Review: TRUDY, MADLY, DEEPLY by Wendy Delaney

I recently curled up and read Trudy, Madly, Deeply, the first of Wendy Delaney’s Working Stiffs mysteries.  Released in 2015, it is the first book in what has blossomed into a four-book series.

TrulyDescription (from Amazon)

After human lie detector Charmaine Digby scores a job as the County Coroner’s new investigative assistant, the unthinkable happens—a doctor reports the suspicious death of Trudy, a family friend and one of several elderly patients at the hospital whose heart mysteriously stopped.

With no physical evidence of foul play, Char’s on the case, much to the irritation of Detective Steve Sixkiller, who doesn’t want her to stick her pretty nose for trouble in his investigation. But she’s a woman on a mission to uncover the truth, and she’d better keep her eyes open or the next body on the way to the morgue could be hers.

My Review

In this entertaining cozy mystery, a recent divorcee is starting over – in both her career and her personal life. Trudy is thrilled about landing a job at the Coroner’s office, and plans to put her lie detection skills to good use.  When she gets wind of a rash of suspicious deaths involving the elderly, she is relentless in her efforts to find out what’s happening.  Trudy is quick to jump to conclusions, but quick to change her mind when the evidence proves her wrong, again and again, until she figures out who is actually responsible. A fairly fast-paced plot, with elements of flirtation and budding romance, make this a fun and somewhat humorous read.

Release Spotlight: DATING THE IT GUY by Krysten Lindsay Hager

Krysten Hager has been at it again. Her new YA contemporary romance – Dating the It Guy – was released earlier this month.  Check it out.

Description

DatingtheItGuy453x680.jpgEmme is a sophomore in high school who starts dating, Brendon Agretti, the popular senior who happens to be a senator’s son and well-known for his good looks. Emme feels out of her comfort zone in Brendon’s world and it doesn’t help that his picture perfect ex, Lauren seems determined to get back into his life along with every other girl who wants to be the future Mrs. Agretti. Emme is already conflicted due to the fact her last boyfriend cheated on her and her whole world is off kilter with her family issues. Life suddenly seems easier keeping Brendon away and relying on her crystals and horoscopes to guide her. Emme soon starts to realize she needs to focus less on the stars and more on her senses. Can Emme get over her insecurities and make her relationship work? Life sure is complicated when you’re dating the it guy.

Click here to view the trailer:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_HdfnUqZPKU

A short excerpt appears at the end of this post.

You can find the book on these retailers:

About the Author

author photoBesides mining her teen years and humiliating moments for her novels, Krysten is a also a book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and writes young adult, middle grade, new adult, and adult fiction as well as humor essays. She is originally from Michigan and has lived in Portugal, South Dakota, and currently resides in southwestern Ohio where you can find her reading and writing when she’s not catching up on her favorite shows (she’s addicted to American Dad to the point where she quotes episodes on a daily basis and also loves Girl Meets World). She’s also a third generation Detroit Lions fan.

Krysten writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends…Forever?, Next Door to a Star,  Landry in Like, and Competing with the Star (The Star Series: Book 2). Her debut novel, True Colors, won the Readers Favorite award for best preteen book. Krysten’s work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Bellbrook Times and on Living Dayton.

Follow Krysten:

Excerpt – Dating the It Guy

“By the way, did you hear Lauren got into Senator Agretti’s old school?”

“Seriously? I wonder if she applied there because Brendon did,” I said.

Margaux snorted. “Duh, of course. Seriously, she might as well just pee on him to mark her territory.”

“Margaux, shut up,” Kylie said.

“Whatever. Anyway, the important thing is if Brendon knew she was applying there,” Margaux said. “Em, do you think he knew?”

I hoped Lauren was just trying to follow Brendon, but what if they had planned this whole thing while they were dating? What if he convinced her to apply there so they could go to college together, wear matching American flag sweaters with big scarves while drinking hot chocolate, and jump into leaf piles just like a preppy clothing catalog. At least now I didn’t have to worry about them reciting poetry to one another in South Bend, but still, what if they had made plans to go to school together?

“Don’t worry about it,” Kylie said. “She was probably trying to follow him—like she always does. She’s so pathetic.”

Kylie was trying to make me feel better, but Lauren was far from pathetic. After all, she was pretty much the “Most Likely to Succeed” poster girl. While she was out overachieving and saving the world without messing up her perfect, bouncy hair, I was trying to get through each day. I tried to push away the image of Lauren and Brendon holding hands and drinking hot chocolate under a stadium blanket.

Review & Giveaway: OLD BONES NEVER DIE by Lesley A. Diehl

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As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Free Virtual Book Tours,  I recently had the pleasure of reading Old Bones Never Die,  the fifth book in the Eve Appel Mystery series.  It was my first time reading a book by this author; it probably won’t be the last.

Description

old-bones-never-dieJust before Walter Egret is killed in a hit-and-run, he phoned his half-brother Sammy to report that he’d unearthed their missing father’s pocket watch, along with a pile of human bones. The project is put on hold until it can be determined if the site is an Indian burial ground. Then the bones disappear.

Now Sammy and his brother’s three orphaned children want Eve Appel to go pro, applying her innate snoopiness to the trade of private investigator.

Eve already has her hands full with her two consignment stores. What is she going to do? Sammy and Walter are Miccosukee Indians, and Walter was employed as a backhoe operator on a construction site for a sportsmen’s resort. Was Walter’s death murder or an accident? If the bones belong to Sammy’s father, how did they get there? Delving into these mysteries, Eve is aided by her usual crew of friends and family. This adventure will not only up the stakes for Eve as an investigator, but it will also open her eyes to life possibilities she never imagined.

My Review

I really enjoyed this book. I found Eve to be likable, spunky and determined and she is surrounded by an amazingly diverse cast of family and friends, including an energetic and loving grandmother,  her Native American friends and romantic interest, to a Mafia mob boss, and a close friend who happens to be a police officer. And they all rally around to help her solve the case. It was a light, fast moving read, with enough suspense to keep you turning the pages. The solution to the mystery was not predictable (always a plus), and the story came to a satisfying solution. I also enjoyed the glimpse into Miccosukee heritage and the descriptions of  Southern Florida, with its swamps, weather and wildlife. And kudos to the author for the subtle education of readers regarding issues surrounding construction and Native American burial grounds.

Note: Although this book is part of a series, it can definitely be enjoyed as a standalone. This was my first time reading anything by this author.

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

Old Bones Don’t Die is available on Amazon.
(An excerpt appears near the end of this post.)

Giveaway

Click here to enter a Rafflecopter for a chance to win your choice of any one of the Eve Appel books (ebook) from the author.

About the Author

Lesley retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in upstate New York.  In the winter she migrates to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office, and gators make golf a contact sport.  Back north, the shy ghost inhabiting the cottage serves as her literary muse.  When not writing, she gardens, cooks and renovates the 1874 cottage with the help of her husband, two cats and, of course, Fred the ghost, who gives artistic direction to their work.

She is the author of a number of mystery series (Microbrewing Series, Big Lake Mystery Series, Eve Appel Mystery Series and the Laura Murphy Mysteries), a standalone mystery (Angel Sleuth) and numerous short stories.   

Connect with Lesley:

An Excerpt from Old Bones Never Die

Prologue
The morning air was cold, but once the sun rose over the levee, its heat penetrated the construction site and brought with it the humidity of south central Florida. The backhoe operator paused to remove his sweatshirt and push his thick, black hair away from his face, then moved the levers of the machine forward so that the mouth of the bucket opened, showing its large metal teeth. Another move of the lever lowered the bucket. The teeth bit into the black dirt of the Big Lake basin.

The operator felt the assessing gaze of the foreman, who stood at the side of the pit, his hardhat pushed back on his forehead. New to the job, Walter Egret was skilled, but he knew he’d been hired by the company against the foreman’s wishes. As a Miccosukee, his work would be scrutinized more closely than that of others employed by Coastal Development Company and its construction arm, Gator Way. The foreman’s constant surveillance bothered him, but not as much as the feeling that someone else watched him from the cover of the sabal palms that stood at the edge of the property. He’d felt a shadowy presence there for several days. It was probably nothing, but today he would take a walk over to the trees during his lunch break.

This land now being readied for a sportsman’s retreat had once belonged to his people, but legal maneuvering by slick lawyers deeded it away from the tribe into the developers’ hands. Walter didn’t like to think about that too much. Being a backhoe operator was a job, a way for him to support his three boys. He dumped the bucket of dirt and maneuvered the machine back to bite the earth again. This time the bucket picked up debris lighter colored than the soil. Probably some buried tree limbs, he thought, halting the rise of the bucket. Huh. Looked like bones from some animal, maybe a cow. Lotta bones.

Continue reading

Review: MURDER AT AN IRISH WEDDING by Carlene O’Connor

I enjoy reading cozy mysteries set in faraway places, so I didn’t hesitate to download Murder at an Irish Wedding, the latest release in the Irish Village Mystery series by Carlene O’Conner.

IrishWeddingDescription (from Amazon)

The O’Sullivan clan of Country Cork, Ireland, are thrilled to be catering the matrimonial affairs of a celebrity couple — until a cunning killer turns an Irish wedding into an Irish wake…

Any wedding is a big deal in the small village of Kilbane—even more so when the bride is a famous fashion model. It’s also good for business. Not only has customer traffic picked up at Naomi’s Bistro, Siobhán O’Sullivan and her five siblings have a full plate catering for the three-day affair. And Siobhán’s own beau, local garda Macdara Flannery, gladly steps in as best man after the groom’s first choice makes a drunken arse out of himself.

Even if he hadn’t been disinvited to the wedding, the original best man wouldn’t have been able to show. He’s been found murdered in the woods, casting a pall over the nuptials. And when a second member of the wedding party is poisoned by a champagne flute engraved with Macdara’s name, the garda goes from being best man to prime suspect.

With a killer at large and a string of robberies plaguing Kilbane, Siobhán feels more than a little protective of her village. She vows to clear Macdara’s name, but the suspect list is as long as the guest list. Like the bride walking down the aisle, Siobhán needs to watch her step. For as she gets closer to unveiling the truth, the murderer is planning a very chilly reception for her . . .

My Review

Having read the first book in this series, Murder in an Irish Village, I  looked forward to getting reacquainted with Siobhán and her siblings, and getting another glimpse into the fictional Irish village, its people and customs. Siobhán is a strong-minded young woman who is not easily deterred in her efforts to prove Macdara’s innocence and find out who killed the best man, and why. The members of the wedding party are a diverse crowd, with complex relationships between them.  At times, Siobhan’s actions seem a bit ill-advised and far-fetched, but are in keeping with her character’s sometimes impulsive and pushy nature. It was also interesting to watch her relationship with Macdara develop. The story moved along at a steady pace, with bits of suspense and romance mixed in. Unfortunately, the writing was not as polished as in the first in series. Nonetheless, it made for an enjoyable weekend read.

FTC Disclosure:   I received an advance review copy of this book through NetGalley.  This has not affected the content of my review in any way. 

Note: My review of Murder in an Irish Village appeared on this blog last year.

Review & Giveaway: FATALITY BY FIRELIGHT by Lynn Cahoon

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As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently had the pleasure of reading, Fatality by Firelight, by Lynn Cahoon.

Description

fatality-by-firelight-compCat Latimer’s Colorado bed-and-breakfast plays host to writers from all over. But murder is distinctly unwelcome . . .

To kick off a winter writing retreat, Cat and her handyman boyfriend, Seth, escort the aspiring authors to a nearby ski resort, hoping some fresh cold air will wake up their creative muses. But instead of hitting the slopes, they hit the bar—and before long, a tipsy romance novelist named Christina is keeping herself warm with a local ski bum who might have neglected to tell her about his upcoming wedding.

Next thing Cat knows, her uncle, the town sheriff, informs her that the young man’s been found dead in a hot tub—and Christina shows up crying and covered in blood. Now, between a murder mystery, the theft of a rare Hemingway edition, and the arrival of a black-clad stranger in snowy Aspen Hills, Cat’s afraid everything’s going downhill …

My Review

Having read A Story to Kill, I enjoyed reacquainting myself with Cat as she welcomes the participants of the second writers’ retreat into her home. I like Cat, she’s good-hearted and hard working. When a local man is killed and one of the writers is a suspect, Cat takes it upon herself to prove the young woman’s innocence.  The central plot – the murder – is resolved in a satisfying manner, with a few twists along the way.  At the same time, in a recurring intricate subplot, Cat continues to delve into her late ex-husband’s secrets and the mystery surrounding his death.  This was an enjoyable and well written mystery. I look forward to following Cat’s story in the future.

FTC Disclosure:   I received a complimentary 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 giveaway for a chance to win one of two signed copies of Fatality by Firelight.

About the Author

11825971_978468272183542_2684765768435970795_nLynn Cahoon is the author of the NYT and USA Today best-selling Tourist Trap cozy mystery series. Guidebook to Murder, book 1 of the series won the Reader’s Crown for Mystery Fiction in 2015. She’s also pens the recently released, Cat Latimer series. A STORY TO KILL, book 1, came out in mass market paperback September 2016.She lives in a small town like the ones she loves to write about with her husband and two fur babies. Sign up for her newsletter at www.lynncahoon.com

Author Links

Purchase Links

Review: THE CUTAWAY by Christina Kovac

Change of pace today.  I recently had the pleasure of reading an ARC of The Cutaway by Christina Kovac – a very well written novel set in one of my favorite cities – Washington, D.C.

Description (from Amazon)

51aosxjiyulWhen brilliant TV news producer Virginia Knightly receives a disturbing “MISSING” notice on her desk related to the disappearance of a beautiful young attorney, she can’t seem to shake the image from her head. Despite skepticism from her colleagues, Knightly suspects this ambitious young lawyer may be at the heart of something far more sinister, especially since she was last seen leaving an upscale restaurant after a domestic dispute. Yet, as the only woman of power at her station, Knightly quickly finds herself investigating on her own.

Risking her career, her life, and perhaps even her own sanity, Knightly dives deep into the dark underbelly of Washington, DC business and politics in an investigation that will drag her mercilessly through the inextricable webs of corruption that bind the press, the police, and politics in our nation’s capital.

My Review

Wow. I really enjoyed this book. Virginia is a journalist and her curiosity and  determination to seek the truth are natural responses when faced with the perplexing circumstances of a young woman’s death. With an eye for detail, her first-person descriptions of scenes and atmosphere are vivid. You are there with her. Virginia  is idealistic; she wants to find the truth and see the guilty brought to justice.  She gains access to all the right people but their stories don’t mesh, leaving her uncertain whom she can trust. The plot was intricate and well developed, with an abundance of twists. Every time I thought I knew who the culprit was, some new tidbit of information came along casting doubt on my suspicions. And, another big plus, the storyline and its resolution were believable.  I’ll definitely be on the lookout for future books from this author.

FTC Disclosure:   I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley.  This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

Review: WHO WE ARE INSTEAD by Kyla Stone

As some people may have noticed I’ve been expanding my reading horizons lately.  Today’s book is neither mystery or romance. Who We are Instead is a coming of age novel about two sisters, difficult family relationships, and emotional scars.

Description (from Amazon)

whoinsteadTwenty-one-year-old Lena McKenna thought she escaped her past when she earned a photography scholarship to a top university. It’s been two years since she’s been home. Two years since she’s seen her troubled younger sister Lux or set foot in the house haunted by the memories of her dead mother.

Everything changes the day her father suffers a massive heart attack. Lena rushes home, only to discover that Lux has disappeared. Lena has no choice but to put her dreams on hold to find her sister and care for her dying father. Immersed in the memories of her childhood, she begins to uncover the long-buried secrets that broke her family. 

Eighteen-year-old Lux doesn’t want to remember. Nothing keeps the dark at bay, not her new drug-dealing boyfriend or her descent into reckless self-destruction. She’ll do anything to forget. Anything.

As their father’s condition worsens, Lux leaves a trail of devastation in her wake. Lena must choose: escape her past and leave her sister behind, or turn and face the demons threatening to destroy them both.

Who We Are Instead explores the volatile relationship between sisters and the way we blur the lines between loyalty and obligation, truth and deception, honor and betrayal.

My Review

This is a well-written, moving tale that provides a candid look at troubled family relationships.  The first-person narrative alternates between Lina and Lux’s point of view, providing insight into the differences in how they see things. Both Lena and Lux are struggling in their own ways as they face their father’s imminent death. They each remember different things from their childhood and have secrets they share with no0ne – not even each other. Lux uses substance abuse and ‘hook-ups’ to escape, she swears a lot, and lashes out at friends. Her stream of conscious style narrative highlights her mood swings and growing dependence on drugs. Lena wants to help her, but has no idea how to heal their relationship. As the story progresses, both characters learn about themselves and strive to heal their emotional scars.

The author takes on tough issues in this book – dysfunctional families, betrayal, drug abuse, and suicide. For this reason, although this book might be suitable for some mature YA readers, I am not sure I would recommend it for most teens.

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

News FlashWho We Are Instead is on sale for $0.99 for limited time only!

Review: MURDER BY THE BOOK by Devorah Fox

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As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently read Murder by the Book – a mini-mystery by Devorah Fox.

Description

An ordinary work day at the western Massachusetts Sugarloaf Inn turns more chilling than the winter weather when staff member Candy Wadsen makes a gruesome discovery. Her day goes from bad to worse when Candy realizes that Detective Sergeant Dan Petrowski suspects her of committing the crime.

My Review

This was a light read. Candy seems to be a good person, and I would have liked to get know her better. Although the answer to the question – the identity of the murderer – made sense, the path to the culprit’s discovery was a bit too fast. But I tend to prefer longer, more-developed mysteries. If you enjoy short reads, you’ll easily  read this mystery in a single setting.

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

About the Author

“What if?” Those two words all too easily send Devorah Fox spinning into flights of fancy. Best-selling author of an award-winning literary historical fantasy series and several thrillers, she also penned Mystery Mini Short Reads and contributed short stories to popular fantasy anthologies. Born in Brooklyn, New York, she now lives on the Texas Gulf Coast with rescued tabby cats … and a dragon named Inky. Visit the “Dee-Scoveries” blog at http://devorahfox.com

Author links:

Review: TELL ME NO LIES by Lynn Chandler Willis

I recently read  Tell Me No Lies – the first book in the Ava Logan mystery series by Lynn Chandler Willis.  As followers of this blog already know, I read a lot of mysteries and enjoy trying books by new authors (or who are at least new to me).  This was a great choice.

tellnoliesDescription (from Amazon)

Ava Logan, single mother and small business owner, lives deep in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, where poverty and pride reign. As publisher of the town newspaper, she’s busy balancing election season stories and a rash of ginseng thieves. And then the story gets personal. After her friend is murdered, Ava digs for the truth all the while juggling her two teenage children, her friend’s orphaned toddler, and her own muddied past. Faced with threats against those closest to her, Ava must find the killer before she, or someone she loves, ends up dead.

Review

An extremely enjoyable and well-written read. The first-person, conversational tone made me feel as if Ava was a friend of mine – telling me her story.  She is easy to identify with – a caring mother with a complicated past of her own that shapes her decision making.  You can feel her attachment to Ivy growing, and know she would do whatever she can help ensure the child’s safety and future well-being.  At the same time, her feelings of guilt over something in her past keep her from truly giving her heart to either of her love interests in the story. This mystery was well crafted; its intricate plot held lots of surprises and kept me guessing right to the end. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for future books in this series.

FTC Disclosure:   I received an advance review copy from NetGalley.  This has not affected the content of my review in any way. 

Spotlight & Guest Post: FAMILY MATTERS by Laurinda Wallace

I am pleased to have Laurinda Wallace as my guest today as she tells us about her journey from avid reader to mystery writer.  She is the author of numerous novels, including the Gracie Anderson Mystery series.


What Makes This Writer Tic … er … Tick by Laurinda Wallace

Laurinda-1.jpgI’m a reader. A voracious reader. More than a one-book-at-a-time reader. It all started with Dick and Jane stories in the first grade. Once I had those under my belt, I couldn’t stop. Adventures in the pages of books seemed much more exciting than my real life, which led me to ruminate about writing my own stories. There were a lot of beginnings, but not much in the way of middles or ends of stories. I went back to reading.

Then I was old enough for a library card. Now that is power. I could make selections from any genre and take more than one book out at a time. A few more attempts at writing a novel came and went. Back to reading and writing compositions for English class. Then writing became part of my work: John Doe, being duly sworn, deposes and says. 1. He resides at 123 ABC Street, etc. etc. In those years as a paralegal, I learned to be succinct and mind the details. There was a beginning, middle, and end to every contract or affidavit.

Then when you manage to age a bit more, and your perseverance improves ever so slightly, youthful dreams can circle back. You’ve experienced some actual strange adventures like sitting on the Thousand Island Bridge in a Chevy Nova at 10pm. Your husband is under the car trying jiggling a wonky transmission, so it’ll shift properly and you can finish a road trip. Plenty of the ordinary like washing off your children in a cold stream in Nova Scotia after one gets carsick all over the backseat, including her unsuspecting sister trapped in a car seat. Then mountain-high joys over goals achieved, daughters’ weddings, grandsons born, and soggy Kleenex sorrows and disappointments—well you know about them. The circumstances that try faith and put callouses on your knees, because you certainly don’t have answers. It’s the stuff of stories and for me it was time to take all of those experiences to see if there was an entire book, including a middle and an end.

Writing mysteries seemed the natural thing to do. Good triumphs over evil. A bit of justice served up. Mysteries also engage the brain—solve the puzzle—look for clues—sort through the suspects. I can’t get enough of them as a reader and wanted to try my hand at weaving tales of small towns and a little murder. Beautiful rural Western New York where I lived most of my life was a place I wanted to share with readers. Where dairy cows outnumber people and neighbors are … well … real neighbors. A dog certainly had to play a role since Labradors have always been part of our family. So, Gracie Andersen, a widow and kennel owner was created, along with her trusty Labrador, Haley. Gracie’s insatiable curiosity and Haley’s predilection for trouble often draw them into danger with a few laughs along the way. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Gracie Andersen Mystery Series

Family Matters is the first book in  Laurinda Wallace’s  Gracy Anderson Mystery series).

Description:

familymattersThink your family’s dysfunctional? Meet Gracie Andersen’s and the peaceful farming community of Deer Creek. Gracie has her hands full–a new business and trying to get her life on track after the loss of her husband and unborn child. When an odd gift from her troubled uncle thrusts her into an investigation of a cousin’s tragic death 20 years ago, Gracie meets with opposition from family and friends. What really happened that rainy, October night when her cousin was killed by a hit-and-run driver? As pieces of the truth are wrenched from the past, her new business, Milky Way Kennels teeters on the edge of disaster. And then death strikes again. Someone is determined Gracie won’t find the truth. With Haley, her black Labrador by her side, Gracie doggedly pursues the trail of clues to unravel the mystery of her cousin Charlotte’s untimely death.

Additional books in the series include:

About the Author

A lifelong bookworm, Laurinda was often in hot water for reading way past her bedtime as a child. Now, armed with a Kindle, she is never without a book and still ignores the time. She readily admits that writing the Gracie Andersen mystery series is more fun than is probably legal, but someone had to do it. Recent retirement from a long career in administration allows more writing time, and she has added two new Gracie mysteries to the series this year. She is also writing a true crime book and a 1930s suspense series is in development. In addition to writing mysteries and inspirational books, she has contributed to numerous print and online magazines. She is a member of Sisters in Crime (national), the Tucson chapter of Sisters in Crime, and is a grateful recipient of multiple Poets and Writers grants.

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