Friday, December 31, 2021

Happy New Year 2022

Goodbye 2021 and Hello 2022! A year ago we started with some optimism regarding COVID-19 and despite the current surge of cases, we are decidedly better off than a year ago. Just not where we hoped to be.  Still as I look back over the year, I can identify some goals reached and events of note.  On the family side, the most notable event wass the birth of my first great niece! (I only had nephews and great nephews before).  

Looking back, my goals haven't changed very much:

  • Be kind. Do something nice for someone, pay it forward, make someone else smile.
  • Think positive. Find the silver lining no matter how hard it is to find one.
  • Stay in touch with people I care about even if it is easier not to make the effort. It is too easy to become isolated.
  • Finish the "hanger-on tasks" from work and truly retire!
  • Be productive with my writing, starting with the new series to debut later this month! You can get a free copy of the prequel to the Izzie Di Sante mysteries, Reawakening the Itch, HERE. It will release on January 23rd. The first full book, An Itch for Justice, is scheduled to release on January 26th. 
  • Do better at completing reviews and posting on my blog, keeping in communication with my readers and other authors.
  • Audiobooks was a new (unplanned) endeavor this past year. Hopefully, all of my backlist will be available in audiobook format by the end of 2022.
  • Continue to work on weight, fitness, better eating habits, and all that I can do to stay healthy
  • Work on the "Travel Bucket List." A lot of travel was postponed, though we did take a short trip to Lexington, KY. Why Lexington, KY of all places? My husband wanted to check out the bourbon trail and I wanted to visit the general location where a favorite series of mine (Bluegrass series by Kathleen Brooks) is set. It sure sounded beautiful and it was. We'll be taking some time this month for travel, or at least that is the plan...

For all of you, my husband and I wish you all the best for the coming year.  As you plan your reading for the next year, here are some ideas for you (keep scrolling for the rafflecopter!):

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, December 24, 2021

Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa 2021

From my home to yours, may your holiday season be healthy and happy, regardless of what you celebrate or observe. As a reader, I continue to "escape" the pandemic and the confines through books. What about you? Here are some of the newest Christmas cozy mysteries I found this year - several are on my TBR list. Definitely not all that are out there. Feel free to leave your favorites in the comments! (I'll add them to my list for next year!) Note: Descriptions are shortened versions from Amazon.

Cottage on Gooseberry Bay: Santa Who? (A Gooseberry Bay Mystery) by Kathi Daley. Ainsley Holloway had come to Gooseberry Bay to find answers about her past. She'd come to find an explanation for the dreams that haunted her after the death of the cop who'd both rescued and raised her. 
And she’d come to identify the family she couldn’t remember but knew in her heart she’d once belonged to.

Christmas Dessert Murder (A Hannah Swenson Mystery) by Joanne Fluke. It's Christmas in Lake Eden, Minnesota, and there's no better way to enjoy the holidays than by cozying up to two Hannah Swenson yuletide mysteries with a plateful of goodies from the Cookie Jar Bakery. Yes, two Christmas stories. Features Over a Dozen Cookie and Dessert Recipes from The Cookie Jar!

Tangled Up in Tinsel (A Kenni Lowry Mystery) by Tonya Kappes. Don't get your tinsel in a tangle... It's Christmastime in Cottonwood, Kentucky, and Sheriff Kenni Lowry is determined to keep the peace. Plus, the snowstorm of the century is headed right toward Cottonwood, leaving the residents in a frantic frenzy and potentially derailing Kenni’s Christmas plans with Finn. There's been a murder and there's a tinsel wrapped victim at the center of it. 

Slashing Through the Snow (A Christmas Tree Farm Mystery) by Jacqueline Frost. Reindeer Games Christmas Tree Farm is going into the B&B business and Holly White is looking forward to her new role as innkeeper. But a cold wind ruffles the cheery holiday decorations when a new guest checks in - Karen.The short December days turn even darker when Evan and Libby find Karen's dead body in the gift-wrapped toy donation box.

Mistletoe Cake Murder (All Day Breakfast Cafe Mystery Book 6) by Lena Gregory. 'Tis the season for celebrating when Gia Morelli's holidays include both a wedding and yuletide festivities. Until someone naughty delivers a most unwanted Christmas gift - murder. Gia’s caterer friends are the prime suspects in what appears to be murder by poisoning. Includes recipes from the All-Day Breakfast CafĂ©!

The Twelve Jays of Christmas (A Meg Langslow Mystery) by Donna Andrews. Meg and Michael's annual holiday celebration is well underway, with a throng of out-of-town relatives staying at their house. Hosting these festivities is a little harder than usual - they have to relocate all the events normally held in their library, currently occupied by Roderick Castlemayne, the irascible wildlife artist...

Murder at the Christmas Cookie Bake-Off (A Beacon Bakeshop Mystery) by Darci Hannah. Tucked away inside an old lighthouse in Beacon Harbor, Michigan, bakeshop cafe owner Lindsey Bakewell is ready to make her first Christmas in town shine bright. But her merry plans crumble fast when murder appears under the mistletoe...

Twisted Tea Christmas (A Tea Shop Mystery) by Laura Childs. Tea maven Theodosia Browning and her tea sommelier, Drayton Conneley, are catering a Victorian Christmas party at a swanky mansion in downtown Charleston. Drucilla Heyward, the hostess is one of the wealthiest women in town. Theodosia finds her crumpled unconscious in the hallway... a syringe sticking out of her neck.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Murder (A Catering Hall Mystery) by Maria DiRico. Astoria, Queens, is decorated within an inch of its life for the Christmas season, and Mia Carina is juggling her job at the Belle View with a case of murder. Amid the holiday celebrations, she intends to find out who's the guilty party... Italian recipes included.

Fleece Navi Dead (A Kiki Lowenstein Mystery) by Joanna Campbell Slan. Every holiday season, Kiki Lowenstein plans 12 days of classes, her Holiday Craft Extravaganza. And every year, it nearly kills her. As the holiday season approaches, Kiki over-schedules herself and winds up running herself ragged. To make life more stressful, she must fend off a stalker.

A Lost Claus (A Christmas Cozy Mystery) by Mona Maple. As Christmas approaches in Candy Cane Hollow, it's time for the annual Claus family ice fishing trip. Holly Wood (yes, that's her real name) is a ball of nerves about meeting all of Nick Claus' relatives, until the trip ends in disaster. This is the third book in the series.

Nothing strike your fancy? Here's another selection of Cozy Christmas cozies (old and new) to consider.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Book Review: THE BULLET CATCH - High School Reunions Can Be Murder - The Eli Marks Mysteries Book 2 by John Gaspard


Newly-single magician Eli Marks reluctantly attends his high school reunion against his better judgment, only to become entangled in two deadly encounters with his former classmates. The first is the fatal mugging of an old crush’s husband, followed by the suspicious deaths of the victim’s business associates.  

At the same time, Eli also comes to the aid of a classmate-turned-movie-star who fears that attempting The Bullet Catch in an upcoming movie may be his last performance. As the bodies begin to pile up, Eli comes to the realization that juggling these murderous situations -- while saving his own neck -- may be the greatest trick he’s ever performed. 


High school reunions are always a mix of excitement and dread, with that person or persons who acts like you were best friends and you can't remember them. Eli's friend from high school, Jake, is now a movie star and cast to play a famous magician who died while performing the bullet catch (appear to catch the bullet between your teeth) trick. Only Jake doesn't grasp how to do the trick without ending up dead. Eli's task, as a magician, is to help Jake master the trick. 

Before that can happen, there's the reunion itself, the girl (now, woman) he crushed on is high school, at least one person he doesn't remember at all, and a murder. Followed by another one. With murder, comes Eli's ex-wife and her new husband, once again coming at Eli as a suspect and a source of information. 

Be prepared for anything as this is magic and the tricks abound. Add in Eli's fear of heights and the reactions of other magicians about the bullet catch trick, and the bodies piling up... Gaspard engages the reader with a quick pace, believable reactions, and well-developed characters. There are twists and turns, with two related plots to unwind. Well done and keeps you entertained.

This was an enjoyable read though my knowledge of magic is limited. I'd read the first in the series and enjoyed it - this one did not disappoint. You don't have to read the first to understand the awkwardness between Eli and his ex-wife or his passion for anything magic, but I always recommend starting at the beginning of the series. I'll be reading more of this series.

Available in digital, hardcover and audiobook formats

Books in the Eli Marks Mystery Series: 

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Blog Tour and Book Review: MURDER IN THE BADLANDS - A Ghost & the Camper Kooky Mystery by Rita Moreau


Rita Moreau’s 3rd book in this hilarious series… 

More antics as Mabel Gold and her friend — spirit — ghost – whatever you want to call Irma, gets Mabel into yet another mystery. Things can go bad quickly in the Badlands… 

Everything about Mabel’s golden years has been a surprise. The divorce, Irma the ghost haunting her vintage camper, dead guys whose murders Mabel must help Irma solve every stop of the way. 

Mabel and her ghostly roommate Irma, along with friend Lili and her retired homicide detective husband Bob, have made it to the Badlands. From the get-go, they were smack dab in the middle of another murder. 

Ralph, an old Marine buddy asks Bob, to investigate the death of his son Danny. His death has been ruled an accident. Ralph didn’t agree. He’s sure his son was pushed off top of Mount Rushmore. Right near the Hall of Records, or as it’s called in the movies and YouTube, the Secret Chamber. But why? 

Did Danny, a skilled rock climber and much sought-after guide, find long-lost gold? Were Danny’s last words–those of Crazy Horse–Hokahey–it’s a good day to die–leave a clue as to his demise? 

Will Irma run out of costumes from her ghostly cyberspace closet before they solve the murder? Will Irma’s new friend Poker Alice–the wild west’s famous gambler and brothel owner help Mabel and Irma figure out what happened to Danny? 

And what about Cindy Lou and her side-kick Top Gun Colonel Clark–did they have a secret that Danny uncovered that fatal night outside the Secret Chamber? Can Mabel and Irma catch the killer before Mabel joins Irma crashing through the Pearly Gates?

Murder in the Badlands is the high spirited third book in the hilarious Ghost & the Camper Kooky Mystery series. If you like golden girl sleuths, zany characters, and sardonic humor, then you’ll love this kooky mystery. Hoping you like camping! 


Mabel and her crew arrive in South Dakota with a mission or two. For Mabel, she's hoping that solving this new mystery will be the one that allows Irma, her resident ghost, to cross over. For Bob, it's helping his friend, and Peggy? She's in her element with all the history surrounding the area, Mount Rushmore, and the Hall of Records. Oh, and the gold.

There's a full cast of characters, both worldly and ghostly, all unique and adding to the story line. Some of the ghosts are easily identified - Wild Bill and Calamity Jane among them. Add in two murders - the Chief and Danny - and anything can happen. Mabel and Lilli, along with Irma and her ghost team search out clues as they explore the Badlands along with Bob and Ralph.  

This was a fun read, with lots of quirky characters and the various "roles" Irma dresses for as she and her team collect information and establish the gold and goings on with Cindy Lou. Add in various government agencies and Lilli's sister, and anything can (and does) happen. Well-written and the pace is steady. There's enough description to get a feel for the Badlands without slowing down the pace. Although part of a series, this can be read as a stand alone. I'm looking forward to Mabel's next adventure.

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

Rita Moreau is the author of the Mary Catherine Mahoney Mystery series and the Ghost & Camper Kooky Mystery series. 

A workaholic by nature, upon retirement, Rita Moreau began work on her bucket list, writing a book. Traveling the national parks with her husband George in a vintage Bluebird motor home, (on George’s list), Rita completed her first novel Bribing Saint Anthony. Back home she completed Nuns! Psychics! & Gypsies! OH! NO, Feisty Nuns and The Russian & Aunt Sophia and The House on Xenia. Last year when we entered the Twilight Zone Rita wrote the first two new novels in the Ghost & the Camper series. Rita and her husband live in a postcard called Florida where he has fun telling everyone he is the author’s husband. When not writing she joins PatZi Gil on the Joy on Paper radio program with Book Buzz Mysteries, or you can find her teaching SilverSneakers fitness classes and doing her best to keep busy. She loves connecting with readers. 

Visit her at or find her on Facebook at She would love to hear from you. 

Author Links 

Purchase Link 

Monday, November 29, 2021

Book Review: THE INNOCENTS by C. A. Asbrey


Pinkerton Detective Abigail MacKay is a master of disguises—and of new crime-solving technology! But she’ll have to move fast to stay a step ahead of Nat Quinn and Jake Conroy. 
Nat and Jake are the ringleaders of The Innocents, a western gang that specializes in holding up trains carrying payrolls—and Nat is pretty savvy when it comes to using the new sciences of 1868 in committing his crimes.  

Charismatic Nat and handsome Jake are on the run, and they’ve always gotten away before—before Abi. But when Abi is caught by another band of outlaws during the chase, there’s no other choice for Nat and Jake but to save her life. Abi owes them, and she agrees to help them bring in the murderer of a family friend. 

The web of criminal activity grows more entangled with each passing day, but Nat, Jake, and Abi are united in their efforts to find the murderer. Once that happens, all bets are off, and Abi will be turning Nat and Jake over to the law. But can she do it? She finds herself falling for Nat, but is that growing attraction real? Or is he just using her to learn more about the Pinkertons’ methods? Abi always gets her man—but she may have met her match in her “best enemies”—THE INNOCENTS. 

Book Review 

This is my first read by C. A. Asbrey and I'm glad I picked this one up. What attracted me was the idea of a female Pinkerton agent, not well believed in 1800s Wyoming. Abi explains it well - nobody expects a woman to be an agent and they let their guard down. She's also a wizard at disguises. As Nat and Jake try to figure her out, they don't always recognize her. 

Abi took on this role after her husband was killed and she was left alone. She needed a goal and taking down the Innocents gang leaders, Nat and Jake, is her current goal. Only there's something between Nat and Abi, even as she holds to the line. She has her honor to consider.

Aside from the old west setting, what makes this a great read is the characters. Abi, the independent woman in a time when women were not independent, who manages to slip into situations easily and begins to question her assumption that she would remain alone for the rest of her life. Nat and Jake are quite the pair, with Jake not very trusting and Nat the charmer - and the challenger. Yet, both are gentleman and protective of women. They manage to unite to find the killer of two women and ensure that other such ladies do not get lured to their death thanks to Abi's ingenuity.  

If you like mystery set in history, twists to the plot, and loyalty among friends, you'll like this one. It's well-written with a touch of humor and potential for romance. This is the first in The Innocents series, and a quick glance at the next few is enticing. 

About the Author 

C.A. Asbrey developed a deep interest in early forensics and detection methods working in the field. She researched early detectives and the tools available to them for years before developing her characters. They are compelling versions of real people, all her crimes are based on fictionalized versions of real crimes, and the methods used to solve them were available to detectives at the time. 

She likes her mysteries twisty, complex, and intricate, through a fog of history and a touch of light humor. She is a writer of mysteries and a fan of all things Victorian and obscure, topped off with interest in early forensics, science, music, jaywalking, ordering the best meal at the table in a restaurant, and dropping out of society to do whatever she wants. She enjoys an eclectic mix of the old and new, foreign and obscure, funny and dramatic, so includes these elements in her writing. 

She loves finding gadgets which were invented earlier than popular wisdom accepts, especially when they involve the spying and scientific techniques of the of the past. If you are looking for historically accurate mysteries laced with vivid characterizations, romance, and compelling plots, these are the books for you. 

You can follow her on Twitter

The Innocents Series 

The Innocents (Amazon purchase link)
Innocent as Sin 
Innocent Bystander 
In all Innocence 
Innocent Minds 
Innocent to the Last

Friday, November 26, 2021

Blog Tour and Review: DANGER AT DUNHAVEN CASTLE by Nellie H. Steele



Frightening nightmares. Aberrations in time. Who is haunting Cate’s nightmares?

Months after solving two mysteries involving her ancestors, time-traveling, castle-dwelling Countess, Lady Catherine Kensie, still suffers from haunting nightmares. Chased by a mysterious man, Cate ponders who could be haunting her dreams and disturbing her sleep. She’s also smack dab in the middle of a brand-new research project, having found journals belonging to the Scottish castle’s original owner.

As Cate digs into the castle’s history, not only do her nightmares become more frequent and more frightening, but Cate also begins to experience strange phenomena with the time portals enclosed in the castle walls. Controlled by the mysterious heirloom timepiece she received as part of her inheritance, Cate is shocked when she begins to slip in and out of other time periods despite not activating the mechanism that controls them!

Can Cate learn the secret to control the time portals and discover who haunts her dreams before she finds herself lost in time?



Lady Cate lives in the castle of one of her ancestors and is haunted by increasingly terrifying nightmares, where one, and the then two, men are chasing after her. She and Jack  Reid, the castle's estate manager and descendent of the manager when Douglas MacKenzie was alive, discovered time rips in the various rooms.  Only the MacKenzie and Reid families are privy to the secrets. Only Cate and Jake are discovering more secrets - and some malfunctions - all the time. 

Between being haunted in nightmares almost nightly, other strange occurrences, and rips in time that are no longer being controlled, Cate and Jack have to solve the riddles and discover the key. Their greatest hope is that the answers are in the journals of Douglas Mackenzie. Only Cate has to first decipher them and deal with the supernatural. In the meantime, there's the planning of a huge ball for Countess Cate that is driving everyone in the castle crazy. 

This is not the first in the series and there is mention that  Cate and Jack mention previous mysteries solved in differing time periods. This is my first in the series, and that did not detract from the story at all. Although some of the characters visit from another series, you don't have to have read those either. 

The tale is filled with twists and turns, a bit of magic, and time travel to the 1700s. There's also the growing romance between Jack and Cate. If you enjoy paranormal cozy mystery and a unique twist, you'll enjoy the Danger at Dunhaven Castle.

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

An Indies Today finalist for Best Book of the Year 2020 with Cleopatra’s Tomb, Nellie H. Steele made the leap from science to art with her first book, The Secret of Dunhaven Castle.

An animal enthusiast, Nellie often features a version of one of her fourteen rescue animals in her stories, though the fictional pets are usually better behaved than her own fur-babies! A literary split personality, Nellie’s work ranges from cozy mystery to supernatural suspense to riveting adventure.

She lives in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. When she isn’t writing or engaging in animal care, she enjoys teaching Statistics and Data Science at a local university.

Check out all Nellie offers at or at her blog, Nellie’s Book Nook, available at

Author Links 

Purchase Link 


Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Giving Thanks!

For those of us in the US and Canada, today is the celebration of Thanksgiving. It is a time to celebrate the harvest and the blessings of the past year. Americans traditionally model the festivities based on historical descriptions of a harvest feast shared by the pilgrims who settled in Plymouth and Wampanoag people who lived there before the pilgrims. I'm not sure if the pilgrims and Wampanoag people truly ate turkey and dressing, cranberry sauce, and potatoes. 

Having lived in different regions of the US, I've discovered that what constitutes the Thanksgiving meal, aside from the turkey, varies considerably, handed down within families and then blended with other family traditions. But one thing stays the same. The idea of giving thanks. 

This year and last have been a stressful, not just here, but worldwide. A pandemic, weather systems that have broken records, massive fires, economic upheaval, and unrest. Yet, there are still things I'm thankful for: 

 *An increased emphasize on basic human kindness, supporting others, and respecting others 

 *The health and well-being of my family, friends, and colleagues, providing support and laughs as we all dealt with cabin fever 

 *As always, I give thanks to my fellow authors for their encouragement, and, of course, to my readers. What are you thankful for?
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Monday, November 15, 2021

Book Review - New Release: STYLED FOR MURDER (Bad Hair Day Mysteries #17) by Nancy J. Cohen

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Hairstylist Marla Vail flushes out a killer when murder disrupts her mother’s home renovation plans in this stylish cozy mystery. 

When hairstylist and savvy sleuth, Marla Vail, gets a frantic call from her mother that there’s a dead body in her shower, Marla realizes this wasn’t part of the home renovation plans. The victim turns out to be the project manager, who had an untrustworthy reputation in town. Disgruntled customers, unpaid suppliers, and the design company’s staff are among the suspects. Which one of them wanted the foreman to pipe down about their shady dealings? 

Meanwhile, the lead investigator sets his sights on Marla’s stepfather, Reed, who’s keeping secrets from his family. Reed has a past connection to the victim and won’t come clean about what he knows. As Marla drills deeper, she’s showered with suspicions, but nobody’s willing to leak any information. She needs to hammer down the prospects, or time will drain away and the murderer will strike again. 

To flush out the culprit, Marla taps into her pipeline of resources. Can she assemble the clues and demolish the alibis to nail a killer? Or has someone designed the perfect murder? 

Recipes Included! 


Marla Vail is back, now a new mother in addition to being step-mother to a teen and a business owner. No time for sleuthing - until her mother calls. The renovation of her bathroom is halted by the dead contractor and her mother's new husband, Reed, is hiding something. As much as Marla wants to believe in him, his withdrawal isn't helping the investigation. 

As always, Cohen provides a glimpse of the main character in her home, her business, and her community as she sleuths her way to the killer. A fan of this series, I was glad to see Marla manage to play it safe while working and sleuthing. Even Dalton seems to be hiding something, though he is the perfect father.

The pace is steady and the characters interesting. There are multiple suspects aside from Reed and no simple explanation fits the crime. It's not easy to guess at the killer and that kept me engaged. If you're a fan of this series, you will be surprised at Marla's ingenuity in fitting in baby, work, and sleuthing. New to this series? You can enjoy this book without having read the earlier books, though I always recommend you start at the beginning of a series. Regardless, if you enjoy cozy mystery, I'm sure you will like this one. Don't forget the recipes!

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

Nancy J. Cohen writes the Bad Hair Day Mysteries featuring South Florida hairstylist Marla Vail. Titles in this series have been named Best Cozy Mystery by Suspense Magazine, won a Readers' Favorite gold medal and a RONE Award, placed first in the Chanticleer International Book Awards and third in the Arizona Literary Awards. 

Her nonfiction titles, Writing the Cozy Mystery and A Bad Hair Day Cookbook, have also garnered numerous awards, including the FAPA President's Book Award and the Royal Palm Literary Award. Active in the writing community, Nancy is a past president of Florida Romance Writers and Mystery Writers of America, Florida Chapter. When not busy writing, she enjoys reading, fine dining, cruising, and visiting Disney World. Visit her at

Monday, November 8, 2021

Blog Tour and Spotlight: MURDER SHE WROTE: DEBONAIR IN DEATH by Jessica Fletcher and Terrie Farley Moran


About the Book

When a local art shop owner is murdered, Jessica Fletcher is surprised to once again be working alongside her old friend MI-6 agent Michael Haggerty to solve the case in the newest mystery in this USA Today bestselling series.

When Nelson Penzell, co-owner of a local art and treasure store in Cabot Cove, is murdered, the nail tech from Jessica Fletcher's favorite beauty parlor is the main suspect. After all, she's the one who ran out of the store screaming, covered in blood, and holding the murder weapon. Jessica is positive that despite the circumstances, Coreen can't possibly be guilty, and is determined to prove it.

When Michael Haggerty, handsome MI-6 agent and Jessica's old friend, is caught snooping around the victim’s home, it's quickly apparent to her that she was right. Nelson has always had a bit of a reputation for being a rake, but Haggerty is sure his sins go far beyond what anyone in town imagined. If she wants to clear Coreen's name, Jessica will have to work alongside Michael to find out who killed Nelson—and maybe help bust a crime ring in the process.

About the Authors

Terrie Farley Moran is co-author, along with Jessica Fletcher, of the Murder, She Wrote series. Terrie is also the author of the beachside Read ‘Em and Eat cozy novels, and is co-author of Laura Childs’ scrapbooking mysteries. Her short mystery fiction has been published in numerous venues. Terrie is a recipient of both the Agatha and the Derringer awards. 

Author Links

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Book Review: FALLEN STAR (Devine Devils #2) by R Weir

A change of pace, this is definitely NOT a cozy mystery.... 

About the Book

Megan Getz lived among Hollywood royalty, a Tinseltown celebrity of a long-running sitcom. She's being extorted because of an adult indiscretion and attempts to cover up her perilous life by hiring the team of Divine Devils.

Hoping they’ll free her from the blackmail bonds,  Hunter Divine and his crew go undercover in a Reno Casino, digging deep to reveal those running the scam. The simple case explodes all around them with drugs, prostitution, murder, and mayhem being the norm.

Dragging Hunter and his crew into a hotbed of danger, in a doomed attempt to rescue the pretentious fallen star, lead The Divine Devils down a lethal road they may not survive.

Hunter Divine and his team are willing to move heaven and hell to get results!!


Hunter Devine left the US Marshalls under not so great circumstances. Since then he has taken on jobs with an interesting crew, in this case including one FBI agent he was previously involved with. In this escapade, Hunter and his friends infiltrate a Reno Casino where a starlet engaged in some less than appropriate behavior and is being blackmailed. Each person has their job to do with Shen the most dangerous - infiltrating casino security to establish how the con worked and Athena as the potential mark. Only things go awry and they have to quickly shift their attention from Megan's folly to join forces to rescue their comrade.

Weir crafts interesting characters from different walks of life to form the Devine Devils, not to mention others he knew as a US Marshall or, in Athena's case, a prior relationship. They make for an entertaining tale, along with the drugs, prostitution, blackmail, murder, and general mayhem. There are twists and turns, a rogue FBI agent who's mad at Athena, and a bond that keeps the Devils in the game. 

This is the second in this new series by Weir, but easily read as a stand alone. As noted above, it is not "cozy" - if profanity and graphic scenes offend, this isn't one for you. On the other hand, if you like fast action and suspense, you'll like Weir's style.

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 

Award-winning Author 

R Weir lives in the Mile-High City with his family, where the Rocky Mountain High isn't always achieved with an herbal substance. When not glued to the computer, he relaxes by enjoying the outdoors and traveling in his motorhome. 

His writing delves into genres with gritty investigators exploring mystery, crime, suspense, and thrills, with involved plots and unexpected twists. Featuring former US Marshal Hunter Divine, a dire, determined man searching for salvation in his broken life. While private eye Jarvis Mann is tough and snarky, with as many faults as virtues. Characters exhibiting traces of his sense of humor, though he’s not nearly as tough and fearless. Though no evil stands a chance against his written word!

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Blog Tour and Excerpt: IT'S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE MURDER (A Catering Hall Mystery) by Maria DiRico




Astoria, Queens, is decorated within an inch of its life for the Christmas season, and Mia Carina is juggling her job at the Belle View catering hall with a case of murder . . .

Mia’s busy with a full schedule of events at the family business—among them an over-the-top Nativity-themed first birthday party and a Sweet Sixteen for a teen drama queen. But her personal life is even more challenging. Her estranged mother has returned—and her lifelong friend Jamie has discovered a shocking secret about his past. He’s so angry that he starts hanging out with Lorenzo, who claims to be his long-lost brother—even after it becomes clear that Lorenzo’s story is as fake as a plastic Christmas tree.

Then a body turns up among the elves in a Santa’s-workshop lawn display, and amateur sleuth Mia has a buffet of suspects to choose from. Amid the holiday celebrations, she intends to find out who’s the guilty party . . .

Italian recipes included!

Enjoy an excerpt:

    Her cell rang again. Mia looked at it askance. She relaxed when she saw the caller wasn’t Kaitlyn. She didn’t recognize the number and decided to let it go to voicemail, in case the call was spam. Mia opened her internet browser and tapped in unique sweet sixteen themes. A list popped up that proved to be no help at all, being that she and Shane had already burned through most of them with Kaitlyn. She debated better wording and went with over-the-top sweet sixteen parties. Her cell rang again. The screen showed the same number as before. Whoever it is really wants to talk to me. Mia took the call. 

    “Mia, bella, hello. It’s Donny.” She sat up straight, the sweet sixteen forgotten. Donny was Donny Boldano, head of the Boldano crime family.  

    Her father Ravello had been a lieutenant in the organization, but now ran Belle View as a legitimate business for them, much to Mia’s relief, as well as her father’s, who had burned out on running the family’s illegal gambling enterprises. “Mr. B, hi. How are you?” 

    “Good. Good. I’m calling from a burner phone.” 

    “Yeah, I wondered. I didn’t recognize the number.” Mia’s heart thumped like a bass drum. Why was Donny Boldano calling her instead of Ravello? And from a burner phone? She panicked for a moment, thinking it might be bad news about her beloved father, but calmed down when she reminded herself that she’d seen him leave his office for the men’s room only ten minutes earlier. 

    He was still in the building. And probably still in the men’s room. Which made Donny’s call all the more curious. 

    “You’re probably wondering why I’m calling you. Especially from a burner phone.” 

    Donny wasn’t exactly reading her mind. These were obvious questions under the circumstances. “Yes. Exactly.” 

    “Uh . . .” There was a long pause. Whatever Donny had to say wasn’t coming easy. Mia’s heart thumped again. “Mrs. B and I would like to talk to you about something. Don’t worry, it’s not business,” he hastened to add. “Everything’s good with Belle View. You’re not in trouble.” 

    “Oh, thank God,” Mia couldn’t help saying. 

    “It’s . . . um . . . a personal matter. Do you happen to be free tonight?” 

    Mia, whose social life over the past few months had consisted of feeding her cat and bird, then falling asleep in front of the TV or her laptop screen, said, “Yes. I am free.” 

    “Wonderful. I don’t want you getting stuck in rush hour traffic, so let’s say eight. We’ll have cake and coffee. Oh, and sweetheart—please don’t mention this to Jamie.”

Excerpt from It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Murder. Copyright © 2021. All rights reserved.

About Maria DiRico

Maria DiRico is the pseudonym for Ellen Byron, author of the award winning, USA Today bestselling Cajun Country Mysteries. Born in Queens, New York, she is first-generation Italian-American on her mother's side and the granddaughter of a low-level Jewish mobster on her father's side. She grew up visiting the Astoria Manor and Grand Bay Marina catering halls, which were run by her Italian mother's family in Queens and have become the inspiration for her Catering Hall Mystery Series. 

DiRico has been a writer-producer for hit television series like Wings and Just Shoot Me, and her first play, Graceland, appears in the Best Short Plays collection. She's a freelance journalist, with over 200 articles published in national magazines, and previously worked as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart, a credit she never tires of sharing. A native New Yorker who attended Tulane University, Ellen lives in Los Angeles with her husband, daughter, and two rescue dogs.

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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Blog Tour and Spotlight: TROUBLE BREWING (A Barks & Beans Cafe Cozy Mystery) by Heather Day Gilbert


Convinced that the elderly lady in her care didn’t die of natural causes, Macy’s friend Della determines to look into the broken relationships surrounding the woman. She books a Halloween-themed getaway at a local inn and talks Macy into coming along with her to spy on her prime suspect. 

As they join a ghost tour of the candlelit town, Macy and Della feel their guide is a little too fanatical as he shares his spooky tales. He tells the story of the Greenbrier ghost, a newlywed who supposedly came back from the grave to tell her family that her husband murdered her. 

When a disturbing apparition makes its presence known, guests at the inn become apprehensive…and for good reason, because soon after, a young bride turns up dead. Although everything points to a copycat killer replicating the historical Greenbrier murder, Macy has her doubts. She’s discovered that the inn harbors secrets of its own, and when she pokes into one darkened corner too many, she might not stand a ghost of a chance. 

Join siblings Macy and Bo Hatfield as they sniff out crimes in their hometown…with plenty of dogs along for the ride! The Barks & Beans Cafe cozy mystery series features a small town, an amateur sleuth, and no swearing or graphic scenes. 

The Barks & Beans Cafe cozy mystery series in order: 
Book 1: No Filter 
Book 2: Iced Over 
Book 3: Fair Trade 
Book 4: Spilled Milk 
Book 5: Trouble Brewing 

About the Author

Award-winning novelist Heather Day Gilbert enjoys writing mysteries and Viking historicals. She brings authentic family relationships to the page, and she particularly delights in heroines who take a stand to protect those they love. Avid readers say Heather’s realistic characters—no matter what century—feel like best friends. When she’s not plotting stories, this native West Virginia gal can often be found hanging out with her husband and four children, playing video games, or reading Agatha Christie novels. 

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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Book Review: MULLED TO DEATH (A Colorado Wine Mystery #3) by Kate Lansing


A Valentine's Day getaway is on the rocks when a young winemaker discovers a body at an alpine resort in this delightful cozy mystery. 

When Parker Valentine decides to take a weekend getaway with her boyfriend Reid, a ski trip seems like the perfect choice. Between hitting the slopes and persuading the resort's wine director to sell her mulled wine, Parker is eager to mix business with pleasure. But her plans are muddled when she finds the resort owner's body on a treacherous portion of ski trail near the resort. 

As a result, not only is Parker's romantic weekend thrown into chaos, but now that the owner has died, her business deal is due for a frosty reception, and her life might be in danger as well. After a series of unfortunate mishaps befall Parker, she realizes that whoever killed the resort owner might want to tie up loose ends. Parker's going to need all of the investigative skills at her disposal to catch a killer before they put her on ice.


As Parker tries to salvage her pitch for the resort to try her new mulled wine and remember how to ski, she finds herself the only witness to a shadow in the trees exactly where Akira was killed.  There are multiple suspects and with "accidents," Reid supports her efforts to find out who is behind the murder and a threat to her. An extra layer of tension, her brother, Liam, is not so supportive and, is very vocal in trying to stop her efforts to solve the murder. 

The story is well-written and the pace is steady, with enough tension to keep me reading one more chapter, multiple times. The core characters are well-developed and Parker is smart and likable, as are Reid and Sage. The rest of the characters (suspects) develop over the course of the study with some first impressions proved wrong. 

This is the first in the Colorado Wine Mysteries I've read and it can easily be read as a standalone. I always suggest readers start with the first in the series, though, and I've added the first two to my very long TBR list. This is a new release with a special bonus of wine pairings and recipes at the end.

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 Kate Lansing

Kate Lansing is an award-winning short-story author. Her work has appeared in the Brave New Girls anthology and the Crossing Colfax anthology. She lives in Denver, Colorado, with her husband, daughter, and a chair-napping tabby cat named Maple.