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

August 31 – September 6, 2015 on dru’s book musings
August 30: Genevieve Martin from “The Paris Key” by Juliet Blackwell
September 1: Rowena Flowers from “Bad Luck Cat” series by Kay Finch
September 2: Leslee Stanton Nix from “Silver Six Crafting” series by Nancy Haddock
September 3: Skye Denison-Boyd from “Scumble River” series by Denise Swanson
September 4: Suzanne Wyatt Richardson from “Lighthouse Library” series by Eva Gates
September 5: Sunshine Merryweather from “Purple Door Detective Agency” series by Joyce and Jim Lavene
September 6: Paulette Palinsky from “Paulette Palinsky Travel” series by Patricia Gulley

August 24 – August 30, 2015, last week on dru’s book musings
– Janice Rogers from “Happy Hoofers” series by Mary McHugh
– Angie Curtis from “Mainely Needlepoint” series by Lea Wait
– Maxie Pierce from “Chili Cook-Off” series by Kylie Logan
– Cliff Sebastian from “Country Cooking School” series by Paige Shelton
– Zula Fae Raines Payne from “Ghostly Southern” series by Tonya Kappes
– Randall Shiffley from “Meg Langslow” series by Donna Andrews
– Sabrina Shaw from “Hard Targets” series by Wendy Byrne

Congratulations to these contest winners –
“The Cat, the Sneak, & the Secret” by Leann Sweeney – Elizabeth T.
“Killer Run” by Lynn Cahoon – Kathleen C.
“Dante’s Dilemma” by Lynne Raimondo – Dorothy H.
“Give ’em Pumpkin to Talk About” by Joyce and Jim Lavene – Rebecca P.
“Delta for Death” by Michele Drier – Amy G.
“The Dollhouse in the Crawlspace” by Ellen Byerrum – Robin C.

Reading Round-Up
——♦ August 2015: 17 books
Year-to-date: 157 books

A Day in the Life of Sabrina Shaw by Wendy Byrne

Hard to KillI’m Sabrina Shaw and I lead an interesting life, never knowing where I’ll be sent or what I might be doing. I work for an organization called The Alliance that specializes in hostage negotiation and retrieval. People who work for The Alliance go where no one else wants to.

Truth is, my two older brothers and I were orphaned when our parents were murdered. My oldest brother, Max, tried to tough it out raising us himself. But at the age of twelve, that proved to be more than he could handle, especially when I got sick. He had no choice but to enlist some help. The man who took us in groomed us to be assassins. His name was Goren Petrovich. You might remember him from Play Nice by Gemma Halliday. A master at mind control and manipulation, he lured us in with the promise of safety, home-cooked meals, and a roof over our heads. It wasn’t until later we figured out his real agenda.

The three of us—Max, Jake and I—left the assassin life a long while ago. But that doesn’t mean I’ve turned soft. The job at The Alliance keeps me on my toes.

When I found out a young girl disappeared, and The Alliance refused the job, as they considered it a low-probability-of-success-assignment, I had to step in. I couldn’t let her parents down. I was the only hope they had for getting their daughter, Caitlyn, back. Through a whole lot of work and some lucky breaks, I was able to trace a connection for where to start my search. What I didn’t expect was to be kidnapped. But that was only the beginning of my journey to find Caitlyn.

I’ll admit I’ve been in some tough spots before, but being drugged, naked and chained up was a first even for me. How do I get out of what sounds like an impossible situation? Not going to say, but here’s a preview of my predicament from Hard To Kill:

Sabrina used her elbow to maneuver to a sitting position. Her muscles screamed in protest but she managed to right herself. As soon as she did, flashes of lights danced before her eyes and the room began to spin. She brought her head between her knees to keep from passing out.

Damn. Whatever they gave her, it was powerful. The effects, combined with lack of food or drink, lingered like a bad hangover with a getting-the-crap-kicked-out-of-you chaser. An almost overwhelming urge pulled at her to give up the fight and slump back to the floor. She fought against the impulse, knowing all too well the line between momentarily caving and capitulating was tenuous.

Hard To TrustMy brother Jake has his own story to tell in Hard to Trust. Jake’s assignment is guarding a CIA agent gone rogue, Tessa Graham. Let’s just say sparks fly and all manner of mayhem ensues. Here’s a short excerpt from Hard to Trust:

She rolled her eyes. “I can get out of this on my own, like I always do.” She pushed at his chest. “Back off, or I’ll scream.”

Her face was inches from Jake’s. His first unprofessional thought was that she was hot. His second thought corrected the first changing that descriptor to “breathtakingly beautiful.” He pressed himself to remember where a beautiful face had led in the past. And reinforced the idea she might very well be up to no good.

“And then what? The bad guys show some kind of fake badge and say they’re putting you under arrest, which we both know means they’re dropping you into the nearest landfill.”

Hard to StopYes, Jake’s in a heap of trouble. But that’s nothing compared to Max who has his hands full trying to ignore NYPD Detective Gianna Collini even while he suspects her brother of trying to kill him. Below is a short excerpt from Hard To Stop:

“Holy crap. This kid’s your brother?” Even though he said it as a question, there wasn’t one iota of doubt in his mind. That had to be the only explanation.

“That’s none of your concern, Mr. Shaw.” She had this take-charge thing honed to an art form.

But she’d met her match in him. He never backed down. Never. “It damn well is. How can you investigate this matter if your brother is the chief suspect?” His body nearly vibrated as thoughts tumbled around inside his head. His friend was dead because of him, and a detective related to the suspect was supposed to find the guilty party.

Not. On. His. Watch.

Series books—love them or hate them and why?  Leave comment below for a chance to win $10 Amazon gift card.

You can read more about Sabrina in Hard To Kill, the first book in the “Hard Target” romantic suspense trilogy, published by Gemma Halliday Publishing. The next two book in the trilogy are Hard To Trust and Hard To Stop.

All three books in the Hard Targets Series are on sale for .99 each this weekend only! Click HERE for the links.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on September 4 for the chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card. The giveaway is open to everyone. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected.

About the author
Wendy lives in the Chicago area. She has a Masters in Social Work and worked in the child welfare field for twelve years before she decided to pursue her dream of writing.

Between teaching college classes, trying to get her morbidly obese cat to slim down and tempering the will of her five-year-old granddaughter, who’s determined to become a witch when she turns six so she can fly on her broom to see the Eiffel Tower and put hexes on people–not necessarily in that order–somehow Wendy still manages to fit in writing. She spends the remainder of her days inflicting mayhem on her hero and heroine until they beg for mercy.

Visit Wendy at www.wendybyrne.net, on Twitter and on Facebook

Mayor Shiffley and the Halloween Memo by Donna Andrews

Lord of the Wings“Meg, you were right.”

I looked up to see Randall Shiffley standing in the barn doorway. He was wearing a suit but his snazzy black and orange pumpkin tie was loosened, suggesting that he was relaxing after hard day of “mayoring.”

“I often am,” I said. “What am I right about today?”

“About that memo to the town about stuff they should and shouldn’t do during the Halloween festival,” he said. “I thought sane, rational human beings could figure out that stuff on their own, but that’s not what we’re blessed with in Caerphilly. Can I run my draft by you?”

“Sure,” I said.

“This won’t take long.” He took the same pose he’d use if addressing a public meeting, unfolded a paper he held in his hand, and began.

“Citizens of Caerphilly, past and present!”

I chuckled at that.

“Too corny?” he said, in his normal tone.

“Just wondering how you’re getting the word out to the dead citizens,” I said.

“I could have it posted in all the graveyards,” he said. “Any of ’em who are actively haunting the living should see it, and those resting peacefully aren’t part of our problem. As we enter the final days of this year’s successful Halloween festival–”

“Do we know already that it’s successful?” I asked.

“Merchants are smiling,” he said. “Dog tired from ringing up all those sales to the tourists, but smiling. So yeah, it’s looking like a success—as long as we can prevent any of the disasters this memo is designed to address.”

“Carry on,’ I said.

“I would like to remind you of a few things that help keep our festival running smoothly. First, please remember that Halloween decorations displayed between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. must be family friendly. If your decorations involve excessive blood or violence, nudity or sexual themes, or anything not suitable for viewing by the small children who form a large portion of our visitors during the daylight hours, you must take them down or disguise them.”

“And who gets to decide what’s excessive?” I asked.

“I was getting to that. Members of the Goblin patrol will inspect all town decorations each morning and will be the absolute arbiters of what is acceptable.”

“Are you sure you want to call my troops the Goblin Patrol?” I said. “Remember, our official name is the Visitor Relations and Police Liaison Patrol.”

“Goblin Patrol’s catchier,” he said. “And slightly more menacing when it comes to the enforcement side of things. Moving on. Next item. Please remember that we have thousands of tourists visiting our beautiful town during the ten days of the festival. Unfortunately, the crowds will probably contain a few light-fingered individuals. Please make sure to keep your doors, windows, and gates locked during the festival, and if any of your decorations are expensive or have a strong sentimental value, please display them in your windows or on your screened porches, not out in the open where they could be stolen.”

“Are many people actually decorating with valuable stuff?” I asked.

“Mrs. Baker was setting up a skeleton tea party in her front yard.”

“That sounds nice.”

“Using some kind of antique black cups and saucers so fragile-looking I think they’d break if you breathed on them crossways.” Randall shook his head.

“Must be her grandmother’s black Wedgwood Jasperware tea set,” I said. “Probably not a good idea to leave that out in her yard.”

“I talked her into putting it all in her sunroom, but who knows how many other citizens are coming up with damn fool ideas like that,” he said. “Next item. School superintendent Olivia Shiffley has asked us to tell parents that while students are permitted to wear costumes to school on every day of the festival, they are not required to do so, nor are those wearing costumes required to have a different one for every day.”

“Fat chance convincing the kids of that last bit. Speaking of school—how many pages in that proclamation?

He stopped and counted.

“Only five.”

“Only five, he says; and you’re only halfway through page one. I need to pick up the boys soon. Hop in the Twinmobile with me—you can read me the rest on the way to town, and on the way back if necessary.”

“You’re on. Okay, next item.”

As Randall trailed after me to the driveway, rattling off instructions to the citizens about how not to set the town on fire with their pumpkins, I couldn’t help thinking that much as I loved Halloween, I’d be glad when it was safely behind us.

“You’re worrying again,” Randall said. “You’ve got that frowny face. Cheer up. We’re past the halfway mark. We’re in the home stretch. Sure, we’ve got a lot of little problems—which this proclamation will help fix. But what can possibly go all that wrong?”

“Don’t jinx it,” I muttered. “Please don’t jinx it.”

You can read more about Meg, Randall and the citizens of Caerphilly in Lord of the Wings, the 19th book in the “Meg Langslow” mystery series, published by Minotaur. The first book in the series is Murder with Peacocks.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on September 4 for the chance to win a print copy of Lord of the Wings. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected.

About the author
Lord of the Wings is the nineteenth book in Donna Andrews’s award-winning, NYT-bestselling Meg Langslow series. Donna is currently serving as Executive Vice President of Mystery Writers of America, as Vice President of the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime, and as author liaison for Malice Domestic. When not writing she reads, plays computer games, gardens with more enthusiasm than skill, and chauffeurs her nephews.

Visit Donna at www.donnaandrews.com, on Twitter and on Facebook

Reinvention of Retirement with Zula Fae Raines Payne by Tonya Kappes

A Ghostly DemiseHave you ever tried to take three gallons of crazy and fit it into a two galloon bucket? That is exactly what I, Zula Fae Raines Payne, have to do in my retirement years.

Emma Lee Raines, my granddaughter, is my two gallon bucket. Out of the two of my granddaughters, I figured it was Emma Lee who was fit to take over my place as the undertaker of Eternal Slumber Funeral Home in Sleepy Hollow, Kentucky,

Now don’t let me scare you away from comin’ on down and making your preneed funeral arrangements, I’ll see to it that you get exactly what is comin’ to ya and see you get to the Great Beyond, other side, big guy in the sky; whatever you wanna call it.

Well, grab one of them sweet teas off the table and sit back and use your foot to tip the rocker back and forth. This here is prime real estate and prime front porch sittin’ for all the happenings in town square over yonder. You keep an eye out and you just might see Beulah Paige, the CEO of the gossip mill here in Sleepy Hollow. She can pack a tale better than


When she woke up, she was hootin’ and a hollerin’ about seeing dead people. I was fit to be tied! You know I had Doc Clyde give her something to cover her crazy. Normally we parade crazy as if it were an accessory, but crazy isn’t good for business when your clients are trusting you to take care of their loved ones, even the ones that aren’t sucking oxygen.

Regardless, Emma’s sister Charlotte, is helping Emma run Eternal Slumber and I’ve got my fingers crossed that Charlotte will turn business around because I have decided to run for Sleepy Hollow Mayor! You ain’t gonna believe who is running against me. O’Dell Burns, as in Burns Funeral home, as in Eternal Slumber’s direct competition. This town has gone nuts and I’m here to save it!

Me and the Auxiliary woman have gotten some Vote For Zula signs and screaming my campaign slogan: You let me take care of your loved ones for the afterlife, let me take care of you while living! And me and the girls were planning to pass out buttons and signs at the traveling carnival that’s come to town, but plans changed once one of the carnie workers made fun of me. I gave him a piece of my mind and I swear I went home and went to bed. Unfortunately that same carnie worker was found dead, floating in the dunking booth with a Vote For Zula sign stuck right through his heart.

Now I’m the one who looks nuts and this better not mess up my campaign!

You can read more about Zula and her campaign in A Ghostly Demise, the third book in the “Ghostly Southern” mystery series, published by HarperCollins. The first two books in the series are A Ghostly Undertaking and A Ghostly Grave.

About A Ghostly Demise, Ghostly Southern Mystery book three

From former self-published superstar and USA Today bestseller Tonya Kappes comes the third novel in the hilarious paranormal series featuring Emma Lee Raines, a funeral home director who can suddenly see dead people! ~ HarperCollins Publisher

The prodigal father returns—but this ghost is no holy spirit

When she runs into her friend’s deadbeat dad at the local deli, undertaker Emma Lee Raines can’t wait to tell Mary Anna Hardy that he’s back in Sleepy Hollow, Kentucky, after five long years. Cephus Hardy may have been the town drunk, but he didn’t disappear on an epic bender like everyone thought: He was murdered. And he’s heard that Emma Lee’s been helping lost souls move on to that great big party in the sky.

Why do ghosts always bother Emma Lee at the worst times? Her granny’s mayoral campaign is in high gear, a carnival is taking over the town square, and her hunky boyfriend, Sheriff Jack Henry Ross, is stuck wrestling runaway goats. Besides, Cephus has no clue whodunit. . .unless it was one of Mrs. Hardy’s not-so-secret admirers. All roads lead Emma Lee to that carnival—and a killer who isn’t clowning around.


GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on September 4 for the chance to win one of two print copies or one of two e-book copies of A Ghostly Demise. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Four lucky commenters will be randomly selected. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected.

About the author
For years, USA Today bestselling author Tonya Kappes has been self-publishing her numerous mystery and romance titles with unprecedented success. She is famous not only for her hilarious plotlines and quirky characters, but her tremendous marketing efforts that have earned her thousands of followers and a devoted street team of fans. HarperCollins and Witness Impulse is thrilled to be publishing this insanely talented and wildly successful author for the first time with her hilarious and spooky Ghostly Southern series.

Be sure to sign up for Tonya’s newsletter and receive a free e-book download!

If you have read A GHOSTLY UNDERTAKING, the first novel in the Ghostly Southern Mystery Series, and enjoyed it, please vote for Tonya for 2015 Best Fiction Novel! She’d greatly appreciate it.

A Day in the Life with Cliff Sebastian by Paige Shelton

If Onions Could Spring LeeksOccupation: Police Officer, Broken Rope, Missouri.

Home is where the heart is, that’s what they say. And, I admit, for me home, Broken Rope, Missouri, is exactly where I left my heart. I was lucky to find it again when I went back.

I’m beginning to think that a typical day around Broken Rope isn’t all that typical. There’s something strange going on here, and ten years away, along with my new career, gives me a different perspective. At least I think that’s it.

I hadn’t meant to become a police officer, particularly in Broken Rope. I also hadn’t meant for my first marriage to end so badly. But it was the job offer and the divorce that took me back home, back to the small Ozark town where cowboys and fake gunfights still entertain tourists every summer.

And, of course, there was Betts. Betts Winston. My high school sweetheart. It had been her idea that we “take a break” while we went to college and worked on becoming the things we thought we wanted to become. Our lives became separate, as can happen when you leave each other as kids and turn into adults as you’re both going in different directions. Law school was her thing until it wasn’t. And architecture was my thing until I ruined it along with that first marriage. Betts doesn’t know all those details, and I’ll probably never tell her. She doesn’t need to know, because, I suspect she’s got plenty of other things on her plate.

She works with her grandmother, Missouri, at the cooking school on the edge of town. It’s housed in an old church building and it’s next to a cemetery that’s the final resting place of many of our more infamous historical criminals and colorful characters.

I’m glad Betts and I are back together; more than glad, I’m to the moon and filled with a sense of peace I didn’t know existed. But I sure wish I understood what was holding her back. She’s committed to me, but not all the way. I’d take it personally if I didn’t think her lack of commitment was a breakdown in every part of her life. She’s only partway committed to everything right now, a slice of her attention angled toward something I can’t see.

My days – typical for me, but, again, probably not all that typical – are filled with the small crimes that come with a big tourist community and a few bigger heinous crimes that can be expected too. There’s always been murder in Broken Rope. Gunfights and hangings used to be the norm. But there’s something else going in this town. I’m pretty sure Betts knows what it is. Probably her grandmother does too, but I think Betts lets herself be distracted by it more. It’s something I can feel, sense maybe, catch at the edge of my vision. I don’t understand it, but the more I know it’s there the more I think it’s something I might never be able to completely accept.

I’m on the job though. Sometimes I think I want to figure it out, but sometimes I’m sure I don’t. I hope that whatever it is, it’s something I can fix, something normal. I’m not sure if I’m ready for anything more than that, even though I expect I might have to be.

See you in Broken Rope.

You can read more about Cliff in If Onions Could Spring Leeks, the fifth book in the “Country Cooking School” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The first book in the series is If Fried Chicken Could Fly.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on September 3 for the chance to win a print copy of If Onions Could Spring Leeks. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected.

About the author
Paige Shelton recently moved to Arizona where she’s trying to balance all the cool stuff (the scenery, the people, the pools) with the not-so-cool stuff (the summer temperatures.) For more information, check out her website: www.paigeshelton.com