Book Review and Blog Tour: Hush Little Girl (Detective Josie Quinn #11) by Lisa Regan

From Goodreads:

Dressed in pajamas covered with stars, the little girl’s body is perfectly still, her arms folded neatly over her chest. The wildflowers decorating her hair scatter across the grass in the sharp breeze. Her lips are parted slightly, as if to whisper goodnight for the very last time…

When twelve-year-old Holly Mitchell’s fragile little body is found on the steps of a mountainside church in the small town of Denton, a doll made from pine cones clasped tightly to her chest, Detective Josie Quinn rushes to attend the scene. She knows this little girl’s angelic face, her mother had offered Josie help when she’d needed it most.

Searching the girl’s house, Josie is devastated to find that Holly’s mother is dead too, and her little sister is missing. But why has this family home been stripped of all sharp objects? Re-tracing her steps, Josie finally finds a secret hiding place with Holly’s sister inside, terrified, but alive. Moments later, another doll made of twigs turns up.

Certain the killer is close by, Josie holds the little girl tight and tries to coax answers from her, but it’s clear the pile of burnt photographs and letters found in the greenhouse is her only lead. No one is safe until Josie can figure out the dangerous secret that has escaped this remote family home.

Just when Josie is finally closing in on the killer, the unthinkable happens, a tragedy that shakes her to her very core. And on the windshield of her car: a third wooden doll. Could stopping this twisted monster from taking more innocent lives come at the ultimate price for Josie?

An absolutely gripping rollercoaster ride of a crime thriller from an Amazon, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Robert Dugoni and Rachel Caine.

My review:

You may have read my review of my introduction to the world of Josie Quinn, Breathe Your Last (affiliate link). (If not, go take a look!) I was absolutely blown away by Lisa Regan’s ability to craft an engrossing story that delivered a big punch with the reveal. I had high hopes for this, her newest book.

It delivers.

Josie and Noah are getting married. A joyous occasion! But before it even gets started, the celebration comes to a screeching halt when the body of a young girl, a girl Josie knows, is found on the steps of the chapel.

Josie is compelled to investigate. She knows this girl. Her mother helped Josie in a time of need, and Josie can’t just go on with her wedding and let her team handle it. That isn’t how she rolls. And when she learns that the girl’s mother is dead and her younger sister is missing, things really kick into high gear.

Josie is quite possibly one of the best protagonists I’ve read in a long time. She is driven, not by the desire to be in the spotlight, but by a need to solve the case. She cares deeply about justice for those who are killed on her watch. And as much as she knows that getting emotionally invested in her cases can lead to trouble, sometimes she does it anyway.

And once again, I had a hard time putting this book down. I did only because I had to sleep. The action grabs you and sucks you in, and you just cannot bear to stop reading because you gotta know what comes next. I found myself emotionally invested in Holly and Emily and their family, and I will own up to tearing up in places.

Ms. Regan also did a good job with her treatment of mental health issues. She writes her characters and explains their struggles sympathetically and realistically. I just wanted to reach into the book and hug them at times.

To sum up, if you’re looking for an action-packed, edge-of-your-seat, gotta-know-what-happens-next read that will keep you guessing until the end, you cannot go wrong with Josie Quinn. Five white-knuckle stars from me.

Author Bio:

Lisa Regan is a USA TodayWall Street Journal bestselling author and Amazon bestselling crime novelist.  She has a bachelor’s degree in English and Master of Education Degree from Bloomsburg University.  She is a member of Sisters In Crime, Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter. Find out more at her website:

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Cover Reveal: Only Time Will Tell (Charles & Company Romance, #2) by Amy Matayo

If y’all have been reading along, you’ve seen my review of the first in Amy Matayo’s Charles & Company Romance series, Before Time Runs Out (affiliate link). Well, guess what?! She’s got the second in the series coming out in June, and today I’m sharing the cover!

I tell you what, I’d pick up these books just for the elegant covers, even if I didn’t know what an phenomenal author Ms. Matayo is. I’m not a romance reader, and yet here I am, reading romance and loving it.


For newly published author Eliza Sterling, having her first book launch party at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a dream come true. When your book is a modern-day retelling of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and the Met is hosting a display of rarely seen Dickens’ artifacts at the same time, she chalks it up to a case of good timing.

For publicly disgraced, former best-selling author Lew McDonnell, seeing a debut author having her first book launch party at the Met brings up all sorts of resentments. Especially when the book this lady is promoting just happens to be one of his old manuscripts that she’s clearly plagiarized and claimed for herself. 

When heated words are exchanged in front of a display case containing an original copy of Great Expectations, both Lew and Eliza are prepared for a fight. But they aren’t prepared for the room to shake, for the display case to shatter, or for the old book to send them both careening toward a new existence entirely.

When Lew wakes up on the floor of the Charles Dickens museum in London to see Eliza working there as a tour guide, he knows something has gone horribly wrong. It’s the same day and time, but suddenly he’s the best-selling author headlining his own book launch again, and Eliza is serving him drinks and working all hours to make ends meet. And the weirdest thing of all? 

Lew is the only one who remembers their former lives.  

Only Time Will Tell releases on June 3, and you can preorder here (affiliate link). What are you waiting for? Click that link and preorder!

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Book Blitz: The Takeaway Men by Meryl Ain | Lone Star Book Blog Tours

By Meryl Ain
Publisher: SparkPress
Pub Date: August 4th, 2020
Pages: 265 pages
Categories: Historical / Jewish Literature / Sibling Fiction / Holocaust

With the cloud of the Holocaust still looming over them, twin sisters Bronka and Johanna Lubinski and their parents arrive in the US from a Displaced Persons Camp. In the years after World War II, they experience the difficulties of adjusting to American culture as well as the burgeoning fear of the Cold War.

Years later, the discovery of a former Nazi hiding in their community brings the Holocaust out of the shadows. As the girls get older, they start to wonder about their parents’ pasts, and they begin to demand answers. But it soon becomes clear that those memories will be more difficult and painful to uncover than they could have anticipated.

Poignant and haunting, The Takeaway Men explores the impact of immigration, identity, prejudice, secrets, and lies on parents and children in mid-twentieth-century America.


“At a time when the darkness of the Holocaust is being whitewashed, Meryl Ain’s remarkable debut novel illuminates the postwar Jewish American landscape like a truth-seeking torch. An emotionally rich and lovingly told saga of survivors, with great sensitivity to what was lost, buried, and resurrected.” — Thane Rosenbaum, author of The Golems of Gotham, Second Hand Smoke, and Elijah Visible.

“The author’s tale is sensitively composed, a thoughtful exploration into the perennially thorny issues of religious identity, assimilation, and the legacy of suffering.” — Kirkus

Purchase Links: 

Amazon | Bookshop | Barnes and Noble | AppleBooks | GooglePlay | Indiebound

Meryl Ain’s articles and essays have appeared in Huffington Post, The New York Jewish Week, The New York Times, Newsday, and other publications. In 2014, she co-authored the award-winning book, The Living Memories Project: Legacies That Last, and in 2016, wrote a companion workbook, My Living Memories Project Journal.  She is a sought-after speaker and has been interviewed on television, radio, and podcasts. She is a career educator and is proud to be both a teacher and student of history. She has also worked as a school administrator.

The Takeaway Men is the result of her life-long quest to learn more about the Holocaust, a thirst that was first triggered by reading The Diary of Anne Frank in the sixth grade. While teaching high school history, she introduced her students to the study of the Holocaust. At the same time, she also developed an enduring fascination with teaching about and researching the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg case. An interview with Robert Meeropol, the younger son of the Rosenbergs, is featured in her book, The Living Memories Project. The book also includes an interview with Holocaust survivor, Boris Chartan, the founder of the Holocaust Museum and Tolerance Center of Nassau County, New York.

Meryl holds a BA from Queens College, an MA from Teachers College, Columbia University, and an Ed.D. from Hofstra University. She is a lifetime member of Hadassah and an active supporter of UJA-Federation of New York.  She lives in New York with her husband, Stewart. They have three married sons and six grandchildren. This is her first novel.

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Book Blitz and Review: Stiff Lizard (A Spy Shop Mystery #3) by Lisa Haneberg | Lone Star Book Blog Tours


Series: A Spy Shop Mystery
Publisher: Written Pursuits Press
Pages: 364 pages
Pub Date: March 13th, 2021
Categories: Women Sleuths / Cozy Mystery / Private Investigator / Humor

Rodent Roger, a popular Galveston Island exterminator, goes missing the day after he tells private investigator and spy shop owner Xena Cali about a concerning uptick in green iguana sightings on the island. They’re crapping in people’s boats and falling from trees. Are the lizards swimming over from Florida to escape the pythons, or is it something more nefarious? Can Xena help untangle the mess before the raucous reptiles take over Galveston?

Ultima Penelope Roger is a best-selling writer of romance novels. The Lizard Liquidators have set up shop on Galveston Island. Herpetologist Quintana Flores, PhD, works on a bizarre cruise ship that sails out of the Port of Galveston. Sasha Barlow is a driven junior reporter who’ll do anything to get the story. Ned “The Pelican Man” Quinn writes a column about bird necropsies. Captain Ethan Slaughter is the head of the Major Crimes team at the Galveston Police Department. Xena and her team will have to partner with and/or battle this cast of characters and others to solve what becomes a disturbing murder investigation.

Stiff Lizard is the third full-length book in the Spy Shop Mystery series. If you like fast-paced crime novels, clever satire, and gritty beach towns, then you’ll love Lisa Haneberg’s humorous and contemporary cozy caper.



“Lisa Haneberg has a wicked sense of humor. She can also write a fast-moving, totally original mystery.” — Alan Rinzler

Lisa Haneberg’s newest entry in the Spy Shop Mystery Series lives up to its predecessors. A good number of laughs, lots of intrigue, a bit of titillation, lots of interesting information, and lots of mystery make for a good read.” – Verified
purchaser from Amazon 

 Purchase Links
 Amazon | Bookshop | Barnes and Noble 
When a book starts off with the main character letting herself be tased to help train older folks in self-defense, you know it’s going to be quite a ride. Stiff Lizard didn’t disappoint. I absolutely loved it! Xena Cali is a private investigator and spy shop owner. Rodent Roger (yes, his actual name) is the island’s top exterminator, and he’s concerned about a sudden rash of green iguanas, especially when he’s seeing flyers for Lizard Liquidators. Is someone moving in on Rodent’s territory, or is there a more sinister motive? Before Xena can answer that question, Rodent goes missing. His wife, Ultima Penelope Roger, hires Xena to find him.
There’s a fun secondary story line that has Dora, one of Xena’s employees, going way undercover to investigate a cruise singer. The cruise is most definitely NOT your typical Carnival Cruise, and Dora’s reports are absolutely hilarious. I think she’s my favorite character. I’m probably pretty close to her in age and mindset, and I expect my insights on an “adventurous” cruise would be similar to hers. I’d read more of the series just for Dora.
Stiff Lizard has something for everyone: a strong female protagonist who does some crazy parkour and who’s really trying to figure out how to people better (I can relate, Xena – to the peopling, not the parkour); a fascinating cast of characters; a good mystery; and lots and lots of offbeat humor. It’s the third in a series. I didn’t have any problem following the storyline, but now I have to read the first two.
Stiff Lizard may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it sure was my shot of whiskey! Five stars for Ms. Haneberg, and Xena Cali is now on my must-read list.

Lisa Haneberg loves to explore Galveston Island’s gritty back streets, stellar seafood joints, magnificent natural areas, and all points in between. In addition to the Spy Shop Mysteries, she’s a blogger and has authored over a dozen nonfiction books. She earned an MFA degree from Goddard College and a BS in Behavioral Sciences from the University of Maryland.

Before writing crime fiction, she was a seasoned human resources professional with a strange attraction to gnarly internal investigations. She lives with her husband and dog in Lexington, Kentucky. Lisa once owned a home on Galveston Island and is a frequent visitor.


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Can’t-Wait Wednesday: Under the Cover of Murder by Lauren Elliott

Y’all, I just about fell off the planet the last couple of weeks! I was working on a proofreading project that took up all my spare time. Plus, we’re trying to pack and move. We’re moving on Easter weekend. It is chaos and madness up in here. I am tired.

But today, I am back for another round of Can’t-Wait Wednesday! Huzzah! Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme that highlights books soon to be released, the ones we’re excited about but haven’t read yet. It’s hosted by Wishful Endings, and was formerly hosted by Breaking the Spine. Y’all can check out all of this week’s Can’t-Wait Wednesday posts here.

Title: Under the Cover of Murder

Series: Beyond the Page Bookstore Mystery #6

Author: Lauren Elliott

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Publication Date: March 30, 2021

Publisher: Kensington


Bookshop owner and maid of honor Addie Greyborne vows to catch the killer who crashed her best friend’s wedding…

It promises to be Greyborne Harbor’s wedding of the year. The impending nuptials of Serena Chandler and Zach Ludlow will take place aboard his family’s luxurious super-yacht, currently moored in the harbor and the talk of the town. But on the day of the wedding, a man’s body washes up on the beach with no ID, only a torn page from a book in his pocket. As owner of Beyond the Page Books and Curios, bibliophile Addie is called in to identify the book, but she cannot.

The morning following the extravagant ceremony, a second body washes ashore and Addie has a sinking feeling that the two deaths are connected. While the guests are held on the yacht as the police investigate, at least Addie can peruse Zach’s father’s rare books library on board. A copy of Agatha Christie’s first Hercule Poirot novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, provides a clue that the killer may still be on the ship—but narrowing down the suspects without becoming the next victim may prove a truly Herculean task… 

My thoughts:

I love Lauren Elliott’s Beyond the Page Bookstore Mysteries! Addie is a likeable heroine, and any mystery set in a bookstore is tops in my opinion. These are always a treat to read, and I’m sure this one will be no exception. It comes out March 30 – just around the corner!

If you’re looking for a good cozy mystery, you can preorder Under the Cover of Murder here (affiliate link).

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Book Review and Giveaway: All the Cowboys Ain’t Gone by John Jacobson | Lone Star Book Blog Tours


Pages: 352
Pub Date: February 23, 2021
Categories: Historical Fiction / Action Adventure / Western
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All the Cowboys Ain’t Gone is the rollicking adventure story of Lincoln Smith, a young Texan living at the beginning of the twentieth century, who thinks of himself as the last true cowboy. He longs for the days of the Old West, when men like his father, a famous Texas Ranger, lived by the chivalric code. Lincoln finds himself hopelessly out of time and place in the fast-changing United States of the new century. When he gets his heart broken by a sweetheart who doesn’t appreciate his anachronistic tendencies, he does what any sensible young romantic would do: he joins the French Foreign Legion. 
On his way to an ancient and exotic country at the edge of the Sahara, Lincoln encounters a number of curious characters and strange adventures, from a desert hermit who can slow up time to a battle with a crocodile cult that worships the god of death. He meets them all with his own charming brand of courage and resourcefulness.
Hang onto your hats when you open the cover of All the Cowboys Ain’t Gone, because you are in for one heck of a ride! Lincoln Smith is living in the wrong time. He longs for the days of the Wild West, when his now-missing father was one of the best Texas Rangers out there, when there were wide-open spaces, when the cowboy was king. His mother makes sure he gets a proper education, but he longs for a life of adventure, far from the clutter and noise of modern machinery. After his heart is broken, he aims to head off and join the French Foreign Legion, as any adventurous young man would.
I’ve always been a fan of the Indiana Jones movies, and Lincoln has a touch of Indy about him, with a little Clint Eastwood for good measure. He gets into some crazy scrapes, and the story includes hidden passages, a hermit in the desert with a message for him, a crocodile-worshiping cult, and of course, some good ol’ fisticuffs. It might seem like Lincoln has better luck than is reasonably possible, but that’s part of this book’s charm! You just suspend your disbelief, jump into the story, and enjoy.
The good guys are good, the bad guys are clearly bad – no question about who you want to be cheering for. There’s a little sparkle of romance with a strong-willed ambassador’s daughter. After all, it wouldn’t do to have our hero’s heart broken for good. The latter part of the book brings a twist that I DID NOT see coming, and it was glorious. I might have actually teared up a bit when I read it.
And I think a story like this might be just what we need right now. In a world that’s gone mad over the past year or so, a rootin’ tootin’ gun-slingin’ cowboy with a zest for life and a thirst for the epic is a bright spot whose antics we can laugh and cheer and gasp over, simply because it’s fun.
Five shining Texas-sized stars from me!

Though John J. Jacobson didn’t join the French Foreign Legion after being jilted by a girlfriend, or over his displeasure of missing the last great cattle drive, he has, borrowing Churchill’s phrase, lived a rather variegated life. He was born in Nevada, grew up in the West, surfed big waves in Hawaii, circled the world thrice, survived the sixties and seventies, corporate America, and grad school. Among other degrees he has an MA in Renaissance literature from Claremont Graduate University.

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Book Review: Before Time Runs Out by Amy Matayo

  • Title: Before Time Runs Out
  • Series: Charles & Company Romance #1
  • Author: Amy Matayo
  • Genre: Time Travel Romance
  • Where to buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
  • Would I recommend: Time travel? Romance? Classic literature? What are you waiting for?! Order this now!

From Goodreads:

Graduate student Bree Sanders is failing the one class she needs to get her degree. So when her professor gives her an ultimatum—ace her dissertation or risk having to repeat her final semester—she knows she has to pull out all the stops. After scrambling for an idea, she decides to create her own Ghost Club, a club that blames ghosts for unsolved crimes, the same type of club originally founded two centuries ago by Charles Dickens.

What she doesn’t expect is to find an original copy of one of Dickens’ early works, or to be transplanted into Dickens’s actual ghost club meeting, circa 1870, the instant she picks it up.

When Bree shows up in nineteenth-century England wearing cut-offs and an old t-shirt, her only option is to hide. The Cambridge of 1870 won’t look kindly on a woman dressed like her. So, when Theodore Keyes finds her tucked behind a bookcase at the Trinity College library and immediately demands to know where she came from, she knows he doesn’t belong here either. Turns out she’s right; the same book caused him to time-travel from 1947 almost three months ago and he’s been stuck in England since.

Together, the two vow to work side-by-side in their search for the lost book that will take them home. But as their feelings for one another deepen, Theo and Bree are caught between a desire to return to the lives they each left behind, and the knowledge that if they find the book, they won’t be able to leave together.

In the end, they each must decide which sacrifice is worth making—the one that will cost them their hearts, or the one that could cost them their very existence.

My review:

I love a good time travel story, and Amy Matayo delivers. This isn’t her normal genre, but she has done a bang-up job of writing a story with characters that you’ll cheer for and a plot that just sucks you right in.

Bree and Theo’s initial meeting, and their interactions as they try to figure out how to relate to the past and to each other, are just how you’d imagine they’d be if you found yourself whisked back into another century. Even though they aren’t from the same time period, Theo and Bree learn pretty quickly that they’ll need to work together, both to get back home and to survive the nineteenth century!

I could really relate to Bree. She’s a modern female, pretty outspoken, not inclined to be patted on the head (figuratively speaking) and told to mind her place and keep quiet. I wouldn’t do real well with that, either. But here she is, in a time period where that’s basically what women are told to do.

And I’m not an avid reader of romance, but I will always make an exception to that general rule for Amy Matayo. The romance isn’t forced, it isn’t insta-romance. It develops organically as the story unfolds. Much better that way in my opinion.

If you like time travel, strong female characters, plot twists that leave your head spinning, and classic literature references, you need to read Before Time Runs Out. Five stars to a well-written and enjoyable read.

Thanks to the author and publisher for an advance review copy. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.

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Book Review: The Crowns of Croswald by D. E. Night

  • Title: The Crowns of Croswald
  • Series: The Croswald Series #1
  • Author: D. E. Night
  • Genre: YA Fantasy
  • Where to buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
  • Would I recommend: Absolutely! A charming read, and not just for actual young adults.

From Goodreads:

This is a page-turning fantasy in the tradition of fairy tales, whimsical worlds, and coming-of-age stories.

The Crowns of Croswald invites young readers to explore themes of stepping into their own magic, discovering their true selves, and battling evil head-on. Hailed by Kirkus Reviews as “an action-packed treat […] with a relatable heroine facing challenges in a vivid world of magic and mystery,” and called a new classic by readers, The Crowns of Croswald series is a magical romp through a fully formed universe with dragons, magical quills, potions, and mythical creatures.

Ivy Lovely is 16 and she has no idea who she is—or what her powers could be. When she crosses a magical boundary, she discovers a whole new world of enchantment and mystery. Making friends that will last a lifetime—and save her life—she steps into her own abilities and discovers more about her hidden past, magical blood, and the power of Croswald’s mystical stones. But all is not well: a dark history and an evil Queen threatens all that is good. Will Ivy’s bravery and wit be enough?

Curious and whimsical, both shy and brave, Ivy is a hero that connects with readers of all ages. For those who wished that Narnia, Harry Potter, and Alice in Wonderland could go on forever, Croswald opens a whole new world of magic. Recommended as a read-aloud for families and a first middle-grade fantasy read, The Crowns of Croswald is a four-part series that will carry readers to a whimsical world that they won’t want to leave. 

My review:

This was a delightful read! In it, we meet Ivy Lovely, a scaldrony maid at the House of Plum. She’s in charge of the scaldrons, small dragons who use their flames to cook the food. An unexpected turn of events sends her fleeing, with the smallest scaldron, beyond the magic-blocking border that she’s lived behind her entire life. And thus begins the new life of Ivy Lovely. Whisked off to a magical school, learning she’s got magical powers, training to be a Scrivenist, and learning she may be so much more than a scaldrony maid – it’s quite the adventure!

I liked the magical system Night created. Scrivenists have the ability to recall everything they see and record it through drawing and writing. Once trained, they are assigned to a royal family, to act as that family’s historian and record-keeper. Royals are able to use different types of magic by means of different stones. It was fascinating to see the different types of powers and how the scrivenists worked.

I also loved that she named one of the scrivenists Derwin Edgar Night. I see what you did there, D. E.! Derwin Edgar Night is a very important figure in the story. Ivy has been dreaming of a man, and she realizes it is Night. She needs to find him to learn more about who she is, what her family history is.

The characters are delightful. Ivy is a young lady thrust into a situation completely different from what she’s known. She handles it like you’d expect a teenager to do – sometimes she is grace and class, sometimes she’s just muddling through, but she never loses her sense of humor and she never gives up. I thought Rebecca was going to be a snot, but she turns out to be quite a good friend to Ivy. I hope to see more of their friendship in future books. And Finn – there’s a little spark there with Ivy, I think. Will something come of it? I’ll have to read more and see!

There’s a touch of Harry Potter to this – magical school, Ivy going shopping for her school supplies, magical creatures and transportation. But Ivy’s story is uniquely hers. It’s billed as YA fantasy, but I promise you that I’m nowhere near “young adult,” and I was absolutely captivated by the story. I recommend this for fantasy lovers from sixth grade to 60 and beyond! Five stars, and bring on book two!

Thanks to the author and publisher for a review copy. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.

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Book Blitz: Knock! Knock! Lessons Learned and Stories Shared | Lone Star Book Blog Tours


Lessons Learned and Stories Shared 
Categories: Nonfiction / Motivational Stories / Positivity / Relationship Building / Integrity / Time Management / Entrepreneurship
Publisher: Lucid House Publishing
Date of Publication: January 8, 2021
Pages: 154
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Knock! Knock! is a fast-paced, fun-filled journey through the author’s career in sales that not only teaches you how to be better at selling but to also have a ton of fun while you are doing it.
Knock! Knock! invites you to join Doug on what salespeople call “a ride along,” which is where a senior salesperson shows a newbie the ropes. This book delivers a winning sales philosophy learned through years of experience and is illustrated by real-life stories that Doug shares — along with multiple Knock-Knock Moments (or lessons and revelations learned) that have fueled his career and that he believes will help yours.
Every one of us is in Sales. If you deal with people, you are in sales. Knock! Knock! teaches you how to get out of your Comfort Zone to believe in yourself and to believe in the product, services, or message you are trying to sell. But it also teaches you to have a great time while you are doing it.

Purchase: Amazon | Main Street Reads





Douglas Thompson’s passion for improving the customer’s experience as well as the sales profession continues to drive him as he comes up with new ideas to answer this question: How can we make the sales process better? Starting out as an insurance agent going down the street selling accident insurance by knocking on doors, Doug quickly moved into the management side of the life and health insurance industry, hiring and training agents to be successful doing the same. His ability to build successful sales teams caught the eye of the corporate leadership of several major companies. Doug became the vice president of sales and marketing for Conseco and was recruited to do the same for Pacificare, UnitedHealthcare, American Republic, Tranzact, and Humana.
Currently, he is the marketing director for a large national insurance wholesaler that recruits and trains insurance agents and agencies in the senior marketplace across the country, and he continues to build his own general agency, which offers life and health products to the senior population. He is known nationally for his innovations in the sales industry and frequently speaks and trains on his favorite topic of sales.
Doug and his wife Shirley own a Bed & Breakfast in Jefferson, Texas.

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Book Review and Giveaway: Alfie Carter by BJ Mayo | Lone Star Book Blog Tours

BNR Alfie Carter

BJ Mayo
Published by Skyhorse Publishing
Pages: 288
Published: January 19th, 2021
Categories: Southern Fiction / Rural Fiction / Mystery
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Cover Alfie Carter med res

The seemingly never-ending Cabinda War (1975—) has left multitudes dead in its wake and thousands of children homeless and orphaned.

Jackaleena N’denga, a young Angolan girl, has become the sole survivor of one specifically brutal village massacre carried out by a band of guerrilla boy-soldiers.

Jackaleena’s resilience leads her to an orphanage on the west coast of Africa, known as Benguela by the Sea, where she and other children are taken in and protected. Her brilliant mind and endless questions capture the heart of her mentor, Margaret, who ensures her that her survival thus far—especially being the survivor from her village—must mean she has big things ahead of her. When the opportunity arises, she must find her purpose.

Not without a plan, Jackaleena stows away on a mercy ship that has made its yearly visit to the orphanage and is now preparing to return to America. Her journey takes her across the ocean, into the arms of New York City’s customs officials, and finally into placement in a temporary foster home in Texas.

Enter Alfie Carter—a workaholic, small-town detective who is also battling memories of his past. His life is forever changed when he meets a young African girl looking for her higher purpose.

Alfie Carter is told from the point of view of the titular Alfie, and also from the point of view of Jackaleena, a young girl from an African village. It’s a story that, at its heart, is about how our reaction to adversity shapes us, about finding faith – perhaps for the first time, perhaps coming back to it, and about discovering purpose and meaning in life.

The story starts at the end and flashes back to the beginning. Jackaleena – Jackie – is a tough-as-nails prosecutor who finds herself emotionally wrecked by her current case. In the judge’s chambers, we start to learn her story through flashbacks. As a young girl living in an African village, Jackaleena sees her entire village slaughtered by guerilla fighters. She is able to make her way to Benguela by the Sea, a missionary compound doing its best to care for the children orphaned by war. Even at her relatively early age, Jackaleena is possessed of a fierce determination. At Benguela, she sees a mercy ship anchored offshore. When she learns that it is going to America, she decides to stow away on the mercy ship and go there to find the big purpose that Jesus Man must have for her.

Our introduction to Alfie takes place on his annual pilgrimage up to the mountains, where he goes to deal with the painful anniversary of his infant daughter’s death. Since his daughter’s death, Alfie has distanced himself from his wife, Bea, and pretty much given up on God. He throws himself into his work as a detective in the small town of Spring, Texas. His tenacity on the case has earned him the nickname of Bulldog. But his marriage languishes.

We learn a great deal about Jackaleena and Alfie through the unfolding of their stories, but they don’t cross paths until about the last ten percent of the book. So this isn’t a book where your main characters meet and have the entire book to let their relationship build. It’s more of a slow burn that could leave itself open for more of the story to be told in a second book.

It was interesting to see how the two main characters responded to adversity so differently. Jackaleena didn’t let grief or mourning deter her from her goals. Once she made up her mind on something, nothing slowed her down or derailed her plans. Alfie, on the other hand, let grief drive a wedge between him and Bea, to the point that he wouldn’t even visit his daughter’s grave or share his grief with Bea. He felt the need to be by himself to wrestle with his anger and loss.

I’ve always heard you should write what you know. I don’t think Alfie Carter is necessarily autobiographical in nature, but I do think BJ Mayo has known folks in his life that inspired his characters. Alfie, in particular, reads like someone you could work with, someone who lives next door. And I really liked some of the minor characters, such as Dr. Lynn and Rufus Obediah. These people, who had no real incentive to do so, helped Jackaleena on her journey just because they’re decent people. They made me smile.

I reviewed an advance copy, so I am hoping that some of the editing issues I noticed will be corrected in the final copy.  One thing that may not, though, is it seemed like no one spoke using contractions, and that  got stilted and awkward very quickly. It would have made sense for Jackaleena as she was learning English, but I don’t think I’ve ever known a Texan not to use contractions when they talk. I also noticed several instances with point-of-view changes, and that was distracting enough that it broke up the flow of the story to me.

Overall, though, the story and characters are engaging and interesting enough to carry the day. Alfie Carter is a solid four-star read for me.


author pic Mayo

BJ Mayo was born in an oil field town in Texas. He spent the first few years of his life living in a company field camp twenty-five miles from the closest town. His career in the energy industry took him to various points in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Louisiana, Bangladesh, Australia, and Angola West Africa. He and his wife were high school sweethearts and have been married for forty-six years with two grown children. They live on a working farm near San Angelo, Texas.
Visit BJ Mayo at his website:


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