportunity to explore the issue of battered wife syndrome. Sadly, this was one of those areas where the author was closed off and showed a bit of ignorance.

In the end, this is a fascinating case and that is the only reason I got through the entire book. With a talented editor, or maybe a ghostwriter with a good sense of storytelling, this would be a riveting story.

It was on a warm May day in Trenton, New Jersey in 1959, that the charming Lobster Boy and the incest victim from New England met and fell in love.

** I was provided with a copy of this book by WildBlue Press in exchange for an honest review. **


Thanks for reading. :)

Politics, Sports, and Young Love! New Release: BLOCKED by Jennifer Lane

Can opposites attract release graphic

New Adult Contemporary/Sports Romance

Released October 21, 2014

Blocked Cover College freshman Lucia Ramirez has a secret crush on Dane Monroe. He’s a tall drink of water — blond, brash, and one hell of a volleyball player. Hijole. Lucia hopes her volleyball scholarship to his school will make him notice her.

Too bad what’s noticeable is Dane’s obvious hatred for Lucia. Her family’s politics contradict everything he stands for. And politics are front and center in both their families. Dane’s mother is about to face Lucia’s father in the race for US President.

When Secret Service throws them together, Dane can’t deny his frustrating attraction to Lucia’s athletic curves and sweet faith in the world. Amid the intense pressure of college athletics and presidential politics, can opposites not just attract, but overcome overwhelming odds to be together? Or do their differences block their match from the start?



Excerpt from BLOCKED:

Now that we were alone in the hallway, my eyes swept up Lucia’s firm body, and I decided to play with her a bit. “Did you hear what one of those reporters said?”

She studied me with nervous eyes, then shook her head.

“They asked if we slept in the same bedroom.”

Her lips parted as she drew a breath, and her face turned a delicious shade of pink. I watched one hand smooth down her thigh, then dart up to the back of her neck. The other hand fidgeted at her side. It looked like she had to force a swallow.

Sweet Jesus. Her embarrassment totally turned me on.

“So, um…what did you tell them?” she finally asked.

A sense of pressure below my belt pulled me toward her. Her eyes widened as I approached, but she seemed more excited than frightened.

Her breezy, floral scent mingled with the liquid courage in my veins, and before I knew it I was running my fingers into her thick, damp hair. What the hell am I doing? God, it felt good, and she tilted her ear toward me like she enjoyed it too. There was a cute little dimple on her right cheek that winked at me. I found myself leaning closer to her face, and considering her impressive height, I didn’t have far to go. Her shiny eyes turned back to me, and she gazed up with such yearning, such depth.

My heart thundered. Stop seducing me, Devil Spawn!

Those sensuous lips opened for me, their sweetness luring me forward. I held my face over hers, breathing in her smell, and her eyes fluttered shut as she surrendered to me. I stared at her soft features for too long, shocking myself with an insane desire to kiss those sweet lips. Before I totally freaked myself out, I shifted an inch to press a kiss onto her warm cheek, right on her dimple. I could feel her tremble beneath my touch.

My hand still tangled in her hair, I pulled back to gaze into her mesmerized eyes. “I told them I never kiss and tell.”

When I let her go, I heard a little squawk of protest. That adorable noise reminded me of the pressure down below — pressure I needed to do something about. I turned and took swift strides down the hall.

“Where are you going?” Her breathy voice was tinged with desperation.

I grinned. She was just too easy to mess with.


About the Author

Get psyched for romance with psychologist/author (psycho author) Jennifer Lane! By day she witnesses growth in her psychotherapy clients, and by night she wrangles misbehaving fictional characters as she writes sports romance and romantic suspense with a psychological twist. She can’t decide which is more fun.

A swimmer and volleyball player in college, Jen wove some of her own experiences into Streamline—a military mystery about swimmers. And readers can dip their toes into Jen’s world of swimming romance by sampling her free New Adult novella Swim Recruit.

College volleyball romance Blocked is Jen’s newest release, launching 10-21-14. Peek inside big-time college sports and even bigger national politics when the offspring of two presidential candidates find out whether opposites really do attract, or their match is blocked from the start.

Stories of redemption interest Jen the most, especially the healing power of love. She is also the author of The Conduct Series, a romantic suspense trilogy that includes With Good Behavior, Bad Behavior, and On Best Behavior. Ultimately, whether writing or reading, Jen loves stories that make her laugh and cry.

In her spare time she enjoys exercising, attending book club, hanging out with her plus-size, “I’m not fat, I’m big-boned” Izzie cat, and visiting her sisters and their families in Chicago and Hilton Head.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter


Writing Blocked

Lucia opened the door. “They say not to discuss politics and religion on the first date.”

“Well, then.” I gave her a huge smile. “We’re screwed.”


Has a political opinion on social media ever made your blood boil? Have you struggled to tolerate friends’ opposing political views? There’s a bitter political divide in many countries, including the US, and those polarized philosophies inspired the story of Blocked.

Heroine Lucia Ramirez and hero Dane Monroe view the world in opposite ways but are thrown together as their parents compete for the US presidency. Underhanded national politics are hardly the place for a trusting relationship to begin, but can love bridge the gap of mistrust and hatred?

The theme of forbidden love intrigues me. Lucia’s conservative father, the Republican nominee for US President, would be horrified to learn of his daughter’s crush on his liberal opponent’s son Dane. Dane and his mother, the Democratic nominee for US President, believe that harsh conservative ideals thwart the American dream.

One lesson from my psychology career is that perception is reality. Democrats see the world quite differently from Republicans, and both groups are hell-bent on proving they’re right. Dane wants equality for all. Lucia stands for individual responsibility. Which philosophy is better? Which will persevere in the next election?

Sometimes, political discussion becomes heated. It gets ugly. In contrast, I tried my hardest to present each viewpoint fairly in this story. Readers and editors from both sides of the aisle critiqued the manuscript, and one reason I self-published the novel was to preserve a delicate balance of political views between Dane and Lucia.

Despite their political differences, Lucia and Dane share one thing in common: volleyball. Both are scholarship volleyball players at a top university, vying to earn a spot on the US national team one day. In addition to swimming, I played volleyball at a small college, and my love for this sport bleeds onto the pages. To smash a perfectly set volleyball down the opponent’s throat? There’s nothing more satisfying. And the closeness of a team is one of life’s special pleasures, experienced by Lucia and Dane.

I hope you enjoy the political and sport elements in Blocked.



Jennifer Lane is giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Card on her Facebook page for the release! You can enter HERE.

#MondayBlogs: Questionable Sexual Diversions and Pancakes – A Glimpse Inside HIT LIST

Today I’m sharing a snippet from a scene with two of my favorite characters – Lucianna Martel and her Uncle Vinnie from Hit List. Vinnie started out as a character of convenience, one I needed to fill a role. He quickly took on a life of his own. I know it sounds a little crazy to say that he invented himself, but he did. He stood out and took his role much further than I’d anticipated. One of these days, I need to give Vinnie a book of his own. Before we get to the scene, here’s a look at the book:

Hit List Cover3

Would you give up your sanity in order to forget?

Sanity is not something you lose, like your car keys or that elusive sock in the dryer. That’s what Ian believed before his mother stepped over the edge from sane to crazy.

No one is able to give Ian a reasonable explanation. Corinne suffers from severe memory loss, odd behavior, and paranoid delusions. Or at least Ian had been told they were delusions. After all, who would be hiding outside watching his mother? And why?

Ian hires private investigator Lucianna Martel to retrace the events of his mother’s last sane day. During Lucianna’s investigation, she and Ian learn that Corinne may not be so crazy after all.

Amazon / Amazon UK / Barnes and Noble / Audible


Meet Lucianna and Vinnie:

“Patrick called twice,” Vinnie said.

Lucianna groaned, pushed the rest of the way through the door. She said, “Can you wait until I get all the way inside before delivering bad news?”

Vinnie shrugged. He waited while Lucianna shoved the door closed and trudged across the room to his desk. Then he said, “Ready now?”

“Is there more?”

“The man is a nuisance. Not to mention a complete embarrassment to the male gender. What is with this groveling nonsense?”

Lucianna tugged off her coat. “Apparently he thinks that he loves me.”

“Is this a recent revelation or one discovered during your brief… relationship?”

“Recent, I think. Who knows? I don’t really care.”

“This is how stalkers begin.”

“Oh please.” Lucianna strode toward her private office. “He’s immature, that’s all.”


Inside her office, Lucianna tossed her coat over a corner chair and dropped her briefcase on top. From behind her, Vinnie said, “Care to hear about my morning?”

Lucianna rubbed her temples as she crossed the room. After dropping into the chair behind her desk, she said, “Should I be mean? Like tell him I was just using him for the sex?”

Vinnie broke into a wide grin. “And Patrick is the type you’d seek out for that sort of thing?”

“Okay, so a diversion then.”

“A diversion from the type you would normally seek for a sexual fling?”


“Might work,” Vinnie said. “Might just piss him off. The problem is that any acknowledgement you give him could be misconstrued as encouragement. You know, by someone in his pathetic state.”

“Great.” Lucianna leaned back, stretched her arms over her head and yawned. “Okay, tell me about your breakfast meeting. You had pancakes smothered in syrup. Bacon. Two eggs, over easy. And at least a half pot of coffee.”

“And wheat toast.”

“Hmm… Something healthy as a concession to all that cholesterol?”

“Have to keep my doctor happy.”

Lucianna shook her head, though she couldn’t help but laugh. “I’m sure your doctor just adores you.”

“Who doesn’t?” Vinnie had made himself comfortable in a chair opposite Lucianna. He stretched out his long legs, smoothed the creases in his slacks. “Now would you like to hear about my breakfast conversation? Or was your interest limited to the menu?”


Read the opening of chapter 1 on my website:

You can also listen to an audiobook sample:


Thanks for reading – and listening. :)

Book Review: JUST MERCY by Bryan Stevenson

Just Mercy

A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time

Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.

Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.

Published: October 21, 2014

Amazon / Amazon UK / Barnes and Noble


My Review:

Anyone who believes justice is truly blind – or fair – needs to read this book. Bryan Stevenson takes us deep into the criminal justice system, sharing details of his cases and experiences as a defense attorney working for a nonprofit organization. At its very core, our legal system is skewed in favor of the wealthy and the white. Biases and outright racism are justice’s dirty little secret.

The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.

I read a lot of law-based nonfiction and true crime, and I was already aware of the deep cracks in our criminal justice system. Even so, the blatant racism that still exists within the deep south took my breath away. I found myself at equal turns angry and disheartened. I wondered how anyone could do what this man does each day and not give in to the depths of despair.

Stevenson walks us through his work with inmates on death row. Some are guilty, some are not. The people sentenced to death vary in intelligence, mental health and, to some degree, race. One thing that does not change is that they are all poor. They did not have access to good legal aid. Often they did not even receive competent representation.

In debates about the death penalty, I had started arguing that we would never think it was humane to pay someone to rape people convicted of rape or assault and abuse someone guilty of assault or abuse. Yet we were comfortable killing people who kill, in part because we think we can do it in a manner that doesn’t reflect anything onto us, the way that raping or abusing someone would. I couldn’t stop thinking that we don’t spend much time contemplating the details of what killing someone actually involves.

While these stories are disturbing, what I found most appalling was the section dealing with children. Here in the U.S., we are making it our mission to try children in adult courts. We hand life sentences without the possibility of parole to prepubescent children, for non-homicide crimes. We’re putting 12- and 13-year-old kids in adult prisons, with violent criminals who are very much adults. We treat them like trash, locking them away to keep the prison wheels turning. Part of Bryan Stevenson’s work is to help these kids, to commute their sentences to something a bit more rational and humane, and to often be the only caring adult these kids have in their lives.

Ian’s appointed lawyer encouraged him to plead guilty, assuring him that he would be sentenced to fifteen years in prison. The lawyer didn’t realize that two of the charges against Ian were punishable with sentences of life imprisonment without parole. The judge accepted Ian’s plea and then sentenced him to life with no parole. Even though he was thirteen, the judge condemned Ian for living in the streets, for not having good parental supervision, and for his multiple prior arrests for shoplifting and minor property crimes.

While nothing about the content is light, Stevenson’s writing style is conversational and easy to read. He doesn’t use a lot of technical jargon. He doesn’t reach for flowery prose or obscure words. This book is designed to be read by the masses, whether you have a simple high school education or a law degree.

Bryan Stevenson’s work is commendable. This man is one of those unsung heroes in life. We hold athletes up on pedestals because they can throw a ball, while people like Stevenson make the world a better place without a bit of recognition. We can’t all be lawyers. We can’t all dedicate our lives the way he does. But we can all pull our heads out of the sand and demand change.

Thanks for reading. :)

Read It Free! MIAMI SNOW Available On Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime!

My moral high ground is crumbling beneath me. Oh, Amazon, what have you done to me?

Before I bemoan my collapse, here is the good news: My novel Miami Snow is now available as a free read for Amazon Prime and Kindle Unlimited members!


One day Nick Donovan has it all; a beautiful, pregnant wife, a nice house, a great job. The next day he is on his own, starting from scratch with nothing but a few suitcases and his old truck.

Nick flees to the opposite coast of Florida, trying to leave his ex-wife and the memories behind. But that couldn’t happen. Soon Nick finds that he is tied to Shelley in a way that he hadn’t expected. And, in her bitterness, she does everything she can to ensure his misery.

Brandy is Shelley’s opposite; wild, sensual, free-spirited. With Brandy, Nick is able to rebel against all that Shelley stands for. Brandy quickly leads Nick into a world of sex, drugs, and cash. And now Nick finds himself caught between the two worlds, desperate to stay afloat.

Amazon / Amazon CA / Amazon UK


You might be wondering why this is a moral dilemma for me. It’s not that I don’t want to give Prime and Unlimited members the opportunity to read my books free. Quite the contrary! I’d like all my books to be enrolled. But here’s the stumbling point. In order to do so, I have to sign an exclusivity contract with Amazon for each title. That means I cannot make my title, in ebook format, available anywhere other than Amazon. The very fiber of my being is against exclusive deals. I find them offensive. Unfair. And yet…

Amazon is the giant of ebooks. Amazon is also what made it possible for me and thousands of other indie authors to first make our books available to the masses. Without their help, most indie authors would be lucky to have their family members read their books. The exclusive deal not only allows our books into the catalog of Unlimited and Prime reads, it also offers us access to promotional tools. And, as much as I don’t like to do it, promotion is a necessary evil of all products.

Then there’s the other thing. I have Amazon Prime. I also have a lengthy Kindle books wish list on Amazon. Each month, I go through my wish list to find a book I want to read that is available via Prime. Those are the books I almost always knock out of my wish list first, because I can read them free. (Well, sort of free. We do still have to pay for the Prime membership.) I love when the books I want to read are available through Prime. I hate that mine aren’t. So I have given up a bit of my moral high ground. I’m experimenting with one of my titles to see how it goes. The exclusive contract runs for 90 days. During the next three months, I’ll monitor whether it’s worth renewing the contract and keeping this book – and perhaps my others – solely on Amazon. In the meantime, my inner hippie is screaming about the inequality and I’m doing my best to ignore the shouts of injustice.

Thanks for reading. :)

Blog Tour and Giveaway! Protecting Caroline by Susan Stoker


Title: Protecting Caroline
Series: SEAL of Protection #1
Author: Susan Stoker
Published: September 8th, 2014
Word Count: 62,000
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Content Warning: Violence
Age Recommendation: 18+

Protecting-Caroline **Protecting Caroline is a stand-alone love story. It is Book 1 in the SEAL of Protection Series**

Matthew “Wolf” Steel hated flying commercial. Luckily his job as a Navy SEAL meant he didn’t have to do it very often. He’d been unlucky enough to be assigned a middle seat on the cramped jet, but fortunately for him, the woman next to him was willing to switch seats with him. Hoping for a relaxing flight, Wolf was pleasantly surprised at the good conversation and sense of humor the woman had as they flew 36,000 feet over the countryside.

When Caroline boarded the plane to Virginia to move across the country for her new job she never expected to be seated next to the hottest guy she’d ever seen. She also never expected he’d be so easy to talk to. She knew he’d never be interested in talking to her if he hadn’t been trapped in the seat next to her, but it was a nice way to spend a long plane ride.

Neither Wolf nor Caroline were prepared for a terrorist hijacking of their plane, but if Caroline thought that would be the last time she’d see, or need, Wolf, she’d be sorely mistaken.

Start the SEAL of Protection Series with Caroline and Wolf’s story.

Amazon / Goodreads


Excerpt from Protecting Caroline:

Wolf didn’t say anything, just did what he’d desired to do the first time he saw her in the room. He reached over and gathered her into his arms. She was stiff at first, then she melted into him. She smelled of some sort of flowers. Maybe it was her shampoo, maybe it was a lotion she used, but it went straight to his head. He tightened his arms around her and Caroline lost it. She cried. She cried for being scared on the plane, she cried for being hurt, she cried remembering how alone and scared she felt in her apartment when only a thin piece of plastic kept a killer from knowing she was in the bathroom, she cried in relief that Matthew was back from his mission. Matthew rocked her and held her tight. He wasn’t used to a woman’s tears, but there was no way he was letting her go.

Finally her tears dried up and she only sniffed here and there. Wolf drew back a bit and looked at her face. She wasn’t a “cute crier”—her face was red and blotchy. She refused to raise her eyes. Wolf rubbed her cheeks with his thumbs and then lifted her chin up so Caroline had to look at him. He didn’t say anything just leaned down and touched her lips with his. It wasn’t a passionate kiss, but it felt right. It was a comforting kiss. It was exactly what she needed from him at that moment.

He pulled back and looked into her eyes. “You’re safe now. I’ll do everything in my power to make sure you stay that way.”

Caroline believed him. He was an honest to God hero. And for the moment, he was her hero. She tipped her chin up, reaching again for his lips with hers.

The second she moved, he was there. Wolf had tried to hold back with her. She was feeling vulnerable and he didn’t want to take advantage of her. But with the first touch of her lips against him, he was lost.


About the Author:

Susan-Stoker Susan Stoker has a heart as big as the state of Texas where she lives but this all American girl has also spent the last fourteen years living in Missouri, California, Colorado, and Indiana. She is quite the romantic and even met the love of her life on “Hotmail classified” before online dating and sites like even existed!

Susan has been reading romance novels since middle school and once crossed out the names of the main characters in a book and changed them to her own and to the name of her crush. She’s been writing scenes for years, developing her unique writing style.

Susan loves writing but her true passion is adopting dogs from rescue groups and shelters. Susan and her husband have had a total of nine “rescued” dogs since 2000 including a variety of basset hounds and bloodhounds. She has recently branched out and adopted a basset/terrier mix who acts more like a terrier than a basset (i.e. digging, eating a couch and being hyper).

Amazon Author Page / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads


Interview With Susan – About the Book:

Which is your favorite minor character and why?

Tex! There’s just something about him. He’s a former SEAL that got hurt and is now medically retired. He’s tough, but also very vulnerable. He’s the go-to guy for Wolf and his team, but he’s totally on the “outside.” He touched me so much that I had to write a book for him too. The series was only going to be 6 books long, but because of Tex it’s now 7.

Please share a few favorite lines or one paragraph.

Finally her tears dried up and she only sniffed here and there. Wolf drew back a bit and looked at her face. She wasn’t a “cute crier”—her face was red and blotchy. She refused to raise her eyes. Wolf rubbed her cheeks with his thumbs and then lifted her chin up so Caroline had to look at him. He didn’t say anything just leaned down and touched her lips with his. It wasn’t a passionate kiss, but it felt right. It was a comforting kiss. It was exactly what she needed from him at that moment. Wolf pulled back and looked into her eyes. “You’re safe now. I’ll do everything in my power to make sure you stay that way.”

How long did it take you to write this book?

I probably should say that it took years and years, but honestly, once I get started on writing a book, I just go and go until it’s done. I had started thinking about this story a few years ago, but once I sat down and started to really write the story, it probably took me about a week.

How did you come up with the title?

I wanted a title that someone could look at and know immediately it was a part of the SEAL of Protection Series. Every book in the series starts with “Protecting” and then has the name of the main female character. In the series all the women need protecting in some way or another, BUT they all also manage to somehow have a hand in saving themselves.

Of all the books out there, why should readers choose this one?

Of course I can’t tell a reader what they should and shouldn’t like, but I feel like Protecting Caroline is a quick moving story that doesn’t get bogged down in details and it doesn’t drag out any one scene. It is not erotica, so there isn’t a lot of sex, but there is a lot of emotion and connecting between Wolf and his teammates and between Caroline and Wolf. It’s a story of a woman who believes she’s plain, but in reality she turns out to be tougher than the SEALs.



eBook – Protecting Caroline (INT)
Print – Protecting Caroline (US)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Follow the tour to learn more about Susan and her writing:

Thanks for reading. :)

Review: The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case by Michael Ross


In June 1870, the residents of the city of New Orleans were already on edge when two African American women kidnapped seventeen-month-old Mollie Digby from in front of her New Orleans home. It was the height of Radical Reconstruction, and the old racial order had been turned upside down: black men now voted, held office, sat on juries, and served as policemen. Nervous white residents, certain that the end of slavery and resulting “Africanization” of the city would bring chaos, pointed to the Digby abduction as proof that no white child was safe. Louisiana’s twenty-eight-year old Reconstruction governor, Henry Clay Warmoth, hoping to use the investigation of the kidnapping to validate his newly integrated police force to the highly suspicious white population of New Orleans, saw to it that the city’s best Afro-Creole detective, John Baptiste Jourdain, was put on the case, and offered a huge reward for the return of Mollie Digby and the capture of her kidnappers. When the Associated Press sent the story out on the wire, newspaper readers around the country began to follow the New Orleans mystery. Eventually, police and prosecutors put two strikingly beautiful Afro-Creole women on trial for the crime, and interest in the case exploded as a tense courtroom drama unfolded.

In The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case, Michael Ross offers the first full account of this event that electrified the South at one of the most critical moments in the history of American race relations. Tracing the crime from the moment it was committed through the highly publicized investigation and sensationalized trial that followed, all the while chronicling the public outcry and escalating hysteria as news and rumors surrounding the crime spread, Ross paints a vivid picture of the Reconstruction-era South and the complexities and possibilities that faced the newly integrated society. Leading readers into smoke-filled concert saloons, Garden District drawing rooms, sweltering courthouses, and squalid prisons, Ross brings this fascinating era back to life.

A stunning work of historical recreation, The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case is sure to captivate anyone interested in true crime, the Civil War and its aftermath, and the history of New Orleans and the American South.

Published: October 2014

Amazon / Amazon UK / Barnes and Noble


My Review:

The setting in old true crime cases is a vital aspect of helping readers understand how and why things happened as they did. Not all nonfiction authors are able to convey those details. Michael Ross has no such problem. He expertly weaves bits of history and sociology in with the kidnapping case of Mollie Digby, offering a clear view of both the crime and the culture.

He knew many white New Orleanians viewed the integrated Metropolitan Police as an occupying army, even though only 11 percent of the officers were northern born and only 28 percent were African Americans.

The picture painted here is not a pretty one in American history. In 1870, when this crime occurred, New Orleans was a city divided by politics, class, and race. Radical Reconstruction was underway. Many whites were rebelling against the blacks’ newfound roles in society, such as their placement on the police force and their ability to serve on juries. All this turmoil serves as a vital backdrop to the crime.

Their hair-trigger sensitivity to perceived slights rendered New Orleans the “dueling capital of the South.”

The kidnapping itself is a bizarre case. Ross unravels it all in pieces, from start to finish, showing us how it plays out while allowing us to form our own opinions.

“We may say to the police of New Orleans,” the Picayune warned, “that unless this child be found, they will suffer a burning disgrace – a lasting shame.”

This is by far one of the best nonfiction books I’ve read – ever.

Thanks for reading. :)

#MondayBlogs: MIND’S EYE SERIES Madness! Pre-Launch Party, Prizes, and More

Do you trust what you see?


Reflections Cover - mdperspectives

I have exciting news to share about the Mind’s Eye Series! For those of you unfamiliar with this series, it is a collaboration between authors and photographers, in which all stories are inspired by photographs. This has been a fun project to work on, and I’m honored to be included among such awesome talent!

Now, on to the news. First, Reflections is now available to pre-order on Amazon! The book will be officially released on November 1st. Before then, you can pre-order the Kindle edition on Amazon for just 99 cents! On November 1st, the price goes up to $2.99. The pre-release discounted price is our gift to our most loyal readers. :)

To celebrate, the authors and photographers are hosting a Facebook Pre-Launch party! We’ll be sharing snippets from our stories. And, most important, we’ll be offering fun giveaways throughout the day and early evening! You are all invited. The more the merrier! The event is this Wednesday, October 15. For details and/or to join us, click here:

But that’s not all! I have one final piece of news to share. Perspectives, the first book in the Mind’s Eye Series, is now available for Amazon Prime members to borrow free! I must be honest and admit this decision was a difficult one for me. None of my books, up until this point, have been enrolled in Amazon Prime. This is not because I don’t want Prime members to have access to my books. On the contrary! I would love for all of my titles to be available for Prime members to borrow. BUT, and this is the stumbling point for me, in order to do so, I must sign an exclusive contract with Amazon. This is true of any and all authors who enroll their books in Kindle Select, giving access to Prime members to borrow and/or to those who use the new service Amazon provides where you pay one monthly fee to read as many books as you want. That exclusive contract means I cannot sell my books on Barnes and Noble for Nook, or on any other ebook venue. Trying to please all readers is a difficult balancing act. But we’re giving it a shot with our Mind’s Eye Series, and we’re happy to announce Perspectives is now available for Prime and Kindle Unlimited!

Now for a little more information on the books and, of course, the Amazon links!

12 Moments Captured
12 Stories Told

Do you trust what you see?
A rock only becomes a mountain when you broaden your view.

We challenge you to look at the world from different…

Amazon / Amazon CA / Amazon UK


Reflections Cover - md
Do you trust what you see?

Right becomes left.
Up becomes down.
Distorted, unreal.

Your world looks new when you see its…

Amazon / Amazon CA / Amazon UK


As you might have noticed from the book covers, our roster has grown. This series began with an idea… a possibility. Martin David Porter was the photographer and Maria Savva and I wrote all the stories. For Reflections, we have 4 authors, 2 poets, and 2 photographers! And we’re already at work on the third book, which will include even more authors!

I hope you’ll consider preo-ordering a copy of Reflections. And please join our Facebook party! We’re excited to hang out with you all!

Thanks for reading. :)

Blog Tour: And They All Lived Happily Ever After! by Crystal Connor


Title: And They All Lived Happily Ever After!
Author: Crystal Connor
Published: August 28th, 2012
Word Count: approx. 65,000
Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi, Dark Fantasy
Recommended Age: 13+

And-They-All-Lived-Happily-Ever-After Once upon a time, in a dark & scary place, in a frightening land way too close to home…

Crystal Connor’s …And They All Lived Happily Ever After! is a collection of short fables not meant for children; but for those who enjoy the madness of nightmares.

In the ‘Queen’s Pawn’ you’ll visit a magical kingdom full of wonder and splendor only to come to the sickening realization that when the Queen had a message…she sends her pawns.

The perils of eating forbidden fruit have been cautioned against since the Book of Genesis, but will our urban princess in ‘The Apple’ heed those warnings?

Embark on a mystical and treacherous quest to reach ‘The Ruins’, located in place so sacred that is should never be visited by mortal man.

These are just a few of the adventures you’ll have as you explore the dark imagination of Crystal Connor. Fourteen short stories of horror, science fiction, and fantasy; 65,306 words of terror by a single author who clearly intends to one day be known as a Master in the genre.

Monsters, Women, and Villains (oh my)!

Amazon / Barnes and Noble / Goodreads

Book Trailer:


Excerpt from And They All Lived Happily Ever After by Crystal Connor:

There’s a whole host of benefits allotted to those, who like myself, possess these very specialized set of skills. One of the benefits is, that afterward, you sleep really good at night and I mean really good.


Well, it’s true, it’s hard to believe I know, but trust me it’s true. Sam, my uncle, sent me to this exotic land that used to smell of frankincense and myrrh. He sent us there, my brothers-in-arms and me, so that we could become proficient in the art of death. We were good at what we did too, because now it only smells of gunpowder, burnt oil, and death. That’s a hellofa predicament you’ve found yourself in, isn’t it?

Well, at least now you know I’m good with a gun and thanks to my Uncle Sam I am also very comfortable with a blade. This ten inch beauty here is a staple, it’s sharp enough to be use as machete. But this one, with the gut hook, is my all time favorite and I’ll show you why here in a minute. Now, I can understand why you broke into my home, these are tough times, and a guys gotta eat I get that. I do.

Maybe I would have let you live if you had simply demanded my money and jewels, but, then again, I was never known for being charitable.


Audio Promo


About the Author:

Crystal-Connor Washington State native Crystal Connor has been terrorizing readers since before Jr. high School and loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys, rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high heel shoes & unreasonably priced hang bags. She is also considering changing her professional title to dramatization specialist because it’s so much more theatrical than being just a mere drama queen. Along with inducing insomnia within her readership Crystal also reviews indie horror and sci-fi movies for

Amazon Author Page / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Blog


Interview with Crystal:

When you first begin writing a new book, is your main focus on the characters or the plot?

It starts with an idea. I usually don’t know if the story will be character or plot driven until I’m about 15 or 20 chapters into it.

Why do you write within your chosen genre?

I write horror because it’s the way I like to be entertained, even from a young age I always liked things that were a little dark around the edges. I’m not sure why.

How much research goes into your fiction writing? What is your approach?

A lot of research went into the Spectrum Trilogy because the story is basically science vs. witchcraft. The research part was rather easy but writing it in a way that didn’t seem like a textbook for those studying at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory was challenging. What I ended up doing was just skimming from the top and then instead of explaining how it worked, I showed how my characters were using this very dangerous technology. I did the same thing with the ritual magic. With both technologies there are some things you just can’t skip/or have to do in order to make it safe as possible. So I made sure the basics were covered and after that I just ran with it.

Is there a time of day or night when you’re most creative?

I like writing at night just because my neighborhood has lots of kids and is right off a busy thoroughfare so the noise can sometimes be a little distracting. Even though there are tons of cons for being a day sleeper I’d rather have my sleep interrupted than my writing.

Describe your writing environment. 

My work area is a hot ass mess but I know where everything is and to make matters worse I write everywhere and on anything I can get my hands on. I write everything out in long hand first so I have spiral notebooks and blue ink pens all over my house!

What do you find the easiest to write; the beginning, middle or end? Why?

I think the hardest part for me to write is the ending because I think the ending is the most important part of the story. I usually writing the ending fairly early, like maybe after the 1st 10 chapters or so then I write the rest of the story using the ending as the foundation.

Do you write a book sequentially, from beginning to end? Or do you sometimes write scenes out of order?

I always write out of order and I have no idea why I do that. It just feels natural to me so I don’t fight it. I know how I want the story to go so writing out of order doesn’t really trip me up because I know where everything goes.

Do your characters sometimes surprise you with their behavior? Or do you always have complete control?

They surprise me all the time, there comes a point where I feel like I am not creating the story but telling someone else what happened. I’m just as shocked as reader is when something unexpected or exciting happens…lol

How do you decide on your book’s title?

The title usually comes while I’m writing the story. The current book I’m working on The Family is the very 1st book I’ve started where I knew what the title was before I picked up my pen, but that might not be totally true because this story has been lurking around my head for some time now.

Have you ever received a negative review? If so, how did you handle the criticism?

Of course I get negative reviews. The very 1st negative review was from a person that I had previously sued in court and it was so transparent that it was easy to ignore and some readers on Goodreads called the person out by saying they knew it was a fake review.

The ones that aren’t so easy to ignore are the ones from someone who just doesn’t like your work, and I think I have about three of those. There’s nothing you can really do about those because you’re not going to be able to please everybody and I don’t think you should even try.

The worse ones to get ever are from a reader who liked a previous work but doesn’t like the next book they read. Those are the hardest to absorb because basically you feel like you’ve let down a fan. That’s only happened twice, thank God, but that’s still two times too many. Usually I sooth my hurts with chocolate cake and a coke! Then after that I hope and cross my fingers that I can win them back with the next book they read that has my name on it. Because in the end that’s really all you can do.


Giveaway Details:

There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:

• 1 Lucky winner will get a print copy of And They All Lived Happily Ever After!

Giveaway is International

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review: DEAD DROP by Jesse Miles

Dead Drop

Jack Salvo teaches philosophy one night a week at a community college, but he pays his bills by working as a Los Angeles private detective. An aerospace company hires him to investigate a small-time embezzlement. The company assigns a pretty, quick-witted security expert named Lilith Lin to work with him. It’s a piece of cake–a direct route to the embezzler and a client with deep pockets. But another embezzlement and pair of corpses expand his investigation into a labyrinth of espionage, kidnapping and murder. Jack’s life and Lilith’s are at stake, as are stealth technology secrets that could impact national security.

Published: September 2014

Amazon / Amazon UK / Barnes and Noble


My Review:

This is the first book in the Jack Salvo series and, as far as I know, this author’s first book. Given the quality of writing, I think both the series and the author will be around for a long time to come.

They out to have a federal agency to deal with the problem of Surveillance-Induced Boredom Syndrome (SIBS). Maybe I could go on disability.

Salvo is a fascinating character. He’s a PI who doesn’t mind playing a little dirty in order to get the information he needs. He’s also a part-time philosophy professor, which is a great twist on the standard ‘bad boy’.

Aristotle came to mind, maybe because he was the subject of my next class. Did my kicking Byron in the face and pushing him underwater meet Aristotle’s standard for the highest good?

This book is written in first person, so we get inside Salvo’s head and really get to know him. The case he is hired to solve starts off as one thing, then snowballs into something else entirely. The plot is intricate without being confusing. Miles’s knowledge of his topic is obvious. He gives us the information we need in order to understand, without overwhelming us with tedious details just to show us how much he knows.

While the ending might seem abrupt to some, I thought it was perfect. Everything is wrapped up, all the loose threads have been either pulled out or tied together. With the final chapter, Miles leaves us with a bold image. Anything beyond that, to me, would have felt anticlimactic, lessening the impact of that final chapter.

I sat and waited with a firm set to my jaw and a little black cloud over my head.

The only negative I have comes with the female characters. They felt too much alike to me, both in personality and dialogue. I didn’t think their essence was captured nearly as well as our main character’s was.

Aside from that relatively minor complaint, this is a fast-paced, well-written novel that kept me engaged throughout. I’m looking forward to reading more from Jesse Miles.

I grabbed a notepad, looked again at the map, and squinted. I wrinkled my nose too. That always helps.


Thanks for reading. :)