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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July 21 – The Book Decoder – REVIEW
July 21 – Christy's Cozy Corners – REVIEW
July 22 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
July 22 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
July 23 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT
July 23 – The Book Decoder – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
July 24 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT
July 25 – Books, Movies, Reviews. Oh my! – REVIEW
July 26 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST
July 27 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW
July 28 – Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
July 29 – Sneaky the Library Cat’s Blog - CHARACTER INTERVIEW
July 30 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW
July 31 - eBook addicts – REVIEW
August 1 - That's What She's Reading – REVIEW, GUEST POST
August 2 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT
August 3 – I'm All About Books - SPOTLIGHT

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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July 21 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – GUEST POST
July 21 – Baroness' Book Trove – REVIEW
July 22 – I'm All About Books – SPOTLIGHT
July 22 – Jane Reads – CHARACTER GUEST POST
July 23 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT, RECIPE
July 24 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
July 24 – Thoughts in Progress – SPOTLIGHT
July 25 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews - REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
July 25 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST
July 26 – Christy's Cozy Corners – GUEST POST
July 26 – Gimme The Scoop Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
July 27 – The Book Decoder - REVIEW
July 27 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW
July 28 – Mysteries with Character - AUTHOR INTERVIEW
July 28 – Dee-Scoveries – SPOTLIGHT
July 29 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book - REVIEW
July 29 – Here's How It Happened – SPOTLIGHT
July 30 – Ascroft, eh? - CHARACTER INTERVIEW
July 30 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT
July 31 - Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
August 1 - Literary Gold - CHARACTER GUEST POST
August 1 - Diane Reviews Books – GUEST POST
August 2 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, GUEST POST
August 3 – A Wytch's Book Review Blog – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

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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July 13 – The Book Decoder – REVIEW
July 13 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT
July 14 – I'm All About Books – SPOTLIGHT
July 14 – A Wytch's Book Review Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
July 15 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW
July 15 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
July 16 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
July 16 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT
July 17 – Here's How It Happened – REVIEW
July 17 – The Book Diva's Reads – GUEST POST
July 18 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT
July 19 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
July 19 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW
July 20 – Christy's Cozy Corners – CHARACTER GUEST POST
July 20 – My Reading Journeys – SPOTLIGHT
July 21 – Book Club Librarian – REVIEW
July 21 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
July 22 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT
July 22 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW
July 23 – eBook Addicts – REVIEW
July 23 – Diane Reviews Books – SPOTLIGHT
July 24 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW
July 25 – Elizabeth McKenna - Author – SPOTLIGHT
July 25 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT
July 26 – Baroness' Book Trove – REVIEW

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.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Blog Tour and Character Interview LARCENY AT THE LIBRARY by Colleen J. Shogan


Congressional staffer Kit Marshall is excited to attend a historic event displaying the contents of Abraham Lincoln’s pockets the night he was assassinated at the Library of Congress. The next day, a senior librarian is dead and several invaluable artifacts are missing. Kit’s husband Doug discovers the body and immediately becomes a suspect in the death and theft. Kit springs into action once again to figure out who is responsible for the crimes. Her sleuthing takes her to the DC Public Library, the National Portrait Gallery, Ford’s Theatre, and the most ornate, beautiful rooms at the Library of Congress. At the end, Kit must put her own life on the line to retrieve her most valuable possession, which goes unexpectedly missing as she hunts down the killer.

Character Interview with Kit Marshall

Welcome, Kit. Tell us a little bit about yourself--both something we learn from Larceny at the Library and something that readers might not guess?

My name is Kit Marshall and I work on Capitol Hill as a chief of staff for a member of Congress in the House of Representatives. In addition to my duties at work, I’m often called upon to investigate crimes in our nation’s capital. Some readers might think that my life is all about politics, but that’s not exactly true. My husband Doug is a historian who works at the Library of Congress and I have a best friend who is always grappling with romantic complications. In addition to solving murders, I’ve got a lot to juggle!

Who's the character you get along with the best? Why?

Doug used to try to stop me from sleuthing because he thought it was too dangerous, but now he enjoys helping me find the guilty party. In Larceny at the Library, he became a prime suspect for the murder, so he was especially eager for me to find the killer.

Why do murders always seem to happen when you’re around?

I think it’s because I meet a lot of people who are often in conflict with each other. Jealousy, intrigue, greed, and envy are rife in Washington, D.C. Those are prime motives for murder and mayhem, and somehow, I always seem to get caught up in the middle of it. I used to doubt my ability to figure out the mystery, but now I’ve had plenty of practice and I’m more confident in my amateur sleuthing abilities.

Just between you and me: What do you really think of Colleen J. Shogan?

She tells my stories fairly and accurately. What I like about Colleen is that she always tries to describe what it’s like to work and live in Washington, D.C.
What's next for you? 

I think it’s time for a vacation. My next adventure might take place on a beach, although murder is sure to follow me!

About Colleen J. Shogan

Colleen J. Shogan has been reading mysteries since the age of six. A political scientist by training, Colleen has taught American politics at several universities and previously worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative staffer in the United States Senate and as a senior executive at the Library of Congress. She is currently the Senior Vice President of the White House Historical Association.

Colleen is a member of Sisters in Crime. “Stabbing in the Senate” was awarded the Next Generation Indie prize for Best Mystery in 2016. “Homicide in the House” was a 2017 finalist for the RONE Award for Best Mystery. “Calamity at the Continental Club” was a 2018 finalist in the “best cozy mystery” at Killer Nashville. She lives in Arlington, Virginia with her husband Rob and their beagle mutt Conan.

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Tour Participants

July 15 – The Book Decoder – REVIEW
July 16 – The Book Diva’s Reads – SPOTLIGHT
July 16 – Christa Reads and Writes – SPOTLIGHT
July 17 – Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic – SPOTLIGHT
July 17 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT
July 18 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT
July 18 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW
July 19 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST
July 20 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW
July 20 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT
July 21 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
July 21 – Ruff Drafts – REVIEW
July 22 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
July 22 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW
July 23 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
July 23 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT
July 24 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
July 24 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW
July 25 – Here’s How It Happened – SPOTLIGHT
July 26 – Diane Reviews Books – GUEST POST
July 26 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
July 27 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT
July 28 – Jane Reads – GUEST POST

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Blog tour and Review: DASH AWAY ALL : A Merry and Bright Handcrafted Mystery by Christina Freeburn


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…Merry Winters is excited for her dream-come-true moment: Being an on-site crafter for a Christmas movie. The tidings of joy are short-lived as she finds herself becoming a referee, dealing with a raging Ebenezer, participating in a bucket brigade, and finding evidence in a “murder.”

Is someone trying to stop the production or is it tied to a secret someone has on Luna Carmichael, the star of the movie and the queen of Christmas?

When Marie, Luna’s assistant, stumbles away from a car accident and dies, Merry believes the accident wasn’t quite so accidental. Was Luna or Marie the target? Merry finds more questions than answers, but one thing is certain: Everyone has an ulterior motive for being part of the production—including Marie.

After another murder, Merry wonders if the deaths are tied to a baby born long ago and abandoned. And more importantly, will Merry live long enough to find out?


A Christmas movie, a Christmas crafter, yet, somehow there is not a lot of Christmas spirits and the body count is rising. Aside from Merrie discovering this job wasn't her dream come true, there's now added tension between she and her friend, Paul. He got her the job through Marie who is now dead. Besides, he wants to move the relationship up a notch.  

Luna wrote the script and, although the star, not the director, she directed much of the activity. The Christmas script had a sinister twist, exposing a long kept secret. The same secret that lead to Merrie being recruited for the set. The twists and turns and strangled relationships move the story along. If you like disentangling lies and secrets, along with your Christmas cheer and crafts, this is a book for you.  This is the third in the 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 Christina Freeburn

Christina Freeburn has always loved books. There was nothing better than picking up a story and being transported to another place. The love of reading evolved into the love of writing and she’s been writing since her teenage years. Her first novel was a 2003 Library of Virginia Literary Award nominee. Her mysteries series, Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery and Merry & Bright Handcrafted Mysteries, are a mix of crafty and crime and feature heroines whose crafting time is interrupted by crime solving.

Christina served in the US Army and has also worked as a paralegal, librarian, church secretary, and golf shop pro. She lives in West Virginia with her husband, dog, and a rarely seen cat except by those who are afraid and allergic to felines.

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July 6 – A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW
July 6 – La libreria di Beppe – SPOTLIGHT
July 7 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
July 7 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT
July 8 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT
July 8 – The Book Decoder – REVIEW
July 9 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT
July 9 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – REVIEW
July 9 – Mysteries with Character – REVIEW
July 10 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW
July 10 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT
July 10 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW
July 11 – Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic – GUEST POST
July 11 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
July 12 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT
July 12 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT
July 12 – Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – SPOTLIGHT
July 13 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT
July 13 – Thoughts in Progress – GUEST POST
July 13 – Diane Reviews Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
July 14 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW
July 14 – I Read What You Write – SPOTLIGHT
July 14 – Brianne’s Book Reviews – REVIEW
July 14 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW
July 15 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW
July 15 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
July 15 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Book Review: NO SUCH THING AS A SECRET :A Brandy Alexander Mystery #1 by Shelly Fredman


Meet Brandy Alexander, a young woman from South Philadelphia with a big mouth, an even bigger heart and a little problem with impulse control. It’s not her fault trouble seems to follow her around. Okay, it is her fault, but why quibble over details?

When Brandy (a puff piece reporter for a local Los Angeles TV news station) returns to her hometown after a four year absence, she is thrilled to be reunited with friends and family. But her joy is short-lived when her best friend, John, becomes the victim of a tragic accident. Brandy is alone in thinking that the death is “no accident” and as she sets out to prove her theory, she stumbles upon a political scandal of major proportions. Things begin to heat up, when it appears that her former boyfriend, police Detective Robert Anthony DiCarlo, is involved in sabotaging the investigation. The one thing Brandy knows for sure is that people keep turning up dead and if she doesn’t get some answers fast, she could end up on the short list.

As Brandy searches out the truth, she gains some unexpected allies including sexy, dangerous, street-savvy Nicholas Santiago and the now-married Bobby, who still holds a torch for his former girlfriend.

With humor, guts and determination, Brandy tackles each challenge – be it dodging a bullet or resisting that box of Tastykakes in the cupboard. Murder, mayhem and romance abound in Shelly Fredman’s novel, proving there really is No Such Thing as a Secret.


Brandy is quite the character, returning home only for a best friend's wedding. She stayed away in LA, not quite getting over her break up with Bobby DiCarlo. She's a bit impulsive and immature, but kind hearted and loyal. When her good friend, John, is believed dead, her wish to become more than someone reporting on dog shows comes out. Unfortunately, she doesn't do well in scary situations. She is going to find his killer, even if it means getting help from Nick Santiago. Especially after someone comes after her with a hatchet. 

This was a fun read for something light while staying at home, if not very realistic. Some might find references to certain behavior offensive. This is the first in the series, and hopefully Brandy matures a little as the series continues. 

Friday, July 3, 2020

COVER REVEAL: HOLIDAYS, HIJINKS & MURDER A Stacie Maroni Mystery by Christa Nardi


It's Christmas in July and time to reveal the cover for the next Stacie Maroni mystery, Holidays, Hijinks & Murder! Release is planned for mid-August as I work on the finishing touches and get feedback from beta readers. Don't want to wait? If you'd like an Advance Reader Copy (ARC), contact me!

Deck the halls until the shots rang out. The attempt
to get Stacie in the holiday spirit falls flat when someone shoots Santa’s elf. As Stacie and friends help the elf and deal with the potential witnesses, one man stands out, in an old wool coat, the lapels blocking his face. Ignoring police demands, he disappears into the crowd only to reappear at strategic times. When the elf recovers and Santa is killed, the initial motives go up in smoke and the search is on for the true motive. With upheaval in her relationship and a killer on the loose, Stacie embraces her "bah humbug" perspective as she considers the mall Santa set up and his murder. Enjoy this cozy holiday mystery with Stacie and her friends to get you in the holiday spirit.

Here's an excerpt (though some edits are still to be made):

Read an excerpt:

By 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 the most 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.
“The security company is expanding and he needs to do the ‘meet and greet’ with new customers, something he didn’t usually do before. 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.
“And, 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 by Christa Nardi. Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved.

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