Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Review: FACIALS CAN BE FATAL (A Bad Hair Day Mystery) by Nancy J. Cohen


During the frenzy of the December holidays, the last thing salon owner Marla Vail needs is a dead body slathered in a green facial mask at her new day spa. The victim, Valerie Weston, had been a major donor for Friends of Old Florida, a nonprofit historic preservation society. Marla's stylists are scheduled to work backstage at their upcoming gala fashion show, but Val's demise might put a crimp in their plans.

Hoping to salvage her reputation, Marla determines to track down the suspects. Although Val had been well liked by most people, she may have stumbled onto secrets that others would kill to keep. What are the connections between a greedy land developer, a dress designer whose husband may have links to the Asian mob, a mortician who might be involved in the human hair trade, and members of the nonprofit group's board of directors? Are the latter as dedicated to their cause as they'd like Marla to believe, or do they have their own self-interests at heart?

Sparks are sure to fly when this smart stylist joins forces with her sexy detective husband to solve a decades-old mystery that includes a secret journal, pirate tales, and shipwrecks along the Florida coast. With the rollercoaster excitement, you might need a trip to the day spa to relax.


Marla Vail has a lot going on - new family, new business venture, and a gala fashion show to prepare for - but the person who selected Marla and her business to work the fashion show dies in Marla's day spa. Marla doesn't really think the beautician who worked on Val killed her intentionally, but she needs to find out who took advantage of Val's spa experience to kill her.  

With a mix of humor and light suspense, unveiled connections, and an old mystery somehow connected, the pace is maintained as Cohen adds more pieces to the puzzle.  If you enjoy humor in your cozy mystery, you'll like FACIALS CAN BE FATAL. This book is part of a series, but can easily be read as a stand alone. 

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in the hopes that I would post an honest review. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

About Nancy J Cohen:

Nancy J. Cohen writes the Bad Hair Day Mysteries featuring South Florida hairstylist Marla Vail. Titles in this series have made the IMBA bestseller list, been selected by Suspense Magazine as best cozy mystery, and won third place in the Arizona Literary Awards. Nancy has also written the instructional guide, Writing the Cozy Mystery. Her imaginative romances, including the Drift Lords series, have proven popular with fans as well. A featured speaker at libraries, conferences, and community events, Nancy is listed in Contemporary Authors, Poets & Writers, and Who's Who in U.S. Writers, Editors, & Poets. When not busy writing, she enjoys fine dining, cruising, visiting Disney World, and shopping. Sign up for her newsletter at http://nancyjcohen.com/newsletter/

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Blog Tour & Guest Post : Lauren Carr

It is my pleasure to have Lauren Carr as my guest today:

Five Best Tips for Authors 

By Lauren Carr 

“What advice would you give to a budding writer?”

Without any doubt, this is the question I am most often asked. Depending on my mood, or what may be on my mind at that moment, I may not always give the same answer. So, here, I have comprised my most FA (Frequent Answers)!

1) Write every day. Even if you aren’t feeling like it or don’t think the words you are typing on your laptop are literary gems--write. Athletes have to train every day. Even though you may only be exercising your mental and creative muscles, you are training to. Also, just like athletes, you can’t kick back and let yourself go after having “made it.” You need to continue training even after you have finished writing your masterpiece—and getting it released.

Just like with athletes, the more writing you do, the better you will get. Also, you will be surprised when you go back to read stuff that you had thought was less than adequate at the time you wrote it. Out of that pile of rocky words, you could find a shiny gem!

Several years ago, I wrote the rough draft of a book that I knew I would not be publishing before I even got halfway through it. The mystery and plotline were good, but there was a problem with the characters. Years later, after completing Shades of Murder, I realized that this book was the perfect vehicle for the first Lovers in Crime Mystery. In a matter of days, I edited the rough draft I had written and released it as Dead on Ice.

2) Read. It is easy for writers to want to spend every spare moment they have creating their own literary masterpieces. Yet, the truth of the matter is that there is no better way to learn how to be a great writer than to read what has already been written—whether that writing is good or bad.

As an editor, I once worked with a writer who had a serious issue with stopping everything when she introduced a new character to tell her readers that character’s entire backstory. I explained her problem to her many times but she failed to understand what I was trying to tell her until she read a book in which another writer did the exact same thing. Seeing her mistake made by another writer showed her what she was doing wrong and she’s never had this issue again.

3) Write what you want to write, not what’s hot right now. When you write what you know and are passionate about, the words will come naturally, which will make for easy reading for your readers. However, if you write what is selling right now, or what you think will get you a big publisher or agent or movie deal, then the words will not come so easily because—wait for it—those words aren’t yours. They’re the words of publishers, agents, and movie producers. this is one sure way to get writer’s block!

4) Live Life. By nature, writers are introverts. That’s why self-promotion is so hard for us. It is extremely easy for us to retreat into our literary world. While you may be churning out great work, you also risk getting out of touch with the world around you—which contains a wealth of inspiration for your current and future work-in-progress.

My greatest story ideas have come from getting out there, meeting people, and learning things about the world around me. My plotline for Real Murder was the result of falling off a horse and getting a concussion. The germ of my idea for A Small Case of Murder came from a conversation with the owner of an antique shop.

5) If you want a career in writing, treat your writing like a career. That means embracing my tips above and then some. If you have a day job, make time to write in the evening—just like you would if you had a second job. Approach your writing as a second job that you want to make your primary career. That means embracing all those little unpleasant tasks that come with any career—like self-promotion, learning new writing techniques, and taking advice from those who have gone before you—even if you may not like it.

This last tip may seem like a “duh, yeah!” piece of advice, but I can’t tell you how many talented writers I have worked with who were in positions that I would have killed for when I graduated from high school and/or college and wanted to be an author. More than one protégé were in positions in which they had parents, grandparents, or spouses bank rolling them while they pursued their dreams—only to have them play around on social media, write a few pages of their work-in-progress and then ask me to meet them for lunch to ask why their careers are going nowhere.

The difference between a hobby and a career is in the attitude. The writer who dives into the world of writing and publishing, learning how to identify his own darlings so that he can slay them before they go to the editor (even though it’s not pretty and fun!) and investing the time in learning the ins and outs of the ever-changing world of book publishing will end up with a career as an author—and loving it! 

Author's Bio

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

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

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Connect with Lauren: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

Here is information on the latest of her books and a giveaway:


After months of marital bliss, Jessica Faraday and Murphy Thornton are still discovering and adjusting to their life together. Settled in their new home, everything appears to be perfect … except in the middle of the night when, in darkest shadows of her subconscious, a deep secret from Jessica’s past creeps to the surface to make her strike out at Murphy.

When investigative journalist Dallas Walker tells the couple about her latest case, known as the Pine Bridge Massacre, they realize Jessica may have witnessed the murder of a family living near a winery owned by distant relatives she was visiting and suppressed the memory.

Determined to uncover the truth and find justice for the murder victims, Jessica and Murphy return to the scene of the crime with Dallas Walker, a spunky bull-headed Texan. Can this family reunion bring closure for a community touched by tragedy or will this prickly get-together bring an end to the Thorny Rose couple?

Buy the Book: Amazon ~ Add on Goodreads

Book Trailer:

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Blog Tour: THE DRAWING GAME by Deirdre Verne

 The Drawing Game (A Sketch in Crime Mystery)

Release Date – December 25, 2016
Gatekeeper Press


A lover of all things green, CeCe Prentice is not impressed when a fully-sustainable development, Green Acres, pops up next to her family’s homestead. It’s not so much the ridiculous price tag of the million dollar homes built entirely from re-usable materials and powered by the sun, but rather the new neighbors who think they can simply buy a green lifestyle.

To make matters worse, one homeowner turns out to be CeCe’s high school nemesis, Phoebe Purcell, a hair-tossing vamp who tried to break up CeCe and her long-time boyfriend, Charlie.

Already disillusioned by the so-called eco-friendly development, CeCe’s family home is threatened when a series of power-outages at Green Acres kicks off a rash of home invasions. When neighbors start showing up dead, the mood at Green Acres turns south. But when Charlie, CeCe’s on-again, off-again love interest is implicated in the murders, CeCe springs into action when she discovers the only clue – a portrait she painted years ago.


The Prentice family is rather interesting in their own right. This story has it all - the ex-boyfriend and the new boyfriend at odds over a murder, an old beau of her mother's, and the very upscale, supposedly eco-friendly, Green Acres with blackouts and neighbors who aren't so neighborly.  CeCe is an artist and freegan and has a great memory for detail. Her relationship with Frank and the local police this time around is both romantic and as a sketch artist.  

This was a unique read from the start. CeCe is interesting and complex as a character, and her voice is strong - and at times entertaining. The story moves quickly, with many turns and complications, some expected and some not so much. This can be read as a stand alone - I haven't read DRAWING CONCLUSIONS of DRAWING BLOOD, though I may pick them up. 

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

About The Author

Deirdre Verne is the author of Drawing Conclusions (2015), Drawing Blood (Feb 2016) and The Drawing Game (Dec 2017). Deirdre’s interest in green living inspired her to create an off-the-grid character, CeCe Prentice, who Dumpster dives her way through the Sketch in Crime mystery series. “Verne’s mystery is a winner…” Kirkus Reviews. A member of Sisters in Crime, Deirdre’s stories appear in all three NY chapter anthologies – Murder New York Style, Murder New York Style: Fresh Slices and Family Matters.

Author Links





Purchase Links
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Monday, February 6, 2017

Blog Tour: 15 MINUTES : A Maizie Albright Star Detective Humous Mystery by Larissa Reinhart

Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher: Past Perfect Press (January 24, 2017)
Paperback: 341 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0997885323
E-Book ASIN: B01N77ZK94

#10days #findthewoman #getthejob #doNOTfallinlove

When ex-teen star Maizie Albright returns to her Southern hometown of Black Pine, Georgia, she hoped to rid herself of Hollywood tabloid and reality show hell for a new career as a private investigator. Instead, Hollyweird follows her home. Maizie’s costar crushing, but now for her gumshoe boss. Her stage-monster mother still demands screen time. Her latest rival wants her kicked off the set, preferably back to a California prison.

By entangling herself in a missing person’s case, she must reprise her most famous role. The job will demand a performance of a lifetime. But this time, the stakes are real and may prove deadly.

“I was already a huge fan of Larissa Reinhart’s “Cherry Tucker” series, but in her new mystery series, FIFTEEN MINUTES, she had me at the end of the first line: “Donuts.” Maizie Albright is the kind of fresh, fun, and feisty “star detective” I love spending time with, a kind of Nancy Drew meets Lucy Ricardo. Move over, Janet Evanovich. Reinhart is my new “star mystery writer!” — Penny Warner, Author of DEATH OF A CHOCOLATE CHEATER and THE CODE BUSTERS CLUB

“Hollywood glitz meets backwoods grit in this fast-paced ride on D-list
celeb Maizie Albright’s waning star—even as it’s reborn in a spectacular
collision with her nightmarish stage mother, her
deer-pee-scented-apparel-inventing daddy…and a murderer. Sassy, sexy, and
fun, 15 Minutes is hours of enjoyment—and a wonderful start to a fun new
series from the charmingly Southern-fried Reinhart.”
— Phoebe Fox, author of THE BREAKUP DOCTOR series

“Larissa Reinhart’s newest heroine, Maizie Albright, is at once naïve and worldly. As a former child star, she craves life in the real world by becoming a PI, just like the TV character that made her famous. Armed with humor, charm, and stubborn determination, Maizie is a breath of fresh air. I adored every second of 15 Minutes. Viva la Maizie!” — Terri L. Austin, bestselling author of the ROSE STRICKLAND MYSTERIES and the NULL FOR HIRE series.


A new series, 15 MINUTES features a Hollywood Starlit who tries to escape her agent/mother who knows no boundaries by returning home to her all-natural home grown conservative father. Maizie is there by court order and has a limited number of days to become employed.  She played the role of a teen detective in Hollywood, got a degree in criminology, so the obvious job is working for the local PI.  

Needless to say, Maizie isn't ready for prime time PI work and the PI she wants to work for isn't exactly thrilled. Things get dicey with many twists and turns and embarrassing (for Maizie) situations.  This was a fun read - Maizie is definitely unique. I've enjoyed the "Cherry Tucker" series, and look forward to watching Maizie's growth and future exploits. 

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


Mystery and Maizie Albright Star Detective series. The first in the Cherry Tucker series, Portrait of a Dead Guy, is a 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist, 2012 The Emily finalist, and 2011 Dixie Kane Memorial winner. She loves books, food, and travel in any and all combinations.

Her family and Cairn Terrier, Biscuit, live in Nagoya, Japan, but they still call Georgia home. You can see them on HGTV’s House Hunters International “Living for the Weekend in Nagoya” episode. Visit her website, find her chatting on Facebook, Instagram, and Goodreads, and sign up for her newsletter at http://smarturl.it/larissanewsletter.

If you enjoy her books, please leave a review. She sends you virtual hugs and undying gratitude for your support!

Social Media Links:

Webpage – http://larissareinhart.com/

Newsletter signup: http://smarturl.it/larissanewsletter

Official: http://www.facebook.com/RisWrites

Friend me: https://www.facebook.com/larissareinhartwriter

Watch me: http://instagram.com/larissareinhart

Follow me: https://twitter.com/LarissaReinhart

Pin me: http://pinterest.com/LarissaReinhart/

Read with me: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5806614.Larissa_Reinhart

Chat with me: https://www.facebook.com/groups/mysteryminions/

Link to our House Hunters International episode: http://www.hgtv.com/shows/house-hunters-international/episodes/living-for-the-weekend-in-nagoya-japan#episode-tunein

Saturday, February 4, 2017

GUEST POST: Interview of Bobbie Baxter (Cassie Baxter Mysteries)

Today it is my pleasure to have a guest post and interview of Bobby Baxter of the Cassie Baxter Mysteries and a giveaway courtesy of author Cindy Blackburn:

Hi! I’m Maxine Tibbitts, and I write a weekly column in the local paper for Lake Elizabeth, Vermont, detailing all the latest news around town. Some folks claim I’m a gossip columnist, but I only report the facts. No, really! Heaven knows I don’t need to exaggerate to make my column exciting. It may be teeny tiny, but there’s always something going on in Lake Elizabeth. We have lots of fascinating residents, but the most interesting of all is Cassie Baxter. And isn’t it convenient that I live next door to the Baxters? That’s Cassie and her father Bobby Baxter.

Take my advice and read Unexpected and Unbelievable, to get Cassie’s opinion about everything and anything, (including a couple of murders!). When you do so, you’ll notice that Cassie has much to say about living with her father. She claims Bobby drives her nuts, but between you and me, I think Cassie is Looney Tunes with or without her father’s help! So when Christa asked me to submit an interview from a resident of our little town, I chose Bobby. High time the man got to tell his side of things!! Here goes…

Maxine: So Bobby, according to what we hear from your daughter, you drive her nuts. But I’ll ask the opposite question: Does your daughter Cassie drive you nuts? After all, it’s a little unusual that a 40-something woman is living with her seventy-year-old father.

Bobby: Thank you for asking! Yes! Cassie does indeed drive me nuts. For instance, the girl insists she’s not a morning person and complains each and every morning when I wake her up before 5 a.m. But Cassie knows that deep down inside we Baxters are all morning people.

Maxine: Did you just say, before 5 a.m.? Did you just say, each and every morning?

Bobby: I did! It’s the best time of day! Once Cassie stops complaining, she proves to me, each and every day, that she IS a morning person. I sit down on the rocking chair at the foot of her bed, and we discuss the latest plot twist of my latest Chance Dooley story. Cassie is so good at getting Chance out of all the pickles he gets into. I only wish she were better at getting herself out of her own pickles. You have heard about the latest murder?

Maxine: Whoa! Back up! Let’s start with Chance Dooley. Explain to our readers, please.

Bobby: I’m a retired English teacher, and when I retired and moved up here to Vermont, I took up writing science fiction stories. Chance Dooley is the hero and star of these stories. He owns and operates Dooley’s Delivery Service: The Delivery Service That Delivers Where No Delivery Service Has Ever Delivered Before! Chance is a whiz-bang pilot, and he flies his Spaceship Destiny here, there, and everywhere throughout the Hollow Galaxy. But the Destiny, though it be state of the art technology for the 51st Century, is a tad temperamental—she has a bad habit of breaking down at the most inopportune times and in the most remote corners of the galaxy. That’s why Chance finds himself in so many pickles, you see.

Maxine: Umm, and you say Cassie helps you plot these stories?

Bobby: She’s a great help! And now so is little Truman. The child is so imaginative. He fits right in with us Baxters.

Maxine: Perhaps you should tell us about this latest addition to your household.

Bobby: Truman? Another fine example of how Cassie drives me nuts! Just the other day, she comes home with a five year child, right out of the blue, and tells me she’s agreed to take care of him, because he’s in need of a temporary guardian. Out of the blue! The child is absolutely no relation to us, and Cassie is not even a kid-person! Why do these things always happen to her? She manages to get into more pickles than Chance Dooley. Pickle, after pickle, after pickl—

Maxine: Speaking of pickles, I hear Cassie is involved in yet another murder investigation?

Bobby: I told you the girl drives me nuts. But, alas, I’m quite proud of her also. She has a good heart—the way she’s helping Truman being a good example of that, and she does seem to have a knack at solving murders.

Maxine: Which brings us to Cassie’s love life, doesn’t it? Is she or isn’t she involved with that handsome state trooper I see over at your house all the times of the day and night?

Bobby: You mean Captain Jason Sterling. Cassie swears there’s nothing going on there, other than this most recent murder investigation. Personally, I don’t know what to think, because the girl is head over heels about Joe Wylie. And he feels the same way about her.

Maxine: For those who don’t know, Joe Wylie is another neighbor. Cassie and Joe have been quite an ‘item’ in our little town, haven’t they, Bobby?

Bobby: Indeed. But Cassie insists I stay out of her love life. I try to give advice, but Cassie says that drives her nuts.

Maxine: Oh my! Things do seem to be even more exciting than usual over at your house—what with romantic entanglements, unsolved murders, and a five year old child! Perhaps we should direct folks to Unexpected to learn the whole story?

Bobby: Excellent idea, Maxine. We’re having a very busy autumn hereabouts, so come on up to Lake Elizabeth, Vermont, where the water is growing colder, the leaves are turning orange, and my daughter, Cassie Baxter, is going nuts.


Learn more about Cassie, Bobby, Truman, Maxine, and the whole lovable gang at Lake Elizabeth, Vermont in UNEXPECTED, the second Cassie Baxter Mystery. New release! Here’s the scoop:

Small sleuth, tiny town, unfailing fun.

Welcome to Lake Elizabeth, Vermont, where the water’s growing colder, the leaves are turning orange, and Cassie Baxter is going nuts. Who wouldn’t go nuts with this latest unexpected development? Meet five-year-old Truman Tripp. Cassie, who is most definitely not a kid person, can’t understand why his mother left the child with her. But some even more perplexing problems soon present themselves, and Cassie’s already Looney Tunes life gets even loonier. Expect the unexpected when Lake Elizabeth’s most unlikely duo, Cassie and Truman, team up to catch a killer.

The Cassie Baxter Mysteries: They’re not Cue Balls, but they are screw balls.

Meet the Author

Cindy Blackburn writes cozy mysteries because she thinks grim reality is way overrated. When she’s not thinking up unlikely plot twists and ironing out the quirks and kinks of her lovable characters, Cindy is feeding her fat cat Betty or taking long walks with her cute hubby John. A native Vermonter who hates snow, Cindy divides her time between the south and the north. 
Most of the year you’ll find her in South Carolina. But come summer she’ll be on the porch of her lakeside shack in Vermont. Yep, it’s a place very similar to Lake Elizabeth. Cindy’s favorite TV show is The Big Bang Theory, her favorite movie is Moonstruck, and her favorite color is purple. Cindy dislikes vacuuming, traffic, and lima beans. 


** Cindy is giving away a digital copy of UNEXPECTED. Contest ends February 11, 2017. Leave a comment to be entered in the random drawing. The e-book will be sent directly by the author. **

Learn more about Cindy Blackburn and her books at www.cbmysteries.com. Cindy can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Blog Tour/Review: A PALETTE FOR MURDER (An Aurora Anderson Mystery) by Sybil Johnson

Cozy Mystery

3rd in Series
Henery Press (January 31, 2017)
Paperback: 268 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1635111415
E-Book ASIN: B01M74ZIL3


A killer heat wave settles over Seagull Lane…

Summer’s sizzling in Vista Beach, the home of computer programmer and tole-painting enthusiast Aurora (Rory) Anderson. The abnormally high temperatures are hard on everyone in the quiet Los Angeles county beach community, especially the city’s homeless population. Residents are doing everything they can to stay cool, including leaving windows open to catch the faintest breeze. Not the best idea when a string of burglaries is plaguing nearby towns.

Still, Rory doesn’t expect to find her neighbor’s body just a few doors down. When suspicion falls on a friend and fellow painter, Rory must discover the truth before the police paint the wrong picture and send her friend away permanently.


When there is a murder and some think her good friend might be the killer based on an argument, Rory starts investigating despite the nice Detective's frequent requests that she stop. Then her friend Kit is found under the dock unconscious, a victim as well. Kit is homeless and has muttered something about the night of the murder and the victim, but it's not looking good for him. Rory arranges for the care of his dog, Buddy, and tries to find any relatives or the girl named Zoe. 
In her quest for the killer and Kit's history (not to mention who hit him in the head), she stumbles on a lot of clues. 

This is an enjoyable read with interesting characters and plot turns. There are the usual suspects, but Johnson keeps you guessing until the end. The good and bad energy is well-balanced and the pace is steady.  Readers of cozy mysteries will enjoy this one. This is the third in the Aurora Anderson Mystery series, but can be read as a stand alone without any problem.  

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


Sybil Johnson’s love affair with reading began in kindergarten with “The Three Little Pigs.” Visits to the library introduced her to Encyclopedia Brown, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and a host of other characters. Fast forward to college where she continued reading while studying Computer Science. After a rewarding career in the computer industry, Sybil decided to try her hand at writing mysteries. Her short fiction has appeared in Mysterical-E and Spinetingler Magazine, among others. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in Southern California where she enjoys tole painting, studying ancient languages and spending time with friends and family.
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