A Day in the Life of Azalea March by Beth Yarnall

Dyed and Gone“Hello.” Insert awkward wave. “My name is Azalea March and I’m a hairstylist. It’s not as glamorous as most people think. Oh, sure it has its moments, like when I try a new highlighting technique and it comes out fantastic or I get to completely change a client’s look. You know, really challenge my skills and myself.

“Then there are the days of bang trims, late or no-show clients, and bleach that just won’t stay in the foils. And what was supposed to be a seven-hour day turns into a ten-hour day. I’m exhausted and wondering what in the world made me choose to be a hairstylist when I could’ve been an IMAX screen cleaner or a fortune cookie writer or something.

“Still, I love it. I wouldn’t do anything else. I love my clients and my coworkers. I love helping people feel beautiful. And I love stretching my skill set even as I say a prayer at the shampoo bowl and pull out the foils with my face half averted and one eye open. The Moment of Truth happens at the shampoo bowl. All manner of unintentional mistakes pop up and get fixed at the shampoo bowl.

“But sometimes things happen in the chair. Bad things. Like this one time when a new client came in and wanted highlights. I went through the usual examination of her hair and asked questions about what she’d had done previously. She’d been a model at a hair show, which is always scary. Who knew what they put on her hair? Anyway, I’m applying color to the foils that my assistant is holding and we’re chatting.

“On a side note- I like to turn my clients away from the mirror when applying their color. Both my assistant and I need to be able to reach the color and foils on the tray so we stand on either side of the client with the tray in the middle. This was one time I was glad my client couldn’t see what was happening in the mirror.

“So anyway, chatting and foiling and all of that stuff. Then all of a sudden the top of her head starts smoking. Yeah, like actual wisps of smoke, the kind that comes right before fire. My assistant’s eyes get huge and her mouth pops open and she’s staring at me across the client’s head. I’m trying not to panic. But this is bad. This is real bad. I tell her to go get a water bottle and then quickly reach for the one that’s hooked onto my tray.

“Without a word to my poor client, I start ripping foils out and squirting her head with water. My assistant joins in. But we’re not fast enough. ‘Ow’ says the client, wincing and reaching up to touch her hair. I bat her hand away and pull and spray faster.

“All the foils are out now and I practically pick her up out of the chair and push her toward the shampoo bowl. We have to get the color washed out. No highlights for my client today. She didn’t tell me that the box of do-it-yourself hair color she used to cover what was done to her hair as a model had metallic dye in it. When I applied my color it created a chemical reaction that produced steam and a near heart attack for my assistant and me.

“The moral of this story is to always be truthful with your stylist. And to not use cheap hair color. Huh, I guess my days aren’t so boring after all.

“Now I have a couple of questions for you- What is your hairstylist’s name and why you can’t live without him or her?”

You can read more about Azalea in Dyed and Gone, the first book in the “Azalea March” mystery series, published by Entangled. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

Comment on this post by 6pm EST on April 22, and you will be entered for a chance to win a digital copy of DYED AND GONE. One winner will be chosen at random.

Meet the author
Best selling author, Beth Yarnall, writes mysteries, romantic suspense, and the occasional hilarious tweet. A storyteller since her playground days, Beth remembers her friends asking her to make up stories of how the person `died’ in the slumber party game Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board, so it’s little wonder she prefers writing stories in which people meet unfortunate ends. In middle school she discovered romance novels, which inspired her to write a spoof of soap operas for the school’s newspaper. She hasn’t stopped writing since.

For a number of years, Beth made her living as a hairstylist and makeup artist and owned a salon. Somehow hairstylists and salons seem to find their way into her stories. Beth lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their dog where she is hard at work on her next novel. For more information about Beth and her novels, please visit her website at www.bethyarnall.com.

A Day in the Life of Jill Gardner by Lynn Cahoon

Guidebook to MurderWelcome to South Cove, California, a typical tourist town just off the Pacific Coast Highway.

I’m Jill Gardner, owner of Coffee, Books, and More – the only place in town to get your latte fix. I’m also the city council’s liaison to the business community. Which sometimes means I get all the jobs the elected politicians don’t want – but I’m not gripping. The money I’m paid to run the business-to-business meetings helps keep the lights on at the shop. Especially during dead seasons.

Time to unlock and start a pot or two of coffee. Good thing it’s Wednesday. I’m always slow during the morning shift which means I have plenty of time to spend researching new acquisitions for the bookstore side of the business. Translate – I get to read all morning long.

I haven’t always lived in South Cove. A few years ago I was a family law attorney in the city. After working too many hours and ending another bad relationship, I had a weekend free so I came for a visit. When it was time to check out of Beal Street Bed and Breakfast on Monday, I didn’t want to leave.

I quit my job, cashed in my retirement, and bought a building on Main Street. The perfect place for Coffee, Books, and More – my dream shop. My Aunt Jackie helped with the set up in between senior cruises to exotic locations.

I’ve put down roots in my little tourist town. My BFF Amy and I are regulars at Diamond Lille’s, the only other place that sells food in the town. My apartment, though tiny, is just enough for me. And I have time to spend with Miss Emily who lives in the last house on the road out of town. She’s a character, but I love her to death.

And, so did someone else.

You can read more about Jill’s adventures in Guidebook to Murder, the first book in the “Tourist Trap” mystery series, published by Kensington. Books are available at online booksellers.

Comment on this post by 6pm EST on April 21, and you will be entered for a chance to win a Kindle or Nook copy of GUIDEBOOK TO MURDER. One winner will be chosen at random.

About the author
Lynn Cahoon’s a multi-published romance and mystery author who lives with her husband in a small river town where her mind tends to wander around the depth and experience of small town life and love. Guidebook to Murder, A Tourist Trap Mystery releases April 17th. Mission to Murder – releases in July 2014 and If the Shoe Kills – will be available November 2014. For more information check out Lynn’s website at www.lynncahoon.wordpress.com

Follow dru’s book musing on Facebook for book giveaways, contests, posting about discounted books and some of my reading musings.

Guidebook to Murder by Lynn Cahoon

Guidebook to MurderGuidebook to Murder by Lynn Cahoon is the first book in the new “Tourist Trap” mystery series. Publisher: Kensington, April 2014

In the gentle coastal town of South Cove, California, all Jill Gardner wants is to keep her store–Coffee, Books, and More–open and running. So why is she caught up in the business of murder?

When Jill’s elderly friend, Miss Emily, calls in a fit of pique, she already knows the city council is trying to force Emily to sell her dilapidated old house. But Emily’s gumption goes for naught when she dies unexpectedly and leaves the house to Jill–along with all of her problems. . .and her enemies. Convinced her friend was murdered, Jill is finding the list of suspects longer than the list of repairs needed on the house. But Jill is determined to uncover the culprit–especially if it gets her closer to South Cove’s finest, Detective Greg King. Problem is, the killer knows she’s on the case–and is determined to close the book on Jill permanently.

This was a good read and I love the author’s style, which was warm and friendly. The background setting also gave me a sense of calmness. The tone was comfortable and the pace had a steady flow to it, making it easy to follow the storyline and clues. The author did a great job in tantalizing me with suspects and scenarios that led me to believe I knew who was behind it all, and I was surprised at the revelation. Jill is a great character and I like her determination to find the killer, even when threatened. With a likable supporting cast, that includes her aunt Jackie and hunky Detective King and with engaging conversations, this was very enjoyable and I can’t wait to read the next book in this wonderfully appealing series.

FTC Disclosure – The publisher sent me a digital ARC provided through NetGalley, in the hopes I would review it.

previously posted on the Cozy Chicks blog

Dining with Darby Farr and Miles Porter by Vicki Doudera

Deal KillerBig trouble comes to the Big Apple for Darby Farr’s fifth mystery, Deal Killer, a suspenseful tale of greed and danger, set in glittering New York penthouses populated by Russian oligarchs, scheming lawyers, an inquisitive nanny and Darby’s heartthrob, investigative journalist Miles Porter. Praised by Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Kirkus, here’s a sneak peak from the novel — a day in the life of Darby and Miles, as they have a date, “Darby-style.” As you can well imagine, murder’s never far from the menu!

“Okay, let’s get back to basics,” said Darby to Miles, as she took a refreshing gulp of her Jaipur lager. They were at a bustling Indian restaurant not far from Central Park Place, enjoying an aromatic prawn and cashew curry and chicken Balti.

“What do you mean by “basics”? You mean, who had a motive?”

“Yes, but I was thinking of starting with the murder weapon itself. It’s the only piece of evidence we have – the antique sword.”

“Saber, really…” Miles broke off a piece of a papadum and dabbed it into the curry sauce.

“Okay, saber. Who could have stolen it? Remember Vera said there was no evidence of a break in, so either they left their apartment unlocked, or someone used a key.”

“Or it was one of them. After all, Detective Benedetti said it was a woman.”

“True, but even if those two weren’t ensconced in their apartment all afternoon, I doubt they’d have the physical strength to kill Rodin. That’s got to be a pretty forceful thrust to penetrate the chest cavity, puncture some lungs, right?”

Miles looked down at his dinner.

“Sorry if I’m ruining your appetite! Think about it though — who could have gotten into that apartment easily and with a key?”

“The superintendent.” He took a swig of beer.

“Yes. And he could have sold the sword to an antique shop.”

“I wonder if Benedetti checked any shops nearby? He wouldn’t be very good at his job if he hadn’t.”

“Who else had easy access?”

“Well, Natalia was in there a fair amount, but I doubt she’s got a key. Cleaning lady?”

“That’s Yvette, remember?”

“Who else gets keys to properties?”

Just then Darby flashed on her lawsuit with the Davenports, how a key she’d had to the house didn’t work, because the entire door unit had been changed. A nagging voice said: why had it been changed? She tabled that question for now and turned to Miles.

“Real estate agents have keys, and I bet you that Rona was the listing broker for this apartment when Vera bought it.” She grabbed her smartphone and checked the list Todd Stockton had sent her. “Yes!”

“So Rona keeps the keys from when she lists the property, then sneaks in and steals the saber, uses it to kill Alec Rodin because, four years later, she’s still angry over losing all that money. The fact that it’s an antique weapon makes it look like it’s some sort of Russian crime of passion.”

“What should we do? Should we try to talk to Rona?”

“Why not?” Miles glanced at his watch. “It’s only nine-thirty, early by New York standards. Let’s settle up here and go see what she says.”

Meet the author
Vicki Doudera writes The Darby Farr Mysteries, page-turners grounded in a reality she knows all too well: the world of luxury real estate. A top producing broker for a firm on the coast of Maine and former Realtor of the Year, Vicki’s last novel, Final Settlement, was chosen a Top Cozy of 2013 by Suspense Magazine. (Her debut, A House to Die For, received the same honor.)

Vicki’s short story “A Neighbor’s Story” was chosen for inclusion in the forthcoming MWA anthology ICE COLD: Tales of Suspense from the Cold War, release date April of 2014. Her latest Darby Farr Mystery, DEAL KILLER, debuts in April as well. The author of several non-fiction guides to her home state, including the best selling Moving to Maine, Vicki lives in coastal Maine. When not writing, she enjoys hiking, biking, and sailing with her husband and kids.


Follow dru’s book musing on Facebook for book giveaways, contests, posting about discounted books and some of my reading musings.

From Office of Trixie Matkowski by Christine Wenger


A second helping of murderGreetings from Sandy Harbor, New York!

It’s summer as I write this note to you and the tourist season is in full swing! I thought that things would calm down after my first several months here, but I’m busier than ever and so is my staff.

Moving to New York and buying the Silver Bullet Diner (circa 1950, Open 24 hours, Air-conditioned, Breakfast Served All Day) from my Aunt Stella Matkowski , who retired to Boca Raton, was a big change for me. Things proved even more difficult when the restaurant inspector turned up dead in my kitchen! My beautiful diner became a ghost town overnight!

With the help of my neighbor, Deputy Sheriff Ty Brisco, a cowboy transplant from Houston, Texas, I got to the bottom of what had happened to the inspector. My friend, Christine Wenger, who loves to write and fancies herself the historian of Sandy Harbor, documented that horrible part of my life in Do or Diner (Obsidian Books, August 2013). She said that fiction was stranger than the truth, so the story just had to be told.

And Chris just finished recording the details of two more murders which occurred in town about twenty years apart in A SECOND HELPING OF MURDER (Obsidian Books, April 2014). The scene I discovered in Cottage Number Eight will be forever etched in my mind. The lovely citizens of Sandy Harbor are starting to wonder about me!

In spite of the bad stuff, I’ve kept busy cooking and playing with recipes at the Silver Bullet, have almost stopped reeling from my divorce (almost!), made life-long friends, never laughed so much, and still find time to polka!
Life is good at the lake. Come visit!

~~ Trixie ~~

You can read more about Trixie in A Second Helping of Murder, the second book in the “Comfort Food” mystery series, published by Obsidian. The first book in the series is Do or Diner. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

Comment on this post by 6pm EST on April 18, and you will be entered for a chance to win a copy of A SECOND HELPING OF MURDER. One winner will be chosen at random. Unless specified, U.S. entries only.

Meet the author
I have worked in the criminal justice field for more years than I care to remember. It seems like I was forever Cwengergoing to school while I was working full time, but in the end, I received a dual master’s degree in Probation and Parole Studies and Sociology from Fordham University. Unfortunately, the knowledge gained from way too many years in night school, didn’t prepare me for what I love to do the most – write! To date, I’ve written nine romances for Harlequin and “almost” three cozy mysteries for Penguin Obsidian Books.

My first cozy mystery, Do or Diner, was released from Obsidian Books in August 2013, and was their first “comfort food” mystery! My second cozy mystery will be called A SECOND HELPING OF MURDER, and was released on April 1, 2014. A third is completed and will be called Diners, Drive-Ins and Death (release date unknown). This trilogy of books all feature the same characters, same small town, and are set around a 1950’s diner.

For fun, I enjoy watching professional bull riding and rodeo with my favorite cowboy, my husband Jim. We put on our cowboy regalia (I look horrible in a cowboy hat!) and have traveled to events in Las Vegas, Florida, Connecticut, and other states.

Follow dru’s book musing on Facebook for book giveaways, contests, posting about discounted books and some of my reading musings.

A Day in the Life of Maddie Porter by Margaret Grace

Madness in MiniatureWow, after all the drills in school, we finally had a real earthquake where I live in California. I wasn’t scared. Not too much, anyway. It was only a 3.1, but everything quaked! I was in my Grandma’s house with her and her BFF. I think they’re going to get married soon. I hope so, because Uncle Henry—that’s what I call him—his granddaughter, Taylor, is my BFF! So that would be so cool. Me and Taylor would be, like, cousins or something.

Back to that earthquake, it’s a good thing I remembered Drop, Cover, and Hold On! from our drills in school, and made sure Grandma and Uncle Henry came under the dining room table with me and held on even though it moved a little. I think a vase in grandma’s house broke, but the big thing is that downtown in the new, giant crafts store, some pottery fell off a high-up shelf, and someone died from being hit over the head. The man was a boss of the new crafts company. He came to our town from New York, and my grandma thinks maybe it wasn’t the earthquake’s fault that he died. She’s probably right, and if she is, then we’ll have a Case to work on.

I love helping Grandma and Uncle Skip (he’s not old like Uncle Henry) who’s a police detective. This time I made up a data chart so we could have an easy way to see where everyone was when the earthquake hit. That’s called an alibi, and when we looked at all the alibis it helped us figure out how the man from New York was killed.

Grandma and I work on dollhouses together, and that’s almost as much fun as police work. When I grow up (I’m almost there—I’m eleven years old), I think I want to be a detective like Uncle Skip. Or just make miniatures all day. Or maybe work in an ice cream shop, or maybe live in New York. That’s where my dad was born when Grandma and Grandpa were living there. At least I want to visit New York and see the Rockettes. Maybe Grandma will take me some day.

Madness in Miniature” (April 2014) is the 7th book in the Miniature Mysteries by Margaret Grace, featuring “Grandma” Gerry Porter and 11-year-old Maddie. The 8th book is “Manhattan in Miniature,” (April 2015) where Maddie gets her wish to see the Rockettes. Book is published by Perseverance Press and available at retail and online booksellers.

Comment on this post by 6pm EST on April 17, and you will be entered for a chance to win a copy of MADNESS IN MINIATURE. One winner will be chosen at random. Unless specified, U.S. entries only.

Meet the author
Camille Minichino, a retired physicist turned writer, is the author of 21 mysteries in three series: The Periodic Table Mysteries, The Miniature Mysteries (as Margaret Grace) and the Professor Sophie Knowles Mysteries (as Ada Madison). A fourth series, the Post Office Mysteries (as Jean Flowers), will debut in August 2015. Camille teaches science at Golden Gate U., San Francisco. She also teaches writing in the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit her website: minichino.com.

Follow dru’s book musing on Facebook for book giveaways, contests, posting about discounted books and some of my reading musings.


Weekly Roundup* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Spring has arrived and it looks lovely. The trees are budding and the grass looks greener and people look a bit happier.

I did it again, I felt claustrophobic in my computer nook area, so I did a little re-arranging and now it feels like I have space. It’s all about spacial for me.

I started working on my next quilt project. I already had the squares, so it was a matter of picking a design and then working with it. Next step was pairing them, and then piecing them together. I had to take away one paired square as once I complete the top quilt, it will be much bigger than the batting I have for it. I do need to hit the quilt store as I need to get a backing for it.

This week on dru’s book musing

  • Maddie Porter by Margaret Grace – Miniature #
  • Trixie Matkowski by Christine Wenger – Comfort Food #2
  • Darby Farr and Miles Porter by Vicki Doudera – Darby Farr #5
  • Jill Gardner by Lynn Cahoon – Tourist Trap #1
  • Azalea March by Beth Yarnall – Azalea March #1

Last week on dru’s book musing

Recent contest winners

  • Bloom and Doom by Beverly Allen – Barbara T.
  • Death on Eat Street by J.J. Cook – Kathy G.
  • A Roux of Revenge by Connie Archer – Marcy M.
  • Unholy Matrimony by Peg Cochran – Linda R.
  • Under Cold Stone by Vicki Delany – Gene H.
  • Cabin Fever by James Montgomery Jackson – Jan A.

Recently posted on dru’s book musings

Follow dru’s book musing on Facebook for book giveaways, contests, posting about discounted books and some of my reading musings.