A Day in the Life of Cassie Baxter by Cindy Blackburn

UnbelievableDo yourself a favor, never move in with your father. Especially if he’s an early bird. Because your father, if he’s anywhere near as annoying as mine, will wake you up at the crack of dawn. We’re talking every day. Drives. Me. Nuts! Dad keeps insisting we Baxters are morning people. I keep reminding him I’m forty-four and haven’t been a “morning person” since I was twelve. And once we have that daily argument out of the way, what a shocker, I’m awake.

During breakfast, Dad fills me in on Chance Dooley’s latest adventures. My father—Bobby Baxter—is a retired English teacher who’s taken up writing science fiction. The hero of Bobby’s stories is Chance Dooley, owner and operator of Dooley’s Delivery Service: The Delivery Service That Delivers Where No Delivery Service Has Ever Delivered Before. Needless to say, Chance and his trusty Spaceship Destiny get into some truly absurd situations. And given enough coffee, I can usually come up with an equally absurd solution to Chance (and my father’s) problem du jour.

Why I ever agreed to this truly absurd living arrangement with my father is a long story, but Dad and I share a big old Victorian house in Lake Elizabeth, Vermont—population 600, not including dogs, cats, and livestock. My favorite animals are our black lab Charlie, Evert Osgood’s basset hound Miss Rusty, and Oden Poquette’s goats Rose and Ruby. I’m getting to know Miss Rusty and the goats quite well this summer, since they were my only witnesses when I found, and then lost, the dead redhead. Yeah, I know—unbelievable. I was in my pajamas at the time. Yeah, I know—way unbelievable. My story’s even more unbelievable than Chance Dooley’s latest crisis.

Oh, but Dru Ann asked me to tell you about a normal day. I’m a history professor at Crabtree College, so during the school year I spend my days teaching. Crabtree’s not exactly a bastion of academic excellence, but I like it. My best friend Bambi also teaches at the college, and we usually do lunch together. Bambi and I bonded long ago because we both have trouble in the being-taken-seriously department. Me, because I’m teeny-tiny and, as everyone’s been telling me since the day I was born, “cute as a button.” Bambi’s normal-sized, but with a name like Dr. Bambi Lovely-Vixen? You get the picture.

When I’m not on campus, I’m home in Lake Bess, where my father, as mentioned, drives me nuts. But Dad’s not the only one. We have neighbors. Maxine Tibbitts, a reporter for the local newspaper, lives next door, and to say she’s a busy-body snoop is putting it mildly. Maxine thinks my every action is worth reporting in her weekly gossip column. And when I found, and then lost, the dead redhead? Let’s just say Maxine’s report was memorable.

Not to be outdone in the driving-Cassie-Baxter-nuts department is our other neighbor, Josiah Wylie. Joe’s a mad scientist who works at home with his invention, a machine he calls—don’t ask me why—the FN451z. No one but Joe has the foggiest clue as to the FN451z’s purpose. But everyone around the lake has heard the thing, since the FN beeps, burps, and chirps 24/7.

Joe, on the other hand, is annoyingly quiet. The man must have secrets, and considering he gets himself invited to dinner with Dad and me on an almost nightly basis, I intend to learn out what those secrets are. Don’t tell my father the match-maker, but Joe Wylie’s kind of sexy. A sexy mad scientist? Yeah, I know—unbelievable. But I’m here to tell you such a thing actually does exist.

Which brings us back to that dead redhead. She exists, too, and luckily I have the summer off. So, unbelievable or not, I intend to solve the mystery of the missing redhead. I may be undersized, but don’t underestimate me.

Learn more about Cassie, Joe, and the gang in Unbelievable, the first book in the new “Cassie Baxter” mystery series.

New this month! Here’s some info:

Small sleuth, tiny town, unfailing fun.

Welcome to Lake Elizabeth, Vermont, where the water is blue, the mountains are green, and Cassie Baxter is going nuts. Who wouldn’t go nuts in a town this size? What possessed Cassie to move in with her father? And why do they have to live next door to a mad scientist? A sexy mad scientist. Does such a thing even exist? And speaking of existing, what happened to the dead redhead? You know, the one Cassie found, and then lost? What’s up with that? Cassie Baxter intends to find out. Read Unbelievable and you will, too.

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

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on December 26 for the chance to win a Kindle copy of UNBELIEVABLE. The giveaway is open to everyone.

Meet the Author
Cindy Blackburn spends her days sitting around in her pajamas thinking up unlikely plot twists and ironing out the quirks and kinks of lovable characters. When she’s not typing on her laptop or feeding her fat cat Betty, Cindy enjoys taking long walks with her cute hubby John. A native Vermonter who hates snow, Cindy divides her time between the south and the north. Most of the year you’ll find her in South Carolina. But come summer she’ll be on the porch of her lakeside shack in Vermont. Yep, it’s a place very similar to Lake Elizabeth. Cindy’s favorite travel destinations are all in Europe, her favorite TV show is The Big Bang Theory, her favorite movie is Moonstruck, and her favorite color is orange. Cindy dislikes vacuuming, traffic, and lima beans.

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

A Day in the Life of the Mojito Man by Rebecca M. Hale

Aground on St. ThomasI’ve been sick for a while. Cancer. Doesn’t really matter what kind. It’s spread through my entire body. Stuff is eating me away from the inside out. I only have a few weeks left to live. That’s what the doctors told me.

I’ll get the last laugh, though. I’m going out with a bang. I had all I could take of the hospital. Those dreary white walls, blocking you in. Don’t get me started on the food. And those oncologists, I tell you, they have no sense of humor.

So I bought a one-way ticket to the Virgin Islands. I’m going to lie in the sun, chill out on the beach – and suck down as many Mojitos as the bartender can mix up for me.

I’ve booked all the rooms at Blackbeard’s Castle. For the next month, I’ve got the place to myself. That should pretty much do it. It’s a fantastic view from up there. You can see everything: the harbor, the sea…every detail in the city below.

Of course, I didn’t expect all this hullabaloo with the governor. I guess he got caught with his hand in the cookie jar, and now he’s on the lam. Charlotte Amalie is crawling with G-men. The place is on lockdown until they find him.

Me, all I’m searching for is the perfect Mojito. This government upheaval is causing a major disruption in the supply of mint leaves, and you can’t make a proper Mojito without fresh mint leaves.

People keep asking me what I saw up at Blackbeard’s Castle the other night. To tell you the truth, I don’t rightly know. That was after my nightly medication. Things get kind of fuzzy once the drugs kick in. They should just leave me alone.

I came here to die. And to drink Mojitos… Hey, do you know where I can get some fresh mint?

You can read more about Mojito Man in Aground on St. Thomas, the third book in the “Mystery in the Islands” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The first book in the series is Adrift on St. John.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on December 25 for the chance to win a copy of AGROUND ON ST. THOMAS. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

About the author
NY Times bestselling author REBECCA M. HALE worked for almost ten years as a patent attorney in the San Francisco Bay Area before taking time off to write her first novel, HOW TO WASH A CAT. She is now the author of nine Penguin titles and a growing list of ebooks released under her own imprint, Green Vase Publishing. Her writing is often influenced by her travel experiences and the people she meets on her journeys.

Rebecca lives in Western Colorado with her feline writing associates, that is, when she’s not off researching future books set in San Francisco, the Caribbean, or wherever else her wandering spirit takes her.

Author website: www.TravelingWithBooks.com

January 2015 Books


January 1
Classic Cashes In by Amy Myers – Car Detective #6

January 6
For Whom the Bluebell Tolls by Beverly Allen – Bridal Bouquet Shop #2
A Seamless Murder by Melissa Bourbon – Magical Dressmaking #6
In Hot Water by J. J. Cook – Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade #3
Feta Attraction by Susannah Hardy – Greek to Me *new series*
Snow Way Out by Christine Husom – Snow Globe Shop *new series*
All the President’s Menus by July Hyzy – White House Chef #8
Ghost in the Guacamole by Sue Ann Jaffarian – Ghost of Granny Apples #5
No Ghouls Allowed by Victoria Laurie – Ghost Hunter #9
Snoop to Nuts by Elizabeth Lee – Nut House #2
Lie of the Needle by Cate Price – Deadly Notions #3
Diners, Drive-Ins and Death by Christine Wenger – Comfort Food #3

With Baited Breath by Lorraine Bartlett – Lotus Bay *new series*
Winter at the Door by Sarah Graves – Lizzie Snow *new series*
Viking Bay by M.A. Lawson – Kay Hamilton #2
Fry Me a Liver by Delia Rosen – Deadly Deli #6
Some Like It Haute by Diane Vallere – Style & Error #4
Twisted Threads by Lea Wait – Mainely Needlepoint *new series*
Devil in the Deadline by LynDee Walker – Headlines in High Heels #4
Insatiable Appetites by Stuart Woods – Stone Barrington #32

January 8
Dying for the Past by TJ O’Connor – Gumshoe Ghost #2
The Accidental Alchemist by Gigi Pandian – Zoe Faust *new series*

January 13
Fatal Scandal by Marie Force – Fatal #8
Nun Too Soon by Alice Loweecey – Giulia Driscoll *new series*

January 20
Puzzled Indemnity by Parnell Hall – Puzzle Lady #16
Dead Red by Tim O’Mara – Raymond Donne #3

January 27
This Old Homicide by Kate Carlisle – Fixer-Upper #2
Arsenic and Old Books by Miranda James – Cats in the Stacks #6

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Review ~ Changing Habits by Alice Loweecey

Changing HabitsChanging Habits by Alice Loweecey is a short story prequel to the “Giulia Driscoll” mystery series. Publisher: Henery Press, December 2014

The day Giulia Falcone jumped the wall—that’s code for leaving the convent—her sole possessions were the clothes on her back.

Four years later, she’s an official Private Investigator juggling a rash of church vessel thefts and her complete inability to find a wedding gown that doesn’t require her to steal a gold chalice for herself. She’s about to marry her boss despite all the advice about office romance.

Giulia is a champion multitasker. The Church is on her back to find the thief. Her all-natural co-worker is insisting she walk down the aisle to the soundtrack for The Sound of Music. Her fiancé’s relatives are overwhelming her with plans and advice and excitement. Piece of cake.

She can find the clue that unmasks the thief. She can keep an eye on the music. All she needs is a wedding gown for her own wedding. In four days. What could possibly go wrong?

I’ve been waiting for this short story that bridges the previous series and whet my appetite for the new series featuring Giulia Driscoll. Giulia is on the case while preparing for her upcoming wedding. This was a very enjoyable mystery and it was good to see the gang again. A must read for fans of this series.

Review ~ Death With All the Trimmings by Lucy Burdette

Death with All the TrimmingsDeath With All the Trimmings by Lucy Burdette is the fifth book in the “Key West Food Critic” mystery series. Publisher: Obsidian, December 2014

The only snow in Key West this Christmas is Hayley Snow, food critic for Key Zest magazine, who is not getting time off for the holiday…or time off from murder.

It may be Christmastime, but thoughts of peace on earth, good will toward men, don’t seem to extend to the restaurant biz. Hayley has been assigned to interview Edel Waugh, chef/owner of Key West’s hottest new restaurant. But off the record, Edel reveals someone’s sabotaging her kitchen and asks Hayley to investigate.

Things heat up fast when the restaurant is set on fire—and a body is discovered in the charred wreckage. Is someone out to destroy the chef’s business—or actually kill her? Amid holiday festivities like the lighted boat parade and visiting relatives who stir up mixed emotions, Hayley needs to smoke out an arsonist and a killer who may turn up the heat on her next.

I love when a book keeps me on edge and this one had me going right to the end. This fast paced and action-filled drama quickly became a page-turner, as I had to know what happens next. All the main characters had a role in this latest caper as Hayley’s search for the culprit hits a little bit closer to home. The author does a wonderful job in bringing Key West alive through her and Hayley’s eyes that puts me smack dab in the middle of all the action. This was a great read boasting great conversations, a lovable cast of characters, a feel-good atmosphere, and a warm and friendly place to visit and I can’t wait to see what Hayley and her friends next adventures are in this delightfully charming and entertaining series.

Blog Tour: A Day in the Life of Carol Childs by Nancy Cole Silverman

Shadow of DoubtMy name is Carol Childs and my life is a balancing act. I’m a single, middle-aged mom, I work at a talk radio station in Los Angeles and I’ve recently started dating Eric Langdon, an FBI Agent, who professionally I know I shouldn’t be involved with, ‘cause sometimes things can get sticky, particularly if we’re working different sides of a story. So, I do the best I can to keep work and play separate.

But, this morning, when I got to the station, I found this yellow post-it note on my computer. My boss Tyler Hunt, KCHC’s boy-wonder, needed to see me, ASAP. He wants to talk about this murder I’m covering that concerns the sudden death of a well-known Hollywood talent agent, who just happens to be my next door neighbor’s aunt, Pepper Millhouse. Not a problem, except I was on the phone with said neighbor, Samantha Millhouse, at that very moment. She was concerned the investigation surrounding her aunt’s death may be heating up and that I might be beginning to think – just a little bit anyway – that she’s somehow involved.

“Only it can’t be,” she says, “‘cause my twin sister’s setting me up.”

I didn’t want to put the phone down, not on that note, but Eric has just texted me. The FBI’s been called in to investigate Pepper’s murder. The coroner has ruled the official cause of death to be a poisoning, possibly the result of product tampering. Hence the FBI been called to assist LAPD with the investigation. Then written in all caps: TWO MORE BODIES FOUND IN NORTH HOLLYWOOD.

A chill runs down my back. Since Pepper’s death, a former client of hers, a Hollywood psychic, has been reaching out to me – don’t even ask – to tell me she’s been communicating with Pepper Millhouse, and that she, Pepper, has told her, they’re going to be more murders, unless I do something.

Do something? Me?

Tyler tells me I’m the world’s oldest living cub reporter in need of a good story. He’s given me three months to prove I can handle this job. I’m six weeks into my probationary status and looking at a future of doing nothing but traffic reports and recording mindless station promos unless I can come up with story of my own. I’m torn. Samantha’s a loyal friend and like her aunt, a talent agent. She’s been my source for a lot of industry news, and she even looks in on my son Charlie when I work nights. But the more investigating I do into Pepper’s murder, and the more I’m required to report, the more I fear she’ll be judged in the court of public opinion as a cold hearted gold digger, or worse.

Like I said, my life’s a balancing act.

You can read more about Carol in Shadow of Doubt, the first book in the new “Carol Childs” mystery series, published by Henery Press.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on December 24 for the chance to win a copy of SHADOW OF DOUBT. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

Meet the author
Silverman believes her twenty-five years in radio helped her to develop an ear for storytelling. Much of what she NancySwrites she admits is pulled from behind the headlines of actual events that were reported on from some Los Angeles busiest radio newsrooms. In the last ten years she has written numerous short stories and novelettes and books. Currently she has three audio books with MindWings Audio. Her first novel, The Centaur’s Promise, was published by Eloquent Press in 2010. In December, Henery Press will roll out the first of Silverman’s new Carol Childs Mysteries, Shadow of Doubt.

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Another Day In The Life of Piper Prescott by Gail Oust

Kill Em With Cayenne“Change is a good thing, right?”

I wasn’t quite sure how to respond when my BFF, Reba Mae Johnson, once posed the question. Sometimes change wasn’t either good or bad, it was just change. And I ought to know. Ask anyone in Brandywine Creek, Georgia, and they’ll tell you Piper Prescott was the Queen of Change. Not only had I divorced the low-down lying skunk I’d been married to for over twenty years, but I’d invested every last cent I had in a fledging business, Spice It Up!, in a building older than Methuselah. When it came to change, I could write a book.

But I wasn’t about to complain.. No way, no how. Life was good. Now that the murder of a local chef had been solved, peace and quiet reined once again in the small Southern town this Yankee had adopted as her home. At least, I thought it was peaceful and quiet..

The day had begun like any other: a morning jog with Casey, my rescue mutt of many breeds, coffee, shower, more coffee, a blueberry muffin, and then flipping the sign in my shop window from CLOSED to OPEN. Business was brisk. Thanks to the annual Barbecue Festival spices were practically flying off the shelves with cayenne pepper and chili powder leading the pack.

Later in the day though, things got really interesting when out-of-towners started to arrive for the festival. The first to appear were good ol’ boy Tex Mahoney, champion pitmaster, and dapper Wally Porter, certified master barbecue judge. They were followed by none other than Miss Va-Va-Voom herself, Barbara Bunker Quinlan, aka Barbie Q. Barbie, a hometown girl with an axe to grind, was about to launch a new show for barbecue aficionados, Some Like It Hot, on the Cooking Network. Added to the mix were locals, Becca Dapkins, clerk at the water department, and Maybelle Humphries, manager of the Chamber of Commerce. Each of the aforementioned had an agenda. I didn’t have to be clairvoyant to sense that competition for coveted first place between out-of-towners and locals would be fierce.

Things heated up higher than a red-hot charcoal briquette when my trusty canine and I stumbled upon Becca’s body under an azalea bush in the town square. No longer pretty in pink, Becca’ was deader ‘n a skunk. Seems Becca had been bludgeoned with a brisket. Sad way to meet your Maker and all because of a cheap cut of meat. Sadder still, Maybelle was Chief Wyatt McBride’s prime suspect. No one, not even a friend like me, could argue the fact that Maybelle had good reason to bean Becca with a brisket. What red-blooded woman wouldn’t be upset at a hussy for stealing her beau of thirteen years?

Problem was, I couldn’t reconcile the gentle Maybelle I’d known for years with such a vicious act. So I did what came naturally. I called my BFF and Reba Mae and I set out to find the real killer.

You can read more about Piper in Kill ‘Em With Cayenne, the second book in the “Spice Shop” mystery series, published by Minotaur. The first book in the series is Rosemary and Crime.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on December 23 for the chance to win a signed copy of KILL ‘EM WITH CAYENNE. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

About the author
Gail Oust is often accused of flunking retirement. While working as a nurse/vascular technologist, she penned nine historical romances under the pseudonym of Elizabeth Turner. It wasn’t until she and her husband retired to South Carolina that inspiration struck for a mystery. Hearing the words “maybe it’s a dead body” while golfing fired her imagination for writing a cozy. Ever since then, she spends more time on a computer than at a golf course. Author of the Bunco Babe mysteries, she’s currently writing the Spice Shop Mysteries. Kill ‘em With Cayenne, the second in the series, was released in December 2014.

Visit Gail at her website or on Facebook