Monday, October 31, 2022

Book Blitz: Revenge Honeymoon by K.J. Gillenwater

Revenge Honeymoon
K.J. Gillenwater
Publication date: October 30th 2022
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Contemporary, Romance

What happens in the Caribbean, stays in the Caribbean…

Emily Small has a big heart, a loud mouth, and a terrible taste in men. She’s used to living in her perfect best friend Ruby’s shadow – but when Ruby is left devastated at the altar, Emily becomes desperate to save her friend from heartache… and salvage their non-refundable cruise!

Emily hatches an ingenious plan to soothe Ruby’s broken heart by island-hopping together as an act of revenge. There’s only one teensy problem: the cruise is for newlyweds only. Naturally, they have a solution. They’ll pretend to be a married couple!

But their ten days of fun are about to spiral into a crazy, messy adventure that risks leaving a few hearts broken along the way – because when Emily bumps into the ship’s hot photographer, Max Keeling, she begins to wish she could rethink their arrangement. If her deception gets discovered, would they boot her off the boat? But Emily can’t keep her hands to herself, and her cruise fling could bring everything crashing down.

How can she support her best friend at the worst moment in her life while pursuing an out-of-her-league guy in the Caribbean? And can she somehow find a way to have the best of both worlds?

As a hilarious, sexy, and heartwarming read that strikes the perfect balance between feel-good emotions and laugh-out-loud humor, Revenge Honeymoon is a fun and memorable romantic comedy that you won’t be able to put down. Grab your copy today!

Note: This book was originally released on Kindle Vella in serialized format. This version has been edited with an additional epilogue added.

Goodreads / Amazon


“That was Tyler,” Emily gulped. Her mouth so dry she wished she had a bucketful of water to drink. “He’s not coming.” Her voice dropped to a bare whisper.

The cousins gasped and clutched one another in horror.

The make-up artist, who had been waiting to do final touch-ups, packed up her case in a flash and squeaked out of the room without a word.

Ruby’s eyes widened, her mouth formed an ‘o,’ and her body vibrated a fine tremor. “Oh no, was he in an accident? I told him not to drive himself. I’ve read so many stories about brides and grooms getting in accidents on the way to the church. Nerves, they said. Should I go to him? Where is he? Was he driving his father’s car or the rental? I hope he wasn’t driving the rental. We have to make it to our suite at the Hilton tonight, and I really don’t want to take an Uber. Or have my father drive. Oh, that would be so embarrassing.”

“Ruby.” Emily grasped her friend’s arm, the fine Mikado silk cool under her fingers. A long-sleeved dress for a late fall wedding maybe was too warm for the Tampa location, but it had been so gorgeous on her friend’s slender body there had been no other choice at the bridal boutique. “He’s calling off the wedding.”

Nausea soured Emily’s stomach.

Why did she have to be the one who picked up the phone?

One of the cousins burst into tears.

Ruby stood stock still in the middle of the bride’s dressing room. “But—”

Rhonda Madison Evers entered wearing a royal blue mother-of-the-bride dress covered in sequins. “My darling. The make-up artist told me the news. How could that man be so cruel?” She curved her arms around her only daughter.

“Mom, I don’t understand. How could he not be coming?” Ruby crumpled to the floor.

“You’ll crush your dress!” Mrs. Evers gasped and knelt beside her. She yanked at her daughter’s arm as if her will alone would lift up the one-hundred-twenty-five-pound woman and her ten pounds of underskirts and heavy fabric. “We can still return it.”

“No, we can’t. It’s been altered.” The bride spoke in a monotone.

“Well,” said Mrs. Evers, “there’s always eBay or Craigslist, I suppose.”

“Facebook Marketplace is better,” mumbled a cousin.

Mrs. Evers shot daggers in the woman’s direction.

“I need to talk to him.” The bride snapped her fingers at Emily. “Get Tyler on the phone. I will just demand that he come.”

Emily gulped and bit at her lower lip, then got up the courage to tell her best friend since grade school the worst thing a best friend could say. “Tyler doesn’t want to get married. Do you really want to force a man to marry you, Rubes?”

“But he promised me. He gave me this ring.” Ruby held out her hand for the cousins, her mother, Emily, and now the florist who’d arrived with her wedding bouquet. A gorgeous pear-shaped 2 ½ carat diamond decorated her left ring finger. “Would he have given me this ring if he didn’t want to marry me?”

“He doesn’t want to marry you, Rubes.” Emily knelt and put an arm around her friend. The bride sagged against her.

The florist quietly set the bridal bouquet on a chair and scrambled for the door.

Emily led Ruby to an empty chair and her mother sat beside her. “He’s an awful man. A terrible, mean, awful man. Who would do that to my little girl?” Mrs. Evers took her daughter by the hand and gripped it tightly.

“Ow, mother, that hurts.” Ruby pulled her hand out of her mother’s grasp and began to nibble on her freshly manicured nails. “What do we do about the guests?”

“Your father is telling them now,” Mrs. Evers reassured her.

“What will we do about the reception?” Ruby pulled the veil out of her hair.

“We’re inviting everyone to meet us over there,” her mother answered. “We’ve already paid for the hall, the food, the entertainment. We might as well have a party, don’t you think, darling?”

“What will we do about the honeymoon?” Ruby kicked off her satin heels and rubbed her toes.

“Well, I guess you’ll have to cancel,” sighed Mrs. Evers. “Maybe they’ll give you credit.”

“No, wait, I have a better idea,” said Emily.

And that’s when the revenge honeymoon took shape. That very moment. And Emily Small’s life would never be the same.

Author Bio:

K. J. Gillenwater has a B.A. in English and Spanish from Valparaiso University and an M.A. in Latin American Studies from University of California, Santa Barbara. She worked as a Russian linguist in the U.S. Navy, spending time at the National Security Agency doing secret things. After six years of service, she ended up as a technical writer in the software industry. She has lived all over the U.S. and currently resides in Wyoming with her family where she runs her own business writing government proposals and squeezes in fiction writing when she can. In the winter she likes to ski and snowshoe; in the summer she likes to garden with her husband, take walks with her dog, and explore the Big Horn Mountains. She has written multiple books and plans on writing more.

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Sunday, October 30, 2022

Book Blog Tour: Nunzio's Way by Nick Chiarkas

Nunzio's Way by Nick Chiarkas Banner

Nunzio's Way

by Nick Chiarkas

October 24-November 18, 2022 Virtual Book Tour


Nunzio's Way by Nick Chiarkas

"In this city, you can have anything you want if you kill the right four people." ~ Nunzio Sabino

In Weepers (Book 1), Angelo and his gang, with a bit of help from his beloved "uncle" Nunzio Sabino, defeated the notorious Satan's Knights. Now, in this standalone sequel to Weepers, it's 1960 and Nunzio is still the most powerful organized crime boss in New York City, protecting what's his with political schemes and 'business' deals.

Against this backdrop of Mafia turf wars, local gang battles, and political power-plays in the mayoral election, the bodies begin stacking up. An unlikely assassin arrives fresh from Naples after killing a top member of the Camorra to avenge the murder of her family. She blends seamlessly into the neighborhood and with the focus on the threat from the Satan's Knights, no one suspects that Angelo's father and Nunzio are next on her hit list. Nunzio has lived his entire life by the mantra; Be a fox when there are traps and a lion when there are wolves. Will Nunzio be a lion in time?

Praise for Nick Chiarkas:

"Writers are always told, 'Write what you know.' Nick Chiarkas knows New York, organized crime, and how to write an engaging story. Nunzio’s Way is gritty and thoroughly gripping."

John DeDakis, award-winning Novelist and former editor for CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer”

Book Details:

Genre: Crime Thriller / Historical
Published by: HenschelHAUS Publishing
Publication Date: October 2022
Number of Pages: 261
ISBN: 978159595-908-6
Series: Weepers, #2
Book Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:


For those who have read Weepers a while ago, and for those who have not read Weepers, here is a brief description of Nunzio Sabino, as told by Father Joe to Father Casimiro (Father Cas) in Weepers.


“In 1920... Caffè Fiora was the Baling Hook, a tough bar owned by an ex-longshoreman, Stanley Marco, and his wife Sylvia—who was every bit as tough as Stan. The place was decorated with nets, anchors, and baling hooks hanging all over the walls. It had a long bar and small tables.”

“Sounds charming,” Father Casimiro said sarcastically.

“In a strange way, it was. The booze was good. The food was tolerable. And the dancers were okay—that is, except for one. Fiora Ventosa was a delicate breeze in a cigar-filled room. And when she danced, the room dropped silent. She was sensational.”

“A stripper?”

“Not completely, more burlesque. The dancers would take off this or that but never stripped completely. Each night of the week featured a different dancer. Fiora danced on Tuesday nights. And Nunzio fell in love with her.”

“How old was he?”

“Thirteen. We were all kids about the same age. There were five of us—me, Nunzio, Pompeo—Anna’s father—

George, and Nick. We would sneak in every Tuesday night. Sylvia knew, but let it slide.”

“Did Fiora know how Nunzio—”

“Probably. She would sometimes sit with us after her show. Thinking back, she probably thought it was cute, and compared to the rest of the clientele, we were safe, adoring fans. We would sit there and Nunzio would be transfixed. She was seventeen and Nunzio figured a four-year difference wasn’t that much. So, after watching her dance every Tuesday for seven or eight months, on the third Tuesday in January 1920, Nunzio decided to tell Fiora he wanted to marry her. Seems silly now, but back then...what did we know? Anyway, Nunzio had to work late, so we waited for him and then we beat it over to the Hook.”

Father Casimiro loved these stories. They gave him a history, like he belonged to the neighborhood. “Did he tell her?”

“When we got to the Hook, Stan was shoving everyone out of the place, telling them to go home. Somebody, I don’t know who, said, ‘You kids better not go in there tonight.’ We pushed our way in against everybody leaving. There were several overturned tables and a couple of people standing around looking down.”

“Looking down?” Father Casimiro dodged several kids running along the sidewalk.

“Sylvia was sitting on the floor crying. Fiora was lying on the floor, covered by a large flannel shirt. Her head in Sylvia’s lap. Stan was arguing with a big guy they called the Bear. He was six- foot-six and must have weighed in at over three hundred pounds. He was a foreman on the docks and a neighborhood bully. The Bear stood there in a T-shirt and said to Stan, ‘Don’t you say nothing, you hear me? Nothing.’ Sylvia shouted up at the Bear, ‘You sonofabitch, you killed this little girl.’”

“What? She was dead? He killed her? Why?”

“The drunken Bear wanted to see more skin. He yanked her off the dance floor. She fought and he broke her neck.” Father Joe lit a cigarette and handed the pack to Father Casimiro.

Father Casimiro lit a cigarette and took a long drag. “Poor girl.” Cigarette smoke escaped with the words. He handed the pack back to Father Joe. “Nunzio must have been devastated. You all, just kids, must have been—”

“It was the only time I ever saw Nunzio cry. Ever. It was the most heart-rending, profound sadness I ever witnessed. Nunzio dropped to his knees and touched her face. Meanwhile, the Bear was standing over Sylvia with his two buddies, one on either side of him, and he said to Stan, ‘The girl’s trash; nobody’s gonna miss her. So, you and your wife keep your mouths shut.’ He reached down and grabbed his shirt off Fiora and started to put it on.

He continued, “That was when I noticed that Nunzio was missing. And then I heard the scream. It didn’t sound human. It was pain and fury. It was Nunzio, and he was in midair—he jumped from the top of the bar behind the Bear. In each hand, he gripped a baling hook—he had taken them off the wall. He looked like an eagle screaming in for the kill. The Bear’s arms were halfway in his shirt sleeves when the points of the heavy hooks pierced his deltoid muscles from behind. The hooks hit both shoulders and sunk behind his collarbone.”

“Dear God,” Father Casimiro shivered as he imagined the pain of a thick steel hook sinking into his shoulder muscle.

“The Bear roared and swung from side to side. Nunzio held on tight to the hooks, his legs flying from left to right, back and forth. The Bear’s arms were pinned halfway in his shirt. He kept trying to grab Nunzio’s legs. But with each movement, the hooks sank deeper.”

Father Casimiro was no longer aware of the people pushing past him, some smiling and nodding. The musty beer and sawdust of the Baling Hook filled his senses. He imagined the blood spurting from the hooks, and a thirteen-year-old boy hanging on—fortified by rage. Father Casimiro smoked and listened. “What about the Bear’s friends?”

“The two of them grabbed at Nunzio, and that’s when we—all four of us—jumped in. I was a pretty good boxer by then, and Pompeo was always a strong kid. Nick pulled a knife, and George grabbed another baling hook off the wall. The Bear’s buddies ran out of the place; they weren’t up for the fight. After that, the only ones in the Hook were Stan, Sylvia, the Bear, Fiora, and us. The Bear started spinning and coughing up blood. Nunzio just held on. We were trying to get them apart. But the Bear kept spinning, knocking over tables. And Nunzio was like a cape flying from the Bear’s shoulders.

“Then, finally, the Bear dropped to his knees, straight down, his arms dead, draped at his sides. As the Bear fell forward, Nunzio pulled on the hooks. The Bear growled and then whimpered as his face cracked the wooden floor. All the time, Nunzio held onto the hooks—pulling. He let go when the Bear rolled over on his back—hooks still buried in his shoulders. He looked straight up at Nunzio.”

“He was still alive?” Father Casimiro gasped.

“Only for a moment or two. Nunzio wasn’t finished, but Stan grabbed him and said, ‘He’s gone. You kids get out of here so we can clean up.’ Nunzio never fell in love again.”

“Did she have any family?” Father Casimiro asked, flicking his cigarette into the gutter. “I mean, Fiora.”

“Fiora was fifteen and pregnant with Natale when she arrived in New York from Genoa. The Cherry Street Settlement took her in and after Natale was born, they got her a room with Sylvia and Stan, who hired Fiora to tend bar and dance on Tuesday nights. Fiora Ventosa was born on the third Tuesday in March and seventeen years later died on the third Tuesday in January, and her only family was two- year-old Natale Ventosa. No one ever knew who the father was. Natale was raised by Sylvia and Stan.”

“What about the police and the Bear’s friends?”

“No police—Stan fixed that. But the Bear’s pals came after Nunzio. The five of us were inseparable. Nunzio was, is, a born leader. Battle after battle, victory after victory, we quickly gained a reputation. Eventually other guys wanted to join our gang. By sixteen, Nunzio was the most powerful gang leader in the city. When he was twenty, he bought the Baling Hook.”

“He bought it?”

“Stan had passed away a couple of years earlier, so Nunzio turned it into a pretty good restaurant—no dancing—and re-named it Caffè Fiora. He sent Sylvia money every month to cover Natale’s financial needs. He paid Sylvia more than she ever dreamed to run the restaurant. When Sylvia died in ’51, Nunzio gave the restaurant to Natale.”

“So, you became a priest to ...”

“The battles we won were hard fought and people were killed. We all...I killed,” Father Joe confessed. “At nineteen, I decided to become a priest and devote my life to saving as many kids in these neighborhoods as I could in return for God’s forgiveness. We have an uneasy relationship—I’m certain God doesn’t always agree with my methods, and I have some questions for Him as well. But I’m sticking to the deal.”

“What about the other kids? Did they stay in the gang?”

“No. Pompeo is a foreman at the meat market, Nick became a cop, and George is a foreman on the docks. But on the third Tuesday of each month, the five of us go back there, just like when we were thirteen, but now it’s the Caffè Fiora—and we play poker in the back room and talk about how fast time passes.”

“Does Natale know?”

“Sylvia told her the whole story. Natale loves Nunzio like a father,” Father Joe said as he and Father Casimiro passed Columbus Park and made a left from Mulberry Street onto Worth Street. “This is the end of Little Italy.”

As they reached St. Joachim’s, Father Casimiro said, “I think I’ll walk over to the Settlement. You want to come with?”

“Come with?” Father Joe teased. “Sure, I can use the exercise.”

“Does Nunzio ever worry about some ambitious hooligan wanting to take over? Or is that just in the movies?”

“Hooligan?” Father Joe smiled. “Nunzio is the top lion. He is constantly watched by the ambitious and the aggrieved. He can’t show weakness. He can’t let a single insult—especially a public one—go unchecked. Continued leadership requires constant vigilance and no margin of error. None.”

“Sounds stressful.”

“It is. The only time Nunzio can relax—really be himself, joke around—is with us, the kids who grew up with him, on the third Tuesday of the month.”


“The right four people”

“Pal, in this city, you can have anything you want if you kill the right four people.”

“Nunzio, we don’t have to kill –”

“We? Me and you, De?” Nunzio leaned back, a gesture as intimidating as a knife to the throat when it came from Nunzio Sabino, the most powerful crime boss in the city.

Nunzio sat at his private table with his attorney, Declan Ardan, in the dusk-lit Caffè Fiora on Grand Street in Little Italy. On the walls, ropes, hooks, and paintings of Genoa’s seaport, honored the birthplace of the owner’s mother, Fiora, her dark eyes still vigilant from the portrait above Nunzio’s table. The Caffè was quiet on this rainy St. Patrick’s Day. Two of Nunzio’s men sat at a nearby table. The guy who had come with Declan sat hunched over coffee near the entrance.

“No, I mean, nobody has to get killed; talk to your guys at Tammany. They respect –”

“You still got that scar,” Nunzio said. It’s bad enough in court; there, I do what he says. But not at my table. Since we were kids, this mameluke was a bully. I can’t give him an inch. Not an inch. “What about my guys?”

De touched the scar above his left eye. “Doolin said the Italians run everything now. He said, ‘If anyone can pull strings...’”

“Before you start pinning medals on my ass,” Nunzio signaled to a waiter. “Arturo, bring me and ‘Deadshot’ here a couple of espressos and Natale’s little cakes.”

“All I’m saying is–”

“Marone, you’re still talkin’?”

“All I want – ”

“I know what you want. You wanna be mayor.” Nunzio lit a Camel and tossed the pack on the table while exhaling through his nose like a dragon. “Listen to me, Brian Doolin is a piantagrane, a troublemaker. For an upfront payment he sells you a dream. Then when it doesn’t come true it was always somebody else’s fault. Like you, that time when we were kids, and you told me Eddie Fialco sounded on my mother. It was bullshit, you just wanted me to beat him up. You’re a piantagrane, like Doolin. It works for you in court, but Doolin just likes to cause trouble. Look, you got a kid who wants to go to college for a grand, your kid’s in. But mayor, forse si forse no?”

“So, maybe a chance?”


De stroked his scar absentmindedly. “You gave me this when we were kids.”

“It makes you look like a tough guy.”

“I once asked Joe why you hit me with that rock.”

“It was a brick,” Nunzio said.

“Joe said it was to save my life. I still don’t get it.” “You don’t have to.”

“But Joe was there.”

“Joe was with Pompeo and me and a bunch of us.

What were we, ten years old? We were cutting through the empty lot to school, and you – ”

“Okay, so I was taking kid's lunch money. They all gave it up except you. You were the smallest kid, and you just said ‘No’.”

“And what did you say to me?”

“That’s what I don’t get; I just said, ‘okay, maybe next time’ and you hit me hard with a brick. I swear I was knocked out for a couple of minutes.”

“You said ‘maybe next time.’”

“Yeah, that’s all.”

“But you never asked me again.”

“I thought you were crazy. I followed you home one day. I figured if I saw where you lived, I would get a better read on you. I trailed you into the cellar of 57 Canon Street. I saw a little bed in one corner and a pile of banana crates by the door – the only things in that dirt floor cavernous space. You were shoveling coal into the furnace, which explained why you always had soot on you. I was about to say something when a spider the size of my face jumped out at me from the crates, and I beat it the hell out of there.”

“You followed me?”

“How could you have lived in that cellar?”

“Instead of where?”

“I don’t know. Maybe in...I don’t know. Didn’t some family take you in?”

“Yeah, the Sas family. Good people.”

“Anyway, I never asked you for money again.”

“If you had, I would’ve killed you. So, the brick saved your life.”

Declan nodded. “Yeah. Got it.”

Three years later, a hulking longshoreman people called “The Bear” wouldn’t be so lucky. He was the first man Nunzio killed. At the ripe age of 13, his life and the lives of four of his friends, changed forever.

Nunzio drifted back to his childhood. He was six years old when his mother and he moved from Naples to the Lower East Side. Alone after his mother died, he learned to survive in one of the most notorious neighborhoods in the city. Where the narrow, trash-lined streets and alleys weaved together decaying brownstone tenements with common toilets, one per floor. He shoveled coal and guarded the produce stored there by the ships docked off South Street, to pay for living in the cellar.

After school, Nunzio mostly walked the streets. He recalled the putrid smell of decomposing cats and dogs covered with a trembling blanket of insects, rats, and things he didn’t recognize. Lying in the gutter against the sidewalk on Pike Street was a horse, with old and fresh whip wounds, shrouded in a cloak of flying and crawling insects. Plenty of other horrors and hardships confronted him throughout his life, but when he closed his eyes, Nunzio saw the horse.

“I know you’re not here to talk about old times. Whadaya need?”

“Nunzio, no one is better than you with –”

“Christ, without the bullshit.”

De lowered his voice, “Tammany Hall is on the outs

with the mayor, and they’re scrambling to find a candidate to run against him. So, if you would tell them that you would be grateful if they would pick me...”

“You tellin’ me what to tell them? Forget about it. Anyway, I like the deputy mayor; he postponed the Brooklyn Bridge deal as a favor to me back in ’57.

“Nunzio, did I do something to piss you off? Is that why your guys searched us when we came in today?”

Chinatown was pushing towards Canal Street; the Russians were gaining a footprint in Brighten Beach. And Pepe, Nunzio’s driver, bodyguard, and right hand since forever, told him there were rumbles of a hit on Nunzio. Someone or some group was always waiting and watching. He knew, like bosses everywhere, that everyone under him thought they could do a better job and thought the boss never did enough for them. This felt different. Pepe had heard it from one of his spies in Satan’s Knights. Pepe would get more information.

But all Nunzio said was, “I’m a little cautious these days. You know how it is.”

“I’m your lawyer; you call me when you need help. Right?”

“I pay you top dollar. You complainin’?”

“No, I’m saying we help each other. We knew growing up here, the only choice was to be a gangster or a victim. No offense.”

“You believe that crap?” Nunzio shook his head. “What?”

“You can be whatever you wanna be.”

“I try to be straight, but you know – ”

“Who you kiddin‘?”

“The point is, we have to trust each other.” De took a long breath and looked wistful as his eyes landed on the painting of Fiora. “I came here with you to see her dance. She was 16 back then, with a two-year-old kid.”

“Seventeen,” Nunzio said, “and the kid’s name is Natale.”

“And you were 13 and asked Fiora to marry you in this Caffè. Am I right?”

“I never got the chance.”


Excerpt from NUNZIO’S WAY by NICK CHIARKAS. Copyright 2022 by Nicholas L. Chiarkas. Reproduced with permission from Nicholas L. Chiarkas. All rights reserved.




5 stars!

Engaging and totally immersive!
I felt I was side-by-side with the characters in this compelling crime drama.

Reading Nunzio’s Way, I was immediately transported to the crime-stricken streets of 1960 Manhattan’s Lower East Side and absorbed into Angelo’s family, circle of friends, and history. Nunzio is the shrewd and ruthless boss of the community with connections everywhere and a firm grip on his business, and a deep love for his friends and family. The teenage Angelo is the leader of the neighborhood gang, The Weepers, and a younger, more vulnerable version of his Uncle Nunzio, who is his guide in life. 

As the story builds, so does our understanding of these characters. The action is gritty and violent, with murder for honor, vendetta, but at times, to do away with witnesses. Some of the deaths are richly deserved; not naming any names, but one in particular, shocked me so much that I gasped out loud; I was so invested in the story and this family. 

Character dialogues and interaction were so natural I felt like I was in the moment with them. Everyone was so engaging and real, and I quickly felt like I knew these people. And almost all of them do terrible things. Two characters really surprised me by how much I enjoyed reading their parts of the story: Rico and Heather/Angie. A lot was going on with both of these awful people, but I looked forward with so much anticipation every time they came on the page, wanting to know what would happen next. 

The Lower East Side setting was a living, breathing vision of the past. As I read, it felt like it was constantly in motion with activity, but there was menace lurking around every corner and in broad daylight. The descriptions are integrated so well into the narrative that I could easily envision the characters and their surroundings. 

The author’s writing style is easy to read and so compelling. I was so engrossed in the story I didn’t want to put it down. Now completed, I am not ready to leave this family and hope the ending is a tip-off that there is more to come and soon. Nunzio’s Way is the second book in the Weepers series, so the characters have a history with each other that began in book one. There is an adequate amount of explanation of relationships and backstories so that readers can enjoy this book on its own. However, the first book, Weepers, is also a must-read for the same reasons I enjoyed this one so much. 

With its engaging characters, iconic setting, and fascinating plot, I recommend NUNZIO’S WAY to readers who enjoyed The Godfather, fiction set in 1960 New York City, or stories about gangs in the city during the late 50s and early 60s.

Author Bio:

Nicholas L. Chiarkas

Nick Chiarkas grew up in the Al Smith housing projects in the Two Bridges neighborhood on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

When he was in the fourth grade, his mother was told by the principal of PS-1 that, “Nick was unlikely to ever complete high school, so you must steer him toward a simple and secure vocation.” Instead, Nick became a writer, with a few stops along the way: a U.S. Army Paratrooper; a New York City Police Officer; the Deputy Chief Counsel for the President’s Commission on Organized Crime; and the Director of the Wisconsin State Public Defender Agency.

On the way to becoming an author, he picked up a Doctorate from Columbia University; a Law Degree from Temple University; and was a Pickett Fellow at Harvard. How many mothers are told their children are hopeless? How many kids with potential simply surrender to despair? That’s why Nick wrote Weepers and Nunzio's Way— for them.

Catch Up With Our Author:
BookBub - @AuthorNickChiarkas
Twitter - @chiarkas
Facebook - @NicholasChiarkasAuthor



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Wednesday, October 26, 2022

The Stars in Their Eyes by Kristy Gardner

The Stars in Their EyesThe Stars in Their Eyes by Kristy Gardner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh my! Get ready for something exciting, wrought with terror, but in the end, life-affirming!

The Stars in Their Eyes is horrifyingly intense and gut-wrenching, full of twists and turns with never a dull moment. Even when the action calms and the characters are allowed a respite, their minds and emotions are engaged and on alert, reliving the past, frantically planning the next move, and hoping, always hoping for a positive outcome.

The author’s imagery of the world after The Change allows readers to develop a clear picture of the conditions the characters are dealing with and are film-ready. The writing and flow of the plot will keep you glued to the pages way past bedtime. So much happens in what seems to be one three days.

I recommend THE STARS IN THEIR EYES to readers who would enjoy a dark queer sci-fi/post-apocalyptic love story, an engaging, sympathetic, and strong female protagonist, and a plot that isn’t the same old, same old; be ready for something entirely different!

When the aliens attacked Seattle, Calay and Tess were at home in their apartment on the fourth floor of their building. They heard the explosion and the next thing they knew, the entire building was upended! Freeing themselves from the rubble, they stumbled out to the street into the smoke and confusion and the sight of a massive alien spacecraft hovering overhead. Horrified, they watched as their neighbors were systematically vaporized into a fine red mist by a blue light emitted from the ship. They turned and ran. But as long as they stayed in the shadows and as long as they stayed together, they knew they could survive.

Calay is the epitome of impulsiveness; the character admits as much upfront. Her impulsivity is on full display throughout her story, and it both endangers her and saves her life. She is inspiring in that despite everything she comes up against, she fixedly remains determined to find the love of her life, Tess. She finds some good in what’s left of her world, but the people she encounters are almost all heinous, desperate, and cruel, the kind who come back to haunt you. The author’s vision of the collapse of humanity is grim but so realistic feeling. And I won’t soon forget Max.

The terrifying description of the sound of whirring and the agonized grinding of metal when the alien pods were nearby quickly put my nerves on edge. The whirring reminded me of the noise the aliens made in the 1953 The War of the Worlds film starring Gene Barry. I first saw this movie as a child (what were my parents thinking?!), and the result then was the same as it was the night having started this book: a nightmare. Whew! 

Besides the intense and terrifying alien action, the story also contains adult scenes of a sexual nature, romantic encounters and others that are anything but. Our main character is half of a loving lesbian couple at the beginning of the story, a heterosexual couple when on the run, and there are many instances of the threat or attempts at rape. This book is not for youngsters.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author or publisher through NetGalley and TBR and Beyond Book Tours.

View all my reviews

Book Blog Tour: Concrete Evidence by DiAnn Mills

DiAnn Mills

Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers

Pages: 416 pages

Publication Date: October 4, 2022

Categories: Christian Fiction / Mystery & Thrillers

Scroll down for a giveaway!

Bestselling and award-winning author DiAnn Mills delivers a heart-stopping story of a faulty construction job, the discovery of a dead body, and a sinister plot.

On the family’s Brazos River Ranch in Texas, Avery Elliott helps run her grandfather’s commercial construction business. Raised by Senator Elliott, Avery has never doubted her grandfather is the man of integrity and faith she’s always believed him to be …. until the day she finds him standing with a gun over the body of a dead man. To make matters worse, Avery’ just discovered a billing discrepancy for materials supposedly purchased for construction of the Lago de Cobre Dam.

Desperate for answers, Avery contacts FBI Special Agent Marc Wilkins for help. As Marc works to identify the dead man Avery saw, threats toward Avery create a fresh sense of urgency to pinpoint why someone wants to silence her. With a hurricane approaching the Texas coast and the structural integrity of the Lago de Cobre Dam called into question, time is running out to get to the bottom of a sinister plot that could be endangering the lives of not only Avery and her loved ones but the entire community.


“* VERDICT Mills . . . delivers another action-packed novel that offers intrigue and an adventurous ride. Recommend to fans of Dani Pettrey, Lynette Eason, and Carrie Stuart Parks.” – LIBRARY JOURNAL, Shondra Brown


“The confident plotting keeps the mysteries coming, and red herrings will have readers guessing the culprit through to the satisfying conclusion. Fans of Colleen Coble and Susan Sleeman will savor this thrilling standalone.” – PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY


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DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. DiAnn believes every breath of life is someone’s story, so why not capture those moments and create a thrilling adventure?

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. You can download a list of her published titles by clicking here.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a former director of Blue Ridge Christian Writers, and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She shares her passion for helping other writers be successful by teaching writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.


Each receives a $25 eGift card to their choice of Amazon or B&N.
(US only; giveaway ends midnight, 10/28/22.)



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Monday, October 24, 2022

Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour: A Christmas Candy Killing (A Killer Chocolate Mystery, #1) by Christina Romeril


(A Killer Chocolate Mystery, #1)
Christina Romeril

Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
The book is set in a fictional town, Harriston, Montana. 
Crooked Lane Books (October 11, 2022)
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN-10:‎ 1639101667 ISBN-13: 978-1639101665
Digital ASIN: B09Q8JS9HV

About A Christmas Candy Killing


Their chocolates are to die for—but things aren’t so sweet when a real killer comes to town, in this debut mystery perfect for fans of Joanne Fluke and Laura Childs. 

Identical twin sisters Alex and Hannah are the owners of Murder and Mayhem, a mystery bookshop that sells their famous poison-themed Killer Chocolates. But now, there’s a real killer in their midst. Shortly before Christmas, their septuagenarian neighbor, Jane, confides to Alex that a murderer from a true-crime show has taken up residence in the village. Unfortunately, she’s also shared her suspicions with town gossip Netta. The next morning, Alex shows up at Jane’s house to watch the show, but instead discovers Jane's body, with a box of Killer Chocolates nearby.

The sheriff quickly zeroes in on two suspects: Alex, a beneficiary in Jane’s will, and Zack, a handyman who was seen leaving the crime scene. But Alex maintains her innocence and sets out to draft a list of other potential suspects—townsfolk who’d recently been seen arguing with Jane.

When Alex gets hold of Jane’s journal, she begins to understand the truth. But a bearer of ill tidings is arriving early this year—and Alex just might not make it to Christmas.

Click to purchase!


5 stars!

A Christmas Candy Killing is the first book in a delicious new cozy mystery series by Christina Romeril. The main characters, Alex and Hanna, are warm, curious, and capable sleuths but the small Montana village and its residents are real gems. Despite the murder, it's sure to put readers in a holiday spirit.

The action begins quickly, with the murder occurring within the first couple of chapters. With Christmas only days away, the sheriff is pushing to successfully close the case before the holiday and make up her mind right away on who's to blame. As Alex is a prime suspect, trying to clear her name justifies her determined snooping. I thought it was fun and pretty realistic that the people she questioned were not shy about telling her to butt out. It happened often enough that you could play a drinking game involving taking a shot every time one of the characters told Alex to "mind your own business" or similar. It wouldn't take long for all participants to find themselves in a stupor. Fun times. But Alex is focused and thick-skinned enough to barrel on ahead.

There is an entertaining subplot involving Alex, her neighbor, Tom, and Penelope Shaw, the single (again) woman who lives across the street from them and views Alex as her rival for Tom's affections. I laughed out loud over Alex's dream that featured Penelope and one of her frozen casseroles.

With an engaging amateur sleuth and several plausible red herrings with excellent motives for mischief, I recommend A CHRISTMAS CANDY KILLING to cozy mystery readers who enjoy culinary-themed stores, settings in small-town Montana, or chocolate. (Recipes for some of Hanna's delectable handmade treats are included.)

About Christina Romeril

Christina Romeril loves to plot murders, especially by poisoning. When she’s not plotting how to kill one of her characters she’s coming up with ways to dispose of the body. Since writing her debut novel her husband’s friends have been regularly checking on his well-being.

Christina also loves to read, eat chocolates, and travel when she’s not in her she shed writing. She grew up in Southern Ontario and spent most of her summers in Muskoka swimming, boating, and generally getting into mischief. She’s lived on both coasts of Canada and has a love of being near the water and close to a forest. Thus, it makes perfect sense that she moved to the prairies of Southern Alberta over twenty years ago.

During the warmer months you’ll find her escaping to nearby Waterton Lakes National Park with her cooler stocked full of chocolate and pastries. Occasionally, the once avid hiker will even set out on one of the many hiking trails and hope she doesn’t run into a hungry bear.

Christina is a member of Sisters in Crime and enjoys interacting on social media.

Author Links:








October 17 – Cinnamon, Sugar, and a Little Bit of Murder – REVIEW, RECIPE
October 17 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW
October 18 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
October 18 – Carstairs Considers – REVIEW
October 18 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT
October 19 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW
October 19 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
October 19 – Angel's Guilty Pleasures – SPOTLIGHT
October 20 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT
October 20 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT
October 20 – Reading Authors Network – SPOTLIGHT
October 21 - Novels Alive – REVIEW – SPOTLIGHT
October 21 - Christy's Cozy Corners – AUTHOR GUEST POST
October 21 - MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT
October 22 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW
October 22 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW
October 23 – Maureen's Musings – SPOTLIGHT
October 23 – Lady Hawkeye – SPOTLIGHT
October 23 – Cassidy's Bookshelves – SPOTLIGHT
October 24 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
October 24 – I'm All About Books – SPOTLIGHT
October 24 – Guatemala Paula Loves to Read – REVIEW
October 25 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog – SPOTLIGHT
October 25 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW
October 25 – Sapphyria's Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
October 26 – BookishKelly2020 – SPOTLIGHT
October 26 – Melina's Book Blog – REVIEW
October 26 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

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Saturday, October 22, 2022

Virtual Book Tour: Kill Them With Canvas (A Paint by Murder Mystery, #2) by Bailee Abbott


Bailee Abbott

Cozy Mystery
Setting - New York
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: October 11, 2022
Hardcover: 320 pages
ISBN-10: 1639101047
ISBN-13: 978-1639101047
Digital ASIN: B09Q7Z7TDJ



In Bailee Abbott’s second book in the Paint by Murder mysteries, Chloe and Izzie are taking their paint party business on the road—with murder as the first stop!

Chloe Abbington and her sister, Izzie, are enjoying huge success running Paint with a View, their paint party business in the tranquil western New York lakeside town of Whisper Cove. Now, their aunt Constance—president of the local chapter of the Chautauqua Sisterhood—has hooked them up with a gig hosting a Halloween painting party. The guests will be painting a local ghost legend, the Lady of Chautauqua Lake, who died a hundred years earlier and rises from the lake every October to haunt anyone who dares venture out on All Hallows’ Eve. 

The event seems to be going off without a hitch, until Chloe overhears an argument between Constance and Viola Finnwinkle, the Sisterhood director, about the fate of the local chapter. Both women leave and the sisters finish their painting. But the next morning, Viola’s body is discovered floating face down near the town ferryboat dock, her long red hair spread around her. Eerily, the image is an exact replica of a painting Chloe and Izzie had discovered at the event the night before. 

What’s more, the police find Constance’s purple knit hat lying on the ground near the crime scene. Constance pleads innocence, saying the hat mysteriously went missing during the event. Frantic that she might be charged with murder, she begs Chloe and Izzie to help her. The sisters believe their aunt is innocent, but if so, who’s the real killer—and when will the next victim turn up?


4 stars!

Fun and comfy Fall cozy mystery to usher in the season!

It's Fall, y'all, and I love me a seasonal cozy mystery to reinforce the autumn mood. And in Kill Them With Canvas, there's even a ghostly legend to up the vibe. 

Once again, murder hits close to home when Chloe and Izzie's Aunt Constance becomes a prime suspect in the death of a Chautauqua Sisterhood director Viola Finnwinkle who was dissolving the local chapter putting Constance out of her job as president: a job she'd worked hard to get. This is the second book in the series, and although it can be read as a standalone, I suggest reading the books in order of publication for the most enjoyable experience.  

The main characters, Chloe and Izzie, are motivated to get to the bottom of things and clear their aunt's name. The two sisters are a good team, and the investigation followed a clear and systematic path. I enjoyed that there were some plausible alternate suspects, that kept me wondering until the reveal. 

Chloe is still 'gun-shy' from her relationship with Ross, and his failure to follow up on his promise to return to Whisper Cove the previous August didn't help. I like the Chloe-Hunter pairing and look forward to seeing where this goes in future books. I really enjoy their paint party business as the basis for the series; it was the reason I picked up book one, and I like hearing about the particulars. We have these businesses in my area, and my spouse and I have taken advantage of them for a couple of date nights as they are a lot of fun.  

I enjoy cozy mysteries with a small-town setting, and Whisper Cove, New York, sounds like the perfect destination for a bit of armchair travel. The whole town participates in the Fall and Halloween decorations, and the fun small shops enhance the cozy feel and the autumnal ambiance. 

I recommend KILL THEM WITH CANVAS and the Paint by Murder Mystery series to cozy mystery readers ready for a fall-themed story.


Bailee Abbott is a native Ohioan who spends her days plotting murder and writing mysteries. She's a member of Sisters in Crime as well as of International Thriller Writers. Bailee lives with her husband and furry friend Max in the quiet suburbs of Green, Ohio. Bailee also writes the Sierra Pines B&B mystery series under the name Kathryn Long.

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Virtual Book Tour Participants

October 11

Literary Gold


October 11

Lady Hawkeye


October 12

Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews


October 12

My Reading Journeys


October 13

Christy's Cozy Corners


October 13

#BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog


October 14

The Avid Reader


October 14

Sapphyria's Book Reviews


October 15

Baroness Book Trove


October 16



October 17

Celticlady's Reviews


October 17

Brooke Blogs


October 18

Hearts & Scribbles


October 18

Books Blog


October 19

Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book


October 20

MJB Reviewers


October 21

Ascroft, eh?


October 22

Maureen's Musings


October 22

Guatemala Paula Loves to Read


October 23

Girl with Pen


October 24



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