Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Blog Tour and Book Review: ALL DONE WITH IT A Dreamwalker Mystery by Maggie Toussaint


A Jane Doe jogger homicide near the swamp mystifies Dreamwalker Baxley Powell. The petite woman carried no ID, and no one recognizes her. Worse, a shadow passes from the body to a deputy, rendering him unconscious. The deputy and the corpse are dispatched to the hospital and morgue, respectively.

With summer heat and pending childbirth on her mind, Baxley’s dreamwalks into the spirit world fail to yield leads, frustrating Baxley and her deputy husband, Native American Sam Mayes. Days later, Jane Doe’s description matches a missing Mississippi woman. Turns out, her new husband is missing too. Jane’s sketchy brother-in-law and her aunt arrive, full of secrets. At Jane’s campsite, the team encounters a terrifying anomaly, nullifying Baxley’s senses. With such danger present, they must protect their unborn child. No more dreamwalks will occur until Baxley gives birth.

When her friend Bubba Paxton vanishes, Baxley sights him in a mirror, trapped between worlds with other souls. Meanwhile, the shadow invades other hosts, demanding to see Baxley. Mayes and Baxley ignore the shadow as they rescue Bubba, untangle the Jane Doe case, and handle missing persons reports.

To free the trapped people, Baxley must outwit a powerful foe. Can she stop this super villain before he steals her soul?

In this 7th Dreamwalker Mystery, female sleuth and psychic crime consultant Baxley Powell works a homicide case that leads straight to an evil force in the spirit world. The stakes? Her soul, her unborn child, and humanity’s freedom.


Baxter has to deal with more than Jane Doe's story, the phantom who keeps taking over people. She's focused on her unborn son, who appears to have some of her and Mayes' talents. Then there's hints from her mother that maybe her parents won't be around. And the rose tattoo. Lots of tension, but the motivating factor is to free all those running continuously in nowhere. 

This is the 7th in the Dreamwalker series. The plight of the characters is resolved in this book. In that respect, it is a stand alone paranormal cozy mystery. However, I suspect without reading at least some of the previous ones in the series for the history of Baxter's powers,  and her fearless ghost dog, her backstory with Rose, and where Mayes fits in, the reader may not catch all the nuances.

Complication and obstacle after obstacle, Baxter stays the course. There are some interesting, and humorous, twists in the story. If you like paranormal cozy mysteries, this one has it all. If you've read others in the story and loved them, you will not be disappointed. 

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 Maggie Toussaint

Southern author Maggie Toussaint writes cozy and paranormal mysteries, romantic suspense, and dystopian fiction, with twenty-plus fiction novels published. A three-time finalist for Georgia Author of the Year, she’s won three Silver Falchions, the Readers’ Choice, and the EPIC Awards. She’s past president of Mystery Writers of America-Southeast chapter and an officer of LowCountry Sisters In Crime. She lives in coastal Georgia, where secrets, heritage, and ancient oaks cast long shadows.

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Monday, August 10, 2020

Release Day! HOLIDAYS, HIJINKS & MURDER by Christa Nardi

I'm very excited to share the news that Holidays, Hijinks & Murder is LIVE and available in digital format and print.

Deck the mall with boughs of holly - until shots ring out.

Attempts to get Stacie in the holiday spirit fall flat when Santa’s elf finds herself in a shooter’s crosshairs. As Stacie and friends help the elf and deal with the potential witnesses, a man in the crowd stands out, the lapels of an old wool coat obscuring his face. Ignoring police demands, he disappears into the crowd only to reappear at strategic times. Initial theories go up in smoke and the search is on for the true motive. Faced with relationship turmoil and a killer on the loose, Stacie embraces her ‘bah humbug’ perspective as she seeks to identify the culprit.

Let this cozy holiday mystery novella with Stacie and her friends get you in the holiday spirit.



y choice, I avoid shopping at the mall, or anywhere else, the weekend after Thanksgiving. In high school and college, I worked retail at the holidays, so I know. People are outright nasty and aggressive about getting their Black Friday bargains. I’d spent the morning, like most Saturdays at Cornerstone Community Women’s Shelter providing trauma counseling as a volunteer. That probably didn’t help my mood.
To be honest, I was feeling pretty “bah humbug.” With my dad’s remarriage last winter, he and his wife were spending the holidays on a cruise ship and my brother, Vince, was deployed. It didn’t help, being from New England, I associated the holidays with cold weather and snow. We’d only had one frost and mostly mild weather. It didn’t feel like Christmas. To top it off, the man in my life, Kevin? We were in limbo.
My two cheery friends, Jillian and Trina, dragged me to the Beckman Springs Mall with hopes of putting me in the holiday mood and making a dent in holiday shopping. Friends for a long time, and knowing me well, they had started in before Thanksgiving and kept needling me when they picked me up. Trina was the worse of the two.
“Where’s your holiday spirit, Stacie?”
“Hey, I have a wreath and some decorations at my house.” Too busy to search out last year’s decorations, I’d gone to Target the day before Thanksgiving after they nagged me last weekend.
“You need to get in the spirit, Stacie. This could be the best Christmas ever.”
Trina bounced as she delivered her pep talk. Always dressed colorfully, Trina had on red leggings, an oversized green tunic with red swirls, and a black belt and boots. Coordinated with her outfit, she had streaks of red and green in her reddish brown hair.
“Besides, shopping is fun. Think of all the great things we could find.” Jillian added. I did like to shop, just not in crowds.
The Beckman Springs Mall wasn’t the largest around. It was the closest though, with Macy’s, Dillards, the usual mall chains, and a boutique store or two. Unlike other times of the year, the parking lot was packed. As we approached the mall, the Salvation Army person with the big red kettle rang his bell.
Inside the mall entrance, I was surprised to hear voices in song. A group of eight in Dickens era clothes were singing carols. We joined in and applauded when Jingle Bells was over. Live music was much better than the constant piped in carols in many stores since mid-October. The mall was more crowded than usual, yet not packed. Not as bad as I expected.
“Look.” I pointed to a placard indicating a special holiday event at each of the three entrances and the times. The blue entrance hosted the Dickens era singers, the yellow entrance was the place for a high school string ensemble, and the red entrance featured an elementary school chorale group. The different legs of the mall were color coded to help people remember where they parked their car.
“That’s one way to entice people to check out every store in the mall.” Jillian nodded her approval of the ploy. “Okay, let’s go to Dillards men. I know what I want to get Wade for Christmas.” Wade was Jillian’s husband. Like Jillian, he was tall with an athletic build. He worked for Global Security.
As we walked in that direction, I glanced at the stores we passed. Not unlike many other malls, one store reminded me of a chameleon, changing with the season.
“Look. Last week the displays were all Thanksgiving. They must have worked all night changing to Christmas so quickly.”
“We’ll stop there on the way out. They have cute stuff. I want to get something for Bill’s place. He has almost as much holiday spirit as you and Scrooge,” Trina groused.
“Do you have ideas for what to get Bill?” Jillian turned to me and added, “Kevin?”
“I don’t have any idea what to get Kevin or if we are even exchanging gifts. From what he told me last week, he’s not sure he will get home for Christmas.”
“Don’t stress over this, Stacie. You’re invited to dinner at Bill’s on Christmas Eve. Along with half the Beckman Springs police, of course. Everyone is bringing something. You can be in charge of making sure there’s plenty of rocky road ice cream. If Kevin’s around, he’s invited.”
Bill and Trina were an unlikely couple. He was very quiet, reserved, and a policeman in Beckman Springs. In contrast, she was wild, impulsive, exuberant, and full of energy. He wasn’t particularly social and I figured the party was more Trina than him.
“Oh, Trina, that’s so nice of you and Bill.”
I gave her a hug, which she barely tolerated.
“His place is boring, all grays. That’s why we have to find some stuff to spruce up Bill’s place.”
“He’s not into the decoration thing?” Jillian asked.
Trina snorted. “He says I am all the decoration he needs.”
We laughed. “That is very sweet. And you do dress the part.”
“I want to get Bill something wild. Do they make ugly holiday sweaters for men?” Trina smiled and emitted a wicked laugh.
Jillian and I chuckled.
“I’m going to check out the housewares section. I have an idea for my dad and Deanna.”
“We’ll find you there, then. Wade needs some new shirts and a sweater. Check out the decorations over there, too, Stacie.”
We all went in separate directions. After an hour of shopping, Dillards got a chunk of our change. Trina didn’t find an ugly sweater, but did find the mixer her mother wanted. I picked up a holiday platter for my dad. Jillian had two bags, all shirts, and Wade had the start of a new wardrobe.
“What’s with all the shirts, Jillian?” Trina asked.
“With the security company expanding, he needs to do the ‘meet and greet’ with new customers, something he rarely does. He needs to look the part, whether he likes it or not.”
“No pants? Only shirts?” It seemed odd to me unless the ‘meet and greet’ was virtual.
“The look will be pressed jeans with more formal shirts. A compromise.” She shrugged and we headed in the direction of Macy’s, the anchor on the red leg. We spotted the sign for Santa up ahead in the mall center.
“Think we can get our picture with Santa? Maybe all three of us. Really make his day.” Trina joked.
“Trina, what would you ask Santa for?”
Jillian laughed as Trina turned away, not answering her question. We were joking and laughing when a shot rang out and people started screaming and running for the exit. Then another shot.

Excerpt from Holidays, Hijinks & Murder. Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved.

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Thursday, August 6, 2020

Book Review: A BODYGUARD TO REMEMBER by Alison Bruce


Prudence Hartley has the usual single mom problems: getting her kids to school on time; juggling a gazillion errands while trying to get a full day’s work done; oh, and don’t forget about dinner.

But Pru’s problems become a tad more complicated and a lot more dangerous when she finds a dead man in her house. Or a dead spy to be exact. Suddenly, a federal agent named David Merrick shows up and whisks her and her kids into protective custody. Pru has so many questions spinning through her brain she doesn’t know where to begin. How is she going to keep her kids safe? What was the dead spy looking for in her house? Why are the spies after her? Oh, and there’s one more question . . . just a pesky, minor thing. Why does Merrick have to be so damn sexy and protective?


Pru is divorced with shared custody of her two children with her ex-husband and his new wife. She is a steady, stable person, perhaps even boring, until she gets home and finds a spy, dead, in her living room. Her children couldn't be more excited. Her ex couldn't be more distraught. Pru does her best to keep it together. Only her attraction to Merrick, the FBI agent assigned to protect her is a major distraction. 

The story is predicated on the idea that some organization is using unknowing, average persons, as couriers of information. With Pru's rigid schedule and leaving her things unguarded at the Starbuck two days a week, she's an easy patsy. Enter the spy, though what he was looking for is one of the many questions to be answered. 

With the twists and turns and spy aspect, the story moves along a good paste. Pru is an interesting and likable character and her children are also interesting with multiple dimensions. Her ex? Not so much. Merrick is determined to keep his distance and waiting for Pru and him to connect is one more tension. Not a cozy mystery, more suspense, this was a good read. It is slated as Book 1 of Men in Uniform, though I couldn't find Book 2. If I could, it would be on my TBR list.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Blog Tour & Review: DERAILED A Kelly Pruett Mystery by Mary Keliikoa


A dying wish. A secret world.
Can this grieving investigator stay on the right track?

PI Kelly Pruett is determined to make it on her own. And juggling clients at her late father’s detective agency, a controlling ex, and caring for a deaf daughter was never going to be easy. She takes it as a good sign when a letter left by her dad ties into an unsolved case of a young woman struck by a train.

Hunting down the one person who can prove the mysterious death was not just a drunken accident, Kelly discovers this witness is in no condition to talk. And the closer she gets to the truth the longer her list of sleazy suspects with murderous motives grows. Each clue exposes another layer of the victim's steamy double life.

Can Kelly pinpoint the murderer, or is she on the fast track to disaster?
If you like intricate family dynamics, secrets, including plot twists and turns, then this story is for you. DERAILED is the first book in the Kelly Pruett Mystery series.


Kelly always emulated her father and his PI work, trained to be a PI, and then he died leaving her the business and a letter that ties into a recent death and a request that she help the mother, should she ever need help. Kelly's PI work has been limited and hadn't included dealing with a possible murder. She takes the case, pursues information, and finds out about some things she probably didn't want to know.  

It's not a straightforward mystery, and it's complicated by Kelly's ex, her next door neighbor/ex-mother-in-law, her six year old Mitz, her dog, and a policeman named Kyle. There is tension and twists to the story as she uncovers lies and omitted information, not all related to the woman's death. The combined tensions keep the story moving and readers will be engaged. I'll be looking for the next in the series. 

Readers beware, the story is more suspense than cozy, and there are sexual references some might find offensive.

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 The Author

Mary Keliikoa spent the first 18 years of her adult life working around lawyers. Combining her love of all things legal and books, she creates a twisting mystery where justice prevails. She has had a short story published in Woman’s World and is the author of the PI Kelly Pruett Mystery Series.

At home in Washington, she enjoys spending time with her family and her writing companions/fur-kids. When not at home, you can find Mary on a beach on the Big Island where she and her husband recharge. But even under the palm trees and blazing sun she’s plotting her next murder—novel that is.

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Monday, July 27, 2020

Blog Tour & Review: QUICHE OF DEATH A Sugar and spice Mystery by Mary Lee Ashford


When editor Sugar Calloway and baker Dixie Spicer went into business creating cookbooks, they found a sideline as amateur sleuths. Now a bitter family grudge could leave a fatal aftertaste…

At Sugar & Spice Community Cookbooks, the friends and business partners have secured a tasty new commission: producing a cookbook for the Arbor family. The Arbors have made their fortune in quiches, and Sugar and Spice have been invited to a weekend gathering where all the siblings, along with crusty matriarch Marta, will be in attendance. But it’s soon clear that this trip will come with a hefty slice of drama.

Theo, the only grandson, arrives with his flaky fiancĂ©e, Collette, who quickly stirs up trouble . . . and is found dead the next day. As the investigation unfolds, secrets—and recipes—are shared, and Sugar and Spice realize just how messy and murderous the situation may be. As another family member falls ill, can they solve the case without getting egg on their faces . . .and a target on their backs?

* Includes delicious recipes! *

Read an excerpt:

“Quiche me, you fool.”
The demand was followed by hoots of laughter as the sister—Jezzie, I think her name was—leaned into her spouse for a smooch. He hesitated but obliged.
I smiled at the boisterous group who clearly shared some inside joke about quiche and kissing. The warmth of the table and the sibling love melted my heart like butter on a biscuit. Taking a sip of water, I glanced over at Dixie, who sat across from me at the huge oak table.
She rolled her eyes.
“What?” I mouthed.
Dixie shrugged. Jezzie had perhaps a teensy bit too much wine, but still: When did my best friend and business partner get so darn stuffy? Maybe it was the inside-joke part that she found off-putting.
But we did know quiche was the family’s stock-in-trade, so it wasn’t that much of a stretch to figure out the expression had something to do with the Arbor family’s food business. After all, that was why we were here.

Excerpt from Quiche of Death by Mary Lee Ashford. Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved.


An interesting setting and context - a family home with the matriarch closest to the grandson, for the primary purpose of creating a cookbook based on the family business. Sugar and Dixie have their work cut out for them as they sort recipes and try for the personal touch. When Collette is found dead, they suggest putting off the project, if only out of respect. The family disagrees and the project moves forward, Sugar taking possession of Collette's dog.

The key mystery here is the why of Collette's death. Noone other than Theo even knew her until they arrived and announced their engagement. The pace of the story is steady and the murderer nor the motive is truly obvious until the end. That's a good thing. There are some humorous moments and some tense moments. This is the third in a series, but can be read easily as a stand-alone. And there are some yummy recipes! If you like culinary mysteries with the added bonus of creating a homey cookbook, you'll enjoy Ashford's contribution to the genre.

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 the Author

Mary Lee Ashford is a lifelong bibliophile, and avid reader, and supporter of public libraries.

In addition to writing the Sugar and Spice series for Kensington Books, she also writes as half of the writing team of Sparkle Abbey, author of the national bestselling Pampered Pets mystery series from Bell Bridge Books.
Prior to publishing Mary Lee won first place in the Daphne du Maurier contest, sponsored by the Kiss of Death chapter of RWA, and was a finalist in Murder in the Grove’s mystery contest, as well as Killer Nashville’s Claymore Dagger contest.

She is the founding president of Sisters in Crime – Iowa and a past board member of the Mystery Writers of America Midwest chapter, as well as a member of Novelists, Inc., Romance Writers of America, Kiss of Death the RWA Mystery Suspense chapter, Sisters in Crime, and the SinC internet group Guppies. She loves encouraging other writers and is a frequent presenter for writers’ groups.

Mary Lee has a passionate interest in creativity and teaches a university-level course in Creative Management to MPA candidates, as well as presenting workshops and blogging about creativity.
She currently resides in the midwest with her husband, Tim, and cat, Zoey. Her delights are reading and enjoying her two sons and daughters-in-law, and six grandchildren.

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Friday, July 24, 2020

Blog Tour and Review: DEATH BY WINDMILL A Mother's Day Murder in Amsterdam by Jennifer S. Alderson


A Mother’s Day trip to the Netherlands turns deadly when a guest plummets from a windmill. Was it an accident or a murder? For Lana Hansen, the answer will mean freedom or imprisonment for someone close to her…

Wanderlust Tours guide Lana Hansen and her mother, Gillian, haven’t seen eye to eye in over a decade, ever since Lana was wrongly fired from her job as an investigative reporter. So when Lana’s boss invites Gillian to join her upcoming Mother’s Day tour to the Netherlands, Lana is less than pleased.

What could be worse than spending ten days with her estranged mother? Lana is about to find out…

The tour begins on a high note when the majority of guests bond during their visit to the Keukenhof flower gardens and a cruise around the picturesque canals of Amsterdam.

Despite her initial reservations, Lana thinks this might be the best group she had ever led. Until she discovers one of her guests—a recent retiree named Priscilla—is the person who destroyed her career in journalism.

All Lana can see is red. But circumstances dictate that she figure out a way to lead the tour, make peace with her mother, and not murder her guest. She doesn’t know whether she can handle the pressure.

Lana needn’t worry. Shortly after their fight, Priscilla falls off the balcony of a historic windmill at Zaanse Schans. Was she pushed or simply careless? The investigating officers suspect murder—and topping their suspect list is Lana’s mom!

Can Lana save Gillian? Or will her mother end up spending the rest of her days in a Dutch prison?


If you can imagine a mother - adult daughter tour to the Netherlands, with many unresolved issues, you get a sense of the tension. It ends up, that in this random group, one person in three different pairings had an issue with one of the mothers, Priscilla. When she falls from the balcony of the historic windmill, the suspects are many. Unfortunately for Lana, her mother, Gillian, is the prime suspect. Although conflicted in her feelings for her mother, she stands by her innocence in the murder.

Priscilla is that character you can predict will be the victim, and nobody is very sorry, not even her own daughter. Lana, Randy, and Dotty make up the tour people and do their best in this difficult situation. As the story unfolds, so does the tension. And in the process, the reader gets a glimpse of the Netherlands. This is a well-crafted story with raw emotions on many levels. It is part of the Travel Can Be Murder series, but can easily be read as a stand alone mystery. 

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 Jennifer S. Alderson

Jennifer S. Alderson was born in San Francisco, raised in Seattle, and currently lives in Amsterdam. After traveling extensively around Asia, Oceania, and Central America, she moved to Darwin, Australia, before settling in the Netherlands. Her background in journalism, multimedia development, and art history enriches her novels. When not writing, she can be found in a museum, biking around Amsterdam, or enjoying a coffee along the canal while planning her next research trip.
Jennifer’s love of travel, art, and culture inspires her award-winning mystery series—the Zelda Richardson Mysteries and Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mysteries—and standalone stories.

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Monday, July 20, 2020

Book Review: A CHRISTMAS IN MONTANA Embers on Ice Book 1 by Elysia Strife

It's hot in Texas - very hot! I took a break from the heat with a little Christmas in July and a bit of romance ... 

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Orion McNalley has a heart the size of Texas—and a temper to match.
Years in service and living alone have made Matt Jefferson one callous man.
Will the spirit of the season bring them together?
Or will the secrets they hold inside keep them apart?

Christmas is quickly approaching. Orion’s sleepy Montana town is bustling with returning family, vacationing students, and several unexpected visitors: a friend on the rebound, Orion’s volatile ex, and a handsome silver-eyed stranger.

When a surprise letter arrives from Matt's mother, it leads him deep into a snowy world of holiday magic and Irish fire that threaten to crack his shell.

Filled with holiday humor, tempers, sweet romance, and lots of food, Orion and Matt rediscover what it means to have hope, faith, love, joy, and a belief in something greater than themselves.

Some language and violence.


Orion is divorced and after her relationship with Boone has a definite "no dating" policy. She works as a bartender and enjoys her sleepy town where everyone helps everyone else. The daughter of a famous body builder, she's no slouch and can hold her own, competed herself. It's the holidays and her good friend is coming to visit and she's already seen the writing on the wall. He wants more than friendship and she knows better. Then there's Matt. A stranger in town, ex-military and fighting his own demons. He's inherited a family cabin in the sleepy town and what better place to hide?

Snowstorms and other factors bring Matt and Orion together. There's a lot going on, but Orion and Matt are able (with a little nudge from Orion's parents) to let down their walls at least enough for Matt to decide he'll figure out how to work from the small town rather than returning to the city life. Probably more realistic than many HEAs, there's no big engagement or wedding. Both are cautious and, as suggested by Orion's dad, they're going to date first. There's also the bullet Boone left in her jacket as unfinished business.

This is the first in a 2-book series. I enjoyed the first enough to purchase the second, but readers should be aware that their relationship and the threat of Boone are left hanging. If you want the happy ending with all the resolution, you'll need to read both books.