Review & Giveaway: SECRETS OF THE TREASURE KING by Terri Ambrose

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As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently read an ARC of Secrets of the Treasure King, the 4th book in Terry Abrose’s Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast Mystery series.

About the Book

SECRETS-OF-THE-TREASURE-KINGThe Seaside Cove rumor mill is buzzing about the captain of The Treasure King. He claims to know the location of the San Manuel, a four-hundred-year-old sunken Spanish galleon with a cargo worth millions. And now, he’s dead, the victim of a speargun attack.

When the police ask B&B owner Rick Atwood to consult in the investigation, he has mixed feelings. Consulting for the police is not the problem. He’s done it before. The problem is his eleven-year-old daughter, Alex.

Alex is fearless, precocious, and fueled by a strong sense of girl power. She’s also convinced the cops will never find the killer without her help, so she launches her own investigation—and quickly becomes a candidate for Seaside Cove’s youngest felon.

Now, unless Rick can solve the case with the clues Alex found illegally, his daughter might face charges of breaking-and-entering, the treasure of the San Manuel will be lost to pirates, and a killer could get away with murder.

My Review

Rick Atwood, a former investigative reporter,  has settled into his new life as owner of a B&B in a quaint seaside town.  Rick is a devoted father who only wants the best for his over-inquisitive daughter and that includes keeping her away from murder investigations.  Of course, that is too much to expect of Alex, a very determined and impulsive pre-teen.  The  narrative alternates between Rick and Alex’s points of view, including her journal entries, giving the book a younger feel.

The mystery itself focuses on local history and the search for a centuries old shipwreck. It is an interesting even-paced mystery, complete with a few surprises leading up to the discovery of the murderer.   An enjoyable light read for a day at the beach.

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

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card from the author.

Terry-Ambrose-400x560About the Author

Terry Ambrose has written and published fourteen mysteries. His Seaside Cove Mystery series new releases have risen to the Amazon genre Top 100. In 2014, Con Game, Terry’s second thriller in the License to Lie series received the San Diego Book Awards Best Mystery/Thriller award. Terry also writes the McKenna Trouble in Paradise mysteries and organized an anthology written by bestselling mystery writers to benefit a literacy nonprofit in Hawaii.

Author Links:

Purchase Link – Amazon

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Review & Giveaway: A CASE FOR THE WINEMAKER by Candace Havens

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As part of a blog tour organized by Silver Dagger Book Tours to celebrate today’s release of A Case for the Yarn Maker,  I recently enjoyed reading A Case for the Winemaker, the first book in the Ainsley McGregor mystery series by Candace Havens.

About A Case for the Winemaker (Ainsley McGregor Book 1)

A Case for the Winemaker ebook_394x600The closer she gets to the truth, the more she finds herself drowning in trouble.

It’s an exciting time in Sweet River, Texas, and the whole town’s talking. Maybe, a little too much. Former English professor Ainsley McGregor has gambled everything on her new business: Bless Your Art, an artisan market where local artists sell their wares and teach classes.

The bright, white space is filled to the brim with colorful art, yarn, jewelry, pet treats, antiques and even a few medieval weapons. Oh, and there are wine tastings. Everything’s better with wine. Ainsley is surprised by how well things are going–right up until the moment her Great Dane finds a dead body. With her friend accused of the murder, it’s up to Ainsley to find the real killer.

As the suspect list grows longer, Ainsley has her work cut out for her. The task is made more difficult by the fact her brother, the sheriff, doesn’t seem to want her help. If she doesn’t wrap up the case soon, she might be the next wine, um, one to die.

Add to Goodreads  Amazon * B&N * Kobo * Website

My Review

This book is very much a traditional cozy mystery, from the quaint small town setting to the relationships between the characters.  Ainsley is a likeable main character and George Clooney, her irresistible Great Dane, makes for a wonderful sidekick. The book was well written and engaging, even though I was able to guess the culprit midway through reading.

I liked that the setting in this first in series lays the stage for future stories to include all kinds of “cozy” professions – as reflected by the range of craftsmen/women who sell their goods in the Artisan’s Market. Great idea.

FTC disclosure: I received a review copy of this book as part of this blog tour.  This has not affected the content of my review.

About A Case for the Yarn Maker (Ainsley McGregor Book 2)

Spin a yarn…at your own risk.

The Case for the Yarn Maker ebook_394x600Everyone at Bless Your Art in Sweet River, Texas, is excited about the Yarn Goddess (yes, that’s her real name) coming to town. Ainsley McGregor has set up a special event at the local community center, but when old Mrs. Whedon doesn’t see eye-to-eye with the Goddess about using quality yarn, a fight breaks out. Who knew the octogenarian had ninja moves like that?

It’s all fun and games until George Clooney, Ainsley’s Great Dane, finds Ms. Yarn’s dead body in a booth at Bless Your Art. Now the prime suspect is Mrs. Whedon, and while she’s not the easiest woman to get along with, there’s no way she’s the killer. At least, Ainsley doesn’t think so. As this yarn unravels, Ainsley and her quirky friends learn some interesting things about the case and the Goddess’s checkered past. But there’s a killer on the loose, and George may be the only thing protecting Ainsley from certain death.

Add to Goodreads   Amazon * B&N * Kobo

Giveaway

Enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card from this generous author.

About the Author

Candace Havens_400x389Bestselling author Candace Havens has published more than 25 books. Her novels have received nominations for the RITA’s, Holt Medallion, Write Touch Reader Awards and National Readers Choice Awards. She is a Barbara Wilson Award winner. She is the author of the biography “Joss Whedon: The Genius Behind Buffy” and a contributor to several anthologies. She is also one of the nation’s leading entertainment journalists and has interviewed countless celebrities from George Clooney to Chris Pratt. Candace also runs a free online writing workshop for more than 2000 writers, and teaches comprehensive writing classes. She does film reviews with Hawkeye in the Morning on 96.3 KSCS, and is a former President of the Television Critics Association.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

Author Links

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Spotlight & Giveaway: THE HOUSE THAT VANITY BUILT by Nancy Cole Silverman

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As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book tours, I am pleased to congratulate Nancy Cole Silverman on the recent release of The House That Vanity Built, A Misty Dawn Mystery.

About the Book

THE-HOUSE-THAT-VANITY-BUILTMisty Dawn, a former Hollywood psychic to the stars, knows the dark and sometimes glamorous streets of Los Angeles are full of secrets, broken promises, and dashed hopes.
When a young woman comes to her door because she’s lost her engagement ring and is afraid to tell her fiancé (the son of one of the world’s biggest cosmetics empires), Misty senses it’s no accident.

Together Misty Dawn and her psychic charge, Wilson Thorne, must not only sneak behind the walls of the Conroy Estate (aka The House That Vanity Built), but go beyond the veil where the luminaries have laid plans to seek revenge.
Murder, lust, and a quest for a fountain of youth are hidden inside a family’s secret, one that threatens to upend the young woman’s life, and quite possibly, Misty’s as well.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for chance to win a copy of the book.

About the Author

NancyNancy Cole Silverman spent nearly twenty-five in Los Angeles Talk Radio, beginning her career on the talent side as one for the first female voices on the air, and later on the business side, where she retired as one of two female general managers in the nation’s second-largest radio market. After a successful career in the radio industry, Silverman turned to writing fiction. Her crime-focused novels and short stories have attracted readers throughout America. Her Carol Childs Mysteries series (Henery Press) feature a single-mom whose “day job” as a reporter at a busy Los Angeles radio station often leads to long nights as a crime-solver. Her most recent series with Misty Dawn is centered on an aging Hollywood Psychic to the Stars, who supplements her day to day activities as a consultant to LAPD and the FBI. Silverman lives in Los Angeles with her husband and a thoroughly pampered standard poodle.

Author Links – Facebook – GoodReads –Twitter:@NancyColeSilve1

Purchase Links – Amazon – B&N – Kobo

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Review & Giveaway: NEARLY DEPARTED by Lesley A. Diehl

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As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book tours, I recently had the pleasure of reading Nearly Departed, the latest addition to the Eve Appel Mystery series by Lesley A. Diehl.

Description

nearly-departed-4-FINALTired of sitting surveillance on insurance fraud, apprentice PI Eve Apple Egret gets her first big case, one where the outcome is important and personal. Eve’s best friend Madeleine has few relatives, so her Uncle Shamus is special, but someone is determined to kill him and has tried several times. Eve is certain she can identify who is after him, but this time she may have taken on more than even our self-confident Eve can handle. Coping with a growing toddler and a teenager, devoting time to the consignment shop and finding someone who can go undercover in a sexual harassment case all vie for Eve’s attention. Eve knows she cannot fail Madeleine. This is more than her favorite uncle’s life. His death would mean devastating loss for Madeleine and call into question Eve’s commitment as a friend and her ability as a PI.

My Review

In this latest Eve Appel mystery, Eve remains true to form – likable, spunky and determined.  Her ongoing PI apprenticeship places two new cases on her plate one related to sexual harassment and another to the possible attempted murder of one of her best friend’s visiting relatives.  In her pursuit of the truth she is helped by a familiar cast of family and friends, including a loving grandmother, an amazingly likeable 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.

As in previous books in this series, family was very much at the center of this book this time with focus on Madeleine’s extended family and their relationships as were various aspects of Sammy’s Miccosukee heritage.

Diverse characters and interesting twists made this an enjoyable light read..

Note: Although this book is part of a series, it can definitely be enjoyed as a standalone.

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

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win some great reads from the author.

About the Author

Cows, Lesley learned as a child growing up on a farm, have a twisted sense of humor. They chased her when she went to the field to herd them in for milking, and one ate the appellovely red mitten her grandmother knitted for her. Determining that agriculture wasn’t her career path, she took a job as a stripper, book cover stripper for a publishing company, that is. Now after many years as a college professor and university administrator, she has returned to the world of books and uses her country roots and her training to concoct stories designed to make people laugh in the face of murder. “A good chuckle,” says Lesley,” keeps us emotionally well-oiled long into our old age.”

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Guest Post, Spotlight & Giveaway: KILLER DEADLINE by Lauren Carr

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As part of a blog tour organized by iRead Book Tours, I am honored to have Lauren Carr as my guest as she celebrates the release of her latest book – Killer Deadline.   Enjoy!


How Editors Are Like Hair Stylists 
by Lauren Carr

When you get too old to learn new things, then you’re old. That’s why I am always open to learning new things. I don’t want to be old.

My most recent discovery: Editors are like hair stylists.

Lauren & Muse AdjustedWhen you find a good one, never let him or her go. If forced to choose—keep your editor and divorce your spouse. My mother used to say men are like buses. Another one will come by in ten minutes. Good hair stylists whose touch makes your hair quiver and give in to their every demand—not so frequent.

It’s the same with editors who know just what to fix in your writing to make it sing to the reader.

I lost the editor I had used for several of my last books to a big publisher, who made her sign an exclusivity agreement. Since then, I’ve been having flashbacks to when I moved from the northern panhandle of West Virginia to Washington—leaving my first hair stylist behind.

Leslie found me wandering aimlessly into her shop after having been used and abused by another hairdresser who thought he could toy with my locks. Up until then, I confess, I played around—roaming from salon to salon—looking for style in all the wrong places. I was so young and naïve. Every time a stylist would whisper sweet nothings in my ear, promising to give me a look that would turn other women green with envy—I’d believe them.

After so many bad haircuts—I became hardened and cynical—believing that I had a head of hair that only a mother could love.

I still remember that last session I had with Leslie. It was raining—just like a scene in the movies—when I told Leslie that I was leaving—I cried bitter tears of heartache and swore that I’d never forget her. Still, to this day, I remember the look in her eyes when she said to me, “Do you want hair spray?”

God got me for leaving Leslie high and dry like that. I’d suffered the shame of bad haircuts for five long miserable years.

When my editor left me, I once again felt that sense of loss. Whatever shall I do? Wherever shall I go?

To which she replied, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. They’re giving me full benefits, including a 401K and healthcare.”

I bit my knuckle and collapsed to the floor.

When the edited manuscript for my latest mystery came back from my new editor, I once again suffered horrible memories of when those cheap stylists had their way with my hair—leaving it dry, with all the life sucked out of it.

Tears came to my eyes as I stroked the screen of my laptop, whispering comforting words to my book. “That’s okay. I still love you. We’ll get this mess sorted out. This horrid experience will be nothing but a distant memory—eventually.”

It’s been a growing experience. Just because someone has lovely hair, that doesn’t mean they’re a hair stylist. Likewise, just because someone reads a lot and picks up mistakes in books, does not make them an editor.

Also, in the same way that not all good hair stylists are a good fit for every client, not all good editors are a good fit for every writer. I have worked with many editors—even some very good ones, who just weren’t a good fit for me—for whatever reason. My previous editor (sob) grew to know my style. Her strengths complemented my weaknesses and she knew exactly how far to go and what to leave.

Once again, I was out there— wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’. Plannin’ and dreamin’—that Santa Claus will bring me an editor for Christmas.

Note: Before everyone sends me names of their neighbor’s nephew who happens to be available for editing, I do have a new one lined up for my next Mac Faraday. But, if this relationship doesn’t pan out, then maybe I can meet him for happy hour.


About the Book

killer deadline eBook coverFolks in Pine Grove, Pennsylvania, claim that where Nikki Bryant goes, trouble is not far behind. Her refusal to back down from a challenge has made Nikki Bryant a top investigative journalist.

When an online friend nudges her to join him in a pact to reconnect with their first loves, Nikki and her boxer dog Elmo leave the bright lights of Las Vegas for the charming town of Pine Grove. There, she must face the biggest challenges in her career and life—the first love she had left behind and her father’s unsolved murder.

But before she has time to unpack her car, Nikki stumbles upon the dead body of local news anchor, Ashleigh Addison, her childhood rival. Could Ashleigh’s death be connected to an explosive news story that she had teased about airing live? Did that explosive story have anything to do with the murder of Nikki’s father?With the clues in her father’s cold case hot again, Nikki intends to  chase down the story of her life until she catches his killer—no matter what it takes.

Buy link:  Amazon.com

Add to Goodreads

Giveaway

Enter the giveaway for your chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card: a Rafflecopter giveaway.

About the Author

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, Chris Matheson Cold Case, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty-five titles across
three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Killer Deadline marks Lauren’s first venture into mystery’s purely cozy sub-genre with a female protagonist.

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, crime fiction, police procedurals, romance, and
humor.

​A popular speaker, Lauren is also the owner of Acorn Book Service, the umbrella under which falls iRead Book Tours. She lives with her husband and two spoiled rotten German Shepherds on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

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

Review & Giveaway: FLIGHT RISK by Cara Putnam

As part of a virtual tour organized by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours, I recently had the pleasure of reading a pre-release copy of  Flight Riskan engaging thriller by Cara Putnam.

About the Book

flight-risk-by-cara-putman-978-0785233275-coverSavannah Daniels has worked hard to build her law practice, to surround herself with good friends, and to be the loyal aunt her troubled niece can always count on. But since her ex-husband’s betrayal, she has trouble trusting anyone.

Jett Glover’s father committed suicide over a false newspaper report that ruined his reputation. Now a fierce champion of truth, Jett is writing the story of his journalism career—an international sex-trafficking exposé that will bring down a celebrity baseball player and the men closest to him, including Savannah’s ex-husband.

When Jett’s story breaks, tragedy ensues. Then a commercial airline crashes, and one of Savannah’s clients is implicated in the crash. Men connected to the scandal, including her ex, begin to die amid mysterious circumstances, and Savannah’s niece becomes an unwitting target.

Against their better instincts, Jett and Savannah join ranks to sort the facts from fiction. But can Savannah trust the reporter who threw her life into chaos? And can Jett face the possibility that he’s made the biggest mistake of his life?

My Review

This is a fast moving legal thriller that combines mystery, suspense, and romance while taking on difficult topics – journalistic integrity and human trafficking – and complex family relationships.

Savannah is a strong intelligent woman, whose family relationships are complex (and unusual). She relies on her faith to cope with difficult situations.  A successful patent lawyer, her latest case involves a technology related to the aircraft industry.  When a plane goes down with her ex-husband on it, Savannah (and this reader) can’t help wondering whether it is merely a coincidence.  And so the questions begin.

Jett, on the other hand, is a self-righteous journalist with very strong feelings about “fake news” – he is determined to report nothing but the truth.  Jett has published an expository piece on Savannah’s ex and his pals – making accusations that she has trouble accepting at face value.  Given their conflicting opinions, it is no surprise that these two main characters disagree, despite the strong undercurrent of sexual tension between the two.  Nonetheless, the two find they need to work together to discover the truth.

There is much more to this story than initially meets the eye.  Surprises abound as the story unravels – with enough suspense to keep the pages turning way past my bedtime.

FTC disclosure: I received an advance review copy of this book. This has not affected the content of my review.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Cara Putman and Thomas Nelson. There will be 2 winners. Each winner will receive a set of three (3) print copies by Cara Putman.

About the Author

flight-risk-by-cara-putman-978-0785233275-Cara Putman is the author of more than twenty-five legal thrillers, historical romances, and romantic suspense novels. She has won or been a finalist for honors including the ACFW Book of the Year and the Christian Retailing’s BEST Award. Cara graduated high school at sixteen, college at twenty, completed her law degree at twenty-seven, and recently received her MBA. She is a practicing attorney, teaches undergraduate and graduate law courses at a Big Ten business school, and is a homeschooling mom of four. She lives with her husband and children in Indiana.

Visit her at:
CaraPutman.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter – @Cara_Putman, & Facebook – Cara.Putman!

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

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Guest Post & Giveaway: A SMALL TOWN CAN BE #MURDER by Julie Seedorf

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As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book tours, I am pleased to have Julie Seedorf as my guest today as she celebrates the recent release of A Small Town Can be #Murder.  Julie’s post shares insights into the motivations that shaped her writing over the years.


Thoughts on Writing, Julie Seedorf

I am not an award-winning writer. I don’t know if I could be an award-winning writer. The fact is, I have never applied for any awards and my publishing companies are small publishers that do not have the bank accounts that big publishers have to pay for entry fees. To be honest, neither do I.

jseedorfBut also to be honest, awards are not the reason I write. I write for a variety of reasons. It started with a diary when I was young. I recorded all my hopes, my dreams and my crushes and my first kiss. I was lucky enough that creative writing was part of the curriculum my junior year in high school. Thank you Jim Colletti. It was a class where I got my first A+ and I loved it. I might mention I wasn’t a straight-A student unless I liked a subject. Don’t tell my grandkids.

As I entered my young adult years, I turned to poetry and recorded my feelings that way. Here is an example.

Confusion

Confusion! 
A massive blur of jumbled thoughts
All swirling around in the tiny area of my brain
Until I think I can stand it no more.
Surely I will burst with such confusion.
Round and round and round
Thoughts that don’t make sense.
Words and more words
Twisted and jumbled until the truth is lost.
Was the truth there in the first place?
Questions without answers.
Memories and emotions drowning all reason.
Logic and common sense – unbelievable.
You don’t want to believe them.
Faith and trust lost?
How? Why? Because?
Swirling, turning thoughts
Until finally there is no way to turn.
No one to go to.
Just you
And doubts
And hurt
But still love,
Love ruling the mass of confusion
Until the hurt grows
And the tears fall
And
You pray.

© Julie Seedorf  2020

I left it as is from my notebook written fifty years ago by me, a young woman churning out her feelings at the time.

I can say I dreamed of being an author because my love of books started when I was young thanks to my mother. She loved books too although she was so busy taking care of me, my dad, her mother, plus her brothers and two households. My mother also worked in their shoe store taking care of the bools and the ordering and because of her schedule I never saw her reading anything except the paper, but she always made sure I had books. There were only school libraries in my youth so any books were ones that were purchased for me from the drugstore which carried books.

Again, to be honest I never considered a career in writing seriously  because of fear that I wasn’t good enough, and it was very hard to get a publishing company to accept your work.

Fast forward to my almost senior citizen years. It was possible to self publish with Amazon. It was possible to find small publishing companies that would offer you a contract if they liked your work. On a wing and a prayer I sent my manuscript in and my new career in writing began. I might mention that by that time I had been a newspaper columnist for years because I found I have an opinion and occasionally people wanted to hear it.

I also must admit there are times I am envious of seeing those awards when others post, such as a New York Times best-selling author. I absolutely don’t know how to achieve that and that takes me back to my opening paragraph. I don’t write for awards. I write to make people laugh and take them away from the world. I write because I have wacky ideas and wacky mysteries in my head and they fuel my creativity that helps me get out a depression or sad times. I write because I am passionate about something and I want to touch other people’s lives and make them feel better. I write because I have to still the constant whirling of words in my brain.

Along the way I read and discover award-winning authors that have no awards posted on their books, but they should. It is a sea of books out there and to be found is like looking for a certain grain of sand on the beach with the author hoping when the waves clear the sand, their special grain will sparkle and be noticed.

Don’t feel bad for me. I am where the grace of God has placed me and if I touch one heart or make one person feel better for a short time than that is my award and reward.


About A Small Town Can Be #Murder

image1You have all heard the story: big-city girl moves to small town and lives happily ever after. That’s not the forever-after Angel Delaight found when she moved to Whistle Stop, Minnesota. First her realtor is found dead in her new house, which is also rumored to be haunted. Then homeless animals began showing up at her door, along with a bevy of townspeople who seem to know what she is doing at all times. Not to mention a secret journal turning up during renovation, revealing more secrets hidden in this small community.

Will those secrets from the past put Angel’s life and those of her friends and family in danger? When the big-city girl meets a small town, it can be murder.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a print copy of A Small Town Can Be #Murder.

About the Author

A Bit About Me As An Impassioned Writer

As human beings, we are always a work in progress. From birth to death we live, hurt, laugh, cry, feel, and with all of those emotions we grow as people, as family members, and as friends. I am a dreamer and feel blessed to have the opportunity in my writing to pass those dreams on to others. I believe you are never too old to dream and to turn those dreams into a creative endeavor. I live in rural Minnesota and I am a wife, mother, and grandmother.

I have worn many hats throughout my life such as working as a waitress, nursing home activities person, office manager and finally a computer repair person eventually owning my own computer sales and repair business. I never forgot my love of writing and quit my computer business in 2012 after signing a contract with Cozy Cat Press for Granny Hooks A Crook, the first book in my Fuchsia, Minnesota Series.

Adding five more books to the Fuchsia Series, adding a Brilliant, Minnesota Series and writing a column for local newspapers feeds my writing creativity. This year the Whistle Stop series was born. Small towns have my heart and I hoped to convey that in my new series.

I also dabble a bit in watercolor painting and hope to eventually add pictures to my children’s book series, Granny’s In Trouble.

Oh, and did I tell you I like to be a little bit silly.

Author Links

Purchase Links – Amazon – KoboBarnesandNoble.comSmashwordsApple – Skype Bridge Publishing

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Spotlight: BLUEBERRY COBBLER BLACKMAIL by Judi Rath

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As part of a book tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I am pleased to shine the spotlight on a new release from Judi Rath –  Blueberry Cobbler Blackmail (A Cast Iron Skillet Mystery).

About the Book

BLUEBERRY-COBBLER-BLACKMAIL coverWelcome to Leaven—oh wait—Santo Domingo, where DEATH takes a DELICIOUS turn!
Family bombshells, sibling rivalries, blackmail, and a trip that could be deadly…and the new year has only just begun! After a disastrous Thanksgiving, Jolie Tucker is beside herself and feeling the walls closing in around her. She feels like she needs to escape Leavensport before she loses her mind. She unexpectedly gets her wish when her best friend and co-owner of Cast Iron Creations, Ava Martinez, gets a terrifying email revealing that her papa, Thiago, is in danger in Santo Domingo. The girls are off on a dangerous adventure in new territory. Will they be able to save the day before danger finds them?

About the Author

Moving into her second decade working in education, Jodi Rath has decided to begin a life of crime in her The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series. Her passion for both mysteries and education led her to combine the two to create her business MYS ED, where she splits her time between working as an adjunct for Ohio teachers and creating mischief in her fictional writing. She currently resides in a small, cozy village in Ohio with her husband and her seven cats.

Jodi_RathAuthor Links:

Purchase Links: Amazon    B&N    Kobo 

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Release Spotlight, Review & Giveaway: PAWS FOR MURDER by Scarlett English

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As part of a book tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual  Book Tours, I recently had the pleasure of reading Paws for Murder, the first book in the new Barking Mad cozy mystery series by Scarlett English.

About the Book

Welcome to Adlebury where village life can be downright deadly.

PawsForMurder - Scarlett EnglishVeterinarian Petronella Knight seems to have it all. A job she loves, good friends, and patients who adore her. But when she gets into an argument with dog breeder Gladys Harrington, and she finds the woman dead, she also finds herself accused of murder.

Ella will need all her friends, including the new and very handsome American policeman, and all her sharpest sleuthing skills to figure out who murdered the dog breeder before another dead body pops up.

Paws for Murder contains one enthusiastic amateur detective with a penchant for rescuing animals, a guard duck called George, a large amount of homemade gooseberry wine, and a very confused American who has never met an English village quite like this one.

You’d be Barking Mad to pass this one by.

My Review

Set in a quaint English village, this mystery has all of the elements of the typical cozy mystery – including a likable amateur sleuth, a charming detective, and a victim that is hard not to dislike.  And animals. Lots of animals.  Petronella is a vet and we are treated to a glimpse into all that goes with that job alongside her efforts to prove her innocence and identify the killer.  The main characters are well developed and the plot moved along at a nice pace, with interesting developments as the story unfolded. With a sprinkling of humor and a  healthy dose of romantic suspense, Paws for Murder makes a delightful start to a new cozy mystery series.

FTC disclosure:  I received an advance review copy of this book from the publisher. This has not affected the content of my review.

Giveaway

giveawayEnter the rafflecopter for your chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card.

About the Author

Scarlett English is a crazy cat lady who likes solving mysteries. Or actually, make that a dog lady. Much to her chagrin, the police have never sought to consult her, which is why there seems to be so much unsolved crime. Especially—surprisingly enough—in the small English village where she lives. So, armed with curiosity, a penchant for taking in strays, a love of homemade wine and a good gossip, she puts her detecting talents to good use murdering her imaginary friends and neighbors and solving the cases one story at a time.

Purchase Link – Amazon

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Review & Excerpt: DANGEROUS GROUND by Susan Hunter

dangerous-ground-by-susan-hunter-2048x1152

As part of a book tour organized by Partners in Crime, I recently had the pleasure of reading Dangerous Ground by Susan Hunter, the sixth book in this talented author’s Leah Nash Mystery series.

About the Book

dangerous-ground-susan-hunter-NEWA Murder Among Friends …

Everyone is anxious to connect with actor Ryan Malloy when he returns to town for his 15-year high school reunion. Everyone except crime writer Leah Nash. She doesn’t have many fond memories of Himmel High’s golden boy. But it turns out she’s not the only one who isn’t a fan. Before the weekend is over, Ryan Malloy is murdered.

The hard-headed but soft-hearted Leah is unwillingly drawn into investigating his death by the pleading of Ryan’s terminally ill mother. She soon discovers that Ryan’s self-absorbed journey through life trampled on the dreams of a number of people. His old girlfriend, his best friend, his own brother, a local businessman—there’s no shortage of suspects—or secrets. But the solution eludes Leah, until the past and the present collide in a dangerous confrontation that threatens one life and ends another.

Scroll down to the bottom of this post to read an excerpt from Dangerous Grounds.

My Review

Leah Nash is a no-nonsense woman with a strong drive to make sure the actual culprit is charged with murder instead of the most obvious fall guy.  Her background in journalism makes her a skilled investigator and she’s not shy about asking questions. As she learns more about Ryan, a surprisingly wide range of persons with a motive for murder emerge.

Leah’s personality shines through in this first-person narrative – including her doubts about herself.    The plot twists kept me wondering, and the final resolution was pretty much a surprised.   A well-written, fast-paced, and enjoyable read.

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

About the Author

dangerous-ground-susan-hunter-authorSusan Hunter is a charter member of Introverts International (which meets the 12th of Never at an undisclosed location). She has worked as a reporter and managing editor, during which time she received a first place UPI award for investigative reporting and a Michigan Press Association first place award for enterprise/feature reporting.
Susan has also taught composition at the college level, written advertising copy, newsletters, press releases, speeches, web copy, academic papers, and memos. Lots and lots of memos. She lives in rural Michigan with her husband Gary, who is a man of action, not words.

During certain times of the day, she can be found wandering the mean streets of small-town Himmel, Wisconsin, looking for clues, stopping for a meal at the Elite Cafe, dropping off a story lead at the Himmel Times Weekly, or meeting friends for a drink at McClain’s Bar and Grill.

Catch Up With Susan Hunter On:

LeahNashMysteries.comGoodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook!

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

I parked my bike just inside the cemetery gates. It took only a few steps down the tree-lined path for the heat and humidity of a mid-summer Wisconsin day to slide away into the cool dark shade. Overhead, the soft murmur of thousands of leaves stirring in the light breeze accompanied me as I walked slowly toward my sister’s grave. Both of my sisters are buried in the cemetery just a few miles outside of Himmel, Wisconsin. My father is as well. But today it was Annie I’d come to visit.

My heart beat a little faster as I neared the gravesite. I’m not afraid of the dead. It’s the memories they leave behind that haunt me. Quiet Annie with her soft voice and big blue eyes, too shy to join the other laughing, shouting kindergarteners at recess—but the first to run over to comfort a little boy struggling not to cry on the first day. Imaginative Annie, commandeering our wide front porch as a sailing ship for her and her cat, Mr. Peoples, to travel around the world. Kind-hearted Annie, sharing her Halloween candy with me when I’m forced to surrender my own treats as penalty for talking back. Sweet, brave, compassionate, eight-year-old Annie, who ran into a burning house to save Mr. Peoples twenty-two years ago, and never came back.

Over all the years since, people—my mother, my aunt, my therapist (yes, I went that route once), my best friend—have reassured me that her death wasn’t my fault, that I was just a child. But, I was older. I should have been watching over her. I should have seen her slipping back to the house after we’d all escaped. In my deep heart’s core, I can’t ever forget that.

Now and then, and always on her birthday, I go to the cemetery to see her. I know that she isn’t really there. But her grave is an anchoring spot for me. I catch her up on the good, the bad, and the ugly happenings in my life. She knows what hurts me, and she knows what frightens me—secrets I don’t share with anyone else. I tell her what our mother is up to, and how others she knew in life are doing. I say all the things to her that I would if she were still here. I try to make up for the fact that I’m alive, and she isn’t. But, of course, I never can.

When I’m talking to her at the cemetery, it feels as though she can really hear me. And I know that she answers. Not right there, at the grave, but later, in unexpected ways. Sometimes, I hear Annie speak to me through a chance remark a stranger makes, or a phrase that leaps out at me from a book, or a sudden flash of insight on a problem I’m wrestling with. I don’t share that belief with very many people. If I did, I might be forced to resign my membership in the Doubting Thomas Society, to which all good journalists should belong. But I can’t accept that those occurrences are just coincidental. I really can’t.

So, on the anniversary of her birth, once again I sat down on the bench in front of her grave and told her how sorry I was that she had died. That I hadn’t saved her. That I still missed her. And then I told her what was really going on in the seemingly successful life of Leah Nash, former small-town reporter, current true crime author, and soon-to-be business failure.

***

When I say I talk to Annie, I mean that literally. I have a one-sided, out-loud conversation with her, though only when I’m sure I’m alone. Some people already think I’m crazy. No need to give them additional proof. On this particular day, I had a serious problem weighing on my mind.

Not long before, I had made what seemed, at the time, like a brilliant decision. The Himmel Times Weekly, the paper where I’d started out in journalism, and where I’d found a home again after a self-inflicted career injury, was closing. I decided to buy it. I asked a wealthy, community-minded, local attorney, Miller Caldwell, to invest with me. And then I asked a lot of other people—reporters, an editor, stringers, office and sales staff—to work very hard, for very little money, in the hope that together we could keep the Himmel Times alive.

It was exhilarating at first. But it had become an increasing source of anxiety for me. Just as we were getting off the ground, Grantland County Online, a digital-only news site (and I use the term “news” loosely), had gotten a major infusion of capital and a new publisher. Now GO News, as it’s more commonly known, was kicking our butt.
“The scariest thing, Annie,” I said, “is that we’re barely keeping our heads above water, while GO News keeps getting bigger. They don’t have the expenses we do—no print edition, no delivery costs, and they don’t spend a lot of staff time fact-checking. Plus, they started Tea to GO. Did you know that the cool kids say, ‘spill the tea,’ when they mean ‘what’s the gossip?’

“Tea to GO is full of ‘What married school official was seen in Milwaukee with a very attractive staff member last Thursday night? Did we say late, last Thursday night?’ That kind of garbage. It’s almost all blind items—the better to avoid lawsuits, my dear. But people are eating it up. Every time you go into the Elite Café, someone is trying to figure out who the latest gossip is about.”

I paused for a bit of a wallow in self-pity. It wasn’t as if I hadn’t tried to shake things up at the Times, to get us moving ahead, but so far nothing I’d done had made much difference.

“We have a good team. Miguel is much happier since he gave up the managing editor job. He really didn’t like bossing people. And Maggie McConnell is doing great in that spot. She’s got the instincts, the skills, and forty-five years in the news business behind her. If she could only spin straw out of gold, she’d be perfect. But since she can’t, we’re making do with a budget so lean it might as well be made out of turkey burger.

“I gave Allie Ross—you remember, I told you about her. She’s the high school kid we’ve been using as a stringer. Anyway, I gave her a part-time job for the summer in the office. She’s doing the routine stuff, obits and inside pages copy—weddings, anniversaries, club news. She’s got promise, but she’s only fifteen. Troy, the other reporter besides Miguel, is a little bit of a suck-up—and his news judgment isn’t quite there yet. Still, he’s a hard worker. The stringers are a pretty mixed bag.

“Now, here’s a twist I bet you didn’t see coming. I hired Mom to take April Nelson’s place as office manager. I know, I know, it’s a dicey move. But she’s smart, and efficient, and she gets the job done. Plus, she comes cheap. It’s been a little challenging, I admit. Remember when I used to get mad at her and say, ‘You’re not the boss of me!’ and she’d send me to my room?

“Well, now I’m the boss of her, only I don’t get to send her to her room. Yes, OK, I’m not supposed to be doing the day-to-day. That’s Maggie’s job. I understand that. But I can’t just hide away in my office and write my next book if the paper is falling apart two floors below me, can I?

“Everybody took a leap of faith when we reopened the Times, and everyone is putting everything they have into it. I can’t let them down. I have to find a way to keep us afloat. I just didn’t know it would be so hard, Annie.”

I paused for a breath before I wrapped things up.

“And then there’s Gabe. I don’t know. I like him as well—no, probably better than—anyone I’ve gone out with in a long time. He makes me laugh, and he’s really smart. And he likes strong women who speak their minds. In my experience, a lot of men don’t. So what’s the problem, right? Well, it’s not exactly a problem. It’s more that I’m afraid a problem might be coming. Lately, it feels like he’s pushing me a little, like for a commitment or something. Can’t we just enjoy each other? Can’t we just be without getting all serious, and defining things, and making plans? I don’t want to change things. That’s when things go bad, when you try to change them.”

I slumped back against the bench with a sigh. Usually, when I lay everything out to Annie, it makes the issues seem a little more manageable. This time it all still felt overwhelming.

Then, a voice spoke.

***

Fortunately for my mental health, it wasn’t Annie’s. I turned and looked behind me.

“Coop! How long have you been standing there?” I asked, trying to remember exactly what I’d said out loud. It’s not that Coop and I have major secrets. He’s my best friend, after all. Still, I don’t tell him everything I tell Annie.

“Long enough,” he said with a grin that didn’t offer me much comfort. I tried to move the conversation away from my chat with Annie, particularly the Gabe part.

“What are you doing here?”

“Your mom said you were here. I called your cell, but it didn’t go through.”

“Yeah. It’s a dead zone—pun totally intended—in the cemetery, except for the hill. What did you want?”

“Nothing. I brought something for Annie.”

I looked down at his right hand and saw that he carried a small pot of pink flowers. Pink was Annie’s favorite color. Tears sprang to my eyes. I quickly blinked them away.

“That’s so nice. Why?”

He shrugged. “I know what today is.”

I’m all about keeping my tough outer shell polished, but I was so touched, I couldn’t keep up the facade. “You’re a pretty great friend, you know that?”

He smiled, but he looked embarrassed, and tried to cover it by moving to put the flowers next to Annie’s headstone.

“Did you really come just to put flowers on Annie’s grave?”

“No, not just for Annie. I took some to Rebecca, too.” He was kneeling, positioning the flowers, with his back to me. I couldn’t see his expression.

“Oh.”

Rebecca had been Coop’s wife and my nemesis until she was killed last year. I wasn’t happy that Coop had lost someone he loved, but I couldn’t pretend I was sorry she was gone. She’d done everything she could to break up our twenty-year friendship and came close to succeeding. I couldn’t think of anything nice to say about her. So, I employed the Thumper rule, and didn’t say anything.

Coop apparently didn’t want to get into the subject of Rebecca either, because as he stood and turned to me, he said, “I’ll walk out with you. I’ve got my truck. We can throw your bike in the back and you can ride home with me.”

“Yes, please. I didn’t realize it was so hot. I just about sweated to death pedaling out here.”

“Yeah, I can see that,” he said, taking in my damp, bedraggled hair, slipping from its hair clip, and the beads of moisture coalescing into a river of sweat running down the side of my forehead. “You kind of look like you just took a shower.” He sniffed the air, “Except you don’t have that shower-fresh scent.”

“Shut up,” I said. “I’m a head-sweater from way back. Deal with it.” I smiled though, because there’s something very nice and very easy being with a person who really doesn’t care how you look—or in the present situation—smell.

We walked together in companionable silence, until I’d decided he hadn’t heard any of my one-sided conversation with Annie. That dream died in the next minute.

“So, what’s going on with you and Gabe? He’s a nice guy, Leah. You’re not getting ready to toss him overboard, too, are you?”

“No. Why would you say that? And what do you mean by ‘too’?”

“You really want to go there?” He cocked an eyebrow. It’s a not very funny running joke between Coop and my mother that I always find a reason to cut my romances short.

“No, I don’t. I thought you didn’t believe in illegal surveillance, and what do you call lurking around cemeteries where people are having a private conversation? It’s nothing. Really.”

He looked at me for a second, but all he said was, “OK.”

Our conversation was cut off as a tall woman in her fifties, her hair pulled back and hanging in a long, gray braid down her back, appeared and abruptly crossed the path in front of us.

“Hello, Marcy,” I said.

She looked up as though surprised we were there.

“Leah. Coop.” She nodded but didn’t stop to talk. We knew where she was going. To the top of the hill on which sat a small granite building that resembled an ancient Greek temple. The family mausoleum held Marcy’s grandparents, her own mother, and Marcy’s baby daughter, Robin. One day, it would hold Marcy, too.

We watched in silence as she reached the building, pulled a key out of her pocket, unlocked the door, and slipped inside, like a ghost gliding through a wall. It had been sixteen years since Marcy White’s baby had died, and she still came every week. People said she brought a different book each time and read it to Robin. They said it like it was something weird, or even crazy. Not me, though. I understood why she did it.

“You know what, Coop?” I asked, as we continued on down the path.

“What?”

“I’m calling bullshit on death.”

***
Excerpt from Dangerous Ground by Susan Hunter. Copyright 2019 by Susan Hunter. Reproduced with permission from Susan Hunter. All rights reserved..

 

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