Review: LIES SHE TOLD by Cate Holahan

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As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently read Lies She Told, an engaging psychological thriller by Kim Davis.

Description

LiesSheTold_old-692x1024Sometimes the truth is darker than fiction.

Liza Cole has thirty days to write the thriller that could put her back on the bestseller list. In the meantime, she’s struggling to start a family with her husband, who is distracted by the disappearance of his best friend, Nick. With stresses weighing her down in both her professional and her personal lives, Liza escapes into writing her latest heroine, Beth.

Beth is a new mother who suspects her husband is cheating on her while she’s home alone caring for their newborn. Angry and betrayed, she sets out to catch him in the act and make him pay for shattering the illusion of their perfect life. But before she realizes it, she’s tossing the body of her husband’s mistress into the East River.

Then the lines between fiction and reality begin to blur. Nick’s body is dragged from the same river and Liza’s husband is arrested for his murder. Before her deadline is up, Liza will have to face up to the truths about the people around her, including herself. If she doesn’t, the end of her heroine’s story could be the end of her own.

My Review

This was a unique and intriguing read that starts out by following two distinct storylines with the point of view switching between Liza (the writer) and Beth (her made-up character).  The book starts out slowly as you become acquainted with the players, but the pace picks up quickly as both Liza and Beth find themselves in complicated situations.  Both characters were well developed. It was easy to identify with Liza’s yearning to be a mother and with Beth’s distress at the state of her marriage. The partial mirroring of the two plots – Liza’s story and the story she was writing – led to a blurring of the line between reality and fiction. The path to the story’s resolution was peppered with suspense and twists that kept me turning the pages.  It was an enjoyable read, however the ending didn’t feel “right” to me – not so much in terms of the killer’s identity but more in that the factors that led to the killer’s actions seemed a bit far-fetched to me.

FTC Disclosure:   I received a complimentary ARC of this book. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

Giveaway

Click to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win a print copy of Lies She Told.

About the Author

Holahan-Author-Photo-Credit-Martin-Bentsen-240x300-Copy-240x300Cate Holahan, author of the acclaimed psychological suspense novel The Widower’s Wife, is an award-winning journalist and a former television producer. She currently lives in New Jersey with her husband and two children.

Author Links:

Purchase Links:    Amazon B&N

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Review: SEEING RED by Sandra Brown

Nothing like a good thriller to keep me up way past my bedtime.  Seeing Red by Sandra Brown did just that.

41ws6iggcglDescription (from Amazon)

Kerra Bailey is a TV journalist hot on the trail of a story guaranteed to skyrocket her career to new heights. Twenty-five years ago, Major Franklin Trapper became a national icon when he was photographed leading a handful of survivors to safety after the bombing of a Dallas hotel. For years, he gave frequent speeches and interviews but then suddenly dropped out of the public eye, shunning all media. Now Kerra is willing to use any means necessary to get an exclusive with the Major–even if she has to secure an introduction from his estranged son, former ATF agent John Trapper.

Still seething over his break with both the ATF and his father, Trapper wants no association with the bombing or the Major. Yet Kerra’s hints that there’s more to the story rouse Trapper’s interest despite himself. And when the interview goes catastrophically awry–with unknown assailants targeting not only the Major, but also Kerra–Trapper realizes he needs her under wraps if he’s going to track down the gunmen . . . and finally discover who was responsible for the Dallas bombing.

Kerra is wary of a man so charming one moment and dangerous the next, and she knows Trapper is withholding evidence from his ATF investigation into the bombing. But having no one else to trust and enemies lurking closer than they know, Kerra and Trapper join forces to expose a sinuous network of lies and conspiracy–and uncover who would want a national hero dead.

My Review

The author weaves a well written and intriguing tale of suspense rooted in events that took the place when both of  the main characters were children, and which impacted on each of them in different ways.  Trapper’s fascination with the bombing drives him to seek answers about the persons behind the tragedy which brought about so much change in his life.  With “The Major” refusing interview requests, Kerra reaches out to his estranged son for help in obtaining access to the hero.  The result is a reluctant partnership of sorts between the two as they search for answers to difficult questions.

I found both Trapper and Kerra to be interesting and well developed characters.  The intricate plot has an abundance of twists and turns a real page-turner  with non-stop action and elements of romantic suspense and sexual tension.  Although the sexual tension enhanced the story, in my opinion, the explicit descriptions of their intimate physical interactions were somewhat gratuitous and detracted from the story.

Content Advisory:  If you are offended by strong language and explicit graphic sex, this book is not for you.

FTC Disclosure:  I received an advance review copy of this book and have voluntarily chosen to share my honest review. 

Review: A TIME TO LAUGH by Rose Verde

I recently had the pleasure of reading Rose Verde’s A Time to Laugh. It’s an enjoyable sweet romance set in Alaska.

Description

51v-sw1bivlIzzy Davies needs to make a decision within a matter of weeks. With emotions running high at home, she decides to take a little trip to North Pole, Alaska for some time away. Her first day and she becomes friends with a little girl.

Widower, Luke Marshall receives his Christmas wish—a coveted promotion as the hotel manager, but that means searching for a new babysitter for his daughter. Someone who can accommodate his work schedule, and plan the best Christmas his little girl could ever dream of.

When he asks Izzy to take up the temporary job, she agrees but too late she finds out her heart couldn’t stay uninvolved. But she fears that when he finds out about her secrets, there’d be no future for them.

My Review

This short novella features a young woman at a critical crossroads, who is thrown off balance when Luke and his delightful daughter come into her life.  The author does a nice job in conveying Izzy’s emotions as she becomes more and more attached to the girl and her relationship with Luke evolves. As in any good romance, Luke and Izzy face hurdles before they can find happiness. Set in Alaska at Christmas time and ending on a hopeful note, the story is sure to please fans of clean Christian romance.  An enjoyable light read.

FTC Disclosure:  I received an advance review copy of this book without obligation and have voluntarily chosen to share my honest review. 

Review & Giveaway: THE DAY JOB IS MURDER by Carolyn Arnold

McKinley-Mystery-Series-Summer-Image-5-30-17-670x350-
As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours,  today’s post spotlights Carolyn Arnold’s McKinley Mysteries series and includes a review of the first book in the series, The Day Job Is Murder.

Description

51pr7xjlnel-_sy346_The bad guys aren’t the only ones on his radar…

For Albany PD homicide detective Sean McKinley, catching killers is the easy part of his job. Working next to his beautiful partner, Sara Cain, is what’s difficult. It might have something to do with the fact that he’s fallen in love with her, though. Fortunately, she feels the same way about him. But she’s convinced they should just be friends.

If only there was some way to change her mind…

(Check out the excerpt at the end of this post.)

My Review

An enjoyable read that sets the stage for the rest of the series, by acquainting the reader with the two main characters, Sean and Sara, and the relationship between them.  Because the narrative focused to a large extent on their repressed feelings for each other, it was more “romantic suspense” than mystery.  Although I also read romance novels, I’d liked to have seen more “mystery” in this one.  That said, I plan to check out additional books in the series – with their relationship established, I expect the pair to focus more on solving mysteries in the future.  If you are looking for a short light read, this book fits the bill.

FTC Disclosure:   I received a complimentary copy of this book. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

The book is available on:  AmazonBarnes & NobleKoboApple, Google Play

Giveaway

Click to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win an Amazon gift card from the publisher.

About the Series 

Romance. Humor. Murder. Are you looking for a murder mystery without all the graphic violence and foul language? Something that you can enjoy in an afternoon and walk away feeling good about afterward? How about a dash of humor and romance? If so, meet former detectives Sean and Sara McKinley. When a billionaire leaves them all his money, they no longer have to work, but they find themselves sticking to what they’re good at—solving murders. Undercover, off the books, and around the world, they’ll get to the bottom of things…and romance it up along the way.

This is the perfect book series for fans of Hart to Hart, Castle, Colombo, Monk, Rockford Files, Psych, and Magnum PI.
Read in any order or follow the series from the beginning.

Books in the Series

  1. The Day Job is Murder (2014)
  2. Vacation is Murder (2014)
  3. Money is Murder (2014)
  4. Politics is Murder (2014)
  5. Family is Murder (2014)
  6. Shopping is Murder (2014)
  7. Christmas is Murder (2014)
  8. Valentine’s Day is Murder (2015)
  9. Coffee is Murder (2015)
  10. Skiing is Murder (2016)
  11. Halloween is Murder (2017)

About the Author

carolyn-arnold-author-photoCarolyn Arnold is an international bestselling and award-winning author, as well as a speaker, teacher, and inspirational mentor. She has four continuing fiction series—Detective Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher FBI, McKinley Mysteries, and Matthew Connor Adventures—and has written nearly thirty books. Her genre diversity offers her readers everything from cozy to hard-boiled mysteries, and thrillers to action adventures.

Both her female detective and FBI profiler series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining, leading her to adopt the trademark: POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™.

Carolyn was born in a small town and enjoys spending time outdoors, but she also loves the lights of a big city. Grounded by her roots and lifted by her dreams, her overactive imagination insists that she tell her stories. Her intention is to touch the hearts of millions with her books, to entertain, inspire, and empower.

She currently lives just west of Toronto with her husband and beagle and is a member of Crime Writers of Canada.

Connect with Carolyn Arnold online:

And don’t forget to sign up for her newsletter for up-to-date information on release and special offers at http://carolynarnold.net/newsletters.

Read an excerpt:

Excerpt from chapter 1 of The Day Job is Murder (McKinley Mysteries):

SARA WAS BENT OVER, inside the back of the department-issued sedan. “I can’t believe we’re still cleaning puke.”

“Some days are better than others.”

She smiled. “Leave it to you to always look at the bright side.”

“We’ve just exchanged drunks for nervous murder suspects.”

She laughed. He loved the way her eyes creased, and the way her nose wrinkled with the expression.

“Well, I consider that progress.”

“Easy to say when you’re not the one doing the cleaning.” She tossed the used towels in the garbage, returned the cleaner to the shelf, then picked up her coffee cup, taking a draw.

“You insisted. We could have gotten a uniformed officer to take care of it.”

“I know, but I don’t like to do that.”

“Yes, I know. Our car, our responsibility. You’re too good to be real, you know that?”

“There you go again.”

He shrugged and kept pace with her on the way to the interview room. Outside, she placed a hand on his forearm.

“Oh, I meant to tell you something.” She glanced in at Burton, and then back to Sean. “It’s probably poor timing now, but you still have time.”

She peered into his eyes and seemed to be studying them, assessing something. What, he wasn’t sure. So, while she probed his eyes, he appreciated the color of hers—brown with flecks of green and gold.

“I was reading the obits this morning and I came across the name Douglas Quinn. You knew him, didn’t you? I remember you mentioning him.”

His breathing paused. Old Man Quinn. It had been a long time since he’d heard that name, but he’d never forget him.

“His funeral is this afternoon at three o’clock. You have time to make it.”

“Nah, I have, we have—what happened?”

“The piece read ‘he died peacefully at home, at the age of eighty-three.’” She touched Sean’s arm. “It’s okay. Go. I can take care of this.”

Guilt weighed him down. It had been years—over a decade—since he’d last seen him. Sean was twenty-two when they first met and he’d be thirty-three this coming September. The sad part was he wouldn’t even have known about Quinn’s death if it wasn’t for Sara’s strange habit of reading the obituaries.

“Go on. I can tell you want to.” Concern laced her eyes. “Do you want me to go with you? You know, as a friend, for support?”

There was that word, again. Friend. It must have entered conversation twenty times a shift.

Sean leaned against the window and looked into the interview room. Burton was biting his fingernails. The bad habit made Sean shiver in disgust.

He looked back to Sara. “I should go.”

“Well then, go.”

He nodded slowly, saddened by Quinn’s death. They had been close for a time, but life got busy and their visits weaned off to non-existence—Sean’s fault, not Quinn’s. But he still remembered their first meeting like it was yesterday. It was around Christmas, and he was only a beat cop at the time.

Review & Giveaway: GAME OF DECEIT by K. A. Davis

GameDeceitAs part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently read Game of Deceit, an enjoyable mystery by Kim Davis.

DescriptionA-Game-of-Deceit-Cover_final_eBook

A father’s disappearance never solved, a mother’s secret taken to the grave, a daughter deceived…

Kathryn Landry thinks her life is just about perfect. She is the owner of a successful interior designer business in Newport Beach, California, and she has an attentive, supportive husband. But her world comes crashing down when her husband, Neil Landry, vanishes without a trace… in a situation almost identical to the disappearance of her father twenty years before.

With her father’s disappearance still a mystery, Kathryn is skeptical that the detective assigned to her case will be able to find her husband. Determined to uncover the truth, Kathryn is plunged into a world of politics, high-priced call girls and wealth. As she begins to search for her husband, a decades-old secret her mother took to the grave threatens to destroy all she holds dear. Caught up in a web of betrayals and deceit, and not knowing who to trust, Kathryn must find a way to survive as she discovers the past has a way of repeating itself.

My Review

Game of Deceit is a well written mystery.  Kathryn made for an interesting main character and it was easy to empathize with her dismay as events unfolded and with her conflicting feelings about the two men vying for her affections.  As I read the book I found myself  framing hypotheses and then revising them again and again, flip-flopping in my suspicions right along with Kathryn as the story progressed.  The pace was good and  held my attention throughout, although the resolution felt a bit rushed and was somewhat vague regarding the motivation of the main villain.  All in all, an admirable debut by a new author.

FTC Disclosure:   I received a complimentary ARC of this book. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

Purchase Links: Amazon  B&N

Giveaway

Click to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win a copy of  Game of Deceit and an Amazon gift card.

About the Author

Kim DavisKim Davis lives in Southern California with her husband, near wildfire country. During the Portola Hills fire in October 2007, she had to evacuate her two young granddaughters, one of whom has Rett Syndrome, as a wall of one hundred foot flames crept towards their home. Thankfully, due to the brave efforts of firefighters, their neighborhood was spared and no loss of life or property occurred. She was able to use that experience to write a harrowing scene in A Game of Deceit.

She writes the Cinnamon, Sugar, and a Little Bit of Murder blog and has had several children’s articles published in Cricket, Nature Friend, Skipping Stones, and the Seed of Truth magazines. Kim Davis is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

Review: CRIME SCENE by Jonathan Kellerman and Jesse Kellerman

Having read and enjoyed many of  Jonathan Kellerman’s books, I was glad to have the chance to read a pre-release copy of  Crime Scene, co-authored with his son, Jesse Kellerman.  It was an enjoyable read.

Description (from Amazon)

51j3newt8qlNatural causes or foul play? That’s the question Clay Edison must answer each time he examines a body. Figuring out motives and chasing down suspects aren’t part of his beat—not until a seemingly open-and-shut case proves to be more than meets his highly trained eye.

Eccentric, reclusive Walter Rennert lies cold at the bottom of his stairs. At first glance the scene looks straightforward: a once-respected psychology professor, done in by booze and a bad heart. But his daughter Tatiana insists that her father has been murdered, and she persuades Clay to take a closer look at the grim facts of Rennert’s life.

What emerges is a history of scandal and violence, and an experiment gone horribly wrong that ended in the brutal murder of a coed. Walter Rennert, it appears, was a broken man—and maybe a marked one. And when Clay learns that a colleague of Rennert’s died in a nearly identical manner, he begins to question everything in the official record.

All the while, his relationship with Tatiana is evolving into something forbidden. The closer they grow, the more determined he becomes to catch her father’s killer—even if he has to overstep his bounds to do it.  The twisting trail Clay follows will lead him into the darkest corners of the human soul. It’s his job to listen to the tales the dead tell. But this time, he’s part of a story that makes his blood run cold.

My Review

Clay Edison works for the coroner’s office and is called out to a case that appears to be a an accident, or a medical incident – anything but a homicide.  Nonetheless, Edison doesn’t seem to be able to let it go, due in large part to his attraction to the deceased’s daughter.  Even though his boss tells him not to investigate, he does so, ultimately leading him to uncover the truth about a case. I liked Edison and his determination but at the same time the amount of time he spent digging up the past on his own time didn’t seem feasible. After all, he still had to do his actual job.

This well-written novel also touched on pertinent issues related to mental illness and the influence of TV and computer games on violent behavior.  The plot moved along at a steady pace, with several unexpected turns, making for an enjoyable and interesting read.  I look forward to reading more books featuring Clay Edison if this becomes a series.

FTC Disclosure:  I received an advance review copy of this book without obligation and have voluntarily chosen to share my honest review. 

Review: BRING HER HOME by David Bell

Last year I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Since She Went Away by David Bell, so I was quick to snap up a pre-release copy of the author’s latest book, Bring Her Home. Besides, it has such a lovely cover.

About the Book (from Amazon)

51unob9ncblJust a year and a half after the tragic death of his wife, Bill Price’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Summer, and her best friend, Haley, disappear. Days later, the girls are found in a city park. Haley is dead at the scene, while Summer is left beaten beyond recognition and clinging to life.

As Bill holds vigil over Summer’s bandaged body, the only sound the unconscious girl can make is one cryptic and chilling word: No. And the more time Bill spends with Summer, the more he wonders what happened to her. Or if the injured girl in the hospital bed is really his daughter at all.

When troubling new questions about Summer’s life surface, Bill is not prepared for the aftershocks. He’ll soon discover that both the living and the dead have secrets. And that searching for the truth will tear open old wounds that pierce straight to the heart of his family…

My Review

Bill Price is a first and foremost a father who is worried about his daughter. As a parent, I get that. Nonetheless, his character was hard to relate to at times. He is quick to make assumptions about people and events, without evidence and without taking time to consider all the possibilities. This leads him to act rashly, interfering at times with the police investigation. I really liked his sister, Paige, who comes to stay with him and offer moral support. She has good instincts, she is sensible, and helps balance out his somewhat erratic behavior.

The plot is intricate, with an abundance  twists and turns.  Although some of the twists were unexpected, I found a few to be quite predictable.  Some aspects of the story lacked credibility, nonetheless, the novel was definitely intriguing enough to hold my attention to the very end.  Like Bill, I had to know what had happened to Summer.

FTC Disclosure:   I received a complimentary ARC of this book from NetGalley.  This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

Review & Giveaway: APPOINTMENT WITH ISIL by Joe Giordano

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As part of a blog tour organized by Italy Book Tours,  I recently read Appointment with ISIL a new thriller by Joe Giordano.

ApptwithISIL_cover.pngDescription

An Anthony Provati Literary Thriller 

This time, Anthony’s libido threatens his life. Anthony Provati flirts with Russian mob boss, Gorgon Malakhov’s mistress. The Russian deals in death. ISIL, the Islamic State in the Levant, wants the product. Russian Intelligence supplies the means, and an art theft funds the scheme.

ISIL’s targets are chilling. The chase across the Mediterranean is on. Can Anthony thwart ISIL? Will he survive?

My Review

Anthony is a piano player and a nice guy, but his better judgment goes out the window whenever he is confronted with a beautiful woman. He is ill-equipped to cope with the threats of a seasoned Russian mobster, and soon finds himself in the unlikely role of unofficial investigator as he tries to keep himself and the women he loves safe.  The course of events brings him in to the middle of conflicts between Italian, Colombian, Jewish, and Russian mobsters.

The author has created a somewhat disturbing scenario where Russian mobsters help ISIL prepare for a major terrorist attack.  Disturbing not because of the details, disturbing because it strikes home with respect to the threat from terror faced around the world today.  Anthony is not a spy or a government agent he happens on the details and does his best to pass the info on to the relevant authorities  with predicable and unpredictable results.  Spanning four continents and multiple cultures, Appointment with ISIL was an interesting read.

FTC Disclosure:   I received a complimentary ARC of this book. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

Giveaway

Click to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win a signed copy of Appointment with ISIL.

About the Author

Joe GiordanoJoe Giordano was born in Brooklyn. He and his wife, Jane, have lived in Greece, Brazil, Belgium and the Netherlands. They now live in Texas.

Joe’s stories have appeared in more than ninety magazines including The Monarch Review, The Saturday Evening Post, decomP, The Summerset Review, and Shenandoah. His novel, Birds of Passage, An Italian Immigrant Coming of Age Story, was published by Harvard Square Editions October 2015. His second novel, Appointment with ISIL, an Anthony Provati Thriller was recently released by HSE.

Connect with the author:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Pinterest

Review: HER IMAGINARY HUSBAND by Lia London

Looking to escape into a non-mystery book for a change of pace, I recently read “Her Imaginary Husband,” a sweet romantic comedy by Lia London.

ImaginaryHusbandDescription (from Amazon)

New teacher, Nikki Fallon, is trying to ward off the lecherous attention of Coach Carlin. She should
a) slap him silly.
b) report him for harassment. 
c) invent an imaginary husband.

Nikki opts for “C” and is not prepared for how the plan backfires! Sure, pretending you’re married to get rid of a jerk is fine, but what if a really nice guy comes along? How can she untangle the web of lies before true love passes her by?

My Review

Delightful, fun read. Nikki is a young and energetic teacher with a positive attitude, who manages to connect with her students.  She is also inexperienced, and not just with respect to teaching.  As a result,  Nikki digs herself into a hole with one spur of the moment lie.  A whopper.  Like in any good romance novel, the end is not a surprise  but the journey Nikki takes on the road to finding love made for an enjoyable, laugh out loud read.   This was my first time reading anything by this author; it won’t be the last.

Review & Giveaway: NO TURNING BACK by Tracy Buchanan

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As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently read No Turning Back – a thriller by Tracy Buchanan.

Description

NoTurningBackAnna Graves’s whole life has recently been turned upside down. A new mother, she’s just gone back to her job as a radio presenter and is busy navigating a new schedule of late night feeding and early morning wake ups while also dealing with her newly separated husband. Then the worst happens. While Anna is walking on the beach with her daughter, she’s attacked by a crazed teenager. Terrified, Anna reacts instinctively to protect her baby.

But her life falls apart when the schoolboy dies from his injuries. The police believe Anna’s story, until the autopsy results reveal something more sinister. A frenzied media attack sends Anna into a spiral of self-doubt. Her precarious mental state is further threatened when she receives a chilling message from someone claiming to be the “Ophelia Killer,” a serial killer who preyed on the town twenty years ago—and who abruptly stopped when Anna’s father committed suicide.

Is Anna as innocent as she claims? And is murder forgivable, if committed to save your child’s life? Internationally bestselling author Tracy Buchanan takes readers on an emotional roller coaster ride filled with heart-stopping secrets and hairpin turns in No Turning Back, her US debut.

My Review

A popular radio presenter in a coastal town in the UK, Anna reacts to an unexpected attack like a lion defending her cub. Instinct. Plain and simple. But the reactions of the people around her are not so simple. Anna soon becomes the target of unwanted attention from fans and detractors alike, as well as from someone claiming to be a serial killer.  The narrative mostly reflects Anna’s point of view, interspersed with first-person passages representing the killer’s thoughts. I found it to be an engaging read, with many twists as Anna learns more about local and family history.  Although the identity of the “Ophelia Killer” came as a surprise to me and the pieces fit together in the end, the killer and the killer’s motivation didn’t entirely mesh with my sense of the culprit’s character.  If you enjoy thrillers, you might want to add this to your TBR list.

Content advisory: This is not a “clean” read — it does include some strong language and graphic violence.

FTC Disclosure:   I received an advance review copy of this book as part of this blog tour.  This has not affected the content of my review in any way. 

Giveaway

Click here to enter a Rafflecopter for a chance to win a print copy of No Turning Back.

TracyBuchananAbout the Author

Tracy Buchanan lives in the UK with her husband, their little girl and their one-eyed Jack Russell. Buchanan traveled extensively while working as a travel magazine editor and has always been drawn to the sea after spending her childhood holidays on the coast visiting family–a fascination that inspires her writing. She now dedicates her time to writing and procrastinating on Twitter.

Author Links

Purchase Links
Amazon  B&N   IndieBound